It’s safe to say that, when it comes to pest control, prevention is key. During the summer months, we spend a lot of time in the great outdoors. Sharing that space with Mother Nature’s creatures is part of that experience, but when it comes to pests, the comfort, safety, and health of our family must come first.
To ensure entry to your home is not as easy as walking in the front door, start there. If light can be seen through a shut door to the outside, insects can get in. Be sure to weatherstrip and or caulk these gaps.
Also, check caulk and grout seals on windows and in bathrooms around pipes, toilets, appliances, and any wires that come through the walls. This will also help with your heating and air conditioning bills as well as prevent damage to your home from moisture.
Moisture not only can ruin wood and cause mold, but it also attracts pests. Be sure to remove or refill any freestanding water including slow-moving drains and house plants.
Unfortunately, there are many more ways that pests can enter your home. It is important to check screens on your windows to make sure that there are no tears and that they are securely in place. If you have a chimney on your house, make sure there is a working chimney cap attached.
Check any grocery bags or boxes that you may be bringing into the house as well as plants and garbage containers. Nothing is worse than discovering you gave the insects a free ride right into your kitchen.
Another preventative method is as easy as keeping food in tightly sealed containers. If insects or rodents cannot find food, they will not linger. Baking products such as sugar and flour as well as cereals and other boxed or bagged products should be safeguarded in this way.
Clutter and unsanitized surfaces help to house and feed insects, making them that much more comfortable to rapidly reproduce.
The best way to effectively control bugs and prevent mice and other rodents from infesting your yard is to understand what brings them into the environment in the first place.
Once you understand how to prevent bugs and other pests, you will have a better grasp on how to control bugs and rodents. Because of the danger many of these pests pose, you can keep your family safe by consulting with a professional pest management service that is familiar with your area and the types of pests that pose a threat.
Regular preventive pest control treatments can greatly reduce the incidence of infestation, or eradicate them altogether.
Professional exterminators understand which strategies work best for which pests in your area, and will ensure the safety and well-being of you and your family, so you can get on with enjoying your summer.
Unfortunately, there are a few indoor insects that attack indoor plants. Like their outdoor counterparts, these indoor insects are destructive to the plants that they inhabit.
Also, like their outdoor counterparts, as soon as the symptoms of an infestation become noticeable, immediate action needs to be taken. Once an infestation is found on an indoor plant, all of the indoor plants need to be checked for signs of insects.
Like other insects, the varieties that attack house plants tend to multiply quickly. When an infestation has grown to the point of being noticeable, it is usually quite large.
These infestations can kill a plant quickly. Among the most common indoor plant pests is the spider mite. Spider mites are not very particular about the type of plant that they inhabit. They feed on several hundred types of plants.
Spider mites can hatch in as short as 3 days, then become sexually mature in as little as 5. Females can lay up to 20 eggs each day and can live for 2 to 4 weeks.
Plants that are infested with spider mites will have delicate webbing from the stem to the underside of the leaves. The problem arises when the initial treatment is not successful.
Spider mites multiply quickly enough that the population will become immune to an insecticide quickly if it is the only one used. Spider mites are yellow or green in color and are so small that they are not easy to see.
One way to check for the presence of them is to tap the leaf over a piece of white paper and check for very tiny movements on the paper. Use a good insecticide to remove them. On the other hand, shell Insects appear like a tiny bump of wax on a leaf or stem.
It is usually not possible to view these creatures without magnification, but as their numbers increase they make their presence known. These pests can stunt plant growth and even kill the plant over time. Again, use a good insecticide spray to rid the plants of these pests.
Mealy Bugs are large enough that they are visible without using magnification. It is the female of the species that stay attached to the plant. The males develop wings and stay close to the females.
The males are short-lived as they do not eat as adults. With mealy bugs, some species lay eggs (50 to 100 at a time), others, the offspring are born live.
Since mealybugs appear to be small clusters of cotton on the plant, they are relatively easy to spot.
It may take a couple of weeks of treatment before you are rid of these pests. These and other indoor plant insects will kill a plant over time. They are not only destructive, but they are also very unsightly.
A beautiful plant will become unhealthy and unsightly defeating the purpose of decorating with plants. Keeping your houseplants clean is the first step in prevention.
Spraying regularly with an insecticide may be another necessary step depending on the amount of trouble that the plants are having with pests.
The best way to get rid of squirrels is to make sure that the problem actually is squirrels. The best time to do an inspection for squirrels is an hour before sunrise into mid-morning, or an hour before sunset into mid-evening.
Squirrels are one of the most adaptable creatures. They can be found in many various places around the world and in different environments.
The reason is that these two times of day are when squirrels are most actively moving away from their nests in search of food.
Squirrels can scare very easily, so these inspections need to be done using binoculars. The purpose of these inspections is to identify if in fact the squirrels are entering a home, and if they are where the entry points are.
Finding the entry points helps in locating the nests. The nest is normally very close to the entry point located between floor and ceiling joists in the insulation.
There are three main species of squirrels that homeowners typically tackle. These are the gray squirrel, fox squirrel, and the red squirrel. The grays measures about 16 to 18 inches from nose to tail.
They generally weigh about one pound. Because they inhabit about two-thirds of the United States, these squirrels are common household pests. The red fox one is about twice as large as the gray and can be about 40 inches from nose to tail.
Conversely, the red squirrel is slightly smaller than the gray and ranges from black to red in color. Squirrels can be quite a nuisance as they will eat bird food from bird feeders, create holes in attics and other spaces, and even pass ticks or fleas along to household pets.
Fortunately, getting rid of squirrels is not impossible.
First, look for the main hole the squirrels are accessing to get into the home. Second, all holes that are 1/4 inch or larger in size must be sealed. The best products to use for this is hardware cloth or metal flashing.
It is important to make sure that the main hole is left unsealed for now. The reason for this is to make sure that there are no squirrels trapped in the house.
Thirdly, once all of the smaller holes have been sealed continue to observe the squirrel activity. When the younger squirrels are seen leaving the house without the company of any adults it is then the proper time to seal the main entry point.
There are some quick ways to reduce the squirrel population. The first way is by using rat-sized wooden-based snap traps. These traps should be baited with either peanut butter or nuts, and placed along the runways between the entrance hole and the nest.
These traps need to be checked daily, re-baited, relocated, and the trapped squirrels need to be eliminated. Another option is to used appropriately labeled rodenticides. These rodenticides give off a very distinct odor.
For this reason these are typically used in unoccupied structures such as vacation homes. Lastly, in some cases calling an animal control expert is warranted.
With the much-anticipated warmer weather comes unwelcome pests — flying insects that bite — that seek to siphon our blood.
An example? Blood-seeking insects sometimes carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Here are two pests to especially avoid.
Mosquitos can carry a number of potentially serious illnesses. In New England, West Nile fever encephalitis has become a concern, and efforts are underway in some cities and towns to address the issue.
Nonetheless, individuals older than 60 and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk. West Nile symptoms include fever, stiff neck, headache, and coma.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis has also been found in some New England mosquitos, albeit in much fewer numbers.
Some people bitten by EEE carriers will show no indications of the illness, but others become very sick. Early signs include brain swelling, chills, fever, and vomiting.
Ways to protect against mosquito bites? Clear away any standing water from around your home, and limit your time outdoors when mosquitos are most active (e.g., dusk and nighttime).
Moreover, wear long sleeves/pants and spray insect repellent on clothing, exposed skin, and hair when you are out at night (there are all-natural sprays available).
Finally, do not leave windows or doors open, as mosquitos will have a perfect entryway into your home.
Ticks are a concern because they can carry Lyme disease and co-infections like Babesia, and Bartonella. Unfortunately, Lyme disease is fast- growing in the Northeast and increasing in other regions, as well.
When Lyme is caught in the early stages, the chance for a full recovery is very good.
More often than not, the disease goes undetected because symptoms can mimic other illnesses. At the same time, testing methods are not always accurate, and this can also delay treatment.
Lyme symptoms are varied and often determined by the system or systems the bacteria are invading (pulmonary, cardiac, brain). For example, some people experience a racing pulse upon minimal exertion and others do not.
A circular rash at the bite site is often the first indication of the illness. However, not everyone with Lyme gets this rash or even knows about the bite.
Other signs include:
- Diffuse rashes
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme fatigue
- Joint pain (e.g. knees, fingers, toes)
- Neck ache or stiffness
- Brain fog (adding simple numbers can be difficult)
- Nerve twitching
- Eye changes
- Bells Palsy, and more.
Some ways to stay away from tick bites? Protect your skin when you are outdoors by wearing long pants/ tops, socks (tuck them over your pants,) and insect repellent (even spray your animals).
Also, avoid grassy or brush areas, accumulated leaves, wooded regions, and other places where ticks like to hang out in large numbers (sadly, some may even be sunbathing on your lawn).
A final thought? Perform body inspections when you come inside (even do this with your animals). Naturally, the summer is meant to be enjoyed, so no one should be afraid to revel in the warmth.
Summertime means your family has more time to spend enjoying the great outdoors. This is the season where many insects thrive and usually leave nothing more than small itchy bites and bumps on your baby’s skin.
However, mosquitoes and other bugs are known to be vectors of serious diseases such as malaria, encephalitis, West Nile virus, and dengue among others.
Here is how to protect your baby from mosquito and insect bites:
First and foremost, do not bring your baby to places where there are plenty of bugs and mosquitoes. Places with stagnant water are usually the breeding ground of mosquitoes and other insects.
Other places where bugs and mosquitoes thrive include lakes, woods, flower gardens, and food parks.
Look for a mosquito or insect repellent that is safe for your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to use mosquito or infant repellents that contain only 10 percent DEET, the most effective chemical repellent, on babies, particularly on infants.
However, there are mosquito and insect repellents out in the market today that do not contain DEET as well as other chemicals like parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and other toxins, yet are still effective in repelling insects and protecting your kids from insect bites.
These baby-safe insect repellents contain non-toxic, all-natural ingredients to keep your baby safe from pests. Before stepping out of the house, make sure to spray just the right amount of insect or mosquito repellent on your baby’s clothes, and then some on your hands and apply it on your baby’s skin.
Choose tightly woven clothing for your baby to wear. Choose ones that cover most of your baby’s exposed skin. Also, it has been found that light-colored clothes repel mosquitoes better than dark-colored clothes.
Do not forget to protect your baby’s feet with a pair of socks and/or shoes. Avoid staying outdoors during dusk and dawn as these are the times of the day when mosquitoes are most rampant.
You might also consider getting mosquito netting for your baby’s strollers, cots, playmats, prams, and other outdoor baby products.
Do not forget to reapply insect repellent after swimming or after activities that make your baby sweat.
There are several other things you can do to protect your baby and the rest of your family from mosquitoes and other bugs.
For instance, you can try:
- Covering up leftover food and cleaning up immediately after eating so as not to attract insects into your home. Clean up spills and other messes immediately as swell.
- Installing fly screens on your windows
- Avoiding wearing perfumes, lotions, soaps, and scented oils that attract insects, especially when you are carrying your baby outdoors.
- Spraying rooms with insecticides to eliminate pests. You can also try using an electric gadget that releases repellent into your rooms in the evening. These devices are generally plugged into an electric socket. The repellent, which is often permethrin, is contained in a bottle or small pad.
So, in order to have a wonderful time in nature on a lovely, sunny summer day, we need to be very careful — because we can easily fall prey and get bitten or stung by various insects. Safety is essential in insect bite identification.
If you are bitten by insects you will know in a very short time because of the immediate effects that can occur on your body, such as pain, itching, scratching, swelling, or a local redness.
They can be the most annoying symptoms that can disturb your peace and quiet. All these symptoms are caused by the actual venom or a toxic chemical substance produced by the insect’s body.
The venom or the toxin will attack your body, by producing allergic reactions immediately after it is injected in your body. The reactions that you will have are based generally upon how sensitive you are to the insect bites and to the venom or toxin.
The general reaction to insect bites are mild – like local stinging or itching sensations, and a little bit of swelling that usually disappears in a couple of days.
Sometimes, these are not the singular reactions, and if you are a sensitive or an allergic person you can have reactions such as swollen glands, painful joints and hives, or even high fever.
If you encounter these kinds of symptoms you must immediately contact a dermatologist or your family doctor in the shortest time possible, or if your medical situation aggravates you must call 911.
The most severe reactions to the insect’s bites venom or toxin are called anaphylaxis reactions. These reactions are similar to the allergic ones and appear only on the most sensitive humans.
The actual symptoms vary from toxic shock and swelling faces to even breathing difficulties and lung collapse.
Also, it is very important to know that these symptoms are caused by only a few dangerous animals and spiders such as venomous or toxic spiders, bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets.
First Aid For Insect Bites and Stings
If you are in an open space (outside your house) such as in the woods or lawns, it will be very wise to go inside, because in the wilderness you are highly exposed to other bites and stings from the other insects.
A straight razor, a knife, or even a plastic credit card can become handy if you get an insect sting. You will use this so-called “tools” in order to gently scrape off the stinger.
Do not try to pull the stinger, because it can most certainly have some venom or toxin to eject. Be careful. If you are concerned about the local inflammation, you can surely use some ice packs.
If you have a tick, you must gently remove the painful and dangerous tick with a pair of tweezers. Applying adhesive tape on the tick can also do the trick. If the wound remains in your skin for a long period of time, you must seek specialized medical attention.
If the wound is very itchy, feel free to use some prescribed over the counter medication.
Though moths are attracted to light, they often lay eggs in dark places such as pantries or closets. If you don’t know what signs to look out for, you may not discover you have a moth problem until it is too late.
The most common way to contract a moth infestation is by carrying infected items into the home. Food and clothing items that have larvae or eggs hiding within them can introduce a moth problem when you least expect it.
You may see moths attracted to your outdoor lights at night, but these are not the types of moths usually invade the home. Most moth infestations come from the pantry moth or clothes moths.
Unsealed containers in our pantries are perfect targets for pantry months. These insects can lay eggs where they are most likely to be fed and nurtured, such as in grains and flour.
In our closets, moths feed on natural fabrics like leather, wool, and silk. Their eggs can hatch and survive on these items, using the fibers for food and protection.
When to expect moth eggs
Clothes moths and pantry moths each leave being telltale signs of their habitation. Here are the signs you need to watch for.
- Silky furrows, tunnels, or trenches found on wool clothing and fabrics.
- Irregular holes in clothing.
- Furs that shed excessively.
- Tiny tubes stuck to fabric, which are larvae casings.
- Crusty deposits on rugs, drapes, and clothing.
- Small cream-colored moths appearing in flight or crawling on surfaces.
- Small holes in plastic food bags.
- Eggs or larvae inside food packages.
- Web-like material inside pantry corners.
- Small, drab-colored moths crawling or flying.
Even if you’ve only seen a small pantry moth or two, chances are these moths have laid eggs in your dry goods or have hatched from within them.
Tips to Help get Rid of Moth Larvae
Follow these tips to help reduce moth larvae in your home.
- Change vacuum bags often – to make sure you remove larvae & eggs from your property, emptying your vacuum outside & carefully double bag the content before placing in outside bin.
- Wash all fabrics – soft furnishings, linens, rugs, blankets, curtains & towels in the affected area – moth larvae find these as tasty as clothes.
- Keep clothes clean – female moths like to lay eggs on fabrics stained with sweat or urine as the larvae gain more nutrients from these. Always clean clothes before putting them back in your wardrobe.
- Clean and wash down affected furniture – wardrobes, cupboards and drawers, especially cracks & crevices where moth eggs can be hidden out of sight.
- Clean suitcases – bags, storage boxes & containers as these might be hiding more eggs or larvae.
Plants that eat bugs
Plants are productive creatures without which we would not have oxygen to breathe or get rid of carbon dioxide. Moreover, without plants we would not have the energy we need to survive.
Plants obtain energy from the Sun. We get this energy directly by eating them or indirectly when we consume animals that feed on plants. However, have you ever heard of plants that not only eat bugs, but also small animals?!
No need to wonder; this is reality. Some plants do not obtain enough nutrition from the soil, and hence, opt for hunting insects and small animals. However, this does not make them consumer creatures, for they remain productive through photosynthesis.
Why and How these amazing plants hunt
Most of these plants grow in nitrogen-poor soils by swamps. Nitrogen is an essential element for plants; thus, they make up for these missing nutrients by consuming insects.
Predatory plants have become to be as such due to evolution. Living organisms change, spontaneously evolving to cope with the surrounding environment.
In other words, predatory plants were once regular plants, but they evolved to consume insects and small animals in response to their poor environment.
If you think about it, plants in general have neither muscular nor digestive systems; how then do they hunt and digest their preys? Predatory plants set traps to hunt insects through their attractively colorful, yet very sticky, leaves.
One such species looks dewy, which attracts insects that soon get trapped by these deceivingly sticky drops. Other predatory plants emit distinctive smells that attract insects.
Once the insects are trapped, predatory plants use one of two techniques to catch them. They can change the water pressure in one side of the leaf, making it bend over the other side.
Other plants do the hunting, but wait for other creatures to eat the prey, so that they may then feed on their wastes as prepared meals.
The Most Famous Carnivorous Plants
There are about 600 different species of predatory plants around the world, the most famous of which are:
- The Cape Sundew: A perennial plant that flourishes in humid places in South Africa and consumes insects.
- The Red Dragon: One of the most famous carnivorous plants that also exists in South Africa. It consumes insects and small animals, such as frogs, using its large colorful leaves to attract prey.
- The Venus Flytrap: This species is in the United States, specifically in the State of Carolina, which is rich with swamps. Flies, bees, and spiders are its main food.
Predatory plants face an extremely harsh challenge; how is pollen transferred if its means of transportation becomes the food of plants? How do these plants reproduce?
It has been proven however, that most predatory plants can differentiate between pollen carriers and other insects they consider prey.
Pollen-carrying insects head to the plant flowers rich in pollen, which is usually far from the leaves. Other insects head to the plant leaves and are trapped then eventually eaten.
With the rise of organic gardening, pesticides are becoming less and less popular.
For strawberry growers, this trend is a good one. Strawberries routinely make the annual “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated with chemicals, insecticides, or other toxins. Few people would voluntarily eat pesticides.
Interestingly enough, the tarnished plant bug is rather resilient.
These insects indirectly halt the grown of strawberries causing them to be worthless and inedible. While in the nymph stage, they will inject a toxin into a strawberry. The toxin shuts down strawberry growth from the site of injection down to the tip of the strawberry.
The resultant deformed fruit is called a “nubbin” or “button berry” and has a tip that is quite full of brown, undeveloped seeds that stopped developing once the toxin was injected.
For the strawberry grower, a Mmalformed strawberry or two can mean a loss. Caring and tending strawberries for many, long hours can be disappointing with this kind of result.
In the strawberry farming business, a bountiful harvest, of course, means good income.
Anything that poses a threat to the harvest is a burden to the gardener. There are many agents that can cause a strawberry harvest to consist of strawberries that have significant deformations or damage. The most common causes are:
- The tarnished plant bug. While these insects are in their nymph phase, a toxin is injected into new fruit. Once injected, the berry ceases to properly develop or growing below the injection site, causing a half-formed strawberry with a dense pack of non-viable brown non-viable seeds at the tip, which is unpleasant and completely useless for the future growing of seeds.
- Mites. An infestation of different kinds of mites will cause severe damage in strawberries. Scarred and fissured strawberries are likely the result of feeding by some sundry insects.
- Pollination problems. Inadequate pollination can result in small, malformed fruit. Extremely high temperatures can seriously affect strawberry formation because of the heat’s effects on pollen. With temperatures that are extremely high, the pollen itself is devitalized. This causes poor pollination.
Research is currently underway to isolate an actual fungus that will infect and kill these bugs. However, it is unlikely that such a remedy will be developed any time soon. To mitigate the chance that your strawberry patch will be infested, two things can be done.
First, avoid mowing alfalfa anywhere near your strawberry plants while the strawberry plants are blooming. Tarnished plant bugs thrive in alfalfa, and destroying their home will cause them to seek a new home (in your garden).
The second is to sprinkle diatomaceous earth in and around your garden. While not completely effective against the tarnished plant bug, it does serve to make your garden less inviting.
Phorid flies, or sewer flies, and other biting insects have been seen of a late evening scurrying across the kitchen floor.
Knowing that millions of homes across the country suffer the same fate does little to help when it is you that’s getting bitten, harassed, or frightened on a daily basis.
Although bugs such as the harmless house spider are safe and relatively clean, this is not the case with all our summer gate crashers. Ants can and do bite, and when it’s hot, these nasty little stings seem to linger on forever.
Flying insects such as common flies are nothing short of filthy and can contaminate any uncovered foods if you’re careless.
Wasps can pack one heck of a painful jab too, and as for mosquitoes, well, depending on where in the world you come from, these lightweights can really carry some malicious parasites around with, them which can prove lethal if they find their way into your bloodstream.
Professional advice from a pest control company is required for this to reach a resolution. But, the following can be done along with your daily routine:
- Keep all food covered or put away at all times, and that includes the fruit bowl. Kids are always prone to grab an apple or a handful of grapes and eat them without giving washing a second thought.
But apart from the obvious, if there’s nothing to eat, the pests are discouraged. At the end of the day, most insects are looking for grub and that includes cockroaches. Check and clean under washing machines, fridges, and ovens. You could be surprised at what you find.
- Make sure you clean up and often so. It’s too easy to grab a sandwich and think about cleaning up the tops a little later. In the middle of summer, just 30 minutes or less of fresh food lying around is enough to have your house invaded by armies of ants, flies, and the like.
- Keep in mind to always check that there is no food dropped onto the floor as this is where the cockroaches love to scavenge. Once those critters start breeding you’ll most likely need to call the professionals in to finish them off.
- If you have animals, make sure their eating bowls are cleaned or covered up after mealtimes. Cats especially tend to leave half-eaten food in their dish and this is very attractive to flies and the like.
- Rinse and repair any broken or slow-moving gutters and pipes. Many insects are drawn to damp or moist areas and could lay their eggs in such places.
- Also, check the outside of your home for small apertures or cracks that the bigger pests may be able to slip through at night. We’ve all seen big bugs in the house and not known quite how they got in. Quite often it is through these cracks in the wall or side of a door, and unless you find them, they’ll just keep on coming.