In 2012, researchers at the University of California, Riverside discovered that brown widow spiders – less venomous than their black widow cousins, but still plenty venomous – have begun taking over Southern California, and are quickly making their way north and into Central and Northern California. The spiders have been on the radar of pest controllers and pesticide developers as they have been becoming more prolific in the area. They also are known to have egg sacs that are particularly resistant to pesticides.
Thankfully, researchers at the University of California, Riverside have just recently developed an oil-based pesticide that has proven much more effective at killing brown widow spider’s egg sacs than water-based pesticides are. Dr. Dong-Hwan Choe, a co-author of the study, said, “Th brown widow spider egg sac is constructed with highly hydrophobic silks, so the water-based pesticide sprays were not very effective in penetrating the egg sac and impacting the eggs inside.
“In contrast, the oil-based aerosols were highly effective in penetrating the egg sac silk, providing the compete prevention of the spider emergence.” Choe went on to add data regarding how prolific of layers the adult brown widow spiders are: “Field-collected brown widow egg sacs in Southern California average around 135 egg sacs with a range of 23 to 282 eggs.” Thankfully, with this new data on th effectiveness of oil-based pesticides, there is a likelihood of quelling the spread of non-native brown widow spiders throughout California.
It’s been a rough year in California as far as the West Nile virus is concerned. At this point in 2015, at least 28 people have died in the Golden State from West Nile. The debilitating neurological disease is contracted through mosquito bites.
While many people believe that the mosquito season has ended in California, this is not necessarily the case. Heavy rainfall and warm weather – all consequences of the El Nino winter that is expected in California this year – are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes, especially the Asian tiger mosquito.
The Asian tiger mosquito is a species that, while rarely seen in California, are becoming more common in our state and are known to be particularly virulent. Further, Asian tiger mosquitoes breed incredibly quickly, producing large number of offspring and able to spread West Nile at shockingly quick rates, especially as compared to native mosquito populations.
Asian tiger mosquitoes, like other mosquitoes, lay their eggs in shallow water, and can use even the smallest amount of water to breed rapidly. Used tires, potted plant water trays, buckets, and even bottle caps can provide easy nests for these disease-carrying pests. Keeping these areas clear of water for the entire season is crucial, as Asian tiger mosquito eggs are viable to hatch for years following laying, waiting for ideal conditions to hatch.
This year has been nearly a record-breaking year for pest control services throughout California, but especially so here in the greater Sacramento area. Andrew Sutherland, Ph.D., an urban integrated pest management (IPM) advisor in the San Francisco Bay Area says that it’s not so much an increase in the number of pests, as this has likely gone down in the drought, but rather an increase in our coming into contact with these pests.
“This is…the first year we’ve seen dramatic changes made by residents due to mandated water-use restrictions. Areas with frequent irrigation and lush landscapes aren’t available this year so nuisance pests like outdoor cockroaches, ants, and crickets are migrating from dry areas to seek moisture,” Sutherland says. It’s this search for moisture that it leading so many pests to seek water in people’s homes, businesses, garages, and landscapes.
Cockroaches, especially oriental cockroaches, are often the most common Northern California pest to seek out water indoors. As irrigation control boxes, leaky hosebibs, and French drain systems are systematically shut down or repaired, these once-prolific sources of water leave cockroaches with no other alternative to water but to make their ways into houses. In these instances, a few cockroaches can quickly reproduce into a whole city of roaches, and it may be time to seek out your friendly Sacramento exterminator, Specialized Pest Patrol.
Ah, the beloved opossum, with its naked rat-like tail, rows of 50-odd razor-sharp teeth in its long snout, and awkward tiny ears. Wait, did we say “beloved”? We must have meant “reviled.” Besides failing miserably in the “cute” competition, opossums are easily one of the least liked mammals in the United States.
Opossums may be ugly, but what they lack in looks they make up for in being surprisingly intelligent. Recent studies have shown that opossums are far better at remembering where food is hidden than are rats, cats, or even dogs. This should come to no surprise to any number of pet owner who found an opossum or two ravaging a pet’s outside food bowl in the middle of the night. Thankfully, they aren’t overly-aggressive, or they really would be some of the most unpleasant animals in North America.
However, this does not mean that opossums aren’t capable of showing aggression. Like raccoons, they are certainly willing to defend their young when threatened by an aggressive, or even just curious, dog in the backyard. Unlike raccoons, they are not common carriers of diseases like rabies. Despite their low likelihood to spread diseases or attack without provocation, they are still an unpleasant and potentially dangerous household guest to have around.
For this reason, if you need to get rid of opossums in your Sacramento-area home or business, Specialized Pest Patrol is happy to humanely trap and remove them from your property.
Millipedes are the thankfully harmless lookalike of centipedes that tend to show their faces much more as we move into the wetter months of the year. Usually content to live outside in gardens, munching on decaying plant matter, this tends to change somewhat as fall and spring kick in and their populations boom, sending millipedes into your home. Thankfully for everyone, they aren’t harmful to land or limb. Unfortunately, however, they’re still a nuisance and apt to give many people the creepy-crawlies.
The most common millipedes stay fairly small in their lives, only growing to about to one to one-and-a-half inches long. They’re a very dark brown in color, almost black, and their numerous tiny legs are can be so small that the millipede looks more like a legless worm. As these bugs strongly favor moist environments to survive, they don’t tend to live very long when they make their ways into people’s homes. However, patios, crawlspaces, and basements can become prolific breeding grounds for millipedes, especially in moist weather and if there is old rotting wood or other organic matter around.
Because millipedes are so uncommon in households, it is not usually necessary to call an exterminator, unless the pests stick around for more than a few days. If the problem is only one or two millipedes, they can often be diverted out of the house and into the yard with a damp newspaper left outside as a trap. Similarly, the removal of wet or rotting organic materials can have a huge effect in keeping millipedes out of your home or business.
In the second of our two-part series on keeping your house safe from pests this rainy Northern California season, we go into detail on inexpensive, easy maintenance projects that can keep your home warm, cozy, and pest-free all autumn and winter. With a few hours time and a trip to the hardware store, the upcoming holiday season will come with one less thing to stress over.
- Many pests, like mosquitoes, breed in wet and murky places. Clear out gutters and ensure proper drainage to prevent them.
- Keep shrubbery and gardens trimmed and tidy. This will make these places less appealing to pests such as rats, raccoons, and possums.
- Keep pests and the chilly weather out with repaired mortar in basement foundation and new weatherstripping around windows.
- Maintain at least 20 feet of distance between the perimeter of your home and the storage of firewood – a common hiding place for numerous pests.
- Don’t let moisture develop in your crawl spaces, attics, and basements, even in moist weather. Use a dehumidifier to ensure proper ventilation and dry spaces.
As Sacramento begins to experience longer, cooler evenings, we know that we are entering autumn, and shortly after we will be in the cold, rainy days of winter. Pumpkin lattes and football bring the promise of the holidays and cozy days indoors. Unfortunately, the cozy indoors is not just warm and inviting to us and our pets – colder evenings also invite pests into your warm and cozy domicile.
Thankfully, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has plenty of helpful pointers for homeowners to keep unwanted house guests outside where they belong.
- Double check that attic vents, chimney openings, pet doors, and mail slots are properly screened off to avoid openings to the outdoors.
- Check window screens and under doors for openings. Replace torn window screens and install inexpensive door sweepers.
- Walk around the outside of your home and look for crevices and cracks. Seal cracks and holes with silicone caulk. Keep an eye out for the entrances to utility pipes and wiring.
- For larger holes and gaps into your home, use steel wool as well as metal screens to plug holes. Rough fiber and hard metal deter rodents who are otherwise inclined to chew through other materials.
Home and business owners with mice or rats in their buildings are by far some of the most common calls that we receive at Specialized Pest Patrol. These seemingly harmless, small furry creatures account for such a flurry of anxiety and fear, yet when you look at them, they seem completely harmless. Unfortunately, these small, furry animals have earned their bad reputation.
Rats and mice are known to carry some of the most devastating diseases in human history. The Black Death plague was caused by fleas carried by rats and killed up to 200 million people in the mid-1300s. Now, the 1300’s was a very long time ago. Unfortunately, the plague has been found on fleas carried by rats in Colorado as recently as within the past few months.
Besides the horrific diseases still carried by these pests, they are also known to cause structural damage to buildings and even cause fires. Rat and mice damage to wiring is a common cause of house fires in urban and rural ares. If rats or mice have found their way into your Sacramento home or business, call the specialists, at Specialized Pest Patrol.
Finding rats or mice in their home or business is the kind of disgusting and shocking scenario that keeps many people awake at night, and with good reason. These furry four-legged mammals would not be so different from playful hamsters or gerbils, if it weren’t for their long history of infesting food supplies and spreading diseases. Unfortunately, rats and mice are incredibly common in the Sacramento area, as they are in many densely populated areas.
Mice and rats can commonly be found indoors or outdoors. Highly adaptive creatures, they are just as likely to live in a field or barn as in a basement or attic. When it comes to rats and mice inside of buildings, they’re happy to take up residence nearly anywhere, including inside of walls, in crawlspaces, closets, or pantries. You’ll know you have a true rat or mouse infestation when you spot the telltale blackish pellets around your commercial building or homes.
While many people think that rats and mice are far too small to cause any kind of true structural damage to a building, this is unfortunately not the case. Just one rat or mouse can cause extraordinary damage, in fact. As rodents are prone to compulsive chewing and gnawing, this can lead to rats and mice chewing through insulation, electrical wiring, and cables. There are many instances of fires caused by exposed and frayed electrical wiring from rodent chewing. This is one of the key reasons why if you discover any signs of rats or mice in your home or business, they need to be removed.
Stanford University has recently discovered two more Lyme-disease-causing bacterial strains on ticks in the Northern California area. The two strains, Borrelia miyamotoi and Borrelia burgdorferi are known to cause Lyme disease and have been found in 10.6 percent of young ticks and 8.1 percent of adult ticks in Northern California. While many of those ticks were discovered in the Bay Area, the risk of Lyme disease in the Sacramento area is also an increased factor.
An analysis of the effects of Lyme disease infection from these particular strains was conducted in 2013. 51 patients were found to suffer from severe headaches, muscle pain, fever, joint pain, and fatigue. Nearly an entire quarter of these patients required hospitalization. However, very few of the patients’ Lyme disease infections were successfully detected by traditional Lyme disease tests and did not develop the hallmark bullseye mark expected with Lyme disease infection.
For years, the risk of Lyme disease from tick bites was seen as a problem almost solely found on the East coast and in the Midwest. However, these findings show that the risk of Lyme disease from ticks in Northern California is a very real concern. Enjoying the beautiful outdoors in the Sacramento area shouldn’t come with a risk of serious disease. If you have a tick problem on or around your property, call Specialized Pest Patrol for tick eradication and prevention strategies.