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Extreme Bugs: The Fastest-The Desert Locust

Extreme Bugs The Desert LocustHave you ever seen an insect pulled over in a school zone for speeding? While that may not seem likely, for our latest Extreme Bug, the Desert Locust, the fact that it can fly more than 21 miles per hour into the wind is just one of the amazing aspects of this close cousin of the grasshopper.

In addition to its incredible speed – the fastest flying insect ever recorded – the Desert Locust is also one of the oldest recorded bugs – it appears in both the Bible and Qur’an, and while you may not realize it, you’ve probably even seen a representation of them in a movie.

In the Mummy movies, the one bug people remember is the scarab. But when they show a desert swarm – or when God calls down His wrath on Pharaoh and the Egyptians in the Ten Commandments (as well as the Bible story in Exodus it’s based on) – those are Desert Locusts.

It may seem surprising that the Desert Locust starts out as a mostly solitary insect. Sure, the pregnant mother locust lays up to 100 eggs at one, um, sitting, but most nymphs or hoppers spread out once they crack through the foam the mother encases the eggs in while they’re growing.

In fact, the mostly greenish hoppers and even the winged adults are happy to just wander around and eat the equivalent of their body weight each day.

But get a pack of these adult winged locusts together, especially if their food supply starts to dwindle as a result of a drought, and an interesting thing happens.

Desert Locusts: The Incredible Hulks of the Insect World?

The scientific term is polyphenism, which just means they can alter their physical form based on environmental conditions. With Desert Locusts, when more of them get crowded together, their hind legs start banging into each other and they undergo a change.

Think of Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk. The Desert Locusts‘ bodies become shorter. Their color changes to yellow and black. And they start pumping pheromones that cause them to become attracted to each other, shifting from solitary insects to a raging, gregarious swarm of hungry grasshoppers that can devastate any nearby crops. Wow!

Swarms descend on unsuspecting farmlands, wiping them out in mere minutes. Then the swarm moves on, travelling 1-200 kilometers per day. They routinely glide across the Red Sea and even crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to the Caribbean in the late 80’s in search of food.

A single swarm can cover up to 1200 square kilometers and can number 50 to 100 billion locusts per swarm.

Luckily, our wetter and generally colder weather in the United States and across Europe means that the Desert Locust will likely never pose a threat to us like they do to the Middle East.

While the everyday grasshoppers we encounter in Florida won’t completely decimate your garden and yard like their Desert Locust brethren, they do have a tendency to exhaust their food supply before moving on. That includes your garden and your citrus tree leaves.

Our Go Green Plus 3 may not eliminate these ravenous creatures, but give us a call today and we’ll explain how we help our clients from Parrish to North Port with our 100% organic pest control solutions!

The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist

The Ultimate Spring Cleaning ChecklistMany of us can probably recall that around this time of year, our parents would organize a whole day of “Spring Cleaning,” often culminating in a garage sale the following weekend. Sometimes, you’d even see several families on the same street or block, timing their cleaning and garage sales to take advantage of the momentum.

But for us, it seems like every year our lives get busier and it’s harder and harder to find time to take care of the little things. Of course, that often leads to a lot of things building up. And if you didn’t have time to take care of the small things before, where are you going to find the time to take care of the bulked up To-Do List, never mind Spring Cleaning?!

Good news! We have a solution for you.

A detailed plan that will get your home deep cleaned and ready for the rest of the year – in just EIGHT HOURS! And it works if you’re doing it solo or have everyone in the family help out!

Are you ready? Grab some all-purpose, paint-safe cleaner, some microfiber cloths (save the rags for the garage) and the vacuum cleaner. We’re starting in…

The Bathroom! 9-10am

  • Hook the brush attachment to the vacuum cleaner and run it all over the walls. Then wipe them down with the all-purpose cleaner. Now grab any throw rugs and the floor mat, and toss them in the washing machine.
  • Wash down the inside of the windows and all the mirrors.
  • Spray and Soak – you can use the all-purpose cleaner for this if you’re in a bind, but if you can get a good strong spray-on cleaning agent, preferably with some bleach, spray down the shower, the sink and the toilet. Let everything sit for 15-20 minutes while you grab some coffee and get the rugs, etc., into the dryer or hung out.
  • Now rinse everything from the top down. Start with the showerhead and do the whole shower and tub. Then wipe down the toilet, again, top to bottom – tank, rim, bowl & base. Set those cloths aside – you won’t be using them again until you’ve thoroughly laundered them in hot water and bleach. Spray some cleaner on the floor. Let it soak, then mop it up on your way out.

Of course, if you have multiple bathrooms, just have your spouse and kids do the other ones – and double check their work before you move on to…

The Bedrooms! 10am-12:30pm

  • We’re going to need the vacuum with the brush attachment again. Vacuum and wipe down all the walls, like you did in the bedroom (stagger the start of each bedroom by about 5 minutes, depending on their size). Take special care to clean switch plates, the outside edges of doors, and any type of edging or crown molding that holds onto dust.
  • Open all the windows (unless it’s raining), open the curtains wide, and pull the linens off the bed – sheets, pillowcases, quilts, duvet covers, mattress pads, dust ruffles, shams – the whole kit and caboodle.
  • Let the room breathe for 30-45 minutes while you take the linens to the washing machine. If you need to, wait for the linens from all the rooms, because you’ll want to wash everything in the order it goes back on the bed. It’s okay if it takes a few loads. And, of course, if you like to go old school and hang stuff out instead of running it in the dryer, you’ll shift the time accordingly so you’re making the beds after the living room and before the take-out or delivery arrives.
  • Window treatments can be vacuumed (upholstery attachment), dry-cleaned or given a quick fluff in the dryer. No need to wash everything, but you’ll want to clear off any accumulated dust.
  • Wash any mirrors and the inside of the windows.
  • Finally, shampoo – or better steam – clean the carpets and large area rugs. If you have the space and extra funds, invest in a prosumer steam cleaner, or just rent one from Publix or WalMart.

And now it’s time to head to…

The Kitchen! 12:30-2pm

  • First things first. Grab your cooler and empty out everything from the refrigerator and freezer. Unplug it and let everything warm up to room temperature – you don’t want to put hot washcloths on a cold glass shelf and have it crack or shatter. Move on to the stove and you’ll come back to the fridge.
  • Remove all stove grates and trays – anything that’s removable. Scrub them clean with soapy steel wool pads – you can add some ammonium to get the really stuck on stuff off.
  • Spray down the stovetop and let it soak while you get down and inside the oven, wiping down all of the excess food crumbs and blackened bits. Grab a microwave safe bowl and put in a couple cups of water and some lemon juice and run it for 2-½ or 3 minutes. Wipe down the stove top, making sure you get in the cracks. Then run a clean cloth in the inside of the microwave. The steamy lemon water should have softened up anything stuck on. Avoid using more traditional cleaners in the microwave, as they can damage the radiation protection.
  • Now back to the fridge – mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a quart of hot water and use it to wipe everything down. Rinse with clean water and dry. Use a little dish soap and water to wipe the door seals making sure to clear the cracks of any debris. Don’t forget to wipe down the doors and sides too. And don’t dump that out quite yet! Let the seals thoroughly dry so they adhere. Plug the fridge back in and remember to put the food back in after you finish the living rooms.
  • Clean window treatments and wash the insides of windows.
  • The water and dish liquid from the fridge will work great on the surface and tops of counters, cabinets and any other surface that may have captured some stray grease or grime. Wipe out shelves and drawers – especially the utensil drawers. Spray some anti-bacterial cleaner inside the under-sink cabinets, especially if you use one of them for the trash can.
  • Sweep, vacuum and mop floors.

And finally,

The Family Room/Rec Room/Great Room 2-5pm

  • Shut off your ceiling fans and dust them. Please. So much dust accumulates that we never see up there. If you haven’t already, switch the fans from circulating the air up to blowing cool air down (usually switching from up to down on the side) to save money on your AC bill. You can also coordinate the switch with the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time.
  • Vacuum and wipe the walls and ceilings.
  • Rent an upholstery cleaning machine from your local hardware store and deep clean the couch and chairs – at the very least use the vacuum attachment to suck them clean. If you have leather furniture, vacuum out the crumbs and inside liner, then wipe down with the furniture store’s recommended leather cleaner (they either gave you samples or a sheet with the details).
  • Wipe your lightbulbs – dust accumulates everywhere in Florida and dirty bulbs gives less light. Also consider replacing your bulbs with longer lasting LED bulbs.
  • Clean window treatments and wash the insides of windows.
  • Use compressed air to spray out all the crevices and cracks where dust and hair settle on your electronics. Then wipe them top to bottom with microfiber cloths. Don’t forget to wipe underneath the TV, speakers, sound system, DVD/DVR/Streaming boxes, and in between stereo components, if you’re old school. Be sure to wipe from back towards you so the dirt and dust come out.
  • If you have a fireplace – yes, some of us do in Florida – sweep it out and stow unused logs and kindling.
  • Vacuum and/or steam clean the carpets.
  • Now, either order pizza for dinner or send your spouse to grab takeout. Put the food back in the fridge, double checking use by dates, then relax on the clean couch and catch up on your favorite Netflix show. You’ve earned it! Whew! 😌

If you’d like a handy printable checklist to go through, you can download one from Oprah here!

And One More Thing…

Now that you’ve gotten everything clean, spring is a great time to start our exclusive Go Green Plus 3 system that keeps your whole house free of pesky insects and is safe for the whole family. If you’d like your home to feel as fresh and critter free as our clients in Lakewood Ranch and North Port, just give us a call!

Mosquito’s Gut: Key to Preventing Dengue and Zika!

Mosquito Gut The Key to Preventing Dengue and Zika  Since the first sign that the Zika virus had reappeared in areas largely populated by humans in 2013, there have been countless ideas and theories and attempts to limit the spread of the virus, largely through its mosquito carriers.

Scientists and laymen alike have proposed heavier spraying of insecticides, sterilization efforts, even our own No Bite Zones technology that turns mosquitoes into vegans.

The Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are also carriers responsible for the spread of the Dengue virus. The infection route runs as follows: an infected mammal is bitten by a mosquito. The infected blood enters the mosquito’s system, but they are unaffected. Then the mosquito bites another mammal that becomes newly infected with the virus.

A recent study from Purdue University took a more in-depth look at this process, identifying what happens to the mosquito and the virus between bites. What they discovered may provide a radical new approach to preventing and even eliminating the spread of the viruses.

A Deep Dive

Zika virus, Dengue fever, encephalitis and some forms of influenza are all examples of what is known as an arbovirus. That is, the virus is a parasite that travels and is transmitted via an insect, spider or crustacean, but most often in mosquitoes and ticks.

Arboviruses don’t rely on what we might think of as normal infection methods, but by existing within the insect that spreads the virus, sometimes working in symbiosis, but just as often in conflict with the parasite carrier.

This can sound all very confusing, but the key is that the virus is a separate life form riding with the mosquito or tick in hopes of infecting a new host.

When the researchers at Purdue started digging into what happens when a mosquito first picks up one of those viruses, they learned something interesting. The biochemical makeup of the mosquito’s guts are changed by the presence of the virus – their metabolism increases and certain chemicals are released.

In a way, it’s very much like what our bodies do when they fight an infection. The difference is, the changes the virus causes in the mosquitoes allows the virus to replicate and grow – leading to further infections.

They are still unsure how the mosquito is ultimately affected, but it may very well impact their ability to fulfill their God-given purpose as the number two most effective pollinator after bees.

A Solution Is Still Pending

While scientists try to investigate further and determine how the virus impacts the mosquito, a solution has already been born in their minds. If researchers can find a way to inhibit the virus from switching on the change in the mosquitoes’ bodies, the virus would become stagnant. Instead of replicating and using the mosquitoes’ bodies as a way to get themselves into more mammals – like us – the virus would just sit inside the mosquito. The mosquito could then continue going about its normal day and when it dies, the virus dies with it.

They are working now to discover the easiest and most effective way to enact that change in mosquitoes, allowing everyone to live a little easier.

Until then, of course, take the usual precautions if you’re going to be out where you expect to encounter mosquitoes – wear long sleeves, use insect repellant – including these all natural solutions to DEET – and try to stay indoors. And in your own home and yard, we highly recommend our aforementioned exclusive No Bite Zones technology.

Our customers from Punta Gorda to Bradenton Beach have benefited from turning biting momma mosquitoes and their offspring into nice vegan insects who dine on plants, not them or their pets, and enjoyed a much happier rainy season. If you’d like to take back your yard, give us a call today!

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!

Ways to Go Green In Your Kitchen

Ways to Go Green in Your KitchenMost of us agree that keeping our planet and ourselves healthy should be a priority. However, we know that to get started “Going Green” takes some dedication and a bit of an upfront investment. But it’s well worth it! And you don’t have to start all at once…

Our goal is to see as many people as possible taking the steps to make 2018 their greenest year yet. God gave us stewardship of this planet and we take that very seriously. So we’ve committed to help – for the next year, we’re going to sprinkle in a few tips every month to help you gradually transform your home (and your life!) into an energy efficient, eco-friendly castle.

And we’re starting… In the Kitchen.

The Refrigerator

The only appliance that works harder in Florida than your AC Unit is your refrigerator. Despite the origins of the name – RE-Fridge-rator, it’s meant to keep food cool pretty much all the time. Anything you can do to help it, is going to save energy use and your electric bill. So:

  • Keep it full – a fuller fridge means less air to continuously keep cool. And less of that air escapes when you open the door. Which reminds us…
  • Know what you want before you open the door. It’s not just your teenagers that stand there staring into the void. And that frigid gaze is costing you $30-75 per year.
  • Use the recommended factory settings, or slightly below. The companies do a lot of testing to determine energy efficiency. But there’s always a little wiggle room, and the lower the setting, the less the compressor will run, especially if you’re keeping it well-stocked.
  • Defrost food inside. This is actually healthier and safer than leaving it in the sink or on the counter, and it transfers the energy loss (cold to warm) and the moisture to the refrigerator, meaning it works a little bit less.
  • Make sure the seals work – loose seals can cost you countless dollars in higher power bills as the cool air seeps out. To test your seals, close the door on a dollar bill. If you can pull it out easily, or if it just slides out on its own, you’ve got a problem.
  • Give it room to breathe. Leaving space between the wall and the coils on the back means they generate less heat and can expend it easier, reducing your energy costs, and the increased airflow lets them operate easier.
  • As an added bonus, consider unplugging the automatic ice maker, water dispenser and cool electronic gadgets on the front. While these are all intended to reduce energy use and add convenience, they also add heat to the system that the fridge must compensate for. But we understand if you don’t want to go that far.

Shopping Green

Getting back to keeping that fridge full. A lot of us have already invested in washable, reusable bags to take grocery shopping. When we remember them, that is. But that’s just the beginning. Here are a few other shopping tips to help maximize the sustainability of your kitchen.

  • Plan ahead. Keeping your kitchen well-stocked means less trips to the grocery store, and less gas & time wasted. Do menus for each week so you know what you’ll need to buy and how much, so you only head to the store once, and keep that fridge full. And if you do come up short on an item, consider if it’s really needed, and if a substitution can be made from what you have on hand.
  • Buy products with less packaging – less packaging means less trash. Not only can you save trips out to the cans outside, you’ll be reducing the build-up in landfills. Experts say we generate about 4.6 pounds of trash per person each day, amounting to 230-Million TONS of trash each year, just in the United States. And only 25-30% of that is recycled.
  • Recycle everything you can. First, know what’s recyclable. Then know where you can take it. Most counties and communities on the Gulf Coast of Florida issue each household a recycling bin. Some are already transitioning to the large garbage can sized ones they use in other states. Use them, and fill them with paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, cardboard & milk jugs. Even soiled items. The more we recycle, the better it is for all of us.
  • Eat less red meat, less often. Yeah, this isn’t our favorite either, and trust us, we aren’t trying to convince you to go vegan. But consider this – cattle take up a lot of space, then generate both methane and nitrous oxide, contributing 18% of our greenhouse emissions – more than car exhaust. So maybe just cut back a little.

More Quick Tips

Dishwasher vs Dish Washers – running the electric dishwasher uses 37% less water than hand washing. But only if the dishwasher is full. If you only use a few dishes per day, fill up one sink with soapy water, one with clear, turn the faucet off and save the electricity. This also works great to help train your kids to be more responsible. If you don’t mind a few water spots, you can also turn off the heat dry option, or just wipe the dishes dry yourself as soon as the cycle finishes.

Which Oven When – if you’re a small family, or only preparing a small meal, instead of kicking on the big, heat-generating oven, you can use a toaster oven, slow cooker, convection oven, or, yes, the microwave. When you’re cooking on the stovetop, use the smallest size pan you can – and put it on the smallest burner it fits. Also, when baking, you really don’t need to preheat anymore. Just turn the oven on when you’re ready to start – it’ll add maybe 3-5 minutes to the baking time, but save hundreds in electric, gas and AC bills.

Put a Lid on it! Cooking without lids can use up to three times as much energy as covering the pan. If you find yourself short on lids, look for one-size fits all options that are ribbed to fit various sized pots and pans.

Go Chemical Free – you don’t have to throw everything away at once and start over, but as you run out of cleaning products, replace them with organic, natural alternatives for harsh chemicals. You’ll feel better and will often find they’re more effective than what you’re used to. It’s the same for pest control. We’ve shown your neighbors from Lakewood Ranch to North Port that 100% organic, all-natural pest solutions are more effective and more affordable in the long run. If you’d like to find out for yourselves, give us a call!

So it’s really not that difficult to go green, if you take it one step at a time. Next up in our series – Going Green in the Bathroom comes in a couple of weeks!

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