Health Checks – Rodent Infestations

November 21st, 2014

A guide to identifying common mice and rat species

November 20th, 2014

A guide to identifying common mice and rat species

During the winter season, it’s estimated that rodents seek shelter in more than 21 millions homes in the United States. This means that many homeowners will likely be dealing with mice or rats in their abode over the next few months – and you could be one of them.

Rodents can spread dangerous diseases and can cause major property damage, so it’s important for homeowners to familiarize themselves with the types of rodents that invade homes this time of year. Here is a guide to help you identify common mice and rat species.

Deer Mice

  • Region: Deer mice are found throughout the United States.
  • Habitat: Deer mice prefer to nest in rural areas, specifically in fence posts, tree hollows and log piles. Deer mice are rarely a problem in residential settings, but they can wander indoors during the winter months while searching for shelter from the cold weather.
  • Threats: Deer mice pose a significant health threat because they are the most common carrier of Hantavirus. This virus is transmitted primarily by the inhalation of dust particles contaminated with the urine, feces or saliva of infected deer mice.
  • Prevention tip: Don’t store pet food or birdseed in garages or storage sheds, where it is especially attractive to deer mice.
  • Unique fact: Deer mice always have a bicolored tail that is usually half brown, half white.

House Mice

  • Region: House mice are found throughout the United States.
  • Habitat: Unlike deer mice, house mice usually nest in dark, secluded areas within structures. They are excellent climbers and can jump up to a foot high.
  • Threats: House mice can cause serious property damage by chewing through materials. In fact, they have been known to spark electrical fires by gnawing on wires inside homes. These rodents are also a health threat, as they can contaminate stored food and spread diseases like Salmonella, tapeworms and the plague (via fleas).
  • Prevention tip: House mice hide in clutter, so it’s important to keep storage areas clean and store boxes off the floor. Also, keep food in sealed, rodent-proof containers.
  • Unique fact: House mice can fit through an opening as small as a dime. Although they have poor vision and are color blind, their other senses are very keen.

Norway Rats

  • Region: Like house and deer mice, Norway rats are found throughout the United States.
  • Habitat: Norway rats are primarily nocturnal and often burrow in piles of garbage or under concrete slabs. They tend to enter homes in the fall when outside food sources become scarce. Indoors, Norway rats nest in basements, attics and other undisturbed dwellings.
  • Threats: Norway rats can cause significant damage to property by gnawing through a variety of materials, including plastic and lead pipes, to obtain food and water. They are also vectors of disease, such as plague, jaundice, rat-bite fever, cowpox virus, trichinosis and salmonellosis. In addition, these rats can introduce fleas and mites into a home.
  • Prevention tip: Regularly inspect the home for signs of an infestation, such as droppings, gnaw marks, damaged food goods and grease rub marks caused by rats’ oily fur.
  • Unique fact: Norway rats can gain entry to a home through a hole larger than ½ inch, or the size of a quarter.

Roof Rats

  • Region: Roof rats are thought to be of Southeast Asian origin, but they are now found in the coastal states and southern third of the U.S.
  • Habitat: Roof rats live in colonies and prefer to nest in upper parts of structures or in trees.
  • Threats: Historically, roof rats and their fleas have been associated with bubonic plague. Although cases are rare, roof rats also spread typhus, jaundice, rat-bite fever, trichinosis and salmonellosis.
  • Prevention tip: Clean up fruit that may have fallen from trees in the yard. Also, ensure the garbage is stored in tightly covered receptacles.
  • Unique fact: The roof rat is also called the black rat or ship rat. These rodents are excellent swimmers.

If you suspect an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional. Rodents are known to reproduce quickly, and what may seem like a small problem can turn into a big issue overnight.

Rodent Awareness Quiz

November 19th, 2014

Bug Busters USA encourages public awareness of rodents during the winter season

November 18th, 2014

Bug Busters USA encourages public awareness of rodents during the winter season

As temperatures continue to cool across the country, rodents will begin to seek shelter from the elements, most often in homes and other structures. To promote public vigilance against rodents, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recognizes November 16-22 as Rodent Awareness Week. Bug Busters USA is proud to take part in this observance by educating homeowners about the threat of rodents and the possible signs of an infestation this winter.

“Rodents may be small, but they pose a number of threats to human health and property,” said Court Parker, CEO at Bug Busters USA. “Rats are very likely to cause problems in the Southeast this time of year, so it’s important for homeowners to be on the lookout for signs of these destructive pests in and around their property.”

Aside from being a nuisance, rodents are vectors of a vast array of diseases, such as Salmonella, murine typhus, infectious jaundice, rat-bite fever and the potentially fatal Hantavirus. They can also chew through drywall, insulation, wood and electrical wiring, increasing the potential risk for fires.

Here are a few clues that rodents may be present in a home:

  1. Droppings: A trail of rodent droppings is typically found in kitchen cabinets and pantries, along walls, on top of wall studs or beams, and in boxes, bags and old furniture.
  2. Noises: Rodents often make scurrying sounds, especially at night, as they move about and nest.
  3. Gnaw marks: New gnaw marks tend to be rough to the touch and are light colored.
  4. Burrows: Inside, rodents often nest in various materials such as insulation, and they are drawn to areas that are dark and secluded.
  5. Damaged food packages: House mice prefer to feed on cereals and seeds, while Norway rats prefer meat, fish and dry dog food

“We encourage homeowners to complete a thorough inspection of their property before the winter weather strikes. They should look for cracks or holes in the foundation, loose mortar around the basement foundation and damaged screens,” added Parker “No crack or hole should be overlooked as mice only need an opening the size of a dime to find a way inside.”

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November 17th, 2014

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Student Brings Bedbugs to School; Questions Raised on Donated Mattresses

November 14th, 2014 (Huntsville, AL): Student Brings Bedbugs to School; Questions Raised on Donated Mattresses

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAAY) – Huntsville City Schools officials say Westlawn Middle School didn’t get a bedbug infestation after a child showed up with the parasitic insects.

The bugs likely came in contact with the child after he slept on a used mattress. Because of policy, school personnel sprayed chemicals in the school as a precautionary measure.

This incident brings to light concerns raised when people donate mattresses to secondhand stores.

Saint Vincent DePaul Thrift Store manager Carolyn Payne says people who donate mattresses should do inspections before calling them to pick up the item.

“Make sure there’s no stains, no mildew, no wet sports on the mattress,” Payne says. “You should also inspect it for any infestations.”

Neighborhood Thrift Store director Jamie Bush says these problems can sometimes be avoided for these high-demand items, but sometimes the mattresses become ruined because of improper storage.

“Someone called with a mattress…they wanted to donate,” Bush recalls. “Unfortunately they left it outside and when we went to get there roaches have crawled out of the mattress, and they had cut grass and grass had flown up all on the mattress so it was wet.”

Bush says if the mattress is in a condition where you wouldn’t want to sit or lay down on it, then they likely won’t accept it.

“We don’t want anything that a customer cannot take home and immediately be able to use.”

Mythbusters Can Cockroaches outlive a nuclear blast?

November 13th, 2014

How to limit a cockroach infestation

November 12th, 2014

What You Can Do to Limit an Infestation of Cockroaches

Cockroaches are one of the most disgusting insects that infest peoples homes and offices. Not only do they hide well, they are nocturnal, which makes them hard to find. When a cockroach is seen in the home, there is certainly already an infestation. This is because, for every one that is spotted, there are possibly dozens that are unseen. They are also extremely allusive and tough insects, which makes exterminating them extremely difficult. Here, are 6 tips that can be used to limit an infestation of cockroaches.


One way to limit the infestation of cockroaches is to do a thorough cleaning of the house. This should include the garage and the basement. Appliances should be moved and cleaned around; rugs should be lifted up. No area of the house should be left alone when cleaning. Remember, seeing two or three cockroaches and killing them will not even come close to freeing a house of cockroaches. When cleaning, remember to be extremely thorough and get rid of all potential food sources for cockroaches.

Cover Food

Go through all of the cupboards, find any food that may be accessible by cockroaches. Buy containers that can be sealed, and put the food inside the containers. Again, with infestations, limiting their food source will undoubtedly lower their numbers. Cockroaches are highly elusive and can fit in small areas; they can easily sneak into a bag that is not closed thoroughly.

Limit Access

It would be nearly impossible to eliminate all access routes for a cockroach. Getting rid of a few of the routes can slow the progress of cockroaches into a house. One way to limit access to the house is to walk around the house and find any entrances that can be used. Then, caulk or grout any vulnerable areas in which the cockroaches can enter the building. This will also eliminate the source for other small bugs to enter the house.


Do not neglect the yard when trying to slow the progression of cockroaches into a house. Mulch piles, or old cardboard lying around are two places where pests love to hide. Make sure all trash is taken out, and even go as far as to scrub out all of the trash cans.


Not only do cockroaches need a food source, but they also need water. Make sure the house does not have any standing water. Pay attention to the bathroom and the kitchen. With this source eliminated, cockroaches will have a hard time surviving.

Pest Control

Once all preventive measures are taken, a professional may still be necessary. A professional can go through a house, and make sure no preventive measures were missed. They then can bomb the house with pesticides to kill off any pests that are still alive. This should be the last resort once all other measures are taken, not only for your simple convenience, but also to save money! This can be pricey, but definitely worth it.

If all preventative measures are taken, cockroaches will most likely die off and leave. If this is not the case, it may be necessary to hire an exterminator. With these two steps being taken, the infestation of cockroaches will be extremely limited. Remember that prevention is key when wanting to rid a house of pests.

Ashley Hardin writes about hygiene, home improvement & more at

We Salute Our Veterans

November 11th, 2014

We Salute Our Veterans!


Nuisance Wildlife Control Experts

November 10th, 2014



  • Raccoons are black and gray and known for the black “mask” over their eyes. They are very furry and have a ringed pattern on their tail. Fully grown, a raccoon can be about 2-3 feet in length.
  • Region: They are found in all regions of the U.S.
  • Habitat: Raccoons are common in forested areas with access to a water source, but they can also be found in fields near livestock watering areas. They build dens in a variety of places including hollow trees, ground burrows, brush piles, barns, haystacks or rock crevices
  • Threats: Raccoons are one of the major hosts of rabies in the U.S. They are especially a threat in areas where their populations are growing like the eastern part of the country. They are also known to raid garages and garbage cans left by the street in search of food. Damage to roofs and chimneys can be caused by raccoons searching for a place to build their den.
  • Unique fact: Raccoons are very intelligent and have a very highly developed sense of touch.

Tree Squirrels


Squirrel populations in different regions vary in their coloring and can be whitish, gray, yellow, red, brown, or even black. They have a long furry body with a bushy tail and can be 6-15” tall. A squirrel’s tail can be just as long as its body.

  • Region: Squirrels are found in all regions of the Unites States.
  • Habitat: In the summer, squirrels will likely nest in tree cavities or build nests in branches. They may overwinter in tree holes but are also known for invading homes and structures looking for a place to keep warm.
  • Threats: All tree squirrels are considered pests because they frequently enter attics in the winter, but they rarely pose a health threat to homeowners. Outdoors, these squirrels can damage electrical wires and telephone lines.
  • Unique fact: Some squirrel populations have adapted to living in urban environments and are often the only wild animals, besides birds, that some people ever see.