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Category: Pest of the Month

2018 Termite Awareness Week!

2018 Termite Awareness WeekHere at Good News Pest Solutions, we have a saying that you might have heard us mention before: “There are two types of homes in Florida – those with termites and those that don’t have them YET.

Termite infestations cost home and business owners more than $5 billion in property damage in the United States every year, and a higher than average percentage of that is here in Florida. What brings termites to Florida? Probably the same thing that brought you – our stellar year round weather.

For the rest of the country, termites are on the down-low, literally, until Spring. That’s why National Termite Awareness Week is the third week of March every year, the 11-17th for us this year. But here in Florida, where the temperatures don’t drop too far for long, termites are already active. Not only that, but in addition to the infestations other folks potentially face, we have our very own species of termites!

West Indian Drywood Termite

All common lumbers used in building fall prey to the West Indian Drywood Termite, and not just here in Florida. These termites love small furniture, like cabinets, headboards, picture frames, and table legs. They are easily transported, but stick to mostly southern, warmer climates.

The Subterranean Termites:

Eastern Subterranean Termite

The most common termite across the Unites States is the Eastern subterranean termite. It generally can be found on the east coast, but because they tend to infest building timbers, they get spread liberally across the continental US. They feed on the internal sections of the wood, causing severe damage.

Formosan Subterranean Termite

By far the most aggressive termites you’ll encounter are the Formosan subterranean termites. These are also the ones we’re normally talking about when we say the termites are swarming (which they are right now). The Formosan termites develop colonies several millions thick and can target utility poles and docks as well as building lumber. Despite their name, the easiest way to locate them is by spotting their mud carton nests aboveground.

Asian Subterranean Termite

Another major destructive force, the Asian subterranean termite, also builds mud carton nests, but this species in the US is largely found in southern Florida. They don’t swarm as large as their Formosan kin, but they still cause millions of dollars in property damage.

The Florida Termites:

Florida Dampwood Termite

We all love this semi-tropical paradise we’ve found on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Unfortunately, so does the aptly named Florida dampwood termites. While our heavy rains might deter some of the termite species out there, that’s not the case for these termites who are often found around sources of free water. That includes leaky roofs and fences and siding that get regular rain or sprinkler exposure.

Conehead Termite

But it could be worse – the Ft. Lauderdale-Miami side of the state has their own dedicated termite species.  Conehead termites are almost entirely found in and around Broward County, Florida.  This particular critter builds its mud-tube nests fully above the ground – you may even be able to follow the structure from the source of their hunger all the way back to the nest.

Signs of a Termite Infestation:

  • Mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home.
  • Soft wood in the home that sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Darkening or blistering of wood structures.
  • Small piles of feces that resemble sawdust or coffee grounds near a termite nest.
  • Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills, possibly indicating the presence of swarmers, which are often mistaken for flying ants.

Tiny Termite House

In case you still have doubts about the destructive capabilities of termites, The Professional Pest Management Alliance built a scale model of a 2-story house, complete with a cement slab, insulation, plumbing, electricity and a fully manicured lawn. They installed dozens of cameras around the hardwood floors, beautiful kitchen, and balcony overlooking the in-ground swimming pool. And then they released half a million Formosan termites into the structure to see exactly how they spread and demolish their food source. You can check out the latest here.

Of course, with so much at stake, it’s not enough to just keep an eye out for the signs of a termite infestation listed above. By the time you’ve found evidence, its likely going to cost you a pretty penny to eradicate the termites and rebuild the damage they’ve caused. And your homeowner’s insurance does NOT cover it!

The only way to be sure that your home is protected is to have a professional check and treat it on a regular basis. Not to toot our own horn, but our customers from Bradenton to North Port love our Term Assure 365. It’s the best termite protection we’ve found and it’s 100% organic and safe for the whole family. Plus, it comes with a 1-million dollar repair warranty, should your home get any damage from subterranean termites.

Term Assure 365 also includes our exclusive Go Green Plus 3 program that protects your home and yard from all the other crawling insects that might want to come stay for a while – and it’s also all natural and safe.

Buying a house? We do Pre-Sale WDO Inspections. Building a new one? Check out our pre-construction treatment.

Termites are no joke. Don’t wait to see signs of termite damage. Let us protect you and provide total peace of mind. Call for more details today!

Pest of the Month: Rats!

Pest of the Month-RatsWas there ever a mammal more reviled and maligned than the rat? First to leave the ship, the nickname for anyone who acts in their own interest at the expense of others, accused of spreading disease (even when they don’t). Even animal rights activists don’t get as riled up when they’re used for scientific testing as they do about other, cuter animals. In fact, any sympathy they get is mostly from that Pixar film.

And to be sure, some of the criticism is well-earned. They are well-known to be scavengers. They have helped circulate some diseases – 35 according to the CDC – in populated areas, just not the Black Plague. That particular outbreak was likely caused by another rodent renowned for evil – or maybe not – the Gerbil. Rats eat their own feces – apparently for its nutritional value. They also can’t control their bladders. As they walk, they dribble urine everywhere.

A Problem of Perception

So it might surprise you to find out that rats are actually some of the cleanest animals around. They can spend several hours a day on their grooming. They’re actually less likely to catch or transmit diseases than dogs and cats!

They’re also incredibly loyal, loving, and community-oriented animals. A single rat will get despondent if left without companionship. By the same token, they suffer some of the same social complications as humans do – being bullied, succumbing to peer pressure, often eating new things just because all the other rats are doing it.

But as a community – known as a mischief – they care for their sick and injured, have dreams while sleeping, and make laughing sounds when they play.

It’s rumored that both Queen Victoria and Peter Rabbit creator Beatrix Potter kept rats as pets. And along with Laika & Ham the Astrochimp, one of the first mammals in space was a brown rat, launched by France.

Clone Wars?

When scientists started seriously studying genetic diversity and cloning, they began by inbreeding rats, brother to sister, for 300 generations. The resulting rats were 99% genetically identical, even closer than we’ve yet been able to achieve with cloning.

One of the reasons that rats seem to be everywhere is because of their mating schedule. A female rat can mate as many as – wait for it – 500 times the 6 hour period that she’s in the mood. And she gets feeling that way about every 3.5 weeks. So in the average rats lifespan of 2-3 years, she can produce somewhere between 4 and 18 THOUSAND descendants.  That might explain how they originated in Asia and Australia but conquered the rest of the world long before man did.

Despite that, there are 7 species of rats on the Endangered Species list.

Smarter Than They Look

Their eyesight is poor, so rats use their whiskers and scent organs in their feet to find their way around. Rats are more intelligent than rabbits, hamsters, mice, gerbils and guinea pigs. They can learn their own name and once they’ve solved a maze, they never forget which way to go. Maybe we should harness them for our GPS’s!

Did you know rats are trained to detect land mines without setting them off? They’ve even trained some to drag cable through walls for electricians.

Recent Reputation

Rats weren’t always a harbinger of doom. In Rome they were considered good luck; they’re one of the more positive signs on the Chinese Zodiac, and to this day there’s a Hindu temple in India where pilgrims come to worship and feed the rats.

Other Fun Facts:

  • Rats chew through everything in an attempt to wear down their long teeth that never stop growing. You might say that they’re in a perpetual teething period.
  • A rat can go longer than a camel without having a drink of water.
  • Rats’ tails help them to balance while climbing and regulate their body temperature since they can’t sweat.

But despite all the really cool things about rats, we know most people don’t want to see them in their homes – especially if they’re not pets! A rat can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter, so it’s important to closely check your home if you happen upon one of the wild rodents inside. Or simply call an expert like us.

We’ll exclude all visible entry points and seal your roof vents with our proprietary covers. We then eliminate the rats or mice already in your home and set up hidden bait stations around the outside perimeter to minimize the potential intruders.

Or you can take it one step further and get our Thermal Acoustical Pest Control (TAP). It keeps insects as well as rodents out, helps soundproof your home, and is a high efficiency insulation that is not only more effective than the pink stuff, but far less dangerous for your family.  Give us a call and we can help you figure out which program is best for you!

Pest of the Month: White Footed Ants

GNPS POM White Footed AntOften mistaken by homeowners as one of species of ‘Crazy Ants,’ no one’s quite sure how the White Footed Ant arrived in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana, as well as the East Indies, but they were first identified at a tree nursery near Miami in 1986.

The Technomyrmex albipes quickly spread across Florida like they had across Japan and Indonesia 125 years earlier. They measure 2-3 millimeters long and are shades of dark brown and black. They are best separated from other ants by their pale yellow to white feet, hence the name.

Are they a problem?

White footed ants don’t bite or sting and in fact have only one defense against extinction: reproduction. It may sound funny, but it’s no joke – unlike most ant species, almost half of the white footed ant colony are reproductive females. That’s between 4,000 and a million and a half potentially pregnant ants at any time.

White footed ants also spread more readily than other ant species. Between July and August, a small percentage of winged males and females do a mating flight, copulating in mid-air, then landing and starting a new colony. The colonies also spread by budding, where a group of non-flying nestmates will set out on a road trip to found a new colony.

Why are they so annoying?

White footed ants are not known to cause any structural damage, and as mentioned earlier, they don’t bite or sting. They’re just very annoying to homeowners as they seek out sweet foods and once they’ve established themselves in an area, are difficult to get rid of.

When not dining in your sugar bowl, White footed ants tend to go foraging along branches and trunks of trees and shrubs that have nectars and/or sap-sucking insects that produce honeydew. Once a food source is located, pheromone trails are laid down, which is why you often see lines of the ants moving back and forth between food sources. And yes, into your home.

Unlike most ant species, the foragers don’t carry food back to the colony, regurgitate it or share it with others. Despite being non-fertile, these foraging ants lay what are called ‘trophic eggs,’ which the young and the fertile feed on. This method of food production also protects the colony from toxic ant baits, as only the ants eating the bait perish. Even if they survive to lay trophic eggs, the poison isn’t handed down. Oh, and White footed ants are very good at detecting and re-routing around chemical insecticides.

Where do they live?

Technomyrmex albipes – also sometimes classified as Technomyrmex difficilis – nests in trees and bushes, tree holes, under palm fronds, in loose mulch, under debris, in rain gutters, wall voids, and attics. Also, they tend to nest outside more often than inside.

So how do I get rid of them?

Sadly, it seems that white footed ants are here to stay. Once they find their way into your home, it is almost impossible to eradicate them from it, even with professional help. One thing you can do is trim trees and bushes and arrange decorative mulch so that none of them are in direct contact with your home. You can also seal any cracks or crevices that could lead into your home, like around windows, doors and where electrical, phone or cable lines enter your home or attic.

The best defense we can recommend is our Go Green Plus 3 protection. Our trained technicians inspect the interior and exterior of your property, making sure proper precautions are taken, then they treat the perimeter foundation, entry points, eaves, plant beds and trees with reduced–risk, safe, green products. And we’ll repeat the process 3 more times during the year – and return any time there’s a new problem, without any added charges.

To be doubly sure, you might also consider our Thermal Acoustical Pest (TAP) control. While its primary purpose is to refresh your attic after a rodent infestation, it also protects your attic against most other insects, including White footed ants (TAP contains boric acid, a safe chemical that is effective against them). TAP nearly pays for itself in sound-proofing and is more energy efficient insulation than the pink stuff that funny looking cat sells. And it’s fire-retardant.

If you’re having an issue with white footed ants or any other insects, give us a call today. We’ll inspect the property and give you the best options available from our array of family-friendly, 100% organic pest solutions. We’ve been taking care of our customers from Sarasota to Punta Gorda for nearly 30 years and we’d be happy to bring you into our family of satisfied clients!

Don’t Play With the Bats!

Don't Play with BatsIt’s the time of year when we start thinking of Halloween and all that entails: trick or treating, witches, black cats, and of course, vampires that turn into bats. Actually, funny story – did you know that in Bram Stoker’s novel, the most famous (or is that infamous?) vampire, Dracula, is never seen turning into a bat? It’s hinted at, but he actually is more likely to turn into a wolf! How’s that for a monster mash?

We know in real life that bats aren’t evil bloodsuckers; they’re cute little nocturnal mammals. But that doesn’t mean they’re all loveable and fun to play with, either!

Bat Scratch Fever

…which some high school kids in Utah found out the hard way. More than 40 kids at two high schools in the Salt Lake City area had to be treated for rabies after a student was scratched by a bat.

Both schools are on the bats migratory path, about 20 miles apart. And while only one person at one school was positively scratched by a bat, the second school discovered a massive bat colony in the attic after getting reports that students were carrying the bats around.

Because rabies is not easily identified in bats by sight, every student who came into contact with the bats was forced to undergo 2-weeks of 5-shots, because once the symptoms appear in humans, it’s almost always fatal.

Don’t Be Afraid

The good news is, while there is always a chance of stumbling over a rabid bat, most bats generally keep to themselves, and, as you might imagine, mostly come out at night. In fact, in Utah, just as here in Florida, it’s illegal to disturb the bats because they are a protected species (as in, just this side of endangered). And except for the rare case of rabies, none of the 13 species found in Florida are interested in biting you.

In fact, their status is one of the reasons we’ve made bats our pest of the month for October. Luckily, October is in the ‘off-season’ for bat mating. That means we can do what we call exclusion. We safely relocate the bats from your home or business to happier locales.

If it were earlier in the year, we are not as able to assist. April 15 to August 15 is bat maternity season, and because of their protected status, even the highly-trained professionals on our Good News Pest Solutions team can’t touch them. So we recommend checking before it’s too late – in between searching for your annual receipts, for example – or giving us a call in September.

But Seriously…

If you do find one or more bats in your attic or office space in Bradenton or Port Charlotte, just call us. Don’t try to touch it or move it on your own. Even if they aren’t going to bite you, they’re not going to be thrilled at being poked at, and again, it is against the law. We’ll find the bat a safer place to live and you can focus on deciding which one of those fun size candy bars you’re going to give out!

Pest of the Month: Cockroaches

Pest of the Month CockroachesSeptember is known for a lot of things – the start of the school year, the end of the harvest, even in 1752 for losing 11 days (when England and her colonies joined the rest of the world in switching from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar)!

And September now holds the distinction for having the cockroach as its Pest of the Month!

They’re Ancient

While cockroaches themselves only live about a year, cockroaches as a species are one of the oldest ones on the planet. Whether you believe in the theory of evolution or God’s divine creation, cockroaches have been here since the beginning. There are, depending on who you talk to, between 3500 and 4500 species of these adaptable suckers, although luckily only about 30 of them live near humans.

They’re the Ultimate Survivor

Thanks to some confusion in the wake of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the general public now believes that cockroaches will be the final survivors of a nuclear holocaust.  That’s not entirely true.  The fact is, they would not survive a nuclear explosion, but they can take a LOT more radiation than we can – up to 10x as much.

On top of that, cockroaches have many other remarkable survival skills – they can survive without food for a month, can hold their breath for 40 minutes, and can survive for a week without their heads.

Cockroaches will eat ANYthing. Even their own mates. Cockroaches prefer meats, starches, and sweets, including beer, but they will eat just about anything to survive, including other insects and other cockroaches.  There are even fossil records that appear to prove cockroaches ate dinosaur poop back in the day.

They Come in All Sizes

A day old baby cockroach is about the size of a speck of dust – but can already run almost as fast as their elders. 3 miles an hour may not sound like much, but that’d be the equivalent of a human sprinting 200 miles an hour. Babies grow to adult size in a little over a month, but by then can have spread more than their share of allergens and diseases.

Average adult cockroaches range in size from ½ to 2-inches long. Here in Florida, we’re familiar with some of the larger versions of the classic German cockroach. But the largest cockroach is a species in South America, the Megaloblatta longipennis. It grows to 6 inches – with a wingspan of over a foot! That’s a little bigger than our Palmetto Bugs.

They’re Sometimes Cultivated for Medicine

Yes, believe it or not, in China, they farm and harvest cockroaches. According to university scientists there, American cockroaches can be cooked and consumed or ground into a powder that is utilized in burn creams and cosmetic facial masks.

Robotics scientists are also studying cockroaches’ exoskeletons and wings and their legs for prosthetic advancements. Of course, we’ve told you about several of these advancements and even the Robo-Roach.

We should also clarify at this point that the common names for many cockroach species are the result of nationalism – or rather anti-nationalism. Here in the states we have German cockroaches and in China and Africa they have American cockroaches. The names are sometimes thought to correspond with their point of origin, but more likely are examples of naming a bug they didn’t care for after the society they despised, or even the indigent population they’ve displaced.

How do I Get Rid of Them?

Although cockroaches, like all God’s creatures, do serve some purpose – they help cultivate the soil and do assist with certain aspects of natural recycling – none of us want them in our homes or businesses.  So, since September is the beginning of the last third of the year, this is the perfect time to start our Go Green Plus 3 treatment. We’re known from Bradenton to Punta Gorda for our all-natural, safe, 100% organic pest control methods that keep the crawling bugs out of your house. Call us and one of our highly trained staff can get you started. You might also want to ask about Term Assure 365, which adds our exclusive termite prevention, for just a little more.

And if you want to buy a Robo-Roach, well, just google it.

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