Pinpoint Pest Control Blog

Integrated Pest Management Serving North San Diego County for over 40 Years.

Bees! An Amazing Comeback!

Bees! An Amazing Comeback!

We are very well on the way to finding out what caused the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that played a large part in the dramatic collapse of honeybee colonies across the country during the past ten years. Honeybees are responsible for about 15% of pollenization here in North America and bees are a vital part of some of our commercial agriculture so there has been a lot of concern and quite a bit of research into what may have caused this remarkable decline. The good news is that the bees have made a rapid and decisive recovery during the past three years

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Owl Boxes and Bees

I came across a sign on a North County highway that read: “I will build an OWL BOX on your property for $----” It made me want to write a sign that says: “I will take the BEES out of your OWL BOX for $----.” Many people are now recognizing that owl boxes very often become the home of bees that can and do turn aggressive. Owl

Owls have been called “The Perfect Predator” because of their amazing ability to pinpoint rodents that move about in the darkness. Their ears are located at differing levels on their head which gives them an uncanny ability to hear the distance and precise location of their prey. Their wings are built for stealth rather than for speed and the feathers are tapered in such a way that they fly almost soundlessly. All in all, they are excellent night-time rodent hunters. More tomorrow….

It takes about 2 square miles of hunting territory to support an owl family unless they are in a forested area and they are reluctant to live very close to other owls for that reason. They will capture and eat gophers, rats, mice, snakes, rabbits, and ground squirrels here in North County and they need a large, healthy population of rodents in the area if they are going to prosper. By the very nature of things, they cannot “get rid” of the gophers for several reasons; among them:

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The Hidden Danger of Bird Nests

This weekend I noticed that a double bird nest had been blown down from the palm trees in front of my house and had stuck on the decorative shutters above our front window. I lifted the nests off of the house and noticed some fallen and broken eggs on the lawn and in the street. After I disposed of the nests, I noticed some tiny little mites crawling on my shirt and on my arms and hands.

One of the consequences of handling bird nests and allowing them to build on or near our houses is the bird mites  that can appear in very great numbers. The mites are perfectly designed for feeding on birds and they will drop off after each feeding to grow a little larger until they get mature enough to breed and make some baby mites to keep the cycle going. Birds have thinner skin than we do; the mites feed, drop off, molt, and then feed again. 

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Brown Widow Spiders (Brown is the new Black)

Here in North County we are used to seeing Black Widow Spiders around the base of the house, on fence lines, woodpiles, and occasionally in the garage. In the past four years we have seen an alarming increase in the number of Brown Widows, and we see them on patio furniture, stair rails, windows, mail boxes, porches, and decks. I have found evidence of Brown Widow Spiders on nearly every property that I have inspected since early last summer. This is alarming, because the Browns often build their nests up off the ground in places where we naturally put our hands and where children will play.

The bad news that Brown Widow Spider venom is nearly twice as potent as the Black Widow is offset by the fact that the Browns are normally much smaller than the Blacks and have less venom to inject. Widows are not aggressive spiders and like to stay away from physical contact with people. Bites happen when a spider gets caught in our clothing, or when we accidentally touch one and press up against it.

Appearance:

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Spiders in Springtime

In the springtime you will see spiders showing up in all kinds of places while they set the table for their summer reproductive season. As the weather warms up, the spiders start looking for ant trails to set up housekeeping. The first step to long term spider management is to eliminate the ants. That’s right, ants! You see, the primary food source for the early stages of development for most spiders is the ever present ant and the occasional tasty gnat or drain fly. From that, they graduate to larger bugs with each stage of their development. Of course spiders also eat each other so, without a ready supply of ants, spiders will end up reducing their own population, often by more than ninety percent! A sac spider’s offspring that survives normally does so at the expense of several of its siblings. Spiders in the house are very seldom a health or safety threat here in San Diego County, but they can be a real nuisance with their unsightly webs and their threatening demeanor. Spider bites usually happen when someone picks up some firewood or moves things around in a shed or garage. It is also quite possible to be bit in bed or putting on clothing with a spider inside.

The following is a list of some of the local spiders that you may come across. Please understand that there is no comprehensive list of NorthCounty spiders. 

Two basic types of spiders that we commonly find around north county homes are web spinners and hunters. Hunting spiders, sometimes called “wolf” spiders (pictured) scurry around, mostly at night, seeking a bug to jump on and eat. They do not use webs to capture their prey and they often have several eyes. The largest of the hunters is the Tarantula, often growing to fist size, and the smallest is a little “Wolf” spider about as big as this “o”.  Spiders feed on each other and on other bugs that they can capture or overpower. Web spinners use their spinnerets to create bug traps and to make nests or egg sacs that they spin for their offspring. Their webs can be tunnels, trap doors, nets, tents, sacs, and intricately patterned orbs. Some of the webs are sticky, and others can be 
tough enough to use in gun sights!                                                        

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Whiteflies

Get ready for the Whiteflies this spring!

 

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Rat Trapping Done Right

Kwikmesh Roll PhotoThe first step to rat and mouse control is to place monitors and unset traps in the places that you would like to use as a killing zone. Do not set the traps yet! It is very important to introduce the rats to the bait that you will be using before you start setting the traps to keep them from becoming trap shy! I like to use sunflower seeds (in the shell) to prepare the rats for their eventual demise. The rats will eat the seeds and leave the shells behind, giving us a confirmation of their presence and preparing them to accept the bait on the traps. 

Next, we want to find out how those nasty rats got inside in the first place. Check for openings at the bottom of the exterior walls, especially just outside of the kitchen and bathrooms where the pipes go through the slab. Also inspect all exterior doors, including garage doors, for openings at the base of the door jams or under the doors. Check all the screen vents in the garage as well as the attic, and check the area around the air conditioner condenser box outside. (Be aware that even if you do not have air conditioning you will likely have a condenser tube opening in the wall that rats can use to reach the attic or the furnace room.) Overlapping rooflines are a common entry point for everything from bees to raccoons; check them thoroughly, but be careful if you climb on the roof. You can use KwikMesh or pre-made screens for areas that need ventilation and you may need to replace dryer vent hoods and other types of covers.

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Rats in the Attic!

Do you hear noises in your attic or walls? Usually this means that some rats have found a way into your house and they are using your rafters as a jungle gym. This week we will talk about rats, and the next blog will instruct us on how to exclude and extract them; including comprehensive trapping instructions. 

 

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More than you ever wanted to know about Mice

 

What Mice are Like

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How to Keep Your North County Home Spider-Free All Winter

Are you kidding? We don’t do winter here in North County, but there are some things that you might want to do to prepare for the cooler weather that is ahead. Many of the pests that we must deal with are here from areas where there is a strong winter, and their instincts are to seek shelter … in your home if they can get away with it.

Make sure that the weather stripping is functional under all exterior doors, including the door between your house and the garage. If you have sliding glass doors, inspect the brush at the bottom of the door and adjust it or replace it as needed. This will keep the ground crawling bugs, especially the Hunting Spiders, outside where they belong. 

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