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Category: Pest of the Month

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.

August Pest of the Month: Bed Bugs

Pest of the Month August Bed BugsAs we head into the final month of summer, we thought we’d highlight a pest most often thought of as one you encounter on a vacation – but can just as easily show up in your home. Cimex lectularius– better known as the ever-nasty bed bug.

It may seem like bed bugs have been in the news a lot lately, and you’re not wrong – especially since they had all but disappeared until just a few years ago.

Prior to World War II, bed bugs were a huge problem across the United States. Advancements in personal hygiene and extensive use of DDT led to the cimex species being isolated in remote areas of Africa and Asia.

That all changed about a decade ago. There’s still no clear reason why, although scientists now believe that the bugs have built up a resistance to many insecticides. Add that to a unique genetic anomaly – while inbreeding leads to most species’ deterioration, bed bugs, like the royal family, tend to thrive on it.

Bed bugs only feed for 2-5 minutes, then move on. A lot of people don’t even realize they’ve been bitten, since even the most severe reactions to a bite resemble hives, and many people have little or no reaction.

Unlike fleas, ticks and other biting insects, bed bugs don’t hitch hike on mammals, but rather on clothes, which is why they are so prevalent in urban areas.

While they’re small, bed bugs are easy to identify because they move in great numbers. Individual bugs are less than ¼” long, oval shaped, reddish-brown and flat. After eating, they are a bit fatter and redder.

One of the easiest ways to detect a bed bug infestation is the residue they leave behind. After feeding, bed bugs leave small brown or dark red fecal spots on fabric (they kind of look like coffee grinds, yuck!) and you may even find small cast off shells as they molt to their next stage.

While bed bugs need to eat before each molting stage, they can remain dormant without eating for several months, especially while travelling on clothing or luggage.

And while bed bugs are found most often in hotels and shelters, they can also end up in your home or apartment, especially in today’s more sharable society. Whether it’s taking an Uber, chilling in an Airbnb, or picking up a curb alert couch, there’s more chance than ever that bed bugs can end up hitching a ride to your home.

One woman in New Jersey was found dead in a home so infested with bed bugs, that, although they didn’t kill her, everyone who went into her house had to wear hazmat suits and be disinfected afterwards.

Not to fear, though. Bed Bug infestations are not difficult to treat, but they do take time. The first step is to limit the contamination – clear away clutter, thoroughly wash sheets, stuffed animals and any potentially infested clothing. Vacuum thoroughly, empty and seal the bag, and discard it into a trash receptacle outside your home.

Another great option – our Go Green Plus 3 program. Integrated pest control that is not only highly effective against many pests, but is 100% safe & organic – an eco-superior solution to those nasty chemicals some of the other guys use. We cover most of the Gulf Coast of Florida, from Ruskin to Punta Gorda. Give us a call to find out more!

July 2017 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!

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!

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