Category Archives: Tips from the Field

Top 5 Places to Look for Termites

With this year’s unsually warm weather, termites have begun to swarm. It’s time to look around your home and check for these pesky pests. Here are the Critter Gitter’s top 5 places to look:

  1. Tree stumps close to your home
  2. Garage door jamb—where the concrete of your house meets the concrete of your driveway
  3. Wood-to-ground contacts—garden borders, wooden expansion joints, fence posts and landscape timbers
  4. Check for visible damage or dead swarmers on your window and door frames, siding, and overhangs—also be aware of moisture problems
  5. On Slab foundations, look for termite mud tubes at the base of your home’s foundation walls


Need a professional’s opinion? Get a free termite inspecition from the Critter Gitter.

Tips on Eliminating Mosquito Breeding Sites

1. Clean out eaves, and gutters.
2. Remove old tires or drill holes in those used for playground equipment to drain.
3. Turn over or remove plastic pots.
4. Pick up broken, unused, or discarded toys.
5. Check tarps on boats or other equipment that may collect water in pockets or indentations.
6. Pump out bilges on boats.
7. Replace water in birdbaths at least twice a week.
8. Replace water in pet or other animal feeding dishes or toughs at least twice a week.
9. Dispose of broken or unused kiddie pools.
10. Pick up plastic wrappers used for food or other products; mosquitoes can breed even in a
discarded potato chip bag that has collected water.
11. Don’t leave garbage can lids lying upside down.
12. Change water in bottom of plant containers, including hanging plants, at least twice a week.
13. Remove vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.

New UF cell phone ’app’ lets users identify pests with photos, text

Called iPest1, it’s one of the first mobile-phone apps dealing with pest insects. It’s compatible with Apple mobile devices including the popular iPhone and sells for $1.99.

“Proper identification of pests is crucial in effective pest management. I wanted to have a mobile guide to household pests, to help educate people,” said UF entomologist Rebecca Baldwin, principal developer. “I couldn’t find one, so we ended up creating one.”

The material focuses on four topics — cockroaches, filth-breeding flies, pests that occasionally enter dwellings and pest droppings. Many of the species included are found nationwide or even worldwide, but the selection leans toward pests common in the southeastern U.S., Baldwin said.

Each species is shown in a color photo and actual-size silhouette. The images are accompanied by text that includes common and scientific names, habitat, biology, behavior and distribution. Users can enlarge photos and activate links to related UF documents.

The idea came about more than a year ago, when Baldwin bought an iPhone and began browsing educational wildlife apps and soon realized there was almost nothing to help people identify pests.
After polling pest-control industry personnel Baldwin found there was significant interest in an iPhone app. So, with a grant from the Florida Cooperative Extension Service — the outreach arm of UF’s agriculture program — she spent much of late 2009 and early 2010 developing iPest1.

Proceeds from iPest1 — which has sold close to 100 units since the release in early May — will be used toward the development of additional apps in the iPest series.

Two more volumes will be available soon. One includes pest ants, stored food beetles, common structural termites and wood destroying insects. The other includes biting and stinging arthropods and bloodsucking arthropods.

Professionals have already begun using iPest1. Linda Prentice, a certified associate entomologist with BugOut Service, a northeast Florida-based pest control company, said she’s had the app for two weeks and it’s drawn interest from many colleagues.

“Everyone has been amazed,” she said. “I came from a time in the industry when we didn’t have this kind of education at your fingertips.”
The app can also help pest control technicians educate customers about organisms found during inspections, said Allen Fugler Jr., executive vice president of the Orlando-based Florida Pest Management Association.

“I think the more professionalism and accurate information a pest control technician can provide, the better the relationship can be cemented,” Fugler said.

Phil Koehler, a longtime UF entomology professor who assisted Baldwin with the text, said he believes iPest1 could change the way homeowners deal with pests, for one reason: convenience.
“The problem with print materials is, you don’t always have them available where you see pests,” Koehler said. “But people carry their cell phones.”

Besides Koehler, iPest1 contributors included Roberto Pereira of the UF entomology department, student programmer Sudharsanan Sridharan and graphic artist Jane Medley.

Jacksonville company turns back time on soil conditions

A Jacksonville-based soil treatment company is growing despite the adverse economic climate. Doug Speed and Associates has already surpassed last year’s sales numbers and expects substantial growth this year, while boasting it is helping to eliminate toxic chemicals from infiltrating Northeast Florida’s water table. The company’s signature product, Inoculaid, is a combination of various types of microorganisms that help facilitate the decomposition of nitrogen, potassium and lesser nutrients, which increase the growth and health of plants…

…Which is why Peninsular Pest Control Service uses this product extensively. “Last fall, we would have used one pound of nitrogen per application. However, after switching to Inoculaid, we have cut that down to less than 0.2 pounds per application, an 80 percent reduction,” said George Richardson, technical director for Peninsular. He said that because of Inoculaid’s cost compared to other chemicals, Peninsular trimmed 15 percent off its operating expense. Richardson also said he has had significant success using Inoculaid to eliminate fungus problems and at less cost than using fungicides. Inoculaid was the third product created by Jacksonville scientist Tom Selvig, with each building off the predecessor in an attempt to create a completely natural soil enhancer.