Mosquitoes

Enjoying the outdoors on a beautiful summer evening can quickly come to an end when these annoying little creatures come out for dinner.

There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes found throughout the world.  Not only is the bite from a mosquito bothersome, they’re known for transmitting a variety of diseases. Here in Kansas City, the most common illness contracted by mosquitoes is the West Nile Virus.  Additional information regarding the West Nile Virus in the Kansas City Area can be found on this page.  Although there are documented reports of the virus in this area, full blown human infection is relatively rare.

 

Mosquitoes go through four stages in their life-cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water.  Both male and female mosquitoes are nectar feeders, but the females are also capable of drinking blood.  The bite received from a mosquito is from a hungry female.  Mosquitoes can sense carbon dioxide up to 100 feet away. People send out a beacon for mosquitoes during normal breathing. Mosquitoes can also detect heat, so they can find warm-blooded mammals and birds very easily once they get close enough.

Mosquitoes have mouthparts that are adapted for piercing the skin of plants and animals. The female, when feeding on blood meal, will land and stick her needle like proboscis into the skin.  Her saliva contains anticoagulants which prevent the blood from clotting.  After she’s bitten, some saliva remains in the wound. The area swells and typically itches, a response provoked by the saliva. Eventually the swelling goes away, but the itch remains until the immune cells break down the proteins in the saliva.  To treat mosquito bites, wash them with mild soap and water. Try to avoid scratching the bite area, even though it itches. Some anti-itch medicines such as Calamine lotion or ­over-the-counter cortisone creams may relieve the itching.  Pest repellents containing DEET are effective in preventing mosquito bites.  Most products contain a concentration of 7.5 percent to 100 percent. Lower concentrations are sufficient for most outdoor protection and a 15-percent concentration is recommended for children.

Eliminating mosquito breeding environments will go a long way in prevention.  Remove any standing water from the yard and clean-out bird baths at least once a week.  Keep gutters around the home clean to avoid moisture collection.  Keep garden areas well irrigated.  It’s also recommended to have your yard treated professionally for control and prevention.  Advantage Termite and Pest Control has experience and success in reducing mosquito populations around homes in the Johnson, Wyandotte and Douglas County areas.  Call us to today for an estimate and enjoy an outdoor evening mosquito free.

Trivia

* Mosquitoes are not active on windy or cool days.

* The high-pitched sound they make is created by their rapid wing beats (of up to 500 beats per second).  It helps the males hone in on a mate.

* A mosquito doesn’t actually bite, it stabs,  piercing your skin with its long proboscis.

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Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are among the largest ants in the greater Kansas City area. There are several species of carpenter ants that may be found infesting homes and other buildings. The most likely species to be infesting a house in Leawood, Olathe, Shawnee, Overland Park,  and Lawrence, Kansas is the black carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus). However, there are over a thousand other species of carpenter ants currently identified.

Ants are divided into different castes; workers, queens, and males. Normally workers are black or red and black in color and range in size from 3/8 to 1/2 inch.  Winged queen ants may be as large as one inch. However, size is not a reliable characteristic to identify carpenter ants.  Winged males and females emerge from established colonies on warm days in the spring and early summer.  They often form swarms and can be confused with termites.

Carpenter ants prefer dead, damp wood in which to carve out galleries and build nests. They do not eat the wood, however, unlike termites.  Carpenter ants have also been known to hollow out sections of trees.  It’s recommended as a preventative measure that woodpiles not be stored next to the home.

 

Homeowners should watch for ants which are foraging indoors, try to find their nests.   Also look for piles of course, stringy wood particles, dead insect parts and other debris.  Such remains may be found sifting from cracks in siding, from behind moldings, and under porches. Because carpenter ants do not consume the wood as food, these excavated particles are dumped outside the nest.

Identification and treatment for carpenter ants can be complicated.  Professional treatment is strongly recommended, particularly when involving insects which have the potential to damage the structural integrity of your home.  Contact Advantage Termite and Pest Control today for an inspection and bid for treatment.

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Black Widow

Throughout the years the black widow spider has taken a lot of negative publicity.  Known for its black body and red hour-glass marking, this relatively small spider generally only grows up to 13/32 inch.  Compared with other Kansas spiders like the wolf spider, which have a common body length of an inch, or the golden garden spider, which can grow over an inch, the black widow is a small spider.  So, if size is not the issue, then what gives this little spider its infamous reputation?

The reputation is the toxicity of this spider’s bite.  The black widow spider injects neurotoxic venom when it bites which causes pain, nausea, severe abdominal cramps, sweating and trembling.  The black widow’s bite even has the ability to cause death in the elderly or young.  Due to the damage this little bite can do, it is unsurprising that the black widow is feared in the United States.  However, despite the punch this bite packs, the likelihood of being bit is relatively low.  Black widows are nonaggressive spiders and are likely to retreat if disturbed.  The presence of an egg sac can cause them to be more aggressive, but in general bites occur when someone accidentally traps the spider against their skin; while putting on clothing or shoes.  The black widows prefer secluded, undisturbed areas in which to make their nest.  Much like brown recluses, black widows tend to be attracted to cluttered areas that are seldom bothered; these areas attract other bugs that these to poisonous spiders prey upon.

Secondarily, the black widow spider has the reputation of being a man eater, literally.  The male black widow is much smaller than his female counterpart and is colored differently, usually a brownish, rusty color.   When a male encounters a female’s web, he cautiously climbs into it and plucks the threads in a pattern the female should recognize.  If the female does not realize that he is a male or is unreceptive to mating, she may attack and eat the male without hesitation.  However, if she is in the mood, she will allow him to approach and loosely bind her with a few silken strands.  The male may then mate with the female.  Contrary to popular belief, the female does not immediately kill and eat her mating partner.  She may allow the male to hang out for a while, even sharing her meals, but if he over stays his welcome, she may decide to kill and eat him.

A few weeks later, the female black widow will lay four to nine egg sacs containing up to 400 eggs each.  Once the spiderlings emerge from the egg sac, they climb to a high point and release a strand of silk which will act as a balloon that they will use to fly off into the world.

 

 

 

 

Most people would argue that the black widow has earned the reputation that it has developed.  Between her extremely dangerous bite and her habit of eating her partner, it is no surprise that she has not earned a stellar standing in the arachnida class.  We highly recommend that should you see a black widow, if you can safely trap it, do so and call Advantage Termite and Pest Control immediately for identification.  If you are having a reoccurring problem with black widows, we recommend a quarterly pest control service.  If the bug population in and around your home is low, you will be much less likely to see spiders in general due to the lack of a food source.

 

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Bed Bugs

Adult bed begs are about ¼ of an inch in length and are generally a redish-brown color.  These bugs are flattened insects which have a ‘stylet’ mouthpart and no wings.  The ‘stylet’ is inserted into the human skin, where they will feed for about five to ten minutes.  Initially the bite is typically painless but later a red, itchy bump often occurs at the site.

 

 

 

 

The main problem with bed bugs is how quickly a small issue can become a major problem.  Once a home is invaded, it can be difficult to get the infestation under control.  In apartment complexes this pest can become a major problem.  If not tended to immediately, bed bugs can quickly infest a building due to the nature of close living habitation.  The dramatic rise in bed bug infestation has lead to theories as to what is causing the influx.  Some claim that the reduced use of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) is a cause in the increase of bed bug sightings.  DDT was developed in the 1940s and was an effective insecticide and used on pests from blood-sucking to crop killing.  Unfortunately, in the 1970s we started to realize that not only was DDT harmful to bugs but to humans and wildlife as well.  In 1972 the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) issued a cancellation order on DDT to stem the flow of harm that had already been done.  DDT undoubtedly would be as effective on bed bugs as it was on other harmful pests and some believe that putting an end to its use has lead to an influx of bed bugs.

 

Secondarily, it is thought that an increase in global travel has caused the spike in bed bug occurrence.  According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) international tourist arrivals grew %4.6 in 2011 to reach 983 million.  International travel does not only mean people are traveling, but their bugs and diseases are traveling with them.  Bed bugs are especially common in the developing world where finding the resources to exterminate the bugs can be more difficult.  Today, there has been an increase in travel to these less developed countries which has lead to an increase of bed bugs in the US and other countries in the west.

Contrary to popular belief, an occurrence of bed bugs is not caused by uncleanness.  Bed bugs are usually brought into a home through furniture or clothing that is already infected.  The first signs of a bed bug problem will be the bites.  Bed bugs will bite anywhere on the body and leave little, red, itchy welts.  Also, be sure to check the sides of mattresses in hotels or other beds that you visit, for any sign of bed bugs to avoid bringing them into your home in the first place.  If you see the slightest sign of the presence of bed bugs be sure to call Advantage Pest Control right away.  Bed bugs can be difficult to fight and their presence grows rapidly so don’t delay in scheduling an inspection.

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Snow Mold

There are two variants of snow mold, gray and pink.  Gray snow mold is considered the “true” snow mold because it grows under the snow.  It requires about 2 months of snow cover in order to develop.   Pink snow mold does not require snow to mature.  Simply a cold, wet yard will attract pink snow mold.  However, unlike pink snow mold, gray snow mold has a more advanced technique to survive the summer months.  Gray snow mold leaves behind hard, brown or black, pea-sized structures, called sclerotia, in the turf before summer and reoccurs in the winter when it is cold enough to emerge.  Pink and gray snow molds occur when snow falls on soil that is not yet frozen and leaves circular patches of a bleached, yellow color throughout the lawn which are about two feet across.  Another visible sign of snow mold are the spider web- like hyphae which cling to the grass.  These strands can be white to pink if the mold is pink snow mold or white to gray if there is a gray snow mold infestation. The molds remain in the grass all year and germinate in the fall, becoming active during the winter when it is cold and wet enough.   Extended periods of temperature at or below freezing will encourage the most severe infestations of gray snow mold.  In the worst cases, gray snow mold can destroy vast areas of turf and recovery from such an infestation can be a slow and frustrating process.  There are a few things that can be done to prevent this fungus from using your lawn as a breeding site.

Be sure to mow your lawn regularly.  Tall turf will become matted under the snow and will inevitably produce the perfect home for snow mold.  Rake up leaves in the fall to prevent matting under the snow during the winter.  Be sure to fertilize on time and not too late in the season.  Advantage lawn care offers services that will help prevent and treat this dangerous lawn killer, including raking, fertilizing and fungicide treatments.  If you are experiencing a problem with snow mold, give us a call and we will work with you to restore your lawn and recover it from this devastating disease.

 

 

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House Mouse

The house mouse is considered one of the most troublesome pests in Shawnee, Olathe, Overland Park and Lawrence, Kansas.  House mice live and thrive under a variety of conditions in and around homes and farms. House mice consume food meant for humans or pets. They contaminate food-preparation surfaces with their feces, which can contain the bacterium that causes food poisoning (salmonellosis). Their constant gnawing causes damage to structures and property.

 

 

House mice are gray or brown rodents with relatively large ears and small eyes. An adult weighs about 1/2 ounce and is about 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches long, including the 3 to 4 inch tail.

 

 

 

Although house mice usually feed on cereal grains, they will eat many kinds of food. They eat often, nibbling bits of food here and there. Mice have a keen sense of taste, hearing, smell and touch. They’re excellent climbers and can run up any rough vertical surface. They will run horizontally along wire cables or ropes and can jump up 13 inches from the floor onto a flat surface. They can slip through a crack that a pencil will fit into (slightly larger than 1/4 inch in diameter).

Droppings, fresh gnawing and tracks indicate areas where mice are active. Mouse nests, made from fine shredded paper or other fibrous material, are often found in sheltered locations. House mice have a characteristic musky odor that identifies their presence. Mice are only occasionally seen during daylight hours.

Effective rodent control involves sanitation, mouse proof construction and population reduction. The first two are useful as preventive measures. When a mouse infestation already exists, some form of population reduction is almost always necessary. Advantage Termite and Pest Control has a specialized rodent treatment program developed for our customers.  Our service comes with a guarantee, leaving you with the peace of mind any infestations will be eliminated.

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Jumping Spider

 

Jumping spiders are some of the most visually interesting spiders in Kansas.  Jumping spiders come in many differed colors and patterns but rarely exceed ½ and inch in size.  There are more than 300 species of jumping spiders in the United States alone.  They use their unique arrangement of colors and patterns to produce impressive courtship displays.  Despite the variety of characteristics jumping spiders posses, there is one feature that sets them apart, their eyes.  Jumping spiders have two large eyes in front, also called the anterior median eyes.  These eyes give the jumping spider a softer look, more like a dog or cat and less like an insect.  Aside from producing an attractive appearance, once prey is spotted by a pair of smaller, lateral eyes, the anterior median eyes allow the jumping spider to zoom in on prey.

Jumping spiders are not web building spiders, they use silk strands to anchor themselves as they jump into mid air, but they do not build a web for trapping to wait for their prey.  Jumping spiders prefer to hunt during the day in order to take advantage of their sophisticated eye sight.  They will often find stalk a prey, moving closer and closer before jumping the unsuspecting victim.  At night, jumping spiders retreat to a woven nest, which they use to molt and hibernate.  Female spiders also use this spot to lay and hide their eggs.

During the summer months the female jumping spider can produce six or more egg sacs.  After about a month the young spiders emerge.  It is common to see an increase of juvenile jumping spiders around the autumn season.

 

 

 

Jumping spiders tend to find themselves indoors after hunting prey through entry points around the house.  Once they enter the home, they often stay indoors.  Jumping spiders usually hunt around doorways and window sills where prey is a constant resource.   The best way to rid a property of jumping spider infestations is to eliminate the food source.  With regular professional pest control, keeping populations of jumping spiders low is generally a simple endeavor.  However, if you are struggling to keep these spiders off your property, please give us a call at Advantage Termite and Pest Control and take Advantage of our great online discounts!

 

Additional information:  http://www.emporia.edu/ksn/v47n1-february2001/

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Indian Meal Moths

A common pantry pest in the Midwest is the Indian meal moth.  What may appear to be a harmless moth can quickly take over your kitchen.

Indian meal moths tend to have a wing span of about ¾”.  They are light grey with copper brown highlights on the end of their top pair of wings.   Despite their small size, they can be a very destructive force if an infestation occurs.  With the potential to produce seven to nine generations a year, a small problem can quickly accelerate.

 

The life cycle of an Indian meal moth begins with an adult female laying about 100 to 300 eggs on various attractive food materials.  The eggs are so small that they are difficult see without the aid of a microscope.  Once the egg hatches, the miniscule larvae begin feeding on the immediately available food source.  Usually these moths prefer grain or grain products, but they can also be attracted to a variety of other foods like nuts or dried fruit.  As the larva grows to maturity, it is usually a yellowish color with a brown head.  Once the larva is fully grown, it seeks a place to spin a silken cocoon and will emerge in four to thirty days as a moth.  When the adults emerge they mate, then the cycle begins again with the female laying eggs.

The best strategy for fighting this pest is prevention.  Be sure to exam any food products with broken packaging before bringing them into the home.  This can include dog food, bird seed, milled cereal products, and flour.  Also, try to store susceptible materials in air tight containers and be sure to clean up any spills after use of these materials.  Storing susceptible materials in the refrigerator is also recommended.  Finally, be sure to have your pest control company treat around the windows near your kitchen to ensure that Indian meal moths and other pantry pests are inhibited from entering the home.

If you think you may have an infestation, call Advantage Pest Control as soon as possible. A small problem can quickly turn detrimental if not given the appropriate attention.  Advantage’s expertise will return order to your kitchen quickly.

 

 

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Winterizing

Winter is just around the corner and there are a number of things which can be done to help insure a beautiful lawn and home next spring.

Winter fertilization is an excellent place to begin.  Cooler nights signal to grass it’s time to store-up every last bit of nutrients before the snow arrives.  Grass does not die off during the cold winter months, it lies dormant until spring awakens it.  Before the grass goes dormant, it will pull in nutrients deep into its root system to store as food for next spring.  Given the difficult summer Kansas City experienced, many of local lawns have been stressed and compromised.  A winter application of nutrients is just the boost lawns can use for a fresh, more vibrant growing season next spring.

 

Removing debris from the lawn is another excellent lawn care tip.  By removing leaves, twigs and debris from the lawn, it gives grass the best opportunity to soak up the last bit of fall sun.  It will also prevent areas for mildew and disease from growing in your yard.  In addition, it prepares the turf for new growth in the spring by avoiding obstructions for the grass during the early growing season.

 

During these last few weeks of turf growth, it’s recommended the mowing length be around 2 inches tall.  It’s nice in between length which provides root protection from the snow while not being so long that it holds additional moisture.

 

 

When caring for the garden beds, cutting back and removing dead limbs and leaves from perennials will give them an easier start next spring.  This is also a good time to remove any remaining annuals from the garden along with leaf and yard debris.    If mulch has thinned out through the season, a fresh application will help protect the plant roots during the cold months.  These steps will not only make for a healthier garden bed, it will help prevent pest issues from developing over the winder.

 

Cleaning the gutters of your home is also an important part of winter preparation.  The build-up of debris in and around the gutters can cause a multitude of issues such as water damage, mildew and pest attraction.  Removing debris from the gutters of your home will go a long way in preventing future problems.

 

Following these tips will help guarantee your spring home and yard will have a healthy start.  Please contact Advantage Termite and Pest Control for pricing regarding lawn application, gutter clean-out, leaf removal, mulching, weeding and snow removal.

 

 

 

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Bats

Although there are more than 40 know species of bats in the Greater Kansas City Area, the big brown bat is the most common and widespread  bat in Kansas and Missouri.  They have soft, brown fur with a bare face and ears. The average body length of the brown bat is 4 to 5 inches, with a wing span of 11-13 inches.  Brown bats  typically begin hibernation around September or October.  The Females bear 1-2 young in late May or early June.   Although bats prefer caves as opposed to buildings for roosting, they have acclimated to their changing environment and are frequently found roosting in attics, chimneys and other manmade structures.

Bats located in the Olathe, Shawnee, Mission, Overland Park, Kansas area insect eaters.  Big brown bats commonly forage around city lights and over pools of water (including swimming pools and fish ponds).  They typically leave the roost soon after sunset and return several hours before sunrise.  Bats are considered to be beneficial to our environment as they eliminate a large amount of flying insects, including mosquitoes.  However, when they choose to roost in buildings and structures a number of serious issues can occur.  They prefer to return to the same roosting site year after year, therefore a small bat colony in a home will continue to grow as time goes on.

 

Bat colonies can produce a number of issues when located in a home.  Large amounts of bat guano can quickly accumulate.  Not only is there a tremendous order from bat urine and feces, there is the potential for disease and infestation.  Histoplasmosis is a disease humans may contract from bats. This airborne disease, caused by a microscopic fungus is sometimes present with bat droppings.  It affects the lungs with symptoms similar to influenza.

 

 

 

 

 

Bats also have the potential to carry fleas, tick and bat bugs.  Bat bugs are similar to bed bug, and although they prefer bats and bird to humans, they can potentially infest a home.

 

 

 

 

 

Removing bats can be a difficult process. Although they are not aggressive by nature, they can potentially bite when provoked.  There is also a small possibility a bat you encounter could have rabies.  A bat with rabies does not show obvious signs of the infection, however only about 5% of bat are typically infected.  Removal of bat guano is also crucial when riding a home of a bat colony. Due to the potential health risks in working with guano, this should be done with caution.  It is strongly recommended hiring a professional for bat removal.  Advantage Termite and Pest Control has the expertise required for removing bat colonies from homes and buildings the Lawrence and Kansas City area.  Call us today if you suspect you have theses uninvited guests living in your home.

Trivia

Brown bats could live up to 19 years in the wild.

Bats consume approximately a third of their weight each night while feeding on insects, primarily beetles.

Contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind. In addition to their eyes, they use echolocation as a way to navigate and to find insects that are also flying around at high speeds.

Bats are the only mammals that truly fly.

 

 

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