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Grasshoppers and Van Gogh: A Little Buggy Art History

Bus as ArtDespite the fact he had no success and made almost no money off of his art before allegedly shooting himself in the gut at 37, we know quite a bit about the painter Vincent Van Gogh.

The Dutch painter was the son of a pastor, and actually pursued the ministry himself for several years before discovering his true calling. He was also a teacher and an art dealer before studying painting.

At age 27, with the financial support of his younger brother, he began teaching himself to draw and paint. The artwork he is best remembered for now though, came about after he moved to Paris and became friends with several Impressionist artists – Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissarro and Gauguin.

A Buggy Starry Night

But was he also an amateur entomologist?

Well, not really – or not by choice at least. As his style became brighter and more flowing, he began painting more and more outdoors, where insects would habitually harass him while working. In 1885, he mentioned to his brother that the four canvasses he was sending him (presumably to reduce his debt) had been almost disastrous work as he had to pick more than a hundred flies off them.

But, as meticulous as he tried to be, he missed a few. Recently, the conservator at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Missouri found a tiny grasshopper that had apparently gotten trapped in the brushstrokes as Van Gogh painted “Olive Trees” in 1889.

Is There a Bug in YOUR Brush?

We’d like to think things have gotten better since the 1880’s, and in many ways they have. But despite all the improvements in construction and yard care, somehow bugs still manage to get into our homes, often to be found in unusual places.

To this day, the only thing that keeps bugs truly at bay is the consistent, professional application of pest solutions on a periodic basis. But you’re never alone. Here at Good News Pest Solutions, our highly-trained, capable staff is available year round to get you started and maintain pest protection for your home and yard.

The Good News

And the one thing that has improved in the last 100 years? Whether you’re dealing with grasshoppers, roaches, termites, bedbugs or mosquitoes – we now have an all-natural, 100% organic treatment to deal with every single one of them. These pest control solutions are safe for your entire family – including your cats, dogs and goldfish. Plus, they’re more effective than the dangerous chemical fixes of the past.

The most popular solution we provide to most of our customers from Parrish to Punta Gorda, is our Go Green Plus 3. It offers year-round protection from the majority of creepy crawlies that try to invade your home and garden. And we’re happy to add on our warrantied Termite solution and/or No Bite Zones for small additional fees.

What are you waiting for? Do you want archaeologists finding ancient bugs in your home 100 years from now? Or would you rather get a handle on it today? Give us a call!

“Green” Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up quick! And while we know that the day is traditionally celebrated by expressing your love for another human being, there’s no rule that says you can’t express your love for God’s creation at the same time. Especially if it means saving a few bucks too.

Now, we’re not recommending that you try these just because they’re cheap – they’re also creative, fun, and can be romantic. Don’t just buy your beau a box of chocolates and some flowers (emphasis on the word JUST), enjoy an out of the box Valentine’s experience they’ll always cherish.

Get In – or Out – to Nature!

Believe it or not, there is a world out there to explore that isn’t on your phone. Take a jaunt to one of our parks with a picnic basket and a camera and enjoy the great outdoors. Enjoy a traditional PB&J or egg salad sandwich, then take a hike or seek out some wildlife or exotic plants you can only find in Florida.

Visit one of our award-winning beaches – or better yet, visit one of the less well known beaches for a fun romantic stroll in the surf. Siesta Key, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Nokomis and Manasota are always nice.

St. Armand’s Circle may be known for the shopping, but you don’t have to spend money to enjoy the old town Florida feel. Wander around the circle, check out their historic Lutheran church, and maybe even pop in to grab some Ben & Jerry’s.

Combine a road trip and a nature adventure! Check out one of the many historic park areas on the Gulf Coast of Florida like Spanish Point, Oscar Scherer State Park, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, or the Gamble Plantation,

It’s a little longer drive, so pack a lunch and zip down to Ding Darling to see the ancient mangroves, flocks of flamingos, other rarer birds, reptiles and amphibians. You might even catch Barbara Manatee! You could even linger long enough to take a stroll on one of the nice beaches they have nearby.

Go for Some Heavy Petting

A word of warning – this may lead to an unexpected new family member! Plan a trip to the local animal shelter or rescue and keep your idle hands busy with some new furry friends. Find a place where they let the dogs or cats roam around and share the loving. Some shelters will let volunteers walk the dogs.

We don’t have one of those fancy cat cafes they have in some cities, but here on the Gulf Coast of Florida, we did them one bigger – for under $20 per person, you can check out the Big Cat Habitat! Plus, they don’t just feature Florida mountain lions and tigers, but also bears, camels, and Chance the Chimp and his primate pals.

Artsy or Crafty

If you’ve got a shared interest in art or history, what better place to get closer than one of the Gulf Coast’s many varied museums? In addition to the outdoors historical sites, we’ve got the nautical Maritime Museum, the Railroad Museum in Parrish, Manatee Village, Art Center Manatee (which also offers classes) – or really immerse yourselves at the Village of the Arts! Not only can you visit Bradenton’s best art galleries, but because it’s an arts community, you can actually watch the art being created!

Sure, they made a movie about PT Barnum, but he’d be far less remembered if it weren’t for his late partners in the circus, John & Mabel Ringling. Check out the circus museum, as well as their palatial home right out of the Great Gatsby, Ca’ d’Zan.

If you like going hands-on, book a couple hours at Arts A Blaze, the Artful Giraffe or stop by the ‘open’ Craft Bar for some fun do-it-yourself-without-too-much-work pottery, painting and crafts galore. What better way to find out if you’re ready to tie the knot than by actually trying to?

Try Photo-Mining

You’ve heard of photo bombing? This activity takes a little more pre-planning, but can be great fun, especially if you want to do a group dating challenge. A photo scavenger hunt involves choosing specific items to look for, but rather than collecting them, you’re snapping pics. The more challenging a photo is to get, like having to interact with strangers, or work cooperatively, the higher points it’s worth. There are several places online to download hints and lists of ideas.

Or, as an alternative, simply pick a starting place and a final stop and grab random photos of interesting things – in alphabetical order. No cheating! The hardest part is remembering the proper order without resorting to reciting your Kindergarten training songs.

Having a fun romantic, and most importantly, memorable Valentine’s Day (or weekend) doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. When done right, it really is the thought that counts (although you really should keep the chocolates and flowers in the mix – trust us on this!).

If you’re planning to end your Valentine’s Day adventure in a, well, more adult fashion, you’ll want to keep your eyes out for bedbugs. Yep, they’re not just for hotels anymore! Luckily, Good News Pest Solutions is experienced in ridding your home of bedbugs and various other creepy crawlies that can put a damper on your romantic evening. Ask any of our happy customers from Lakewood Ranch to North Port, they’ll tell you the best thing they did to get rid of pests was to give us a call! And have a happy, romantic Valentine’s Day, however you choose to spend it.

Genetically-Modified Rats: Great Idea or Ecosystem Disaster?

Genetically Modified RatsNot too long ago, any type of genetic manipulation was the stuff of science fiction books and movies like Jurassic Park and Gattaca. And while we’re still decades away from the human genome being selected or edited, the same is not true for the lab rats of the world. That is to say, literally, the rats that are in the lab.

The experimental technology, known as Gene Driving, was first developed to try and eliminate malaria carrying mosquitoes.

If you remember your high school biology lessons, you’re familiar with the fact that there are two sets of genetic markers that make up each strand of DNA – one from the father and one from the mother. To simplify, when an egg is fertilized, the two strands of 23 alleles combine to form 23 pairs of chromosomes to form the DNA of every cell in a human being.

And the system works similarly for other mammals, just in different quantities.

Gene Driving interrupts the natural genetic process by overriding the natural biological processes with engineered genes that cause the rats to have, instead of shared genetics between their father and mother rats – they only have the mother’s genes.

If all rats were female, they couldn’t reproduce. And if this sounds familiar, it’s a variation on the method Michael Crichton proposed in his dinosaur novels. After 4 movies and a 5th on the way, I think we all know how that ended. (Hey, weren’t mosquitoes part of that too?)

Life Finds a Way?

And while no one is worried that rats are going to escape from their island and eat the humans, there are some in the scientific community that are concerned about other consequences when “Life finds a way.”

To put it more specifically, they’re concerned that such genetically engineered organisms could have an irreversible impact on the ecosystem. It’s not just about genetically engineering sterility or reducing aggression. It’s more that they’re concerned that we are fiddling with nature without fully comprehending what the consequences could be.

And while some are calling for a complete halt to all of the research related to gene driving, the researchers who developed the process point out that completely abandoning the research means that we may never understand it, and it could be a very effective way to cut down on several disease-carrying and crop-devouring insects and rodents.

Unlike the typical science fiction B movie plot, however, the original researchers are adamant that they need to better understand the animals and the ultimate result of their existence in nature before releasing them from the lab.

The next step in the process, they say, would be to develop an engineered gene drive that is self-limiting. Instead of taking out a whole species, it could temporarily slow generational growth – for example, stop rabbits from breeding, allowing the population to be more easily controlled.

The hope that these scientists in Scotland cling to is that we can find a better way to try and control the spread of harmful parasitic viruses and diseases that cause things like malaria and dengue and zika virus. It is becoming harder to develop vaccines and the diseases themselves mutate to be resistant to treatments, while at the same time their transmission partners (the mosquitoes) become more resilient to traditional pesticides.

Like it or not, and despite the moral implications, we might find ourselves having to develop mutations to fight nature’s mutations in order to survive.

Luckily, we have a solution – for the mosquito problem at least – that doesn’t require  potentially harmful pesticides. Our exclusive No Bite Zones have turned biting, blood-seeking female mosquitoes into vegans, from Punta Gorda to Lakewood Ranch, and lets them pass it on to their offspring. Suddenly your rainy season isn’t as buggy and the mosquitoes get to fulfill their God-given purpose of pollinating. Give us a call today to find out more!

5 New Year’s Resolutions… For Your House

5 New Year's Resolutions for Your HomeIf you’re like most of us, you either made some resolutions or set some goals for yourself for the coming year. The start of a new year is a nice signpost for initiating a change. So we decide to lose weight, read more, eat healthier, watch less TV, save money and exercise more. But why stop there? Why not make some resolutions to improve the place you spend most of your time?

Here are some short-term and longer ranging goals you can set to give yourself a better home.

Defend Against Hidden Dangers

A safe home is a good place to be. That’s why you invested in smoke detectors, right? But there are other unseen dangers to be informed about.

Every time you do a load of laundry, you clean the lint trap. Or at least you should – studies show that almost a third of Americans don’t clean their lint trap – which costs you significantly in energy bills, as well as posing a fire danger. On top of that, even when you DO clean the trap, there’s 3-6 feet of dryer vent where excess lint can catch on its way out of the house. You should clean this out at least twice a year, but to truly ensure safety, experts recommend cleaning it every 3-4 months. Start now, then mark the next 3 dates on your calendar.

In addition to smoke detectors, many homes now have carbon monoxide detectors installed. If you haven’t, strongly consider it. Even in Florida, chimney flues and furnace vents get stopped up – especially since we use them less frequently – and can cause a CO leak that can silently kill you.

Similarly, 21,000 people each year die from lung cancer caused by radon. According to the EPA, 1 in every 15 homes has elevated levels, so the $20 cost of a test kit is well worth it.

Reduce Clutter

One thing most of us are guilty of is collecting and saving far too much stuff. Not only is it a bad habit, but it’s one our kids will also pick up on. That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything, or do some yearly purge. First off, be conscious and intentional about what you keep. Go paperless with your bills and take advantage of digital options for space stealers like DVD’s, books and music – especially if its material you only partake of once or twice a year or less. And when Christmas comes around again, consider giving or asking for one of these greener gifts!

And as much as doing a big spring cleaning or garage sale appeals to some, you may get overwhelmed with the amount of work you imagine it will take. Choose instead to go area by area – each month clearing out another room or closet and donating unneeded items to charity – the write off is likely worth more than the 25-cents you’d get at a garage sale anyways.

A word of warning – don’t clean one room by just mov— er, reorganizing it into another room. Actually go through everything. It’ll take less time than you think, especially if you get the whole family involved!

Work Out a Weekly Routine for Keeping Your House Clean

And speaking of the whole family… Nobody said that you have to clean the whole place by yourself. Nor do you have to be solely responsible for keeping it all clean. Everyone in the family can and should pitch in to keep the house presentable.

Start with making sure all dishes go in the dishwasher, if you have one. Or be like my grandparents who hand washed the dishes after each meal. Either way, don’t pile them up in the sink to attract bugs and rodents, or smell up the place. Similarly, everyone is responsible for making sure their clothes go in the hamper, jackets get hung up, and stuff like keys and backpacks and phones are placed in the appropriate spot each day before bed.

Assign each member of the family chores, and rotate them so everyone gets to do their most and least ‘favorite’ each month. Each person gets one or two tasks: dusting, sorting laundry, vacuuming, taking out the trash, filling & running the washing machine, changing sheets, cleaning the bathroom, hanging the clothes out to dry, turning on the dishwasher.  Once you get into the rhythm, you can get a whole lot done in just an hour or two.

Preparing to Entertain

How many opportunities to spend quality time with family and friends is lost because we’d be embarrassed to have them see how the house really looks? Hopefully, the weekly routine helps eliminate much of that problem. The next step is making sure your home is inviting to guests.

Now that our TV’s hang on the walls, it’s harder to hide them when company comes over, but they don’t have to be the centerpiece of your home either. Have a room that’s organized and ready for guests – plenty of comfortable seating, good lighting, some candles and floral accents can really open a place up and make it feel welcoming.

Wanna go a little further? Add a splash of color to the walls. Nobody likes to look at white or beige all the time. Add a little wine red, pastel yellow, or eggshell blue to one or more rooms – or all three – and make it feel like your home is an oasis from the boring and cliché.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

We’ve mentioned several of these in other posts, but it’s always good to remember – it’s never been easier – or cheaper – to be environmentally friendly than it is now. Install a low-flush toilet, low-flow showerheads, and only do laundry when you have a full load. Consider redoing your lawn with approved native Xeriscaping. Plus, some Florida counties have rebates you can take advantage of to defray some of the cost of water saving improvements, inside and out.

Replace your light bulbs – not only do LED and CFL bulbs last longer and use less energy, they also tend to give off more illumination without increasing the temperature in the room. And regardless, turn the lights off when you leave the room.

Set your thermostat at 80 for AC or 65 for heat when you leave the house – better yet, get a programmable thermostat that will turn on or off in anticipation of your return. Or, if you really want to go all out, get a Nest or similar device that you can control from your smart phone.

You’ll not only be saving the planet, you’ll be cutting down your utility bills too. We’re big proponents of the going green movement here at Good News Pest Solutions. In fact, we’re going to be highlighting several tips every month for the next year on how you can be more environmentally conscious throughout your home.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention another green home improvement – 100% All natural pest control! Yes, for over 10 years, we’ve used green methods and found them to be not only safe for your family and pets, but also more effective than the chemical treatments of the past. Give us a call and we’ll come by and show you what your neighbors from North Port to Bradenton already know about our award-winning pest solutions.

By the way, statistics say we don’t stick to personal resolutions for as long as we’d like. A big part of that failure is a lack of accountability. The nice thing about these resolutions for your home – everyone can be a part of it – make a commitment with your family to keep these resolutions and we promise by next year you’ll have a cleaner, more inviting house and a whole lot less stress (about the house, anyways)!

Make 2018 Your Greenest Year Yet!

Your Greenest Year YetAs you’ve probably figured out by now, we’re pretty into being environmentally conscious and going green here at Good News Pest Solutions.

We’ve even found that by taking your time to research and do it right, going green can often be less expensive than the alternative!

We know a lot of you have taken steps to be more eco-friendly too. Or at least you’ve planned to start. So we thought we’d share a few simple tips, and challenge you to make 2018 your greenest year yet – no matter where you’re at now.

Go Green in 2018!

  1. Recycling – Yeah, we’re starting on the simplest step. Recycle cans, bottles, paper & plastic. Many communities have already implemented recycle bins that you can sort your recoverable trash into. Everything that you recycle is that much less material to be dumped into a landfill. Many stores have special bins outside to recycle your plastic shopping bags into. Collect your bottles and cans and take a trip to your local recycling unit to make some cash back. Take advantage of our increasingly digital world by taking notes on your computer or phone instead of paper. And if you do have to print something, use both sides of the paper whenever you can.
  2. Shopping Bags – Invest in a few reusable, preferably canvas, shopping bags. Canvas bags are sturdier than the flimsy plastic bags you get from the store, and they can hold and balance more weight, so you need fewer of them – and no chance that they’ll rip halfway to or from the car and dump your eggs on the ground. You can – and should – wash these bags periodically to ensure no bacteria growth.
  3. Go Back to Basics – Speaking of items to wash and reuse, do you know how much paper you waste wiping up spills? Back before they invented paper towels, our ancestors used bits of tattered cloth that they referred to as… Rags. That t-shirt that’s too old and hole-y to donate? Why not slice it up and keep it on hand to clean with? Even with sturdier paper towels that you can wring out and reuse, cloth rags last longer – and of course, you can rewash them. If you don’t have any clothes to use, you can buy a bucket of rags that will last you longer than even the jumbo size package of paper towels. New parents, you can also consider going old school and getting cloth diapers instead of the disposable ones.
  4. Thrift Store – Sure, you donate to Goodwill & the Salvation Army, but why not shop there too? While ‘popping tags’ may not be for everyone, it’s a great way to keep expenses low when you’re a new family. Clothing, accessories, dishes, even furniture can be purchased at lower prices. And that’s not the only benefit – you’re reducing the energy & resources it requires to create a new item by getting it secondhand, and in most cases, you’re helping provide jobs.
  5. Go to the Library – Not only do these public institutions (that your taxes help pay for) have plenty of books, nowadays they also carry DVD’s, audio books, have public computers, and provide classes and workshops on a variety of topics. Why buy the new Dean Koontz novel or the latest Marvel movie DVD that will just take up space afterwards, when you can just borrow it – for free – for 3-4 weeks and then return it?
  6. Reduce Your Water use – Shut off the faucet while you brush your teeth and the shower while you shampoo your hair. Get a reduced water use toilet. Instead of buying thousands of water bottles every year, invest in a water filter – either for your faucet or a filtered pitcher. Then get some BPA free reusable water bottles and you’re good to go!
  7. Replace Your Light Bulbs – You don’t have to run out and do this all at once, but start investing in longer-lasting, eco-friendly compact fluorescent (CFL) lightbulbs. Then as your old bulbs burn out, replace them with the better bulbs. And if you can afford it, just replace them all. You’ll see a significant reduction in your energy bill – CFL’s use less electricity AND run cooler, so your home needs less AC to offset the heat – and in most cases, they’re brighter as well.

While you may not try all of these suggestions at one time, you’d be amazed how easily you can integrate these earth-saving ideas into your everyday lives. We’ve been doing it for close to 20 years, and we even discovered that green pest control is actually more effective than doing it the old fashioned way.

While we’re on the subject, another great way to go green is by giving us a call. Our revolutionary Go Green Plus 3 protects your whole house from creepy crawlies with proven 100% organic products that are safe for the planet as well as your family and pets. And it’s easily combined with our Termite protection to fully protect your home against all insect invaders for an affordable price. Your neighbors from Lakewood Ranch to Punta Gorda are already enjoying our first-class coverage.

So how about it? Will you accept the challenge to make 2018 your greenest year yet? And, have a very Happy New Year!

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