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Recently, Cowleys received a call from one of our residential Home Protection Plan (HPP) customers in Matawan, NJ. HPP customers can call Cowleys anytime for any covered pest under their plan at no additional cost. It’s a great way for homeowners to budget for pest control services. In this case, the call came in for an active hornet’s nest. This particular call highlighted the fact that hornets can build nests anywhere and everywhere, and sometimes in the worst possible locations as far as risk to people being stung. Over the years, I’ve treated hornets nests in their usual locations including trees, bushes, and under roof eaves. This time, however, the Hornets decided to build their nest on a small baby swing. You’ll sometimes see hornets build nests on large wooden swingset supports, but, for me, a nest on a baby swing was a first.
For obvious reasons, this nest needed to be removed immediately. It just so happened that on the day of servicing, it was very windy. The nest was literally a moving target, swinging back and forth with the wind gusts. I wasn’t about to tell these homeowners that I’d need to come back on another day. Instead, I deal with the wind by using a specialized extension pole enabling me to operate a can of aerosol at the end of the pole. This way, I could keep a safe distance from the nest while dousing it with the product. Once a nest is threatened, hornets become highly aggressive and territorial. A hornet can sting multiple times, so a swarm of them can easily turn into a medical emergency. By sheer coincidence, while I was there, a landscaper who was trimming the bushes discovered another hornet’s nest in an arborvitae behind the home, a much more common location for hornets to build their nest. I removed this nest as well. For this homeowner, my visit turned out to be a two-for-one special — and because hornets are a covered pest under their HPP, all at no extra charge!
Recently, I was sent to help a homeowner in Matawan, NJ who was dealing with extensive ant activity inside his home. The ant infestation was especially heavy in the kitchen area. It’s no coincidence that ant infestations are often found in kitchen areas. Kitchens are ant paradise! Here, they have an abundance of everything they need to survive and thrive: food, harborage, and water. Most insect problems can be quickly eliminated or outright prevented by removing one or more of these three key elements needed by ants and other insects to support their ever-expanding colonies.
Sometimes infestations are hidden and you have to do some detective work to find them. Other times, like here, the insects are not shy about announcing their presence. Starting my inspection in the interior of the kitchen, I immediately observed ants crawling all over the counter like they owned the place. I followed the ants’ trail to determine where they were coming from. Here, the trail went down the side of the cabinets where it disappeared under the baseboard molding. I then conducted my exterior inspection to determine how the ants were gaining entry into the home. I observed the ants trailing along the home’s decorative railroad ties where they then easily able to find their way inside the home.
To treat this infestation, I applied a crack and crevice treatment throughout the kitchen’s interior and treated the exterior perimeter, concentrating on the ant trails. Ants will bring this product back to their hidden nest. It won’t take long for this ant infestation to be eliminated and for this homeowner to have his kitchen ant-free once again.
To prevent termite damage, many homeowners in our area elect to be proactive and have a Sentricon termite colony elimination system installed around the home’s perimeter. Special bait stations are augured into the ground every ten feet or so around the home. These bait stations proactively blocks termites from reaching the home. The bait stations contains bait (primarily cellulose — a termite’s favorite that’s treated with a potent IGR (insect growth regulator). An IGR prevents the termites from molting — and insects that can’t molt, soon die. The foraging worker termites bring the bait back to share with the rest of the colony where it passes from termite to termite. It does not take long for the entire colony to be eliminated.
Do the bait stations really work? Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words and these these photos show termite workers “going to town” feeding on the bait. If these termites were not diverted by these bait stations, they would have kept going until they reached the wood in the home. The foraging drive of termites is unstoppable. Sentricon installations are often requested by homeowners after having dealt with a termite infestation. Few homeowners have any interest in repeating the experience of treating for termites and facing expensive repairs.
Does it work? J
Recently, I was sent to service one of Cowleys commercial accounts, a restaurant in Matawan, NJ. We had set up rodent bait boxes around the building’s exterior to control the rodent population.
During the summer months, a major problem we face are garden slugs entering the bait boxes. Slugs, which are basically snails without shells, are gastropods and one of the few animals that successfully live in oceans, fresh water, and land. They are attracted to the seeds that are mixed in bait blocks to help attract the rodents. Unfortunately, with slugs comes slime. For slugs to move around soil, they secrete a kind of mucus over which it glides. Slug mucus is similar to the sticky, stringy, gelatinous excess sputum that we expectorate when we have a productive cough.
When I opened up the rodent bait boxes to monitor rodent activity, and determine whether any bait needed to be replaced, I came across the slimy mess left by the slugs. And no self-respecting mouse would lower themselves to eat bait that’s covered with slug slime! Slug slime, not to mention the slugs themselves, are dangerous for any warm-blooded mammal, including mice, because they can contain a variety of pathogens. Slug slime can contain salmonella and parasites that cause meningitis called rat lungworm. Although rat lungworm disease is caused by parasites found in diseased rat lungs, they can also be carried as larvae in slugs and their slime. Needless to say, this is an excellent reason to thoroughly wash your lettuce, fruits, and vegetables. At the risk of stating the obvious, never eat slugs. They are not anything close to escargot dishes served at fancy French restaurants. If a curious toddler eats a slug, it must be treated as a serious life-threatening medical emergency.
Since the contamination of the bait boxes happened to take place at a restaurant that I was servicing, I was able to quickly find a product that would immediately reduce the life expectancy of these vile-looking creatures to just a few seconds — salt! Salt is the kryptonite of slugs because it is a desiccant that absorbs water. Salt causes slugs to dehydrate by pulling the water out of their membrane, soon killing them.