COMMENSAL RATS. Commensal is defined as “sharing one’s table.” Commensal rats live off humans and animals without returning anything of worth. What they do return is the potential for serious problems, such as:
- Spreading serious diseases, including salmonellosis (food poisoning), leptospirosis, rickettsialpox and lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM).
- Carrying fleas, ticks and other ectoparasites, which potentially spread other diseases, such as
Lyme disease and bubonic plague.
- Gnawing, causing expensive structural damage. They also can start fires if they gnaw on electrical wires.
THE TWO SPECIES OF COMMENSAL RATS ARE THE NORWAY RAT AND THE ROOF RAT
The Norway rat (synonymous with brown, dump, barn, sewer, gray or wharf rat) is a burrowing rodent. Norway rats can be found in warehouses, farm buildings, houses, sewers, rubbish dumps, woodpiles and building foundations. The roof rat (black or ship rat) is somewhat smaller and is a more agile climber.
KEY INDICATORS OF A COMMENSAL RAT INFESTATION IN THE HOME:
- An actual rodent, dead or alive, is a telltale sign of a potential rat problem.
- The presence of droppings around the home. Fresh roof rat droppings are soft and moist, whereas old droppings are hard and dried. The droppings usually measure about ½” (12-13 mm) and have pointed ends. Droppings from Norway rats are larger – measuring about ¾” (18-20 mm) with blunt ends.
- Gnaw marks, damaged goods, nests or greasy rub marks also indicates roof rat activity.
- Noises in the attic or house walls and damaged electrical wires.
TO PREVENT A RAT INFESTATION
- Seal up any holes or cracks larger than a quarter with silicone caulk .
- Be sure that all windows and vents are screened.
- Keep trees and shrubs trimmed away from the building and cut back limbs overhanging the roof.
- Clean up fruit that may fall from trees in the yard and keep garbage in tightly covered receptacles.
- Store pet food and other dry food in sealed containers.
- Eliminate any outdoor sources of water such as leaky sprinkler heads, pet water dishes and birdbaths.
If you suspect a roof rat infestation in your home, contact us HERE at ClearDefense Pest Control. We can help!
THE BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER is known for its “reclusive” behaviors, because it prefers to take residence in warm, dry and dark environments, such as woodpiles, basements and closets. This arachnid bites—usually unintentionally—when it feels trapped, typically when a hand or foot reaches into a shoe or piece of clothing or in a box in the attic or basement where a brown recluse has made its home. The female spins an irregular web in undisturbed areas, like the garage, attic and basement. The web is not used to catch prey, but rather as a retreat.
Outside, brown recluse spiders are typically found around rocks, piles of inner tubes, utility boxes, woodpiles, block-wall voids, under bark, etc.
Inside the home, brown recluse spiders can be found in almost any undisturbed area. They are most commonly found in boxes, among papers, and in seldom-used clothing and shoes, although they can be found in corners, underneath tables and chairs, or in crevices such as those found along baseboards, doors, and window moldings. Storage areas such as closets, bedrooms, attics, crawl spaces, and basements are preferred nesting areas.
BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER BITES
Both male and female brown recluse spiders can bite and inject venom. Injection of their venom may produce necrosis or dead tissue, resulting in an ulcerating sore. Healing is very slow and usually takes several weeks, resulting in dense scar tissue. In severe cases, plastic surgery may be required.
The bite of a brown recluse spider is usually not felt, but it may produce an immediate stinging sensation followed by intense pain or this reaction may be delayed for 6–8 hours. A small blister usually appears and the surrounding bite area becomes swollen. Symptoms include restlessness, fever and difficulty sleeping. The dead tissue gradually sloughs away during the next 10–14 days, leaving an open ulcer and possibly exposing the underlying muscles and/or bone. Call a physician or go to an emergency room immediately if bitten, and take the spider along for identification purposes.
- Inspect the outside of the home for any small openings or holes, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter the structure. Seal any such openings with a silicone caulk to prevent spiders and other insects from gaining access inside.
- Stack firewood at least twenty feet from your home and five inches up off of the ground to deter spiders from hiding out in the woodpile. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when moving the wood, and inspect it carefully before bringing indoors.
- Clothes and shoes should not be left on the floor, or they must be shaken out before wearing, especially if stored in the basement, garage, or other dark area.
- Store seldom-used items, such as boots, baseball mitts, skates, gardening clothes, and gloves, in tightly sealed plastic bags or boxes.
Control of brown recluse spider infestations should be left to a licensed pest-control professional. If you suspect a problem, please contact us HERE at ClearDefense Pest Control. We can help!
Millipedes are sometimes called “thousand-leggers” because of their many pairs of legs, but they actually have anywhere from 30–90+ pairs of legs, depending on the species. The leggiest is Illacme plenipes, which can have more than 333 pairs of legs.
Most millipedes are nocturnal and are primarily scavengers, feeding on decaying plants and occasionally dead insects. In the autumn, millipedes are known to migrate in great numbers.
Millipedes are found throughout the world, with about 1,000 species occurring in the United States alone. They are typically found in areas of high moisture and decaying vegetation, such as under trash, in piles of grass clippings, flowerbed mulches, piles of leaves, etc. Millipedes do not usually survive indoors for more than a few days unless there are high-moisture conditions and a food supply is present.
Some millipede species give off an ill-smelling fluid through openings along the sides of the body. Underscoring the importance of millipede control, this fluid can be toxic to small animals and pets, and can cause small blisters on humans.
The most effective ways to prevent and get rid of millipede infestations is to:
- Reduce areas of moisture in and around your home.
- Run a dehumidifier if you have a damp basement.
- Keep lawns mowed so that grass does not retain moisture.
- Water lawns in the early morning to allow grass to dry during the day.
- Remove leaf piles and grass clippings.
- Store firewood off of the ground.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact us HERE at ClearDefense Pest Control. We know what to do!
Mice are the most common rodent pest in most parts of the world. They 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.
House mice prefer to eat seeds and insects, but will eat many kinds of food. They are excellent climbers and can jump up to a foot high. They are colorblind and cannot see clearly beyond six inches.
House mice live in structures, but they can survive outdoors, too. They prefer to nest in dark, secluded areas and often build nests out of paper products, cotton, packing materials, wall insulation and fabrics.
Mice can also bring fleas, mites, ticks and lice into your home. Rodent infestations in the home can have a profound effect on health. Rodent feces can spread bacteria and trigger allergic reactions. Micro droplets of mouse urine can cause allergies in children.
To keep mice and other rodents out of your home:
1. Make sure all holes of larger diameter than a pencil are sealed.
2. Keep areas clear and store boxes off of the floor because mice can hide in clutter.
3. Don’t overlook proper drainage at the foundation and always install gutters or diverts which will channel water away from the building to prevent ideal conditions in which house mice can nest.
4. Regularly inspect the home for signs of mice including droppings, gnaw marks and damaged food goods.
If you suspect a rodent infestation, contact us HERE at ClearDefense Pest Control. We can help.
What do American cockroaches look like?
Adult American cockroaches average between 1.4” to 1.6” in length, but they can grow to exceed 2”. American cockroaches are reddish brown in color with a yellow band that outlines the area behind their head. Both males and females have wings and can fly short distances.
Do American cockroaches bite?
American cockroaches have the ability to bite, although they rarely do. If a bite occurs, it should not be problematic unless it gets infected.
Signs of an infestation
There are four telltale signs of an American cockroach infestation.
- Homeowners will see the fast-moving insects fleeing to dark areas.
- American cockroaches leave behind droppings in the dim areas in which they hide. These small droppings are blunt on the ends and have ridges on the sides. They are often mistaken for mouse droppings, so it’s important to contact a licensed pest control professional for proper identification.
- The presence of egg capsules, which are about 8 mm long and dark-colored. Egg capsules are sometimes glued to a surface near food sources, and can be found in basements, laundry rooms and kitchens, as well as behind appliances or underneath cabinets.
- The American cockroach will produce a pheromone that some people describe as having a “musty” smell. People with sensitive noses may notice this odor around the house.
How to get rid of American cockroaches
Cockroaches are some of the most resilient pests in the world. They exhibit unique survival tactics, including the ability to live for a week without their head. This makes getting rid of American cockroaches a difficult task for homeowners to do themselves.
People can take steps, however, to mitigate American cockroach problems through barrier exclusion and cleanliness. Barrier exclusion involves preventing cockroaches from entering the home through small cracks in walls, gaps near electric sockets and switch plates, and up through drains. Use a silicone-based caulk to seal these openings.
Having a clean and sanitary home will also make it less inviting to American cockroaches. Homeowners should keep counters, sinks, tables and floors free of clutter and crumbs. Don’t let dishes pile up in the sink or spills marinate on the counter. It’s also good practice to store food in airtight containers and avoid leaving pet food out in the open. Some other ways to prevent American cockroaches include vacuuming at least once a week to remove food particles, ventilating crawl spaces to prevent moisture buildup and running water periodically in spare bathrooms to keep u-traps filled.
Questions? Problems? ClearDefense Pest Control can help! Please contact us HERE.
Fleas are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of animals and people. Fleas do not normally live on humans, rather on cats, dogs and wildlife. They do however bite people who handle infested animals. Fleabites cause small, red, itchy bumps, and are most often found on the ankles and lower legs of humans. For relief from itching wash with soap and water, then apply ice.
- Change pet bedding regularly.
- Bathe and brush pets regularly. Soap acts as a gentle insecticide and helps control light infestations on your pet.
- For pet infestations that are more significant, consider using orally applied veterinary products for flea control.
- Vacuum under furniture, cushions, along walls and pet bedding. Discard vacuum cleaner bags regularly. Fleas can continue to develop inside vacuum cleaner bags and re-infest the house.
- Avoid flea collars as these are often impregnated with toxicants that are harmful to humans.
- Exclude bats and wild birds from your home by maintaining good bug screens over air vents in your attic. Maintain chimney structures so that birds and bats cannot use them for roosting or nest sites. These pests can carry their own fleas.
- An outbreak of human fleas in the immediate area should be taken seriously, particularly in schools. Contact professionals and ask for an IPM solution.
- Flea populations can be monitored with a simple homemade apparatus. Place a little dish detergent into a shallow pan of water. The detergent acts as a wetting agent, which breaks water surface tension. Place the pan on the floor overnight, and position a bright light source about five inches above the liquid surface. Fleas attracted by the light, fall into the detergent solution and drown.
- Trim lawns and weeds to create a drier, less inviting environment for flea larvae. Avoid piles of sand and gravel around the home for long periods. Avoid over-watering lawns.
- Monitor pets closely for fleas.
If you suspect a flea infestation, please contact ClearDefense Pest Control HERE. We want to help!
Centipedes are easy to spot by their elongated, worm-like body with their many pairs of legs. They can actually have anywhere from 15-177 pairs of legs with one pair per segment, depending on the species. Interestingly, centipedes always have an odd number of pairs of legs.
Centipedes typically overwinter outdoors in protected situations and lay their eggs during the summer, usually in or on the soil. Some have been known to produce 35 eggs over a period of days.
If handled roughly, some larger species can inflict a painful bite that can break human skin and cause pain and swelling, similar to a bee sting. The large Scolopendra can inflict a very painful bite and should be handled with great care.
Centipedes are found in areas of high moisture, such as loose bark, in rotting logs, under stones, in trash or piles of leaves and grass. When they invade homes, they are most commonly found in damp basements, crawlspaces, bathrooms or potted plants.
All centipedes have very poor eyesight and track their prey through the use of touch and smell. They are primarily carnivorous and obtain most of their moisture needs from their prey. Most house centipedes are nocturnal, and prey primarily on flies, spiders and sometimes plant tissue, causing injury to the plant.
Centipedes are generally considered nuisance pests, as they do not pose significant health or property threats. However, all house centipedes have poison jaws with which they inject venom into their prey.
Here are some effective ways to help prevent an infestation:
- Reduce areas of moisture in and around your home.
- Remove piles of leaves and grass clippings, logs, stones and rocks on your property.
- Store firewood off the ground.
- Provide adequate ventilation in basements, attics and crawl spaces.
- Seal holes, cracks and gaps that enable outdoor centipedes to get inside a home.
If a centipede is found indoors, you can get rid of it with a vacuum. If you suspect an infestation, please contact us HERE at ClearDefense Pest Control. We’ll be happy to help!
VARROA MITES: A DANGER TO BEES – Untreated they can wipe out a bee colony within one to three years: Varroa mites are regarded as the greatest pest to the western honeybee. This animation explains how the tiny parasites threaten bees and explains what beekeepers can do about them.
Beekeeper Ernst Caspari has 20 colonies of bees that collect honey for him, and he needs to protect his bees against their greatest enemy, the Varroa mite. This parasite, measuring one to two millimetres in length, is a major cause of bee losses during the winter.
The Varroa mite first appeared in Germany in 1978. Caspari still remembers the Varroa-free time before that: “Bee-keeping was simpler. Previously, you could expect losses of up to ten per cent during the winter. A queen might die, or a shrew might get into the beehive.” Now, however, individual beekeepers may lose 30 per cent or more of their bee populations throughout a year. “That is why beekeepers have to take action, otherwise their colonies will not survive for long,” says the 86-year-old from Leverkusen. Read the whole story here: https://www.magazine.bayer.com/en/the-enemy-in-the-beehive.aspx
Mosquitoes are one of the most important insect pests that affect the health and well being of humans and domestic animals worldwide. If environmental conditions are favorable, vast populations can develop. Female mosquitoes require a blood meal for egg production, and they produce a painful bite as they feed. While feeding, they can transmit a number of disease-causing organisms to humans and animals. The diseases these organisms cause include: West Nile fever, encephalitis, dengue fever, filariasis, yellow fever, and malaria. Encephalitis, dengue and West Nile virus (caused by different mosquito born viruses) are potential threats.
Here are some things to consider:
- Mosquitoes need water to complete their life cycle, so remove all possible water sources. Check flowerpots, birdbaths, pet watering bowls and other containers for excess water. Store boats, canoes and other objects so that they do not collect rainwater. Keep rain gutters free of leaves and other debris that prevent water from draining. Correct drainage problems in yards and playing fields to prevent rain and irrigation water from pooling for prolonged periods. Fill holes or depressions in trees. Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets. Correct or report drainage problems in ditches along public or private roadways.
- For water or structures that cannot be removed, mosquitoes can still be eliminated from them by careful maintenance. Replace water containers for pets, birdbaths and fountains every few days. Maintain swimming pools correctly. For ponds, Gambusia (mosquito-eating fish) can be introduced.
- Keep mosquitoes out of the home by installing and maintaining tight-fitting window and door screens.
- Some personal protection from mosquitoes can be achieved using insect repellents.
- Mosquitoes also transmit heartworm in dogs. Heartworm can cause severe circulatory problems and produce symptoms such as coughing, labored breathing and general loss of vitality in advanced stages. Because of the impracticality of protecting dogs from mosquito feeding, the most effective means of controlling heartworm is to prevent worms from reaching the adult stage inside the dog. Veterinarians can prescribe excellent drug treatment to protect pets from heartworm.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at ClearDefense Pest Control HERE. We’d like to help!
We may still be in winter, but you can’t go wrong with proper planning for spring. Part of that plan should include an audit of your current pest control efforts to ensure warming weather doesn’t equal free room and board for nasty pests.
While dozens of pests can be problematic during springtime, here are four pest families to be acutely aware of:
While honeybees provide mostly positive benefits to lawns and gardens, some next of kin can be dangerous to your home and health. Wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets are common in the Southern United States, often nesting in trees, gutters, and even home attics. This proves to be challenging and expensive, as nest removal / relocation can be complicated to prevent painful stings.
Few things cause more uneasiness than knowing your home is infested with fleas. As your cats and dogs enjoy more time in the sun, so grow their chances of picking up parasitic hitchhikers. Fleas are hard to spot due to their small size (roughly 3mm) and can cause widespread havoc if they’re given the opportunity to breed indoors. Female fleas can lay up to 5,000 eggs during their lifespan, which is only a few months.
Having an ant problem is no picnic. There are an estimated 22,000 species of ants in the world, of which a few (namely fire ants and carpenter ants) are particularly problematic for the Southeastern United States. Ants a hearty and resilient — queens can live up to 30 years or more, and worker ants can live a few years to boot. Fighting an ant infestation requires proper perimeter protection as well as thorough detection and treatment of problem spots and ant mounds.
As the winter cold starts melting away, spiders will stretch their eight hairy legs and mobilize to find places to hunt and nest. Problem spots include cluttered areas, damp indoor spots, and dark corners. North America is home to 3,000+ spider species, a few of which are particularly venomous. Just clearing cobwebs won’t do the trick!
Want to ensure your home is ready and protected for spring? Contact ClearDefense Pest Control HERE for a free consultation.