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Wood Decaying Fungi

wood1

Wood destroying fungus (fungi, plural) causes more damage to structures than all the fires, floods, and termites combined! Wood decaying fungus requires four fundamentals to survive which are oxygen, favorable temperatures, water, and food. Fungus occurs generally when the moisture content of wood exceeds 20 to 30 percent, coupled with optimal temperatures (32° – 90° F), an adequate supply of oxygen and a suitable source of energy and nutrients.

fungi

Fungus is a plant that lack chlorophyll. Unable to manufacture its own food, it feeds off of cells in the wood. The fungus secretes enzymes that break down the wood into usable food. Fungi will significantly reduce the strength of the wood, if the condition continues over a period of time.

Identification

White Rot Fungi
White rot breaks down all major wood components (cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin) more or less simultaneously, and commonly causes rotted wood to feel moist, soft and spongy, or stringy and to appear white bleached. Wood affected by white rot normally does not crack across the grain and will only shrink and collapse when severely degraded. The strength of the infested wood decreases gradually until it becomes spongy to the touch and stringy when broken.

Brown Rot Fungi
Brown rot primarily decays the cellulose and hemicelluloses in wood, leaving a brown residue of lignin, the substance which holds the cells together. Wood affected by brown rot is usually dry and fragile, readily crumbles into cubes because of longitudinal and transverse cracks (tending to crack across the grain). Infected wood may be greatly weakened, even before any external evidence of decay can be seen. Brown rot is generally more serious than white rot.

Old infestations of brown rot which have dried out will turn to powder when crushed. They are often labeled as “dry rot.” This common term is deceiving, because dry wood will not rot! Actually, wood kept dry will never decay.

Water-Conducting Fungi (poria incrassata)
Poria incrassata is a brown rot fungus. Whereas most wood decaying fungi must rely on a water leak, or ground contact condition, to obtain the required water, poria incrassata has developed specialized root-like water-conducting tubes, called rhizomorphs, which allow it to transport water from the soil to the wood. Therefore, even in situations where wood is protected from rainfall, and no leaks exist, wood can still be decayed by poria. Once established, it can quickly spread through a building and destroy large areas of flooring and walls in as little as a year or two.

Soft Rot Fungi
Soft rot fungi degrade only the cellulose and hemicelluloses, and typically occur in wood of high water content and high nitrogen content. Soft rot fungi look like brown rot. They are most commonly found in rotting window frames, wet floor boards and fence posts, etc., where nitrogen is recruited from soil or from atmospheric contamination. Some of these fungi are common decomposers of cellulose in soil and they are the least specialized of the wood decaying fungi.

Molds (Non Wood Decaying Fungi)
Molds are microscopic fungi that live on plant or animal matter. The presence of surface molds can be confused with wood decaying fungi. Although mold organisms may discolor the wood, they do not break down wood fibers and thus do not weaken its structure. However, these organisms could indicate a moisture level in the wood high enough to also support the growth of wood decay fungi. Molds also can increase the capacity of wood to absorb moisture, opening the door for an attack by wood decay fungi. Moisture control methods used to inhibit wood decay fungi will also eliminate conditions favorable for mold to grow.

Preventive Measurements
Water is the enemy of wood! Moisture control must be an integral part of any plan designed for the prevention of wood decay fungi. The following guidelines are a good way to start:

  • Untreated wood should never be in contact with the ground. Posts, piers and framing members should always be placed on concrete footers above the surrounding soil level.
  • Ventilation in crawlspaces is critical to prevent “dead air” spaces. Adequate cross ventilation beneath the structure will minimize “dead air” spaces. Vents should be installed at a minimum of two square feet per openings for every 25 linear feet of wall. Avoid any obstructions of the vents by vegetation, storage or physically sealing off openings.
  • In crawlspaces with continuously moist soil a vapor barrier can be installed to minimize condensation onto framing components. Vapor barriers are designed to maintain the moisture at the soil level.
  • Use pressure treated wood, properly, or select heartwood (redwood, cedar) if moisture conditions are unavoidable (decks, wood in ground contact, etc.).
  • Wood may be protected from decay with a borate treatment by a licensed professional.
  • Repair plumbing leaks as soon as they are noticed.
  • Rain gutters and downspouts should be cleared of debris. Roof leaks should be fixed immediately.
  • Maintain all exterior wood surfaces sealed with a water repellent paint or stain.
  • Maintain all interior wood window sills sealed with a water repellent paint or stain, since condensation is common around windows
  • Keep all commodes secured tightly to the floor to minimize possible leakage at the seal.
  • Periodic inspection should be part of a routine maintenance schedule. – 3 –

Treatments

Proper identification of fungus through a wood destroying pests and organisms inspection is essential to developing the appropriate control measures.

  • Borates provide an effective method of treating for the protection of wood and wood-foam composite structural components against wood decay fungi.
  • Borates are highly destructive to all wood destroying organisms and, unlike other wood preservatives, they are non-volatile, odorless, and are less toxic than table salt. They do not discolor the wood, are non-corrosive, environmentally safe and known to be effective in controlling more than 45 different species of wood decaying fungi.
  • Within a few days after a treatment has been completed the fungi will begin to die and dry up. Occasionally the dead fungi will emit an unpleasant odor as it decomposes. This odor will only last a couple of days and may be minimized with the circulation of fresh air into the treated area.
  • Although borates will kill wood decay fungi, it will not add strength to the damaged wood.
  • If the fungi have actually damaged the wood, the corrective action will depend on extend of the damage. The most effective and common method for moderate to severe damage is to replace the damaged wood. However, if only a small area is affected, borates and reinforcing the damaged wood are a cost-effective alternative.

Ticks

ticks

The Deer tick and American Dog tick are the most common types of insects that infest your home.

Soft ticks can transmit relapsing fever spirochetoses such as Borrelia Turicatae, Borrelia Parkeri and Borrelia Hermsii.

Hard ticks attach themselves to the skin of a host for long periods of time.

Tick treatment is a must because they can transmit human diseases such as relapsing fever, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, equine encephalitis, Colorado tick fever, and several forms of ehrlichiosis. As you can see, all of these types of ticks can spread disease.

What we do to get rid of them:

We require that if you have any pets that they be treated for ticks with frontline or havhart products. We do an outside lawn application with power sprayer. This treatment may require an service plan

Squirrels

squirrels

Fox squirrels are about 18 to 24 inches long from nose to tip of tail. They weigh about 2 pounds and have a large, bushy tail with yellow-tipped hairs. Fox squirrels are usually a grizzled rusty brown on top and buff to bright rust below. Fox squirrels can vary in color from silver-gray to black.

Gray squirrels are about 17 to 19 inches long from nose to tip of tail. They are typically gray on top with buff underfur, although some have blackish fur. Their bushy tails are gray with silvery-tipped hair. Gray squirrels are a pale gray on their under parts.

Flying squirrels are much smaller (9 to 10 inches long including tail) than fox and gray squirrels and have a membrane of skin that extends from the wrist of the front leg to the ankle of the hind leg. They have a horizontally flattened tail that serves as a rudder during glides. Flying squirrels have large eyes. Their fur is long and silky gray to brown on their back and creamy white on their belly.

Flying squirrels are most active at night, while both fox and gray squirrels are most active in morning and late afternoon.

Adult fox squirrels breed during December and January, and sometimes again in early summer. They dwell primarily in tree cavities and leaf nests. About three to six young are born after a 45-day gestation period. Each newborn squirrel weighs about 1/2 ounce. The young are weaned at 3 months of age. Fox squirrels do not hibernate, although they spend much time in their nests during the winter. Fox squirrels generally live from four to seven years but can live as long as 12 years.

Fox squirrels eat mostly fruits, nuts and buds of trees. Field corn and soybeans are eaten in the fall if available. Squirrels occasionally eat berries, insects, fungi and carrion. Fox squirrels are prey to hawks, owls, snakes and many ground predators.

Eastern gray squirrels have a litter of two to three young in spring. Another litter is born in late summer. The young are weaned at 50 days but those in the second litter stay with the female over the winter. Acorns and other nuts are the main food of gray squirrels. Eastern gray squirrels nest in tree cavities or leaf nests in mature trees.

Southern flying squirrels breed during late winter and again in early summer. A single litter usually produces three to four young.

Controlling Damage

A survey of the National Pest Control Association voted the tree squirrel as the number one nuisance animal in the United States.Tree squirrels can cause a variety of problems, including damage to trees, flowers, lawns, gardens, vehicles and homes. They eat acorns, nuts, fruit or vegetables in home gardens and become a nuisance at bird feeders.

Squirrels can cause extensive damage to attic insulation or walls and gnaw on electrical wires in homes and vehicles, creating a fire hazard.

Fox and gray squirrels normally crush the shells of nuts to enter them. Flying squirrels usually cut a smooth circular or oval opening in the shell wall. On heavy shells of larger nuts, flying squirrels will make a second opening or remove an entire end.

Flying squirrels prefer to eat acorns and other nuts, seeds, fruits, berries, buds, flower blossoms and tree bark. Occasionally, insects, bird eggs and nestlings, mice and carrion are eaten.Unwanted squirrels in buildings

Fox squirrels damage attics by chewing through electrical wires and soiling or tearing insulation. Evidence of fox and gray squirrels inside attics include noise from gnawing or running during the day. In contrast, flying squirrels and rats can be heard squeaking and making noise during the night. Other signs of squirrels include droppings,but don’t confuse them with Roof Rat Droppings.or Ground Rat Droppings

Also gnawed holes,leaves, twigs, shells, hulls, pits or nesting materials inside an attic. Tree squirrel tracks can be distinguished from the splayed toes in the tracks of Rat Tracks.

Squirrels can squeeze through holes 1 1/2 inches in diameter or gnaw through smaller holes to gain access to buildings.

Fox squirrels can climb vertical brick or masonry walls that have a roughened surface. They can enter through vents, chimneys, broken windows, knotholes and construction gaps under eaves or gables.

Tree squirrels most often enter attics and spaces between walls and floors. To reduce squirrel problems in buildings, limit their access by closing all openings . Even holes that are too small for squirrels should be closed. Metal flashing, hail screen, and copper wool usually discourage gnawing.

Silverfish

silverfish

Silverfish and firebrats are wingless, flat insects with two long, slender antennae on the front and three long slender “bristles” at the rear of a tapered, carrot-shaped body. They are 1/2 inch long when fully grown.

What we do to get rid of them:

There are many conducive conditions that can make control difficult such as full, leaky gutters, leaky roof, and cedar shake roof shingles. Control consists of regular treatment of the attic space and exterior (we recommend a quarterly basis) and occasional special measures on second floor in heavy infestations. Using the proper material to treat is crucial and we know the proper materials. It is essential that the attic be treated on each service. Many companies now prohibit their employees from going in the attic so they would not be able to effectively treat silverfish.

Rodents

Mice

mice

By mid-fall of every year, through out most of the U.S. and similar temperate zones, domestic mice and rats and some other local outdoors species will ,have already found the places they plan to spend the winter. There may not yet be enough signs for you to notice them, their droppings or other signs, but that could change quickly. They have most likely begun producing their next litters, and have found and laid down trails to the places where you keep the food and nesting materials they will need for the next several months. One morning soon, you may be surprised to find a hole chewed in your cereal box or rodent droppings on your kitchen counter, or even mouse hairs on your dishes.

The house mouse is the most common pest in and around human living and working places. They damage and destroy materials by gnawing, eating your food (especially cereal products or nuts), attacking decorations such as floral or harvest/grain” arrangements. They can carry human diseases and ectoparasites that may bite people or pets. The house mouse has a head-plus-body length of about 2.5 to 3.5 inches, and is gray with dull white belly fur. An adult only weighs about an ounce, but they eat often (nibble) and leave their typical `calling card’ droppings at places where they sat down to feed for a little while. Mouse droppings are long and pointed compared to the larger, blunt droppings of rats.

Mice may look cuddly, but they breed rapidly. A house mouse can breed 35 days after it was born, and can have its own first litter of up to eight pups by the time it is 60 days old. Although they usually live only about a year, if all their offspring lived and reproduced at a similar rate, one pair of house mice could produce a population of more than 500 mice in one year.

Mice are good at climbing and jumping. They can jump about a foot straight up, and can jump down more than six feet without getting hurt. An adult mouse can squeeze through a crack or hole as small as 3/8-inch across and can quickly climb straight up an eight-foot wall of brick or wood paneling in less than half a minute. Even though one mouse doesn’t eat much, as their population grows, they can eat a surprising amount of food. They also damage food containers, and their droppings and urine droplets contaminate a lot more food than they eat. In a year, one mouse produces up to 18,000 droppings; and it will deposit hundreds of micro-droplets of urine every day as it marks its trails.

Mice can spread more than 20 kinds of organisms that can cause diseases of humans and pets. These include a variety of food poisoning bacteria like Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, and others; tapeworms, mites, ticks, and rickettsial pox.

Other rodents, which are widespread and may also come indoors for the winter such as deer mice and white-footed mice which can carry and spread other disease organisms like Hantavirus, plague and Lyme Disease.

Hantavirus is a deadly disease spread over most of the U.S. As of June 2002, of the 318 human cases reported by the CDC, from 31 states, 37% have been fatal. Deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) are a major host of the virus. The virus is transmitted to humans via dust that is inhaled after it has been contaminated by the mouse’s saliva, urine, and feces.

The white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is distributed through the contiguous 48 states of the U.S. This mouse plays a vital role in the life cycle of Lyme Disease. According to the CDC, over 16,000 human cases of Lyme Disease were reported during the year 2000. Although it is infected ticks that bite humans and pets, the white-footed mouse is the source of the bacteria that causes the disease. The larva tick, soon after it hatches, feeds on the mouse and gets infected. Elimination of this mouse species near homes and businesses can reduce this public health threat.

Rats

rats

Exterior – Rats are frequently a neighborhood problem. They favor areas with many hiding place. If there is exterior clutter, high grass or weeds, decorative ground cover, compost files, firewood stacks, shed, trash can, it provides easy cover for movement. If there are ready food sources your home will become the feeding stations such as your bird feeder, garbage cans without tight lids, and feces of cats or dogs (unpleasant, but it makes a good case for using the pooper/scooper). If you are feeding any wildlife such as birds, squirrels or chipmunk unfortunately you become a target for rats. You may have to consider curtailing this activity for a while. If you choose not to, control may be much slower.

If you do have exterior activity; it is much better to deal with them outside than inside. These are very smart and agile critters. Exterior control measures involve treating holes that are their burrows, placing bait stations, and traps. A trained professional can identify their holes and harborage areas.

Interior – This urban rodent produces the most fear of pests we deal with. Their size and fearsome depiction in the media make them a most unwelcome invader. If a rat is inside your home, you will know about it. The noise will be loud in walls or in dropped ceilings. Their droppings are large and oblong. There may be visible puddles of urine. The can chew holes in plastic or cardboard containers. They can move a piece of fruit or package of food across a table, counter, or floor. They can make a big mess in a short period of time. Your pets may spend protracted periods starring at an appliance or counter, staking out their prey. Rats will feed on dog/cat food, cat feces, and of course any food left out.

What we do to get rid of them:

Mouse or Rat control is a function of using tried and true methods mainly baiting, snap traps, glue traps, and sometime tracking powder. The materials are the same ones that have been around for year but in the hands of an experienced professional, they results are reliable. You are purchasing expertise rather than materials.

Mosquito

General Information
Reducing Risk of West Nile Virus

mosquito

Mosquito control can be very difficult but must be attempted to not only rid our homes of annoying bites but also to stop the spread of certain mosquito borne health problems. In a perfect world we need only eliminate the breeding grounds of these biting pests. This is easier said than done! Even if you eliminate all possible breeding sites on your personal property, mosquitoes born in other areas will still fly to your part of the world.

Eliminating all possible mosquito breeding sources – standing water, piles of cut grass and fallen leaves, cleaning fence rows of tall grasses and weeds, keeping rain gutters free of leaf litter and other vegetation- is indeed your starting point in an integrated pest management program targeting disease carrying pests.

A complete mosquito control program not only eliminates breeding sources but also includes long-term prevention (using Mosquito Dunks in bird baths, fish ponds, drainage ditches or storm drains, lakes, pet water dishes and other mosquito breeding grounds) and short-term knock down of mosquito larvae (Mosquito Bits) and adult mosquitoes (fogging areas on your property to kill adult insect pests.) The evening before or morning of outdoor activities (parties, cook outs, wedding receptions) use Mosquito & Gnat Scat to help repel any flying insects from the area.

As added extra personal protection, use a good insect repellent on exposed skin. Health professionals agree that an insect repellent containing DEET is best for most people. Smaller children and other people can use an alternative to DEET, such as CedarCide natural insect repellent. DEET products last longer but both will help stop mosquitoes from biting. Fogging is ideal for outside applications.

Earwig

earwig

The earwig insect can cause damage to cultivated plants and become a nuisance when migrating indoors. Some species will emit a foul odor. These insects have a distinct appearance. Please take note of the picture of the earwig above.

Outside: Earwigs are nocturnal and can be found during the day in moist shady places, under wood piles, stones, boards, compost piles, flower beds, and other secluded places.

Inside: When earwigs migrate indoors, they hide in cracks and crevices around baseboards and other locations. The earwig insect may be found in potted plants and cut flowers.

The earwig insect can cause damage to cultivated plants and become a nuisance when migrating indoors. Some species will emit a foul odor. These insects have a distinct appearance.

What we do to get rid of them:

They can be controlled through an initial interior application with quarterly exterior application to prevent new populations from entering the home. They do not bite or sting and they do not crawl into your ear as you may have heard in old wives tales.

Crickets

cricket

House crickets are about 3/4 to 7/8 inches long and yellow brown or straw colored with three dark bands across the top of the head. This is an outdoor and indoor pest.

There are two main varieties of crickets, the cave cricket and field cricket. The cave cricket is the light brown monstrosity that you see on the walls, floors, and sometime ceiling that have long antennae, humped back and make no noise. The field cricket is you more typical black to dark brown insect with an elongated body that makes the well known cricket chirp.

Both types thrive in cool, moist environments and cause no serious harm to you or your family but can be annoying, frightening, or embarrassing depending on the individual.

What we do to get rid of them:

Control measures are based the result of an inspection for harborage areas and conditions in which they thrive. Regular quarterly application thereafter can keep the population out.

Centipede

centipede

The house centipede can be encountered in damp basements in the fall. If crushed, they may bite, causing some pain and swelling. They are reddish-brown, flattened, elongated arthropods with one pair of legs attached on most of their body segments. The first pair of legs is modified into poisonous jaws located below the mouth to kill insects. Their antennae are longer than those of millipedes. The house centipede feeds on live insects and other small animals. They do not damage plants.

What we do to get rid of them:

We control them through an interior application on all unfinished levels of the home (including crawlspaces, garages, and sometimes attic) and placement of insect glue trap monitors in the basement and garage areas. This, coupled with a regular exterior application on a quarterly basis will keep these guys out.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants: a potentially costly problem

carpenter ants

Unlike most ants that are more of a nuisance than an actual property threat, carpenter ants can do significant damage to your home. While they do not actually eat wood, carpenter ants damage wood by excavating and creating galleries and tunnels. If a colony remains present long enough, carpenter ants can actually weaken structural wood and cause sever damage.

Don’t try to kill carpenter ants yourself! But before you try to get rid of carpenter ants yourself, you should know that most “do-it-yourself” ant control efforts can often prove ineffective.

What we do to get rid of them:

Carpenter ant colonies are commonly located in wall voids and areas of your home that are hard to find.We use a dust application inside of your wall voids to effectively get rid of the carpenter ant galleries and the carpenter ants themselves! We also treat around the perimeter of your home to stop the colony from invading your property! Most over-the-counter sprays are repellent and have difficulty controlling entire colonies.

We use a non-reppellent product called Termidor.

How Termidor® controls carpenter ants:

Termidor® termiticide/insecticide is an advanced undetectable treatment that is professionally applied outside your home. Carpenter ants never know it’s there, so they can’t react to it or avoid it. Instead, they pick up Termidor as they feed and move about and then spread it to other ants in their colony. We apply this product around the foundation of your property and exterior areas of entry points. This products makes an barrier against Carpenter Ants and other unwanted pest as labeled on the Termidor label.