#6 in the list is no slacker. Fire ants are a major pest in the southern U.S. and they certainly have earned their place in our top ten list. A typical fire ant colony produces large mounds of soil or sand in open areas, and they mostly feed on young plants and plant seeds. They’re known to attack small animals and can kill them given the opportunity. Unlike many other ants, which bite spray acid on the wounds they create, fire ants bite only to get a grip and then proceed to sting from their abdomens. The stinging process involves injecting a toxic alkaloid venom called Solenopsin, a compound from the class of piperidines (a little trivia: the toxic alkaloid coniine from poison hemlock, which was used to put Socrates to death, is from the same family!). For us humans, this creates a painful sting that feels like being burned by fire. It’s no wonder how the fire ant earned its name. The sting has been known to be deadly among people with hypersensitivity to insect stings and they can cause severe duress for the elderly or infirmed when they can’t escape from the swarming insects. Not only content to harass people and animals, they are proficient at reducing the aesthetic, recreational, and physical value of your home. In addition to the unsightly mounds creating no-go zones on your own property, fire ants are known to damage transformer boxes, air conditioning housing, and other electrical devices such as relay switches which cause power outages and equipment failures. In just the state of Texas during 2001, costs associated with fire ant damage to electrical and communications equipment came to an astonishing $146.5 million per year! If there’s any good news, it’s that fire ants can be managed outside your home or business to reduce their numbers and the risk of damage their unfettered populations could cause. After ants are eliminated and their nests removed from electrical equipment, re-infestation and damage can be prevented by sealing many sensitive electrical components with insulation, often taking the form of rubber gaskets or rings. An electrical box in a plastic housing containing switches, relays, or circuit breakers are great candidates for insulation. Add to that a long-residual contact insecticide and the threat of ant infestation can be eliminated or greatly reduced. Labelling the enclosures with a date or engaging in an ongoing treatment plan can ensure that regular treatments are applied and your home or business remains adequately protected.
#7 is the all too familiar German cockroach. Beyond the “ew” factor and their repugnant appearance, German cockroaches in your home or business are just plain unhealthy. Research has demonstrated that children growing up in environments with German cockroaches present are far more likely to suffer from allergies and asthma. This is due to their feces and dried skins that become aerialized which are allergenic and can carry pathogens as they float through the air. German cockroaches are hardy and require a stout cleanup effort to eliminate their food sources and the proper placement of bait to get them under control. Done right, aerosol sprays need not be employed to control the German cockroach.
#8 on our list of pesky pests are rats and mice. One need only harken back to the black plague, carried by rodents that enjoyed a population boom when superstitious beliefs railed against cats, the predator keeping the mice and rats in check. They can be the most unhealthy and damaging pests encountered due to the rodent’s need to keep chewing in order to maintain their teeth at a proper healthy length. On top of the chewing damage, a single house mouse leaves behind 3,000 micro-droplets of urine a day. Multiply that times a fair number of mice and you’ve got huge potential for property damage and allergen creation. Rodent urine contains numerour bacteria and viruses, and these sneaky beasts have no qualms about dusting your kitchen counters, floors, and silverware with their unhealthy footprint. Rats are known to carry salmonella, murine typhus and other diseases. Snap traps are normally the best method for getting rid of limited infestations of rats and mice so they can be removed without the danger of a rodent dying in the wall and creating a stench that lasts for weeks.
#9 is the bed bug which seems to garner so much press. They reduce the attractiveness and livability of any room they’re found in by leaving fecal smears on mattresses and furnishings. Bed bug bites can leave itchy welts on the skin and can cause allergic reactions. Some people suffer severe itching while others fail to react to the bite at all. Having existed since ancient times, bed bugs are found throughout the world and menace the whole of the human race.
#10 on our list is the squirrel. While cute up in a tree, they can be astute destroyers within your home left unchecked. They start families in your attic, attack birds and their feeders, destroy fruit on trees, and sometimes make a nuisance of themselves “screaming” at people coming and going from their homes and businesses. Elimination of easy attic access and the installation of one-way doors are excellent ways of diminishing the threat of squirrel infestation inside your home or business.