Rats are a familiar pest to many in the United States. Understanding rats’ behavior is key to utilizing proper rodent control, and this includes knowing what kinds of rats you’re dealing with. One of the two species of rats found in the continental U.S., the roof rat is a sleek and agile rodent with its own set of adaptations and preferences apart from its cousin, the Norway rat. Knowing the differences helps with identification and thus prevention or removal, whether done by yourself or with professional Baton Rouge pest control service.
What Is a Roof Rat?
The roof rat (Rattus rattus), also called the black rat or ship rat, was introduced to North America and elsewhere in the world via trading ships. In the United States, it lives along the West Coast and in the southeastern states, unlike the Norway rat’s nationwide range, preferring the warmer climates. Roof rats typically have a mix of brown and black fur with a uniform gray, white or black underside, as well as a slim and slender build compared to the larger Norway rats. They possess the same keen senses of smell, taste, hearing and touch as other rats, as well as an adept sense of balance. Combined with their sleek build, this makes them very capable of climbing and walking across utility lines, tree branches and other narrow pathways to find food and evade predators.
Roof Rat Behavior
True to their name, roof rats like to nest above the ground, settling in trees or atop vine-covered fences and walls. Their natural agility lends itself well to this, as they have little trouble scaling such surfaces. They may be found along streams and riverbeds, within parks that have natural or artificial ponds, or in groves and farmlands - and, of course, within homes and warehouses, entering from the roof and nesting within the upper floors when available while Norway rats prefer the ground floor or basement. Utility lines and trees close to a building’s rooftop are common entry points.
Roof rats are omnivorous and will feed on nearly anything if necessary, but they often have a preference for fruits, nuts and seeds. In homes or on farms, they can develop a taste for livestock feed or dry pet food. The search for food begins early in the evening and may take roof rats as far as 300 feet from the nest to find something to eat. They have no problems gathering heaps of food to eat safely. Roof rats tend to stick to familiar travel routes and feeding locations once identified as safe, so they are not likely to wander into traps laid out traditionally. This is compounded by roof rats’ noted neophobia, or fear and aversion to new objects in their environment, which is stronger in this species than in Norway rats. This means they tend to avoid bait stations and traps, and if sufficiently disturbed, they will change their routes and feeding spots entirely, a behavior that complicates pest control efforts.
Damage and Dangers of Roof Rats
A nest of hungry, omnivorous roof rats presents an obvious concern for homes, food processing and storage facilities, and farms alike. Frequently, roof rats in residential buildings will tear up insulation and electrical wiring as they build nests, particularly in the attic. Wiring damage may also occur in the kitchen when rats hide under the refrigerator or freezer. Gardens and outdoor landscaping may suffer from the foraging of roof rats as they feed on fruits, vegetables, nuts and ornamental plants.
Agricultural orchards are especially endangered by roof rats, which are already inclined to climb trees for food and shelter. They can eat away the pulp from oranges and leave empty rinds hanging and will gladly feast on avocados and nuts as well. Norway rats are more partial to rice and other crops than roof rats, which will prefer the tree crops if present. Roof rats also climb and feed on maturing sugarcane stalks, often leaving them vulnerable to other pests.
Like other rat species, roof rats are carriers for a number of diseases that can be transmitted to humans or domestic animals, as well as potentially carrying parasites. This especially mandates swift rodent control to prevent the spread of such diseases.
Identifying and Controlling Roof Rat Infestations
The specific damage done to outdoor vegetation can help distinguish between a roof or Norway rat infestation. Ruined tree crops are a sure sign of roof rats, in particular. Rat signs, such as tracks, urine and droppings, are not as readily visible with roof rats since they primarily live and travel in overhead and utility spaces rather than along the floor, except when obtaining food.
Visibly confirming the presence of rats naturally works to identify an infestation. Setting a trap to collect rats can help, with the aforementioned caveats regarding roof rats’ aversion to traps. The location of nesting and food caches also helps confirm and distinguish rats, with these found in attics or upper floors mainly for roof rats. Nighttime searches are ideal as rats will be more active at this time and can be heard scurrying about.
To rodent-proof your building against roof rats, the key is to minimize roof level access. When possible, eliminate vines and overhanging tree branches that could permit rats to reach the roof. Given their climbing abilities, this will not completely keep them out alone, and sealing openings greater than 1/2 inch in diameter further ensures exclusion. Use steel wool, concrete mortar or other hard substances that the rats can’t easily chew through.
Proper sanitation can discourage roof rats from moving in; proper disposal of garbage and sealing of food containers makes feeding difficult. Prune outdoor vegetation such as dense shrubbery and vines that roof rats can use to hide or travel.
Baton Rouge pest control services can use rodenticides in bait to control roof rat populations, though they have some resistance to common anticoagulants compared to Norway rats. Trapping is another option, whether using kill traps or live traps, though the tendency to spread disease means releasing trapped rats can cause other problems. Other rodent control methods are of questionable use; fumigants have little effect since roof rats rarely burrow, and deterrent devices using noise or lights are only initially effective until the rats acclimate to them.
There are plenty of things to love about fall in New Orleans. However, while autumn in the city can bring fun times and pleasant weather, it also brings a new group of bugs and pests to worry about. Where moist conditions in the spring and summer create ideal environments for roaches and mosquitoes, the dryer weather in the fall is ideal for spiders, rodents and other insects that like to create nest-like homes in attics and other typically dark spaces. Worst of all, these pests have had the entire summer to breed and build their population before emerging in the fall. Their high numbers mean homeowners must be aggressive when it comes to fall pest and rodent control. What types of pests should you be on the look out for come fall in the city? Here are a few of the worst offenders.
It’s a well-known fact that rodents are some of the city’s most despised residents. In fact, one 2016 report ranked New Orleans top in the nation for rat and general pest infestations. The common house mouse is a main offender, taking up residence in the walls and basements of New Orleans homes in the fall and winter. As the weather cools down, these critters like to sneak into buildings through cracks in the foundation, window gaps and the like. They need no more than a quarter inch of space to get into your home in some cases. Once inside, they can quickly wreak havoc as they chew and shred up everything from paper to furniture to wiring. They can gnaw holes into walls and in extreme cases can even weaken a home’s infrastructure. Take the first steps toward rodent control by:
While those steps can provide a good start, mice can be notoriously difficult to get rid of both because of their rapid reproduction and how tricky they can be to catch. This and the dangers associated with their waste makes it a good idea for homeowners to leave rodent control to New Orleans pest control experts.
Fall is a prime mating season for spiders, which means they are more likely than ever to come out of hiding and cross your path. Southern Louisiana is home to more than 16 different types of spider, including the black widow and brown recluse spiders with bites that can be fatal to humans. That makes a spider problem more than a creepy inconvenience and as important as rodent control.
Spiders typically prey on small insects. When those pests come into your home seeking warmth and food in the fall, spiders have a tendency to follow them. Some of their favorite homes include attics, crawlspaces and basements. Because spiders aren’t much interested in human food, wiping down counters, disposing of trash and other typical pest prevention efforts aren’t likely to work. Instead, focus on:
Because of the unique threats some species of spiders can present, consider asking about experience with spider extermination when choosing a New Orleans pest control expert for general critter and rodent control.
At less than an inch long, the common clothes moth might not seem like a major threat. But it can cause a lot of damage to personal property, as countless New Orleans homeowners discover each year. These cream-colored menaces like to feed on just about any fabric item, especially wool and cashmere. The insects aren’t necessarily more plentiful in the fall, but they are more likely to be noticed around then, as homeowners pull cardigans and other thicker clothing out of storage boxes. When you notice tiny, unexplainable holes in your favorite shirt or fall pants, these moths are a likely culprit. The fall, when you’re likely packing up summer clothes, is a great time to address these pests. You can fight back by:
Like rodent control, moth control can help you avoid damage to your personal property.
Termites are a known problem in New Orleans, particularly in the French Quarter. What many people don’t realize is that termites cause trouble year-round, even when you can’t see them. These wood-chewers don’t hibernate. Instead, they prefer to dwell in a warm area that’s roughly 75 degrees. As the temperatures cool down outside and warm up inside, more and more of these creatures are likely to show up in your home, where they can destroy its infrastructure with shocking speed. Unfortunately, the city doesn’t provide any funding or help with termite eradication in private homes. That leaves it up to you, the homeowner, to take steps to keep them out of your house. Take action by:
Termites present one of the most destructive and challenging pest menaces in the city. It’s a good idea when you are investing in rodent control or other pest prevention to ask your specialist about their specific experience with these creatures.
The fall months can bring a welcome respite from some of the heat and humidity of a New Orleans summer. But the change of seasons may also bring new types of pest headache. When fair-weather pests are ruining your autumn, consider calling a pest management expert to provide the rodent control and general extermination to help you reclaim the season.
Most people don’t give a second thought to pests. For the most part, when they’re out of sight, they’re out of mind. A new event seeks to change that. The first-ever World Pest Day was started on June 6, 2017 to get people thinking differently about bugs and vermin. The CPCA (China), NPMA (USA), FAOPMA (Australia) and CEPA (Europe) wanted to shed light on the importance of protecting homes, families, food, lives and businesses from various insects and rodents. These creatures are more than just a nuisance, and while you may not want to celebrate the day with cake and ice cream, you should care more about the reasons driving World Pest Day.
The Rodent Scourge
Fairy tales and animated films suggest that rats and mice are adorable, magical creatures. While carefully controlled, domesticated rodents can be safe, the uncontrolled variety can cause considerable damage to crops, infrastructure and human health. Some species have adapted so well to coexisting with humans and their environments that they’re thriving.
These animals can multiply exponentially if left unchecked, and like all living creatures, they require food. In the wild, away from human civilization, this isn’t as big of an issue, but coexisting with humans has driven them to seek out food supplies that humans also eat. These pests can quickly contaminate and damage food and water sources. The scale of the problem can be as small as an individual home to as large as entire regions. The intrusion of rodents into human food and water supplies poses a serious risk to health.
Rats and mice also have a habit of gnawing anything and everything. This causes damage to various infrastructures, but one of the more susceptible victims of rodent malice is electronic equipment. It’s estimated that these pests set back work productivity by eight days a year based on the destruction they wreck.
While contaminated food and damaged infrastructure is unpleasant enough, one of the most dangerous aspects of rodent populations can be the diseases they carry. It’s estimated that rodents can claim responsibility for more deaths than all wars in the past 1,000 years. These pests can carry the following diseases:
Minimizing your individual risk of rats and mice can be facilitated by cleaning up trash, sealing up cracks in your home’s foundation, closing garbage bins, ensuring proper food storage and refraining from feeding birds large amounts of seed.
The Growing Threat of Mosquitoes
There are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes; however, three species are primarily responsible for most of the diseases humans contract from them. Approximately 1 million people die each year because of mosquitoes. The bite itself is inconsequential, but the diseases these pests transfer are deadly. Almost half the human population is at risk of malaria, and 300–600 million people are infected each year. Mosquitos are also responsible for the following diseases:
Because of their reliance on water for breeding, eliminating or disrupting standing water sources is important to keep mosquito populations in check. Pesticides can also be used to eliminate the bugs. Unfortunately, scientists warn that climate change may exacerbate the current mosquito problem. Mosquito prevention is key to minimizing these pests. The following are steps the average person can take:
The Encroaching Cockroaches
Another bug that that World Pest Day is trying to shed light on is the cockroach. These bugs are estimated to be 280 million years old and have around 4,000 different species. If you happen to see one, chances are there are many others just out of sight. Cockroaches are incredibly hardy and can live in harsh environments. They tend to be attracted to warm, moist areas, so sewers, pipes, and garbage make ideal living situations. They can live for a month without food or even a head for that matter.
These bugs aren’t picky when it comes to food and eat just about anything, from other cockroaches to garbage to animal feces. Because of these unhygienic feeding habits, these pests spread several foodborne illnesses such as salmonella and cholera. The body parts, saliva and feces of cockroaches can also trigger allergies and cause asthma attacks.
Preventing cockroaches requires a multi-pronged approach. One of the most important things you can do is keep your living space clean and dry. This is especially important if you suspect you have a cockroach infestation because cleaning helps to remove their food sources and waste produced by the bugs themselves. Another step is to seal cracks in your walls and foundations to prevent them from gaining access inside. While your home is undergoing these repairs, it’s also a good time to fix water leaks, because these insects are attracted to damp places. If you find yourself with a cockroach infestation or a problem with any of the other pests, calling a professional exterminator can help you get a clean slate in your fight against these bugs and vermin.
The Goals of World Pest Day
For many people, these pests are mostly invisible, but that doesn’t change the fact that they can cause irreparable damages to the lives of people around the world. These infestations can drive up food prices, disrupt economies and kill millions. World Pest Day seeks to raise awareness of these issues. There are several things you can do to help address the problems caused by these pests:
For billions of people around the globe, pests and bugs are more than just an uncomfortable collection of creatures. They wreck serious havoc on lives and wellbeing. By being aware of these problems and supporting World Pest Day on June 6, you can have an impact on improving the quality of life for many people.
Pest control may include tackling infestations of a wide variety of crawling critters. Some of the most damaging pests in Louisiana, however, are carpenter ants, whose presence can range from annoying to structurally condemning. If this wood-destroying insect decides to establish its colony in the walls of your home, it is essential to address the problem as soon as possible.
Identifying Carpenter Ants
One of the first steps of preventing or eliminating carpenter ants is to correctly identify them. Pest control is only possible when the pest and its habits are known. Carpenter ants are the most common variety of ants found in the Baton Rouge area, and they are also the largest ant species in North America. Thus, if you can see ants crawling your home or yard, they are probably carpenter ants.
Carpenter ants come in different colors, depending on the colony. Many are black, but some are red, orange, or brown. They are noted for the small hairs around the abdomen, and for their large jaws, which aid them in chewing away wooden structures. Because they make their nests in damp and rotted wood, they are likely to be seen along the branches of trees and bushes, in tree stumps, around piles of firewood, around wooden door or window frames, along fences, near baseboards, and in the joints in walls with interior plumbing. As nocturnal insects, the ants are not as active during the day. Keep an eye out for crawlers during the evenings and mornings when you first turn on the lights.
Signs You Might Have a Carpenter Ant Nest
When dealing with pest control of carpenter ants, there are a few signs to look for if you suspect a nest in your home. These include the following:
If you live in a particularly moist area or are otherwise susceptible to the wrath of carpenter ants, you can prevent infestations with some effective Baton Rouge pest control tips, such as:
Carpenter Ant Bait
When you know you have a colony of carpenter ants in your house, pest control strategies recommend using bait to get rid of them. Bait is used as food for worker ants, who are attracted to a sugary compound laced with a chemical poison. The workers carry the bait back to the colony where other ants feed on it and die. The most effective way to distribute bait is to set it along the paths that the ants usually use for finding food. When using store-bought bait, be sure to select one that is water-resistant and targeted especially for carpenter ants. Otherwise, it might accidentally get washed away or eaten by some other critter, and your ant colony will never receive the sugary toxin.
Carpenter Ant Pesticide
Instead of bait, you may prefer to use pesticides. This can prevent ants from colonies that have inhabited your yard from entering your house. If you feel confident in your Baton Rouge pest control techniques, you may also consider using a foam, dust, or aerosol insecticide to attack an indoor nest at its source. To do this, be sure that you have properly and correctly identified the nest location and drill a few small holes in the wall at least two feet from where you see the ants entering the wall. Spray the insecticide around the holes as well as any other opening the ants are using. This should effectively wipe out the entire colony.
For those families that have children or pets at home and may prefer a less chemically toxic solution to carpenter ant extermination, there are some easy DIY methods you can also use. For natural Baton Rouge pest control, use boric acid, an affordable, natural, and relatively safe-for-humans poison, and combine it with 10 parts sugar water. Add this solution to any food you chose and set it out appropriately as bait. Boric acid can also be used as a pesticide by spraying it in or near the nest, or along the paths the ants travel. Diatomaceous earth is another natural product that is effective in pest control. DE is a sedimentary rock that insects cannot ingest, and dusting it over the nest kills off your carpenter ants.
When dealing with particularly large or aggressive infestations, consider calling a professional exterminator to get rid of the ants with strategic Baton Rouge pest control. The carpenter ant, as a wood-destroying insect, is one of the biggest threats to the stability of home. When you spot the signs, take action immediately.
A rolled newspaper, a flyswatter or even the palm of your hand can all be weapons in your battle for fly control. These tiny creatures are often a harmless nuisance, but there may come a time to consider a pest control service. Sometimes fly season just doesn’t seem to end.
When people think about flies, the first thing to come to mind is often the common house fly; however, there are many more species. Flies are classified as part of the order Diptera, which is estimated to have a million species, but only 125,000 have been described. The following are species you may encounter:
The Anatomy of a Fly
Flies are characterized by having a single pair of wings used for flight, while the hindwings have evolved into sensory organs. These sensory organs facilitate their ability to maneuver. If you’ve ever wondered why fly control can be so difficult, this added maneuverability is part of the reason. Flies have mobile heads and compound eyes that allow them to see information from a variety of angles. Depending on the species, flies can have a mouthpiece designed to pierce and suck in nutrients or to lap and suck in nutrients. These insects also have an ability to cling to smooth surfaces and walk up walls due to the claws and pads on their feet.
Because of the diversity of fly species, some have developed hardy adaptations to their environment. Shore fly larvae and a few Chironomidae can live in hot springs, crude oil, sulfur springs, glaciers, saline springs and septic tanks. The larvae of the Megaselia scalaris can incorporate shoe polish and paint into their diet.
A Bug’s Life Cycle
The life cycle of a fly consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The common house fly provides a typical example. House flies lay eggs that resemble grains of white rice. These eggs are often laid in dark, damp places. Compost, garbage and feces are popular sites for fly eggs. Up to 150 eggs can be laid in a single batch, with five or six batches laid over a period of a few days.
The eggs hatch within a day and become larva, also known as maggots, that feed on their environment for three to five days. When the maggots are ready to pupate, they find a dark place to form a protective shell, similar to a butterfly’s cocoon. The pupae grow wings and legs and emerge after three to six days as fully-grown house flies.
It only takes another two to three days for female flies to be ready for reproduction, thus starting the cycle anew. Moreover, adult house flies can live for two to four weeks, depending on conditions. This rapid life cycle can make fly control a difficult process.
The Ecological Importance of Flies
While flies can be both a nuisance and a danger, they also play an important role in the ecological community as predator, prey and parasite. Many animals rely on flies as a source of food, while at the same time, flies consume various organic matter. Some of these insects play an important role in helping to decompose matter in either their adult or larva stage.
In addition to aiding decomposition, flies play an integral role in the pollination of flowers. It’s estimated that 71 families in the order Diptera regularly visit flowers, and over 550 species of flower are routinely visited by flies. Depending on the local ecology, flies may be the only insect that facilitates a plant’s pollination, or they may share the role with another insect such as bees. Some flies go to flowers to feed on the nectar while others prefer pollen. A few types visit flowers to lay eggs or to seek shelter from the weather. Some flowering plants exercise fly control by tricking the insects into visiting their flowers by emitting scents that mimic decaying flesh.
The Risks Posed by Flies
Flies can pose serious dangers to the health and wellbeing of humans and livestock. Because many flies land on and feed on decomposing flesh, feces and other bacteria-laden garbage, they can quickly spread bacteria and disease. A common method of fly feeding involves vomiting and defecating on almost everything they land on, which further aides in the spread of disease.
One way to prevent the spread of sickness is to dispose of food that flies have landed on. A fly infestation could potentially facilitate the transfer of any of the following diseases:
Other flies such as the mosquito prefer a more direct approach by biting their victims. Mosquitoes are responsible for the deaths of 1 million people each year due to the diseases these insects can spread. The lack of fly control is a serious concern in all parts of the world though areas with large amounts of standing water can be more severely affected.
In the United States, one of the most serious diseases carried by mosquitoes is the West Nile virus. Since 1999, the United States has reported 44,000 cases. About half of those reported cases resulted in an infection of the spinal cord and brain, and 1,900 people died. West Nile can cause body aches, headache, rash, fatigue, weakness, diarrhea and joint pain. If you suspect you may have contracted an illness by a mosquito or other fly, contact your physician.
Prevention and Eradication Strategies
With so many different species of fly to contend with, fly control can be a difficult challenge. There are a few steps you can take to minimize your risk of infestations:
If these steps aren’t enough to address your fly problems, it may be time to call a Baton Rouge pest control service to professionally address the issue. Your hand or newspaper may end the annoyance of an individual fly, but professional services have the experience and equipment to deal with more comprehensive fly control issues.
You wander into your kitchen in the middle of the night to get a glass of water. When you turn on the light, you see cockroaches scurry to the shadows under the cabinets. When you open up your cabinets, you see unwanted pantry pests lurking within. While prevention is the best way to keep bugs out of your home and kitchen, you can still rid your space of unwanted pests once they have decided to invade. Follow these tips to take back your kitchen from meddlesome insects
1. Prevent Entry
Bugs do not respect a locked door, so you have to seal up any possible entry point from the outside. Armed with your caulking gun, seal up any visible holes on the exterior of your home. If there are cracks in your foundation, have them repaired. Test the doors and windows of your home to see if there is an air leak. If air can get in, so can cockroaches. Replace worn weather stripping to seal up the leak and keep bugs out.
2. Block the Inner Path
Once you have sealed the outside of your home, set up a secondary barrier on the inside. Inspect your walls, baseboards and cupboards for cracks and crevices. Grab that caulking gun again and make those cracks disappear. This is especially important if you live in an apartment building, as you have no control over the pest control efforts of your neighbors. Just because they have cockroaches, however, does not mean you have to resign yourself to that fate.
3. Fix Water Leaks
Pantry pests, particularly roaches, love water. If your kitchen sink or the pipes underneath it leak, bugs consider it an open invitation. Fixing the leak and drying out your cabinetry gets rid of their oasis in your home. It also prevents water damage that can weaken the cabinet’s structure, allowing for holes through which bugs can enter.
4. Cool It Off
If you are looking for another reason to crank up your air conditioner, you can always cite pest control. Cockroaches take advantage of the formidable heat of summer to spread their wings and fly. The warmer it is, the better their muscles function. Keeping your home as cool as possible may not kill them, but it probably will keep them from going airborne and might make them slower, easier targets.
5. Cover Items Up
If pantry pests invade your kitchen, they are going to go right for the snacks. Put pet food up at night in a sealed receptacle to ensure that it does not lure pests. Keep your pantry items in airtight, leakproof containers that keep bugs out and seal in freshness. Stay aware of the expiration dates of all your pantry items, as food tends to expand when it rots or goes stale, potentially leading to bursting packages that signal a smorgasbord for cockroaches. Keeping food sealed away leaves exploring insects nothing to find.
6. Keep It Clean
A clean kitchen is less likely to attract unwanted pests. Bugs have a built-in radar for food remnants left on dirty dishes. Wash dishes every time you cook or eat, and wipe down cabinets to remove any remaining food particles that are left behind. It is also a good idea to sweep the floor every night to clean up anything that has spilled from the countertops. A free meal signals welcome. Do not give the insects that long to infest your home the satisfaction of giving them a reason to stick around.
7. Dry It Up
As mentioned before, cockroaches love moisture and will seek it out any chance they get. If your pantry is not well ventilated, it could become just the sort of damp environment that pantry pests love. Make sure that the place you store your food has sufficient airflow to keep everything dry and pest free.
8. Centralize Food
Try to store and consume all food in a centralized location. It might be tempting to take a midnight snack to bed, but spreading crumbs out over the house makes it more difficult to keep everything clean and free of bug infestations. If food is only allowed in certain areas of your home, you do not have to worry about food becoming a temptation for cockroaches to enter through every window, crack and drain.
9. Use the Bait
If you do find bugs in your kitchen, it is time to go to war. Roach bait comes in a wide variety of applications and strengths, so it is easy to find a product to solve your particular problem. Putting baits near water sources and in corners can help curtail the problem. Several products also offer a gel-based substance you can squeeze into crevices if you want a treatment that is a little more discreet. If you have small children or pets, you can opt for a more natural solution, such as a sprinkling of boric acid, which is safe for humans and larger animals but toxic to cockroaches.
10. Call the Experts
Whether you are preventing pantry pests or treating an existing problem, it is vital to call extermination specialists to assist in the process. A regular perimeter treatment around the outside of your house can help discourage pests from getting near it. Most pest control experts are willing to set up a regular schedule so that you know when to expect them every month or quarter. They can also spray the perimeter of your kitchen. Be sure to follow preparation instructions closely prior to their visit so that they can spray for cockroaches without endangering your family’s health.
10 Ways to Win the Fight
There are many things you can do to fight against pantry pests. Ideally, your prevention efforts will be successful so that you do not have to contend with unwanted insects in your kitchen. If you discover that an infestation is already present, however, there are measures you can take to remedy the problem. If you see cockroaches scurrying across the floor or counters at night, you now have the tools to turn your kitchen into an inhospitable place for them.
First things first: you won’t find an earwig nesting in your ear. Baton Rouge pest control experts will tell you that old yarn is nothing more than a myth. You could find them scurrying about your bathroom floor, tub or sink, however, most likely at night when you step into the bathroom and turn on the light. The tiny insects with the long bodies and big pincers are nocturnal and feed on live sprouts, decaying vegetation and fellow insects at night
What Is an Earwig?
There are more than 2,000 species of earwigs, and they all encompass the insect order Dermaptera, which means “skin wing.” While they sport a pair of membranous wings and forewings, they do not fly. Some species may try, but flight is short and clumsy.
They are widely identified by the pair of forceps-like pincers that protrude from their abdomens. No fear, though. Those pincers are not poisonous, and they do not spread disease. A few species emit an odor for defense.
Earwigs are small, no more than an inch long, and they inhabit every continent of the world, except Antarctica. More than 20 species live in the United States. For the most part, earwigs inhabit dark, moist spaces where they gather during the day and depart from at night. These spaces may include cracks and crevices in the home. They prefer the outdoors and take up residence in gardens and plants. If their numbers multiply, they can become a damaging pest.
How Do You Know You Have an Infestation?
Because of their size and the ominous look of their pincers, seeing one or two earwigs in your home does not necessarily signal an infestation. Usually, earwigs enter a home because of a change in weather or when food is scarce outdoors. More often than not, a door is left open and the earwig enters by accident. But because earwigs are outside insects and seldom wander indoors, seeing earwigs in your house could signal an outdoor earwig infestation.
Deducing whether there is a true infestation can be a challenge. Unlike many insects, earwigs are not social and do not gather together, like bees in a hive. There is no class structure - queen or king and workers - so an infestation cannot be identified that way, either.
Earwigs enjoy moist soil and like to hide under vegetation. The plant material, living or dead, acts as both a food source and a place where earwigs can lay eggs and raise their young. Often, you will find this around a home’s foundation or in a garden.
If you see earwigs in your home, it may be worth a trip outdoors to turn over leaves and stones to see if earwigs are living there. You could see handfuls of earwigs scurry away to find a new place to hide. While there is a chance this is normal with respect to the earwig population where you live, you may want to consider consulting a professional for earwig treatment to determine if you have an infestation.
How Do You Get Rid of Earwigs?
There are a number of home remedies you can try to get rid of earwigs. One simple way is to cover plant stems with petroleum jelly. It will keep earwigs from crawling up and traversing the plants. Borax sprinkled over wood piles or near low areas with plenty of vegetation is another possibility. Oil pit traps might work, and a split garden hose can act as a trap when laid between plant rows. The bugs will fall into the trap and have a hard time escaping. Simply transport them somewhere other than your garden.
If those home remedies fail to keep earwigs away, another option is calling a professional exterminator. Since every infestation is different, a professional can assess the situation and come up with a solution that will work best for your situation.
Often, an infestation will take more than one treatment to succeed. Your professional exterminator will go over that plan to let you know what it will take to solve the problem.
How Do I Prevent Earwigs From Coming Back?
If you have endured an earwig infestation or want to prevent one from happening in the first place, here are a few steps you can take:
1. Eliminate Their Hiding Places
This could be the biggest step you take to keep earwigs from coming back. Earwigs cannot endure sun and light, so without a place to hide, they will relocate somewhere else. If earwigs have a place to hide, some treatment applications may not work as efficiently as one would hope.
2. Clean Up the Yard
Beyond eliminating hiding places, you may also want to eliminate earwigs’ food source. While some earwigs are predatory, subsisting on other insects, most eat vegetation. Removing ground vegetation, old firewood, fallen leaves and so forth will help keep the pests at bay.
Make sure you minimize wet vegetation and moist soil, which attracts earwigs. If you are able to create a dry zone near your home’s foundation, you should be able to keep most earwigs away from the indoors.
3. Fortify Your Home
Since earwigs love a wet foundation, inspect gutters and other forms of exterior drainage to ensure that water is adequately shunted away from the home. Similarly, if you plan to water the lawn, do so in the morning so that the sun dries moisture throughout the day.
Earwigs, along with many other pests big and small, shy away from light. Use that knowledge to your advantage and make sure certain areas around the home are well lit at night. That should help keep any number of creepy crawlies away. Then, make sure there are no easy ways for earwigs to get into the house. Eliminate space under doors, and make sure screens are repaired.
With a little forethought and the right steps, many homeowners can avoid an earwig infestation. That includes eliminating places for earwigs to hide and keeping the area around a home’s foundation clear and dry. If earwigs manage to infest anyway, seeking the help of a professional exterminator can help ensure they will go away and stay away.
Few places are as sensitive to sanitation quality as food processing and storage plants. Food safety impacts the population at every scale, and for major facilities the importance is only greater still. Effective industrial pest control is critical to ensuring products are high quality and free of infectious organisms and harmful substances. There is no one single aspect to proper New Orleans pest control, though. An effective strategy should integrate multiple processes and resources, including strict tolerances on the equipment used, the latest in pest control technology and trained technicians able to implement informed and innovative solutions following proper documentation
Common Threats in Pest Control
The issues that pests present in food processing cannot be overstated, ranging from hygiene and economic problems to regulatory concerns at a facility and company level. Pests can carry disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites and introduce contaminants to ingredients and products in various forms such as droppings, shed fur and feathers, and other remains. Various insects such as cockroaches, beetles and flies, as well as rodents and birds, can act as pests within the facility.
Stored product insects (SPIs) are a broad class of insects and mites that may infest food in storage, entering anywhere along the production line from the farm to the grocery store. This category of infestation is often the most damaging to food processing companies. The bugs' presence is evident from leavings like larvae, pupae and body parts in or around packaging and machinery. SPIs may consume small amounts of stored food, but the majority of damage comes from contamination. These risks increase the longer food is stored, and many dried foods are susceptible. Particular live insects such as flies and cockroaches present separate, unique concerns due to their rapid proliferation within a single site.
Rats and mice may also nest within or near facilities, close to available food stores, and a rodent population can swiftly grow once established. Not only do they present the same risks of product contamination as SPIs, but they also can spread various diseases and cause damage to machinery and fixtures in the building. Birds, most commonly pigeons, also act as disease carriers and produce significant waste products from droppings to feathers and nesting materials. All of these various pests require different forms of prevention and removal to be implemented by a New Orleans pest control company.
Pest control is never a one-and-done situation. Infestation is a continuous risk from multiple species, with various factors allowing access or increasing likelihood of pests moving in, and removal is rarely a simple operation itself. Even when not actively dealing with a specific infestation, industrial pest control requires readiness at all times. A fully integrated pest control solution consists of multiple phases, whether sequential or concurrent:
The Professional Touch
Even with advanced sensors, traps, bait and other tools, there is simply no replacing professional technicians in pest control. Technology does solely what it is designed to do; trained human workers are able to learn from experience, adapt to new situations and continue honing their skills. Combining the two allows for the best of both to be utilized: automation and swift detection backed by keen analysis and the potential for adaptive, creative solutions. The breadth of technicians and their pooled expertise is especially valuable in that they can bring multiple perspectives, catching ideas that others may have missed thorough coverage of large facilities and prior experiences that lend insight into current scenarios.
The tools and techniques employed for pest control should display a similar breadth of utility as well. The days of simply relying on fumigation or pesticides are over; it's now understood that many such chemicals introduce their own health problems and some populations of pests can develop resistance to chemical attacks. Various traps and deterrents exist that don’t employ chemicals at all and offer improved coverage against resistant pests. Some forms of pest control don’t even involve traps or pesticides in the first place. Preemptive practices such as proper sanitation, monitoring and enclosure of access points go a long way to prevent infestation and skip the extermination processes.
To fully secure your processing plant or storage facility, your task begins with a thorough understanding of risks and a strong prevention and management plan, enacted by well-equipped industrial pest control experts. This means safer products, safer work environments and less trouble from regulations.
Summertime in Southern Louisiana means bright, warm days perfect for hiking, exploring and playing in the great outdoors. More time spent in nature also means more time spent brushing up against bothersome and dangerous pests. At the top of this list is the tick, which you’ll often run into in wooded areas or patches of tall grass. This miniature menace does more than just suck blood - it carries serious diseases, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountains spotted fever. To make sure you’re prepared to deal with ticks, read up on common knowledge - and some less common knowledge - about these pests and keep your local Baton Rouge pest control services in mind, just in case
A Tick Isn’t an Insect
You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, but ticks aren’t classified as insects - rather, they’re arachnids, relatives of spiders, scorpions and mites. They have the familiar arachnid body structure: a two-segment body featuring a head and an abdomen with no thorax, eight legs rather than six, and a lack of antennae and wings. The last part is most significant because it affects how a tick finds a host. Unable to jump or fly, a tick performs what is called “questing”; it climbs up foliage or blades of grass, holding on with its back two pairs of legs while reaching out with the front legs to grab onto an unaware host that passes by.
A Tick Is a Slow Feeder
Mosquitos, another familiar bloodsucking bug, are in and out in a matter of minutes, and you often won’t realize you’ve been bitten until they’re already gone and the bite starts to swell and itch. Ticks, however, take their time. After hitching a ride on a host, a tick will search for a good spot to feed, often on a section of thin skin with small blood vessels just beneath it. Even after finding this spot, the tick may take up to two hours to settle in and make sure it’s firmly attached before it begins, burrowing its head into the skin and spitting up a mixture of chemicals that numb the skin and deter the immune system while also thinning the blood to prevent clotting while it feeds. The tick will feed for two to three days if uninterrupted, and it is possible to find and remove it in this time. Females will swell up with excess blood gathered for egg laying, which can make them particularly noticeable.
Not Ever Tick Carries Human Diseases
Among the 850 or so tick species identified, only a relatively small handful exist that bite humans and also act as carriers for human diseases. In Louisiana, you can expect a few particular species: blacklegged, Gulf Coast, Lone Star, American dog and brown dog ticks. The blacklegged tick prefers reptiles, the Gulf Coast tick is partial to birds and deer, and the brown dog tick is more likely to take a bite out of your dog than you. Lone Star and American dog ticks, are the major dangers to humans, with the former causing ehrlichiosis and Southern Tick Associated Rash Infection (STARI), and the latter spreading Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The American dog tick, uniquely, can inflict a disease called tick paralysis, caused by a neurotoxin rather than an infection. Thankfully, Lyme disease, the most well-known tick-born disease, is rare in Louisiana.
Tick Bites Don’t Immediately Transmit Disease
Ticks carry and transmit various infectious microbes by their feeding habits. A tick may pick up a disease from an infected animal that it feeds on, and the microbes will linger within it. When it finds a new host later, the microbes can enter the bloodstream when the tick injects its feeding tube, either entering through the blood-thinning saliva or if the tick spits up remnants of a prior meal.
However, between the mechanisms of transmission and the tick’s patient feeding habits, there is an upside in that infection isn’t guaranteed from the moment a tick bites you. According to the CDC, finding and removing a tick within 24 hours can minimize the risk of contracting most tick-borne diseases. Making tick checks a regular habit after outdoor adventures can be a significant factor in keeping yourself safe.
Tweezers Can Remove a Tick Better Than Other Home Remedies
If you find a tick, don’t panic and try to yank it off or squish it. They can be resilient little bugs, and the barbed mouthpiece can hurt quite a bit and tear the skin when suddenly removed, but more importantly, removing or killing a tick in this way can magnify the chance of infection as the tick reflexively spits up into your bloodstream. Instead, use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick; grasp as close to the skin as possible and carefully, steadily pull upward and away from the skin to dislodge the tick. The head may come off and stay in the skin, but at this point the tick is dead and the mouthpiece will come free on its own. Clean the area with soap and water or an alcohol rub afterward. You can keep the tick in a small sealed bag if you want to consult a doctor and have them ID it to determine the risk of infection.
The internet provides numerous other remedies and suggestions for removing a tick, typically focusing on suffocation by covering it with a layer of nail polish, petroleum jelly, gasoline or 70-percent isopropyl alcohol. However, ticks are adapted to long feeding periods, and this includes being able to survive without air for a while.
You Can Prevent Ticks With Some Precautions
Keep in mind when you’re planning a hike or trip the likelihood of running across ticks. If your destination is in tick territory, minimize bare skin that a tick can latch onto by tucking your jeans into your socks or boots. Insecticides and insect repellants can work on ticks despite their status as arachnids. A repellent with at least 20 percent DEET is recommended and can be found in common spray forms for direct skin application or via clothing treatments. Even with these precautions, regular tick checks during and after the expedition are vital. If you suspect you or your dog may have taken a tick home, pest control services can help screen your home and remove these pests if necessary.
You look out the window one evening. Under the light of a nearby street lamp, you observe a crowd of small, swarming insects. You then realize you are looking at a termite swarm and that you must switch off your home’s outside lights so as to not attract the termites to your house. At times, it is easy to discern when termites are a problem and when to call New Orleans termite control. However, for a number of reasons, a lot of people will occasionally confuse ants for termites and vice versa. Proper identification of ants and termites is important so that your local pest control can use the right methods to vanquish the infestation.
At first glance, ants and termites are quite similar. They’re both small insects that build and maintain colonies. Each species possesses a nearly identical caste system, with soldiers, workers and queens. In addition, ants and termites also have members of their kind that can fly. While many people are more likely to think of termites as a swarming type of insect, there are ants that have wings and are known to swarm. At times, homeowners may mistake swarming ants for termites. And finally, there are ants that may cause damage to wood that can appear to copy the damage wrought by termites
However, New Orleans termite control professionals will tell you that ways exist to differentiate ants and termites. One way is to check the appearance of a termite or an ant for certain signs. For one thing, termites are lighter in color than ants, with a white or creamy complexion. At times, a termite may appear translucent to the eye. Usually, ants come in dark colors, though this may vary due to the species of ant. And while both ants and termites have antennae, the antennae of ants are elbowed in shape, while a termite’s is straight. A professional from New Orleans ant control can also discern ants and termites by their body structures. Ants possess thin waists that connect to a body that appears sharply segmented. On the other hand, termites generally look to have the same width along their bodies.
Both ants and termites include a soldier class among their ranks. Soldier ants and termites are tasked with protecting their respective colonies from outside attack. However, while termites include male and females among their soldiers, ant soldiers are always female. Ants and termites also have their respective worker castes, but again, ant workers are all female compared to the males and females that make up the termite workers. Additionally, termite workers are numerous and make up the largest number of individual termites within a colony. By contrast, there are not many worker ants compared to the other ant castes. However, you are more likely to see worker ants than you are termite workers. Ants often roam in the open looking for food, while termites keep a low profile as they prefer to avoid light.
New Orleans termite control workers will also point out that some ants and termites are winged, which is another reason the two may be confused for one another. In fact, winged ants and termites are both referred to as alate. Winged ants and termites are also tasked with leaving their nests in the summer to start new colonies elsewhere, although flying termites will also depart their nests in the spring. However, flying ants possess two sets of wings that differ from each other in size, while a termite will have two sets of wings of the same length. Termite wings are also long, twice the length of the flyer’s body. By comparison, the wings of an art are shorter and are more proportionally sized to the ant’s body. Additionally, a subset of winged ants exist called drones, which are the only male ants to be found in an ant hierarchy. Their job is to fly off with female ants to start new colonies. Once the male ants mate with the females, the males die.
Some ants can still be mistaken for termites due to the damage some ants cause to houses. Carpenter ants, for example, are frequently misidentified as termites because their nesting activities will sometimes mimic the damage caused by termites. New Orleans termite control can tell carpenter ants from termites by verifying signs that the colony in the wood was built by carpenter ants. Carpenter ants will excavate the inside of wood to create shelters for their colonies and then take the bits of wood they have dug out and place them in neat piles at the entrance to their nests. However, even though carpenter ants can do a lot of damage, they do not actually eat wood, as wood is of no nutritional value to them. Instead, they feast on fungal materials and decay that reside on degenerating wood. They also eat sweets or other insects, including termites. Carpenter ants are identifiable by the wood they leave out of their nests. Since termites eat wood, they do not leave such residue.
New Orleans ant control workers can also identify carpenter ants by examining how the damaged wood on your property appears. If carpenter ants are the culprit, the wood will appear polished and cleaned for a smooth look inside. Conversely, if you have an infestation of subterranean termites, the inside of the wood will possess deposits of mud and soil. Carpenter ants also bore holes through the wood so that unwanted waste can be pushed out of the colony. The holes are not very large, and in fact, the wood may appear unharmed to the naked eye. A telltale sign that these holes exist is if you discover debris around the wood. This debris can consist of wooden shavings, dead insects and feces.
Homeowners are right to be concerned when they spot possible signs of termites around the house. In some cases, however, the culprit may not be a termite at all, but a type of ant. In such cases, it is important to consult the expertise of a New Orleans termite control professional to discern the type of pest infesting your home. Once the pest is properly identified, a pest control company can cleanse your home of the infestation using the appropriate chemicals and other necessary methods.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.