Monthly Archives: February 2016

Moles

Wondering what is making the piles of dirt or telltale tunneling in your yard? While you may never see a mole above ground they certainly can leave a mess throughout your landscaping or garden. If the eyesore piles of dirt and debris isn’t enough to make you act, the tunneling should press you into taking action to rid your yard of these pests.  Moles can destroy root systems and devastate plantings and lawn growth.  Let’s take a look at moles and how you can prevent and eradicate them from your property.

Identifying Moles –

Moles are small mammals adapted to a subterranean lifestyle. They have cylindrical bodies, velvety fur, very small, inconspicuous ears and eyes, reduced hind limbs and short, powerful forelimbs with large paws adapted for digging. Moles have been found to tolerate higher levels of carbon dioxide than other mammals, because their blood cells have a special and unique hemoglobin protein. Moles are able to reuse the oxygen inhaled when above ground, and as a result, are able to survive in low-oxygen environments such as underground burrows.

If you find that a mole is, in fact, the critter that is destroying your lawn your best bet is to contact a lawn care company like Pro-Tech Landscaping to evaluate the situation and create an eradication plan.  There are scored of reports discussing the easiest or newest method to control your mole problem.

Trapping seems to be the most common method to used to rid a yard of these amazing diggers.  If you are thinking about going it alone, be prepared for several things: getting very dirty, spending a substantial amount of time trapping and finally getting up close and personal with at least one mole.  Trapping involves figuring out which tunnel is active and the best place to set a trap.  Once you have found a mole and relocated it to a field far away from your home, the job may not be over.  Where there is one mole there may be many.  In addition, moles like to take over the tunnels of other moles.  If any of these things make you nervous, contact a professional. Pro-Tech can not only get rid of your mole issue but also advise you on how to reconstruct your lawn after the tunnels have been fixed.

Deer Issues

According to the Massachusetts Government Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the state has, “a robust and healthy deer herd statewide.”  The environment in the New England area is adequate for year round habitation thus biologists estimate that there are about 85-95 thousand white tailed deer statewide.  Some areas can claim larger populations than others ranging from 10 deer per square mile up to 55 deer per square mile.

While these deer are beautiful, graceful and immensely alert creatures, they can also cause some damage to yards. During the winter deer seek shelter from the deep snow and low temperatures by huddling in dense conifers and laurels.  They are able to use stored fat but are always looking for a meal.  They have adapted to suburban areas and will feast on plants in yards as well as at the forest edge.  This roaming and foraging for food can cause damage in the spring and fall for homeowners.

Here are some tips for the Mass.Gov Website:

  • Leave fawns alone to forage. If you are concerned that something may have happened to the doe, note the location of the fawn and check the next day to see if it is there.
  • Remove all food supply including bird food, pet food and dripping from grills.
  • If you are concerned about deer eating your ornamentals and plant life consider contacting a lawn care company like Pro-Tech who will help you resolve your deer issue.
  • Do not take a fawn from the wild and try to care for it. This is illegal, unwise and in the end, usually harmful to the fawn. Instead call your local MassWildlife office and report your sighting and concern.
  • Do not approach deer as they can harbor ticks that can carry disease.  Check here for additional information on Lyme disease  provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Should I Worry About Pest Invasions in the Winter?

As New Englanders, winter signals a shift in our thinking from caring for our lawn and garden to other worries like snowstorms, bursting pipes, ice dams on the roof, and downed power lines during a blizzard.  Pests don’t usually make the list of things to worry about during the months when the mercury dips to its lowest.  For most people during this season, pests are not on their radar at all.  Let’s take a look at whether you should worry about pests during the winter or put them blissfully out of your mind till spring has sprung.

Should I Worry About Pest Invasions in the Winter?

The unfortunate, and short answer to question of pests in the winter is YES!  Pests may see your home as a refuge, a beacon of light during the frigid winter months where food and water and shelter are readily available.  Mice, rats, cockroaches and spiders are notoriously good as seeking safe haven inside homes during the winter.  Other species of pests may also see your home as a great place to overwinter in the walls or hidden areas of your property.  Once these critters gain entrance they can wreak havoc on your insulation, drywall, wires and wood.

 

What can I do?  

The first step is to prevent pests from entering your home.

  • Seal up every possible entrance point to your home including doors, windows, cracks in the foundation, eaves and soffits.
  • Repair loose mortar and trim back bushes and trees to reduce access points under overhangs and via the roof.
  • Store your firewood an ample distance from your home.
  • Keep food in sealed containers.
  • Be alert for signs of pest droppings or chewing areas.
  • Hire a pest control company to inspect your home for easy access points and to determine what could penetrate your property.
  • Be fast to act.  Many critters can reproduce quickly and make a small problem a huge problem in a matter of weeks.  Call Pro-Tech or our sister company Pest-End to eradicate any pest problems immediately.
  • Read up on the species that tend to seek our property (like your home) before there is a problem.  Check out our website for more information and blogs on mice, rats, wildlife, cockroaches and other variety of pests that may cause you more worry this winter.

Zika – What you Need to Know

It has been all over the national and international news. The mosquito-borne disease, known as Zika has been declared a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization. This announcement, made on February 1, 2016, is due to the clusters of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities that may be caused by Zika virus. This determination is intended to mobilize an international response to combat the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has spread throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean and is suspected to be the cause of a sharp rise in birth defects in Brazil. The last time the World Health Organization used this designation of PHEIC was during the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This announcement has many people, most especially pregnant women fearing dire consequences. Let’s look at what the experts know about this virus and what you need to know to protect yourself.

What is Zika?

The Zika virus is a disease, spread through mosquitoes that can produce mild symptoms such as fever, rash, conjunctivitis and joint pain. The disease is so mild, in fact, that researchers estimate about four-out-of-five people infected with Zika virus won’t even know they have it — and those who do feel symptoms will only experience them for two to seven days. The virus was first isolated in 1947 the Zika forest in Uganda. It was considered a rare virus until 2013 when only a few people had the disease in Africa and Asia. In that year it became widespread in French Polynesia. By 2015, the disease began to spread rapidly throughout Brazil, where it’s estimated that more than one million people may have contracted the virus.

How is Zika contracted?

In short, a mosquito who has bitten a person infected with the Zika virus and then bites a second person could in fact that person with the disease.

Why is Zika so feared?

Zika is commanding worldwide attention because of an alarming connection between the virus and microcephaly, a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. This causes severe developmental issues and sometimes death. While there is not definitive proof yet the WHO strongly suspects that this condition is caused by the Zika virus. To make matters even more dire, there is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.

Could Zika reach the United States?Currently this virus has been reported in the following Central and South American countries:

  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Cape Verde
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guatemala
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Puerto Rico
  • Saint Martin
  • Samoa
  • Suriname
  • Venezuela.

There are already cases among travelers returning to mainland U.S. from these areas but there have not been any cases originating in the United States yet. The CDC has warned that imported cases could cause the virus to spread in some areas of the country. The World Health Organization warned in February that the outbreak would likely reach all countries and territories in the Americas that have Aedes mosquitoes.

What can we do to prevent Zika?

If you are visiting a country with Aedes mosquitoes you are advised to use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved, light-colored clothes and use insect screens or mosquito nets while inside.To help control the mosquito population, people should cover domestic water tanks, unblock drains, avoid accumulating garbage and avoid allowing water to stagnate in outdoor containers such as flower pots.

Some affected countries have called on women to delay pregnancy because of the possible link to microcephaly

The Latest News

As of Feb 3, 2016 there are 40 known cases of people infected with zika in the United States who traveled to the countries listed above.  One case has been proven to be transmitted sexually instead of through the actual mosquito bite.

Pro-Tech will keep you updated on the latest new on this frightening virus.  Knowledge is our best defense until a vaccine is developed.

 

Dreaming of Spring? Make your Garden Plan now.

It may be hard to imagine the warm breezes of spring or the tender new plantings that will eventually sprout while the temperatures are below freezing and we have tundra like conditions outside. However, this is the time to get planning for your spring lawn and garden.  What can you do now to prepare for what is, in reality, just several weeks away?

  • Take Stock – Many homeowners and gardeners enjoy a fresh start each spring whether it is in the building of a prosperous garden or in starting your lawn toward the manicured perfection you so love.  However, don’t forget to take stock of things that went wrong last year.  Did you have an animal or pest problem in your landscaping or garden that you are just wishing away?  Take the time to discuss with your landscaping professionals about problems that you encountered last year.  They may have suggestions of how to prevent or treatments that can stop the problem this year.
  • Create a Plan– Sure you might be shivering in front of fire right now, but this is really the time to make your lists and plot out on a calendar when you will do what in your yard.  Order seeds, plot out where the garden fence with go to keep pests away, diagram the area that you want to cultivate this year.
  • Take to the Internet – Read articles that will help you understand your landscaping, from what may grow best in your yard, to what type of sunlight and nutrients the lawn may need to where you can get help if you have lawn pests. Especially research the trees and bushes in your yard for the types of pests may be attracted to your area.
  • Decide on a Timeline – Some varieties of plants need a longer growing season.  Check the Farmer’s Almanac for a last frost date (usually) for your region.  Write down the seed starting dates on a calendar and plan accordingly.

Spring may feel like a million miles away but it is just around the corner.  Will you be prepared?