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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!

6 Plants that Keep Mosquitoes Away

6 Plants that Keep Mosquitoes AwayNow that school’s out for the summer and the days are longer, chances are, like us, you’re spending a bit more time outdoors with the family. For the next couple of months, we’ll enjoy picnics, barbeques, outdoor concerts and movies, maybe even take a trip or two to the beach.

But we all know that the summer months on the Gulf Coast of Florida are smack dab in the middle of rainy season, from Punta Gorda to Bradenton and beyond. And with rain comes our unofficial mascot – the mosquito.

Here at Good News Pest Solutions, we’re always looking for innovative new ways to solve pest problems with natural, organic methods that are safe for your family and pets. So we thought we’d share a few of the plants you can cultivate that naturally help repel mosquitoes – as well as a few added benefits!

Natural Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away

  1. Citronella – this may be the most obvious choice, due to its popularity in insect repellents and torches. That’s the oil, of course. You may not know that it’s also a small shrub you can plant around your yard, or grow in pots that can be placed around your patio. Their strong smell masks the odors that attract mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the smell can also trigger allergic reactions for some folks.
  2. Catnip – this is, of course, your cat’s favorite solution. In fact, you might find that this herb makes your yard the number one gathering spot for all of the neighborhood cats! Catnip is related to mint and is easy to grow. The range of catnip is not as wide as some other solutions, but you can easily crush up some leaves for added effect.
  3. Lemon Balm – also known as horsemint, the smell not only repels mosquitoes, but also attracts other pollinators like bees and butterflies – which may be why it grows and spreads so easily! Plus, it’s drought resistant and reseeds itself, so it’ll always be around when you need it.
  4. Basil – not only is it a popular herb for cooking, but its natural smell repels mosquitoes as well as ants, whiteflies, cabbage maggots and mice. Unlike some of the other solutions, basil has a pleasant aroma for humans and you don’t even have to crush the leaves for the effect. The most popular varieties are lemon and cinnamon basil.
  5. Lavender – another strong, but generally pleasant smelling solution, lavender can be grown in your garden alongside your vegetables, or in pots distributed around the house. Along with mosquitoes, lavender also wards off gnats. Many people find the smell of lavender soothing, promoting a more restful sleep and relaxation during the day. The dried leaves can also be placed in closets and wardrobes as natural moth balls.
  6. Marigolds – finally, the prettiest of the solutions we’ve seen. The popular flowers you probably planted in grade school have a distinct smell that mosquitoes and other pests don’t care for. And similar to basil, marigolds also help your vegetable garden – repelling the annoying aphids that tend to infest your tomato plants.

Of course, there are other all-natural options for dealing with mosquitoes – like our exclusive No Bite Zones technology, that turns biting mosquitoes and their offspring into vegans. Give us a call to find out more!

Are Mice Causing Asthma in Schools?

Mice and AsthmaWhen temperatures start to drop, most warm blooded creatures– ourselves included – tend to seek out places and situations where they’ll stay a bit warmer.

If you’ve been in Florida for more than a few months, you’ll mysteriously find, regardless of where you came from, that you have a lower threshold for colder weather, even when the mercury is only dropping below 60-degrees.

Living in Florida causes physiological changes, that, combined with higher humidity, causes us to feel like 50 degrees around here is like 32 in Ohio, Michigan or Indiana.

What you may not know is that we’re not alone in this phenomenon. All mammals on the Gulf Coast of Florida: dogs, cats, mice and rats feel the “chill,” and subsequently also seek to bundle up if they can or move into places where it’s warmer. And thanks to our own adjusted cold tolerance, those places are often our homes, our schools and our churches.

An unfortunate side effect of the rodents seeking shelter is the spread of various allergens carried on their fur into the buildings, especially those with centralized heating and cooling systems.

Is There A Connection Between Mice and Asthma?

According to the CDC, more than 6-million kids suffer from asthma, including 17% of black children.

In the past, scientists and doctors studied the primary place where kids spend most of their time – their homes (and even their yards, although that’s less frequent these days).

And while there are many different allergy triggers that can be encountered in life, recent studies seem to show that kids who develop asthma and asthma like symptoms do so after being exposed to these allergens in their secondary home – their schools.

While the researchers are quick to point out there is no clear causal relationship between mouse-borne allergens and asthma, they did discover that they are universally present in schools. Further, in the inner city schools they tested, those with higher levels of mice-related allergens suffered symptoms at least one more day a week than kids in the other schools.

Other allergens, like dog and cat dander and dust mites were also found, but at much smaller levels and none of them appeared to increase the chance of asthma like the mouse-related allergens.

Further studies are being planned, but it seems clear that limiting exposure to mice, however cute, and the allergens they carry is important to help control asthma. Scientists will look into improving the air quality in schools and taking steps to control the pests by removing clutter and sealing up building cracks.

Of course, you can also take steps to control the exposure of your family to the allergens these rodents carry by taking steps at home.  Good News Pest Solutions has been recognized as the Gulf Coast’s leading expert on keeping rats and mice out of your house and in reducing the rodent population outdoors as well. We guarantee your property for a year after treatment and, like all our solutions, employ environmentally safe alternatives to harmful chemicals. Contact us to find out more today!

Romantic Rats Ruin Parisian Parks

Rats in ParisMost folks like to do something special for New Year’s Eve – shoot off some fireworks, drop in at Disney, maybe even brave the crowd in Times Square to watch the ball drop. But one prime celebration location is suffering from an ages-old infestation that the most romantic city in the world just can’t get a handle on – the Parisian rat population.

We all remember from our history classes that the nasty little rodents spread the Bubonic plague – in fact, recent examinations of history have proven that the Black Death of the 1300’s that ravaged close to half of the population of Paris was not spread by rats and other rodents, although most people still assume they were to blame. Given their history, it’s no surprise that, despite the Pixar film, most rats are still not welcome at Parisian dinner tables.

Yet, despite the city government’s pledge to completely “de-raticize” the Renaissance tourist attraction in 2014, it’s apparently more visibly infested than ever before, forcing the closing of nine popular parks in the City of Light – including the famous Parc du Champ-de-Mars, home of the Eiffel Tower. In fact, animal control officers say this is the worst the city has seen in almost 40 years.

And there’s a reason that we said a visible problem – it appears the rats are overrunning the above ground city because of a huge overpopulation below ground. Now there’s something you don’t want to hear, especially if you were planning a trip to the city’s historic catacombs. And the most popular plan of attack? To drive the rats back into the sewers – not, we’re thinking, a viable solution to stopping the spread of a disease, should that recur.

The problem is apparently, two-fold – new European regulations, meant to mirror ones in the United States, changed the way rats were poisoned, as the old ways could also lead to water contamination as well as being accidentally ingested by curious pets and children. So now the rats have to seek out the poisoned bait in enclosed boxes – a lot harder draw for the rodents who can easily find a smorgasbord fit for the Rat King in open garbage pails.

In fact, in the weeks since the new regulations took effect, not a single rat has ventured into the boxes of death – and the ready supply of food means the rats can continue to reproduce at an alarming rate. Rats can mate every 3 weeks, producing a litter of 4-5 baby rats, and those newly born babies can get pregnant themselves within 6-9 weeks.

What’s worse – even if the rats in Paris’ past (Rattus rattus) didn’t spread the Black Death, their distant Asian cousins– Rattus norvegicus – which was responsible for the Modern Plague in the 1860’s, arrived in the French capital about 200 years ago and are now the dominant species as well as known spreaders of salmonella and swamp fever.

Still, the Parisian animal control people do believe the rats have a place in their city – just out of sight. When properly maintained, the rats work well as composting agents, devouring waste that would otherwise need to be disposed of, and their furry little bodies – they also work great as pipe cleaners. Once again proving that every living creature has its own God-given purpose. Who knew? 🐭

If you see rats in your home or on your property, give us a call. Good News Pest Solutions has been recognized as the Gulf Coast’s leading expert on keeping rats and mice out of your home and in reducing the rodent population outdoors as well. We guarantee your property for a year after treatment and, like all our solutions, employ biologically safe alternatives to harmful chemicals that protect your pets and family while eliminating the pests. Contact us today!

Do You Have Musophobia?

Do You have Musophobia?Outside of Stuart Little, Tom & Jerry, and Ratatouille, most people are at least startled, if not repulsed, at the sudden appearance of a mouse or rat. But if the fear or even the thought of such an occurrence causes extreme anxiety, you could be suffering from an irrational and unreasonable fear of mice, known as musophobia.

It’s not hard to figure out where this comes from. We were all taught in school that rats spread the Bubonic Plague (or was it gerbils?), that mice and rats live in dirty conditions, and that they’re prone to eat trash.

The symptoms of musophobia vary depending on the extent of fear the phobic experiences, but sometimes include:

  • Screaming, crying, climbing on beds or tables/chairs
  • Trying to flee
  • Shaking, trembling, and sweating profusely
  • Having accelerated heartbeat, breathing rapidly or gasping
  • Feeling nauseated, vomiting or having other signs of gastrointestinal distress

Probably the most famous person to suffer from musophobia was Mr. Walt Disney, who created the now iconic Mickey Mouse as a way to try and get over his intense fear of the rodents.  ⬅Who da thunk that? 😆

Unfortunately, while Walt’s fear has paid off well for him, drawing a cartoon character isn’t the best solution for the rest of us. And as the weather gets cooler, even here in Florida, mice can settle in to attics and crawlspaces to find more warmth.

And the saying, ‘they’re more afraid of you than you are of them,’ doesn’t always override our emotional reaction. Not to mention, whether you’re afraid of them or not, mice tend to chew on things – like furniture, clothes, and food left unattended.

Be aware that mice and rats are everywhere in Florida, even the most exclusive homes and neighborhoods. And not to worry you more, but you may not even be aware that the little critters are in your home as they tend to be more active at night!

Luckily, there are solutions. And, no, we aren’t referring to adopting a new feline friend. Good News Pest Solutions offers the most comprehensive rodent solution in the state.

Don’t give in to fear – contact Good News today for a free home inspection and evaluation. Taking preventative measures now will bring you peace of mind and a rodent-free home.

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