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The House Mouse


The house mouse is light brown to grey and reaches 3 1/2  inches in length, with a tail as long as the body.   Its large ears and pointed nose help distinguish it from a young rat, which has small ears and a blunt nose.  If the mouse you see in the house is merely a temporary invader, the major focus should be on trapping, exclusion and management of outdoor food and water sources close to the house.   These include wood and debris piles, compost heaps and sacks of seeds or pet food.   The main factors for effective control of mice populations are eliminating availability of food sources and sheltering areas especially near a heat source.


Bees & Wasps: Identification and Prevention


Bees can be identified by their stout bodies with thick waists; hairy; workers and reproductive (double) wings.  They are noisy during flight, sting mainly while defending the nest; foraging workers seldom sting.  Bees will build their hives in trees, building voids and in the ground.  Their feeding behavior consists of collection of pollen and nectar from flowing plants in order to feed their young and share with other adults.    It is important to be able to distinguish yellow jackets hornets from bees.   While they are similar in color and size the yellow jacket has no hair on the body and is shaped like a large ant with wings.   Most importantly the yellow jacket hornet is very aggressive around food; specifically, meats or other protein-rich or sugary foods and drink.   It is very important to know whether or not you or members of your family are allergic to bee or hornet stings.   If you are allergic avoid being this pest because a sting can cause death in some cases.    Vitamin K or carrot juice can reduce the effects of being stung; however, the best option is prevention.   Call 911 or the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately if you are allergic to stinging insects.


Fleas Identification and Prevention


The adult cat flea is 1/16 of an inch in length and lays several hundred eggs that incubate off the host and hatch within 12 days into legless larvae.   The larvae feed on organic debris for 8 to 24 days and become pupae.   The pupae emerge into adults in five to seven days.  When conditions are unfavorable for emergence, larvae can live for 200 days and pupae for up to a year.   Under optimal conditions, a female can lay about 25 eggs a day, 3 to 18 at a time after a blood meal for at least three weeks.   Peak production occurs at six to seven days.  She can produce over 800 eggs during her lifetime.   Eggs are laid either on the pet or off the pet where it sleeps.  Eggs laid on the host fall off and accumulate in bedding, floor cracks, rugs, furniture, dust and damp soil.   A flea comb is a very effective tool in the suppression of adult fleas.   It removes the fleas themselves as well as the fleas’ feces and dried blood, or specks that provide food for larval populations.


Bedbugs Identification and Prevention


The common Bedbug is reddish-brown in color and about 1/5 of an inch length.   The female lays her white eggs in batches of 10 to 50 on bedding and in cracks and crevices on beds and adjacent walls.  The young hatch in about 10 days and use their beak-like mouthparts to extract blood meals from hosts.  It takes one to two months for eggs to mature into adults.   Adults live another eight to nine months.   To help prevent an infestation steam-clean mattresses and used bedroom furnishings; launder bedding.  Apply temporary barriers to bed legs.  Caulk cracks in and around the bed and around wall moldings.  If the bedbugs are other than human bedbugs, remove associated animal nests, roots or access routes.


Carpenter Ants Identification and Prevention


Carpenter ants are usually ¼ to ½ inch in length and black to dark reddish in color. They move rapidly in what appears to be a zigzag motion when looking for food.  Prevent excessive moisture accumulation in wood through good maintenance of the house structure and surroundings.  Repair existing damage, and then cut off ant access routes.   Eliminate potential ant-nesting areas by repairing damaged trees and removing decaying stumps and wood debris.  Prune branches that touch the house and eliminate wood/earth contact of structural members. Locate nests by trailing workers, searching for frass piles or listening for the sound of ants moving in the walls.   The aid of a stethoscope or specially trained dog is very helpful.  Check firewood carefully for insects before bringing it indoors and monitor for insect activity after the wood warms up.


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