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Protect Your Home from Pests This Spring

yellow houseSpring is here, which means that pest problems are just around the corner. Pests that were less active over the winter months will soon be back to cause trouble for Florida homeowners. Apex, the Orlando pest control company, has tips for homeowners who want to protect their homes this spring.

Repair Rotted Wood

Spring brings rain, and all that rain can encourage rotting wood. Wood-eating insects, like termites and carpenter ants, are drawn to the rotted areas. Wild animals may use these weakened spots to gain easy access to your home, whereas rodents like mice and rats – or larger animals like raccoons – could move inside. To keep them out, inspect your home for rotted wood and repair any damage you discover.

Repair Screens

With warmer weather on the way, you may be excited to leave your windows open. If your window screens are torn or missing, you could let in all kinds of pests instead of just fresh air. Inspect your window screens and make any necessary repairs, and make sure to take a look at any screened doors as well.

Fill in Puddles

When it rains, you may notice puddles form on some parts of your property. This is a concern because these puddles could attract various pests. Water that accumulates near your home’s foundation could attract termites and any standing water could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. To avoid these problems, fill puddles with crushed rock or soil.

Inspect Your Gutters

When gutters become clogged with leaves and other debris, they easily attract pests. Trapped water can become stagnant, which appeals to mosquitoes, and when water overflows and collects near your exterior walls, it can attract termites. Inspect your gutters, and if necessary, clean them. Ensure they direct water away from your home.

Invest in Prevention

Your home is vulnerable to pests during the spring months, but don’t wait until they show up to get help. Investing in preventative pest services is easier and less expensive than trying to get rid of an existing pest infestation. Before spring arrives, have a pest control professional inspect and treat your property.

Spring has sprung! It’s time for homeowners to prepare for spring pest problems. For help keeping your home safe from pests, call Apex, the Orlando pest control experts.

6 Common Habits That Attract Pests

chopped woodPrevention is a more often than not a key component of pest control. Preventing pest problems is easier than dealing with existing infestations. To reduce the risk of pest problems, homeowners should break these six common bad habits:

  1. Not Trimming Trees

When trees aren’t trimmed, their branches can touch the roofs or siding of homes. This is a concern because pests like rodents and ants can use these branches to gain access to the house. To deter pests, trim your trees so that branches are at least three feet from your house.

  1. Spreading Mulch Incorrectly

Properly spreading mulch is harder than it seems, and many people make mistakes. One mistake is piling mulch up beside the side of your home, which can attract termites. Make sure to leave a buffer zone at least a foot wide between your mulch and your home. When you spread the mulch, make sure it grades away from your house, not towards it. This ensures water flows away from your house.

  1. Leaving Gaps In Crawl Spaces

If you don’t venture into your crawl space often, you may not notice problems that could let pests come inside. Damaged foundation vent screens or missing crawl space access doors are some common problems.

  1. Not Cleaning Out Gutters

When gutters get clogged with debris, water can overflow and run down your siding. The resulting water damage can attract pests. Standing water in clogged gutters can give mosquitoes a place to breed, too. Gutters should be cleaned regularly to avoid these problems. Generally, this should take place two to four times a year.

  1. Not Monitoring Downspouts

When was the last time you checked your downspouts? If it’s been a while, you’re not alone, but this is a bad habit. If your downspouts aren’t connected properly, water could be draining towards your home, rather than away from it. Next time it rains, head outside and see how your downspouts are performing. If the water isn’t running away from your home, repairs will be required.

  1. Storing Firewood Beside the House

Storing your wood pile right beside your house is convenient, but it can attract pests. Wood-destroying pests like carpenter ants and termite are drawn to wood piles. Other types of pests, like rodents, could take shelter in the wood piles too. If the wood is right beside your house, it’s easy for the pests to invade your home. Instead, store your firewood at least 20 feet away from your house.

By breaking these common bad habits, you can make your home less attractive to pests. For more help preventing pest problems, call the Orlando pest control professionals at Apex.

Raccoons & Humans

raccoonRaccoons are one of the most common urban animals in Florida, and they’re often seen around homes. While these furry animals may seem cute and harmless, that’s unfortunately not the case. Like any wild animal, raccoons can pose dangers to people and pets. When raccoons become troublesome, pest removal services are required.

Raccoons Spread Diseases

Contact with raccoons is potentially dangerous because of the diseases they can spread. In Florida, raccoons are one of the main wildlife sources of rabies, a disease that’s nearly 100 percent fatal. Rabid raccoons can become aggressive and attack for no apparent reason. Since the rabies virus is spread through infected saliva, bites are a serious concern.

Rabies isn’t the only disease that can be spread by raccoons. They can also spread a type of roundworm that’s dangerous to people. The roundworm is spread through raccoon feces. When people ingest something contaminated with raccoon feces, they can become very sick.

Raccoons Cause Property Damage

Even healthy raccoons can be a nuisance. Since raccoons will eat pretty much anything, they have an annoying habit of raiding people’s garbage cans and leaving garbage scattered on the ground. They’ll also break into sheds or garages to access food or shelter.

Raccoons Attack Pets

Raccoons may come in contact with pets, and sometimes, that doesn’t end well. Raccoons may fight with cats. If no other food is available, raccoons can even prey on small cats.

When raccoons are healthy, they don’t usually attack dogs. However, dogs can chase raccoons, and raccoons may fight back to defend themselves. Both animals can become injured in this situation.

Rabid raccoons may attack pets for no apparent reason. To protect your pets, keep your cats indoors all the time. When your dogs go outside, keep them on a leash.

How to Get Rid of Raccoons

Easy access to food can draw raccoons to your property. Avoid leaving any food outside, including pet food. Take steps to raccoon-proof your garbage. Storing your garbage cans in a padlocked shed is a good strategy. Bungee cords can also be used to keep garbage cans securely closed.

Raccoons are widespread, and they can become a nuisance. For help with your raccoon troubles, give the Orlando pest removal experts at Apex a call.

Prep Your Lawn for Easter Egg Hunts

Easter eggsEaster is almost here, and that means families across Florida will be getting outside to enjoy Easter egg hunts. Pests like spiders, ants, and wasps are also outdoors and may get in the way of the holiday fun. Everyone wants a pest-free Easter egg hunt, so take time to prep your lawn before the event. Apex, the Tampa lawn care company, has some tips to help you get ready.

Inspect Your Yard First

Before you start hiding any eggs, inspect your yard for signs of pest problems. In Florida, fire ants are a major concern, so check your lawn for the tell-tale mounds these dangerous ants build. Check for spider webs and wasp nests as well. If you notice any pest problems, have a pest control specialist treat your yard.

Be Careful with the Eggs

As you’re hiding the eggs, take care not to damage them. When real eggs get cracked, they can attract scavengers like raccoons or opossums, and plastic eggs could provide a cozy hiding place for insects if they’re not completely sealed.

Provide a Trash Can

Easter egg hunts can be messy;  broken eggs, dropped candy, and dirty plates can accumulate in your yard and attract pests. That’s why it’s important to provide a trash can. When a trash can is easily accessible, your guests will be encouraged to clean up after themselves. Make sure to quickly pick up and discard any trash that your guests left behind.

Check Out Hiding Spots

The out-of-sight places you may want to hide eggs in are places that pests may want to hide in too. Before you hide an egg, examine the area to make sure no pests are lurking nearby. If you see a spider web, an ant hill, or any other signs of pest activity, choose another hiding place for the egg.

Count the Eggs

Your children and their friends may not find all the eggs you hid in the yard. If these eggs are left in their hiding places, they could attract pests. To keep this from happening, count the eggs beforehand, number them, and write down a list of all the hiding places. After the hunt, count the eggs to make sure they’ve all been found.

 

With some preparation, you can enjoy a pest-free Easter egg hunt. If you need help getting your lawn ready for the holiday fun, call Apex, the Tampa lawn care company.

Are There Pesticides in Drinking Water?

sinkPests are a big problem in Florida. Thanks to the warm weather, pests such as spiders, ants, and roaches can thrive. Residents may turn to many pest control methods, including pesticides, to control these bugs. While pesticides kill bugs, these chemicals can sometimes get into drinking water and harm human health.

Where Drinking Water Comes From

In the United States, drinking water comes from two main sources: surface water and groundwater. Surface water includes lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Groundwater is found in underground areas known as aquifers.

In urban areas such as Orlando, surface and groundwater are sent to water treatment plants. After being treated, the water travels through the municipal pipes to get to homes and businesses.

In rural areas, people may get their water from wells drilled into aquifers. Usually, this well water isn’t treated.

How Pesticides Get into Water

There are a few ways pesticides can get into the water supply. If pesticides are sprayed on plants, the chemicals can be washed into surface water sources when it rains. That’s why you shouldn’t spray pesticides on your lawn when rain is forecast. Spills can also allow pesticides to contaminate water, so always use caution when handling pesticides. If you’re not confident using them safely, get help from the professionals at Apex.

Improper disposal of pesticides is another way water can be contaminated. Sometimes, people will illegally dump pesticides down the drain to dispose of them. To protect the water supply, pesticides should always be taken to a hazardous waste disposal site.

Testing Water Safety

Public water supplies are routinely tested for many contaminants, including pesticides. Information about these tests is available from your local water utility.

Users of private wells are responsible for their own water testing. To check for pesticide contamination, well users should have their water tested by a certified laboratory. Contact your local county health department for more information about these tests.

Pesticides are an important asset in the fight against unwanted pests, but they don’t belong in the water supply. If you use pesticides for Orlando pest control, take precautions to keep those chemicals out of the water.

Squirrels in Florida

squirrelThe squirrel family includes chipmunks, tree squirrels, ground squirrels, flying squirrels, and other small rodents. Many members of the squirrel family are found in Florida. Since squirrels are well-adapted to urban environments, Floridians may encounter them frequently. When squirrels are encountered indoors, locals turn to the experts at Apex.

Flying Squirrels

Flying squirrels are found in wooded areas throughout mainland Florida. They have loose folds of skin on both sides of their body, and this wing-like skin lets them glide as far as 50 feet. Since these squirrels are nocturnal, you may not see them very often. At night, they forage in trees for food such as acorns, insects, and bird eggs. They breed in the winter and again in the summer.

Eastern Gray Squirrels

Eastern gray squirrels are found statewide in both woodland and urban areas. They have grayish-brown fur and bushy tails. These squirrels are active during the day, and they can be seen feeding on the ground. Bark, seeds, and acorns are some of their favorite foods, and they’ll hoard anything they don’t eat for later. Like flying squirrels, eastern gray squirrels breed twice a year. They prefer to live in tree hollows but can also make themselves comfortable in attics.

Fox Squirrels

Fox squirrels are about twice as large as gray squirrels and can weigh about 1 kg (2.2 lb). Their coloring can vary significantly, from creamy tan to black. They’re active during the day and can be seen foraging for food in the mid-morning. Acorns, pine seeds, and insects are some of the foods they enjoy. Fox squirrels may live in tree cavities or build large nests out of leaves.

Chipmunks

Chipmunks are considered a Species of Special Concern in Florida, which means they could become a threatened species soon. Currently, they’re found in the panhandle. Their fur is reddish-brown, and they have alternating white and dark stripes on their backs. As ground-dwelling squirrels, they live in burrows underneath trees or rocks. They can be seen foraging for food in the day.

Many types of squirrels are found in Florida. When squirrels are outside, they can be fascinating to watch. When they decide to move indoors, they’re a troublesome pest. If you find squirrels living in your attic, call Apex, your trusted Tampa pest removal company.

6 Diseases Carried by Pests

raccoonPests aren’t just creepy looking. Some of them can spread serious diseases to people, which is why pest control services are necessary. Watch out for these six scary diseases that pests can carry.

  1. Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that’s almost always fatal once symptoms appear. It’s spread through the saliva of infected animals. In the eastern United States, raccoons are the primary carriers, though skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes can also be infected. If you’re exposed to a potentially infected animal’s saliva, you need treatment immediately. Thanks to the availability of post-exposure treatment, human fatalities are rare.

  1. Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasma is a parasite that can infect small animals such as rodents and birds. Cats eat these infected animals and then spread the parasite to humans through their feces. The infection may not cause symptoms, though it’s still a concern. If pregnant women get toxoplasmosis, their babies could have brain or eye damage among other problems.

  1. Chagas Disease

Chagas disease is caused by a parasite. It can be transmitted by kissing bugs. These blood-sucking bugs usually feed on people’s faces, which is how they got their name. The disease can be symptom-free initially. Years later, however, complications such as heart disease can develop. Kissing bugs are native to Central and South America, but in recent years, they’ve spread to Florida.  

  1. E. coli O:157

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a common bacterium that can cause food poisoning and E. coli O:157 is a particularly nasty strain. It grows in the digestive systems of animals such as cows and horses, but pests such as gophers are also affected. Contact with gopher feces can make you sick with severe diarrhea or even kidney failure.  

  1. Typhus

Typhus fevers are bacterial diseases spread by fleas or lice. These tiny pests typically pick up the disease from infected rats, and then they pass it on to humans. Symptoms are usually flu-like, though damage to major organs like the liver or kidneys can sometimes occur.

  1. Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacterium that’s often associated with undercooked chicken. In your garbage cans, minor amounts of salmonella can multiply. When raccoons or other scavengers feed on your trash, they can then spread the dangerous germs through their droppings. Contact with these droppings can cause food poisoning symptoms, like bloody diarrhea.

To keep yourself and your family healthy, Tampa pest control is essential. By controlling potentially harmful pests both indoors and outdoors, you can reduce your risk of getting pest-borne diseases.

6 Opossum Facts You Didn’t Know

possumOpossums are Florida’s only marsupial, and they’re common in urban areas. While people encounter opossums frequently, they may not know very much about them. As pest professionals know, these wild animals are fascinating. Here are six interesting facts about opossums.

  1. They’re Surprisingly Hardy

Opossums have a natural immunity to some types of snake venoms. They owe this ability to a special molecule in their blood. In the future, this molecule may be used to create a universal antivenom to help human snakebite victims.

A resistance to snake venom is impressive enough, but opossums are also rarely affected by rabies. Opossums have a lower body temperature than other mammals, which may make them more resistant to the virus.

  1. They’re Not Picky Eaters

Opossums are omnivores, and they’ll eat pretty much anything they can find. This includes dead animals and human garbage. You may see opossums digging through your garbage cans looking for something tasty to eat. Fruit, eggs, table scraps, and discarded pet food are just a few of the things dine on.

  1. They’re Smart

While opossums may not look very intelligent, looks can be deceiving. In fact, some learning tests have shown that opossums are smarter than dogs and about as smart as pigs. This intelligence serves them well when it comes to food since they’re able to remember where food is.

  1. They Help Control Pests

Since opossums aren’t picky about what they eat, they can help you control pests. They snack on unwanted garden residents like snails, slugs, and beetles. Rodents are also on the menu for opossums.

  1. They Have Unique Toes

Unlike most mammals, opossums have opposable first toes. This means their big toes function more like thumbs. Thanks to these toes, they’re strong climbers, but they prefer to stay on the ground.

  1. They Have Many Natural Defenses

When opossums feel threatened, they have many natural defenses to rely on. To scare away potential predators, they may growl, hiss, or bare their teeth. If all else fails, they’ll even play dead. Their acting is very convincing. They drool and excrete droppings to appear dead and can remain “dead” for as long as several hours.

Opossums are much more interesting than they appear. However, it’s hard to be fascinated by a creature that’s invited itself into your attic or shed! If opossums are causing problems for you, call the Orlando pest removal experts at Apex for help.

What is Citronella?

candle

Many people are looking for natural pest control remedies, and oil of citronella is one of them. Oil of citronella comes from two types of grasses. This oil is a common flavoring agent in food and drinks. It’s also used as a naturally occurring insect repellent, especially for mosquitoes. Since this oil is considered safe to add to foods, it’s no surprise that it’s also considered a minimum risk pesticide.

How Citronella Affects Pests

Citronella doesn’t kill pests, but it can repel them. It may work by covering up scents that attract insects. This repellent effect doesn’t last forever. One study determined that undiluted citronella oil repels mosquitoes for two hours.

How Citronella Affects Wildlife

Some types of pesticides are toxic to wildlife, not just unwanted insects. Fortunately, that’s not the case with citronella oil. This oil is unlikely to harm wildlife. It’s only slightly toxic to fish, and nearly non-toxic to birds. Since it repels insects rather than killing them, it’s not likely to harm valuable insects such as bees.

Products That Contain Citronella

Citronella is found in many different pesticide products. Some of these products are meant to be applied to the skin, while others are meant to be used in outdoor areas. Common examples of citronella-containing products include candles, sprays, lotions, and pouches.

Some types of products are more effective than others, so it’s important to be a careful shopper. Citronella-containing products that you apply to your skin can offer mild protection from mosquitoes. On the other hand, repellant candles have little effectiveness.

Other Natural Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away

Citronella isn’t the only natural way to keep mosquitoes away from your backyard. Removing mosquito breeding sites is another great strategy. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Once a week, empty water from your bird baths, buckets, and other items that hold water. Make sure water storage containers such as rain barrels have tight lids to keep mosquitoes out.Mosquitoes and other flying pests can ruin your outdoor fun, so Orlando pest control remedies are essential. If you’re interested in natural remedies, try oil of citronella products. For help controlling mosquitoes, you can always call the experts at Apex.

What Brings Silverfish to Your Home?

silverfishNobody wants to find a silverfish infestation in their home. These insects are creepy looking, and their presence can be alarming. Not only can they damage paper goods like books, but they can contaminate food, too. By understanding what attracts silverfish, homeowners can keep them away!

What Attracts Silverfish

Silverfish are drawn to cool, moist, dark places. They need a high humidity environment to live and prefer a relative humidity between 75 and 95%. These conditions can be found in poorly ventilated bathrooms. Leaking roofs, leaking pipes, or other moisture sources could also attract silverfish.

These pests can live for up to a year without eating. When they feed, they like vegetable foods like flour or cereal. They’ll also eat fabrics, paper, and glue. Closets, bookcases, and other storage areas could attract hungry silverfish.

How to Keep Silverfish Away

To keep silverfish away, focus on controlling indoor moisture levels. If your bathroom tends to be humid, repair or replace your fans (and remember to use them after showers). You can also use a dehumidifier to lower humidity levels and make your home less appealing to silverfish.

Eliminating food sources is another great prevention strategy. Get rid of any piles of newspapers, mail, or cardboard in your home. Vacuum your home regularly to remove food crumbs. In the kitchen, store dry foods in containers with tight-fitting lids to deter silverfish.

Natural Control Approaches

The occasional lone silverfish isn’t much cause for concern, but large numbers of these pests must be managed. If silverfish move into your home, rest assured that insecticides aren’t usually necessary to get rid of them. Reducing moisture and eliminating food sources may be all that’s required to control the pests.

Other methods are available if that’s not enough. Silverfish don’t like the smell of cedar, so cedar essential oil can be used as a repellent. You can also use sticky traps to catch these pests.

If necessary, baits are available for silverfish control. Remember, baits can be dangerous when children or pets are involved and must be used carefully.

Apex Pest Control is one of the most trusted Tampa pest control companies in the state. We’re proud of the work we do to help keep the homes, landscape, and businesses in our community free from harmful plants, insects, and animals, while also striving to maintain a balance with the ecosystem as a whole. Check out our blog or contact us today to learn more!

Service beyond
the expected.

The technician was very professional, neat and on time. He inspected my house and found a trail of ants….NO MORE ANTS!! Thank you Apex.
Richard B, Orlando