Tag Archives: Pest control

Of Mice and Men

Facts About Mice and Rats

  • Contrary to popular belief, rats are actually extremely intelligent creatures. Although movies often portray them as self-serving and greedy, rats are actually highly social and capable of working together in cooperation. Scientists studying the social intelligence of rats found that often times a rat will free a fellow rat from its cage even if they have nothing to gain by doing so.
  • Rats have a long history of living alongside humans, often competing for the same food sources and evading our attempts to eradicate them. In scientific terms they are considered a commensal species because they seek out humans to benefit from them. This is what makes rodent control so challenging- they are capable of learning to avoid our traps and adapt to our methods.
  • A group of mice can be referred to as a “pack” or a “mischief”
  • Both mice and rats are nocturnal, and are believed to be color blind. They have poor eyesight, which they make up for with a sharp sense of smell and keen hearing.
  • One type of rat, the African Giant Pouch Rat, can be trained to detect landmines and Tuberculosis.
  • Mice and rats are excellent jumpers, swimmers, and climbers. Mice can scale vertical surfaces, balance on wires, jump up to 13 inches, and squeeze through spaces the size of a dime. Rats are particularly good swimmers and have been known to live in sewers and invade homes by crawling through the drains. They can squeeze through spaces the size of a quarter- much smaller than what appears possible!
  • Rodents often enter homes in the winter seeking warmth, or when a house is left vacant for long periods of time. Once they begin nesting inside they breed rapidly and can produce offspring year round. In a single year, One female mouse can produce up to 10 litters of 5 to 6 young each. This new generation of up to 60 mice can begin their own breeding within as little as 6 weeks.
  • Rats are used in laboratory experiments in part because they possess problem solving abilities and other types of intelligence usually only found in humans and some other primates.
  • Rats are known to carry several infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans including the Hantavirus, which can be fatal. Other diseases rats carry include The Plague, Rat-Bite fever, and several others. For a complete list refer to the Center for Disease Control website covering the topic.
  • Rats are often dirty enough to leave oily stains on fabric that they pass over, and they produce a musky odor. As they burrow and feed within a home, they often destroy far more food through contamination than they actually eat.
  • When mice nest and forage inside of houses, they are known to burrow through wood, electrical wires, and other materials. Researchers believe that this may account for almost 25% of fires with “unknown causes”.
  • A good strategy for dealing with an infestation is to not only trap the rodents throughout the house, but also eliminate access points into the house. Make the property a less desirable target to the rodents by eliminating sources of food such as uncovered garbage containers or messy kitchens.
  • Certain traps and other methods are not recommended for various reasons. Poisons can pose a hazard to children and pets, can cause the rodents to die concealed within the walls, and may attract insects if left for a long time. Glue traps are considered inhumane, and live traps create more exposure to rodent urine or defecation which can transmit disease. Snap traps are most effective when administered by knowledgeable pest control specialists that are familiar with the behavior of the rodents and where best to place the traps.
  • Mice and rats are similar in appearance, although rats are generally larger in size, with heads and feet that are proportionally larger. Mice have a smaller and hairier tail whereas rats tails are hairless and may appear scaly. House mice are typically no longer than 20 Cm in length from head to tail.



Note the differences in size, proportions, and tail texture between the mouse to the left and the rat pictured above.


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.


Better Think Twice Before You Swat This Bug


(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


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


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.

Old Oak Tree Harbors Smokey Brown Cockroaches on Long Island, New York.

A homeowner from Garden City, N.Y. recently noticed some strange insects living inside a decaying hole in an old Oak tree on his property.  The homeowner sprayed something into the hole in an attempt to kill these “bugs”.   He then collected some samples and brought them to our office for identification.  I examined the samples and determined that they were cockroaches of a species which I am unfamiliar with. Using the Mallis Handbook to identify them, I was surprised when the key led me to the Smokey Brown cockroach. This type of roach is not typically found in the Northeastern United States, making the discovery a significant entomological find. I sent samples to the University of Florida which confirmed that the samples were indeed adult Smokey Brown cockroaches (Periplaneta fuliginosa).   I notified the homeowner that the “bugs” in his tree were actually of the quite unusual “Smokey Brown” cockroach species.  He described a population of hundreds of these cockroaches living on his property for the past two years.

Within the United States these cockroaches are normally found exclusively in the southeastern region.   They are, however, native to the temperate regions of Asia. Interestingly we now know of a sizable population in the Garden City area, and by my estimation their numbers seem to be on the rise on Long Island.  We can speculate these cockroaches were transported to Long Island in boxes from Japan and in plant mulch from the southern United States.

Smoky-brown cockroaches require high humidity for survival.  Once in structures, they are commonly found in attics or near fireplaces attracted by a leaky roof.  They are good flyers and easily travel from trees to homes.  They also tend to congregate around lights.  Smoky Brown cockroaches are scavengers and will eat any kind of organic matter. They may even grow to large numbers simply by feeding on dog droppings left in a yard. The roaches’ bodies range from 1¼ to 1½ inch long.  They are dark brown to black.  The pronotum is a solid dark color.  Both sexes have wings longer than their bodies with antennae that are as long as, or longer than their bodies.  Early nymphs have a white stripe on the back.  They attach their egg capsules to surfaces. Only time will tell what kind of impact the introduction of this new species will have on the homeowners of Long Island and the local ecology.

M. Deutsch M.S., BCE. July 31, 2013

Arrow Exterminating Company, Inc. Lynbrook, NY 11563

Adult Smokey Brown Cockroach


Joe Kennedy Celebrates His 53rd Anniversary at Arrow

Arrow is a company that has always inspired loyalty in both its customers and its employees. We currently have 13 employees who have been with us for 20 or more years, and 16 who have been here for upwards of 10 years. No one exemplifies this sense of company loyalty more than Joe Kennedy, who has worked for Arrow a whopping 53 years and is celebrating his anniversary today. He began his lengthy career at Arrow in 1960. To put that in perspective, at that time Eisenhower was president and gas cost 31 cents a gallon.

Joe began his career diligently working alongside Arrow’s founder, Bernard Stegman. At the time that he was initially hired Arrow had a small office staff of 6 workers. We have since grown to over 100 employees. He held a variety of positions through the years including service technician, salesman, and manager before arriving at his current position of Vice President. He is proud to have “had a seat at nearly every desk in the office”, as well as working closely with Bernard Stegman in the early days. He was active in the fledgling Long Island Pest Control Association of which Bernard was one of the founders. This, in part, earned him a reputation within the industry as an excellent businessman and an authority on pest control.

He recalls many adventures and misadventures of the early days, where he would go out in the field with Bernard to tackle tough pest problems. In those days it was not understood that carpenter bees burrow holes in wood and can be eradicated through treatment of these holes, so the pair pioneered their own treatment techniques by sitting atop ‘A frame’ roofs and spraying at the bees in the air as they buzzed around them. For termite jobs, they used to have to drill through concrete slabs where they would occasionally strike copper piping below the surface. In these rare and unfortunate situations they would need to access the pipes in order to repair and reverse any damage. This involved burrowing a 2 square foot hole deep into the concrete.  We have come a long way since then, and Joe has been with us as a guiding force through all of our transformations. His perspective and wisdom is truly unique as he has been around to see the company and industry grow, in no small part due to his contributions. We are lucky that Joe is still with us as a resource and wealth of information that remains an integral part of our organization.ImageImage