Monthly Archives: October 2013

Bern Wendell Celebrates 25 Years at Arrow

As Bern’s 25th anniversary approaches, I seized on the opportunity to sit down with him and hear a little more about what drew him to Arrow and some of the things that he has accomplished here. Bern has always had a passion for teaching, and worked for the Woodmere school district for 8 years prior to his career at Arrow.  He was the district supervisor in charge of community services, and taught adult education courses. He lived in the same neighborhood as Arrow’s current presidents Jackie Grabin and Deborah Tappan. He was introduced to them through mutual friends and used to go down to the park every week to play softball with them. When they heard that Bern was looking for a new job, they referred him to their father and Arrow’s founder Bernard Stegman.

Bern sat down with Mr. Stegman for an interview that ended up lasting for 3 hours. He still remembers the day well, and says that in the course of their conversation Mr. Stegman made quite an impression on him. Bern told me “he was the kind of guy that just had so much enthusiasm that even though I had never considered exterminating by the end of the interview I was thinking, ‘I want to do what you’re doing’.” Although the two of them thought well of each other and were developing mutual respect, Bern just wasn’t sure that the exterminating industry was really for him, and Mr. Stegman had his own reservations about hiring him. That is why after initially turning down the job, Bern was suprised when he received a call from Mr. Stegman less than a month later offering him the job again. Over the phone Mr. Stegman was able to convince Bern that the company would be a good fit for him. Mr Stegman said that he wanted someone who can teach. He knew that Bern was passionate about education and learning, and that in this industry there would always be opportunities for Bern to learn, grow, and continue his education. “to this day what I like about pest control” says Bern, “is that every day is different. There is constant change and new challenges each day.”

Bern accepted the job and his new position as supervisor. When he asked what exactly were his responsibilities, Mr. Stegman replied simply “we’ll have to see about that”. Bern appreciated Mr. Stegman’s pioneering attitude, and in no time was able to identify plenty of things that needed improvement and assume new responsibilities. Over time he created and lead new initiatives such as training and education, government compliance, routing, collections, service management, public service, etc as well as spending a year and a half in the sales department. He continues to wear many hats, and at the present moment he is the manager of education in charge of training the new technicians and office staff, as well as filling in as a backup service manager in a pinch.

Bern is a US Navy veteran and holds a Master of Science in Education degree from Lehman College.  He is certified in seven specific categories in New York State as a pesticide applicator. He is a nuisance wildlife trapper & wildlife rehabilitator in New York, and is a certified pesticide applicator in five states.  He is the first employee to achieve Associated Certified Entomologist status at Arrow.

Bern has played an indispensable role in the development of Arrow over the years, and is clearly proud of his accomplishments. Over time the company has undergone many changes, and he repeatedly identified improvements that needed to be made and stepped up to the plate to take charge of those developments. Mr. Stegman had correctly assessed his character 25 years ago. Bern Wendell is an innovator whose love of learning and educating others have served the company well.

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Better Think Twice Before You Swat This Bug

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(By Lildobe (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

The beetle commonly referred to as “stink bug” is an invasive species of insect that was introduced here from Asia in the ’90s by means of commercial trade. Since they are not native to the United States, they have no natural predators here and their population has been growing out of control. Although they do not sting or bite and are not harmful to humans or property, they are already posing a serious problem for farmers because they eat fruit and other crops. Lately they have been spreading unchecked into the Northeast region. Stink bugs are beginning to make their presence felt in southern New York and Long Island this fall. As the weather grows colder they will begin to seek warm places to take shelter, and many homeowners will find themselves with unwelcome guests.

If stinkbugs are found in the home, office, etc they can be a serious nuisance. When threatened or crushed, they emit a foul smelling, acrid odor that could be compared to the smell of a skunk. The repugnant odor is usually harmless, although it could potentially cause an allergic reaction in humans or be harmful to animals if sprayed directly into their faces. For more information on how to get rid of the offensive odor, here is a link to a separate article and video on how to recover from being sprayed.

Unfortunately stink bugs are not easily controlled by pesticides. The best approach in managing them is to prevent them from getting into the home in the first place:

  • Make sure that doors, windows, and vents are screened and any holes or cracks leading into the house are sealed. Any hole around a door or window that is big enough to put a nickel through could allow these bugs to enter your home. 
  • This article contains more in depth information as to how to go about sealing off potential access points.
  • Air conditioning units that are window mounted are another common point of entry, so if possible these should be removed as well.
  • If stink bugs are found outside around the property, feel free to crush a few of them using an old newspaper or stone. The odor that is released when they die will serve as a warning to deter other nearby stink bugs.  
  • It is also helpful to keep the plants around the house trimmed and to cut any overgrown weeds, especially those that are close to the foundation.

Once the bugs are spotted inside the best ways to remove them focus on minimizing the odor:

  • One way is to mix liquid dish-washing soap into a bucket of water and, using either a gloved hand or other implement, knock the bugs into the water where they will not be able to survive.
  • Another way is to knock them into an empty bottle and then immediately seal the lid to contain the smell.
  • If it is cold enough you can throw them outside and let them freeze, or else flush them down the drain or seal them tightly in a plastic bag.
  • They can also be sucked up into a vacuum cleaner, but make sure to use one with a disposable filter or else the smell may linger on the vacuum.

Termite Detection and Treatment- What All Homeowners Should Know

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In nature, termite colonies are essential to the well-being of an ecosystem. Since they eat the cellulose found in plant matter, they play a crucial role in breaking down forest debris and speeding up decomposition. Although termites may appear fragile with their soft, fleshy bodies, they make up for their lack of exoskeleton by living below ground and keeping a very low profile. They feed on wood, which they find by digging an elaborate network of tunnels. Unfortunately, in many parts of Long Island wood framed houses can be more abundant than forests. The high water table here also puts our houses in the path of termites. There simply isn’t much space below ground for termites to occupy. When these factors are combined with humid coastal weather and plenty or rainfall you have the recipe for a high infestation zone here on Long Island.

According to the Sentricon website over 5 million homes are damaged annually by termites, accounting for roughly 5 billion dollars’ worth of damage. Termites are the silent assassins gnawing through both a house’s structure and its value, and they often go undetected. Although uncovering tunnels burrowed into the wood frames of a house is clear evidence of termite activity, the surefire sign that there is an active infestation is the presence of winged swarming termites in the spring. In recent years, however, the termite sub species found in New York is changing its behavior and no longer swarm out in the open en mass as they once did. The reason for this change is still not exactly clear to the scientific community, although global warming is a likely culprit. The lack of swarming does not mean that termites have disappeared or decreased in number. It means that although termites continue to gnaw through houses as before they have become even harder to detect. This is why it is especially important to have houses inspected upon buying or selling them. Have a New York State certified professional exterminators conduct a thorough inspection if there is reason to believe that there may be termites in your home.

One thing that separates Arrow from other operators is our progressive method for termite elimination. Many other exterminators still use an intrusive, messy, much less “green” method that involves creating a barrier of chemicals extending into the soil around the house. This requires drilling holes through the concrete every 8 inches all around both inside and outside the house, as well as digging a trench around the perimeter. After that, literally hundreds of gallons of chemicals are pumped into the soil through the holes and trenches. This type of treatment is not designed exterminate the whole termite colony, but instead protects the property with a layer of residual pesticides all around the area and into the footings of the structure.

Of the over 100 exterminating companies in New York, there are only a handful that are certified as Sentricon specialists, including Arrow Exterminating. Termed the “colony elimination system”, Sentricon offers a more environmentally friendly and far less intrusive alternative to the traditional method of termite control. There is no need for drastic measures such as pumping hundreds of gallons of pesticides into the ground. Instead bait stations are introduced around the property containing small samples of wood treated with a compound that inhibits growth in developing termites. Since termites are social insects, they often nourish each other by regurgitating meals and sharing the food with their compatriots. The juvenile hormone found in the bait stations is quickly spread this way. The immature termite nymphs that are fed the bait are no longer able to molt, or mature. The effect is slow acting, so the termites cannot detect the source of the disruption and continue to feed from the bait stations. Over time the colony sustains enough damage that it will be eliminated. The treatment is far more environmentally friendly, and has won awards as a “green” pesticide solution. It is used to treat famous landmarks and national treasures such as The White House, The Statue of Liberty, and The Alamo. The Sentricon method of termite control is proven to be extremely effective, especially when administered by the skilled professionals at Arrow Exterminating.

We have been licensed Sentricon operators since 1996, and after over 17 years administering this product we understand that the system is only as effective as the operators who use it. Although the manufacturer recommends checking the traps a minimum of one time after installation, we come back at least 3 times throughout the year to ensure customer satisfaction. Eliminating termites is an investment in a home’s value and the obligation of any responsible homeowner. Hopefully after perusing through all of this information it is easier to make an informed decision about termite control and the choices for treatment are clear.

As Autumn Nights Become Cooler Yellowjackets Sense the End is Near- Become More Aggressive

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Who hasn’t had the experience of pesky yellow jackets crashing a party or spoiling a picnic? Although harsh winter weather is sure to put an end to the nuisance posed by these buzzing bullies, the fall is actually a period where yellow jackets are known to be more aggressive than usual. This can pose a significant health risk to those that are allergic to their stings. So how can we protect ourselves against the dangers and inconveniences caused by these ticked-off wasps?  First, it helps to understand a little background about the behavior of these insects.

Unlike bees, which lose their stingers and frequently die in the process of stinging, wasps such as the yellow jacket can sting multiple times without any adverse effect. They don’t hesitate to take advantage of that biological advantage. The German yellow jacket species found throughout New York is an especially social type of wasps that live in large colonies and have distinct behavior patterns making them more difficult to target for pest control. They stay out of sight through much of the spring, but have a much higher profile during the summer months as they forage for food and materials to build their nests. They favor wood, paper, and even drywall as building materials and are likely to construct their nests in the walls and ceilings of houses as well as outdoors. Throughout the summer the nest grows larger and larger, until the population of a single nest commonly reaches several thousand wasps, sometimes reaching more than ten thousand. As winter approaches the entire population of the nest eventually dies out from the cold except for the queen. She survives the winter by slowing her metabolism to a crawl in an insect version of hibernation knows as diapause, then in the following season she selects a new nesting site and repopulates the colony.

Since yellow jackets chew through building materials to make their nests, their presence in the void areas of walls or ceilings will actually corrode that area of the structure, making it unstable. The presence of a nest in the home is often marked by a wet stain or moisture spot, which can actually become so soft that it can easily be pushed through. This is not advisable, however, especially late in the season when the nest is at its peak and thousands of angry wasps will come pouring out to defend their home. If a nest is detected in the home, it is advisable to call an exterminator to have it professionally removed.

If yellow jackets are encountered outside of the home at a gathering such as a picnic, the unwelcome guests are more than likely attracted by the food. They are especially fond of food sources that are very sweet or high in protein. If they fly close to you it is advisable to simply remain calm and move away from them. Since yellow jackets are social insects, when one of them is swatter they will release a pheromone into the air that will agitate any nearby yellow jackets, which are likely already on edge to begin with. Yellow jackets rely heavily on their sense of sight as well as smell. They have a heightened sense of where objects are in relation to each-other and navigate based on visual cues. If yellow jackets continually target a sugary drink or jar of jam, for example, a quick fix is to simply move the food source to another table. Even if the distance is only a few feet, it will often take some time for the wasps to relocate the object once it has been moved. Another idea would be to simply move whatever substance that is attracting them to the outside of your area and with any luck the wasps will continue to feed off of that food source and leave the rest of the gathering alone. Be forewarned that wasps can also be especially attracted to those who are wearing scented perfume or bright colors. When the yellow jackets first come into the area they will likely spread out and fly all over in a haphazard pattern, but once they have zeroed in on their target they will fly in a direct line between the food source and their nests. By observing their patterns it is possible to observe if they are coming from a nest located in or around a house. An easy solution may be to simply move out of their path between the food and their nest to avoid the worst of the disturbance. Traps designed to catch wasps will not work on yellow jackets in situations like these because of the sheer number of them in each colony.

This information was put together to offer helpful tips on how to manage these particularly troublesome pest, but it also paints a picture of the behavior of a highly organized species of insect. Their life cycles and colonies are both fascinating and complex. Aside from being pests, yellow jackets play an important role in controlling the population of other species of insects in nature that can be equally troublesome when not in check. For these reasons it is important not to spray chemicals at them indiscriminately, or target their nests for destruction when far away from human or animal habitation. The most effective method of eliminating a yellow jacket infestation without endangering yourself or the environment is to simply call an exterminator.