Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stay Clean!

Today I just wanted to emphasize the importance of keeping your home clean of clutter and food. The main reason why bugs enter your home is to find food and water. Most insects that enter your home are actually called Accidental Invaders. Accidental invaders do not puropsely try to enter your home, they just accidentally end up there. They need to scour the area to find food, and what better place to find food than in your home or trash.

The best way to keep bugs from coming in your home is to keep your home free of food and debris. Ants are notorious in finding foods and bringing in more of their friends. They release a pheromone in a trail that leads the rest to the food source. If you see ants, then that means you have a good food source for them to be there. Keeping the area clean will help prevent them from wanting to be there. Remember that even the smallest crumb can feed multiple insects.

The next thing you might want to to is limit the hiding places for the insects. Insects love tiny cracks and crevices. They will find anywhere that is tight to protect them from dangerous creatures. If you have lots of clutter on the floor or in the basement, this is just a ample place for bugs to live. It is difficult to spray within our limits if where the bugs are hiding are in your boxes of food or clothes. The best thing we recommend is organzing what you need to keep into plastic sealed containers. This will help keep the bugs from hiding in the boxes and allow us to get a safer, better spray in your home.

Just remember that food and hiding places are the main reason why bugs come into your home. Keeping your home free of food crumbs and clutter will limit the number of bugs and the ability for them to survive.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Moles- Pest of the Week

Editor's Note: For some reason, the blog did not want to publish my entry about moles yesterday. I do not know what went wrong, but let's just try to make it work this time.

About Moles
Not the cutest animal
Source: Wikipedia

Moles are most noticed in the spring time when they search for their food and nesting materials. During the winter, when the ground freezes, moles stay deep underground in their nests to stay warm. Moles create burrows, a series of tunnels and nesting sites, which can go as deep as 10-20 feet.

Moles can grow up to 6-12”, depending on the species. They usually have a dark gray fur, a slender snout, and very sharp teeth. They have tiny beady eyes that are only capable of distinguishing light from dark, otherwise they are considered blind. Moles have very large front claws that are used for digging.

Diet & Reproduction
Moles live alone except for when they are rearing young. They usually have about 1-6 per litter, once or twice a year. Mole babies are hairless and blind at birth. Fur begins to appear on the babies at about ten days after birth. It takes about 6-12 months for the mole babies to grow to adult size.

Moles diet consists of small invertebrates, usually worms. Moles have a very big appetite; they can eat their weight in worms and other grubs every day. To get their food they usually create new shallow tunnels to find the grubs. Finding the grubs is what usually causes the grass to die. The grubs are in the roots of the grass and cause the roots to be exposed and die off. They do not eat your plants or grasses.

Moles live most of their lives underground so it is very uncommon to see a mole, but they do come to the surface occasionally for search for water or nesting material. They can dig surface tunnels at a rate of 18 feet per hour. Moles dig two different types of tunnels: shallow and deep tunnels. Shallow tunnels are the tunnels most noticed by homeowners, because it makes the ground weak and collapsible when walked on.

Shallow tunnels are also used mainly to get their food. Deep tunnels are the mole’s usual main runway, since it is usually the safest from predators. Deep tunnels are anywhere between 1 foot and 10 feet deep. Moles usually dig their tunnels in soils that are loose, moist, and that have plenty of food sources (worms and grubs).

The most common detection of mole is the pathways they create under the lawn. When they burrow, they tend to push the soil upwards and outwards, often killing the grass roots and therefore leaving a path of dead grass that can be unsightly.

Mole tunnels are about 1-2 inches wide. If you see a mole hill, a pile of dirt surrounding a hole, then that means the mole tunnels are deep. It’s an easy inspection, walk along your yard and look for ridges or soft parts in the yard.  

Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between an active mole tunnel and an abandoned tunnel. A simple way to see if it is an active tunnel is to flatten the tunnel down (step on it). If the tunnel is rebuilt then it is an active tunnel, if it doesn’t after a week then you can bet on it being an abandoned tunnel.

There two main ways of removing moles: baits and traps.

Mole baits usually come in gel form. The moles are attracted to it, eat it and die from the poison. This method can work pretty well if you use enough bait and place it in the correct places. The only problem with gel baits are that if the mole doesn't die the first time, it will stay away from the bait from then on.  

The most effective and usually cheapest method of controlling moles is through traps. Some people have tried and failed using traps. This is because they placed the traps in the wrong places. Placing a trap near the entrance of a suspected mole tunnel is not as effective as actually putting a trap in a tunnel that is used for travel. Placing a trap at the entrance is like standing there with a shovel playing the real life version of Whack-A-Mole, except no moles will stick their heads up out of the holes.

Spring traps, harpoon traps, and choker loop traps are all common traps used in the business. The most common trap used, and usually the most humane, is the choker loop trap. The key in placing the traps is placing more than one trap and in active tunnels.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pest of the Week-Bees

Bees are very beneficial to our environment. We need them to pollinate plants, and they make tasty honey. Honey bees are well-known for their honey making. They have been important for thousands of years for human food consumption. Also, honey bees create bee’s wax that is also collected by humans. There has been a severe decline in bee population in the last decade and this is not good for our farmers or our food products. without the population of bees pollinating our plants, the plants will not grow as strong and healthy as they should.

Bees come in all shapes and sizes, the biggest being bumble bees. Here are three of the most common bees found in Iowa:


Honey bees are social bees; they live in extensive colonies that have thousands of bees in it. The colony consist of one queen bee, hundreds of drones (fertile male bees), and thousands of worker bees (infertile females). The queen lays all the eggs and is the most important bee in the colony, without the queen the colony will collapse. The drones are created from unfertilized eggs, the drone’s job is to grow and leave the colony to mate with queen bees. Drones cannot sting. The worker’s job is to care for the nest. They leave the colony for food (nectar) and take care of the eggs, protect the queen, and protect the nest.

Honey bees’ nest stay around all year. During the winter, the hive stops flying around and huddle together. They can keep the center of the huddle at a constant temperature of 85
degrees throughout the whole winter. The colony usually begins working again once spring begins.

Honey bees are important, but are facing a type of disease that is killing them off in large numbers. No one seems to understand why this is happening, though. The honey bee is so important to farmers that some usually rent colonies of bees to pollinate their crops from beekeepers.

Carpenter bees are usually solitary bees, but they have been known to live in very small colonies consisting of their sisters or daughters. Carpenter bees look very similar to bumble bees, but the main difference is the lack of hair on carpenter bees compared to bumble bees. Carpenter’s abdomens tend to have a shiny black abdomen. Carpenter bees are also important to pollinating flowers.

Carpenter Bees will drill holes into exposed wood. The usually will drill on the bottom side of the wood. Often in Iowa they are found drilling holes and tunnels into the wood on the bottom side of decks. The hole goes about 1/2 inch then makes a 90 degree turn below the surface and goes with the grain up to 1 foot. Carpenter bees are usually not a threat to sting. They do not eat the wood; they get their food from nectar in flowers.

Bumble bees are probably the most recognized type of insect by every one of all ages. Bumble bees are easily recognized by their yellow and black body that looks to be soft because of the hair-like pile covering their bodies. They also tend to have a louder “buzz” compared to other bees, just because of their size.

Bumble bees live in small colonies of about 50-100 bumble bees. The colony is like most other social bees. They consist of a queen and workers. The queen chooses the location of the nest every year, and who lays all the eggs. The workers tend to the nest and eggs and are not able to lay eggs. Their nests are usually built in the ground and only stay around for a year at a time.

Unlike the honey bees, the bumble bee does not have barbs on their stinger, so bumble bees can sting more than once. Bumble bees are protective of their nest and will only attack if their nest is threatened. This can be dangerous, because their nests are usually very hard to find and can easily be stepped on without realizing it.

Bumble bees also are very good pollinators. Since their bodies are fuzzy, pollen from the anthers of
flowers gets stuck on the “fur-like” pile, when they collect nectar. Bumble bees tend to go to the same flowers every day, as long as it keeps producing enough nectar. Once they collect the nectar they take it back to their nests, and put it in wax cells for food storage. Nothing to the sorts of honey bees, though.