PEST OF THE MONTH
It's not uncommon, especially during the winter months, to have an unpleasant encounter with a rodent who has made its way into a home uninvited. What many people do not realize, however, is that these pests can be much more than a nuisance. Rodents, such as rats, mice, prairie dogs and rabbits, are associated with a number of health risks. In fact, rats and mice are known to spread more than 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of live or dead rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, and through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through fleas, ticks, or mites that have fed on an infected rodent.
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American cockroaches often enter structures through drains and pipes. They are more active when the temperature is 70 degrees or higher, but they can survive lower temperatures with the right conditions.
Although American cockroaches can be found in homes, they are also common in larger commercial buildings such grocery stores, food processing plants and hospitals. American roaches are also known to infest basements, yards and alleys.
American roaches have been reported to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. They can pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then carry these into food or onto food surfaces. Recent medical studies have shown that cockroach allergens cause allergies and exacerbate asthma attacks, especially in children and those living in metro-city areas. As with other species of roaches, American cockroaches can pose a threat to individuals with allergies.
Brown-banded cockroaches can be found throughout structures, but show a preference for drier locations and warmer areas over 80 degrees. Brown-banded cockroaches often hide their egg cases in or under furniture.
Brown-banded cockroaches tend to prefer higher locations than most cockroach species and are often found in upper cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms.
Brown-branded roaches have been reported to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. They can pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then carry these into food or onto food surfaces. Recent medical studies have shown that cockroach allergens cause allergies and exacerbate asthma attacks, especially in children. And brown-banded cockroaches have been identified as a species of roach that can cause such reactions.
German cockroaches will feed on almost anything, including soap, glue and toothpaste. German cockroaches are good hitchhikers and often find their way into new structures via grocery bags, cardboard boxes, drink cartons and secondhand appliances.
German cockroaches prefer to live in warm, humid places close to food and moisture sources. They are frequently found in residential and commercial kitchen environments, and bathrooms.
In addition to being a nuisance, the German cockroach has been implicated in outbreaks of illness and allergic reactions in many people. Cockroaches have been reported to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. They can pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then carry these into food or onto food surfaces. Medical studies have shown that German cockroach allergens cause allergic reactions and can exacerbate asthma attacks, especially in children. This makes German cockroach control incredibly vital.
Spider control can be a major concern for homeowners - particularly for those who live in the southwest. There are about 3,000 species of spiders throughout North America, but only two in the southern and western United States can cause serious harm when accidentally disturbed - the black widow spider and brown recluse spider. This is why it’s particularly important to hire a well-trained spider exterminator to eliminate an infestation.
FLEAS & TICKS
Ticks are often mistaken for insects, but they are actually arachnids. Regarding tick identification, they are classified into two categories: soft ticks and hard ticks. Soft ticks often feed on bats and birds, while hard ticks feed on humans, pets and nuisance wildlife. Florida has Black-legged, American Dog, Lone Star, and Gulf Coast ticks.
Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of any warm-blooded body. Cat fleas are the most common domestic flea, but dog fleas, human fleas and oriental rat fleas can also be found. Fleas do not fly. Instead, they use their powerful legs to jump onto a passing host. Controlling and/or exterminating fleas can eliminate an infestation.Flea bites can result in painful, itchy red bumps. Fleas are also the most common transmitter of the rare bubonic plague.
There are more than 700 ant species found in the U.S., although only about 25 species commonly infest homes. Ants are social insects that typically live in underground colonies, made up of workers and a queen. Ants will eat practically any kind of food, but are especially attracted to sweets. Ant identification is relatively simple due to their three distinct body regions: head, thorax and abdomen, as well as antennae. Despite similar construction, ants vary in overall appearance. Small or large ants and brown or black ants are common nicknames for different species.
If you do find signs of an ant infestation in your home, contact us promptly and we will be able to inspect your home, perform proper ant species identification, and recommend a course of ant control and extermination.
The deer mouse is found in rural, outdoor areas. These rodents rarely invade residential homes, but they can be a problem in farming areas, vacation homes, outbuildings and sheds. Deer mice are of medical concern because they are common carriers of Hantavirus.
The house mouse is the most common rodent pest in most parts of the world. It can breed rapidly and adapt quickly to changing conditions. In fact, a female house mouse can give birth to a half dozen babies every three weeks, and can produce up to 35 young per year.
ROOF RAT/PALM RAT
Roof rats - also called black rats or ship rats or palm rat - are smaller than Norway rats, but cause similar issues. This rodent gets its name from its tendency to be found in the upper parts of buildings. The roof rat is thought to be of Southeast Asian origin, but is now found throughout the world, especially in tropical regions.
Mud daubers are considered nuisance pests and rarely sting.This group of wasps gets its common name from the fact that they construct their nest of mud.
Mud daubers are solitary wasps. They are not social and do not live in colonies. Mud daubers provision spiders for their larvae by paralyzing them with their venom and bringing them into their nests.
Female mud daubers construct nests of mud. Many short mud tubes, usually about 1" long, are constructed side by side. They usually build their nests in a sheltered site, such as under eaves, porch ceilings, in garages and sheds left open, in barns and attics, etc. Nests typically exhibit round holes in them as the wasps emerge. This means the nest is probably old and inactive after springtime.
Mud daubers do not defend their nests. In fact, open pipe mud dauber stings are fairly rare. These insects are typically considered nuisance pests, and are actually beneficial as they help control spiders.
Yellowjackets are social insects that live in nests or colonies with up to 4,000 workers. They are most active in the late summer and early autumn when a colony is at its peak. They feed on sweets and proteins, and therefore commonly invade outdoor events.
Yellowjackets can be found anywhere humans are found. They build paper carton nests out of chewed up cellulose, which are usually found in the ground or in cavernous areas such as eaves and attics.
Yellowjacket stings pose significant health threats to humans, as they are territorial and will sting if threatened. They are known to sting repeatedly and can cause allergic reactions. Yellowjackets and other stinging insects send over 500,000 people to the emergency room each year.
Honeybees are active pollinators, and produce honey which feeds their young in colder months. The honeybee is the only social insect whose colony can survive many years.
Honeybees produce honey from pollen and nectar of the plants they pollinate. They store the honey in honeycombs in their nests. They often build their nests in tree crevices, but will occasionally build nests in attics or chimneys.
Honeybees do sting, but they only sting once. The sting can be extremely painful if the stinger is not immediately removed from the sting. Persons allergic to insect stings will have a more severe reaction.
Fox squirrels are most active in the morning and late afternoon often burying nuts for winter use. They feed mainly on hickory nuts and acorns, but also eat the fruit of tulip poplar, maple tree seeds, corn bordering woods, berries, bird eggs and fungi. Gray Squirrels are active year round, but most productive in the morning and evening on dry days. Gray squirrels feed primarily on nuts, especially hickory nuts, acorns, beechnuts and walnuts. In addition, they occasionally feed on maple or tulip tree seeds, fruit, opening buds and corn. Pine Squirrels are active year round, especially in the morning and evening. However, they are sometimes active after dark as well. Pine squirrels feed on a great variety of seeds, nuts, berries, bird eggs and fungi.
Fox squirrels favor oak-hickory forests, but they are found in pine forests and cypress and mangrove swamps in the south. During the summer months, fox squirrels make leaf nests in trees and they often overwinter in a common tree hole. Gray squirrels are found in hardwood or mixed forests with nut trees, especially oak-hickory forests and river bottoms. In the summer, gray squirrels nest in tree cavities or build nests made of leaves in branches. In the winter months, they are known to invade structures and homes looking for a place to overwinter. Pine squirrels are often abundant in any kind of forest and are commonly found around buildings. Pine squirrels usually nest in tree cavities or nests made of leaves, twigs and bark.
All three species of tree squirrels are considered a household pest because they frequently enter attics in the winter; however, they rarely pose a health threat to homeowners. Outdoors, these squirrels can cause considerable damage to electrical and telephone cables.
Raccoons are omnivores and will eat plants and other animals, including fruits, berries, nuts, fish, frogs, insects, turtles, mice, rabbits, muskrats and bird eggs. Raccoons usually have one litter per year, which is usually born in late spring or early summer. One litter may contain between three and five young. Raccoons can live as long as 12 years in the wild. Raccoons do not hibernate, but they do live in dens and become inactive during severe winter weather.
Raccoons prefer to live in forested areas near a water source. Although commonly found in association with water and trees, raccoons can be found around farmsteads and livestock watering areas. Raccoons den in hollow trees, ground burrows, brush piles, muskrat houses, barns and abandoned
buildings, dense clumps of cattail, haystacks, or rock crevices.
Raccoons are a major host of rabies in the U.S., especially in the eastern part of the country where their populations are increasing. They can also cause property damage around homes and outbuildings, especially when they try to enter homes through attics or chimneys, which they are also known to use as denning sites. In some cases, raccoons have torn off shingles or boards to gain access to an attic or wall space. Raccoons often raid garbage cans in search of food, and sometimes kill poultry, destroy bird nests, and damage gardens or crops.
"Pest Guide." Insect & Bug Identification - Pest Identifier Guide. National Pest Association, n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2017.
Visit pestworld.org for more information and resources about pests.