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April is National Pest Management Month!

April is National Pest Management MonthFor most home and business owners, there’s only a couple times you think about pest control. Either when it’s time for your regularly scheduled checkup and treatment, or when you spot cockroaches, ants, mice, termites or other insects and vermin you don’t want inside – or in your yard, for that matter.

But as pest control professionals, we think about it all the time. And we don’t just focus on the best methods, or how to get in and out of your home quickly. A large part of our focus is on the consequences of a pest infestation.

For the past 30 years, The National Pest Management Association has celebrated April as National Pest Management Month. And they make a big deal out of it because there’s more to really good effective pest control than the average person thinks about.

You see the problem as the pests – the insects and rodents – and you want us to eliminate them.

But we think a little differently, especially here at Good News Pest Solutions. We see our mission as not just to eliminate the creepy crawlies from your home, but also how to keep you and your family safe from the potential health and property risks that come with those pests.

Some are obvious – cockroaches carry certain diseases with them, as do rats. Termites clearly are a threat to your home’s structure and your family’s safety.

But it also means we look at how the treatments we’re using affect you, your family, and your pets. And what are the long term advantages and disadvantages of certain applications of pest control solutions.

It was this concern for you and your family’s well-being that led Good News Pest Solutions to lead the industry in finding and using only 100% natural, organic, family-safe treatments. Even though they initially cost more, it was important to us to move to an entirely green approach to pest control – and why we use ‘Solutions’ as part of our name. We don’t just control the pests – we offer you solutions.

It’s why we selected TAP – the Thermal Acoustical Pest insulation that is safe for everyone, adds value to your home with better quality, recycled-use material that is soundproof and prevents insects and rodents from gaining entry into your home.

It’s why we offer our exclusive No Bite Zones technology that turns biting female mosquitoes and their offspring into vegans, allowing them to continue their God-ordained purpose of pollinating, so you stay safe and our ecosystem is protected.

It’s also why we offer Term Assure 365 – the only complete home protection for termites and other bugs that comes with a $1-million termite damage repair warranty at an affordable price. Termites are too big a risk to Florida homes to be unprotected – and your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover it.

It’s not a marketing gimmick when we say we think of our clients as part of the Good News Pest Solutions family – we really do see you that way and we do our best to treat you like  family. In our extended ‘family’, we have brothers and sisters and cousins from Lakewood Ranch to Port Charlotte. And if you’re not one yet, we can get you started on the adoption process today! Just give us a call!

Going Green in Your Family Room

Ways to Go Green in Family Room Whether you refer to it as the parlor, great room, family room, rec room, or just living room, this is the part of the house that displays who you are to the rest of the world.

It’s where you watch entertainment, entertain guests, and where you come together with your family and your friends.

What better place to show your efforts at going green around the house as well as modeling it for your children. Let’s start with the electronics.

Beware the Phantom Menace

While not every room is going to have a TV or other electronics, to simplify things, we’re addressing all rooms covered by the generic “living room” together.

You may have noticed when you turn off your TV, DVD player, or sound system that a little red or blue light tends to stay illuminated. That indicates that your device, while technically “turned off” is still drawing what is called ‘phantom power.’ It’s also referred to as standby power, vampire power, vampire draw, phantom load, ghost load, or leaking electricity.

In the kitchen, phantom power is used to keep your clocks accurate on the microwave and stove. In the living room, it’s usually to facilitate a quicker start-up process (from back when we had tube TV’s) and to allow the system to be triggered by a remote signal – the one from the remote control in your hand.

This sounds great until you realize that convenience costs you an additional 10% on your monthly electric bill. Get a good, surge-protected power strip and plug all the electronics into it. Then, at least when you go to bed, you can shut everything down with the click of a button. You can even find some high end ones that will protect your cable and Ethernet connections on the same strip.

By the way, phantom power is also used by your cell phone charger, even if your phone’s not plugged into it. So consider unplugging the little power brick when you disconnect.

If you’re still using a desktop that you leave on all the time, consider switching to a laptop that takes less energy to run and shut it down every night or when you’re not using it.

Cut the Junk!

As in mail. Register at DMA Choice and pay the measly $2.00 fee to eliminate most of your unsolicited commercial physical mail, email, and help cut back on phone solicitations for 10 years.

Catalog Choice started as a way to eliminate catalogs, but now helps you significantly reduce your junk mail across the board. It also works for deceased relatives. If you’re an iPhone user, you can download the app Mailstop for free, then snap a photo of your junk mail in the app, and they’ll inform the sender to stop trying so hard.

For the junk mail you’ve already accumulated, may we recommend recycling?

For your printer, buy recycled paper and refill your ink cartridges rather than purchasing new ones. For situations where the back side of the paper doesn’t matter, you can always recycle your own printed documents – just make sure you’re loading them into the printer the right way!

Hot or Not

If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed when you’re not burning anything. And use matches rather than a lighter to start the fire. Matches are consumed by the flames, whereas lighters just add to the landfill, unless you’re able to refill it.

Keep some heavy fleece blankets around in the winter time to cuddle under instead of cranking up the thermostat.

Consider upgrading your air conditioner to a more energy efficient model and adding a programmable electronic thermostat – or a Nest that you can control from your smartphone. Even if you don’t upgrade, see if your local A/C company does efficiency checks and rejuvenation cleanings. And shut off your air for a few hours at least once every few months to let it rest.

Also, remember to switch your ceiling fans from pushing cool air down to circulating warm air, depending on the season. It’s that other switch on your ceiling fan, and up and down usually match.

If you really want to take your green heating and cooling to the next level, upgrade your home’s insulation with our  Thermal Acoustical Pest Control – or as we call it, T.A.P.!

TAP is 32% more energy efficient than the other guy’s pink insulation, it adds a sound barrier to your attic, and unlike potentially dangerous fiberglass, the recycled newsprint that’s blown in is safe for your whole family. It also eliminates ants, cockroaches, silverfish, and termites with safe to use Boric acid that’s also fire retardant. Families all up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida, from Parrish to Punta Gorda love having it in their homes. Give us a call to learn more!

Click here for more tips on Going Green around your home!

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!

Pest of the Month: White Footed Ants

GNPS POM White Footed AntOften mistaken by homeowners as one of species of ‘Crazy Ants,’ no one’s quite sure how the White Footed Ant arrived in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana, as well as the East Indies, but they were first identified at a tree nursery near Miami in 1986.

The Technomyrmex albipes quickly spread across Florida like they had across Japan and Indonesia 125 years earlier. They measure 2-3 millimeters long and are shades of dark brown and black. They are best separated from other ants by their pale yellow to white feet, hence the name.

Are they a problem?

White footed ants don’t bite or sting and in fact have only one defense against extinction: reproduction. It may sound funny, but it’s no joke – unlike most ant species, almost half of the white footed ant colony are reproductive females. That’s between 4,000 and a million and a half potentially pregnant ants at any time.

White footed ants also spread more readily than other ant species. Between July and August, a small percentage of winged males and females do a mating flight, copulating in mid-air, then landing and starting a new colony. The colonies also spread by budding, where a group of non-flying nestmates will set out on a road trip to found a new colony.

Why are they so annoying?

White footed ants are not known to cause any structural damage, and as mentioned earlier, they don’t bite or sting. They’re just very annoying to homeowners as they seek out sweet foods and once they’ve established themselves in an area, are difficult to get rid of.

When not dining in your sugar bowl, White footed ants tend to go foraging along branches and trunks of trees and shrubs that have nectars and/or sap-sucking insects that produce honeydew. Once a food source is located, pheromone trails are laid down, which is why you often see lines of the ants moving back and forth between food sources. And yes, into your home.

Unlike most ant species, the foragers don’t carry food back to the colony, regurgitate it or share it with others. Despite being non-fertile, these foraging ants lay what are called ‘trophic eggs,’ which the young and the fertile feed on. This method of food production also protects the colony from toxic ant baits, as only the ants eating the bait perish. Even if they survive to lay trophic eggs, the poison isn’t handed down. Oh, and White footed ants are very good at detecting and re-routing around chemical insecticides.

Where do they live?

Technomyrmex albipes – also sometimes classified as Technomyrmex difficilis – nests in trees and bushes, tree holes, under palm fronds, in loose mulch, under debris, in rain gutters, wall voids, and attics. Also, they tend to nest outside more often than inside.

So how do I get rid of them?

Sadly, it seems that white footed ants are here to stay. Once they find their way into your home, it is almost impossible to eradicate them from it, even with professional help. One thing you can do is trim trees and bushes and arrange decorative mulch so that none of them are in direct contact with your home. You can also seal any cracks or crevices that could lead into your home, like around windows, doors and where electrical, phone or cable lines enter your home or attic.

The best defense we can recommend is our Go Green Plus 3 protection. Our trained technicians inspect the interior and exterior of your property, making sure proper precautions are taken, then they treat the perimeter foundation, entry points, eaves, plant beds and trees with reduced–risk, safe, green products. And we’ll repeat the process 3 more times during the year – and return any time there’s a new problem, without any added charges.

To be doubly sure, you might also consider our Thermal Acoustical Pest (TAP) control. While its primary purpose is to refresh your attic after a rodent infestation, it also protects your attic against most other insects, including White footed ants (TAP contains boric acid, a safe chemical that is effective against them). TAP nearly pays for itself in sound-proofing and is more energy efficient insulation than the pink stuff that funny looking cat sells. And it’s fire-retardant.

If you’re having an issue with white footed ants or any other insects, give us a call today. We’ll inspect the property and give you the best options available from our array of family-friendly, 100% organic pest solutions. We’ve been taking care of our customers from Sarasota to Punta Gorda for nearly 30 years and we’d be happy to bring you into our family of satisfied clients!

Bed Bugs Love Dirty Laundry!

Bed Bugs Love Dirty LaundryWe’ve mentioned before that no one knows for sure why Cimex lectularius – better known as the common Bed Bug – has recently had a huge resurgence in North America after almost disappearing in the 1950’s.  A lot of theories and pieces of the puzzle have been suggested, but none of them fully explain the phenomenon.

Now, scientists at a research college in England have discovered a startling new clue to the mystery – and certainly one that explains the rapid spread of the insects across both the United States and the globe.

It’s so simple, once you hear it, it’s almost too obvious – one of those right in front of your nose discoveries. Oh, and speaking of noses…

Blood, Sweat & Tears

Most folks are aware that bed bugs feed on blood. Preferably human, but they’re not always too picky when they’re hungry. We also know that the little critters can hibernate, not eating for up to a year.

But what the researchers at Sheffield College discovered was that bed bugs are drawn to humans because of their smell. And, as a result, if they can’t find one of us to munch on, they’ll hide out in our dirty clothes.

Much like our old friends the mosquitoes, bed bugs are attracted to the smell of human beings. They even have a technical term for it. Insects that are hematophagous. Higher levels of the carbon dioxide we exhale triggers a foraging instinct in both bugs. But that instinct is released when they smell our blood.

By the way, bed bugs can sense 104 different chemical elements and compounds in the smell of our skin.

A Little Extra Carry-On Weight

When bed bugs are in the foraging mode, the smell of a person causes them to have a both an electrophysiological and behavioral response. So, they naturally seek it out and often nestle down in dirty laundry and the suitcase or clothes basket carrying said laundry.

So, to put it in simpler terms, bed bugs seek out things that smell like people. If they can’t bite you – because you’re not there – they opt to hang out in your soiled laundry. When you pack those dirty clothes into your suitcase, you inadvertently bring them along.

So an untreated outbreak of bed bugs at a hotel in Topeka, KS can rapidly spread to your home or other places you’re travelling. If the average hotel has 100 rooms, that means 50-100 new places for the bed bugs to spread, even without taking into account their ability to inbreed, or the average litter of 300 bed bugs from one pregnancy.

We’re itching just thinking about it…how about you?

What Do I Do?

Well, first off, always do a bed check for bed bugs when you first check-in to your hotel room. No hotel is immune these days, no matter how low rent or swanky it is. If you are able to, wash your clothes before you pack them back in your bags to leave. And if you do end up bringing bed bugs home with you, call us. Only a professional pest control provider can truly solve an infestation.

We also handle the everyday insects and rodents that tend to find their way into your home. And as we’re coming up on Halloween, what better time to check out our Go Green Plus 3 Program. We do a thorough initial treatment, then enhance its effectiveness with tri-annual rechecks that keep your home bug free. It can also be affordably combined with our Term-Assure 365 Termite solution or our Thermal Acoustical Pest Control that helps lower your energy bill.

All of our pest solutions are 100% natural, organic, safe for the whole family and more effective than standard chemical treatments. We’ve helped families all up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida, from Lakewood Ranch to Ruskin and North Port and we’d love to share the Good News with you too!

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