Categories
Mice

How to find the entry points of mice

Like their relatives the rats, mice are not only looking for food, but also for warm shelter. Inadvertently, our homes provide them with everything they need. Therefore, we have coexisted with rats and mice in a complicated relationship that spans thousands of years.

It is a common belief that mice only invade dirty and unkempt environments, but this is not true. Even the cleanest and tidiest of homes can suffer a rodent invasion.

Mice enter through cracks and holes in walls, floors, and foundations. Despite efforts to maintain cleanliness, mice look for ways to get to the food, water, and heat in our spaces.

Most homeowners are unaware of how little space a mouse needs to enter. Therefore, they often don’t recognise mouse entry points until other signs of infestation appear, such as the following.

Signs of a mouse invasion

Mice multiply rapidly, so it is important to spot early signs of infestation quickly to prevent the situation from getting worse. Here are the most important signs of a possible mouse invasion.

Presence of droppings

On average, mice defecate between 40 and 60 times a day. Their droppings will be scattered all over the house, as they are animals that move around a lot. Their faeces are elongated, dark and 3 to 8 mm long.

You will find the most droppings where mice nest or feed, and not necessarily at their point of entry. 

Bite marks

Mice’s teeth grow continuously and need to gnaw on hard things to sharpen them. Mice gnaw through almost everything: furniture, walls, ceilings, floors, and electrical wiring. Gnawing damage is often the second most important indicator of a mouse infestation.

Bite marks usually consist of two parallel grooves 1 to 2 mm apart. Act quickly when the first signs of gnawing are noticed, as mice can attack electrical wiring and cause a fire.

Urine or ammonia odour

Mice emit a strong, unpleasant odour, which is especially noticeable in enclosed spaces such as wardrobes and attics. The smell comes from their urine and helps them to orient themselves and mark their territory.

Cats and dogs are excellent at detecting the scent of rodents. If you see your pet’s new interest in an area of the house, examine the area scrupulously. If the smell is overwhelming, it could unfortunately be a major mouse infestation.

Traces and marks of grease and dirt

If mice are active in the home, their tracks are likely to be detectable. This is because mice often follow the same route to enter and move around. In doing so, they rub their fur against the wall and floor, leaving grease marks that may be visible.

Paw prints may also be noticeable in dusty places, such as basements and warehouses. Using talcum powder in a suspicious place may allow you to confirm or rule out an active invasion by mice or an entry point into your home.

Scratching noises

Mice are usually most active just before dawn or after dusk. They are very curious animals and due to their poor eyesight, rely entirely on their sense of smell, touch, and hearing.

Therefore, if you hear scratching noises in the morning or evening, they are probably hungry mice looking for food.

Where can mice get in?

How to find the entry points of mice

The most striking feature of a mouse’s head is its ears. These can fold over its body easily to allow it to get into almost any place. And if a mouse can fit its head into a hole, the rest of its body can fit through.

In this way, the small, flexible body of a mouse can squeeze through tiny holes and crevices, less than a centimetre in size. In certain materials, a mouse can even open its entry point using its teeth.

These small holes and cracks are easy to ignore as we go about our daily routine. Thus, mice can wreak havoc by chewing and nesting, as well as being carriers and transmitters of bacteria and other pathogens.

In the event of a mouse infestation, the first thing to do is to identify where mice enter the house, and the routes they use to move around. These access points should then be closed off. This will not immediately solve the infestation, but it will prevent them from coming back again and again.

Detect mouse entry points

Prevent rodents from entering your home by checking for entry points. Once a possible entry point has been detected, it needs to be sealed to prevent them from using it again. These places can be.

Inside the house

You can look for holes or cracks that allow mice to enter from inside the house by checking carefully:

  • Inside, under and behind kitchen cupboards, fridges, and cookers.
  • Inside cupboards, especially near the corners of the floor.
  • Around the fireplace, especially if it is always open to the outside.
  • Under doors and around door frames.
  • Near sinks and washing machine drains.
  • Around heating boiler ducts.
  • In the floor vents and at the steam outlet of the tumble dryer.
  • Anywhere in the attic, both ceilings and walls.
  • Basement floors and walls.
  • At the junction of the floor and wall throughout your home.

Outside the home

It is possible to detect mouse entry points from outside your home. Just look at:

  • The junction of the roof and walls, especially at eaves and rafters.
  • Around door and window frames.
  • In the foundation of the house, right where it meets the ground.
  • In basement and attic vents.
  • Around holes in electrical, telephone, plumbing, and gas lines.

Garages, storage rooms and other outbuildings should also be inspected for other possible entry points. These should be sealed as soon as possible, which you can either hire a professional pest control service or do on your own.

Having mice in your home is not only an eyesore but can also endanger the safety of your loved ones. In addition to carrying disease, they can cause structural and electrical damage.

Finding and sealing mice entry points is a first step to eliminating the problem of a mouse infestation.

Categories
Ants

Facts about ants you may not have heard before

Although ants are small, and their actions are not obvious to many people, they are the most abundant insects on the planet, representing a significant portion of the biomass present on Earth.

In addition, ants play an important role in the ecosystem, but when they enter any city, and provided certain conditions are met, they can become pests in anyone’s home or business.

With ants, you can either love them or you can hate them. However, a little knowledge never hurt anyone, and for this reason, we show you some important facts about ants that you may not have read about.

Ants have disproportionate strength

Ants have enormous strength, as they can lift between 10 and 50 times their body weight. However, the mass that ants can lift or carry depends on their size, and therefore on the species.

The Asian weaver ant can lift 100 times its weight. At the same time, their strength is due to their size. Experts claim that ants have a larger cross-sectional area compared to other animals, producing greater strength.

The vision of ants is peculiar

These insects possess two large compound eyes, which can detect movement very well. Many species of ants, such as army ants, live much of their lives underground and are totally blind.

Ants with small eyes have a smaller field of vision, while species with large eyes have a wider field of vision. They have 3 eyes on the top of their heads, with orientation functions. They do not form images, but they do indicate the time of day.

Ants lack lungs

Because of their small size, ants cannot support a complicated respiratory system like ours or that of other creatures. However, they do have a system for transporting oxygen to their bodies.

Ants receive oxygen through spiracles, which are holes located on the sides of their bodies. The spiracles are connected in a network of tubes that allow oxygen to be distributed throughout the body.

They can become zombies

There is a type of fungus that infects ants so that they become zombies. As soon as the fungus enters an ant’s system, it moves underneath its exoskeleton, devouring the insect’s soft tissues.

The fungus then causes the ant to flee the colony and die. Worst of all, an infected ant can destroy the entire colony. There are ant species that can recognise a diseased individual and expel it from the colony before the fungus multiplies.

There are species of ants that are asexual

Some Amazonian ants, instead of following the traditional way to reproduce, choose to multiply through cloning. Queen ants are known to duplicate themselves to produce females, resulting in a colony without males.

They have two stomachs

Ants have two stomachs, but they use them not for greedy purposes, but to help the colony work more efficiently. One of their stomachs stores their food, while the other is used to share food with other ants.

This process is known as trophallaxis, whereby foraging ants feed ants that perform other functions within the colony.

Ants are livestock breeders

In the same way that we raise chickens, cows and pigs for our sustenance, ants also engage in this behaviour with these insects. The ants’ livestock consists of aphids, which are fed periodically.

The ants will shelter the aphids from predators and the rainy period, to obtain a permanent supply of honeydew.

Some species are good swimmers

Certain ants can float, hold their breath underwater, and even have their version of the “doggie stroke”. Ants generally have good survival instincts and build lifeboats to rescue each other during rains.

Ants do not have ears

Just because ants do not have ears does not mean that they are deaf. These insects use vibrations to listen, using them when searching for food or as an alarm signal.

They also use vibrations on the ground to hear and pick them up with the subgenual organ located on the underside of the knee.

They are insects as old as the dinosaurs

According to studies, ants have been around for 130 million years, specifically since the Cretaceous period. These insects have survived the Cretaceous-Palaeogene extinction, when the dinosaurs became extinct, and the ice age.

Ants contribute to the well-being of the environment

Although some ant species are considered pests, others are biological control agents. They help ecosystems by improving soil quality, dispersing seeds, and pollinating plants.

When the queen ant dies, the rest of the colony dies.

Because worker ants cannot reproduce, the colony will die. This occurs within months after the death of the queen, who is responsible for producing females that make it possible for the nest to function.

The damage caused by fire ants costs more than £3 billion a year

In North America, there is a type of fire ant that now inhabits the UK. It doesn’t matter how small these ants are, they have a painful, burning sting. This insect costs citizens a lot of money in medical and veterinary bills.

The bullet ant has the most painful sting on the planet

This species of ant is found in the Amazon, and in addition to inflicting the most painful sting, it is the largest in the world. The effect of the sting lasts up to 24 hours and is compared to being stung by a bullet or putting your finger in a 240-volt socket.

The largest anthill found to date is 3,700 miles (5,954.57 km) wide

Some time ago, it was found that in Argentina there is a colony of giant ants that hosted 33 clans of ants. All these insects came together in a kind of macro colony, facilitating the presence of billions of worker ants.

Categories
Ants

Termites vs. ants

Spring rains bring about the birth of new colonies. This phenomenon is known as swarming, and in this process, ants and termites move in for courtship and copulation. This usually occurs at night in places illuminated by artificial light.

This is just a sample of how annoying termites and ants can be, as both are damaging pests at any time of the year. These insects deteriorate anything made of wood, causing damage at different levels.

It may not be clear to you whether it is ants or termites that are affecting your belongings. However, it is important to know which pest is invading your spaces, so that any pest control expert can apply the most suitable extermination measures.

If you don’t know how to distinguish between these insects, in this article we compare termites and ants, which, although different insects, have many similarities.

Two potentially harmful insects

Carpenter ants and termites have many things in common. They are both known for damaging wood in many places. The wings of termites are similar in size to those of large carpenter ants.

In the same way as carpenter ants, termites bind themselves to wood and are the enemy of wood structures.

Because carpenter ants and termites congregate in the spring to mate, homeowners often cannot tell the difference when they notice swarms invading their homes.

Appearance of termites and flying ants

Termites

Termites are insects that have wings of equal length. They are transparent and have a rounded abdomen with no waist. Their antennae are straight and creamy to brown. They have 6 legs, head, thorax, and abdomen.

Termite wings droop easily and can be seen near the openings of their colonies, which helps to identify nests easily. These insects avoid light, so they are rarely seen unless any factor disturbs their homes.

As for breeding, each nest has queens who lay eggs and kings that mate with them. They have a race of workers who do much of the work.

Termites belong to the infraorder Isoptera. Although these insects are like ants, they are related to cockroaches (order Blattodea).

Ants

Ants are characterised by the variety of their appearance. They differ from termites in that their wings are not the same length, and their waists are much narrower than those of termites. The wings of ants are more durable than those of termites.

Regardless of caste or species, ants have angled antennae. They also live in colonies and relates to reproduction they are very similar to termites, with an egg-laying queen and drones that fertilise her in most cases.

Ants have a caste of workers who carry food to the others, and soldiers who defend the nest. They are usually reddish and are often seen outdoors foraging for food.

These insects belong to the order Hymenoptera, to which wasps and bees also belong. This explains why all these insects behave collectively and not individually (hive behaviour).

Termites vs ants

Behavioural differences

Although carpenter ants and termites are related to wood, their interactions around wood are entirely unique. Termites eat the wood in which they nest, while ants drill into the wood to build their nests.

Ants do not feed on the wood they dig but push it through the openings of their colony. If you notice small piles of shavings or droppings under the holes, you probably have an infestation of carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants generally like damp, rotting wood for burrowing, while termites prefer healthy wood. Ant galleries and tunnels have a clean finish, in contrast to termite galleries and tunnels, which are uneven because they are filled with mud and dirt.

Have you noticed mud tubes near your house? These tubes are conclusive proof that you have a termite infestation. They are tubes built on the outside of facades between the ground and the wood, which function as corridors for termites to move through.

If you suspect you have a termite or carpenter ant infestation, it is important to know the feeding habits of both, and the tracks left by each insect. Knowing this can be very useful when it comes to taking the necessary measures to exterminate these two pests.

How to apply the correct ant and termite control?

Now that we know that ants and termites are so different, the pest control applied is radically different for each. In the case of carpenter ants, carpenter ants can be kept at bay by eliminating the conditions that caused them to arrive.

However, termite infestations require professional pest control. If you have insects that resemble ants or termites in your space, it is best to collect a sample to identify them.

The sample you choose can be used for comparison with photos and online graphics, or you can take it to an entomologist or pest control expert, especially for the latter to find the right treatment to eliminate the infestation.

In any case, be it ants or termites, control should include the application of different measures and products to kill existing insects, to prevent more severe infestations. It is essential to remove and replace wood that has been damaged by insects.

If you do not take these measures in time, there is little or nothing you can recover after these pests invade your home. Rebuilding generates large expenses that many homeowners cannot afford, so you must act in time at the slightest sign of infestation.

Categories
Cockroaches

How to get rid of cockroaches in sinks and drains

It’s never a good sign to find a cockroach in your home, as they are seldom alone. For every cockroach you see, dozens may be hiding. However, finding cockroaches in the kitchen, where food is prepared, can be especially annoying.

Cockroaches will feed on almost anything, including our waste. That’s why they love our homes. But as well as being unpleasant, cockroaches can bring dangerous germs, bacteria, and allergens with them when they enter your home.

One of the most common ways for cockroaches to enter our homes is through bathroom and kitchen drains. They don’t stray far from these areas, either, as they tend to stay close to places that can guarantee them food and water.

In this article, we will tell you how cockroaches have arrived in your home. We will also show you how to prevent and combat cockroaches in those entry points that are the drains.

Where do cockroaches come from?

They may have come with the moving boxes, or they may have been living in the house even before you moved in. But sometimes cockroaches simply come into your house by walking into your drainpipes.

Like rats and mice, cockroaches can squeeze through the smallest cracks and holes, thanks to their special anatomy. They can easily fit through narrow ducts and very narrow cracks, as they can flatten their bodies if they need to.

But if you see a cockroach near the drain or sink, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve crawled in, as they may be looking for water. Nor does it mean that your house is dirty and messy. Cockroaches get in whenever they can find a hole or crevice that allows them to do so.

Not only are they very sneaky bugs, but they also know how to hide well. So, unless you catch them at night, you may not notice them until you have an infestation.

How to get rid of cockroaches in sinks and drains

How do you prevent a cockroach infestation?

Cockroaches arrive uninvited, but only stay and proliferate where they find food easily and in abundance. Eliminating cockroach access points to your home will go a long way towards preventing an infestation.

It is also important to suppress food and water sources that may attract cockroaches. To achieve this, it is important to keep kitchen countertops and appliances clean.

Never leave food on countertops or in the kitchen sink overnight. If you keep providing them with the three things they need (food, water, and shelter), they will keep coming back and attracting more companions to the feast.

This includes removing any leftover food, such as crumbs, splashes and dirty dishes left in the sink. Furthermore, be sure to use metal grates for drains, which prevent any invaders from getting through, or accessing water.

Cockroaches are nocturnal, so it is most important to keep them out at night. Rubbish bins are another place where cockroaches can find food and shelter. Be sure to keep the lid always closed and periodically take out the rubbish.

Eliminating Cockroach Entry Points

There are many things homeowners can do to make their homes less attractive to cockroaches. Here are a few tips:

Inspect and replace pipes

Check the pipes under the sink, behind the washing machine and under the sink. Any looseness in the wall is a potential entry point, or harbouring place, for cockroaches.

While caulking cracks and plugging holes may be a temporary solution, it is recommended that a professional repair or replace pipes and perform a comprehensive inspection of drains.

Fix dripping faucets

Continuously dripping taps leave small puddles that cockroaches use as a source of water. If you notice standing water in or around a tap, there may be a leak. Have a professional plumber inspect the problem and make repairs.

Fix holes in walls

Look for any holes or cracks in the walls. They can not only be points of entry, but also daytime hiding places for these nasty tenants. These holes can be filled with expanding foam insulation to seal these spaces.

Eliminate other water sources

If you eliminate several obvious sources of water for cockroaches, they will look elsewhere, such as refrigeration pipes subject to condensation. These should be protected with foam insulation and tape.

How to combat a cockroach infestation

If you have a cockroach infestation, you need to act quickly, especially if the situation continues to worsen. The following are common methods, all information shared have educational purpose, so we strongly recommend to hire professional to find the proper solution.

  • Gel baits can kill many cockroaches in one night. Be sure to place them near the places they frequent.
  • Placing glue traps around a possible entry point can help confirm that they are.
  • Clean your drains with a commercial product. In addition to killing cockroaches, they remove grease and dirt that can feed them.
  • Using chemical insecticide dusts in entry and passage areas can kill cockroaches. In addition, they will carry the impregnated substance on their bodies to their hiding places, affecting more insects.
  • Insecticide sprays can be used as long as they do not affect people or animals living in the house.

Home products to get rid of cockroaches

To control and prevent cockroach infestations, there are two natural substances that are highly effective and very safe to use: borax and diatomaceous earth. We do not recommend the use of any of them unless you are a trained professional, the best solution is to hire professional services.

Borax

The mineral borax, scientifically known as sodium borate, comes in the form of a finely divided white powder. It can be found in the formulation of cleaning products, but also as an over-the-counter powder.

If applied to the cockroaches’ places of passage, the substance adheres to their legs. Subsequently, the cockroach will ingest the borax to clean itself, when it returns to its hiding place. Once the powder is in its stomach, the substance acts like a poison.

It acts very slowly, but the number of insects will decrease week by week. Borax has no odour and is considered safe for pets. However, it should not be applied where it can be ingested by pets and babies.

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth, also called diatomite, is a fine powder made by grinding the fossilised shells of microscopic marine animals. It is like sand, but finer and more abrasive.

Diatomaceous earth destroys the exoskeleton of cockroaches (and other insects), causing them to dehydrate. It also adheres to their legs, from where they ingest some of it. They usually die of dehydration soon after returning to their nests.

Apply it anywhere cockroaches are suspected to pass through or enter, especially under the sink and around drains. It has no odour and is harmless to both pets and humans.