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Mini-Moms: Bugs & their Babies

To celebrate mother’s day, let’s take a look at the interesting world of bug moms. If you caught our virtual field trip video, you met our Golden Girls aka Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. What we didn’t tell you yet though, is that these roaches are one of the few insects who give live birth to their young and we have at least 50 young roaches!

Live cockroach birth 01
Madagascar Hissing Roach Live Birth

Most roach species carry eggs in a sac called an ootheca, then drop the ootheca off before the eggs hatch. The Madagascar roach, however, carries her ootheca internally and the newborns emerge after they have already hatched. Earth Touch News Network shared a fascinating video of a live birth caught on film, so you can watch it here. All the roaches in our brood are females so they came to us already carrying their young, which they typically carry for around 2 months. Our little guys are already about 2 months old, so will not reach maturity for another 5 months. Stay tuned on our social media for more updates as they continue to develop.

Wolf Spider Carrying Babies

Another bug-mom with some interesting habits is the wolf spider. These arachnids lay a few dozen eggs at a time and wrap them in silk to create an egg sac. Where their maternal behavior really gets interesting though, is after the mother chews into the sac to help the babies emerge, when they crawl onto her back to be carried for several days. This is definitely not what you want to see after trying to kill a spider, but you may get more than you bargained for if your unwanted house guest is a spider carrying her young.

Spider GIF | Gfycat

We saved the best (or at least the most bizarre) for last in this bug-mom biography. The jewel wasp is best known for its parasitic nature. The flying predator finds an unsuspecting roach and injects a venom with incredible precision into its brain. After the injection, the zombified roach is basically used as an egg sac for the wasp. The wasp will lay one single egg and as the larva develops, it feeds on the roach’s organs before killing it to emerge.

Jewel wasp emerging from its roach host
Jewel wasp emerging from its roach host

Sources:
https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef014
https://www.earthtouchnews.com/natural-world/reproduction/special-delivery-madagascar-hissing-cockroach-gives-birth/
https://www.livescience.com/41467-wolf-spider.html

 

Pests & COVID-19: What do you need to know?

There have been lots of questions surrounding COVID-19 as we all work to understand and navigate this uncertain time. A common worry over the past few weeks has been, “Can mosquitoes spread Coronavirus?” In short, the answer is no. Mosquitoes are not able to spread the virus. They do spread other diseases like Zika virus, Chikungunya, West Nile, and Dengue Fever, but as of right now there are no reports of Coronavirus being spread to humans by the summer’s most annoying pest. Infectious disease and internal medicine specialist, Dr. Mary Schmidt, said “In order for this to happen in real life, the mosquitoes would have to acquire the virus during feeding, the virus then undergoes replication in the gut tissue, disseminates to the secondary sites of replication, including the salivary glands, and is ultimately released into the arthropod’s salivary secretions, where it may be inoculated into the skin and cutaneous vasculature of the host (human) during subsequent feeding”. Basically this means there would have to be some really tricky business going on inside the mosquito in order for it to transmit the virus and ultimately, experts don’t expect this to happen.

A mosquito larva found by an APC techn in just inches of water

So for now, try to steer clear of mosquitoes as you normally would, but don’t panic about a threat of COVID-19 transmission. To cut down on populations in your yard eliminate any areas of standing water (even something as small as a bottle cap can hold hundreds of larvae!) and look into a mosquito reduction service. There are a few other trends in the pest world that have shown surprising relation to the pandemic:

Ticks
Like mosquitoes, there’s no evidence that ticks can transmit Coronavirus. They do, however, transmit Lyme disease, which can cause flu-like symptoms and weaken the immune system. Lone star tick bites can also trigger a rare allergy to galactose. For those unlucky folks who have encountered these infected pests, that means no burgers, no steaks, no red meat at all. For meat-lovers, it would definitely put a damper on summer grilling season.

The white marking is a distinguishing feature of female Lone Star ticks.

Now that socializing and outings are limited, a lot of people are spending more time outdoors in their yards, parks, and other places where they can enjoy nature. While this is a great escape from the stresses of our world right now, it brings with it a greater risk for tick bites. When hiking or spending time in grassy areas, you should wear long-sleeved, light colored clothing and closed-toe shoes to lessen your risk. Pets are also susceptible to tick bites so we recommend a flea and tick preventative. Pet owners should also comb through the pets’ fur after spending time outside to check for any unwanted pest guests.

Rodents
This global pandemic has caused quite a few shortages. Toilet paper, Lysol, hand sanitizer, and even certain foods have been hard to come by lately. Believe it or not, rodents are also feeling the pressure of this temporary normal. With restaurants and businesses being closed, urban areas which were once bustling with people (and food, and trash, and plenty of crumbs) are now basically empty. So the rats and mice that were used to dining out in the dumpsters of these happening spots are left wondering where their next meal is coming from. Bobby Corrigan, the nation’s top rodentologist, was quoted saying “We don’t want those animals in our apartments, houses, restaurants or grocery stores because you end up playing disease lottery if that happens. You don’t want any one of those 55 diseases.”

A rat in the streets of New Orleans searching for food.

Take the French Quarter for example. New Orleans has been a hot spot for rodent activity since the city has been on lock down. Rats only need about a half-inch opening to enter a structure so your best defense is sealing up any cracks or openings that could allow them to enter your home or business. For restaurants and other businesses that serve food, it might seem like the time to cancel pest prevention services, but it’s actually the ideal time battle these rodents with a more aggressive treatment plan.

Pest Management services have been deemed essential across the U.S. so most pest control companies will continue offering services during this time. At American Pest Control, some of the measures we’re taking to keep our customers and employees safe include encouraging perimeter-only services, pest identification via text, zero contact billing options, restricting office visitors, and personal protective equipment. We’re still here to serve our communities with the same level of customer service you’ve come to expect from us!

Sources:
https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/04/first-coronavirus-now-rats-why-hungry-rodents-are-heading-for-homes.html
https://www.pressherald.com/2020/04/17/ten-tick-prevention-tips/
https://www.kiro7.com/news/trending/coronavirus-rats-swarming-through-new-orleans-now-empty-streets/TLSMLQHBPFF5NI4GK5ZKVWBP5A/

For Kids, Parents, & Teachers: Learning About Bugs!

Student learning looks a lot different during these unprecedented times. American Pest Control is a partner in education with schools across our service area and we feel strongly about the importance of education in our communities. We have compiled some great resources from pestworldforkids.org which can be used while learning from home!

Students in Pre-K and younger will enjoy these fun activities while expanding their knowledge about bugs! These coloring pages feature a paint-by-numbers style lady bug and butterfly. For a bug-themed alphabet lesson, use these coloring pages to identify insects for each letter of the alphabet.

For elementary age students who love reading, check out The Uninvited Houseguests E-book by Jo-Lynne Shane. The book is narrated by 9-year old Nate, who loves basketball almost as much as he loves his dog, Peaches. Your student can join Nate as he and his classmate, Millie, become pest detectives. Then, dive into The Pest Detectives by Susan Carraretto. In this book, Millie shows off her bug journal and shares her knowledge about the world of bugs! If your student is inspired to become a pest detective, they can use this report writing guide as a step-by-step instruction for researching and writing about a new topic.

Art-loving students will enjoy these craft projects which can be made using materials you likely already have around the house. Using paper plates and a few basic craft supplies, your student can make a movable crawling caterpillar.  Encourage your student to get creative, adding patterns and colors to the caterpillar. You can even use it as a puppet and create a story to go along with it! These bumblebee bookmarks would be a great activity to accompany a lesson about bees. Honey bees pollinate more than 100 crops in the United States, produce honey, and are essential to our environment. Using facts from the honeybee page on pestworldforkids.org, your child can learn about these important pollinators. Ants are fascinating creatures as well. Your student may be interested to know that an ant can lift 20 times its own body weight. If a second grader was as strong as an ant, they would be able to pick up a car! After checking out some ant facts, your student can create their very own ant craft using an egg carton!

Crawling Caterpillar - Critter Crafts: Insect Craft Activities for Elementary Students

When schoolroom classes resume, these lesson plans can be used by teachers in science curriculum. For students in grades K-2, this lesson plan introduces a wide variety of common pests. Students will learn about pest needs, damage, and self-protection through creating, reading, and playing. This lesson is created for students in grades 3-5 to explore native habitats and behaviors of common pests. With several visual aids and handouts, students will enjoy this deep dive into understanding the relationship between humans and pests and the limited habitat and resources shared by both. For students grades 5-8, this lesson which is broken down into two sessions focuses on classical taxonomy and how it helps scientists organize the natural world.

We hope you and your students will enjoy these learning resources. If you create any of the projects listed here, we’d love to see them! You can tag us on social media (@american_pest) or email your students’ creations to thebuzz@ampest.com

Termite Awareness Week 2020

This year, American Pest Control and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) are working to spread public awareness about termites during Termite Awareness Week, March 8-14, 2020With spring on the horizon, termites will begin swarming and could seek out your home for their new nesting space. Because the damage from a termite infestation can easily go unnoticed, American Pest Control is educating homeowners on the top five signs that their home is infested 

 

Termites cause more damage per year than fires, floods, and hurricanes combined,” said John MillerDirector of Sales and Service. “The damage could result in costly repairs for homeowners. Many homeowners are not aware that termite damage will not be covered under a homeowners insurance policy. 

While pest professionals don’t recommend homeowner inspect their home on their own, there are a few red flags that they should look out for that could signal the presence of an infestation.  With the help from experts at NPMA, American Pest Control is sharing the top five signs that a home has termites: 

 

  1. Swarmer or Discarded Wings: Swarmers, also known as reproductives, are young female and male winged termites. In the springtime, after the last freeze, termite swarmers will emerge from their nest to mate and search for a new location to start a colony, which typically includes our homes. Termite swarmers, or their discarded wings near windowsills and doors, are often the first (and only visible) sign of a termite problem. 
  1. Mud Tubes: Subterranean termites, the most destructive termite species, build mud tubes to provide moisture while they travel between their colony and food source. Mud tubes are most often found near the home’s foundation and look like encrusted, dry dirt similar to the size of a drinking straw.  
  1. Wood Damage: Termites tend to eat wood from the inside out, so wood that sounds hollow when tapped often signifies a termite infestation. Additionally, homeowners should also look for blistering pieces of wood. 
  1. Uneven or Bubbling Paint: Uneven or bubbling paint is often a sign of moisture buildup, which could mean one of two things – water damage or termites. 
  1. Frass: Drywood termites produce wood-colored droppings as they eat through infested wood. If a homeowner finds a small pile of what looks like pellets inside or outside the home, it could be a sign of a drywood termite infestation. 

 

The best termite protection is prevention,” added Miller.  In our region, the saying goes ‘it’s not if you’ll get termites, it’s when.” 

Nuptial Flight: Ants & Termites

Termites…the arch-nemesis of homes all across America. In the South, we have a saying that goes, “it’s not if you will get termites, but when”.  Although termites live underground  ground, every spring, swarmer termites take flight in search of new places to put down roots. Swarmer termites are the reproductive members of a termite colony and have wings. These invaders typically emerge when the temperatures reach 70 degrees after a good rain. Female swarmers send out a pheromone to attract a male. Once they have found each other, they break off their wings. This symbolizes to the rest of the termite world that they are a couple and will be taking their places as king and queen of a new colony.

Termites are not alone in this nuptial flight. Ants also have winged reproductive that head out in search of a new home. There are differences, however. Swarming termites have straight antennae, a broad waist, and wings equal in size. In contrast, flying ants have elbowed antennae, a jointed waist, and unequal wings. Termite swarmers usually appear in early spring, while flying ants hang back a little and make their debut closer to summer.

If you see either of these winged bachelors and bachelorettes in or around your home, you could have a fully functioning colony nearby. Contact a pest professional to ID the pest, provide solutions to protect your home, and give you peace of mind.

 

Photo credit: https://www.thespruce.com/difference-between-ants-and-termites-2656329

We Don’t Need No Stinking…Bugs! 

Cold weather winters mean no bugs, right? Wrong, unfortunately. During colder months, your home is still susceptible to termites, increased rodent activity, spiders, and the smelliest of them all: the brown marmorated stink bug. These little stinkers aren’t harmful to humans, but have become a major problem for the agricultural industry due to the damage they can cause to crops.  

So, what is that smell? When disturbed, stink bugs secrete a smelly fluid from pores on their bodies. (It tastes bad too, but hopefully you’ll never find that out firsthand!) Some compare the scent to cilantro. To these bugs, humans are predators and when they feel threatened, they release the stink as a form of protection. Stink bugs invade our homes because they are looking for shelter from the elements, including cold weather. 


Although stink bugs don’t present a health threat to people, the fact that they look to our homes as a winter vacation spot makes them a major nuisance. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends these prevention tips to minimize the chance of a stink bug invasion:  

  1. Seal cracks around windows, doors, electrical outlets, ceiling fans and light switches to prevent stink bugs from entering the home. 
  2. Replace outdoor lighting with yellow bulbs, which are less attractive to stink bugs.  
  3. Repair damaged window screens and install door sweeps on exterior doors. 
  4. Install screens over the chimney and attic vents. 
  5. Properly ventilate basements, attics, garages and crawl spaces. Consider using a dehumidifier. 
  6. If stink bugs have already entered a home, use a vacuum cleaner to remove them. Dispose of the vacuum bag immediately to prevent odor from permeating the area. 

As always, when you spot a pest issue, call or text us to schedule a free inspection! American Pest Control would love the opportunity to partner with you to ensure a pest-free home. 

2019 Employees of the Year

American Pest Control is proud to announce their 2019 Man and Woman of the Year and Rising Star Awards. The Man and Woman of the Year awards are presented each year to employees who have exhibited the company’s core values of Honesty, Integrity, Community, Family and Quality Customer Service.

The “Doug Craft Man of the Year Award” was named after long time American Pest Control employee, Doug Craft, who has been with the company for 48 years. In his honor, this year’s Man of the Year award was presented to Jeff Perry, who has been with the company for 18 years. Jeff lives just outside of Athens in Danielsville, Georgia with his wife of 29 years. David Butler, the Operations Manager at APC, and Jeff knew each other through mutual friends. Butler told Perry about a job opening and he applied. Once he came in for an interview, they knew he was a great fit and he was hired on the spot. Jeff loves working at APC because he loves the people; both the customers and his coworkers. He likes that American Pest Control is a family-oriented business. Jeff enjoys hunting, fishing, watching NASCAR, and football. He is proud of the fact that American Pest Control has partnered with and supported his community over the years by sponsoring his son’s little league and supporting Extra Special People, a non-profit that he and many of his coworkers are passionate about. Jeff says he is “humbled and appreciative about winning the award” and finds it rewarding that he “has helped influence other people into doing the right thing and doing a good job for their customers.”

The “Kathy Hollin Woman of the Year Award” was named after American Pest Control’s Office Manager, Kathy Hollin, who has also been with the company for 48 years.  This year’s winner is Deirdre White. Deirdre has worked at American Pest Control for 24 years. She began her journey with the company when she left the medical field to pursue a new path. Her sister was working at American Pest Control at the time and told her about an opening. Deirdre has been with the company since then. She is from Oglethorpe County and currently resides there with her cats and two pet roosters. She loves open land and the quietness of country life.  Deirdre says that her favorite thing about her job is the family connection at the company. She says it is great to work for a company that really cares about the employees. Deirdre enjoys shopping and crafting in her free time and loves making anything with a hot glue gun, ribbon and glitter. She also has a heart for animals and is honored to be part of a company that supports that cause through various non-profits in the community like AthensPets and The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia.

The “Rising Star Award” is a new award at American Pest Control. This award was created to recognize employees who have been employed three years or less and represent American Pest Control well by exemplifying the company’s core values. The inaugural winners for the Rising Star Award this year are Logan Bookwalter and Jenna Smith. Logan has been with the company for almost two years as a Universal Technician. In that time, he has set records on performance and been an example for new employees. Logan is from Hart County, where he lives with his wife. He enjoys being outdoors, fishing and golf. Logan is passionate about building relationships with his customers and loves being part of the American Pest Control family.

 

Jenna Smith was also a recipient of the Rising Star Award. Jenna has been with American Pest Control for almost three years. She is a Training and Development Specialist and her favorite part of her job is being able to arm new employees with everything they need to succeed while welcoming them to the APC family.  Jenna is from Oglethorpe County and now lives in Athens with her husband. She enjoys reading and spending time with her family. Jenna is grateful to be a part of the APC family and work for a company that supports The Tree House, a local non-profit that supports families who have struggled with abuse.

The award winners were announced at a company-wide meeting held during 4th quarter of 2019. American Pest Control is grateful for these outstanding employees who, along with the entire staff, contribute to the long-running success of the company.

Termite Insurance: What You Need to Know

 

So you bought a house, now what? As you probably know by now, there is a laundry list of things to do as a new homeowner. Securing homeowners’ insurance, changing your addressgetting to know your new neighbors and HOA, replacing locks and filtersThen there are the fun things like picking out your paint colors, decorating the space, and settling into your new home. But the list doesn’t end there, because termites aren’t covered by your homeowners’ insurance policy.  Termites cause more damage annually than all floods, fires, hurricanes and earthquakes combined and yet they’re not covered by homeowners insurance policiesYep. If those hungry little bugs decide to feast on your home for their next meal, chances are it won’t be covered.  

 The ugly truth of it is that termites have cost homeowners an estimated 5 billion dollars per year in the United States. Especially in the South, where conditions are usually perfect for termite activity because of the warm, wet climate. In our region the saying goes, “It’s not if you’ll get termites, it’s when”. At American Pest Control, our goal is to educate homeowners about termites: how and why they get to your house, and how to protect your investment when they come knocking on your door for their next meal. Basically, termites are blind and find food by randomly foraging. They’re not afraid of a little hike, either, so if there’s a colony within around 100 yards of your home, your structure could be at risk. Once they find a food source, the worker termites take it back to their colony and share it with the soldiers and their queen. If your home is surrounded by a termite bait system like Sentricon, when they take the food (bait) back to their colony, they will all be eliminated. That’s why the product works! Because it’s totally based on termite biology.   

There are a few things you can do as a homeowner in addition to having your home inspected by a pro and treated. Termites only need a crack of one-sixty-fourth inch to get in, so it would be hard to guarantee that they can’t get through but you can reduce openings by filling cracks in cement foundations or where utilities pass through the wall. Fix leaks and make sure vents aren’t blocked to reduce moisture content, don’t store firewood and debris next to the house, and don’t let trees and shrubs grow against exposed wood surfaces. Most importantly, termite protection is not one of the projects you’ll want to DIY. The pros know where to look and what signs to keep an eye out for, so get a free inspection and find out what else you can be doing to protect your home. Many companies offer warranties, so before signing a contract for a treatment, make sure that the termite insurance has a lifetime warranty and doesn’t require an additional deductible if activity or damage is found after the treatment. 

 

If you haven’t had your home inspected, give us a call. We’d love the chance to partner with you in protecting your biggest investment. You can check out what our customers have to say about us here and call or text us at 706-546-1490 to schedule a free inspection.  

 

 

What’s the Buzz: Quality Pro

Quality Pro is the pest management industry’s leading credentialing program. In the United States, only 1% of pest control companies are accredited by Quality Pro. American Pest Control is one of those companies.

 

In order to become accredited, pest management companies must meet sixteen standards. These include things like drug testing, background testing and motor vehicle reports. These requirements ensure that any pest professional who enters a customer’s home meet the expectations of excellence. When you choose a company that is Quality Pro accredited, you are getting the best professionals available.

 

American Pest Control has been Quality Pro Accredited for 10 years. In this time, they have earned additional accreditation including Quality Pro Green, and Quality Pro Schools. These levels two require even more standards and training that must be met.  The core values that American Pest Control was founded on are honesty, integrity and good customer service. The Quality Pro standards of excellence align with those values. This means that as an accredited pest management company, American Pest Control is name you can trust, and the experts you can count on.

 

🎉🎵Happy Birthday to APC!🎵🎉

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, travelling with his family to work in cities across the US. After climbing the ranks within the company, he became more 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. Kathy Hollin and Doug Craft joined him soon after he opened the company’s doors on November 15th, 1971 and remain employed with the company to this day. The first location was on Atlanta Highway just across the street from the Georgia Square Mall. In the 1980s, the building which still serves as the company’s headquarters was constructed at 3145 Atlanta Highway.

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