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Category: Good News Pest Solutions

Pest of the Month: Drywood Termites

June Pest of the Month 2017As we’ve been known to say many times in the past, there are two kinds of homes in Florida – those with termites and those that will have them.

We talked about subterranean termites a little while back, so today we’ll focus on their distant cousins, drywood termites.

Drywood termites are generally found in the eastern and southern states, but they have been known to spread to other regions after infesting a piece of furniture, especially antiques. I guess they just like the old world taste.

There are a few varieties of drywood termites, but the one most prevalent throughout Florida is the tropical rough-headed drywood termite – Cryptotermes brevis.

How Can I Tell the Difference?

Drywood termites are generally larger than subterranean termites, but nest in much smaller colonies. Since all worker termites, swarming or otherwise, look pretty much the same, we rely on the different soldiers and winged termites for visual identification, even though they are a much smaller part of the colony.

Drywood termite soldiers have a head with a large cavity in front – that looks almost like a bowl from behind – a very lumpy, misshapen bowl.

Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites don’t require contact with the soil, or a water source beyond what they draw from the wood they devour, hence their name.

In fact, drywood termites rarely even leave the material once they start snacking.

And as bad a subterranean termites are, drywood termites can be more insidious, because they’re less noticeable and can infest multiple places at one time, making it even more important that you call a professional when you discover an infestation of any size.

How Can I Tell if I Have a Problem?

  • If you see termites, especially flying termites or discarded wings lying around, that’s a bad sign. By the way, flying ants have two pairs of differently-sized wings, while termite wings are pairs of the same size.
  • If you discover a part of your house or furniture that sounds hollow when tapped on, that’s a bad sign. If your vacuum cleaner manages to punch a hole in your baseboards, you definitely have an issue.
  • Then there’s frass. Frass is the term for the, um, termite leftovers. As we mentioned earlier, when drywood termites eat wood and cellulose, they draw every ounce of water and nutrition out of the food. What can’t be digested is expelled from their bodies. Drywood termites are the neat freaks of the termite world, so unlike the subterranean termites who leave their droppings in the tunnels they dig, Cryptotermes brevis pushes the remains out of their tunnels. If you see a fine dark or light dust on windowsills and doorjambs, that’s frass – and you’ve got a problem.

How Can I Get Your Help?

Because all termites are different and respond to different treatments, you really need to call in an expert. We have experience with all the Florida termites (there’s 3 more we haven’t mentioned yet), and we’ve been helping our customers from Port Charlotte to Bradenton with termite inspections and 100% organic, safe treatments since 1989. Give us a call to find out more!

Florida Has the Best Bug Scientists Around!

Best Bug Scientists Around at UFWe don’t like to brag, but we have a lot of great things here in Florida. In St. Augustine, we have the oldest existing (and still settled) European settlement in North America; the Miami Dolphins are the only NFL team to play a perfect season;  we invented Gatorade, Coppertone sunscreen and air conditioning; and we have the strongest hurricanes… okay, so maybe not that last one!

And recently, the entomology department at the University of Florida was honored as the best in the entire world by the Center for World University Rankings.

How do They Know?

The Center ranks universities across the globe in 227 subject categories, ranking the education and training of students as well as the prestige of faculty, based on several factors, including the number of articles published in top-tier research journals.

The center uses data from Clarivate Analytics, formerly part of the Reuters news service, and is the only such list to rank universities worldwide.

The Center started the ranking project in 2012 as an experiment to rank the top 100 out of 25,000 degree granting universities in the world. Two years later, they expanded to the top 1000, the largest ranking of universities in the world – far more than the US News & World Report or Forbes reports.

That’s Impressive!

And did we mention, UF got a perfect score? Number 2 was the University of California, Riverside with a 95, with Cornell, Kansas State, and North Carolina State University rounding out the top 5.

And speaking of the best, we’ve made it our mission to be the number one provider of 100% natural, family-friendly, truly green pest solutions for the entire Gulf Coast of Florida, from Port Charlotte to Lakewood Ranch. Whatever your issue is, from rodents to ants to mosquitoes, we have the answer that’s right for you. Contact us at your earliest convenience.

And if you’re thinking of getting an entomology degree, we know the perfect place!

Pest of the Month: Love Bugs!

GNPS Pest of the Month LovebugsWe love our temperate weather here on the Gulf Coast of Florida. But when it’s 80-90 degrees every day, sometimes it gets hard to keep track of the seasons. So we come up with our own seasons – Tourist season, Hurricane season, Citrus season, Rainy season, and, of course our favorite – Love Bug Season!

Love Bug Season! That glorious time when the air on our highways and side streets alike are filled with overly-excited, amorous insects that end up splattered all across our windshields and radiator grills, as well as ruining the paint job on our freshly-washed cars and trucks (although newer vehicle paint has cut this problem down significantly).

Actually, Love Bug Season is twice a year – the month of May and the end of September, a great way to frame the summer months here in the Sunshine State.

Making Love… Bugs

Love Bugs are actually Plecia nearctica from the fly family. Their common name comes from how we usually see them… Car exhaust is a natural aphrodisiac, so they start getting busy in mid-air right before the source of their pheromone fix ‘knocks them into next week,’ as my daddy used to say.

Unlike many other insects, male and female love bugs do not have any distinguishing color differences to separate them. They are black with a red or orange strip on the top of their thoraxes. Size is a factor, though. The males are slightly longer than the females, but the females weigh an average of 3x more, and 70% of that is their ovaries.

They DO Have a Purpose

Speaking of ovaries, female Love Bugs that survive their romantic encounters lay 100-300 eggs at a time. The eggs are laid in swampy areas, moist roadside swales, and damp wooded areas. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae are much like their maggot cousins. The difference is, they devour the leaves and detritus, essentially recycling the organic matter.

Additionally, those Love Bugs that survive also serve as pollinators. Not to the extent of our friends the bees, or even the mosquitoes, but they do contribute significantly to the ecosphere.

Blame it on Texas

There’s a persistent urban legend/internet rumor that claims the University of Florida introduced Love Bugs accidentally while they were trying to genetically mate flies with mosquitoes.

In reality, Love Bugs are native to Central & South America, but growing industrialization during and after the first World War caused them to migrate further north. The first recorded sighting of a Love Bug swarm was in Galveston, TX in the 1920’s, most likely traveling as stowaways on a ship. From there the little buggers spread all along the Gulf of Mexico, and more recently, into the Carolinas.

So, whether you’re headed up I-75 to Bradenton & Lakewood Ranch, or down US 41 to Punta Gorda & Port Charlotte, there’s really nothing you can do to avoid Love Bugs this time of year. Just give your hood a good rinse down when you get home and try these other ideas for getting rid of them naturally. For all your other pest control needs, drop us a line! Good News Pest Solutions is always happy to help out!

Pest of the Month: The Mosquito

Pest of the Month Mosquito As we start preparing for the annual rainy season, we decided to focus on everyone’s favorite Florida state mascot – the Mosquito!

We know everyone has stories about how annoying mosquitoes are, but we’d like to focus first on the good that mosquitoes do.

Yes, really.

Yes, yes they do. For starters, mosquitoes provide a steady protein diet to birds, fish, dragonflies, frogs, salamanders and other reptile and amphibious life. That’s actually a huge impact on our ecosystem.

Not enough? Okay, fine. Here’s a better one: after bees, mosquitoes are the number TWO pollinator in the world. There are certain flowers, like the various orchids, that are almost exclusively pollinated by mosquitoes!

And really, your beef is only with the momma mosquitoes. The males only consume pollen and nectar. And the females only drink blood when they’re pregnant.

How Many?

Did you know there’s more than 3500 species of mosquitoes? Only about 175 of them exist in the United States, and only 80 of those species are interested in our blood. Unfortunately, Florida has most of those species. And really, it’s partly our fault – most mosquitoes would much rather bite cattle, livestock and wild game. There’s just not as many of those around as our Florida communities grow and build.

Mosquitoes are some of the oldest insects in recorded history. Aristotle mentions them in his writings about 300 years before Jesus was born. And if you remember the movie – Jurassic Park got that part of their science right – mosquitoes have been found encased in amber and fossilized from the Jurassic period, 210 million years ago.

The bumps on your arms and legs are an allergic reaction to the momma mosquito’s saliva that she pushes into you to thin your blood, making it easier for her to draw it out. It also contains a mild sedative, which is why you don’t always feel her “biting” you.

Now That’s a Momma!

When the momma mosquito reaches full term, she gives birth to 2-300 eggs at one time, in standing water. The water dries up and the eggs lay dormant until they get exposed to water again – sometimes for years!

Female mosquitoes live for about 2-3 months, and can get pregnant 3 times during that lifespan. The males only live about 10 days – and they identify the females of their specific species by listening for the sound of their wings beating. Each species has a slightly different pitch.

But What I Really Want to Know…

We know what you’re thinking – that’s all super interesting, but the main thing I care about is not getting bit. We hear you. Mosquitoes can sense our body heat, smell the carbon dioxide on our breath, and the more than 300 chemicals your skin secretes. Wearing dark clothes makes your body warmer and more obvious target, and drinking alcohol makes your CO2 smell sweeter and is a big draw for the biters.

Like everyone else, we’ll mention that it usually helps to keep exposed skin to a minimum, but, c’mon, this is Florida – it’s hot, it’s muggy, and besides… We have a better way!

A Better Solution?

Good News Pest Solutions’ exclusive No Bite Zones Mosquito Protection Program protects your family and pets, now and for the future. The 100% safe, organic treatment doesn’t even harm the momma mosquitoes – it just turns them and their soon to hatch babies into vegans! That means no harmful chemicals, annoying aerosol sprays, or slathering on calamine lotion.

Now is the best time to get started on the program, whether you’re in Lakewood Ranch, Apollo Beach or Port Charlotte. As much as we love them, we have to admit that mosquitoes also spread diseases like Malaria, Zika virus, and West Nile virus. And in the last 6 months, it looks like St. Louis Encephalitis might be making a return (at least in California).

By the way…

Mosquitoes also carry heartworms. That’s bad news for our four legged family members. But not to worry, not only are our No Bite Zones safe for your pets, they’re vastly more affordable than the cost of de-worming your dog or cat (yeah, cats get them too).

You really shouldn’t delay. Getting started with No Bite Zones is quick and easy. Give us a call and we can get you a quote and explain the process over the phone. And if you’re not one of our Go Green Plus 3 or Term Assure 365 customers, we’d be happy to explain those programs to you too.

For now, let’s raise a cup of the perfect summertime drink, lemonade, to our incredible insect neighbors, the mosquitoes!

Going on Vacation? Make it a GREEN One!

How to Take a Green VacationIt seems like the calendar just changed from winter to spring, but before too long, the Summer Solstice will be here. At these times of the year, we often start planning for vacations.

Here at Good News Pest Solutions, we’re always looking for innovative ways to better steward our planet, for ourselves and our future generations. So, whether you’re planning a short trip for when your kids go on spring break, or a full-fledged summer adventure, we’ve got several ways to go greener when on vacation!

Let start with how you’re getting there.

Travel Arrangements

    • If you’re flying to your vacation destination, try to fly as direct as possible, non-stop flights cause fewer carbon emissions than several connecting flights.
      Of course, it’s impossible to eliminate carbon emissions when flying, but there are several non-profits that will accept your donation and use the money to offset carbon emissions by planting trees or promoting programs that educate about cutting down on emissions.
      One of our favorites is Climate Stewards that supports community forestry and clean water projects in Ghana, Kenya and Mexico, not only helping the planet, but also the people in less industrial areas.
    • Once you’ve arrived, if you need to rent a car, ask for fuel efficient options – most rental companies provide hybrids if not purely electric cars to rent. The cost might be a little higher, but isn’t it  worth it to keep the air cleaner?
    • If you can avoid using a car, even better! Not only is walking and bicycling better for your personal health, but it helps preserve the environment while giving you a first-hand view of the city and a stronger connection to the place you’re visiting – not to mention the opportunity to discover a hidden local gem!

While You’re There

    • But where will you stay? With family or friends is great or consider doing an AirBnB! But if those aren’t an option, check out the local hotels to see which ones emphasize and utilize green programs. That could be anything from LED lighting, extensive recycling programs, and some hotels even use alternative energies like solar to reduce their impact on the environment. A popular program in many hotels cuts down on water and electric by offering guests the option of only changing out the towels and sheets once or twice per stay.
    • Consider e-receipts. Many hotels, department stores, and banks now offer the option to have your receipt emailed or texted to your mobile device. It’s easier to keep track of (and digitally search) for needed receipts – whether it’s for returns or reimbursements, they’re all in one place and not dependent on remembering where you stuffed everything.
    • Carrying reusable bags with you helps cut down on excessive plastic bag pollution as well as the fossil fuels that are used to create the bags. Reusable bags are great for your souvenir shopping as well as food purchases. And in some states like California, stores charge additional fees if you don’t bring reusable bags.
    • Speaking of food purchases – eating at local restaurants not only puts money back into the community you’re visiting, but those great hole in the wall places often use locally grown and sourced vegetables, meat and dairy, cutting down on transportation costs and the branded napkins, etc., that you see at a chain restaurant. Not to mention, you’re on vacation – it’s a time for new experiences not the McDonald’s or Chili’s you could stop by anytime on the way home from work.
    • Avoid plastic water bottles. Yeah, we know they’re convenient, but they’ve become one of the highest sources of pollution and oil use, almost outpacing cars! Even if you don’t believe the stories of companies using tap water to fill their bottles (they’re mostly true), consider the cost – your 8 glasses of water a day costs less than a dollar a year, even if you’re using a filtered pitcher. The average cost for the same amount of bottled water = $1,400/year.
      Bringing a reusable water bottle from home (or getting one from your hotel) and refilling it yourself with purified water can save your pocketbook and the environment.

We love being green and there’s no reason that has to stop when you leave the house. Even if you only implement a couple of these tips, you’ll be doing your part to make the world a better place and save yourself a few bucks in the process!

Are there any we missed? Share your tips for a greener vacation in the comments!

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