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CURTIS PEST CONTROL, INC.
locally Owned & Operated
FULLY LICENSED & INSURED

1702 Lakeside Avenue, Suite 6 ◦ St. Augustine, FL 32084 ◦ (904) 827-1781

◦ Weed Control, Pest Control & Fertilization for Residential & Commercial Turf

◦ Quarterly Perimeter Pest Control for Residences

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Frequently Asked About Topics

HOW TO PERFORM THE "TUNA CAN TEST" 

We receive a great deal of calls from customers who believe they have chinch bugs, when in reality it is an area receiving inadequate irrigation. A lot of our clients rely on irrigation maintenance companies to insure their system is working properly, but it is imperative that you go behind them to make sure each head is reaching the proper areas and that the irrigation timer is set correctly -- please take the time to check it yourself. It is near to impossible to verify by sight alone that the water from each head is providing the correct amount to each zone in its entirety.

Place several straight-sided cans (e.g., tuna fish or cat food) throughout your lawn, paying particular attention to areas that often seem to have issues. Run your system as you normally would—once finished, each container should have 3/4” of water inside. If not, make note of what zones you need to adjust.

To make adjustments to the areas that are not receiving the correct amount of water, place the empty containers in those areas again, run the irrigation for that zone again until the cans have ¾-inch of water inside, then record the time. Take your recorded run times for the zones and program them into your automated system. You may find that some zones require different amounts of time to provide the same quantity of water as the rest. If the difference in the amount of water in each container is significant, a more thorough audit of the irrigation system is most likely needed.

CHINCH BUGS 

Chinch bugs damage turf by sucking the grass plant juices. Damage appears as areas of dead or gradually yellowing grass, especially where heat is radiated into the grass from sidewalks or roadways—known as the “hot spots” of your lawn. Homeowners often confuse dying/dead grass in our warm weather months to chinch bug damage when it is actually due to improper irrigation. To determine if it is due to chinch bugs, find a suspected yellowing patch of grass, part the blades and check the stems and soil surface for them. Young chinch bugs are a reddish-orange color with a white band, no wings, and are very small in size. As they mature they grow white-colored wings that can be either short or long and their bodies turn black and have a shape resembling a capsule.  If you are unable to spot them with the naked eye, another recommended method is the “flotation technique”. Take a metal coffee can with the top and bottom cut-off, push it 2 –3 inches into the soil of the suspected area, and fill with water. Keep the can filled for 5 minutes and any chinch bugs should float to the surface. Repeat these steps over several areas. If you do not find any, most likely your issue is due to inadequate watering. You should then perform the "tuna can test" which is outlined below. If you do find or suspect an infestation in your lawn, please contact our office as soon as possible; until we arrive to provide the appropriate insecticide treatment, be sure to keep your grass watered well. 

• For more information, click on the link: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in383

SOD WEBWORMS

Sod webworms appear in your lawn as moths. There is no control for the moths, but if you do see them, watch your lawn for subsequent damage. They feed at night and the damage to your lawn appears as scalped areas. The good news is they do not destroy the roots so the damage is mainly cosmetic and with the proper treatment, your turf will recover as quickly as your grass grows. If you suspect your lawn is being invaded by them, please contact our office as soon as possible so that we can make the appropriate insecticide application to your lawn.

• For more information, click on the link:  https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in968

MUSHROOMS 

Mushrooms are a fungi, not to be confused with a lawn fungus which can damage your turf. They grow in the lignin based organic matter in your lawn, such as the woody material like: tree roots, stumps, twigs, branches, leaves, decaying mulch, etc. If you don't dispose of that matter, mushrooms will appear because they are nature's way of decomposing that organic matter. It is common to see them pop up when there have been periods of excess moisture as that stimulates the beneficial microbial activity. Mushrooms are not harmful to your lawn, in fact, they are almost always a good sign of nutrient rich soil which is what we want for promoting healthy lawns and strong trees. 

How to control them if they bother you: Most often they will disappear almost as quickly as they appeared, but if you don't want to wait, you can always hand pick and discard them.  Keeping your lawn and gardens cleared of any woody, decaying, organic matter can greatlyaid in deterring their growth.  

• For more information, click on the link: https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/orangeco/2018/05/24/mushrooms-are-popping-up-everywhere/ 

ARMADILLOS

Armadillos are very common in the south. These animals have a shield-like shell covered with horny scales with the ears but their bellies are without the bony armor They have 28–32 peg-like teeth in simple rows in the rear of their mouth with no front teeth. They have poor eyesight and hearing, but a keen sense of smell. Both the males and females are about the same size, have the same appearance and very similar habits. Despite their cumbersome appearance, they are agile runners and good swimmers and can even walk underwater across small streams. They prefer sandy or loam soils which make it easy for them to excavate the insects they consume. They typically rest in a deep burrow during the day and become active during the late evening through the early morning. Their burrows are usually located under brush piles, stumps, rock piles, dense brush, concrete patios or around the base of your home. The burrows can be around 7-8 inches, or larger, in diameter and up to 15 feet deep. They often have several burrows throughout their territory, but use only one to raise their young. To some extent they are beneficial, as their diet consists of insects and larvae, some of which can damage your lawn. Their diet consists of earthworms, scorpions, spiders, snails, small vertebrates and their eggs, armyworms, cockroaches, ants, wasps, flies, beetles and grasshoppers. When they've been feeding in your lawn, you will see small holes that are generally 1-3 inches in depth and 3-5 inches wide. The good news is they do not eat grass or its roots and the holes left behind are just a cosmetic issue easily remedied by tamping the grass back into place. 

How to control armadillos on your property: Survey your property to make sure you do not have any burrows where they are taking up residency. If you locate any, thoroughly fill them in with dirt/soil. If you have found evidence of them coming in where you have a fully fenced area, check along the bottom of the entire fence line  and use dirt to fill in any holes they have dug.  There are several "natural" products on the market, and many home remedies, that can be used to deter them, but the ones we know of often have mixed results. One trick we have personally found helpful, is when you locate a burrow or any holes they have dug, throw in some dog feces when filling it in with soil. We suspect this works because of their keen sense of smell, they may believe a predator is in the area.  

Some homeowners mistakenly believe you can use pesticides to kill the insects armadillos feed on as a method of deterring them, but it would take drenching every inch of soil on your property with a powerful insecticide to accomplish that, and even then, there is no guarantee they won't still dig to try and find their food source. Additionally, you would have to continually make those applications as the armadillos appear at various times throughout the years. Not only is that an inefficient method, using insecticides in that manner is detrimental to our environment and strongly discouraged. The most effective means of removal is trapping them, whether you do it yourself or by hiring a professional wildlife trapper to do the job for you.

• For more information, click on the link:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw082

MOLES

Another common lawn mammal is the mole. These awkward looking animals have the distinguishing characteristic of a hairless, pointed snout. Their small eyes and ear canals are concealed by fur, and they do not have external ears. They have very large and broad forefeet with webbed toes, perfect for excavating. Their hind feet are narrow with slender claws. They are usually about 7 inches in length and weigh around 4 ounces. If you have a mole, you will see mounds of dirt and/or raised surface ridges and when you walk over those ridges, it will feel like the ground is pushing in underneath. The pushed up dirt mounds look like volcano shaped puffs or piles. Their tunnels, where they live and forage, lie 6-12 inches below the surface and are created as they search for the insects they eat. They are beneficial in reducing pest populations as their diet consists of mole crickets, beetle larvae, ants, cutworms, armyworms and slugs. Like the armadillo, the damage caused by them is cosmetic, as they do not eat grass or its roots, and they too can be considered beneficial because they consume detrimental lawn and plant insects and aerate the soil by pushing it up to the surface from the tunnels they create.  

How to control moles on your property: Just like with armadillos, some homeowners mistakenly think using pesticides to kill the insects they feed on is the appropriate method, but this is strongly discouraged. Using insecticides in this way is inefficient, more importantly, harmful to the environment. The best method is to either trap them yourself or call a wildlife trapper to do the job for you.

• For more information, click on the link: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/lawn-and-garden/moles-in-lawns/

VOLES

Florida has several different types of voles – the Florida Salt Marsh Vole, the Meadow Vole and the Pine Vole. They are sometimes called a "field" or "meadow" mouse. Although similar in appearance to a mouse, unlike a mouse they are often seen during the day. They have longer noses than a mouse, compact, heavy bodies, small eyes, partially hidden ears and are 5-8 inches long with prominent orange teeth that they use for gnawing on plants stems and roots. They often dig golf ball-sized exit holes in previously established mole tunnels. You may notice their handiwork when one day a plant is healthy and beautiful but a few days later it has toppled over with the roots gnawed off. There may be multiple residents in a vole colony, so habitat modification is the best and most efficient method in controlling them.

How to deter voles on your property:  Voles do not like to feed in the open which means they require cover, therefore, the most effective control method is through habitat modification. Removing weeds, heavy mulch and dense vegetation will aid tremendously in eliminating their food source as well as removing their protection from predators. You should also keep your grass mowed and any mulch cleared away from tree bases. To further protect an area from a vole infestation, a wire fence with a mesh of ¼ inch or smaller will help exclude them. It needs to be 12 inches above ground with 6-10 inches buried into the ground to prevent it from burrowing under the fencing.

• Do you suspect wild animals are damaging your landscape but aren't quite sure what species?  Click on this link: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw369

Please remember that if you are considering using poisons for unwanted wildlife, they not only pose a hazard to humans, pets and our waterways, but other wildlife as well by either directly ingesting the poison or by consuming a poisoned food source. The best control is by trapping them and/or making modifications to their habitats.

• For information on using deterrents to stop damage to your lawn from wildlife, click on the link:  https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/uw371

GROUND BEES

Miner bees, more commonly called "ground bees", are approximately ½ inch in length with a black body and light-colored hairs. Only the females are equipped with stingers, but they are very docile and will only sting under extreme provocation.

As their name indicates, these bees like to nest in the ground in areas with sandy, well-drained soil with limited vegetation. They are most often considered an issue in sparse lawns and gardens with a considerable amount of bare ground. Sometimes it may appear that there is a colony of bees nesting in a lawn, but in reality, individual bees have been attracted to that area by the favorable soil conditions. The entrance holes to the tunnels, combined with the excavated soil, may appear disruptive to your lawn, however, it is not damaging. Additionally, you may think they have caused thinning of your grass, but in reality it is because the the grass was already thin which promoted their burrowing. If they bother you, the best way to discourage them is to add mulch or sod to all bare, sandy soil areas and to promote a dense lawn by keeping it healthy.

How to control them if they bother you: They are valuable and beneficial to our ecosystem because they play an important role in the pollination of flowers and crops. The use of pesticides to control them is not advised. To discourage them, you need to add mulch or grass to all exposed, sandy soil, areas.

• For more information, click on the link: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in912

CICADA KILLERS

Cicada killers or "giant ground wasps" are among the largest wasps in Florida measuring up to 40 mm in length. There are 22 species in the world, with two being specific to Florida, and all of them hunt cicadas. Their bodies are predominately a rust-orange color with mostly black antennae and the last few segments of their abdomens black or they are predominately black with the first three abdominal segments having large yellow spots and the legs, mesoscutellum, and part of vertex being a rust-orange color. The females of the Florida species hunt cicadas and can dig four-foot burrows in the ground with several branches and cells. Cicada killers are beneficial because they kill the plant feeding cicadas. With the word "killers" included in their name, you'd never guess that they are considered the gentle giants of the wasp world. Just like "ground bees" only the females are equipped with stingers but they are very docile and rarely sting unless they are seriously provoked.

How to control them if they bother you: You need to eliminate their breeding ground which is easily done by adding mulch or grass to all exposed, sandy soil, areas.  

TREE CATTLE

Barklice, more commonly called "tree cattle", are ¼ inch brownish-black insects with white markings. When disturbed, these insects move in a group, just like herding cattle.  They form a very tight web along the trunk and limbs of a tree, sort of like a thin white stocking. Though the webbing looks like a big, bad, biting spider might live somewhere nearby, it is actually a protective covering for them while they are "cleaning" your tree. The tree cattle eat the organic matter and lichens that are trapped in the cracks and crevices of the tree bark. They are beneficial, so do your tree a favor and leave these little guys to do their work.

• For more information, click on the link:

http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/hort/2014/06/03/tree-cattle-are-harmless-2/

EARWIGS

Earwigs are elongated, beetle-like insects. They are dark brown, short-winged and typically measure about 1/2 to 1 inch in length. They possess a pair of pincer-like appendages at the tip of the abdomen, which is why their often called "pincer bugs".  Though the pincers may appear menacing, earwigs are harmless, as they neither pinch or bite humans. They are mainly nocturnal and hide in the daytime. They are beneficial when living outside because they are known to eat insects, however, they can become a nuisance if they come inside. Occasionally finding one or two inside is normal, as no house is 100% sealed. They are drawn to moist conditions which is why they are often found near sinks and tubs. Removing them is as simple as using a broom and dustpan or by vacuuming.

How to control them if they become a serious nuisance: Removal of breeding sites and harborages is critical to the long term control of these pests. Compost piles and decaying vegetation should be removed from areas close to the house. Mulch should only be 2-4 inches deep so that it remains dry most of the time. Always checking potted plants before bringing them inside is important. If they continue to be an issue, the recommended treatment is an outdoor insecticide application which serves as a barrier treatment to prevent them from entering the house. Those applications are made to the soil and beds around the immediate exterior of the home. 

• For more information, click on the link: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IG093

GERMAN ROACHES

An adult German cockroach is pale to medium-brown and has two, almost parallel, dark stripes on their backs behind their head. They have long, almost-straight antennae and six legs with spines. They have wings, but most often they do not fly. Female German roaches only need to mate one time to be able to produce eggs the rest of its life. Additionally, they can breed at a rate of up to six generations per year, which means a single egg-carrying female German cockroach in a home/building can lead to the generation of more than 30,000 offspring in a single year. 

Typically, these roaches are brought into a home inside boxes, bags, containers, used appliances, or other items. Once inside, they have no trouble moving from room to room, or between apartments, using pipes and plumbing. They will feed on almost anything, including soap, glue and toothpaste. They thrive inside and fit in the smallest of spaces, making it critical that you act as soon as you see one. 

• For more information, click on the link: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN028