A Mouse in the House!

Gross! When I went into the kitchen to make breakfast, there was black “rice” on the counter — mouse turds. Disgusting! A trip to my in-laws’ cottage is supposed to be a relaxing weekend, not a scubfest. Nevertheless, out came the scrub brush and bucket. Before breakfast I scoured down every surface and checked every cupboard and closet. We definitely had a mouse, (at least, I was hoping there was only one).

Not native to North America, mice arrived with early European settlers and quickly spread throughout the country. Typically nocturnal, mice eat grains, fruits, vegetables and refuse. Only two to three inches long (with a tail nearly twice that length), they can squeeze through the tiniest holes to gain entrance to your home and the “gourmet buffet” waiting in your kitchen.

Mice are inexhaustible breeders which means that my single mouse will soon be joined by a growing family. Though mice only live about a year (rats up to 2 years), a single female mouse can produce more than 70 offspring in her lifetime! A typical mouse can produce 60 droppings in a day. You do the math; even a single mouse equals a big problem. Mice spread disease, E. coli, fleas, microbes, and other nasty things that you don’t want in your house or near your children.

Stern Environmental Group uses a revolutionary new Track & Trap system to eradicate mice. Using UV light, the system pinpoints where mice are entering your home so they can be trapped and all entry points sealed. (See our May 10, 2007 blog post for more info and pictures.) Visit our website to learn about Stern’s pest and wildlife control services; just click the post title. Call our experienced professionals to find out about the new Track & Trap solution to your mouse problem. You’ll sleep well tonight when you get “Stern” with your pests.

Are Carpenter Bees Chewing Away at Your Home?

Eating ice cream after a hike through Cuyahoga National Park this past weekend, my nephews were fascinated by a “bumble bee” buzzing around an old barn at the dairy. The solitary bee would seem to “bounce” along the eave, bumping around until it disappeared into a perfectly round hole the size of a nickle. The boys wanted to know if it was making honey inside.

Well, no. Actually, the big, fat yellow and black bee was not a bumble bee, but a carpenter bee. And it wasn’t storing honey, it was tunnelling out a nesting space in the eave. If not stopped, eventually a carpenter bee will chew a series of channels into the eave to build a nest gallery. The channels can damage the structure of the eave, making the wood susceptible to weather damage and rot.

Since they look so much alike, how do you tell the difference between the benign, helpful bumble bee and the destructive carpenter bee?

  • Carpenter bees often lack the yellow stripes of bumble bees, appearing to be more black.
  • They have a shiny abdomen with a blue-black, green or purple metallic sheen; whereas the abdomen of a bumblebee is completely covered with dense hair.
  • Males sometimes have a white face.
  • Carpenter bees are solitary so you’ll usually see only one. The female chews out a nest and lays eggs while the male guards the nest, buzzing annoyingly outside the nest opening. The male has no stinger so he can’t hurt you, but his constant buzzing can be very annoying. Females are not usually aggressive, but will sting if provoked.
  • Telltale piles of “sawdust” (called frass) outside the nest hole are a dead giveaway, as are the near perfect circles of the nest holes.
  • Look for round, nickle-size holes in soft woods like soffits, fascia and wood siding.

If you see signs of carpenter bees, call the pest control experts at Stern Environmental Group. To keep bees from returning season after season and doing more damage, holes must be completely sealed after the bees are removed. Click the post title to find out more about our insect control services. You’ll sleep well tonight when you get “Stern” with your pests.

Bed Bugs Invade College Dorms

Ohio State University students in Columbus, Ohio are frantic; and it’s not because finals are just around the corner. There are bed bugs in one of the school’s dormitories. Students had to take a day off from classes, papers and studying for exams to bag and tag all their belongings, wash all their clothes and linens, and relocate to other buildings while the University fumigated.

Fortunately, the outbreak appears to be confined to three dorm rooms, but as a precaution, the University treated three complete floors, disrupting hundreds of students. Rooms will be subject to a three-week fumigation program, all mattresses were destroyed, and students are still unsure when or if they’ll get their stuff back. Some aren’t sure they’ll want it back even if they can have it. With students returning home after finals next week, many moms are wary of them bringing home more than dirty laundry!

OSU isn’t the only campus to be hit by bed bugs this year. College campuses across the nation have had to cope with the easily spread pests. Outbreaks have been reported at campuses in New Jersey, California, Michigan and Tennessee — and those are just the ones that have made the national news recently. Many campuses try to keep the news hush hush. It’s not exactly a selling point for incoming students.

A note to moms. Our best advice when your student comes home:

  • Take the clothes and linens right from the suitcase to the washer and launder on hot with a hot dry.
  • Vacuum suitcases and backpacks, double bag the vacuum bag in plastic and dispose of it in the outside trash immediately.
  • Send the kid from the car to the showers. (It’ll just make you feel better; and after a week of finals, he probably needs it.)
  • If you get bed bugs, call Stern Environmental Group.

We’re the bed bug experts. Visit the bed bug page on our website to learn more about these annoying pests. You’ll sleep well tonight when you get “Stern” with your pests.

Why Are Bed Bugs Back?

After being wiped out in the US for nearly 50 years, bed bugs have returned in force. They can once again be found in all 50 states. Complaints about the obnoxious bugs have increased 50-fold in the past 5 years, says the National Pest Management Association. Bed bugs have been gone from the US for so long — wiped out by liberal doses of DDT after World War II — that many entomologists are getting their first look at live specimens of the nasty insect.

So after such a long absence from the US, why are bed bugs back? The ease and volume of international travel is to blame, say experts. Bed bugs are still a scourge in most parts of the world, including Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The little buggers stow away in luggage, on clothing, in the crevices of furniture, even in boxes and paper bags from infected sites. They’re easily transported and spread, often by unwitting carriers who don’t know they’re along for the ride.

Bed bugs are tiny, can go without food for long periods of time, and can survive in extreme temperatures, making them unbelievably hardy. With the banning of DDT and other powerful pesticides that endanger the environment and threaten health, the little critters are difficult to kill. Professional pest control services are almost always necessary to get rid of bed bugs.

Bringing back DDT isn’t an option. The lingering effects of such powerful poisons in our environment still present pollution problems. The recent pet food poisoning scare brings the point home. With professional application by skilled and experienced pest management experts, safe, modern chemicals can be used to get rid of bed bugs. If you think you have bed bugs in your home or business, call the bed bug experts at Stern Environmental Group today. Visit our website for more information on bed bugs and our pest control services. You’ll sleep well tonight when you get “Stern” with your pests.

The Bad Boys of Summer Are Back!

The temperature’s rising and so are bug populations. Sensitive to temperatures, insects are more active and prolific in the summer when heat and humidity increase. Busily multiplying inside your home, if left unchecked, the obnoxious pests can make your life miserable, spread disease and cause significant structural damage to your home. The bad boys of summer are back!

  • Termites are the terminators of the insect world. The most destructive of insects, termites will actually eat your house, chewing up and digesting the wood as they tunnel through it, leaving an unstable and unsafe shell. Termites do $2.5 billion in damage each year, destroying more homes than fires or floods.
  • Ants trail across kitchen counters, swarming over jelly smears and grease splatters, trekking their dirty little feet across the area where you slather peanut butter on the kids’ sandwiches. There are more than 20 kinds of ants that may invade your home, but carpenter ants are the most destructive. They’ll chew through the wood that holds your house together like little buzz saws, hollowing out galleries in the foundation boards, struts and bearing beams to build their nests.
  • Number 3 on the summer pest hit parade, roaches spread germs and are a leading cause of children’s asthma. Picking up germs on their spiny legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying garbage and sewage, cockroaches spread 33 kinds of bacteria, 6 kinds of parasitic worms and at least 7 other human pathogens. They leave their nasty calling cards everywhere they crawl, including in your kitchen cupboards, inside food boxes, across your counters, sinks and tables.
  • Bed bugs may not be first in the insect rouges’ gallery but that’s only because they don’t spread disease or cause destruction, they just make your life miserable. Bed bugs hide in tiny cracks and crevices near your bed, coming out at night to feed like voracious vampires, sucking up your blood and leaving itchy, red welts all over your body.

If summer pests are bugging you, call the pest control experts at Stern Environmental Group. When your insect problems are too big to be solved with a shoe, it’s time to call in the pros. Click the post title to learn more about our insect control services. Give us a call and we’ll rid your home of whatever pesky bug is bugging you. You’ll sleep well tonight when you get “Stern” with your pests.

Serving Up News on Bugs that Bug You!