All Creatures Great and Small

Lice, little house flies, mice, mosquitoes, moth flies, pantry moths

LICE

(Pediculidae)

The three main types of lice that infest humans are the head louse, the body louse and the crab louse.  Head lice normally infest the heads of children. Children share these bugs when playing with each other.  Body lice will live and breed in clothing and normally infest people who rarely change or wash their clothes.  Homeless people frequently get body lice.  Crab lice (Pthiridae – Pthirus pubis) can infest anyone as they are normally spread by sexual intercourse.

You can safely control head lice with coconut oil or olive oil shampoos. You can even just comb your hair with coconut oil. Salt water will also kill lice, so if you live near an ocean, a swim would help.  You can also put a shower cap on the head and use a hair dryer.  The heat from the hair dryer will kill the lice.

Body lice can be controlled by washing the person’s clothing and vacuuming any beds or other furniture they may have used.  Pesticides aren’t necessary.  Crab lice can also be controlled with coconut oil or olive oil rubbed into the area where they live.  They not only live in the pubic region but can get in armpit hairs and the perianal region as well.

Head and body lice cannot live off the host for more than 48 hours.  Crab lice are more dependent on us as they will die in 24 hours if not on their host.  Head and body lice will only attack humans.  Crab lice aren’t as fussy.  They will also infest chimpanzees.

LITTLE HOUSE FLIES

(Fannidae – Fannia canicularia)

Little house flies are dull gray with yellow on the upper abdomen and 3 dark longitudinal stripes on the top of the thorax.

These flies resemble house flies but they fly in circles in the middle of a room or on a porch and don’t appear to land. They can lay their eggs in any organic material including compost piles, pet feces, dead leaves, etc. They have been known to enter the urinary tract of naked sleeping persons and causing urinary myiasis.  To prevent these flies from appearing, empty and clean all food handling equipment, dishes and garbage containers and daily remove and/or bury all animal droppings, fruit and organic debris inside and/or outside. They do like beer so you can put two packets of aspartame in 2”of beer in an open container to act as a bait for these flies.  You can also use a fly swatter with a sticky side to swat them when they are circling.

MICE

(Rodentia – Muscidae)

The deer mouse is one of the most common rodent species found throughout most of the United States . They are 4” – 9” long, are reddish-brown in color with a white chest, white feet, and a bi-colored tail: brown on top and white on bottom. Their natural habitat is in rural and semi-rural areas, where they inhabit fields, pastures, and various types of vegetation found around homes and outbuildings. This mouse commonly invades garages, attics, sheds, wood piles, crawl spaces, as well as general living quarters of homes.

Mice can enter 1/4” openings – or they can be carried inside. They may get in through broken windows, poorly screened attic and foundation vents, openings through any walls created by cable, oil, propane, electric, gas, water and/or sewage services, and through any other openings or cracks or crevices in foundations, walls or roofs. They can also chew holes directly through siding and/or window or door frames.

While house mice (Mus musculus) aren’t linked to Hantavirus, they are very prolific and very unpleasant to have infesting your home. Under optimum conditions, house mice breed year round. Out-of doors, house mice may tend toward seasonal breeding, peaking in the spring and fall. Females may produce as many as ten litters (about 50 young) in a year.

Although mice primarily are active at night, some day activity occurs. Movements of house mice are largely determined by temperature, food, and hiding places.

Mice are very curious and tend to travel over and explore and re-explore their entire territory daily, investigating each change or new object that may be placed there. They are very aggressive. They show no fear of new objects. They dart from place to place, covering the same route over and over again. This behavior can be used to advantage in control programs. Disturbing the environment at the beginning of a control program by moving boxes, shelves, pallets, and other objects can improve the effectiveness of traps. Mice will investigate the changed territory thoroughly. This is why (live catch) traps work so well.

House mice prefer cereals over other items, although they will feed on a wide variety of foods. Mice sometimes search for foods high in fat and protein, such as lard, butter, nuts, bacon, and meat. Sweets, including chocolate, are taken at times. Mice get much of their water from moisture in their food, but they will drink if water is readily available. Mice in buildings catch and eat flies, spiders, centipedes, cockroaches, beetles, millipedes and other arthropods. Outdoors house mice consume a wide variety of weed seeds, grass seeds, various grains and vegetation. In addition they consume many insects and other invertebrates, e.g., slugs, spiders and centipedes.

Keep rodents out of garages, sheds or barns by keeping access to water, food and nesting materials and harborage areas away from them, especially within 100 feet of your occupied buildings. Repair all holes in buildings that would allow rodents entry. Open doors and windows before cleaning areas where rodents have been living. If possible, run an electric fan for at least half an hour to clear out dust. Leave the areas while the fan is on. Disinfect sites where you have seen rodents or their droppings. General-purpose disinfectants will kill the virus. A mixture of three tablespoons of household bleach in a gallon of water can also be used. Spray the area and mop, rather than sweeping or vacuuming. The wetter the area, the better because dampness will keep the dust down. Remember that the territory of mice rarely extends further than 30 feet from the nest, and more often is about 10 feet. If mice are sighted throughout a building, it means that there are numerous discrete locations where you will have to set traps.  When using live traps, oatmeal is a very effective bait. On snap traps, a piece of Slim Jim is almost irresistible to mice. It is much more effective than cheese or peanut butter.  When you find a mouse in a snap trap, spray it with a disinfectant and put it in a plastic bag before disposing of it.

Never use rodenticides for several reasons. First, if a mouse dies where you can’t find it you will have an odor problem.  Also if the mouse (particularly deer mice) have ectoparasites such as fleas or mites, they will leave the dead carcass and may attack the human occupants of the house. Mice should always be controlled with snap or live traps. If you have a crawl space under your house, you should have it mouse-proofed. Trapping with snap traps or live traps will work for rats as well. Basically the control methods are similar with both animals.

If you live in an area where mice or other rodents like to get under the hood of your vehicle and chew on the wires, then you should read this. The best way (and only way I am aware of) to keep them from under the hood, is to get some cotton balls, soak them in peppermint essential oil, place them in little paper cups and put them in various places under the hood, especially around wiring. Rodents will not go under the hood of a vehicle that smells like peppermint. Much better than rodenticides or traps which rarely work at all in this situation.

MOSQUITOES

(Culicidae)

Mosquitoes are small, slender, biting flies. They have a long, thin mouth part designed for piercing the skin and sucking out blood.  They require water to lay their eggs.  They are very important disease vectors and can transmit West Nile Virus, Encephalitis and other diseases in the United States.  If you have mosquitoes, make sure you wear a good non-DEET mosquito repellent when you go outside. Never use the DEET products that government agencies recommend as DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamine) is a chemical that some people have severe reactions to. It is a fact that DEET works well as long as it is full strength. However, when it begins to weaken, it actually attracts mosquitoes and you have to put more on, which means absorbing more of the chemicals into your system. Most non-DEET products (catnip, citronella, and lemongrass) are effective for two or three hours before having to be reapplied, but they do not contain potentially dangerous chemicals.

Remove all standing or stagnant water if at all possible.  This means old tires, barrels, cans, wading pools that aren’t being used, bird baths and other items that can hold water. You can apply a light coating of food-grade diatomaceous earth on any water that can’t be removed. Eucalyptus oils, garlic extracts and extracts of orange and lemon peels will kill mosquito larvae in the water.

You can also install a bat house in your yard to attract the bats.  One bat can eat over a thousand mosquitoes in one night, so you may want to encourage them.

If you have adult mosquitoes in your grass or bushes, you can spray them with Greenbug for Outdoors.    Catnip is a very good repellent according to a report from Iowa State University. Other good repellents include lemongrass, basil, birch, mint, rosemary, spearmint and yarrow. Geraniums or basil plants planted near your doors will repel mosquitoes.  Citronella and pennyroyal both work but have side affects.  Pennyroyal may increase the risk of a miscarriage if you are pregnant and citronella has been known to attract female black bears.  Test anything you put on your skin on a small portion first to make sure you aren’t allergic to it. Again, never use repellents that contain DEET.

MOTH FLIES

(Psychodidae)

Moth flies are small flies with hairy wings that resemble small moths. They are also called filter flies and drain flies. They are usually found in the bathroom. They will breed in the gunk buildup in drains and will often be found in the tub, on shower curtains or the wall. They are poor fliers and seem to just hop around.  The larvae live in gelatinous material in sink and floor drain traps, in sewer treatment plants and in septic tanks.  They will also breed in damp crawl spaces under a house.  In a commercial building you can put duct tape sticky side down on drains to see which ones they are breeding in as the flies will get stuck to the tape when trying to leave the drain.   You need to keep your drains clean to control these flies as they have a very short life cycle.  They can go from egg to adult in a little over a week in some areas.

 

PANTRY MOTHS

(Pyralidae)

There are several species of pantry moths that can infest your home, but the one most frequently encountered is the Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella).  This moth is small and colorful. The wings are gray toward the body and has dark bands near the tip. They will feed on a wide variety of dried foods, including cereals, flour, cornmeal, crackers, cake mixes, pasta, dried pet foods, candy, powdered milk, chocolate candy and many other foodstuffs.

The best control is to hang one Flour Moth Pheromone Trap in the area they are infesting.  This will attract and catch the male moths and stop the breeding process.  Then inspect all open dried foods and toss anything that is infested. Place all non-infested foods in sealed containers or refrigerate them.  Completely clean the pantry where the foods are stored to get any larvae that may be crawling around.  Then lightly dust the shelves with food-grade diatomaceous earth before putting the foods back.

 

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About askthebugman

I have been in the pest management industry for over 40 years. In that time I have used almost every pesticide available to control so-called “pests”. With this experience, I have learned over the years that the pesticides we use are far more dangerous than the pests we are trying to control. As a result, it has become a passion for me to improve the quality of life for humans and the planet, by assisting people to not only become more educated and aware of their environment – but also by learning to manage their home and business with a sustainable and healthier approach to tending to unwanted infestations of bugs. Please enjoy my blog posts, check out my publications, utilize my services, or simply stay in touch if you have a bug question…

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