Keep Your Arizona Home Pest Free This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a day when the family gets together to watch football, eat a lot of turkey and perhaps plan for Black Friday shopping in the Phoenix valley.While you may enjoy having your relatives and friends over to share in the day’s festivities, there may some uninvited guests that you don’t want at the dinner table. How can you make sure that this year’s Thanksgiving stays free from pests?

Make Sure That Food Is Stored Properly

The first step that you need to take is to make sure that your food is stored properly before, during and after it is cooked. Roof rats like to get into cupboards while ants will look for any signs of sugar that they can find. This means that you should keep your turkey in the freezer, the condiments sealed tight and any bag or dough containers should be emptied fully into an airtight container if you are not going to use the whole thing in one sitting.

Don’t Let Your Leftovers Sit Out Unattended

You should make sure that the plates are free from scraps and that any leftover bones or pieces of meat are put in the trash or compacted in the garbage disposal. Dishes should be washed and the trash should be taken out as soon as dinner is over. This will remove the chance that insects or rodents will pick up on a free source of food and go in for a nice meal of their own.

Clean Out the Fridge Once the Leftovers Are Mostly Gone

While having leftovers is one of the joys of Thanksgiving, make sure that you dispose of them within a few days of the big meal. Keeping potatoes or stuffing in the refrigerator for longer than that will make it more likely that the food will start to rot and grow mold and mildew. Furthermore, the strong smell may attract a variety of pests that can make your kitchen and the rest of your home unsanitary to live in.

Ask Friends or Family Members to Take Food Home With Them

The easiest way to get rid of food during Thanksgiving is to have your guests take home some food with them. This reduces the amount of apple pie, turkey and gravy that you have to contend with in your home. Better yet, have guests bring their own meals and have them take home the leftovers when the gathering ends. There is a good chance that there are some teenage relatives who had to work or others who would love to eat whatever you didn’t get a chance to finish during that family dinner.

Mop the Floors and Vacuum the Carpet and Couch

One of the best ways to dissuade pests from entering your home is to make sure that the floors are mopped and the carpets are vacuumed. This will get rid of excess sugar that may make the floor sticky or any crumbs that you may have left behind during any pre-meal snacks. Getting crumbs out of the couch cushions is imperative as this is a prime spot from many insects and even mice to snack if there is food available.

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate your blessings and the bounty of food available. However, you don’t want to offer unwanted pests to enjoy your bounty as well. Therefore, make sure you are keeping food properly stored and keeping sugar and crumbs to a minimum if you want to avoid an infestation this holiday season.

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What You Need to Know about Zika Virus

The recent aggressive spreading of Zika Virus in Brazil and other select regions has been a top news story in past weeks, understandably so since it can have major health effects. The virus carries Zika fever, a disease that can cause such symptoms as fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis and is suspected of being linked to severe birth defects. Notably, people can be infected even if they’re not displaying symptoms, further heightening the concern over the virus’ potential effect on unborn babies if their mothers become infected. Zika virus is transmitted to humans through a bite of a virus-carrying Aedes mosquito.

The Aedes mosquito is found on several continents, including North and South America. This particular species of mosquito has been linked to deadly outbreaks before. In the early 20th century scientists traced its connection to yellow fever outbreaks, however this connection now carries less importance with the creation of the yellow fever vaccine. The Aedes mosquito is now causing concern as a transmitter of Zika virus.

Recent Outbreaks & What it Means to the United States

Last year Brazil experienced a major increase of the Zika virus, with more than one million cases reported, according to NPR. While the symptoms of the virus can be quite mild, there are suspected links between the virus and about 4,000 cases of severe brain damage to babies as a result of their mothers contracting the virus during pregnancy.

It’s important to note that despite this rising outbreak in South America the only recently reported cases of Zika virus in the United States have been in people who have recently traveled to infected regions and contracted the virus while abroad. Zika virus is not contagious. Still, many people in Arizona, where the Aedes mosquito is found, and throughout the U.S. are concerned about this new threat. Aedes mosquitoes are “city-dwelling” mosquitoes and are very common.

Since virus-carrying mosquitoes could travel here from Latin America as a result of people and goods transportation, there is growing concern that the virus could spread to the U.S. – especially with the upcoming Olympics hosted in Brazil. While it’s important not to panic (especially since the virus hasn’t been found in any US mosquitoes to-date), it’s appropriate to monitor the situation and be cautious in areas prevalent with mosquitoes.

How to Prevent the Zika Virus

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people infected with Zika will become sick. Because there is no vaccine for Zika yet, those traveling to South America or who live in areas where mosquitoes are a yearly nascence, pregnant women in particular, can follow a few simple suggestions to be more mindful about preventing the transmittance of this, and any mosquito-borne, disease:

  • Keep your body covered while outside, especially in the evening and at night, by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. Even light weight clothing will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
  • If you have a baby or child, keep them covered in long clothing, as well.
    Furthermore, treat all clothing items with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing items. Permethrin is an insecticide specifically formulated to protect against disease-carrying insects.
  • Use EPA-registered DEET mosquito repellent. Be sure to follow the directions for usage of the repellant, including frequency and application guidelines.
  • Be vigilant about standing water – do your best to rid your property of any standing water (like around a dripping hose) so that mosquitoes do not flourish there.
  • Before the warm weather hits check all the window screens to make sure there are no tears or gaps where bugs could enter your home.
  • If you have a sliding glass door, consider installing permanent or temporary screens for added insect protection.
  • When possible, stay protected in air conditioned or screened-in areas to avoid mosquitoes altogether.
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Information on Silverfish in Arizona

Silverfish eat a wide variety of foods, including glue, wallpaper paste, book bindings, paper, photographs, starch in clothing, cotton, linen, rayon fabrics, wheat flour, cereals, dried meats, leather and even dead insects. Silverfish often live in damp, cool places such as basements and laundry rooms. Sometimes, they are found in a bathtub, sink or washbasin, unable to climb out. Firebrats live in hot, humid places such as attics in summer and near furnaces, fireplaces and heat pipes in winter.

 

IDENTIFICATION

 

Silverfish have flat, elongated bodies 1/3 to 3/4 inch long and broad near the head, tapering toward the rear-somewhat “carrot” shaped. These fragile, wingless insects are covered with scales and have two long, slender antennae at the head and three long, antennae-like appendages at the rear. These three appendages, one directed straight back and the other two curving outward, plus the two antennae, are nearly as long as the body. Sometimes these insects are known as “bristletails.”

 

The silverfish adult is about 1/2 inch long with a uniform silvery or pearl-gray color, whereas the four-lined silverfish is about 5/8 inch long and the back displays four dark lines the length of the body. The gray silverfish is about 3/4 inch long and uniform light to dark gray.

 

LIFE CYCLE AND HABITS

 

Silverfish are active at night and hide during the day. When objects are moved where they are hiding, they dart out and seek new hiding places. The silverfish lives and develops in damp, cool places (prefers 75 to 95 percent relative humidity), often in the basement, bathroom and kitchen. Large numbers may be found in new buildings where the walls are still damp from plaster and green lumber.

 

Silverfish females may lay over 100 eggs during a lifetime. Eggs are laid singly or two to three at a time in small groups, hatching in three to six weeks. Young silverfish and firebrats resemble adults except being smaller, white and take on the adult color in four to six weeks. Adults may live two to eight years. Firebrats lay about 50 eggs at one time in several batches. Eggs hatch in about two weeks under ideal conditions.

 

Silverfish, depending on the species, may reach maturity in three to twenty-four months. These insects normally hitchhike into the home in food, furniture, old books, papers and old starched clothing. Unlike other insects, they continue to molt after becoming adults. Forty-one molts have been recorded for one firebrat. Populations do not build up fast. A large infestation in the house usually indicates a longtime infestation.

 

CONTROL MEASURES

 

PREVENTION

 

Sanitation is important but not entirely effective in reducing populations because insects often reside between wall partitions, in insulation materials, in books and papers, among book shelves and in other protected places. However, be sure to remove old stacks of newspapers, magazines, papers, books and fabrics plus foodstuffs spilled and stored for long periods of time. Often reducing available water and lowering the home’s relative humidity with dehumidifiers and fans is helpful. Repair leaking plumbing and eliminate moisture around laundry areas. Lighting a dark, sheltered area may force these insects to move to new sites where they can be controlled more easily. Once the infestation has been eliminated, sanitation will help prevent reinfestation.

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