All posts by Mike Sperling

The Increased Stinging Activity of Wasps – Late Summer and Fall

Believe it or not, summer is quickly coming to a close with shorter days and sunsets happening earlier and earlier. It’s hard to believe that it was just a few weeks ago that we were discussing how to “Prevent Pests from Ruining your Outdoor Entertaining.”  While you may have taken action against the ticks, mosquitoes, and other wildlife pests in your yard, keep your guard up because right now is the peak wasp stinging season. Why is it that wasps, which have been around all spring and summer suddenly become such a problem at this time of year? Let’s take a closer look at the behavior of wasps and why this is such an active stinging time.

The answer as to why wasps sting more often in the late summer and early fall can be found in the life cycle and reproductive schedule of the wasp queen. According to University of Delaware bee researcher Debbie Delaney, wasps are heading into what can be considered “retirement” during the late summer and fall. It is during this time that the queen wasp stops laying eggs. The worker wasps then change their food-gathering strategy from collecting insects – a protein source for the colony’s young —  to now getting sweets and carbohydrates for their own consumption. These adult wasps have just a few weeks to binge on carbohydrates before they die off at the first hard frost. It is during these last few weeks before either overwintering or dying off in the frost that the wasps go out in search of food items such as the sugar produced by rotting fruit and tree sap. They can also find these sugars in the foods at your patio table or in your garden.

 

Once the queen has stopped her reproductive cycle for the season, these hard working wasps are anxious to find sugar items to eat. These items, such as the fruit at your BBQ or perhaps the beer or soda cans that adorn your patio table are just too much to pass up. Combine this with the generally aggressive behavior of wasps, and this is a recipe for stings during this season.

 

Do you have wasps nests in your yard and are concerned about the impact to your outdoor entertaining, safety of your children, or nuisance of wasps dive bombing during dinner? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733 and visit our website. We can help you solve your wasp problem.

 

Gutters and other Pest Havens

No home is immune to attracting pests. However, with regular maintenance and thorough inspections to the most pest-prone areas, homeowners can avoid pest catastrophes such as infestations and damage to the home’s structure. There are some areas of a typical home that tend to be forgotten and sometimes even neglected that pests find and take up refuge. Let’s examine some of these pest haven  areas, and see how you can prevent a pest problem in the future.

Gutters – The gutters attached to your home have many benefits: to keep the water from eroding the soil around your foundation, protect the basement from flooding, stop your roof from leaking, and safeguard the foundation from water damage. Unfortunately, gutters collect water runoff and piles of leaves from one season to the next. This water and natural debris is the perfect breeding and nesting ground for a slew of pests including: squirrels, ants, rats, and mice. Gutters are easy to ignore unless they are causing a problem. We suggest having them cleaned at least twice a year to avoid accidentally creating a pest haven.

Decks and Sheds – While many homeowners enjoy entertaining on their deck and storing their fun yard equipment in a handy shed, most forget that the underside of these two structures can be a perfect place for pests to find a home, breed, and make an utter mess. Every spring and again in the fall, clear out the underneath of these two hard-to-access areas. The dark, moist area can be a haven for a wide range of wildlife that you do not want to encourage to nest in your yard.

Firewood Stacks – We all enjoy a good fire in the winter and fire pit entertaining in the warmer weather. Don’t forget to use the oldest wood first, store away from your home and check the wood before bringing it into your home. Wood is a great place for wood loving insects to hide.

Do you have a pest problem in a forgotten or not often cared for area? Call us at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733 and visit our website. We can identify the pest and create a solution that works for you and your family.

 

Interesting Tick Facts

Summer is peak tick season in New England. Since ticks thrive in moist and warm habitats, the high temperatures and humidity we experience here is a tick’s heaven. In past blogs we have discussed “How to Prevent Tick Bites” and signs and symptoms of common tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease. Today we are examining some of the more interesting tick facts  that make them a danger to humans and pets, as well as amazing creatures to study. Here are some tick facts you may find interesting.

 

  • There are more than 850 species of ticks on the planet.
  • Ticks do not fly, jump, or fall from trees. They generally crawl up their hosts from the tips of grasses and shrubs.
  • The size of tick depends on the developmental stage. Larva stage can be as large as a grain of sand, a nymph as small as a poppy seed, and an adult is about the size of an apple seed. Females tend to be larger than males.
  • In many hard ticks, the saliva also acts like cement, helping to anchor the tick in place and making it harder for you to remove it.
  • Female ticks need to double their size before they are ready to lay eggs. They produce around 2000 eggs that are usually laid under the pile of leaves.
  • Some ticks can live for a really long time without food. When a tick can’t find a host to feed upon, it will sometimes go into a sort of stasis until the situation improves.
  • You will find all sorts of tick removal suggestions on the Internet, according to a review in the British Medical Journal. People recommend rubbing petroleum jelly, gasoline, nail polish, or 70% isopropyl alcohol over the tick’s mouthparts, ostensibly to “suffocate” it. Problem is, say the researchers, none of these methods actually work—ticks can survive long periods without air.
  • Ticks can survive without food for 200 days.
  • Sometimes ticks inject anaesthetic into their host’s bloodstream, a sort of nerve poison that contains neurotoxins.
  • Ticks typically require 24-48 hours of feeding before they can successfully transmit infections like Lyme disease, so prompt removal is crucial.

 

Does your yard seem to have a large amount of ticks? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care for treatment options that can solve your tick problem this summer. Reach out to us at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733 and visit our website.

 

Lawn Disease

New Englanders truly enjoy being outdoors during the summer months. Other than grilling out and entertaining family and friends, many homeowners find joy in working on their gardens or nurturing a lawn. Unfortunately, there are many lawn diseases that can hamper this enjoyment and cause brown spots, mushrooms or bare spots. Let’s review some of the more common lawn diseases that inflict damage in our area so you know what to look for and how to treat in the future.

  • Brown Patch – Brown patch appears as circular patches in the lawn that are brownish yellow in color and range from 6 inches to several feet in diameter. It effects all cool season lawn grasses but is especially harmful to ryegrass and tall fescue. This disease is most common during extended periods of heat and humidity – in other words a typical New England summer.
  • Red Thread – This lawn disease appears as red or pink webbing in the lawn. It is common when the nitrogen level in the grass is low and usually indicates that it is time to fertilize. Grasses typically affected include: bermudagrass, bluegrasses, fescues, bentgrasses, and perennial ryegrass.
  • Fairy Rings – An arc or circle of mushrooms is a big sign that you may have Fairy Rings. Irrigation issues or overly moist areas can lead to this fungus problem.
  • Rust Diseases – These irregular brown or yellow splotches on the grass are common in late summer and early fall. They often appear in shady and moist areas of your lawn.
  • Pythium Blight – This water mold disease occurs where irrigation is not draining properly or the soil is overly moist. Pythium blight symptoms include circular areas 1 to 3 inches in diameter and foliage can have a gray, water-soaked appearance and possibly white mycelium on mornings with dew.

If you are working hard to maintain a beautiful, lush lawn and disease is stopping you in your tracks, it might be time to contact our team here at Pro-Tech Lawn Care. Call us at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, or visit our website.

 

Lyme Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks and deer ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (rash or bullseye), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.

Steps to prevent Lyme Disease include:

  • Using insect repellent such as DEET
  • Completing tick checks nightly
  • Removing ticks promptly
  • Applying treatment programs to your property
  • Wearing protective clothing
  • Avoiding tick habitats such as woody areas

 

Do you know what to look for when completing your nightly tick check this season? The CDC has put together this graphic to help you realize just how small these pests can be. Compare the size of the dime to the size of the adult, nymph and larva ticks!

be vigilant this tick season. Use both your eyes and your hands to feel for potential ticks in areas such as in your armpits, groin area, behind the knees, along hairline and along the neck.

Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care for questions and concerns you may have about ticks in your yard or the woods surrounding your property. We have treatment options for you and your family. Call us at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, or visit our website.

 

West Nile Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) West Nile is a virus most commonly spread to people by mosquito bites. In North America, cases of West Nile virus (WNV) occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall. The World Health Organization states that the symptoms of severe disease include: headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 150 persons infected with the West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of disease. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, however people over the age of 50 and some immunocompromised persons (for example, transplant patients) are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with WNV.

The current data on West Nile Disease can be worrisome. As of January 9, 2018, a total of 47 states and the District of Columbia have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes in 2017. Overall, 2,002 cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported to CDC. Of these, 1,339 (67%) were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and 663 (33%) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease.

For an incident report here is a county-by-county report from the CDC.

Pro-Tech Lawn Care suggests being especially cautious this mosquito season and follow some simple guidelines that we set out in a recent blog on “Preventing Mosquito Bites.” For more information about West Nile Disease and treatment options for your property against this mosquito-borne illness contact Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, or visit our website.

Preventing Tick Bites

Ticks may be tiny, (almost undetectable in some cases), but they sure can cause a heap of trouble. In our region of the United States, Lyme Disease is one of the biggest threats when it comes to tick-borne diseases. Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected black-legged or deer tick. Symptoms can occur anywhere from 3 to 30 days after the bite and can be wide-ranging, depending on the stage of the infection. In some cases, symptoms can appear even months after the bite. Early signs and symptoms include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes, all of which are common in the flu as well. In up to 80% of Lyme infections, a rash is one of the first symptoms. If this is not frightening enough, a recent CDC study found that cases of Lyme increased more than 80% between 2004 and 2016 — from 19,804 to 36,429. So how can you protect yourself and your family each time you head outside from tick bites?

 

  • Consider treating your yard for both mosquitoes and ticks through a treatment plan at Pro-Tech Lawn Care.
  • Avoid areas where ticks are likely to hang out. This could include woody areas of your yard, hiking paths, or even just being in your backyard. Ticks love wooded areas with lots of shrubs, tall grasses and weeds, and leaf litter.
  • Use repellant. Products that contain DEET or permethrin can add a layer of protection when outside.
  • Wear protective clothing. This includes: light-colored clothes, which makes it easier to spot them once you have come indoors, as well as long pants tucked into your socks. We also suggest long sleeve shirts and shoes that cover your toes. A hat is a great idea too since they may be difficult to find in black hair.
  • Always check yourself and family members when you come in and at the end of the night. Ticks especially like hairlines, behind the knee and crux of the elbow.
  • Remove any ticks and watch for signs of Lyme and the telltale bullseye.

 

Are you concerned about ticks in your yard? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care for tick solutions for your property at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, or visit our website.

 

Preventing Mosquito Bites

Are you a mosquito magnet and dread going out for fear that these pests will find you and bite you relentlessly? Beyond the itch factor is the danger of contracting a mosquito-borne disease such as West Nile Disease, EEE, or, if traveling to tropical areas, the Zika Virus. Thankfully there are some steps that even the biggest mosquito magnet can do to avoid being bitten this season. Here are a few ideas to prevent mosquito bites in your own backyard.

 

  • Always Use Repellant –  Just like you should always put on sunscreen, you should also always apply bug repellant to both skin and clothes. DEET works well on skin and permethrin or picaridin works well on clothing.
  • Avoid Peak Hours – Generally, mosquitoes are more active at dusk and dawn, although this may differ depending on the species. These are also peak times for exercise and outdoor patio use so use repellant and clothing cautions.
  • Avoid Elevated Heart Rates – According to Prevention Magazine, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary thing mosquitoes search for to identify food sources. And when your heart rate is elevated, your body produces more CO2. From exercise to drinking alcohol or eating spicy foods, anything that cranks up your metabolic rate will increase your CO2 production—and make you irresistible to mosquitoes.
  • Use Nets and Fans – Mosquitoes can not land to bite if facing the force of wind so consider putting a fan or two on your porch or deck. In addition, many homeowners find netting a great way of preventing these pests from interrupting a perfectly good BBQ.
  • Remove Standing Water – Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes so be sure to clear out kiddie pools, upside down frisbees, and even pet food bowls. Remove the breeding ground and you will have fewer pests.
  • Dress for Prevention – Wear light weight long sleeve shirts and long pants to avoid the critters who will seek out the heat of your skin.

 

Do you have a mosquito-filled backyard or are you personally a magnet? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care for treatment options. Call us at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733 and visit our website.

 

The Dangers of Biting Insects

Spending time out in nature is one of the best things about the spring, summer, and fall months. For New Englanders who must endure long, sometimes brutally cold, winter weather, these months come as a gift from Mother Nature. There is nothing like enjoying the salty sea air along the coast, or the cool air of one of the hiking trails in the many conservation lands in our area. Unfortunately, being outdoors means the possibility of being bitten by one of the many biting insects that make their habitat in our region. What are the potential dangers of these biting insects and what can you do to prevent bites as you enjoy the great outdoors?

 

  • Mosquitoes – These annoying buggers can ruin any day when you are being swarmed and bitten. The dangers of mosquitoes lie not in the bite itself but, rather, in the diseases that can be spread in saliva of the insect. Mosquitoes can transmit Eastern Equine Encephalitis or, most well known, West Nile Virus. West Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness that is carried from infected birds to humans via mosquitoes. Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a rare illness in humans, and only a few cases are reported in the United States each year. EEE can progress from flu-like symptoms to seizures, coma, and even death.

 

  • Ticks – Ticks in our area are known to carry Lyme Disease. Lyme disease is a multisystem inflammatory disease that affects the skin (a bullseye rash) in its early, localized stage, and then may spread to the joints, nervous system and, to a lesser extent, other organ systems in its later, disseminated stages.

Want more information about the dangers of biting insects and how to protect yourself? Visit our website or call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733.

Hydroseeding, Broadcast Seeding, or Sod?

Most homeowners who tend regularly to their lawn and garden want a healthy and aesthetically pleasing landscape. Our customers often seek out our help in regard to making their lawn full, green, and healthy. They often ask what method will best create the look they are hoping for: hydroseeding, sod, or broadcast seeding? Since each method has advantages and disadvantages, here is a quick breakdown to help you decide which method is right for you.

 

  • Budget – Deciding on which method to use to create a healthy lawn may come down to what the homeowner can afford. Sod tends to be the most expensive option, followed by hydroseeding, and then broadcast/hand seeding. What level of cost are you willing to meet to get the lawn you desire?
  • Germination Time – Sod is the quickest way to receive an instant lawn. Roll it out, water it, and voila! The hydroseeding procedure involves using a mixture or slurry of grass seed, wood-fiber mulch, fertilizer, and binding agents. These items help to speed up seed germination, which can take place sometimes within a week. Hand or broadcast seeding may take many weeks to even months to fully germinate and grow in. It may also need overseeding to get bare patches. How patient are you? Are you willing to wait for the perfect lawn or do you want it immediately?
  • Time of Year – When a homeowner wants the perfect the lawn, timing is a key component on which option to pick. For example, sod can be installed at anytime in the spring, summer, or fall. It just needs watering and some care so the seams do not shrink and become visible. Hydroseeding is best done from late spring to early fall. The best time to broadcast seed is in the fall, followed by summer, and then spring, respectively.
  • Other Thoughts – If your yard is large or has areas where erosion is common hydroseeding may be a good choice as it can stop the erosion while not costing an arm and leg, like sod would.

 

Do you need help getting your lawn to look fantastic? Having trouble deciding which option is best for your property? Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care at (603) 382-9644 or Toll Free: (800) 313-4733, or visit our website.