Let’s talk about one of the most misunderstood animals in the Americas… the opossum (not possum). Even their name is misunderstood! Many people assume that opossums are a large type of rodent, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They are actually North America’s only marsupial (mar-su-pial) which are mammals that bear a pouch to care for their young, similar to kangaroos and koalas. Their range of species have said to have been in existence around 65 million years ago. The word “opossum” is derived from the Powhatan language meaning “white beast.”
So why are we discussing opossums in the first place? Because awesome opossums are nature’s pest control and trash management and we see them often here in East Sacramento! These small sanitation engineers are optimistic omnivores whose diet consists of all types of bugs including cockroaches, beetles, ticks, snails and sometimes even mice and rats. To further help assist in cleaning up our environment, opossums are also known to eat garbage and roadkill. If there is an opossum in your yard though, need not worry, as they are no threat to you, your pets or your garden.
I am going to let you in on a secret and reveal some myths about these mysterious creatures. Opossums do not carry rabies and in fact, have a natural immunity against viruses, poisons and venom due to their lower body temperature and peptide proteins found in their bloodstream. They have peaceful and nonaggressive features, but like any animal they can exhibit defense systems when frightened or threatened. These mammals have an impressive collection of 50 teeth and can drool and blow snot bubbles to appear sick in hopes to ward off any predators. They are also known to play dead, which is an involuntary action caused by extreme fear. The opossum will gain consciousness when the coast is clear and then get out of dodge. Are you mind-blown yet? You should be!
Opossums are nocturnal and prefer to sleep alone. Despite what we have seen in our childhood cartoons, they do not sleep or hang by their tails. They spend their nights searching for food and sleep sound during the day, often under houses, sheds or piles of cardboard and rubble. This usually isn’t a cause for concern, as they will carry on their way to a new den after a few days to avoid predators. Whether residential, rural or in the wilderness, opossums are a benefit to the areas they inhabit and are proven to do more good than they ever do harm. These lovely creatures not only play a vital role in our ecosystem, they keep our neighborhoods cleaner of unwanted pests.
You are more likely to witness a visiting opossum if you have food sources such as pet food left outside, overripe and rotting fruit from trees or water. You can protect these shy and docile animals by keeping areas clean where you have dogs. However, if you see an injured or orphan opossum please contact your local wildlife rescue in East Sacramento. Otherwise, it’s best to leave them be and enjoy watching wildlife in your own backyard.
Trick or Treat? Fall is here and it’s not unusual for rodents to start preparing for winter in places they aren’t wanted, like inside of your home. It’s a common misconception that rats hibernate in the winter, like many other animals do; however, they don’t become less active as many may think. They seek out shelter and warmth through entry points into the home and even if they have a burrow, they can look to create new entry points. This can raise concern for homeowners and the risk of them gnawing through gas and electrical lines, but rats can cause more harm than this. Structural damage, disease and infestations are also important to keep in mind. So instead of playing a rat’s favorite game of “hide and squeak” here are some ways to protect you and your home this winter.
Seal entry points: Sacramento’s rodents can come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common… their bodies are a lot like jell-o. Although they get big in size, they can squeeze their way into some incredibly small spaces! A general rule of thumb is that any hole or gap that is a quarter inch is an entry point for a rodent. So, the first step to protect your home is sealing those entry points.
Eliminate food sources: is key. Keep garbage bins sealed tight and away from the home, keep attics and basements clear year-round, and store food in airtight containers. Rodents also seek out any food that’s left out, including pet food, crumbs and leftovers. Keeping a clean home will eliminate the potential food sources for these furry creatures.
Maintain consistency: In addition to the season changing I think it’s important to mention how COVID-19 has also contributed to Sacramento’s current rodent problem as many homeowners are experiencing a dramatic increase in rodent activity around their homes. Rodents rely heavily on the waste from restaurant and other commercial establishments so the shut-down has forced them to look for food sources elsewhere. There have been many reports of rodents actually acting more “aggressive and unusual” because of this. With this in mind, it is best to be proactive and use these rodent control techniques every day.
Please contact our office if you need assistance with rodent control around your home or if you have any questions about rodent prevention so that your home doesn’t become the next rodent “squeakeasy.”
What’s All The Buzz About? East Sacramento's Wasps! And they can be found right in your own backyard.
The Wasp (Vespula Vulgaris) can be easily distinguished from bees by their pointed body and narrow waist. But these aren’t the cute, fluffy, good-for-everyone bees we’ve all come to love here in East Sacramento. These lean, mean, fighting machines are otherwise known as good-for-nothing just down-right rude insects that like to ruin your day (or family picnics). Wasps are related to both the bee and the ant. With over 120,000 species, they can be found in every corner of the world (except Antarctica), in just about every color imaginable and don’t play much of a role in the pollination of plants, unlike the honeybee. And if this isn’t buzzare enough, wasps are also ruthless scavengers, not only feeding on plant products but other insects as well, including their own young! In some agricultural systems they have even been deployed by farmers in the thousands as a natural pest control on their crops. Ok, so I guess they aren’t good-for-nothing…
Most of the common wasps you see around East Sacramento, such as paper wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets are social insects that form colonies inside nests frequently found in and around domestic housing. These nests are constructed from saliva and paper-like material from tree bark, wood pulp and other plant debris. The females, called workers, work long and hard all summer to build these nests and by late summer they can contain up to 5,000 individual eggs!
As you can see, wasps are very industrious creatures. We all can respect that! However, they often build nests where they aren’t welcome and with their unlimited stinging power can be a dangerous prospect to those who are allergic (so they don’t pay rent or care about your well-being…duly noted). Their aggression and defensiveness can be triggered by simply walking too close to the proximity of their nest. Not a force to bee reckoned with, because safety comes first, especially if kids are nearby. It is always advisable to contact a professionally trained company if wasps are causing a problem at your home. Give us a call if you are in need of treatment. We are always here to help.
Winter brings some of the longest nights of the year, which is just what nocturnal arachnids thrive on. The darkness gives them the confidence to creep around without being seen and then return to secreted places like underneath wooden decks, porches and your houses’ piping. Then summer comes along and these widows come out from hiding to mate and hatch their young, a spun nest that can contain hundreds of eggs. But what’s more interesting is the behavior of the widow spider, specifically the male brown widow, an invasive species in California.
Female black widow webs carry a pheromone-laced silk to attract males. This sticky web can be detected 67 yards away and inform male widows of their mating history and hunger level. This same web can continue to attract up to 40 males each night. Pretty impressive, right? Of course, reaching a female’s web can take a turn for the worst, as the male widow wreaks havoc on her silken abode, he methodically tears her web apart.
While this isn’t always a bad thing if the female wants to mate, the male widow can stay longer than his welcome and become more of an annoyance when the female black widow becomes hungry and goes to rebuild the web for her offspring. The myth that female black widows always kill and eat their mate is not totally false, but very far from true. You can say it’s like a game of Russian Roulette.
To bring some light to the matter, the feared female black widows are not aggressive spiders and their bites are not necessarily considered deadly to humans. They are quite shy and just want to be left alone. But that doesn’t mean they don’t tread and get comfortable in areas where they aren’t wanted, like your home. It does give you a different perspective though on this wicked-looking creature!
Earwigs (pincher bugs) were once widely believed to burrow into your ear while you slept...hence the name. You might have known that one, but did you know that earwigs are one of the few non-social insects to care for their young?
Earwigs clean their eggs to protect them from parasitic fungi, actively fight off predators, and will even feed their young after they have hatched! This may seem common, but in the insect world it is almost unheard of. Just about every other insect follows the "sink or swim" method of parenting.
Unfortunately, earwigs are pests and fast breeders. They can lay up to 60 eggs in a single burrow. Have you ever overturned soil only to see what seems like hundreds of earwigs scurrying about? Or witnessed areas of your garden almost devoured overnight?
Outdoors they can cause serious damage to your garden and ornamental plants. Freshly started gardens are even more at risk. They often go for the tender young plants as soon as they emerge from the ground, wiping out a bed of seedlings before you know it. There goes all of your hard work and money put into starting your lovely garden. Damage to these plants can often be mistaken for slug damage so it's worth knowing how to identify the problem and know what you’re dealing with.
Besides being a pest outdoors, they also love damp places and will commonly be sighted gathering in areas like bathrooms and garages. However, they move quickly and can be seen just about anywhere, even hiding in towels and bedding.
So besides rolling up that newspaper to give it a good smack, give us a call and we will help you with a treatment that will eliminate these pests and give you more peace of mind!
Two separate studies just listed Sacramento in the top 5 worst rat infested cities in the US. The most common rodent in our area is "Rattus rattus" AKA the Roof Rat.
One of the best ways to discourage rodent activity is to reduce their food sources. This is a great first step towards control, and can really make an impact if you can get your neighbors involved. Rats will travel up to 300 feet to forage for food and only require about 1oz of food per day to survive.
Here are some common "culprits" and things you should look for:
1. Fruit trees (especially citrus) - It might not seem like something a rat would go for, but citrus is one of the major food sources for rodents in the winter months. Keeping it off the ground is key - but they will also climb into the tree to get fresh fruit off the branches so you will want to harvest regularly and keep an eye out for gnawed fruit. This is an early sign that you may have a problem.
2. Snails - believe it or not, rats absolutely love "escargot". If you see snail shells in an attic, on a roof, or in random piles around your property you likely have a rat population nearby. Our rodent services includes complimentary snail treatments for this very reason.
3. Dog/Cat food - This is the most commonly found food source and the start of many rat infestations. Keep the bag in a plastic/metal container, and feed your pet inside. A food bowl left outside (especially at night) is like an all you can eat buffet for rats. Rats are used to the smell of domestic pets (even cats) and will not be scared to come right up to the back door for a free meal.
4. Trash bags - We all have those moments where the trash can is full and the garbage man isn't coming for 3 days. Never leave a bag of food waste on the curb or on the side of your house, as tempting as it might be. The best thing you can do is to put it in a sealed empty can (like the green waste) and then switch it once the garbage can is empty.
5. Bird feed - This is a tough one. Birds are great to have around and many people enjoy feeding them, but you are also feeding the local rat population if you just throw bird feed on the ground. If you absolutely have to feed the birds - do it in a rat/squirrel resistant feeder and keep an eye on the bird food that gets kicked out on the ground by the birds. You'll need to clean this up daily if you want to keep your property rodent free.
There are many more factors to rodent control (sealing entry points, population reduction, tree/shrub trimming, sanitation, insulation replacement, etc) but if you follow these 5 steps you are on your way to a rodent reduced neighborhood.
Give us a call or text if you'd like more in depth information or a professional inspection. We are happy to help our neighbors and advice is always free - regardless if you are our client or not.
Things are changing rapidly during the COVID-19 crisis and we are all having to adjust to these changes. As the community stays indoors and business owners temporarily close their doors to the public, we are not the only ones trying to adapt to all this change, pests are too! Rodents are being seen in broad daylight foraging for new food sources, home deliveries and accumulated trash are attracting unwanted pests such as cockroaches and ants, and let’s not forget summer is around the corner which is the season for mosquitoes, flies, and wasps to thrive. So what does this mean for the community? It means people are still at risk for the spread and cause of disease, viruses, allergens, and asthma through insect and rodent infestations.
The professional pest control industry plays a vital role in protecting the public health and we continue to work hard to reduce the threat of pest-borne disease and other illnesses. Coronavirus regulations are being executed and employees trained on new procedures. Technicians are taking precautions and are provided all the proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) needed to do the job safely. As an essential service, we appreciate the support of the industry in continuing to protect your home or business as well as your loved ones while we all get through this together (because pests don’t care about social distancing). Stay safe and stay well!
Are you seeing ants? Well you're not the only one, April is a common time of year to spot them. Some will say it's “ant season”, but fact is, there is no single “ant season.” Ants may choose to enter your home at any time of year. Besides being an annoyance, their job is to seek shelter from the elements and forage for food, whether that means rain or shine.
One of the more common ants found in Sacramento is the Odorous House Ant. These are tiny dark brown ants that are frequently spotted indoors this time of year. Like the name suggests, they have a unique rotten coconut/spoiled milk smell when crushed.
Besides making you really popular at parties, knowing this trick will help you identify what type of ant you are dealing with "in a pinch"... No pun intended.
There are approximately 4500 species of cockroaches in the world. In Sacramento the most common are: German, Oriental, American, and the new kid on the block... The Turkestan roach (Blatta lateralis).
What is really interesting is just how quickly the Turkestan roach has taken over California. Just a few years ago you would see Oriental and American roaches but now its 99% Turkestan roaches.
Turkestan roaches are outdoor roaches. That means that they typically live in the sewers, organic waste (leaves), irrigation boxes and other high moisture areas. They are typically content to live their lives outdoors. When they do come inside, its almost always the garage or bathroom... but they can fully infest a home if given the right living conditions.
What has really been strange is just how many I've seen this year. I've lost count of how many times a client who have never seen a roach in their life suddenly have Turkestan roaches in their yard and home.
They don't look like typical cockroaches (especially the female). The male is on the right, female on the left in the photo above.
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