Winter Pest-Proofing Can Keep Rodents and Other Pests Away

Winter Pest-Proofing Can Keep Rodents and Other Pests Away

For many homeowners, pest proofing is a chore relegated to the warmer months of the year. But many pests gain entry into homes in the winter as they seek shelter from the cold weather. In fact, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), rodents alone invade an estimated 21 million homes in the U.S. each winter.

With 24% of homeowners reporting mice infestations specifically in the winter, they are among the top pest issues of the season. Mice and rats spread diseases like Salmonella and Hantavirus when they contaminate food, and bring fleas, ticks and lice indoors. Rodents can also cause serious structural damage by chewing through wood and electrical wiring.

Other winter invaders pose health threats, as well. Cockroaches and ants contaminate food sources, and cockroaches can trigger asthma attacks in children. Spiders bite when they feel threatened, causing serious reactions in some people.

“Pests including cockroaches, ants, spiders and especially rodents are common home invaders in the winter,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. “An infestation by these pests can cause serious health and property issues if not properly dealt with in a timely manner. However, homeowners can help prevent infestation troubles by taking a proactive approach in eliminating entryways into the home.”

To prevent pests from infesting your home this winter, NPMA recommends following these tips:

  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home.
  • Inspect wires, insulation and walls for gnaw marks, which may indicate a rodent infestation.
  • Store boxes off of the floor to prevent rodents from residing in undisturbed areas.
  • Keep branches and shrubbery trimmed away from the home.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five feet off the ground.

Africanized Bees Kill Two South Florida Dogs (South Florida): Africanized Bees Kill Two South Florida Dogs

SOUTH FLORIDA – A swarm of Africanized bees went on the attack, killing two family pets while their pregnant owner stood by helplessly.

“The nest was like inside the fence on the other side,” said Lauri Deane. “I let both of the dogs out back here.”

Deane is traumatized by what happened next. In just moments, the bees attacked her dogs.

“Five minutes later, I heard both of them crying at the door,” she said. “I saw both dogs just covered in what looked like hundreds of bees, maybe thousands,” she said.

Deane, who is seven months pregnant, wanted to save her pets, but it was too dangerous for her to go outside. Her teacup Yorkie, Roxie, didn’t make it.

“I took her right to the vet, but she was too little and she was stung too many times,” she said.

DJ, her yellow Labrador was able to hang on a little longer. We met the lovable Lab on Tuesday. “The vet said that our Lab probably got stung 300 to 400 times. He’s in liver failure now and the doctor did say that he’s in septic shock so, he’s in pretty bad shape,” Deane told Local 10 on Tuesday.

Sadly, DJ died just hours later.

“The exterminator just said that he’s taken out many of these Africanized honey bees, many of the nests in this area,” Deane said.

As sad as she is about losing her dogs, Deane and her neighbors all say it could have been much worse had the dogs attacked Deane and her unborn child. They are now cautioning other residents in South Florida to aware of the danger these bees can pose.

1 Additional Case of WNV Brings Duval Total to 29 1 Additional Case of WNV Brings Duval Total to 29

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Duval County Health Department confirmed an additional case of West Nile Virus Tuesday.  The newest case brings this year’s total to 29.

The health department said the newest case involves a 65-year-old man. Of the 29 confirmed cases, one person has died.

A release from the health department said roughly one in 150 people infected with the virus develop severe symptoms.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

The symptoms may last for several weeks and some neurological effects could be permanent.

The health department advises people follow these “Drain and Cover” tips:

Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying:

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pets’ water bowls at least once or twice a week. Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.

Maintain swimming pools, keeping them in good condition, and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plasticswimming pools when not in use.

Cover skin with clothing or repellent:

Clothing: Wear shoes, socks and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.

Repellent: Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing. Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective. Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.

Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house:

Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios.

Tips on Repellent Use

  • Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.
  • Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET are generally recommended. Other EPA-approved repellents contain Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
  • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the CDC, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of 3 years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old.
  • Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
  • If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Hiring a South Florida Pest Control Company

Hiring a South Florida Pest Control Company


Choosing a pest control professional to share in identification and treatment responsibilities for a possible pest infestation is an important decision for your business. The recommendations provided below will help you to better understand how to select a pest control professional and make a decision that best serves your business:



  • Always work with a qualified, licensed pest control professional in your area; evaluate companies that are members of national, state or local pest management associations.
  • Ask other business owners to recommend pest control companies they have used successfully and how satisfied they were with the service.
  • If a sizable amount of money is involved, get bids from several pest management firms.
  • Don’t rush a decision. Since you are paying for professional knowledge and skill, look for someone whose judgment you can trust.
  • Before signing a contract, be sure to fully understand the nature of the pest, the extent of the infestation, and the work necessary to solve the problem.
  • Buy value, not price. Beware of bargains that sound too good to be true.

Information on Rugose Spiraling Whitefly

Information on Rugose Spiraling Whitefly

Rugose Spiraling Whitefly – Customer Information Sheet

In March, 2009, a whitefly (Aleurodicus rugioperculatus Martin: Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae), was collected in Miami‐Dade County from gumbo limbo. This was the first report of this insect on the U.S. continent and it is believed to originate from Central America. Since the initial find, there have been numerous other reports, all in Miami‐Dade County. It will likely spread to other southern Florida counties.

The most noticeable symptoms of an infestation of this whitefly is the abundance of
the white, waxy material covering the leaves and also excessive sooty mold. Like other similar insects, these whiteflies will produce “honeydew”, a sugary substance, which causes the growth of sooty mold. The actual effect of an infestation on the health of a plant is unknown; however, whiteflies in general can cause plant decline, defoliation and branch dieback.
What are Whiteflies?
They are small, winged insects that belong to the Order Hemiptera which also includes aphids, scales, and mealybugs. These insects typically feed on the underside of leaves with their “needle-like” mouthparts. Whiteflies can seriously injure host plants by sucking nutrients from the plant causing wilting, yellowing, stunting, leaf drop, or even death. There are more than 75 different whiteflies reported in Florida.
NOTE: This is not the same whitefly (ficus whitefly) that is currently causing defoliation and branch dieback of ficus in south Florida. via UFL

Rugose Spiraling Whitefly Control

Florida researchers offering advice on crazy ants

Florida researchers offering advice on crazy ants

GAINESVILLE — University of Florida researchers are still working on strategies for controlling crazy ants found so far in 20 Florida counties, but they’re offering some preliminary advice.

They advised homeowners on Thursday to seek professional help because crazy ants are difficult to eradicate.

The golden-brown invaders from the Caribbean and South America run around erratically and cause property damage but don’t sting like fire ants.

Fire ant baits don’t work well because they contain oil to attract those fat-loving pests. Their crazy cousins hate oil.

Researchers also advise homeowners to remove leaves and other yard litter where the insects like to nest. They also should fix leaky outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems and minimize standing water sources.

Extermination efforts work best in February and March before the breeding season begins.

Strategies to control crazy ants taking shape for UF/IFAS researchers

Strategies to control crazy ants taking shape for UF/IFAS researchers

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Their name is comical, but when crazy ants infest a neighborhood it’s no laughing matter.

The fast-moving, invasive insects are present in Florida and several other Gulf Coast states. They can establish colonies with multiple queens and millions of workers, blanketing lawns and sidewalks, killing native species, shorting out electrical systems and creating headaches for homeowners and pest-control operators.

So far, efforts to control crazy ants have involved a patchwork of approaches, many of which failed. But a team of University of Florida researchers is developing an integrated pest management system tailored to the species’ unique characteristics and habits.

This week at the Entomological Society of America annual meeting in Knoxville, Tenn., two of those researchers presented findings on 15 insecticidal baits evaluated for the system.

Though none of the products were developed specifically for crazy ants, the researchers found that two granular baits — Amdro Pro and Maxforce Complete — killed crazy ants fastest in laboratory testing, probably because those baits had the most “appetite appeal” and were eaten more readily than other products, said Dawn Calibeo, an entomology doctoral candidate with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“There’s not the ideal combination of bait and class of active ingredient we’d like,” Calibeo said. “Most of the formulations we tested were developed for fire ants, which feed on fats, so they contain oil. Crazy ants hate oil.”

It will be several months before full recommendations are ready, she said. But, based on her studies of crazy ants’ feeding and nesting habits, Calibeo has developed some preliminary suggestions for pest-control professionals:

First, it’s crucial to attack the problem early in the year, preferably in February or March before the weather warms up and the ants begin breeding. She says to “bait early and bait according to label directions.” Professionals should use baits after applying a contact insecticide to reduce ant numbers, but be careful not to place baits where they’ll be contaminated by contact insecticides.

Also, county extension offices can help professionals access continuing-education materials with detailed information about the insect and treatment options.

For homeowners, Calibeo suggests seeking professional help immediately.

“We haven’t seen anyone who successfully dealt with it on their own,” she said.

However, there are several things homeowners can do to reduce the risk of attracting a crazy ant infestation, said Faith Oi, a UF/IFAS assistant extension scientist and Calibeo’s adviser.

The insects nest outdoors in damp, confined spaces, so it’s important to remove leaf litter, storm debris and other yard waste that could provide shelter, she said.

They also need water to survive, so residents should fix leaky outdoor faucets, pipes and irrigation systems, and minimize standing-water sources, such as pet bowls and flower pots.

In the spring and summer, it’s a good idea to check yards for established colonies. Look for golden-brown ants running erratically on structures, vegetation or the ground. Also, crazy ants do not build mounds.

The species is often referred to as the Caribbean crazy ant, but it appears that name may be misleading. Until recently it was thought that well-publicized infestations in Florida were caused by a species present in the state for half a century, Nylanderia pubens.

But a research paper published this year showed that the crazy ants swarming in Jacksonville and Gainesville were actually the species Nylanderia fulva. Oi said it’s likely that some, if not all, Gulf Coast infestations are caused by this species, which hails from South America.

Currently, 20 Florida counties have reported invasive crazy ant colonies, with Sarasota County hardest-hit. Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana have also experienced problems with N. fulva, which probably arrived in the United States 10 to 20 years ago via soil or plant material transported on ships.

Though the ant does not pack a painful bite or sting, scientists are concerned that it could gravely impact Florida’s agricultural industries if it enters agricultural systems, Oi said. In Colombia, where the species has been established for decades, harvests sometimes are negatively impacted by the overwhelming presence of crazy ants in crop fields.

Funding for the research was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Bayer, which manufactures Maxforce pest control products.

Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs

(Cimex lectularius(L.))


Bed bugs are reddish brown in color and are wingless. They are roughly oval in shape and become swollen after a blood meal. Bed bugs are dorsoventrally flattened (thin), and this means that they can hide in narrow cracks and crevices. They are also fast runners.


Approximately 3/16-inch long.


Bed bugs feed on blood and have mouthparts that are especially adapted for piercing skin. Like most blood sucking arthropods, they inject saliva during feeding, which has anticoagulant properties. Bed bugs respond to the warmth and carbon dioxide of a host and quickly locate a suitable feeding site. Most feeding occurs at night, and they generally seek shelter during the day. However, bed bugs are opportunistic and will bite in the day especially if starved for some time. They can survive for long periods without feeding. While their preferred host is human, they will feed on wide variety of other warm-blooded animals including rodents, rabbits, bats, and even birds.


Being a cryptic species, bed bugs shelter in a variety of dark locations; mostly close to where people sleep. These include cracks and crevices such as mattress seams, sheets, floorboards, behind paintings, in carpets, behind skirting, within bed frames and other furniture, and behind loose wallpaper. Bed bugs are often found in hotels and may move from room to room through plumbing pipes, electrical lines, and on housekeeping carts. Blood spotting on mattresses and nearby furnishings is often a tell tale sign of an infestation.

Health Concerns

Although blood feeding like mosquitoes, bed bugs have not yet been implicated or connected to any disease transmission. It has been suggested that they might play a role in the spread of Hepatitis B; however, experimental evidence does not support this. Also, not all people react to bed bug bites. Those that do react will have red, itchy welts on the skin that are caused by an allergic reaction..


Do you live in South Florida and think that this pest may be invading your home? Hulett Environmental Services offers specialty pest control treatments designed to control and eliminate this pest!