Squirrels seem harmless, but they can be huge pests!

When you look outside on a cool fall day you are likely to see a squirrel sniffing around for food. It is a natural sight at this time of year, and they are harmless, right? Well, although they probably aren’t going to attack you when you go out your front door, they can prove to be pests. In fact, a survey of the National Pest Control Association voted the tree squirrel as the number one nuisance animal in the United States.

The important thing to remember is that squirrels are rodents. While you may feel they are “cuter” than rats or mice, in the pest world they are very close. They can cause a variety of problems including damaging trees, flowers, gardens and lawns, as well as vehicles and homes. Squirrels can also cause severe damage to attic insulation and walls, and they chew electrical wires in homes and vehicles, creating a fire hazard.

The easiest way to tell the difference between mice and squirrels in your attic or walls is the time of activity. If it is silent during the day but you here squeaking and running at night, it is most likely mice. However if you are hearing things in your walls during the day, such as chewing or clicking noises, it’s probably squirrels.

Here are a few interesting facts about squirrels:

  • There are more than 200 species of squirrel around the world, though there are none living naturally in Australia.
  • The smallest squirrel, the African pigmy squirrel, is only 5 inches long from tail to nose. On the other end of the spectrum, the Indian giant squirrel is 3 feet long!
  • Female squirrels typically give birth to 2-8 offspring, several times a year.
  • Baby squirrels are blind and totally dependent on their mothers for 2-3 months after birth.

If you think you may have a squirrel problem do not panic. Dealing with squirrels is a fairly easy process and we can help. Just give us a call at 804-737-7777.


Carpet Beetle babies, not very innocent

It is true that a carpet beetle can be a nuisance young or old. However they are most destructive before they can even be called ‘beetles’. When the beetle is in its infancy, or larvae stage, it is rapidly growing and eating. Unfortunately for the everyday homeowner, their meals can consist of anything in your closet (fashionable or not, they aren’t picky), any furnishings, or any other item in your house that contains natural fibers. This is not to overshadow the troubles of adult carpet beetles, especially if you fancy yourself a gardener, inside or out. The adult beetle prefers plant-based foods, aka your tomato garden or floral arrangement. Now you may be saying, ‘why are they called carpet beetles? My carpet is synthetic’. Well, if they can’t find the gourmet organic meal they are used to they will venture into inorganic materials, especially if there are stains or perspiration on them. The other very unfortunate thing to the average homeowner is that carpet beetle problems can, and usually do, go undetected until there is a full blown infestation. In such a case it is very difficult to rid yourself of them. They love to hide in all the dirty nooks and crannies of your home. And just when you think you have cleaned every possible spot they manage to find another hideout. Whether it is in your furniture or carpet, hiding behind baseboards or crawling through your dusty vents, once you have them it requires professional assistance to rid you of them. With the right help, however, you can be free of these nasty critters. Here is a recap and some interesting facts about these troublesome beetles:

  • Carpet beetles enter your home through doors, windows, or other openings, so the initial encounter is tough to prevent. The best measure to prevent a full on infestation is to regularly clean your house, especially areas of low traffic and high dust.
  • Carpet beetle larvae love to eat organic materials such as carpet, clothing, fur, dander, silk, wool, and furniture. However they are not opposed to any stained or oily inorganic materials.
  • Larvae can be found behind baseboards, under floors, inside your air ducts, and under heavy furniture.
  • The adult carpet beetle lives only around 1-6 weeks. But in that time they will feast on your garden and flowers, as well as reproducing.
  • Carpet beetles are not fast movers, but they do travel from room to room and can cause significant damage in a matter of weeks.

An infestation can come very quickly and you may be overwhelmed and not know what to do. If you find yourself in this position, or need assistance identifying the pest problem you have, please give us a call at 804-737-7777. We will be more than happy to take care of whatever nasty critter is causing you problems.

They are harmless, but man can they stink!

The stink bug, or Halyomorpha halys, has become more than just a smelly nuisance. Farmer’s and homeowners alike are seeing a huge spike in the stink bug population, and all the issues it brings with it. These seemingly harmless, non-biting pests search out and ruin a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and other host plants including peaches, apples, green beans, soybeans, cherry, raspberries, and pears. The stick their proboscis into these fruits and veggies for a meal, and then leave them unsellable.

These bugs actually came to the United States by accident. They originate in Asia and were said to have “hitched a ride” on some crates to the US. This wouldn’t be too big of a problem if it weren’t for the fact that they have no natural predator in the US. So they can keep multiplying and destroying crops as much as they like.

Of course most of us know these pests not for their crop destruction, but for their foul odor. The “stink” in stink bug comes from a hormone they excrete as a defense mechanism when threatened or squished. It is totally harmless, but this fact doesn’t stop it from stinking up your house. They enter your home around window and door frames, under siding or any small crack they can fit through. They come into a house because they are attracted to light, and it gives them a perfect place to rest while the weather is harsh. Be warned though, they will emerge in the spring and cause problems.

Here are a few facts you should know to help identify these pests and know what to do about them:

  • They are approximately 1.7 centimeters (0.67 in) long and about as wide, forming a “shield” shape
  • They are various shades of brown on both the top and bottom
  • Preventing these pests can be tough. The best way is to make sure you seal all cracks in windows and walls. Make sure to replace or repair any torn screens as well.
  • If they are already in your home DO NOT CRUSH THEM! This will spill their odor immediately. The best method of ridding them is dropping them in a bag or vacuuming them up. Just be sure to remove the bag right away because the smell can leak through.
  • If you believe you have an infestation, call a licensed pest management professional right away.

If you have smelled the odor or seem stink bugs in your home and think it may be a sign of a bigger problem, give us a call at 804-737-7777 and we will do our best to rid you of these smelly intruders.

Carpenter Ant Knowledge

The first thing you need to know is that carpenter ants are not termites. You will see them burrowing into the wood of your house, and your first thought would be that they are those other pests that do billions of dollars of damage every year. Carpenter ants are not those.

But they are still a problem that shouldn’t be ignored. Carpenter ants burrow into your wood not to eat it. They instead will damage the wood to build their nests. Their excavation makes smooth tunnels inside the wood and will weaken it. Here’s how to tell carpenter ants from their termite cousins:

Carpenter ants color depends on species, from red to black or some combination of the two. The two most common species are black. Carpenter ants typically measure one-quarter inch for a worker ant up to three-quarters inch for a queent.

All species primarily nest in wood that is or has been wet and damaged by mold. While these ants prefer wet, decayed wood, they will move on to building paths through dry, undamaged wood. They will usually come into buildings through cracks around doors, windows and through holes for wires. They will also crawl along overhead wires, shrubs, or tree limbs that touch the building far above the ground.

They will build their nests outdoors in various wood sources, including tree stumps, firewood or landscaping. They need a constant water source to survive. They will enter homes through wet, damaged wood.

To prevent them from invading your home, eliminate sources of standing water and other moisture (carpenter ants require such water to survive). Make sure you keep your trees and bushes are cut back from the house. Make sure that there are not cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house.

Sometimes pests use these to get into your home. Ensure that you don’t have firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

If you think might have carpenter ants, call us at 804-737-7777 to schedule an appointment. Don’t let them destroy your home.

Creepy, Crawly Spiders

Spiders are perhaps the world’s creepiest pest, though most spiders are harmless and serve the purpose of keeping other pest populations down. Still, whether it’s their eight legs or the multifaceted eyes, people find spiders to be mysterious, scary creatures that they would prefer not live in their homes.

Fortunately, most spiders are of the Charlotte’s Web variety, but there are two medically significant spiders in the United States, two names that strike fear into most who know them: black widows and brown recluses.

Here are fun facts about these two rare but potentially deadly spiders and how you can deal with them:

  • Female black widow spiders have the telltale red hourglass shape on their backs. Male spiders have the much less frightening and imposing white spots on their side.
  • Brown recluse spiders are marked by the dark brown, violin-shaped markings on their back.
  • Male black widow spiders live about a year, while female black widow spiders have been known to live up to three years.
  • It is true that black widow females, if they are hungry, will kill the male spider after mating, but it is not universally the case.
  • Black widow spiders are found in the north, central and western parts of the United States.
  • Despite its reputation, brown recluse spiders are most likely found in Kansas, Mississipi, Texas and Oklahoma. While the range of this spider has expanded over the past 40 years, it has not expanded as much as the popular press might have you believe.
  • Both black widows and brown recluse spiders eat other pests, and both live primarily in cellars or wood piles.
  • Both spiders have bites that are poisonous to humans, but are rarely fatal. The symptoms include a rash, muscle aches and chills with both of them.

If you think you have a black widow or brown recluse spider problem, please call us at 804-737-7777, and we can come out to take care of the problem for you.

They don’t bite, they don’t sting, but man are they annoying!

If you have bananas or other types of fruit sitting around on your kitchen counter, you have no doubt encountered the ever-present fruit fly. Though they don’t live for very long (typically eight to 10 days at the most), they are prolific breeders. The females can produce 500 eggs during their lifetime, meaning that if you don’t take care of them quickly, you will soon be overrun.Here are some fruit fly fun facts for your to consider:

  • Female fruit flies use rotting fruit and vegetables for their nests to lay eggs.
  • They grow to about one-eighth of an inch long, have small oval-shaped bodies and are tan in color.
  • They feed (as their name suggests) on decaying fruits and vegetables.
  • They are often found around garbage dumps and garbage cans. Fruit flies can be found anywhere food is processed (in a home, restaurant or any other food-producing facility).
  • Like their cousins the house fly, fruit flies are disease-carrying vermin. When you have fruit flies around, human beings that come into contact with them can become very sick.
  • You can prevent a serious infestation of fruit flies by keeping your home clean, removing rotting food immediately and taking out the trash every day.

If you believe you have a fruit fly problem that is out of control, call us at 804-737-7777, and we’ll schedule an appointment to help rid your home of these obnoxious pests.

Summer is almost gone, but the mosquitoes will be back!

During the summer time, people will do almost anything to prevent being “bitten” by mosquitoes. They are vectors for a host of diseases, including the high-profile West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever, and they are keen to share their diseases with human beings. Of course for most of us the biggest annoyance are those nasty red bumps that itch incessantly.We all know of the plethora of home made remedies for deterring these blood-sucking pests, and the crazy made up facts for why they work. However to battle these insects effectively you should know the facts:

  • Only female mosquitoes actually suck your blood. Male mosquitoes live solely on plant nectar.
  • Mosquitoes move from egg to adult in 10 to 14 days.
  • They are 1/4” inch to 3/8” inch long, have two clear, veined wings, are narrow oval-shaped and are pale brown with whitish stripes across the abdomen.
  • Though most people say they have been “bitten” by mosquitoes, it’s not true. Mosquitoes do not engage in blood meals with their mouths. Instead, they insert their nose through the skin and into the veins and suck the blood out to satisfy their needs. Think of a mosquito prick as an insect sucking your blood out through a long, thin straw.
  • Mosquitoes are most active at night and will fly up to 14 miles for a meal.
  • They pick their victims by detecting body heat and carbon dioxide, the gas we breathe out during normal breathing.
  • Mosquitoes need water to breed, which is why they choose to live in stagnant pools of water or in soft, moist soils. They love children’s wading pools, bird baths and storm drains — so make sure you change the water in these areas often.

If you have a mosquito problem that is out of hand, give us a call at 804-737-7777. We can help cut down on the number of mosquitoes that make a meal of you as you’re trying to enjoy your backyard.

The Basics of Rats

You hear a scratching and scuffling noise coming from inside your walls. You find collected insulation in one corner of your attic in the shape of a nest. There are holes in the corners of your cereal boxes that look as if they’ve been gnawed on by little teeth.You may have a rat infestation. If you do, you’re going to want to arm yourself with as much knowledge about rats as you can before you call a pest management professional (like us) to take care of the problem. Here are some rat fun facts you should know:

  • Rats can squeeze into spaces as small as a half dollar, so if you have any gaps in your home that size, it’s the perfect opening for rats to get in.
  • If you have trees around your house and they are touching your roof, rats will use those tree branches like superhighways.
  • There are two general rat species most common in the United States: Roof rats and Norway rats.
  • When you think of Norway rats, think Templeton, the lovable rascal from the Charlotte’s Web tale. These rats generally live in burrows on the ground around foundations, in garbage piles or in fields.
  • Norway rats will typically invade your home on the ground level (don’t ignore that lovely warm basement you just had redone — it’s the perfect place to shelter rats).
  • Roof rats live exactly where you’d expect — up in trees, in shrubs and in dense vegetation such as ivy.
  • They are gray to white in coloration (as opposed to their mostly gray Norway cousins).
  • Roof rats are smaller than Norway rats.
  • Rats are looking for places where food, water and shelter are plentiful. If you are comfortable in your own home, there’s a good chance rats will feel comfortable there, too.

Follow this blog to get more information about rats so you can identify if you have a rat infestation. If you know you have one, give us a call at 804-737-7777 and we’ll set up an appointment to help rid your home of these hoarding pests.

Some basics on birds

Birds may not immediately come to mind when thinking about household pests, but they can cause plenty of trouble for homeowners. This week, we’re going to look at three common birds that can cause trouble.

Woodpeckers eat insects that are found in trees. They listen for insects under the tree’s bark—and then peck a hole through the bark with their beaks. Woodpecker beaks are long, straight and sharp, ideal for making holes. These birds have long tongues that feature a sharp end for getting at bugs inside the tree. Their tongue is also sticky, so it can attach to ants in the tree or lick up sap. They also collect nuts and berries to eat and will sometimes even eat peanut butter that is placed in bird feeders.

Damage caused by woodpeckers can range from holes in wood to damaged siding and air conditioning units. They can even damage synthetic stucco, and can also be a great nuisance from a sound standpoint. (Yes, their hammering can be very loud!)

But getting rid of these birds is tricky. There are 21 species of Woodpeckers in the U.S., and each one is federally protected. Thus, they cannot be destroyed. Woodpeckers can have two or three broods per year, each consisting of three to six babies.

These 6-in. birds love to nest in trees and eat fruit, making them a big problem for fruit farmers. But they are problems in cities, too. Amazingly, their droppings may weaken steel and can even lead to structural damage. When Starlings’ droppings sit on the ground for a time, fungus grows on it and can lead to diseases such as histoplasmosis.

Starlings will gladly build nests in gutters or in any other unsealed openings in your house. Anything larger that a 1-in. hole is fair game for them.

As they say, do not feed the pigeons. Pick up garbage, keep birdbaths clean, and don’t leave food out around your home. Pigeons are extremely dirty birds, because they do not clean themselves and they will live almost anywhere, under virtually any conditions. They can cause food poisoning and spread disease such as cryptococcosis,histoplasmosis, toxoplasmosis, even salmonella. Their droppings can destroy buildings and statues. Other pests like fleas, lice, mites and ticks that also spread disease may live on these birds.

The good news? There are smart ways to rid your home of these or any other types of birds that may be nuisances to your family. If our fine feathered friends are becoming a problem, please call us at 804-737-7777 to schedule an appointment.

Pests 101: Bed bugs, part 1

We’ve all heard the phrase since childhood: “Sleep tight — don’t let the bed bugs bite!” But how many of us actually thought bed bugs existed? After all, it’s been 50 years since a significant outbreak has occurred in the United States — so who had to worry about them?

Well, they’re back and worse than ever — and they might be coming to your home soon. So here are some bed bug facts to arm yourself with as you move forward:

• Bed bugs are small brownish insects that feed on human blood. They are typically 3/16ths of an inch long with oval bodies.
• Though they are called bed bugs, they typically do not live on the bed (although it is primarily where they will feed).
• Baby bed bugs, known as nymphs, are no bigger than the size of the “L” in “Liberty” on a penny.
• Bed bugs prefer to hide close to where they feed, but they will crawl several feet for a blood meal.
• They feed by piercing your skin and sucking blood through an elongated beak.
• Nymphs can survive several months without feeding; adults can survive for as long as a year.
If you’re seeing them in your house, you have a serious infestation. There are likely thousands of bed bugs you don’t see.

In our next installment on bed bugs, we’ll talk about how people get bed bugs (hint: It has nothing to do with cleanliness).

In the meantime, if you think you have a bed bug infestation, call us now at 804-737-7777. We’ll be happy to set up an initial inspection and an active management plan to rid you of these cryptic, bloodsucking pests that feed on you when you sleep.