December Widow

Black Widow
It’s the middle of December, but in this climate controlled building it might as well be April, at least to this Black Widow. I found her under some bleachers while tracking some mice. If the conditions are right, you’ll find insects and arachnids active all year long. I frequently get asked if the bugs are done for the winter. I never quite know how to answer that. Outside, maybe. At¬†western tip of Texas, southern New Mexico, the temperatures are generally mild so it’s no surprise to see a scorpion cruising around in January. On the inside, anything is possible.

blackwidow inside
Black Widow in for the winter


It’s December and the mice are moving in. Over the past few days I’ve worked on 3 new mouse jobs, 4 if you count my own house. A mouse can get through any opening large enough for their head. I’ve heard an opening the diameter of a pencil is all it takes.
Check doors, utility openings, look for small holes dug next to a concrete slab, or under a dog house. Check open expansion joints. Open up cabinets and check for droppings. If you have a storage room loaded with lots of stuff, now is a good time to move everything around and re-organize it, clean up, and keep an eye out for droppings or chewed boxes and wood.
Make sure outside doors seal tightly. Don’t leave pet food sitting around. Use something like steel wool to plug openings. Set traps perpendicular to walls, plunger in. Try a variety of baits like peanut butter or a piece of a sweet prune.
Whatever you do, get on top of it quick. Mice can reproduce at 30 days, having 6 to 8 young on average, as many as 10 times a year. It gets exponential pretty quick.

Gene Drive

No more mosquitoes! We can now eliminate house flies (another potentially serious vector of disease). Bedbugs, cockroaches, scorpions, spiders, all have their advocates for elimination. This is truly hard to imagine, but if I read the attached article correctly, scientists have figured out how to rapidly alter a population of insects genetically. In this case, the mosquito, making it unable to transmit malaria. Seems like a good thing, especially if you or a family member are in malaria’s throes. There is, however, a serious spectre of spookiness in all of this. It seems to me if you subscribe to the idea of maintaining the balance and health of an ecosystem or environment, meddling with the genetic design of one or more of its participants could be all about short term gain, long term catastrophe.

Rock Squirrel

Family Sciuridae : Spermophilus variegatus (Erxleben)

Rock Squirrel

These can be a real nusiance, especially if you have chickens. The picture below is of three rock squirrels that managed their way up a hutch and into a metal can with chicken feed. Chicken feed wasn’t the whole of it however. Rock squirrels are omnivorous, which means, in this case, they were quicker than my customer at collecting the chicken’s eggs. While the area happened to be rocky, they are not limited rocky places. Another customer has them digging up their field area. If you’re looking for a good way to catch these guys, this may be it. Apparently they don’t think things through before they jump, so put some feed or bait in the bottom of a can, give them a way to get up to the top of the can, and check back.
These squirrels are not protected but the customer didn’t want them harmed. They were relocated.

Click to access CR574.pdf


American cockroach

American cockroach 
Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Blattodea

Family: Blattidae

Genus: Periplaneta

Species:P. americana
This is far and away the most common cockroach I see. If you want to see a lot of them open up a sewer system. Oy vey. So with the sewer being a huge source, and you’ve got a lot running around, think plumbing problems. Check the toilets for rocking. If they move, the wax ring seal is ruined and the door is standing wide open to the sewer line. Pull the toilet. Repair the flange. Install a new wax ring. Reinstall the toilet and secure it so it doesn’t move. Door closed. There could be a broken vent or sewer line in the wall. Much more complicated than fixing a toilet. The other primary source is the outside. You’ll find them a lot in the landscape. Check your door sweeps. Make sure all outside doors have a good seal. If you have a garage, make sure the door leading into the garage is sealed. I’ve never seen a garage door that sealed effectively, so use pesticides and glue boards. Roaches have been around, unchanged, for a long time. I figure God created the cockroach, and said “Perfecto!” And with man it was version 1, version 2, etc.

Striped bark scorpion

Common Name: Striped bark scorpion
Scientific Name: Centruoides vittatus (Say)
Order: Scorpionida

It’s the beginning of fall and scorpions seem to be popping up everywhere. I’m guessing the good rain we’ve enjoyed has brought out more prey and the predators are rising to the occasion.
The predominant scorpion in our area is the Striped bark scorpion. It’s an ancient, beneficial, painful (but not deadly), tough, hard to kill arachnid, that loves the debris and clutter inside and outside a home, and can go many months without food or water.
While there is no silver bullet for this non-insect arthropod, these four strategies will help:
**Clean up**: empty out the garage, clean up clutter and debris in and around the abode.
**Seal up**: scorpions can fit through the smallest of cracks (as small as the thickness of a credit card). Use caulking to seal every gap you can find (not weep holes). Check and repair the seals around your doors.
**Trap**: use glue boards place next to walls, near doors or possible entry points. A great place to put them is in the garage, although not next to the garage door (they fill up with dirt). Vegetable oil will help unstick an unwanted victim.
**Pesticide**: When I read a pesticide label, scorpions are always at the strongest concentration. A one time treatment will not get the job done. In my experience, even a quarterly application will not help much. There are no baits that I know of. Follow the label for concentration and frequency of application.

Here’s a dead one in a customer’s garage.



Synonym(s): Mediterranean Gecko, 

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Family: Gekkonidae

It’s October and there are lots of Mediterranean House Geckos skittering around, stalking insects. I’ve always been under the impression that they are good to have around and always felt bad about catching them in glue traps or finding them at other tragic ends. I was surprised to learn that they are an invasive species. Females can lay a couple of eggs a couple of times between May and early September. Pesticides don’t seem to bother them much. Cleaning up debris and clutter may help. Using a general insecticide to reduce the insect population might discourage them by reducing what’s on the buffet table. Glue traps seem to be effective.

med house gecko.jpg