What You Need to Know About the Malaria Outbreak in Florida

Person scratching mosquito bites

On June 26, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory for residents of Florida and Texas. Within the last two months, they have identified multiple locally acquired malaria cases in those states. So, what does that mean, and what should you do to protect yourself? The experts at Florida Pest Control explain what you need to know about malaria, how it spreads, and how you can keep the disease at bay.

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a potentially life-threatening disease that spreads to humans through mosquito bites. It typically begins with flu-like symptoms such as chills, muscle aches, vomiting, and fatigue. However, if it is left untreated it can lead to death by causing kidney failure, seizures, and other serious conditions. 

Most people experience symptoms within four weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito, though some can develop the illness much later – even up to a year after the initial infection. If you think that you may have malaria, you should seek immediate medical attention for a diagnosis and treatment.

Why Are the Recent Malaria Cases Significant?

Malaria is a widespread disease that affects many parts of the world, though it is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions. But, if it’s a global problem, why has the CDC put out a health advisory for these cases in particular? 

The reason why these malaria cases are so significant is that they are the first locally transmitted cases in the United States since 2003. Over the last 20 years, nearly all instances of malaria in the US have occurred shortly after a person traveled to a place where malaria is more common. Even though the current outbreak is not large, it’s crucial to contain the disease before it can become a more widespread problem in the US.

Is Malaria Contagious?

Contrary to what many people believe, malaria cannot spread from person to person. It only spreads through infected mosquitoes. That is why one of the best ways to prevent the disease is to avoid mosquito bites.

How Can I Prevent Mosquito Bites?

It may seem impossible to avoid mosquitoes, especially during summertime here in Florida. However, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself from mosquitoes:

  • Limit mosquito populations on your property: The fewer mosquitoes on your property, the less likely you are to be bitten. Since these pests need stagnant water to breed, start by eliminating even the smallest puddles that accumulate in your yard. Check your gutters, playground equipment, landscaping features, upturned buckets, and other spots that water could gather.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants: Though some mosquitoes can bite through clothing, they are less likely to access your skin if you are wearing protective clothing. 
  • Avoid going out at dawn and dusk: Mosquitoes are crepuscular creatures, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. Staying indoors during these times can help you avoid massive swarms and reduce your likelihood of being bitten. 
  • Use mosquito netting and check your screens: The last thing you want is to have mosquitoes buzzing around your home. Repair any holes in your door and window screens, and consider sleeping under a mosquito net. You can also use mosquito netting to protect your porch so you can enjoy sitting outside without worrying about bites. 
  • Apply an EPA-registered repellent: The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of registered products that can help deter mosquitoes and other pests. To find the right option for your needs and to learn about safely applying repellents, visit their site here.
  • Avoid wasting your time with ineffective DIY methods: There are endless tips and tricks on the Internet that promise to keep mosquitoes away. Unfortunately, many of these tips are not worth the effort and money – and some can even backfire. Read through our other blog to learn which mosquito prevention tips aren’t effective

Professional Mosquito Extermination Services

Struggling with mosquitoes on your property? Overwhelmed with mosquito prevention and want help getting started? The experts at Florida Pest Control have you covered! Our state-licensed technicians have proudly served homes and businesses throughout Florida since 1949, and we offer comprehensive mosquito control that is rooted in Integrated Pest Management techniques. We will create a custom treatment plan that is tailored to your space and lifestyle needs. To get help removing mosquitoes from your property, give us a call today!

How Do Rats Get Inside The Attic?

Rat on a piece of wood in the attic

Discovering unwanted visitors in your attic can be an unsettling experience for any homeowner. Among the numerous pests that may invade our homes, rats hold a notorious position, and their presence in the attic is a common problem faced by many. Understanding how these resourceful creatures gain access to your attic is crucial in addressing the issue effectively. 

How Rats Get Inside

Your attic may seem like a strange place for rats to invade, but infestations up high are more common than many people realize. Rats are excellent climbers – especially roof rats, which have extra-long tails that make it easy for them to balance. Once they climb up the side of your home, rats may enter your attic by:

  • Entering through cracks or gaps
  • Looking for soft spots or holes in your roof
  • Crawling through attic fans or vents
  • Looking for plumbing or wiring openings

Keeping your roof and siding in great condition is one of the best ways to prevent an upstairs invasion of rodents. You can also seal any existing openings with caulk to make it more difficult for rats to access your space. 

Signs You Have Rats in Your Attic

Identifying the presence of rats in your attic is crucial in tackling the issue promptly. The sooner you spot an infestation, the easier it will be to address the problem and avoid property damage or health risks. Here are some telltale signs that indicate a potential rat infestation:

  • Strange Noises: If you hear scratching, scurrying, or squeaking sounds coming from your attic, especially during the night when rats are most active, it’s a strong indication of their presence.
  • Foul Odors: Rats have a distinct musky smell that can permeate the air in your attic. If you detect a strong, unpleasant odor that persists despite your efforts to eliminate it, it could be a sign of a rat infestation.
  • Droppings: Rat droppings are a reliable indicator of their presence. These small, pellet-like droppings are usually dark brown or black and can be found near their nesting areas, along pathways, or near food sources. 
  • Gnaw Marks: Rats constantly gnaw on objects to keep their teeth from growing too long. Look for gnaw marks on wooden beams, wires, insulation, and other materials in your attic. 
  • Grease Marks: Rats have oily fur that can leave greasy smudges along their regular paths. These marks may be visible along walls, beams, or near openings where they enter and exit your attic.
  • Nesting Materials: Rats build nests using various materials like shredded paper, fabric, insulation, and plant matter. Check for nests tucked away in secluded corners or within insulation. Finding nests is a clear sign of a rat infestation.

What to Do if You Have Rats in the Attic

When faced with a rat infestation in your attic, it’s tempting to tackle the problem on your own. However, opting for professional rodent control services offers numerous advantages that make it the best choice for effectively eliminating these unwanted guests. Our services are eco-friendly ensuring your family is safe while the pest problem is dealt with, and with over 70 years of service, that’s a legacy you can rely on.

Bees, Wasps, and Hornets, Oh My! – Preparing for Stinging Insect Season

a wasp pulling its stinger out of a human arm

Most people look forward to the return of summer each year. They cannot wait to spend time enjoying the outdoors and the many activities Florida has to offer. However, the return of summer also signals the return of stinging insects. Just the sight of these pesky insects can send many people running or cause them to freeze in fear of nasty, painful stings. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep these stinging insects out of your yard, allowing you and your family to safely enjoy your outdoor space all summer long!

Types of Stinging Insects

Stinging insects can be categorized into three species; Bees, Wasps, and Hornets.

  • Bees can often be identified by their fuzzy appearance. These hard-working pollinators are an essential part of our ecosystem; pollinating many fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Honey Bees and Bumblebees are the most common type of bees and are fairly harmless unless threatened. Carpenter bees are known to cause extensive damage to homes, burrowing into wooden structures to build their individual nest. 
  • Wasps come in a variety of shapes and colors; Mud Daubers, for example, are mostly black and have extremely thin long waists. While Yellowjackets are bright yellow and black. They are one of the most common wasps you may see. Yellow jackets and Paper Wasps build easily identifiable papery nests from chewed-up wood fibers. Wood daubers, on the other hand, build distinct nests made up of many small mud tubes.
  • Hornets are extremely useful in keeping the insect population at bay. Hornets have a reputation for being extremely aggressive, like the Bald-Faced Hornet. These hornets have unique white and black markings and will attack anyone who gets too close to their nest.

Clearing Your Yard of Stinging Insects

Getting rid of stinging insects is a top priority for many homeowners. Below are a few tips to keep your yard free of these unwanted pests!

  • Use Traps: Traps are extremely effective at eliminating any stray wasps or hornets that may come to crash your barbecue but will not get rid of nests. 
  • Remove abandoned nests: Some stinging insects will return to abandoned nests in the spring. Most stinging insects will abandon their nests when it gets cold, making winter the perfect time to scout your property and remove any nests you may find. Call professional exterminators to remove any nests during any season to prevent stings!
  • Keep food covered: Wasps and hornets are often attracted to your food. Make sure to cover any food left outside to deter these pests from crashing your picnic.
  • Secure garbage cans: Stinging insects will often swarm dumpsters looking for leftover food or sugary snacks. Keep garbage can lids tightly closed to keep hornets and wasps away.
  • Landscape to keep pests away: Some stinging insects are attracted to bright flowers that produce nectar. To keep these pests away from your patio, plant peppermint, citronella, or lemongrass around your home instead!

Professional Extermination

Removing a bee, wasp, or hornet nest can be a risky endeavor. These nasty pests have painful stings that can send some to the hospital. Removing stinging insects from your yard should be left to the professionals. The experienced pest control technicians at Florida Pest Control have the expertise and equipment to remove any nests from your yard safely and effectively. At Florida Pest Control we want you to be able to enjoy your yard without worrying about being stung.

Don’t let stinging insects ruin your outdoor fun; contact us today for a free quote and let us handle the job!

Mosquito Control: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do

A child itching their leg with mosquitos swarming around them.

Mosquitoes are a problem every Floridian knows about due to the year-round warm and humid climate. While professional exterminators are the best solution to your pest problem, there are things you can do for at-home mosquito control. However, it’s important to know which mosquito control methods work and which ones don’t. . 

Dangers of Mosquitoes

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mosquito bites account for the deaths of more than 700,000 people every year, with a majority of these deaths due to malaria. Diseases from mosquito bites fall into Vector-borne diseases, which also include malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus, and yellow fever. Along with diseases, mosquitoes also cause itchy bites that can cause an allergic reaction in some people. It can vary from redness and swelling to, in rare cases, severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis. 

With these dangers, it’s no wonder that you would want to find a way to control mosquitoes around your home and yard.

What You Shouldn’t Do

There are dozens of DIY mosquito control methods on the Internet, but many of them are ineffective – and some could even attract more pests to your property. While some methods work, here is a list of the ones that you shouldn’t waste your time or money on:

  • Citronella Candles: These candles work in a small area, lose their potency quickly, and have to be replaced often. 
  • Bug Zappers: Bug zappers use an ultraviolet light to attract insects. Mosquitoes are not attracted to this light and it will kill more beneficial insects.
  • Coffee Grounds: Mosquitoes are not attracted to the smell of coffee and there are not enough insecticidal properties, such as caffeine, for coffee gounds to be a proven and effective repellant. 

What You Should Do

While EPA-approved DEET-based insect repellents work well, there are other natural ways that you can prevent mosquitoes from making you their next meal. 

  • Add Mosquito Netting: Outdoor seating areas are a buffet line for mosquitoes. By adding mosquito netting around your seating area and your doors provides a barrier from mosquitoes and other insects. 
  • Remove Standing Water: Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. To avoid an infestation directly in your yard, make sure to drain any standing water. This water can accumulate in buckets, wheelbarrows, or debris in your yard. 
  • Outdoor Fans: Mosquitoes are weak fliers and their plans are thwarted easily with a swift breeze. By using multiple outdoor fans that oscillate, you can help prevent mosquitoes from easily landing on you and your family. 

Licensed Mosquito Exterminators

If you’ve tried some natural methods to eliminate mosquitoes but they keep coming back, it may be time to call a professional. Florida Pest Control are the mosquito experts. They have been protecting homes and businesses across Florida since 1949. We offer mosquito prevention services and long-term mosquito control to provide home and business owners with the peace of mind that these pests are taken care of. Call today to get a free quote! 

TAP Out with Pest Control Insulation

a cluster of ants gathered on the floor - keep pests away from your home with florida pest control

Pest control in Florida is an ongoing process. You might already know some of the helpful habits that can help deter any unwelcome guests from infesting your home. By clearing out clutter and keeping your food supply stored in airtight containers, you limit the appeal of your home to a variety of pests. These are the kinds of precautions you can take throughout the year – but what if there was an extra layer of defense you can take with no added effort? And what if this defense could actually make your home more comfortable and even more efficient? All of that is possible with TAP® Insulation, a service offered by the team at Florida Pest Control. Curious about why a pest control company would install insulation? Keep reading to learn more!

What is TAP® Insulation?

TAP stands for Thermal, Acoustical, Pest Control Insulation. Unlike batting or spray foam, TAP comes in the form of loose-fill cellulose that can easily be blown into the walls of new buildings or the attics of existing homes. Once it settles, it activates a very special superpower. Because TAP is treated with Boric acid, a naturally occurring mineral that cannot harm pets, children or adults unless ingested in large quantities. But when insect pests come into contact with it, they end up ingesting it through grooming themselves or other people. Insect pests are unable to pass Boric acid, and they eventually die of malnutrition or dehydration. And, with that, you’ve stopped a soon-to-be infestation without you having to do a thing.

While it is unable to kill rats or rodents, TAP can effectively control a wide range of pests. This covers ants and termites (especially Formosan termites), all the way up to snails, roaches, and many varieties of beetle. And that’s only the beginning of how TAP can make your home a more comfortable place to live.

Benefits of TAP® Pest Control Insulation

In addition to being a constant, effective pest fighter, TAP is a quality insulator. That’s because the cellulose that it’s made of slows the transfer of heat and leaves you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It can even do a passable job of absorbing noise from outside the home – not as well as spray foam, but better than fiberglass batting. Many of our clients love the reliability of TAP insulation, and how it remains effective nearly perpetually after the initial installation.

Of course, it isn’t a perfect insulator in all conditions. Cellulose is especially vulnerable to rot and moisture damage, so to care for it you need to make sure your attic isn’t experiencing moisture intrusion or a leaky roof. As long as that’s the case, you can enjoy an eco-forward insulator that’s made primarily out of recycled material.

TAP® Insulation From Florida Pest Control

There’s a lot to like about TAP insulation. Not only will it kill pests for as long as it’s kept intact, but it’ll also actually save you money. You’ll spend less on your monthly HVAC bills since your furnace and A/C will be able to function better and with less energy. And that’s not to mention the cost saved on pesticide treatments you won’t need. Don’t get us wrong, if you still need residential pest control we’re happy to help. But we’d rather have your house keep itself pest-free* on an ongoing basis. Contact us to schedule an estimate for TAP Insulation.

Tips to Prevent Florida Lawn Pests

dirt mounds in an otherwise healthy lawn hint at a possible lawn pest infestation

Tips and Tricks to Prevent Lawn Pests (in Florida)

Lawn pests are notorious here in Florida. From chewing grass to leaving behind dirt mounds, these tiny critters have a big impact on the overall well-being of your landscape. Knowing how to prevent lawn pests is a crucial step in maintaining a beautiful, well-manicured lawn all year long. To help you out, the experts at Florida Pest Control have put together everything you need to know to help prevent Florida lawn pests.

Watch Out for These Common Florida Lawn Pests

The first step to keeping your yard pest-free* is to understand what types of insects and critters will try to invade. Getting familiar with the common lawn pests will help you identify infestations early on:

Best Practices to Prevent Lawn Pests

Getting rid of an infestation is much more challenging than preventing pests from invading in the first place. By spending a little bit of time on preventative maintenance, you could save a lot of time and energy later down the road. Here are a few great ways to prevent lawn pests:

  • Regularly mow: Long, unkempt grass is the perfect environment for pests to hide out and nest. Regularly mowing will keep your lawn tidy and make it more challenging for pests to settle in. 
  • Fix moisture issues: Most pests thrive in damp areas, which is why they are drawn to lawns that are frequently wet. Overflowing gutters, leaky irrigation systems, and overwatering are just a few common causes of moisture issues. 
  • Control weeds: Weeds are more than just a cosmetic issue for your lawn. They can also attract pests, which is another reason why you should keep your grass weed-free as much as possible.
  • Keep your yard clear: Insects and rodents love to live in piles of sticks, twigs, leaves, and other organic matter. Rake and clean your yard regularly to prevent pests from nesting on your property. 

Signs of an Infestation

It can be challenging to spot an infestation before it has the chance to establish itself. However, the sooner you spot pests, the easier they will be to get rid of. Keep an eye out for these warning signs of an infestation to spot pests before they can spread:

  • Burrows or dirt mounds
  • Holes or gnaw marks
  • Patches or strips of dead grass
  • Live pests or eggs

Use “The Drench Test” to Find Pests

Drench tests are an excellent tool for identifying infestations. To perform one, all you need to do is mix 3-4 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid with approximately 2 gallons of water. Once thoroughly mixed, pour the liquid out over a small patch of your lawn and wait for about ten minutes. If any pests rise to the surface, then you are likely dealing with lawn pests.  

Easy Steps to Help Eliminate Lawn Pests

Pests can cause significant damage to your lawn, even in a short amount of time. That’s why you’ll want to take quick action as soon as you notice the signs on your property. To get pests out of your lawn, follow these steps:

Clean Your Yard

Messy yards with lots of spaces to hide make the perfect environment for infestations to thrive. Taking a few minutes to tidy up your yard is one of the best ways to deter pests from invading your space. Here are our top tips for making your yard less appealing to pests:

  • Rake away leaves and debris
  • Regularly trim your grass
  • Clean out your gutters
  • Remove toys, tools, and other clutter
  • Avoid leaving pet bowls out
  • Use lidded trash bins

Use Natural Pest Control Solutions

Now that your yard is clean and tidy, it’s time to drive out any pests that have settled into your lawn. To do so safely, we recommend using natural pest control solutions that minimize your environmental impact. Here are some of the most effective natural pest remedies:

Invite Natural Predators to Your Yard

Beneficial birds and insects will not only fill your yard with life, but also keep the harmful critters at bay. Encouraging natural predators in your yard is a great way to control pest populations while remaining environmentally responsible. Consider encouraging these natural predators to enter your yard:

  • Wrens
  • Bluebirds
  • Lacewings
  • Praying mantises
  • Ladybugs
  • Big-eyed bugs

Use Neem Oil Spray

Neem oil is an excellent natural pest repellent. Derived from the seeds of neem trees, this oil is biodegradable and nontoxic to pets. Additionally, it is antibacterial and antifungal, which can make it effective against more than just pest infestations. 

Most garden stores carry neem oil spray, though you can make your own by mixing a quart of water with two teaspoons of neem oil and one teaspoon of mild soap. You can spray this mixture directly onto the plants to deter pests. 

Aerate and Dethatch Your Lawn

All lawns have a thin layer of thatch near the roots, which is made up of organic matter like dead grass stems or lawn clippings. While a thin layer can be healthy, too much buildup can become the perfect environment for pests to nest. Once your thatch measures over ¾”, it’s time to take action.

Aerating is one of the best ways to break down the thatch layer. To do so, you will use a special tool to poke small holes throughout the surface of your lawn. This helps loosen up thatch while allowing air and nutrients to penetrate deep into the grass roots. In addition to breaking down the thatch, aerating promotes stronger and healthier grass that is more resistant to pests. 

Try a Pesticide

Some infestations are stubborn. If you’ve tried everything and are still dealing with pests in your lawn, then it may be time to try a chemical pesticide. That said, pesticides are serious products that contain intense chemicals that could cause serious damage to your health or the environment if used improperly. It’s crucial to do your research or work with a professional before applying a treatment. 

When to Use a Pesticide

Pesticides contain harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals, which is why you should always use them as a last resort. Improper usage will put your family, pets, and property at an unnecessary risk. You should only use pesticides if:

  • You have researched all risk factors: Households with small children or pets have a higher risk of accidental exposure when using pesticides. Examine your property and household to determine if it is possible to safely apply a treatment. If you are unsure of the risk factors in your space, always consult a professional. 
  • You’ve tried natural methods first: Pesticides contain serious chemicals that should only be used as a last resort. To treat infestations in a safe and responsible manner, try natural pest control methods or get the help of an expert before turning to pesticides. 
  • You are dealing with a dangerous pest: Some pests pose a bigger threat to your health and wellbeing. If you are dealing with a severe infestation or facing a potentially dangerous pest, such as a rat, then pesticides may be the most appropriate course of action.
  • You’ve chosen a safe product: There are thousands of pesticides available on the market, and not all are created equal. It’s crucial to know how to read the label to find a safe and effective option. 
  • You are complying with local regulations: Some cities or HOAs have strict rules surrounding pesticide applications. Be sure to check local guidelines to ensure you are following all rules and regulations. 
  • You are confident in your ability to safely handle the chemicals: If you have any questions about pesticides or have any doubts about your ability to safely apply a treatment, then you should always reach out to a professional. Paying a small amount for an expert’s help is worth preventing a serious accident.

How to Safely Apply Pesticides

When it comes to pesticide application, it is crucial that you take every safety precaution. Mistakes could expose your family or pets to potentially deadly chemicals, which is why you should always handle these chemicals with care. To safely apply a pesticide, remember these guidelines:

  • Always carefully read and follow manufacturer instructions
  • Wear all safety protection gear, such as gloves and glasses
  • Be meticulous and accurate with your measurements
  • Keep all pets and children away from application areas
  • Leave a warning sign indicating that pesticides are on the lawn
  • Have a safety plan in case of accidental chemical exposure

Professional Lawn Pest Control At Your Service

Lawn pest control can be a tricky process, especially if you are dealing with a severe infestation. That’s where the team at Florida Pest Control can help! For over 70 years, our skilled experts have gone the extra mile to ensure peace of mind for you and your family by protecting your property from unwanted pests. Whether you are facing an active infestation or want to set up preventative measures, we’ve got you covered! Just contact us today to get your free inspection.