About Holistic Pest Solutions

Stink Bug Season

removing stink bugs

What Are Stink Bugs?

Native to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China, Halyomorpha halys were accidentally imported to the United States in the late 1990s (first seen in Pennsylvania) and remain a significant pest to agriculture. They have since spread to 33 states, and are heavily noted in the state of Virginia.  Sometimes known as “shield bugs” because of their distinctive shape, they’re much more commonly known as “stink bugs.”

Stink Bug Q&A

Do stink bugs really stink?

Yes, stink bugs really do stink. A tiny gland located on their thorax between the first and second pair of legs emits a liquid toxin with the pungent odor (described by some as similar to that of smelly feet) that is their primary defense. This odor acts as a repellent to birds or any other predator that might threaten the stink bugs—including humans.  Stink bugs release their odor when chased, picked up, or stepped on. If you have a lot of them in your house, the smell tends to linger (fortunately it can be eliminated by washing down the surfaces with ordinary soap and water).

Why Are There So Many Stink Bugs?

Stink bugs reproduce 4 times a year. Each time a stink bug reproduces, it lays between 20-30 eggs on tree and other plant leaves. Stink bugs undergo metamorphosis in three stages: egg, nymph and adult. The eggs are laid in groups on stems and the undersides of leaves. When nymphs emerge, they look similar to the adult stink bug, but may appear rounder rather than shield-shaped. Nymphs go through five instars before becoming adults, usually in 4-5 weeks. The adult stink bug overwinters under boards, logs or leaf litter. In some species, the nymphs may also overwinter.

With no natural predators in the United States, multiple reproductive cycles, fast development and an ability to travel easily (hitching rides on buses and in construction materials), the numbers of stink bugs have exploded, and they’re spreading fast across the country.

What Makes Stink Bugs Such A Nuisance?

While stink bugs are NOT known for biting, stinging, or carrying diseases, they will gobble up your fruits and veggies – and even your ornamental trees and shrubs. What’s even more annoying to urban dwellers is their propensity for moving in: when the weather gets cold, they seek shelter in detached homes and apartment and office buildings alike, sneaking in through cracks, screenless windows and any other openings. And because they’re resistant to most conventional pesticides and small enough to hide almost anywhere, once they’re in, they’re tough to get out.

stink bug season

What Is The “Peak Season” For Stink Bugs?

Because stink bugs won’t reproduce indoors and their food is mostly outdoors, they won’t try to move into until it starts to get cold – usually around late September/early October. The insects sneak in through small cracks and openings in chimneys, door and window frames, air conditioning units, attic vents and holes in a home’s foundation. They hide out in toasty, dark spots during the winter, and emerge from hibernation late in the Spring. That’s when you’ll notice them become active again.  If you want to avoid Stink bug infestation in your home or office, the best time to get treatment is PRIOR to cold weather – September is probably the ideal month here in Virginia.

What’s The Best Way To Get Rid Of Stink Bugs?

Part of what makes stink bugs so difficult to control is the fact that they are resistant to many types of pesticides.  Holistic Pest Solutions can treat your home or business for Stink bugs utilizing very effective methods.  If you only have a few stink bugs here and there, you may be able to handle it on your own.  If you find them on your plants, shake them off into a bucket of soapy water – the soapy water keeps them from flying away. If you only find a few stink bugs in your home, vacuuming them up may be the best way to vanquish the little beasts, but be sure to use a vacuum with a bag that you can remove, seal up and discard when you’re done.  Flushing them down the toilet when they’re alive works well if you don’t want to smell them at all 🙂

Whatever you do, don’t smash them – not only do they smell bad, their distinctive odor attracts others of their kind. In addition to deterring predators, a stink bug’s odor sends a chemical message to other stink bugs, alerting them to danger. The scent glands also play a role in attracting mates, and even suppress attacks by harmful microorganisms.

 

CONTACT Holistic Pest Solutions to learn more about our stink bug 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.

Summer Pests Prevention Tips

Summer Pest Prevention Tips

It’s been said that at any given moment, billions and billions bugs are descending on the earth. Unfortunately for those of us who enjoy the outdoors, many of these creepy crawlies love feeding on human blood and skin.

Bugs bite, burrow, buzz and bother. People swat, slap, scratch, scream and ultimately, they scram. Why should we run away from the outdoors when it’s the perfect time to be there?

In years past, folks smeared on bear grease or doused their clothes with kerosene or just didn’t bathe for weeks, all to elude outdoor pests. Fortunately for us modern humans, these old-time methods of repelling bugs aren’t necessary today. Now, we can use more pleasant ways to avoid the misery spread by outdoor pestdom.  Here are some helpful Summer Pests Prevention Tips:

MOSQUITOES:
Around 200 species of mosquitoes exists in the United States, and we pity the person who counted. Female mosquitoes, the kind that bite, need a blood meal before laying eggs. To find you, they follow your body’s chemical trails. The carbon dioxide you exhale is like the aroma of bacon frying to hungry mosquitoes.

Prevention

DEET – The best ways to avoid mosquito bites are to wear protective clothing when outdoors and use insect-repellent products containing DEET. DEET has been the most widely used insect repellent in the world for more than 60 years and remains the most effective repellent available.  DEET disrupts the ability of biting insects to detect the source of carbon dioxide that attracts mosquitoes and other biting bugs to us. Insects aren’t killed; they just can’t locate their prey. Follow label instructions and DEET products are safe. Be aware, however, DEET can dissolve rayon, fishing line and the finish on rods and guns.

ticksTICKS

The only good thing about ticks is they are a lot smaller than grizzly bears. These nasty parasites think of humans as an enormous strawberry sodas. If they keep their straws in you long enough, they can transmit many serious and sometimes fatal illnesses, including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, babesiosus, and relapsing fever.

In recent years, other serious tick-borne illnesses also have been identified, including a horrible sickness known as alpha-gal that causes a dangerous allergic reaction after the victim eats beef, pork, lamb, venison and other mammalian me ants, and the powassan virus, which can cause long-term neurological problems such as seizures and memory loss.

Prevention

DEET – When outdoors, use a DEET or permethrin-based insect repellent. Repellents containing DEET will repel ticks several hours and are safe for use on skin and clothing if you follow label directions and precautions.  Permethrin products such as Permanone and Duranon will kill ticks on contact for several days when used to treat clothing, shoes, tents, sleeping bags and chairs, but these products never should be used on the skin. Once again, follow label directions.

 

When possible, walk in the center of trails and avoid brushing against vegetation or traipsing through leaf litter. Inspect yourself and your children for ticks after trips outdoors, even in your own yard. Check your pets, too. The risk of disease transmission decreases significantly if ticks are removed promptly. Use a mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. Pay special attention to the armpits, groin, waist, ears, belly button, backs of knees and scalp.  Tick bites can be extremely serious. Always take precautions to avoid them before every trip outdoors.

BITING FLIES

Other bugs out for blood include biting flies such as horseflies, gnats and no-see-ums (biting midges). These insects travel in herds and may be more worrisome than mosquitoes because each bite is like a jab with a red-hot needle.  Some of these flies are so small they can enter dwellings through screens. All are potential vectors of diseases such as tularemia.

Prevention

Repellents containing R-326 (Di-n-propyl isocinchomeronate) are more effective than DEET against flies. The best are composite repellents containing R-326 for flies, DEET for mosquitoes and ticks, plus the synergist MGK-264 that maximizes the effectiveness of both. These three active ingredients together are called composite or broad spectrum insect repellents.  You also can keep biting flies and other bugs at bay with “bug suits” and other clothing made especially for this purpose. Many variations are available from outdoor retailer

CHIGGERS

Chiggers are dramatic proof that largeness isn’t always important when gauging significance. At 1/150th of an inch in diameter, these mites are virtually invisible. But if these babies tap into your hide (they love skin under elastic), the itchy welts thus raised will remind you for days the grass is not always greener on the other side. The six-legged chigger larvae, not the eight-legged adults, are the biters. They are not known to transmit disease in the U.S. Nor do they burrow into skin or feed on blood as many people think.

Chiggers insert their mouthparts in a skin pore or hair follicle to eat broken-down skin cells. A digestive enzyme they secrete while feeding causes intense itching that can last a week or more.

Prevention

Insect repellents containing DEET effectively repel chiggers. For maximum effectiveness, apply the repellent to shoes, socks, pant cuffs, ankles and legs, and around the waist.  Chiggers may move around the body several hours before feeding, and a hot, soapy bath or shower after being outdoors may wash them off before they bite. It’s also a good idea to launder clothes worn in chigger-infested areas in soapy, hot water.

If you get bitten by chiggers, apply ointments of benzocaine, hydrocortisone, calamine lotion or others recommended by your doctor for temporary relief of itching. Alcohol may help, too — the rubbing kind, of course.

bug swarms

STINGING INSECTS

Stings of wasps, bees, hornets, velvet ants and fire ants can be very unpleasant. People vary in their reactions. Most have only temporary discomfort. But some go into severe, sometimes fatal, shock.  Stings happen when you least expect them. You drink a bee that’s sipping your soda. You sit on a mound of FIRE ANTS! You snag your fishing line on a limb attached to a hornet nest. You drive your tent stake through a nest of ground yellow jackets.

Prevention

To prevent stings, watch for and avoid nests of stinging insects. Wear shoes outdoors in case you accidentally step on one. Don’t wear scents and bright-colored clothing outdoors as these attract stinging insects. Don’t leave food or garbage exposed outside. Don’t swat at a stinging insect as this increases the likelihood of an aggressive reaction.

Most single stings can be treated with a cold compress or sting-kill medication. But if a victim has been stung multiple times or has swallowing difficulties, shortness of breath, weakness or unconsciousness, get them medical attention immediately.  Every minute counts, especially for people who have allergies to the insects’ venom. Those who know they have allergies should carry with them at all times a sting kit that includes medication prescribed by their doctor.

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.

Spring Is A-Buzz

Springtime Holistic Pest Solutions

And so are the pests it brings.  The first day of spring in Virginia arrived just a few days ago and we’ll soon see a big increase in insect issues.  Since we’ve had a mild winter, there is an increase in issues concerning termite swarmers, carpenter bees, spiders, wasps, and rodents.  With the weather warming up insect activity is definitely increasing.  Ants will come next and then mosquitoes, ticks and fleas.

Here is a list of the most common springtime pests that Virginians should look out for:

Carpenter bees, wasps, yellow jackets and hornets – Bees of any kind and wasps are waking up from their winter sleep and are on the look out for free pollen, which is in abundance in the springtime.   These insects are the pollinators of the insect world and are VERY beneficial in the environment too. However some colonies can get extremely large and these insects can get aggressive if provoked.  Carpenter bees could specifically bore into your home to make their nests and can cause extensive wood damage.

If you find that you’re having an issue with honey bees/bumble bees in your garden, remember that these bees are very beneficial to the environment.  Swarming bees look spectacular, but they are usually not aggressive. Do not try to scare the bees away by waving your arms wildly at them or throwing water at them as this is liable to aggravate them.  If the bees are easily accessible, a local beekeeper may be willing to remove the swarm for you at no cost to you. Don’t try to remove the nest or kill these very beneficial bees.  Call Holistic Pest Solutions and we’ll give you someone to contact that will remove them safely without killing them.

Termites – Swarmer termites are the springtime termite issue. We’ve been seeing them earlier this year due to the mild winter.  You may think it’s a flying ant, but if you have termites then you may have an underlying structural problem.  Termites are responsible for between $2-3 billion in damage each year in the U.S. alone!! This means that they are accredited with causing more damage each year than storms and damaging more than three times as many homes as fire.

Ants – Ants are the most common pest found in the United States. Like termites, ants are highly social insects where each ant has a particular duty within the nest. Because of this great focus on duty, ants can seem quite determined and are hard to control once established within or near a structure.

Mosquitoes – As most of us know, ANY standing water outside should be eliminated or changed once a week for bird baths, etc. Some conditions that should be corrected in order to reduce the attractiveness of your home for breeding or staging include gutters should be clean and free flowing, leaf accumulation should be removed from under decks, shrubs and around the home and the lawn should be cut regularly.

To prevent insects, bugs and other pests entering your home;

  • Create a barrier between the inside and outside of your home and seal off cracks and crevices around the building.
  • You may opt to have your windows and doors open during the spring time – check and repair any screens over doors and windows to avoid insects getting in your home.
  • Eliminate any standing water that may be caused from a leaking pipe or broken guttering not only deterring mosquitoes but termites as well.
  • Eliminate any weeds and trim bushes and shrubbery from the outside of your home.
  • Maintain a clean kitchen ensuring any crumbs are swept up and surfaces are clean.  If flies get into your home they can transfer pathogens and spread bacteria which is potentially harmful to humans.
  • Store any open foods in tight fitting lidded containers to avoid attracting pests.  If pests do get in to your food then they can contaminate it making it unsafe for consumption.
  • Have a spring clean inside your home, vacuuming those hard to reach areas where spiders like to hide.

Our Services for home are developed specifically with your family and pets in mind.  Holistic Pest Solutions provides household pest control services for any kind of pest problem in the Central Virginia (Charlottesville, Augusta County, Louisa County, Fluvanna County, Greene County, Orange County.)  If you have a pest problem, CONTACT US today!

Things You Didn’t Know About Mosquitoes

mosquitoes

First and foremost, did you know that the plural for Mosquito can be spelled MOSQUITOS and MOSQUITOES and both are correct?  But I digress.  Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about mosquitoes.  If you begin to have problems with them at your home as the warmer weather approaches, do not hesitate to CONTACT US.  We do treat for mosquitoes and we have long-term solutions to take care of your problem.  Now for the really interesting stuff – Things You Didn’t Know About Mosquitoes:

What A Bug!

  1. Only female mosquitoes bite. Both male and female feed mainly on fruit and plant nectar, but the female also needs the protein in blood to help her eggs develop. Once she’s had her fill of blood, she’ll rest for a couple of days before laying her eggs.
  2. There are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes. About 175 of them are found in the United States, with the Anopheles quadrimaculatus, Culex pipiens,Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito) among the most common. The Anopheles is a malaria carrier, and the other three are known to spread various forms of encephalitis.
  3. West Virginia has the fewest species of mosquitoes. There are 26 in the mountainous state, while Texas has the most with 85. Florida is a close second with 80 identified species.
  4. Mosquito is Spanish for “little fly.” The word reportedly originated in the early 16th century. In Africa, New Zealand and Australia, mosquitoes are often called “Mozzies”
  5. Mosquitoes don’t have teeth. The females “bite” with a long, pointed mouthpart called a proboscis. They use the serrated proboscis to pierce the skin and locate a capillary, then draw blood through one of two tubes.
  6. A mosquito can drink up to three times its weight in blood. Don’t worry, though. It would take about 1.2 million bites to drain all the blood from your body.
  7. Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. Usually, the eggs are deposited in clusters – called rafts – on the surface of stagnant water, or they are laid in areas that flood regularly. Eggs can hatch in as little as an inch of standing water. Females will lay eggs up to three times before they die.
  8. Mosquitoes spend their first 10 days in water. Water is necessary for the eggs to hatch into larvae, called wigglers. Wigglers feed on organic matter in stagnant water and breathe oxygen from the surface. They develop into pupae, which do not feed and are partially encased in cocoons. Over several days, the pupae change into adult mosquitoes.
  9. Mosquitoes hibernate. They are cold-blooded and prefer temperatures over 80 degrees. At temperatures less than 50 degrees, they shut down for the winter. The adult females of some species find holes where they wait for warmer weather, while others lay their eggs in freezing water and die. The eggs keep until the temperatures rise, and they can hatch.
  10. The average mosquito lifespan is less than two months. Males have the shortest lives, usually 10 days or less, and females can live about six to eight weeks, under ideal conditions. The females lay eggs about every three days during that time. Females of species that hibernate may live up to six months.

The Little Bloodsucker

  1. Mosquitoes have six legs. They also have a head, thorax and abdomen. On the head are two large compound eyes, two ocelli (simple eyes), two antennae and a proboscis. Two large, scaled wings sprout from the thorax.
  2. Midges and crane flies are often mistaken for mosquitoes. Biting midges are smaller, have shorter wings and tend to feed in swarms. Mosquito traps often attract and kill biting midges. Meanwhile, crane flies are much larger than mosquitoes – up to 1 ½ inches long in some cases – and do not bite.
  3. Male mosquitoes locate females by the sound of their wings. Females can beat their wings up to 500 times per second, and the males pick out the higher frequency of those beats when seeking a mate.
  4. Mosquitoes can’t fly very far or very fast. Most mosquitoes can fly no more than about one to three miles, and often stay within several hundred feet of where they were hatched. However, a few salt marsh species can travel up to 40 miles. The top speed for a mosquito is about 1.5 miles per hour.
  5. Mosquitoes generally fly below 25 feet. However, some species have also been found at extraordinary heights, including 8,000 feet up in the Himalayas.
  6. Mosquitoes can smell human breath. They have receptors on their antennae that detect the carbon dioxide released when we exhale. Those plumes of CO2 rise into the air, acting as trails that the mosquitoes follow to find the source.
  7. Sweat helps mosquitoes choose their victims. Our skin produces more than 340 chemical odors, and some of them smell like dinner to mosquitoes. They are fond of octenol, a chemical released in sweat, as well as cholesterol, folic acid, certain bacteria, skin lotions, and perfume.
  8. Body heat marks the target. Mosquitoes use heat sensors around their mouthparts to detect the warmth of your body – actually, the blood inside it – then land on you and locate the best capillaries for tapping.
  9. Mosquitoes feed day and night. Some species, like the Aedes are daytime biters, while others, like Culex, start biting at dusk and continue a few hours into dark.

Mosquitoes B.C.

  1. Mosquitoes have been around since the Jurassic period. That makes them about 210 million years old. They’ve been mentioned throughout history, including in the works of Aristotle around 300 B.C. and in writings by Sidonius Apollinaris in 467 B.C.
  2. The bumps from mosquito bites are caused by saliva. While one tube in the proboscis draws blood, a second pumps in saliva containing a mild painkiller and an anti-coagulant. Most people have minor allergic reactions to the saliva, causing the area around the bite to swell and itch.
  3. Malaria is caused by a parasite that lives in mosquitoes. The parasite gets into mosquito saliva and is passed on when the insect bites someone. West Nile and other viruses are passed the same way. Mosquitoes can also carry and pass on canine heartworm.
  4. West Nile virus came to the U.S. in 1999. Scientists first identified it in a feverish woman in Uganda – the West Nile district – in 1937. There were large outbreaks of the virus reported in Israel, South Africa, and Romania up through the late ’90s. The virus first appeared in the United States in 1999 with an epidemic in New York.
  5. Mosquitoes do not transmit HIV. The virus that causes AIDS does not replicate in mosquitoes and is actually digested in their stomachs, so it’s broken down without being passed on.
  6. Mosquitoes are considered the deadliest “animal” in the world. The Anopheles mosquito, in particular, is dangerous because it transmits malaria, which kills more than one million people every year, primarily in Africa. Alexander the Great is believed to have died of malaria in 323 B.C.

Get AWAY!

  1. Dark clothing attracts mosquitoes. Remember, they are drawn to heat and darker clothes retain more heat than light-colored clothing.
  2. Insecticides may work, but only in the short term. Permethrin, one of the most common chemicals used by local mosquito control programs, kills mosquitoes on contact by disrupting their central nervous systems. However, eggs and larvae often are not affected. Once the insecticide dissipates, mosquitoes can return.
  3. Bats do not eat mosquitoes. At least, not very many of them. Mosquitoes make up less than 1 percent of a bat’s diet. And purple martins, a bird popularly believed to be a mosquito predator, eat very few mosquitoes. They prefer dragonflies and other insects.
  4. The two main mosquito predators are fish and dragonflies. Gambusia, or mosquitofish, feed on mosquito larvae and are used all over the world to help control mosquito populations. Dragonfly larvae, called nymphs, eat mosquito larvae, and adult dragonflies prey on adult mosquitoes. Some towns in Maine release dragonflies every summer as a natural form of mosquito control.
  5. Bug zappers are useless against mosquitoes. Studies have shown that less than 1 percent of the insects killed by zappers are mosquitoes or other biting insects. The devices attract and kill beneficial or harmless insects, like moths, and have no effect on the overall mosquito population. Electronic repellers have also proven ineffective in scientific testing.