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Q&A About Mice And Rats

Mice can get into homes and become a real problem – building nests, contaminating food, causing damage, and spreading disease. But to get rid of them, you need to understand what they do and what they like. Following are some Q&A About Mice And Rats (Questions and Answers!)

How do I know if I have mice?

Although the most obvious sign is that you have mice in your house, of course, seeing live or dead mice in your house. But there are plenty of other signs that can tell you that a mouse infestation may be an issue. These include:

  • gnawed holes in stored foods, piled paper, insulation, shredded toilet paper
  • droppings
  • rodent hairs
  • runways – narrow pathways where dust and dirt have been swept clean, grease marks are noticeable, or urine trails can be seen under black light.
  • nests or piled nesting materials (this goes back to shredded toilet paper and insulation)
  • skittering scratches on hardwood or laminate floors
  • the rank odor of a large infestation.

How do I know if it is a mouse or a rat?

Rats are much larger than mice: Mice are about 2 to 3 1/2 inches in length – plus another 3 to 4 inches of tail. The most common rats in the U.S. are the Norway rat and the roof rat. They will be about 14 to 16 inches in length, with tail length varying by species.  Unlike mice, which rarely burrow, rats will dig under buildings, along fences, and under plants and debris.

A female Norway rat can have six litters of up to 12 young per year. These 70+ rats can start to breed when by the time they are three months old.  Rats can enter a building through a hole as small as 1/2 inch in diameter. They are strong swimmers, so, yes, it’s true that rats will live in sewers and can enter buildings through broken drains or toilets. A rat will climb to get to food, water, or shelter. They will follow regular routines and paths each day. If new objects are set in its path, it will do whatever it can to avoid it – making it much more difficult to catch them.

What do mice eat?

Mice most prefer to eat cereal grains and plants, but they will feed on almost anything.

How long will a mouse live?

A house mouse will rarely live more than a year in the wild, but in a protected environment with food and water (like a house!), it can live up to three years. BUT the average female mouse can give birth to up to five litters of offspring a year. With an average of three to fourteen young for each litter, it means that this little pest can have as many as seventy baby mice a year.

Why do I keep finding shredded paper and black rice-like things in my basement?

It is very likely that you have found a mouse nest. A mouse will build its nest from about any soft material or finely shredded paper. And the little black “rice” is most likely mouse droppings.

I think I have mice, but I never see any. Why not?

Mice are nocturnal creatures, so they are most active from dusk up ’til morning light. They don’t usually like bright lights, but a mouse may sometimes be seen during the day, especially if its nest has been disturbed, it is seeking food, or there is a large infestation.

Why are one or two mice a problem?

Like we said earlier, the average female mouse can give birth to up to five litters of offspring a year. With an average of three to fourteen young for each litter, it means that this little pest can have as many as seventy baby mice a year.

How do mice get in my house?

A mouse can slip through holes and gaps as small as 1/4 inch – much smaller than appears possible. And if it’s not big enough to squeeze through, the mouse can gnaw it until it is big enough. Mice also can jump 13 inches high and can run along wires, cables, and ropes. Because they are excellent jumpers, swimmers, and climbers, mice can climb even rough, vertical surfaces.

What can I do to get rid of mice in my home?

You may be able to eliminate a couple of mice by placing traps and bait where they are known to travel. Be very careful that children and pets can not get harmed by the traps or inject the bait because if it can kill a rodent, it could certainly harm others. It’s entirely possible that you have more than a couple of mice – or will in the near future. You may want to consider getting professional help to control them.

CONTACT Holistic Pest Solutions to learn more about our treatment plans for mice or rats or give us a call at 434 842 1700.  Whether you’re in Charlottesville, Waynesboro, or close by to either, Holistic Pest Solutions has the perfect plan for you that is as Green As You Wanna Be!

 

*Our Environmental Commitment:  Holistic Pest Solutions is committed to the preservation of our environment. Our goal is to nurture the soils and plant life of lawns and landscapes.  Utilizing holistic pest control practices that cause the least amount of impact on the environment.

Control Fall Pests

Fall Pests

Believe it or not, fall pests are already starting to make trouble for homeowners in Central Virginia.  Pests are starting to look for a safe, warm place to call home during the colder late fall and winter months.

Holistic Pest Solutions is here to provide you with some information about controlling fall pests and how you can stop them from invading your home this season.

Insects like stink bugs, box elder bugs, spiders, and ladybird beetles are all common fall pests in Virginia.  They will enter into homes through small openings and seek out shelter behind walls, in crawl spaces, basements, and in attics and will remain throughout the winter months. These pests are not particularly dangerous, but are quite a nuisance to have in your home. They will crawl over your walls, furniture, and upholstery – leaving behind nasty splotches and stains if they are accidentally squished; and in the case of the stink bug, they can emit a horrible odor as well.

Your home may attract fall flies in search of heat – and if they are already overwintering, a warm day may bring them out of hiding.  After working all summer to create the largest nest possible, it becomes a struggle for stinging insects such as Yellow Jackets and Wasps to feed so many mouths with temperatures dropping and food sources dwindling. With the yellow jackets, paper wasps, and hornets they will soon create the last brood which will be queens. The queens will be inseminated now and abandon their hideaway in search of a place to overwinter. Under these circumstances, stinging insects may enter your home and settle in your attic, garage or shed.  Next spring, or on a wintery warm and sunny day, they become active and begin the search for a suitable spot to start a nest.

Prevent flies and stinging insects from ever entering by taking care to open and close outside doors quickly and only open windows that have screens.  

Cool autumn weather may also bring ant trails indoors. During the warmer months, ants set up their network of nests outside and in walls to resource and utilize nature’s abundance. As the cold comes, they will pull this network from outside into the walls and other inside nooks. The network bides its time being active when a winter’s sunny day warms up space. When spring comes back around, part of the network resources outside but now they are in the walls also. And close to the kitchen. It will be very difficult to get them out again. Holistic Pest Solutions provides a service plan that delivers continuous service and lets us work on pest issues to keep them under control so they don’t rebound from the efforts and headway we made during the spring to fall.

mouse breadRodents are another very common pest that likes to take up residence inside of homes this time of year; and rodents can be both damaging and dangerous to have living in your home. Rodents will enter and find quiet spaces in your home to create a nest for the winter in; they will travel through your walls and into your kitchen and help themselves to your food. Along with stealing your food they will contaminate your kitchen counters, pantries, and drawers with their feces and urine; and can introduce dangerous diseases and bacteria into your home. They are also responsible for chewing through wires, pipes, insulation, drywall, flooring, furniture, clothing, and personal items.

We can all agree that insects and rodents do not make good roommates, but the question now is how do we prevent them from coming in?  There are some easy changes you can implement around your home.

Here are some things you can do around your home to protect it from fall pests:

  • Make sure that outdoor trash cans are securely closed
  • Keepa cap on your chimney
  • Stack wood for the winter away from your home’s exterior.
  • Fix areas of pooling water around your home, along with any leaky faucets or pipes.
  • Exclude pests from your home by sealing cracks in the foundation of your home, caulking gaps around windows and doors, installing door sweeps, and making sure that screens are intact.

Holistic Pest Solutions can also help with our year-round home pest control programs.  We apply long term solutions to your pest control needs year round!  Our pest control experts will help to eliminate and control fall and other common household pests now and throughout the entire year.

CONTACT Holistic Pest Solutions to learn more about our treatment plans or give us a call at 434 842 1700.  Whether you’re in Charlottesville, Waynesboro, or close by to either, Holistic Pest Solutions has the perfect plan for you that is as Green As You Wanna Be!

 

*Our Environmental Commitment:  Holistic Pest Solutions is committed to the preservation of our environment. Our goal is to nurture the soils and plant life of lawns and landscapes.  Utilizing holistic pest control practices that cause the least amount of impact on the environment.

Termite Control FAQs

Termite and Wood Damage

Q: Why worry about termites?

A: Termites cause billions of dollars in damage each year. They primarily feed on wood, but also damage paper, books, insulation, and even swimming pool liners and filtration systems. Termites can injure living trees and shrubs, but more often are a secondary invader of woody plants already in decline. While buildings may become infested at any time, termites are of particular importance when buying or selling a home since a termite inspection/infestation report is normally a condition of sale. Besides the monetary impact, thousands of winged termites emerging inside one’s home are an emotionally trying experience — not to mention the thought of termites silently feasting on one’s largest investment.

Q: How will I know if my home is infested?

A: Discovering winged termites indoors almost always indicates an infestation warranting treatment.

People often confuse winged termites with ants, which often swarm at the same time of year. Termites can be differentiated by their straight antennae, uniform waist and wings of equal size. (Ants have elbowed antennae, constricted waists and forewings that are longer than the hind wings.)

The swarmers are attracted to light and are often seen around windows and doors. Termite swarmers emerging from tree stumps, woodpiles, and other locations out in the yard are not necessarily cause for concern, and do not necessarily mean that the house is infested. On the other hand, if winged termites are seen emerging from the base of a foundation wall or adjoining porches and patios, there’s a good chance the house is infested also and treatment may be warranted.

Other signs of infestation are earthen (mud) tubes extending over foundation walls, support piers, sill plates, floor joists, etc. The mud tubes are typically about the diameter of a pencil, but sometimes can be thicker.  Termites construct these tubes for shelter as they travel between their underground colonies and the structure. To help determine if an infestation is active, the tubes may be broken open and checked for the presence of small, creamy-white worker termites.  If a tube happens to be vacant, it does not necessarily mean that the infestation is inactive; termites often abandon sections of tube while foraging elsewhere in the structure.
termitesTermite-damaged wood is usually hollowed out along the grain, with bits of dried mud or soil lining the feeding galleries. Wood damaged by moisture or other types of insects (e.g., carpenter ants) will not have this appearance. Occasionally termites bore tiny holes through plaster or drywall, accompanied by bits of soil around the margin. Rippled or sunken traces behind wall coverings can also be indicative of termites tunneling underneath.

Oftentimes there will be no visible indication that the home is infested. Termites are cryptic creatures and infestations can go undetected for years, hidden behind walls, floor coverings, insulation, and other obstructions. Termite feeding and damage can even progress undetected in wood that is exposed because the outer surface is usually left intact.

Confirmation of infestation often requires the keen eye of an experienced termite inspector. However, even the most experienced inspector could possibly overlook damage that is hidden.  Termites are sneaky little buggers 🙂

Q: Can I treat the house myself?

A: Ridding a home of termites requires special skills. A knowledge of building construction is needed to identify the critical areas where termites are likely to enter. Many of these potential points of entry are hidden and difficult to access. Termite control also utilizes specialized equipment such as masonry drills, pumps, large-capacity tanks, and soil treatment rods. A typical treatment may involve a liquid pesticide, known as a termiticide, injected into the ground alongside the foundation, beneath concrete slabs, and within foundation walls.

In short, termite treatment is a job for professionals. A possible exception would be if a mailbox post, sandbox or other small wooden object not attached to the house was infested. “Do-it-yourself” products, sold to homeowners at retail stores or bought over the internet, will seldom eradicate an existing termite problem.

Q: Does the entire house need to be treated… or can they just treat areas where I see termites?

A: Subterranean termite colonies may contain hundreds of thousands of individuals, foraging in many different directions.

Most companies offer “perimeter” treatment using one of the non-repellent liquid termiticides (Termidor, Premise, etc.). Typically this will involve a thorough application around the entire outside foundation wall of the building, and spot-treating any infested or high-risk interior areas. If the homeowner is considering such a treatment, they should inquire whether it will be accompanied by a service agreement in case termites return. (Service renewal agreements usually state that if termites return, the company will return and retreat the affected areas at no additional charge provided the renewal agreement is maintained.) It’s a bit of a gamble to purchase any termite treatment option without an ongoing service agreement.  Holistic offers them!

Q: How long will the treatment last?

A: All liquid termiticides should control termites for around five years, however, the actual length of control on a given structure will depend on such factors as: environmental conditions, the construction of your home, and density of termites in the area.

Q: Will the chemicals harm my family or pets?

A: Termiticides are tested extensively for adverse effects on health. Before a product can be used, numerous studies are conducted by the manufacturer and independently evaluated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Based on the current body of knowledge, registered termiticides pose no significant hazard to humans, pets or the environment when applied according to label directions. Despite the negligible health risk from a properly performed termite treatment, people with lingering concerns should consult their physician prior to treating. Most of the newer liquid products have essentially no odor.

CONTACT Holistic Pest Solutions to learn more about our termite treatment plans or give us a call at 434 842 1700.  Whether you’re in Charlottesville, Waynesboro, or close by to either, Holistic Pest Solutions has the perfect plan for you that is as Green As You Wanna Be!

 

*Our Environmental Commitment:  Holistic Pest Solutions is committed to the preservation of our environment. Our goal is to nurture the soils and plant life of lawns and landscapes.  Utilizing holistic pest control practices that cause the least amount of impact on the environment.

Repel Mosquitoes

It turns out that mosquitoes, along with many insects that bite, are attracted to certain odors in human skin. They’re especially attracted to your body odor and other secretions, meaning that if you’re spending a lot of time running around and sweating, or working hard in your garden at the end of the day, you can expect to have more mosquitoes following you around. Alternately certain strong—or unpleasant to the insect—smells can both hide the scent of people and prevent them from getting close enough to bite you. This is why deet sprays and citronella candles sell like hotcakes in the summer. There are several plants with strong scents that we find pleasant, which you can use to help mask your own smell and keep nearby mosquitoes populations under control. The aroma needs to be in the air around you, at the very least, and ideally on your skin. To get the maximum effect of these natural mosquito repellents, crush herb leaves in your hands to release their perfume and essential oils, and then rub the leaves and their oils over your skin.

By including these plants in your garden, you can reduce your dependance on deet sprays and high chemical citronella candles.

Lemon Balm

This member of the mint family has white flowers and a gentle lemony scent, as well as some healing properties. Lemon balm is particularly good at keeping mosquito bites low, but it’s also an invasive species, so be careful when growing it in your garden. It does well if you plant it in a pot on your patio, or other outdoor areas.

Catnip

This fragrant mint cousin contains a natural chemical called nepetalactone, which is both a feline attractant and a useful insect repellent. Though if you’re not interested in a bunch of cats moving into the area, skip this one and move onto a different plant.

Basil

A 2009 study showed that the essential oil from this delicious staple from your indoor herb garden is toxic to mosquito larvae. Grow this amazing plant around any natural water sources, such as a pond, to help control the rate of eggs being laid.

Lavender FieldLavender

One of the 7 cool things we never knew lavender could do is repel flying insects like mosquitoes, moths, and flies. The flower’s perfume is well-known, and while it will scent the air, it’s most effective way to control insects is by actually rubbing the plant on your skin to release the oils.

Peppermint

In its concentrated form, peppermint is sometimes used as an insect repellent, and its oil has been shown to repel the adults and kill the larvae and eggs of several species.

Citrosum (aka Mosquito Plant)

This perennial is actually marketed as “mosquito plant,” and sometimes referred to as the citronella plant primarily due to its strong citronella scent. Unfortunately, though it’s the most heavily marketed, there’s some research that suggests it’s also the least effective garden plant at mosquito control. Still, there’s some benefits to be had from rubbing the crushed leaves on your skin, and if there’s nothing else around, it will provide some protection.

Sage + Rosemary

If you’re planning to gather around a fire, try burning a little sage or rosemary. The incense these plants give off when they burn not only smells good but is unpleasant enough to most species of insects that it’ll repel them—as long as you’re near the smoke.

Of course, if you don’t have a green thumb or just don’t want to be bothered by planting all of these scents, contact Holistic Pest Solutions.  We can treat your property and rid of annoying and biting mosquitoes.

CONTACT US to learn more about our maintenance plans for seasonal pest control issues or give us a call at 434 842 1700.  Whether you’re in Charlottesville, Waynesboro, or close by to either, Holistic Pest Solutions has the perfect plan for you that is as Green As You Wanna Be!

GREEN Spring Cleaning

spring

Spring has arrived! It’s time to say goodbye to the cold weather and hello to new life once again. The flowers are just breaking through the soil, the birds are singing, and the trees are growing new leaves. If you’re anything like us, one annual task looms in the way of that fun: THE DREADED SPRING CLEANING. This chore is tedious and incredibly time consuming, but it’s necessary after months of being cooped up indoors. There are so many things to do: work on the garden, dust the curtains, sweep the floor, wash the pollen off the car OVER AND OVER again…

You may be wondering, “What does Spring cleaning have to do with pest control?” Well beyond giving critters less places to hide – not much. But we care about our environment, so we’d like to give you some great green methods to use for this year’s Spring Cleaning.

Reuse whenever possible

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Give your unwanted clothes a new life by donating them to your local thrift shop or charity. Or use them as rags when you’re cleaning.  By reusing clothing and other goods, we can cut down on waste entering landfills.

close up of an empty used plastic bottle on white backgroundRecycle all that you can

Learn how reducing, reusing, and recycling can help you, your community, and the environment by saving money, energy, and natural resources. Recycling programs are managed at the state and local level—find information on recycling in your community.  Anything plastic, metal, paper should be able to be recycled.  Click your area for recycling options in Charlottesville, Waynesboro or just Google recycling option in your city.  Learn more at https://www.epa.gov/recycle.

Use cleaning products that are safer for your family and the environment

Look for products that are labeled biodegradable, eco-friendly, or non-toxic.  Some great tips you could try are:

Ditch air fresheners – Indoor air may be up to three times more polluted than the air outdoors, so go fresh the natural way by opening your windows. For a light, citrusy fragrance, place orange peel mixed with sage in small bowls through out your home.

Avoid products with labels that read toxic, corrosive, irritant, flammable, or combustible

To many, the idea of making your own cleaning products out of household items may sound a little too granola crunchy — but if you really stop and think about it, it makes good economic, environmental and health sense. Not only are homemade cleaning agents much safer and healthier for everyone in your family than harsh store bought cleaners, but they can save you a lot of money as well. In an economic climate like this one, that’s good news!  There are plenty of sites online that will give you tips on making your own eco-friendly cleaning products – check them out!

Conserve water

To water the lawn, consider using grey water or even rainwater. An average family typically uses 30% of its water for the garden or the lawn. By using alternative water such as rainwater from a rain barrel, you can cut down on wasted water and even lower your water bill.  Consider NOT leaving the water running while brushing your teeth, take showers instead of baths, put a recyclable plastic bottle filled with water into the back of your toilet bowl…  these are all tips we’ve heard in the past and easy ways to conserve water in our homes.

And now to bring us full circle

Things to look for that indicate a need for pest control

Do you have ants crawling around your kitchen?  Did you find mouse droppings in your pantry or ripped up toilet paper under the bathroom sink?  Find yourself walking into spiderwebs in the attic?  If you have pest control needs in your home, please contact Holistic Pest Solutions for a complimentary consult!

Eco Friendly Life Hacks

wasps

 

We all live busy lives.  Anything that can make life easier is something we want to know about, right?  Now that the weather is warmer, pests have become… well…  more PESTY.  Mosquitoes are biting, wasps are stinging, ants are crawling, termites are swarming…  ugh!  Holistic Pest Solutions offers affordable 6 month contracts for pest control maintenance in and around your home, but are there eco-friendly life hacks to keeping pest out of and away from your home, yard and family?  Are the life hacks easy and inexpensive?  Is this particular pest control company nice enough to give free advice?  The answer to ALL of those questions is YES.  We’re here to help you with these great Eco Friendly Life Hacks.  Check em out:

START AT THE SOURCE

The best way to avoid pest problems is to start at the source.  Keep kitchen counters/sink/floors clean of food and odors that may attract bugs – wipe down with a 1 part vinegar/1 part water.

  1. Fix leaky faucets – many pests are attracted by water.
  2. Transfer your dried goods (cereals, chips, cookies, crackers) to sealed containers or jars.
  3. Use a kitchen trashcan with a lid and rinse out any juice bottles or soda cans before throwing them away.
  4. Don’t keep compost piles near home and preferably contained.
  5. Clean trash cans regularly. Best is trash pick up 2x per week, but missing a weekly pick up can create fly breeding site.
  6. Landscaping and weed eating is important for removing pest harborage close to house.

THE NOSE KNOWS  

Many pests can be deterred by a scent that they have an aversion to.  For instance, research shows that peppermint is a scent that spiders, cockroaches and mice do not like.  Using a spray of peppermint oil and water anytime you see an issue may help.  If you have an issue with fruit flies, fill a disposable paper or plastic cup about halfway with vinegar. Add a small amount of dish soap and stir. Cover with plastic wrap. Using a sharp knife, poke very small holes in the top of the plastic. The fruit flies are very attracted to the vinegar smell and will find their way into the cup, but they won’t be able to get out. Once you have a collection of dead fruit flies, toss the whole thing.  It has been said that Citronella, Catnip and Marigolds planted in gardens can deter certain insects and small animals with their smell(s).  Certainly worth a shot!

STOP SCRATCHING

Are you a magnet for mosquito bites? Are you concerned about being covered in red splotches, white goopy cortisone lotion or pink calamine lotion all summer?   Turns out, lemon and lime juice are acidic (and antibacterial) enough to numb the itch.  Rubbing a slice all over your bites really helps with the itch! Keep them on hand all summer (even more than usual for spritzing on fish tacos, margaritas, etc.)

Holistic Pest SolutionsAND NOW, TO POINT OUT THE OBVIOUS AND NUMBER ONE LIFE HACK FOR RIDDING YOUR HOME OF PESTS

We don’t want to be presumptuous or anything, but Holistic Pest Solutions can help save you from needing the previously mentioned stinky, sticky, life hacks.  We offer 6 month contracts for controlling mosquitoes, ants, termites, wasps … whatever your issue might be.  This means you can essentially completely avoid pest in your home.  We’ll perform a thorough inspection of your property to identify the contributing factors and then we’ll treat for seasonal issues at the exact time they need treating in order to keep infestations from occurring.  Our highly trained technicians are trained to spot issues before they are noticeable to most homeowners and will implement long term solutions to keep your house pest free year round.  Why wait until the ants invade your kitchen or the termites eat away at your foundation?  Get in front of the problem!

If you need a really great Eco Friendly Pest Solution Life Hack, Holistic Pest Solutions is more than happy to oblige.  Our pest management covers roaches, ants, millipedes, centipedes, mice, rats, pillbugs, spiders, crickets, and paper wasps. Generally, we do every other month visits (monthly if needed) and the Maintenance Agreement sets you up for six services. If you need Termite treatment, our plan includes an initial treatment with an option to have an annual retreatment/inspection, if needed.  

CONTACT US to learn more about our maintenance plans for seasonal pest control issues or give us a call at 434 842 1700.  Whether you’re in Charlottesville, Waynesboro, or close by to either, Holistic Pest Solutions has the perfect plan for you that is as Green As You Wanna Be!

Josh May

SERVICE TECHNICIAN: Josh is the newest member of Holistic Pest Solutions. He grew up in Greene County and is currently living with his new wife and baby in Crozet. We are so glad to have such a genuinely nice and hardworking individual come to work for us.

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Tyler Payne

SENIOR SERVICE TECHNICIAN: Charlottesville Class of 01. Former Marine. Tyler has been with Holistic Pest Solutions since 2006. He likes meeting new people and helping figure out solutions to their pest control issues. He enjoys working outdoors and looks forward to a long career here at HPS.

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Lewis Jordan

TERMITE TECHNICIAN: Lewis is from Schyler; 2 kids and one on the way; into UVA Sports & Dallas Cowboys “Tires should have confetti in them, so even a blowout is still a good time.” Lewis enjoys his work with Holistic Pest Solutions and makes the most out of any situation.

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