Do You Need to Replace Insulation After Mice?

Do You Need to Replace Insulation After Mice?

Learn About the Damage Mice Can Cause to Insulation & if it Would Need to be Replaced After an Infestation

More than 14 million homes and businesses experience rodent infestations every year in North America. Not only do mice and other rodents spread dozens of diseases, but they can also wreak havoc inside homes and other buildings.

Mice are among the most common pests found throughout the Northeastern United States, particularly during cool weather when these small critters make their way indoors.

Once inside, they create nests in quiet, dark spots, chew holes through walls, and burrow into insulation, leaving droppings and urine in their wake. Damage to insulation doesn’t always occur, but it’s not uncommon after a mouse infestation, particularly if the mice have nested in the home or building for a significant length of time.

Signs of Mice in Attic Insulation

Mice are often found in attics, where they can often nest undisturbed and undetected. These tiny rodents can cause significant damage, including gnawed wires, chewed woodwork, and contaminated surfaces.

That’s why it’s essential to rely on professional mouse control from a trusted expert like Catseye Pest Control once the infestation is discovered.

Mouse infestation signs to look for include:

  • Noises, such as scratching, skittering, and scurrying, in the attic or wall — especially at night.
  • Gaps and cracks that seem to get larger in walls, trim, or flooring.
  • Wood chips or insulation material on the attic floor.
  • Gnaw marks on wood, food items, cartons, and other objects.
  • Droppings or urine stains on floors, walls, and other areas.
  • Greasy-looking tracks along floors where mice run back and forth, creating a path, and leaving oil deposits behind from their fur.
  • Strong, musty smell in the attic or throughout the home.

In addition to these signs of infestation, a glance at the insulation may also provide clues. Mice often burrow into the insulation to create nests inside. They also use the material to build their nests.

Do Mice Eat Insulation?

Mice tend to chew through almost anything, including wires, cardboard, wood, and insulation. But what do mice do with the discarded remnants and debris?

Occasionally, mice may ingest small bits of insulation. Fiberglass, loose-fill, and batt insulation are particularly appealing because of its warmth and softness.

Although these small, fleet-footed pests may eat small amounts from time to time, it’s more common for them to burrow and tunnel into it. Mice primarily use insulation to add fluff and coziness to their nests.

With their sharp teeth and claws, mice will cause significant damage. Not only do they pose a health hazard, but the critter can also cause moisture and draft problems in homes as the insulation is destroyed.

Complete control is needed to get the situation under control and prevent further damage. The Rodent Plus Program from Catseye can offer peace of mind by locating the source of the infestation, removing all mice, and then keeping them out.

How to Keep Mice Out of Insulation

To keep mice out of insulation (and out of the attic), a multipronged must be taken.

Sealing cracks and openings where mice can enter and investing in exclusion systems can help keep mice out for good.

Additionally, disinfection after an infestation can work to restore healthy living conditions and help prevent attracting mice in the future.

The scent of mouse urine attracts more mice. Researchers have found a protein in the urine of male mice that marks their territory and can attract mice to the area. This underscores the need for complete rodent control and clean-up after an infestation.

If mice have contaminated or damaged insulation, replacing the insulation is a must. Otherwise, debris and excrement may be left behind. Also, holes and gaps can create moisture, leading to mold and mildew.

It can also leave a home or building vulnerable to temperature swings due to compromised insulation.

Some insulation materials are less attractive to mice and rodents.

For example, blown-in foam and cellulose insulation may not be rodents’ first choice for burrows and nests. However, no reliable rodent-resistant insulation is available on the market.

The only sure way to keep mice out of insulation is by using a reputable rodent control program and an exclusion system that acts as a safe, natural, permanent barrier.

Catseye can facilitate this need through our state-of-the-art Cat-Guard Exclusion System that is comprised of three parts.

Once the infestation has been professionally handled and the exclusion system is in place, the next step is to clean up the area and replace the insulation. This process is vital in restoring the building to its rodent-free condition and eliminating the threat of possibly spreading rodent-borne illnesses.

Contact Catseye for Complete Control & Peace of Mind

With decades of experience providing pest control throughout Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, Catseye has the expertise needed to remove mice and restore your peace of mind.

With our comprehensive exclusion services, cleanup and restoration program, and Platinum Home Protection, we can get mice out and help keep them out of your home, attic, and insulation.

Contact Catseye today for more information about how we can help mitigate an infestation or to schedule a free inspection.

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Steel-blue cricket-hunters steal lives: Steel-blue cricket-hunters, Chlorion aerarium

 

With a cricket securely tucked beneath, a steel-blue cricket-hunter scaled my brick siding, apparently to gain altitude for flight to her nesting site. Image credit: Paula Shrewsbury, PhD

 

Somewhere in my basement, a male field cricket provides a chirpy serenade, a reminder that summer has ended and fall has arrived. To his kin outdoors, chilly weather will soon end their chirps and merry-making. But one grim reaper of crickets, the steel-blue cricket-hunter, brings an even quicker end to the halcyon days of crickets. In weeks past, I watched this frenetic, dazzling blue wasp inspecting shredded bark, small twigs, and miniature caverns beneath edging stones in my butterfly garden. The speed with which this sizable hunter (up to 1 ¼ inch) dashed about the landscape challenged me to keep up as I tried to record its movements. In the case of the steel-blue cricket-hunter, prey are elusive and in this game speed is of the essence.

As field crickets chirp a farewell to summer, they are stalked by a formidable enemy, the steel-blue cricket-hunter. With wings twitching nervously, a female takes off on her quest. First stop, a patch of mulch which turns out to be not quite the right spot to find her prey. Next stop, a stone wall where crickets hide in dark rocky crevices. After disappearing briefly, she emerges with her prize, a paralyzed cricket soon to be delivered to a subterranean nursery as food for her young.

Burrows of cicada killer wasps are often used as nest sites for steel-blue cricket-hunters.

One of the primary prey insects of the steel-blue cricket-hunter is the Pennsylvania field cricket. This large boisterous troubadour often invades homes and conducts its arias from the basement in late summer and autumn. Accounts of the steel-blue cricket-hunter describe the wasp flushing the cricket from hiding, pouncing on the victim, and delivering several stings, each laced with potent venom that ultimately paralyzes but does not kill the prey. The wasp then straddles the cricket and using its powerful mandibles, grasps the cricket and carts it away to a subterranean lair. The lair of the cricket-hunter often adjoins the burrow of its larger ground nesting cousin, the cicada killer wasp, which we met in a previous episode of Bug of the Week. Existing burrows fashioned by cicada killers serve as an atrium for cricket-hunters, which construct smaller tunnels originating from the shaft excavated by the larger wasp. Within these tunnels, cricket-hunters construct multiple cells, each of which may be provisioned with as many as nine crickets. The female wasp then closes the burrow using stones, bits of wood, and other debris. However, before she leaves each cricket-filled cell, one of the hapless victims receives a lethal gift from the female wasp: an egg, that hatches in about a day. The tiny wasp larva feasts on its natal host, then consumes the larder left by its mother in less than a week. After completing development, fresh new cricket-hunters emerge from their pupal cases, escape from the earth, and begin the search for prey. 

In addition to ridding the world of crickets, other parasitic wasps like the blue-winged digger wasp, Scolia dubia, and its congener Scolia nobilitata, provide important ecosystem services as pollinators and biological control agents of insect pests, including Japanese beetles. For the past several weeks, my flowers have been bustling with wasps and bees of several varieties as they feed on the nectar and pollen. Once fueled by nature’s ambrosia, these predators dash away, seeking other insects as food for their young. The next several weeks provide excellent opportunities to enjoy these clever hunters.

Acknowledgements  

The fascinating article by David Peckham and Frank Kurczewski entitled “Nesting behavior of Chlorion aerarium” was used as a reference for this episode. We thank Dr. Paula Shrewsbury who photographed the steel-blue cricket-hunter with its prey and for providing the inspiration for this story.

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When pearly-eye meets dragonfly: Northern pearly-eye, Enodia anthedon, and clubtail dragonflies, Gomphidae spp.

 

Gorgeous Cobra Clubtails often rest with wings widespread on trees near their riverine hunting grounds.

 

The sleepy rivers and streams flowing in the Cacapon watershed in West Virginia’s panhandle are home to a rich bounty of plants and animals. Along creeks, ponds, and moist forest edges, blades of white cutgrass and bottle brush grass provide nutrition for caterpillars of the pretty pearly-eye butterfly. Adult pearly-eyes cruise verdant forest glens in search of sap-fluxes on trees and deposits of animal dung, from which they harvest proteins and carbohydrates used to develop eggs and to provide energy to search for just the right vegetation on which to deposit eggs. But for pearly-eyes, danger lurks along the creek banks and pond edges in the form of fearsome aerial hunters, clubtail dragonflies.

While living the life aquatic, fierce dragonfly nymphs consume untold numbers of mosquito larvae.

Dragonflies belong to an ancient order of insects called the Odonata that evolved some 300 million years ago. Both adult and juvenile Odonata are predators. Dragonfly nymphs live the life aquatic, prowling slow moving creek beds and ponds searching for aquatic invertebrates like mosquito larvae, and even small vertebrates like tadpoles and small fish. In a previous episode, we saw the lightning fast strike of dragonfly nymphs as they captured and ate unsuspecting mosquito wigglers. Dragonfly nymphs have been touted as providing significant reductions in mosquito populations around the world. Adult Odonata are familiar to most of us and go by the common names of dragonflies and damselflies. More than 6,000 species of dragonflies and damselflies have been described.

Dragonflies are masters of the aerial hunt and capture their victims while on the wing. Legs festooned with stout spines are held basketlike beneath the dragonfly as it zooms through the air. Prey such as moths, butterflies, bees and sometimes other Odonata are captured in the basket. Does eating your near relative somehow seem so wrong? One large and particularly aggressive clubtail dragonfly, Hagenius brevistylus, is nicknamed the dragonhunter due to its Hannibal Lecter-like propensity to eat other dragonflies and damselflies. Dragonflies often consume their prey while in flight. When not in flight, meals are enjoyed on vegetation or stones, as is the case with the clubtail we meet in this episode.

Northern pearly-eye butterflies are common denizens of riparian forests in the eastern United States. They rest on vegetation and tree trunks. But when in flight, they are hunted by fierce aerial predators, clubtail dragonflies. Watch as a clubtail chows down on a hapless pearly-eye butterfly. Clubtails show no kinship loyalty when it comes to dining. This one is happy to feast on an unlucky damselfly.

Dragonfly nymphs exit their aquatic nursery, climb vegetation, and shed juvenile skins to become aerial hunters in the world above the water.

Many species of dragonflies reside year-round in the DMV and spend the winter underwater as juveniles. Others, like the common green darner, migrate to southern realms in autumn to avoid winter’s chill and return north the following year. In fact, dragonflies are contenders for the world record of longest insect migration. Pantala flavescens, the “winged wanderer”, is thought to cross oceans and continents with migratory flights of more than 10,000 miles in search of exactly the right pool of water in which to deposit eggs. In the waning days of summer, enjoy these magnificent predators that roamed our skies millions of years before the first dinosaurs walked the earth.

Acknowledgements

“Dragonflies as an Important Aquatic Predator Insect and Their Potential for Control of Vectors of Different Diseases” by Hassan Vatandoost, “Tiny dragonfly shatters insect migration record-Insect traverses oceans and continents” by Virginia Morell, and “Beginners guide to dragonflies” by Blair Nikula, Jackie Sones, and Donald and Lillian Stokes were consulted to prepare this episode.

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Devilish times for hickory: Hickory horned devils and royal walnut moths, Citheronia regalis

 

Adorned with horns and almost six inches in length, the hickory horned devil caterpillar is harmless unless you are a hickory tree. Image credit: Bill Miller

 

The ginormous pupal case of the royal walnut moth is the largest one I’ve ever seen.

Hickory trees are one of my favorites by virtue of their delicious edible nuts and spectacular fall color, which is just around the corner. Ah, but I’m not the only one with a fondness for hickory and this week Bug of the Week had the chance to visit one of the coolest members of the Lepidoptera clan who also love hickory, not for its nuts or fall color but for its nutritious leaves. Let’s see one of the most fantastic members of the silk moth family, a huge beautiful caterpillar called the hickory horned devil. Last week a lucky gardener shared an image of an enormous caterpillar resting on vegetation in his landscape. How lucky was he to find a hickory horned devil? Real lucky, as my one and only personal encounter with this beauty happened a few years ago when bug-centric neighbors delivered to me a rather large, dark, cigar-shaped object they discovered in the duff beneath a walnut tree. Not many insects in Maryland form a pupa that can fill a hand, but this one did. The lucky pupa took up residence on my kitchen counter for a month or so until one morning a vacant pupal case was replaced by a very impressive moth clinging to the sofa in the family room.

From her royal chamber, the female royal walnut moth released a pheromone to attract a mate. It worked and in the morning a male had joined her in the cage.

The royal walnut moth, a.k.a. regal moth, has but one generation in Maryland each year. Life is short for giant silk moths such as this. Unlike its relatives, butterflies or hawk moths, silk moths lack functional mouthparts and do not eat as adults. They live only a few days. Their sole mission is to find a mate, mate, and lay eggs in a suitable place before being discovered and eaten by a bird or other hungry predator. To attract a mate, a female moth releases a volatile attractant called a sex pheromone. Usually, this takes place on an upright structure such as the trunk of a tree on the night following emergence from the pupal case. Not wishing to stand in the way of true love, but concerned that this magnificent princess would be eaten by a bird, my royal walnut moth was confined, Rapunzel-style, in a predator-proof bridal chamber, which was in this case a squirrel-proof bird feeder. On the evening of her resplendent debut, she was placed outside to court her mate. Her pheromones were strong and apparently irresistible. In her chamber the following morning was a male royal walnut moth.

‘Tis the season when hickory horned devil caterpillars will be seen strolling on patios as they search for places to pupate. Their story began weeks ago when male and female royal walnut moths hooked up and the female deposited eggs on leaves of hickory and other members of the walnut family. Eggs hatched into bizarre tiny caterpillars with very stout spines. They grew into gorgeous green giants before moving to the soil to form a pupal case to pass the wicked winter. Next spring beautiful royal walnut moths will emerge from these pupal cases. Video credits: Diane Pedicini, M. J. Raupp

Female (above) and male (below) royal walnut moths make a regal couple indeed.

Shortly after the royal couple completed their connubial interlude, the female left her chamber and began to deposit eggs on almost every surface she encountered. While taking a momentary rest on my leg, she treated me to eight large eggs just above the ankle. The eggs of the royal walnut moth are typically laid on leaves of a tree suitable to meet the nutritional needs of the developing larvae. Eggs hatch in about a week and the larvae develop into one of the most striking caterpillars on the planet, the hickory horned devil. This giant of the silk moth world may attain a size of five to six inches when fully grown.

Leaves of walnut and hickory are favored sites for royal walnut moths to lay eggs.

Favored hosts for larval development are plants in the family Juglandaceae such as walnut, butternut, and hickory. Hickory horned devils have also been recorded eating ash, beech, lilac, persimmon, sumac, and sweet gum. Fortunately, the male performed his task admirably, and after a few weeks dozens of small devils hatched from the eggs. The task of feeding this many hungry mouths soon exceeded the time budget of this bug geek and after a couple of weeks and a few quick molts, the caterpillars were emancipated to several walnut and hickory trees on the College Park Campus of the University of Maryland. Perhaps the wisdom and beauty of a creature that has transcended epochs of change on our planet can impart some of the same to this year’s incoming class of freshman. Let’s hope so.

Acknowledgements

Bug of the week thanks Bill Miller for providing the image of a hickory horned devil that served as the inspiration for this episode. Many thanks to Diane Pedicini for the cool video of a hickory horned devil crawling across her patio, and to Jeff and Linda for providing a giant pupa for this episode. David Wagner’s incomparable ‘Caterpillars of Eastern North America’ was used as a reference.

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Tiny toads and even tinier toad bugs: Big-eyed toad bug, Gelastocoris oculatus

 

Toad bugs really do live up to their namesake in both appearance and hopping ability.

 

Many common names of insects tell us something about their appearance and traits. For example, lace bugs surely have delicate lacey wings and stink bugs certainly live up to their name with their odor. This week along the pebble strewn banks of Catoctin Creek, a bucolic tributary of the mighty Potomac River, we visited small jumpy toads and even smaller jumpy toad bugs. Toad bugs are somewhat obscure and often overlooked members of a large clan of insects known as Hemiptera. Here in North America we have more than 10,000 species of Hemiptera, but less than 10 species of toad bugs. We met many other hemipterans in previous episodes including heroic predators like wheel bugs and two-spotted stink bugs, and other hemipterans which are sometimes meals for these heroes like the felonious brown marmorated stink bug.

Like all predatory hemipterans, toad bugs have sucking mouthparts used to pierce the exoskeletons of their prey and a tiny pump in their head used to imbibe the liquid contents of their victims. Both immature stages called nymphs and adults cruise over the mud and sand and sneak about pebbles and vegetation lining the creek bank in search of small insects and other arthropods to eat. They hunt like cats – stalking prey, pouncing on them, and subduing them with highly specialized front legs. These raptorial legs are designed with spines to help snare their prey, much like the spines on the forelegs of praying mantises.

A warm late summer afternoon is a hopping good time to visit wildlife on the rocky banks of creeks and rivers. In addition to small jumpy toads, much smaller predators called toad bugs hunt tiny invertebrates along the pebble strewn shore. Watch as a toad bug lives up to its name and makes a jet-propelled escape from the camera lens. Even when slowed by 95% the takeoff is too fast to see. A super-close look confirms their toad-like appearance.

Their unusual body shape and muddy, mottled coloration help them blend in well with the creek bank, thereby avoiding the searching eyes of their own predators. When the subterfuge of camouflage fails, they skitter across the mud and make impressively long jumps to avoid capture by their enemies or bug geeks. At less than a centimeter in length they easily jump more than ten times their body length, shattering Mike Powell’s world record which, by the way, is only about five times his body length. With lots of warm late summer days left before autumn’s chill, head to a creek and cool off. And while you’re wading on the shore, don’t be surprised to see some Fowler’s toads and their hemipteran lookalikes, toad bugs, hopping between the pebbles.

Acknowledgements

Bug of the Week thanks Ellie, Abby, and Cassidy for helping to spot and catch toads and toad bugs that were the inspiration for this episode. We thank the fine naturalists at Catoctin Creek Nature Center for providing a wonderful refuge for nature amidst a rapidly developing landscape. “An Introduction to the Study of Insects” by D. J. Borer, D. M. DeLong and C. A. Triplehorn was used as a reference for this episode.

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Underway: doomed flights of spotted lanternflies in the DMV – Spotted lanternflies, Lycorma delicatula

 

Dispersal flights by spotted lanternflies are underway. In the human-built environment many spotted lanternflies will fail to reach suitable host plants and will perish like this one, crushed on a sidewalk.

 

Near a grove of heavily infested Tree of Heaven, a short flight into a forest brings a spotted lanternfly to a new host tree suitable for growth and reproduction.

On a stiflingly hot afternoon last week in the parking lot of a large suburban mall, I was treated to a remarkable and somewhat macabre phenomenon playing out in a dozen states in the eastern half of the US where spotted lanternflies engage in their annual dispersal flights. Scientists in the invaded range here in the US and in the native range in Asia have long observed the late summer peregrinations of spotted lanternflies as they take wing on hot summer days. Flights which may cover hundreds of yards are thought to carry legions of unmated female lanternflies to new host trees where they will mate, feed and develop eggs, prior to depositing eggs of the next generation. In the natural world, one full of delectable, nutritious host plants including a favored host, the invasive Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), taking a short flight to find a high-quality source of food for you and your offspring sounds like a fine idea. Furthermore, if hungry predators like mantises and assassin bugs or parasitic wasps have discovered you and your gang on your natal tree, getting out of Dodge and finding a new tree on which to procreate makes a lot of sense.

But what happens in an unnatural world, the human-built world where a mile of asphalt separates you from the nearest Tree of Heaven one of your preferred hosts for dining and developing? Here’s what I saw. At a shopping mall complex, scores of lanternflies apparently mistook large vertical surfaces of buildings lining the parking lots as hospitable places to land after departing their birth trees, which lined the perimeter of the asphalt desert. One fetching brown wall of a department store seemed to attract an overabundance of lanternflies, which roamed the bark-like cement surface apparently looking for a place to insert a beak. Lacking vascular tissues on which spotted lanternflies feed, these walls were a particularly bad choice to settle in for a meal. For them, starvation was just around the corner. Less fortunate lanternflies crashed into clear plate glass windows or concrete panels and fell onto sidewalks where busy parents buying back-to-school supplies brought a quick end to their puny lives. One eagle-eyed shopper exiting a store spotted a hapless lanternfly on the ground, exclaimed “oh, that’s a lanternfly, we’re supposed to squash them”, and proceeded to do so with a quick two-step. Another lady emerged from a car with two teenagers on their way to see a movie. A wayward lanternfly landed on her son. The mother grabbed the lanternfly, which displayed its gorgeous hindwings, and said “oh, look how pretty this is, I can’t hurt you.” She launched the insect back into the sky. This fascinating contrast reflects societies’ approach to lanternflies, other invasive insects, and sometimes insects in general. Some love them, some despise them, and many are somewhere in the middle.

Spotted lanternflies are on the wing to find new host plants, bringing them in contact with the human-built world where they will wander buildings and benches in search of food. Many will perish of starvation or dehydration on sidewalks and in parking lots. Others will be squashed beneath feet and automobile tires. Some may visit shoppers and diners briefly before flying off, while others will be snared and killed by urban spiders. Before you leave a parking area infested with lanternflies, inspect your car to make sure these clever vagabonds are not hitching a ride with you.

Excepting some form of divine intervention, spotted lanternflies have likely become unwanted but permanent residents in our country. In 2017 during the early stages of the lanternfly onslaught, we reported that more than a million lanternflies had been killed by volunteers in Berks and surrounding counties in Pennsylvania. Despite these herculean efforts, in the intervening five years, lanternflies have spread and established breeding populations in a dozen states, more than eighty counties, and have been detected almost five hundred miles from the place of their initial detection. Here in Maryland, we jumped from 2 infested counties in September of 2020 to 14 infested counties in August of 2022. Lanternflies are on the move.

 

This map charts the distribution of spotted lanternflies in the United States in September of 2020. Credit: New York State IPM.

  

The most recent map of the distribution of spotted lanternfly in the United States in August of 2022 shows a remarkable increase in the number of infested states and counties. Credit: New York State IPM.

 

Despite what you might have heard on television or read somewhere, squashing a few lanternflies in a parking lot in Maryland is unlikely to reduce the abundance of this pest. The vast majority of lanternflies you encounter outside a department store are doomed. In the wild, a diverse complement of predators and pathogens, part of Mother Nature’s hit squad, are already waging war on spotted lanternflies. These beneficial organisms have played important roles in putting a beat-down on other invasive pests like the brown marmorated stink bug. Remember that pest and how things have changed in the last two decades here in the DMV? In addition, clever scientists of the USDA are evaluating enemies of the lanternfly from the lanternfly’s native range in Asia. If these beneficial insects clear rigorous hurdles and pose no threat to our indigenous fauna, they will be released to join the battle against lanternflies. 

What should you do if you spot a spotted lanternfly when you stop in a parking lot in Maryland while on a trip to Colorado? Be sure to carefully inspect your vehicle both inside and out to avoid transporting a stowaway to a new location. If you are simply stopping for groceries before heading home and you live in a generally infested county, squashing a lanternfly may save the doomed lanternfly from a miserable death by starvation or being run over by a car. If you live in a county or location where spotted lanternfly is not known to infest and reproduce, like the District of Columbia or Napa County, California, and think you found a spotted lanternfly, by all means squash it and bring a swift end to its dastardly life, but don’t just toss it out. Please, take a photo of it, place it in a zip-lock bag and send it or the image to your local department of agriculture or nearest university extension service for identification. We need to know what new locations this rascal has invaded to make sound management decisions. Maybe you can be the one to help stop this crafty hitch-hiker from setting up shop in your hometown at least for the time being.

Acknowledgements     

We thank several shoppers and movie-goes in Hagerstown, Maryland for providing inspiration and video footage used in preparation of this episode. The great article “Flight Dispersal Capabilities of Female Spotted Lanternflies (Lycorma delicatula) Related to Size and Mating Status” by Michael S. Wolfin, Muhammad Binyameen,  Yanchen Wang, Julie M. Urban, Dana C. Roberts, and Thomas C. Baker provided information on dispersal behaviors of lanternflies. Thanks to Brian Eshenaur and the entire team at the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program of Cornell University for providing the updated maps of spotted lanternfly distribution in the US.

To learn more about USDA’s efforts to discover beneficial insects with potential to reduce populations of spotted lanternflies, check out this website: https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publication/?seqNo115=338695

To learn more about hitch-hiking spotted lanternflies, please visit this episode of Bug of the Week: https://bugoftheweek.com/?offset=1600693536810&reversePaginate=true

To learn more about spotted lanternfly flights, please click on this link: https://www.psu.edu/news/impact/story/spotted-lanternfly-collective-flights-late-summer-not-dangerous-public/

To see spotted lanternflies in flight, please click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MqmWHodMN8

To hear a recent broadcast about spotted lanternflies in the DMV on public radio, please click this link: https://www.wypr.org/show/on-the-record/2022-08-25/the-invasive-spotted-lanternfly-and-park-students-in-the-arctic

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Ground Bee Removal & Prevention

Learn How to Prevent Ground Bees from Building Nests or Harming Loved Ones

Surprise: Not all bees live in hives. Many make their homes in the ground, creating tunnels that disrupt lawns and create a nuisance for people and pets alike.

In fact, out of the 20,000 different species of bees around the world, approximately 14,000 are ground bees.

Several species of ground bees are common in the New England region of the United States, including social ground nesters like bumble bees and solitary bees like miner bees and digger bees. Although most ground bees aren’t aggressive, they will sting if threatened and may swarm around the ankles and shins of people walking in the vicinity.

If unsightly tunnels or nests have you worried, learning more about what it is and the danger it presents is a good first step in getting rid of ground bees.

These bees are pollinators, making it important to consult with professionals like the experts at Catseye Pest Control to ensure the best practices are being followed to handle ground bees without harming the ecosystem.

What are Ground Bees?

As the name implies, ground bees will nest in and under the soil. Most ground bees are solitary, which means they don’t live in colonies, but the nesting sites can be located near each other. Each female typically digs its own nest by creating tunnels that range from around 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch in diameter.

Some ground bees find holes made by small animals and will nest inside the hole.

Most ground bees are small, meaning no more than around 3/4-inch long. Depending on the species, the pest may have colors ranging from black, yellow, green, blue, copper, and metallic red.

Types of Ground Bees

There are a variety of ground bees, which can be seen in different colors and sizes. Some of the ground bees common to areas of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire include:

  • Bumble Bees: Unlike other types of ground bees, bumble bees build underground hives, either burrowing into the soil or repurposing an existing hole. These bees are typically black and yellow with fuzzy abdomens.
  • Cellophane Bees: These bees are one of the first emerging spring pollinators in the Northeast. They have dark heads and bodies with dark and light hair — also known as pile, and white or ivory stripes. Female cellophane bees can sting if they are stepped on or picked up.
  • Sweat Bees: These ground bees are attracted to human sweat, so they may fly around people who are outdoors. Sweat bees don’t commonly sting, but females can sting if their nests are disturbed. Some sweat bees are dull or metallic black, but others are more colorful, coming in shades of metallic purple, blue, and green.
  • Miner/Digger Bees: Males can be aggressive but don’t have stingers; females can sting when threatened. These bees are small with velvet-like facial patches. They may be furry and have a bright stripe or metallic-green color.
female cellophane bee mid-flight against a black background

Ground Bee Dangers & Damage

One of the telltale signs of ground bees is the presence of low-flying bees that go into the soil using a single hole.

Property owners may also find what looks like anthills and mounds that the bees use to make their nests.

Although one or two ground bee nests aren’t likely to cause significant damage, if enough bees move into your outdoor space, it can cause problems, especially if the bees create nests in areas where you garden, mow, or otherwise spend time.

If you inadvertently disturb a nest, female ground bees may sting in retaliation. Some species have venom that causes a burning sensation. Others retain their stinger after stinging a person or animal, which could result in multiple stings in a single episode. Although the venom isn’t poisonous, it can trigger an allergic reaction in some people.

Tips for Safe Ground Bee Removal or Prevention

Wondering how to prevent ground bees naturally? Discourage ground bees from setting up shop with these preventive tips that can help prevent ground bees and other bees by making the space less hospitable:

  • Till and enrich the soil with organic matter.
  • Plant additional shrubs, ground cover, grasses, and other vegetation.
  • Maintain soil moisture with frequent watering and adding mulch in bare spots.
  • Avoid planting flowers that bloom in early spring and have brightly colored flowers.
  • Add plants that repel ground bees, including petunias, lavender, citronella, geraniums, and marigolds.

Well intentioned DIYers may do more harm than good when attempting to go at bee prevention and removal alone.

For starters, if you’re not sure about what kind of ground bee you’re dealing with, you could mistakenly do battle with another kind of bee or wasp. For example, yellow jackets look like ground bees, but these aggressive ground nesting wasps can certainly sting you.

Trying to treat nests on your own can aggravate the bees. Remember, bees will sting if the nest is threatened.

And a single bee sting can lead to a variety of reactions — including hives, itching, or swelling at the sting site, in addition to more severe reactions like difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, or tongue.

You might see misleading advice online or from friends and family about how to remove ground bees on your own by filling in the holes. Unfortunately, this won’t fix the problem. It will only cause the bees to create more holes to establish new entrances and exits.

And it can be extremely dangerous if it isn’t handled properly, making it essential to work with a trusted expert in bee control.

In fact, to ensure that the situation is handled properly, working with a knowledgeable professional is absolutely vital.

Professional Ground Bee Control & Removal at Catseye

Whether ground bees are creating a buzz at your home or business, a stress-free outdoor space without worrying about disturbing a nest or enduring painful stings is a must-have.

Professionals not only help prevent future problems, but they can also handle proper removal of miner bees, cellophane bees, and other types of bees, hornets, and wasps with the utmost care for optimal results.

Bee control and nest removal services from Catseye offers prevention as well as nest removal. Our experienced technicians have the skills and equipment to efficiently rid properties of ground bees without causing further problems.

This service includes an inspection of the property to determine problem areas and then a solution that has been tailored to meet the unique needs of the home or business.

Then, our pest management professionals will treat and remove the nests — often in a single visit. It’s important to know that some bee species may require special removal techniques and additional service visits.

Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a free inspection.

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Where do Flying Squirrels Live & Nest?

Discover Where Flying Squirrels Like to Build Their Nests & How to Keep the Flying Rodents Out of Your House or Business

When temperatures drop, flying squirrels start looking for warm, cozy places to build their nests. Throughout New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, barns, homes, garages, and other buildings offer attractive housing options for the furry pests.

Flying squirrels don’t passively enter human spaces. They often take advantage of existing holes in roofs, siding, and walls and then chew and tear to make the holes bigger for easier access. These cute but destructive pests may also damage siding and trim, chew wires, and pose a health hazard to humans by leaving urine and droppings everywhere.

Understanding where flying squirrels live and where they like to build their nests can help homeowners and business owners identify appealing areas for infestation.

Additionally, once they determine where flying squirrels have already nested, they can take action to remove them from the property. 

Once these gliding rodents set up shop in a building, the best remedy is to call a professional like Catseye Pest Control to handle the problem. Knowledgeable, experienced technicians at Catseye can not only remove flying squirrels but also keep the critter from returning.

And fun fact, our nuisance wildlife technicians recently removed 78 flying squirrels from a home in Bristol, CT. Imagine the sounds and smells the homeowner must have encountered from the infestation!

gray and white flying squirrel with big eyes and small ears being held in a blue-heathered shirt

Where Do Flying Squirrels Live in the Wild?

Squirrels are a regular sight in parks, trails, woodlands, and backyards, but like many people, you may not be that familiar with where flying squirrels live. After all, these small rodents are nocturnal and rarely seen during daylight hours.

Unlike chipmunks and squirrels, which scamper about on the ground, flying squirrels don’t spend much time on fancy footwork. Instead, they prefer gliding from tree to tree, high above the ground, where they’re safe from predators.

Flying Squirrel Nesting Habits

Flying squirrels prefer older forests and often create nests in hollow spots of tree trunks. They like to use holes made by other animals, including woodpecker cavities. Once they find a suitable place — typically 15 feet or more above ground level, they line the hollows with feathers, fur, leaves, bark, moss, and other materials.

Don’t assume the problem is solved if the critters suddenly disappear from a known nesting spot. Flying squirrels change nesting locations periodically when their dens get dirty or infested with fleas and other parasites.

Dangers of Flying Squirrel Nests

Where there is one flying squirrel, there are often many. These rodents are social animals that tend to live in colonies, with 20 or more flying squirrels sharing a nest. In addition to nesting in rafters and attic spaces, they may burrow into walls where they could cause structural damage, chew on wiring, and infest indoor spaces with fleas, mites, and parasites.

Flying squirrels often damage exterior elements like siding, roofing, and trim. They may widen existing holes and cracks to make it easier to come and go at night. The creatures are most active in the dark when they leave to hunt for birds, eggs, and insects or to gather seeds, nuts, and fungi to eat and bring back to the nest.

Rodents like mice and other squirrels have also been known to become a tasty meal for flying squirrels.

What to Do if You Think You Have Flying Squirrels Nesting in Your Home or Business

Flying squirrels are active at night, which means scratching, chirping, and clucking sounds at night are common signs that flying squirrels are living inside the building. It’s possible to find oval-shaped droppings, urine stains on walls and ceilings, in addition to damage to flowers and fruit trees on the property.

Enlist the help of a professional at the first sign of flying squirrels nesting on your property. Not only are these critters social and live in colonies, but they also leave their scent behind. Without proper removal, that scent could attract other wildlife to the same area. 

That’s why Catseye uses a multi-step flying squirrel removal system to remove the pests and prevent future infestations. In addition to removal and cleanup, Cat-Guard Wildlife Exclusion Systems naturally protect homes, businesses, and other structures from flying squirrels and other potential invaders.

Cat-Guard consists of three services, including:

Upper Cat-Guard: Protects from the top of the windows on the first floor to the peak of the roof.

Lower Cat-Guard: Protects from the ground to the top of the first-floor windows.

Trench-Guard: Protects from ground-level to below the surface.

Contact Catseye for Expert Flying Squirrel Removal

If flying squirrels have moved in and are invading your property, working with professionals is the only way to resolve the problem permanently.

Catseye doesn’t just provide pest control — we offer a holistic solution tailored to your specific situation.

Call Catseye today at 888-260-3980 to talk with an expert. Alternatively, schedule a free inspection, and we will come assess where flying squirrels are nesting and create a customized plan.

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How to Get Rid of Flying Squirrels in Your Home & Attic

Learn How to Keep Your Home Free from Flying Squirrels & Prevent Damage Caused by the Rodent

Flying squirrels look unassuming, but they can pose a destructive problem.

Despite their name, flying squirrels don’t actually fly. Instead of wings, they have a furry membrane called a patagium that lets the rodent soar through the air like hang gliders. The patagium acts like a parachute and stretches from the ankles to the wrists, allowing these small animals to “fly” up to 100 feet between treetops to evade predators.

The southern flying squirrel is most common in the northeast while the northern flying squirrel is a bit rarer.

Unfortunately, flying squirrels aren’t just cute and gravity-defying. They can also damage the interior and exterior of buildings. To make matters worse, this wildlife critter is very social and tends to live in colonies. If you spot one, it’s likely that even more flying squirrels are in the attic or building.

In addition to spreading diseases, flying squirrels can be a nuisance for homes and businesses. To permanently eliminate flying squirrels, it’s essential to work with expert professionals like Catseye Pest Control.

Trapping and removing just one or two of these pests may not solve the problem. Experts can take all the necessary steps to remove and prevent colonies of pests from creeping back in.

What are Flying Squirrels?

Smaller than many other types of squirrels, flying squirrels can grow from three to 24 inches in length. Species in the northern region of the United States can grow up to 11.5 inches at most and are usually comparable to chipmunks in size.

In addition to their patagium, which allows them to glide, flying squirrels also have a unique piece of cartilage that helps them steer. This cartilage enables flying squirrels to make turns as they glide through the air, which makes them unique among the species of gliding mammals.

Flying squirrels are nocturnal, with large, dark eyes, flattened tails, and fur that’s grayish-brown in color with white on the underside.

North America is home to approximately 50 species of flying squirrels, but only two types call Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire home: the northern flying squirrel and the southern flying squirrel.

The northern flying squirrel mates in late winter, while the southern flying squirrel mates in early spring.

These periods are significant as it indicates when this type of nuisance wildlife will be searching for a safe space to keep warm and raise their young. Like many other pests, flying squirrels find attics, homes, businesses, and other structures appealing as nesting sites.

Damage Flying Squirrels May Create

Flying squirrels commonly enter structures with specific goals in mind. They need a warm spot to make a nest, a safe area to raise their young, and a readily available food source. They get into houses and other buildings through attics and crawl spaces, using preexisting cracks to create larger access points to gain entry.

Once inside, flying squirrels damage attics and other interior spaces in several ways. Damage often results from the following activities:

  • Gnawing on wires, which can cause shorts and increase the risk of electrical fires.
  • Enlarging cracks and creating new holes in roofing, walls, and siding, which leads to expensive repairs.
  • Bringing other pests, including lice, fleas, parasites, and mites, inside.

Like other critters, flying squirrels can carry and spread diseases to humans. Most commonly, they carry mange, a disease that causes an animal’s healthy fur to fall out. Additionally, it’s less common, but flying squirrels can also carry rabies.

Signs of Flying Squirrels in Houses

Aside from actual sightings, a few common clues can help you figure out your home or business has an infestation of flying squirrels. Possible signs include:

Teeth Marks

Flying squirrels can create a lot of damage by gnawing on wires, insulation, roof intersections, ridge vents, chimney flashing, and gaps in fascia and/or soffits.

Cracks that Grow

Flying squirrels typically exploit existing cracks and crevices and enlarge them for easier entry and exit.

New Holes or Damage

To make it easier to get inside, flying squirrels may create entirely new holes, causing damage to the building’s exterior walls and siding, which can lead to expensive repairs.

Droppings

Like any other animal, flying squirrels in attics and crawl spaces leave fecal matter and urine in their wake. You might see droppings, track marks from their feet, or stains from urine. It is also possible to notice unpleasant odors.

Noises

Flying squirrels often nest in walls and insulation. You may hear scratching, chirping, or clicking sounds at night, particularly if there is a colony of flying squirrels living in your home.

How to Get Rid of Flying Squirrels

As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you’re concerned that your home, business, or structure may attract flying squirrels, there are ways to make the area less appealing. Preventive measures include:

  • Removing bird feeders and other easy-to-access food sources
  • Installing borders or fencing around gardens
  • Trimming tree branches back to keep the roofline clear
  • Avoiding planting nut-producing trees near buildings

If you have already seen signs of flying squirrels, contacting a pest management professional like Catseye is the most effective way to prevent them from taking over.

Experts have the knowledge and necessary equipment to effectively address, manage the situation, and remove the flying squirrels. Even better, tools like exclusion systems seal potential entry points, providing a permanent solution.

The Cat-Guard Wildlife Exclusion System

Catching and removing flying squirrels are just the start of wildlife control. With an effective exclusion system, property owners can feel rest assured that the same problem won’t happen again.

The Cat-Guard system offers three ways to protect homes or businesses:

  • Upper Cat-Guard: Flying squirrels can gain entry through the attic, roof, and areas in the upper part of a building. This barrier protects everything from the roof’s peak to the top of the first-floor windows.
  • Lower Cat-Guard: Think of this as your first floor’s version of Fort Knox. This barrier protects everything from the first-floor windows to ground level to prevent flying squirrels and other critters from gaining entry.
  • Trench-Guard: Prevent flying squirrels and other wildlife from burrowing under structures with this system, which uses a rigid permanent barrier to protect buildings.

Contact Catseye for a Free Inspection

For maximum effectiveness, every removal plan and exclusion system should be customized to the home or business being protected.

The experts at Catseye will walk through the property and make a full assessment before creating a treatment plan that is tailored to meet the needs of the exact situation.

Contact us today for a free inspection to not only resolve the problem, but also to protect the property from future invasions.

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The other monarch caterpillar: Milkweed tussock moth, Euchaetes egle

 

Hairy caterpillars of the milkweed tussock moth resembling “Cousin Itt” are busy consuming leaves of milkweeds. Image credit: Sam Taylor

 

No mistaking the rather naked monarch caterpillar for its dining partner on milkweeds, the milkweed tussock moth.

Last week my neighbor sent a fine image of a caterpillar resembling Cousin Itt of Addam’s Family fame. The shaggy caterpillar was comically cloaked in black, orange, and white tufts of hair. Hordes of these leaf-munchers have been discovered feeding on milkweed leaves over the last few weeks. With gardeners from coast to coast striving to help our imperiled monarch butterflies find food for their young by planting more milkweed plants, how concerned should we be about these gregarious interlopers horning-in on food for monarch caterpillars? Who are they and what should we do? These caterpillars are the offspring of a species of moth known as milkweed tussock moth or milkweed tiger moth. Before we rage on these rascals, let’s have a little course in milkweed plant and milkweed caterpillar biology.

Milkweed gets its name from the sticky white sap exuded from stems and leaves when their surface is broken by hungry insects or curious humans. Milky sap and cells within the leaves contain nasty chemicals called cardiac glycosides. As the name implies, these compounds have something to do with the heart. At higher concentrations, cardiac glycosides can be heart poisons, bringing death to humans and other animals foolish enough to eat them. However, many insects that eat milkweeds have evolved mechanisms to deal with these toxins and have the ability to consume leaves of milkweed without being poisoned. In fact, they obtain cardiac glycosides from their food and store these noxious compounds in their bodies. Caterpillars of both the monarch butterfly and milkweed tiger moth obtain cardiac glycosides and retain them as they develop into a butterfly or moth, respectively.

Milkweed tussock moth caterpillars devour leaves of milkweeds. Orange and black coloration warns predators not to mess with them.

What is all of this chemical chicanery about? Birds are important predators of many kinds of insects, including caterpillars and butterflies. Scientists discovered that cardiac glycosides found in monarch butterflies caused predators such as blue jays to vomit dramatically following an attempted monarch meal. Blue jays exposed to monarchs soon learned to recognize the monarch by sight and avoided eating these beautiful, but nasty tasting butterflies. Many of the insects that live on milkweed and consume its leaves display vivid patterns of orange and black as both juveniles and adults. This convergence on a similar, easily recognizable color pattern by two or more nasty-tasting insects is called Müllerian mimicry. Other milkweed feeders that participate in the milkweed mimicry ring include milkweed longhorned beetles, milkweed bugs, and milkweed leaf beetles we met in previous episodes. Like the larvae of the monarch, caterpillars of the milkweed tiger moth obtain cardiac glycosides from milkweeds and retain them as adults.

Adult milkweed tussock moths have drab brown wings but a pretty racy abdomen sporting Halloween colors of orange and black.

While the caterpillars of this tiger moth boldly wear the characteristic warning colors of orange and black as they feed during the day, the adult moth is comparatively drab at first glance with pale brown wings, but its impressive abdomen sports Halloween colors of orange and black. The fact that caterpillars of the milkweed tiger moth store cardiac glycosides for use as adults is somewhat perplexing. Primary predators of these night-flying moths are fearsome bats that hunt using sound rather than sight to locate prey. Orange and black coloration may have little value in defeating these night-hunting predators. However, the cardiac glycosides stored in the body of the moth are put to good use. The resourceful milkweed tiger moth evolved an organ that emits an ultrasonic signal easily detected by bats. The signal warns that an attack will be rewarded with a noxious distasteful meal and bats soon learn to avoid the tiger moth as prey. 

What can you do to preserve your milkweeds as a food for monarchs? Well, you really don’t want to reach for pesticides to do away with any leaf-eaters that may have come to dine on your milkweed. Although we endeavor to help our monarchs, remember that these tussock moths are an important part of our natural ecosystems too. They have their own complement of predators and parasites that depend on them as a source of food. If you are trying to enjoy monarchs dining on the milkweed patch in your garden or landscape, perhaps the best strategy is to simply collect your tussock moth caterpillars in a container and relocate them to the nearest patch of milkweeds in a nearby meadow.

Acknowledgements

Bug of the Week thanks Randy Taylor, Sam Taylor, Chris Sargent, and several Bug of the week viewers for providing the inspiration for this week’s episode. Two delightful references  “Sound strategy: acoustic aposematism in the bat–tiger moth arms race” by  Nickolay I. Hristov and William E. Conner and “Secret Weapons” by Thomas Eisner, Maria Eisner, and Melody Siegler provided valuable insights into the mysterious ways of this week’s stars.

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