The Bane of Books Everywhere!

silverfishSilverfish love starch and have enzymes in their gut that digest cellulose. They damage books, wall paper, and the paper backing on sheetrock and / or insulation. They can infest dry starchy foods, and they feed on fungi. They are known to eat other dead insets, and they thrive outside in dried vegetation. While they will feed nightly, they can go for months without eating.

Silverfish move into homes from the exterior. I have seen heavy infestations most often in homes with certain kinds of paper backed insulation – where thousands of silverfish were nesting inside attic and wall voids, in homes with older style real paper and paste wallpaper, and in homes where people collect books.

Silverfish are shiny, silver or pearl gray, and about 1/2 inch long when fully grown (see photo).

It can take 1 and half years for silverfish to complete their life cycle, well beyond the residual life of current pesticides, if you have silverfish, especially if you have lots of them, you will probably need an ongoing pest control service.

Silverfish damage paper by scraping it off in incremental swipes, and they can carry types of fungi that discolor paper

Silverfish are active when you aren’t. To tell if you have silverfish you can use sticky spider traps from your local home center, or we can put some out for you.  You also can use small, glass jars – covered on the outside with masking tape. Silverfish will climb up the tape, fall into the jars, and can’t climb back up the slick sides. Place traps or jars in corners and along your baseboards where you suspect they might be, or in areas where you have things to protect.

Keeping books and magazine collections tidy can make it easier to spot silverfish.

We dust under baseboards and cabinetry, dust inject walls at plumping and electrical outlets, and dust attic and sub areas with food grade, fresh water diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth should never be applied in areas where it will become airborne, through the action of fans or vacuums. Which is why we do not sprinkle it on carpets. In some home with heavy infestation we may take additional measures such as sealing gaps into possible nesting areas, or spraying baseboards. All homes with silverfish should consider an exterior spray program to keep them from moving back in.

You can make your home less attractive by removing exterior plant debris, but there is nothing you can do to prevent them fully if they occur outside in your area.

Interestingly, silverfish can and do live in ant nests

 

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Earwigs. Ick!

earwigsEarwigs are another example of a non native pest species introduced to the United States.

Earwigs feed on other insects, including aphids, which is good, but they also feed on plants, especially young plants or new growth – which is bad.

Organic Option #1. Change their environment:

You might be able to cut down on the earwigs you see by: clearing away plant debris from the base of your home, clearing away stacked items such as firewood or lumber, and removing any rubbish piles. This would give the insects fewer places to breed or hide.

Removing and replacing old and decomposing mulch around your house can help reduce these pests, as well as several others, and should be considered.

Organic Option #2. Trap them out:

A key element of an organic earwig management program is trapping. Place numerous traps throughout the yard, hiding the traps near shrubbery and ground cover plantings or against fences. A low-sided can, such as a cat food or tuna fish can, with 1/2 inch of oil in the bottom makes an excellent trap. Fish oil such as tuna fish oil is very attractive to earwigs, or vegetable oil with a drop of bacon grease can be used. These traps are most effective if sunk into the ground so the top of the can is at soil level. Dump captured earwigs and refill cans with oil.

Other common types of traps are a rolled-up newspaper, corrugated cardboard, bamboo tubes, or a short piece of hose. Place these traps on the soil near plants just before dark and shake accumulated earwigs out into a pail of soapy water in the morning. Earwigs can also be dropped into a sturdy plastic bag and crushed. Continue these procedures every day until you are no longer catching earwigs.

Pest Control Option #1. 

You can try garden center chemicals containing spinosad (e.g., SluggoPlus baits or spinosad sprays). They can be effective, environmentally sound products. However, baits often aren’t very effective where there are other attractive food sources. Only apply liquids containing spinosad during those times when bees aren’t active – these materials work best when you have already changed the environment around your home and trapped out large populations.

Pest Control Option #2.

Have Safeguard treat your flower beds with Essentria IC3 – a mixture of organic essential oils that kills a wide variety of insect pests and meets the tough criteria for Organic gardening and food production.

Pest Control Option #3.

If these options do not work for you and you would like to opt for stronger control options, we would be happy apply a material that works for you and meets your needs for safety and effectiveness.

 

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Green Pest Control

Safeguard Pest Control Offers a variety of green, pesticide free, natural, and organic pest control services and programs.

Most homes have pests for years before they are noticed.

Most homes have pests for years before they are noticed.

Our cornerstone green service is pest prevention. We perform inspections of both homes and businesses with an eye to preventing pests both insects and rodents, write up reports indicating what you can do, or have us do, to make your home, office, or other business less attractive and more difficult to infest.

 

In addition, we offer the following:

 

A green quarterly pest inspection / control service.

This service includes an exterior inspection for pest activity and pest prevention recommendations, manual removal of visible wasp nests on eaves, and removal of cobwebs and spider nests present at the time of our inspection. Additionally it can include insect traps and monitors, spray applications for specific target pests, or rodent control work. Approved materials for our green program include: Fresh water, food grade diatomaceous earth, rodenticides containing Vitamin D3 as the active ingredient, and essential plant oils that are certified for use in USDA Organic certified processing and handling establishments.

We can transition any current pest control program into a green pest control program.

 

Screen, flashing, and concrete - green pest control includes exclusion.

Screen, flashing, and concrete – green pest control includes exclusion.

Pest Exclusion.

We do a great deal of work sealing up homes to prevent rodent, bird, bat, and insect access including screening, flashing, concrete and mortar applications, and caulking. We have applied copper strips to keep slugs out of basements.

 

Green solutions for specific pests.

Labor intensive - but still effective :)

Labor intensive – but still effective :)

Depending on the pest in question, we are more than happy to pursue green options and often list the green options here on our blog. Contact us about any pest for discussion of your pest and and your concerns.

 

Things to keep in mind:

With green programs you have to be committed to pest prevention. This may mean modifying your home or landscaping. You have to be willing to be patient while less toxic control materials work more slowly and often, only with repeat applications – especially for active infestations. It also means paying a bit more. Green programs often cost a bit more because organic materials are more expensive, pest prevention techniques are labor intensive, and those extra applications, when necessary, mean more trips to your home. Some customers on green programs have bi-monthly or even monthly services spring, summer, and fall, depending on their level of pest activity.

 

In addition, visit our green pest control page: http://safeguardpestcontrol.biz/GoingGreen.html

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Ground Nesting Bees

Sweat Bee

Sweat Bee

Historically, most people calling us about ground nesting bees actually had Yellow Jackets, but in the past several years, as our springs and summers have gotten warmer, we are getting more and more calls for sweat bees, digger bees, and cellophane bees – all ground nesting bees.

When Yellow Jackets nest in the ground you will see lots of insects flying in and out of the same hole, and the hole is large – about the size of a silver dollar.

Lots of holes that look like ant hills.

Lots of holes that look like ant hills.

A ground nesting bee’s nest looks a lot like an anthill but with a larger opening. Only one bee comes in and out of the hole, and there will often be many of these nests in one area.

These bees are important pollinators, if you don’t step on them with bare feet – they won’t sting you. They are not aggressive. We highly recommend leaving them alone or better yet, planting bee friendly plants with lots of pollen and encouraging them.

If you must get rid of them, the long term answer is to change the soil. They typically nest in bare soil in dry rocky areas that get lots of sun. You can: Add mulch to these areas, water these areas on a regular basis, plant ground cover to shade the soil, or add pea gravel, and this will make your yard or flower beds less attractive. (Tilling the soil, removing the rocks, and adding in compost and other soil amendments works too – just make sure to do that in late fall after their nesting season or in the late winter before their nesting season.)

Interestingly enough, I have sprayed a few large housing complexes with heavy infestations of these bees several times a year over 3 years or more, with THE pesticide that has been linked with honey bee mortality, and they are HIGHLY resistant to control. The nesting chambers are well below ground, and multiple treatments are often necessary, every year. Professional pest control materials can help with this pest but non-pesticide measures are your best long term answer.

As always, Safeguard is happy to help you with all your pest control needs, and our page http://safeguardpestcontrol.biz/BeeWasp-central.html has info and links to Yellow Jacket Control, Wasp Control, and Bee Control.

 

 

 

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Grilling Season Is Here

original30+ years of killing bugs. Maybe I have been looking at this the wrong way all along.

A customer sent me links to the following enticing and enlightening reads:

A United Nations report on Food Security:  http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e.pdf Insects are apparently safer than fish, healthier than beef, packed with nutrients, and have, yes tiny little carbon footprints. Also, once you get past the squirm factor, some are quite delicious.

And

A web article about the culinary aspects of insects: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2013/09/why-how-and-where-you-should-start-eating-bugs/

Maybe I should stop wasting all these fresh food supplies and start making snacks. It’s a growing trend, and not just in strange far away countries, insects are becoming a part of the menu here in the US.

Don’t think ‘tiny creepy crawly and icky’, think ‘mini land lobsters in butter sauce’. If you eat lobster, shrimp, or crab, eating their cousins should be right up your alley.

Instead of getting rid of pests, we could explore ways to attract them, and fatten them up. Bee friendly, environmentally sound, totally organic! I could equip the trucks with portables grills and a nice selection of sauces. Who’s hungry?

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Safeguard Pest Control: 22 years in the making.

Safeguard has been in business for over 22 years. In that time we have had the pleasure of working with some truly outstanding people: some truly awesome customers and some hard working and dedicated employees.

Our number one goal is to provide a level of service that builds lasting relationships with happy, satisfied, repeat customers. We want our customers to feel so strongly about the quality and value of our work that they not only rely on us for all the pest control needs but want to give us out as referrals to friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

We refer to this in our office meetings as being referral worthy, it’s our goal at every service, with every customer.

Our number two goal is to provide quality jobs that pay a family wage income allowing us to attract and keep quality employees.

We have the highest customer satisfaction rating in the industry. We have the lowest employee turnover rate in the industry.

We are heading into our busy season now. One of our guys, Don, is battling double pneumonia. Gary (me) is busy running two routes, training a new employee, and is working 70 to 80 hours per week. Tim and Andrew are hard at work, pulling up the slack. Please be patient, if for any reason your calls or service requests aren’t returned promptly, send us a quick email: service@safeguardpestcontrol.biz

Over the next few weeks, I will be making some posts highlighting our employees. It will give a chance for our customers to learn more about us, and it will be a welcome break from bug pictures.

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Mole Control – Pesky Varmints.

Mole

Mole

Scissor type mole traps and spearing type mole traps are illegal ‘body gripping traps’ and they are widely available for purchase everywhere.

Wait, what?

They’re not illegal to buy or sell, just to use, and while the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife doesn’t have the budget to go out and inspect homeowners, or even the average pest control company, they will follow up on complaints, so if you own a pest control company and some other company files a complaint, if your customer’s wildlife loving next door neighbor complains, or if your customer just really don’t want to pay for your mole trapping…

You can get your pest control company in big trouble by reporting them, which is why we don’t trap moles. Several local companies have gotten into big trouble trapping moles.

So, what’s a homeowner to do?

Complain to your local lawmaker…

Check out this resource which explains why vibrating poles, chewing gum, bait, and human hair doesn’t work…

Buy traps and use them yourself, and hope your neighbors don’t turn you in…

Limit the amount of grass on your property and ignore the mole tunnels in the flower beds…

Dig a mole barrier trench around your grass areas and install ¼ inch mesh screen, aka hardware cloth, 2 feet deep with a one foot outward bend at the bottom…

Make your own castor oil spray solution, which has shown some success in repelling moles…

Have Safeguard apply mole control granules which contain castor oil. The granules last about two months or so!!!

We perform a regular quarterly pest control program for hundreds of happy customers throughout King and Snohomish counties. Most of these programs are for spiders, ants, wasps, and rodents, but many of these customers also have us apply mole control granules at our regular services.

While it’s not guaranteed to work, it works often enough to make most customers with mole concerns happy – which makes us happy.

http://pestfree.net/MiscPest-central.html

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Tax Supported Resources You Should Know About.

A few words about the WSU Extensions centers.

The Extensions operate in several counties and they offer a wide variety of programs from 4-H Youth Development programs, to gardening education and training programs, to their pest identification service by an onsite degreed biologist / entomologist. Check them out, they are an awesome resource.

There is where I get the training manuals for the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Licensing Exams. All pesticide applicators must be licensed by the state. There are lots of exam categories from general pests, to aquatic pests, to agricultural pests, and pests of trees and ornamentals – to name just a few.

It is also where I take pests to get identified. I deal with a couple dozen pest species on a regular basis. There are hundreds of different kinds of insects in our state, insects that are pests of food crops, insects that attack trees, insects that destroy grass, flowering plants, or seeds. Way too much for me to keep up with.

If you have a particular pest you would like identified – you can take it to an extension center too!

In Snohomish County, the Extension Center is located at: 600 128th Street SE, Everett, WA 98208, (425) 338-2400   Contact info

In King County, the Extension Center is located at: 1000 Oaksdale Ave SW., Suite 140, Renton, WA 98057, (206) 205-3100  Contact info

If you are taking in a pest for identification, or considering mailing one in, please contact them first to make sure you prepare and mail it properly.

Additionally, the WSU has a wealth of online information: http://ext.wsu.edu/ look under agriculture of gardening for pest info, or check out the many other program and services for something that interests or benefits you.

The information on these sites is helpful and informative, but will not replace the many years of practical experience and know how of a Master Gardener or Exterminator.

Over the years I had several opportunities to work in the field with Dr. Laurel Hansen, the PhD Entomologist who wrote the book on Northwest Carpenter ants.

There are universities which operate agricultural extensions in many states. The pests in those states are often different species than the ones that occur in our state. They may have different physical characteristics, and different habits. It may take different control materials or techniques to control them.

 

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Carpenter ants. Big black ants? Right?

c-ants-vicinis3aNot always. One of the most common Carpenter ant species in our area is a medium sized ant with a black head and gaster (end section), but a red middle section. The red in the ‘red middle section’ can be really dark, a brick red, and sometimes so dark you can only tell its red by dropping the ant is some rubbing alcohol and holding it up to the light.

Color and size are not the best way to tell if you have carpenter ants. Shape is.

c-ants-vicinis2aThe middle section of an ant is called the thorax. In carpenter ants, the top of the thorax (the thoracic dorsum) is a fairly smooth convex. Other ants have other shapes.

Between the thorax and the last section is a small feature called a ‘node’.  Some ants have multiple nodes, some have none. Carpenter ants have a single node.

The combination of the smooth thoracic dorsum and the single node, is the characteristic professionals and biologists use to identify carpenter ants.

Another, easier way to tell if you have carpenter ants, is when you have ants of different sizes but the same shape, because most ants only come in one size ( monomorphic ). Chances are, if you have more than one size of the same ant – you have carpenter ants. Ants that come is many sizes are referred to as polymorphic.

All ants are adults and do not grow, although the end section, the gaster expands as they feed. Tiny ants do not grow up into big ants. The growth stage of ants is the larval stage, once they hatch out as a six legged, three sectioned ant – it gets no bigger.

More info on Carpenter ants.

If you have ants of any size, shape, or color – call Safeguard, we would be happy to identify your ants. For free.

 

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5 Reasons The World Will End Tomorrow Unless You Read This Post

Warning: Not reading this post may lead to headaches, blindness, diminished reason, hypertension, lack of appetite, mood swings, and open wounds. Wait, that’s playing against the Seahawks.

Yes, yes, I lied, but you clicked. As long as you are here, I present the following:

Recently, an article appeared in my newsfeed which caught my attention. It was about the use of vinegar, dish soap, and Epsom Salt to control weeds.

Like much of the pseudoscience making its way around the internet today, there are problems with this story.

Most people do not have a real grasp on toxicity. It should be understood that everything can be toxic, every component in the air we breathe and desperately need, to the naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients in our food, to clean pure water. We are all made of chemicals and all chemicals, in the wrong amount, or in the wrong way, can be toxic. Natural or synthetic.

One of the best written resources on toxicology: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

Vinegar will kill it weeds, it is very mildly toxic to mammals, and carries very little risk. However, symptoms of over exposure may include: irritation, itching, gastrointestinal upset, possible mutagenic and reproductive effects, dermatitis, weight loss, liver impairment, convulsions, breathing difficulties. This is not to say it doesn’t make a great salad dressing or marinade – just that too much of anything is not good.

Dish soap is as acutely toxic to swallow as your average pesticide. Although your average pesticide is likely to cause other deleterious problems short of the toxic threshold. Which is why you shouldn’t drink dish soap, and you should rinse your dishes completely, and no, trace amounts of it are not likely to cause you health problems. Very little of it soaks into your skin when you use it.

Epsom Salt is another matter.

There have been reported deaths from the use of Epsom Salt. Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate, a trace element your body needs, in very small quantities. So while it is beneficial, it is more acutely toxic than any pesticide I use. Most deaths have occurred from people taking too much of the material as a laxative or putting too much of the material into a solution used as an enema. Although, if you have kidney or liver problems – you shouldn’t use Epsom Salt at all without running it past your doctor first.

While the solution proposed above is less toxic than Round-Up, I would be very careful to use and handle it as you would any other pesticide. Use and store it in a way that keeps pets and children safe. Also, understand that if it drips, or drifts onto other plants – they will die. Something to think about if you intend to spray all the weeds around your prize roses.

 

 

 

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