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Pest Control Problems

Special pest control problems are a concern for many of our customers living in the Pensacola, Florida area, problems that are related to Hurricane Ivan's damage.
Birds, animals, bees, roaches, rodents, snakes and other creatures have been displaced or confused not only by the hurricane but also by the huge footprint left by the storm.  Our customers in Pensacola are experiencing problems directly related to Ivan.

Flying Pests    Weeds    Ants    Carpenter Ants    Wood Destroying Organisms
Rats and Mice    Snakes    Animals, Wildlife    Odors    Mold, Mildew
Termite Protection    Pest Management Applications    Special Thanks

It is not only our Pensacola area that has special pest management needs but also those living in other areas of Florida that suffered multiple hits from hurricanes in 2004.  

Flying Insect Pests

Wasps, Bees    Biting Flies, Filth Flies    Mosquitoes

The first visible pests (after the storm) were flying insects: wasps, bees and yellowjackets that had been displaced by the hurricane.  At the time of this writing (a month after the storm) these angry little pests have settled down to their normal routine.
Due to pools of stagnant water and various types of debris from damaged buildings, there have been some problems with flies.  Biting flies breed in areas where there is shallow, standing water.  Until cleanup of the area is complete, you might need to protect yourself from the painful bite of these flies.  (Eliminating the flies is almost impossible because elimination of their breeding sites will be a slow process.)  Products containing DEET are great for mosquitoes but will not be very effective against the biting flies.  Broad Spectrum Insect Spray contains a special combination of products that are safe for applying to your skin and will repel biting flies.
Other flies that are beginning to be a problem are those known as filth flies.  These pests (house flies, blow flies, etc.) can be found in organic materials ranging from dead animals to household garbage.  As the area's cleanup efforts continue, the filth flies should not continue to be a problem.  Your options for controlling flies include fly traps and fly baits.  Stimukil and Maxforce Fly Bait are great products to use, as long as some effort is made to remove organic materials where the flies breed.  Dumpsters that are constantly being filled with household debris are a common source of fly problems.  Using Maxforce Fly Bait  in and around these dumpsters will kill most of the flies in the immediate area, both in and around dumpsters.  Advantage Fly Traps can be used in areas of filth fly activity to reduce the numbers of annoying flies.  Although fly baits work better than fly traps, baits can be a hazard to children, pets and wildlife.  If you cannot safely use a good fly bait, consider using a fly trap to help keep fly populations under control.
Mosquitoes have become a major problem in areas hit hard by Ivan and other hurricanes.  Not only are there more breeding grounds for mosquitoes (due to the storms) but there are now many more people working outdoors in the cleanup effort.  Most people work in mornings and evenings to avoid the heat of the day.  Unfortunately the most pleasant times to work are also the times of tremendous mosquito activity.  Most people that are affected by West Nile Virus were bitten by mosquitoes in early morning hours or at dusk.  Protection from mosquitoes involves four different approaches; use any combination that best suits your needs:

While working outdoors (especially during times of day when mosquitoes are most active) you can protect yourself by wearing proper clothing and with a spray containing DEET repellent.  DEET is highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and is safe to use when used as directed.  The various formulations of DEET can be a little confusing when trying to choose a mosquito repellent.  Simply put: a higher concentration of DEET will not repel mosquitoes better than a lower concentration.  Higher DEET concentrations do, however, last longer.  When using a low concentration, low odor product such as DEET Lotion, you will have to reapply the product more often.  When using the maximum strength DEET, you do not have to apply the product as often as you would with weaker strength products.  When used as directed, the maximum strength products are just as safe as the lower dose repellents.  Use Maxi DEET when working outdoors for extended time periods.  Use DEET Lotion when you will not be outdoors for long periods or if you prefer a very low odor product.
With thousands of mosquito "hot spots" in areas hit by hurricanes, it is impossible to eliminate all mosquito breeding sites.  You can do your part by eliminating breeding sites on your personal property and by using Larvacides on your property and in areas adjacent to your property that are not inhabited.
Rake up all leaves and other vegetative litter that can attract egg-laying mosquitoes.  Carefully inspect your property for any standing water, no matter how small the pools of moisture might be.  Eliminating these breeding sites are more important than most people realize.
There are thousands of ditches, ponds and other area where water stands constantly.  Even the holding areas that are designed to keep roads from flooding are not percolating as they should, due to leaves, limbs and other debris that cover the bottoms of the areas.  In these areas (as well as abandoned or damaged swimming pools, bird baths, pet water dishes, etc.) a Larvacide will be a great help in reducing the numbers of mosquitoes.  Mosquito Dunks, Mosquito Bits and Methoprene Granules should be used in these areas.  These products are great for killing mosquitoes in the larvae stages - before they become biting adults - and will not harm people, pets, wildlife, birds or fish.  Use Mosquito Dunks and Methoprene Granules for long term control.  Both products will kill mosquitoes for several weeks.  Mosquito Bits should be used in areas known to harbor existing populations of mosquito larvae.
Mosquito Dunks last a long time but you will not be able to see a difference in the numbers of adult mosquitoes for a week or so.  Mosquito Bits only last a couple of days but do give an immediate kill of existing mosquito larvae.  Use Mosquito Bits for a quick kill; use Mosquito Dunks and Methoprene Granules for prevention and long term control.  
Killing adult mosquitoes is sometimes necessary when mosquito populations are too high for people to work or play outdoors.  Spraying vegetation with Permethrin and fogging the area for mosquitoes a couple of times each week will help bring down the numbers of biting mosquitoes.
(Volunteers and other disaster relief personnel welcome donations of Broad Spectrum Spray, DEET and sun block!) 
With the combination of altered landscapes and rising water, snakes and rodents have become more visible.  Take care of downed trees and other vegetative litter that can harbor rats and mice.  If rodents have moved into your home or business, read the articles that contain rat and mouse information.  There are different methods of rodent control from which to choose: live traps, kill traps and rodent baits.
If your area is a potential haven for displaced or hungry snakes, use Snake-A-Way snake repellent liberally around your home.  For those who know or fear that snakes are inside buildings, set out a couple of snake traps to capture any unwanted snakes.
Thousands of trees have been uprooted, destroyed or will have to be removed in our area.  These trees are the homes of many animals that may wander onto your property.  Most of us who had fences no longer have that protection.  Be on the lookout for wildlife and also for lost pets that might wander onto your property.  In most cases these animals will not cause any harm.   If you have small children or pets, the situation could be a little more critical.  Keep areas around your home well lit.  This will help discourage most wildlife.  In the event of an animal moving into your area for food or shelter, humane live traps of various sizes are available for trapping and relocating unwanted animals.

Weeds and Lawn Care

In 1995 we experienced another storm, Hurricane Erin.  One of the after effects of the storm was one that effected our lawns and gardens: weeds.  The storm's winds blew around a great deal of weed seeds, some of which we had not experienced in the past.  Chamber Bitter is an example of a weed that we did not have in our area before the storm.
Whether or not new weeds are introduced into parts of Florida, you can be sure that are lawns and gardens have already taken a beating from the multiple attacks of four hurricanes.  Besides the obvious damage done by fallen trees there are already signs of damage from standing salt water (to lawns) and wind burn.  Steady winds in excess of 100 miles per hour tend to blister the leaves of shrubs, trees and some lawns.
Heavy equipment (used to remove trees and debris, replace downed power lines) have left behind scarred turf grasses.
Now that cooler temperatures are moving in, the weather is perfect for fighting and preventing weeds while making sure that turf grasses come back stronger next Spring.  For existing weeds in healthy lawns, cheaper herbicides such as Trimec can be applied to kill broadleaf weeds.  Dollarweed, Crabgrass and other tough plants can be treated with Image Herbicide.  Image is also preferred for lawns that have been stressed by the hurricanes.
Mid-October through the first week of November is the perfect time to apply Lesco Pre-M granules to lawns.  Pre-M is one of the best multi-purpose products on the market.  This fertilizer/ pre-emergent herbicide will prepare your lawn for the cold months ahead.  The product will not kill any existing weeds but will prevent any existing weed seeds from germinating - while giving your turf grass strong, healthy root systems.  Many over-the-counter winterizers contain far too much Nitrogen to be used in the Fall of the year.  Pre-M has a 5-10-20 analysis that does not have that dangerous Nitrogen "push" seen in other fertilizers.  You do not need the eye candy of high Nitrogen products during the cool months; you need strong root systems.
To prevent Winter weed seeds from germinating and to shore up your grass for the winter, use Lesco Pre-M in late October or early November.  Use one bag per 10,000 square feet of lawn.  [Lesco Pre-M should also be applied in mid to late February with a second application 8 weeks later.  This Spring application stops Spring and Summer weeds from germinating and gives your lawn the boost it needs at the end of Winter.]

Ants and Carpenter Ants

The thousands of giant Oaks and Pines felled by Hurricane Ivan have disrupted many ants in the area.  We are seeing these ants invade lawns and homes in great numbers.  During these cooler days you can use either a good broadcast spray treatment or a professional ant bait for the job.  Ant baits do not always work well during the heat of the summer but do a great job with cool temps.
Talstar One and Permethrin are two spray products to choose from.  If you prefer a bait, there are several to choose from: Maxforce Granular Insect Bait, Maxforce Fireant Bait  and Ascend.
Carpenter ants can possibly be a problem this Fall, continuing on into next Spring.  A general purpose spray (Talstar, Demon WP, Suspend, Permethrin) will help deter any foraging scouts.  Once carpenter ants are seen in a home or found in or near downed trees, Advance Carpenter Ant Bait will be best to use.

Odors, Mold, Mildew and Wood Destroying Organisms

Damage to homes does not stop with the initial structural damage.  Another danger to buildings is moisture and the problems compounded or caused by moisture.  Wet carpets, furniture, insulation, sheet rock and other items need to be removed as quickly as possible.  Document the damage with photographs before and after removal of ruined items.
In many cases, odors can be removed by spraying and/or fogging with products such as Epoleon.  If wet materials are not removed, the odors usually return after fogging.  The source of odors must be removed in order to be successful.  In rooms where odors constantly return (due to inability to remove insulation and other materials), Dual Odor Eliminators can help.  These small aerosols give temporary relief from odors until a contractor or other professional can help remove damaged materials.
Another reason to remove wet, ruined materials is for your health.  Dangerous molds grow in walls and ceilings because of leaks, holes in roofs and walls, etc.  Small children, elderly and those with existing upper respiratory problems are at more risk.
Wet or damp wood encourages a host of problems, including infestations of wood destroying organisms.  Powderpost Beetles, termites and fungi will attack damp or wet wood faster than sound, dry wood.  Damage to roofs and wood members should be repaired as quickly as possible.  If contractors have you on a long waiting list, you should at least cover holes roofs or walls with a temporary tarp or other cover.  This temporary covering will help keep moisture problems from spreading.

Pest Management Applications

Tropical and hurricane force winds drive the rain at sharper angles.  This driving rain will wash away just about any type of residual products you may have sprayed on the exterior surfaces of your home.  With the high numbers of spiders, ants, roaches and other crawling pests that have been "stirred up" by the storms, you should re-apply your preventative applications.  Long residual and low odor products such as Demon WP, Demand CS, Suspend SC or Talstar One should be used.

Termite Protection

Homes in coastal areas or in the flood zone (Hurricane Ivan surged over a mile in certain areas) endured not only water damage bug also soil erosion.  The homes in these areas have probably lost most (if not all) termite protection.  Have all termite bait stations checked and (if necessary) replaced.  Due to the tremendous flooding and erosion, an extra booster treatment with a termiticide is recommended.

Special Thanks

All of us living and working in Pensacola will forever be grateful to the many volunteers and other workers who spent days and weeks away from their families while helping us rebuild our community.
Countless volunteers from many different organizations kept emergency supplies flowing to necessary areas and also offered helping hands to those who could not fend for themselves.

The Florida National Guard kept our businesses safe and also played a major role in keeping traffic flowing throughout town.  With no electricity to power traffic lights, intersections are a real adventure!  Our National Guard stood in the heat while directing traffic.  This was a blessing for our recovery as supplies, emergency vehicles and regular traffic converged.  Traffic accidents and gridlock were prevented, due to the Guard's professionalism and dedication.

Cox and other cable companies from many areas of the country followed closely behind the power crews to reestablish lines.  A few whiners complained because they did not have cable for their televisions in the first days following the storm.  These people either did not care or simply did not realize that getting electricity back to the community had to come before cable.  (Without telephone poles, there is no place to hang cable lines!)
There were also a handful of citizens who complained when local businesses had cable connected before many households.  Getting our local economy running is more important than most people realize.  Companies who rely on the internet for communications, transfer of money and many other transactions could not possibly operate without cable, phones and electricity.  Citizens would not be able to purchase necessary supplies if their stores were not able to reopen.
We greatly appreciate the efforts of Cox Communications that resulted in businesses getting back up to speed in a timely manner.  It did not take very long for homes to regain cable, once power lines, poles and equipment were repaired.

Hurricane force winds blew the warehouse doors off of their tracks at our store.  A big "Thank you!" to Keenan & Sons for the quick repair, taking care of our building and keeping our inventory safe and dry.  
We would also like to thank Shane and Don for ridding our properties of fallen trees, downed fences and other debris.  Our business and family members are grateful for your help and hard work.
Patrick and Liz made trips out of town to purchase items not available locally: fuel for generators, ice, etc.  They also dug us out of our home and uncovered our vehicles that were covered with a giant Oak.  Thanks!
Cat and Mike: Thank you for setting up the generator for our home.  Without your help we would not have had a fan, refrigerator and critical medical equipment.
Patrick, Liz, Mike, Cat: Not only did you come to our aid but also to the aid of numerous friends and family members throughout Pensacola.  You are great examples for everyone to follow.
Crystal, Chrissy, Lani, Steve, Justin and Tom: If it were not for your selfless acts of love we would not have had food, propane, batteries, fans and other critical supplies.  You must have shopped at Wal-Mart in a dozen cities in Georgia, Alabama and Florida!  (The Bar-B-Q from Georgia was a real treat.)  You all spent many hours helping make our mess look more like a home, hauling heavy limbs that we could not lift, ripping out ruined carpet, covering the gaping holes in our roof, throwing out what used to be our bedroom furniture - the list is endless but so is our gratitude.  Alex: Thanks for the smiles, love and hugs!
Vicky and Sherman: Thanks for all the things you did for our families.  You established communications via phone and internet when we needed them the most.  (We're looking forward to the generators you ordered for us.  They should be here in time for Christmas.)
Dave and Sandra: You both went out of your way to see that we had what we needed - while your own home and business both sustained more damage than ours.  Thanks for your loyal and caring friendship.
Jean: The 7-Up Pound Cake was fantastic!  A welcome break from hamburgers and potted meat sandwiches.
And to the dozens of caring family members in all parts of the country: your prayers, phone calls and care packages will never be forgotten.  We'll see you all during the holidays!
We probably left out many people that made life more bearable during and after a major disaster.  The list of helping hands could go on forever!

Professional Pest Control Products (home of PestProducts.com) was out of commission for a week - but would have been closed longer if not for the tireless efforts of Quebec Power.  Thousands of men and women from various power companies worked hard to get Pensacola back on line; Quebec Power just happened to be the crew that made it possible for our pest control store to re-open for business.  Without a local economy there would be no community.  Emergency crews worked around the clock to reestablish our infrastructure in Pensacola.  Once the hospitals and special needs organizations had electricity and water, power crews worked hard so that local businesses could get back up to speed.  In record time, Gulf Power and the crews from other parts of the country had power, water, cable and other utilities running for homes and business.  A tip o' the cap to Georgia Power crew for getting power lines off the driveway and hooking up our neighborhood.
The speedy recovery insured the stability of the local economy as well as our health and welfare.  Gulf Power workers continue to work very long hours (7 days a week) so that we can recover from Ivan and grow stronger.  We all appreciate those from different parts of the United States who sacrificed their time and energy to come to our aid.  We also have special feelings for our local power company, utility workers, emergency personnel, law enforcement and others who continue to silently work behind the scenes to keep Pensacola alive and well.

The author would like to thank the employees of Professional Pest Control Products, members of Calvary Baptist Church and faithful neighbors.  During the first hours after the storm my wife, daughter, son-in-law and I could not get out of our own home.  Our employees, neighbors and members of Calvary Baptist Church cut through the downed trees with chain saws, clearing the way for my family to exit the house safely.  Thanks guys!  I owe you a Low Country Boil.

The cleanup continues.  Crews are working hard to clear tons of debris from every street and road in the area.  Our neighborhoods are slowly beginning to look like normal city streets.  (The beaver dams are beginning to disappear)  When the sun came up after Ivan's hit, the mountains of downed trees and power lines looked so large that we could not imagine our streets could possibly be cleaned up in less than a year but the special crews are making it happen.

The people of Pensacola have shown character, patience and care for their community.  Watching strangers help strangers (while refusing compensation for services and materials) is indeed a blessed sight to see.  Not only have we survived Ivan the Terrible but we have grown stronger, together.