The Thing About Spiders…….

Why are spiders so scary? Is it their long, creepy legs? Or the fear of being bitten? Each arachnophobic individual probably has their own reason for their fear. But sometimes learning more about them will lessen the fear. Maybe. It’s worth a shot, so here goes:

As far as notoriety goes, the black widow spider is possibly the most widely known of all arachnids, at least amongblack-widow-spider-949399_1280 the venomous kind. There are more kinds of widow spiders, but the main ones found in Florida are the black and brown widows.

Although, all widow spiders are poisonous, they are not aggressive. They don’t seek out humans to bite, usually a person leans on one or puts his hand down on a web or in a dark corner. They will bite if they feel threatened, but they don’t attack.

The brown widow is the lesser known spider, but it is also more prolific. It seems that they like to inhabit cars, trucks and recreational vehicles, which would explain why they seem to be spreading at an alarming rate. The brown widow spider was first found in Florida in 1935. But since the year 2000, this spider has quickly spread throughout Florida and in most of the southern states. Apparently, they like to travel.

The two spiders differ in appearance and also in their toxicity. The brown widow’s venom is twice as toxic, but when they bite, they dispense less of it. They are also not likely to defend their web, being very timid, according to Dr. G.B. Edwards, an arachnologist with the Florida State Collection of Arthropods in Gainesville. Statistically, deaths from a widow bite account for less than one percent of people bitten, which is apparently the same odds as being struck by lightening.spider-web-1003537_1280

While it is always good to be aware of the areas we might come in contact with a spider, such as a dark corner or under rocks and things, there is no reason to be scared of them. Just like most things that are much smaller than we are, they are more scared of us than we are of them. Unless, of course, you are arachnophobic, then by all means, run…..or better yet, call your pest control expert and let them deal with the problem.

Subterranean Termites Never Rest

It’s January, probably the coldest month of the year. The one good thing about the cold is not having to worry about any pests, right? Wrong. Two words: subterranean termites.

These pesky termites don’t take much time off for the winter as it turns out. They can be active all year round in termites-34672_1280warmer climates, not as active as they are when it really begins to warm up but enough to be noticeable. If they can find warmth, water and wood, that is all they need to survive and in a heated home they can be all setup for housekeeping, no matter the outside temperature.

Also known as Formosan subterranean termites, because they are imported from Asia, just like most of the other invasive species we see in this countkry, they are also known as the super-termite, because of their incredibly destructive eating habits. A single colony may contain millions of very hungry individual pests, with a taste for wood, any wood as it turns out.

They pose a threat to more than just homes; boats, high-rise buildings and trees are just a few of the preferred eating establishments for these termites. It is estimated that the cost of preventative treatment and damage repair can be over $1 billion dollars in the US each year.urban-227729_1280

It can take as little as three months for these super-termites to severely damage a structure. Even nearby structures can be threatened because of the foraging range of the massive colonies. And probably the most worrisome thing about them is that once they are established, subterranean termites have never been eradicated from an area, or so it has been said.

As it happens, it is never a good time to forget about termites. Being vigilant about pest control can mean that your home is safe from these very destructive pests. Be sure to call your pest control expert for a termite inspection of your home and other structures soon, before termites can do irreparable damage to your property.

Bed Bugs: Did Your City Make the List?

Bed bugs have made the news, yet again. So what’s new? A list of the top clipboard-1029749_128015 cities for bed bug infestation.

Incidentally, the moniker “bed bug” is a huge misnomer, as these bugs can be everywhere, not just beds. They can live in libraries, in the binding of the books or the upholstered furniture. You can come across them in taxis or airports. You could even happen upon them while shopping in a department store or watching a movie in your local theater. The little critters sure get around.

As to the most infested cities, the number one distinction goes, unfortunately, to Detroit. Just what that place needs, another reason why people don’t feel comfortable going there.

Five of the top 15 cities are in Ohio. No reason is given why the Buckeye state has also become the Bed Bug state, however, the authors of the list did say that the cities listed are big places for tourists, conventions and business destinations. Why that would make a difference to Ohio cities, no one is quite sure, but there you have it.

Some are also on the list because of infestations gone untreated, perhaps in low budget hotels or low income communities.

Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City are numbers 4, 6 and 15, respectively. It stands to reason that the 3 largest cities in the country would be on the list. And others like Philadelphia (number 2) and Baltimore (number 14) are big tourist destinations.

It is interesting to note that not one Florida city is on the list. Just saying.

There really isn’t one common denominator among the cities. It seems that bed bug infestation can occur just about anywhere. Which is reason enough to have your local pest control experts on speed dial.

This is the list in full:
1. Detroit, Mich.
2. Philadelphia, Pa.
3. Cleveland-Akron, Ohio
4. Los Angeles, Calif.
5. Dayton, Ohio
6. Chicago, Ill.
7. Columbus, Ohio
8. Cincinnati, Ohio
9. Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas
10. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif.
11. Denver, Colo.
12. Toledo, Ohio
13. Oklahoma City, OK
14. Baltimore, Md.
15. New York, N.Y.

Why Rats and Airplanes Don’t Mix

If you are flying to India any time in the near future, you might want to double check that the planes have been rat-proofed. The reason being, in 2014 there were two different instances of rats being found aboard an Air India plane, with one flight being returned to the airport in airplane-926744_1280Mumbai instead of continuing on.

It does seem odd that the pilot would take that drastic of a measure, just because someone spotted a rat. But if the plane hadn’t turned around, it is possible that the rat on board could have caused the plane to crash. Rats love electric wiring. They love to chew on it, that is. And, the electric wiring in an airplane controls the hydraulics, which is what allows the pilots to take off, fly and land the plane without incident.

Rats chew, constantly. It’s because a rodent’s front teeth never stop growing, so the rodent must chew on things to keep the teeth ground down to a reasonable level. Electric wires seem to be the first choice of rats or mice in a home. Do the wires give off some sort of “vibe” that attracts the rodents to them? This question has been debated back and forth, ad nauseam.

But the one explanation that made more sense than any other, at least to me, is that rodents search for ways to go from one room, or area, to the next. If they find a hole, they will try to get through it, gnawing their way through, if nothing else. And, usually those holes that they find have been made by humans to run their electric wires through. So, the rats and mice eat away at those wires until they get the holes to a size that will allow entry to the next space.

So, it’s probably nothing to do with the wires themselves, just that they will use any method they can to get where they want to go, including chewing their way through, if necessary.

Rats can be very destructive creatures. If they get into your house they may eat through roof-rat-961502_1280wires causing loss of power, or other annoying things. However, it would be much worse if they were to chew through the electric wires on an airplane. It is possible they could cause the deaths of hundreds of people.

So, next time you fly you might want to make sure they have had their local pest control expert out to see to any rat problems aboard the plane. Better to be safe than sorry.

The Ferocious Floating Fire Ant

Fire ants are some scary little things. They are one of the worst of all the invasive species that have been brought into this country usually by shipping containers. Before fire ants became a problem in the US there really wasn’t an ant that we needed to be scared of. Ants were mostly benign, hard working, non-threatening little creatures. But no more.meadow-167470_1280

Many types of ants will bite, but fire ants bite only to get a grip and then they sting from their abdomen. The venom they inject gives the sensation that one feels when being burned by fire, thus the name. And it could be deadly if whoever is stung is sensitive to the toxin.

Another reason why fire ants are to be feared is their aggression which allows them to push native species away from their habitat. They do this to some bees, taking over their hives and stealing the contents.

fire-ant-1091301_1280They are also able to survive conditions that would kill most other insects, like very cold temperatures and floods. When faced with water, fire ants form a “raft” of sorts with their bodies. Researchers looked into this amazing phenomenon and discovered that, not only do their bodies repel water, but a cluster of fire ants dropped into water will spread like a drop of oil. The ants use their mouths and claws and an adhesive pad on their legs to stick to one another, ultimately forming the base of the “raft”, which allows the rest of the colony to pile on and stay dry until they happen upon dry land.

One Achilles’ heel of the fire ant is soap. One drop of soap can cause the ants to lose their adhesive abilities and the raft will start to disintegrate. Of course, that only works on the ones who are caught in a flood. If you suspect fire ants around your home, the best thing to do is call your pest control expert. They can give you the peace of mind needed to enjoy the outdoors without fear of attack from the tiny but aggressive, and possibly deadly, fire ant.

Bed Bugs May Have You Burning Your Library Card

What do you think of when you think of the public library? Education? Enjoyment? Relaxation? Perhaps. But in some places you might also think of bed bugs. And that is not as unusual as it library-488687_1280might sound.

When you think about it, people from all walks of life use the library. Even homeless people can be found in the library when they take advantage of the opportunity to come in out of the cold or heat. People take books home and bring them back, perhaps with a little extra something in the pages or bindings of the books. The next patron takes out the book, falls asleep reading in bed and during the night the tiny bugs come out to look for food and find a whole new place to infest. And you have bed bugs, that easily.

We most likely think of bed bugs in places where there are beds, like hotels, hospitals and college dorms. But let’s face it, bed bugs can hide in clothing, jackets, backpacks, and in the case of the library, pages and bindings of books.

Public libraries from Oakland Park, Florida to Kalamazoo, Michigan to Los Angeles, California and many places in between have been infested at one time or another. And the problem is growing, which means all sorts of methods are being devised to discover and eliminate the bugs.

One library places insect inspector cups underneath every chair so these can trap and monitor bed bugs entering or leaving furniture. Other libraries have re-upholstered their cloth chairs with leather to dissuade any bugs from setting up camp. There are those who employed dogs able to sniff out bed bugs and detect the problem early.

If a problem is found, the library can take measures to heat the books to 130 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour which kills the bugs and their eggs. There are also insecticides that can be used.

Bed bugs, it seems, have left the confines of the bedroom and now can be found just about anywhere. But there is no need to worry, just keep the number for your pest control expert at hand in case any of the little critters follow you home, from the library or any other public establishment.

Pocket Gophers – There Goes the Neighborhood

Pocket Gophers do not make good neighbors. They can be some of the most aggravating creatures out there. You have worked very hard on a beautiful lawn or a freshly planted garden, proudly come out of your house the next day to survey your kingdom and find a tunnel winding the length of your yard, creating a trench guaranteed to break an ankle if you walk on it wrong. You have a gopher.gophers-536523_1280

Gophers are rodents who live their whole lives underground. They have teeth designed to chew through the toughest of limbs and roots. They can kill a tree by eating through the roots that keep it alive. The “pocket” part of their name refers to the pockets, or pouches that line the inside of their mouths, which enables them to carry their food or material to make their nests. They are essentially hoarders who stockpile food in their nest, which they dig further underground than the tunnels.

They are actually natives of North and Central America. Finally, a pest that doesn’t originate in Asia, not that having gophers would be something to write home about.

They are solitary little beasts, hardly ever seen, preferring to tunnel alone, which means every gopher has his own tunneling system. The tunnels allow them access to their favorite food, roots and tubers, no doubt thinking you put those plants there in your garden just for them.

Not only do they cause damage to plants, trees and lawns, gophers are also responsible for destruction of utility cables buried underground and irrigation pipes. They have been known to disrupt irrigation systems by channeling water runoff for their own purposes, causing crops to gopher-739819_1280go unwatered, while the gophers flourish.

These are just a few reasons why pocket gophers do not make good neighbors. If you step out onto your lawn and sink or see the evidence of tunneling going on, call your pest control experts. They can make your lawn and garden gopher free.

When it Comes to Wasps, No More Mr. Nice Guy

Florida is a warm place. Even in winter, which is why there are so many snow birds, people who migrate to the south when the north becomes a frozen wasteland. Especially the older folks, ones who have spent decades shoveling snow and scraping ice and are ready for a breather.

However, while a lot of cold is not good, some cold is. If the temperature drops low enough, even for a few days, pests like wasp-538471_1280mosquitos and wasps cannot withstand the cold and die off. Which means the next spring there will be less of them. Good for everyone. But, if the temperature remains warm enough, they live on and reproduce until there are millions of them. As was witnessed recently by Jonathan Simkins, an entomologist and bee removal expert in Central Florida.

Mr. Simpkin was alerted to a wasp nest that measured 6 feet by 8 feet and swarming with mad wasps. A common wasp nest black-171677_1280might contain between 1000 and 5000 wasps, so one that big might easily have contained a million or more. He knew the nest must be destroyed so that no unsuspecting person, or worse yet, children, might come up on it and be overtaken by stinging creatures. He admitted that at one point while doing so, he actually feared for his life and if not for the protective gear he was wearing, he could have been killed.

There are many different species of wasps and hornets and just as many types of nests. Some build nests in the trees or bushes, others make use of overhanging roofs or somewhere else on a house. Some are not aggressive and won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. But others are not so nice. Even the nicer ones might get aggressive if they perceive you are dangerous to them.

This is where your pest prevention experts come in handy. They know exactly how to deal with situations like wasps or other stinging insects. If you suspect suspicious hive activity, give them a call to come and check it out. Better safe than sorry. Hopefully the huge nest that Mr. Simpkin destroyed is one of a kind, but we don’t want them to have the opportunity to build another one like it.

Roof Rats – The Pitter Patter of Disease Ridden Feet

A few weeks ago roof rats and their love of chewing through dishwasher hoses was the topic. Today it’s roof rats and the spread of disease. The really bad part is, they don’t even have to be present to spread disease; disease is spread through the dried urine and feces that they leave behind. Ewwwwww.

And they do bite, but obviously you would have to be in the same room for them to do that. If they can mouse-170941_1280access any part of your home, which they can do through as small of an opening as the size of a quarter, they can leave their “mark”. Just think, during the day while you are hard at work, the rats can be making their way through your home, leaving droppings anywhere and everywhere. They would most likely head for the kitchen and food, but unless you catch them on a nanny-cam, you have no idea where they have been.

Some of the many diseases they can spread are:

pestis-541948_1280Bubonic plague – Yes, rats can still transmit the plague, but today this can be successfully treated with antibiotics if you see a doctor right away. The plague manifests itself as a skin infection, red marks on the skin that turn black. Symptoms include heavy breathing, muscle aches and vomiting blood. In the middle ages it was referred to as the Black Death and it wiped out 25 million people in a 5 year period from 1347 to 1352. Thank goodness for antibiotics.

Rat bite fever – This occurs most often in Asia, with symptoms that include fevers and inflammation. It can be treated with penicillin.

Hanta virus – An airborne virus with flu-like symptoms that can last a week or more. This is a serious virus spread by rodent droppings which requires immediate treatment.

Weil’s disease – This is transmitted through rat urine that has contaminated food. Symptoms are flu-like in nature and may include jaundice and vomiting. It is best to see a doctor right away for treatment.

Typhoid – This disease can be tranmitted through the air by rat droppings or something contaminated by the droppings. Symptoms include high fever, diarrhea and rash. Can be treated with antibiotics, so see a doctor right away.

This is by no means a complete list of diseases that rats can transmit. Your pest control specialist can make sure that your home is rat free. It’s well worth the piece of mind that it can bring!

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silverfish……or Not

Silverfish are bugs we don’t hear that much about, but not one we want to have in our homes. They are not as well known as the mosquitoes or cockroaches, and they don’t transmit disease like rats or fleas, but they are very destructive pests.

Their diet includes things like book bindings, carpet, glue, paper, photos, plaster, sugar and clothing. In short, they can make a meal out of most anything. In times of famine they have been known to attack leather and synthetic fabrics. And, strangest of all, they can live for a year or more without eating.

As far as the name silverfish goes, they could not have been more appropriately named, considering they are silver in color, have scales and they sort of slither along, much like a fish out of water.silverfish-61638_1920

They are quite long-lived for insects, their lifespan is two to eight years. They are quick too, can outrun predators like spiders and centipedes, which probably explains how they can live for up to eight years. However, they don’t have appendages which would allow them to climb vertically, so you won’t see them climbing walls.

Silverfish don’t seem to be a particularly horrible pest. They don’t sting, bite, fly, carry disease or create massive invasions. However, they are very destructive to property. Can you imagine what would happen to an old book, perhaps a first edition of some classic, with a silverfish stationed inside eating everything from the binding and glue to the paper it was printed on? For eight years!? You may return to it and find nothing but dust. Not good.

One do-it-yourself treatment involves using cinnamon as a repellent, but that is as far as that goes, it doesn’t kill the silverfish. And it certainly doesn’t kill the eggs.

No, this is one best left to the professionals. Call your pest control expert as soon as you see silverfish or the evidence that they are present. They can take care of the problem and leave your home, book shelves and valuables, silverfish, and all other pests, free.