heartless red-eyed mouse contemplates joy of destruction

The Anatomy of a Mouse

heartless red-eyed mouse contemplates joy of destructionWe all know that mice can be obnoxious and tenacious pests—but what, exactly, makes them so adaptable? Good question, reader! Allow me to break it down for you in a few intuitive categories:

Hair:

As mammals, mice have two kinds of hair: fur and whiskers. Realistically, we can break it down even further by denoting the two different kinds of fur: the underhair and the guardhair. The uderhair—that is, the hair closest to the body—is thick and soft, and insulates the mouse, protecting it from often-drastic seasonal temperature changes. The underhair, in turn, is protected by the guard hair, which gives the mouse its coloration, allowing it to blend in with its surroundings. Like many mammals, mice will shed their coats in summer, only to grow it back again in the winter.

Whiskers:

Cat and dog owners will likely be familiar with just how sensitive mammalian whiskers can be. These highly sensitive stiff hairs aid the mouse’s navigation, especially in the dark, allowing it to find its way with ease, even in the darkest, most enclosed environments. The base of each whisker is connected to a sensory nerve in the skin which, in turn, send signals directly to the brain, telling the mouse all about its surroundings.

Feet:

Mice are incredibly agile thanks, in part, to their flexible feet. Likewise, their well-developed limbs allow them to manipulate materials while building nests and eating. Mice have four toes on their front feet and five on their hind feet; small nails protrude from each of these toes, further increasing a mouse’s ability to grip various surfaces while running and climbing.

Tail:

Mice also possess a prehensile tail that’s commonly used for balance and support. Depending upon the species, the mouse’s tail will be about as long as its body. While not completely naked, the tail is covered almost exclusively in scaly skin and tiny, nearly translucent hairs. Mice attempting to flee from a predator can purposely loose a portion of their tails, but their maneuvering and balancing ability will be compromised.

Teeth:

Like humans, mice have heterodontal teeth, meaning that they have different kinds of teeth that can be used for different purposes. They possess molars as well as two upper incisors and two lower incisors, which grow continuously. Mice grind their teeth together in order to keep them sharp, thus along them to cut through almost any material—as many aggrieved homeowners can tell you.

The natural facilities of the mouse allow it to adapt to almost any environment, meaning it will make little distinction between the shelter of a fallen log and your warm, dry attic. If beset by an infestation of mice, the best recourse for a savvy homeowner would be to contact their local pest control professional.

 

 

Combatting Bedbugs

iStock_000054168464_LargeThere’s something inherently repulsive and unwholesome about bedbugs, isn’t there? Maybe it’s the thought of their insidious little feet, crawling unchecked over our prone forms, all while we’re at our most vulnerable.

Like mosquitos, bedbugs thrive on human blood, but lack the decency to bite you while you’re awake. On the other hand, bedbugs—mercifully—are incapable of transmitting blood-borne diseases.

It’s important to note that since bedbugs are attracted primarily to blood, their appearance in your home is not necessarily an indication of dirtiness. Indeed, you’re equally as likely to find them in a pristinely kept homes and hotel rooms as you are in filthy ones.

There are several indications that you may have bedbugs—apart from being bitten, obviously—which include dark or rust-colored spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, the offensive, musty odor of the bedbugs’ scent glands, and the appearance of blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases.

Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, and used beds or couches. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite during the night like horrible, parasitic Draculas.

If you ultimately determine that you’ve got bedbugs on your hands, you can begin to purge the infestation by cleaning up the areas in which they’re commonly found. For example:

-Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting.

-Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.

-Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.

-Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.

Concerning Mosquitoes

iStock_000011314964_LargeLet’s face facts, here: mosquitoes are literally the worst things in the world. Apart from just being generally annoying, the mosquito is actually the deadliest animal on the planet. While exsanguination admittedly isn’t a primary concern, the real issue is the diseases that mosquitos carry including West Nile Virus, Malaria, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, and Encephalitis.

What you may not know, however, is that only female mosquitos drink blood; that’s because they need the protein found in human blood, and that of other mammals, to produce their eggs. Male mosquitos, unburdened by the need to produce young, are content to drink nectar from flowers. Indeed, when not actively produce eggs, females, too, are content with nectar.

When a female mosquito has had her fill of blood, she’ll seek out even the smallest amount of standing water in which to deposit her eggs. A female needs only an inch or so of water in order to breed, meaning that any inconspicuous water repository will do, including birdbaths, gutters, small puddles, and discarded flowerpots. That said, many pest control specialists recommend diligently checking and upending any container that may harbor excess water after rainstorms.

On the subject of repelling mosquitos, and if the environmental modification mentioned above isn’t an option, there are myriad products such as lotions, oils, and spays that purport to keep the blood-suckers away; and, of course, their respective effectiveness may vary, but many pest control professionals generally support the use of such products.

Ultimately, when we talk about mosquitos, we’re really talking about an insect that’s been around, virtually unaltered, for hundreds of millions of years, sucking blood and having little, annoying mosquito babies. We humans can do what we will to avoid them, but trying to get rid of them outright seems to be little more than a child’s daydream.

Common Ants in the United States

ant formica rufa on green grass

To the average homeowner, the prospect of an ant infestation is a nightmarish one. Be that as it may, little consideration is given to the type of ant actually doing the infesting. For instance, some species of ant will build their nests outside while making the journey to and from your home in order to find food. Others, like carpenter ants or thief ants, prefer to nest indoors. Regardless, the frequently massive populations and tenacious natures of almost all species of ant can seem a daunting issue to redress.

The correct identification of your problem-species is the key to effective pest control management. Knowledge of its habits, habitat, behavior, likes, dislikes, and preferred food source not only help to control an infestation, but also to prevent another in the future. Various ant species can often differentiated by the speed of their run, their coloration, relative size, and shape. A few of the most common types of problematic ants are listed below:

Red Imported Fire Ants: Fire ants are extremely common throughout the United States and can be identified by their reddish-brown coloration. They’re likewise known for creating mound-like nests, albeit with no visible entrances. The fire ant is perhaps best known for its remarkably aggressive response to disturbances and its painful sting. Fire ants usually nest outdoors and will enter homes in search of food and water.

Carpenter Ants: These ants are comparatively large and are known for their black, brown, or orange-ish coloration. Carpenters are mostly nocturnal and will venture from their nests at night. Their nests tend to be located inside hollow objects that offer some degree of protection, such as hollow tree trunks or boxes. Unlike fire ants, carpenter ants cannot sing, but are still capable of biting aggressors.

Acrobat Ants: These ants are frequently confused with carpenter ants because of their similar coloration but, on closer examination, present a significantly different body structure: two pedicles, along with two spines on the thorax. Additionally, acrobat ants are most active during the day and, when threatened, will raise its heart-shaped garters into the air in a defensive manner.

Crazy Ants: The rather inelegantly named crazy ant is known for it’s remarkably fast and erratic running behavior. It is dark-brown in color and has long legs and antenna. It enjoys nesting in a wide variety of locations both indoors and outdoors.

Needless to say, the most reliable way to accurately determine the species of your unwanted houseguest is to call your local pest control professional. They’ve not only been trained in the identification of your particular pests, but also know the ideal way to dispose of them.

dallas termite control

The NPMA’s Bug Barometer

Close up termites or white ant on damaged wood texture

This September, the National Pest Management Association released their annual “Bug Barometer,” which indicates the projected populations of various pests during this upcoming fall and winter. The Bug Barometer, which takes into consideration weather patterns such as heat, humidity, and rainfall in various geographical regions, provides consumers with an idea of what to expect and more to the point, what kinds of pests they ought to prepare for.

Entomological experts at the NPMA have analyzed weather patterns from across the United States and have summarized their predictions for each region. Their projections are as follows:

Northeast: After winter storms and frigid cold battered the Northeast earlier this year, consistent warmth made May one of the warmest on record for many cities, including Washington, D.C., Burlington, VT, and New York, NY. That was followed by periods of record-setting rainfall and exceptional humidity, which combined with the heat to provide ideal conditions for pests. Mosquitoes, especially, are expected to take advantage of an increase in areas of standing water and remain active until temperatures consistently dip below 50 degrees. The summer conditions have also helped tick populations to remain at average levels, where they will remain well into the fall season. The heat and humidity have also benefitted overwintering pests, such as brown marmorated stink bugs and multicolored Asian lady beetles that will begin to gather on exterior walls as they search for winter shelter in the coming months.

Southeast: The Southeast experienced typical summer weather – extremely hot and humid – which has allowed for insects to develop faster than normal. These summer conditions were also ideal for overwintering pests, such as kudzu bugs, multicolored Asian lady beetles and brown marmorated stink bugs, as the elevated heat and humidity encouraged growth and helped provide ample sources of food.

Termite activity may also increase in the Southeast due to an abundance of moisture, so homeowners should remain vigilant as they may be foraging throughout the winter, even though they will not be visible until swarms begin in spring.

Midwest: Record rainfall through June wreaked havoc across much of the Great Plains and Midwest, causing flash flooding in typically dry riverbeds. While the much-needed rain helped end an ongoing drought, it also resulted in an increase of standing water and an excess of mosquito breeding sites. Mosquito activity will remain high in early fall, until temperatures consistently fall below the 50 degree mark. Areas that saw the harshest flood conditions may experience a drop in pest populations, since developing insects may not have survived the extreme events.

Pacific Northwest: The ongoing drought conditions and extreme heat experienced by much of this region in the spring continued into the summer months, with July setting records for heat in Portland, OR, Seattle, WA and Spokane, WA. While heat is a favorable condition for pest populations, extreme heat without accompanying rain is less so. One benefit is that tick and mosquito populations are currently reported to be low in this region, and will likely remain down this fall.  Although the lower levels of rainfall during the summer months likely didn’t help ant colonies grow significantly, the search for moisture and shelter may drive an increase in the number of ants seeking shelter indoors as temperatures decrease and daylight shortens in the coming weeks.

West Coast: The four-year drought in California has made international headlines in recent months, but the area did experience some brief relief during the month of July, when Los Angeles, San Diego and over a dozen other cities set all-time rainfall records for the month. However, experts say the rainfall ultimately will not be enough to stave off the ongoing drought, and areas that received rain, but not enough to cause flooding, can expect pest populations to be slightly higher than in recent years. Mosquitoes are the pests most likely to have benefitted from the recent rain, and will remain active well into the fall until temperatures consistently remain below 50 degrees.

Southwest: Triple-digit heat was typical across the region for much of the summer, and Las Vegas experienced the hottest June on record. More rain than usual has freed many areas from drought conditions, especially in New Mexico, and the weather patterns have combined to provide excellent conditions for mosquitoes, ants and flies. Termite foraging and unseen damage to wood may be higher than usual, and mosquito breeding sites are likely at a surplus thanks to an abundance of moisture.

Mice and Breeding Habits

Cute wood mouse sitting on hind legs

“I can always tell when the mother-in-law’s coming: the mice throw themselves on the traps.” –Les Dawson

Were it so easy! The fact is, though, that mice are tenacious and tricky pests. Depending on the size of the infestation, they can cause excessive property damage by chewing on furniture, wires, boxes, and walls. Likewise, they can cause potential health risks by harboring diseases and exacerbate the growth of harmful bacteria.

Mice are drawn to human dwellings by promises of food, warmth, and accommodating locations for nests—usually tight, dry, enclosed spaces. These nests are constructed for breeding purposes and are generally constructed from wood, bedding, pieces of string, and various other fabrics. The nest provides a warm, safe for the mouse to live and, as such, will likely be surrounded by urine and feces.

During the winter months, mice will be attracted to the warmth radiating through windows and doors. Accordingly, the most likely places for nests tend to be behind ovens, refrigerators, and washing machines. They also tend to favor cabinets and pantries and often seek out kitchens as potential nesting places. Mice are both timid and territorial, meaning that they rarely venture farther than fifteen or twenty feet from the nest, unless in search of food.

Once a mouse has established a suitable nesting area, it will reproduce extremely quickly and, if left unchecked, can quickly overwhelm an unsuspecting homeowner. The average house mouse has a gestation period of 19 to 21 days and will usually produce a litter ranging in size from 3 to 14. Over the course of a year, a female can bear up to 10 litters.

The density of a particular population largely depends on the availability of food, but given the lack of natural predators in a domestic habitat—apart from cats, of course—the growth rate can, and will, explode.

Cantu Pest Control

How weather impacts pests pressure

Interested to know what you can expect from pests this fall?

Jim Fredericks, Vice President of Technical and Regulatory Affairs at National Pest Management Association, was featured on The Weather Channel where he talked about how weather impacts pest pressure.

Learn more about what you can expect! Click here to read the entire article, and watch the video.

Fredericks_weather_channel

mosquitoes

MOSQUITO ALERT

Cantu Pest Control

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Layne Mashburn
(972) 885-3618 near Dallas Fort Worth
(713) 999-3495 near Houston
Layne(dot)Mashburn(at)cantupestcontrol(dot)com

MOSQUITO ALERT

Mosquito season is here!

(Dallas-Fort Worth, TX., August 6, 2015) – As of July 24, fifteen cities in Dallas County have had mosquitos test positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) with one confirmed human case of West Nile Fever reported in Dallas. (Source: www.dallascounty.org/department/hhs/WestNileWatch.html)

Likewise, as of July 27, five cities in Denton County have had mosquitoes test positive for WNV. (Source: http://dentoncounty.com/Departments/Health-Services/Environmental-Division.aspx)

The team at Cantu Pest Control can help. We have different mosquito abatement programs tailored to your specific situation that will provide relief from these pesky insects.

Some of the local municipalities that have entrusted us to provide mosquito treatment include: McKinney, Flower Mound, Lewisville, Lindsay, Terrell, and Roanoke.

Give me a call and I would be happy to go over our different treatment options and pricing.

Thank you,

Layne Mashburn
Cantu Pest Control

mosquitoes

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For more information about Cantu Pest Control:
Web: www.CantuPestControl.com
Customer Reviews: www.cantupestcontrol.com/customer-reviews
Twitter: @CantuPest
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/CantuPestControl

mosquito pupa

Mosquito Adult

In our last post, we talked about the “Mosquito Pupa.” This is the final stage of the mosquito’s development before it becomes an adult mosquito.

Surprisingly, only female mosquitoes require a blood meal. Therefore, they’re the only ones that bite animals – warm or cold blooded – and birds. Stimuli that influence biting include carbon dioxide, temperature, moisture, smell, color and movement.

Male mosquitoes do not bite, but feed on the nectar of flowers or other suitable sugar source. Acquiring a blood meal is essential for egg production because it contains protein. But, mostly both male and female mosquitoes are nectar feeders.Female Toxorhynchites actually can’t obtain a bloodmeal and are restricted to a nectar diet.

Of those female mosquitoes capable of blood feeding, human blood meals are seldom first or second choices. Horses, cattle, smaller mammals or birds are preferred.

Aedes and Ochlerotatus mosquitoes are painful and persistent biters. They search for a blood meal early in the morning, at dusk and into the evening. Some are daytime biters, especially on cloudy days and in shaded areas.They usually do not enter dwellings, and they prefer to bite mammals like humans.

Domestic and wild birds usually are preferred over man, cows, and horses. Those females that emerge in late summer search for sheltered areas where they “hibernate” until spring. Warm weather brings them out again in search of water on which to lay their eggs.

Culiseta mosquitoes are moderately aggressive biters, attacking in the evening hours or in the shade during the day. Psorophora, Coquillettidia and Mansonia mosquitoes are becoming more pestiferous as an ever-expanding human population invades their natural habitats. Anopheles mosquitoes are persistent biters and are the only mosquitoes which transmit malaria to man.

As you can see, mosquitoes do pose a danger and an annoyance to humans and animals. If you find yourself with a mosquito problem, reach out to Cantu Pest Control for help!

mosquito pupa

Mosquito Pupa

In a previous post about mosquito larvae, we talked about the phase of the mosquito’s life that leads up to the mosquito becoming a mosquito pupa.

Mosquito pupae, commonly called “tumblers,” live in water from one to four days, depending upon the species of mosquito and the temperature of the water.

The mosquito pupa is lighter in weight than water and therefore floats at the surface of the water. The pupa takes oxygen through two breathing tubes called “trumpets.”

The pupa does not eat, but don’t be fooled. It’s not an inactive stage. When the pupa is disturbed, it dives in a jerking, tumbling motion toward protection and then floats back to the surface of the water.

The metamorphosis of the mosquito into an adult is completed within the pupal case. The adult mosquito splits the pupal case and emerges to the surface of the water where it rests until its body dries and hardens.