- Exclude pests by sealing cracks and gaps in walls and floors using a silicone-based caulk. Pay special attention to where utility pipes enter.
- Maintain the humidity level in the house at about 50 percent by properly ventilating basements and crawl spaces. Consider running a dehumidifier in these areas to prevent moisture buildup.
- Vacuum at least once a week using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter.
- Dust hard surfaces frequently using a dust rag or damp cloth. Limit the amount of fabric items in each room since they attract airborne allergens like dust mites and pet dander.
- Clean or replace the filters in your furnace and air conditioner each month.
- Wipe surfaces daily, including counters, stovetops and sinks. Don’t leave dishes to pile up in the sink and make sure to clean crumbs and spills right away.
- Store food in airtight containers and avoid leaving pet food out for long periods of time.
- Dispose of garbage regularly in a sealed trash bin.
- Encase pillows and mattresses in allergen-proof covers to control dust mites. Avoid down pillows or comforters.
- Wash blankets, throw rugs and bedding in hot water, preferably at 130 degrees F, or take them to be dry-cleaned.
Posts Tagged ‘pest control’
Sand Fly Pests That Often Invade Southeastern Homes Pose A Public Health Threat Of Increasing Importance In The Country
Insects belonging to the family Psychodidae in the order Diptera include numerous species of true flies, many of which are pests that are commonly referred to as “drain flies,” “sewer gnats,” and “moth flies.” The family Psychodidae also includes sand fly species in the genus Lutzomyia from the subfamily Phlebotomine. Sand fly species in this genus pose a major public health threat in Latin America where airborne pests transmit several viral, bacterial, and protozoal disease-causing microorganisms to humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sand flies have been a growing public health threat in the US since the first case of sandfly-transmitted Leishmaniasis was contracted by a dog in New Jersey back in 1980. Since then dogs, foxes, and eventually, humans in the southeastern US have contracted the disease from biting sandflies, and Leishmaniasis is now considered a neglected disease. Sandflies frequently infest homes where they inflict bites to humans and pets, and infestations located near known Leishmaniasis reservoirs like infected animals require urgent pest control attention.
More than 700 sandfly species have been documented worldwide, 70 of which are known to transmit disease. The three sandfly species in the US that are capable of carrying and transmitting disease to humans include Lutzomyia anthophora, L. diabolica, and L. shannoni, and these three species are largely limited to a southeastern habitat range. Sandflies are easy to recognize due to their noticeably hairy wings that can be seen forming a “V” shape above their moth-like body. Lutzomyia shannoni is responsible for most cases of disease transmission in the US, and the species can only be found in Latin America and the southeast US from Florida to east Texas as well as Arkansas, Tennessee and the Carolinas.
All local human Leishmaniasis cases have been reported from east Texas and Oklahoma, and most US cases were transmitted while the victims were vacationing in the tropics. However, it is important to keep in mind that Texas is the only state where Leishmaniasis cases are legally required to be reported, and public health professionals believe that human and animal cases of Leishmaniasis are increasing rapidly in other southeastern states where medical professionals may not be familiar with the disease’s symptoms. Because of this, a vaccine is currently being fast-tracked by US medical researchers. Pest control professionals treat homes for sandfly infestations by applying residual pyrethroid insecticides to indoor surfaces and concealed spaces like wall voids.
Have you ever encountered a sand fly in your home?
The “greenhead fly” (Tabanus nigrovittatus) and several other horse fly species in the Tabanidae family emerge from coastal Louisiana marshland every year before harassing residents of southern Louisiana. Horse flies emerge as early as February, and they are notorious in the Gulf Coast region for inflicting very painful bites in order to collect blood meals. Horse fly mouthparts are composed of six serrated blades that easily cut into human skin, but both male and female horse fly pests feed mostly on plant sap. However, the female horse fly collects blood meals from several animals including humans in order to obtain the nutrients necessary to produce viable eggs. Up until 2018, biting greenhead flies had been largely absent from Louisiana for several years, and while this may have been a welcome change for residents of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the return of greenhead fly pests is a surprisingly good thing from an ecological standpoint.
Greenhead flies are ecologically essential, as numerous coastal animals like shore birds and dolphins rely on a steady supply of greenhead flies for food. Unfortunately, greenhead flies disappeared after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, and as a consequence, native wildlife suffered the loss of a reliable food source. Unfortunately, greenhead flies are attracted to oil, as entire adult populations darted head first into the BP oil spill after they misperceived the oil slick for glistening fresh ocean water shortly after the disaster occurred a decade ago. However, the reemergence of greenhead flies two year ago indicates that the Gulf Coast ecosystem is recovering from the massive oil spill. Experts have been anticipating the reemergence of greenhead flies along the Louisiana coast for several years, and their seasonal prevalence has been gauged annually in an effort to determine the rate at which the coastal ecosystem has been recovering. In Louisiana, the striped horse fly (Tabanus lineola) is the most common biting fly pest species, and another Tabanidae horse fly species, the yellow fly (Diachlorus ferrugatus), is considered the most aggressive biting fly species along the Gulf Coast, as they persistently and vigorously attack both humans and pets.
Have you ever been attacked by horse fly pests?
Over-the-counter insecticides come in many forms including liquids, aerosol cans, baits, sticky traps, dusts, and more. Despite the widespread popularity of environmentally friendly and non-toxic pest control methods, studies show that the vast majority of Americans use at least one synthetic insecticide product once per year. However, the demand for non-toxic pest control products has led to an influx of over-the-counter pesticides that are advertised as being “organic,” or “natural.” However, while these insecticides may be organic, there is no reason to think that they are non-toxic.
In order for an insecticide to be labeled as organic, it must be demonstrated that the insecticide contains only naturally occurring substances as opposed to substances synthesized in a laboratory. Most over-the-counter organic insecticides are composed of botanical extracts that are either repellent or toxic to insect pests. In order to defend against damage or death from hungry insects, a countless number of plant species produce defensive chemicals that either repel and/or kill insects. Such plants have been used for centuries for pest control purposes, and some over-the-counter insecticides that contain botanical insect repellents may be effective in certain situations. That being said, organic insecticides can be just as or even more toxic than synthetic insecticides.
Synthetic and organic over-the-counter insecticides both work by negatively impacting the physical body, metabolism, or development of insect pests. While both organic and synthetic products are toxic to insects, both can be toxic to humans as well, as numerous naturally occurring substances are poisonous to humans. One particular over-the-counter organic insecticide known as Rotenone is used to control chewing insect pests, and it is highly popular among consumers due to its efficacy and the rapid rate at which it degrades from the surfaces after application. Unfortunately, in its concentrated form, Rotenone is more toxic to humans than any professional-grade synthetic insecticide. Also, the modern pest control industry no longer favors synthetic insecticides as the primary method of pest control due to the inevitable resistance that insect pests develop in response to repeated treatments; instead, low-toxicity chemical baits, pheromone baits, and insect growth regulators have supplanted synthetic insecticides sprays as the most reliable method of pest control.
Were you under the impression that organic insecticides were inherently safer than synthetic insecticides?
Southern Louisiana Is Being Invaded By Exotic Slender Twig Ants That Inflict Extremely Painful Stings And Often Nest Within Homes And Buildings
The slender twig ant (Pseudomyrmex gracilis) is a non-native ant species that has become prevalent in the southern half of the Gulf Coast states where it is considered a pest in urban and suburban areas. This ant species establishes nests in tiny cavities within plants and trees on the ground and at elevated locations. Nests are most frequently found within hollow twigs, branches, plant stems, grass blades, in wood cavities that had been previously excavated by carpenter ants and termites, and in crevices and door frames in homes and buildings.
Slender twig ants (STA) live in small single-queen colonies, and they feed on insects, fungal spores, and tend aphids for sweet-tasting honeydew. These ants are highly protective of their plant hosts, and workers will not hesitate to emerge from their nest to attack humans en masse if the ants perceive a threat to the plants that they inhabit. The stings inflicted by these ants are extremely painful, and nests located in high-traffic areas like door frames should be promptly destroyed for this reason.
Although the STA was first recorded in the US back in 1960 when colonies were recovered from the coast of southern Florida, this species has only recently established a sizable population in New Orleans and Houston. STAs are not well understood by urban entomologists and the species demonstrates a variety of peculiar habits that are not characteristic of social insects, such as workers not following fixed foraging trails. This makes it virtually impossible for STA nests to be pinpointed, and there currently does not exist any specific program for STA control. At the moment, the STA’s status as an invasive species in the US is still uncertain, but this species’ status as a medically significant nuisance pest of structures and urban and suburban landscapes is well established. STA workers are easy to recognize due to their noticeably large and elongated body that is brownish-orange in color.
Have you ever encountered an ant nest within your home?