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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!

Bat Maternity Season Is Coming!

Bat Maternity SeasonIn the recent trailer for The Justice League movie, Commissioner Gordon tells Batman, “It’s good to see you playing well with others again.”

According to the comics, Bruce Wayne chose to dress like a bat to strike fear into the hearts of villains, typically a “superstitious and cowardly lot.” And from Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897, through present-day Halloween, we tend to focus mostly on the, well, scarier aspects of these flying rodents.

(One notable exception – Rosita, the bilingual muppet on Sesame Street was designed to resemble one of her native Mexico’s fruit bats, her full name being Rosita, La Monstrua de las Cuevas.)

There’s so much more about bats that makes them interesting: they breastfeed their young – called pups – they are great at pest control – by eating mosquitoes and other pesky insects, they save us billions of dollars in unneeded pesticides, not to mention saving us from the side effects of those toxic chemicals. And even the truly scary ones – vampire bats, don’t suck your blood and are only found in South America.  Only 1% of all bats carry rabies, and those that do die within hours.

There are 13 distinct bat species in Florida – where, by the way, bats are an endangered species. That means, just like Manatees, Red Pandas and Gopher Tortoises, you can’t intentionally kill or threaten them. Bats are some of the longest living mammals, especially for their size, and they all give birth at about the same time, from April 15 – August 15 every year. Imagine how busy those bat maternity wards must get!

Because of their endangered status, we have to be very careful not to kill or wound bats when we have to deal with them – not that we would anyway! As always, Good News Pest Solutions looks for the best, safest solution for our clients and the environment. That means we don’t hurt them, rather, we do what’s called bat exclusion.

Bats are very territorial and will always return to their ‘home roost,’ given the opportunity. So, we have to help them relocate. We determine entry points by observing the bats and inspecting for their guano (bat droppings). Once we’ve targeted their point of entry, we drape netting, so that the bats can leave to feed but cannot return. Within a week, the bats have infested and imprinted a new roosting site and the entry points can be sealed.

Because bat pups cannot fly until they’re older, we cannot do bat exclusion during their maternity season – that’s April 15 – August 15, remember? Otherwise, the baby bats die and nobody wants that.

So, if your home in Port Charlotte or Sarasota is infested with bats, well, either contact us now, or enjoy your role as a happy bat pup nursery until mid-August. Think of all the good you’ll be doing when those birds, er, bats, fly the coop, and start harvesting mosquitoes!

Whether you call now or in the fall, we’re always happy to help our flying pest control friends find a new home!

Going Paperless, Baby!

Going Paperless Baby!Going Paperless, Baby!

For the past 30 years, we’ve gone above and beyond to fulfill our mission in SarasotaBradenton, Punta Gorda, Lakewood Ranch, really the whole Gulf Coast of Florida, as the industry leader, not only in pest control solutions, but in truly green solutions.

That means 100% all natural products. That means Eco-Superior, botanically based products. That means utilizing pest control solutions that are organic – using naturally occurring elements. And most recently, it’s our exclusive No Bite Zones – turning mosquitoes and their babies into vegans, rather than killing them off. For years, that has meant health and safety for you, your family and your pets, not to mention lowering your risk of cancer and other diseases often caused or made worse by the chemicals in most pesticides.

And now, we’ve decided to raise the bar even further. As God’s stewards of his creation, we have to consider not only how to make our customer’s lives and health better, but also take into account the larger scope of what can better preserve the planet as a whole.

So, in keeping with our mission to be the green leader in our industry and to stay at the cutting edge of technology, we’re moving forward with a paperless system for sales agreements, work orders, service tickets and invoices.

You may have already seen some of our sales and service technicians utilizing mobile tablets, and instead of a paper receipt, you probably got it in your email inbox. Well, within the next 2 months, we will be giving all of our highly trained technicians mobile devices and completely eliminating physical paperwork from our system.

Now, we know some of you are ‘old school’ and still look for that piece of paper, especially if you have to submit your invoices or billing for taxes or reimbursement. While we won’t be bringing or leaving any paper with you, the electronic paperwork will still be properly formatted and attached to an email, so you always have the option of printing it out yourself, to hold onto, file, or send up the chain of command.

We’re excited about this new, greener chapter of Good News Pest Solutions and we hope you are too!

Mild Winter Means More Pests This Spring!

Go Green This Spring!There’s a lot of talk about weather and the climate on the news these days.  Temperatures going up and down, flash floods, El Niño, winter storms, La Niña… It’s hard to wrap your head around sometimes.

Plus, you might think that weather conditions don’t have much effect on pests here in Florida since our weather stays pretty temperate most of the year. But scientists say that even a 2-degree difference warmer or cooler can have a dramatic impact on the life and reproductive cycles of insects (rodents too!).

2016 was the warmest year since records have been kept, and La Niña is still wreaking havoc as we move from a drier, warmer winter to an unusually warm spring, according to forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center.

So, insects that normally would have been dormant in the winter are already active. And in growing numbers.

Partho Dhang, an Urban Entomologist, reports that the overall warmer temperatures mean that pests usually restricted to certain areas far from Port Charlotte and Sarasota can travel increasingly larger distances, resulting in their spread to our coast.

Protect Your Home from Pests

While there’s nothing you can do about the weather, there are a few steps you can take to protect your home from invading pests:

  • Seal cracks and small openings along the bottom of the house and around windows.
  • Keep tree branches and other foliage trimmed back from the house.
  • Check for plumbing leaks and cracked grout around bathtubs and toilets. A good caulk seal assures that even the smallest insects can’t enter.
  • Keep mulch at least 15-inches from your home’s foundation, and in older Florida homes, maintain at least an inch between wood and soil.
  • Keep trash cans clean and lids sealed. This helps eliminate food sources that can attract bugs.

Since winter has officially ended and April is on its heels, now is a great time to get started with our year-round Go Green Plus 3 program! Our technicians come out and do the spring cleaning for you, sweeping cobwebs from the eaves and windows and doing a full home health check up of your property.

We’ll treat your foundation, entry points, eaves, plant beds and trees with our 100% all-natural, green pest solutions that are safe for your whole family, including the 4-legged members. We’ll apply the same care to any problem areas inside your home, and we schedule 3 follow-up visits to make sure everything is still protected.

Honestly, there are only two types of homes in Florida – those with termites and those who will have them, but we’ve done our best in the past 30 years to extend the ‘without termite’ time as long as possible for our clients.

Term-Assure 365 combines our incredible Go Green Plus 3 with the most effective and environmentally friendly termite protection, including a $1-million termite damage repair warranty – a necessity since homeowners insurance doesn’t cover termite damage!

Contact us today to get started with either program or if you’re experiencing any other pest problems. We’re here to help!

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