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Massachusetts Rodent Report

It’s not your imagination. There are more rodents than ever before. Maybe you first became aware of it when people started complaining on social media, or perhaps you know someone who found a mouse or a rat in their home. Either way rodents are on the rise in Massachusetts, particularly in the north shore region of the state.

A “Ra-Tastrophe”

Late last year, residents in towns along the coast, including Salem, Peabody, and Danvers, started reporting more rodents in and around homes. The Salem Evening News reported that, “The upswing in population is causing a ra-tastrophe on the North Shore, as more rodents, attracted to densely settled areas.”

See What Public Health Directors are Saying

Peabody Public Health Director Sharon Cameron said, “Most of our complaints are coming in the more densely populated areas in the city. That’s because rodents like to live where people like to live. We provide them with food and water and sources of harborage.” Public health specialists are quick to educate residents that rodents are looking for three main things: food, water, and a safe place to nest.

Preventative Action Against Rats & Mice

To avoid encouraging rats and mice, exterminators as well as city/state officials, are suggesting that homeowners make their homes as unattractive as possible to these scavengers. To do this seal up holes in your foundation. Keep garbage covered. Bring pet food bowls in each evening. Clean grills and BBQ areas thoroughly after each use. Be sure to store firewood away from your home. Keep your gutters clean and maintain a clean yard year round.

Combating The Issue

The problem is not just occurring in Peabody, but all across the north shore. Peabody reported over 100 rodent complaints to the city last year, while Salem’s numbers of complaints doubled. This is not including the numbers of homes that do not report rodents to their specific municipality.

 

To combat this growing problem, the region will be using part of a $250,000 grant from the state Department of Public Health to put out a request for a proposals to develop a regional Integrated Pest Management plan. The plan would include environmental sanitation, proper food storage, rodent-proofing, trapping, and poisoning.

Have you noticed an upswing in rats and mice in your area or, worse yet, in your home? Be sure to report the event to the North Shore Shared Public Health Services Group. Need help getting rid of the rodents in your home? Call Pest-End Exterminators now at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.


Stink Bugs are Back

Spring is an exceptionally wonderful time of year, especially in the northeast where residents have been waiting three or more long months to get out and enjoy the warmer weather. Well,

How Did I Get Stink Bugs?

Whether you were aware of it or not, stink bugs may have found their way into your home last fall. They have an extraordinary ability to slip into homes through torn screens and door cracks thanks to their flat body shape.

Stink bugs do this regularly every fall, when the temperature dips and the weather takes a turn for the worst. They gravitate toward the warmth of structures, like your home, to overwinter and wait out the cold weather until spring.

Can Stink Bugs Be Dangerous?

Although stink bugs don’t generally present a health threat to people like other pests sometimes do, they are a nuisance. Agriculturally, stink bugs can cause some serious damage. The damage they cause to crops and plants can be quite severe.

Stink bugs typically attack apples, peaches, figs, mulberries, citrus fruits, corn, tomatoes, green peppers, and persimmons as well as ornamental plants, weeds, soybeans, and beans grown for food production. They tend to damage the plantings permanently due to the piercing and sucking mouthparts that injure the plants.

What is That Smell?

Stink bugs are known for their shield-like shape as well as the odor that they can cause – thus the name stink bug. The smell can be emitted from the glands between the legs of stink bugs which emits an odor that gets much stronger when the pests are smashed or frightened. This ability to secrete a bad-smelling, foul-tasting fluid protects stink bugs from their natural predators. However, no one wants that smell in their home!

How Do I Get Rid of Stink Bugs?

We suggest avoiding squishing, stomping on, or frightening stink bugs. Rather, if you notice these bugs heading toward windows or lights, give them a chance to find their way out by opening up windows and doors. They are especially attracted to light so lure them toward an opening of your choosing by lighting the way. If you find that you have more than just a few stink bugs, you may want to call a professional. Call Pest-End Exterminators now at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.


Gaps in Your Foundation: A Welcome Sign to Pests

The foundation of any home is not just the bricks and mortar on which a structure is built, but also the ground level access point for pests of all varieties. Think of your foundation as the welcome sign or open door to ants, rodents, cockroaches, termites, and even larger wildlife.

In order to avoid a pest party via your foundation, consider taking some simple annual steps to secure your foundation. Many of these you can do on your own, while others may require the help of a mason or contractor.

Clear the Outside Perimeter of your Foundation

One of the easiest steps that any homeowner can take to curb pests from finding their way to the foundation is to keep the area clear. This means removing leaves, debris, wood, and other junk that may pile up along our foundation. We also suggest keeping bushes and shrubs trimmed back so that bugs do not use branches as a “bridge” to your home. In addition, never pile firewood next your home as this is a prime area for pests to take shelter. The closer to your house, the more likely they will find an opening to take advantage of.

 

Seal Holes and Cracks to Prevent Pests

Depending upon the style of foundation your home has, sealing holes and gaps may be easier said than done. Concrete cracks can be sealed by homeowners using caulk and possibly foam sealants. For homes that have fieldstone foundations, things get a bit trickier. Fieldstone is extremely common in older homes, especially in the New England area. Find a professional who can evaluate access points and determine how to best seal up your home.

Eliminate Moisture to Avoid Infestations

Moisture is a huge attraction to most bugs, especially those that can not regulate their own body moisture levels. Keep your basement and foundation area dry to avoid attracting bugs. In addition, moisture that gets into the masonry of your foundation can freeze and cause cracks and openings during the cold northeast winters.

 

 

Call the Professionals

If you think the foundation of your home may be where pests, rodents, or wildlife are entering your home, then call in the professionals to rid your home of unwanted visitors. Pest-End Exterminators can help you eliminate and exclude pests from all areas of your home.

How often do you check your basement and/or foundation for gaps? Most inspectors suggest regular checks to be sure that the structure is secure and that pests are not taking advantage of any openings. Call Pest-End Exterminators now at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.

 


Signs that Wildlife is Rabid

In our blogs, we often discuss wildlife that has found its way onto our client’s property or, worse yet, into their home! Wildlife finding access to your home can happen in the basement, attic, fireplace and garage.

Recently we have blogged about skunks, squirrels, raccoons, and other wildlife that often find themselves searching for a meal or a safe nesting place on your property. These incidences of finding a wildlife pest in or around your home is fairly common for our region. What is not common is finding one that may be harboring rabies. Today’s blog will look at signs that the wildlife in your area may be rabid.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system. While human cases of the virus are extremely rare in the United States, the few cases that do present themselves are 99% fatal if not treated before symptoms appear. This is why it is extremely important to understand the dangers and potential behaviors that may indicate a rabid animal.

Can You Tell if an Animal is Rabid by Looking At It?

The Centers for Disease Control states that you can’t tell if an animal has rabies by just looking at it. The only way doctors can know for sure if an animal (or a person who was scratched or bitten) has rabies, is to do a laboratory tests. Once tested, a series of shots can help prevent the disease from progressing.

What Behaviors Indicate a Potential Rabid Animal?

Some animals, such as raccoons and skunks may act strangely when they have rabies. They may show behaviors such as restlessness, apprehension, or aggression. The aggression may escalate to the point of attempts at biting or attacking other animals, or even humans.

More commonly animals that have rabies act timid or shy. A wild animal may move slowly or act tame. You might be able to easily get close to it. Since that’s not the way wild animals usually act, you should remember that something could be wrong.

The Humane Society of America suggests the following 3 steps to keep safe from animals that may be rabid.

  1. Don’t approach or handle wild animals, especially sick wild animals.
  2. Vaccinate your pets.
  3. Get prompt post-exposure treatment when advised to do so by a doctor or the health department.

The number of human cases of rabies annually is fewer than two people. This number is lower than the number of people struck by lightning yearly. While the numbers are low and a bite by a rabid animal is rare, it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself, your family and your pets.

 


Wildlife is Waking Up: Bear Warnings

Just a few short weeks ago, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife reminded Bay Staters to take precautions against bears who are currently waking up from their long winter hibernation. They warned that black bears are now active and seeking food. If you live in northern Middlesex County, Worcester County, and western MA, steps should be taken to avoid a run in with these animals.

Hide Potential Food Sources


A large part of the warning includes taking precautions in backyards, specifically about potential food sources. For example, Wildlife experts suggest removing bird feeders that may be attracting black bears to neighborhoods and residential areas.

 

MassWildlife also suggests securing beehives, chickens, and livestock. Properly maintained electric fencing is the only way to protect chickens or beehives from bears. Unfortunately, hungry bears looking for a quick meal will bypass natural items like skunk cabbage for an easier meal at a bird feeder, bee hive, or chicken coop.

Bears Are Hungry After Hibernation


Every spring, black bears come out of hibernation hungry and ready to find a meal. Officials warn that each year, the 4500 black bears in our region seem to be expanding more eastward. This means that larger suburbs and cities will eventually need to be wary of when hibernation time is ending for our region.

 

Protecting Your Home & Property


Educating yourself and your neighbors about proactive measures to avoid conflicts with bears is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, pets, and property. Further suggestions to protect yourself include the following ideas. Keep garbage in a shed or garage and do not put it by the curb until the morning of pick up. Clean the grease off a grill after each use. The smell and drippings may be just enough to attract wildlife to your yard. Do not leave pet food or bowls outside overnight. Finally, if you compost, do so responsibly during this time of year. Avoid putting meat scraps in the bin as they draw wildlife of all kinds.

Remember, spring means that everything is awakening, including black bears. Keep your family safe by taking these precautions. If you do happen to encounter a bear, seek shelter and call the authorities immediately.

 

 


The Power of the Almighty Ant

Ants possess more strength than even the world’s strongest humans could only dream about. According to OneKindPlanet, tiny leaf cutter ants can lift and carry in their jaws something 50 times their own body weight of about 500 mg. That’s the same as a human lifting a truck with their teeth!

 

As if this isn’t amazing enough, ants are extremely social, and can communicate and cooperate with each other by using chemicals known as pheromones. They use these chemicals to alert other ants to danger in the area or lead them to a promising food source. If you think about it, ants are pretty spectacular to think about, unless of course, there is a line of them crossing through your kitchen on their way to a tasty meal.

If you find your home overrun with ants this spring, don’t panic. Spring is the most common time to see a major emergence of ants in homes. The start of the warm weather is when the ants start marching in like an unwanted house guest.

During the spring, ants are driven to find a place that is warm during the night hours and has plenty of easily accessible food and water resources for them to feast on. If your home is easily accessible, meaning there are ways to enter your structure, like gaps in the foundation, openings in windows, or seals that are broken around utility pipes, then your home may be a prime spot for an ant infestation. 

Ants find their way eventually to a food and water source. The most likely location is the kitchen. It may start with one or two black ants and and then all of a sudden you have a line of ants that have communicated with friends that your kitchen is the place to be.

 

 

We suggest contacting a professional who can evaluate how and where the ants are entering your home, as well as treat for the pests. On your own, you may want to start to clean with ants in mind. Find all spills and crumbs quickly and clean the area. Store ripe fruit in the fridge and all other food in airtight containers. Clean out trash cans (inside and outside). Keep pet bowls clean and wipe up any spilled food/water around them. Finally, inspect indoor potted plants for any insect activity on a frequent basis.

Do you have ants? Chances are, if you live in New England, then the answer is yes. Call Pest-End Exterminators now at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.


Spring Cleaning Tips for Help Avoid Pests

This spring couldn’t come soon enough for most of us. We are so thrilled to finally have temps rising and the sun shining. The newness and freshness of this season causes many of us to want to do some spring cleaning. Taking down the curtains for washing, and emptying out the closets where everyone dumps their stuff are top on a lot of spring cleaning lists. While these are great ideas, we have a few spring cleaning ideas of our own that can not only get you organized and start the season fresh, but also can help prevent pest invasions that happen every spring in our area.

Some simple actions around your home can help prevent or at least diminish pest invasions. For example, ants, rodents, cockroaches, termites, and other insects tend to emerge as the weather improves. By adding some of these pest proofing items to your spring cleaning list, you may find that you see fewer pests.

The Kitchen

Do a really deep clean of your kitchen. This means getting under your stove and fridge to all those crumbs and spills that have been sitting there, waiting to be claimed by ants or other insects. During your deep clean, remove everything from your pantry and inspect for pantry pests that may have found their way into your flour or cereals. Wipe down all shelves and use strong plastic containers to store items. Fix drips that may be on-going in your sink. A water source is one of the main draws pests have to invading your kitchen.

Access Points

Not many people have windows and foundations on their spring cleaning list, but we suggest adding a couple items. Check all windows to be sure that screens are properly fitting and there are no gaps in the framing. The same goes for the foundation. Seal openings even if they seem small. Check vents for utilities that could be access points where pests or rodents could enter your home.

Outdoors

Trim back bushes that could be used as bridges for pests entering your home. Keep firewood away from the structure of your house. Pick up twigs, sticks and other decaying materials from your yard. Remove any stagnant water that may be in your yard including puddles in old tires, frisbees and innocuous items.

Basements/Attics

These two areas are notoriously dumping grounds where clutter can pile up. Take some time to declutter and neaten up the areas. Pests love to hide in clutter, and can easily find their way into seasonal decorations if not stored properly. Once areas are clean, not only will there be fewer places to hide, but any infestation will be easy to spot.

Spring cleaning can mean a fresh start just as the weather is getting better. Add some of these pest proofing items to your list this year to avoid pests getting comfortable in your home. Contact us at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321 if you have any questions.


Irrigation Start Ups

We are so excited that spring is finally here … at least on the calendar. The temperature may take some time to get a bit warmer, but soon we will begin to see the awakening of life in our yards and gardens. The grass will begin to grow ever so slightly and you may even see a crocus sprout sticking out of the dirt in a few weeks! This means that soon it will be time to start thinking about watering again. Is your Irrigation system ready to go after the harsh winter we just experienced?

Spring start ups for your irrigation system are a good chance to give your entire sprinkler system a complete exam. Not only can this get your system ready for the growing season, but also prolong the system’s life and improve watering efficiency. As a result you could save time, water and money.

Care for your irrigation system last fall probably included a blow out and winterization. Now that spring is here, Pest-End can help with your start up. This is the perfect time to run through the whole system to check it out and see that no damage occurred during those long, cold, winter months. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Hire an irrigation contractor who can inspect all the piping and irrigation components before starting the system up.
  • Evaluate if your system needs an upgrade for needs more efficiency.
  • Inspect sprinkler heads for damage that may have been caused over the winter. This would include looking for bent heads and clogged openings.
  • Inspect every valve and station to make sure the head coverage is proper.
  • Examine heads to be sure they are turning as they should be.

Once all of these inspections have taken place the system can be started. A specialists can carefully open each zone and be sure the pressure is correct. Opening too quickly can cause a surge of pressure that may cause cracks. As each zone is turned on, check for rotation, coverage, and correct pressure. Be sure to check and clean and filters that are poorly performing. It is at this point that you or your irrigation specialists will want to reprogram watering for the beginning of the season and uncover the rain sensor where applicable.

Are you excited for growing season? If you need help starting your irrigation system, consider Pest-End specialists. Call us at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.


Carpenter Ant Invasion

If you live in the northeast region of the U.S., chances are you have experienced the insidious carpenter ant. In fact, when homeowners see them, they are never alone. They come in large numbers and they can be damaging to your home. Let’s take a closer look at these pests that usually start showing up in the early spring.

First of all, the name carpenter ant may be a bit of a misnomer. These ants do not build but rather excavate wood and leave smooth tunnels inside the structure. Keep in mind that the carpenter ants do not eat the wood (like termites), but merely hollow it out. The excavation is done to build nests and can be extremely damaging to the integrity of the wood in your home.

The normal size of an ant colony can be around 20,000 ants with larger colonies usually topping out around 50,000 ants! Usually there is only one queen per colony. With these numbers, your home could see some serious wood damage.

Since carpenter ants require a water source to survive it is a good idea that homeowners fix any leaks and drips that may be occurring outside their home around faucets and do the same for indoor water sources. It is also a good idea to seal up even the smallest entry points to your home including: windows, doors, screens, venting or pipes. Ants will usually have a nest that begins outdoors but may move indoors if the conditions are right. In addition, keep branches and bushes trimmed back from your home and keep firewood stacks a good distance from your home.

In order to solve an ant invasion, you will need to not only eliminate the ants that you can see but also identify the location of the nest. It is also a good idea to evaluate the wood damage that may have been caused so it can be repaired. Finding the source of the problem can be difficult. We suggest contacting a licensed pest control professional who can assess the situation. Our technicians can evaluate your carpenter ant invasion and create a plan for elimination and exclusion. Call Pest-End exterminators at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.


Solving your Spring Skunk Problem

Whether you have ever met a skunk face-to-face or not, you probably know the unmistakable smell they give off. Skunks are famous for their malodorous spray that be smelled as far as a mile away. Their spray can shoot at distances of 10-12 feet. Being sprayed can be the worst, but having a skunk that has made your home theirs, can be an even bigger problem. Read on to find out how to solve your spring skunk problem.

Skunks are often misunderstood or, at least mischaracterized, as evil critters who randomly spray anyone in their path. This is not true. Usually these black and white striped fur balls spray after giving several warnings (stomping feet) and then, only spray in cases where they feel threatened. It is a defense mechanism that helps keep predators away or at least is a reminder to give skunks a wide berth.

If a skunk, or family of skunks, has made a home somewhere within your property line, you may smell the natural comings and goings of these critters after a night of scavenging. There are several steps you can take before involving a professional exterminator that will help keep skunks away from your property.

  • The Farmers Almanac suggests that the best skunk repellent is a light. Skunks are nocturnal and their eyes are very light sensitive. A bright light or a motion sensor flood light will scare skunks away.
  • In addition to installing motion detecting light sensors outside your home, try keeping trash barrels covered and locked when possible. This will keep the smells emanating from your trash, and you won’t be tempting skunks to enter your property.  
  • Since skunks love to eat grubs, take preventative measures to ensure that your lawn does not have grubs. Treatments by a lawn care company can help keep grubs at bay.
  • Seal up areas that a skunk may be able to use as a hiding spot such as: under decks, stairs, sheds or hidden areas of your yard.

Skunks don’t have to be a problem this spring. If skunks persist and keep coming back to your yard, consider calling a pest exterminator such as Pest-End exterminators. Call us at 1-800-287-4321, 603-382-9644, or 978-794-4321.