Catch up on some of our old blogs
Spring has arrived! [Spring 2015]
Spring has arrived! The robins, phoebes, juncos and chipping sparrows have returned and we have seen our mallards back on the pond. There are yet a few remnants of snow hiding in the shadows, but the daffodils and tulips are bravely sending up shoots of hope. Oh, and the peepers are loudly proclaiming warm weather. We are coming out on the other end of a long, long winter!
Call us if you see those pesky carpenter ants walking about inside your home. We can also help with wasp control and perimeter pests. Of course, we will still be tackling mouse issues!
Art, Chere, Harvey, Ian, Tim and Frank
Summertime in Vermont [Summer 2015]
Oh, how we embrace the summer, in Vermont! We hike and bike and swim and camp. We also garden with fervor and use our decks or patios as frequently as possible as we all remember those long, inside, winter days.
I love to cut, ted and bale the hay in the summer! (I’m not yet adept at raking the rows!) While sitting high on the tractor I can view the green shapely mountains and feel the field’s golden warmth as it radiates about my body. Often while haying, I marvel at how this warm field is so very cold in the winter. Just a tilt of the earth and snow becomes hay!
Just as surely as we folks will fire up our grills in the summer, the little insects will be ready to fire up their life cycles. Carpenter ant issues will become very apparent, especially when a homeowner sees winged ant (swarmers) flying toward the outdoor light of the inside windows! Just a little tilt of the earth and the ants want to add new colonies! Pavement ants will also prosper and grow – without compromising the integrity of your building, however. And, in August, many of us will be driving along a country road only to have cornfield ant swarmers splat onto our vehicle’s windshield.
Mice and rats like summer weather, too! Berries and seeds make for a great diet – before the tree nuts of fall. Being commensal (able to live beside/with man) these rodents might surprise you with entry into your home!
And, near the tail end of summer, the nectar-loving cluster fly will try to move into your home before the frosts of fall hit. Joining the cluster fly will be his friends, the multi-colored lady Asian beetle and the western conifer seed bug. And sometimes, the boxelder bug will tag along!
Speaking of summer, SunCommon has just installed solar panels on the roof of our barn, so we are now powering our VPC office via the summer sun! What a thrill!
Please give us a call or send us an e-mail message if you need help with those insects and rodents that enter into your living space. And, enjoy your SUMMER!
All of us at Vermont Pest Control,
Art, Chere, Harvey, Ian, Tim and Frank
The Bats are Back! [Fall 2015]
Yes, the bats ARE back! (And, we’re not talking baseball, here!) Recently, we have been fielding calls from frantic homeowners – homeowners with bats INSIDE their home. We hadn’t been receiving these calls for the past few summers as the small brown bat population had been decimated by a fungus!
Scientists blamed the bat deaths on white nose syndrome (“…an emerging disease in North American bats, which as of 2012 was associated with at least 5.7 million bat deaths.”) Some bats were even prematurely flying out of the caves – in the winter during hibernation. These bats had lost the majority of their body fat.
Many caverns were closed to the public as it was feared that humans had accidentally transferred the white nose syndrome fungus via clothing. Either the fungus was eliminated or the bats became immune to it, as the small brown bats are now back and (hopefully) here to stay!
From the Communication Office of the Vermont Department of Health:
“Any bat found in the same room as a sleeping person or an unattended child, or any bat that has had physical contact with a person should be safely collected and tested for rabies. First call the Vermont rabies hotline 1-800-4RABIES (1-800-472-2437vt) or 1-802-223-8690 from out of state for instructions.
The majority of bats (99 percent) are not infected with the rabies virus – and each year approximately 50 to 100 bats are tested for rabies in Vermont.”
Bats are an important component of our ecosystem, yet most of us would prefer to admire them from a distance – not up close and personal!
Summer is winding down and we are now focusing on ant, wasp and fly control, with the routine rodent programs all in place. It’s been a busy season for us and our good customers
Enjoy the rest of your warm weather!
One of my favorite winter activities is tracking, especially up in the deep woods behind our house. There‘s a visible record of the animals’ activity once a layer of snow covers the ground. Rodent routes intersect those of browsers which intersect the trails of predators – nature’s winter networking!
Most often, I see the prints of deer – especially around the apple trees. Windfalls as well as juicy buds seem to attract these browsers to the leafless winter fruit trees. The coyotes leavetheir patterns, too, as well as their signature scat containing the bones and hair of a recent meal. I have seen bobcat prints punctuate the frozen particles and I’ve encountered wing-swathed patches where a hawk has plummeted upon a rodent and a tussle ensued. The tracks of the ruffed grouse always bring to mind the stitching upon a quilt! The fox prints clearly reveal whether they have been prancing down the path or leaping and pouncing upon a hapless rodent.
I never have to go far to see the wee prints of a vole or mouse. About the perimeter of our buildings and near our stones walls and gardens, the routes of these rodents are so visible. It’s almost like a connect-the-dots activity, to follow the trails as they disappear under a stone and then reappear near the bird bath.
In the course of our work we need to think like a mouse in order to protect your home or business from these non-paying tenants. We have to discover their indoor runways and we need to check about the exterior of your building where we can determine places of entry so that we can exclude and trap. A mouse trail up in the snowy woods is one thing; a mouse inside your home is another thing.
A Nor’easter is predicted for this coming weekend – those woodland animals might begin making snow tunnels!
Warm winter wishes to all!
Spring Ahead [Early Spring 2016]
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
The clocks went ahead last weekend but I am not sure that all of us are yet in sync with this change. Seems as if the mornings were getting brighter and cheerier and then – WHAM – they got darker again! Hmm. The birds and four-legged woodland animals don’t have to lose an hour of their lives – they are still on nature’s time! Only we human are capable of smoke and mirrors and measuring the hours in a day and then, improvising on that.
We were outside the other night and high up in the dark sky we heard the sound of geese. The flock was flying north so this must be a sign for an early spring. The lilac buds are swelling and teasing us with a promising peek at the soft insides. Our hens are laying eggs again and the donkeys have ventured further into their snow-free pasture. Guess that the animals know things about the seasons of which we can only guess.
We have recently received some calls about ants and even more calls about wasps. When the temperature rises and the sun shines, some of these insects get excited about spring – just as most of us do! We might put on shorts or wear flip flops while the ants send out foragers and the wasps come out of hibernation. But, despite the new Daylight Saving Time and the recent warm weather, there will be some winter-like days ahead. We will again pull on our boots and the ants will return to their colony while the early-bird wasps will become spider food!
Spring Blog [Spring 2016]
Winter might have seemed lengthy this year, but it lacked the intensity of past seasons. Why, we didn’t even have to roof-rake the snow off of the office building – at all – and we didn’t plow the drive! Very strange weather patterns have prevailed these past few years!
What won’t be strange will be the amount of mice we’ll encounter during the upcoming summer. (The rodent demographics always soar when “the living is easy” throughout the winter.) Combined with a plentiful supply of nuts from the fall harvest, the easy living will translate into mega breeding. We are ready for this certain uptick in rodent work!
It has been a slower start to the wasp season but as soon as the temperatures stay seasonal and the sun shines steadily, the wasps will make their statement. And so it will be with the carpenter and pavement ants – they are just waiting for the right time to make their grand entrance.
While we are in the business of keeping our customers’ homes pest-free, we do find ourselves marveling at the intricacy of the insects’ small bodies and respecting the tenacity of the ants and rodents. They are all trying to make a living!
Please give us a call or send us an e-mail message if you need support for a particular insect or rodent. We have listed those pests we cover…
Thank you to our good customers for your years of business – some of you have been with us over twenty years! And welcome, new clients.
Enjoy your spring season!
Art, Chere, Harvey, Ian, Tim and Frank
The Buzz About Carpenter Bees [Summer 2016]
Currently, we are getting more carpenter bee calls than wasp calls. And what is so interesting (to us) is the northward movement of these bees. Twenty years ago, we received carpenter bee calls from mostly northern Bennington and Shaftsbury. Each following year, the callers’ geographic location would come from an increasingly northern or eastern area – above Bennington. (We also noted this trend with the Multi-colored lady Asian beetle.) Perhaps our warmer winters are contributing to this migration or perhaps we are just noticing the bees as we build more homes?
The Eastern carpenter bee looks like a bumble bee except that there are little or no hairs on the abdomen, making it look black and shiny. (There are smaller carpenter bees but here we are referencing the larger one: genera Xylocopa.) The adults feed on plant pollen and nectar. They are mostly solitary bees and reproduce about 6-8 “bee-babies” per generation.
When we travel to a house with a serious carpenter bee issue we see the male bees hovering about, protecting the entry holes from people, pets and other insects and birds. (The male carpenter bee does not sting, but his behavior is so aggressive that we often back off! Females can sting but rarely do.) If the home is painted a dark color, we will see the newly-created round entry holes, made by the females, as well as the lighter-colored sawdust where it falls to the ground.
Carpenter bees have four basic life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult – complete metamorphosis. The male and female mate, then the female builds a gallery (tunnel) for her brood. (She can also attack unpainted objects such as doors, windowsills, roof eaves, shingles, railings, telephone poles, and sometimes wooden lawn furniture.) Using her strong jaws, she excavates a round hole into the wood siding, or trim/fascia/soffit boards, in a perpendicular plane to the grain of the wood. After a depth of 1-2” she makes a right angle turn and proceeds about 4-8” laterally and lays her eggs in what is called a gallery. Each brood cell contains a food ball/”bee bread” (pollen and regurgitated nectar), an egg and a plug of chewed wood pulp. The female bee dies after laying her eggs. It takes about seven weeks for the new adult bees to emerge from their brood galleries…usually in August. In the northeast, the carpenter bee has only one reproductive cycle per summer. The new adults overwinter in the tunnels and emerge in the spring, ready to keep the genera going!
So, while we admire the entire insect world, we know that folks who live in wooden buildings shouldn’t throw rocks…I mean they shouldn’t want carpenter bees living in the siding!
Enjoy your warm weather!
The crew at Vermont Pest Control
Bed Bugs – The living décor you don’t want in your home!
Imagine waking up with bite marks on your arms or legs. Further imagine looking for the guilty spider and, instead, finding clusters of rusty red-colored bugs in your mattress and box spring voids! Gross! Now, imagine that you extend your search and now see fecal stains from the bed bugs all over your white mattress. And then, you notice the little beige-colored nymphs moving about outside the grommet holes. Upon closer inspection your see the nymphs hiding inside the grommet, mixed with cast skin. Are you scratching yet? I am!
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) seemed to have been a thing of the past in our country (due to stronger pesticides, we are told.) Yet, about 12-14 years ago pest control professionals in large cities started to get calls about these “duvet” bugs. As the years progressed the bed bug demographics swelled and they migrated far out into the country side. Vermont has not escaped this rural migration.
Bed bugs don’t discriminate between homes or hotels. They are an equal opportunity tenant. And they don’t care about the design or color of backpacks and suit cases…travel is travel. They really like the upholstered seats in movie theatres and airplanes and they love cluttered spaces. And their driving life-ambition is to get a blood meal.
Since the early 1900’s scientists have been running tests to determine whether bed bugs can transmit diseases to people. Dozens of pathogens have been discovered in bed bugs but, so far none have been transmitted to people. As of recent, there is still no evidence that bed bugs can transmit Trypanosoma cruzi (the parasite that causes Chagas disease) to people, although one study has found a connection between the fecal matter and the T. cruzi.
Heat is a wonderful weapon to use when ridding your space of these non-paying tenants. Wash all bedding and clothing in hot water and dry the laundered products at a high heat to kill the eggs, nymphs and adults. You can also use heat to eliminate these bugs from within your rooms and upholstered furniture. Some pest control operators (pco’s) heat the room(s) and others move your furniture into a heated trailer, and also treat your room with an insecticide labeled for bed bugs. After the pco has done his/her job, covering your mattress and box spring with special protectors is a great practice, These protectors keep any errant bugs from biting you as you sleep and hence, starting a new cycle! No one, ever, said, “I want to decorate my home with bed bugs of all sizes!
Happy Spring to All!
The VPC team
Dark Winged Fungus Gnats
What a rainy spring and summer we have had! The streams and ponds are full and there’s even been some flash flooding in some areas of our state. And, those insects that love wet environments are at an all-time high. In fact, folks in the Londonderry/Andover area are now experiencing swarms of tiny gnats. We contacted our state entomologist yesterday, as so many customers were reporting heavy incursions of these insects and we wanted to positively identify the little fly that was causing so much ballyhoo.
According to University of Vermont (UVM) via their extension service, we are being overwhelmed with dark-winged fungus gnats. Here is what the UVM extension posted on facebook yesterday:
“Are you being swarmed by small grey flies right now? It might be the fungus gnat, 1/16″ to 1/8″ in size. UVM Extension Entomologist Margaret Skinner writes:
“The darkwinged fungus gnat, in the family Sciaridae, are distinguished from other small flying insects by the Y-shaped vein on the wings. The damp weather this spring may have provided just the right situation for them to swarm. Here is a website that describes a similar situation in the Midwest after flooding: https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/HN-53.pdf
This problem should subside fairly soon. There is no treatment that will eliminate them given that they are reproducing outside. The good news is they don’t bite: there are a few options for minimizing their nuisance factor:
1. They are attracted to lights. Keep all outdoor lights around your home off in the evening. If you have outdoor lights that are a good distance away from the house you may be able to lure them away from your house by keeping those lights on.
2. Make sure your doors and screens are in good repair and tightly closed. Ensure that the seal around windows and doors are tight. They can sneak under or around a screen if it isn’t sealed completely. If there are gaps between the window frame and screen, tape it up to keep them out.
3. I don’t believe there is any point in spraying a pesticide for these insects. There may be an endless supply of them around your home. Even if you spray, there will be more. There seems no value in exposing yourself to a pesticide in this situation. When the rain stops however, and the conditions don’t favor their reproduction, they will subside.
4. Fungus gnats live on dead or rotting vegetation or organic matter. If you have compost in or around your garden, they may be coming from there. You may want to cover that tightly to eliminate their ability to escape.
5. Given the high populations of adults at this time may result in more immatures in the soil, which could cause damage to roots of some plants, though this is not a common problem, except in greenhouses.
Please note that you may have other types of insects within the swarm, including mosquitoes or other biting insects. Mosquito populations are higher than usual in some locations because of the wet weather. However, in general it appears that the large swarms are the non-biting fungus gnats.”
Here’s hoping that this natural phenomena soon meets many sunny summer days!
Happy rest of July from all of us at VPC: Art; Chere; Harvey; Ian; Tim; Frank; Alden!
Pest Summary 2017
Hello. We don’t intend to “bug” you but we thought that we’d do a memory-fueled pest summary for the 2017 spring, summer and fall season. Clearly, the bugs dominated.
Many more calls were from people who had insect issues rather than rodent problems.
In late spring/early summer we were first inundated with carpenter bee inquiries. Why we even had carpenter bees at our homes! Most folks don’t care to see holes drilled into their house’s siding or soffit boards. And they really don’t care for the aggressive tactics of the male bee.
Because it was such a rainy season, the carpenter ant calls seemed to arrive a bit later in the season. These calls were plentiful but not unusually so. It was the dark-winged fungus gnat that took high count honors. We heard from current customers and from many, many people who just wanted answers. The first calls came from the Londonderry area and then the gnat hatches appeared in an outward radii pattern from Derry. Folks complained of large numbers of gnats coming into their homes, through screens, and hovering by lights. We contacted our UVM entomologist and she looked at photos from us and others and determined that we had these dark-winged fungus gnats. The wet ground condition, especially around tree roots, was given as the reason for the gnats’ high numbers.
Wasps became a dominant concern for so many as late summer approached. While it is normal for these demographics to peak in August and September, there was a bit of a spike this year. Then, the cluster flies arrived and they kept coming. We didn’t have a killing frost until mid-October – way too late for those of us who had treated homes for these flies. And, then Western conifer seed bugs stole the show. We had so many of these insects about and they do get inside somehow. (A lot of folks misnamed these bugs “stinkbugs.”) Looking to the crop of cones high up in the pine and spruce trees, we might predict even more Western conifer seed bugs for 2018! (We have heard that some New Hampshire areas had a huge incursion of these cone-loving bugs.) To a much lesser degree than in past years, the multi-colored lady Asian beetles arrived a week or two ago.
Then, just last week, the dark-winged fungus gnats had another hatch! The gnat demographics don’t appear to be as intense and wide-spread as the early summer outbreak, but for those with thousands of gnats inside their home, it is a bit unsettling. So we need to patiently wait and, very soon, the continued cold nights and days will combine to quell the bug population. And then, the mice will take charge!
Winters Blog 2017
What a strange autumn we’ve had so far. With the frost coming far later this year, the usual insect invaders of the home have taken a longer and lazier march to our homes.
This time of year everything usually quiets down and takes a more whimsical seat for the holidays.
With all the whimsy and charm that the holidays bring, you may still catch a glimpse of mouse scurrying from under the Christmas tree, a fly or two playing dead under the menorah or a couple spiders just popping in to see family and share a meal.
In years past, the majority of our early winter calls were about mice, a few bed bugs, fleas and roaches. With this long fall we’ve gotten far more calls for wasps, flies and lady beetles – even into early December.
Just as the pending snow will come, soon mice will continue to march into homes. Mice can squeeze into a hole the size of a dime, so you can imagine how easily they can wiggle into the warmth of our homes. Imagine! Without management these armies of mice will multiply exponentially.
In most cases we can close up these holes with copper mesh and caulk. For larger holes you may need a contractor.
We just celebrated our 25th year in business, from Art, Chere, Harvey, Ian, Frank & Alden;
Thank you to all of our loyal customers.
Dead-of-Winter “Bug” Blog
The sky is slate-colored and the pines are wearing many frosty white shoulder pads while the temperature today hovers around 22 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a pervading stillness to the landscape and it seems to sift indoors, into our office. Yet, we are receiving numerous inquiries about multi-colored lady Asian beetles and the boxelder bugs. And, yes, we had a call about “stink bugs” just the other day. Why would insects be inside, creeping out folks when the weather is so frigid?
The answer is quite simple – these insects are overwintering in your homes! When the fall temperatures dropped at night, these arthropods reacted to biological instinct and they sought out warmth. Your home with its generous amount of tiny openings was better for winter refuge than the stone wall voids or tree bark layers, outside. So, in they came, the silent and steady emigration of insects.
We often call these overwintering bugs “non-paying tenants.” When you turn up your heat or when the sun is strong on a winter day, many of the “tenants” feel that spring has arrived (they really don’t set their seasonal alarm clocks!) and they emerge into your living spaces. The cluster flies buzz about and tend to get on your nerves, the multi-colored lady Asian beetles leave an acrid/orange smell/stain on windows and upholstery, the boxelder bugs really just amble about and the “stink bugs” mostly freak out folks. They DO look like creatures from prehistoric times but they don’t do anything more than the boxelder bugs. BTW – these are NOT stink bugs – they are Western conifer seeds bugs.
The time to prevent incursion of these insects is late summer and/or early fall. Please do give us a call if you would like your winter of 2019 to be less “alive!”
And, stay warm!
The Sounds of Spring
The advent of spring weather is often heralded by the show of dancing daffodils, the greening of un-plowed pastures, the bobbing of the robin on the lawn, and the longer hours of warm sunshine. We look for the rusty-breast robin and the fanciful flight of the goldfinch. And we note the height of the lawn’s grass and we know that it’s time to break out the lawn mower. The sights are so welcome.
But it’s the sounds of spring that seem to lift the winter-weary soul to a higher level. Listen! You can often hear the robin before you see it. And from the vernal pools and so-full ponds comes the sound of the peepers. The bard owl, which can be heard all winter, now performs the craziest of songs. (Perhaps it’s a mating call?) The brooks do babble and the air is full of so many bird calls, each with varying pitches and rhythms.
Finally, there are the insects of spring! Wasps begin to hover about your house on warm, sunny days. Ants get all business-like as they follow their trails to food and back to the nest. Bumblebees buzz about, enjoying the dandelion’s nectar. The oft-called black flies begin to hover about your face as you work outside in the gardens.
We were at a cabin in Orwell the other day and noted this huge black frog sitting in the remnants of a mucky pool of water. There were all sorts of tiny insects of varying sizes and species (Within the class Hexapoda there are over 750,000 different species of insects) hovering, diving and flying about. Mr. or Ms. Frog seemed to have all the food he/she could eat. But then, we noticed a long lean garter snake, frozen into position, along the edge of the pool. (He/she had first noticed us!) Ah, yes, even frogs need share the insect wealth with other hungry creatures.
So, however you celebrate this new season, enjoy! It’s finally here – take a deep breath of spring!