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Pests thrive in unseasonable weather

 
central valley rain

Written by
HILLARY S. MEEKS

Prolonged mild weather in the Central Valley this year has affected activity in both indoor and outdoor pest populations, according to local experts.

"Truly the erratic weather — warm days and cool nights — has really placed pressure on insects and their activity has not been normal," said Daniel DeSilva, a plant and soil sciences instructor at College of the Sequoias.

For example, there's usually a lot more house flies buzzing around by now, but the cool weather has discouraged the insect's normal cycles.

Once it heats up, expect plenty of flies to be about as the insects hatch and enjoy the abundant food that will be available to them, DeSilva said.

Click here to read the entire article

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Clark Pest Control Commercial Conference - Live blogging from Lodi

 
Tomorrow we will be live blogging for the Clark Pest Control commercial conference, we will also be sharing feeds via FaceBook and Twitter so make dure to stop by and see the recap from some of biggest speakers in the industry!Visit the Clark Pest Blog or visit ClarkPest.com to learn more.

Visit Clark at the Lodi Grape Festival!

 

Visit Clark Pest Control at the Lodi Grape Festival, Our booth is located in the Cabernet exhibition hall. Stop by and enter to win a year of pest control service, sign up for a free inspection and speak to one of our pest and termite specialists ready to answer all and any questions.

Saturday we have a special treat, The Clark Pest Bug Zoo will be out from 12-5. Watch the Bug Zoo keeper handle some really cool bugs like Tarantulas, Vigaroons, Giant roaches and even a Giant African Millipede! We will also be giving be doing tattoo's for the kids and activity books! 

Visit the Clark Pest Blog or visit ClarkPest.com to learn more.

Sacramento Bed Bugs - The Bed Bugs are here!

 

Sacramento may not know it, but the bed bugs are here

The shape of a flax seed and the color of blood, they hide in cracks and crevices, crawling out for a blood meal in the dark of night.

They're well known in San Francisco, where the health department has its own bedbug regulations. And in New York, where a bedbug attack early this month forced temporary shutdowns at two Abercrombie & Fitch stores.

In Sacramento, the quarter-inch parasites have yet to surface in the mainstream. Yet they're still there, hiding.

"It's on the rise. There have been more calls about it because people are getting infestations in their rental units," said Tom Curl, county code enforcement officer.

The National management Association reported a 71 percent rise in U.S. infestations since 2001. And a University of Kentucky study found that 91 percent of pest professionals had noted a bedbug increase. "It's a problem of almost epidemic proportions being reported in each of the 50 states," said spokeswoman Missy Henriksen.

Unlike San Francisco, officials in Sacramento don't track bedbug cases.

"I don't think Sacramento city or county does a good job to make sure it's easy for a person to report a bedbug problem," said Bill Gaither, director of Pest Control Operators of California.

The county's health officer, Dr. Glennah Trochet, said reporting bedbugs isn't required. "No one is responsible for keeping tabs on it because bedbugs don't cause diseases," she said.

Property owners in the city can face initial fines of $1,400 for failing to eradicate pests such as cockroaches. But they get a pass on bedbugs, which are considered a civil problem between landlords and tenants, said code enforcement officer Bill Hutcheon.

Curl said the county is taking small steps to deal with bedbugs. "We recently received direction that we do respond to bedbugs. Even though it's not a vector, it's a nuisance and it's going to spread to other rental units." Curl said the department can charge property owners with improper maintenance fees if bedbugs go untreated.

"It's not as reported here, but it's just as big a problem as in San Francisco," said Martyn Hopper of Pest Control Operators.

Chuck Ehmann, the department head of Clark Pest Control, said that two years ago he received a maximum of 10 bedbug calls a year. Today, he gets that many calls a month.

"We didn't know if this was going to be a little visit from the past or a new reality. They're not going away," said Jim Steed, owner of Neighborly Pest Management. Bedbug treatments account for a fraction of Steed's business, but the issue is high on the psychological radar, he said.

The mental impact sneaks up in the form of insomnia, phantom sensations and paranoia that the creatures are lodged in personal belongings. Most bedbugs are found in or near beds, according to the University of California's Pest Notes. The rest hide in upholstered furniture, bedroom cabinets, baseboards, wallpaper and carpets.

"Professionals who treat them say they are the single most difficult pest to eradicate -- worse than termites, ants and rodents," said Henriksen. The problem lies in their ability to hide in cracks as thin as a credit card.

Professionals have traditionally used chemical Insecticides but are researching less toxic and more effective methods such as heating a living space to about 140 degrees for a few hours and setting up traps. But bedbugs, which can lay up to 500 eggs in a four-month lifetime, are notorious repeat offenders, sometimes forcing pest control officers to apply several treatments to a single unit. Costs can swing from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. As part of the treatment, residents must remove clothing and bedding from their living quarters.

Pest control providers say infestations are usually no one's fault. Clean and clutter-free living spaces help abate infestation, but as the New York Times Magazine reported in an article about the spread of bedbugs in an affluent New York neighborhood, bedbugs are equal-opportunity pests.

"You'd think that cheaper motels would be bigger targets but that's not the case," said Hopper.

The bedbug can increase landlord-tenant stress. The Rental Housing Association responded to the crisis by creating a bedbug addendum to its standard lease agreement last year. "It provides a layer of protection for the owner or manager," said senior deputy director Cory Koehler. "The resident shouldn't be able to come into a rental unit that is pristine and not follow good housekeeping standards."

Advocates with Legal Aid of Northern California said bedbug addendums have grown in popularity, but they maintain that the pests are an owner's responsibility. "Even with an addendum, you have to prove that it's the tenant's fault," said Martha Valles, a housing paralegal, and the parasite's elusive behavior can make that difficult.

The annoying insect that can leave itchy red welts, cause psychological damage, and trigger a slew of economic and legal complications has the potential to become lethal, some experts warn.

"We're lucky they haven't been inside of disease cycles yet," said Dr. Vernard Lewis, a University of California, Berkeley, entomologist. "Can the situation of bedbugs turn for the worst? Of course it can because evolution happens."

www.sacbee.com/. Copyright (c) 2010, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.
Visit the Clark Pest Blog or visit ClarkPest.com to learn more.

California Spider Control - Black widow bite sends man to hospital

 

His arm swelled up to the size of a football and went to ER twice.

By CAROL REITER
creiter@mercedsun-star.com

Black widow spider.

Those three words can strike fear in many hearts. And although most of the time a bite from the shiny little arachnid isn't an emergency, sometimes it is.

For one Atwater man, a bite from at least one spider meant a four-day stay in the hospital.

The man, who doesn't want his name used, was bitten on his hand and watched as it ballooned to the size of a football.

His wife took him to Mercy Medical Center's emergency room, where he received antibiotics and pain medication and then went Black widow spiderhome.

But he didn't get better. After another visit to the ER, the man ended up in the hospital on intravenous antibiotics. Mercy doctors told the man he may have been bitten by more than one spider, possibly a nest of them.

"The pain can be significant," said Dr. Charlie Kano, a primary care physician at the Family Care Clinic in Merced.

The black widow is one of only a few species of spiders dangerous to humans. In the mainland U.S., the black widow and the brown recluse are the most common ones.

Click here to read the entire article



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Salinas California - Toxic Strawberry Fields Forever?

 

Pests may be the the least of California's worries

By CAITLIN MATALONE

It's a pesticide so toxic, many chemists refuse to handle it. But soon, it could be sprayed on California strawberries in fields around Salinas and Watsonville.

State regulators are set to approve the use of methyl iodide -- a highly toxic, potentially cancer-causing pesticide that is injected into fields before crops are planted.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation hopes to use the chemical to replace methyl bromide -- a pesticide that drifts into the atmosphere and damages the ozone layer.

The chemical is already licensed in 47 states and will become legal in California fields after a statewide 60-day comment period ends on June 29.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved methyl iodide under the Bush administration in 2007.

Researchers told the San Francisco Chronicle that 11 states have used the pesticide at least once -- mostly on strawberry, tomato and pepper fields.

So far, no problems have been reported, but researchers say that may be because very few studies have been held.

Click here to read the entire article

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Bugging off chemicals

 
Pest control companies taking a less is more approach

By Alex Breitler
Record Staff Writer
April 27, 2010 12:00 AM

Clark Pest Control

Clark Pest Control's Adolfo Chavez sprays for
various bugs earlier this month outside a north
Stockton home.
Michael McCollum/The Record

 
It's a scene that makes the pest-control industry cringe: Actor John Goodman drowns a killer spider with a hose-like pulse of potent pesticide, then crushes the resilient beast with his boot.

The character from the 1990 movie "Arachnophobia" probably is typical of what people expect when they call in a bug blaster.

But state officials have recognized one San Joaquin County business for reducing the amount of chemicals it uses and for turning to other methods instead.

We're talking real high-tech stuff - such as vacuums, long-handled brushes to sweep out spider webs and handheld steam generators to sweat the little suckers out.

"We have been doing these types of things for a while, but a little bit more on the commercial level than residential," said Darren Van Steenwyk of Clark Pest Control, which has headquarters in Lodi but serves much of California.

"What we've tried to do is take the forefront, take the lead and try to minimize our impact and footprint on the environment to as little as possible," said Van Steenwyk, Clark's technical director.

The result, he said, has been a modest decrease in the amount of chemicals applied.

To be sure, the pest-control business is not pesticide-free. In 2008, 3.2 million pounds of pesticides were applied to homes and businesses in California, including 26,156 pounds in San Joaquin County, according to the Department of Pesticide Control.

That is a tiny fraction of the chemicals used on farmers' fields.

Nevertheless, any pesticides applied on the exterior of a home or on a garden or lawn are likely to run off into storm drains during wet weather, and those storm drains lead right to the Delta.

A University of California, Berkeley, study last year found pyrethroids - among the most widely used household pesticides - in Sacramento's American River at high enough concentrations to kill organisms similar to small shrimp.

The author of that study said at the time that he didn't believe most people need routine insecticide treatment.

"Average homeowners, when they hire pest-control companies to regularly spray their property to cut down on ants, don't realize that those same compounds end up in the American River at toxic levels," Donald P. Weston, an adjunct professor of biology, said when his study was released.

The San Joaquin River at the downstream edge of Stockton also reached a toxic threshold, Weston reported.

Clark Pest Control was honored by the state for a new program in which it inspects each property and talks with residents before deciding whether spraying is necessary. In the old days, spraying was pretty much a given.

Many residents are happy to avoid it if possible. Although make no mistake: They want the creepy-crawlies gone.

"You do what you have to, to take care of the problem," Van Steenwyk said.

Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295

Visit the Clark Pest Blog or visit ClarkPest.com to learn more.

Carpenter Ants

 

Insects Set To Surge, Thanks To Active El Niño Weather Pattern


(NAPSI)-El Niño-the wet- weather pattern blamed for this winter's record snowfall in the East and mudslides in the West-is expected to wreak more havoc this summer with a surge in insects.

Just how bad your pest problem will be depends on several factors, explained Dr. Bob Davis, entomologist and scientist with BASF, the world's largest chemical company. Dr. Davis offered the following pest problem outlook for specific U.S. regions.

The South

With its hot, humid summers and temperate winters, the South offers ideal conditions for a wide range of pests, including many species of ant. Ant populations are expected to grow across the South this year, bolstered by an influx of foreign invaders, including the "Caribbean crazy ant," which had only recently been seen in Texas but has begun to spread to multiple counties in Southeast Texas and may now be in the neighboring state ofLouisiana. The threat of termite infestations could also intensify this summer, with forecasts predicting average temperatures in Florida,Georgia and other surrounding states and above-average to average precipitation.

The West

Colder-than-normal temperatures and heavy precipitation hit many areas of the Western states this past winter. February packed a punch of precipitation and, in March, California officials said the average water content in the Sierra mountains' snowpack had reached 107 percent of normal seasonal levels. One frequent menace is the Western subterranean termite. This native pest can enter structures through cracks less than one-thirty-second of an inch wide, including the tiny openings in concrete slabs, around drainpipes and between the slab and a home's foundation.

The Midwest

States from Missouri to Iowa to Wisconsin saw more flooding last year, with thousands of homes damaged by water. The residual effect this year could be a proliferation of household pests that thrive in damp conditions, such as silverfish and spiders. Moisture also increases the odds for termite invasions, especially in Midwestern states such as MissouriIowaOhio,Indiana and Illinois. In the colder Northern-tier states, carpenter ants are a greater threat to homeowners. Carpenter ants prefer to nest in trees and wood next to homes, but they'll come inside to nest if the opportunity arises.

The Northeast

With record snowfall in the Northeast, wet conditions will likely persist. Combined with the warming temperatures, this will create attractive conditions for a variety of bugs. Common culprits include the Eastern subterranean termite and the black carpenter ant.

Click here to read the entire article 


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Monterey County to see fresh efforts against apple moth

 

BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AND DANIEL STRAIN • DSTRAIN@THECALIFORNIAN.COM • FEBRUARY 27, 2010

But no chemical sprays are expected

California has no plans to spray chemicals in the air to eradicate the light brown apple moth, the state's top pest control official said Friday. The California Department of Food and Agriculture's acting director of pest prevention, Robert Leavitt, said the department is looking at other means to rid the state of the invasive insect. His comments came during a call with reporters to announce the release of the final environmental impact report on the state's moth eradication program.

In late 2007 and early 2008, the CDFA sprayed a substance that mimicked the insect's sex pheromones to keep them from finding mates. The effort caused a firestorm of complaints in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties and the Bay Area.

County residents including Mike Lynberg of Pacific Grove opposed the actions on health grounds. He set up a post office box and Craigslist account to catalog health complaints when the CDFA sprayed Monterey County twice and Santa Cruz County once in 2007.

"Time has made it more clear than ever for me that what they did was a travesty," said Lynberg, who collected hundreds of symptom reports.

In November 2008, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the departments of Pesticide Regulation and PublicHealth released an after-the-fact report on the spray's toxicology. The agencies concluded that while ill effects were unlikely, they couldn't be disproved.

Many are concerned that, with rural spraying still on the table, Monterey County could be at risk from the CDFA's program.

David Dilworth, the head of the organization Helping Our Peninsula's Environment, says that if the agency treats rural areas, the fog might still float to cities.

"There are lots of places in Monterey County that have less than 100 people per square mile right next to highly populated areas," Dilworth said.

But agriculture officials worry the Australian moth could inflict heavy damage on crops.

One of two eradication techniques that Leavitt said were the "preferred alternatives" would involve baiting twist ties with female-attracting scent to overwhelm the moths' mating urges. The other approach would be to release sterile males in infested areas to disrupt the female moth mating cycle. 

 Click here to read the entire story 

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UC researcher develops masking agents to keep mosquitoes and insects at bay

 
Monday, February 8th, 2010.
Issue 06, Volume 14.

RIVERSIDE - A process developed by a UC Riverside researcher to keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay might be turned into a commercial product, university officials said today.

OlFactory Laboratories Inc., a Riverside-based nanotechnology firm, signed an agreement with UCR for exclusive rights to utilize the insect repellent technology conceived by Anandasankar Ray, assistant professor in the university's Department of Entomology.

According to UCR, Ray discovered a means to prevent insects from detecting carbon dioxide, which is emitted by animals and humans during breathing. Mosquitoes, black flies and other winged insects can smell the emissions and hone in on their prey that way.

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