The Buzz from F&W Pest Control (Our Blog)

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How to Tell the Difference Between a Rat and a Mouse

If you're a resident of the Boston, Massachusetts area, you may be concerned about rodent infestations during the fall season. As the outside temperatures begin to cool, rodents such as mice and rats can begin coming indoors in search of food and warmth. Rodents can not only create many problems with the structure of your home, but they also pose a health risk. The following information will help you be able to tell the difference between rats and mice and provide helpful advice should you encounter these pesky rodents in the coming months.  Telling the Difference Between Rats and Mice Even though they're both very common pests in the Massachusetts area, rats and mice do have several key differences that will allow you to tell them apart and fully understand the type of infestation you're dealing with. Here are three key differences that set these two rodents apart.  Size &...
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What Attracts Ants to Homes in Massachusetts?

Ants will infest a house when they find certain things that help them survive. They always come back to buildings with convenient entryways and desirable living conditions. You may need to seal or eliminate major attractions before the insects will leave you alone. Ants prefer Boston-area homes that provide at least one of these four items: 1. Nourishment This voracious bug eats a wide range of foods. It often devours sweet or oily ingredients that people store in cupboards and pantries. Dead rodents and insects can provide sustenance as well. Food preferences differ depending on the species. Some ants primarily seek protein, while others favor meals that deliver plentiful carbohydrates and sugar. An odor can draw ants to a room even if there's nothing to eat. When you spill or drop food, don't rely on a wet sponge to clean it up. A combination of water and vinegar will banish...
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Termite ID: How to Spot Termites in Your Home

Every year,  termites  cause more than $5 billion in property damage in the United States. Termites are known as “silent destroyers” because of their ability to chew through wood, flooring and even wallpaper undetected for years—damage that isn’t covered by most homeowners’ insurance policies. As spring approaches and the ground begins to warm across the country, termite populations will emerge in search of new structures to invade. Starting from South to North, termite explorers, referred to as swarmers, will look for hospitable homes, with buildings that have sustained damage from severe winter weather particularly at risk. Once swarmers have determined your home to be a good fit, it’s likely that the rest of the termite colony will follow, resulting in a full-blown termite infestation. By becoming familiar with the species of termites that are most prevalent in their area along with their habits, homeowners are better equipped to detect the warning signs of an infestation, and call in a pest...
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Zika Virus

If you are an expecting mother and planning on traveling to Hawaii, South America, Haiti, Martinique and Puerto Rico please read the following on the Zika Virus. The first birth defect linked to the Zika virus has been discovered in the US after a woman in Hawaii gave birth to a baby girl with microcephaly, the condition of an unusually small brain and head. Health officials  are concerned  that the extremely dangerous Zika virus believed to be responsible for thousands of babies with microcephaly in Brazil could spread in similar warmer climates in the US such as in Hawaii and the American South. The virus had already been identified in Puerto Rico and recently in Texas in a man who had travelled from El Salvador, another nation that has been suffering the effects of Zika among its newborns. The mother in Hawaii — who had lived in Brazil last year...
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Are Ticks Still Active in the Winter?

Many of us think that  ticks  die off in the winter after the first hard frost. Unfortunately they do not. The adult blacklegged (deer) ticks that spread  Lyme disease  begin their prime feeding activity just about the time of the first freeze. The reason being is that their main host animals are deer and deer are actively moving around in the fall. If deer aren't around,  blacklegged ticks  will attach to people or pets anytime the weather starts getting warmer. The  American dog tick  and  Lone Star ticks  are inactive in fall and winter. The Blacklegged ticks activity decreases only when temperatures start dropping below 35 degrees F. or the ground is covered in snow. They quickly recover when temperatures start warming up. To actually kill ticks, the freezing temperatures must be a sustained number of days below 10 degrees F. This is happening less often as our winters are getting warmer than they use...
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Look for Pest Warnings Before Holiday Adorning

The National Pest Management Association offers tips to keep homes pest-free this holiday season Written by: NPMA Staff FAIRFAX Va. – Holiday decorating can enhance a home’s aesthetics, warming it up with festive lights and greenery, but could jovial decorations be inviting in more than just the holiday spirit? To evade these unwelcome house guests such as  rodents , spiders, moths and more, the  National Pest Management Association  (NPMA) encourages homeowners to examine holiday décor for signs of  pests  before decking the halls. “It’s best to practice caution when unpacking decorations which were likely stored in ideal pest habitats, such as basements and attics,” said Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “Carefully inspect live greenery including trees and wreaths, and give them a good shake outdoors before bringing them in. Looking for telltale signs, like gnaw marks, droppings, and spider egg sacs can also help you avoid bringing infested items inside.” In...
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Winter Pest Invasion: Defend Your Home Against Overlooked Threats

Like so many other things in life, winter means different things to different people. I've often noticed that one's opinion of the cold season depends on his or her age. As a child, you might eagerly embrace the winter for its promise of sledding, snowball fights, and unexpected school cancellations. As you grow older, though, your outlook naturally shifts. With luck, you never become blind to what sometimes makes the season seem magical—the feel of fresh snow beneath your boots, for instance, or the sight of sunlight glinting off a low-hanging icicle. But veteran homeowners know too well that along with postcard-worthy scenes, winter brings a host of worrisome hazards. Some are familiar and inescapable, while others are more insidious and, for that reason, can be the most dangerous of all. Frozen pipes and ice dams, downed trees and power lines—when the sky darkens and the mercury dips, these are...
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Rodents 101

During the winter season, it's estimated that rodents seek shelter in more than 21 millions homes in the United States. This means that many homeowners will likely be dealing with mice or rats in their abode over the next few months - and you could be one of them. Rodents can spread dangerous diseases and can cause major property damage, so it's important for homeowners to familiarize themselves with the types of rodents that invade homes this time of year. Here is a guide to help you identify common  mice  and  rat  species. Deer Mice Region: Deer mice are found throughout the United States. Habitat: Deer mice prefer to nest in rural areas, specifically in fence posts, tree hollows and log piles. Deer mice are rarely a problem in residential settings, but they can wander indoors during the winter months while searching for shelter from the cold weather. Threats: Deer mice pose a significant health threat because they are the most common carrier of Hantavirus. This virus...
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Nuisance Wildlife Control: Top Tips to Keep Wild Animals in the Wild

Written by:  Dr. Jim Fredericks  -  PestWorld. org When the fall season rolls in,  squirrels,   raccoons  and  opossums  are more apt to move indoors in preparation for the colder months. Unfortunately, our homes often provide the perfect refuge for these and other types of  nuisance wildlife  because they have easy access to food, water and warm shelter from the elements. As such, it’s important to animal-proof your property before Old Man Winter blows in. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that no curious critters sneak in through the attic, basement or other susceptible areas of the home. Screen Vents Raccoons and squirrels often find their way into homes via uncapped chimneys, broken vents and other openings along rooflines. Ensure that these items are fully screened to prevent wild animals from making your home their own. Cover the Trash Raccoons are the scavengers of the night. They will come out of the woods and look...
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Cluster Flies May be Over Wintering in Your Home

Cluster Flies Fall is the time of year when outside pests are trying to get into your home to spend a nice warm winter. One of these pests is the cluster flies. They look like houseflies but are slightly larger and move much slower than the housefly.  Cluster flies  wings tend to overlap over their backs when they are resting and they have very tiny golden hair covering their thorax, which is the part between the head and their abdomen. The cluster fly does not have 4 stripes on their backs like houseflies do. Cluster flies are very interesting because their larval stage is parasitic on earthworms. The larvae develop underground inside the body of the earthworm then pupate and emerge as adult flies. Not all homes will have issues w/ cluster flies and no one fully understands why they end up where they do. Suburban homes with large lawns and rural homes near fields tend to have cluster flies more often. You could end up...
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Insects Are Getting Ready to Move Inside!

Fall is around the corner and will be here before your know it and this is the time when people will start noticing that various insects are getting into their homes. We call these pests “fall invaders” or “ occasional invaders” or just simply “ overwintering pests”. When the weather gets cooler and theinsects outside food source begin to disappear, it’s time for them to come inside to spend the winter. As part of their natural cycle many insects die in the fall, but for others, the adult insect is destined to spend the winter in hiding and mate and lay eggs in the spring. Insects look for places that are protected from the elements such as under tree bark, rotting logs, under stones, in mulch or in firewood piles in the winter. However, if there’s a house or building near by, some insects are attracted by the structure and it’s warmth and will look for ways to get inside. Most of the insects that invade...
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The National Pest Management Association’s Bug Barometer Forecasts A Pest-Filled Start to Fall Across the United States

FAIRFAX, Va. – Today, the  National Pest Management Association  released its Bug Barometer, a forecast indicating what Americans can expect from pest populations this fall and winter.  From the extreme heat and humidity in the Southeast to record rainfall in the Midwest, and an ongoing drought in the Pacific Northwest and on the West Coast – NPMA’s Bug Barometer takes into account the weather patterns of the summer season in every region of the country. Spring and summer are typically the most active seasons for the majority of pests, such as ticks,  mosquitoes  and ants, and this year was no exception. Unfortunately, the start of fall doesn’t necessarily mean an end to pest activity, with many of these pests remaining active until temperatures consistently stay below the 50-degree mark and they begin to seek overwintering sites. “Our entomologists analyzed spring and summer weather reports and patterns from across the country...
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Here's a Little Known Tip For Treating Bee Stings

Adolph's Meat Tenderizer Use it for:  Bee stings, nonpoisonous spider bites How it works:  Meat tenderizer contains papain, an enzyme that breaks down proteins (like the ones in your T-bone steak). But papain can also break down toxins from bug bites and cuts back on itching. Note:  Use tenderizer only on mosquito bites, bee stings, and nonpoisonous spider bites. If you experience symptoms such as nausea, difficulty breathing, or cramping in your abs or lower back, seek medical help immediately. How to use it:  Mix a small amount of meat tenderizer with water to make a paste and apply to the bite. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
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Mouse Proofing your Home for Fall

Fall is fast approaching and this is the time of year when we start getting inundated with  mice  calls. You would think mice would be more active in the summer months than in the fall. In the summer they are more active outside and when the temperatures start to drop and the days get shorter, mice are driven to look for nice warm shelters and your home is looking pretty cozy. It is pretty easy for a mouse to get inside your house. There are plenty of mouse size openings near the ground level and also near the roofline. Their small body size allows a mouse to squeeze through an opening ¼-inch high. They will also gnaw the edges to make it big enough for them to fit through if the opening is to small. A great entry point for them is around pipes. Mice will chew a small opening at any edge that opens into a void or at the corner...
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Why Yellowjackets Seem So Active This Summer

It seems like all of a sudden we have  yellowjackets  everywhere. You can’t even enjoy a cook out on the deck because of so many yellowjackets. Why does this year seem particularly bad for yellowjacket activity? Any time when yellowjackets take over your yard is a bad year for yellowjackets! There are two things going on right now that make the situation seem worse than normal: 1) yellowjacket activity always accelerates as the summer goes on especially as the summer goes on into late summer and 2) you probably just have more yellowjacket nests in your yard this summer. In late summer, yellowjackets are at their peak. A yellowjacket nest grows in size and in numbers of workers as the summer progresses. A majority of people don't even notice them until late summer when the nest is at it’s peak size in mid-August. Each nest can contain up to 4,000 worker wasps. At about this time the nest starts to decline and begins to die off. There are no new larvae...
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Bed Bug Awareness Week Begins June 7-13 2015

As we start making our vacation plans, preparing our children for college or doing normal every day things like going shopping or heading out to the office, we need to think about what we need to do to protect ourselves and home from bed bugs . Bed Bug prevention is a lot easier than eliminating an existing infestation. Treating bed bugs is more difficult than treating cockroaches, termites and ants. It can take days to prep your home and several treatments to completely eliminate the bed bugs. Regular bed bug inspections are the best method of prevention to avoid bed bug infestations. Listed below are tips for preventing bed bugs and to learn more about how to protect your household from an infestation: Everyday Prevention Tips: It is important to be aware of how to prevent bed bugs in your everyday life. Here are some prevention tips to keep in...
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How To Create a Tick Free Zone in Your Yard

There are more ways to protect yourself from  ticks  than wearing bug repellent and protective clothing. You can have your property treated by a professional but there are steps you can take in the management of your property that will make it less attractive to ticks. If you live on a wooded lot, you probably already know that your yard is a hub for ticks largely because deer,  rodents  and  wildlife  visit your property. By spending a weekend making some simple changes to your property can lower your family's risk of tick bites and diseases. The more open space around your home the less likely chance you will be bitten by ticks. Ticks will climb up plants and shrubs and wait for an animal or human to pass by. By removing tall weeds, brush and pruning shrubs will let in more light. Fallen leaves should be raked since ticks often spend the winter under the leaves, which provide cover...
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Powassan Virus Worse Than Lyme Disease

Powassan (POW) virus is transmitted to humans by infected  ticks . Approximately 60 cases of POW virus disease were reported in the United States over the past 10 years. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region. Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. There is no specific treatment, but people with severe POW virus illnesses often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain. You can reduce your risk of being infected with POW virus by using tick repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants, avoiding bushy and wooded areas, and doing thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors. If you think you or a family member may have POW virus disease, it is important to consult your healthcare provider. How do people get infected with...
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Termite Swarms

You could have  termites  in your home and not have any spring swarmer's at all. Subterranean termite colonies don't produce swarmer's until they get to be a certain size. Really big swarms don't occur until a colony is 8-10 years old. Weather and other factors also play a part in their swarming behavior. Termite swarmer's, or reproductives are black where worker termites are white. They have two pairs of clear wings, all the same size. Swarmer's are often confused with winged ants, but can be easily distinguished up close. Both male and female swarmer's leave the colony to mate and start new colonies in the soil. If you are using the expectation of seeing swarming termites to determine whether or not you have an infestation then you are making a mistake. Even if your termite colony is big enough to swarm, there's a very good chance that you would miss the event completely. A termite swarm is a very fleeting event. The winged termites leave...
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Important Things People Should Know About Termites

  What are the most important things people should know about termites? Termites  cause over $5 billion in property damage each year, damage that’s generally not covered by insurance. Homeowners need to understand that these insects – known as silent destroyers – can eat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In fact, a very large colony of subterranean termites can eat through a cup of wood in two hours’ time.  The National Pest Management Association  (NPMA) recommends that homeowners have a professional termite inspection done every one to three years, depending on the level of termite activity in the region. Generally, warmer weather climates see more termite activity. Can you tell us a bit about swarmers? What are they exactly and when should we look for them? Swarmers, also known as reproductives, are young female and male winged termites. In the springtime, after the last freeze, termite swarmers will emerge from their nest to mate and search for a new...
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