Some pest problems can be easily handled at home yourself. But if your pest issue is a bit more serious, or you don't have the time or tools to address it yourself, hiring a pest control company might be your best option. Pest management professionals are trained in pest control regulations and methods as well as the principles of integrated pest management (IPM). They can accurately identify your pest and get rid of the problem safely and effectively. While their services may seem costly, the investment can actually save you time and money in the long term.
Before hiring a pest control company, try to do some research on your suspected pest and its management. Consult the UC IPM Pest Notes for help with identification and management to see what control options are available. When you contact a pest control company, prepare yourself to ask about these options and whether they provide IPM services like monitoring, pest exclusion, baiting, trapping, and reduced-risk (less toxic) pesticides.
For detailed steps and questions to ask when hiring a pest control company, consult the newly revised Pest Notes: Hiring a Pest Control Company authored by UC IPM advisors Siavash Taravati, Andrew Sutherland, and UCCE advisor Darren Haver.
They may seem too tiny to do much damage to a mature, healthy tree, but invasive shothole borers (ISHB) are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of trees in Southern California. These beetles bore into trees and infect them with Fusarium dieback, a fungal disease that kills the trees. Many native California trees like California sycamore, valley oak, and arroyo willow can be killed when invasive shothole borers attack them.
While these pests are currently only found in Southern California, they could spread to many other parts of the state. Limiting the infestation will reduce their impact. Controlling the beetles is difficult but includes regular monitoring of trees to quickly identify sources of beetles, disposing of infested cut wood, and appropriate pesticide treatments.
What can you do to help?
- Don't move firewood around the state. These beetles and other potentially damaging beetles are easily moved on cut wood. Buy it where you burn it.
- Learn more about host trees, symptoms of infestation, and what to do.
UC IPM's new publication, Pest Notes: Invasive Shothole Borers is written by various state experts on this pest and contains everything you need to know about the beetle. Visit the UC IPM website for specific management recommendations, identification of the beetles, and lists of trees affected.
Many of us at UC IPM are cat lovers and owners. Cats are popular household pets that bring joy and companionship to many families. Feral cats, on the other hand, can cause problems in our communities and around our homes and gardens.
Feral cats are unsocialized, unowned cats that live outdoors. The problems they can cause are well documented. Feral cats are not treated by owners or veterinarians so they can carry contagious diseases like flea-borne typhus and rabies, and parasites like hookworm and fleas which can affect pets, humans, and other animals. Cats are also well-known hunters of songbirds and can significantly impact wildlife populations. While feral cats hunt, they do not completely control populations of house mice and rats, especially if food left for feral cats is present. Not only do the cats have access to the food, these rodents will also eat it and will continue to reproduce due to the availability of a food source.
A new resource by the UC Statewide IPM Program, Pest Notes: Feral Cats, covers the impacts and concerns associated with feral cats in California's urban areas. One of the main points made in the publication is advising people not to feed feral cats since this causes them to congregate, leading to rising populations, and potential for diseases and other problems noted above. See the Pest Notes: Feral Cats on the UC IPM website to learn more.
Voles are small, mouselike rodents that can be pests in gardens and landscapes. They damage many types of plants with their gnawing, from vegetables to turf to trees. Voles can gnaw completely around the trunk or roots of trees, causing girdling, which can kill trees.
Voles spend most of their time below ground in their burrows, but you can spot their presence by the well-traveled runways connecting the burrow openings. They prefer not to feed in the open to keep away from predators.
Voles are normally found in areas with dense vegetation, so clearing brush is one way to discourage them. Find out more about managing these rodents in the newly updated Pest Notes: Voles. UC Davis Wildlife Specialist Roger Baldwin has added information such as range maps, distinguishing vole damage from gopher damage, and improving trapping success.
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With many people thinking about turkey this time of year, we thought we would provide some interesting facts about wild turkeys for you to share during your holiday gatherings!
- Turkeys are not native to California but were introduced by European settlers. Most turkeys we eat are raised on farms but there are millions of turkeys that roam wild. The population of wild turkeys in California is estimated today to be roughly a quarter million birds!
- Turkeys are polygamous, meaning they will have more than one mate. They breed in the spring and as a result, males are more aggressive during that time. We've heard stories of people being chased by male turkeys while crossing the street!
- Female turkeys only lay 1 egg a day but will lay a total of 9 to 13 eggs over 2 weeks. Newly hatched turkeys will leave the nest within 12 to 24 hours.
- They are omnivores, eating plant material like grasses and fruit as well as insects, rodents, and lizards.
- Although tempting, you should not feed wild turkeys. Wild animals should be left to forage and hunt for themselves and not rely on humans for food. Did you know that it is in fact illegal to feed wildlife in California?
- Thinking of stalking your neighborhood flock to snag a bird for your holiday feast? Turkeys are considered game birds so there is a hunting season and you will need a license by the California Fish and Wildlife Department.
Learn more about wild turkeys and how to manage them in your neighborhood or property, by visiting the UC IPM publication Pest Notes: Wild Turkeys.