Using Mother Nature For Pest Control

pest infestation on plant

For thousands of years, Mother Nature has used her own form of natural pest control to deal with insects, critters and other pests. This is otherwise known as biologics. The food chain protects the Earth from over population of pests and other animals. Amazingly, before humanity stepped in, this system seemed to keep the balance of nature in check. Biologic control is a method of dealing with pests by introducing predators, pathogens, or parasites to an area to control or eradicate pests. 

 

An old, familiar saying is that one must know their enemies. The best way to do that is to do a little research. A Bugs 101 course at the University of Alberta might help you understand the different kinds of insect life, and how to deal with them.

 

Biologic Pest Control

In biologic pest control, you must pay careful attention to the numbers and the type of biologic used. Otherwise, things will become unbalanced. It is a bit like the depressing children’s song of ‘The Old Lady That Swallowed the Fly.’ She continues to swallow predator after predator to deal with the chain reaction to deal with her actions. Eventually this results in her death. 

 

using biologics to control aphids

If you are considering biologics, it is a good idea to consult with a certified pest control professional before undertaking any treatment plan. They can advise you on proper application and the monitoring process needed. You can also speak to them about handling the process for you.

 

It is tricky magic to use biologics for control. Some of the predators eat more than one type of insect, and you don’t want to create an overpopulation, or to lose all the useful garden insects. 

 

One of the easiest ways to use biologics is to encourage some of the good predators to stick around. 

Environmental Population Control

Environmental control can modify whether the good predators stick around. Steps you can take to ensure they stay is begin by cleaning out areas of debris where pests flourish. Encourage the breeding of insects like ladybugs to keep aphid populations down. By providing fall and winter leaf cover, ladybugs have a warm place to hibernate and emerge in the spring. Other examples of natural predators are spiders, lacewings, praying mantis, and parasitic wasp varieties. 

Ladybug's and their use in biologics

There are biologic companies that alter and develop different biologics to eliminate and control pests or weeds. They farm them in captivity for delivery and release on large areas. One example is the predatory wasp development for use against whitefly in greenhouse settings. Or Stem-weevil, which attacks thistle in crops. 

 

Some agricultural sectors are asking for more support in bringing new biologics to the country and advocating for assistance in investigations of new strains developed in Canada. The University of California has released a good overview of biologics and how to manage pests in gardens and landscapes.

 

Can Biologics Be Applied To Animal Pests?

Nature has given animals an excellent instinct to sniff out food supplies. So pest companies are using dogs to sniff out termites and bed bugs. Dealing with unwanted birds, mice, and gophers can be as easy as bringing in cats, hawks and barn owls. Populations of animals are usually controlled by altering their environment or allowing predator populations to increase. Think gophers vs. coyotes. 

 

mountain gopher and using biologics to control them

While biologics have not been used much for controlling animal pests, they are being used to treat human diseases. In a weird flip, we may find success with human guinea pigs that will lead to uses in animal populations.

 

Why Use Biologics When Pesticides Work?

The move away from pesticides stems mainly from the toxicity to humans and animals when chemicals enter the environment. Additionally, pesticides developed years ago are not meeting today’s strict standards. With new research, the direct effects pesticides have on the environment is becoming more apparent.

A recent lawsuit regarding glyphosate in RoundUp claims it causes cancer in humans. This news has people looking twice at what is in their garden sheds. Pesticides require more specialized handling and regulation, but farmers support keeping pesticides for use in large areas because they are the most effective way to keep crops healthy and increase yields. They hold that with proper regulation, education and certifications for pesticide application, individuals can use pesticides safely.

 

If you want more information on biologics or have other pest control questions or issues call us at Martin’s Pest Control. Our Calgary & Airdrie pest control company can help you deal with any of your garden pests! 

Preventing Pests Inside Your Home

fly at a window sill pests

Welcome In The New Year Knowing Your Home Is Pest Protected

Holiday entertaining can be enticing for pests as well as humans. Leftover food, garbage, crumbs, clutter, piles of wrappings and boxes are a draw for pests to enter your home. With the New Year on the horizon, it is a good time to go through a pest protection checklist. The list will also let you check for any maintenance issues to put on the to-do list.

Prep For Pest Hide & Seek

Do a little reading on the potential pests that could become a problem. Identify their habits to deter or eliminate them, then when you find a problem, you will be confident in how to deal with the pest infestation. You can also check out this handy guide for some pests you might encounter on your checklist rounds.

Gather a clipboard, pencil, pest prevention caulking, quick-dry putty, steel wool, screwdriver, flashlight, and insecticide dust to begin your hunt. Look for cracks and conditions that might encourage pests to flourish.

You will be looking for small holes or areas they can enter the house. Also, check for conditions like moist, dark areas or current evidence of pests already in the home. You can choose to immediately fix any problem areas or make notes to attend to the various areas promptly.

Areas To Inspect

Windows & Doors

Check for any holes in screens or gaps in weather stripping that would allow pests into your home. Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a pencil diameter. If you can see the light or feel air coming through mouldings, seal these areas with a good latex sealant.

Fix small holes in screens by pushing metal fibres back together and sealing with a dab of clear nail polish. Sometimes the screen will pop from the frame. A screen roller can be used to push the screen back into the frame again. Repair cracks in the window with latex sealant or quick-dry putty.

Door sweeps can wear out and need replacing. Repairs here can also keep drafts out in winter. Weather stripping around the door jamb can become damaged, so look for areas where cracking or pieces are missing.

An area people often overlook is their garage doors. Make sure the bottom rubber has not come off, and the weather stripping around the door is still in good condition.

Under Sinks & Appliances

Insects like to set up shop in damp conditions. Check for any leaks that need repair and seal off any problem areas. If the basement is too moist, consider using a dehumidifier in damp areas. Pesticide dust can be applied to some of the areas to keep the insects away from them.

Vents & Holes To The Exterior Of The House

You may have installed some new fixtures or media conduits in preparation for the holidays, but forgot to pest-proof the holes surrounding wires and pipes. Pest preventive foam caulking is perfect to use in these instances. Again, larger holes can be covered with a small mesh screen for vents that need to be left open. They can also be stuffed with steel wool and sealed with caulking for those that don’t.

prevent pests with a clean home

Cluttered Areas

A good house clean after Christmas not only prepares you for a good start to the New Year, it also helps deter any pests taking root. Make sure children haven’t hidden dishes under beds or couches.

Give a good vacuum to eating areas. Make sure all your foodstuffs are back in the pest-proof containers. While baking those Christmas goodies, you might have overlooked putting them back in those containers.

If you find articles infested with insects, isolate the item in a sealed bag and remove it from the house. Some people think bugs are killed by putting materials outdoors in freezing weather.

A study showed that a minimum of 80 hours in -16 degree weather was needed to kill bed bugs in all stages; however, some larvae survived -20 degree weather. If the item can be treated or thrown out, it would be a better way of eliminating the pests.

Empty room garbage bins, seal the final garbage bag, and take it out to the disposal area. Move the containers away from the house’s foundation. If you keep bins in the garage until garbage day, make sure the garbage can seal is good, and the lid fits tight. Take paper and boxes to the recycling centre.

Outside Surfaces

Look for holes in the siding and along the bottom and top of the walls. These are areas where mice or even squirrels might enter. Give a quick check to the roof to make sure shingles are in place, and there is no substructure damage. 

Caulk any holes and schedule repair time for more significant problems. 

Use quick-drying parge cement or an outdoor sealant for sidewalk and foundation cracks. Remove any debris against the walls of the home to deter pest nests.

See this useful checklist and information about pests from the Smithsonian Museum Conservatory Education Department. 

 

 

If you are still in hectic holiday mode, give Martin’s Pest Control a call. We can do a comprehensive inspection of your home. 

How To Hire The Right Pest Control Company

Matrin's Pest Control owner Bill Martin

Start With Research

When hiring a Calgary pest control company, you want to make sure you get one that cares about you and your problem. The first step you should always take is doing research. Start by checking their online presence, reading reviews and even making a few phone calls.

Licencing, certifications, and safety insurance measures, along with warranties, are the types of business points to list and consider in your decision-making process.

Make An Action Plan

After you have your information analyzed, a good choice should stand out from the others. At this point, you should be feeling confident that your choice will bring a solution to your pest problem. Make the call to your chosen pest control company.

Ask for a written contract for services, fees, and guarantees. Discuss the services requested and set a date for service. Ask about preparation in the home before their visit. Also, find out what they do to get the home back to normal after treatment. Make sure you discuss what happens if the pest problems reoccur.

Some companies will come back and re-treat for free, and others will charge you again for multiple treatments. If the company is resistant to provide this, reconsider your choice, and go to the next quality pest control choice on your list.

Set Realistic Goals

Sometimes you expect the pests to magically disappear and never be seen again after a pest control treatment plan. Mother Nature has an odd sense of humour and often makes sure things don’t always go as we expect. You will probably have a few stragglers for a few weeks after treatment, but if pests are still active, call the company back and make sure they honour the extermination warranty outlined in your contract.

Or you may assume that the pest control operator will clean everything up when he leaves. In your question session, make sure you find out how effective each treatment is and what to expect at its conclusion. Some companies require you to arrange for pre and post-treatment preparation and cleanup. 

Review How Effective You Think The Company Was

Once the pests are gone, review the entire process and consider if it resolved your concerns, or whether you could have improved on any areas. Save the number of a great service provider in your phone for your household services index.

You may even want to post a compliment on their website. Conversely, don’t be afraid to post negative comments for terrible service on websites and register your problem with the Better Business Bureau. Reputable services will always put customers first and strive to problem solve disagreements.

Remember, you are in control and have the right to excellent service under your contract terms, for the money paid to any pest control service.

 

If you need help with a pest or insect problem, reach out to Martin’s Pest Control today. Also check out our other blogs for more useful tips, including pest control for homeowners. 

Pest Control For Homeowners

pest problems bank vole

Problem-Solving Help For Pest Issues

When you have a problem, you don’t usually want someone taking over and telling you what to do. You want a helping party to listen and support your decision-making processes, leaving you in control of the situation. After all, this problem is your problem, not theirs.
There are problem-solving formulas that can be followed to find good solutions.
Can these formulas be used to deal with a home pest problem? Absolutely.

Steps to reach pest control solutions:

Accepting You Have A Pest Problem

Most people are very good at looking the other way or denying they have a situation until it becomes serious. You may have noticed a few bugs in the basement, or ants in your cupboards and thought, oh they will go away in the winter. When you find they didn’t, and now you are seeing them everywhere, it is time to accept that you may have a pest problem.

Remove Emotion & Anxiety From Your Problem-Solving

People often get anxious or frantic when they encounter a problem they don’t know how to solve. It can prevent you from focusing on the problem and finding reasoned, logical solutions.

If you have called one of Calgary’s best pest control specialists, like Martin’s Pest Control, their staff will listen while you tell them about your pest problems and your emotions related to those problems. They will give you information to help you lower your anxiety so that you can find solutions to your problems.

Ask For Help

For many people, pride or shyness prevents them from seeking help for their problems. Sometimes they feel they will be judged or forced into actions they don’t want to take. A reputable pest control company will not judge you for your housekeeping skills or blame you for having pest problems.

They will offer you information and leave the decision up to you on the action you would like to take. They’ll also offer advice on steps that can help reduce the reoccurrence of pest problems. So the first step is to phone a professional pest control company and talk about your homeowner pest infestation.

Gather Information

This step will help you calm down and consider the facts around your pest problem and identify steps you can choose to make an action plan. Look up local pest control near me on the internet. Call each one.

The pest control professional that takes your call will ask a lot of questions to get a complete picture of the problem. Often they will ask you to send in a picture of the pests or will offer to come out and identify them. Additionally, they can give you the info on them if you aren’t even sure what pest you have.

Then they will outline the various options open to you to deal with the pests. If indeed you only have a minor pest problem, they can tell you what products to buy at a store and how to use it. For more severe issues, they will suggest having a pest infestation officer come out and treat the problem. They will also tell you about the cost of the service.

Choose A Pest Control Company

Ask for written or email information you covered with the pest control professional and review it before making a decision. You may want to break it down into categories.

For example, list several pest control companies you have contacted and compare prices, effectiveness, time needed, green pest control practices, and health protection methods. Remember, you don’t have to contract the first one you contact.

You have the control here to make an action plan that fits your needs. Do not be pressured by a company to sign up right away. You want to do your research and see if there are complaints against them or good reviews that will support their service records. 

 

If you need help with a pest or insect problem, reach out to Martin’s Pest Control today. Also check out our other blogs for more useful tips, including how to hire the right company for your pest concerns. 

What To Do If You Have Skunks

skunks in Alberta

More skunks are moving into residential areas

If your security light was triggered and you see a double white striped black cat, or there is a cloying odour, and it’s not the result of your barbeque baked beans… there is a good chance you may have a skunk visiting your home!

Between 2014 and 2016, the Alberta Wildlife Conservation Institute said there was a 176% increase in skunk populations. Large skunk populations can quickly happen as each female can have up to 16 kits (babies) in one litter. With the development of rural land and ongoing wilderness wildfires, wildlife is pushing closer to urban centres which presents problems for many homeowners.

An excellent read on skunks is in an article by Alison Hermance www.discoverwildcare.org/skunk-doesnt-want-spray-dog/

How To Recognize A Skunk’s Threatened Behaviour

Skunks are helpful animals as they eat bugs and rodents. However, they also have a protective spraying mechanism when threatened by people or pets. If you cross a skunk’s path, take notice if it is hissing, stamping its feet, shaking his tail and pointing it at you. When a skunk does any of these things, it’s a warning that it is preparing to spray. They can spray up to six feet away!

At first sight of a skunk, slowly and quietly back off and let it carry on its way. Skunks won’t usually spray in their dens or confined spaces. Because they can carry rabies, if you do spot one look for foaming at the mouth or if it is exhibiting strange behaviours. If so, these are signs that it could be a danger for homeowners and their pets and wildlife officials should be called immediately. If skunks somehow get in the house or garage, your best course of action is to open an exit, avoid the area and let them wander out on their own.

How Can I Get Rid Of The Smell If Sprayed?

If you or your pet has been sprayed, you can purchase an over the counter enzyme skunk sprays. A tested homemade wash recipe is: combining one quart of hydrogen peroxide, mixed with ¼ cup of baking soda and one teaspoon of dishwashing soap. Follow that with a second regular shampoo.

If you are sprayed in the eyes, use a sterile eyewash as soon as possible.

What Attracts Skunks?

Skunks usually breed in the spring. But, with cooler weather, they are looking for a suitable den for the winter months. They are lazy so if you have lush gardens, unsecured garbage cans, or open compost bins; they will go for fast food rather than catching their own. The skunk may just pass through, checking a block-long line of grocery food stops. Or they may dig or crawl under sheds, porches, and decks, becoming a new neighbour for the winter.

What Can I Do To Get Rid Of Skunks?

There are small animal traps that can catch skunks in a humane manner. The removal must be handled carefully for everyone’s safety. A pest control company will also find a good place to release them, so they don’t come back.

The easiest way to be rid of skunks is to call a pest control company like Martin’s Pest Control at 403 460-7213. Our technicians have the tools and experience to deal with the problem safely.

Once skunks are removed, look for places around your home they can get in again. Patch or board up holes and secure all types of outside foodstuffs in capped bins. Skunk whisperers say they don’t like the smell of orange peels or rags soaked in ammonia, so you can throw those in gardens or under porches and decks.