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What’s your resolution?

Does your resolution involve getting more active in the New Year? Ours too!

We’re ringing in our 50th anniversary with a year-long celebration: Operation 50/50. We kicked off the campaign by volunteering 50 hours in 50 days across our service area. From serving meals at church, to helping repair storm damage, volunteering at the VFW, to bringing holiday joy to those in need, our team worked with a servant’s heart to spread cheer in communities across Northeast Georgia this holiday season and we couldn’t be prouder.

The next step in our year-long endeavor is the 50 Miles in 50 Days  campaign, which began on January 6th. This exciting venture is encouraging people to commit to a total of 50 miles in as many days. Registration for this event is $20.00 and includes a T-shirt, several exclusive digital swag, and a 100% donation to the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia. Participants are encouraged to get moving and stay active while helping out a great cause!

Registration for the 50 Miles in 50 Days campaign will stay open for 25 days, closing on January 31. We’re inviting all of our employees & their families, customers, and community members to start 2021 off right by getting active and supporting the Food Bank.

Throughout 2021, we’ll continue to launch new initiatives every 50 days, including more fundraisers, service projects, and giveaways designed to thank our communities that have allowed us to thrive for nearly half a century. We will continue to announce each 50-day long campaign throughout the year on www.operation50-50.com. Our team looks forward to the coming year and invites you to get involved and follow along on our social media platforms for updates!

No Bah humBUGS here!

As the season of holiday cheer commences, families across the nation are preparing for a busy month of socially distanced gatherings and virtual celebrations. While it’s easy to get distracted by the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s important for homeowners to stay alert for pests, especially as you begin decorating for the holidays.

To help keep your holiday season pest-free this year, here are four tips to avoid any unwanted visitors:

  • Shake out fresh greenery to ensure you’re not inadvertently inviting pests into your home. It’s possible that pests may have laid eggs in your greenery, which could cause a major infestation if not removed before being brought indoors.

Photo of Christmas Balls

  • Before unpacking boxes of decorations that have been stored away since last December, bring them outdoors and inspect them for signs of a pest infestation such as gnaw marks or droppings. When it’s time to pack up those decorations again, be sure to store them in sturdy, plastic containers with sealable lids to prevent pests from gaining access. “Rodents, spiders, and roaches all love to hang out in basements and attics because it’s the perfect habitat for them. Keep an eye out for droppings, gnaw marks, and any other evidence that they’ve been there”, said Assistant Marketing Director Amber Deutsch.
  • Everyone enjoys cozying up next to a fire, including pests! Inspect firewood for signs of spiders, termites or ants before bringing it indoors. Any firewood stored outdoors should also be placed at least five feet off the ground and 20 feet from the home.
    Wooden logs prepared for production of lumber
  • When doing your holiday baking, be sure to clean up any crumbs and other food residue since it can serve as a food source for rodents and pests. Marketing Director, Marissa Chastain, recommends, “When you’re preparing on Christmas Eve, leaving out cookies can have all the creatures stirring. Make sure Santa cleans his plate and leaves nothing for the mice”.Gold and White Cross Pendant

If you do suspect an infestation, it’s best to call a professional to ensure the job is done thoroughly. Take it from one of our Athens customers who discovered a holiday infestation a few years ago: “We went to our first Christmas tree farm and brought home a lovely tree. A week later, we were infested with some sort of bug and of course we realized at midnight. We pitched the tree outside and vacuumed everywhere and left a note on our client page saying the problem. American Pest Control called minutes after they opened and had someone at the house within the hour! We were very impressed. I would definitely recommend to anyone!” 

Celebrating 50 Years with Operation 50/50

American Pest Control was founded in 1971 by Mr. Gene Higginbotham, an Oconee County native. Mr. Higginbotham worked for a national chain pest control company for several years, traveling with his family to work in cities across the US. As he climbed the company’s ranks, he became increasingly disappointed with their lackluster attitude toward customer service and decided to branch out on his own. He and his family returned to Athens, GA, and American Pest Control was born. Mr. Gene, as he was affectionately known, passed away in 2015 after a battle with cancer. His children, Laurie and Scott Higginbotham, continue to operate the company with the same values he instilled in them and integrated into its service philosophy. A great testament to the family-oriented culture of the business is the longevity of its employees. Kathy Hollin and Doug Craft joined Mr. Gene soon after he opened the company’s doors and remain employed with the company to this day.

Of the many milestones celebrated by American Pest Control employees over the last 49 years, their team aims to make this year the most memorable one yet. The company will launch Operation 50/50 on their 49th anniversary this November 15th. The community and customer-oriented campaign will extend throughout the entire year, culminating in a celebration of their 50th year. Throughout 2021, the company will invite employees, customers, and community members to join them in fundraisers, service projects, and giveaways designed to thank the communities that have allowed them to thrive for nearly half a century. Closing out 2020 with a goal to surpass 50 volunteer hours in 50 days, the first initiative of the new year will be a charity 5K hosted by American Pest Control. They will continue to announce each 50-day long campaign throughout the year on www.operation50-50.com.

In addition to Operation 50/50, the company will be weaving the celebratory 50-year theme throughout its existing customer, community, and employee initiatives. The Gene Higginbotham Memorial Scholarship, for example, will celebrate the founding year by awarding students across the company’s broad service areas with scholarships in the amount of $1,971 for the monumental year. The American Pest Control team looks forward to the coming year and invites you to follow along on their social media platforms for updates!

Don’t Get Spooked by Pests this Fall!

As the fall chill returns to the air and the nights grow longer, people are preparing for the beginning of another busy holiday season. While deciding what type of candy to get ready for trick-or-treaters might be top of mind for many this month, we’re reminding homeowners that spooky pests have something else in mind for this time of year.

Avoid any unwanted house visits with these pest prevention tips from our resident bug experts and the NPMA:

    • Double-check your trick-or-treater’s costume for ticks before they come indoors
    • If you’re planning on riding on a hayride or taking an adventure through a corn maze, wear long sleeves and pants to avoid exposure to ticks and mosquitoes
    • Properly apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing at least 20 percent DEET to deter mosquitoes and other pests
    • If you’re traveling this Halloween, thoroughly inspect the bed, dresser and couch in your hotel room for bed bugs
    • Screen windows, doors and chimneys to prevent pests from coming indoors
    • Inspect fall décor for pests before bringing anything indoors
    • If an infestation is suspected, call or text us to schedule a free inspection

2020 Gene Higginbotham Memorial Scholarship

Gene Higginbotham founded American Pest Control in 1971. He passed away on August 30th, 2015, and the memorial scholarship was created in his honor by family and employees to continue his legacy. “American Pest Control is a local family-owned pest management company founded by my grandfather, Gene Higginbotham, in 1971. He built his company on the core values of honesty, integrity, family, community, and quality service. I am honored to receive this scholarship.”, said Gabriella Rice, 2020 scholarship recipient and daughter of Laurie Higginbotham, the company’s current president, and CEO. Since the first year that the scholarship began, American Pest Control has awarded $124,000 in total scholarship funds to 94 students.

This Spring, for the fourth year, the scholarship was offered to all local students. Throughout Georgia and South Carolina, 28 total scholarships in the total amount of $31,000 were awarded this year. 2020 Recipients included:  

  • Maggie DeMaria – Clarke Central High School graduate attending University of Georgia  
  • Caleb McArthur – North Oconee High School attending University of Michigan   
  • Anneston Curles – North Oconee High School graduate attending University of Georgia   
  • Woody Barks – North Oconee High School graduate attending Louisiana State University
  • Gabriella Rice – North Oconee High School graduate attending Augusta University   
  • Emma Sutton – North Oconee High School graduate attending Georgia Southern University  
  • Cadence Hadden – Oconee County High School graduate attending University of Georgia  
  • Taylor Bond – Prince Avenue Christian School graduate attending University of Georgia  
  • Angelia Thomas – Apalachee High School attending University of North Georgia   
  • Katelyn Darnell – 2020 Monroe Area High School graduate attending University of Georgia
  • Jonathan Howell – Hebron Christian Academy graduate attending University of North Georgia   
  • Morgan Roberts – Banks County High School graduate attending Brenau University   
  • Jacob Myler – East Jackson Comprehensive High School graduate attending University of Georgia  
  • Connor Gillespie – Cherokee Bluff High School graduate attending Point University  
  • Samuel Garland – Gatewood School graduate attending University of Alabama  
  • Michael Peters- Morgan County High School graduate attending Stanford University  
  • Madison Gunter – Washington Wilkes Comprehensive High School graduate attending University of Georgia  


  • Jerry Worthy – Grovetown High School graduate attending Duke University   
  • Mary Shaw – East Paulding High School graduate attending Louisiana State University  
  • Daijah Buggs – Rockdale County High School graduate attending Howard University  
  • Gracie Patterson – White County High School graduate attending Augusta University  
  • Mackenzie Batson – Stephens County High School Graduate attending Ogeechee Technical College   
  • Savannah Gary – Habersham Central High School graduate attending University of North Georgia
  • Delta Cartwright – Stephens County High School graduate attending North Georgia Technical College   
  • Carlie Owens – Rabun County High School graduate attending Georgia State University   
  • Jamison Wood – Towns County High School graduate attending University of Georgia   
  • Emilee Williams – Hart County High School graduate attending University of Georgia   Mackenzie Richey – Crescent High School graduate attending Anderson University   


All of these recipients boasted academic, athletic, fine arts, or community service-oriented accomplishments throughout their high school careers and reflected the values held by the Higginbotham family. The company is proud to support them as they begin their college careers and further their education. American Pest Control will continue to offer this scholarship to high school seniors throughout their wide service area across Northeast Georgia and parts of South Carolina. The family-owned and operated business looks forward to continuing their support of local communities and education.
 

Protecting Your Pets 🐾

Often times when speaking with new customers, one of their main concerns are how the services may effect their pets. The APC team is made up of pet lovers, so we know that fur-babies are members of the family. Meet a few of our crew:

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Marissa’s pug-chihuahua mix, Mike
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Kasie’s golden doodle, Lucy, with her son
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Mike’s cat, Foxy
James’ Dawg fan, Sassy

Ok, enough pet pictures. (For now 😆) Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty:  pests that can be a menace to your four-legged friends. 

Fleas
The dreaded flea…every pet’s worst enemy. The first sign of a flea infestation is usually your pet scratching more than normal. The first place to look is at the base of the tail or behind the ears. Fleas tend to congregate in these areas because it is where the blood is closest to the skin. If you suspect a flea infestation, the best course of action is to talk to your vet about treatment and preventative medication and contact a pest professional to eradicate the issue.
In order to understand the flea treatment, it’s important to know the basics of the flea life cycle. Female fleas lay eggs on the host, then the eggs drop off into carpet or upholstery. Vibrations from walking or vacuuming will stimulate the eggs and cause them to hatch, which is why we always ask our customers to vacuum before a flea treatment. This also explains why you may see a resurgence of adult fleas about 2 weeks after your first treatment. This is when the eggs that were hiding in the carpet hatch and seek out a host. Typically, the most successful plan includes two treatments but as always, this depends on the inspection and severity of the infestation.

Ticks
These pests are a nuisance to people and pets. Ticks are usually introduced to yards and outdoor areas by other wildlife like rats or deer. Vet-prescribed medications can reduce the likelihood of your pet getting a tick bite. Yard treatments can help reduce the tick populations. These can be especially helpful if you have pets that frequent wooded areas of your yard. For people, the best protective measure is to use a protective spray and wear long sleeves and pants when walking outdoors. You should always check yourself for ticks after visiting wooded areas. Ticks can transmit some pretty scary diseases like Lyme Disease and Alpha-gal syndrome (which causes an allergy to red meat) so taking extra measures to avoid them is the best bet to ensure yours and your pets’ safety.

Mosquitoes
These flying pests are known for the diseases they can transmit to humans: West Nile, Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue Fever, and more. Many may not realize, however, that mosquitoes are also the carriers of heart worm disease. Heart worms can cause devastating health problems for dogs and can be very costly to treat. The first step in protecting yourself and your pets is reducing the mosquito population in your yard. You can do this by eliminating all standing water sources and scheduling a regular mosquito service with a pest professional. When choosing your pest company, be sure to ask about their licensing and registration as well as their training requirements. In addition to these preventative steps, dogs should be on regular heart worm preventative medication.

Ok, one more cute puppy picture for good measure. 🥰

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Lisa’s pup, Polly, hiding in the garden

Our team loves their pets (and yours!). Whether it’s participating in National Bring Your Dog to Work Day, volunteering with local shelters and humane societies, bringing along treats for our customers’ fur-babies, or sinply being there for each other when anyone loses a beloved family pet, we’re dedicated to keeping mans’ best friend safe and sound. Call or text us any time for pest identification or to schedule a free inspection.

A Friend to Pollinators

We’re celebrating National Pollinator Week by sharing information about  how our communities can support pollinator health. One way that you can be a friend to pollinators and spruce up your landscape is by planting a pollinator garden! Gardeners.com shared this bee-friendly setup which will attract honey bees and other species: bee pollinator garden

Here are some tips for crafting your very own pollinator-friendly garden:

  • Choose a sunny location
  • Obviously, you’ll need to use plants that provide pollen and nectar sources.
  • Choosing plants that bloom early or late in the season will provide a resource for local bees at a time when their choices for pollination will be more limited.
  • Look for plants that don’t require a lot of maintenance. The less you will need to disturb the garden, the better.
  • Use a broad mixture of bee-friendly plants for your garden instead of focusing on one or two varieties.
  • Consult your local nursery when you’re ready to purchase your seeds. This is a great opportunity to #shoplocal and support your community businesses who have a wealth of knowledge to share on the best plants for your garden.
  • After planting, you can register your garden with Million Pollinator Gardens to be added to their national registry of pollinator friendly gardens.

Sources:
https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/pollinator-garden-design-for-bees/9144.html

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https://savvygardening.com/best-bee-plants-for-pollinator-garden/

Introducing: The Hives at High Shoals

American Pest Control has long been concerned with pollinator health and doing our part to preserve the pollinator population. We’ve been offering green solutions since before “going green” was a thing. As pest management professionals, we take our role in protecting public health by reducing populations of insects that carry infectious or deadly diseases very seriously. We also understand, however, that there are insects which are vital to our world’s ecosystems and it’s our duty to help protect those populations. This year, in honor of Pollinator Partnership’s National Pollinator Week, we are proud to introduce The Hives at High Shoals!

Caleb Bales caring for the bees

What is The Hives at High Shoals? It is a small apiary located at The Farm at High Shoals and maintained by American Pest Control in order to learn more about pollinators and educate our communities about their importance. We created this project in order to do our part in giving back to the environment by protecting pollinator populations.

Why are pollinators so important? Almost all of the flowering plants on earth need pollinators in order to thrive. When we apply products for treatments outside, we never apply them to flowering plants so that we do not disrupt the pollinators food source. The significance of this goes far beyond just flowers, though. More than 180,000 plant species and over 1,200 crops need pollination as well. According to Pollinator Partnership, “that means that 1 out of every 3 bites of food you eat is there because of pollinators.” In terms of how this impacts our economy, we’re talking about billions of dollars globally.

The first drop of honey from the Hives at High Shoals

Why are people so worried about bee populations? You have probably heard in recent news that pollinator populations are in decline. While the scientific community still has much to learn about bee populations and the specific causes for this decline, some include disease, use of certain agricultural/crop pesticides, other parasitic insects and lack of resources due to urbanization.

As we care for our bees and learn more about their habits and biology, we will continue to share what we learn with you. In the future, our hope is to expand this project to share information with schools and other community groups as well. We hope you’ll all follow along as we share more information this week in celebration of National Pollinator Week.

 

Sources:
https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week

Bed Bug Awareness Week 2020: Hotel Room Hotspots

In our last post, you learned the truth about some of the most common bed bug myths. So now the question is: how can you avoid a bed bug infestation? One of the most common ways that people encounter bed bugs is through travel. Read on to learn some quick tips to protect yourself during hotel room stays.

  1. When you first get to your hotel room, leave your luggage and personal items in the bathroom until you have done an inspection. This is the least likely place for bed bugs to hide, so it reduces the chance of a bug finding its way into your things before you’ve had a chance to check out the room.
  2. We would recommend using a flashlight while inspecting. (Most cell phones are now equipped with a light you could use.) This will help you get a better look at targeted areas.
  3. Bed bugs are most likely to be found on…you guessed it: the bed. They typically will gather around the seams of the mattress so you can start by checking those areas around the bed, focusing on the corners. Another red flag would be brown or black spots on the sheets or mattress caused by the bugs’ fecal matter.
  4. Now for the less obvious hideouts, check behind framed photos, headboards, and nightstands. While these aren’t the bugs’ number one destination, they could certainly be found in these areas. We would recommend checking these locations out before making yourself at home in the hotel room.
  5. After you get home, inspect your suitcase and its contents before bringing it inside. Wash and dry anything that was in your luggage and vacuum the suitcase as an added precaution.

If you do see any sign of infestation after a trip, schedule a free inspection with one of our experts. If an infestation is caught early on it will be easier to eradicate and control.

Bedbug Awareness Week 2020: Busting Bedbug Myths

Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite! Raise your hand if you thought bed bugs were a mythical creature that only existed in bedtime stories…🙋‍♀️ Unfortunately, they’re as real as it gets in the pest world. These gross little hitchhikers bring with them not only physical harm, but also mental distress for many of their victims. Bed bugs are one of the most speculated and misunderstood insects, so let’s take a look at some of the more common bed bug myths.

#1. Bedbugs are microscopic. 

Nope. We don’t know where this myth came from, but it is far from the truth. While bed bugs nymphs can be small enough to hide in the head of a screw, adult bed bugs are closer to 1/4 inch long. In this photo you can tell that while they are small, they’re definitely big enough to see with the naked eye.

#2. If you see a bedbug, immediately throw away your mattress. 

This is a really common response to seeing a bed bug, and we get it! The thought of something infesting your bed and feeding on you while you sleep is tough to stomach so our natural instinct is to get rid of it ASAP. What needs to be considered, though, is that bed bugs are great hitchhikers. So if you take their primary habitat and drag it through your home to ditch it outside, chances are, you’re spreading the infestation in the process. The same goes for switching beds. If you move from one bed to another bed or couch, the bugs are likely coming along for the ride on your bedding. Your best bet is to leave furniture where it is and call a professional for help. With a bedbug treatment, you should also invest in a mattress cover to protect your mattress. Smaller things like clothing or bedding can be bagged up and transported to a washing machine with less threat of spreading the bugs.

#3. Bed bugs only infest dirty homes. 

Bed bugs are most often associated with uncleanliness, but they don’t actually care whether your home is clean or dirty. They’re found more frequently in areas where there a lot of people or for them, meals. How clean or dirty the home is doesn’t impact the likelihood of an infestation at all. With that being said, clutter can affect the process of inspecting and eradicating an infestation.

4. Bed bugs only bite at night. 

Bed bugs instinctively prefer to feed during the night.  Their main goal, however, is to feed on the host so they will adapt to that person’s sleeping schedule. If the host sleeps during the day, that’s when the bed bugs will most likely be found biting. The other reason they may feed at an uncommon time is if they have gone a while without a blood meal. They can go weeks or even months without feeding, but when they have access to a host after that type of stretch, they’ll likely feed as soon as possible no matter what time of day.

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5. Bedbugs transmit diseases. 

Other insects that feed on blood, like mosquitoes or ticks, are known for their potential to transmit serious diseases to humans and animals. Bedbugs, while they do harbor pathogens, have not been found to transmit any human diseases. They do have several other harmful effects on people who are unlucky enough to experience an infestation, like anxiety, sleeplessness, or even infections.

Check out our next post to learn more about protecting your home from a bed bug infestation during summer travel.

Sources:
https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/bed-bugs/bed-bugs/

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Protect the Ones you Love!