Bats: Friend Or Foe? The Myths Vs Facts Of A Misunderstood Species

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An unfortunate reality of pest control is the need to trap and remove nuisance wildlife. Often there is a delicate balance between satisfying the needs of the customer and also protecting the environment and supporting animal welfare. We have found that bats in particular are often misunderstood. We believe that if people understood how bats actually behave and what their impact really is, they might look at their pest situation in a whole new light.

Bat Myth: Bats are a pest that should always be removed and eliminated

Bat Fact: In some situations bats can be beneficial. Since bats feed entirely on insects there are studies showing that bats can reduce the population of mosquitoes and other flying pests. A single bat can consume around 1,000 mosquitoes or other flying critters in a single hour! It is not uncommon for one bat to consume between 6,000 and 8,000 insects per night.

Did You Know: Bats are beginning to be used in agriculture as a natural alternative to pesticides. The concept is simple: the farmer simply creates and maintains a “bat cave” habitat on the premises. In exchange for “room and board” the bats go to work patrolling the fields and plucking out of the air any insect that might potentially threaten the farmer’s crops. This harmonious partnership between farmer and bat is one scenario where the bats are far from pests.

Bat Myth: Bats commonly spread rabies

Bat Fact: While it is true that bats are among the many species of mammal that can become infected with rabies, within the United States they rarely pass this disease on to humans. Although caution and good judgment should always be used, being in the presence of bats under normal circumstances does not mean imminent danger. For one thing, it is not possible for bats to carry rabies without becoming sick themselves. This means that any affected bats are sure to die off and cannot harbor rabies over the course of their natural lifespan. The disease changes the behavior of the bat as it becomes sick, so if a bat is acting abnormally such as flying erratically, being out during the daytime, or lying incapacitated by the roadside this should be seen as a red flag. Many cases of rabies transmission between humans and bats involve a sick bat being picked up off the ground and handled without gloves.

Based on statistics it is extremely unlikely to contract rabies from a bat. Although many people are afraid of bats and use rabies to justify this, the statistical facts tell a different story. According to the U.S. Goverment Department of Natural Resources, more people are killed by lightning strikes and dog attacks than rabid bats. In the past 50 years there have been only 40 documented deaths in the US from rabies transmitted by bats. Other mammals such as raccoon, foxes, and skunks all generally have higher rates of rabies prevalence than bats although they do not usually inspire as much fear.

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Did You Know: Rabies is a disease that affects the nervous system of it’s victims and can be passed through a variety of bodily fluids. After infection there is an incubation period during which it is possible to cure the disease, but by the time symptoms develop it is almost always fatal. Among people that handle bats closely through their work or hobbies (such as caving) extra precautions are taken. Seek immediate medical attention if a bat dropping enters the eye or an open wound, there is a scratch, bite, or any exchange of fluids of any kind between a bat and human even if the bat appears healthy.

Myth: Bats Are Typically Aggressive Towards Humans

Fact: By their nature bats are not generally aggressive towards people. it is extremely rare for a North American bat to attack a human under any normal circumstances. At the 29th Annual North American Symposium on Bat Research, one spokesman was quoted as saying “In our collective experience, bats seldom are aggressive, even when sick”

Did You Know: In the tropical rain forests of South America there is a bat species called the vampire bat. They latch onto their prey and feed off of their blood

Myth: Calling a Pest Control Company Will Only lead To the Destruction Of The Bat Population

Fact: At Arrow Exterminating we strive to safely remove and relocate any bats that are considered pests. We are animal lovers ourselves and never kill or mistreat bats during the course of the job. Bats may be considered a pest if they roost inside a residence or another unwelcome location. Their droppings will begin to accumulate in and around the nesting site, which can give off a musky odor. This is not only unsanitary, but also potentially unsafe. Bat droppings could contain a fungus that is harmful to inhale, especially in unventilated areas. Bats can also be noisy, and their high pitch squealing is especially irritating to dogs because they are more sensitive to sounds in that range. 

Did You Know: Since all bat species in North America feed exclusively on insects, bat droppings (also known as guano) have a powdery, ashy texture because their made up of any bits of insect that bat’s can’t digest.

Bed Bug FAQ

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By Doc. RNDr. Josef Reischig, CSc. (Author’s archive) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

What are bed bugs and what do they look like?

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed solely on human blood. They are tiny, wingless, rust-colored, and flat in shape. They are roughly 1-7 millimeters in length, which is barely bigger that a comma (comparable in size to Abraham Lincoln’s head on a penny).

Who is at risk for getting bed bugs? Are they related to poor hygiene or living conditions?

Bed bugs can affect anyone regardless of their situation. They have mastered the art of going undetected, and often hitch onto the luggage of travelers. They can survive up to a month without a blood meal while spreading this way. The most luxurious hotels have the same risk of hosting bed bugs as any other. They can infest buses, subways, trains, couches, offices, and movie theaters. Some people may be completely unaware that they are carrying them if they have no bites or have not yet been bitten. Check the national bed bug registry prior to traveling to avoid hotels with reported bed bug issues

Can bed bugs spread disease? What health risk do they pose?

Bed bugs are not known to transmit any disease, and so their presence is considered more of a nuisance than a health hazard. They feed during the night, and the worst they can do is cause itchy bites and loss of sleep. That being said, there is a small minority of people who may experience a severe allergic reaction to their bites. Excessively scratching their bites can also lead to skin infection or scarring.

How can I know for sure whether I have a bed bug infestation? What are the telltale signs?

Identifying bed bugs can be tricky. Since everyone reacts differently, some people may not have noticeable bite marks or the marks may take as long as 14 days to develop. Bite marks may be visible anywhere on the body and are commonly seen on the stomach, face, arms, etc. Since the marks can be confused with the bite of mosquitoes, fleas, or even a rash, it is important to verify that you have an infestation in other ways as well. Although bed bugs can spread all around a room or even a whole apartment, they will be in their highest concentration around the bed itself.

  • Carefully inspect the seams, folds, and creases of any affected mattresses. Check the seams of the sheets and pillow cases as well. Search the nooks and crannies of the headboard. It helps to use a flashlight.
  • Look for tiny rust-colored spots along the creases and folds of the fabric. These spots of blood or excrement are a sure sign of bed bugs. Look for tiny exoskeletons left behind after molting. Although bed bugs are small, they are visible to the naked eye and can sometimes be spotted this way on the mattress.
  • If possible, place double-sided tape around the legs of the bed-frame to trap them as they climb onto the bed.
  • Bed bugs are most active at night, especially around dawn or early morning. When inspecting with a flashlight keep in mind that bed bugs are more likely to be seen out in the open at this time. Since bed bugs are small in size, do not fly, jump, or run and tend to stay in hiding they can be difficult to spot on the move under normal conditions

Once I am sure that I have bed bugs, what can I do to prevent against spreading them?

Bed bugs do not latch onto people for any length of time while biting. Each insect will only bite once during the night and then return to its hiding place. Although they commonly spread into luggage, backpacks, briefcases, and other personal effects they rarely latch onto humans after they bite. Most of the time spreading bed bugs can be avoided by simply wearing newly laundered clothing and being careful to avoid transporting any infested items. Anyone that is transporting bed bugs on their person most likely has a severe infestation

What are the signs of a severe infestation?

Seeing bed bugs during the day and seeing them on the walls or ceiling are sure signs that you have a bad infestation. Consider discreetly alerting your supervisors at work and taking special precautions not to spread the problem. Bed bugs are sensitive to the heat, so anything that can be put in the dryer on high heat will be decontaminated.

What is the best way to treat bed bugs?

If you are not able to determine on your own whether or not you have bed bugs, call a qualified exterminator and schedule an inspection. Sometimes a trained bed bug sniffing dog may be used to detect the bugs but this is not always necessary. Aerosol-based sprays, or “bombs” are not only ineffective against bed bugs but they may actually make the problem worse by spreading them to other rooms. Since aerosol treatments kill on contact, most bed bugs will scatter and flee into other spaces, and seek shelter in any available cracks and crevices. Although the situation may appear better in the short term, enough insects usually survive to repopulate and often crop up in new areas as a result of the “bomb”. Some companies offer services where the temperature is raised throughout the whole house to a level that will kill all the bed bugs. This treatment, although widely available, should not be considered safe due to the numerous examples of house fires caused by this method. Examples of this can be found here and here. Treatment using cold is also risky, and can cause damage to property or personal effects. The safest and most effective methods are labor intensive, and that kind of work is best left to a professional pest control company. At Arrow Exterminating, we employ a variety of modern and effective techniques, such as detecting bed bugs with our trained rat terrier, Polly. Under the guidance of our on-staff Entomologists, a thorough treatment is applied to all affected surfaces using non-hazardous materials. Furniture, floors, walls and ceilings are carefully inspected and treated as needed. Instructions are given for de-lousing clothing and personal items, and if necessary a heat chamber can be provided for certain items. Special mattress covers and pillow cases are provided which makes it unnecessary to treat them directly. Although dealing with bed bugs is never fun, this information is meant to address some common concerns about bed bugs and confront some common myths. All of this information can be used to inspect your own property or hotel room like a pro, and make an informed decision about treatment.

 

How To Fight Back Against Mosquitoes

As general Sun Tzu famously put it, in order to fight effectively one must “know thy enemy”. This classic bit of advice from ancient times is still relevant today. If we are to defeat the hoards of invading mosquitoes, we must first know what we are up against

"Aedes aegypti biting human" by Original author: US Department of Agriculture; then denoised rescaled, enhanced with adaptive denoising filters and minimal resharpening, then unscaled to original resolution, for easier refitting at various resolutions. - Picture from the USDA website at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/aug00/k4705-9.htm. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aedes_aegypti_biting_human.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Aedes_aegypti_biting_human.jpg

What are the health risks posed by mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are considered a vector for disease. This means they can pick up diseases from other mammals, carry disease, and spread it to humans. In some parts of the world mosquito borne illness is the cause of untold death and suffering. Fortunately here in New York we do not have the climate or the specific types of mosquitoes that transmit such diseases. We do, however, have some mosquito borne illnesses which can still be dangerous.

  • The West Nile Virus is one such disease. It is passed between certain bird species and mosquitoes. Infected mosquitoes can transmit the disease to humans by feeding on their blood. Although most cases of West Nile Virus infection are not very severe or life threatening, the virus can be deadly when it affects very young children, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems.
  • Tiger Mosquitoes, which are black and white in color and get their name from their striped pattern, are new to the list of the over 20 mosquito species found on Long Island. Originally from Asia where they are detested for their role in spreading Yellow Fever, Tiger Mosquitoes are more aggressive feeders than the others and will bite during the day. According to the estimates of local entomologists, the population of this new invasive Tiger Mosquito species has skyrocketed in recent years. Tiger Mosquito populations increased 220% across Nassau and Suffolk counties between 2010 and 2012. They now account for almost 15% of the local mosquito population, which is nearly double what their population was only a few years ago. Since Tiger Mosquitoes also feed on birds, they are one of the types of mosquitoes that can spread the West Nile Virus.
  • The Chikungunya virus (pronounced chik-en-gun-ye) is the latest addition on our local mosquito problem, This virus was first brought over to the US by tourists returning from the Caribbean. It is expected by the CDC to quickly become established in the United States, just as the West Nile Virus did over a decade ago. Although rarely fatal, the Chikungunya virus causes an assortment of health problems such as headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.
  • Allergies- although we all react to mosquito bites, some people are severely allergic and may experience symptoms similar to someone with a bee allergy being stung.

What Can Be Done About It?

In order to combat mosquito populations, it is important to understand how mosquitoes reproduce and spread. Mosquitoes breed in standing or “still” water. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a quarter of an inch of water. The eggs can hatch in 24 hours. The entire life cycle from egg to adult occurs in as little as 7 to 10 days. One single source of still water can produce enough mosquitoes to affect the entire neighborhood and noticeablly increase their population.

How To Fight Back:

  1. Remove all sources of standing water. Common mosquito breeding grounds include children’s toys stored outside, flower pots, upside-down garbage can lids, old tires, tree stumps, or anything else that can collect water
  2. Make sure that the gutters are draining properly and are free of debris
  3. Keep swimming pools chlorinated and covers free of stagnant water
  4. install and maintain window and door screens
  5. When outside, reduce exposure to mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves and mosquito repellant. Be aware that mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn
  6. Call an Exterminator. The professionals at Arrow Exterminating are more than happy to tackle even the toughest mosquito problems. We use a cutting edge botanical formula designed to naturally repel mosquitoes from the property without the use of harsh chemicals. Our lawn treatment is based on essential oils and extracts, and although extremely effective against it’s target, the material is not harmful to children and pets so the space can be used again as soon as the treatment is over. Our treatment is guaranteed, and you will see an immediate reduction in mosquitoes after the first visit.

Arrow’s “Good Bug Bad Bug” Presentation Has Been Educating and Entertaining Local Youth For Over 25 Years

 

Capitalizing on the natural curiosity of the students, Arrow’s presentation about the world of insects piques their interest with facts and trivia that are at times fascinating, revolting, or even terrifying.

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One of Arrow’s entomologists on staff, Bern Wendell, knows just how to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats. He is an old hand at this. Bern has been giving this presentation to groups of students for years. As an entomologist, he has a background in science and has dedicated a lot of time to the study of insects.  He has developed a fond appreciation for the critters he studied, knows and understands better than most. This has given him a unique perspective on pest control. He skillfully keeps the crowd engaged by encouraging class participation, handing out free prizes, and occasionally shocking the students with the sinister image of an arachnid or a bat flashing across the screen (no insect samples of any kind are actually brought into the room).

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Beneath all that showmanship lies an important message. No bug is inherently good or bad. An insect that enters your home may be a pest in that situation but the very same insect would be beneficial in a different environment. They all play an important role in the ecosystem and are worthy of our respect and conservation, and they are more interesting than they appear. Even as exterminators who are tasked with killing insects and other nuisance wildlife, we have an obligation to deal with them in the most humane and environmentally friendly way possible. As a company, we want to pass that enthusiasm about bugs and commitment to conservation on to the community in part through these fun presentations.

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If you or someone you know would like to bring this presentation to a school on Long Island or other youth group, don’t hesitate to let us know! Our presentation is free of charge and includes fun prizes such as bug themed puzzle books, pencils, and even drawstring backpacks. Just call the office of Arrow Exterminating at (516) 593-7770 or (631) 654-0110 and we will be happy to assist you.

 

As Weather Warms Expect Spring Swarms- How To Distinguish Swarming Insects

The following information is your guide on how to decipher what type of insect hoard has suddenly appeared in or around your property this spring

  • What is a swarm anyway?

According to the Wikipedia definition, swarm behavior is:

collective behaviour exhibited by animals of similar size which aggregate together, perhaps milling about the same spot or perhaps moving en masse or migrating in some direction. As a term, swarming is applied particularly to insects

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hka7Ei2rIlM

  • Why should I care about this behavior?

By Alton (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Termites bore through and eat wood. Although this image shows visible damage to a house, often the damage that termites inflict goes undetected. Structural damage caused by termites can make your house unsafe or affect it’s value.

The main threats to property that homeowners should watch out for are termites and carpenter ants, because they can eat or chew through the wooden frames of houses and cause serious property damage. Both of these type of insects live in highly organized colonies. Just one of these colonies can consist of thousands or even millions of insects all working in unison towards specific goals as if they were one organism.

Within the colony itself insects have specific roles. Each type of insect has a slightly different body type and appearance, for example a worker ant looks and acts different than a soldier. Only a few insects from each colony are able to reproduce. In the springtime, huge numbers of these reproductive ants/termites leave the nest all at once in an attempt to reproduce and establish new colonies of their own.

Every spring, as the weather gets warmer, there is a mass exodus of literally thousands of these winged insects swarming around for a short time looking for action. They may be seen in or around the house, commonly trapped in window screens or fluttering around in the air. This is a bad sign, because it means that there is an existing termite colony nearby from which these swarmers are emerging. It may be a mixed blessing, however, because usually these types of bugs keep a low profile and it is likely that without the swarmers there would be no other obvious indication of an infestation. 

  • How do I know what kind of swarming insect I have?

There are a few different possibilities:

  1. Termites- When termites swarm their wings often become detached. You may see just the wings around the house separated from their bodies. They can be seen anywhere in the house littering the ground, stuck in cobwebs, or often in the boiler room.
  2. Carpenter Ants- Carpenter ants do not lose their wings while swarming. Unlike termites, their bodies are “pinched” in appearance with a narrow segment in the middle of their bodies (a shape resembling a wasp). They have bent antennae, where termite’s antennae are straight. Their wings are also asymmetrical, or uneven
  3. Citronella Ants– Also swarm in the spring, and although they are a nuisance they do not pose the same threat as the termite or carpenter ant. They are a yellowish color and emit a strong “lemony” smell when crushed. A great way to identify them for sure is to gather some in a plastic bag, crush them up, and then see if they leave behind a citrus odor
  • What do these insects looks like? What does a swarm look like?

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The ant to the left has a “pinched” body type, bend antennae, and uneven wings. The termite has a body with no segments, straight antennae, and two sets of wings.

Click here for more information on citronella ants and how to get rid of them. 

  • Once I have identified the swarming insects and have confirmed that I have termites or carpenter ants, what steps should I take to get rid of them?

First you need to call a licensed exterminator. On Long Island and in the Five Boros of NYC, call Arrow Exterminating to arrange a free inspection.

There are several different types of treatment available. Sentricon is highly recommended. The system involves installing bait stations that contain a chemical compound which effects the molting process of termites. Rather than affecting them right away, it is slow acting. This way the termites cannot detect the source of the compound. It also means that the termites carry it back into the colony and feed it to each other before the development inhibitor takes effect, which can take out the reproductive termites and eliminate the whole colony. The Sentricon system is efficient, cost effective, not dangerous to children or pets, and environmentally sound. The technician simply installs the bait stations and then returns periodically to inspect them. 

Check Out This Clip Of A Musical Arrow Business Luncheon

Arrow President and motivational sing-along organizer Debby Tappan leads some of the top Arrow management in a melodic reminder for the office staff to get ready for the coming busy season. At around this time every year calls start coming in as dormant pests become active in the spring weather. What better way to prepare than by spontaneously singing about it over lunch.

Move Over Pigeons, There’s a New Bird in Town- As Wild Parrot Populations Rise in NYC and LI Some Neighbors Not Amused

Don’t be alarmed if you see unexpected visitors at your bird feeder this spring. If you have been hearing loud noises emanating from the trees or flocks of brightly colored birds fluttering overhead, don’t worry, you aren’t crazy. Believe it or not, there are flocks of over a thousand South American parrots roaming wild in NYC and on Long Island.

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By Ingrid Taylar from San Francisco Bay Area – California, USA [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Although the origin of these parrots is the subject of urban legend, the most credible explanation is that in the 1960’s, at the height of the animal trade, a shipment of parrots was released at JFK airport. Experts believe that over time the descendants of the original botched parrot shipment have been supplemented by other released/escaped exotic birds from a variety of species.

To this day the vast majority of wild parrots in NY are Quaker Parrots, a species native to many South American countries. Incredibly, they have been able to adapt to northern climates despite our harsh winters. This is due to a variety of factors. Of the roughly 350 species of parrots, the Quaker Parrot is the only one that lives in their nest on a daily basis year round. They construct enormous nests that serve as shelters during the harsh winters.

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By Fernando [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Although they can be found in tropical climates, these birds are also native to temperate zones of Argentina that bare similarities to our own environment. They have a varied diet of foods like grasses, seeds, and stems that are widely available in an urban environment. Some experts believe that they may seeks out urban environments because they rely on backyard bird feeders as a way to survive the winter.

By Tony Austin [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The pest factor- Although onlookers are often pleasantly surprised to discover wild exotic birds flying around the city, some residents living near the nesting sites are less than thrilled. The Monk Parrot is a highly intelligent bird species with an elaborate repertoire of vocalizations. This not only make them excellent pets, but also warns the flock of predators and enables them to adapt to new environments. Unfortunately, their raucous squawking also makes them less than ideal neighbors. Although initially there was some concern that these parrots would compete with native bird species, it is now clear that they will remain small in number and are not a threat to local ecology. The biggest nuisance posed by these birds is due to their nesting habits.

Check Out This CBS Video All About Parakeets On Long Island

Monk Parrots are unique in their ability to build free standing nests. As they adapt to life in New York, they frequently select telephone poles as places to settle down. The parrots especially favor transistors because of the heat they emit. In the winter, as all of the soggy wet twigs and branches of their nests freeze, the ice conducts an electric current straight through the transistor. This is a dangerous situation that can lead to fires, blackouts, and loss of service. Although the parrots are not a protected species, local electric companies have been accommodating of these birds. Workers have discovered that even if the entire nest is destroyed the parrots will often rebuild in the exact same location rather than moving their homes elsewhere. Instead of seeking to eradicate these birds, Con Edison is looking into methods of securing their phone lines and transistors in a way that will not permit the birds to cause damage.

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By Ingrid Taylar [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

More Information About Wild Parrots in New York: