Web-Worms and Prevention

Fall brings cooler weather pretty leaves and  those horrible webs that seem to cover the trees and deter from the pretty leaves.

 

Commonly referred to as bagworms or webworms.  Hyphantria cunea are the type of webworms that make their appearance during late summer and autumn.

 

The Good News                      autumn-oak-foliage

The good news is these little guys don’t generally  hurt the trees, and are just more of an aesthetic problem. Webworms only munch on the leaves of the tree, which is already about to go dormant for the winter and shed it’s leaves anyway.

 

The Bad News               20160921_151813

The bad news is that webworms range from south Canada across the U.S. and love just about every kind of hardwood tree. Hickory, oak, pecan, even redbud and some fruit trees. The list goes on encompassing almost all deciduous trees.

 

Appearance

More than likely before the worm or adult moth is spotted we will notice the nest. Nests are composed of spider like string thread that is woven together with twigs, leaf debris and excrement from the worms. They gradually become larger and encompass more leaves, the larger nests can reach up to 3 feet.

 

The adult moth is most commonly white with darker spots on the wings.

 

Caterpillars can grow up to 1 inch long and colors vary by climate and location. Most caterpillars  have a yellow to green colored body with a mottled strip or two running running along the length of them. Their heads can range in color from black to a reddish hue.  

 

Life Cycle                       sack-worms

 

The eggs are laid on the underside of leaves. Clutches contain a couple hundred eggs that hatch out in about a week. Young caterpillars build their own webs while they feed on leaves. This stage will last about a month and a half. As winter comes closer the grown caterpillar weaves a dark brown  cocoon about ⅜ of an inch long either in leaf debris or under some loose bark. It will survive the winter in its pupa form.  

 

Webworm Control

 

More often than not little is done to control these pests. Expert opinion is that they cause little damage to trees, that are preparing to shed their leaves and go dormant for the winter. So why not let them be.

 

Tree safety aside making your home in a tall tree and out of reach keeps most humans from braving the awkward scenario of removing them. But what if some of us do want to remove them from interrupting our fall leaf experience.      wren-feeding-young

 

  • Natural Enemies. Webworms have a lot of them. Including birds, if you can reach a web  cut it open to give birds easy access.
  • Make Your Yard More Bird Friendly.  Adding bird feeders, houses and baths will help you attract mother nature’s first line of defense.
  • Keep Trees Pruned. Pruning dead branches will help deter them especially if you use pest spray afterwards 
  • Keep Debris Picked UP. Leaf and other fall debris provide hiding places for insects, and prevent natural predators from getting an opening.

     

  • Sevin Dust or other farm powder can be used as soon as you notice a problem and repeat 10-14 days later. The construction on the web makes nests water resistant and prevents most sprays from penetrating.

     

  • Let Them Be.

Mouse Prevention

A Mouse in the House     hagatha-the-great-mouser

 

Mice! I hate to find that mice have made their way into our house. It hasn’t happened for years, in part to my diligence and an awesome cat. The last time was about 8 years ago after our old cat died. The awesome kitty we have now was 4 years old 8 years ago when she came to live with us. No wonder she’s helping me slack, poor girl is 12 years old now.

 

As it happens the washing machine stopped working. After a quick youtube search and diagnosis, we took  the control panel apart. What did we find? Dog food. Yep shady little fur balls had dog food stashed in our clothes washer. Urgh, well it wasn’t because of the mice that it stopped working, it was a faulty lid switch. Not too shabby since we’ve had the washer longer than the cat.

 

Now we are maybe geniuses and slightly mean. I wiped the inside of the washer control panel and the rest of the machine down with bleach water, and replaced the dog food with mouse bait. Lunch is served.

 

Mouse Damage  mouse eating bread

 

Mice can cause major damage to infrastructure and appliances when they make themselves at home in our houses. They love to chew, which is not great since most homes are made of wood. It can also be very dangerous if  they get into electrical wires.

 

Mice are NOT Sanitary

 

Mice are also not sanitary. They carry a host of parasites and diseases that I don’t even want to get into, just think about The Black Plague. From 1346 to 1353 The Black Plague killed millions of people mostly because of a certain kind of flea that was being transported by mice.

 

Parasites aside, mice just kind of do their business every where. One way to tell if you have a mouse problem is by noticing their trail of feces or stains from their urine in corners or along your baseboards. As the problem begins to escalate a smell may become noticeable.

 

Mice are primarily nocturnal and have bad eyesight. So chances are you won’t see them out scavenging your home during the day. Their eyesight also makes them stick close to walls and baseboards. For the most part they will follow the same trail on a nightly basis, their keen sense of smell helps them follow this trail. The same trail we talked about earlier, pretty gross really.

 

How are the Mice Getting in?

 

The sneaky little beast don’t need much room to find an entrance. It’s important to routinely check your home for any small gaps, and repair them hopefully a tube of silicone will be enough.

 

  • Dryer vent ducts
  • Poorly fitting door
  • Drains and/or other places plumbing may come into the structure
  • Pet doors

 

Be Less Mouse Friendly    mice eating vegetables

 

  • Be tidy
  • Put all food away at night
  • Wash down all counter surfaces nightly
  • Keep all food stored in airtight containers
  • Keep excess pet food picked up
  • Store bags of pet food in airtight containers
  • Move furniture away from walls to clean regularly

 

How to get Rid of Mice

 

Today’s market offers a million ways to get rid of mice. Form classic snap traps to devices that can be plugged into a wall and emit a sound wave only mice can hear. Peanut butter may be the best bait for mouse traps if you ever have to use them. Please also remember to keep and bait or other poisons away from children and pets. All of that being said  I think it is easier to take measures to keep the mice away before they come in (too bad I don’t always succeed).  So here are some ways to get take care of the mouse problem when they do get in or as a backup plan.   mouse trap

 

  • Classic mouse traps  
  • Sticky traps
  • Edible mouse bait

 

Natural Prevention    king snake non-poisonous

 

  • Keep a cat -hopefully one that doesn’t like mice
  • Snakes – I hate snakes but a grass snake outside may not be bad
  • Birds of prey -if you live in the country an owl box may help
  • Mint – mice have a strong sense of smell, growing mint as a border plant around your house may deter mice
  • Dried Mint -sprinkle it by door ways and other places mice may enter
  • Cloves -can also be placed by doors or other places mice maybe
  • Peppermint oil – use some on a cotton ball
  • Clove oil

 

Make Your Own Concoction      mint

 

If you’re feeling creative or just need to off load some things from the garden or fridge you can always make your own mouse spray. Mice have a great sense of smell and so don’t really care for spicy or minty things. This gives us a couple of options, make a minty spray from herbs like mint and clove, or essential oils if you have them. Or a spicy spray from things like hot peppers Habaneros, or jalapenos. You get it.

 

Fresh or dried herbs or peppers if you like can either be boiled down and strained then added to a spray bottle with some water. Option two for your creative DIY-ers is to put the ingredients in a glass jar with either water, oil or even vodka and let it sit in a cool dark place for about a week and then strain it into a spray bottle. Sprays are quick to use and cheap once the time has been invested in making them.

 

Wow that’s a lot on mice. Hope someone found it helpful. Due Diligence and remembering to keep up with pest control routines may be the secret to keeping the the mice out.

 

Termites and Prevention