Bug Archives: Cape Cod

Herbs in Your Garden that Help Repel Bugs

No one likes flies! Actually most will tell you that flies are one of there least favorite bugs. They are annoying nasty flying bugs. Or what about mosquitoes? Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘gee, lets go outside it’s perfect mosquito weather’… NO! How about moths, maybe they don’t bother you, but how about the weevils you get in your dried cupboard food because of them???

No one wants to be spraying bug spray all day everyday and in your home never the less, so why not try these tried and true herbs. That’s right, you heard me correct, herbs! They will grow from just about anywhere and lots of us have them in our private garden for eats, so why not try them as a pest solution??

Herbs That Will Repel Flies And Other Nasty Bugs

1. Basil

Most people know fresh basil is delicious in pesto, tomato based dishes, and salads but did you also know that it is one of the best ways to keep flies out of your house? Just plant basil next to the doors, use as a foundation planting mixed in with your flowers, or plant in containers. The flies will stay far away. Basil is a beautiful fragrant plant that grows easily in most climates. You can grow basil in containers by your picnic table or on your patio and cut a nice size bunch of it to decorate the blanket with when you go to a remote picnic spot. As an added bonus, mosquitoes don’t like it either.

2. Bay Leaf

You can grow bay outside in the summer but you will need to bring it indoors during the winter months. You can buy dried bay leaf at the store if you find you are unable to grow it; the dried variety that you put in stews and soups works as well as the fresh for keeping pests away. You can put one bay leaf in fifty pounds of wheat berries or organic white flour and it will keep the weevils out of it. If you don’t happen to buy flour in those quantities you can add a bay leaf to a smaller sized container with similar results. Don’t forget to add a bay leaf to all your other dried food like, cornmeal, rice, and oatmeal. And I am sure there are many other, give it a try! Scatter a few leaves on the pantry shelves to repel moths, roaches, earwigs, and mice. Flies seem to hate the smell of bay leaves, too!

3. Lavender

Lavender smells wonderful and repels moths, mosquitoes, and fleas:

  • Hang a bundle of it in your closet or lay a few sprigs of it in with the out of season clothes you are storing.
  • Grind it to a powder and sprinkle it on your pet’s bedding.
  • Grow it in containers on your patio to repel mosquitoes.
  • Grow it in your kitchen garden to keep rabbits out of your lettuce and spinach.

4. Mint

Mint planted around the foundation of your house can keep both ants and mice out of your home. Neither of these pests seem to like the smell and all but the most determined will head to a better smelling yard. You can also place shallow bowls of the dried mint leaves in your pantry to discourage mice.

5. Rosemary

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, not only for cooking and grilling but because it has a number of uses medicinally and as a household herb. As it grows it repels mosquitoes. Try planting it around your patio or any area that you use in the evenings to keep the air smelling fresh and the mosquitoes on someone else’s property.

New Ticks Spread Across Southeast, Diseases Rise

Published May 29, 2012/Associated Press

In the trees and grasses of the South, there are a growing number of unwanted visitors that at best are an itchy nuisance and at worst can carry debilitating diseases: Ticks.

Public health officials say that numbers of reported cases of diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are not yet alarming and have not yet shown a definitive trend upward from a national perspective. But they do worry that more ticks means more of a risk that those diseases will spike.

And scientists are finding species of ticks not seen before in the region – just ask pediatric nurse Maria Mekeel, who has plucked 37 of the arachnids off herself and her husband over two months of dog walks.

The changes can be traced to 2009, when scientists found the Ixodes Affinis tick in North Carolina. The parasite, native to South America, had been previously seen only in coastal Florida and Georgia. That particular tick doesn’t bite humans, but it will bite animals. And scientists say a higher rate of disease in animals can make easier for other ticks to transmit to humans.

“Ticks are spreading, but usually not like wildfire,” said Joseph Piseman, chief of tickborne disease activity for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The spread is kind of slow but sure.”

Lyme disease is serious: It can cause paralysis, heart palpitations and death in extreme cases.

“We’re not talking about STD rates, but it’s common enough that people should be concerned,” said Charles Apperson, an entomologist who has studied ticks for three decades.

There are at least two other types of tick to contend with: The Gulf Coast variety and the Lone Star tick, common in its namesake state of Texas. The Gulf Coast tick, which until recently was not typically found as far north or east as North Carolina, carries a disease similar to the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

The Lone Star tick carries a flu-like infection, and Apperson said the main reason for its emergence in the region is a larger population of deer for it to feed upon. Scientists aren’t so sure about why other species are invading, however.

There is a national trend of an increasing number of ticks. Piseman said the Ixodes Affinis variety has been expanding in New York and Wisconsin, and Lone Star ticks have been spreading across the U.S. for decades.

For the most part, scientists are not yet examining why the populations have been spreading, said entomologist Bruce A. Harrison, who studied ticks for the state of North Carolina for nearly 20 years. He hypothesized it may be at least in part caused by climate change. As temperatures change, animals that are food for ticks migrate – often because the plants they eat are now growing elsewhere.

“All of it’s hooked together,” said Harrison, who is studying the migration patterns of animals that ticks feed upon to learn more about how and why the arachnids are spreading.

While the CDC hasn’t reported a spike in tick-borne diseases, officials in North Carolina have noticed an increase this year compared to a year earlier. Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases are up 50 percent this year, said state public health veterinarian Carl Williams. And while there typically wasn’t a single positive Lyme disease test 10 years ago, now there are a few each year, Mekeel said.

For now, the best tool is education. Mekeel has put those 37 ticks she plucked off herself and her husband into a petri dish, which she uses to teach schoolchildren about ticks. If kids roll around on the ground, the ticks can latch on in tough-to-find spots like hair or the groin area, said Mekeel, who has 22 years of experience as a pediatric nurse.

“We’ll have children that will come in with maybe one hundred ticks on them at a time, not always, but it happens,” she said. “I’ve actually had a family that went away on vacation and put their clothes away in the laundry room and came home after a week and their laundry room was covered in ticks that had hatched in their clothes.”

Spring Is Here, The Flowers Are Blooming And The Insects Are Swarming

Now that spring is here the insects that have over wintered become active and swarm again, especially ants and termites, but they are not the only pests. Over the next few weeks you will see lots of insects making there way back into the world to join us in the beautiful days to come.

  • Moisture is a main component of the spring. Heavy rains, water from snow runoff and rising ground water levels can lead to damp basements.
  • Roof leaks, leaky skylights and water leaking around windows are all common places where carpenter ants go to nest in search of water.
  • Ground water provides moisture for termites and other crawling insects. As mentioned earlier, termites swarm in spring.
  • Carpenter bees are active, taking pollen from shrubs and plants and transporting it back to their nests – drilled, half-inch holes often found on garages and other areas around the home with an accumulation of sawdust and pollen around the hole.

What’s The Difference Between Bees and Wasps?

You’re on a summer picnic, lounging in the sun with your eyes closed after eating your turkey sandwich. Something buzzes by your ear. You lazily swat at the sound and then — ouch! — you feel that familiar, aching sting on your cheek. As your face burns red and swells, the last thing on your mind is whether that pesky, no-good insect was a bee or a wasp.

But we at How Stuff Works want to know. Was it a bee that stung your cheek, or was it a wasp? What’s the difference between these two droning, stinging creatures?

In the preceding scenario, your attacker was most likely a type of wasp. Why? Because wasps are generally more aggressive and likely to stalk public gatherings in search of human food. Bees are more mild-mannered. They focus on the flowers, not your turkey sandwich.

That’s just one way to determine whether the attacker was a bee or a wasp. What other characteristics define these two very similar creatures — both of which belong to the order Hymenoptera? More than 25,000 kinds of each insect exist, but there are several relatively simple ways to distinguish between them.

Mosquitoes In March Anyone??

That’s right, mosquitoes in March, who knew!

Let’s take yesterday for example, it started a bit rainy but ended up absolutely gorgeous out. There were lots of windows and doors open and grills smoking, kids playing out doors, a perfect spring day.

But what about the windows that had holes in the screen? Your house can end up infested with mosquitoes by the end of the night, you may catch yourself relaxing on the sofa till you see multiple mosquitoes flying across your tv screen. And before you know it, it’s 10pm and you have killed more than a dozen of those pesky blood suckers. And if you live near a creek then you may really have a mosquito problem that will be difficult to deal with. If this sounds at all like you and your day yesterday, give us a call at today at A1 Exterminators and let us help you deal with those nasty needle bitters!