What is Raccoon Roundworm?

Raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) is a parasite that causes severe neurological problems in infected hosts. There have been numerous cases of infections in humans in the United States over the past several years, including southern states like Florida and Georgia.     

How Raccoon Roundworm is Transmitted

An adult female worm can produce 150,000 eggs a day. Which means, that a raccoon could be infected with hundreds of adult worms, resulting in millions of eggs being shed in its feces daily. When raccoons defecate in communal sites known as latrines, the eggs can survive for many years.

The eggs that are released from the raccoon’s body become infectious in two to four weeks. Each time a raccoon eats an infectious egg, the eggs develop into larvae in the intestine, become adults, and begin the cycle over again. But, if any other animal eats an infectious roundworm egg, the parasites start to migrate through the tissues inside of the body, usually invading the eyes and brain. Another way the roundworm life cycle begins is when a raccoon feeds on a dead animal that was infected.

How Can Roundworm Affect Humans?

Because raccoons live amongst people in urban and suburban areas, they leave feces in yards beneath trees, in kid’s sandboxes, and on decks and patios. When people work or play in contaminated areas, they are susceptible to ingesting raccoon roundworm. Young children who put their hands into their mouths are at a higher risk as well as those who are commonly near wild animals such as hunters, taxidermists, and nuisance wildlife removal professionals.

When humans ingest infective roundworm eggs, the larvae hatch in the intestine, traveling through the organs and muscles. Infected humans may feel symptoms which include nausea, enlarged liver, coordination loss, muscle loss, blindness, and coma.

Prevention Tips

Although human infections are rare, it’s necessary to prevent the spreading of raccoon roundworm. Some things you can do include:

  • Avoid feeding wildlife
  • Wash your hands after working in your yard
  • Keep an eye on young children to ensure they aren’t putting their hands in the mouth
  • Wear protective gear when cleaning up animal feces
  • Burn or bury any raccoon feces you collect

Rely on the Professionals

If you are having issues with raccoons on your property, contact the Critter Control® of Tampa. Not only can these nuisance animals cause significant damage to your home or business, but they also pose a health risk. For more information or to receive a free estimate, call us today at 813-948-0870.

What are the Differences Between Wasps and Bees?

When it comes to working in the yard or playing outside, flying insects can make life difficult. While both female wasps and honeybees can sting, there are some differences in their anatomy as well as their behavior.

Appearance Differences

Bees are hairy with a robust body and flat rear legs. Their colors range from all black to black or brown with orange or yellow stripes. Wasps have a narrow waist that attaches their thorax to their abdomen with four wings. They have slender legs and can be brightly colored with black and yellow markings.

Behavior Differences

Bees are generally mellow, concentrating on traveling to different flowers, and typically sting only when their hive is threatened. A honey bee can only sting one time. That’s because their barbed stinger that gets lodged into you rips off part of their abdomen and digestive track along with muscles and nerves, resulting in their death. Wasps are naturally more aggressive creatures who prefer to stalk people in search of food and can sting you multiple times.

A queen wasp is the one who is responsible for building a nest for her colony. Usually, wasp colonies tend to be less than 10,000. However, over 75,000 bees can live in a colony at one time, working together to maintain the hive. During the winter, honeybees live on food they reserved and stay warm by forming a cluster in the central area of the hive surrounding the queen. Wasps, on the other hand, hibernate during the winter and build a new nest during autumn.

Removing Wasps or Bees from Your Home or Business

If you notice a wasp nest or beehive on your property, contact the experts at Critter Control® of Tampa for safe and effective removal. For more information or to receive a free estimate, call us today at 813-948-0870.

Tips to Help Keep Pests Away

Whether it’s ants, mosquitos, cockroaches, or spiders, no one likes discovering they have a pest problem in their home. And, while you can’t prevent every single pest from getting inside, there are steps you can take to help keep them away.

Block their entry – Because many pests are tiny, it’s easy for them to enter your home through small holes, gaps, and cracks. Inspect and repair problem areas such as torn screens, worn weather stripping, and any damage to your home’s exterior.

Keep your kitchen clean – There’s no denying that food attracts bugs. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you keep your counters and floors crumb free, avoid leaving dirty dishes in the sink, and take your trash out regularly.

Remove standing water – Not only do mosquitoes thrive in Florida’s warm and humid weather, but they also breed in standing water. Walk your property on a regular basis to check for any areas that may be collecting water. Look at things such as plant saucers, rain spouts, your air conditioning unit, trampoline spring cover, or toys laying around in the yard.

Maintain your yard – Pests love to make their home in overgrown vegetation. Trim back bushes and tree branches near your house as well as clean up any unnecessary debris.

Hire a pest control company – By having a pest control company regularly spray around the inside and outside of your home, you have a much better chance of winning the fight against bugs.

At Critter Control® of Tampa, a trained technician will perform a thorough inspection of your home and yard and to come up with a personalized plan to get pests out and keep them out. You and your family will have peace of mind knowing that your home is being protected. For more information, or to schedule your consultation, call us today at 813-948-0870.

The Most Common Types of Rodents in Tampa

Rodents are the largest group of mammals, characterized by upper and lower pairs of incisor teeth that continue to grow throughout their entire lives. They live on every land except Antarctica and New Zealand. And, while you may not see rodents running around during the day since they are nocturnal, it is important to identify whether you could have a problem.

In Florida, many rodents call our sunshine state home, including rats, mice, and squirrels. Here are some of the most common rodents living in Tampa.

House Mice – Though they usually live outdoors, house mice wander into human structure’s in search of food and shelter. They are brown or grey and around 5-7 inches long. House mice love to feed on grains but will indulge in a wide variety of food if it’s available to them. Because mice reach sexual maturity in just six weeks, producing 5-6 young per litter with up to 8 litters a year, infestations can take place quickly. When living in your home or business, mice are often found scurrying behind walls as well as inside of cabinets and behind furniture.

Norway Rats – This species is usually found living along the sea coasts and canals. They prefer to feed on fresh fish, meat, and grain. However, they can survive on an ounce of water per day in addition to trash or decomposed food, which is why you commonly see them around unsecured trash piles. Norway rats burrow under buildings and concrete slabs and enter piles of debris. Their digging can cause a lot of damage by weakening a building’s foundation, deteriorating the banks of levees, blocking sewer lines, and destroying well-manicured landscaping and gardens. They are reddish-brown or gray and about 6-9 inches long with a thick body and blunt nose. In structures, they will commonly make their home inside of a crawlspace or basement.

Roof Rats – If you’ve ever seen a rat inside of your Tampa home or workplace, it was most likely a roof rat. These rodents prefer to nest off the ground and will travel along fences, tree branches, and utility lines, using their excellent climbing skills to enter inside through the roof or attic. They range in color and are either black, grey, or tan with smooth fur and typically 5-8 inches in length. Roof rats often feed on fruit, nuts, and grain, but will feed on other accessible food sources. They can also create large infestations by having 6-8 young per litter with up to 6 litters per year.

Squirrels – While there are many species of squirrels, some of the most commonly seen are the eastern gray, western gray, and fox. Squirrels breed in late spring or summer and again in late winter or early spring. When preparing to birth her young, the mother will gain access into the attic by gnawing her way in or by using a previous hole to set up a den. Typically, squirrels feed on fruits, nuts, and berries, but have been known to eat insects and other animal matter. Both fox and gray squirrels can carry numerous parasites and diseases such as ticks, mange mites, fleas, and internal parasites.

Rely on the Professionals

As you can see, all rodents who enter inside of your home or business can create significant problems that can result in costly repairs. If you’ve seen droppings, urine, gnawed objects, rub marks, or have heard scratching or other odd noises; call us for a free inspection. Or, if you want to take preventative measures and make sure your structure is protected, we can assist you with that as well. We will confirm whether you have a rodent problem and inform you of the process needed for a quick and safe removal. For more information, call Critter Control® of Tampa at 813-948-0870.

Does Mouse Repellent Spray Work?

Although there are numerous mouse repellents on the market, there are none that have been proven to resolve rodent problems. Since the government does not require manufacturers to prove that their product is indeed effective, many companies advertise mouse repellent sprays as an easy and inexpensive way to get rid of mice. While the spray might aggravate the pests for a brief time, they will eventually find another route to avoid the treated areas.

Since mice nest close to their food source, the number one thing you want to do is locate where they are getting their meals. Eliminate the food sources along with areas where the mice nest, and they won’t be able to survive.

The best way to keep mice from being attracted to your home or business is by preventing them from getting inside in the first place. Make sure to seal all points of entry, keep food and grass seed in glass or metal containers, remove clutter, and hire a professional wildlife company who offers animal prevention services.

Wildlife removal specialists have the proper knowledge and tools and understand the habits of rodents, which means getting rid of them will be much more successful. If you neglect to remove every single mouse and repair all entry points, the infestation will continue.

We Can Help!

If you feel you could have a potential mice infestation, contact a mice control professional at Critter Control® of Tampa by calling 813-948-0870 to learn how we can help you get rid of the pests and keep them away.

Will My Homeowners Insurance Cover Animal Damage?

When it comes to animal damage, your homeowner’s insurance policy may be able to help you cover some of the cost of repairs in one of two ways depending on the type of animal. The first way is through dwelling coverage (also known as dwelling insurance). As long as the damage is part of the covered hazards, the policy can help you pay to rebuild and repair the structure of your home in addition to attached structures such as the garage deck, or porch. If a structure on your property is damaged, but is not connected to your house, such as a detached garage, fence, or shed, you may be covered under other structures coverage.

Raccoons, bats, opossums, and groundhogs are the animals that are generally covered, whereas rodents such as squirrels, rats, and mice are typically excluded under a ‘rodent and vermin’ clause. The best way to identify the specific pest problems you are dealing with and whether or not your homeowner’s insurance will cover it, is by having a certified wildlife inspection performed by an experienced technician at Critter Control® of Tampa.

During the inspection, we will check your home from rooftop to foundation, accurately determining the critter, and assessing all damages they have may have caused to your property. We will also advise you as to whether or not your wildlife problem may or may not meet the requirements needed for your claim, and give you a detailed report of our findings that you can turn into your insurance company.

While it may seem intimidating to reach out to claims representatives or insurance adjusters to file a claim, we want our customers to know we are here for them during the entire process. With over 30 years of experience, Critter Control® of Tampa knows how crucial it is to remove the animals and repair the damages as quickly as possible. Whether you need screens replaced, siding repaired, or a total attic restoration, we have the tools and knowledge to get your home back to its original state before the animal infestation. For a free estimate, call us today at 813-948-0870.

The Roles of Honeybees in a Hive

Honeybees are extremely organized, typically living in colonies consisting of a queen, hundreds of drones, and thousands of female worker bees. Because a bee colony is a superorganism, individual bees are unable to survive by themselves for any length of time. Therefore, the bees must perform their own required tasks, while at the same time, work with the other bees in their hive to ensure their survival.

The following explains the different roles and responsibilities of bees in a hive.

Queen Bee – The only member that can lay fertilized eggs, the queen helps to maintain a healthy colony by producing up to 2,000 eggs daily. Queen bees mate early in life, allowing millions of sperm to be stored within her body, giving her the option to fertilize the eggs whenever she chooses. While a queen bee can live up to 5 years, she usually stops producing eggs after 2-3 years, in which the hive begins taking steps to get a replacement.

Worker Bees – Though all worker bees are female, none of them can produce fertilized eggs. If no queen bee is present, worker bees can lay unfertilized eggs, which develop into male drones. The different job roles and duties worker bees are responsible for include:

  • Foragers – Around fourteen days old, worker bees leave the hive to search for nectar, water, pollen, and propolis. Each trip they make lasts about an hour and is usually four to five kilometers away. From sunrise to sunset, foragers can make about ten trips. However, most worker bees will die around 6-8 weeks while working away from the hive.
  • Cleaners – At just one or two days old, these worker bees clean the empty, brood cells in preparation for new eggs as well as store nectar and pollen.
  • Drones – Hatched from an unfertilized egg, the only job of a drone is to mate with the queen bee.
  • Undertakers – As worker bees age, they are responsible for taking dead bees away from their hive, disposing of their bodies as far as possible. They also eliminate diseased and dead broods before they can threaten the entire colony.
  • Nurses – Nurse bees care for the developing larvae and deposit nectar and pollen into the cells providing food for the colony.
  • Builders – At just twelve days old, worker bees are mature enough to secrete and make beeswax to construct the comb. However, they must consume large amounts of both honey and nectar to be able to produce the wax flakes.
  • Temperature Controllers – Temperature control, known as social homeostasis, is vital for ensuring bees survive the climate changes. When the weather is cold, thousands of bees will cling together on the combs in the nest. And as the temperatures rise, worker bees cool the colony by bringing water back to the hive and fanning their wings, helping to create air flow within the hive.
  • Guards – Once worker bees return to the hive after being on the field, guard bees look for a familiar scent to make sure they aren’t an intruder. Although, some guards take bribes of honey and pollen from foreigner bees. Guard bees also protect their colony from other insects. However, should they have to use their stinger to attack any intruder, they will rip their abdomen and die as a result.

While honeybees are fascinating creatures, having an excessive amount on your property can make gardening or other outdoor activities difficult. And, because bees are important to the ecosystem, we never recommend destroying a hive. Instead, let Critter Control® of Tampa safely relocate it to a more suitable area. If you have concerns regarding bumblebees in your yard, please call us today at 813-948-0870.

Fun Facts about Armadillos

While they can be a nuisance pest for many home and business owners because of the damage they cause to yards and buildings as a result of their digging and burrowing, armadillos are one of the most fascinating creatures. The only living mammal that has a shell, the word armadillo translated from Spanish means “little-armored one.” And, although most people are familiar with the armadillo’s appearance, there is actually much more to them than meets the eye.

Here are some interesting facts that make the armadillo so unique.

  • There are 20 different species, but the nine-banded armadillo is the only one that lives in North
  • The nine-banded armadillo is the official small state mammal of Texas.
  • Depending on the latitude and season, armadillos can sleep up to 19 hours a day.
  • Armadillos are nocturnal animals who typically forage, eat, burrow, and mate at night.
  • Their low body temperature makes them ideal hosts for contracting and transmitting leprosy. However, it has been said that armadillos initially contracted the disease from New World Europeans in the late 15th century.
  • Because of the number of plates most armadillos have, not all of them can roll into balls. In fact, only two species – the Brazilian and southern three-banded armadillos are capable of encasing themselves in their shell to deter predators.
  • Their lack of fat and low metabolic rate prevents the armadillos from living in areas that experience extreme cold
  • Armadillos have a powerful sense of smell, allowing them to sniff out their food from up to 20 centimeters beneath the ground.
  • Nine-banded armadillos always give birth to four identical This is because the babies are produced from a single egg which splits into four.

Armadillos have strong legs and huge front claws which help them dig into the sandy Florida soil when searching for their next meal. As a result, they leave small unsightly holes 3 inches wide to 5 inches deep. They are also known to pull up flowers and other vegetation, making an enormous mess of well-manicured lawns and gardens.

If armadillos are invading your property, call Critter Control® of Tampa at 813-948-0870 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced wildlife removal technicians.

The Importance of Keeping Wild Animals out of Your Home’s Crawl Space

The crawl space beneath your house offers the perfect amount of protection, allowing animals such as squirrels, mice, rats, and raccoons to nest. However, this is a serious problem because they can gain access to other parts of your house, creating significant damage as they travel through the air ducts, pipes, and on top of electrical wiring. If your home has a crawl space, it’s important to have it inspected by the wildlife experts at Critter Control® of Tampa to make sure it’s not left vulnerable to potential animal infestations.

What is a Crawl Space?

A crawl space is a hollow area between the ground and the floor of the home that is built typically 1-3 feet high, providing protection from damage in areas susceptible to lots of rain. Crawl Spaces keep the house lifted off of the ground, allowing air to circulate through the home and offers easy access to the ductwork, plumbing, air conditioning, heater, electrical wiring, etc., needing installation or repairs.

How to Prevent Animal Activity

Animals can gain access into crawl spaces through gaps, cracks, and other small areas. The best way to keep pests from getting into your crawl space is by sealing off any openings. You can do this by using a filler or plastic or concrete liners. While applying a filler is more labor intensive, it allows the small holes to be closed, helping to reduce excess moisture, lowering the chances of your crawl space developing mold or mildew, and preventing pests, including wood-eating organisms from being attracted to your home.

Some of the things you can do to lessen the amount of moisture that collects under your crawl space include:

  • Applying a vapor barrier directly to the floor to keep groundwater from accumulating on wood
  • Using encapsulation to seal the ground, supporting the bottom of the house with a high-density liner
  • Installing ventilators to assist with the opening and closing of vents based on the temperature
  • Cutting any grass, hedges, or weeds near the crawl space that can obtain moisture and attract wildlife

How We Can Help

While the best animal control method is preventative maintenance, unfortunately, animal infestations occur before homeowners can stop them from happening in the first place. If you have nuisance pests living in your crawl space, contact the professionals at Critter Control® of Tampa. We will safely and humanely trap and remove the animals, seal off all entry points, and repair any damages created by the critters. Get a free estimate today by calling 813-948-0870.

Common Ways Wildlife Enters Your Home

If you’ve discovered nuisance animals living in your home, the first step you need to take is to investigate how they got in there. Not only will the inspection help you discover what type of animal you are dealing with, but it will also inform you of the areas that need to be repaired to prevent future critter infestations from occurring.

Below are some of the most common areas that wildlife uses to gain access and ways the technicians at Critter Control® can help to address the issues.

Torn roofing and soffit – Animals such as raccoons, squirrels, rats, and mice, find weak points in your roof and either crawl into the holes or gnaw/tear at the areas until the opening is large enough to fit through. A lot of our clients don’t even realize they have roof damage until the animal activity happens because the top of the house is not easily accessible. Our professional team will locate all entry points and after removing the nuisance wildlife, can repair the damages caused by the animals.

Damaged screens or door seals – Torn window screens or worn door seals give pests an easy way to get in. We will inform you of the items that need to be repaired or replaced and can help you with installation if required.

Chimney – Because the chimney resembles a hollow tree, animals like squirrels, raccoons, and birds, see it as a perfect place to live and raise their young. To keep critters from climbing into your chimney as well as debris from falling in, we can install a protective cap.

Gaps near the foundation – Animals are always in search of a safe and warm place to nest, and the gaps and cracks around your home’s foundation are an ideal location. Should we find any potential entry points near the foundation during our inspection, we will offer to seal them.

Holes in siding – Whether your siding is made of wood, aluminum, plastic, or vinyl, animals will chew through it to enter inside. Once we are sure there are no animals present, we will patch any holes or replace damaged siding to keep your home wildlife free.

Damaged shingles – Shingles get damaged for a variety of reasons including age and weather, which causes them to curl, blister, and fall off. Animals take advantage of the defective shingles, entering your home through the roof. To ensure critters stay out, all bad shingles need to be replaced as soon as possible.

If you’ve noticed damage in your siding, attic, or foundation that may have been a result of nuisance animals, contact the Critter Control® of Tampa today. A professional wildlife technician will complete a thorough inspection, provide a comprehensive plan to resolve all of the issues, seal off entry points, and make any necessary repairs. For more information on the services we offer, or to schedule a consultation, please call us today at 813-948-0870.