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Mosquito, Cockroach and Rodent Populations Expected to Spike

Mosquito, Cockroach and Rodent Populations Expected to SpikeAfter record-breaking rainfall last spring and summer, along with hurricanes Alberto, Florence and Michael pummeling the southeast with unprecedented amounts of water and lingering moisture, The National Pest Management Association’s biannual Bug Barometer® is predicting a spike in “major pest populations in the Lower 48 this fall and winter,” according to weather.com. A seasonal forecast that measures pest pressure and activity the US can expect to encounter in different regions of the country, the Bug Barometer® is based on several factors:

  • Weather patterns
  • Long-term weather predictions
  • Biological behavior of pests

More moisture-loving pest activity expected

According to entomologists at the National Pest Management Association, a wetter than normal spring, summer and fall, in addition to erratic weather patterns, will likely result in increased pest pressure across the continental United States. “With most of the country still damp from summer and fall, and winter forecasts predicting even more precipitation, said chief entomologist,” Dr. Jim Fredericks, “expect an increase in activity from moisture-loving pests such as mosquitoes, termites, cockroaches, stink bugs and rodents.”

Fredericks went on to say the drought in the Southwest may cause an increase in rodent activity, as well. “Rodent populations will become public enemy number one as they seek shelter indoors and are in search of steady sources of food and water,” Fredericks said.

NOAA ‘s 2018-2019 Winter Outlook

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Winter Outlook predicts a mild winter this December through February, also indicating a “wetter-than-average” season in the mid-Atlantic states and across southern states, with above-average precipitation in southern Georgia and Northern Florida. Drier than average conditions will likely prevail in the north and western parts of the country.

A round-up by region could look like this:

  • The Northeast – A wet and hot summer followed by a wetter winter could cause ticks to stay active longer. Stink bugs and lady beetles may thrive in the wetter conditions and rodents will try to move indoors as temps drop.
  • The Southeast – Inundated by flooding caused by three hurricanes and a wetter than usual summer and fall, mosquitoes will increase in numbers and varieties. Excess moisture is also predicted to prolong termite and ant activity.
  • The Midwest and the Great Lakes – After summer flash floods and a warm and wet winter, northern parts will contend with mosquito populations flourishing in the fall, while the southern, drier areas will battle ants coming indoors in search of food and water.
  • South Central – Excessive rainfall in parts of Texas should result in increased mosquito activity in the fall, while the drought in parts of the region over the summer will see increased numbers of rodents and ants heading indoors for water and food this fall and winter.
  • North Central – Increased roach and ant activity likely in northern parts after flooding in summer and a wet winter, with more rodents expected to seek shelter indoors for winter.

El Nino and Arctic Oscillation

Driving the long-term outlook, NOAA points to the “70 to 75 percent chance” of El Niño developing. An ocean-atmosphere pattern caused by warmer than normal ocean temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, El Nino typically means a wetter-than-average winter in the “southern US states and warmer, drier conditions to parts of the North,” NOAA’s outlook says. While the US may experience a weak El Niño this winter, other factors may come into play that will affect our winter weather.

Arctic Oscillation, a weather pattern that can shift the jet stream further south during its negative mode and further north during its positive mode can make a difference in the amount of wintry precipitation the Midwest and eastern states see during the winter. NOAA says that “Arctic Oscillation influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the southern US and could result in below-average temps in the eastern part of the US.”

Meanwhile, in South Florida

In South Florida, due to the expected weakness of this winter’s anticipated El Niño event, the probability of a wetter than normal winter is predicted to be less than 50 percent. This is good news for South Florida residents, who are no strangers to mosquitoes, termites, and ants. To get ready for increased mosquito activity, diligently apply insect repellent with DEET and wear appropriate clothing when outside, especially in the evening and early morning hours. If you can, avoid extensive outdoor activities during these times, as well. On your property, eliminating standing water and replacing or repairing all window and door screens can also help ward off mosquitoes. With vector-borne disease diagnoses on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control, South Florida residents should take precautions against mosquitoes and ticks.

Termites, rodents, and ants

If it seems like you are in a constant war with termites and ants in South Florida, it’s because you are. These guys just love South Florida living. Ants often invade homes looking for higher ground after heavy rains and searing heat. Reproductive Termites swarm after rains in the spring so warm, wet winter weather may encourage the formation of new colonies, earlier than usual.  Damp and water damaged woods are always an open invitation to termites to come on in and feast on the wood in your home. Rodents come indoors to get out of the rain and cooler temps.

Contact a professional, such as Hulett

Your South Florida home needs the protection of a qualified pest control professional. Hulett’s Healthy Home program creates an extermination barrier around your home and property using targeted environmentally responsible techniques and materials, with our customized, IPM approach to pest prevention. Trust your home health to Hulett. Locally owned and operated, Hulett has weathered over 50 “winters” in the battle against persistent pests in South Florida, just call Hulett!

Holiday Decorations Become Pest Hiding Spots

Holiday Decorations Become Pest Hiding Spots

Storing your holiday decorations in cardboard boxes in your attic or garage might seem like the logical thing to do. Logical but also very convenient for a number of holiday pests such as mice and other rodents who like to chew through your boxes or shred them for nesting materials. Also, making the holiday pest list, roaches like to hang out in cardboard boxes to hide out from you and other predators. Spiders like to hitch rides indoors on wreaths and trees, plus silverfish also like to get in on your silver bell theme, frequenting boxes, as well.

A mouse in the house

So, what does a mouse chewing through a box mean? It could mean nothing. It could mean that a mouse passed through your attic or garage for a quick cardboard chew to keep those teeth in check and moved on to your neighbor’s or decided to winter out-of-doors. Sure, it’s possible but not likely. Check for other signs of rodent activity such as chewed through bags in your pantry or mouse droppings in your kitchen. If you’ve heard scratching in your walls, tiny feet running across your attic or squeaking sounds in the night, it’s beginning to look a lot like it could be time to contact a professional pest control company to inspect your home for rodent activity.

Roaches: Never a good thing

You never want to see roaches anywhere, especially during the holiday season. With so many food opportunities present, what roach wouldn’t want to walk through all of those holiday goodies? At a hectic time, when you open your home to friends and family, you don’t want to have to worry about the health threats of these pests, not to mention the embarrassment of cockroaches strolling across your holiday cocktail spread.

Spiders: Not a bad thing but not really winter holiday festive

Most spiders come indoors, looking for food and that works out well for homeowners, keeping the insect levels low in your home. However, even though we know that most spiders benefit the environment, our eight-legged friends suffer from their association with scary things and they scare the fa-la-la-la-la out of some folks. That’s why you don’t really need spiders coming in your house on trees, garlands, wreaths, and other seasonal greenery.

Silverfish: Not fish and not the kind of silver you might be thinking of for your holiday decor

Hopefully, should you find holiday pests, such as silverfish in your holiday boxes, they haven’t made it to the stored stockings that will hang by the fireplace with care. Notorious for feeding on paper, fabric, and wallpaper, silverfish are attracted to carbohydrates, especially sugary and starchy items. What could possibly go wrong in this holiday scenario? Silverfish, who usually enter homes in cardboard boxes could head for those beautifully wrapped gifts, trashing the gift wrap and even going for books and other gifts under your tree.

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? Holiday pests won’t be an issue . . .

So, how do you keep holiday pests out of decking your halls, attic, or garage? What’s to stop spiders, roaches, silverfish, and other insects from catching the Polar Express into your holiday plans? Here are a few quick and easy ideas that can help prevent holiday pests.

Contain your joy

To keep your storage space as pest-free as possible, store your jingle bells, ornaments and other decor in airtight containers. Source hard plastic totes with tight-fighting lids to store boxes of ornaments. Large metal boxes, stackable hard plastic totes, and other containers can also help organize your attic or garage. Holiday cookie and popcorn containers make great storage containers that you can even put under your tree as accent pieces until the real gifts arrive.

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

During the holidays, we bring a number of greenery items and trees indoors that would otherwise stay outside. With the cooler temps, all manner of insects are looking for warmth, food, and shelter from the elements and predators. Out-of-doors is where bugs normally live so when we bring the outdoors inside, it seems logical to expect to find a few stowaways in the process. So, when you get home with your tree, garlands, and wreaths, before you take them inside, why not give them a good shake and a thorough going over before hauling them inside.

Totes maggots- keep the bugs out of your home

The same thing goes for bringing cardboard boxes and paper bags into your home. Not just around the holidays but year-round, if possible, unload boxes and bags outside or in a carport or garage and then disposing of those boxes in an outside recycling container. This can reduce the likelihood of insects entering your home. Sound like a lot of trouble and who’s going to unload all of their groceries outside instead of just bringing them in the house? More and more environmentally responsible shoppers are shopping with their own recycled or cloth bags to cut down on plastic consumption. You might even explore the idea of carrying a plastic or recycled plastic tote around with you in your vehicle when shopping. That way you can skip a step, placing groceries in the tote before leaving the grocery store.

Hulett wishes you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season! Don’t let holiday pests put the bah-humbug in your very merry!

Just call Hulett!

Keeping Rats Out This Winter

Keeping Rats Out This Winter

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and with the cooler temps, rodents are looking for a place to settle down for a long winter’s nap. Your warm and cozy home, brimming with holiday goodies, not to mention the out-of-the-way, wall voids and attics to build nests in seem like ideal winter destinations, as far as rats are concerned.

Rats are resilient and able to chew through almost any material

Rats have coexisted alongside humans since humans started sharing their shelters, water, and food with them. Resilient, rats can squeeze through tiny holes in your foundation, your attic, and other entry points. These guys, with their large Freddie Mercury-like chompers, can also chew through just about anything, including brick, lead, cinder block, brick, mortar, aluminum, wood, glass, vinyl, and improperly cured concrete. Unlike the Queen rockstar, rats’ front teeth grow 4.5 to 5.5 inches each year. That’s why rats are always chewing everything they can, to keep those teeth in check.  Rats chewing through electrical wiring are suspected to cause hundreds of unexplained house fires annually.

So how do you keep these persistent pests out of your South Florida home this winter?

Even though rats can chew through almost anything, sealing all cracks in your foundation and all entryways, including windows, doors, and vents will keep them from finding a way to get into your home. The right kind of wire mesh covering vents and grates can help deter rats. Mesh made from stainless steel with a diameter of at least 0.56 mm is considered thick enough to keep rats from chewing through it. Galvanized steel, softer than stainless steel, is way easier for rats to chew through, even at the same thickness as stainless steel.

Branches act as bridges

Tree branches and landscape shrubbery can be a welcome sign for rats that use them to access upper windows and vents. Keeping branches trimmed away from your home can deter rats from finding ways into your home.

Tall grass, dense vegetation, and debris

High grass, dense vegetation areas, and piles of debris, such as leftover construction materials, attract rats for all the wrong reasons. Keeping your lawn trimmed and eliminating piles of debris in your yard can eliminate places where rats can form satellite nests. Clearing out overgrown vegetation near your property can make your home less attractive to rodents, as can stacking firewood at least twenty feet from your house.

Indoors

Making the interior of your home unattractive to rodents involves cleaning it thoroughly. Even though you clean your house regularly, you might not think to check for spills in your pantry or vacuuming after each meal you serve.  Rats can live for up to a month without eating and for several days without water, so crumbs in food prep and dining areas mean rodents score big.

Water readily available in your home

Rats consume water from the food they eat and don’t necessarily need a constant source of water but once rats gain entry to homes, water is readily available in kitchens and bathrooms, as well as around leaky faucets. Repair leaky faucets, dripping pipes and correct other water-prone areas in your home.

Clutter

Eliminate clutter in closets, under beds or anywhere rodents can hide. This includes clearing out stacks of stored cardboard boxes in attics and garages that rodents like to shred for nests and roaches that feast on rat feces like to hang out.

 Food in metal, hard plastic, and glass containers

Your pantry’s important because it’s probably an out-of-the-way place with low traffic, perfect for rats to forage through for food. Notice any flour, sugar, or pancake mix boxes that look like they’ve been chewed on? Organizing your dried food supplies in metal, glass or hard plastic containers can eliminate many food sources for rats. The same goes for open bags of chips, cookies and other snacks. Keeping snacks in airtight containers may sound like a pain but not nearly as much trouble as eliminating a rat infestation.

Got rat concerns?

Tell-tale signs of rodent activity got you thinking about your next step? Those chewed bags and boxes in your pantry, scratching and/or squeaking noises behind your walls or an actual rodent sighting? Rats and other rodents are nocturnal and move around at night most of the time. You might encounter rodents at night but it’s not likely. That said, rats, when surprised or threatened have been known to bite, putting your pets and children, as well as you and your other family members at risk.

  • Rats pose more health risks than the rare chance one might bite someone. Vectors of several diseases, rats, infected with a bacteria called Yersinia pestis are thought to have spread Bubonic plague, causing the fall of the Roman Empire and later killing off more than half of the European population during the 14th
  • Rats also spread salmonellosis, when humans do not wash their hands after coming into contact with rodent droppings or if food, water, or utensils are contaminated with rat feces.
  • Rats also transmit Leptospirosis, also known as Weil’s disease, from contact with water, food or soil containing urine from an infected animal. Symptoms range from mild or no illness to life-threatening meningitis, liver damage, and kidney failure.

If you suspect you have rat issues, Hulett suggests contacting a trusted pest professional in your area. Rats can be tricky, they’re smart and leery of new things, like baits, in their environment. Contact Hulett to schedule a free rodent inspection.

Don’t let rats ruin your winter, just call Hulett!

Venomous Puss Caterpillar Returns, Florida Officials Warn

Venomous puss caterpillar returns, Florida officials warn

Twice yearly, South Florida residents bear witness to puss caterpillar season, as do people in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the southeast and Texas. The larval form of the southern flannel moth has been spotted in the Tampa Bay area; this has prompted Florida officials to send out a warning about these furry little menaces. University of Florida’s (UF) Entomology Department database recognizes puss caterpillars as one of the most venomous species of moths in the US. One source said that the sting from a puss caterpillar can be debilitating and “even make your bones hurt.”

Couldn’t just go with “cat-erpillar” or kitty caterpillar?

Scientists conjecture that puss caterpillars get their name from their resemblance to tiny Persian cats. Indeed, these inch-long larvae sport thick and abundant long bristles that look like fur. The UF database describes puss caterpillars as varying in color from “downy grayish white to golden brown to dark charcoal gray.” Some flaunt a horizontal streak of bright orange. In early-stage larvae, the “fur” can be quite curly, producing a puffed up, cottony look, tapering to a longish tail. As puss caterpillars evolve, the middle instars look more disheveled, like they’re having a bad hair day and no distinctive tail – just venomous spines.

The Trouble with Tribbles

Remember the Star Trek episode, where furry, little purring creatures, called tribbles invaded the Enterprise and wreaked havoc on the status quo? Like the crew of the Enterprise, puss caterpillars, also known as “Toxic Toupees” can throw the unsuspecting and curious into a world of hurt. Seems that underneath these caterpillars’ adorable fur are venomous spines that stab the skin of all who venture too near. “A puss caterpillar sting feels like a bee sting, only worse,” UF entomologist, Don Hall said. “The pain immediately and rapidly gets worse after being stung,” he further elaborated. Some victims say the puss caterpillar’s sting feels like a broken bone or blunt force trauma.

Reactions may be localized to the affected area but often more severe

While the pain might just irritate the skin in the affected area, often reactions can be more severe. Pain radiating up a limb is not uncommon, causing burning and swelling sensations, along with nausea, abdominal distress, and headache. Some victims experience rashes, blisters and some even report chest pain, numbness, and/or difficulty breathing. UF sources say that sweating from the welts or developing hives at the sting site isn’t unusual.

It gets worse

So, you’re already in writhing pain from a puss caterpillar’s venomous spines embedded in your skin.  The next thing that needs to happen, preferably sooner than later involves placing tape over the offending spines and ripping them out of your skin. You will want to consult medical attention or at least the help of a loved one or friend for this activity. After removing the spines, some victims have applied ice packs, taken oral antihistamines, covered the area in a baking soda paste, hydrocortisone cream, or “the juice from the stems of comfrey plants and calamine lotion,” to varying degrees of success.

Allergy and asthma sufferers may require medical attention

For most victims, a trip to the emergency room probably isn’t necessary, due to a hapless encounter with a puss caterpillar. However, the Florida Poison Information Center notes that if you are affected by seasonal allergies, specifically hay fever, are prone to asthmatic issues or develop an allergic reaction, “contact a physician immediately.” Alfred Aleguas, director of the Florida Poison Control center said that stinging victims can also contact the center to, “tell you things to do to relieve a lot of the pain.”

Puss caterpillar populations vary in size from season to season

While not particularly prolific, some years are better than others as populations can rise and fall dramatically, depending on the weather, food availability and the number of parasites in a given season.

A 2014 National Geographic article reported, “Young children from Florida to North Carolina are reporting excruciating pain after coming into contact with” puss caterpillars. The article goes on to note that some children had been injured when they petted these caterpillars or when the caterpillars fell on them from trees.

Earlier this summer, a Florida teen, was stung 20 times while landscaping at his family’s home, Weather.com reported. The teen was hospitalized for a severe reaction to the stings.

Natural predators

Because puss caterpillars are all about defense, their natural predators are mostly clever, parasitoid flies who lay eggs so small that puss caterpillars eat them. Tachinid flies, a large group of true flies are considered beneficial insects, in that the larvae stage feed on host insects, eventually kill hosts, such as puss caterpillars.

Just call Hulett Watch out for DIY (Do-it-Yourself) pest control products, they can kill puss caterpillars’ natural predators and actually increase the puss caterpillar populations, Hulett suggests contacting a professional pest control company to address your puss caterpillar concerns.

West Palm Beach County: West Nile Virus Detected

West Palm Beach County: West Nile Virus Detected

According to Gary Detman at CBS 12, as of October 17th, West Nile Virus has been detected in the western part of Palm Beach County. Over 60 sub-species of mosquitoes that like to lay their eggs in stagnant water can carry West Nile Virus. Because mosquitoes thrive in Florida’s tropical climate, the Florida Health Department uses sentinel chickens as an early warning system for diseases. These chickens play an essential role in detecting mosquito-borne diseases in Florida. Blood samples are extracted weekly from flocks of sentinel chickens placed strategically around Florida counties and tested for the presence of antibodies to West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis.

West Nile Virus

A flavivirus, this genus also includes dengue fever, tick-borne encephalitis virus, yellow fever virus, Zika virus, and several other viruses which may cause encephalitis. Named from the yellow fever virus, most of these viruses are transmitted from an infected arthropod, mosquito, or tick and so are classified as arboviruses. FloridaHealth.gov says that first identified in Uganda in 1937, West Nile Virus was introduced to the US by way of New York in 1999 and by 2001, it had reached Florida. Now considered endemic to the US mainland, West Nile Virus has been identified in all US states except Alaska and Hawaii.  Annual epidemics of West Nile Virus are not uncommon in some parts of the country during the summer.

Fortunately, West Nile Virus only affects 1 in 5 people

Most people infected with West Nile Virus, around 80%, show no symptoms; however, some do develop mild flu-like symptoms, with fever, nausea, headaches, and fatigue, along with body aches and pains. Less than 1% of people with West Nile Virus develop the most severe form of the disease, neuro invasive West Nile Virus that can involve meningitis and encephalitis, escalating into irreversible neurological damage, paralysis, coma, and death, according to FloridaHealth.gov. Because no vaccine has been developed to combat West Nile Virus, “We are constantly monitoring for mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus,” said Health Department Director, Dr. Alina Alonso. She added, “With these continued confirmations from the state lab of the presence of West Nile Virus, it is a good reminder for all to take the necessary preventative measures.”

How can you reduce mosquito populations?

Here are some tips you may want to review for protecting yourself and your family from mosquitoes:

The necessary measures include applying insect repellent

With confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Belle Glade, Pahokee, and Jupiter Farms in western Palm Beach County, health officials recommend that residents in South Florida apply insect repellent with DEET. Recently, DEET has been used extensively to protect against other mosquito and tick-borne illnesses, such as equine encephalitis and Lyme disease. While DEET has been protecting people from gnats, ticks, mites, and other bloodsucking arthropods since 1973, concerns about the adverse effects of DEET on the nervous system has driven some people to seek other mosquito repellents. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites (EPA)-registered insect repellents that have been proven safe, “even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.” Surprising to some, these include DEET, as well as the following:

  • Picaridin
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-methane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone

These insect repellents should be used according to the manufacturer’s directions. When using DEET, officials say, “less is more.”

Wear appropriate clothing

In order to minimize the use of DEET and other repellents, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed toe shoes when hiking or walking in wooded areas.

Think about the time of day

Mosquitoes tend to show up early in the morning or at dusk to feed on unsuspecting hosts. Plan outdoor activities at other times when mosquitoes aren’t as active. Steering clear of the woods at dusk or dawn can help avoid mosquito bites.

Eliminate standing water

The best ways to discourage mosquitoes breeding in your backyard? Get rid of objects that can trap water. Store kids’ toys, extra planters, and empty plant containers in a shed or storage building. Drill holes in recycling containers to allow water to drain out. Removing clutter and debris in your yard can help eliminate areas where water can collect. Changing the water in pet bowls and birdbaths every other day can reduce the odds that mosquitoes will breed in your yard. Ensuring that downspouts are draining properly, away from your house, in addition to correcting any water-prone areas in your yard helps keep mosquitoes from moving in close to a food source – you, your family, and your pets.

Screens and doors

Repair or replace torn screens in doors and windows around your home. You can use mosquito-netting to keep mosquitoes out of strollers and baby carriages.

Contact a professional

In May, the CDC’s report indicated that vector-borne diseases are on the rise in the US due to global travel and a warming planet. If you suspect mosquitoes might be breeding in your backyard, contact a trusted pest control professional, such as Hulett Environmental Services to inspect your property.

Our technicians address potential mosquito breeding areas, treating them with a residual product, and applying a sticking agent to the places mosquitoes tend to rest during the day. Additionally, we treat all doorways and windows with a microencapsulated product that creates a mosquito barrier around your home. Take back your backyard from mosquitoes.

Contact us to schedule a free mosquito inspection. Just call Hulett!

Revealing the Truth Behind Four Pest Removal Myths

Four Pest Removal Myths

Since the beginning of households, household pests have been attracted to places where people eat, drink and stay warm. It’s simple. People + home = food, water, and shelter for bugs. Rodents have coexisted alongside humans so long that Norway rats no longer exist in the wild. Most pests can subsist on very little water and food; you probably won’t even notice the deficit until you find ants foraging in your kitchen or mouse droppings in your pantry. So, in the ongoing humans vs. pests battle, humans have come to believe some pretty silly things about pest control that are now ingrained in our collective consciousness as fact, when most of these methods are merely myths.

The science is not always behind our beliefs about pests

The way we understand pests relates to our often-misunderstood view of the world we live in. In Aristotle’s day, the philosopher hypothesized that through “spontaneous generation,” animals somehow merely manifested from certain forms of matter. For example, if you saw ants around a honey spill or mice in the barley bin, that’s where these pests came from. The most amazing thing about the theory of spontaneous generation? People believed it until 1859 when Louis Pasteur, the father of modern hygiene, isolated different substances turning Aristotle’s theory on its head.

Pest Removal Myths

Myth 1 – Out of sight, out of mind

If you had bugs or rodents, you’d see them, right? Not necessarily. Household pests tend to hide out. Rodents can squeeze through tiny holes in your foundation through vents and other entryways. Mice and rats can take up residence in your walls or attic, start families and attract feasting insects such as roaches and flies to your home. The occasional moth that you see near your pantry is actually the adult stage of eggs laid in your dry goods such as the flour.

Myth 2 – Put food away, pests will go too

Sounds good. Put away food, pests will go other places to find food. But here’s the thing – you can’t just hide food behind cupboard doors and hope pests don’t find it because they will, unless you take precautions to store flour, sugar, and other dry goods including pet foods in metal, glass, or hard plastic containers (which don’t offer a guarantee either). Rodents can chew through plastic and paper bags as well as boxes.

Myth 3 – Hot peppers get rid of pests

Humans not wanting to use chemicals to resolve pest issues often turn to natural alternatives to eliminate pests. Some people believe that capsaicin, the substance that gives chili peppers their heat works to deter pests from their original target but they will just move on to other food sources within your home. Insects perceive capsaicin as an actual heat source and just relocate to cooler areas.

Myth 4 – Ultrasonic devices questionable

On the same wavelength as red peppers, more humans are looking for non-chemical solutions to pest issues. For a while, ultrasonic devices flooded the pest control market. The effectiveness of these devices on pests is questionable. Unless you just want to drive your dog crazy, ultrasonic devices don’t work on pests the same way different frequencies might on your dog. While pests might detect ultrasonic frequencies, they simply don’t head for the hills in response to them, as advertised.

How Hulett can Help Keep Your Home Pest Free

Because South Florida is home to many household pests, including structural damaging termites, it is important for proactive homeowners to get on board with a professional pest control company in order to prevent and monitor pest-prone areas, year-round. Hulett’s Healthy Home programs act to create a pest barrier around your property to safeguard against intruders. With 50 years of experience across South Florida, our entomologist-trained technicians are experienced and ready to help you. Contact us to schedule a free pest inspection or schedule one online.

Take the myth out of pest control for your home. Just call Hulett!

Recent Discovery: Female Termites Who Don’t Need Males to Reproduce

Recent Discovery: Female Termites Who Don't Need Males to Reproduce

On September 24, 2018, media outlets reported the discovery of the first known naturally-occurring all female termite colonies in remote coastal areas of southern Japan. Published in the journal, BMC Biology, University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences biologist, Toshihisa Yashiro and his team reported that, while engaged in fieldwork in southern Japan, they happened upon several populations of Glyptotermes nakajimai termites that appeared to be “exclusively female.” Knowing that the only way these populations could sustain themselves would be through asexual reproduction, Yashiro and his team set out to prove their theory.

Hard to believe at first

Because termite populations generally consist of equal numbers of males and females, not unlike humans, animals, and other gender-equal societies, Yashiro explained, “Both males and females work equally to make the society function.” In most termite societies, females and males function as soldiers and workers and the males are important for reproduction. “Our paper is the first demonstration that termites can do away with males completely,” said Yashiro, “by the evolution of an asexual lineage, and get along fine just with females,” Newsweek reported.

A broad and thorough study showed geographic differences in termite populations

Proving their theory involved a study conducted over the course of one and a half years, where the team painstakingly examined thousands of tiny termites with barely distinguishable sexual characteristics from ten field sites across Japan’s mainland and a number of adjoining islands. The researchers discovered geographic differences in termite populations. On Japan’s largest and most populous island, Honshu, in addition to offshore islands, Amami-Oshima, Okinawa and Ogasawara, the equal gender percentages held fast but the researchers found that on the smaller two of Japan’s major islands, Shikoku and Kyushu, males were conspicuously absent.

Just to be sure the all-female colonies reproduced by asexual reproduction

Even though Yashiro’s team inspected “over 100 individuals from each of 74 separate colonies,” the defining evidence came from examining the pouches, called “spermathecae” where queens store sperm for their sole activity, reproduction. In the mixed-sex colonies these pouches contained a storehouse of semen, while in the all-female populations, these pouches were empty.

Unfertilized eggs in all-female colonies seal the deal

Delving deeper, researchers examined hundreds of eggs, finding that almost half of the eggs from mixed-sex populations were fertilized, while none of the eggs from the all-female colony had been inseminated. Still, the eggs from both colonies hatched at the same rate. Yashiro and his colleagues concluded that on Japan’s mainland, the southernmost regions appeared to only support thriving colonies of uncontacted virgin termites.

Why did exclusively female termite populations evolve?

If you’re asking why did these female-only populations evolve in the first place, you’re not alone. Yashiro’s project looked to sort this mystery out. Measuring the heads of the mixed-sex colonies and the all-female termite populations, the researchers found that the female-only members looked a great deal more alike than the mixed-sex termites, no surprise there. Because termites aren’t built to fight off intruders, with no special body armor to speak of, they often use their heads to plug the entrances to their nests. The more uniform the colony’s heads, the easier to defend themselves, Yashiro suspects. According to Smithsonianmag.com, “a variety of head sizes could actually be a burden rather than a boon, meaning the loss of males may have actually empowered these female fighters to survive an assault.”

Weighing in, the scientific community is impressed and excited about the findings

Insect sociobiologist and behavioral ecologist at Northeastern University, Rebeca Rosengaus, who wasn’t involved in the study described Yashiro and his colleagues’ work as thorough and very comprehensive. “That is completely new and exciting,” Rosengaus said, noting that no former study had shown “a complete elimination of males.”

In the big picture

Most termites are monogamous, mating for life during a nuptial flight, where they settle down and raise colonies of their own, divided into caste systems, like bees. While termite colonies can have male and female soldiers, the entire working population in bee societies are female, with a few stingless males and a reproductive king.

Recently, some bees have been identified that hatch females from unfertilized eggs by doubling up on the mother’s chromosomes. This allows females to produce offspring from unfertilized eggs without the need for sperm. Now, it appears that termites can engage in similar, no sperm required, reproduction but unlike bee societies, termite colonies that eliminate males could completely turn the existing social structure on its head, evolving into new species of wood-eating machines.

Report indicates that males aren’t essential in animal societies

As Yashiro pointed out, “[It’s] dramatic that . . . males are not essential for the maintenance of animal societies in which they previously played an active social role.” Diversity may be the reason termite colonies haven’t “transitioned to chastity” at this point in their evolution. Termite populations with mixed male and female genes develop diversity in their colonies that facilitates the survival of colonies during extreme conditions and environmental changes. Further study will determine if all-female colonies can withstand microbial diseases and environmental disruptions in colonies.

Back in South Florida, termites, especially invasive Asian and Formosan termites present an urgent and immediate concern. For the integrity of your home or business, contact Hulett to schedule a free termite inspection and get proactive support with Hulett’s annual termite protection plans. Protect your sanity and your home from termites.

Just call Hulett!

How Moths Can Ruin Your First Sweater Weather Day

How Moths Can Ruin Your First Sweater Weather Day

With the fall season upon us, it may be time to break out your sweaters. You look forward to the change in the seasons but what’s this? Holes in your favorite sweaters? How could this be? Well, most likely clothes moths laid their eggs on your sweaters and other wool, fur and animal-based materials in your closet. When clothes moth eggs hatch, the natural fibers in your sweaters, especially wool, provide a bountiful food supply for clothes moth larvae.

It’s not just your clothes . . .

As it turns out, clothes moths possess the ability to digest keratin, a major protein present in products containing natural fibers. Clothes moths don’t stop there though, they’re also known to attack upholstered furnishings, pet food and, powdered milk. According to the University of Florida (UF)/Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (IFAS) website,

  • Animal products are fair game for clothes moths, including bristles, dried hair, and leather.
  • Larvae infest materials containing food spills, such as oils, dried meat, and cereal products.
  • Lint and paper are likable feed for larvae.
  • Larvae feed on combinations of natural and synthetic fibers butnot solely synthetic fibers.
  • In nature, larvae have been discovered infesting hair, pollen, dead insects and animal remains.

Adult clothes moths do not feed on fabrics but their larvae do

Like many other moths, according to Science ABC’s website, adult clothes moths do not eat at all! Aside from the fact they’re just too busy trying to grow their populations, adult clothes moths do not have mouthparts and unlike pantry moths and moths that love porchlights, adult clothes moths are not attracted to light. When exposed to light, adult males will fly and female will crawl towards the darkness. This is one way you can tell the difference between pantry moths and clothes moths. Moths flying out of your cabinets and heading for your indoor lamps give themselves away as pantry moths.

Two types of clothes moth adults

Generally, two types of clothes moths cause problems in your closets; both belong to the Tineidae family of small moths are considered important pest insects.

Webbing clothes moths: Yellowish-gold in color, adults range from ¼- to ½-inch in length. Webbing clothes moths’ heads appear gold or yellow, with broad lance-like wings, somewhat rounded at the tips, held like tents above their abdomens, when at rest.

Case-making clothes moths: Similar in size to webbing clothes moths, case-making moths’ front wings are browner than webbing moths with three dark spots on their front wings.

Destructive larvae

Both webbing clothes moths and case-making clothes moth larvae emerge as 1/16-inch white caterpillars with dark heads. Spinning webs as they alter your wardrobe, case-making clothes moth larvae produce silken tubes that they remain inside of as they grow, protecting them from predators and the environment. Webbing clothes moth casings, on the other hand, are attached to, and often located in protected hems and seams. Because webbing moth casings are attached to the sweater buffet, webbing moths feed in one area. By contrast, case-making moths are more mobile, hauling their casings around with them damaging your favorite fashions in a variety of areas.

Keep out! Pupating, duh!

When clothes moths are ready to grow out of their juvenile delinquent phases, they storm off to their rooms, lock their doors and create spindle-like cocoons, in order to pupate. After 10 to 12 days in warm weather and up to four weeks in the winter, adult clothes moths emerge ready to make more babies that will love to eat your sweaters.

With life cycles ranging from two months to two years, male clothes moths generally outlive females, continuing to mate throughout their lives. Depending on the temperature, female clothes moths can deposit 100 to 150 eggs at a time on products that their young will devour. These eggs aren’t affixed very firmly to products and can become easily dislodged. After five or so days, larvae possessing mouthparts for chewing and spinning silk, emerge and grow to about ⅓-inch before entering their pupation stages.

Stop the madness, mothproof your closets for next season

The most effective method of clothes moth control involves diligent housekeeping. Regularly vacuuming and sweeping closets and storage areas sounds tedious but it can make a huge difference when dealing with tiny pests. Periodically investigate ducts, attics, and areas where dust and bugs tend to accumulate. When storing clothes for an extended period of time, consider dry cleaning or laundering items before you store them in airtight containers. Periodically brush stored items and check for any signs of clothes moths.

Clothes moth control

To address current clothes moth infestations, South Florida homeowners can try freezing or heating clothes affected by moths, along with dry ice fumigation. While mothballs were once used, these little chemical bombs have fallen out of use, due to their suspected health risks, including nausea, headaches, respiratory issues, as well as accidental ingestion by children and pets. Cedar and cedar-lined closets can deter clothes moth larvae at an early stage but do not affect larger larvae and adult moths.

Take the worry out of eliminating clothes moths

Homeowners can purchase commercial products that can reduce clothes moth populations but these products can damage clothes and only work for a limited amount of time. Find the peace of mind you deserve by contacting a professional company to pest-proof your South Florida home.

Contact Hulett, your local family-owned and operated, environmentally responsible pest control company. Our integrated pest management system uses baiting systems and other high quality, odorless materials and pin-pointed, low dose chemical treatments when necessary, to eliminate and prevent pests in your home or business.

Hulett’s Healthy Home approach offers programs that work to create a pest barrier around your property, year-round. We guarantee you’ll be satisfied with our services, during sweater season and every season.

To schedule a free pest inspection, just call Hulett at (866) 611-BUGS.

DIY Bug Costumes for Halloween

DIY Bug Costumes for Halloween

It’s almost here, that one night a year when kids and adults alike dress up in silly, funny or scary costumes and wander the streets in search of candy and other more sinister types readily give kids enough candy to last a year. Yes, Halloween’s creeping up on us, begging the question, “What are you going to be for Halloween?” Here at Hulett, we’ve got some fun bug costume ideas for little ones and the big kid in all of us.

Do-it-yourself costumes

Of course, you can buy all manner of bug costumes online and at retail outlets but making your own can be a lot less expensive and way more fun and unique. All you need is a few everyday items, like a long sleeve black shirt, a few accents like an antennae headband and some easy to follow instructions. What are the most popular bug costumes this Halloween? If you guessed, spider, bumble bee, butterfly or ladybug, you’d be right, with spider costumes topping the list.

Check out the infographic below for all the supplies and easy to follow step-by-step instructions for each of the bug costumes.

DIY Bug Costumes for Halloween Infographic

For more involved DIY bug costumes, such as dragonfly and walking stick bug costumes, checkout DIY bug costumes on Pinterest. Bug costumes are big this Halloween at Hulett.

Go ahead and bug out this Halloween but for real South Florida household pest concerns and year-round protection from bugs, contact Hulett to schedule a free pest inspection at a time that works for your busy lifestyle.

Happy Halloween! We’re here for you! Just call Hulett!

Take Precautions Against Viruses Caused by Mosquito Bites

Take Precautions Against Viruses Caused by Mosquito Bites

On Sept 6, the University of Florida (UF) and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (IFAS) published an article on its blog that stressed the importance of Florida residents and visitors protecting themselves against biting mosquitoes. Due to unusually high levels of mosquito-borne viruses detected in sentinel test chickens, as well as in horses and humans so far this year, entomology professor Jonathan Day with UF/IFAS said, “Floridians need to be aware of mosquito-borne disease risk and protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially from dusk to dawn.” The professor went on to say, “People with outdoor evening activities should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.” Day outlined these precautions, which included “wearing protective clothing and using insect repellants, preferably those that contain 5 percent to 20 percent DEET as the active ingredient from now through early December.”

Mosquitoes transmitting eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus

Infected mosquitoes transmitting the eastern equine encephalitis virus (Triple E) and West Nile Virus pose threats to humans and horses all over Florida. Day, a faculty member at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, Florida said, “Both of these viruses can cause severe disease in humans and horses.”

Eastern equine encephalitis rare in humans

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that Triple E is rare in humans. With only a few cases reported annually, it is considered one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the US. Most infected humans show no symptoms of the disease. In severe cases, a sudden onset of high fever, headaches chills and vomiting can indicate infection. As it progresses, victims may experience disorientation, progressing into seizures or coma.

Other mammals and birds contract Triple E but the disease mostly affects horses

Horses, pigs, rodents, white-tail deer and a variety of birds can contract this deadly disease that affects the central nervous system and can cause brain damage as well as death. Contracted through the bite of a female mosquito, the mortality is high among mammals, and is highest among horses, hovering around 90%. Symptoms of Triple E in horses starts with a fever that can reach 106 degrees Fahrenheit for up to two days. Additional symptoms begin to develop one to three weeks later due to the fever and brain lesions. These symptoms range from drowsiness to hyperactivity, difficulty breathing, the inability to swallow, paralysis and death. According to Day, 51 horses, mostly in north Florida, have “tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis, and most have died.”

Most West Nile Virus victims don’t develop symptoms

According to the CDC, 8 out of 10 people infected with West Nile virus don’t develop symptoms and 1 in 5 West Nile virus-infected humans develop a fever accompanied by “headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.” Most people experiencing this type of West Nile virus make a full recovery; however, fatigue and weakness can linger for weeks or months.

  • Serious cases of West Nile virus can occur in all age groups but people over 60 seem to be at greater risk, as well as people with compromised health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension and people with recent organ transplants.
  • Recovery may take weeks or months, and some damage to the central nervous system may be irreversible.
  • Because severe West Nile virus illnesses affect the central nervous system, 1 out of 10 victims die.

Currently, the CDC says, no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment to prevent West Nile virus exists and treatment is limited to “over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce fever and relieve symptoms.” In severe cases, victims should seek professional healthcare to receive intravenous fluids and pain medications under the care of a nurse. Consult a healthcare provider if you suspect that you or your loved ones have been infected with West Nile virus.

Monitoring with sentinel chickens

UF/IFAS entomologists along with many other public health and mosquito control programs test sentinel chickens to monitor for mosquito-borne diseases. Sentinel chickens play a major role in disease and detection in Florida. Currently, seven sentinel flocks in Charlotte County, near Ft. Myers, are placed around the county at strategic locations. Once a week, a small sample of blood is extracted from these sentinel chickens and prepped, separating the serum out in a centrifuge. These samples are then sent to the Department of Health Virology Lab in Tampa where they are tested for the presence of antibodies to West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis. When a chicken tests positive, mosquito control sprays the area where the chicken was located. Chickens that test positive are retired from the program and replaced by “sterile” chickens from the home flock. Not posing any threat to humans or animals, as they can’t pass on the virus, the retired chickens, known as “dead-end hosts” are donated to local farms and 4-H groups.

Day said that, as of “August 25, 139 sentinel chickens in 12 counties tested positive for the EEEV antibody,” and that most of the sentinel chickens are located in North Florida, from Orange to Nassau counties. At the same time, monitoring for West Nile virus, 165 sentinel chickens in 15 Florida counties tested positive. These antibody-positive sentinel chickens were located in a wide range that includes Walton County in the Florida panhandle to Charlotte County on Florida’s Gulf coast.

Cases of eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus in humans in several counties

UF/IFAS entomologists reported that three cases of eastern equine encephalitis in humans were discovered in three counties: Taylor, Columbia, and Volusia. Additionally, one case of West Nile virus was found in a Levy County horse and seven cases of humans contracting West Nile virus have been reported in Bay, Nassau, Duval, and Manatee counties.

Hulett would like to emphasize the importance of South Florida residents and visitors heeding the UF/IFAS recommendations and practice vigilance when outdoors through early December. Also, keep an eye on water prone areas on your property and eliminate stagnant water that may collect in plant containers, kids’ toys and poorly functioning downspouts to avoid creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes on your property.

If you can’t enjoy your yard due to mosquito activity, contact Hulett to schedule a free mosquito inspection. Don’t let mosquitoes ruin your backyard fun! Just call Hulett!

 

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