|How to Reduce Your Home's Risk of Infestation
Solutions to Termite-Conducive Situations
Termites are the most economically important wood-destroying organism in the United States, with approximately $2 billion per year being spent for their prevention and treatment. This high-dollar amount could be reduced if homeowners implemented a number of relatively simple, inexpensive, practical measures around their home and outlying structures that reduce the risk of subterranean termite infestations. Such preventive measures are very cost effective given that a home typically represents one's largest monetary investment.
Many construction and landscaping features literally can invite termites into one's home. An awareness of basic termite biology and habits can help you understand the necessity of certain prevention measures. The goal is to recognize and alter conditions around one's home so as to reduce the termites' environmental requirements for moisture, food (wood), and shelter.
Cellulose (wood, dead plant material, paper, etc.) in contact with soil provides termites with ready and unobservable access to food.
Keep all wooden parts of the house foundation at least 6 inches above the soil.
Keep mulch levels several inches below the siding and wooden parts of the structure.
Avoid or minimize use of wood mulch next to the foundation.
Remove dead trees, stumps, and roots near the structure.
Never store firewood, lumber, or paper against the foundation or in the crawl space.
Remove wood debris and form boards.
||Problem: Moisture accumulation near the foundation provides water needed for termite survival.
Grade or slope soil away from the foundation.
Divert rain water away from the foundation.
Maintain clean gutters and down-spouts.
Install down-spout extenders and splash blocks.
Use drain tiles if site is flat.
Divert lawn sprinklers and irrigation water away from the foundation.
Promptly repair leaking faucets, water pipes, and air conditioning units.
Use mulch sparingly (no more than 2 inches depth is recommended).
Keep plants and ground covers 3-4 feet away from the house foundation.
||Problem: Poor ventilation in crawl space provides water needed for termite survival.
Cover approximately 75 percent of the soil surface in the crawl space with a vapor barrier.
Install 1 square foot of vent opening per 300 to 500 square feet of crawl space area (when using a vapor barrier).
Install 1 square foot of vent opening per 150 square feet of crawl space area .
Enhance cross ventilation.
Remove any vegetation covering vents.
House Mouse Prevention & Control
||Problem: Hidden termite access.
Install trellises and trim plants so that they do not contact the house.
Do not build flower planters against the house.
Regularly inspect cracks or joints in concrete slabs for evidence of termites.
Install metal flashing when attaching porches or decks to an existing house.
Remove mulch that contacts siding or obscures a clear view of the foundation.
Never install foam board insulation (polystyrene) below grade.
Annual Inspection Checklist
Water is directed away from the foundation.
Wood and other cellulose materials (including mulch) are away from the foundation.
The foundation is exposed around the entire house.
The basement (or crawl space) is relatively dry.
||Recognizing Mouse Infestations
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 occasionally seen during daylight hours.
House Mouse Facts 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.
Prevention and Control
||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 keen senses of taste, hearing, smell and touch. They are 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 (sightly larger than 1/4 inch in diameter). In a single year, a female may have five to 10 litters of usually five or six young each. Young are born 19 to 21 days after mating, and they are mature in six to 10 weeks. The life span of a mouse is about nine to 12 months.
Effective mouse 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. Reduction techniques include trapping and poisoning.
Sanitation. Mice can survive in very small areas with limited amounts of food and shelter. Consequently, no matter how good the sanitation, most buildings in which food is stored, handled or used will support house mice if not mouse-proofed. Although good sanitation will seldom eliminate mice, poor sanitation is sure to attract them and will permit them to thrive in greater numbers. Good sanitation will also reduce food and shelter for existing mice and in turn make baits and traps more effective. Pay particular attention to eliminating places where mice can find shelter. If they have few places to rest, hide or build nests and rear young, they cannot survive in large numbers.
Termites feed on wood and paper products such as books etc..., with an average colony reaching about 300,000 in size. Termites lose their wings when mating and often times these scattered wings can be a good indication that termites are present in your home or business. If not caught in time termites can cause serious damage to structures.
The carpenter ant is black in color and larger than most other types of ants. Colonies of carpenter ants can grow to almost 20,000 strong and can cause major structural damage to the frame of a house or building if not eliminated. The carpenter ant is also considered a wood destroying insect that prefers moist decaying wood.
Some people call the bed bug a "vampire" because it feeds off of warm blooded animals including humans. Bed bugs have a flat oval shaped body where their color is determined by what they fed on last. Bed bugs thrive in or near mattresses, beds, bed frames, beneath floor coverings and really almost anywhere that they can obtain access to blood.
The bite of a yellow jacket can be dangerous especially to people who are allergic to their venom. The yellow jacket is unique in the sense that they can bite multiple times because they don't lose their stinger after they have bitten someone. Yellow jacket nests can be found in buildings, attics, cars, windows and most areas that can accommodate them.
Bald Faced Hornet
These black and white multiple stinging "wasps" also have the ability to cause major illness from their bites. The bald faced hornet usually build their nests in shrubs, trees, under roof sills and patio decks. Their nests can grow to the size of a soccer ball and is gray in color. You would be smart in steering clear of this insect.
The paper wasp's color varies from a dark brown color to an almost orange color with yellow highlights on it's belly and can cause swelling from a sting. This insect also does not lose it's stinger when they bite and have been known to bite the same person numerous times within less than a minute.
Fruit flies breed in many different places such as mops, trash containers, empty bottles and in produce like bananas, onions, melons, grapes, strawberries and dirty rags. Once a fruit fly lays it's eggs they only take up to 24 hours to hatch. Fruit flies are known carriers of bacteria and disease.
The house fly feeds on dead animals, rodents fecal matter and is a very common insect. House flies are known carriers of pathogens such as anthrax, tuberculoses and other poisons. Gray in color the house fly can grow from a hatchling to an adult in less than seven days. They are called the annoying insect.
Bottle flies commonly infect human food supplies and are called scavengers. They also like to deposit their eggs on fecal matter, meat, fish and dead animals. This fly is much like the house fly and causes dysentery leading to diarrhea.
The German Cockroach is a very common roach that lurks near and in food source areas. They like garbage cans, kitchens, cups, plates , utensils, sewers and are known carriers of germs and bacteria. Cockroaches produces allergens that can lead to allergies and asthma. Nobody likes cockroaches.
As the largest common cockroach this insect is a carrier of germs and diseases. This cockroach is not an "inside your home" dweller but does exude an odor and sometimes ventures into homes during the colder months. These adult roaches can grow as long as 2.5 inches and are reddish-brown in color and has a yellow marking on the back of it's head.
An adult oriental cockroach can grow to about an inch long, emits a secretion with a foul smell and are often called water bugs. These roaches live in bundles of leaves, sewer pipes, under sinks and feed on all kinds of garbage. Their secretions can cause skin irritation and congestion in breathing and also causes watery eye's.
The centipede thrives in moist damp areas in and around your home or business. A centipede can grow up to 2 inches long with over 180 legs. They are actually good for killing other insects but most people still can't stand their slimy presence at home or work. You can find centipedes in basements, bathrooms or any water rich area.
Millipedes also like moist areas such as basements near sump pumps or under moist carpets. They feed on organic elements like decaying matter or rotting vegetables. Millipedes are slippery and can be a very ugly and creepy experience.
Pill bugs get their name because they roll up and look like little pills when they are scared. You can find pill bugs in moist areas under wood logs, stones and thick organic matter. Sometimes called the sow bug or wood louse this soft bellied insect has seven pairs of legs and pointy angled antennae.
Also known as the "fish moth" this wingless insect is barely seen because it is nocturnal only coming out at night. This insect grows to lengths of one inch long and is said to be over 300 million years old. Their diet consists of glue, paper, starch, cereals and other insects. They like moist areas and have two long antennae.
Also known as the "pincher bug" this wiggling insects body extends half way out from it's legs and is black with a flat like torso extending almost one inch long. The earwig likes dark damp areas and can be found under carpeting, newspapers, magazines and pipes. They will slither their way into small cracks and crevices as well.
Deer ticks can be found in thick forests, open and grassy fields. They transmit bacteria that causes lyme disease which can be fatal to animal pets and humans. A deer tick is about the size of a small seed and males are black while females are reddish in color.
Brown Dog Ticks
Brown dog ticks feed mostly on dogs but can also be found on rodents,deer and other domestic animals. They can transmit bacteria and organisms which can lead to skin irritation and allergic reactions. These blood sucking insects can grow up to a half inch long and lay up to 3,000 eggs that hatch within a two month period.
Fleas are wingless insects that need to suck the blood out of living mammals and birds skin in order to reproduce. Fleas exist while living on hosts such as cats, dogs, rodents, deer and humans. Fleas have been known to spread tape worm in cats and dogs as well.
Crickets are about one inch long in length and are related to grasshoppers with a flat like body. The famous loud noise a cricket can make is contributed to it's raising of it's leg and rubbing against it's other leg. The higher the temperature the louder noise that they make. They will live in warm areas in your home beneath rugs or in clothing.
Cave crickets can't fly but with very large hind legs they can jump fairly far when startled and can grow up to four inches long. They can be found in basements, animal burrows and under stones. Cave crickets are usually brownish in color and have long antennae.
Indian Meal Moth
Also known as the North American Flyer, this insect feeds on cereal, dry food products, dried fruit, nuts etc..., This moth can grow to about one inch long and can lay up to 300 eggs on your food. You might know that this moth is present by discovering the webbing, cast skins and fecal matter it leaves behind.
Varied Carpet Beetle
Carpet beetles eat almost anything and can be very destructive if not dealt with in a timely fashion. They eat organic fibers and products in and around your home or business. The carpet beetle has been known to spread diseases like anthrax. There are black carpet beetles and furniture carpet beetles.
Cicada Killer Wasp
This wasp can grow up to almost two inches long and it's colors resemble the yellow jacket in some ways. These wasps are mostly present during the late summer and can cause havoc for homeowners who want to enjoy a barbecue or a game of horseshoes. The female Cicada can sting you if you upset them enough.
These slow moving bugs seem harmless enough but can eat plants up and kill them before you realize it. The stink bug gets it's name because when they are scared or feel threatened they give off a foul smell that you won't forget. There body shape allows them to get into your home through door frames, roof shingles and any very thin openings in your home or business.
Box Elder Bug
The Box Elder Bug feeds on various plants but most enjoy feasting on the seeds of the female Box Elder Tree. These bugs are primarily a nuisance bug and seem to really annoy people who come in contact with them. On rare occasions they have been known to bite humans as well. They grow to about a half inch long and have three red lines just behind the head.
Sawtooth Grain Beetle
These beetles infest dry food products in your home such as cereal, dried fruit, flour, bran etc..., They have the ability to chew through plastic and once settled they can multiply rapidly leaving behind contaminated food that you are not aware of. Only about one tenth of an inch long this flat shaped menace can get into or through almost anything.
These strong jawed bees can chew out a half inch in diameter hole in solid wood. They dig tunnels in wood so they can create nests in them where they lay their eggs. These yellow and black bees related to the Carpenter Ant, bore galleries deep into the wood and can cause serious damage.
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