Say the word “spider” and it will often evoke feelings of panic in young and old alike. It is amazing how such small creatures generate so much fear in us. I can still remember having the “itchies” long after leaving the theater from Arachnophobia. The mere thought of the movie is actually recreating that feeling right now!
Unfortunately, for those that fear spiders, they are a reality throughout the country. You can have the cleanest home and be the most anal person, but spiders can and will eventually find their way in and around your home. Two of the more common spiders seen and that will bite both people and pets are the Brown Recluse spider the Black Widow spider.
The Black Widow Spider
Black Widow spiders are much larger and darker than the Brown Recluse. If you have the guts to pick it up and turn it over, you will probably notice a red hourglass shape on the stomach area of the spider. In some cases, this marking may be orange or yellow (the hourglass shape is sometimes missing, with just a colored mark on the spider).
These spiders are generally found during warmer climates. When bitten, the pain of the bite is usually restricted to the area of the bite itself. Those that are allergic or that have severe reactions can experience muscle spasms and pain in other areas, such as the stomach and back. See your doctor after a bite as medication may be needed to help heal the bite and treat the resulting symptoms.
The Brown Recluse Spider
Much likes its name, the Brown Recluse likes to hide and chooses the night for most of its activity. However, unlike its name, the spider is not brown. It has a fiddle-shaped marking on the back, which has caused the spider to also be known as the Fiddleback spider. The spider is usually geographically specific to the South Central and Midwest United States.
These spiders use their bite as defense against feeling trapped. Most individuals are bitten when the spider is between them and their bedding or cushion of a mattress or other piece of furniture. Unlike Black Widow bites that will generally require some type of care, a Brown Recluse bite will usually heal on its own. However, some cases will see a reddening of the skin that can lead to further complications. If this happens, see your doctor for immediate care.
It is time to start getting ready for summer pest infestations. Depending upon your locale, there are varieties of pests that start to make their presence known in the spring and then go full force as the summer weather warms up the climate. Here are a list of some of the main areas where pests will try to infest and ruin your spring and summer.
- Holes and Doorways – pests like centipedes and millipedes use holes and doorways to enter the home just as you do. Excessive moisture in these areas is just like putting a welcome mat out for these multi legged pests. Use a non-porous mat or make sure you dry your mat out after a storm. Fill cracks in exterior walls and put down weather stripping to further prevent these critters from getting into your home.
- Trash Cans and Storage Areas – this area is like the Jersey shore to pests. That stench and debris that turns your nose is like fine dining to flies, gnats, and cockroaches. Keep the trash area away from your home and make sure you rinse your cans after the trash men empty them each week. If there is any residue on the pavement, rinse down the area with detergent and bleach.
- Outdoor Furniture – when the weather gets warm, you will notice spiders love to build their webs in these areas. If you are not paying attention, it is quite easy to get a face full of web as you go to sit down and enjoy a beer on the patio after a hard day at work.
- Lighting – turn on an outdoor light at night and watch the bugs come calling. To avoid this, purchase bug lights or yellow tinted bulbs that do not attract these flying nuisances.
- Grill - food residue will often attract a variety of bugs, but the openings in the grill are infamous for housing wasp nests. This is one problem you definitely do not want to have to deal with during a cookout.
While you may be tempted to treat things such as spider webs and wasp nests on your own, it is often best to let a pest technician handle them, especially when it comes to pests that can hurt you. In addition to properly handling the situation, they will be able to educate you on how to prevent these infestations from happening again.
You probably looked at the title of this post and figured it was going to be related to health. Of course, keeping food stored properly is extremely important in keeping it safe to eat, but we would like to explore this problem from a different perspective. We want to talk about how improperly stored food can lead to problems with vermin and insects.
There is an old saying that “repetition breeds habit.” When it comes to pests, many of us fall into bad habits during the winter simply because there is no fear of bugs causing any problems. For instance, we leave half of our banana out on the counter for another bowl of cereal later. Perhaps we forget to clean up the orange juice we spilled or simply figure we will get to it later.
In cooler weather, these may not seem like very much of a problem. You come back an hour or two later and clean it up…no harm no foul, right? That may be the case now, but in just a few weeks, either of these could lead to a swarm of fruit flies or gnats invading your home.
Instead of starting bad habits, start enforcing proper habits with everyone in the home. Make sure all food is wrapped up properly and put away when no longer in use. If you do not have a garbage disposal, wrap the foods up and stick them in the freezer until trash day. Put them outside now, no big deal. Put them outside in the summer and the next time you open the trash can lid you are likely to see a can full of maggots and get attacked by a swarm of flies.
Over and above any health issues, not putting away food properly invites a variety of pests and vermin into your home. Develop proper habits now and it can and will prevent you from becoming lax in the spring and summer when improper storage habits can lead to vermin and pest infestation. Or, you could just leave that banana lying out on the counter and take your chances! Remember to call us if you have any questions about your pest management issues.
All things considered, most of the seasonal areas of the United States have experienced a rather mild winter. While this weather is great for utility bills, it often means pests and vermin that thrive in warmer weather will be back earlier and in much larger numbers than the previous year. If last spring and summer are any indication of what we are in for in 2013, it is time to get ready for these creatures to invade our homes.
It is important to note the difference between pests that mostly live outside the home and are nothing more than a nuisance from pests and vermin that enter the home and cause significant damage. It is important for homeowners to take preventative measures as well as being able to recognize the beginning signs of infestation so a professional can be called and deal with the problem before it gets out of control.
Here are some tips to keep unwanted vermin out of your home:
- Check the exterior of your home for cracks and holes. Treat and fill these areas before pest season is in full swing. Make sure you get dirty too, meaning get under the home and into the crawl space to check for places where vermin can enter the home.
- It is not uncommon for wasps to build nests under tables or inside a sedentary BBQ grill. Check all of these areas before moving anything around to set up your patio.
- Damp wood is a feeding ground and hiding place for a variety of unwanted creatures. If you have woodpiles near your home, go through them and find a new place. If your home has a wood patio, deck, or exterior, use some type of finishing product so as not to be so inviting to these unwanted guests.
If you are unsure of or incapable of doing these things, call a pest technician to inspect and treat your home as soon as possible. With warm weather literally around the corner, there is little time to waste. A few dollars now will prevent a summer infestation in your home as well as preventing costly damage vermin and pests will surely create if allowed to do so.
There he sits, on a blade of grass, just waiting for someone or something to come along so he can hitch a ride…and a meal. Ticks can be a nuisance or pose a significant danger, depending on the type of tick bite you or your pet may receive.
Contrary to the belief of many, ticks are not insects, but arachnids. Members of this group also include spiders and mites. Arachnids have four pairs of legs and no antennae. Ticks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adults. There are also various species of ticks including deer ticks, American dog ticks, lone star ticks, and ear ticks, but most behave in the same manner: feeding on the blood of small animals and humans. An adult tick can survive for up to 200 days without feeding.
Generally, individuals tend to associate ticks with being an outdoor pest, living in the woods and in the grass, but ticks can also be found in indoor areas as well. Ticks and tick eggs can be found in cracks and crevices of building walls or ceilings. This can lead to infestations indoors along baseboards, window casings and curtains, bookcases, inside upholstered furniture, and under the edges of rugs, drapes, and carpeting.
The main concern of most individuals is avoiding tick bites as certain ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Prevention is the key to avoiding tick bites and possible infection. Following these three important steps can help prevent possible infection and inconvenience.
- Avoid tick-infested areas, particularly during those times of the year when ticks are most active.
- Create barriers, both physical and chemical, by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants and using DEET.
- Call HonorGuard for any of your tick treatment needs.
We have all seen them…ants! Whether they are on your sidewalk feasting on a piece of discarded food, in your bathroom dining on dried toothpaste or sneaking a snack from your pet’s food dish, one thing is certain: They are a NUISANCE! Many times, individuals tend to classify ants as ants, but there are many different species. One of the most common species of ants we see in our line of work is the Odorous House Ant.
Odorous House Ants (OHA) are usually smaller, measuring at about 1/8 of an inch and vary in color from dark brown to shiny black. They have an uneven thorax, or chest area, and emit a very strong odor when crushed, which some have likened to “rotten coconuts”. These hungry insects feed not only on other insects, but also in homes, primarily foraging for sweets. OHA live in large colonies, which can consist of up to 10, 000 workers and many queens. These colonies consist of shallow nests which can be in soil under stones, wood, or debris. Many times we have seen the cartoons depicting the worker ants marching in a straight line, whistling while they work. Not only do they travel in this pattern, but they can also be seen in wandering patterns as well. Usually set trails will be more common along branches of trees, foundations, sidewalks, baseboards, and edges of carpets.
Let’s move ahead a month or so from now into mid-spring, and you may very well see these insects hard at work in and around your home as spring is their busiest season! You can prevent their invasion by eliminating standing water, which they are attracted to. Also, it is important to keep branches and other plants cut back from the house. They can also get in through cracks or small openings around the bottom of your house. Store firewood and other building materials away from your home, as OHA like to build their nests in stacks of wood. And of course, if you do happen to get a visit from these pests, just give us a call…HonorGuard will be there to take care of it!
Roaches, despite being unable to bite, sting, or otherwise cause serious injury to either humans or pets, are almost universally despised. Even in cultures where they are edible treats, they are not welcome guests in the home. An infestation is troublesome and costly to deal with, so the best bet is to make the home unattractive to roaches in the first place.
First and foremost, roaches seek out water, requiring four times more water than food. Dripping faucets, damp mops and sponges, and wet coffee grounds or tea bags are all strong temptations for these pesky critters, as are pea traps in kitchen sinks and toilet bowls. Leaky faucets need to be fixed, and wet sponges should be placed in the dishwasher to be regularly washed with the dishes. Used coffee grounds and tea bags need to go into tightly sealed plastic bags before being put in the trash, and the head of a damp mop should be wrapped in a plastic bag. Either borax or vinegar can be poured into toilet bowls and sinks to discourage roaches from using them as watering holes.
Obviously, food is the next most attractive thing for roaches. Bread and cracker crumbs, grease on stovetops, sprinkles of flour and other edibles should all be wiped up immediately. Countertops, drawers, backs of pantry shelves and cupboards need to be regularly cleaned, ideally with a vinegar solution, and floors need to be kept swept and vacuumed. Trash should be removed from the home and indoor trash cans cleaned with vinegar.
Roaches are also attracted to paper, cardboard, and wood. Paper and cardboard products should be set out with the recycling on a daily basis, and wood piles should be well removed from the house, as roaches live in them and migrate indoors when the weather turns cold. Bookshelves need to be regularly cleaned and book bindings dusted.
Finally, roaches are nocturnal and satisfy their needs in the dark. Accordingly, night lights left on in the kitchen, bathroom and basement may deter them from showing their ugly heads, but it will not prevent an infestation. In fact, if you suspect a roach problem, check throughout your home with a flashlight or by standing at a good vantage point when turning on a light in a dark room. If cockroaches are scattering, it is time to call us for a pest management appointment.
Get up to a 50% reduction in heating and cooling costs
With the arrival of cooler fall temperatures, homeowners in Nashville, TN begin to ask the question “Is my house insulated well enough?” The answer is most likely, “No”. Unless you added some type of blown in insulation or upgraded insulation during the construction phase, it is most likely that your home has no more than R-19 insulation in the attic, which is the minimum standard. The Department of Energy recommends that homes in the Nashville, Knoxville and Atlanta market should have attic insulation installed to a minimum of R49. Improving the R Value from R19 to R49 can lead to a 30% reduction in heating and cooling costs! At our HonorGuard office, when we install TAP insulation R39 we have experienced a whopping 50% reduction in our heating and cooling costs over the next year.
What is “R” Value?
When talking about insulation the most common question we receive at HonorGuard is “what is R Value”. Simply put, this is a numeric measure of the resistance of a product to heat transfer. The higher the R Value, the more resistant the insulation is to heat transfer. A common misconception is that attic insulation only saves money in the winter when warm air rises through the ceiling. This is a myth and should be set aside. We explain it to homeowners this way: In the winter, you are trying to keep the interior at approximately the 70 degree temperature level. If the outside air is below freezing…let’s say 20 degrees, it is most likely the attic (which warms up slightly due to the sun striking the roof) is at or slightly above the freezing mark. In turn, your home has a 38 degree differentiation between interior temperature and attic temperature. Conversely, in the summer, most homeowners strive to keep the interior temperature at around the same 70 degree mark. However, due to the suns radiation heat energy, it is not uncommon for the attic to reach temperatures in excess of 135 degrees. The result is a much more drastic 65 degree differentiation. Heat not only rises, but it transfers through products like the sheet rock of your ceiling by a process known as conduction. Therefore, adding insulation to your home’s attic will lead to savings all year in home energy costs!
HonorGuard customers are often surprised to learn that we install attic insulation that not only adds to the R Value of your home, but also has Pest Control and Acoustical dampening properties. The product that we use is T•A•P insulation, sometimes referred to as pest control insulation. The “TAP” stands for Thermal, Acoustical and Thermal; the three properties that make this product so unique. TAP insulation earned the earned the ENERGY STAR AWARD from the US Environmental Protection Agency for its part in protecting America’s vital energy reserve. This insulation is superior to the cheaper, but widely-used glass-fiber in all phases: production, operation, and disposal. Put simply, it takes less energy to make T•A•P; it takes less energy to heat and cool your home with T•A•P; and TAP insulation presents no environmental hazard if ever removed.
Get “Green” Insulation
This insulation has an additional “green” aspect in that 87% of T•A•P is recovered newsprint—the same newspapers you put out on your curb for collection. T•A•P, with an R-factor of 3.7/inch, performs well against glass fiber @ approximately 2.5 (blown) to 3.2 (batt). To achieve the US Energy Department’s recommended R-value of 49, would require about 13 inches of blown in TAP insulation, or about 20 inches of glass fiber!
Get Natural Pest Control
TAP insulation is unique in that in addition to its superior insulating properties, it controls: Cockroaches, Drywood Termites, Ants, Silverfish, Earwigs, Crickets, Sowbugs, Darkling Beetles, Millipedes, Centipedes and Booklice. The boric acid active ingredient is a completely natural product and has been used for decades for Pest Control. This type of insulation is the only insulation in the market place to receive an EPA label for Pest Control Applications. The boric acid is injected into the cellulose fibers to penetrate and strengthen the fibers while providing permanent flame resistance. When installed properly and under normal conditions of use, this additive is nontoxic to humans, will not adversely affect other building components, and actually helps create an environment that is inhospitable to the labeled insects. The product is tested to help control the listed insects and is intended to prevent their infestations in building voids where the product is applied. Its effect begins only after insect contact with the product. T•A•P does not contain fiberglass, formaldehyde, or other materials associated with increased health concerns. Not only does it control pests, but it is Fungi and Mold resistant as well. T•A•P meets or exceeds ASTM C-739-00 tests for odor emission and fungi resistance!
Get Blown In Insulation
In addition, TAP insulation provides superior sound attenuation, in large part, because it is blown or sprayed in. This provides a custom fit that eliminates the acoustical shortcuts that are created by batt insulation: gaps and voids in odd shaped cavities and around obstacles such as plumbing, air ducts, and wiring.
Get Reduced Energy Bills
HonorGuard Pest Management offers a no obligation attic evaluation. Our inspections uncover evidence of infestations and identify means to reduce your energy bills. HonorGuard Inspectors not only determine your current insulation profile, but also provide solutions that deter those unwelcome pests while saving homeowners money. Our clients have found the investment in insulation to have a greater return than most mutual funds! We urge you to review your insulation needs today by calling us for a complete evaluation.
Each year at HonorGuard, we receive hundreds of calls from prospective customers who seek relief from various insect related problems. However, there is one infestation that causes the most alarm and panic…the occurrence of bed bugs!
Bed bug infestations have rapidly spread across the United States. The most common misconception is that bed bugs only occur in lower prices motels and apartments. This is a myth and should be set aside. Instances of bed bugs have no correlation to social or economic class. Additionally, there have been several reports of bed bugs in structures that we would not normally suspect to harbor bed bugs. In addition to resort hotels, bed bugs have been found in movie theaters, office buildings, laundries, shelters, in transportation vehicles, and other locations where people may congregate.
To better understand the problem, HonorGuard educates its customer in the biology and behavior of bed bugs.
- Bed bugs are small, oval non-flying insects that are roughly the size of an apple seed in their adult form that feed by sucking blood from humans or animals.
- Bed bugs can live in any area of the home and will harbor in very small cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture. They tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses, box springs, and bed frames. It is not uncommon for bed bugs to infest couches, recliners, pull out beds and other furniture.
- Bed bugs are light sensitive and therefore are most active at night. They may bite any exposed areas of skin while an individual is sleeping. The face, neck, hands, and arms are common sites for bedbug bites.
- A bed bug bite is painless and usually it is not noticed in the early stages of an infestation. Small, flat, or raised bumps on the skin are the most common sign; redness, swelling, and itching commonly occur. Most people have no reaction to a limited number of bites. Reaction to the bites is primarily a function of sensitivity by an individual. However, research has shown that repeated bits may cause an increase in the chance of reaction. Most people are unaware that there is a problem until the infestation has reached at least a moderate level!
The number one question we receive here at HonorGuard is “how did they get here?” The answer is quite simple. Bed bugs are world class hitchhikers. Bed bugs live in any articles of furniture, clothing, or bedding, so they or their eggs may be present in used furniture or clothing. They spread by crawling and may contaminate multiple rooms in a home or hotel and even in multiple dwellings in apartment buildings. They may also be present in boxes, suitcases, or other goods that are moved from residence to residence or from a hotel to home. Bed bugs can live on clothing from infested homes and may be spread by a person unknowingly wearing infested clothing.
The fear of bed bugs causes most people to declare they will never sleep away from home! The reality is that most of us travel and a large number of people must stay in hotels or motels on a frequent basis. While the vast majority of accommodations will never have a bed but problem, HonorGuard Pest Management offers some practical tips that will help to reduce the risk of unknowingly taking these unwelcome guests home.
Each time you check into a hotel or motel, you should turn on every light in the room before making a brief, but careful inspection. First, peel back the bedding and look to see if you can identify fecal stains (small ink colored spots) on the tufts of the mattress and box springs. These spots will resemble the stain a fountain pen would create if we dabbed it on the fabric. Secondly, move the headboard about 2 inches away from the wall, if possible, and use a flashlight to continue looking for bedbugs, cast skins, and dots of blood or feces on the back of the headboard and on the wall behind the headboard. If the headboard is mounted to the wall or otherwise immovable, shine the flashlight along the edges of the headboard and into available space between the head board, searching for the telltale signs of bedbugs. Additionally, examine the night stands and headboard for egg cases (very small and semi translucent) in crevices and cracks on or near beds. You should also look at other areas such as under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in couches and other furniture in the room. Make it a practice to keep suitcases on folding stands and do not use the drawers of chests or dressers to store your clothing. Hang up folded clothes. Likewise, do not place laptop cases or other bags on the bed.
Here at HonorGuard Pest Management, our experience is that “signs” of an infestation are found far more often than we find live bed bugs. It should be noted that while fecal stains and skin casts suggest that bed bugs have been present, these do not confirm that the infestation is still active. Observing the bed bugs themselves is definitive confirmation that an area is infested. However, if no fecal stains or cast skins are found in the areas in or around the bed, the chance of a live infestation is greatly reduced.
Utilizing the tips provided by HonorGuard will reduce the risk of bringing bed bugs home. However, if problems should develop, do not hesitate to call. Our inspectors are trained to identify bed bug problems and HonorGuard Pest Management is one of the few companies in the area to be certified by Bed Bug Central to manage bed bug infestations. While bed bug infestations can cause panic and alarm, HonorGuard technicians are well trained and have an excellent record in eliminating bed bug problems wherever they occur.
While this is an alarming issue, do not let the fear of bed bugs alter your Holiday travel plans. Over 3 million people stay in motel rooms every night and the instances of bed bug infestations are very small in number. We at HonorGuard travel on a frequent basis for both business and personal travel and we sleep comfortably after performing an inspection and utilizing our tips at reducing our risk.
For the past few mornings, there has been no doubt that fall is in the air throughout the Southeast. Brisk mornings, the sight of leaves changing color, and yes the ritual of college football season all mark the season between summer and winter. With this change, HonorGuard knows that this is also the time when “Mice Season” begins. Mice may be small, but they can still do a lot of damage. They destroy food, books, furniture and even appliances with their gnawing, urine and droppings. Even worse, mice in the home have been linked to a number of human diseases, including asthma. Because of their small size and inquisitive nature, they can fit through gaps as small as 1/4 inch wide, making them very hard to control. You might not see the mice, but you can probably hear them after dark, as mice are often more active at night. Do not be surprised if your pets paw at walls and cabinets where mice are hiding. Inspect for mouse droppings and nests in storage areas, such as garages and basements. Mice usually build their nests from materials like bits of cloth or shredded paper. Once a mouse finds food and shelter, it is rare that they will travel more than 30 feet from their home territory. The average lifespan of a mouse is 1 year and it is not uncommon for female mice to produce 5 to 10 litters of 5 to 6 mice per litter. Given plenty of food and a protected area, it doesn’t take long for a pair of mice to become parents (and grandparents) to dozens of offspring!
During warmer weather, mice are perfectly happy living outdoors where they feed on seeds and insects. But when cooler weather rolls in, mice waste no time in moving indoors. Garages and attics are usually quiet, protected places where mice thrive. HonorGuard Pest Management will receive dozens of calls from homeowners who have seen or hear a mouse in the house.
HonorGuard routinely advises homeowners to follow the three basic steps below to reduce the chance of developing a mouse infestation:
- Proper Sanitation – A clean, uncluttered home will make it hard for mice to find hiding places and food. Actually, mice can live on crumbs! Keep food and garbage in mouse-proof containers (metal or heavy-duty plastic with tight fitting lids), or in mouse-proof cabinets.
- Mouse-Proofing – Keep the mice out! Seal all openings around vents, wires and pipes with sheet metal, concrete or knitted copper wire mesh. Screen necessary openings, like fans and chimneys. Keep a tight fitting door sweep on all exterior doors. Seal or cover all openings, since mice can run up the sides of buildings and cross cables and wires.
- Removing Mice – Get rid of the mice you already have! Trapping is effective, and generally safer than using poison. Also, poisoned mice often die in hard-to-reach places causing a very unpleasant odor. Wood-based snap traps are inexpensive and work well. Set traps at right angles to the wall, with the trigger end touching the wall. Foods that attract mice — crunchy peanut butter, freshly-fried bacon, fruit, nutmeats, or gumdrops — can be fastened securely to the trigger of each trap with thread.
The bottom line is that the best way to control mice is to keep them out in the first place. Check your home yearly to make sure it’s still mouse-proof and keep your home and property uncluttered. Do not expect your cat or dog to keep mice away. You have to take the necessary steps to prevent mice from becoming a problem. Sometimes professional help is needed. Here at HonorGuard, we have the most comprehensive training program in the industry to ensure our technicians are capable of delivering the highest quality service available to homes and businesses.
For problems with mice or other pests, call HonorGuard today. We take pride in protecting our customer’s property from unwelcome guests.