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What You Need To Know About Pests

Whether it’s a spider on the wall, a rodent in the attic, or an unidentified insect on the porch, finding pests in your home is disconcerting. Let our Pest Library help put your mind at ease. In this resource, we provide information about the most common pests in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties so that you know what you’re dealing with and what to do about them.

Bed Bugs

a bedbug on gravel

Bed bugs are great at two things, hiding and hitching rides from place to place. These things have allowed bed bugs to become troublesome and successful pests that infest homes and businesses across the country. Bed bugs feed only on the blood of people and animals, with people being their preferred hosts. If people are available, they will ignore any other food source available. Coming into contact with bed bugs occurs in many places, and public areas are the most likely because of the higher concentration of people coming and going. Bed bugs move from location to location on people or our belongings — bags, coats, luggage, suitcases, and furniture.

Bed bugs enter into homes without notice and immediately take cover in dark, tight hiding spots out of view of their human hosts only emerging at night to feed while we are sleeping. Their ability to live with us unnoticed allows them to build their populations in a short few months. While bed bugs are good at hiding, there are some signs that they leave behind that alert homeowners to their presence. You may find live or dead insects that resemble apple seeds in your house: on the floor, under mattresses, or in the seams of upholstered furniture, or you'll find small dots of blood or rusty streaks of excrement on bedding, pillows, mattresses, floors, or walls. You may smell an unpleasant musty, sweet odor developing within your home. You or your family members may wake with clusters or lines of unexplained bed bug bites. If you ever notice any of these signs of bed bugs in your home, contact the professionals at Citra Pest Control for help!

How to avoid problems with bed bugs: Hotels and motels are hotspots for bed bugs. Always inspect your rental before bringing your luggage and personal belongings inside. When returning home from traveling, wash, and dry all clothing taken on the highest heat setting possible. Avoid setting down bags, coats, and other personal belongings on the floor in any public place. While at work or school, be sure to keep your belongings in their own space up off the floor and away from other people’s belongings. If possible, do not purchase used mattresses and furniture for your home. Regularly vacuum your floors and any upholstered furniture. Use bed bug proof covers on mattresses and box springs to eliminate some of their favorite hiding spots.

Cockroaches

a cockroach on a wood plank

Cockroaches are a very diverse species of insect that has learned to stand the test of time. These insects adapt quickly and can make any house, business facility, or outside area into their home. Keeping cockroaches out of your house is essential, not only because they invade in large numbers and are difficult to eliminate, but also because of the dangers and damages they can cause. Cockroaches spread disease, bacteria, and parasites to food and surfaces; they emit unpleasant odors and stain and chew on upholstered furniture, clothing, walls, and more. If you ever spot cockroaches in your home, call for professional help to eliminate these dangerous and damaging pests from your property and prevent them from returning.

Three of the most common species of cockroaches in our area are the American cockroaches, German cockroaches, and Oriental cockroaches. American cockroaches are one of the biggest house invading species of cockroaches living in the United States. German cockroaches are a small species but have adapted to an indoor lifestyle and are major pests inside of homes and restaurants. Oriental cockroaches are often referred to as “water bugs” because they like to live in very wet areas. Cockroaches, no matter the species, can enter into homes while out searching for food or by hitchhiking their way in inside of boxes, bags, furniture, potted plants, appliances, or electronics. Once inside, they hide in dark areas near food sources (kitchens, bathrooms, basements, crawl spaces) and emerge at night to feed.

How to avoid problems with cockroaches: Cockroaches are scavengers, so limiting their access to anything they can use as a food source is important. Make sure trash is removed from your home each day and placed outside in containers with locking lids. Limit food to the kitchen and dining areas, cleaning up crumbs and spills in those areas. Each evening pick up any food that your pets do not eat during the day. Keep cockroaches out of your home by getting rid of any openings in its exterior that you discover. Seal spaces in the foundation, around windows and doors, around utilities, and place covers over vents and drains. Get rid of areas of excess humidity and moisture that attract most species of cockroaches by repairing clogged drains, fixing leaky pipes, and using dehumidifiers.

Fleas & Ticks

a tick on a broom stick

Fleas and ticks are common outdoor pests that, unfortunately, often find their way onto our properties via wild animals or pets. Unlike other species that find their way onto your property on their own, fleas and ticks find their way to new locations on their animal hosts. Blood is the sole source of food for both fleas and ticks and is what allows them to complete their life cycle. As ectoparasites, fleas and ticks feed on blood from the outside of their host’s body. Both spend most of their lives on the backs of their host. When not on a host, they both tend to wait in tall grass, under leaf piles, in wooded areas, or under woodpiles for a host to come by that they can attach themselves to.

Fleas are a type of insect, are tiny in size (around the size of a speck of dirt), and have an impressive jumping ability. They can breed either outside or inside. Ticks are a type of arachnid. They have eight legs and do not fly or jump. To move onto a host, they wait for one to brush by them that they can crawl onto. Unlike fleas, most species of ticks are unable to breed indoors, and so they are mainly an outdoor pest. Feeding on blood allows these pests to cause many problems, including spreading diseases, causing allergic reactions, and spreading parasites. Neither species should live on your property in large numbers for any period. If you see an abundant amount of either pest in your yard, in your home, on you, or your pets, call for professional help from the experts at Citra Pest Control!

How to avoid problems with fleas and ticks: If you are a pet owner, the best way to help control fleas and ticks is to consult with your pet’s veterinarian and place your pets on a year-round pests control product. Remove areas from your property where fleas and ticks can hide, such as woodpiles, leaf piles, tall grass, or dense landscaping. Avoid attracting wild animals that carry fleas and ticks on their backs by removing common food sources like open trash cans, leftover pet food, and bird or wild animal feeders. After spending time outside, inspect yourself and pets for fleas and ticks before going back indoors. Vacuum floors and upholstered furniture in your home regularly.

Rodents

mice in the grass

Rodents make up the largest group of mammals. There are more than 1,500 highly diverse species of rodents living worldwide. Rodents come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors, and feed on a variety of things. In our area, three of the most common species of rodents that frequently invade our homes or businesses are roof rats, Norway rats, and mice. All are capable of damaging our property, spreading disease, and contaminating food. Rodents live outside but sometimes invade structures while they forage for food or to escape harsh weather conditions. While rodents may want to live with us, we don’t want to live with them!

If rodents have found a way into your house, they will leave behind some apparent signs that will alert you of their presence. Rodents are nocturnal and noisy. A rodent infestation is likely if you hear scratching or running sounds behind walls or above ceilings. Gnaw marks or holes chewed through food packaging, and storage boxes are another common sign of a rodent infestation. Discovering gnaw marks on things like wood trim, furniture, or rugs is another. One more sign that you have a rodent problem is having to deal with sudden electrical shorts because rodents love to chew through wires. The most common sign of a rodent infestation is finding their dark, rice-like droppings throughout your home like on the floor, in drawers, cabinets, and storage boxes. Rodents are dangerous and destructive pests. At the first signs of their presence, call for professional help.

How to avoid problems with rodents: Rodents are in the constant search of food. Eliminate easy access to food on your property by keeping tight-fitting lids on trash cans and compost bins, picking-up uneaten pet food each evening, keeping outdoor eating areas clean, and routinely harvesting fruits and vegetables from gardens. Inside your home, store dry goods in containers with airtight lids and store baked goods, fruits, and vegetables in the fridge. Regularly vacuum your floors and wipe down counters to eliminate stray crumbs. Get rid of hiding spots for rodents on your property by removing excess woodpiles, brush piles, and overgrown shrubbery. Keep rodents out of your home by caulking gaps around windows, doors, and in the foundation and exterior walls. Use steel wool to fill in spaces located around wire, pipes, and other utilities entering into your home.

Spiders

close up of a spider

Spiders live in large numbers all around us and therefore are a common pest that most homeowners have to deal with at one time or another. Spiders only become “‘pests” when they take over our yards or homes in large numbers. Spiders are predators and feed on other spiders and insects. There is more than likely an underlying pest problem that you need to address if you are dealing with a large number of spiders on your property. Properties with lots of flowering vegetation, gardens, tall grass, woodpiles, and leaf piles, and excess moisture are attractive to both spiders and the insects they love to hunt.

Spiders are arachnids. Adults are identified by having eight legs, many eyes, the ability to produce silk (though not all create webs), and two body segments. Except for Antarctica, spiders live worldwide. In our area of California, the most common species of spiders that homeowners have to deal with include: wolf spiders, black widow spiders, ground spiders, jumping spiders, and common house spiders. All are harmless except for the black widow spider. Black widow spiders have venom that is strong enough to cause health problems in people if a bite were to occur. While you should take great care around black widow spiders, no homeowner wants to live where they have to worry about coming eye-to-eye with any species of spider!

How to avoid problems with spiders: Keep a barrier around your home that spiders can’t infiltrate by sealing cracks in the foundation, sealing spaces around utilities, placing covers over vents and drains leading into your home, and fixing torn or loose screens. Vacuum your home, including areas under furniture on a routine basis. Get rid of water sources that attract spiders by maintaining gutters, fixing leaking pipes, and clearing clogged drains. Reduce humidity levels by using dehumidifiers in basement areas. Keep crawlspaces well-ventilated and free of debris. Maintain your lawn and gardens to make it less attractive to spiders and insects. Keep the grass cut short, cut shrubbery back from exterior walls, and remove piles of leaves, woodpiles, and other unnecessary vegetation from your yard.

Stinging Insects

yellow jacket on a leaf

Stinging insects are unique because they can be beneficial and unwanted at the same time. We want stinging insects around because they help to pollinate plants and crops, and predatory species help to control the populations of nuisance insects. But, we don’t want them nesting on our property in a place that puts us, our kids, or pets in danger. Two of the most problematic species of stinging insects that live in our area are the wasp and yellow jacket. Both species are aggressive, capable of delivering multiple stings, have venom strong enough to trigger severe allergic reactions, and like other stinging insects, are difficult to keep from nesting on your property.

The yellow jacket is, in fact, a type of wasp, but there are some subtle differences between yellow jackets and wasps that help us to tell them apart. The paper wasp is a very common species of wasp in our area. They grow to about one inch in length and are black or brown with reddish-orange or yellow markings. Their legs dangle below them when flying. Paper wasps build umbrella-shaped nests and place them up off of the ground. Yellow jackets are smaller in size, growing only to about one half of an inch in length. They are black with yellow markings and when in flight, tuck their legs into their body. Yellow jackets are most likely to build a nest on or in the ground. No matter what species of stinging insect has decided to place a nest on, in, or near your home, one thing is certain, the nest should be removed by a professional!

How to avoid problems with stinging insects: Trim back tree branches and shrubbery from your home’s roof and exterior walls. Remove things like woodpiles, brush piles, and dense vegetation from your property where stinging insects can nest. Do not plant flowering vegetation next to your home. Eliminate potential sources of water by repairing leaky pipes and hoses, getting rid of birth baths, and maintaining gutters. Avoid stings by inspecting fruit trees and garden plants for signs of stinging insect activity before picking fruits and vegetables. Wear shoes when walking around in grassy areas. Do not wear scented perfumes or lotions when spending time outside. Keeping stinging insects out of your home by making sure screens are in place and not torn. Seal up cracks in exterior walls and the foundation.

Reach out to Citra Pest Control today to learn how we can work together to get rid of your pest problem, with our exceptional pest control services!

 

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