While most Texans recognize that a slight presence of pests may be simply a part of life, the ability to realize when a nuisance has turned into an infestation is critical. A significant difference exists between the random presence of a pest or two and a significant problem. These warning signs will give you the insight you need to determine if you have a growing infestation that needs to be handled immediately.
Houston offers the heat and climate that is particularly attractive for rats to dwell. As rats search for food and comfortable places to make a nest, they may very well look within areas of your home to live as uninvited guests. When rat populations are low, they are very difficult to detect as they remain unseen—but that does not mean that they aren’t there. Performing a pest check regularly is the best way to catch a problem early, before it becomes a full-blown infestation.
Knowing your enemy has been said to be one of the best strategies for defeating your enemy, and the adage particularly holds true with cockroaches. The most effective way to embark on a cockroach extermination or cockroach control plan is to first understand as much as you can about the creepy critters. And as grotesque as the cockroach may be, the characteristics that make them hearty survivors can be downright fascinating.
Whether they bite, sting or simply scurry across your floor, insects that invade your territory can bring a slew of health risks right along with them. The most extreme risk is death, which can occur from severe allergic reactions to certain insect stings. The more you know about the potential health risks insects carry, the better you can protect yourself, your home and your family.
While a warm, cozy home may be inviting to your holiday guests, it can be equally inviting to a number of pests. Rodents, spiders, roaches and other insects may parade their way into your home, looking for a dry, safe winter habitat. Not only can pests come with health risks, but they can also bring on a slew of destruction. Rodents are particularly savvy at chewing up wires, insulation and even woodwork.
Keeping rodents and insects out is possible with a number of preventive pest control measures, many of which you can do on your own before the critters make their way in.
Holiday travel can come with fond memories, tons of photos and, if you’re unlucky, a slew of unwanted traveling guests that follow you home. Those traveling guests are bed bugs, which are about the size and shape of an apple seed and leave you with itchy, welt-like bites that often show up in lines of three.
What you probably saw was a nutria. Nutrias are large aquatic mammals brought to the United States from South America for their fur. When fur fell out of favor, the nutria were released in the wild to wreak havoc on our ecosystem. Nutria are brown in color and resemble beavers without the flat tail. They have large orange teeth and a rat-like tail. Since they are a non-native species it is legal to remove them.
Your kitchen can be a very welcoming space for unwanted guests that range from rats to roaches to fruit flies to ants. These three tips can help prevent such pests from making themselves at home, or eliminate them if they already have.
With a warm, humid climate and an active system of bayous and waterways, Houston is a veritable breeding ground for mosquitoes. That means it can also be a prime location for Zika virus and other diseases the mosquitoes carry. The more you know about Zika, the better you can protect yourself and your family. A number of helpful hints and Zika virus facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can help you do just that.
Mosquito Bite Prevention Tips
Since no vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus, the most effective way to prevent the disease is to prevent mosquito bites. Insect repellent can come to the rescue, especially if you choose one that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and deemed safe for all family members, even breastfeeding and pregnant mothers. You can search for EPA-registered repellents here.
Active ingredients should include one of the following:
- KBR 3023, aka picaridin
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD) or oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
Additional bite-prevention tips include:
- Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts
- Covering strollers, baby carriers and cribs with mosquito netting
- Ensuring your home’s screens are intact and securely in place
- Using air conditioning instead of opening doors and windows
- Dumping out any standing water around the yard at least once a week
- Protecting yourself during the day and night, as mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus can bite at any time during a 24-hour period
Zika Virus Facts and Tips
Keep an eye out for the symptoms: Rashes, joint pain, red eyes and fever are the most common symptoms of the virus; others include headaches and muscle pain.
Know symptoms aren’t always present: A person can be carrying the virus yet never exhibit any symptoms. The virus can still be spread to the carrier’s sex partners.
Know how it’s spread: A person carrying Zika virus can pass it along to his or her sex partners. Wearing condoms can help prevent spread of the virus one partner to another.
Zika Virus and Pregnancy
Get checked during prenatal visits: The CDC recommends all pregnant women in the U.S. should be assessed for possible signs, symptoms or exposure to Zika virus at each prenatal care visit.
Wait before pregnancy attempts: Attempts to get pregnant should be put on hold by both men and women diagnosed with the virus. Women should wait at least two months after their symptoms showed up before attempting to get pregnant; men should wait at least six months before attempting to get their partner pregnant.
Know the risks: Infants and fetuses infected with Zika before birth have been linked to a number of problems. These include:
- Microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is notably smaller than expected
- Stillbirth and miscarriage
- Poorly developed or absent brain structures
- Eye and hearing defects
- Impaired overall growth
Zika virus has been detected in breast milk, although there are no reports of passing along the disease through breastfeeding.
Register with the CDC: Pregnant women infected with Zika virus are encouraged to sign up with the CDC’s U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry. The agency is working with health departments and other organizations to gather information about infant outcomes and pregnancy linked to Zika in pregnant women.
Mosquito season in Houston typically begins around March or April, and then tapers off in the fall’s cooler weather. Even though mosquitoes may be less active when temperatures dip below 50 degrees, several species will continue to survive until a frost hits. Protecting yourself and your family from Zika virus starts with knowledge, something you can continue to acquire all year long.
Throughout the southern Gulf Coast an invasion is taking place. The Crazy ant, also called the Tawny or Rasberry ant, has made its presence known. With its quick, erratic movements, it's no wonder how this ant got its name. However, you'll need a magnifying glass to identify a Crazy ant. A dead giveaway is their reddish color and hairy appearance.