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5 Tips to Prevent Mice This Winter

Cooler weather is here, which leaves some pests and rodents seeking shelter and warmth. This time of year, we receive multiple calls about mice making unwanted visits in people’s homes. We’re sure mice in your home aren’t on your holiday wish list, so we’ve pulled together five tips to help keep them away.

  • Keep your doors closed: This sounds simple and intuitive, but it’s easy to forget to close the garage door or leave the door open if you accidentally burn something in the kitchen. Make a conscious effort with your roommates or family to keep the doors closed as much as possible.
  • Seal the cracks in your home: Make sure doors and windows are sealed tight and cracks in the drywall or foundation are repaired. Mice can fit through an opening about the size of a dime, so even the smallest cracks and crevices can invite them in.
  • Don’t invite them to enjoy your leftovers: If you have leftovers or dirty dishes in the sink, don’t leave them sitting out for long periods of time or mice are more likely to be drawn into your home for a bedtime snack.
  • Keep storage away from the perimeter of your home: It may seem easier to keep the firewood right next to your back door, but that makes a nice home for a mouse and easier for them to move into your home. We recommend keeping stockpiles at least 20 yards away from your house if possible.
  • Use peppermint oil: Mice can’t stand the smell of peppermint. Put a couple of drops of peppermint oil on a cloth or paper towel and leave it near where mice may try to enter your home or at the bottom of the trash can. This is a natural and safe way to repel them.

If you still experience signs of mice in your home, give us a call to come out and inspect your home to determine the best method to eliminate them.

10 Tips to Prevent Stink Bugs in Your Home

It’s that time of year again where those pesky stink bugs are back. Let’s face it stink bugs, stink! Although there isn’t a pest solution out there to completely eradicate them from your home. There are ways you can prevent them and contain them. Here are 10 Tips to Prevent Stink Bugs in Your Home:

  1. Block their point of entry: Inspect your screens and doors to ensure a tight seal. Stink bugs can get through the smallest cracks and crevices (about an 1/8 of an inch). Make sure to seal any openings you find.
  2. Rub screens with dryer sheets: According to Bayer Advanced, this method has helped homeowners reduce the amount of stink bugs in their home by up to 80{ad5e8aa3ff70a065ec921f73ddc1066dff67ecaeac85a84c725cb4d67ce49b4f}.
  3. Scare them with their own stink: Squish a few stink bugs that are outside your home. The odor from them warns other stink bugs to stay away.
  4. Turn off the outdoor lights: Stink bugs are attracted to lights, so minimize the time your outdoor lights are on and close blinds when you’re home.
  5. Check your pipes and drains: Leaks create an increased amount of moisture and stink bugs will flock to it.
  6. Cut off food sources: Remove their access to food sources by sealing food in containers and disposing of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles. Also make sure you vacuum up crumbs and clean up spills.
  7. Ventilate: Check ventilation in areas like your basement, attic or garage. Improper ventilation creates more moisture in the air and you guessed it: they’ll flock.
  8. Store firewood away from your house: Keep firewood over 20 feet from your house and elevated off the ground.
  9. Clean those shrubs: Keep your landscaping clean and trimmed to keep these bugs from living in your gardens.
  10. Vacuum (with caution): You can vacuum these pests, but will need to throw the bag away afterwards. If you leave the bag too long, the bugs will begin to release their odor.

Special thank you to Pest World for their insights!

The Tick and the Mosquito

Towards the latter part of the summer it becomes very important to be on the lookout for, and protect yourself from, ticks and mosquitos.

Due to the size they begin their life cycle as (one-eighth of an inch) and the size they grow to (one-half of an inch) ticks can be extremely difficult to detect and protect against. They live on the blood of mammals and birds, obtaining it by burrowing into the skin and extracting the requisite amount.

Sixteen types of ticks exist throughout Virginia, but only three bite people: the lone star tick, the blacklegged tick, and the American dog tick. People are most often bitten by the lone star tick.

There are numerous ways to prevent being bitten by a tick. Using a repellent with DEET and wearing long-sleeve clothing are two of the more effective ways to keep ticks at bay. It is also recommended to take a break during outdoor activities to perform a tick check. If a tick is found, stay calm and simply remove it.

Mosquitos are most active during the dawn to dusk period of the day. Proper maintenance and repair of screen doors and camping equipment goes a long way toward keeping mosquitos away. The use of netting when sleeping outdoors is an easy and effective way of preventing mosquito bites.

For more tips on preventing tick and mosquito bites, checkout these useful guides from Fairfax County Government:

http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/your-field-guide-to-battle-ticks/

http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/your-field-guide-to-battle-mosquitoes/

 

 

 

The Ant Taketh and Giveth

The ant can be one of the more pesky and destructive bugs, especially as the weather warms at the end of spring and the start of summer. Yet, on the other hand, ants are not without benefits.

Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA) illustrate this dichotomy. They pose a threat to picnickers and frolickers in parks when they swarm and sting people. If disturbed from their mound, they attack and impose a painful sting on their victims. Animals are not immune to the dangers of RIFA either. Livestock are at similar risk to red fire ants, which attack the mouths of cows and horses when grazing for food. Calves can be painfully stung, and in some cases blinded, before they are able to stand up and walk.

On the other hand, ants can have a beneficial impact on the environment. They do a better job than worms at improving soil. When they dig tunnels and move soil, nutrients are redistributed. The open spaces left behind in their tunnels improve air and water circulation in the soil.

Termites and ticks, among other nuisance bugs that carry disease, are a favorite staple of an ants’ diet. By eating pests such as these, ants provide an invaluable service to farm animals. Irritating red fire ants are especially good at devouring pests, sometimes even ones larger than them, such as scorpions as stinkbugs.

If RIFA are creating a problem on your property, contact Triple S Services at 800-457-3785 for a free ant inspection.
We have over 35 years in business as a family owned and operated business.

The Pesky Mosquito

Mosquitos are pesky, annoying, and pose a serious health risk to the general public. They are carriers of a wide range of diseases, all of which have the potential to cause significant health issues.

Beginning with one of the more recent threats, the Zika virus, infected Mosquitos pose a great risk to women who are pregnant. The Zika virus has been known to cause microcephaly (which can lead to intellectual disabilities), and other brain malformations in some babies.

The West Nile virus, for which there is not a vaccine, brings on mild side effects such as fever and muscle soreness. In some cases, more serious illness such as encephalitis and meningitis may occur. Encephalitis causes inflammation of the brain, while meningitis inflames the lining of the brain and spinal cord.

After being bitten, many people are unaware they have been infected with St. Louis encephalitis (SLEVE), as the most common symptoms (fever, headache, and nausea) don’t usually overwhelm them. Yet, SLEVE can cause neuroinvasive disease such as inflammation of the brain.

Humans are not the only ones who are susceptible to infected mosquitos. Horses need to be protected from eastern equine encephalitis (a/k/a sleeping sickness), which causes inflammation of the brain and the spinal cord. Signs of infection, which can appear anywhere between three to ten days after a horse has been bitten, include staggering aimlessly, inability to swallow, and at times, death.

Triple ‘S’ Services recommends scheduling a visit to address cleaning up areas on a property that may attract mosquitos. Call us today at 800-457-3785.

You May Be Caught Unawares

Subterranean termites, as their name indicates, make their way into a house by burrowing under the ground and looking for their comfort zone, mainly soil and a moist area. Once inside a structure, they create tunnels and look to feed on wood and other like material. After forming organized colonies and assigning duties in a similar way to that of ants and worker bees, they are capable of creating significant damage in a very short period of time.

A large majority of the time a homeowner is not aware of the existence of a colony until the termites have begun their work and wrecked significant havoc. Similar to other pests, as they gain a foothold in a structure, they like to multiply and continue their onslaught. It is considered wise, especially in certain climates, to take preventative measures.

There are many types of subterranean termites across the United States (eastern, western, dampwood, drywood). While it is not good to be infested with any of these creatures, the eastern subterranean termite causes the most damage nationwide due to its large population. They generally swarm during the spring, more towards the morning, when soil temperatures are hovering around 70 degrees.  

Prevention is the key to avoiding swarms of termites from entering a home. Control of entry points around the outside of a house, especially near damp and moist areas, is one of the better means of preventing swarms from gathering and multiplying. Setting baits and traps at these locations can also help prevent the formation of colonies. Once a colony is discovered, there are several proven solutions available to eradicate termites including Sentricon® or Dupont™ Altriset™ termiticide. Another viable way of ridding a house of subterranean termites is injecting the nest with borate and liquid nitrogen, which the termites must ingest or come in contact with to work. A trusted professional is recommended to test for termites and propose a solution if needed. Contact Triple S Services at 800-457-3785 for a free inspection.

We have over 35 years in business as a family owned and operated business.

Canine Pest Detection for Bedbugs

Why use canines for bedbug detection? In addition to the superb sense of smell dogs possess, using them for bedbug detection also cuts down on the use of pesticides, which in turn can save you money and help the environment.

Dogs have a sense of smell that is 1 million times more sensitive than that of a human. It has been reported that canines have a 97{ad5e8aa3ff70a065ec921f73ddc1066dff67ecaeac85a84c725cb4d67ce49b4f} accuracy rate of detecting live bed bugs by scent compared to the 30{ad5e8aa3ff70a065ec921f73ddc1066dff67ecaeac85a84c725cb4d67ce49b4f} rate humans do by sight. Since bed bugs have five cycles in their lives, the easiest ones to see with the human eye are adults. Dogs can sniff them out at all life cycle stages, from nymph to adult. By using canines, we can detect where bedbugs are located which helps pinpoint where to treat for them. And with our heat remediation treatment, we don’t use pesticides, only heat to kill bedbugs. Bedbugs are becoming increasingly more resistant to the pesticides created to kill them, which means several treatments are needed to achieve the desired effect. By combining canine detection and heat remediation, we can cut down on the number of visits and eliminates pesticides.

The breeds of canines used for pest detection typically include Hounds and Beagles, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, Jack Russell Terriers and Aussies. However, not all dogs within these breeds are a good fit, just like there can be dogs in other breeds that are excellent for the job. It depends on the individual dog and their desire to “hunt.”

Some important information to know about the canines used for bedbug detection are: Where and how are they trained? Can certification be provided of their training? What does the dog do during the inspection? These questions and more are answered using our service.  Call us today to find out more about canine pest detection. 800-457-3785.

Rodent Hide and Seek

We’ve discussed how mice and rats can get in to your home, but where do they hide once they’ve found shelter? The answers can be surprising. Rodents don’t want to be in the middle of the action in your home and find quiet hiding spots. Likely areas are inside walls, the attic, and even behind baseboards, but here are a few more spots they like to hide, some of which can be dangerous – heating elements and wires, which rodents will chew, can pose dangers. If you feel you have rodents in your house, check the following areas:

  • Dryer vents. Dryer vents are a cozy place for mice to hang out in the cold months. If you have access, check the vent outside and if possible, put a screen on it to prevent rodents from getting in.
  • Ovens. Because ovens are warm and hidden, it provides rodents the privacy and heat they search for. However, in addition to being unsanitary, it can also pose a fire risk. If you have an oven that is not used often, check it periodically for chewed wires or insulation around the oven door. Also look for evidence of food or droppings.
  • Linen closets or dresser drawers. While seemingly unlikely places since food is not nearby, these dark spaces can be a cozy place to set up a nest.
  • Storage boxes. Storage areas are a rodent’s dream home. Since they are rarely accessed, and kept in a dark quiet space, rodents will often create nests in them.
  • Under sink cabinets. Under the sink offers everything a rodent wants: warmth, protection and water.
  • Behind the refrigerator. This is a common hiding spot for rats to create a nest. Periodically move the fridge out and clean dust and food debris to make sure you don’t provide an incentive.

If you find rodent droppings, see evidence of missing food, or chewed wires and packages, you might have a rodent infestation. In addition to checking these areas regularly, call Triple S Services for an inspection. 800-457-3785.

Where Do Insects Go During the Winter?

Here’s a little entomology humor for you: What does the stinkbug say to the ladybug in the fall? “Let’s go inside, I’m so over winter.”

The weather is getting cooler. Where do the bugs go? Overwintering insects, such as stinkbugs, seek warmth and shelter to survive. We know that they like to go inside homes and other buildings, but in 2013, as part of a project called “The Great Stinkbug Count,” USDA scientists surveyed forests along the Appalachian Trail in Maryland and West Virginia, using trained canines, and found that they also like large, dry dead trees, with oak and locust being their preferred type. It was also learned that homes in more wooded areas experienced a higher number of overwintering stinkbugs than homes in more urban settings. In our region, we are accustomed to seeing stinkbugs inside as they overwinter. And they can get in without you noticing. Openings in screens and screen doors, gaps in pipes, and virtually any known entrance to your home is inviting to them. However, they are not the only insects who like to go inside.

Ladybugs will gather together to stay warm and can be found in sun-filled areas in your home. They prefer light-colored homes with southwestern exposure.

Centipedes will come indoors, and head down to your basement where it’s cool and moist. Unlike other overwintering insects who slow down during these months, centipedes continue to hunt other bugs and can actually be beneficial, (even though they are creepy).

Wasps can also overwinter. Typically if you find one in your home, it is a queen who is looking for shelter and will be dormant until she can go outside in the spring to create a new colony. She will seek out a quiet area like your basement, or behind a baseboard and unless threatened, will be largely inactive.

Given how these insects have had years of adapting to conditions and surroundings, they are hard to spot when they come in. Many people don’t even realize they have them in their homes over the winter. Triple S has over 35 years of experience inspecting homes for overwintering insects and can help you determine if you have these insects in your home, and where they might be coming from. Call today for your free inspection: 800-457-3685.

How to Keep the Stink Out

Brown marmorated stinkbugs are adept at getting into tight spaces. You might think your house is well sealed, but stinkbugs can get into the smallest spaces. Even if your screen door appears to be free from holes, they can get in through cracked weather stripping. The entry points into your home for utilities such as water and electricity also offer opportunities for these bugs to get in. These are just two examples.

What do you do once they are inside? It’s known that when threatened or killed, stinkbugs emit an odor. No one wants that stink in their house. There are ways to capture them alive and avoid the smelly result. In addition to Triple S’s service plans to help control the stink bug population in and around your home, here are some tips from the University of Maryland’s Home and Garden Information Center on how to keep stinkbugs out and how to remove those who already made it in. Watch the video below.