Archive for August, 2014

August 28, 2014

Learn how to keep mosquitoes and ticks away for Labor Day — and your special day!

Happy Labor Day from Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery!

Happy Labor Day from Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery!

The last hoorah for summer is right around the corner as residents and communities all over Montgomery County, MD plan their annual Labor Day festivities. With this holiday upon us, many households will be hosting backyard celebrations. All the preparations, guest lists and planning you are working on should also include mosquito and tick control and prevention. Outdoor parties are an important time to make certain that you and your guests don’t get bitten while attending your special event.

Mosquitoes and ticks are vectors for illness and disease, such as Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus just to name a few. Don’t put you or the health of your guests at risk. Even though fall  is right around the corner, and you may feel that summer is coming to an end, we are actually in the height of mosquito and tick season. Now it is more important than ever to stay focused and keep your property protected from mosquitoes and ticks.

 Special events are an important time to make certain that you and your guests don’t get bitten while attending your special event.

Special events are an important time to make certain that you and your guests don’t get bitten.

We are  still receiving requests for our special event mosquito and tick control services as Maryland homeowners prepare to host other special outdoor events such as weddings, family reunions and birthday parties. Many of these events are larger in size than your average backyard barbecue and seating accommodations are sometimes placed near taller grasses or back up to the edges of your property or wooded areas. In these scenarios, it is crucial to treat your property to kill ticks as well as mosquitoes, since high grass and bushes are where ticks like to hide and tick activity peaks late summer into early fall.

Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery can help you and your family enjoy the remainder of the outdoor living season in your yard without the threat of being bitten. Even though the kids are back in school and vacations have come to an end, there is no reason you can’t enjoy the long afternoons outside with your family and friends. Anytime can be special, even the smallest moments.

 

Our barrier spray is exactly what you need for a perfect party!

Our barrier spray is exactly what you need for the perfect outdoor party!

About 24-48 hours prior to guests’ arrival, we’ll apply a barrier spray that includes  effective protection against mosquitoes and ticks. It’s exactly what you need for the perfect party:

  • Eliminates or greatly reduces the number of mosquitoes that might otherwise bite guests or hover around food.
  • Dries in 30 minutes, leaving no odor or visible residue.
  • Is applied long before your food and dinnerware arrive, so there’s no opportunity for contamination.
  • Provides protection day and night through your entire event.

 

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Call Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery now to make sure your Labor Day outdoor celebration and other special outdoor event goes off without a hitch. Our convenient and effective barrier spray service kill mosquitoes and ticks and prevents mosquitoes from entering the treated area as well. Don’t delay call today. Call us today for a free quote (301) 444-5566 or email us at :westmontco@mosquitosquad.com

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August 27, 2014

Don’t Let Mosquitoes and Ticks Rain on Your Labor Day Parade!

Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery having fun at the 2011 Labor Day parade

Highlights from our participation in previous Kensington Labor Day parades… the dreaded mosquito has met its match!

Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery will be at the 47th Annual Kensington Labor Day parade on Monday, September 1, 2014 and we cordially invite you to attend this fun-filled annual event!   The day starts off with the Parade traveling down Connecticut Avenue from St. Paul Park toward Town Hall, featuring local marching bands from area schools; equestrian show groups; dance groups; floats and ambassadors from local churches, schools, non-profits, and businesses; and local, state, and federally elected officials.

The crowd cheers as the mosquito begins to fall!

The crowd cheers as the mosquito begins to fall!

Kensington residents know they have a giant mosquito problem ( just look at the picture!) Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery will be participating in the annual parade again this year. Our participation in local and community events is an important part of teaching our neighbors the importance of mosquito and tick control in their own backyard as a way to reduce the risk of vector-borne illness and as a way to make the the time spent outdoors safer and more enjoyable for every member of the family, including pets.

Both mosquitoes and ticks are capable of infecting us with illnesses like West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease and can even infect our beloved pets with heartworms, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Canine Lyme Disease.  Our mission here at Mosquito Squad is simple: to educate you about the risks of vector-borne illness and how enjoy the outdoors without the worries! We can even keep those dreaded stink bugs away too!

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

We look forward to seeing at the Kensington Labor Day parade and festival — You can also contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery to inquire about our mosquito & tick control programs designed to keep you and your family happy and healthy • Call us today for a free quote •  (301) 444-5566 • email:westmontco@mosquitosquad.com

August 25, 2014

Listen to what our happy Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery customers are saying…

 

Take back your outdoors with Mosquito Squad

Take back your outdoors with Mosquito Squad !

At Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery, along with improving the time you and your family spend outdoors, customer service is our top priority. To ensure we’re doing our job and our service is really protecting our Montgomery County MD customers from mosquitoes and ticks, Mosquito Squad utilizes a third-party review system. The survey has only one question — how did it work? We are then emailed the results and our customers are confirming that our program is not only effective, they love it.

Read some of the reviews below. You may also read more reviews on our website.

 

“Getting rid of the bugs was a great treat for summer outdoor fun. Good communications and “on-time” service were outstanding.”

-David H. of Kensington, MD

 

“The mosquitoes are gone!”

-Natasha H. of Rockville, MD

 

“We just had our first service last week. What a difference! We got our yard back!”

-Elizabeth S. of Rockville, MD

 

“This my second summer with Mosquito Squad and I am very pleased with the service. The men are polite and work quickly.”

-Saundra P. of  Takoma Park, MD

 

“It’s effective! I don’t get bit by mosquitos any more! Also, communication is good, and you come when you say you’ll come.”

“It works!”

– Doris L. of Kensington, MD

 

Mosquito Squad of West MontgomeryRead more great testimonials from Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery customers on our website.

Contact us today to keep mosquitoes and ticks out of your yard for the entire summer • (301) 444-5566• email: westmontco@mosquitosquad.com 

 

August 18, 2014

Now is the time to think about tick tube implementation!

Deer ticks in your backyard waiting for you to walk by

Deer ticks in your backyard waiting for you to walk by.

Along with our effective and proven barrier spray for ticks, you may have heard us talk here about tick tubes.  Tick tubes are an excellent way to eliminate future generations of ticks on your property.  Along with our barrier spray, tick tubes are an effective second punch at eliminating ticks in your yard.  So, what are they and how do they work?  When is the best time during the year to use them?

Tick tubes target nymph ticks.  Ticks have 4 stages of development in their average two-year life cycle.  Ticks begin as eggs laid by female adults in late fall.  In MD, ticks are most often found in the dens of white-footed mice.  These mice provide the best conditions for them to develop.  First, the mice build protected nests; second, they are warm-blooded mammals and can provide a blood meal for both larvae ticks and nymph ticks.  Tick eggs laid in the mice’s nest in the fall will become larval ticks in early spring and need their first blood meal.  When white-footed mice aren’t available, chipmunks, shrews, voles and other rodent nests will suffice.

https://mosquitosquadmaryland.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/egg-mass-produced-by-lone-star-tick.jpg

Egg mass produced by tick.

After hatching from eggs in early spring, the larvae take their blood meal from the closest host they can find, the white-footed mouse whose home they live in.  As they grow into nymph ticks, small rodents serve nicely as the tick’s second blood meal.  Nymph ticks still aren’t very big so don’t need an animal with a big blood supply as they will need later when they become adults.  Because mice and ticks spend so much time together when ticks are in 2 of the 4 stages of their life cycle, the mice get bitten many times as hosts to both larvae and nymphs.  The transmission of the Lyme infection from one infected nymph tick who previously took a blood meal from an infected mouse allows the infection to be transmitted to many ticks that later bite the same and other previously infected mice.  The infection rate of mice with Lyme Disease is often as high as 80-90%.

Ticks are not born with Lyme Disease and larvae ticks are never infected when they first enter that stage of their life cycle.  Only after needing a blood meal at the end of the larvae stage can they become infected by infected mice.  Given the infection of white-footed mice and the fact that larvae ticks are often found in the dens of white-footed mice, that first blood meal is where they ticks are likely to be first infected.

The most prevalent source the tick acquires the bacteria is a rodent, such as a white footed mouse, or field mouse.

The most prevalent source the tick acquires the bacteria is a rodent, such as a white footed mouse, or field mouse.

As fall arrives, the nymph ticks are seeking a home for winter and a place they can get their next blood meal as they move into adulthood.  Once again, they will seek out a white-footed mouse’s nest.  In the second spring of its life, the nymph tick will take its second blood meal from the white-footed mouse whose nest it may be in.  It is in this second spring that we and our pets are most likely to get Lyme Disease from a tick.  Since nymph ticks are so tiny, we often don’t notice them on our skin, or on our dog’s skin.  Why do ticks need to bite us for blood when they have the mice?  It’s not often that ticks stay attached long enough to get a full meal from any one source.  As they grow larger, they are above ground and not in nests and begin “questing” for any available animal.  For this reason, a tick may bite several hosts (mice, other rodents, humans, etc.) before getting the amount of blood they need to continue growing into adulthood.

Tick tubes are meant to make sure ticks don’t make it to their 2nd spring.  In order to build a proper nest for winter, white-footed mice will search for nesting material.  Mosquito Squad tick tubes have cotton balls in them saturated with insecticide that will eliminate ticks.  By making their nesting material with the tick tube cotton, the mice will get the insecticide on their fur as they move around in their nest during the winter.  When spring comes again, enough insecticide is on the mouse’s fur that the ticks will be eliminated on contact, before they can get their 2nd blood meal.  No harm is done to the mouse by the insecticide, so they continue to serve as tick-destroying hosts during the warmer months of the year.

how tick tubes work

How tick tubes work

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

By placing tick tubes out at spring, summer and fall your tick protection is supported by a second line of defense, tick tubes.  Each year, as more nymph ticks are eliminated on your property, there should be fewer adults to lay eggs.  Our barrier spray eliminates ticks on contact and works for up to 3 weeks on active ticks living in your yard.  Tick tubes eliminate the ticks you won’t ever see.

If you have questions on how to protect yourself from mosquito and tick-borne diseases, please contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery, (301) 444-5566.

August 14, 2014

“Mosquitoes remind us that we are not as high up on the food chain as we think.”

The mosquito blood meal

In true fashion, reality is sometimes stranger than fiction. I recently read a quote by Tom Wilson that speaks more fact than much lengthier prose I have read on the subject of mosquitoes… “Mosquitoes remind us that we are not as high up on the food chain as we think.”

Simple and very poignant to say the least. How is it that such a tiny insect can strike such fear in us and remind us of our place in the big “scheme” of things — the circle of life? In order to understand the mosquito we must first go back, way back in fact, to the beginning. The oldest known mosquito with an anatomy similar to the modern species we deal with today was found in 79-million-year-old Canadian amber from the Cretaceous period. In addition, an even older sister species with more primitive features was found in Burmese amber that is 90 to 100 million years old. Two mosquito fossils have also been found that show very little morphological difference from modern mosquitoes against their counterpart from 46 million years ago.

Yes, indeed this would mean the tiny mosquito survived the ice age, even when the dinosaurs did not. 

dinosaurs-caveman-clubc-rag-prehistoric-wild-human (1)Scientists have even discovered evidence of bedding that was constructed from plant stems and leaves which contained a natural plant derived insecticide. This bedding would have served as much for mosquito control as for comfort at the time. The bedding was discovered in a rock shelter in Sibudu South Africa and is believed to be left by our early ancestors who slept in the shelter from 38,000 to 77,000 years ago. The use of these plants and leaves prove that the cavemen had knowledge of the specific insecticidal and medicinal uses of the plants within the world around them. Analysis of the bedding also concluded it was refurbished with the insecticidal plants and leaves on more than one occasion proving again, that the inhabitants of the Sibudu site were well aware of the properties and attributes of the plants and leaves they were choosing to “feather their beds” with at the time. Researchers also learned from excavation of the sight that the cavemen burned spent and used bedding in a way to possibly further mosquito control efforts within their living space and to maintain an insect free space for further occupation. This discovery is 50,000 years older than the most ancient preserved bedding we have found in the past — wow.

Now, for the skinny on where the mosquito ends up on the food chain: Even though there are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes on earth doesn’t mean they are higher up on the food chain than humans. To better explain this, I turn to the wonderful minds at National Geographic who explain the theory of the “food chain” in more detail.  “A food web consists of all the food chains in a single ecosystem. Each living thing in an ecosystem is part of multiple food chains. Each food chain is one possible path that energy and nutrients may take as they move through the ecosystem. All of the interconnected and overlapping food chains in an ecosystem make up a food web.” Mosquitoes are part of many food webs. The female mosquito needs blood to feed her eggs. Humans make easy prey for mosquitoes because of many factors, including smell. Mosquitoes eat from plants as male mosquitoes are beneficial pollinators and do not feed from blood. Mosquito eggs too, are food to crayfish, dragonflies and frogs. Bass, pike, trout and perch are a few of the many fish that feed on mosquito larva. Flying mosquitoes are food for frogs, bats and birds, especially purple martins.

So you see mosquitoes, though they are vectors for illness and disease and get on our last nerve, are part of the circle of life — they eat plants, deposit eggs and become food. 

I truly think the basis of this quote, in particular, comes from the track record of the mosquito as a predator. Earlier this year, Bill Gates made a reference to the mosquito being the world’s deadliest predator on his blog, gatesnotes. When it comes to killing humans, no other animal even comes close. Here is a look at the number of people each year killed by various animals, many of which you would assume more menacing than the mosquito: Sharks accounted for 10 deaths per year, elephants 100, dogs 25,000 , humans killing humans 425,00 and the mosquito came in at a whopping 725,000!

Bill Gates Deadliest Animal Mosquito Graphic

Bill Gates Deadliest Animal Mosquito Graphic

What makes mosquitoes so dangerous? Despite their innocuous-sounding name—Spanish for “little fly”—they carry devastating diseases. The worst is Malaria, which kills more than 600,000 people every year; another 200 million cases incapacitate people for days at a time. It threatens half of the world’s population and causes billions of dollars in lost productivity annually. Other mosquito-borne diseases include Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, and Encephalitis and West Nile Virus.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Even though many of these diseases are not in your backyard, the mosquitoes are. Our goal is to keep you, your family and your pets completely protect you from mosquitoes the entire season for comfort and safety. Contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery for a free estimate today • (301) 444-5566 • email:westmontco@mosquitosquad.com

August 7, 2014

Can those pesky house mice spread Lyme Disease?

Various types of mice.

Various types of mice.

You may have read stories before on this blog talking about the link between ticks, Lyme Disease and white-footed mice. These stories may have peaked your curiosity about other species of rodents, especially pesky house mice that like to take up residence in our homes. Since we are entering into the peak season for nymph ticks, and very soon,  into the fall when the weather will be growing cooler and house mice will be looking for places to stay warm, now is a great time to become familiar with tick/mouse activity!

White-footed mice do exceptionally well in the habitat of the Northeast US and other similar places because of the urbanization of old farmland.  Open woodlots and brushy areas make ideal living conditions for white-footed mice and ticks.

Although Lyme Disease is not as prevalent in some US states, other tick-borne diseases are.  Tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other infections are often prevalent in places Lyme Disease is not.  Shrews, voles, rabbits, chipmunks and other small rodents will fill a similar role as white-footed mice in these regions when available.

Notice this white-footed mouse is covered with nymph ticks

Notice this white-footed mouse is covered with nymph ticks.

When an adult female tick needs to lay her eggs, she looks for a location that will have a temperature warm enough in winter to allow her eggs to survive.  White-footed mice build nests in burrows, stumps, brush piles, buildings and in the abandoned nests of other small animals and birds.  These nests provide concealment for them from predators and warmth in the winter.

When an adult female tick lays her eggs in the nest of a white-footed mouse, she is providing both protection and a good start for the next generation.  When hatched into larvae in the spring and early summer, these ticks will take their first blood meal from the closest available small animal, which is usually the white-footed mouse.  Tick larvae are not infected with Lyme Disease when born.  Their first chance to be infected is when they take their first blood meal from the mice.  As these larvae ticks grow and need a second blood meal to grow into their third life stage as nymph ticks, the mice will often serve as hosts to that meal also.

Studies show that 80-90% of all white-footed mice are infected with the Lyme bacteria.  When you consider the number of larvae and nymph ticks that take their blood meal from white-footed mice, you can easily see why the infection rate is so high.  Ticks will often have to bite more than one host for a blood meal in order to get an adequate supply of blood, so they can grow into their next life cycle stage.  If one larvae or nymph tick is infected with Lyme Disease, the infection will usually be transmitted to any of the mice they bite.  Ticks that bite an infected mouse have a very high likelihood of becoming infected themselves and further transmitting the disease.  As ticks become larger, they need larger mammals and birds for their blood meal.  This is how Lyme Disease is transmitted to raccoons, foxes, opossums, birds, and other small mammals.  Deer serve as hosts for adult ticks because of their size allows them to have enough blood to provide many adult ticks their blood meal to lay eggs.

House Mice in a loaf of bread

House Mice nesting in a loaf of bread.

For mice that do not frequent open woodlots and brushy areas, there is little chance of them being exposed to ticks.  No contact with ticks means no Lyme infection.  This is the primary reason that Lyme Disease is rare or non-existent in mice that seek shelter and warmth in your home.  As these or any mice spend time in your yard and in tick habitat, it’s possible they can become infected, if bitten by an infected tick.  House mice have not been studied to determine if they contract Lyme Disease in certain situations; but there is no reason to think they would be immune.  It’s likely they are not a vector for Lyme Disease because they simply don’t spend as much time in tick habitat as other rodents.

As you can see, the circumstances that lead to Lyme Disease are diverse and complex.  With so many vectors, hosts and reservoirs responsible for the disease, researchers are a long way off from knowing how the disease continues to spread. Rather than wait for science to provide a solution, there are effective solutions now such as barrier sprays and tick tube implementation for your yard. Contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery now to discuss our tick barrier spray and tick tube program that will protect your yard all season long.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Learn more about protecting yourself and your family from the risks of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease in your backyard! Sign up today • (301) 444-5566 • email:westmontco@mosquitosquad.com

August 6, 2014

The top 10 things you need to know about the Asian Tiger Mosquito in Montgomery County, MD

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Asian Tiger Mosquito

The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is an invasive mosquito species that is known to be a vector for a wide range of mosquito-borne illness and disease.  These include Dengue Fever, which is predominant throughout Southeast Asia.  The Asian tiger is also a potential vector for Yellow Fever and has now been identified as the main carrier of Chikungunya , a debilitating virus prevalent in Africa, Asia and as of December 2013, also in the Caribbean. This virus causes fever and joint pain among other symptoms. The first two cases of Chikungunya were contracted in Florida last week, according to the CDC.  Here in Maryland the Asian tiger is to blame for the spread of  West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Lacrosse Encephalitis and Canine heartworms.

The tire trade in the US is to blame for the rise of the Asian Tiger mosquito.

The tire trade in the US is to blame for the rise of the Asian Tiger mosquito.

This mosquito is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Southeast Asia.  The tiger mosquito now thrives in both urban and suburban environments across Maryland. The initial discovery of Asian Tiger mosquitoes in the US occurred in Houston tow years prior to when their discovery Baltimore, MD in 1987 at a used tire processing plant. From there, it spread to nearby communities as buckets, cans, flower vases and many other artificial water holding containers have proved as suitable as tire casings for breeding sites. Many communities in Maryland which experienced very little mosquito annoyance in the past are now infested by these mosquitoes. The tiger mosquito prefers residential areas where shade and water-holding containers are common. This pest is found in all neighborhoods, from the poorest to the most affluent. Older residential areas with a good deal of shade are preferred sites. Areas near commercial establishments which store a large number of tire casings outside are often infested with the greatest number of Asian Tiger mosquitoes.

The Asian Tiger mosquito is colored like it's namesake: the tiger.

The Asian Tiger mosquito is colored like it’s namesake: the tiger.

Only two years after the arrival of this unwanted world traveler, the population had already spread into 17 states.  Currently the Asian tiger mosquito’s realm extends from Texas all along the southern coast all the way to the Atlantic.  This mosquito has now been identified in 25 states that range as far north as Iowa.

The Asian tiger mosquito was named for its distinct black and white markings, which resemble its namesake – the tiger.  This mosquito was aptly named because it exhibits much of the same aggression as a tiger.  It will return again and again, even as it’s pushed or swatted away, to gain a blood meal.  It has even been reported to have swarmed homeowners in their backyard, being mistaken for bees.

One of the most distinct characteristics of this mosquito is that it is a day-feeder — when other mosquitoes are in their “down” time waiting for the sun to fade into the horizon, the Asian tiger is busy in search of an all-you-can-eat buffet!  In an effort to educate Montgomery County homeowners on the unique traits of this mosquito, we have put together a  list of the ten things you need to know about the Asian tiger mosquito:

Top 10 things your need to know about the Asian tiger mosquito

#1) Asian tiger mosquitoes are aggressive day feeders. Early morning and late afternoon are peak biting times.

#2) Tiger mosquitoes rest, fly and bite close to the ground.

#3) These mosquitoes are strongly attracted to bite humans, but will feed on cats, dogs and other mammals, as well as birds active on the ground.

the bloodthirsty asian tiger mosquito

The bloodthirsty Asian Tiger mosquito is just one of over species of mosquito here in MD.

#4) Asian tiger mosquitoes can breed in minimal amount of water including small puddles, crevices, knots in trees, planter reservoirs and even soda bottle caps.

#5) Female Asian Tiger mosquitoes lay 40 to 150 eggs after obtaining a blood meal.

#6) The cycle of blood feeding and egg laying will continue throughout the mosquito’s life span.

#7) Egg laying occurs about once per week.

#8) Adult tiger mosquitoes live from a few days to several weeks, largely depending on weather conditions. Hot, dry weather reduces life expectancy.

#9) During her lifetime, female Asian Tiger Mosquitoes will lay approximately 300 eggs.

#10)  In Maryland, Tiger mosquito eggs are present year round. Larvae is present from April through October. Adult tiger mosquitoes are found May through October. The period of peak population is June through September.

You can enjoy your yard and eliminate Asian tiger mosquitoes by using the proven Mosquito Squad  mosquito barrier spray program along with exercising safe-mosquito habits around your home!

Being able to use your yard more allows you to invite more friends and family over during the summer. Having the freedom to enjoy your yard also allows kids to play, explore nature and enjoy being a kid! Outdoor entertaining is also a plus this time of year, but, you also know getting your guests to come back for the next celebration will only occur if you provide them a safe and relaxing time while outside. Swatting and worrying about mosquitoes isn’t a memory you want guests taking home with them after a visit to your home.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Our program will eliminate mosquitoes in your yard, including the Asian tiger mosquito, all season long.  Our worry-free, effective barrier spray will get rid of mosquitoes present and prevent them from returning for up to 21 days.  Eliminating mosquitoes reduces you and your family’s chances of contracting  a mosquito-borne illness. Getting started is easy and our rotation program ensures mosquito control all summer long, with no gaps in service.

Take the tiger by the tail this season and contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery today to schedule a season free of mosquitoes, ticks and stink bugs!