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.

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.

Bugs In The Eye Of A Hurricane

While our friends further south and southwest struggle to recover from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, Jose lurks in the Atlantic and Maria isn’t far behind. Mother Nature isn’t always kind, but lately she’s certainly been consistent at making sure the ground stays moist and the sky stay turbulent. While we can’t stop a hurricane or even fully fathom the destruction they cause, SOME OF YOU may be wondering — where do the bugs and birds go in such a big storm? It seems the birds and bugs in the eye of the hurricane could be a common occurance.

Many of us know that Hurricanes are humongous tropical storms that can span a distance of 600 miles or more. There’s one part of a hurricane where things are quite different, though. It’s called the eye, and it usually exists in the center of a hurricane. The eye can vary greatly in terms of both shape and size. The eye of a hurricane is often circular or oval in shape. This may be why it’s called an eye, since it’s shaped somewhat like a human eye.

A hurricane’s eye can be as small as only a couple of miles wide. Most hurricane eyes, however, range in size from 20 miles wide to more than 60 miles wide. Unlike the raging winds that exist throughout the rest of a hurricane, inside the eye it’s mostly calm. The peaceful, light winds within the eye contrast severely with the winds that make up the edges, known as the eyewall. The winds in the eyewall are usually the most severe and destructive winds in the entire hurricane. Birds and bugs are often seen in the eye of a hurricane and for pretty understandable reasons. When they start getting caught up in whipping winds, they naturally move to where there is some calm. It just so happens in a hurricane, this is the eye of the storm. Hurricanes are not only devastating to humans but also to wildlife. Large storms can accidentally release invasive species, eliminate food sources, and strand aquatic species on land if they get stuck in a storm surge.

Although the eye of a hurricane sounds like a not-so-bad place to be, experts warn that you should always stay inside a sturdy building during a hurricane, even if you think it’s over. Since you never know when the eye will pass by, you wouldn’t want to get caught in the destructive winds of the eyewall. Let’s all hope that we escape any more destruction this hurricane season! If you want to offer support for restoration efforts in Texas and Florida, severely damaged by Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma, consider donating at give.salvationarmyusa.org

mosquitoesThe states that have been recently affected by hurricanes were left with a great deal of flooding.  Standing water and still warm weather makes for the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.  Based on experience following Hurricane Katrina, there will be several competing effects on the population of mosquitoes and the prevalence of arboviruses, such as Zikadengue and West Nile, that they transmit.

Mosquitoes need stagnant water to lay eggs. Winds and floods will wash away containers that would have been breeding pools, but once the floodwaters recede, mosquitoes will recover. In 2006, a year after Katrina, Tulane University public-health experts reported that cases of West Nile infection increased more than twofold in communities that had been in that hurricane’s path. The study authors suggested that increased exposure was the culprit. Fleeing partially submerged buildings, people spent days outside waiting for rescue.  Without air conditioning or dry spaces, Texans and Floridians may find themselves outdoors, too.

If Virginia sees more rain from the hurricane season before temperatures drop, we may very well see an extension of mosquito season as well.

 

CONTACT Holistic Pest Solutions to learn more about our mosquito 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.

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.