May 1, 2013
TOM KRAEUTLER: Welcome to The Money Pit Pest Prevention Podcast: Presented by Orkin. I’m Tom Kraeutler. Well, the summer season is upon us and that means we all get to spend more time outside, it also means we have more exposure to summer pests including mosquitoes, spiders and cockroaches. There are many things you can do now to pest proof your home before the weather gets too hot and pests look to your home as a cool refuge from the heat.
Here to fill us in Greg Bauman the Vice President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin.
I am talking to Greg Bauman, the Vice President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin, about and how to control summer time pests in your home – like mosquitoes, spiders and cockroaches,
Greg Bauman, thanks for joining me.
TOM KRAEUTLER: I think the biggest summer pest problem most of the listeners can relate to are mosquitoes… but they are more than just a nuisance, right?
GREG BAUMANN: Mosquitoes are one of the world’s most dangerous pests. Some species can transmit West Nile virus and other viruses that cause encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, resulting in seasonal epidemics in North America during summer and fall. Approximately 200 of the more than 3,000 mosquito species are found in North America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 28,000 cases of West Nile disease have been reported in the United States, including more than 1,100 deaths, since the virus was first identified in New York in 1999. Mosquitoes are also dangerous internationally. Abroad, they can carry and transmit the infectious agents that cause malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Is there a prime “mosquito season”?
GREG BAUMANN: Typically, mosquito populations depend on the weather. Mosquito season can start early in the year, but June, July and August are prime mosquito months in most areas due to warmer temperatures. The farther south you are, the earlier the mosquito season will start and the longer it will last (due to warmer temperatures). The farther north you are, the season starts later and is shorter (due to cooler temperatures).
Effective management of mosquito populations is dependent upon correct identification of the conditions that favor mosquitoes, because not all mosquitoes survive and thrive in similar conditions. This is why it is important to contact a professional like Orkin.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Is there a particular time of day that mosquitoes are more likely to be active?
GREG BAUMANN: Early morning and later afternoon/early evening.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Are there improvements that a homeowner can make that will reduce their risk of mosquitoes breeding in and around their yards?
GREG BAUMANN: Mosquitoes only need a small water source (2 – 3 inches deep) with nutrients to breed and survive, making them very hard to control. In addition, the entire life cycle of a mosquito can be as short as 10 to 16 days. Therefore, it’s important that homeowners empty any standing water (e.g. from gutters, birdbaths or flower pots) and thin vegetation from around the home. Be sure to replace outdoor light bulbs with yellow bulbs that are less attractive to mosquitoes. Make sure screens on windows and doors fit tightly and have no holes, so as to keep mosquitoes out of the home.
TOM KRAEUTLER: What are some other ways to limit exposure to mosquitoes?
GREG BAUMANN: At Orkin, we encourage everyone to take certain steps to reduce their risk of contracting a mosquito-borne illness. When outdoors, make sure to spray an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin and wear long sleeves and socks, if possible. You can also purchase clothing treated with materials that repel and control mosquitoes. Since prime mosquito biting hours are between dusk and dawn, make sure to take the proper precautions during this time to avoid being bitten.
TOM KRAEUTLER: What about professional treatment?
GREG BAUMANN: Orkin’s mosquito treatment begins with an inspection of potential breeding sites. Following the inspection, larvicides may be used in standing water, such as ponds or other water features in the landscape, to break the life cycle of mosquitoes’ offspring before they become biting adults. The service may also include a thorough application of insecticides to the underside of leaves on shrubbery, ornamental plantings and other areas where adult mosquitoes tend to land and rest.
Pricing for Orkin’s mosquito treatment is customized for the homeowner and depends on the size of the homeowner’s yard and the amount of vegetation to be treated. For a more specific quote, homeowners should contact their local branch for a free inspection.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Greg, let’s talk about spiders. This is one pest that really freaks people out. But aren’t spiders beneficial insects as well?
GREG BAUMANN: In nature, spiders are actually very beneficial to people in that they kill the very insects that pester us – cockroaches, mosquitoes, bees and wasps. They only become dangerous when we interact with them (which is why it’s important to keep them and their food sources out of our homes).Spiders typically live where there is a food source nearby. That means that if you have a spider problem, you also have a pest problem. And if you want to rid your home of spiders, you need to contact a licensed pest management professional like Orkin to first rid your home of insects and other pests.
TOM KRAEUTLER: What types of spiders are commonly found in homes, and which types are more dangerous than others?
GREG BAUMANN: More than 35,000 species of spiders have been identified worldwide. In the United States, there are approximately 3,500, but only 10-20 of these species are normally encountered inside the home. One of the most common species of spiders encountered is the house spider, which is not harmful. However, some spiders found in homes can be dangerous. Where they exist, the brown recluse and black widow have been known to bite unsuspecting individuals. One thing to note is that managing spider infestations is dependent upon correct spider and food source identification, which is why it is important to contact a professional like Orkin.
TOM KRAEUTLER: OK, so let’s talk about what these biting spiders look like…
GREG BAUMANN: Black and brown widow spiders inflict a painful, though rarely fatal, bite. They are approximately 1/2 an inch long, jet black and shiny. Some adult females have red markings often forming an hour-glass shape on the abdomen. Their webs are typically built near the ground in dark areas, such as in firewood piles or between boxes.
Brown recluse spiders are yellowish-brown with a dark brown, violin-shaped marking. Their bite is usually not felt, but can cause severe injury. They are nocturnal and are found outdoors in debris, wood piles and under logs and stones. Indoors they are found hiding in storage areas such as attics and crawl spaces, clothing, boxes and furniture.
Like the brown recluse spider, bites from hobo spiders can cause flesh to die, resulting in disfiguring scars and headaches that last as long as seven days. Hobo spiders are 7/16 to 5/8 of an inch long with a herringbone stripe pattern of brown, gray and tan on the abdomen with hairy legs. They are found mostly outside but are found inside within wall voids and other places where there is not much activity. They are also found in bath areas because of the moisture.
TOM KRAEUTLER: How do we keep our homes spider-free?
GREG BAUMANN: It is important to use caution when handling firewood, mulch or moving boxes, as these are three typical ways spiders are easily transported in or near homes.
According to Orkin, to make homes less attractive to spiders:
- Target their food source. Contact a licensed pest management professional like Orkin who will use an integrated pest management approach of non-chemical and chemical methodologies to rid your home of unwanted pests.
- Make areas in and around your home uncomfortable for spiders by removing clutter, sweeping, etc.
- Inhibit their ability to create webs by cleaning, dusting, etc.
- Seal off potential entries like cracks and crevices, spaces under doors (install door sweeps), holes in screens, etc.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Cockroaches are perhaps the pest that grosses homeowners out the most – and there is good reason for that, isn’t’ there?
GREG BAUMANN: Cockroaches are filthy pests. They can spread disease, contaminate our food and cause allergies and even asthma. Cockroaches can pick up germs on their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then transfer these germs to food or onto food surfaces. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), they are proven or suspected carriers of the organisms causing diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, leprosy, plague, typhoid fever and viral diseases such as poliomyelitis. Medical studies have shown that cockroaches produce allergens and have been proven to cause allergic reactions and even asthma in some children.
TOM KRAEUTLER: What species of cockroaches typically infest homes?
GREG BAUMANN: Cockroaches are survivors – there are nearly 4,000 different species known in the world, and they predate humans by more than 300 million years. Wherever humans can survive, so can pest species of cockroaches. The German, American and Oriental cockroaches can cause serious pest problems. The American Cockroach (often referred to as the “Palmetto Bug” or “Water Bug”) is the largest of the house-infesting urban pest cockroaches, about 1½ to 2 inches long. Cockroaches are a universal pest problem and eat almost anything. You name it – they eat it – sugar, beer, dust, garbage and feces – and even human hair. Without food, cockroaches can survive nearly two months. Without water, they can survive approximately 1½ weeks.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Perhaps the biggest problem is how fast you can have a full-blown infestation
GREG BAUMANN: Cockroaches, which are mostly nocturnal, reproduce very quickly. For every one you see, there could be hundreds more hiding and reproducing in your home. In fact, certain types, such as the German cockroach, can produce up to 48 babies (“nymphs”) every 20-25 days. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about $240 million is spent annually in trying to exterminate cockroaches.
TOM KRAEUTLER: How do you keep them from infesting a house?
GREG BAUMANN: Orkin encourages people to reduce and eliminate cockroach populations by removing all food and unnecessary water sources, sealing all cracks and crevices, vacuuming, removing shelter sites like cardboard and paper, and using an integrated pest management program. You can also reduce the risk of cockroaches by carefully inspecting items prone to infestation, such as suitcases, cardboard boxes and grocery bags.
TOM KRAEUTLER: What are some ways we can improve the outside of our homes to keep summer pests out?
- Pour out water collecting in items like flower pots, dog bowls and bird baths. Standing water provides the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, so scan your yard regularly for places where water could collect.
- Use a weed trimmer to thin vegetation near your home, as thick vegetation provides a place for pests to nest.
- Fit screens and tighten seals properly on doors and windows to prevent pests from entering into your home.
- Seal all cracks and crevices
- Install door sweeps on all doors
- Be sure to replace outdoor light bulbs with yellow bulbs that are less attractive to mosquitoes
- Plant vegetation at least 12 inches away from the home