Eat A House

There are Drywood Termites that can eat your home from the inside out and Subterranean termites that eat your house from the outside in.  Together, they cost US property owners billions of dollars in damage each year.  Eastern Subterranean termites are the most popular here in Central Virginia and they won’t hesitate to make a meal out of your house if you leave it unprotected.

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Winter Termite Threat

Close up termites

Are Termites Active in the Winter?

Although the overall mild winter we’re experiencing here in the state of Virginia may very well be affecting activity of termites, they DO remain active year round – even in cold winters.  Cold temperatures bring some changes in the daily routine of subterranean termite colonies. In cooler climates, subterranean termites typically move deeper into the ground during the cold season to access the warmth they need to survive. Foraging tunnels may be somewhat deeper for those species that travel near the soil surface, and food sources that are exposed to cold temperatures may be abandoned. While subterranean workers will forage closer to their nests during the winter, they will remain active (although likely not quite as active as during warmer months).

In heated buildings and the soil adjacent to heated basements, tunneling and general activity may be little changed. During most of the year, queens lay eggs at a steady rate. The number of eggs produced by the queen varies depending on the species, and the age of the queen.  In southern regions, and with Virginia’ warm winter temperatures inadvertantly appearing, egg production could be continuous throughout the year. When Virginia is more temperate and consistently cold during the winter months, egg production is often suspended.  The long and short of it is, we can’t be sure whether we’ve had enough consistent cold weather this winter to affect the termites egg production.

termite ridden floor damageFinding termites in the winter time inside your home is possible. Subterranean and drywood termites that have found shelter and food in your home’s foundation and walls will not be as affected by cold outdoor temperatures. While most termites remain active during the winter, it is unlikely that you will see swarming termites between December and February, except in more tropical areas of the country like Florida where temperatures inside or outside homes can reach 70 degrees or higher.

Why Termites Are Dangerous

  • Queen can live over 30 years producing eggs. Colonies also have supplementary reproductive to help out.
  • As an average, there is 24 termite colonies per acre. A mature colony will have hundreds of thousands member.
  • Queen can chemically control and focus colony activities with each caste of termite having a colony function.
  • By the time termites are found inside a home there is typically damage in the walls unseen.

CONTACT Holistic Pest Solutions to learn more about our treatment plans for termites 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.

25,000 bugs in the average Christmas tree

According to The Mother Nature Network, There are up to 25,000 bugs in the average Christmas tree.  But you don’t need to worry about them ruining the holiday!

Aphids, spiders, mites, bark beetles and even praying mantises all could be your new (unwelcome) holiday guests. How festive!

Dreaming of a Creepy Crawly Christmas?

While this may sound alarming on many levels, there’s no reason to fear these insects.

Most of them are microscopic, so you’re unlikely to notice them in the first place, according to Pennsylvanian State University’s Department of Entomology’s Cooperative Extension, and most of them are likely to stay on the tree anyway.

A few may be attracted to sources of light, including windows, but, because they are associated with field-grown conifers, none of these accidental introductions are a threat to your home, its contents or occupants.  And they aren’t a threat to your home because the bugs rely on the tree to survive.  Once the tree is gone, they will be gone.

Here are seven possible insects that might appear in your Christmas tree.

1. Aphids. These insects are tiny, and while some species of aphids resemble small spiders and ticks, they have only six legs. Most of the aphids are inactive, and they survive only by feasting on certain parts of the tree. This means any other plants in the house are safe.

2. Bark beetles. Despite their intimidating-sounding name, bark beetles are small insects that bore holes into trees. They may create small piles of sawdust. But if you’re worried about your furniture, don’t be. Your furniture is too dry for the bark beetles to survive inside of them.

3. Mites. Predatory mites stick to trees, eating other insects and eggs. While they’re related to chiggers, adult mites aren’t a threat to humans or pets. Mites are likely in the tree as a the result of birds nesting in the tree at one point. So while a nest may seem decorative, remove it from your tree to ensure no mites end up in your home.

4. Praying mantids. These are predatory insects, so they’re likely controlling whatever pest population is in the tree. If eggs have been laid in the tree, and they hatch, your tree will soon be overrun with baby mantids. But fear not. The little bugs will eventually eat one another if they run out of food. If you’d rather not have an insect cannibal Christmas, check the tree for walnut-sized egg masses before taking it indoors. Cut off the branch the mass is attached to and place it in an evergreen shrub or tree so it can hatch in the spring.

5. Psocids. Colored brown or gray, psocids munch on mold, pollen, fungus, and other insects. You don’t need to worry about these pests, though. They will likely die due to the warm conditions in your home.

6. Scale insects. If you notice tiny and moving red specks, these are scale insects. They can be shaken out of or knocked away from the tree very easily.

7. Spiders. These are probably the least-welcomed guests, but any spiders you find in your tree are aiming to nibble on insects, not on you. Like the psocids, these spiders are likely to die soon, due to the conditions in your home.

Keeping the bugs out

It’s extremely unlikely that a tree will have insects in numbers that you will notice. If you’d rather be safe than sorry, though, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the risk of bringing bugs home for the holidays.

1. Shaking your tree. Mechanical tree shakers are available at some farms and lots. They just vibrate the bugs right out of your perfect tree. Alternatively, you can just shake the tree yourself.

2. Treat with insect sprays or powders. Before bringing the tree indoors and dressing it, you can use organic insect control.  DO NOT SPRAY YOUR TREE WITH INSECT REPELLENT inside the house.  It could catch the tree on fire.

3. Vacuum. Your vacuum has a hose attachment, yes? Take it to your tree and just suck up the insects.

4. Just let your tree (and the insects) be. Leaving the insects alone will result in them dying anyway. Warm temperatures, low humidities and lack of appropriate food conditions typical of most homes will usually kill these invaders in a short time.

So rest easy about insects crashing your holidays and enjoy your tree and the Holidays!  Holistic Pest Solutions wishes you and your family the very best!

 

CONTACT Holistic Pest Solutions to learn more about our treatment plans for bugs or rodents 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.

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.