Of Mice and Rodents

“Of Mice and Men” didn’t come to mind immediately upon reading the subject for this blog, it was when I said “Mice and Rodents” out loud that my brain was triggered.  Were you made to read “Of Mice and Men” when you were in junior high like me? If you don’t remember the book, here’s a clip from the 1992 movie. But don’t worry, this blog shouldn’t make you cry. 

Of Mice and Men was written by John Steinbeck, but the title was taken from a line in the poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns. The simplest interpretation of that line is, 

“The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry.”

Supposedly the poet wrote it immediately after plowing over a mouse nest in the field. That’s a pretty tender hearted reference, especially when blogging for a pest control company! Homeowners today are not interested in composing poems about the mice and rodents in their homes, they just want to get rid of them!

Did you know rodents are the largest group of mammals in the world? In Mississippi, we have 22 kinds of rodents including mice, rats, voles, and squirrels. While rodents have a bad reputation, they do have a few positive attributes. When they dig and burrow under your lawn they are helping to aerate the soil. Aerating the soil helps the lawn grow and absorb water. Rodents are also a food source to other animals. Not surprisingly, the negatives outweigh the positives when it comes to rodents.

The first of the bad news…

Rodents gnaw on electrical wires inside and outside of your home. They also like to chew on the wood and insulation in your walls and attics. Rats and mice can carry diseases and parasites that are harmful to humans and pets.

The worst of the bad news…

Mice and rodents like to reproduce, and they are really good at it. They have several litters a year! Mice are especially “active” and can start having babies at just a few months old. Even though they typically only live 8 months to a year long, one female can have 8 litters of babies. One mouse can have 50-60 babies in less than one year. You must be wondering by now how to keep mice and rodents out of your home.

This would be easier if you never let them in.

Mice and rodents need food and a nice house, just like in the Robert Burns poem. If someone mows down their mouse house in the field, they will be looking to move in with you. If you have gaps around your windows, doors, siding or brick, caulk those gaps. If you have plants or trees leaning on or against your home, trim those away or remove them. Branches, limbs and vines give mice and rodents an easy path to your home. 

We say this almost every week…

Keep pet food in air tight containers and don’t leave pet food sitting out at night. (This is a huge draw for roaches, too!) If you are providing access to the inside of your home AND leaving food out for pests, how can you blame them for moving in with you?

Don’t let your “best laid schemes go awry”

If the poem, book or even movie softened you to mice and rodents, this is worth repeating. One mouse can have 50-60 babies in less than one year.  Our licensed pest technicians know exactly what to do when dealing with mice and rodents. Contact us here and we will be in touch with you ASAP. We service the Memphis and North Mississippi areas with trained and trustworthy employees. 

Perhaps we can try to be nicer to humans and still keep the mice and rodents out of our homes. Maybe this will balance out the world as we know it.

“Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love……Try to understand each other.”

— John Steinbeck in his 1938 journal entry

Is my home infested by termites?

Let’s first look at the definition of the word “infestation”.

 in·fes·ta·tion

/ˌinfəˈstāSHən/

Learn to pronounce

noun

noun: infestation; plural noun: infestations

  1. the presence of an unusually large number of insects or animals in a place, typically so as to cause damage or disease. “infestation with head lice is widespread”

Why did they have to bring head lice into this?

An infestation of any kind of insect, animal, pest can’t ever be a good thing, right? Butterflies, maybe? There are multiple signs of a termite infestation, and the easiest one to spot by the average person would be flying termites. Also called, “swarmers”, these are termites that have left their nest and are flying around looking for a mate and to start a colony. Once a swarmer has found a mate, it loses its’ wings, and these are yet another sign of an infestation, discarded wings. You don’t have to be a pest specialist to see either of these signs.

What was that noise?

Another sign of termites (and this is a bit creepy) is the sounds they make. If your home or space is infested with termites, if you get really quiet and put your ear up to the wall, you might be able to hear them chewing. Crazy, right? Those loud chompers are the worker termites, chewing away on the wood inside your home. But they aren’t the only ones making noise, listen for the soldier termites. They bang their heads against the wall to warn others of danger to the colony. Here’s a link for you to listen to the sound of termites. Who knew termites loved rock and roll?

Mud tubes, that’s a nice way of putting it.

Mud tubes are easy to spot, they provide moisture for termites and are also made of termite droppings and soil. Termites like to move around inside the walls of your space, but when the space is harder to navigate (not wood, for example) a mud tube gives them a quick and easy tunnel or tube to move from space to space. This video ,titled “Termites turning your house into a poop palace” is just a charming as it sounds. But it does help to encourage the viewer to look for these signs of infestation! Who wants to live in a “poop palace” ? 

This. Door. Won’t. Shut.

Yet another sign of termites is when doors and windows become difficult to close. This is because when termites are eating their way through the wood in your home, windows and doors, it causes excess moisture to build up. Excess moisture causes doors and windows to warp and that makes them hard to close. Who would have ever thought a “wonky” door could be a sign of termite infestation? In addition to difficult doors, paper thin doors, walls and baseboards are a sign that termites have been feasting. Try knocking on walls to see if they sound or feel papery or hollow. 

Termites are active, devastating and costly.

Termites are active all year long and cost homeowners in the US an estimated $50 BILLION in repair every ten years. Termite damage is rarely covered by homeowners insurance because it is considered to be preventable. Here’s where you come in. You need to prevent termite damage. Don’t wait for paper thin walls, jammed up windows and doors, please don’t live in a “poop palace”. Get help from the professionals at Lawn and Pest Solutions. We are licensed to treat with the Sentricon System which gets ahead of the attack and protects your home. Contact us today to ask about our ultimate pest protection program. We can assess your situation for free. We treat homes and businesses from Memphis to all over North Missississipp including New Albany, Oxford and Tupelo. 

Ladybugs, Lady Beetles and Ladybirds

Who knew that Rodney Dangerfield would appear in a blog about “ladybugs”? Well, to be honest, I am not shocked. It seems that you can Google just about any topic imaginable and find some pop culture reference. Any fun little tidbit when blogging about lawn pests and problems is always a good thing for me! Before you go downloading the movie, let’s just explore a little about “Ladybugs”. It might save you time and money…

If you just can’t help yourself

The link to the “Ladybugs” trailer can be found here. One critic from Rotten Tomatoes had these words to say about the 1992 release, “Ladybugs is the “Bad News Bears” cloned for girls soccer with sometimes funny Dangerfield bits. Though Tommy Lasorda had a cameo, it is hard to find much good to say about this movie. The best part of Googling “Ladybugs” was the Rodney Dangerfield rabbit hole it lead me down. As cheesy as the comedian was, it’s hard not to chuckle at some of his terrible jokes. 

Why are they called Ladybugs?

Ladybugs were first known as Ladybirds in the United Kingdom and had religious connotations. The red shell was connected to the red cloak of Mary and the spots were symbolic of the seven joys and seven sorrows of Mary. In the US, ladybirds became “ladybugs”. Ladybugs are generally considered to be helpful insects. While there are many species of ladybugs or ladybeetles, most of them are useful because they prey on aphids. 

Remind me again, what is an aphid?

Aphids are true pests. They suck the life right out of our plants, trees, crops. Most recently on this blog, we learned about Crape Myrtle Bark Scale, an aphid that covers the beautiful Crape Myrtles. When ladybugs or lady beetles are found on a crape myrtle, they typically have laid hundreds of eggs right in middle of the aphids. As soon as the eggs hatch they start feasting on the aphids. Ladybugs can rescue a crape myrtle and even a crop from aphids when the timing is right!

Nature is amazing when caught on camera.

Have you ever witnessed the life cycle of a ladybug? This video is incredible. As always, one thing leads to another so you may as well watch this video of a ladybug folding up their wings. It is really mind-blowing to see how insects are made to protect themselves from predators. And speaking of protecting themselves…

Ladybugs can’t be all good, can they?

You knew this part was coming. If they were all good they wouldn’t have made it to the Lawn and Pest Solutions blog. As cute as ladybugs are depicted in art, children’s books and even bad comedies from the 90’s, they do have a few unappealing characteristics. In order to protect themselves from predators, ladybugs secrete a fluid from the joints in their legs. Some even reference it as “bleeding” from their joints. Whatever you want to call it, it tastes really bad to a predator. Yes, it also smells really bad. When the ladybugs die and their shells crumble, some people are allergic to the dust. Lastly, when an infestation of ladybugs occurs, some experience staining on walls from the secreted fluid. 

They aren’t so cute now, huh?

Ladybugs aren’t the worst invasion of pests you can experience. They are rarely harmful to humans (unless you are allergic to the dust of their dead bodies) and if they bite you, it’s a tiny bite that couldn’t hurt much. They might stain your walls and leave a foul smell in the air, and that’s something you might not ever suspect until now! 

What can you do about ladybugs?

The most important thing you, as a homeowner can do is to keep ladybugs out of your home before they ever sneak in. Make sure your window and door screens are not damaged. Make sure pests can’t crawl under your doors or through cracks in the walls. This is the time that ladybugs are starting to look inside for a warm place for the winter. If you do find them inside, it’s best to vacuum them up and safely throw them away. There are sprays available for the exterior of your home to try and keep them from entering. Lawn and Pest can help you with these treatments, but sealing your home from the outside is crucial to keeping more than just ladybugs out. As we always say, this is a team effort! 

Contact Lawn and Pest Solutions for help in keeping your home free of pests for the winter. Now is the time to check out what is happening outside your home. Our website has a user friendly app to leave your messages with our office. Leave us a message and let us show you the “Lawn and Pest Solutions Difference.” 

Moles, Grubs and Armadillos

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly?

While calling moles “good” might be quite a stretch, there are some who say they do have their good qualities. No research on this end found grubs to be anything but “bad”, and just take one look at an armadillo and you will have to agree that it’s definitely the “ugly” of the three. This is another of those blogs that after doing a few hours of research, the writer feels the need for a shower. Moles, grubs and armadillos are some of the least attractive pests to study and today, we are talking about all three! 

One of these is not like the other

The grub is what hatches when a beetle lays an egg in your lawn. It is white, soft and has legs up near the head. Grubs eat on the roots of your lovely lawn causing patches to turn brown and die. Untreated, they will grow up and become beetles and lay more eggs in your lawn. You know what happens after that…more grubs to eat your roots. The best time to treat for grubs is mid to late summer and early fall. 

So what connects grubs to moles and armadillos?

Moles and armadillos like to eat grubs. If there are grubs in your lawn, moles and/or armadillos will dig into your lawn and feast on grubs. The easiest way to first attack a mole or armadillo problem is to rid your lawn of grubs. While this may not work all of the time, it is the first and easiest way to start. While most people can tell if they have been invaded by a mole or an armadillo, grubs might sneak up on you. Look for spongy grass, perhaps a brown patch. Pull up a piece of the turf, if it comes up easily with no roots attached (like a piece of carpet), grubs have been feeding there.

Is it a mole or an armadillo?

Let’s talk about moles. First, as any Chevy Chase fan would do, I had to read the difference in a mole and a gopher. “Caddyshack” featured a gopher, not a mole, so no best of Bill Murray clips today. At the introduction of this blog, the mole was the “good” of the good, bad and ugly. To be honest, there’s not a lot of good to be found here, especially if you are a homeowner with a mole problem. The only good is that they eat grubs and grubs aren’t good for lawns. Yes, it was a stretch. Moles can be fairly destructive, they live underground and create tunnels in your yard. Moles are small and have paddle like feet that help them dig under your lawn. Usually they leave a small mound of soil as their “entrance” to the underground and this is how you might discover your mole issue. Of course, the tunneling under your lawn is not good for the roots of your turf.

The pest so legendary they made a movie about it.

Again, a stretch. But who doesn’t remember the wedding cake scene from the southern classic, “Steel Magnolias” ? Please pardon one word at the end of this clip, but the armadillo shaped cake with the red velvet cake inside most likely gave (formerly silenced) grooms a voice in the wedding planning process.  We will never know how many horrified brides had to consent to an armadillo grooms cake after this movie came out. So what makes us so fascinated with armadillos?

Leprosy or quadruplets, where should we start?

Whether naming your new craft beer brewery, looking for the perfect new recipe for a cookout, or just researching one of the strangest and yes, ugliest animals ever, you can’t go wrong with going down the armadillo “rabbit hole”. This young girl gave a very intriguing (slightly annoying) presentation on armadillos with lots of cool info. Who knew that handling armadillos frequently or even eating them could result in leprosy? (Rare, it’s rare!) Heck, even prolific songwriter/singer Robert Earl Keen, Jr. wrote a song about armadillo hunters. The fact that the only armadillos in the US are the 9 banded variety and that they always give birth to identical quadruplets is really just enough for us to make a reality show about them. 

Now back to armadillos in your southern yard…

  • They thrive in warm, moist climates
  • They prefer loose and porous soil
  • They live underground, specifically under your lawn
  • They are nocturnal and forage for food at night
  • Those quadruplets? They become independent at around 6 months, so they multiply quickly 
  • They will destroy your lawn looking for grubs, earthworms, food. 

The good, bad and ugly…moles, grubs and armadillos. 

There are a lot of links in this blog that you should definitely click. Funny, gross and a bit frightening. One thing is certain, if you are suspicious that you may have moles or armadillos, you need to act now. Remember you can start just by lifting up a piece of turf to look for grubs. If you are ready to get help, our licensed lawn technicians can come evaluate your situation. We answer your calls promptly. In fact, our website has an instant chat that can get you the quickest service possible. Look for it in the bottom right corner, just type in your email address and your cell number and you will get an instant reply. Lawn and Pest Solutions of New Albany, MS is not afraid of the good, the bad or the ugly. Let us help you in the battle against whatever that may be digging a tunnel under your yard! 

Can I bug proof my home?

Sure you can bug proof your home! Just like you can “child proof” your home, there are plenty of precautions you can take to keep bugs away. While calling the Lawn and Pest Solutions technician to treat your home for pests is a great idea, we have to remember that this is a team effort. The best professional treatment in the world is not going to work if we aren’t “all in this together”. 

Were you raised in a barn?

Shut the door, ALL THE WAY. Close the windows, ALL THE WAY. If there are tiny holes in the window screens, repair those. Look for small spaces and cracks where bugs, birds, critters could crawl into your home. One of the easiest access points is the space behind your washing machine and refrigerator where water lines come in.

Water vs. Food

Water wins every time for pests. They love water. Food is next, but water is where you need to look first. Any leaky faucets or sources of water are popular gathering spots for bugs. Look under your sink, look again behind that washing machine and refrigerator, anywhere water is running from outside to inside, bugs love to hang out.

It’s house cleaning day, every day!

Things you can do around the house to keep your house bug free include:

  • Vacuuming away cobwebs
  • Sweeping up pet food and putting it in sealed containers
  • Putting away food and keeping sink and counters clean and free of edible evidence (at least rinse your dishes off if you don’t have time to wash them)

This may cause you to sweat a little.

Look outside. That big pile of firewood stacked against the house….you need to move it. Just lift up one piece from the ground and look under it. Tons of bugs. They are gathering there to hang out and figure out how to get in your house. Try to put a few feet (at least) between the side of your home and the stack of firewood. If you can get that firewood off the ground, that would be even better. 

And while you are outside…

Clean up your yard. Every pile of sticks, limbs, grass cuttings and debris is another place for bugs to gather. Even though this is about bugs, remember anything that is growing against or leaning against your home on the outside is like a welcome mat for outside “pests” to get onto or into your home. A tree branch that has landed on your roof is just an easy corridor for all kinds of bugs, pests and critters to walk on over into your home. When you think about it like this, it’s pretty easy to see from a “bugs point of view”. 

You stuck your fork where? 

We can all use all the help we can get whether child proofing or bug proofing. As with child proofing your home, you can cover outlets and put cushions on corners all day long, but the child is still going to fall and put things in places they don’t belong. Yes, you can bug proof your home, but it takes work from all of us. You do your part, we will do ours. Call Lawn and Pest Solutions in New Albany, MS and we will work together with you to make your home “bug free”. Our licensed pest technicians will show up promptly and treat your house the same they would their own. Let a trusted and trained Lawn and Pest employee take care of you! We can be found anywhere from Memphis and Oxford to Tupelo and New Albany and anywhere in between in North Mississippi. 

Bed bugs are back!

In 1978 The Rolling Stones sang these lyrics in their classic, “Shattered” 

“To live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough!

You got rats on the West Side

Bed bugs Uptown

What a mess this town’s in tatters, I’ve been shattered”

42 years later, and guess who’s still kicking? 

The Rolling Stones AND bed bugs. Sorry friends, but they are back, with a vengeance, and not just in Manhattan. (This blog should have come with a disclaimer…”this post may make you itchy”. )

Some of us may not remember the old days of bed bugs, back when people traveled with their own pesticides in their luggage. When you sprayed your motel mattress down because it was assumed bed bugs were present. This new generation of bed bugs is stronger, more resilient than ever and it takes more than a good travel sized spray down to attack. 

How do bed bugs get into my clean home? 

Bed bugs have nothing to do with cleanliness. They are called “hitchhikers” and will ride home on the bottoms of your shoes, your luggage, purses and backpacks. They usually hide out on soft or upholstered surfaces like beds, sofas, carpets.  They can even travel from room to room in apartment buildings, five star hotels and dormitories. All bed bugs are looking for is a good meal and a place to hide, they don’t need trash or filth, just your blood.

Speaking of blood.

Bed bugs like a good “blood meal”. Yes, that is a term that is hard to erase from memory. Some can go for almost two years without a “blood meal”. After engorging themselves on your blood (while you sleep), they scurry away to hide in the seams of a mattress, under the baseboards, sometimes behind the paintings on the walls. If there is an infestation, they can be found in the folds of curtains, and seams of sofas and chairs. 

Are you afraid to even look for them?

This is totally understandable. Even the signs of bed bugs make you need a shower. Look for these signs of bed bugs:

Tiny blood stains that look like rust on your sheets or pillowcases.

Dark/rusty spots of bedbug excrement on bedding, mattresses and walls. 

Fecal spots, eggs shells or shed skins in hiding places.

A musty odor. 

Is anyone else feeling dirty and itchy yet?

Could this blog get any yuckier?

Imagine researching bed bugs for a living. Then having to go to a hotel and actually get some sleep! But just in case you need more, here’s a video that shows bed bugs in action. Now that you have been fully exposed to everything you could ever want to know about bed bugs, you must be asking….

What can I do to get rid of bed bugs? Or better yet, why did they come back?

The world thought it had taken care of bed bugs forever. Two things happened. First, the bed bugs became stronger and more resistant to the poison. Second, the pesticide used to kill them was banned. This can be likened to how doctors tell us to not overuse antibiotics because we will become resistant to them. Not that we want to have anything in common with bed bugs.

Here’s where we come in.

When you suspect you have bed bugs (you may notice tiny bites on your body) it’s a really good idea to call professionals ASAP. There are plenty of DIY applications you can attempt, but how comfortable do you feel with baking soda getting rid of a pest that eats a “blood meal” and hides in your bed? Exactly.

 If you call us at Lawn and Pest Solutions, we will come inspect your home and if needed, treat it very thoroughly. Then we will come back in 7-14 days and treat it again (because those eggs will have hatched by then). You will have some work to do as well. Our technicians will leave you with a checklist of things to do, like washing and drying all linens with high heat. Getting rid of bed bugs is not fun, it’s not easy, but it can be done. For most, the worst part about bed bugs is just knowing they are there. Count me in that number. 

Our pest technicians are making their way all over the Memphis area, North Mississippi, Oxford, Tupelo and of course, New Albany. Let us help you fight the war against pests, as we say, “you shouldn’t have to live with them!” Contact us here for a quote.

Can cockroaches survive a nuclear attack?

Why did I google this anyway?

The topic of this blog was meant to be “Can cockroaches survive a nuclear attack?”. It didn’t take long to find out the answer to that is no, according to this article and many others. You could probably guess that this topic has been studied by everyone from scientists to extreme game show participants and many in between. 

Well that was easy.

After discovering so quickly that roaches would not survive a nuclear blast, I felt the need to press on. Have you ever seen something so gross and disgusting that you felt like you needed to take a bath just from seeing it? That’s how I felt after researching cockroaches this week. There were just so many grossly compelling questions following the old nuclear attack one, I had to google on.

Google regret.

What is one thing you have ever googled and then regretted? For me, it was what happens if you step on a cockroach. For the record, baby roaches don’t go running, and that’s a relief. But unfortunately, I continued reading. When you step on or “squish” a cockroach, it’s eggs are not released. That’s because it’s eggs are stored in a hard shell, all around your house! Did I mention they multiply quickly?

Oh, it gets worse.

More google regret came when I clicked on “what happens if you put a cockroach in the microwave?”. First of all, I think we should ask why anyone would put a roach in a microwave. I digress. Cockroaches are cold blooded and can live without food for a week. They also have very little body water, so they can survive a long amount of time in a microwave oven. That’s also why they can only survive one week without water. You can read more about this here if you need further motivation to take a shower.

It’s not over.

“How to prevent cockroaches” has suddenly moved up in my search.  A few things you can do at home include getting rid of dirty dishes in the sink, garbage, pet food on the floor and leftover food sitting out. Of course, after reading way too many articles about cockroaches this week,  even I know that the cleanest house on Earth is still susceptible to roaches. You can clean, remove excess moisture from your home, seal up cracks. Haul off your newspapers and cardboard, mop frequently, declutter, wash dishes…are you tired yet? This is going to take teamwork. 

The Lawn and Pest Solutions Team

Cockroaches are one of the oldest living insects on the planet, so it’s going to take a team to rid your home now and forever. Our licensed pest professionals can come and launch a personal attack on the roaches who are hiding under your baseboards, fridge, stove, dishwasher. While we need you to do your part of the fight against roaches, our people have the right tools and insecticides that are targeted to the specific type of roaches for your area. Call us here , get a quote, and let our guys get right out to your home and begin the war on pests.

Somebody’s watching me

It was probably a spider watching Rockwell, don’t you think?

Do you think you have a spider problem? What makes a spider a spider? Here are some numbers to help you know what it is that may be watching you.

A spider has: 8 legs, 2 body regions, 0 wings, 0 antennae, 3 OR 4 pair of eyes. Yes, that’s 6-8 eyes staring at you from that dark little corner in your closet.

How do spiders get in your house?

Oh, just about any old way you can imagine. He boldly marches in your home looking for food, warmth, a drink. He loves living in that fancy pair of shoes you only wear once a year. He sleeps in your winter coat pockets, relaxes in the box of old baby clothes in the basement, and terrorizes the other bugs in your pantry. He may have entered while traveling on a plant you brought in for the winter. Perhaps he was lounging on that firewood you hauled in. He’s living with you, he’s not paying rent and this is a problem.

How do you get spiders out of your house?

One way to get rid of this new resident is by allowing his mate to handle this matter and let “nature run her course.”  Since spiders feed on insects including other spiders, many times the female spider will make a snack of her mate. That may be an option, but logistically it will only help with 50% of your problem. Thankfully, there are more effective solutions. 

Here are few things YOU can do to make your home less inviting to spiders:

-Spiders don’t like to be disturbed. Before bringing seasonal decor inside, shake out items like Easter baskets, spring decor, swimsuits, beach toys. These dark and quiet spaces have made a lovely home for your spider friends.

-Inspect anything that has been sitting on the ground outside before you bring it in. Mail, deliveries and bags of groceries sitting in the driveway for a moment are all easy modes of transportation to a spider looking to enter your home.

-Seal up cracks and crevices, damaged window screens, cracks in your siding, look around seasonally for points of entry. 

If you feel like maybe the spiders have already claimed their turf in your own home, it is probably time to call one of our trained, certified technicians. While spiders are definitely not the worst “pests” to invade your home, you don’t have to live with them. 

We can help.

Walking through cobwebs, wondering “is this a spider bite?” or arguing over who gets to step on the next one could be a thing of the past in your home. To get a situation like an infestation of spiders under control, Lawn and Pest Solutions of New Albany, MS can come in and use applications tailored specifically to spiders, just contact us!