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Dabugman Says: Creatures Big and Small

Dabugman Says
Creatures Big and Small

As weather forecasts start to include frost warnings, creatures great and small head for shelter. Some burrow into the ground or build nests in trees. But many, including an array of bugs, mice and other pests, head for the nearest house.
Inside are food and water, ideal winter digs, protected in toasty piles of dust between wall studs. And for many animals, it's easy to get in, particularly along the foundation but also around pipes, vents, and other penetrations in exterior walls. (A good-size rat can squeeze through a crack only 1/2-inch wide a mouse the size of a dime.)
Why should you bother with household pests that stay out of your way for the most part? First, there's the annoyance factor. This includes everything from the slightly menacing skunk that hangs out in the garage to the mice scurrying in the ceiling as you drift off to sleep.
But pests also can cause a variety of health problems. Studies by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions have shown that cockroach and mouse allergens are significant factors in childhood asthma.
According to the Virginia-based National Pest Management Association (NPMA), pests such as cockroaches, mosquitoes, rodents, and ticks can transmit a host of diseases to humans (and their pets), including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
A problem is that rats, at least, can gnaw through most building materials. According to the NPMA, the list includes concrete block, wire, aluminum flashing, and even glass. Mice can also gnaw through drywall and wood products.
Traces of food on a knife left out on the counter can become a mouse's main course. The same goes for crumbs around a toaster and tiny bits of pet food in a bowl. If you clean up some sources but leave others, mice in particular will keep coming back to find them. Mice generally establish nesting sites near sources of food and feed 15 to 20 times a day.
Though rats will soon begin searching desperately for food and warm homes, there can be consistent breeding. The numbers are alarming, and some female rats are 10 inches long, not including their 6- to 8-inch tails. They can give birth to eight to 10 "pups" every three weeks. During a warm winter, a female rat can give birth to as many as 50 pups in her 6-month, adult-life span.
As a wise man once said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", how true this is when protecting your family against diseases caused by pests. Products used today are much safer then those of yesteryear due to Federal rules and regulations. Having a pest control professional inspect your home routinely can avoid unnecessary health problems. A pest control professional can also suggest a routine pest control treatment plan that is right for your needs and lifestyle.

Mark Dieter is a certified inspector in Maryland and Pennsylvania with Enviro-Tech Pest Services, which he is an owner and operator. Please send comments or questions to

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