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The Dreaded Mosquito

mosquitoSchool is starting and summer may be coming to end, but here in Florida the hot, humid weather is still going to be with us for a few more months. While we will still be enjoying barbeques and trips to the beach, so will the annoying mosquito! Mosquitoes bite us to get the protein in our blood to help nourish their eggs, so females are the only ones who bite. These bites are often itchy but have you ever wondered why?

Where the Itching Comes From

When a mosquito bites, it takes the proteins from our blood but also injects some of its saliva into our body. The saliva contains proteins that triggers the human body’s immune system which releases histamine. Histamine allows white cells to enter the affected area. as well as, send a signal to the nerves around the bite. This signal causes the bite to itch. If mosquito bites are no longer itchy for you, your body has built up a tolerance to the mosquito’s proteins that it injects.

Why Mosquito Bites Can Be Dangerous

Mosquito bites hopefully just cause an itch, but sometimes they can carry disease. Diseases can include Zika and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and can be transmitted through a simple mosquito bite. EEE is being found in chickens in Orange County, FL which the CDC says can transmit to humans through mosquito bites. There have only been 7 cases of EEE in humans this year, but you can never be too cautious when venturing outside.

To help prevent mosquito bites, check at your home for any standing water and holes in screening where they can get in. While Mosquitoes can bite anytime, they tend to be more active at dusk. It is a good idea to wear long sleeves and pants and apply insect repellent to avoid the dreaded attack. If you would like help in controlling mosquitoes or any other pest issues, check out our services.

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Love to Hate The Love Bugs

love bugUnless you have been living in a cave, you know that the massive infestation of love bugs is upon us! Sure, they are annoying and can even damage the paint on your car, but how much do we really know about these affectionate creatures?

The lovebug (also known as the Honeymoon Fly or Double Headed Bug) is actually a species of March Fly found in parts of Central America and the southeastern United States, especially around the Gulf Coast. They are best known for flying around while mating, which can last up to several days!

History of Love Bugs

It has long been rumored that the University of Florida introduced the love bug to the state. However, that is simply not true! During the 20th century, love bugs migrated from Central America, traveling through Texas and Louisiana before arriving in Florida.

They are a nuisance for sure, but they are good for helping our environment by recycling decaying matter into organic matter. Since pesticides are not effective on them, there is not a lot we can do to eliminate these pests. But, the good news is they are only here for a short time, until we do this all again in September!

Looking for other pest control services? Be sure to contact Service First Termite and Pest Prevention for help!

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Mosquitoes: More Than an Annoyance

Mosquito on skinEven though mosquitoes are a year-round problem here in Florida, the rainy summer months are specifically problematic. To most of us, they are simply annoying. They fly and bite our heads and bodies while we are trying to enjoy our outdoor activities. If you are unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of a mosquito bite, you will find yourself itching and scratching those bumped-up areas for days. However, mosquitoes can be far more than just an annoyance, they can be harmful.

Many leading entomologists consider mosquitoes to be one of the most dangerous insects in the world. They are primarily considered this because they are basically a massive carrier force for some of the most dangerous diseases known to man. Recent headlines warn of the highly publicized Zika virus. However, they are also known to carry such deadly diseases as, West Nile virus, encephalitis, malaria, yellow fever, and other infectious diseases that kill millions of people every year. In fact, the World Health Organization has reported that more than 50 percent of the world’s population is presently at risk from mosquito-borne diseases.

Mosquitoes spread disease is by injecting disease-causing agents directly into the human body. When a mosquito bites you, it is actually piercing your skin and injecting saliva into your body. This transmission of saliva can carry a variety of disease-causing agents and result in outbreaks like the Zika virus. The fact that mosquitoes can fly contributes to the rapid spread of diseases that are spread from person to person like Ebola.

There are many ways you can help to protect yourself and your family and to help reduce your chance of being infected by mosquitoes.

Standing Water

A key way to prevent mosquitoes around your home is to eliminate standing water around your property. Mosquitoes are attracted to stagnant water in untreated pools, bird baths, pet water bowls, buckets, and any item that can hold water. Because they lay their eggs in stagnant water, eliminating these areas will greatly help keep them from breeding.

Citronella Candles

Citronella is a natural mosquito repellant that can help keep them at bay. Placing these candles around gardens, picnic tables, and outdoor seating areas can establish a barrier.

Light Colors and Long Sleeves

Did you ever wonder why some many landscapers wear long sleeves? In addition to helping them stay cool, it can also help to block mosquitoes. Wearing long sleeve shirts that are light in color can help, and many experts contend that dark colors can actually attract mosquitos.

Professional Treatment

While the above tips can help you in the battle against the mosquito armies, the most effective way to eliminate the mosquito threat and to protect yourself and your family is to use a professional mosquito treatment service to spray the area around your home. Professional treatment can help eliminate mosquitoes where they live and breed and to help reduce the threat.

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Cold Weather Pests in 2018

Even though most of the country is facing record low’s this season, the pests in Florida do not hibernate throughout the winter like they do up north. Because we have a relatively moderate winter climate, several pests have adapted to moving into our homes order to survive the cold. During this cold snap, some homeowners begin to see activity of pests inside the home.

Rodents are the most common to make an appearance when the temperatures get low. You may start to hear scratching, scurrying, or see mice or rats and their droppings in your home. Rodents pose dangerous health risks as they scatter urine and feces around your home, and they can spread diseases to humans. Also, these droppings may begin to smell and cause respiratory issues, especially in people with severe allergies or asthma.   

Properly sealing the entrance points that they are accessing your home from is key to correcting this issue. Also making sure that your trash cans are sealed property, removing any clutter and eliminating any leaf piles can help prevent infestations. If you have fruit trees, make sure you discard of any fallen or rotting fruit on the ground and if you have a bird feeder, stop feeding them until the situation is corrected. 

It is also common to see an appearance of wildlife when we get a cold front. Florida is full of a vast variety of wildlife and they also want to get warm!  Raccoons, Opossum, Armadillos, and Squirrels are the some of the animals that can try to make our homes their own by accessing attics, roofs, lanais, and from under the home. Wildlife can also cause damage to our homes and aggressive wildlife can be a health risk. If you believe you have a pest issue in your home, contact us for a free inspection and we can help to eliminate these unwanted visitors!

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The Season of The Termite

termite blog 2The warm humid weather has arrived, and that also means termite swarming season is upon us. If you are a homeowner who has seen possible evidence that you have termites, you’re not alone. This time of the year the termites here in the Sunshine State make their presence known whether we like it or not!  The warm and humid environment of Florida is host to several species of termites.

Below are some signs to look for if you think you may have a termite infestation in your home.

1) Flying Termites -They can look like flying ants, and these termites are known as swarmers or reproductives. These winged termites are the males and females that depart from the nest to find a mate and establish a new colony.  Many homeowners tend to notice these swarms in the evening or after rainfall.  Many times, with the swarms, discarded wings will also be present.

2) White Ants - Termites can often be mistaken as white ants, as their size and shape are similar. The picture above can give you an idea of what a termite looks like. You can tell the difference from an ant and a termite from the color, termites are a cream color, almost transparent.

3) Droppings - If you have drywood termites, you will most likely notice their fecal droppings, also referred to as frass. They push these droppings out of little kick out holes when eating wood and tunneling. These droppings can resemble coffee grounds in texture and appearance.

If you are noticing any of the above signs, contact a termite professional for an inspection and to discuss your treatment options.  Termites will not go away on their own and can cause several thousands of dollars in damage in a short amount of time. 

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Termite Awareness Week

termite blogThis week, March 12 to the 18th is Termite Awareness Week. While this week will help to shed more light on the subject, it is important for all homeowners to be aware of termites no matter what time of the year it is. At any given time, there may be termites silently eating at the wood in your home without you even knowing they are there! Because termites can cause extensive damage to home in a short matter of time, it is vital to be proactive and be alert to any signs that you may have termites and to eliminate activity as well as prevent future infestations. 

In Florida, there are several species of termites, but the most common are Drywood and Subterranean. Drywood termites live and consume wood within the home, and Subterranean termites build tunnel systems outdoors that can access areas of your home underground. 

Below are some tips to help you be on the lookout for these dreaded and destructive pests in your home. 

  • Visual sighting of live termites around doors or windows. It is also common to see piles of wings or dead termites throughout your home.
  • Signs of termite droppings, which are also referred to as frass. These tiny pellets are mostly found at or near the entry of the termites. These piles resemble coffee grounds or sawdust.
  • Signs of paint on surfaces that crack or bubble.
  • On the outside, look for any tube-like structures that are brown, dry, and roughly the width of a pencil.
  • Sagging floors or walls/wood that feels hallow. If you suspect termites, it is a good idea to tap on floors or wood to help identify the hollowness. 

It is important to keep in mind that even if you don’t see signs of termites, that doesn’t mean they’re not there. It is a good idea to contact a termite professional who can do an inspection to determine your situation. Being proactive against termites will provide piece of mind as well as protecting your most important investment, your home!

We proudly serve a number of locations including Clearwater, so check our service area to see if we can make it to your house or business. We are more than happy to help!

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Christmas Tree-Bugs The Unwanted Gift Under the Tree!

Picking out the perfect tree for the holidays is part of the fun of the season. However, when you bring a tree into your home, although beautiful, you are introducing nature into your living room and that can include insects!

While many insects that were already on the tree die of dehydration, some can awaken once the tree is inside and any eggs that may have been laid can hatch.  Most tree farms do spray their trees for bugs, but some do survive.

Below are some of the commonly found insects on Christmas trees.

Ticks- They commonly will be found at the base of the tree and they can even lay up to 2,000 eggs! Aphids have also been reported on Christmas trees and are sometimes mistaken for ticks, but unlike Ticks, they are not harmful to people or pets.

Spider Mites They look like small brown and red dots and feed on the tree itself, while creepy, they do not normally bother people.

Praying Mantis–  These insects frequently attach to the tree limbs and their eggs will begin to hatch after being indoors for several weeks. To avoid bringing these in, look for light tan, quarter-sized, frothy egg masses on the tree before it is taken indoors. Cut out any small twig with an attached egg mass relocate it to a shrub or tree outdoors.

Preventing introduction of these pests into your home is the best way to avoid these unwanted holiday guests. Below are some tips to look for when selecting your tree.

     Most tree lot retailers who sell trees will have a mechanical tree shakers, which can be very beneficial in reducing your risk. If one is not available, be sure to give it a solid shake to dislodge any pests (and any loose needles!)

     Do not use an aerosol insect spray on your tree. They will not only damage the tree, they are also flammable and pose a serious fire hazard.

     If you spot a bird nest, remove it immediately. They may contain bird parasites such as mites and lice.

While some trees may have some pests on them, keep in mind most will be free of these hitchhikers.  If you do find yourself with a heavily infested tree, remove it from the home immediately and contact a pest control professional.

 Happy Holidays!

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Rats and Mice-The Unwanted Holiday Visitor

The Sunshine State is home to plenty of residents who only live down here during the winter months, and for the most part locals welcome them with open arms. But unfortunately, there are some unwanted guests that Floridians can get,  the dreaded rodent! 

Each year around this time when the temperatures get a little cooler, rodents like Norway rats, which are a common pest in Florida, move indoors and set up their households in the homes of thousands of Floridians. There is nothing quite as alarming as knowing that Norway rats – which are, incidentally, sometimes nicknamed sewer rats – have invaded your living space. Interesting enough, the Norway rat is not from Norway, rather they are believed to have originated in China. 

You may have heard the scratching at night, or seen the telltale droppings (poop) that confirm you have these unwanted visitors. While this can be of concern, the major factor that rodents cause is that they can also be hazardous to your health. Rats carry extremely high levels of toxicity around with them as they forage for food in your garbage and behind your kitchen cabinets, and busy themselves with making nests in the attic, pantry, or other locations in your home.  As explained by the experts at Florida Atlantic University Veterinary Services, diseases carried by rats are believed to have taken more human lives over the last 1,000 years than all the wars in recorded history. Rodent are constantly releasing their bladder and leave their droppings everywhere they go, increasing the risk of disease, especially to those with reduced immunity such as the very young, the elderly, and those with diabetes, asthma, and other auto immune disease. 

In addition to the health concern, rodents can also cause serious and costly damage to your home. Common rat damage occurs within attics and other parts of the home. Common problems include damage to the insulation from feces/urine, damage to the ductwork or wiring, staining of drywall from urine, and water damage at the entry point, as well as gnawing of wires or structural wood and heating and cooling ducts. 

Homeowners who want to combat a Norway rat invasion should keep food covered, make sure their kitchen countertops are clean, and maintain tight lids on their outdoor garbage bins. It is strongly recommended that at least once a year, especially in the autumn when Norway rats actively seek indoor shelter, that homeowners enlist the help of a licensed and qualified pest control specialist. A professional can tell what telltale signs to look for to detect the presence of rats, and they can also offer safe and effective solutions for removing them or putting up defenses that will deter them from invading your home in the first place.

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