July/August 2014 Newsletter

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Jul 02, 2014 @ 09:31 AM

Landscape That attracts termites

Landscaping That Attracts Termites

Many people  don't realize that their landscaping can attract termites and carpenter ants to their home. Here are some of the common problems we see:

  • Mulching with wood chips or bark next to your foundation not only provides food for termites, it also keeps the soil more evenly moist under the mulch, which attracts termites. Even gravel mulches have been shown to keep soil underneath them more moist. Leave the area mulch-free around your foundation. If you going to mulch around it, keep it as a thin layer.

  • Remove plants near your foundation.  If possible, keep vegetation 3-4 feet away from away from the exterior of your home. Especially remove thick groundcovers, plus vines that crawl up the sides of your home, and prune back branches that touch the sides or roof of your home. Never plant too close to your foundation, because large shrubs and trees eventually can have roots that expand under a foundation and crack it, leaving it open to hidden invasion by termites.

  • Eliminate dead wood in the landscape. Remoce old tree and shrub stumps and any wood debris. Keep an eye on railroad ties used in landscaping, because even though they are treated to protect them from pests, when they crack they can allow termites and carpenter ants into the inner part, which is unprotected.

  • Check for excess moisture. For instance, sprinkler systems sometimes spray water onto the side of a home-make sure this is not happening.

If you haven't had a professional inspection recently, call us today about this service. An inspection can detect an infestation early, and can spot the above conditions and many others that arract termites.

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Ants Are Increasing

Ants are highly successful insects and are becoming more serious pest each year. In fact, a number of years ago they overtook the cockroach as the most common household pest problem.

     One of the main reasons ants become the #1 pest is that certain "super ant" species (sometimes also called "tramp ants") have been spreading. Pest like Argentine ants, odorous house ants, velvety tree ants, and pavement ants are just a few of these. Most (but not all) of these aggressive ants are from other countries and have become widespread around the world.

     Super ants share a common characteristics that help explain why they are so "successful" at spreading. They are spread primarily through human activity, and they easily adapt to living around us. Plus, most ants have only one egglaying queen in the colony, but super ants have many egg-laying queens in the same colony, so colony grow much faster.

     These ants also usually have many interconnected colonies. Instead of fighting ants from nearby colonies of the same species, as most ants do, the colonies actually cooperate to some degree. When they come to a new area super ants usually drive out other ant species, especially native ants. Since the new ants have larger colonies, you end up with large number of ants, and ants that more frequently invade homes.

     Don't let your frineds and neighbors suffer with ant problems! Tell them about our expert ant services. Because of the gradual spread of super ant species, our professional ant control and prevention has become more important than ever before.

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Stink Bug Overwintering Sites

The brown marmorated stink bug has been an increasing problem in many areas because it invades homes in the fall, spending the entire winter indoors. The new stink bug really stinks when disturbed-more than most other stink bugs.

     Because so little is known about this pest, scientist reported in a recent study that they used trained dogs to sniff out where they were overwintering in a forested area. Surprisingly, they didn't find the bugs in downed trees or leaf litter-they were found mainly in dry crevices of dead, still-standing trees with thick bark, especially oak and locust trees.

     The stink bug's choice of these kinds of overwintering sites shows why they are so attracted to man-made structures-homes to them look like their preferred sites of dry, tall trees with lots of cracks and revices.

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Why Are Flies so Hard to Swat?

Lots of flies are buzzing this time of the year! We've all tried to swat a fly and missed it. Whether flies are in flight or resting on a surface, they seem to have lightning-fast speeds and reflexes.
     A recent article in the journey Science looked at flies and how the respond to perceived threats coming their way. Their reflexes are so fast (less than one hundredth of a second) that it required special high speed cameras that shoot 7,500 frames per second to capture action.

     The discovered that flies perform different escape maneuvers based on which direction (their back, front, or side) the threat is coming from while they are flying. The complex pitch and roll maneuver that the flies perform is uniform and predictable, like a jet fighte!

     When flies are resting on a surface, they also respond predictably. The first take a whild leap, stumbling up into the air, and only when airborne do they finally begine flapping their wings. This all happens so quickly, that the flies are able to throttle up to full power a 50th of the time it takes you to blink your eyes.

     Any tips we can take home with us to use when swatting a fly? The researchers noted tat if you apprioach a resting fly from it's side, it will fly straight away from you, so if you keep your hand going in the same direction, you should be able to catch up to it. Try it.

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The Largest Spider Webs

Spider in Madagascar, first discovered by scientists in 2001, builds spider webs so large that they are sometimes seen spanning a river!

     Webs from Darwins's bark spider have been discovered as wide as 82 feet-about-about as long as two city buses. It was found that the silk used to make these webs is the toughest spider silk on earth. The silk strands can resist twice as much force as any other spider silk before rupturing-over 10 times more than a similarly sized piece of Kevlar! This makes it the toughest biological material known.

     Imagine walking into a spider web that large tough!

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Chikungunya Virus is Coming

You may have never heard of the Chickungunya virus (sometimes simply called 'CHICKV' ) before, but health authorities are bracing for it to come to the U.S. So far, infections have been confirmed in several states, but they have all been from people who traveled recently to the Caribbean or Asia, where they caught the disease.

     Chicungunya is a virus transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. We already have mosquitoes here in North America that are capable of spreading the disease, but they have not been infected yet. But if one of these mosquitoes bites a person here that has been infected in another country and it still sick, it then has the potential to spread the virus when it bites again. ( This is similar to how the West Nile virus got started in our country country more than a decade ago.)

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Good News on Cancer Risk

The Environmental Protection Agency studies and bans pesticides that cause significant health risks, but some people think that all pesticides are bad, and should be banned. One of their claims is that they cause cancer-something that has been very difficult to study.

     A massive new study in the United Kingdom was recently released that is one of the largest and longest studies ever conducted on this subject. It looked at 59,085 male plus 3,875 female commercial pesticide applicator's death rates between 1987 and 2005. The study found that this group of people, who are exposed to far more pesticides every day than the general public is, actually had lower cancer rates than the general public!

     This new information, plus the fact that our company uses less and safer pesticides than what was used in the United Kingdom during that period, makes us very happy! And it makes our spouses and mothers glad! We hope it makes you feel good as well.

     We don't mean to imply that pesticides be used by anyone in an unsafe manner, which people can do even with store-bought pesticides they use themselves. We are trained and experienced in proper pesticides use, so it helps everyone to be safer. This is good news. 

     Personally I have been around pesticides 5 days a week, 10 hours a day, for the past 37 years.  I have worked with just about every product there is over the years and have no concerns for my safety as a professional.  Our industry has made many changes in the products we use and they have an outstanding record for their safety, when used properly. We are true protector's of health, without pesticides we would not enjoy the longevity we have without the ability to control the many diseases that insects spread through responsible applications.

Tags: Termites, ants, landscape, mulch, ground cover

May/June 2013 Newsletter

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, May 02, 2013 @ 11:59 AM

Go Away

Wood-Damaging Pest: The Invisible Threat

     You see a bug and stomp on it. But what about pests you don't see? Termites and other wood destroyers are a very expensive threat to your home, causing homeowners billions of dollars every year. Yet they do their damage almost entirely hidden from view, crawling through hidden cracks in concrete, or active behind walls or under floors.

     In fact, termites typically eat away at a home for many years before a homeowner even notices them. Sometimes the first sign a homeowner sees are termite swarmers, and these aren't even produced by a termite colony until three or four years after a colony gets started. Even then, they begin producing very few swarmers at first, so still more years may pass before they are noticed. All during this time termites cause increasingly serious damage.

     Our native termite colonies may have up to one and a half million termites in them. And a mature colony of Formosan termites can have one to ten million termites! A colony of just a qarter million termites eats 16 pounds of wood per year, so large colonies do extensive damage.

     Visible pest are only the tip of the iceberg-much of the damage wood-destroying pests cause happens without the homeowner ever knowing it. That's why our professional inspections are so important/ By catching wood damaging pest problems early, we minimize or prevent damage from "invisible threat." And we are often able to make recommendations to help correct situations that attract termites, before they ever come knocking at your home.


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Landscaping & Pests

     This is the time of the year when many people are spending time in their yards, planting, pruning, and caring for their landscape. It is important to be aware of how your landscaping affects pest populations around your home.

     Many trees and shurbs have problems with aphids or other sucking insects. These insects excrete honeydew a sweet, partially digested plant sap that is a main food of many ants. Plants with these sucking pest not only attack ants, but help feed and grow entire ant colonies.

     Shrubs with foliage that touches the ground are good hiding places for rats and mice as they wonder about at night. These should be pruned up off the ground. Areas near your home that have high grass or weeds need to be mowed occasionally. Ground covers, especially ivy beds, are a particular problem because they provide cover for rodents, as well as for certain kinds of cockroaches and other pests. If you can trim ground covers yearly to keep them low, that will help, although it doesn't eliminate the problem.

     Mulching around a foundation may help keep down weeds, but mulches can create moist conditions that attract pest. Whenever possible, replace wood-based mulches bordering your foundation with the new rubber mulch made from old tires, or a stone or gravel mulch.

     Finally, this is a good time to check any sprinkers and make sure they are watering your plants only, and not the side of your home. When sprinkler water hits the side of your home it can increase the moisture content inside the wall, as well as under your home. Both situations can increase pest problem.

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Deadly Spider in Shipments

     When a shipment of tires from Arizon arrived in England in January, the surprise upon opening the container was a heavy infestation of black widow spiders inside the container.

     Apparently black widow egg cases had hatched during the 5,000 mile journey. Fortunately they were discovered and exterminated before they spread.

     In December a shipment of machinery parts sent from Texas to England also had black widow spiders.

     Black widow are widespread here but not established in England. Their venom is 15 times stronger than rattlesnake venom, but they inject less of it than a rattlesnake bite. Black widow spider bites can make a person very sick, and in rare cases they are fatal, so prompt treatment by a doctor is important. 

Bird Nest Mites

Bird Nest Pest

Birds and their singing may be sweet, but their nests can be a source of pests that you don't want coming indoors. It is usually not a problem for people until young birds vacate their nests. Once this happens the pests eventually abandon the nests and start searching for a new food source. If the bird nest is under the eaves or somewhere else attached to your home, some of the pests may find their way into your home.

     Many of the bugs in bird nests are parasires that suck blood from young birds and adults. Among the blood-suckers in nests are bird bed bugs, which are very similar to regular bed bugs and also feed on humans, kissing bugs that can transmit Chages disease to people, and a variety of blood-sucking ticks, fleas, and mites.

     Besides blood-suckers, other pest are known scavengers in bird nests, feeding on feathers, droppings, etc. These pests include clothes moths that feed on woolens, fur, and feathers, carpet beetles that feed on woolens and stored foods, drugstore beetles that feed on stored foods, and other pests you don't want indoors.

     Because of these pests in bird nests, either try to discourage the construction of any nest  that is directly to your home, or remove it as soon as the young birds leave. Nests further out in tree limbs, where the branches do not contact your home, are usually not a threat.

Tags: landscape, sprinklers, pests, moisture