Cute little rat sniffing crumbs

San Antonio Rodent Prevention Tips | iPest Solutions

Rodents can contaminate food sources and serve as vectors of many diseases, such as salmonella and the potentially fatal Hantavirus. Moreover, mice and rats can cause serious structural damage by chewing through insulation, wallboards, wood and electrical wiring.

It’s much easier to prevent an infestation than to get rid of pests after they’ve found a cozy retreat inside the home. San Antonio’s Rodent Control Experts, iPest Solutions, recommends the following tips to keep homes rodent-free this winter:

  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter, using caulk, steel wool or a combination of both.
  • Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
  • Screen vents and openings to chimneys.
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly.
  • Inspect items such as boxes, grocery bags and other packages brought into the home.
San Antonio Mouse Control

iPest Solutions Shares Expert Advice for Homeowners to Prevent an Fall Pest Infestation

Every fall, pests and rodents go into survival mode and begin their search for a place to call home during the winter until they can go outdoors again. Unfortunately, our homes are often their top choice for a winter retreat as they provide a warm shelter and easy access to food and water.”

Once inside, rodents, cockroaches and other invaders can contaminate food, spread disease and more.

iPest Solutions recommends heeding the following fall pest-proofing tips to minimize the threats that pests pose to health and home:

  • Screen attic vents, openings to chimneys and any other areas that are open to the outdoors, like mail slots and animal doors.
  • Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry. Consider using a dehumidifier in these areas.
  • Keep kitchen counters clean, store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
  • Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows.
  • Inspect boxes of decorations, package deliveries and grocery bags for pest damage before bringing them indoors.
  • Avoid leaving pets’ food dishes out for long periods of time.
  • Contact a licensed pest control professional if an infestation is suspected.

Another piece of advice we can offer homeowners is to keep an eye out for any signs of wear and tear around the home. Pests will take any wall, door or window opening as an invitation to enter. Caulk and steel wool can work wonders to keep pests from finding a way into the home.

Brown Recluse Spider

Black Widow And Recluse Spiders Have Both Been Known To Bite Residents Within Texas Homes

More than 40,000 spider species have been documented worldwide, the vast majority of which are small species that are incapable of biting humans due to their inadequately sized fangs. Of the more than 3,000 documented spider species inhabiting the United States, only 60 or so possess fangs that are large and strong enough to penetrate human skin and deliver venom into the bloodstream. All spider species produce venom that is adequate for paralyzing and/or killing their arthropod prey, but the venom produced by nearly all spider species is not toxic enough to harm humans, let alone cause human fatalities.

Black widow spiders are one exception, as these species produce venom that is many times more potent than rattlesnake venom. However, a relatively large dose of venom is injected into the bloodstream during a single rattlesnake bite attack, which makes rattlesnake bites far more dangerous than black widow bites. In fact, a large proportion of black widow bites are “dry bites” that do not see venom released from the fangs. Most public health professionals and doctors name only black widows and recluse spiders as the spider species that can inflict medically significant bites in the US.

The southern black widow (Latrodectus mactans), and to a much lesser extent, the northern black widow (L. variolus) can be found in Austin where the former is frequently encountered indoors. While four recluse spider species can be found in Texas, the brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa) is the only one that lives in close association with humans in Austin. Black widow venom contains neurotoxins that cause some bite victims to develop systemic symptoms like fever, nausea, rapid heart beat, muscle cramps, vomiting, shock, and even coma and death. Brown recluse bites may also cause systemic symptoms, but the primary symptoms relate to tissue necrosis at the bite wound, which sometimes requires infected areas of skin to be surgically removed. Unlike black widow venom, recluse venom contains necrotizing compounds that cause serious infections in around 10 percent of all bite victims.

From 1998 to 2002, 760 black widow spider bites and 1,369 brown recluse spider bites were reported to Texas poison control centers. Most black widow bite victims were men, while most recluse  bite victims were women, and almost all the reported bites occurred at the victim’s home. The majority of black widow bites occured in western Texas, but central Texas, particularly Austin, saw the highest rate of recluse bites.

Have you ever encountered a brown recluse indoors?

San Antonio May Have Already Been Invaded By Yet Another Potentially Dangerous House Spider

The spider Latrodectus geometricus is commonly known as the “brown widow,” and this species is closely related to the notorious black widow spiders found throughout the US and many other regions of the world. While the brown widow’s venom is less potent than that of black widows, several case reports describe serious medical consequences of brown widow bites. Adult brown widows can be identified by unique bodily features including brown-shaded bands on their legs, vague white spots on their bulbous abdomen, and the orange to yellow colored hourglass marking located on the underside of their abdomen. Their light to dark-brown bodies measure between ⅓ to ⅝ of an inch in length, which does not include their fairly long legs.

The brown widow is native to South Africa, but they arrived in Florida by hitchhiking within cargo on seafaring trade vessels. From there, this exotic spider species rapidly spread to several states along the Gulf Coast including Texas where they are continuing to expand their non-native habitat farther west and north. Due to the potentially harmful bites that brown widow spiders are known to inflict on humans within and around homes and buildings, university researchers from both Texas and California are now conducting an extensive survey in Texas to determine which urban and suburban areas in the state have been invaded by these arachnids.

Currently, brown widow spiders are prevalent in Houston, Galveston, and several other coastal cities, and they have likely reached San Antonio, but it is not yet known how prevalent the house spiders are in the city. San Antonio sees its share of spider-related issues, such as a 2013 incident that saw an endangered Bracken Bat Cave meshweaver spider halt the construction of a pipeline in the city. In addition to tarantulas that are often spotted within San Antonio homes, the city is home to the only two spider species in the US that are considered medically harmful. These spider species are commonly known as southern black widows (L. mactans) and brown recluse spiders (Loxosceles reclusa), and the latter becomes a serious public health threat every year from April to October when they invade residential areas. While brown widow spiders are not nearly as dangerous as brown recluse spiders, the former has been known to inflict bites that sometimes require medical attention and even hospital stays.

Have you encountered brown widows within or around your home?

 

Austin Cockroach Control

Austin’s Cockroach Problem | iPest Solutions Cockroach Control

How Local Leaders View Austin’s Cockroach Problem, And How To Recognize The Appearance Of The Most Common Roach Pest, As Well As The Common Signs Of Their Indoor Presence

Many pest professionals working in Austin agree that cockroaches are the pests they manage most often on residential and commercial properties. Not long ago, the US Census Bureau put Austin at the top of the list of cities with the most troublesome cockroach pest populations. According to survey data, 30 percent of Austin homes are harboring cockroach pests. According to Matthew Noriega, Assistant Division Manager of the Austin Code Department, along with bed bugs, cockroaches are the most commonly mentioned insects among residential pest complaints in the city. Noriega also made clear that all local leaders must work together to prevent Austin from becoming a “cockroachopolis.” Last year during August, footage of disgusting cockroach-infested conditions within a student apartment at University Estates in Austin appeared on social media, and city inspectors often spot roach pests in restaurant and grocery stores in the city.

The moisture and heat in Austin allow several cockroach pest species to thrive in the city. The four most common species include American, German, Oriental, and smokybrown cockroaches, but several others are frequently found in the state, including the relative newcomers known as Asian and Turkestan cockroaches. The German cockroach is the only one of these species that has evolved to live solely indoors where they benefit from human activity. For example, German cockroaches are entirely reliant on human food in order to survive, and the crumbs they acquire beneath appliances and furniture, and in carpeting are sufficient to support large indoor populations that are often made up of hundreds or even thousands of specimens.

Since German cockroaches are unable to survive outdoors, their life depends on avoiding human notice at all times. This is why cockroaches spend their days within well-hidden, and often inaccessible indoor harborages located within wall voids, ceiling voids, beneath furniture, and other moist and dark spaces. The ½ to ⅝ inch German cockroach adult is light to dark brown in color with a vertical light-brown band behind its dark head and the uppermost part of its lighter back. Their nymphal offspring are similar looking, but smaller, and black with a single light brown spot on its upper back and light-brown horizontal pinstripes across its middle to lower half.

Have you ever encountered German cockroaches?

Tick Exterminator

Which Tick-Borne Diseases Are Most Common Throughout Texas?

Which Tick-Borne Diseases Are Most Common Throughout Texas? Which Tick Species Is Known To Establish Reproductive Populations In Homes, And Are Infestations Dangerous?

Ticks transmit disease more frequently than any other group of arthropods in the US, and several disease-carrying tick species can be found in every state, except for Alaska. More than 30,000 new cases of lyme disease are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year in the US, and almost all of these cases are transmitted by the bloodsucking tick specimens found in the upper midwest and northeastern states. Luckily for residents of Texas, ticks very rarely transmit lyme disease in the state. However, the principal vector of lyme disease in Texas, the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), is expanding its habitat range in many parts of the country, including Texas.

According to Texas A&M entomologist, Mike Merchant, only 12 people per year on average contract lyme disease in Texas, and a small minority of them occur in San Antonio where black-legged ticks can be found. According to public health data, lyme disease cases have been declining in Texas for several years, but research is now showing that black-legged ticks are expanding their habitat into new areas, and they are becoming more prevalent in their established habitat range.

Some sources state that 50 to 100 lyme disease cases occur each year in Texas, but this discrepancy is due to the varying number of lyme disease reports collected by each public health agency. It is also important to keep in mind that many cases of lyme in Texas were transmitted to the disease victims out of state. In addition to lyme disease, black-legged ticks and western blacklegged ticks (Ixodes pacificus) transmit anaplasmosis in Texas, and infection rates have been increasing rapidly each year in the US, though Texas is not among the most at-risk states.

The tick species, Dermacentor variabilis, is more commonly known by the names “American dog tick” and “wood tick,” and this tick pest is unique for being the only tick species in the country that can, and often does, establish reproductive populations within homes where they can become numerous. While the American dog tick poses a significant disease threat to dogs, they do not transmit disease to humans.

Have you ever encountered ticks within your home?

Welcome to Texas

What Homeowners Should Know About The Large And Intimidating Cricket Hunter Wasps That Nest Within Texas Homes All Year Round

In an effort to protect their queen and colony, social wasps frequently attack humans in response to nest disturbances. Solitary wasps, on the other hand, are not colony-dwellers, and therefore, they are not defensive, and they rarely sting humans. However, it is easy to confuse solitary wasps with social wasps because several species from each group frequently establish both aerial and ground nests on properties. For example, much like paper wasps, and to a lesser extent, European hornets, mud dauber wasps often construct nests on the exterior walls of structures. Cicada killer wasps, digger wasps and sand wasps excavate ground nests on residential and commercial lawns just like most yellow jacket species. In Texas, solitary cricket hunter wasps are often mistaken for social wasps due to their habit of swarming out of indoor nests established within wall voids. This pest’s official species name is Liris beatus, and it is an understudied species that establishes year round infestations within wall voids and attics, often in large numbers.

Cricket hunter wasps can be recognized for their grey and dusky colored wings and their jet black body that measures between ½ and ¾ of an inch in length. In the past, extension entomologists throughout Texas have claimed that cricket hunter wasps are one of the most queried insect pests among homeowners in the state due to the species’ intimidating appearance. Just as their name suggests, cricket hunter wasps prey on crickets, and they prefer to establish ground nests, but infestations have been increasing as housing developments continue to expand into undisturbed landscapes. After establishing a nest within wall voids or attics, adult cricket hunter wasps capture and carry crickets back to their well hidden indoor nesting site to provide their offspring with a meal.

Overtime, other female adults establish neighboring nests within the same concealed indoor spaces, bringing with them crickets that eventually pile up in the hundreds or thousands. Infestations are most often established during the fall, early spring, or during bouts of excessive heat, and their presence is usually noticed when specimens enter and exit nesting sites through indoor ventilation ducts. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to prevent cricket hunter wasp infestations, and detecting nests can be tricky as well. Sealing cracks, crevices and other potential entry points on the exterior walls of homes and installing a screen barrier over attic vents will deny these pests entrance into homes. Many infestations require pest control professionals to inject insecticide aerosols or dusts into voids in order to destroy nests that are inaccessible to homeowners. It should be kept in mind that while cricket hunter wasps are not driven to attack humans, females will inflict stings when disturbed.

Have you ever encountered a cricket hunter wasp within or around your home?

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The History Of The Tawny Crazy Ant Species In Texas

The ant species Nylanderia fulva, formerly known as Paratrechina fulva, N. sp. near fulva, Nylanderia pubens, N. sp. near pubens, and others, is a major invasive pest that has established a worldwide distribution. N. fulva has officially been given the common name the Tawny crazy ant, but this species has gone by many common names, such as the hairy crazy ant, the Caribbean crazy ant, and Rasberry crazy ant. The confusion over the Tawny crazy ant’s species name is due to the multiple localities where it had been incorrectly documented over the years.

When the Tawny crazy ant invaded Florida for the first time back in the 1990s, entomologists in the state believed that it was the N. pubens species that had been documented in Florida well over 60 years ago before the ants mysteriously disappeared from the state. N. pubens is a real species that is closely related to the Tawny crazy ant, and it has been theorized that N. pubens disappeared from Florida due to having been outcompeted in urban areas by Tawny crazy ants after their introduction into the state nearly 30 years ago. Today, the habitat range of N. pubens is likely restricted to sparsely populated areas of southern Florida where they are rarely, if ever, encountered by humans.

The Tawny crazy ant is a South American native that was first documented in the US back in 1938 when colonies were recovered from Brownsville, TX. In 2002, a pest control professional, Tom Rasberry, discovered Tawny Crazy ants on a residential property in Houston, and this encounter was widely reported by media outlets as being the first time this species had been documented in the country. Of course, the Tawny crazy ant was already known to occur in Texas due to the species’ well documented discovery in Brownsville. It is possible, or perhaps likely that Raspberry already knew about the Brownsville record of this species when he found specimens in Houston. While there is no way to know this for sure, it cannot be denied that Rasberry was instrumental in raising awareness about the Tawny crazy ant’s highly invasive nature.

Raspberry became well known for his expertise on Tawny crazy ant control, and he even cleared an infestation that the ant pests established within high-tech NASA machinery. Just like another South American native, the Argentine ant, the Tawny crazy ant is one of the few invasive ant species that forms “supercolonies,” which occur when different colonies fuse to form one large colony. The Tawny crazy ant cannot be adequately controlled without professional pest control intervention.

Have you ever found  Tawny crazy ants within or around your home?

Fire-Ants

Everything San Antonio Residents Need To Know About The Venomous And Non-Venomous Ants In The Area

Numerous ant species have been documented in the United States, and a small minority of these species inhabit urban and suburban areas where they serve as pests of homes, buildings, and/or turf-grass landscapes. Most ant pest species are nothing more than a nuisance in human settings, but a few are considered medically harmful. In response to the threatening presence of humans, some ant pests inflict bites, stings, or both in an effort to defend their colony. The very common Tawny crazy ant (Nylanderia fulva) is a South American native that has established an invasive habitat in the southern states, and they sometimes inflict bites on human skin, though this species is not considered a medical threat.

Numerous carpenter ant species (Camponotus sp.) are nuisance pests of homes, and some occasionally excavate nests within moist and decayed structural wood. Carpenter ants are notable for being the largest-bodied ants in the US, as major workers of the western black carpenter ant pest species (C. modoc) are between ¼ and ½ of an inch in length. Carpenter ants will bite humans in defense, and like most biting ant species including the Tawny crazy ant, carpenter ants spray irritating formic acid into the bite wound. While sustaining such an attack sounds painful, an ant’s formic acid  causes only minor and short-lived localized pain. The Tawny crazy ant and several nuisance carpenter ant pest species establish infestations within homes and buildings in San Antonio, but the western black carpenter ant is the only significant wood-destroying carpenter ant pest found in the city.

Multiple native fire ant species are pests that invade homes in the southern states, and they are among the few ant pests that inflict venomous and painful stings that can trigger serious allergic reactions in sensitive individuals including potentially fatal anaphylactic episodes. The native fire ant pest species that are known to invade San Antonio homes and buildings include southern fire ants (Solenopsis xyloni), tropical fire ants (S. geminata), golden fire ants (S. aurea), and the S. amblychila species that has not been given a common name. These species have grown scarce in the south due to having been displaced by their more dominant invasive relatives the red-imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) and the black-imported fire ant (S. richteri). Both of these invasive fire ant pests have been responsible for numerous human envenomation incidents, some of which have resulted in death. Unlike native fire ants, however, red-imported fire ants rarely invade homes; instead this species constructs unsightly and economically costly dirt nesting mounds on cultivated residential and commercial landscapes. While the red-imported fire ant is a very common landscape pest in San Antonio, the black-imported fire ant’s habitat range is restricted to a small area in northern Mississippi and Georgia.

Have you ever stepped on a red-imported fire ant mound?

 

 

San Antonio Ant Control

A Brief History Of Pest Control In The United States | Austin Pest Control Experts

During the first half of the twentieth century, insect pests like bed bugs, mosquitoes, flies, termites and cockroaches wreaked havoc in urban areas throughout the US, and residents were largely defenseless against the pests. During this time, insect pest control methods consisted of simple homemade physical traps, such as keeping a bowl beneath each leg of a bed to capture bed bugs as they attempted to reach sleeping humans. Due to the disease threat posed by overabundant and everpresent fly, cockroach and mosquito populations in urban areas during the early 1900s, residents became skilled at swatting bugs with rolled up newspapers. Surprisingly, even the primitive flyswatter would not be patented until 1900.

Eventually, the first modern synthetic insecticide was introduced during the 1940s, and this same decade saw the proliferation of the first private pest control companies in the US. By the next decade, the private pest control industry had established a widespread presence in the country, and each firm relied solely on the one effective insecticide that had been introduced a decade prior. This insecticide is known by the hard-to-pronounce name of dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethan, but most people know it as DDT.

Initially, DDT seemed to be the insecticide of the gods, as a single indoor treatment would effectively eradicate even the largest indoor populations of all insect pests including the ones that are notorious today for being extremely difficult to eliminate, such as bed bugs and German cockroaches. In fact, the constant use of DDT led to the near eradication of bed bugs in the US only a decade after the insecticide was introduced. However, by the late 1950s and early 1960s, authorities with the US Department of Agriculture began putting restrictions on the use of DDT due to the insecticide’s decreasing effectiveness, and the possible medical and environmental hazards associated with its use. It was during this time that researchers began to document DDT resistance in German cockroaches, and in 1962, the environmental scientist Rachel Carson released a controversial book detailing her research into the negative health and environmental effects of DDT.

This book is called Silent Spring, and it succeeded in spreading public awareness about the negative impact of DDT use, which earned her the ire of chemical company CEOs, certain politicians, and even then President Dwight Eisenhower. One decade after the release of Carson’s book, the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT entirely. Since then, the EPA has been thoroughly testing and closely monitoring insecticide use, and many of Carson’s ideas concerning non-toxic pest control methods are now standard in the pest control industry, such as biological methods of controlling crop pests.

Were you around when DDT was being heavily used all over the nation?