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Pest Information

As a QualityPro company, we have taken many steps to provide you with a higher quality, more worthwhile service. One of the most important things about QualityPro companies is their commitment to provide environmentally responsible pest management. This means using integrated pest management, or IPM, to solve your pest problem.

An IPM approach is focused on the removal of the three key elements pests need to survive: food, water, and shelter. By concentrating on eliminating the sources of these elements, your home becomes a less desirable destination for pests, and greatly reduces the likelihood of an infestation. More importantly, IPM aims to correct the root cause of the pest problem, providing you with a longer-term solution to your pest problem in the least intrusive manner possible.

Learn More About The IPM Approachmagnifying glass with bug

The IPM Approach

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Six basic steps make up and IPM Program and they include:

  • Inspecting the area
  • Identifying the pest problem
  • Selecting control methods based on the size and type of the pest problem
  • Employing two or more control measures in combination
  • Applying pesticides judiciously
  • Evaluating effectiveness

Specific IPM actions include:

  • Structural repair and maintenance to exclude pests (replacing screen with holes, or adding door and garage stops, etc)
  • Behavioral modification (properly storing garbage, moving wood away from house, etc)
  • Precise pesticide applications (injecting a non-volatile pesticidal gel in a wall where we have detected pests)

Participation is the Key to Success

Our knowledge of pests and our experience managing them allows us to develop an effective IPM plan. Yet, IPM is always more effective when our customers are actively involved. Your knowledge of your home and surroundings, your observance of pest problems, and your cooperation with us, your pest management company, will ensure that the IPM Program successfully rids your home of pests in the most environmentally responsible way.

Pest Information

  • Ants
  • Bed Bugs
  • Bees
  • Beetles
  • Carpenter Ants & Bees
  • Centipedes
  • Crickets & Camelback Crickets
  • Earwigs
  • Firebrats
  • Fleas
  • Flies
  • Grasshoppers
  • Hornets
  • Mites
  • Mosquitos
  • Powder Post Beetles
  • Roaches
  • Rodents
  • Silverfish
  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Termites
  • Ticks
  • Wasps

Ants

Ants are social insects, but we’ve yet to meet a human who wants to socialize with them.  The variety of species and their unique preferences make ants the most difficult household pest to control.  They reside everywhere.  Outside you will find nests in lawns, along sidewalks, under mulch or gravel, in landscape timbers, beneath siding or in wood trim which has been damaged by moisture.  Inside, ants live behind walls and cabinets, in and under appliances, behind windows and door frames, beneath floors and under slabs.  The lack of accessibility to their nesting sites is one of the reasons ants are so difficult to control. Queens lay up to 800 eggs at a time, but only the foragers leave the nest.  Ants can’t be completely controlled unless the queen and colony are destroyed.

Controlling Ants

  1. Clean up.  Keep counters, floors and surfaces clean of spills and crumbs.  Restrict eating to a single location to avoid “budding” of colonies.  (Budding occurs when a portion of the colony relocates.)  In your initial cleaning, address areas under and behind appliances and clean the drip pan of the refrigerator.  Ants LOVE warm, moist environments.
  2. Put any food items in sealed containers.  Ants will dine on anything humans eat, so it’s important to deprive them of their food sources.
  3. Seal any cracks where you may find ants entering your home.  Occasionally your problem nest is outside and foraging workers have located a food source inside your home.  While you have the sealant out, go ahead and seal around openings where plumbing and electrical service enters your home and continue with areas around doors and windows.
  4. Trim back landscaping adjacent to the house so that no plants are touching the exterior.  Plants touching the house give insects a bridge to your home.
  5. Have our technicians treat your home.  Mares’ professionals eliminate indoor ant colonies by using bait.  The slow-acting insecticide permits the foraging ants to take the bait into the colony, thus eliminating the entire colony.  You can help us help you by noting ant trails so that the bait can be placed where it will be most effective.  Once the bait is set, you will notice an increase in ant activity as the workers take the bait to the colony for consumption.  Resist the temptation to kill the workers or apply other chemicals along the ant trails.  Over the next few days, you will see activity decline and eventually stop.
  6. Mares’ professionals will also put a granular insecticide around the perimeter of your home.  With your newly trimmed landscaping, this will create an effective barrier to prevent insects from entering your house.

Acrobat Ants

The acrobat ant is known as such, because when disturbed, a worker raises the tip of its abdomen up over its head and walks on its forelegs, thus appearing to do a traveling handstand.  Acrobat ants are small, shiny, have a brown to black color, as well as a very distinctive heart-shaped abdomen.  You may see them trailing in your house or yard, or sometimes, if you have had a previous carpenter ant infestation, they will secondarily take over affected wood galleries or nest sites. 

Acrobat ants may nest in rotting or water damaged wood.  The presence of these ants in structures is often indicative of a moisture problem related to a leak.  Acrobat ants never attack sound wood and structural damage associated with them is minimal.   Some homeowners become alerted to an infestation when they see grayish bits of material (fine sawdust-like excrement and ant parts) being pushed out from under a floor joint or from behind a wall void.  This is often mistaken for mouse damage and nesting. 

Call us if you suspect a problem.  We can determine if it is mouse or acrobat ant damage.  Treating for mice and ants are two very different things!

Bed Bugs

Don’t bring Bed Bugs Home

Beware of bed bugs when you travel!  These 10 tips can help reduce the risk of hungry hitch hikers.

  1. When checking into a hotel, inspect your room thoroughly for bed bugs.  Make sure to look closely for them (or their signs such as blood spots) in or behind the headboard of the bed, on or behind the picture hanging above the bed board, or in the seams of the mattress and box springs.  (Bed bugs feed upon human blood at night and leave obvious stains behind.)
  2. Inspect the valet stand or luggage rack thoroughly around the fabric seams to see that there are no bed bugs.  After passing your inspection, place your suitcase on the stand and keep it there the entire visit; don’t let the suitcase sit on the floor, bed, sofa or any other furniture in the room.
  3. Move your bed away from the wall of the room, and do not let linens touch the floor.
  4. Check the hangers and rack in the closet before hanging your clothes there.
  5. Check nightstands and dresser drawers before placing personal items on or in these pieces of furniture.
  6. If you should find bed bugs present, immediately alert the hotel management that this is the case and that you would like to be moved to another room.  (Only by informing the management of the bed bugs can they begin to tackle their problem.  Hotels are now very aware of this issue and will work with you to make and keep your stay pleasant.)
  7. While waiting for transportation to the airport, check the upholstery of the lobby seats for any signs of bed bugs.
  8. When on your plane or train heading home, check the seat, and any pillows or blankets handed to you for signs of bed bugs.
  9. When you return home, unload your suitcase in the garage or out on the porch or patio.  Make sure to inspect your luggage thoroughly (inside and out) for any signs of bed bug hitchhikers that may have come home with you.
  10. If you should accidentally bring bed bugs home with you, contact us immediately to help rid your home of them.  The sooner you make the call, the sooner your bed bugs will be gone.  Early detection is key—infestations are much easier to tackle at the early end before things get out of hand!

Above article compliments of NPMA Pest Gazette, summer 2009

Bees

  • Plays a critical role in the ecosystem by pollinating flowers
  • Honey Bees and Bumble Bees are the most common
  • Honey Bees can be relocated and “harvested” to local beekeepers
  • The Bumble Bee and Ground Bee normally nest underground or in the hallow of a tree but can occupy a structure
  • Generally are a concern for people with allergies and children so treatment is recommended for those that have hives around or near structures

Beetles

  • Destructive in larval stage on nearly anything organic
  • Heavily infested food should be discarded
  • Lightly infested food can be frozen for a few days and then used
  • Can be found in carpet - hence the name
  • Shelves should be vacuumed and cleaned thoroughly

Carpenter Ants

  • Polymorphic workers, can vary in size
  • Do not sting however can have a painful bite
  • Nest in wood causing damage
  • Signs of infestation include piles of sawdust with insect parts inside and foraging trails of workers outside near tree roots, shrubs, mulch piles, anywhere wood is available 
  • Most active between sunset and sunrise

Carpenter Bees

  • Solitary bees that nest generally in weathered or unpainted wood.
  • Males aggressive but have no stinger, female has stinger but is rarely known to sting
  • Female lays eggs 4-6’’ inside of hollowed out wood and lays 5-6 eggs per hole. Eggs take up to 36 days to hatch.
  • Adult bees will overwinter inside of empty nest tunnels
  • Will bore holes into painted or stained wood but typically go for unpainted or unstained wood

Centipedes

  • Slightly over 1 inch
  • Reddish-brown, flattened and elongated with one pair of legs attached on most body segments
  • First pair of legs are poisonous jaws located below the mouth to kill insects
  • Feed on live insects and other small mammals, but do not damage plants
  • Encountered in damp basements in the fall
  • Become adults in the winter and lay eggs during the warm months
  • Eggs are usually laid in the soil, with a few species giving birth to live young
  • Feed on small insects such as roaches, clothes moths, and house flies
  • Do not damage food supplies or household furnishings
  • If crushed, will bite, which causes some pain and swelling
  • Sometimes live up to 6 years

Crickets & Camelback Crickets

House Crickets

  • Adults are ¾ - 1 inch long, light yellowish-brown with 3 dark bands on the head
  • Can be found in basements, crawlspaces, kitchens, fireplaces, behind appliances, behind baseboards, and other cracks, crevices, and wall voids.
  • Eat almost anything, often causing damage to wool and silk.
  • Nocturnal

Field Crickets

  • Slightly longer than House Cricket and is dark brown to grey or black
  • Prefer to live outside, but will come inside if food sources dry up or there are extreme temperatures.

Camel Crickets

  • Also known as Hump-Back Cricket
  • Light to dark brown and about ½ - 1 ½ inches long
  • Eat almost anything, most especially clothes
  • Found in crawlspaces and basements, but also live in cool damp areas such as under logs or stones

Earwigs

  • Up to 1 ¼ inches
  • Red-brown to black
  • Some are wingless and others have a pair of leathery forewings covering a few segments of the abdomen and the membranous hind wings that protrude. Very few can fly
  • Forceps-like appendages at the end of the abdomen are strongly curved in the male, but in the female they are smaller and less curved
  • Forceps are used primarily for defense and during courtship and cannot harm people
  • Prefer dead insects and rotted plant material, but some are predators
  • Active at night, attracted to light in large numbers
  • During the day they live in shelter beneath stones, boards, sidewalks, or debris.
  • Eggs are laid 2-3 inches beneath the surface of the soil
  • Young leave the nest after the first molt
  • Heavy rain and rapid temperature changes are detrimental to them
  • Some feed on living plants and become pests in greenhouses and field crops
  • Some tunnel as deeply as 6 feet under ground to escape the cold
  • The name Earwig is derived from a superstition that these insects enter the ear of sleeping people and bore into the brain. This belief is misguided

Firebrats

  • Look very similar to the silverfish except firebrats have a darker color
  • Prefer dark areas with high temperature and humidity for example boiler rooms, hot attics, etc.
  • Will feed on any food product with proteins or carbohydrates as well as linen, cotton and silk

Fleas

When temperatures begin to rise, fleas become a problem with many pet owners.  The easiest way to avoid flea problems is by keeping your pet on a preventative recommended by your veterinarian.  If you DO develop a flea problem, here is what you need to know:

It’s necessary to understand a little about the life cycle of fleas in order to understand the problems with eliminating them.  The life cycle is determined by exterior conditions.  In summer, fleas are more active due to favorable conditions and the life cycle is shorter (about 3 weeks).  In winter, fleas can live for up to six months in the cocoon stage because of inactivity and unfavorable exterior conditions.

The four stages of the flea life cycle are the eggs, larvae, cocoon and adult.  Eggs are laid in dark environments, such as under carpets.  Once hatched (between 1-10 days), the larvae continue to look for similar dark environments in which to develop (5-11 days).  Larvae hide in the seams and crevices of furniture; they burrow down into carpets and hide in the cracks of floors.  As the larvae develop into cocoons, their favorite hiding place is in carpets because the cocoons can attach themselves securely to the fibers.  Here they stay from between one week to six months before emerging as adult fleas.

You may have noted that during the first three life stages, fleas never need come in contact with your pet.  It is only as an adult flea that a “host” is needed.  This means that the flea bath you just gave Fido will kill adult fleas and any eggs that Fido may be carrying, but you still have a problem lurking in your home.

CLEANING, particularly vacuuming is critical to the control of a flea infestation.  With an eye towards their hiding places, just pull out your vacuum’s crevice tool and go for it.  Pay particular attention to the edges of your carpet at the baseboard and your furniture seams and crevices.  Vacuum slowly over the entire carpeted area and also wood floors.  It is estimated that by vacuuming, you can remove nearly 50% of the flea eggs.  And while vacuuming isn’t very effective at removing the cocoons from the carpet, the vibration from the vacuum CAN result in the emergence of the adult fleas from the cocoons.  Consequently, you just removed these adults from circulation before they can even get to your pet.

After vacuuming, it is very important to remove the bag and throw it away—outside.  For those canister vacuums that do not use bags, empty the canister into a plastic bag and discard outside.  The eggs and fleas you just removed are still alive, so it is important to remove them from the premises, even though the bag may only be partially full. 

a Vacuuming (and discarding the bag) just prior to the arrival of our pest control professional is one of the most important things a homeowner can do to ensure a successful treatment.  (It goes without saying that treating your pet for fleas is THE most important step).

Another critical component of an overall flea treatment is to target the pet’s bedding and areas where he prefers to lay or sleep.  Wash all bedding in hot, soapy water and dry in a hot dryer to kill eggs, larvae and cocoons—all of which are sensitive to heat.  (And if Fido sleeps with you, include YOUR bedding in the wash cycle.)

When out technician arrives, family and pets will need to be away form home for approximately two hours to give the chemical time to dry.  You can expect it to take several days for treatment to be completely effective (the chemical we put down continues to work on emerging adult fleas.)  If the infestation is particularly bad, a second treatment maybe required after ten days.

Finally, you might need to have your exterior treated if flea problems persist.  Be sure to share any information about your pet’s habits that you think may be appropriate.  For example, one homeowner kept having flea problems despite treatment.  Once we discovered that her pets liked to lie under the deck during the heat of the day, we treated under the deck and the problem was solved.

Fleas are covered under our continuing Pest Control Service Agreements.

Flies

Shoo fly!  Don't bother me!

No summer picnic would be complete without hamburgers, hot dogs and … blow flies.  They are regular (unwanted) guests at warm weather cookouts, especially when meat is on the menu.  Blow flies are a diverse group of flies, ranging in size from ¼ to ½ inch in length and generally have a metallic sheen to their bodies.  They may be black, blue, coppery green, olive green or bronze in color.  All adult blow flies have blunt mouthparts and do not bite.

Blow fly larva, called maggots, feed on dead and decaying organic matter and help to break it down.  In addition to mean and flesh, they often infest wounds of sheep, deer, cattle and other animals.  But they can also be attracted to nectar, carrion, garbage and other refuse.  Blow flies deposit eggs in wounds or on dead carcasses.  The fly larvae, which soon hatch, feed on decaying flesh or matted hair.  As a rule, blow fly larvae never attack healthy tissues.

As disgusting as all of this may sound, blow flies actually serve several useful purposes.  In nature, they help to facilitate decomposition, and are often the first to arrive at a crime scene.  If you’ve watched a prime time police drama in the last 10 years, you probably already know that blow flies have been successfully used by law enforcement to solve crimes.  By using the fly’s development along with climatologic data, police can determine the timeline of a crime.  Blow fly maggots have also been successfully used in medicine to clean out necrotic tissues of patients.

However useful, most people do not want to see blow flies in their homes!  If you see blow flies, it usually means that there is an animal carcass nearby.  Most likely, a mouse, rat, squirrel, bird or some other type of urban wildlife has died within your structure; perhaps underneath in your crawl space or in your attic and the flies are traveling to the carcass to break it down.

We are experts at eliminating blow flies and the urban wildlife and rodent pests which can attract them.  Be sure to call for the first signs of blow flies in your home.

 

Keeping Flies at Bay

It’s a summer weekend and the neighborhood is abuzz with the latest at your backyard barbecue.  But you don’t want that party ruined because of the buzz of flies present in the summer months.  To help reduce flies around your patio:

  1. Keep all meat products, plates and utensils covered tightly until food is ready for grilling.
  2. Keep grill lids down except to flip meat and veggies.
  3. Remove all sources of standing/stagnant water near your home.
  4. Tip bird baths of water weekly, fill standing mud puddles, clean drains and gutters, tip potted plant saucers.
  5. Don’t over-water your yard; set automatic sprinklers and irrigators back to less frequent watering before the party.
  6. Remove dog and cat droppings from your yard prior to the party.
  7. Keep trash cans and recycle bins covered with tight-fitting lids and at a distance from your patio.
  8. A fan blowing a gentle breeze over cooking, prep and eating surfaces will keep flies at bay.
  9. Where safety is less of a concern, change light bulbs from white to yellow.  (Most flying insects do not perceive wavelengths of yellow and will not be attracted.  This will also reduce the number of spiders present.)
  10. Angle all exterior lights away from the grill and picnic areas.
  11. Keep screens in good repair.

If you have any lingering fly issues, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Grasshoppers

  • Brown with some darker markings
  • Grasshoppers are noticed from Spring to Autumn, generally in grasses and gardens
  • Are active during the day
  • Are 1 to 5 inches in length
  • Closely related to crickets

Hornets

  • The most commonly recognized hornet is the yellow jacket
  • Usually Build paper enclosed aerial nests

Mites

  • Redbugs or Chiggers are about 0.15 to 0.6 millimeters in length and red in color
  • Live in soil of grasslands and forests, crevices of decaying wood, lawns, marsh areas, etc
  • Attach to humans where clothes are tight fitting, such as ankles, waist, and armpits
  • Human Itch Mites are 0.2 to 0.45 inches long, oval shaped, and not hard-bodied
  • Burrow into the skin around wrists, hands (between knuckles, fingers, and palms), elbows, back of the knees, etc
  • Usually spread from person to person

Mosquitos

Every summer there are new horror stories about mosquito-borne illnesses such as equine encephalitis, malaria and West Nile virus.  But there are steps you can take to help keep mosquitoes at bay near your home this summer.  Mosquitoes require an aquatic habitat for the egg, larval and pupae forms of their development to occur.  By simply removing water resources in which mosquitoes may develop, you can help make your yard and neighborhood mosquito free.  Here are 15 ways to help keep mosquitoes away from your home.

  1. Don’t overwater your yard and garden.  Standing water becomes a source for mosquito eggs to be deposited and to develop
  2. Empty bird baths at least once a week and replenish water
  3. Remove standing water from potted plant saucers
  4. Change pet dish water once a week.
  5. Change water in kiddie pools or fountains at least once a week.
  6. Make sure trash can lids are on cans and not turned over to serve as water reservoirs
  7. Clean gutters on the house and make sure water is flowing properly away from home
  8. Fill in mud puddles
  9. Grade land so water moves away from the house and yard
  10. Check tree holes and stumps for standing water
  11. Make sure tire swings and any old tires are emptied of standing water in the yard.
  12. Rain barrels for catching rainwater should be screened at the surface to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.
  13. Cover all trash and recycle receptacles with tight fitting lids to prevent water inside.
  14. Add bubblers or fountains to small decorative lakes or fish ponds to keep the water surface constantly rippling so that mosquito larvae are drowned at the surface.
  15. Keep swimming pools drained or covered during off months, and treated properly during the summer season.

Powder Post Beetles

  • Worldwide in distribution
  • Adults bore small holes (1/16’’-1/32’’) into wood and lay 15-50 eggs in each hole.
  • Finish on wood prevents egg laying
  • Adults mainly active at night and can readily fly.
  • Larvae bore further into wood to complete developmental stages and then emerge producing fine sawdust from the holes. This allows the technician to tell which holes are active versus non-active.
  • Developmental periods in the wood require at least 8%-32% wood moisture content.
  • Egg-adult usually takes anywhere from 9-12 months.

Roaches

American Cockroaches

  • Adults are about 1.5” - 2.5” long.
  • Are reddish brown and have a yellowish margin on the body behind the head.
  • When disturbed, may run rapidly - adults may fly. Nymphs (immature) cockroaches resemble adults, but without wings.
  • Generally live in moist areas, but can live in dry areas if they have access to water. Prefer temperatures around 84°F and do not tolerate cold temperatures.
  • Live in basements and sewers in residential areas and move outdoors when weather gets warm.
  • Common in basements, crawl spaces, cracks and crevices of porches, foundations, and walkways adjacent to buildings.
  • Feed on a wide variety of plant and animal material
  • Nymphs (immature) cockroaches emerge from egg cases in 6-8 weeks and require 6-12 months to mature.
  • Nymphs molt about 13 times before reaching maturity.
  • Adults can live up to one year, during which females produce an average of 150 young.
  • May enter houses via sewer connections, under doors, around utility pipes, air ducts, or other openings in the foundation.
  • Are the largest of the common roaches.
  • Egg cases contain approximately 14 eggs. 12-24 cases can be produces in June, July, and August.
  • Can coexist with German Cockroaches.
  • Very aggressive and strong fliers.
  • Will eat almost anything, but prefer fermenting foods.

Brown-Banded Cockroach

  • Egg case contains 13-18 eggs and is in inconspicuous places in the habitat such as on furniture, cabinets, behind picture frames, walls and ceilings.
  • Egg cases hatch in about 50 days.
  • Females live about 6 months and can deposit as many as 14 egg cases.
  • Nymphs molt 6-8 times in a 5-6 month timespan before becoming adults.
  • Males readily fly when disturbed.
  • Single female can produce about 250 offspring in her lifetime.
  • Prefer high temperature areas.
  • Can survive in drier locations than German Cockroaches.
  • Frequently occur in locations at eye-level or above, such as in cabinets, around closet shelves, behind pictures, in warm areas near motors of refrigerators, electric clocks, timers and television sets. Also around braces of chairs and tables, around objects on walls, and in shower stalls.

German Cockroaches

  • Female produces egg case containing 30-40 eggs.
  • Eggs hatch in about 3 weeks.
  • Nymphs (immature) cockroaches grow fast and molt 6 or 7 times in about 60-100 days.
  • Female produces 4-8 egg cases in her lifetime. That means there can be over 300 offspring from a single female.
  • Gather in dark places that have high humidity, contain paper, wood, and other porous surfaces and have food readily available.
  • Gather in cracks and crevices around cabinets, wall and ceiling voids, in and around refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves, washers and dryers, and water heaters.
  • Most favor humidity levels that are found in kitchens and bathrooms under and around toilets, bathtubs, showers, and sinks.
  • Adults are about ½ - 5/8 inches long. Color varies from light brown to tan, except for two dark streaks on the shield like segment behind the head.
  • Active at night.
  • Will feed on all types of human food, pet food, soap, glue, etc.

Oriental Cockroaches (Waterbugs)

The “water bug” or Oriental cockroach is more closely associated with cooler, damp areas than most other common cockroaches.  These insects mostly feed upon decaying organic matter.  They are found in damp basements, cellars, crawl spaces, near drains, leaky pipes and beneath refrigerators, sinks and washing machines, under floors and inside walls.  They usually are seen walking around the first floor of buildings.  Outdoors, they can be found beneath decomposing leaves or within mulch beds.  At different times of the year (usually spring or fall), there can be a mass migration of Oriental cockroaches into buildings, but because of their preference for cooler temperatures, they can also commonly be found outdoors and in unheated buildings during the winter.

Adult Oriental cockroaches are very large, shiny and black.  Females are about 1 ¼ inches long, broad and have little non-functional pads for wings.  Males are about one inch long, more slender and have non-functional short wings running the length of the abdomen.  Juvenile cockroaches (the nymphs) are darker in color than adults, similarly shaped and wingless.  Egg cases are dark reddish-brown, one inch long (largest of the common cockroaches), and look like a ladies small handbag.

These cockroaches are most common during the late spring and early summer.  They are more sluggish than other common cockroaches, develop in damp basements and sewers and forage mostly at or below ground level in structures.  You will not usually find them in cupboards, on walls or in the upper floors.  They occur outside during warm weather and, during cool periods, may migrate in mass indoors.  They have a preference for high-moisture conditions.  They can live without food for a month if water is present, but die in two weeks without water.

Oriental cockroaches can move into a building, entering through cracks in foundations, around loose fitting doors or windows and along water and gas pipes.  Homeowners can help themselves by repairing leaky water faucets and pipes, sealing openings such as cracks in foundation walls and exterior walls around air conditioners, doors, windows, floors, ceilings, around plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, baseboards, etc. with putty, plastic wood and other caulking material.

Sanitation is also of paramount importance in cockroach control.  Clean areas beneath cabinets, sinks, stoves, refrigerators, etc. as well as cupboards, pantry shelves and food storage bins.  Make sure to clean up spilled foods and liquids.

If a severe cockroach infestation develops or if you are in doubt about how to treat your occasional invaders, call us.  We have the skills and materials to handle the job.

Rodents

The house mouse (Mus musculus, L.- Latin for “little thief”) is the most common pest in and around human dwellings and businesses.  They damage and destroy materials by gnawing wires and eating your food.  They account for many unexplained fires in structures because they can chew through wires.  To some, mice may look cuddly, but they are known to carry over 20 different pathogens of human disease, not to mention their association with ectoparasites (ticks and fleas).

The house mouse is about three inches in length and is gray with dull white belly fur.  An adult weighs about an ounce, but eats often and is constantly leaving droppings and urine droplets as it forages for food, mates and harborage.  Mice also breed rapidly.  A house mouse is mature within 35 days after birth and can have a first litter of up to eight pups at 60 days old.  Individuals usually live only about a year, however, if all their offspring were to survive and reproduce at a similar rate, one pair of house mice could potentially produce a population of more than 500 young in one year!  Mice are acrobatic and can jump about a foot straight up from a standing position; they can jump down more than six feet without getting hurt.  An adult mouse can squeeze through a crack or hole as small as 1/4th inch (the size of a #2 pencil) and can quickly climb straight up an eight foot wall of brick or wood paneling in less than half a minute.  Even though one mouse doesn’t eat much, as their population grows, they can eat a surprising amount of food.  They can also damage food containers, and their droppings and urine contaminate a lot more food than they eat.  In one year, one house mouse produces up to 18,000 droppings; it will deposit hundreds of micro-droplets of urine every day as it marks its trails.

If you see mice or other rodents, or their signs such as droppings in your home or business, don’t panic.  The wisest thing to do is to call us.  We can determine what rodents you have, where they are entering the structure and the extent of your problem.  We can then develop an effective rodent control program that will protect you and your family and property.

Silverfish

  • ½ to 1 inch
  • Brown or silver grey
  • Small, soft insects without wings
  • Nocturnal and can run swiftly
  • Occasionally found in bathtubs, seeking moisture and can’t climb out
  • Prefer vegetable matter with high carb and protein contents, but indoors, they will feed on almost anything such as dried beef, flour, starch, paper, gum, glue, cotton, linen, rayon, silk, sugar, molds, and breakfast cereal
  • Normally live outdoors under rocks, bark, and leaf mold, in nests of birds and mammals, and in any and termite nests
  • Those found in houses are generally found trapped in bathtubs, sinks, or washbasins
  • Lay eggs in groups up to 50 eggs
  • Eggs are very small and located in cracks and crevices
  • Females normally lay about 100 eggs during her lifetime - 2-8 years
  • Eggs will hatch anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months
  • Can go up to a year without food

Snakes

There are several species of venomous and non-venomous snakes in our area. If you see a snake in the outdoors the best advice is to get away from it and leave it alone. It is of course, a different matter when the snake shows up in your backyard or living area. We should never kill harmless snakes. Many harmless snakes will compete with venomous species for food and territory and several , like the King Snake, will kill and eat venomous snakes.

Spiders

Golden Garden Spiders - have flat head and thorax covered with whitish hair
Black with yellow markings

Large Orb Weavers - Found about houses in the fall
Legs are usually shorter and bodies not as big as Golden Garden Spiders

Wolf Spiders - Usually large and hairy
Not associated with webs
Look much worse than they are
Common in the fall looking for warm places in the winter
Found around doors, windows, house plants, and garages
They are pictured to be poisonous and likely to attack at any time, but this is not true

Jumping Spiders - are small, usually black with red or white markings
Often found in windows
Rarely bite

House Spiders - have “dirty” white and grey markings on their abdomen
Build complicated webs in corners, under tables and chairs, etc

Sheet Web Spiders - have a pair of dark bands across their yellowish head, thorax and abdomen regions
Common on shrubs and weeds around the house

All spiders - common in the fall
Found around doors and windows, house plants, basements, and garages
Brown Recluse and Black Widows are the only dangerous spiders in VA
Other spiders are beneficial, eating insects and other spiders
Brown Recluse is not common
Black Widow is common, but reports of biting are infrequent

Termites

VPMA Certified InspectorTermite swarms can be nerve wracking.  One minute you’re minding your own business and the next minute the room is filled with hundreds—or thousands of flying insects.  It’s no surprise that panic is the typical response.

Swarming starts in the spring when the ground begins to warm and the rainy season starts.  This triggers an instinctive drive within established termite colonies to form new colonies.  Swarmers are sent out to do that.  Using any available method to reach the surface (including inactive tunnels), swarmers burst forth from their colonies en masse.  These termites are the kings and queens of new colonies.  They pair off in flight and once they reach the surface, find an area of soft soil where they burrow in and begin the reproduction process, thereby establishing a new colony.  Because swarmers will use any means available to reach the surface, some of the tunnels they use may end up exiting into your home or business.

Understanding the science doesn’t lessen the impact of experiencing a termite swarm.  What can you do if swarmers invade your home this spring?  One suggestion is to get a spray bottle with water and mist the room (provided there are no electronics that can be damaged).  The water on the wings makes the insects too heavy to fly and they will drop to the floor—which is a lot less annoying than them buzzing around your face.  Another likely scenario is that you may come home from work to find dead insects all over your floor, because swarmers only live a short time when exposed to air.

Termites cause over $4 billion in damage annually—more than hurricanes and floods combined.  Because it is a slow, gradual process, you may find your largest asset, your home, heavily damaged before you realize that you have a problem.  Often new homeowners believe that termite damage is covered by their homeowner’s policy, but this isn’t the case.  Insurance policies are designed to cover accidents but damage from termites is considered “normal wear and tear”.  Thus it is up to you, the homeowner, to conduct regular inspections and have preventative treatments for this type of damage.

Mares Exterminating offers a Termite Protection Plan.  For a small annual fee, this plan provides for an annual inspection by a qualified inspector and necessary treatment which occurs while a customer of covered by the plan.  For an additional charge, customers can get a damage guarantee, which will cover up to $25,000 in damages caused by termites while covered by the plan.

Termite Control Options

Fifty years ago, treating termites was relatively simple.  Today, however, concern about the environment and pesticide exposure has changed the industry.  Chemicals have shorter life spans; stricter regulations regarding application have been enacted and new technology has created more options to choose from.

Traditional termite treatment consists of creating a barrier around a structure that termites will not cross—this is called using a repellent.  Termites foraging for food, when encountering a repellent termiticide, will move off in a different direction.  Termites within the structure are unable to cross through the barrier to reach moisture in the ground.  (this is extremely effective provided there is no source of moisture above ground, such as leaking pipes or seals, condensation on ductwork, etc. that can provide termites with the necessary moisture for survival).  Repellents are injected into the foundation with drill holes and by trenching into the soil.  Over time, breaks in the barrier can occur, such as with soil movement due to gardening or various repair work, and these breaks can allow termite entry into the structure.

A newer method of treatment involves a termiticide which does not repel the termites (non-repellent) but which is picked up by the termites when crossing the barrier and its slow action provides that the chemical is carried to the original colony—thus destroying the entire colony or large portions of it.  These termiticides are applied in much the same was as repellents.

Another option available to consumers is termite baiting.  These systems provide for the installation of monitoring stations around the perimeter of a structure at specified intervals.  The stations are checked quarterly to determine if any termite activity is visible.  If termite activity is noted, a slow acting bait is placed in the station which the workers carry back to the colony, thus eliminating the colony.  The greatest benefit of this system is that there is no soil contamination by pesticide.  There is a possibility, however, that termites will bypass the bait station and feast on your home instead.

Because no method is entirely foolproof, regular inspections of your home are very important. 

Ticks

  • Dog Ticks are about 3/16 to 1/8 inch long and hard-bodied, larger when engorged
  • Brown with whitish to grayish markings
  • Do not survive well indoors
  • Activity starts around end of March and continues until September
  • Found along roads, paths, and trails
  • Deer Ticks are about 1/8 inch long, orangish brown in color, and not hard-bodied
  • Feed on humans at the back of the neck, at the base of the skull

Wasps

  • There are 2 types of wasp either solitary or social wasps
  • The most commonly recognized wasp is the Mud Dauber
  • Mud Daubers will build a nest out of mud that will resemble a tube and can be found on the outside of any structure
  • Social wasps will build a paper pulp nest on trees, in attics or underground usually where they can have shelter and also a way to the outside
  • Solitary wasps will build a simple single celled nest
  • Wasps will feed on other insects but will become aggressive when disturbed