Cockroaches are one of the most resilient insects there is. They are also one of the oldest species in the planet and are able to survive in any place a human can live. They were originally from tropical climate, but have adapted to most climate zones. They are also closely associated to human structures, because they can manage to live in all of them.
While we will always have cockroaches in the outside, the problem comes when they decide to make a tour inside the house. They quickly generate unsanitary conditions that can deteriorate the health of those near. They are not usually dangerous in themselves, but the like to walk over garbage or crawl from down the sewer before reaching your kitchen’s food. Any edible touched by a cockroach is very likely to get contaminated and induce problems both short and long term. Some illnesses associated to cockroaches are:
Cockroaches inside home
Although cockroaches are highly adaptable, they need access to food, water and heat in order to survive. Human houses provide easy access to all of them, which is why they are regular inhabitants of dark and hidden places in houses and buildings. Although they will reside in kitchens and bathrooms if they can get away with it, they also thrive in less-transited rooms such as basements, greenhouses or any room containing piping, plumbing or sewers. The warmer the room the better.
Another aspect that helps cockroaches keep hidden is the fact that they have nocturnal tendencies, so they are the most active when everyone else is sleeping. If they are seen though, they can run away incredibly fast.
Cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers, so they can feed from a wide variety of sources, another reason for their easy adaptability. If they live on the yard they will feed from organic matter and decaying plant material, but if they live inside they can feed from pretty much anything a human eats, but also from pet food, glue, fabric, toothpaste, soap, leather and others. Moreover, they can also survive for weeks without any food or water.
As with most other pests, prevention is about keeping a clean and tidy home, and prevent access from the outside to our kitchens. For this end, regular cleaning including vacuuming is necessary, as well as keeping any food out of reach as best as possible. Crumbs, spills or food remains should be cleared right away, the trash should be disposed of daily and dishes should be washed promptly.
You should also inspect the house for wholes or cracks in walls, doors and windows. Also remove any unnecessary source of water or moisture, with special care in plumbing leaks. If you feel it necessary, you can use a dehumidifier to deal with excess moisture.
If you are suffering from a cockroach infestation, the best bet is to get professional help from the start. As previously said, the cockroach is probably the most adaptable insect there is, and when it comes to getting rid of them it shows. If they have settled inside a place, getting rid of them will present a big problem. They are very good at hiding and their eggs are highly resistant to insecticide.
Professional knowledge and specialized tools are needed in these situations, else this pest can be around for years, on and off or continuously. Be sure to call licensed experts to help you resolve this problem.
As soon as the summer starts showing up we get ants in the hundreds pestering our homes. Ants can be very hard to control, but there is a type of ant that can be worse than the others: Carpenter Ants.
Because of the name it may be easy to believe they eat wood as termites do, but they are actually more literal than that: they are named carpenters because they work the wood to their advantage. They make little holes in it to build their nests and passageways between them. As they are among the largest ants in the US (up to 13 millimeters in size) this can cause structural damage to your wooden belongings.
How do I recognize Carpenter Ants?
So how do tell the difference between carpenter ants and regular ants? The first clue is the size, as we recently stated. In body color sadly there isn’t just one type, but commonly they are black or red or a mix of both. There is also another common type in the area of California that is black and yellow.
A significant detail they all share is their heart shaped head. They have elongated jaws. In the same way, they have a single-segmented pedicle or waist and a rounded thorax were other ants usually have a ridged thorax.
Where do I find them?
Although the “carpenter” term is a dead giveaway, they prefer wood that has been strongly exposed to moisture. As a matter of fact, having a source of moisture is necessary for the development of a nest and colony, so that is an important fact to take into account. This usually means that carpenter ants will commonly develop outside, maybe in al old wet tree stomp or in the place where you keep firewood.
However they do manage to arrive to the inside of our homes through holes and cracks in walls or foundation. There have evenbeen cases where they arrive through “bridges” in form of branches and even power lines.
Another possibility is that you first run into swarmers (aka winged ants). This poses a big problem because their presence means there is a mature colony close by that is ready to send their young to build new colonies around.
Finally, you can recognize their presence even if you don’t actually see them if you find little piles of debris beside wood structures, or maybe wood shavings alongside dead ant parts.
Since this type of ant is very dependent of their source of moisture, the first thing to do would be to remove any damp piece of wood that can serve as their home. Standing water is also a cause of problem you will want to get rid of.
Just as you eliminate their possible nests, it is important to eliminate the bridges they use to get to your home. Keeping the yard trimmed is the best way to do this, and if you keep firewood close to your house you will want to relocate it somewhere else. Preferably somewhere that will keep it dry. Finally, seal their possible entrances such as cracks and crevices. Remember that ants can fit in very small spaces, so you need to pay attention.
If the problem is ongoing, then the only way to completely eliminate the pest is to find the nest. This will require better knowledge and tools for the search process as well as to ensure no sneaky colony-members remain hidden and re-start the colony after the treatment. In such instances, it is better to trust a professional with the job.
The cockroach is one of the worse pest issues a homeowner can experience. What makes them so nasty is the fact that they are drawn to waste and decaying matter, carrying bacteria with them afterwards which can be source of many diseases and poison your food if they get near it. They have also been proven to cause allergies, asthma and the sight of them is just plain bothersome. It makes some people scream.
How to find Cockroaches
This pest is around all year long, although they prefer warm weather over cold. If they are living outside they will easily take residence up in a tree (for this they are also widely known as “Palmetto Bugs”) or in a flowerbed, as they also need a source of moisture. In those situations they feed of wood particles, fungi and tiny insects. In the cities it is also very common to find them on the sewer system or where garbage gets collected, as they are very good at decomposing organic matter.
Inside the house
Cockroaches will try to settle in a warm place where they have easy access to water and food. In their search for this place they can sneak into our homes through any small whole such as under the door (if there is no weather stripping), open windows, garages or even carried by a household member in a shopping bag.
Once inside they will prefer the kitchen and bathrooms, but also laundry rooms and basements. They will go to the least used rooms on the house so they can hide successfully, and crawl around mostly at night (they are nocturnal species). They can feed from pretty much anything they find, such as crumbs, scraps of food or pet food.
As they prefer to wander at night, it is very possible that you find their droppings first. Those would appear in dark, hidden places such as the back of pantries or behind appliances.
Removing the access to moisture and food are the main steps to control cockroaches. For this it is important to do constant cleaning in our homes, vacuuming regularly and taking away possible shelters.
Another important aspect is to close their paths to the inside of the house, maybe using some caulk to seal holes in walls or foundation. You may also need to make some changes in your landscape to remove features that result attractive to cockroaches. There are different chemicals that can be used as well, such as gel or granular bait and residual insecticides. These work for different situations so it is a good idea to consult a professional in how to use them. Having professional advice will also assure a complete and effective job.
Apart from being the most annoying bug there is, having mosquitos around can have some problematic influences to your family’s health. They arrive in large number during the summer, attracted to standing water in or around your house, as that is the place where they lay their eggs. There are many different types of mosquito, but they all have the characteristic of sucking blood when they bite.
A mosquito bite is an interesting process. Have you realized that you don’t usually feel them while they are biting? This is because they coat that part of skin in saliva, which has properties that numb the place and also work as an antiseptic. Because of this, you don’t feel when the mosquito sinks its tiny serrated mandibles in you, even if you will be feeling it the next day.
With the little teeth already sunk on your skin, the mosquito probes around with its proboscis in search of a blood vessel. When it finally finds one, it starts sucking the blood out. It may not seem like it takes out a lot, since they are very small creatures, but they can suck up to three times their weight.
In the end you get lovely red spots. And they itch.
Still, it wouldn’t be so bad if it ended there. They would be annoying little animals, but nothing more. The problem is they can also carry a myriad of diseases, some of which are deadly without proper treatment. As a matter of fact, around a million people die from mosquito-transmitted diseases in the world every year. Here’s a list of the most problematic diseases mosquitoes bring to communities all around the globe:
Malaria: This ancient disease has historically wiped out hundreds of thousands of people, although as you may guess it has been controlled on the US area for many decades. However it preys in tropical and sub-tropical locations around the world, so if you are going to an exotic beach for vacation, you may want to learn if you need a shot or two before going.
Chikungunya: This is another virus that makes its way into the US with travellers, mainly visitors to the Caribbean. As of 2016, more than 650 cases have been reported from around the country, although they have all been transmitted overseas. It is not lethal, but the term chikungunya means “that which bends up” in a dialect from Mozambique, describing the terrible joint pain the affected suffers.
Dengue: Being a problem closer to home, dengue has become an increasingly common issue, with limited outbreaks appearing in places such as Texas, Hawaii and Florida. Although it doesn’t have a high mortality rate, symptoms are very uncomfortable and grow in seriousness if they aren’t treated.
Zika: This is the most recent villain in the insect world, although it is a rarely deadly virus. It causes different degrees of fever, joint pain, rashes and conjunctivitis. The real problem appears when the infected person in an expecting mother, as during pregnancy zika virus can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects. The known outbreaks come from rural zones in Brazil, but the World Health Organization has declared the virus a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” on February 2016.
Although these issues may seem distant, they show reasons why controlling mosquitos is a must for the health and comfort of your family. If you want more information on how to protect your home, don’t hesitate in contacting a professional to assist you.
There are three main classifications for termites: subterranean, dry-wood and damp-wood. The name of this dodgy pest explains pretty easily how they are different from the other two: they live inside soil. This type of termites have been found across all of the United States (with the exception of Alaska) and can be as invasive and destructive as any other, nesting under your home or in the sidings and devouring all the wooden structures.
Among subterranean termites we can find three castes, with slightdifferences between each other depending on the “job” they have. Remember termites are highly colony-oriented creatures, so the all of them have a specific activity to perform and their little bodies reflect that.
Workers: These compose the biggest part of termite population and are also the most damaging. If you stumble with a termite crawling around your wall or floor eating wood, it will most likely be from this type. They are the responsible of feeding the rest of the colony. They are a creamy color and do not have wings. However, worker termites from all types (subterranean as well as dry-wood and damp-wood) are very similar, so you would have a very hard time figuring out what type of plague your house has from looking at them alone. Recognize swarmer termites and soldier termites for that end.
Swarmers: They vary in color in a range for black to light brown, but the biggest detail about them is they have wings. They look alike winged ants, which makes them easy to confuse and you need a closer look in order to tell them apart. This can be done by recognizing the shape and size of the wings, as termites have four wings of equal size, while ant’s wings are longer at the front and smaller on the back. Also the fact that termites have two body segments of equal color, while ants have three body segments and they might be of different colors (red and black).
Soldiers: They look very similar to worker termites, except they have enlarged mandibles that they use to protect the group from other predators. They are the ones responsible of safeguarding the rest of the colony from any natural threat that comes to the nest.
Evidence of subterranean termites
Although usually only the worker termites leave the nest, in the months from January to April they go through their reproductive cycle, which means swarmers will be out and about. They are looking for a mate with whom they can start a new nest, but if the colony is mature enough to produce swarmers, you most likely already have a big problem underneath.
If you find these winged termites hanging around your window sills or light bulbs, it means that the nest they come from has been developing for at least 2 years. You may also find the little wings left behind instead, which is part of their reproduction process.
Another clear sign are tiny, tunnel-like constructions protruding from the walls they occupy. These are made of mud or dirt that sticks together by way of termite saliva or fecal matter. They use these little tubes to move around their food source without being detected.
Finally, there can be similar little constructions protruding from the ground or walls which are a result of several mud-tunnels being built over long periods of time. They adopt the shape of a castle, thus known as “launching castles” or “swarm castles”. This is evidence of a long-term termite infestation, and a very good reason to call a termite control professional in the matter to ask for help
As the summer makes its coming ever more present, social events start to move to the outside in hopes of to take advantage of fresh air. But if your yard hosts a large amount of mosquitos, the event can be very much ruined because of it. There is nothing more invasive to someone’s comfort than the annoying buzz of mosquitos, so no guest would remain unbothered.
There are several options in the market for these situations with different degrees success. Let us make a list of the most known ones, so you can make an informed decision of how to deal with these annoying insects.
These devices effectively kill a big amount of bugs in the houses they are installed on. The problem is that there’s no relevant percentage of mosquitos in those bugs (less than 10% according to several studies), but they do kill other bugs such as beetles and mots. They even kill bugs that are actually beneficial to your yard as predators of other pests.
The problem is that the fluorescent lights they use to attract insects are not particularly attractive to mosquitoes. They are however veryattractive to midges, which look very much like mosquitoes and most homeowners wouldn’t know how to tell the difference. So you will certainly hear of people who swear by the effectiveness of zappers, but science has proven time again that they don’t work.
As it is with zappers, scientific reviews have proven their ineffectiveness, as they don’t seem to influence mosquito behavior one way or another. They are still popular because they supposedly provide a clean way to deal with the problem, as no pesticide is in use. This would be ideal except for the fact that it doesn’t work.
Also, ultrasound devices are known to have negative effects on pets, as they have a greater sensibility to sound than us.
This is the most used method to avoid mosquitoes, and for once it actually works. They contain a chemical known as DEET, which basically affects mosquitos so they have a hard time finding you. While this is effective for one person, it isn’t enough for protecting a whole crowd in an event.
However it can help your cause if you have repellent available during the occasion for people to use. You can offer bug wipes at the entrance or keep a bottle of repellent in the bathroom, so that guests can also protect themselves.
This is a viable option depending on the size of venue. Mosquito candles effectively repel insects because they release known repellant chemicals when they burn, such as citronella oil. The effect works for up to 36 hours, which should be enough for any event.
The problem comes when the venue is too large and/or open for the candles to make effect. In these instances, burning mosquito-candles work mostly as prevention. Still, as with repellant, they can aid you in the process. The guests only remain orderly in one place during the meal, so you can at least protect them then by burning a candle in each table. You will also have an easier time keeping the place where you serve the food unbothered if you have candles near.
Mosquito yard treatments
This isn’t a DIY option, but it would be the most effective if it is really important that no mosquitoes are left to ruin your event. A mosquito control professional visits your home 24 to 48 hours before the event, and sprays the yard with pest-control products. Which of course will be gone by the moment your event starts, and so will be the mosquitoes.
In summary, the larger the spaces, the harder it will be to control insects. If you only have a small gathering in the backyard you may do just fine with a candle and some repellent. However, if we are speaking of a populated event in a large venue, such as a wedding or birthday party, you may want to go for the safest option and contact a professional right away.
The fact that rats and mice are far bigger than bugs doesn’t mean that finding them is always easy. These dedicated animals can sneak around your house silently and seamlessly, leaving only their trail behind.
Rodents can be very destructive because they would chew on pretty much anything they have in their path. To be fair, they can’t really help it: rodents need to keep on chewing because their teeth never stop growing, so they constantly need to wear them down in order to keep them to a decent size.
This unfortunate fact makes them crave chewing. Rats, for example, like to chew through entire wooden structures, so if you have them in your house most of your furniture may be in danger. As they keep their teeth in check, they also search for areas with potential to get food or to build nests. Rodents can also chew on PVC pipes and plumbing, and there are even cases where they have made their way through lead and concrete. They can be very persistent.
While this pest is more common in the winter, as rodent colonies may try to invade your house in search for heat, they can appear at any time of the year in search of food too. If you have an infestation, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional to deal with it.
The most usual kind of rodent that visits your house is called house mouse. These are the common signs they leave behind:
They also have favorite places to hang out, which are predominantly those where they can steal some food. So the kitchen is an instant hot spot, and they may even try to build their nests close by, such as in cabinets and voids between appliances and/or the wall.
Pet food also attracts them like crazy, so wherever you keep the cat treats is a place to watch out. Garages and storing areas, attic and basements, utility openings and voids on the floor, walls or ceiling are all common places.
On last place to check is your car. Rodents love cars as nesting areas because they provide heat and shelter, and have a complete playroom of stuff to chew on. It is also very easy to cause damage there because any wire they chew can probably stop the system from working.
Bed bugs have the annoying habit of appearing all year long. Unlike flies and ants, which are annoying but at least they are a problem one season a year, bed bugs are known for arriving at any time.
However, it is harder to catch them than other plagues; you usually notice them because of the consequences they bring you. So how do we know if they are present? You may be comfortable about your house’s sanitary state, but what if you go elsewhere? Maybe you are planning a trip with the family this summer? It is always a good idea to check for these pesky little friends in every new place you intend to sleep in.
How to search for bed bugs
Unlike popular belief, you can actually see bed bugs, but you really need to pay attention. Mature ones are reddish-brown and have a sort of flattened little body. The size is similar to an apple-seed. Of course, if there are adult bed bugs then there are small ones somewhere too: those would be smaller, three millimeters at the most and yellowish-transparent. Finally, eggs are the hardest, as they are very tiny white balls, one millimeter in size.
However if you are just getting to a new place, the hotel where you will spend your vacations or a nice cabin on the woods, there are some places you can check to make sure there is no trail of them:
Finally, let us point out that finding one bed bug isn’t instantaneous synonym of an infestation, in the same way that finding one ant or fly isn’t an infestation either. So keep calm and observe the area to make sure there aren’t any more. However, if your search displays a bigger number of bugs, it is time to call a professional.
How do I know if I have a termite problem?
These social, colony-oriented insects of whitish color have an incredible power: given enough time, they can completely devour any wooden structure, and yes, that includes your house.
A big problem comes in the fact that they live hidden inside structures, therefore the damage happens from the inside-out, anddoesn’t show until it is too late. So it is important to be careful, and it is important to know the signs. For this, it doesn’t hurt to learn a bit more about termites and their habits.
General termite information
We could say the start of the cycle in termite life is when a mature colony sends their fertile males and females on a “nuptial flight”. A formed couple will look for an appropriate place to make a nest and then start the mating process. After fertilization, both male and female lose their wings and become termite king and queen of the new habitat, remaining in the nest until the end of their lives and constantly reproducing. When the colony is mature the cycle repeats itself, and that’s about the time where it stops being cute.
Termites feed on dead plant material and anything that contains cellulose, thus their big love for wood. But the thing that actually makes them interesting (and highly problematic) is that termites are one of the most resilient, successful insects groups on earth: they have colonized every landmass apart from Antarctica, and the size of their colonies can go up to several millions. On a similar note, termite queens have the longest lifespan in the insect world, with some of them managing to live up to 50 years.
But of the 2.800 different termite species that exists, only a 7% are considered plagues that cause economic damage to human socio-economic environment, so at least there’s that.
From the species that would actually eat your home, there are 3 groups that will most likely include the plague you want to get rid of:
Although there are a number of recommendations to deal with this plague with home-made implements, the wisest thing to do may just be to call a professional from the beginning. This article hopefully showed the difficulties in dealing with these creatures, as locating their nests and colonies can be hardest part of the ordeal. Professionals use tools such as IR thermometers and moisture-meters in order to find them.
Still, there are a couple of places to look for if you want to catch these elusive little enemies before they do too much damage to your home or other structures. If you find them, it may be a good idea to keep a sample so an expert can correctly identify their type.
They are easily the most annoying insects out there, and they arrive in mass as soon as the weather starts to heat up. The approach of the summer always brings its due invasion of these pesky little creatures, and they won’t hesitate in ruining pretty much any outdoor activity you plan. Also: they aren’t very sanitary.
As such, it is important to take as many precautions as possible to avoid their arrival to our homes. For those interested of doing so the natural way, here are some mosquito facts that can help you prepare:
Mosquitoes need food: They don’t feed only from the blood they take when they bite; fruit and vegetables will also pick their interest, so be sure to keep them in a sealed place or in the fridge.
Mosquitoes breed on water: This is mostly for people with pools or ponds in their gardens. Mosquitoes lay their eggs on dark spots on still water, up to 300 depending on the available water-mass. A good way to prevent this is to keep the water surface agitated, such as with regular clean up. Keep an eye on other places such as birdbaths, gutters, pet water dishes and any kind of container.
Just in case, don’t forget to check for places where water accumulates indoors too.
Keep an eye on the plants: Mosquitoes are attracted to the humidity of your indoor plants, as they feed of them too, so make sure to not water them excessively. They should also have appropriate drains so the water doesn’t get stuck. As for the outside garden, it is better to keep the grass mown short.
Now the thing is, no matter how much you prepare, some mosquitoes will still manage to get to your house. For this, there has always existed a variety of homemade techniques you can use to further your protection:
Use vinegar as bait: Mosquitoes happen to love vinegar. You can use this by pouring it in a container and cover it with plastic. Then make small holes on the plastic, and put the whole thing in a place where mosquitoes usually appear. The smell of the vinegar will draw them to the container, but they will be unable to get out and drown. A bit cruel, but effective.
Natural repellents: Lavender, lemongrass, alfalfa, rosemary, geranium and basil are all natural mosquito-repellent. You can grow any of these near your entrance door or windows so mosquitoes will naturally avoid your home.
Wear protective clothes: As you can guess, wearing long sleeves and pant will protect your arms and legs better, although we know that may be a problem in the summer. Another tip is to wear light colors in clothes, as they tend to attract fewer mosquitos.
Be careful of smells: This one should be obvious, but sometimes that is the reason why we don’t pay attention. Sweet smells attract mosquitoes like crazy, and this does include your perfume.
All these recommendations, however, work only if you are dealing with an average mosquito population or as prevention for their arrival. Using a pesticide is an option too, but you want to be carefulin the way you apply it: read the instructions on the labels and follow them to the letter. For that matter, make sure the brand and type of pesticide you purchase will meet your specific requirements, as there are pesticides for all kind of situations and purposes.
But if your problem falls into a bigger category, it is a better idea to request help from a professional. Careless use of pesticide can beharmful not only to people, pets and the environment, it may not even have the desired effect on your pest control. In the same way, finding the origin of the plague can be a bigger challenge than you can manage, but professionals have the right tools to locate them and make sure they don’t come back.