What are the Differences Between Moles, Voles, and Pocket Gophers?

And what is in your backyard? There’s an old adage that says “April showers bring May flowers”, but spring doesn’t only come with beautiful flowering plants and fresh veggies from your garden, it also brings a whole bunch of unwanted pests, namely voles, moles and gophers, who will spend the rest of the season comfortably munching on the roots of your plants and any vegetables you have planted nearby. But, how do you know which one of them is actually infesting your garden? After all, they all look the same, don’t they? The short answer, and the easiest one, is yes, they do look alike, but the truth is they don’t, and it doesn’t take the eye of an expert to differentiate between them. So, before these little nuisances start invading your yard, let’s take a look at how you can find out what is actually eating away at your carrots and ruining your lawn. Keep in mind that knowing what animal is infesting your backyard will lead to s more targeted and effective treatment Gophers: The largest of the bunch Measuring anywhere from 4 to 12 inches in length, gophers are the largest of them all, and therefore, are the ones that cause the most damage in the least amount of time. They are also known as pocket gophers because they have pouches in their cheeks which they use to carry food and materials to craft their nests. So, if you see an animal with big cheeks running across your lawn, it’s highly likely it is a gopher. Another way to identify gophers is through the color of...

How Houseplants May Be Infecting Your Home (and What to do About It)

Houseplants are a great addition to any home. They are not only decorative but help keep your home clean and free from pollutants that would otherwise affect the quality of the air you breathe, helping you stay healthy and comfortable. But sometimes plants can develop mold, which can infect your living space and create a health hazard for you and your loved ones. But how does this happen, and what can you do about it? Excessive moisture breeds mold – One of the most common ways in which houseplants develop and spread mold is from being too wet. Moisture and soil are breeding grounds for mold, so make sure your plants are always dry. Avoid watering them every day and only do so when the soil in the pot has dried out. Otherwise, you may be inadvertently creating a health hazard for your family from exposure to mold. Keep your plants clean – Mold also thrives on plant leaves and stems, so make sure to wipe down your plants regularly. Keep in mind you should use a spray bottle with clean water and moistened paper towels to do so, otherwise you run the risk of mold spores volatilizing into the air you breathe. Additionally, make sure you change paper towels often to prevent any unwanted accumulation of spores and move your plants to an open, well ventilated area to make sure you don’t unwillingly contaminate the air you are breathing as you clean. Remove mold from the top layer of pot soil regularly – This is a bit more complicated, but if your plants have been kept in soil that is too...

The Link Between Pests And Asthma

A common lung condition that can cause breathing difficulties, asthma often appears early on during childhood, although it can sometimes appear for the first time in adulthood. To this day, there is not cure for asthma but there are treatments that help those who suffer from it control the symptoms when they appear, preventing the condition from becoming a burden on their life. Over the years, many scientific studies have been performed to find the exact causes for asthma, which could lead to a possible cure, but they have all found that the exact causes for this condition are as varied as the lifestyles of those who have it. In many cases, though, there are commonalities that extend almost across the board, with contaminants and certain allergens found to be the main triggers for an asthma attack in a high percentage of patients. A good number of these contaminants and allergens are found to originate with common household pests. Let’s take a look. How common pests produce asthma Some of the most common household pests include cockroaches and rodents. These pests shed skin flakes, body parts, dander, fur, and feces wherever they go. These contaminants tend to become airborne if allowed to accumulate, causing asthma and any other respiratory problems. As a matter of fact, roaches have been listed as one of the most common causes of asthma in young children. This is because roaches prefer humid areas, and humidity and mold can be triggers for an asthma attack. Aside from roaches and rodents, there are other common household pests that can cause or worsen a person’s asthma, including...

Where Termites Live Inside California Homes

Termites are definitely the most unwelcome of all “guests” in your home. They start invading your space quietly, practically undetected until one day you start hearing them in your walls, under your hardwood flooring and practically anywhere you go inside your house, and that’s when you know it’s time to call the exterminator, so the damage they have caused doesn’t get any worse, or any more expensive. But before you get all hyped up about termites, you have to keep in mind that just because you found them invading your walls, it doesn’t mean that’s the only place they can hide. Termites can hide practically anywhere in California homes, starting with your outside foundation and spreading almost everywhere around the house. This is why periodic termite inspections should be at the top of any California homeowners To-Do list at least once or twice each year. Here we tell you where to get started on your semi-annual hunt for termites, and which are the best places to start looking for those house munching pests. How bad can termite damage be? One of the most worrisome estimates is that termites cause more than 5 billion dollars in damages to homes across the country each year, which come to an average of $3,000 per affected household just to repair the damaged wood. This is why it’s so important to detect these pests early on. So, where can you find termites inside your California home? Let’s take a look. Where exactly do termites hide? Because of California’s benign weather, termites can hide almost anywhere in your home, but they seem to favor certain...

How to Protect Your Pets from Fleas and Ticks

How to Protect Your Pets from Fleas and Ticks Owning a pet can be an amazing experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing. For pets in Southern California, the arrival of cooler months often means the start to flea and tick season. While generally non-fatal, these insect invaders can be very problematic – and very unpleasant for your pets. Instead of letting Fluffy or Fido suffer this season, take steps now to prevent your pets from facing fleas and ticks. Treat for Ticks and Fleas Year-Round Flea and tick prevention isn’t solely a seasonal task. The best way to keep fleas and ticks at bay is to approach treatment all year – not just when the weather changes. Even though some seasons are riskier than others, there are always risks, so ignoring problems the spring can mean issues that last into the fall. For best results, get into a pest prevention routine and stick to it all year. This can mean grooming appointments as well as applying treatment products, but no matter how you choose to handle proactive prevention, make it a habit. Employ the Right Products Not all tick and flea prevention products are made equal. Some are far better than others, so before going to the store and buying the cheapest option or the treatment that sounds the easiest, determine what is truly best for your pet. Prevention products come in all shapes and sizes, from pills to gels to collars. However, some products are known for being ineffective or even dangerous. To choose a preventative product, head right to the source: your vet. Vets...

Rodents, Cockroaches, Spiders

Rodents, Cockroaches, Spiders The onset of fall means many things, like turning the clocks back, shorter days, and the start of cooler weather. However, the commencement of chilly temperatures in Southern California can be a prime time for rodent, cockroaches, and spiders. While the occasional pest might be unavoidable, you don’t have to spend your fall afraid of a damaging infestation. These are the best ways to prepare for fall pests – and prevent their unwanted presence. Screen or Block All Areas Open to the Outdoors Bugs and pests are great at finding sneaky ways into your home, but the last thing you want to do is leave the door open for them. Instead of surrendering before the war even begins, take time to screen or cover all areas of your home that lead to the outdoors, like chimneys, windows, doors, and attic openings. Keep an eye out for signs of animal infestation, too, like droppings. These spaces are likely easy points of access and may require a little extra attention. There are steps you can take outside your home, too. Once done addressing indoor issues, take a few passes around the your house’s exterior with caulk or another sealant to fix any bug-friendly cracks or rodent-sized holes. Keep Storage Spaces Cool and Dry Nothing attracts pests like moisture, so creating a damp environment in closets, basements, and storage spaces is akin to ushering them in yourself. Instead of fostering a hospitable environment for bugs and rodents, keep spaces dry and clean. Fix leaks in pipes, use a dehumidifier where appropriate, and keep all spaces free from debris. If...

Don’t Let Termites Stop the Sale of Your Home

Prepping for a home sale is a huge undertaking. Hiring a real estate agent, preparing property to appeal to future buyers, and making sure all legal ducks are in a row is rarely an easy process. Most homeowners are aware of inspection rules and requirements during the home sales process, but not all homeowners are familiar with termite inspections. As termites pose great threats in many regions of the state, it’s important to prepare before putting up a For Sale sign. What Is a Termite Inspection? A termite inspection is a form of home inspection that focuses specifically on signs of termite activity. While a general home inspector may keep an eye out for major indicators of an issue, a termite inspection is a far more detailed examination. Termite inspectors will look for both obvious and subtle signs of wood-damaging insects, including: Evidence of mud tubes used by subterranean termite species Wood that is soft or sounds hollow when tapped Blistered spots on paint or wood Unexplained dark staining or spots on wood Presence of discarded termite wings and piles of droppings, which may look like sawdust from a distance If an inspector notices any of these common indications of termite activity, they will present a treatment plan to address prior to listing a home. In almost all instances, termites will need to be addressed before a property can transfer ownership – and most buyers will be uninterested in buying a home with known termite damage. How a Termite Inspection Can Halt a Home Sale If you put your house up for sale without paying attention to potential termite...

How Quickly Can Termites Eat Wood?

As most homeowners know, nothing can pose danger to a home quite like termites. Fast, insidious, and highly problematic if left unchecked, termites are a nightmare scenario for millions of property owners across California. However, knowing that termites eat quickly isn’t the same as knowing average consumption rates and what kind of damage to expect over time. It’s easy to miss the signs of termites, and easy to allow the problem to spiral out of hand – particularly when homeowners assume termites move far slower than they actually do. By knowing how fast each major variety of termite destroys wood, it’s possible to craft the perfect plan of attack. Termites in California Since the word “termite” is frequently used as a catch-all term for wood-damaging insects, many homeowners don’t know that there are multiple varieties of termite. Climate and average temperature can play a role, but some regions in the state are vulnerable to more than one type of termite. The three most common forms of termite in California include: Formosan Subterranean Termites: As the name implies, these termites operate primarily underground. Their swarms are large and their initial presence is invisible, so it’s very possible for these termites to cause structural damage before anyone is the wiser. These termites are attracted to moisture and are most common in warm, damp areas. Drywood Termites: Unlike Formosan termites, which are attracted to moisture, drywood termites are most active in dry climates. They are particularly dangerous in the fall and spring, when the climate is temperate. These termites are larger and move slower than other forms of termites. Cedar is toxic to drywood...

Fall 2021 Termite Tips

No one likes termites. These insect invaders can wreak havoc on homes, causing significant damage. If ignored for too long, termite troubles can cost potentially thousands of dollars to repair. Rather than letting your home fall victim to termites, it’s important to take the proper precautions before the commencement of termite season. As termites prefer intermediary temperatures – not too hot and not too cold – this often means they are most active in the spring or fall. These Fall 2021 termite tips can help you keep your home safe from the damage of these dangerous bugs before too much trouble comes to pass. Learn the Signs Termite rarely announce their arrival. As such, it’s important for you as a homeowner to understand the common signs of termite activity. Interpreting signs will depend on the place in the home, whether inside or outside, and the severity of the termite problem. Some common indications of termite damage include: Drywall that is sagging or discolored Peeling paint similar to water-damaged paint Hollow-sounding wood Holes in drywood that look like pinpricks Wood or laminate floors that look or feel buckled Loosened tiles in kitchen or bathroom areas Floorboards that squeak more than usual Wood, anywhere in the home, that is crumbling or appears damaged Windows or doors that stick or won’t close properly Patterns in furniture, on walls, or on floors that look maze-like Scale-like wings left behind after termite swarms Swarms of flying termites anywhere on property Keep regular watch for these kinds of signs throughout the year, particularly during termite seasons. If you suspect termites but aren’t sure, it’s still...

Where Termites Live in California

Termites are a problem from coast to coast and that includes California. Much of the state of California is subject to potential damage from termites, from warm and sunny Los Angeles to cooler climates in the North. The warm, humid climate in some areas of California and the dry conditions elsewhere appeal to various kinds of termite species. Living in ignorance is no way to fight back against termite damage, so it’s important for homeowners throughout the state to understand what termites are, where they can be found, and how to look for signs of damage. What Are Termites? Termites are insects that feed on cellulose, a common component in wood. While rather innocuous looking, these bugs can be devastating for homeowners. By feeding on wood siding, walls, flooring, foundation elements, and furniture, termites can do costly and extensive damage to homes. Termites cause an estimated five billion dollars in damages in the United States on an annual basis. Several different kinds of termites exist within each colony. Worker termites make up the majority of termites in a swarm and are wingless with soft bodies. They generally forage for food and maintain colony structure. Soldier termites are generally larger and protect the colony from predators, while reproducers are winged and handle procreation using the queen’s eggs. The queen termite is the largest insect in a colony; her role is to lay thousands of eggs to grow the colony. There are multiple different varieties of termite, each with its own unique characteristics. Not all termites are active in all climates and the signs of termite damage can vary from one...

I Have a Rat in My Backyard. What Can I Do?

Your first instinct may be to cringe if you see a rat in your backyard. No one wants a rodent that can wreak havoc on the interior and exterior of your home. If rats or other rodents are present in or around your home, you will notice a strong, distinct urine smell and holes and chew marks on many of your belongings. If you have pets, their behavior may change because they see these rodents when you don’t, often at night. During the fall is when you will notice an increase of rats and other rodents. If you find rats and other unwanted guests in your backyard or your home, take these steps to get rid of them and keep them from coming back. Tidy Up The first step you need to take to get rid of rats is to clean up. Having piles of wood and leaves spread across your yard is the perfect playground for mice. Mice can hide in piles of junk without being detected, which is why it may take a while for you to notice them. Make sure you keep up with regular yard maintenance such as cutting the grass, pulling weeds, and getting rid of any foliage that provides a cozy hiding spot for these pests. If you compost, these materials need to be kept as far away from your home as possible in a sealed, plastic container. Getting Rid of the Food Source Aside from wanting a warm place to protect them from the outside elements during the winter, rats are also on the hunt for food. Leaving food out is an invitation...

Essential Tips for Termite Prevention in California

As they say, your home is your castle, and one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime. Being a resident of the Golden State allows you to enjoy surfing, the beach, and a variety of popular landmarks, such as Yosemite National Park and Universal Studios Hollywood. The other aspect of being a resident of California are  pests, such as termites. Finding pets in your home is never a good feeling. Termites damage your home and can cause expensive repairs, to the tune of billions of dollars to homes every year. The damage caused by termites can lead to a home that is unsafe to live in. Use these essential tips to help you prevent a termite infestation in your California home. Pay Attention to Building Materials If your home’s foundation contains wooden parts, they should be kept at least six inches away from the soil. Wood is a delicacy for termites. Putting wood next to soil gives termites a path of entry into your home. Make sure you leave ventilation between the soil and the wood part of your home’s foundation. Eliminate Moisture Eliminating moisture from areas in your home deters termites because they need moisture to thrive. Make sure there are no leaky faucets or pipes in your home that will attract termites. Once termites are attracted to an area in your home, they will create a nest and begin reproducing. Termites are underground dwellers who feed on wood surfaces, but rotting boards of wood are more than enough to attract hundreds of termites. To prevent termites from entering your home through the soft boards in...

The Basics of Using Fertilizer and Weed Control in Your Front and Back Yard

You may have the best-looking lawn, but chances are, you’ve dealt with weeds before. There are different herbicides and fertilizers available, and they are not created equal, so you need to know when to use fertilizer and weed control. Fertilizers and herbicides help you grow a thick, lush lawn that is weed-free and as green as the most vibrant color green in a crayon box. Here’s what you need to know about weed control and fertilizer. The Basics of Using Fertilizer Fertilizer contains a variety of nutrients that are required for plant growth, including: Potassium Phosphorous Iron Nitrogen Many times, one of these nutrients is in short supply. In normal conditions, these nutritious ingredients are supplied naturally by the air, soil, or water. If you’re looking for a quick fix for greener grass, you need a fast-release fertilizer. Be careful using rapid-release fertilizers can burn your lawn, causing you to apply more fertilizer to your lawn as the season progresses. Go ahead and use natural/organic fertilizer if you prefer. Natural/organic fertilizers won’t burn your yard, but they contain fewer nutrients for healthy plant growth. To determine your front or back yard’s need for fertilizer, take a look at your lawn. If your lawn is suffering from any nutrient deficiency, your lawn will appear yellow or yellow-green. Other indications of a lack of nutrients are clovers and stunted growth. Iron deficiencies feature a yellow-green coloring of your lawn, but stunted growth is not an issue. If your lawn lacks an adequate amount of phosphorous, your lawn can turn a greenish-blue color. The blades of your grass may be a reddish-purple color....

Tips for Fall and Winter Pest Prevention

It may seem like you can rest easy and be pest-free during California winters, but that’s not true. There are different steps you need to take to keep the heat in and the pests out of your home. During the winter in California, you’ll be free of bees, mosquitoes, and flies, but other pests, such as mice, spiders, and cockroaches are still around, looking for a warm place to call home. These pests can be more of a hassle and hazard than you realize. Rodents are not only nuisances, but they are also known for carrying disease. Spiders have a scary appearance and can bite, leaving you to deal with some frustrating side effects. Cockroaches are some of the most unwanted pests in a home and they can trigger your allergies and asthma. To keep your home cozy and the pests and other unwanted guests out of your home, there are a variety of steps you can follow. Seal Cracks, Crevices, and Holes More than likely, the outside of your home contains cracks, crevices, and holes that allow pests into your home. Sealing these cracks can help prevent the intrusion of rodents, spiders, and cockroaches. Many pests are small and it allows them to fit into pipes that lead from the outside to the inside of your home. Surprisingly, a healthy mouse can fit through an opening that’s the size of a dime. Keep a Home Maintenance Routine Keeping a regular home maintenance routine helps prevent the intrusion of pests. Rodents and other animals enter your home through the basement foundation and the windows. Deteriorating weather stripping and loose mortar...

Protect Your Pet From Pests (Ticks, Fleas, Mosquitoes)

If you have pets, you’re going to do everything you can to protect them from the seasonal bloodsuckers. Otherwise, you’ll have sick dogs and cats, costly treatments, and time-consuming instructions to follow as a result of the pest population hiding on your property. Ticks and Where They Hide on Your Pets Ticks live in trees and bushes where they wait for the perfect host to arrive for them to latch onto. The bloodsuckers burrow deep into the skin where they embed themselves and eat until their bodies get fat with blood. Unlike other pests who are repelled by fur, ticks love the hairiest of areas because they can remain undetected for longer periods of time. To discover ticks on your pets, you must physically comb through their fur while paying close attention to moist areas such as under their legs and in their groin area. Even then, the animals may appear to have a scab not a tick on the skin. It’s one of the pest’s most notable features with its rounded and raised body which must be removed in its entirety with sanitized tweezers to keep it from continuing to drink your pet’s blood. Lyme disease occurs in humans and their furry friends because of ticks. That’s why it’s imperative to take preventative measures to keep the pests off you and your pets. By keeping your lawn mowed and cared for, you’re able to eliminate the overgrowth and some of the spots ticks love to hide in before claiming a victim. How to Survive a Flea Infestation A flea infestation can wreak havoc on your home. Once they’ve...

What Bug Did I Just See?

You’re well acquainted with common household bugs such as flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and moths. The more uncommon bugs, however, you may not know as much about. Learning to identify the most elusive pests is time well spent. It allows you to act immediately to prevent and exterminate unwanted visitors in the home before they breed and create a larger population of insects to deal with. Certain bugs are very destructive so investing in methods to get rid of them protects your home and belongings from damage. Some of the more uncommon bugs you’ll see around the home include the six types listed below. Silverfish The wingless bug is silver in appearance, carrot-shaped, full of antennae, and makes fish-like movements, hence its name. This type of insect doesn’t enjoy the light. Instead, they’re typically found in cold, dark, and damp environments such as basements or inside cabinets in the kitchen or bathroom. The most problematic thing about silverfish is how much they love starch. They feast on the glue used to seal boxed food, paper, and even skin cells. The damage that they cause to household belongings is minimal with it being akin to what moths do to textiles such as clothing and curtains. House Crickets A light yellow bug identified by the three dark bands across its head and flat wings on its back, house crickets cause a lot of damage because of the way they feed. They love fabric and will pull fibers loose while they eat. They also defecate on the material which leaves noticeable fecal pallets on upholstery, carpeting, drapery, and clothing. Be mindful about checking...

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?

If you’ve ever been bitten by a mosquito, you know how bad it can sting. After a few minutes, redness in the area appears and your skin feels incredibly itchy. Why is that? What causes mosquito bites to itch? To better understand the problem, it’s important to know what goes on in the body following a mosquito bite. Acting quickly prevents the itchiness from worsening and causing you further discomfort. Let’s take a look at mosquito saliva’s toll on the skin, shall we? Public Enemy #1 is Mosquito Saliva The main culprit behind itchy mosquito bites is mosquito saliva. The substance releases through the feeding stylets used to pierce your skin. While the mosquito sucks your blood, its salivary glands go into overdrive. It can get what it wants from you that way. Mosquito saliva is an anticoagulant which allows the pest to feast upon your body rapidly. In order to get the nourishment the mosquito needs to survive, it must act quickly. After all, how many of the insects survive being swatted at? Few live to see the light of day once they’re discovered sucking the life force out of your shoulders, arms, and legs. Still, it doesn’t explain that relentless itch that comes from the welted skin on your body. The reason why it feels so unbearable is that you’re allergic to the saliva. You are now producing histamines which take connective tissue and mast cells and break them down. The itch is a side effect of the process and best treated with an antihistamine. The Best Ways to Prevent and Treat Mosquito Bites Among the most...

Definitive Pest Prevention List

Pests are irritating and also can cause some health effects. There are different types of pests including flies, fleas, mosquitos, bed bugs, fungus, rats, cockroaches, termites, mice, and others. It’s best to do what you can to reduce the pests in your home and in your yard. There are several ways through which you can prevent pests, they include: Cover Your Food and Wash Dishes Always make sure your food is covered or stored in airtight containers. Using containers with rubber seals on their lids are best. Wash your dishes thoroughly because the leftovers in the dirty dishes are a such a treasure to pests such as cockroaches and ants. Get Rid Of Any Sources Of Unused Water Remove stagnant water from unused bowls and buckets. This is especially important outdoors, from pools, gardens, old tires, and any other water-holding objects or containers. Stagnant water acts as breeding spots for pests such as flies. Make Sure Your Trash Can Has A Tight Lid All The Time And Dispose of The Garbage Regularly A tight lid in your trash can will keep the pests away and they will not be able to either feed or breed. Disposing of the garbage regularly will also keep it clean and avoid any attention from the pests. Inspect your Home or Office For Holes and Crack And Seals Seal any holes, cracks, and vents as soon as you notice any to prevent pests such as termites and roaches. You can have an expert to inspect and seal the openings in your home or office. Keep Bushes and Trees as Far Away (as possible) Ensuring...