What are snow fleas?

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With warm weather approaching this weekend (maybe 45 to 50 F), we may start to see snow fleas. The insect order Collembola, known by the common name springtails, appears on snow usually at the base of trees or other vegetation, where some areas have melted away to soil. Springtails need a high level of humidity and feed on algae, fungi and decomposing vegetable material. As we get toward march, children (or adults) playing in the snow on warmer days may see snow fleas in large numbers in those areas at the base of vegetation. The other common name for springtails, “snow fleas,” is applied to them when they appear on snow. The flea reference comes from the ability of this small gray wingless insect to jump suddenly by means of a forked appendage on the underside of the abdomen. Do not worry, this insect usually occurs outside only (or with extremely high humidity inside). This insect also cannot and will not bite people.

Pest management is not needed, but if necessary for control indoors, lowering the humidity will control springtails.

For excellent information on snow fleas, look at this link from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, EEK! Website for kids.

Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

IPM and the NEPMA IPM Registry

The other day a colleague remarked that the structural pest control industry cannot agree on what Integrated Pest Management means. By that the individual meant, how it should be defined. IPM as an acronym has been used to mean things such as Innovative Pest Management, or Inventive Pest Management among other things, a rare case of using the acronym to form a new descriptive phrase. IPM itself is a management system conceived for and used by agriculture originally. The key foundation of IPM is the use of multiple strategies, including sanitation, physical modifications and cultural modifications, to control pests. It is very helpful for our industry to have resources to provide a framework for efforts in IPM, such as the New England Pest Management Associations (NEPMA) IPM Registry. We are happy to receive our IPM Registry certificate and continue to support the registry. The registry is a resource for consumers to help identify companies that practice IPM. Companies in the registry have individuals that have completed training (above and beyond the basics required by license renewal) and submitted records for review by the IPM Registry administration.
Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Do not vacuum.

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Many of our customers handle some pest or pest droppings at some point prior to calling us. In this winter season, many people get colds or other respiratory issues. Often customers can’t stand the sight of the pests or pest droppings. If you must handle pests, rodents or insects, or their droppings, avoid the urge to vacuum up the debris. Instead simply use a rag or cloth, moistened with water, to dab up the pests and droppings. Vacuuming can put pest parts or droppings into the air, making them airborne. Rodent droppings and many insect parts can aggravate respiratory issues and often contain allergens. To avoid getting a cold, keep you hands clean by washing them often (and moisturizing often to keep them from getting cracked). And use the wet rag method to dab up pests and droppings when cleaning to minimize any risk to your respiratory system.
-Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Can I compost in the winter?

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One customer asked me today, Can I compost in the winter? If you have the Earth Machine composter we have given out to Organic Lawn Care customers in the past, you can add material to the composter. Use your countertop container to collect your materials, such as egg shells and fruit and vegetable material and coffee grounds to limit your trips out in inclement weather. Add shredded newspaper or cardboard for your “brown” since your leaf resource is probably under cover of snow or ice. You are cold composting anyway with such a small pile, and in this weather no breakdown will occur, but keep up with adding matter to the pile. Make sure you return the cover tightly to keep out rodents. You do not want to start a rodent or wildlife issue requiring additional pest control service. For further tips, check out this Winter Composting Fact Sheet from Cornell.
Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Fruit Flies…

Often I hear about fruit fly issues. I can sympathize, in our house there is a lot of fruit. Often we have at least bananas, and usually apples and clementines on the counter and probably grapes, blueberries and sometimes strawberries in the refrigerator. The slow flying, small fruit or vinegar fly shows up occasionally, usually in the summer or fall in the home. The key to residential fruit fly control is sanitation. Children manage to get pieces of fruit under, into and around things you may not have anticipated. For best results in your sanitation efforts, routinely clean your garbage disposer, your compost storage area, and the areas where your children sit for meals or snacks. If you have seat covers, remember to remove and clean under the covers on a regular basis.

Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Hole in My Sweater.

There was a hole in one of my favorite gray sweaters when I took it out the closet this winter. It reminded me to talk about one of our favorite newsletter topics – the webbing clothes moth. In pest control, this is one pest that does not generate a lot of calls or interest, unless something has gone drastically wrong. In the 1997, we received a great deal of interest in webbing clothes moth service in southern New England after a mattress manufacturer used infested and untreated material in the mattresses they sold locally. About 12 months later, many customers homes had substantial populations of webbing clothes moths.

Webbing clothes moths may eat completely through infested material or may simply eat away the nap of the wool. The larval stage (worm like) is up to 1/2 an inch long and produces fecal matter that is granular and usually the same color as the infested material. Damage usually occurs in areas where clothing remains undisturbed for long periods of time, like closets and trunks. Integrated pest management approach: The key to prevent damage is to dry clean or otherwise clean items before storage, and store items in heavy duty plastic bags. We use monitoring glue boards in closets to inspect for clothes moths so action can be taken if they appear.

-Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Mouse Sighting! Get a pencil?

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If you see mouse droppings, or a mouse, it is time to take action. The first step is exclusion (to exclude the mice, the start of effective rodent pest control). To do this, take a pencil, and use the eraser end as your mouse entry gauge. Start under your kitchen sink by looking for any cracks or openings, start around pipes and electrical lines. If the eraser end fits into the opening, you have the potential for a mouse to fit it. After you locate an opening fill it with an appropriate material. Smaller openings around pipes can be filled with copper wool (or stainless steel wool) or rope and caulk. Repeat this process under the dishwasher, then under your stove, behind your refrigerator or anywhere you have seen a mouse or its droppings. If you are uncertain where your mice may be, focus on warm areas, like under the refrigerator where the compressor keeps the area warm. After inspecting the areas around your food, move outward, to areas like your pantry, then your basement or crawl space, and finally the exterior and garage. Filling mouse holes is like filling pot holes, it should be done regularly because rodents will make new openings and the expansion and contraction of buildings in the northeast climate can create openings, particularly where wood and cement or concrete meet (the foundation) or around door seals, such as garage door bases and trim seals.
Clean up, carefully, by spraying the droppings with water, or a light soapy water (to keep dust down) and then pad the droppings up with a disposable paper towel or napkin. Please don’t vacuum rodent droppings since action may pull any harmful microorganisms into the air or onto other surfaces where they can cause an illness.
Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Associate Certified Entomologist

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I am happy to announce the addition of a Associate Certified Entomologist Certification for our company. GreenHow, Inc. corporate team member Sean Greenhow completed the rigorous ACE exam and was awarded the Certification by the Entomological Society of America.

Fewer than two hundred individuals have earned the ACE designation. This highlights our interest in identifying the correct insect, essential to Integrated and Green Pest Management programs. I will continue to seek out opportunities to continue give our customers the greatest value in pest control by making sure we have the resources to handle the pest issues they face at their homes or businesses.

Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

Organic Lawn Care

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It seems like a funny time of year to consider lawn care, since we can’t see any grass right now. It is a great time of year to update what we know about lawn care. To that end, we sent a representative to the NOFA accreditation training that started January 14th and goes January 14, 15, 16 then 20, 21, concluding with an exam on January 21. NOFA stands for Northeast Organic Farming Association. The program began in 1999 as the Organic Land Care Program to educate the industry about a vision of “organic” land care. This program developed into the a program based on the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care written in 2000-2001. NOFA developed and offers a training course that is offered with or without an accreditation exam. We decided early in 2008 to make sure that we attended the accreditation training in 2009, and are happy the training is underway. We look forward to giving you an update on our progress toward accreditation.
Whether updating materials or training, in order to meet our customers’ needs and fulfill our mission, we need to think about lawn care even when there is snow on the ground.

Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.GreenHow.com. Effective Organic & Low Impact Solutions, Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton and Metro Boston.

New Year’s Resolutions-Clean and organize the cabinets to prevent stored product pests.

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As we start January looking outside at an ice covered and frozen landscape, it can be difficult to imagine the myriad of commensal rodents and insects living in and around our homes and businesses. Right now, the key pest problems in residential homes are rodents, like the house mouse and deer mouse, and the indoor moths, such as the Indian meal moth, and webbing clothes moth. This time of year, the new year, might be a great time to go through your cabinets and make sure that no forgotten boxes of corn bread mix lie hidden behind other items in the pantry. Making sure that you use products and refresh your stored items a great way to spot infested materials early, before you have the telltale signs of worm like moth larvae climbing on the ceiling.

If you open or look into a package and notice holes, webs, larvae, then you may have found a source of a stored product pest. If you have seen moths inside your kitchen or pantry and suspect an infestation, start with the oldest products and work out. Trust me, I’ve had them in my pantry and hate to get out the step stool and start searching through all the products, so you won’t be alone in feeling disgust at this project.

If you suspect you’ve found the source, discard the product, or freeze the product for more than 3 days (or heat to 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours) if you want to continue to use it. Freezing (or heating) and continuing to use product is usually done with pet food. After removing the source, clean the cabinet, pantry or storage area the product was located in, and use your vacuum’s crack and crevice tip to vacuum the cabinet, and the top interior corners and edges of the cabinet. Finish by vacuuming or dusting the corners of the room and the edge where the ceiling and wall meet. If all else fails, call a professional to come inspect the situation.
-Lauren Greenhow, General Manager, GreenHow, Inc.
www.greenhow.com
Effective organic & low impact solutions for environmentally conscious people.
Green Lawn Care, Pest Control & Termite Control in Newton, and Metro Boston, and Eastern Massachusetts.