Can Essential Oils Solve All Pest Problems?

 Essential oils are concentrated botanical extracts that have a number of medicinal and household uses, including natural pest control!

Essential oils are concentrated botanical extracts that have a number of medicinal and household uses, including natural pest control!

Essential oils can sometimes be a good deterrent for pest control but they are not intended to be used as your only pest control method. Here are some reasons why essential oils don’t work for complete pest control.

There are some pests that will survive.
You may be able to successfully get rid of a few pesky insects with essential oils, but it’s not effective for all insects. Bed bugs are a great example. They are so resilient that they can survive in your freezer for some time. They can also live for a year without eating and sometimes it takes multiple pest control treatments to get rid of them. A little essential oil is not going to make them go away.

Essential oils are useless against infestations.
The truth is you may be able to use essential oils to take care of a couple of ants, but essential oils are simply not powerful enough to destroy an infestation of any kind of pest.

When you are preparing your home to be healthy from pest, you should do proper pest control. This includes sealing all possible entry points, cleaning, and inspecting your area properly. If you choose to use essential oils for pest control at this stage, you are free to do so. But, if your home is already infested with cockroaches, fleas, ants, mosquitoes, and mice, we recommend you leave that to the pros.

This cool front feels great, but what’s that smell?

 Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Add stink bugs to the list of pests who enjoy the comforts of your home in the cooler months of the year.  Luckily these critters don’t carry the germs a lot of their counter parts do.  BUT they do pack quite the stinky punch if you decide to put them out of their misery inside your home. Here’s a few tips that will help you battle the stinky  creatures through the fall and winter.

1. Block entry points
Inspect the exterior of your home for stink bug access points such as areas around siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys, and under wood fascia or other openings. Seal any cracks and holes using a good quality silicone or caulk.

2. Check your screens and window seals
Inspect your screens and make sure your windows are closed completely as this is a common entry point. Don’t forget to check for torn weather-stripping and loose mortar. You can also install door sweeps if necessary.

3. Keep outdoor lighting to a minimum
Stink bugs like many other bugs are attracted to lights, so it’s recommended to keep outdoor lighting to a minimum.

4. Reduce moisture
Eliminating all moisture buildup around your home can help prevent many pest infestations, including stink bugs.

5. Don’t squash those stink bugs unless…
You want to know why they are called stink bugs. When disturbed or crushed, stink bugs have a tendency to release a bad odor from pores on the sides of their bodies.

6. Your vacuum can be of use
If stink bugs have already entered a home, use a vacuum cleaner for their removal. Their smell clings to moving parts, and any vacuum attachments you used, acting as a filter if you will.  A handheld vacuum might work best.

Remember that homes can be pre-treated for are pests including stink bugs before they become a problem. If you suspect an infestation in your home has already developed, contact Natran today to eliminate the issue.

Does Cold Weather Eliminate Bugs for the Winter?

In Houston as we drag ourselves to the light at the end of the tunnel to close out those hot months of August, September, and October we often say things like “we need a freeze to kill these mosquitoes”, but does cold weather really eliminate these pest?

The answer is no.

In an extremely cold year with freezes spanning over a couple of days yes, that can make a dent in the population, for that particular season. However due to the relatively short lifespan of pests like aphids, white-flies, and mites their populations can grow rapidly even if winter survival is low. But odds are we will never truly escape pests in our climate no matter how cold the temperatures might dip.   As we all know here in Houston we do freeze, but that’s always followed by rising temperatures which don’t allow our temperatures to remain in the sub-fifty degree range for very long.  With such a mild climate we have the perfect environment to support an eco-system of insects, pests and bugs 365 days a year.

In addition to our climate which supports these insects, they also have three main strategies for dealing with the cold: freeze tolerance, freeze avoidance, and migration.  The migration factor is what Natran is here for when these pest migrate and seek shelter in your warm cozy home! As we have discussed many times in our blogs, those pests love the comfort of your home just as much as you do.

Our lesson here is, don’t forget about pest prevention even as you start to bundle up for these cold days!

Christmas Light Safety Tips from Natran

We have all seen the holiday classic about the Griswalds. While their Christmas light “No No’s” make for great humor on TV we couldn’t help but think of all our Natran family and their beautiful homes during the holiday season.  We want all to not only enjoy the festive lighting and decor but we want you to be safe.  Whether you’re a decked out exterior, multiple color lights and decorations home or a simple white strand to show your holiday spirit, proper setup and safety precautions are a must.

One recommendation we encourage this season is replacing your old lights with LED lights. Especially if you’re still using those giant bulb old school lights. LED Christmas lights only use a third of the energy traditional Christmas lights use. The new age LED lights not only save tremendously on electricity but they also burn much cooler than those outdated lights.  With a cooler light source means you will save yourself time on replacing burned out bulbs. Another great perk of the LED lights is their life span, they will exceed traditional lights by at least a decade.

Before lighting up your entire block make sure you check your plugs, extension cords, timers, and power strips to make sure they are not faulty.  It is important not to overload these devices as this can create fire hazards and overload breakers.

Tips to remember when hanging Christmas lights

Christmas Trees
Most Christmas light enthusiasts will hang lights on the exterior of their homes, the bushes, wrap trees, setup lighted figures of reindeer, snowmen and Mr. Clause himself.  But many people will also put them in their windows, and most will string them around their tree in the living room.  And, more than 200 house fires per year begin with Christmas trees. A report from the National Fire Protection Association said that, Christmas tree fires resulted in “an annual average of seven civilian fire deaths, 19 civilian fire injuries, and $17.5 million in direct property damage.”  Rule of thumb with the indoor lighting on trees and windows, never leave on when you are not home and never leave on overnight when you go to bed.

If you use a artificial Christmas tree, the hot lights on a plastic tree are an obvious fire hazard. Artificial Christmas trees will emit dioxins if burned and create all kinds toxic fumes in the process. Which goes against the grain with anything Natran because we are all about the #Healthyhome.  Of course, real trees aren’t excluded from fire hazards. Give your Christmas tree plenty of water so it doesn’t dry out. Check daily to minimize the margin for error. Dry needles pose a fire hazard just like they do in forests. The U.S. Fire Administration says “one of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems, and a heat source too close to the tree caused roughly one in every six.”.

Window Lights
If you’re using lanterns or bulb candles in your windows as decor for the holidays, as stated above make sure you turn these off before leaving or going to bed. You can use a timer but in our opinion, shutting them off yourself is much safer.   Although most newer products contain LEDs which pose less of a hazard, it’s better to know that these lights around your home are off while you sleep.

Outside Lights
Although Christmas trees are the number one concern when it comes to fire hazards around the home during the holidays, the outdoor lights can cause issues as well. Just last year, a home in our very own state of Texas caught fire when a string of lights sparked and sent the deck up in flames.

To steer clear of as many hazards as possible this holiday season, select high-quality lights that are designated for the outdoors and that have safety ratings. Stay away from those cheap dollar store lights.  Choose those that have been tested by the UL (Underwriters Laboratory) or ETL (Edison Testing Laboratories). If you’re going to continue using older sets, check for any damage to the wires that could cause a short. These light strands are kept in attacks and garages leaving them prone to nibbling by mice, plastic coating melting from summer heat, and other factors which can compromise their design making them faulty. Finally, don’t use metal, like nails and staples, to hang your lights; this can be an electrical hazard that would surely knock you off that ladder.  Use the insulated hooks and light clips that come with your sets.

7 Ways Natran Can Keep Your Home Healthy This Holiday Season

As the holiday season rolls in you are likely thinking of shedding those Thanksgiving lbs., decorating your home and procrastinating on your Holiday shopping rather than keeping your home pest free.  So here’s a few tips and reminders for our Natran family this holiday season:

7. Check your trees and decorations for bugs!!! See our recent blog on tips to accomplish this important task.

6. If your decorations are stored in card board boxes throughout the year, do not leave these boxes in closets or bedrooms until they go back into the attack, storage, or garage. Leaving them in the living quarters of your home will only draw in pests such as roaches to those areas.

5. Those spare bedrooms you have not entered in some time, step in and inspect them for excess dust and check for dead insects in window seals and light fixtures.

4. Change the linens if they have not been changed in a while. Dust can build up on pillows and comforters which you won’t see with the naked eye but can easily irritate ones sinuses. Additionally, small spiders seem to like taking cover underneath pillows and blankets which haven’t been disturbed in a while.

3. Here’s a tip which does not translate to most other places except for Houston. Yes it is the fall/winter but in Houston it has yet to get cold. Nowhere near freezing which means we still have plenty of pesky skeeters buzzing around. As always in Houston’s unpredictable climate make sure there is not any standing water outside of your home. The weather is cool enough to spend time outside but not cool enough to rid our yards of those mosquitoes.

2. Clean out your pantry and remove old, expired, and stale items such as chips, rice, cereal, bread.  Not only are they major attractants to small bugs but if they have not been opened in a while…. You know the ones WAAAAY in the back… then there is a good chance you might find a dead bug in them. Its gross but it common and it happens!

1. The toughest chore of all, after eating way to much at your holiday dinner…. As tough as it may be… you HAVE to clean those dishes, take out the trash and make sure all food and scraps are cleaned up. Not cleaning up and leaving overnight makes your kitchen a bug and rodent attractant and a heaven if they do find it.

To get your home checked before the family starts arriving give us a call today!

Happy Holidays from Natran!

Beware of Christmas Tree Stowaways

Happy Holidays Natran friends, family and to our wonderful clients!

Turkey day has come and gone and we have jumped right into our next holiday season!  As we decorate our office here at Natran, and our staff discuss their decorated homes amongst themselves we have come across quite an interesting reminder in the news which directly relates to our duties to ensure a #Healthyhome for all of our Natran family.

We would like to take the time to spread some awareness regarding… you guessed it… Pests. Those Christmas trees and other “live” decorative items can hold a whole slew of bugs you do not want in your home.  By bringing a Christmas tree into your home you could be exposing your home to up to 25,000 bugs!

To ensure your home stays pest free follow some of these tips below:

  1. Check your tree for bugs before entering the home
  2. Undersides of branches, crevices, etc
  3. Look for nests or other obvious signs of pest habitation
  4. If a pine tree be weary of bark beetles, preying mantises, and saw flies
  5. If you go with a Douglas-Fir tree check for spiders and mites.
  6. Neem oil is a great preventative step. Spray your tree down.
  7. Use a cloth, dust cloth or something of the sort to wipe down your tree for extra precaution

If you need a pest treatment or consultation gives us a call today!

The 411 on Mice and Rats

Mice and rats (as well as other rodents) are a lot like those relatives from up north in the winter they are looking for:

  • Food
  • Warmth
  • Shelter

No but seriously these rodents’ needs aren’t too much different than humans or other mammals.

Your dwelling provides these 3 needs so it is almost a given they decide to become occupants of garages, attic’s, and every hidden crawl space, gap in the walls in between as their new home.  Rapid breeding cycles often make the issue a tough one to handle if not attended too quickly. A concept of money and value to your belongings (sort of like your childrenJ) is surely something these creeps do not possess, they cause damage to your furniture, wiring, siding, sheetrock, etc. They can also carry many known diseases, making it just that more important to deter these pests from your home.

Once in your home they will find a quiet, secluded area where they can access food easily.  The obvious place is near the kitchen and pantry however they like hiding behind your warm refrigerator and behind other appliances. Given the opportunity mice will collect supplies like newspaper and card board to build their nests.

Tips to help prevent them from entering your home:

  • Entry Holes – Seal around cable and plumbing holes in the exterior walls. Rats and mice can fit in any gap larger then 5mm or will gnaw to make the hole larger to allow access.
  • Vents and Weep Holes – Using a pest resistant wire mesh to cover these areas and still allow air floor through these holes and prevent them from being an easy access points for rodents.
  • Doors and eaves – Apply brush or bristle strips to the base of doors where gaps are present. This is more common in older buildings where movement creates gaps under the doors. Also ensure you fix any damage to roofing preventing new access points.
  • Food Sources – Keep food in sealed metal and plastic containers. Ensure cupboards, refrigerators and stoves are kept clear and clean. Don’t allow oil and food waste to build up around these areas. Try to wash up after every meal or never leave dirty dishes overnight at least.
  • Fruit Trees and Vegetable gardens – Ripe fruit that has fallen from trees or building up in your garden can be an easy food source for mice and rats. They will spend the day hidden in various areas on your property coming out at night to the buffet left in front of them.
  • Cluttered homes and messy gardens – Rodents love to stay hidden which means cluttered environments give them many hiding spots or places to build their nests. Keep areas clear to help reduce these areas.

Red flags that mice are already in your home include:

Heavy movement along areas such as skirting boards and cupboards will show smear marks or oily streaks from the rats greasy hair continuously dragging along these common pathways. You will almost certainly begin to notice their droppings or urine marks from where they are marking their territory or communicating with other members of their group. Another obvious sign is areas in which they have started to gnaw or cables which have been eaten through. This can be a common fire hazard if these cables are active and left exposed. You may also hear them moving above you as you lay in bed at night.

Rodents can live from 1 year to 18 months if the conditions are favorable and can multiply very quickly in these luxurious environments. If you notice that mice are in your home, there are various things you need to try. What to do first once mice have entered your home:

  • Rodent traps from local hardware stores or pest control companies (CALL A PROFESSIONAL ASAP)
  • Cats, can be a great pet and help keep these unwanted visitors low in numbers. Larger populations are not controllable by felines due to the rapid rate of reproduction and simply being outnumbered. It can happen.
  • And again…….Call a Professional! Professionals are able use a quick and effective range of rodent baits to help rid you of rodent problems and can advise you on the safe way to treat your home and how to protect your family and current pets such as dogs and cats from ingesting the bait.  Pest professionals can dispose of these rodents in an environmentally friendly way.

Pest Control Myth Buster

Everyone thinks they are an expert when it comes to pest control. There are tons of myths out there that make it hard for the average person to know who they can and can’t trust. Here we have listed the five most common myths when it comes to pest control.

#1 – Clean house, no pest
A dirty house can be more susceptible to pest but don’t let your guard down. Some pest only need blood to survive not food or trash. For these pests it doesn’t matter if your home is clean or not they can survive on pets and humans.

#2 – I’ve never seen a bug in my house so I don’t need pest control
Most pest are very tiny and hard to see. They are good at hiding. Not seeing bugs in your house may comfort you but it doesn’t mean they aren’t lurking around the home. Sometimes pest can create thousands of dollars in damage before you even notice. A regular inspection and treatment is always important even if you don’t see bugs.

#3 – Use cheese to bait your mousetraps
Cheese will definitely entice a hungry mouse, but peanut butter is a better option. Since it is sticky it will adhere to the mousetrap and make a catch more likely.

#4 – Bug zappers will kill mosquitoes
A bug zapper is great for flies and other larger pest but don’t count on it to zap those pesky mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are not attracted to the bright light like other bugs. So when those lights get to zappin’ the skeeters keep buzzin. More of a direct approach is needed for mosquitoes such as bug sprays and repellents. For longer lasting treatments look to your pest control professionals for a yard fog and other larger scale preventative measures.

#5 – You do not need professional pest control
To ensure your home is healthy from pest it is always suggested that you have a professional service and inspect your home. Devices and products sold in stores typically fail to remove pest and most are not environmentally friendly. Which also means they are not healthy for your pets, children and the rest of your family. Natural/Green pest control is a growing trend and the only way to go if you want a healthy home.