What homeowners should know about mosquitoes and Zika virus

The mosquito-borne Zika virus has been much in the news lately, and for good reason. It originated in the Zika forest in the African nation of Uganda, from which the virus takes its name and where it was first discovered in 1947. In 2013 it left Africa on an unknown carrier and spread, first to the South Pacific islands, and then arrived in South and Central America, Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean in 2015.

Now it has shown up in the United States, brought back by travelers to countries where the virus has reached pandemic levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to date there have been 503 confirmed cases of Zika infection in the U.S. More cases are inevitable, as is the eventual spread of the disease to the rest of the nation.

What Is the Zika Virus?

Zika is related to the yellow fever, dengue, and West Nile viruses, and like those it is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, although it can also be transmitted sexually through the male, and through blood transfusions. In most people it only causes a slight fever, or no symptoms at all, and no other long term effects. After being infected once, a person is safe from future infections.

The real danger of Zika is to pregnant women. The virus is transmitted to the fetus, and can cause a devastating birth defect known as microcephaly, where a baby is born with a head and brain much smaller than normal, leading to intellectual and developmental disabilities, vision and and hearing loss, and seizures. It can also cause other types of birth defects.

There are currently no vaccines against the Zika virus, though scientists hope to have one available soon.

Preventing Mosquitoes Near Your Home

Mosquito transmission is the primary way of contracting the virus. To reduce your risk, you should take active steps near your home to reduce mosquito populations, and take steps to keep from being bitten. Preventive actions to take include:

  • Eliminate the places where mosquitoes breed. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, so any possible place where water can collect around a dwelling should be removed. Around homes that usually means poorly drained areas of the lawn, old tires, buckets, planters, and birdbaths, clogged gutters, piles of leaves and debris, and of course little used swimming pools. If a homeowner usually experiences large populations of mosquitoes during the warmer months, it’s probably a good idea to call Ecology Exterminating for professional treatments.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants even when the weather is warm.
  • Stay inside in the air conditioning and keep windows and doors shut as much as possible, and make sure any open windows have effective screens.
  • Use an EPA certified insect repellant when outdoors, and when camping and sleeping outdoors use mosquito netting.

With a little common sense prevention, mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus can be avoided.

From now until mid-October, Ecology is offering a mosquito-control service to New York homeowners. Trained pest technicians will visit your home once per month. For more information, call 718-972-1040.

Apartment Dwellers – 8 natural ways to prevent summer pests

As the weather changes, various critters and creatures will be looking to the security of your home to use as shelter. Take the following steps to ensure that your home stays yours, and the pests stay as far away as possible.

Vacuum Regularly.

The smaller pests such as ants and roaches are attracted to sugar and sugary snack foods. Vacuum your rugs, especially around the kitchen and the bathroom. Be sure to move furniture to get in dark corners, and lift cushions.

Cut Away Shrubbery Near to the Home.

Pests from rats to ants often find their way indoors through a plant that is close to an entryway. Give your doorways at least two feet of space, and make sure that no branches hang over a vent or an entryway.

Check the Soil for Plants You Bring Inside.

If you bring a plant inside as decoration, check underneath the topsoil to ensure that no pest colonies have made their way into that particular plot of land. You may have to replace the soil with store bought soil if the pests have already taken a foothold around the area.

Wash and Care for Pets.

Another way that pests get inside of your home is on the backs of Fido and Muffin. Make sure that your pets have flea collars on at all times, even if they are not necessarily outside animals. Give them a good, thorough bath at least once a month, especially if you see them scratching more than normal. Veterinary visits are usually a good idea at least twice a year to check for pests.

Have the Gutters and Plumbing Checked Regularly.

You may have a community plumbing and irrigation system if you live in an apartment. If so, then you should ensure that your HOA is caring for the gutters and the plumbing. You can check the pipes and gutters yourself for rot. Leaks and rot attract pests because of the dark, wet environment. Many different pest species from roaches to termites will lay eggs and nest here. Any part of the irrigation system that is your responsibility should be checked at least twice a month by a professional.

Plant an Indoor Herb Garden.

The smell of certain herbs repel pests. Basil and rosemary can keep pests from the outside from coming in, especially flies, and a few bay leaves strewn around cupboards and cabinets have been known to keep moths, roaches and ants from spreading.

Store Your Food Safely.

Moths love getting into your pantries for the flour and sugar, and pests may also attach their eggs to paper grocery bags that you leave around. Remove flour, grains and rice from the original paperboard packaging and store them in hard plastic containers.

Protect Your Sink Area.

Use 0000-gauge steel wool from the hardware store to stuff up any gaps around water drains under sinks. Make sure that you do not use soap pads; pads may only make the problem worse.

Do you already have unwanted summer guests? If these natural methods are not working for you, our specially trained pest control technicians can visit your home for effective treatments.  Call us today 718-972-1040.

It’s Springtime: What every homeowner needs to know about termites

Did you know that termites are one of the most destructive forces on a home? In fact, the destructive capabilities of termite colonies cause billions of dollars of damage to U.S. homeowners each year. During the spring these winged pests will be interested in finding sources of light and mating to form new breeding sites and colonies. In a short amount of time your joy that warmer weather has returned to Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan could quickly turn to dismay at the site of termites.

Three Tips For Combating Termites 
While termites are often called “winged menaces,” there are a few tips that urban New York homeowners can implement to keep these destructive insects at bay.

  • Recognize the signs of termites before it is too late. — Termites can be incredibly difficult to spot during the early stages of a colonization. When termites first find their way into your home, they will head straight for the interior wooden structures. Once inside, termites will make very elaborate tunneling systems to avoid detection. While the latter tactics can make it hard to discover termites, the good news is that once the termites are ready to breed they will take to flying about your home in search of light sources. You should immediately call your trusted pest control service if you you see winged termites flying around. For further protection against termites you can also schedule regular termite inspections to ensure that a colony isn’t forming under your floorboards or in the structure of your home.
  • Treat your home for the right kind of termites. — Did you know that there are numerous types of termites? Unfortunately, each species of termites thrives in a different type of setting. With this in mind, your local pest control contractor will need to advise you on the type of species that is most likely to target your home. Once you know what the culprit looks like, you can be on the lookout for tell-tale signs that termites are trying to infiltrate your home. Remember, termite protection starts with springtime prevention.
  • Leave it to the professionals. — Termites are tenacious pests that can chew through wood, flooring, and various materials as they seek to expand their colony during the spring months. Their tenacity for wreaking havoc on a home means that the average homeowner is not equipped to rid their home of these unwanted pests.

Don’t face your termite problems alone.  Call Ecology Exterminating today at 718-972-1040 for effctive, professional termite treatments that works all year round.

Five Ways to Stop Tough Brooklyn Cockroaches without Pesticides

Mets or Yankees? Jets or Giants? It isn’t easy to find something every New Yorker agrees on.  Except roaches.  Nobody likes ’em.  We want to eliminate the roaches as quickly as possible, and by eliminate, we want them dead; or at least put into a relocation program so they won’t come back–ever.

The thing is that even though we want the critters gone, we also don’t want chemical pesticides in the same rooms where we eat, or sleep, or where our loved ones may be sitting on the floor.  Here are six non-chemical pesticide solutions that will help you get on track to living in a roach free home.

1.  Lemon added to mop water:  If you have linoleum, ceramic tile, or hardwood flooring, add the juice from a few lemons to a bucket of mop water when you clean for two or three weeks.  For whatever reason, roaches don’t like citrus in lemons, and they’ll hightail it out of your place and look for a more accommodating home.

2.  Chlorine bleach.  Pour a mix of about 50% bleach and 50% water down all sinks and the toilet.  The bleach kills the roaches, and, for many people, the smell of bleach makes them feel better—it reminds them of clean smells, and that helps combat the dirty feeling roaches give most of us.

3.  Mint oil.  Mint oil sprayed in corners works to discourage roaches from living with you—just not super-fast.  Spray some mint oil at least every other day, and if you have time, every day and pretty soon the bugs will eventually take the hint that it isn’t you—it’s them.

4.  Mothballs.  Although they don’t smell real awesome to people, roaches positively can’t stand the small of mothballs.  If you place a mothball in cabinets and in corners, so they shouldn’t smell too badly—except to the roaches who hate them.  They can especially prevent nesting when put in the dark, damp, places that roaches love. Use common sense to keep mothballs out of the reach of children, however.

5.  Ammonia.  Pour it down the drain mixed with water—50/50 is fine, or even less ammonia, and not only will it kill the bugs, but it will give your home what many believe is the scent of cleanliness.

But the most important factor is prevention: 90% of roach problems start with basic sanitation. So, take steps to deny roaches a meal. Do not leave soiled dishes in the sink, take out wet/food garbage every day, clean up crumbs or food spills.

Roaches are awful. They spread germs, they cause asthma, and mostly they’re just gross.  Fortunately there are many natural ways to get rid them. However, just like NYC residents, NYC roaches are tough.  Home remedies may not be enough to stop them.

When it’s time to call the professionals, call Ecology Exterminating at 718-972-1040. Our trained pest technicians will use safe, proven treatments to rid your home of pests.