CORONAVIRUS CHICAGO: RATS STARVED BY PANDEMIC INVADING HOMES, EXPERTS WARN
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning about "aggressive" rats looking for food during the pandemic. As the rodents find their way inside homes, experts share how you can defend yourself against the tiny invaders.
Although streets across Chicago have been mostly empty during the pandemic, pest control experts are now noticing rats are out in full force. With bars and restaurants empty, rats are being spotted in residential areas, including homes, yards, and even cars.
The odorous house ant gets its name from the strong, rotten coconut smell it gives off if crushed. These tiny dark brown ants are less than 1/8″ long. Odorous house ants form strong foraging trails in search of food sources (sweets are their favorite). They form massive, multi-queened super-colonies and will move their nests about every 3 months in response to rainfall. Indoors, odorous house ants nest near moisture sources, such as in wall voids near hot water pipes, in heaters, beneath leaky fixtures and inside wood that has been damaged by termites. Outside, odorous ants are found in exposed soil or under stacks of firewood. They prefer lush, humus-rich soils and are very common in/around garden borders.
Pavement ants get their name because they make their nests in or under concrete slabs, bricks, or pavement blocks. These ants form large, multi-queened colonies that can infest structures and are challenging to control. They are red-brown in color, frequently have small crater-like nest entrances, and will eat almost anything. Pavement ants have been known to consume insects, seeds, honeydew, honey, bread, meats, nuts and cheese. They forage in trails for distances up to 30 ft.and are known to climb masonry walls that enter into unoccupied areas such as attics. They can also live in or under flat roofs. In structures, pavement ants are most likely to be found in ground-level masonry walls, but will also nest in walls, insulation and under floors. Outside, these ants typically nest under stones, pavement blocks and next to buildings.
Bald Faced Hornet
Bald faced hornets are relatives of the yellow jacket who get their name from the predominant black markings on their bodies and mostly white face. This stinging insect falls under the hornet category because of its large size and aerial nest. Bald faced hornets are social insects that live in colonies containing one hundred to four hundred members. They usually appear in late summer when populations are at their largest. Like other stinging insects in our area (with the exception of honey bees), the bald faced hornet does not reuse their nest season after season. Bald faced hornets build paper nests at least three or more feet off of the ground, usually in trees, shrubs, on overhangs, utility poles, houses, sheds and other structures. These nests can be as large as 14 inches in diameter and more than 24 inches in length. Although bald faced hornets consume caterpillars and other agricultural pests, they can be aggressive towards humans and will attack if their nest is disturbed. These hornets have smooth stingers that allow them to sting their victims repeatedly. Bald faced hornet stings carry venom that causes pain and irritation.
Blood-feeder; they don’t transmit disease and are considered nocturnal spending 90% of their time in hiding. Known as a hitchhiker pest, they travel easily from one location to the next by traveling on people and their personal belongings. They will hide in/around beds and items stored in close proximity. They often hide behind baseboards, in cracks and crevices, bedding and adjacent furniture (especially mattresses and box springs). Bed bugs feed during the evening from blood hosts. However, they are opportunistic insects and will feed during the day, especially in heavily-infested areas. Bed bugs usually require 5-10 minutes to feed and become engorged. After feeding, they move to secluded places where they will stay for 5-10 days. During this time in their life cycle they do not feed but instead digest their meal, mate, molt (shed shell), and lay eggs.
Carpenter bees resemble a typical bumble bee but have shiny and almost hairless abdomens. This bee is solitary, not colonial like a bumble bee. This species gets its name from their habit of boring and drilling into wood like a carpenter’s drill, producing wood shavings and dust. They are able to create perfectly circular, 1/2″ holes and elaborate galleries for their young. Carpenter bees do not defend their nests or offspring. Instead, they rely on wood to conceal and protect them. Carpenter bees are a serious threat to exposed lumber, as they can cause extensive structural damage. Male carpenter bees can be territorial and may hover in front of one’s face, but they cannot sting. They have no stinger and these actions are merely for show. Female carpenter bees on the other hand, do posses a potent stinger but rarely ever use it.
The German Cockroach is the most common cockroach species. They have a high reproductive rate and can produce six generations per year. Each egg capsule that a female produces can contain 35-40 eggs. German Cockroaches will feed on almost anything, including soap, glue and toothpaste. This pest is an excellent hitchhiker, they often find their way into new structures via grocery bags, cardboard boxes, drink cartons and secondhand appliances. German cockroaches prefer to live in warm, humid places close to food and moisture sources (frequently found behind refrigerators). In addition to being a nuisance, the German Cockroach has been implicated in outbreaks of illness and allergic reactions in many people. Cockroaches have been reported to spread at least 33 different kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. They can pick up germs on their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then carry these into food or onto food surfaces. Medical studies have shown that German cockroach allergens cause allergic reactions and can exacerbate asthma attacks, especially in children.
Mouse-Common House Mouse
The house mouse is the most successful and most prevalent mammal on the planet. It can breed rapidly and quickly adapt to changing conditions. In fact, a female can give birth to a half dozen babies every three weeks, and can produce up to 35 young per year. They prefer to eat seeds and insects, but will eat most anything – including toothpaste and soap. They are excellent climbers, able to reach heights up to 30 ft. or more. They can detect movement from great distances, however, they are color blind and cannot see clearly beyond six inches. House mice live in structures, but they can also survive outdoors. House mice prefer to nest in dark, secluded areas and often build nests out of paper products, cotton, packing materials, wall insulation and fabrics. Water is not necessary for their survival – they can derive water from their food. Their droppings can contain Salmonella, and their urine can cause diseases and allergies. Like all rodents, house mice love to chew and gnaw on structural materials including, electrical wiring, which can short circuits, damage to vehicle wiring, and house fires. House mice are also known to carry fleas, mites, ticks and lice into structures.
Pigeons are large birds with small heads and short legs. They have dark, blue-gray heads with glossy yellow, greenish and reddish-purple markings along their neck and wing feathers and a grayish-pink bill. Two dark bands are usually seen on the wings and there is a single dark band across the tail. However, there is a great deal of color variation with this bird. For example, flocks may be mixed with birds featuring plain, pale, spotted, or rusty-red patterns.
Norway rats are large rodents that may weigh in excess of 500 grams. They can reach lengths of 40 cm,and their tails alone may measure 21 cm. The body of the Norway rat is covered in shaggy fur that is brown or gray in color. The ears and tail are covered in scales, and the tail is shorter than the head and body. Droppings are capsule-shaped.
How Did I Get Spiders?
Loose screens and cracks under doors, windows, and other openings are all possible entryways for a spider. These pests may move indoors while searching for food, mates, warmth, or moisture. The presence of insects and other prey in homes is a common reason for spiders to come inside. Spiders are also accidentally introduced inside homes when they are unknowingly introduced to the home’s interior via infested items such as plants, firewood, clothing and other items stored in attics, basements or other storage areas.
How Did I Get Wasps?
Eaves, soffits, and gutters on home exteriors are popular wasp nesting spots. Flowers and plant life attract them to yards, as do patios and other outdoor eating areas with crumbs or sticky soda spills that are not cleaned up. Garbage cans that are not properly covered and regularly emptied also attract wasps that are seeking sources food. Properties with abundant insects and spiders provide ample prey for both developing and mature wasps. Contrary to popular, but inaccurate beliefs, nests left behind by wasp populations that die during the cold weather months are generally not reused by subsequent generations of wasps.
Paper wasps get their common name from the paper-like material used to make their nests. Paper wasps are sometimes called umbrella wasps, after the shape of their distinctive nests. Paper wasps are semi-social and live in small colonies. They eat nectar and other insects including caterpillars and flies. In the autumn, inseminated females will seek places to spend the winter, and may find their way indoors, especially around attics, dormers, and cathedral ceilings. Paper wasps hang their comb nests from twigs, tree and shrub branches, porch ceilings, the tops of window and door frames, soffits, eaves, attic rafters, deck floor joists and railings. While not an aggressive species by nature, paper wasps will sting if they are disturbed or threatened. Wasp stings are painful and can cause the same risk of allergic reaction as other insect stinging pests stings.
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