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May
15

Buzzing and Biting

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This year, El Nino is knocking on our doorstep; and they’re bringing the pesky mosquito with them. As we anticipate a wet summer, we can also guarantee the buzzing and biting of thousands mosquitos to invade our summer parties. These biting, disease carrying nuisances are public enemy number one. If you go to the gym, have type “O” blood, or are pregnant, you may attract mosquitos more than you would like. We have good news. There are ways to protect yourself and your home.
Mosquitos love to breed in standing water. Be sure to drain any stagnant water and remove any large disposable items from your yard. Old tree stumps, children’s toys, and birdbaths are luxurious mansions to mosquitos. Cut back all bushes and overgrowth to eliminate any hiding spots. Clean rain gutters and drain spouts regularly. Over turn any small boats, tubs, or barrels. Install screens on any windows and doors in your home. By sprucing up your yard and cleaning any overgrowth, you can rest assured that you won’t have any mosquitos living rent free on your property.
In order to protect yourself while out and about, wear an insect repellent with no more than 50% DEET for adults and 30% DEET for children. During dusk and dawn, throw on long sleeves, pants, socks and shoes to cover any potential targets. Limiting your activity during these hours will also decrease your risk of being bitten. While we all want to avoid the itchy, painful welts; we also want to enjoy the beautiful weather. Thankfully, Bircher Exterminating Services has a few tricks up their sleeves to rid your yard of these nuisances.
Bircher Exterminating Services can work with you to choose the pest form of deterrents and insecticide for your home. Our technicians can highlight any drainage areas and treat them with larvicide. This treatment is a biologic growth regulator and is safe to animals, children, and fish. We also provide a broad spray to treat all areas of your yard. If your whole community seems to be having a problem, the Board of Directors can request a fogging. A technician can fog your community at dusk, while mosquitos are out in droves, as an extra step to kick these pests to the curb!
To find the best solution for you and your property, call Bircher Exterminating Services today at
(602) 861-9800.

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Aug
25

Spiders are Invading!

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Sometimes it seems as if spiders have invaded our homes and gardens. No matter where you look, spiders and their webs lurk behind furniture, over windows, in corners of rooms, in light fixtures, on ceilings and under cabinets. Outside, they occupy flower pots and build webs between foliage and live under eaves.
Most spiders, even if they are scary to look at, are harmless to humans. Spiders usually avoid places frequented by people. They prefer to live in places that are undisturbed, catching and feeding on unwanted insects such as moths, mosquitoes, flies and beetles. Spiders are particularly beneficial in the garden because they feed on garden pests that affect the health of plants.
There are steps you can take yourself to reduce the occurrence of indoor spiders. Vacuuming regularly removes spiders and their webs. Clean behind furniture, in corners and in and around windows. Use screens to prevent other insects from entering the building. Because spiders feed on other insects, an abundance of spiders may indicate a problem with other unwanted insects as well.
While most spiders are innocuous to humans, a few species have a poisonous bite. The bites of black widow and brown recluse spiders can cause reactions in humans ranging from pain in the area of the bite to muscle cramping, fever, vomiting or difficulty breathing. Both the black widow, identifiable by a red splotch on the abdomen, and brown recluse, identifiable by a brown violin shape on its head, are common in the southeastern and western United States, but are found throughout North America. If you have a problem with spiders, the professional exterminators at Bircher Exterminating can recommend appropriate treatment for spider control.

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It’s National Pest Management Month! For most people, it might not be as exciting as, say, Christmas, but around here it’s a pretty big deal! National Pest Management Month began more than thirty years ago. It is intended to bring awareness to pests as a public health issue, as well as recognize the efforts of those in the pest control industry.

Since this observance falls in the spring when pests begin to come out of winter hiding, it’s a good time for homeowners to spend some time on their pest control efforts. Some common household pests include Carpenter Ants, Pavement and other Small Ants, Termites, Springtails, Earwigs Sow Bugs, Centipedes, Millipedes and Spiders. This is the time of year that pests begin to multiply and, in the case of ants, this population growth usually includes habitat expansion. More often than not, homes are within the growth range of existing ant colonies, and this can lead to troublesome infestations.

Here are some simple things you can do to protect your home from pesky invaders this spring.

• Remove dead leaves, twigs and debris that may have built up in your yard over the winter. These are perfect homes for bugs and insects!
• Trim trees or bushes near your home; make sure to cut back any branches that are touching your house, as they can serve as a ‘walkway’ for bugs to enter.
• Clean your gutters.
• Fill in any cracks or gaps in windows, doorways and the foundation.
• Clean your kitchen thoroughly to remove any tempting food crumbs.
• Clean out cluttered storage areas where pests can hide.
• Repair any leaky pipes or fixtures; many bugs are looking for a water source.
• Contact Bircher Exterminating Services for an effective year-round pest management solution.
• If you currently have service, tell your pest control technician thank you, and Happy Pest Management Month!

These preventative actions can help stop an infestation before it begins. It is much easier to prevent a pest control problem than to stop one!

The lack of a pest management program in the spring will allow pests unfettered access to the home, potentially causing damage and spreading disease. A successful spring service will lay the groundwork for pest-free warm weather months and provide a foundation on which future pest management services can be built.

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Jan
02

WINTER PEST CONTROL

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Often a potential customer will ask me – “Why would I need pest control visits in the winter?” The truth is, this is a pretty good question. Whether you’re up north in Flagstaff or down south in Phoenix or Tuscon, ice and cold is still a reality in the winter months. Flagstaff just had a winter storm come through last month that dumped a foot and a half of snow in some parts of the area – which again begs the question; do I really need a recurring pest control service in the cooler months?
Black Widow spiders for example – most common in the warm southern states – look for dry, dark and WARM locations to winter. This means they are likely to enter, and nest and breed inside the home come the cooler months. Effective and consistent pest control can help prevent them from entering as it begins to get cool, and make sure that any new hatchlings are taken care of quickly if they do hatch out inside during the winter. In fact when it’s cool and wet outdoors, all pests are far more likely to enter the home in search of shelter, food and warmth, than during the hotter summer months. Recently, we’ve been getting more calls about mice inside garages, and the home itself. This is both common and expected as it gets cooler, as mice are living almost exclusively indoors as it’s getting cooler, and looking for shelter and food. Trapping, bait boxes, and careful evaluation as to how the rodents are entering is required, as well as included for every recurring customer with a pest control agreement.
If you’ve put off hiring a pest professional because you thought that winter would do the trick for you, think again. Give Bircher Exterminating a call and we’d be happy to provide a free quote, and come out to customize a pest solution that fits your needs.

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When the holiday season approaches, families across the country will begin pulling out boxes of decorations and digging into pantries for baking ingredients. But with these annual traditions comes the risk of bringing a variety of pests – from mice, rodents and spiders to a group of insects known as “pantry pests” – into homes. Bircher Exterminating encourages homeowners to use caution to prevent unwelcome pest guests this season.
Mice, rodents, spiders and other pests find their way into homes by hiding in boxes of holiday decorations that have been stored in attics, basements and garages since last season; they create homes in these undisturbed items and then find new places to infest once these boxes are moved into family living quarters such as dens and kitchens.
To prevent such pests from hitchhiking into homes, we recommend that homeowners keep holiday decorations – especially items like dried foliage, potpourri and Indian corn – in airtight containers during off-seasons. Decorations should be unpacked outside and inspected carefully. Similar caution should be taken to inspect live foliage that is brought indoors during the holidays, including Christmas trees, wreaths and garlands that can harbor pests.
Pantry pests, meanwhile, earned their name because of their tendency to be found in pantry foods including flour, cereal, dry pasta, spices, dried nuts and fruit. They can also be found in decorations that contain dried flowers or potpourri. The most common pantry pests include beetles, ants, weevils and Indian meal moths.
Pantry pests are often brought into homes through infested packages of food from the store, it is important to carefully examine pantry items before use – especially items that haven’t been used since the past year. If you do find pantry pests, consult with a pest professional to keep them from multiplying and contaminating other foods.”
Bircher Exterminating also recommends the following tips to keep pantry pests away:
•Store food items in insect-proof containers such as glass or plastic, with tightly sealed lids.
•Do not mix old and new food items, as this can spread an infestation.
•Never purchase groceries if the packaging is broken.
•Keep cabinets, pantries and countertops clean and free of crumbs.
•Dispose of any food that is expired or shows signs of a pest infestation.
•To remediate pest infestations, contact Bircher Exterminating.

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But don’t worry. The flying and crawling creatures mean you no harm, and are interested primarily in finding the right bug with which to mate and procreate.
Starting this year weather officials made the arrival of the monsoon depend on the calendar – it starts June 15 – rather than on attaining a specified dew point, a temperature where moisture in the air condenses into water and dew can form. Adult insects are what we see coming out of hiding and scurrying or flying about when the humidity rises and the rains fall.
The activity level for adults is probably at the peak in the monsoon. They emerge as adults when the weather is good, find a mate and find a place to lay their eggs.
Insect communications are hampered by low humidity. Their exoskeletons are less able to receive smells, sounds and touches in hot, dry weather. Monsoons allow for great communications. The adults are out there to find mates, reproduce and seek places to lay eggs for the next generation to survive.
People are likely to notice the Palo Verde Root Borer, a large beetle that makes a buzzing or humming sound vibrating its four hard wings when flying. The deep-brown bugs, about 4 inches long, fly around bright lights at gas stations, convenience stores and parking lots. Their size and large mandibles make them appear frightening to some people, but they don’t bite and are harmless.
Many bugs are nocturnal, and fly using the moon and stars for navigation. Bright man-made lights overwhelm the natural light, attracting bugs to areas where people congregate. One way to keep flying bugs from buzzing around your home is to turn lights off, or replace white light bulbs with yellow ones.
Insects that work during the day are attracted by yellow flowers, but insects that are active at night do not respond to yellow light.
Swarms of flying ants also appear during the monsoon season. Each different type of rain may trigger one or two or three different types of ants. The humongous gully-washers during the monsoon bring out leaf cutter ants, which form large, black clouds, often in residential areas. Sometimes the flying ants will pick a tall structure, such as a chimney, as a geographic meeting – and mating – point. This doesn’t mean a thing to the security of anyone’s home. All these things are going on outdoors.
The rains mean plant growth and more food available to the insects and their emerging young. There is a big increase in population because of all this food available to them.
Insects that come out during the monsoon tend to have short life spans, living only a few weeks. Since they don’t emerge at the same time, you may see them from now until the end of August.
TOP 5 MONSOON BUGS
• Cicadas: “Everyone hears them this time of year.”
• Palo Verde Root Borer: “They have big mandibles up front, big jaws, but they don’t bite. That big insect is a tiny thing to a person.”
• June beetles: “These are the standard brown-to-black beetle a half-inch or bigger you see coming to lights.”
• White-lined sphinx: “This moth is amazingly common here. These are the moths that come from the caterpillars that migrate at the end of the rainy season, and the road turns yellow with squashed ones.”
• Tarantula hawk wasp: “These large wasps have bright orange wings and eat spiders. They won’t bother you unless you try to grab them.”

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Most people consider Memorial Day Weekend to be the unofficial start to summer, but in the pest control industry, we consider it the official start of pest season. It’s true, household pests are a concern year-round, but there is no doubt we see an increase in many types of pests once the weather heats up. If you’re like most and are planning to spend lots of time out in the sun this summer, it’s important to be aware of the risks posed by summer’s most dangerous pests – and learn how to keep yourself and your family safe.
1. Mosquitoes
Overview
Mosquitoes are perhaps the most dangerous of summer pests. They are most well known for their pesky biting habits, which can leave itchy, red bumps. But the real threat posed by this pest is their ability to transmit numerous diseases including West Nile virus, malaria, yellow fever, dengue and encephalitis.
Risks
Although many of these diseases are rare in the U.S., some – including West Nile virus – are more common. In fact, the CDC reports there were more than 700 cases of West Nile virus in the U.S. in 2012, resulting in 43 deaths. According to the CDC, symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, and in some cases, skin rash and swollen lymph glands.

Prevention
•Avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
•Eliminate or reduce standing water on your property, which can be a breeding site for mosquitoes. Drain flower pots, swimming pool covers, barrels and other objects that can collect water on a weekly basis. Add a fountain or drip system to ponds and birdbaths on your property to keep water fresh.
•Repair or replace any torn screens on windows and doors.
•Use an insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin on exposed skin whenever outside for prolonged periods.
2. Ticks
Overview
Ticks are always an issue during the summer months, but with their populations expected to be unusually high this season, they will be a major concern for those spending time outdoors. Of greatest concern is the blacklegged deer tick, found in the Northeastern U.S., from Virginia to Maine, in the north central states, mostly Wisconsin and Minnesota, and on the west coast, primarily in northern California.
Risks
Blacklegged deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease to humans, as well as pets. The CDC describes the symptoms of Lyme disease as fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migraines, which forms in the shape of a bull’s eye. According to the CDC, Lyme disease can also affect joints, the heart and the nervous system if left untreated.
Prevention
•Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes when outdoors, especially in wooded areas or tall grasses.
•Wear light colored clothing, which makes it easier to spot ticks and other insects.
•Wear a bug spray containing at least 20% DEET when outdoors, and reapply as directed on the label.
•When hiking, stay in the center of trails, away from vegetation.
•Keep your own yard tick-free by cutting grass low and remove weeds, woodpiles and debris.
•Inspect yourself and your family members carefully for ticks after being outdoors.
3. Bees & Wasps
Overview
Yellowjackets, Africanized ‘killer’ bees, wasps, hornets and other stinging insects are a summer staple, frequently showing up at pool parties, barbecues and baseball games —especially in the late summer months. But these pests can pose a serious health risk if a hive is threatened or provoked, causing them to swarm and sting en masse.

Risks
Stinging insects send more than half a million people to the emergency room every year. Young children, the elderly and especially those with allergies are most at risk.
Prevention
•Wear shoes, especially in grassy areas.
•Overseed grassy areas to get better coverage, as this will deter ground-nesting insects.
•Paint/stain untreated wood.
•Remove garbage frequently and keep trashcans covered.
•Do not swat at a stinging insect as it increases the likelihood of an aggressive reaction.
•Avoid wearing sweet-smelling perfumes.
•Ensure all doors and windows in your home have screens that are in good condition.
•Seek immediate medical attention if stung, as reactions can be severe.

Insects are an inevitable part of summer, but that doesn’t mean you should spend the next three months hiding indoors. Instead, follow our prevention tips to help reduce your risk of encountering pests in your home and on your property. If you discover that you have a growing mosquito, tick or stinging insect or other pest problem on your property, don’t try to remove them alone. Instead, contact Bircher Exterminating Services, a licensed pest professional who will be able to inspect your property and recommend an effective treatment and prevention plan.

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Spiders can be found in nearly every corner of the world, except Antarctica, but the spiders most people worry about are the ones lurking in the corners of their homes, like the brown recluse or black widow.
According to The World Spider Catalog, there were 41,253 species of spiders identified as of December 16, 2009, but only a few are dangerous to humans. Two of those dangerous spiders can be found in the contiguous United States, and especially in the southern states. The brown recluse and the black widow. These spiders prefer a warm environment and dark, dry hiding places where they can be left alone, like closets and woodpiles.
Although a great many people fear spiders (some to the point of phobia, called arachnophobia), the creatures do much good by capturing and eating other insects. Even though all spiders have some amount of venom that varies in potency, the vast majority of spiders are not dangerous to people because their fangs are too short or too fragile to penetrate a person’s skin.
A spider generally bites a person because it has been frightened or disturbed in its hiding place and it is trying to defend itself. In most cases, a bite mark from a spider is too small to be seen easily, and often people do not remember being bitten.
According to the Arizona Poison Control System, spider bites typically cause pain, small puncture wounds, redness, swelling, and itching that may last a few days. It is rare for a spider to bite more than once, so if you have multiple bites, you have probably been bit by fleas, bedbugs, ticks, mites, biting flies, or another insect.
The black widow spider bite is serious, but it is rarely lethal. If you see the spider, it has a red hourglass mark on its underside. A bite from a female black widow spider results in slight swelling and faint red marks initially, and then within a few hours intense pain and stiffness set in. Other signs and symptoms include chills, fever, weakness, headache, elevated blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal pain. Those at greatest risk of developing symptoms are young children, the elderly, and people who have high blood pressure.
In many cases, the spider does not inject venom and no serious symptoms develop. If muscle cramps develop, you should seek medical care for treatment of the symptoms. A black widow spider antivenin is rarely necessary but it is available.
The brown recluse spider is about one-half inch long, including its legs, and has a violin-shaped marking on its back. It has six eyes rather than the typical eight and a tail-end segment without markings. This is an important identifying mark, because there are many other brown spiders with markings that are not the brown recluse.
Symptoms of a brown recluse bite include some pain or burning within the first 10 minutes of the bite, along with itching. The bite assumes a bull’s-eye appearance with a blister in the center. When the blister breaks it leaves an ulcer that scabs over. The ulcer can spread and attack the underlying skin and muscle, causing severe pain, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and anemia. Bite victims should seek medical attention, especially if there are signs of an infection or if the ulcer does not heal.
If you have been bitten by a brown recluse or black widow spider, clean the wound with soap and water as soon as possible. If the bite is on an arm or leg, you can slow the spread of the venom if you tie a snug bandage above the bite and elevate the limb. You can also apply a cloth dampened with cold water or ice to the bite location. If you develop symptoms or if you have any concerns, seek medical attention. You can also call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

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With plant growth regulator, we have a reliable solution for olive fruit prevention. Trees can be sprayed from late January to early April before any flower bud formation on the olive tree. The chemical causes any flowers which form in April and May to wither and fall off without setting fruit. This effectively prevents the messy problem caused by unwanted olives in late fall and into the following year, usually with 90% fruit elimination or better! The spray only works for a single season, and must be done every year. Trees under stress, radically pruned, or with sensitive plants under them may require special precautions.  Covering plants during application or hosing off the plants beneath the tree before and after the spraying will help protect them, and our service technicians will provide this service to avoid any damage to other plants. We do offer discounts for multiple trees, neighborhoods, and communities!

The holiday season is filled with decorating, baking and celebrating with family and friends. Unfortunately, many pests, including rodents, pantry pests, spiders and mites, have been known to try to join in the holiday fun. We urge homeowners to take precautions against pests that may invade their homes via decorations, firewood and baking ingredients.

Everyone enjoys the festive spirit of the holidays. Unfortunately, as we bring beautiful parts of nature indoors to decorate and warm our homes, we could be rolling out the red carpet for pests, as well.   Ants, spiders and more can easily be brought in on firewood, Christmas trees and other greenery. Mice can be smuggled in through boxes of decorations and baking ingredients can harbor pantry pests. By taking a few preventative steps, homeowners can keep their homes safe and healthy for their families this holiday season.”

 To keep pests from spoiling your family’s holiday fun, the NPMA offers the following tips:

•Inspect live, fresh cut evergreen trees, wreathes and garlands for spiders, insect nests or eggs before purchasing. Shake greenery outdoors to remove any pests before bringing them inside.

•Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home on a raised structure, such as concrete blocks or poles.

•Unpack decorations outdoors so pests aren’t released into the home.

•Check expiration dates on ingredients before use and only purchase food in sealed packages that show no sign of damage.

•Store freshly baked sweets and opened ingredients in airtight containers.

•Add a bay leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods like flour and rice – the pungent scent repels many pantry pests.

•Repack decorations in durable, sealed containers that pests can’t chew through.

•If an infestation occurs, partner with your local, licensed pest professional.

For more information on common household pests, prevention tips contact Bircher Exterminating Services