We all want to stay warm and comfortable throughout the winter, and that includes pests as well as people. That means that, starting in the fall, we have to be particularly vigilant to make sure our homes do not become Pest Motels.
Here are some great tips to make sure your home is ready for a pest-free winter.
Check your foundation and window and door moldings for any cracks or crevices where critters might be able to sneak in. A simple caulk can do wonders if you do find any.
Eliminate clutter. The less stuff you have piling up in cupboards and cabinets the better as far as preventing hiding places. In a similar vein, throw out unwanted paper and cardboard boxes. These items, too, are attractive to pests.
Make sure you have plenty of food storage containers with tight-fitting lids. Similarly, store firewood away from your home so pests can’t easily make the leap indoors.
Examine pipes for leaks and call the plumber if necessary so you don’t have any pools of water within your home, inviting bugs, among other issues.
Finally, use screens on any household vents to further thwart critters looking for warmth.
WEYMOUTH — Weymouth officials are asking residents to stay indoors after dark following the death of a local woman from Eastern equine encephalitis.
An 85-year-old Weymouth woman who died Friday at South Shore Hospital is the first human case of the mosquito-borne virus this season, officials said. The woman’s identity has not been released, and officials are still trying to figure out where she was infected.
Mayor Susan Kay and Health Director Daniel McCormack held a special press conference Wednesday at Weymouth Town Hall, advising residents to take extra precautions against mosquito-borne viruses such as EEE and West Nile. The town has canceled all upcoming outdoor evening activities, including Thursday night’s planned screening of “The Goonies” at George Lane Beach.
The state, in response to the woman’s death, has raised Weymouth’s risk level for mosquito-borne viruses to “high,” the second-highest risk level. “High” is below “critical” and above “moderate.”
Weymouth officials are urging residents to avoid the outdoors at night. However, if people go out, they should wear mosquito repellant and avoid standing water.
On Monday, three days after the woman died, the Department of Public Health told Weymouth officials that the woman did not test positive for EEE. However, town officials said they were notified Tuesday that further testing revealed she did test positive for EEE.
Mosquitoes with the encephalitis virus have been found in Dighton, Easton, Halifax, Hanover, Mansfield, Rehoboth and Rockland.
The West Nile virus is more widespread, showing up in mosquitoes in Abington, Attleboro,Bridgewater, Brockton, Dartmouth, Dighton, Easton, Fall River, Freetown, Halifax, Hanover, Lakeville, Mattapoisett, Middleboro, Rockland, Norton, Raynham, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Swansea, Taunton, Wareham, West Bridgewater, Westport and Whitman.
Most of southeastern Massachusetts is listed as low risk for encephalits. Communities where the risk is considered moderate are Brewster, Bridgewater, Canton, Carver, Easton, Halifax, Kingston, Kingston, Lakeville, Marshfield, Mattapoisett, Middleboro, New Bedford, Plympton, Raynham, Rehoboth, Rochester and West Bridgewater.
OPEN THE EEE RISK MAP IN A NEW WINDOW
WEST NILE VIRUS MAP
The risk for West Nile is also listed as moderate in Brockton and Fall River and surrounding communities.
There were seven cases of Eastern equine encephalitis in the state last year. The disease is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The disease is rare but often fatal.
The first symptoms are a fever as high as 106 degrees, stiff neck, headache and lack of energy. Symptoms appear three to ten days after a bite from an infected mosquito.
Inflammation and swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, is the most dangerous and common serious complication. The disease generally worsens quickly, and some patients may go into a coma within a week.
The agency offers these tips for preventing exposure to encephalitis.
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535 according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not b used on children under three years of age.
Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.
Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Protect Your Animals
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is diagnosed with WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.
More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results from 2013, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.
DPH has produced a series of 30-second videos on how to prevent mosquito and tick bites and the illnesses that can result. All videos can be found at www.mass.gov/MosquitoesAndTicks. Media outlets are encouraged to share these videos on their websites. Instructions on how to embed the videos into external websites are included on this webpage.
By Christian Schiavone
GateHouse Media New England
Reposted By Matthew Noon Google+
Tick-borne Lyme disease is epidemic in New England, but prevention efforts are scattershot, lagging far behind need
Laurie Bent (left) dressed in light clothing to avoid tick bites during a walk with Emily Hutcheson and Bent’s dog.
Should we kill all the deer?
That was the question facing residents of Maine’s Monhegan Island in the mid-1990s. Lyme disease caused by deer tick bites afflicted 13 percent of the year-round inhabitants. The parasites often feed on deer before laying eggs, the argument went, so wipe out the herd and we might be rid of the ticks.
After fierce debate, islanders made the wrenching decision: Hire sharpshooters.
“Everyone was sort of fond of the deer . . . but we considered this an epidemic,” said Doug Boynton, a longtime resident. More than 100 deer were shot, and today, he said, “Lyme disease is virtually nil here.”
Few other communities have followed Monhegan’s example, however. Blame the Bambi effect, as well as doubts about whether herd culling can work in places where there are dramatically more deer and people. Most other efforts to keep ticks and people apart have also foundered, even as Lyme has emerged as the second most commonly reported infectious disease in New England.
This regional epidemic has yet to trigger a broad public health response on par with prevention blitzes aimed at some other pervasive maladies. That is partly because ticks are a devious foe. Vacation spots are often loath to publicize the threat for fear of scaring off business, and the public and politicians often do not perceive Lyme as a serious malady. The result is a lopsided spending gap between prevention efforts for tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses.
“Lyme disease in Massachusetts has been an epidemic for years. However, it has not received the attention that it deserves,’’ said Representative David P. Linsky, a Natick Democrat who spearheaded a special state commission on Lyme disease that released a report this year urging the state to combat the illness more aggressively.
Ticks have stealth on their side. Often as small as a pinhead, they don’t buzz in warning and their bite is painless. At home in our backyards, soccer fields, and hiking trails, they are far more challenging to eliminate than mosquitoes. And they are ubiquitous in the very places New Englanders flock in the summer — from mountain paths to stream-side camping grounds.
Even in winter, ticks can bite on warm days, and climate change is lengthening the seasons when ticks are most active.
Yet people often don’t take simple precautions. Constant tick vigilance can be wearying — and besides, it’s geeky to pull your socks over your pants.
“It’s frustrating — we haven’t hit upon the right message yet to reach a lot of people,’’ said Tom Mather, a University of Rhode Island professor who runs tickencounter.org, a prevention-based website. Mather has spent years trying to come up with innovative ways to get people to spray tick repellent on clothes or tuck their pants inside socks when going for hikes. He even tried, unsuccessfully, to get the Rhode Island legislature to introduce a lottery scratch ticket dotted with ticks to raise awareness.
If Lyme is caught early, most people recover quickly with antibiotics, but up to 25 percent of people report feeling unwell after treatment — sometimes for months or years. There is enormous controversy among some doctors and members of the publicabout why these patients are sick and how long symptoms can last. But there is no doubt that Lyme is a significant health threat. Untreated, the disease can cause a range of symptoms, from facial paralysis to arthritis and heart problems, to more common complaints of fatigue and headaches. Deer ticks can also transmit four other diseases to humans.
“One bite can really change your life,” said Mather, who rarely travels without a pair of pointy tick-plucking tweezers in his pants pocket. “It seems like prevention is such a hard sell … and it shouldn’t be.”
Tick prevention has a big problem: Us. People are slow to adopt new habits, even when they protect us from harm. Think sunscreen. Or flossing. Or exercise.
It can seem a real bother to perform daily tick checks or follow the recommended long-pants dress code while in the garden or on a hike. Others are simply oblivious, lulled into a false sense of security because, unlike a mosquito’s buzz and bite, the tiny ticks are often imperceptible. It’s hard to remain vigilant about something you cannot see or feel.
Nowhere has that response been more apparent than on Cape Cod and the Islands, which long have had some of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the Northeast. Last year, state officials said the region had 438 confirmed or probable cases of Lyme disease — although cases statewide are believed to be five to 10 times greater than reported because so many patients go undiagnosed or do not fit reporting criteria.
One 1990s-era survey of ferry passengers to Martha’s Vineyard found that while 73 percent of people had a good understanding of Lyme disease, only 22 percent performed tick checks.
“Even for those of us who preach prevention, it can be hard,’’ said Brenda Boleyn, volunteer chairwoman of the Barnstable County Lyme/Tick-borne Diseases Task Force.
And a surprising number of Vineyard tourists are not even aware of the Lyme risk. A recent survey found that 63 percent of visitors were unaware that tick-borne illnesses are a health threat on the island.
Now, a number of local agencies are working to turn the tables on ticks and disease. The Martha’s Vineyard Boards of Health Tick-Borne Illness Initiative is working to reduce severe tick-borne illnesses 75 percent by 2015.
The initiative recently provided parents of every grade-school child — one of the highest-risk populations — a brochure and DVD on how to protect against tick-borne diseases. The group, armed with a $250,000 grant from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, is focusing on bite prevention and early symptoms recognition and treatment.
The coalition has also surveyed pharmacies that dispensed antibiotics to treat Lyme to get a clearer picture of the disease’s prevalence.
“We want this to be data-driven and sustainable,’’ said Michael Loberg, a Tisbury Board of Health commissioner and a member of the coalition.
On the Cape, the five-year-old volunteer group Lyme Awareness of Cape Cod regularly blankets the region with pamphlets and holds awareness events. A federally funded four-year experiment has placed 42 deer feeding stations on the Cape and Islands, where the animals’ heads and necks — common hiding places for ticks — rub against a pesticide applicator as they get food. The project is in its final year before being evaluated to see whether it should continue or be expanded, said Larry Dapsis, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension entomologist and deer tick project coordinator.
Dapsis, meanwhile, is intent on increasing the number of garden stores that carry permethrin, an effective tick repellent that can be sprayed on clothing, from two to 15. The chemical is not meant to be sprayed on skin.
Store managers “just need a little tick boot camp, a little education,’’ he said.
These efforts, and others across the state, often rely on shoestring funding and volunteers: Unlike the more than $10 million spent statewide on prevention of mosquito-borne diseases, the state allocates only a few tens of thousands of dollars for tick-disease education. Last year, there were 33 human cases of West Nile virus and seven cases of Eastern equine encephalitis reported in Massachusetts; both are spread by mosquitoes. There were more than 5,000 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme.
In the State House
There are signs that Lyme and ticks may soon get more attention. The Lyme special commission’s report called for the state to launch a range of prevention efforts, from aggressive public education to clearing brush from trails to exploring expanded bow hunting for deer in more parts of the state. The report called for an increase in state funding, but the Legislature and governor so far have not acted on the suggestions.
Still, a hearing is expected in coming months for a bill reintroduced in the State House this year by Representative Carolyn C. Dykema, a Holliston Democrat, that would expand the authority of the state’s mosquito control districts to include controlling the tick population.
Other headway is being made by the federal government. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Environmental Protection Agency have convened meetings in recent years to discuss possible community-wide tick control measures that might be effective.
Disease-carrying mosquitoes are readily killed by spraying because they breed in standing water and wetlands, “but ticks are everywhere,’’ said Kirby Stafford III of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, who has written extensively on tick prevention. Ticks live under leaf litter and brush. “It’s not easy to reach them,” he said.
Yet federal officials say it is clear that more coordinated action by public health agencies is needed.
“For some reason, tick control has fallen largely on the shoulders of individual homeowners,’’ said C. Ben Beard, chief of the Bacterial Diseases Branch of the CDC. “It needs to be thought of as a community-based responsibility.”
Deer ticks got their name because so many feed on the serene mammals. Deer populations have steadily increased over the last century in the Northeast, and a Rhode Island study by Mather found that five engorged ticks, each able to lay 2,500 or more eggs, can drop off a single deer every day during October and November.
“Reduce deer and you significantly reduce risk,” said Sam R. Telford III, a professor at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
In Massachusetts, some communities — including Framingham, Sudbury, Andover, and Dover — allow bow-hunting on town property to reduce deer populations to prevent Lyme. But as the practice gains traction, so does controversy. A group of Weston residents this year unsuccessfully attempted to repeal a year-old bow-hunting program that killed 18 deer last year.
“The group against hunting is not just people who are deer lovers,’’ said Diane Anderson, co-founder of Weston Deer Friends. “There is a spectrum — people concerned about the safety of dogs and children; others who feel very strongly that town lands are for townspeople to enjoy. . . . Plus there was nothing showing it was going to work.”
Some scientists are on the opponents’ side, saying it is not clear that culling deer will reduce ticks, because adult ticks may find other hosts to latch on to for a needed meal of blood before they lay eggs.
“The only real evidence there is a relationship between deer numbers and Lyme disease risk took place on islands,’’ where there were no other large animal hosts for adult ticks, said Richard S. Ostfeld, disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. Some research suggests more needs to be done to control mice, which often pass the Lyme bacteria to young ticks, perhaps by increasing populations of predators, such as fox.
Research also shows that deer herds need to get down to about 8 to 10 per square miles to have a significant effect on human disease — Martha’s Vineyard has 40 to 50 per square mile, according to a just completed census — and most towns’ programs have not met that goal. Even if they do, neighboring communities may not reduce herds, which cross town boundaries.
“It has to be a regional effort,” said Laurie Bent, Weston Conservation Commission chairwoman. An avid walker on town lands, she dresses in light-colored clothes, long pants, and a long-sleeve shirt — and she even bought a white standard poodle in part because ticks would be more visible on her pet. “This is a start,” she said of Weston’s bow-hunting program.
Mather is in the deer-culling camp, saying the evidence is overwhelming that it helps to limit disease spread. But he urges multiple approaches to prevention. He spearheaded development of tiny tubes filled with tick-repellent cotton balls that residents can leave in backyards. Mice take the balls back to their nests so ticks do not latch onto them to feed. There is also ongoing work by Telford and others to vaccinate mice, to keep them from infecting ticks with Lyme. And in New York, an experiment is testing contraceptive injections to reduce deer-herd growth.
Mather continues to find new ways to reach the public. Recently, he’s tried to buttress his case by gluing seed-sized deer ticks onto the surface of a poppy seed bagel.
“A lot of people say they will never eat a poppy seed bagel again,” Mather said. “But they get the message how small these ticks are. We are trying to get out a prevention message that sticks.”
By Beth Daley | GLOBE STAFF | JULY 14, 2013
Reposted By Matthew Noon Google+
Lyme disease incidences are higher in New England states. The chart below, shows detail of these statistics.Note that Massaschusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, and Rhode Island are all in the Top 13 states.
Reported cased of Lyme disease by state or locality, 2002-2011†
- Page last reviewed: September 10, 2012
- Page last updated: October 29, 2012
- Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD)
Reposted and Highlighted By Matthew Noon Google+
The actual number of ticks present can vary from place to place and year to year. Chart shows when each stage is most prevalent wherever deer ticks are found.
SOURCE: Kirby Stafford III, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
Reposted By Matthew Noon Google+
Our lawn technicians have been noticing some signs of Red Thread on properties across the state. From lawns in Boston to lawns in Worcester to lawns in Chelmsford, Noon Turf Care is here to help. Keep an eye out on your property for signs of Red Thread so that proper measures can be made to address this issue. Fungicide applications (red thread grass treatment for red thread disease/fungus) offered by Noon Turf Care can help alleviate this issue.
Watch the video below of one of our first ever video blogs. Sorry it’s pretty rough, we used a cell phone camera and windows moviemaker
By Matthew Noon Google+
IT’S EASY TO SIGN UP NOW FOR OUR 2013 COMPLETE LAWN PROGRAM. WE JUST MADE IT EASIER BECAUSE YOU GET A LIME TREATMENT FREE!
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If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.
You spend precious time and money making your lawn look perfect, but in a matter of days, lawn pests can undo all your hard work. Common lawn pests like chinch bugs and mole crickets can turn your lush green lawn into a disaster with yellow patches and dead grass. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you suspect something is eating away at your grass, try a home test to see if one of the many common lawn pests is infiltrating your yard. A bucket of soapy water poured over a patch of your lawn will irritate the skin of bugs and bring them to the surface. Once you determine the cause, try a treatment plan to get rid of the pests. Of course, if you have a bigger problem on your hands call in the professionals..
Remember to take precautions when using at home pesticides and chemicals. They are often not safe for pets and may irritate a child’s skin, and yours, if contact is made. Always use protective clothing when spraying chemicals. Keep pets and humans away from treated areas for at least 24 hours.
These simple tricks can help keep your lawn healthy and free of pests. Have a recurring problem? For a stress free way of eliminating bugs and keeping them away, call Noon Turf Care and have us routinely check and treat for problems.
Noon Turf Care’s CFO and management team of 12 attended the Green Systems Annual Software conference where she was the keynote speaker. Stephanie Lee tells her inspiring life story where she overcame adversity and many challenges throughout her personal life and professional career to get to where she is today. She explains how she started at Noon Turf Care as an administrative assistant when Noon Turf was a small startup company with only 6 employees and worked her way up to CFO in 5 years where the company now employs over 50 professionals.
Lee was so successful early on at Noon Turf Care that owners Matt and Chris Noon offered to assist her in paying for her undergraduate degree to retain her employment at their company long-term. This past year Lee was named the CFO of the year by the Boston Business Journal.
Lee finished her speech by saying “The advice I can give younger professionals looking to work their way up in a company is as difficulties arise, just remember you’re stronger than you think you are. Never use the setbacks and losses in your life as a crutch.”
Noon Turf Care and its team spent 3 days at the conference attending software training classes, networking and learning new techniques they could apply to further improve their company. Everyone had a great time learning new software updates, team building and enjoying the fantastic Florida weather.
About Noon Turf Care: Noon Turf Care was started in 2001 by brothers Christopher Noon, Seton Hall graduate class of 2000, and Matthew Noon, Boston College graduate class of 2002. It started as a small internet based Lawn Care Company that provides Massachusetts residences and businesses with fertilization services for lawns, trees and shrubs. Noon Turf care is a privately owned company that prides themselves on providing exceptional and personal service in an industry dominated by large national chains. Noon Turf Care services over 6,000 customers and has a team of over 50 lawn and horticulture specialists working for the company.
By Matthew Noon Google+