From a pest control stand point, there are several areas to consider in a property inspection.

Some understanding of site conditions can go a long way to identifying possible problem areas on your projects.

Does the property abut any canyons or undeveloped properties?

These conditions can support a wide array of insect and wildlife issues, many out of your control. However, taking steps to make sure that all the door seals are in place, access holes around pipes have been sealed and all possible harborage areas are excluded will go a long way toward diverting problems before they arise.

Are trash areas maintained and kept reasonably clean?

There are three conditions that must be in place for rodent problems to develop: a place to eat, a place to drink and a place to sleep. If trash areas are maintained, especially around food handling establishments, many pest problems can be mitigated. Also, a policy of all trash must go inside the dumpster will limit harborage areas and nesting material.

How well does my building need to be sealed to be ‘Rodent Proof’?

Rats and mice have an uncanny ability to find the most obscure ways of entry. Typically research tells us that if a rodent can get his skull thru the gap, he can get into the build- ing. That means for rats, a gap of one half inch is all that’s needed, whereas mice can squeeze thru a gap as little as one quarter inch. So, even with properly installed rodent exclusion, a regular program of exterior rodent abatement is recommended.

Are rodent dropping really that much of a concern?

First, many have concern about Hantaviruses which can and do kill people every year; however that actual possibility of exposure is very limited. With that said, rodents are disease vectors and the presence of large quantities of droppings is indicative of a sus- tained population. For additional information on Hantaviruses:

What can be done about mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes have become a real concern because of the increase of West Nile Virus. Flying insects by their nature are hard to eliminate, but attention to a few conditions can greatly reduce to exposure of your tenants to mosquito borne disease

Is the property being over watered?

It is best to discuss this with your landscape company regarding the conditions on a specific property. However, be aware of areas where standing water may accumulate because these can be areas where mosquito the populations, given the right conditions, can explode.

Are there water features like fountains or ponds being maintained?

Sometimes the maintenance of fountains can be overlooked as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Regularly adding chlorine tablets to the water will eliminate the possibility of a problem. However, treating ponds with chlorine may be impractical, especially if the pond supports water fowl. In this case the introduction of mosquito fish may be the answer. Originally introduced into California as early as 1922, they have been one of the most effective non-insecticidal and non-chemical methods of controlling mosqui- toes. Contact your local Vector Control for more information.

Is there debris like tires or plastic containers that have standing water in them?

Mosquitoes don’t need much to reproduce. A little sun-warmed standing water in a plastic dish in the right conditions is all it takes. Talk to your day porter about being alert to excess trash and debris on the project. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Why does the CEO in the 15th floor corner office have gnats?

Fungal gnats are always found in relation to organic matter. Generally a problem like this stems from the fungus growth on plant roots such as potted plants that have been over watered or received that half full cold cup of morning coffee. Sometimes the problem stems from the stagnation of water in the condensation pans of the air conditioning units. Usually if the office has a service to maintain the plants cutting back the watering schedule will keep the fungus that the gnats feed on from developing. Additionally, just because the gnats show up in the CEO’s office doesn’t mean the source of the problem is in his office. Gnats migrate to the warm side of the building and will congregate on the windowsills. Our question is, “Why always in the CEO’s office?”

What about bees?

Africanized “killer” bees are here to stay in Southern California. IF YOU HAVE BEES ON YOUR PROPERTY, CALL US IMMEDIATELY! Our technicians drop everything they are doing to respond to a bee call because of the immediate threat to people. These bees kill people every year and many more are hospitalized. Bees on your properties must be considered a serious situation and steps should be taken to limit the liability exposure. We recommend that day porters be supplied with yellow caution tape to cordon off the area as soon as a swarm or hive is reported. Bees as a swarm passing thru your property generally are not inclined to attack. However once a swarm becomes a hive in a protected void, they become very territorial and can be very aggressive.

What can we do to keep bees from creating a hive on the property?

A diligent examination of the structures is needed to identify possible hive sites. Our experience has shown that bees often exploit construction flaws around roof lines, elec- trical conduit, gas and water lines, holes in the facade around signage or electrical boxes. Any hole that allows access to a void should be sealed.

What is involved in removing an established bee hive?

Once a hive is established the bees are quick to make a comb and begin honey produc- tion. If a hive has been left to develop over a month or so, several pounds of honey may have been produced. Once the bees are removed its important to open the void and remove the honey before it runs down the wall or ceiling, creating additional problems with ants, rodents, bee moth and fungus. Our in-house contractors open up the wall, remove the honey and comb, treat the cavity with chemicals to break down the bee pheromone, fill any entry point, and reseal the wall to original specifications. To give you an idea how busy bees can get, we removed a hive from an architectural dome on a commercial building that had a hive established and untreated for many years. We calculated that over 1000 pounds of honey and comb were removed!

Why do we keep getting bees returning to the property?

Bee swarms are the product of an established hive splitting once they have reached the capacity of their present location. European bees typically divide 2 to 3 times a year. The Africanized bees however, can and do swarm approximately once a MONTH! So one swarm in January could be over 2000 swarms in December! So, as you can see, the number of bee swarms has increased dramatically. Due to the nature of this insect there are no practical pretreatment methods available.

Why are all my pittasporum bushes turning brown and dying?

The pittasporum or “mock orange” is a small low-growing bush that is found in many landscape schemes and is very susceptible to damage by the California Meadow Vole. The Meadow Vole is a small rodent, a little smaller than a mouse, that chews away the bark around the base of a variety of landscape bushes, thus killing the plant. Regular rodent abatement with an agricultural bait is the best method of control.

I’ve got little paths worn in the grass areas. What could cause this?

Here again, the likely cause is meadow vole activity. They will often excavate a small hole about an inch in diameter and chew down the grass blades at the entrance as well as along paths to other burrows. They tend to be very social creatures so if you have one you probably have many.

I just planted fifty flats of flowers along the entry to the project and they’re gone! What happened?!

Strange but true. The culprit is more than likely rabbits running amok. At this point in time, the State of California does not allow us to use rodenticides against rabbits. Trap- ping is the only alternative. Our recommendation in this case is to discuss the problem with your landscaper to determine which plants are less likely to be eaten by hungry rabbits. There are some repellent treatments with short-term effects that can be helpful in protecting many plantings from rabbit damage.

We’ve got bats in our belfry!

Bats are actually beneficial because they moderate the flying insect populations. How- ever, large quantities of bats can produce a lot of bat guano that can be a vector for dis- ease. Currently there are varieties of fruit bats that fall under the Protected Species Act; so any removal of bats must be done in accordance with the law. Pestgon has developed ways to remove bats from nesting sites without harming or capturing of the bats.

What’s digging up my lawn?

Have you ever seen holes in you lawn that seem to appear over night? Most likely you’ve been visited by a skunk, opossum or raccoon. They often dig up well watered lawns in search for grubs that live around the roots of the grass. This problem is usually seasonal and can be mitigated with a reduction in irrigation in tandem with the applica- tion of a pesticide to kill the grubs. Live trapping of the animal is recommended if the problem persists.

I’ve got several people in an office area that complain about phantom bugs or itching. What could cause this?

They are sometimes affectionately called “no see-ums.” Here are a couple of consid- erations. Fungus gnats, which are a very tiny flying insect, can be the phantom pest that flashes in front of your monitor. Fungus gnats breed in moist and sour conditions. Finding the source is the key to control. Also, there is what is known as the ‘office itch syndrome’. One person claims to feel a bite or an itch and the next person agrees; soon the whole office is itching! Some may complain of paper mites or cable mites, but that is a myth. There is no known mite that attacks paper or computer cables. However, there may be other considerations requiring a more thorough investigation.

I’ve got tenants complaining about fleas. What can I do?

Fleas need a blood host to survive. In most circumstances this means an animal host. Although fleas will bite and feed on humans, they typically need an animal host to per- petuate the life cycle. In commercial settings it is unlikely that fleas will progenerate without an animal host ( dog, cat etc ). In most cases fleas often hitch hike to the office from the home of a dog or cat owner. Once an area is treated reinfestation is unlikely.

I just had a flea treatment a week ago and the fleas are back. What happened?

Fleas start out in the egg cycle. In this state they are impervious to any insecticide. When a flea treatment is performed the adulticide kills the adult flea and the IGR in- hibits the growth and development of fleas in the instar to biting adult stages. However 10 to 14 days after the initial treatment some of the egg hatch and can become bitting adults. This is short lived because the now adults come in contact with the insecticide residual and die in 2 to 4 days.

We see snails on our buildings and windows. What damage do they cause and what can be done to control them?

Snails breed in moist conditions so they are most prevalent during the rainy season or where irrigation keeps the soil damp. They are also host specific; so the type of land- scape planting plays a significant role in their presence. Snails secrete a caustic fluid that is very destructive to painted surfaces. They leave a very unsightly mess on build- ings. They also leave permanent, nickel size, ring marks etched into building paint and glass surfaces. Reflective window glass is particularly vulnerable to etching damage from snails. Snails are also very damaging to certain landscape plantings. They are best controlled with agricultural bait requiring an Agriculture Applicators license.

Some of our projects have rattlesnake problems; what can be done to stop them?

Rattlesnakes are found where there is sufficient cover to hide and a food source. Com- mercial projects and homes on canyons and next to brushy hillsides are most apt to host rattlesnakes. Keeping the brush cleared away for approximately 50 feet is helpful. Also, removing piles of debris that may become a harborage is important. A good rodent control program around buildings is important to eliminate their food source. Pestgon recommends and employs other prevention measures including direct removal.

What can be done about pigeons and seagulls atop our parking lot lights?

Pigeons and seagulls, like other nuisance birds, are present because of a food source. Usually, it is near a restaurant or food court area where they hang out. In localized areas, eliminating the readily available food is the first step. Exclusion or deterrent methods, such as spikes or ‘Hot Foot’, may also be used effectively.

Can I knock down the mud nest that the Swallows make each year?

Time of year is the key to the answer. Nesting swallows come under the protection of the Migratory Bird Act. So if the swallows have completed the nest and are sitting on eggs, destruction of the nest may result in a very steep fine. However, the nests can be removed while they are building and after the young have left the nest, without penalty.

What is digging the burrows in our crib walls?

Squirrels are master excavators, and because of this attention must be given to any activity noted on crib walls and embankments. Squirrels have been know to undermine walls to the point of collapse. With the heavy seasonal rains that we get in California an embankment riddled with squirrel burrows is ripe for landslide.

A scorpion was found in the shipping department; is my building infested!?

Scorpions are usually solitary insects that roam in search of other insects to eat. Of- fice areas do not provide a suitable habitat for scorpions. However occasionally one may wander in an open door. In areas where scorpions are common, the first control strategy is to modify the area surrounding the buildings. Sanitation is the first and most important step in scorpion control. Cardboard boxes, boards, rocks, and debris should be eliminated around and near foundation walls. Sticky traps at entry points is a good trapping method. The use of insecticides for scorpions is usually a last resort.

What about Termites?

Termites are ravenous wood scavengers and specialists at boring wood and eating out the soft cellulose between the wood ribs. Subterranean termites inhabit the damp soil in search of decaying underground wood. They built mud tubes from the ground up to the wood floor joists and substructures of buildings. Drywood termites generally seek dry wood above ground, such as wood siding, window frames and attics. Finding a pile of tiny pellets (like saw dust) that has fallen out of asmall hole in a piece of wood is usu- ally the first evidence of a dry-wood termite infestation. Many times, termite damage isn’t readily apparent because they hollow out the inside of the wood members. So, a good rule of thumb is to have your property inspected once a year.

If termites are found, do we have to fumigate?

Sometimes fumigation of a structure is impractical because of the tenant impact. The treatment method is directly proportional to the extent of existing damage. If the dam- age is severe enough, fumigation may be your only option. However, in the great majority of circumstances other options are available that will have a lower impact on your tenants. Many termite infestations begin at the extremities of the building and can be addressed with local spot treatments.

If we have to fumigate, how long does it take?

Generally most buildings take three days to turn around. In some circumstances in a commercial setting, four days may be neccesary. The termite inspector would be able to provide you with all the information for your particular situation.

Are subterranean and drywood termites treated the same?

No. Fumigation has little or no effect on subterranean termites. The colony lives in the soil; so treatment would include drilling through the concrete slab in the infected area and injecting systemic termiticide into the soil around the damage. Drywood termites are rarely found near the soil, and, as their name suggests, inhabit dry wood of attics, patio covers and exposed wood members.