Brrrr! Winter Weather’s Effects on BUGS and other PESTS…

So, you thought that this cold weather would knock out all the Florida critters we deal with? Well think again! In Florida, WE BREED BUGS! And just because we are having a spot of “frigidness” (is that a word?) here and there, for the most part it’s never long enough to really knock out any of the bugs like it may up north. Just think about it…last night we were supposed to reach freezing temperatures and in the next two days we’ll be back in the 80’s!! The bugs and critters (as well as the lawn, plants & flowers) are CONFUSED–and I hope this information helps you NOT BE.

When winter weather arrives, some pests go into hibernation while others enter homes seeking warmth and food sources. We want to encourages homeowners to take several precautions against common winter pests like mice, rats, raccoons, cockroaches and spiders. Here are some “Prevent-a-Tips” to prevent an infestation now, and over the next few months.

the bug stops here logoIf you have already been invaded by any of these OR others, you can count on us at PEST CONTROL GENERAL STORE to help you eliminate the problems SAFELY and effectively. Ask us how, then Do-It-Youself!! We are Professional Pest Management Specialists…not sales clerks! The products we sell and the advice that we offer far surpasses discount chain stores. There is no comparison. You’ll find us in Holiday, Florida at:  2636 US Highway 19, or online at www.pestcontrolgeneral.com as well as on Facebook! Oh…and be on the lookout for our NEW e-Commerce Website coming soon!! We will now be able to ship our products and provide our expert advice all across the nation!

House Mice
The house mouse is the most commonly encountered rodent in the United States. House mice usually nest in dark, secluded areas like attics and storage buildings and garages. This rodent can cause serious property damage by chewing through drywall and also wires that can then spark an electrical fire. House mice are also known to contaminate food and spread diseases, including Salmonella and tapeworms.

Prevent-a-Tips:

Mice can fit through an opening as small as a dime. Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home with caulk and steel wool.

Keep areas clear and store boxes off of the floor because mice like to hide in clutter.

Regularly inspect the home for signs of mice, such as droppings, gnaw marks and damaged food.

Norway RatsNorway Rats
Norway rats often nest in piles of debris and other undisturbed materials. They are known to gnaw through almost anything – including plastic or lead pipes – to obtain food or water. They can cause extensive damage to your property. Norway rats are also a vector of many diseases like jaundice, rat-bite fever and cowpox virus.

Prevent-a-Tips:

Norway rats can fit through an opening as small as ½ inch (or the size of a quarter).

Inspect the outside of the home for any gaps or crack and fill them with silicone caulk.

Eliminate sources of moisture in crawl spaces and basements.

Regularly inspect inside the home for signs of an infestation, including greasy rub marks caused by the rat’s oily fur.

German Roach InfestationGerman Cockroaches
The German cockroach is the most common species of cockroach found throughout the world! German cockroaches prefer to live in small areas close to food and moisture, so human homes make the perfect habitat. This type of cockroach often hitchhikes indoors via grocery bags, boxes and secondhand appliances, and is commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms. German cockroaches can contaminate food sources and spread bacteria and human pathogens. Moreover, cockroach allergens are know to trigger allergies and exacerbate asthma symptoms, especially in children.

Prevent-A-Tips:

Keep counters and floors clean and free of crumbs.

Vacuum frequently and dispose of garbage regularly.

Pay attention to kitchens and bathrooms, especially under appliances and sinks.

Be aware of bringing in second-hand items! Thoroughly inspect furniture, appliances, even clothes, books and nick-nacks for they can introduce an infestation to your home!!!

Brown Recluse SpiderBlack Widow and Brown Recluse Spiders
Brown recluse spiders prefer to spin webs in undisturbed places, such as closets, attics, crawl spaces and garages. Like other types of spiders, the brown recluse is frequently found inside cardboard boxes, along window moldings and in seldom-used clothing and shoes. These spiders can bite and inject venom if disturbed, making them dangerous to humans.

Prevent-A-Tips:

Keep trees and shrubs trimmed away from the home and cut back limbs overhanging the roof. This will help reduce the chance of spiders finding a way inside.

Store clothing and shoes inside plastic containers. Pay special attention to shoes, baseball mitts and gloves that aren’t used as frequently as other items, as spiders like to hide inside them.

If you suspect you have a spider bite, seek prompt medical attention.

mean racoon imageRaccoons
Raccoons are commonly found all throughout Florida (and the country.) This type of wild animal occasionally enters homes through attics or chimneys in search of a denning site. Raccoons are a major host of rabies in the United States.

Prevent-a-Tips:

Store trashcans and recycling bins in sealed areas such as a locked shed or outhouse. If trashcans are kept outdoors, use animal-proof lids.

Inspect the outside of your home for access points, such as broken vent covers.

Repair any loose siding or shingles.

Install a mesh cover or cap over chimneys and other exposed openings to prevent entry.

Keep tree branches trimmed back from the house.

I hope you find these Prevent-a-Tips helpful. If we can be of any service to you in helping eliminate these or any other pests, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (727) 942-3551. Or, better yet, visit us in our store, or online!

Have a SAFE Spray,

The Florida Bug Expert Mona Giordano, CPO

The Florida Bug Expert
Mona Giordano, CPO

Mona Giordano, Certified Pest Control Operator

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Hmmm?

NOT! Unless of course she wants to tan while she works out…..

Well, it’s that time of year again! Spring has sprung and it’s time to get crackin’ in the lawn and garden (At least for those that are in the south and not covered by mountains of snow and slush, or still freezing temperatures!)

Ahhhh, Sunny Florida, Palm trees blowing in the tropical breeze, green lush lawns, delicious fruit just dangling from trees, spectacular visions of vibrantly colored flowers, sand, beaches,AND…chinch bugs, grub worms, fleas, ticks, fungus disease! What’s a homeowner to do? Well, I’m so glad you asked because that’s exactly what I do. My name is Mona Giordano and I am the “florida bug expert” here on Word Press, but in my real day to day job, I am a State Certified Pest Control Operator who has traded in her “pump sprayer” for a 9-5, air conditioned job in a retail do it yourself pest control shop called PEST CONTROL GENERAL STORE ( http://pestcontrolgeneralstore.com )located in sparkling downtown, Holiday, Florida!

What I now do, is teach homeowners and businesses how to do their own pest control and lawn & garden care using the “tools of my trade” as a professional pest control operator. We identify lawn problems, insects, critter droppings, termites, etc. and then show you how to use the “good stuff” SAFELY while getting expert results at a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional. Because Spring and Fall are the primary times to fertilize and get going on a lawn care program, I decided to prepare a little checklist for you to get you going on the right track.

March/April and then Sept/Oct are the times to be applying a slow-release, good quality fertilizer to your lawn. We are currently recommending our custom blended 16-2-8 with a solid secondary and primary nutrient package. You always want to use a slow release nitrogen source so you don’t encounter any burning or streaking AND what else is in that mix makes all the difference! The label should read like a One-A-Day Vitamin; zinc, copper, boron, iron, manganese, magnesium and molybdenum to name a few.  This should never be done 1) if there is any active fungus present (the nitrogen will spread the fungus like a wild fire) and 2) before all danger of frost and freeze is gone.

If you are planning to re-seed or re-sod, it’s time to rake out all of the dead areas from winter damage and prepare the soil. This holds true for flower beds and vegetable gardens as well.

If you have weeds growing already, this is the perfect time to treat with pre-emergent weed killers to keep weeds from growing OR to treat with post emergent weed killers (not until the temps are between 70-82′ though and NEVER when the temp is over 85!!) to get them under control BEFORE they start getting out of control! Different turf grasses need different weed killers so make sure you are dealing with a professional for good advice (hey, like US). Weed killers cause more damage than any other type of pesticide!!

This is the time to repair/prepare/guage your sprinkler system. You may find that you have cracked or mis-directed heads on some, while others may be not working at all. Best to get this in check before the rapid growing season. Put out 6-8 Dixie Cups in each zone and water during your regular time, on your regular day and then see how many “inches” of water your system is delivering. It is not about how many “minutes” you water, it’s about how many “inches” you water. Florida lawns only need 1″ of water PER WEEK in the cooler months and 1 1/2″ during the hot months–HONEST! Too much water is more damaging than not enough!!

Sharpen those lawn mower blades!  When the blade is dull, it tears and splits the grass blades leaving them frayed and damaged and wide open to disease pathogens.

Last, but certainly at the top of the important things to do list is Insect Control! This category, along with proper feeding and watering are the MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL! We have found that using a granular insecticide every 3-4 months or a liquid insecticide every 6-8 weeks is imperative to controlling all the various insects we deal with in a Florida lawn. We do NOT recommend the discount chain store items for this important task. Manufacturers spend millions of dollars promoting products that don’t work or work marginally, for a short duration, but because you here it advertised over and over, you get the impression that it’s good stuff, after all, they sell pallets of the stuff, right? WRONG! This happens with all of the chemicals, but many homeowners and businesses aren’t even aware that there is a Pest Control General Store, staffed by professionals where you can get the right advice, the right products and the proper instruction. Well, you do now and we are more than happy to help!

I hope this information sets you up for a beautiful, green, colorful, productive spring and summer lawn and garden. If you need further help, we are here for you Mon-Fri from 9-5 and Sat from 9-2. If you are not local, no worries. You can send us samples of bugs in the mail, send us pictures via e-mail or text….whatever it takes to get the job done. We can ship to most states and we always provide a wealth of in-detail instructions to make sure your application is not only effective, but more importantly SAFE for you, your children, your pets and the environment. When it comes to pest control and lawn care–you’ve got a friend in “the business”

Until next time, be blessed and….HAVE A SAFE SPRAY!

The Florida Bug ExpertMona Giordano, CPO

The Florida Bug Expert
Mona Giordano, CPO

 

 

 

TOTALLY OFF TOPIC, BUT…

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So…I’ve been struggling with trying to learn how to BLOG, Tweet, Pin, Post, Link, etc., etc., and I have been completely OVERWHELMED by it ALL!  It seems like I’ve had an identity crisis going on within.  I am an entrepreneur to the max and I wear so many hats that I could never decide which business (or ministry) that I wanted to do all of the Social Media on? Truth is, I wanted to do it on ALL of them and I’ve learned that it just isn’t possible with my crazy-busy schedule.

So here’s what I do–who I am; I am a State Certified Pest Control Operator, and Retail Store Owner/Operator. This business is called Pest Control General Store and we (my husband, Peter and myself) have been “doin bugs” for the past 26 years, at this location and about 30+ years total. (okay, now you know I’m no spring chicken.)  We are experts in our field and what we do is teach homeowners and businesses how to DO THEIR OWN PEST CONTROL IN HOMES, BUSINESSES, LAWNS AND PETS using the professional strength products and tools or our trade so the results are not only effective, but, more importantly, SAFE for the applicator, children and pets (as well as the environment). Please visit our FB page Pest Control General Store and visit our (going to be totally re-done) website at www.pestcontrolgeneral.com.

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Another one of the hats I wear is that of a Thirty-One Gifts Consultant. I am a “Bag Lady!”of sorts. This is one of my more entertaining jobs as every time I go to work, I end up at a party! LOL This is a direct sales position selling purses and totes, accessories, home organizational items, etc. and I just love it!! If you’re wondering what it is, go to: www.mythirtyone.com/monalisa and check out the fun and functional products!!

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 When I’m not busy doing one of those, you can find me Doing a vendor event or expo with my sideline business “Inspirational BLING!” This one kind of came about as an extension of a Coffee Church I used to have called The Coffee Spot House of Praise (a non-denominational church, cleverly disguised as a coffee shop) anyway, I sold costume jewelry that was affordable and really cute, while being a positive witness by the wearer. It is  Crosses and Bible Verses on necklaces, bracelets, phone charms, etc. It just caught on and women LOVE IT, so I kept doing it even when the Coffee Spot closed. (The reason it closed is because I nearly died and had to have a liver transplant back in October of 2010. That’s another BLOG in itself!)

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If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a Christian and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ!! This is my very favorite thing that I do out of all of them! I am a singer/songwriter, the women’s ministry director at my church and sold-out believer. In that role, I lead Women’s Bible Studies, Sing on the Praise Team and hopefully lead people into the arms of Jesus by the way I live my life. It IS, afterall, about the walk and not the talk!

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I’m also a wife, mother of 3 (Mike, Lauren and Chris) and grandmother of 2 wonderful boys (Trevin and Travis ages 6 and 2, respectively. Yes, life is busy, but it is GOOD! 

Well, there you go. This is just my way of letting you know just a little about me. Who I am, what I do, What I’m passionate about in my life each and every day. If you would like to know more, I am more than happy to share. Just contact me and we’ll chat (or text or tweet, or….) If you are curious about the Liver transplant, go to You Tube and check out Mona Giordano: Miracles Still Happen. That pretty much shows it all in about a 3-minute song! 

I love Jesus, I love my life, I love my family and the many hats I wear! FYI, I’ve decided that I need to direct my attention to the Pest Control General Store (floridabugexpert.com) as far as the BLOGS and Tweets and Posts go. I’m going to see if I can make myself “relevant” organically (is that the right term? I’ve so much to learn!) and if I fare well–who knows, maybe I’ll start another business teaching Social Media to people like myself that have had their heads buried in the sand only to wake up and find that it’s a must do or you’ll surely not survice kinda-thing!

Until next time, when I get back on topic–Have a Safe Spray and Be Blessed!

Mona Giordano

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A photo shoot of my youngest son and I when we recorded our CD “DEVOTION” by The Giordano’s

 

FLEAS!!!! (And that’s an understatement!)

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So….you’re wondering why the fleas are so outrageous this year (ESPECIALLY IN FLORIDA!), well let me give you a little info; The weather has so much to do with it, and here in sunny Florida we have not had any real winter to speak of. Now, I for one, am not complaining about this beautiful weather, but we have had thousands of customers that are just being bombarded by this blood-sucking pest to the point of wanting to abandon their homes–really, no exageration!

The reason is simple. Fleas come in from outside. They are feasting on the blood of wildlife, birds, rodents, your pets AND you. They enter your home on your socks or pants (or on your pet, if you have one…(you don’t even have to have one, to be inundated with fleas in your home and yard, by the way) and once they are inside they are feeding on any warm-blooded mammal around. They do not discriminate!

Once they have fed, they lay eggs (30-40 per day) and the eggs go undiscovered as they migrate over to the dusty areas of your home (you know, all the out of the way places that we don’t vacuum as much as the areas you can see. Like under the bed, in the closets, under the cushions of furniture, etc.) 

Once there, they hatch into a tiny worm-like creature covered with lots of tiny, tine hairs. This is called the LARVAE and this stage feeds on the undigested blood (okay, the flea poop! There, I said it. Are you happy now? LOL) and they hang out in that dusty area and spin a cocoon (PUPAE) where they stay (anywhere from 14-365 days!) until three conditions exist to cause them to hatch out, so to speak, and start the process all over again. Yes, baby fleas reproduce–they are actually not babies at all, they are small adults! 

Now….about those “3 favorable conditions” that MUST be present to cause them to emerge out of their safe, snuggly, home in the pupa; 

1.     Atmospheric Condition Changes. Doors open and closing, A/C unit kicking on and off…

2.     Body Heat. You, your dog or cat, rats (hope not for your case!), ferrets, hamsters…

3.     Carbon Dioxide. Breathing, panting, talking, you get it…

So, if ALL THREE OF THOSE ARE NOT MET THEY STAY IN THE COCOON! That’s why the foggers you set off before you leave for vacation don’t work and when you get home expecting a flea-free abode, you 1. Walk in the door (change the atmospheric conditions) 2. Breathe and Speak “Ah…it’s good to be home” (Carbon Dioxide) and YOU ARE there, which means warm-blood is now available for dinner!  

If you have a flea infestation, don’t worry. We can help!! The products that we carry contains ingredients that dry out the eggs and larvae and a residual for the adult fleas that may re-enter your home (which they most certainly will if you don’t treat your yard too!!) I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t say anything about that problematic, protected from EVERYTHING (including microwave ovens–yes, we did experiments–that ‘s another BLOG in and of itself) stage; the Pupa. Well that’s because NOTHING WORKS AGAINST THAT STAGE! Sooo, that’s why it takes between 14-21 days until you break the life cycle and you are in control.

Whew! That’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about flea biology, right? In any event, like I said before…We can HELP.  We have the products and the professional instruction on what to use, as well as how and where to use it to be FLEA FREE. I promise.

You can contact us, if you are not local to our store, we can ship you the product and viola! In 14-21 days you’ll be back to livin’ in paradise with no freeloaders living rent free on your pets, in your home and in the yard.

Hope that helps. I look forward to talking to you soon.

Mona Giordano (floridabugexpert.wordpress.com, facebook.com/Pest Control General Store, www.pestcontrolgeneral.com, Twitter @coffeechuch, or the old fashioned way- (727) 942-3551

HAVE A SAFE SPRAY!

Mona

 

 

 

 

 

BED BUG ALERT (and other interesting facts!

Public Enemy #1

Public Enemy #1

Wow! When I wrote my first blog about this topic last year it was a growing problem, but now…it is becoming a world-wide epidemic! I knew it was coming…just a matter of time, and the time is NOW. I live and work in the Tampa Bay Area in Florida, and I’m not sure what’s going on in your little corner of the world, but here–it’s getting to be a HUGE problem. In my summtaion, being in the pest control industry, the public transportation, laundromats, movie theatres, hotel/motel industry, schools, dorms, daycare centers and even retail stores (particularly thrift and resale types) are the main culprits in the quickly spreading problem. Think about it, who is thinking about not putting their purse (shout out for Thirty-One, here! I’m a Senior Consultant) out of sight or on a booth or chair while eating or shopping? Or whow often do you check the cab (especially in the trunk where your bags are being put) for signs of an active infestation of bed bugs? This is just not what we are acustomed to doing in our daily lives! And then there’s the daycares/schools and dorms our children are at…and the list goes on an on and on…

The University of Florida’s (Gator-Done!), Dr. Phil Koehler (Entomology and Nematology Department) is on top of his game in gaining information about this home and property-destroying, emotionally-devastating, hotel/motel-nightmare and cab driver’s worst fear (and by far biggest culprit in transporting them from place to place). He is continually studying, experimenting and analyzing products and devices to get this blood-sucker under control. Go “Dr. Phil!”

Here are a few interesting facts for you…

Once a female has had a blood meal and mated she lays about 3 eggs per day (200-500 in her 6-18 month lifetime.  They feed about once a week and hide in cracks and crevices the rest of the time until it’s time to eat and mate again.) Interestingly, the females tend to prefer harboring with other females, because they try to avoid being “over-mated” (if you know what I mean…”not tonight honey, I have a headache”)

Bed bugs prefer human blood, but if unavailable, will feel on poultry, dogs, cats, bats, rodents, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils and ferrets.

They feed usually between midnight and dawn and feed for about 10 minutes to get a full blood meal. if you move and feeding is interrupted, they will continue in the next available space leaving a tell tale “row” of bites.

They are hitchhikers and can be found not only in and around beds, your favorite armchair, beanbag chair, children’s toys, anyones clothing and  everyones’s belongings. They do not discriminate; rich, poor, young, old, clean, dirty…(You are not safe anywhere!)

When bed bugs first hatch, they are so small (approx 1mm) and so transparent (unless full of your blood) it’s doubtful you will know they are there for some time. By the time they are discovered you usually have a full blown infestation.

This is a pest that not only destroys your belongings, but also your emotional well being and your finances! The over-the-counter remedies are just NOT WORKING and to have this pest professionally controlled, is off-the-hook expensive (typically around $3oo+ per room). Honestly folks, even doing this yourself is not cheap (around $125 to get started if you already have a pump-up sprayer) and this job requires diligence on your part, big time! You will be using a combination of products (liquids, dust, aerosol and an IGR, which is, simply put, birth control for bed bugs) ALL of these things and a few professional tricks of the trade, so to speak are what is going to get the job done and NOTHING SHORT OF THAT WILL WORK. Oh, and don’t bother just throwing your bedding away or moving. That will not work either…if even one female is left behind or worse yet, moves with you, you are going to start all over again. It’s just a matter of time.

I have not told you all of this to freak you out. I have told you this to make you aware and to give you hope in a, what seems hopeless, situation. I AM a professional, Certified Pest Control Operator and I can help you. This is what I do. I know pest control. I know products. I know insect biology and I know that I can help you get through this.

These are just a few more tid-bits of information for you. If you suspect you have bed bugs GET ON IT RIGHT AWAY.  We can help. Call us at (727) 942-3551 or email me at pcgsinc@aol.com   By the way…I’ve singled out this pest because it is such an enormous problem, but I can help you with any bug problem you have, inside or out. By contrast, #Roaches, #Ants, #Fleas, #Lice, #Rats are all a piece of cake for a homeowner or business (given the right products and information).

Be blessed and….Have a Safe Spray!

The Florida Bug ExpertMona Giordano, CPO

The Florida Bug Expert
Mona Giordano, CPO

@floridabugexpert

Facebook: Pest Control General Store

PEST CONTROL: To Do (It Myself) or not to do (it Myself) that is the question?

The Florida Bug ExpertMona Giordano, CPO

The Florida Bug Expert
Mona Giordano, CPO

So many people are trying to do their own pest control these days. Most of them (sadly) have had to resort to that because of the economy. However, I am here to tell you that Doing Your Own Pest Control is an amazingly smart idea! Not only can you save a ton of money, you will actually get better results, in most cases, because it’s your home and you will take more care and can monitor more closely (you also don’t have to be at the Jones’s in 15 minutes for your next appointment and scrimp on the chemical because you spilled it at the last job!).  Now I’m-a not-a talkin bout attempting to do the job with over-the-counter products applied haphazardly in places they have no business being. I’m talking about using Professional Pesticides under the direct instruction of a Certified Pest Control Operator (and their staff of trained professionals).  You see, that’s what I do. I instruct homeowners and businesses how to do the job SAFELY and EFFECTIVELY.

My name is Mona Giordano, and I am a State Certified Pest Control Operator AND the co-owner (with my husband, Peter) of the Pest Control General Store located in Holiday, Florida.

In Florida, we have bugs, we breed bugs!! Partially due to the fact that we have a sub-tropical climate and partially because we are such a transient state. We have cargo ships coming into port from all over the world–and many of them are bringing along some unwelcome guests. You know the ones I mean…BED BUGS, Ants, and a wide range of other insect pests that we once had under control in this country, but because we are “global” they are back–and back with a vengeance!

Okay, perhaps you don’t have a local Certified Pest Control Operator or a Do-Your-Own Pest Control store down the block. What are you to do? Easy. Send us a bug (on clear scotch tape, and mark the outside of the envelope “HAND CANCEL” so the critter does not get squashed!) And WE will identify the insect AND recommend exactly the right products and the Professional Instructions on how you can get the job done! We’ll wrap it up and ship it out, complete with in detail instructions and our contact info in case you need to talk to us personally.

If you suspect you are having a BED BUG problem–NO PROBLEM! We can help!! Our primary concern will always be on the safety of you, your family, children, pets and of course, the environment.

In most cases (not in the case of Drywood Termites that require a “tent fumigation” performed with lethal gases) and most states (except California, New York and a few others) you are legally allowed to purchase our products and apply them yourself and I promise you, you WILL GET THE RESULTS YOU ARE DESPERATELY NEEDING!

Just ask us how, then do the job yourself.

You can contact me, Mona Giordano, at (727) 942-7412 / mgiordano07@gmail.com. I will be happy to help!

BED BUGS! Seriously? YES, very seriously!!

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“Night, night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the Bed bugs bite” was something my mama said to me every night after saying my “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer. I never for a moment thought that one day I would be instructing my customers, students and peers on how to eradicate this blood sucking pest from their lives. You see, in the first 23 years of my Pest Control Career we never had do deal with the first case of Bed bugs! No, not even one. These days, however, we deal with them on a daily basis! I went to a Bed Bug symposium about 4 years ago, and Dr. Phil Koehler, from the University of Florida in Gainesville, predicted that this would be reaching epidemic proportions in the next few years. HE WAS SPOT ON!

We started hearing stories about Bed bug infestations in New York followed by a flurry of National news stories about hotel guests being bitten while staying at large moderately priced hotel chains. It has now become a huge problem facing every state in America, including every race and nationality, with little or no regard to one’s socio-economic status. It is out of control. Bed bug populations are infesting five-star luxury hotels as well as their low cost, run down counterparts. They are in homes, schools, dormitories,  airports, cruise ships, in public transportation, movie theatres, laundromats…”planes, trains and automobiles!”    No one is exempt from a hitchhiking female Bed bug! NO ONE! a single pregnant female that is transferred to a new location via clothes, purses, suitcases, used bedding or furniture can cause an infestation in YOUR home.

Bed bug 101: Adults are about 1/4 inch long, flat and sort of oval-shaped. They are brown until they feed on a blood meal and then they turn a dark red color (yep, that’s your blood). Each female can produce 200-500 eggs in her lifetime (10-50 at a time) and the eggs are attached by a glue-like substance, in groups, into cracks and crevices and rough surfaces.

Eggs hatch in about three weeks and the “nymph” stage morphs about 5 times until they reach adulthood (takes 35-48 days). They can survive for six or seven months without a blood meal and some reports indicate they have lived in abandoned houses or buildings for up to one year feeding on rodents or birds. Because of this factor, it can take up to a year to truly gain control over this nasty bloodsucker in your home!

If you do a lot of traveling, you are at greater risk of introducing these pests into your little corner of the world. You can be the richest, cleanest most organized neat freak and still bring them home with you without even realizing it. Sometimes people have delayed reactions to the bites and others don’t have a reaction at all. This makes it very challenging to narrow down where they came from and when the problem began. Now, you don’t have to be a traveler to be at risk. In fact, we have customers all the time that tell of their workplaces (restaurants, clothing boutiques, resale shops (which are very popular right now because of the economy–people are looking to save money by buying previously used clothing, household items and furniture) being infested and that leaves us, the unsuspecting customer, at risk of bringing them home. 

Before you freak out it’s important to understand two things; 1) They are not considered a disease vector (yet, at least) and 2)

In a perfect world, you can hire a Professional Exterminator to come and take care of the problem for you. They too, will have to keep coming out to treat for a minimum of one year to ensure complete eradication, so you can count on this being a VERY EXPENSIVE option. On the plus side, they may have a few more weapons in their arsenal like, Bed bug-detecting dogs or Heat Treatment options that the average homeowner or business owner does not have readily or affordably available. If you are able to afford this option, congratulations–most people are not, however.

If you are not able to afford the above option, NOT TO WORRY, WE CAN HELP! We have found that it is a combination of things that will give the homeowner success at this VERY CHALLENGING task. I am going to outline the various options you have to choose from and then you can decide what will work best for you (budget and time wise).

STEP ONE (Mechanical Alteration):

Remove all visible bed bugs by thoroughly vacuuming carpets, furniture (beds, couches, chairs, dressers, night stands,  baseboards and cracks and crevices. Put the vacuum cleaner bag in a air-tight zip lock bag and freeze for at least a week and then discard. (You don’t want to spread them to others’ by just throwing them away.)

All bedding, and clothing (closet and drawers) should be laundered and dried in the dryer at a high temperature (over 120 degrees). Pillows and draperies should be dry cleaned or discarded if severely infested (if you are unable to freeze them as noted above, at least mark the trash bag in very large red letters “BED BUG INFESTED-DO NOT REUSE this would also hold true if you need to discard any furniture items or bedding. You don’t want your nightmare to cause grief to others.) Once the clothing is laundered, put it in XL Zip-Loc bags and seal tight so they do not become re-infested. They may return to dressers and closets AFTER IT HAS BEEN TREATED.

STEP TWO (Chemical, Dust and/or Heat Treatment):

Wow! This is a bigee. There are several options here and, in my professional opinion, you will want to do a combination of several. Some folks want to hit it hard with chemical control while others want to approach if from a “green” or “organic” approach. I am going to lay out both and you can choose what is right for you and your family. Now bear in mind that these pests MUST BE KILLED! The emotional trauma and effects of this pest can really take a toll on the human mind. It causes fear, embarrassment, lack of social interaction and psychosomatic feelings that bugs are one you and then there is the potential for secondary infections caused by the actual bites! It’s horrible. It cannot be ignored or treated with the over-the-counter discount chain store products–you need the PROPER INFORMATION AND THE PROPER TREATMENT SOLUTIONS.

CHEMICAL:

Residual Insecticides with the addition of an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) to treat Mattress, Box Spring, Bed Frame, Cracks and Crevices. Product Choices would be: Suspend, Bedlam, SteriFab mixed with Gentrol or Nyguard (IGR’s). I’ve chosen these because I know that they are labeled for treating all or part of the Mattress.

Aerosols would include: Bedlam or Tri-Die

Non-Aerosol: Steri-Fab (Aslo a viruscide, germicide, deodorizer, sanitizer and mildewcide)

Dust:  Delta Dust

NON CHEMICAL:

Glass Dishes or traps under bed posts or legs (Bed bugs cannot climb smooth surfaces) *Note: bed must be away from the walls and there can be no bedding touching the floor!

Glue Boards with Phermone (bug hormone) lure to attract and catch Bed bugs on the glue

Diatomaceous Earth (DE Dust) Long lasting dust picked up easily by pests. Cuts through soft bodies insects and dehydrates them *Note: DO NOT USE POOL DE DUST. IT MUST BE LAKE BED MINED DE DUST!

Mattress and Pillow Encasements (Covers) Use AFTER treating to prevent reinfestation. Note* Be sure they are “bite proof” AND “escape proof”  cheap ones will NOT do the job.

Heat Treating with a Clothing Steamer works well on mattresses or other surfaces that have high contact with human skin *Note temperature must be over 120 degrees to be effective.

Clothes Dryer works well for clothes and bedding materials.

Now that you know the basics of Bed bug control you can “rest easy” (sorry, I couldn’t resist). I want to caution you though, that it is not enough to just know the names of the products to use. YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW TO USE THEM so that you get SAFE, EFFECTIVE results. I therefore urge you to make sure you know that the place and the person(s) that you are buying the products from are State Certified Pest Control Operators that can not only sell you things, but moreover, TEACH YOU HOW TO DO IT! It makes a difference.

If you don’t have such a place in your area, we are here for you, and have been for 25 years. We can ship you the products and provide in-detail instructions for you to follow.  Contact us at http://pestcontrolgeneralstore.com

If you would like information on having your home or business Professionally Heat Treated, you can contact http://www.antipesto.com and for additional information, we recommend the University of Florida in Gainsville, Department on Entomology and Nematology  http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/297

As always….ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURERS LABEL DIRECTIONS! If you have a question give us a call at (727) 942-3551 or eMail us at pcgsinc@aol.com. When it comes to pesticides this is the rule: When in doubt–don’t.

Blessings, and HAVE A SAFE SPRAY!

Mona Giordano (The Bug Lady)

*All insect photos are from The University of Florida

 

GERMAN ROACHES! Back with a vengeance…

Ahhh, sunny florida…lush tropical landscapes, sunny days, warm weather and …GERMAN ROACHES out the yin yang! For years, it seemed we had them under control and they were the exception and not the rule. Sure, we still had to contend with, what “snowbirds” refer to as “Palmetto Bugs” (which are actually just roaches, either American or Australian) but they are easy to control in comparison to the dreaded German Cockroach. Now you would think that a roach is a roach is a roach, but that is NOT THE CASE WITH GERMAN ROACHES. They are so blasted successful at reproduction that they can go from a roach or ten to a gross infestation in no time. They crawl across your dishes and foodstuff, they pee and poop all over the place as they walk about, and they nest in the most unusual places like inside Appliances, in Stereo Equipment, DVD players, Message Machines, Battery Operated Wall Clock, Coffee Pots, Microwaves, etc. If I didn’t know better, I would swear they are so smart that they know we Can’t Spray inside of those Appliances and they would be right, we can’t!

Now what happens is, people go to the department store or the discount chain stores and end up buying FOGGERS or ROACH HOTELS, or smelly, messy, PRE-MIXED products that DON’T WORK and, in fact, make the problem WORSE!! Sure, you may see some dead bugs, but, in the business, we call that “thrill of the kill.” What is actually happening is that when you set off a fogger (or the smoke equivalents) the roaches detect the chemical through “sphericals” (holes in their side that they breath through) and they go even deeper back into the cracks and crevices or wall voids that they were on their way out of. Once they are back there, they are reproducing like crazy and making many more roaches that will, you guessed it, make many more roaches. I have seen such severe cases of infestation that the roaches are in the oven, refrigerator and dishwashers AND falling off the door frames onto you when you open a door. GROSS!

Besides being embarrassing, a roach infestation  can be financially impacting as well. Destroying or infested food, small appliances that are “buggered up” (pardon the expression) by their nests and sometimes damaged so bad that they have to be thrown away and replaced. And then there’s the health ramifications. Plain and simple, roaches carry disease such as dysentery which causes intestinal inflammation resulting in diarrhea containing mucus or blood, fever , etc. If left untreated this can, in the worst case scenario, be fatal. Roach dropping and shed casings have also been known to cause problems with Asthma sufferers and bring on attacks. Now, mind you, these problems don’t typically happen unless the problem is extreme, but if you have severe problems with Asthma or your immune system is compromised, it can certainly be an issue. Did I mention that roaches have been known to eat eyelashes and toenails? Just thought you might want to add that little bit of info to your new-found roach knowledge! LOL! So now, I’m sure you want to know what do,right?

 STEP ONE: would be to do a thorough cleaning of all infested area (Unless, of course the infestation is soo bad that you can’t bear to be working in that area amongst the nastiness. If that is the case, you would start with Step Two, wait a few days and then go back in to finish the job completely. Get rid of all infested food, garbage, boxes, papers, shelf liners, paper products etc. and clean all the droppings and “roach dirt” off of shelves, out of appliances, off the walls, cupboards, counters and the like. Make sure you remove dishes, pots and pans, silverware, glasses, bakeware and basically everything OUT OF THE CABINETS. You will want to wash off all the items that may be covered with roach dirt before putting them back away, too.

STEP TWO: Now that the cabinets and drawers are empty and clean. You want to apply a BAIT product that the roaches will look at like it’s a food source. In my opinion, the most accepted and fast working bait is INDOXACARB. Roaches love it! To them it’s like a chocolate covered brownie covered with fudge syrup, whipped cream and a cherry on top! Irresistible. They take it back to their nest and share it with others AND as a bonus, when they die from the “slow release poison” it contains, the other roaches eat them and consume it as well–double whammy! The real trick is to use a LITTLE BIT OF BAIT, BUT IN A LOT OF AREAS. Usually pea-sized dots are sufficient and it is placed UNDER THE SHELVES AND DRAWERS – not on top where dishes and food are. This product will ensure that you get faster results, no doubt about it. The other area it needs to go, especially if you are in a duplex, or apartment situation where others reside in the same building, is behind the light switch covers and electrical outlet covers.  It’s a good idea to wash the roach yuck off while you have the covers off.

The next step is a breeze. It is the ‘MAIN INGREDIENT,” so to speak. This application goes a long way and lasts about 4 -6 months (depending on the circumstances of your situation).

STEP THREE: You will be using two products mixed together for your initial treatment. One is an ADULTICIDE and the other is called an INSECT GROWTH REGULATOR (IGR).  There are many to choose from in our professional arsenal of weaponry, but a few of my favorites are; CYPERMETHRIN AND HYDROPRENE, respectively. The Cypermethrin is going to leave a residual which will kill the ADULT stages of the roaches and other insects for about 4 months. The Hydroprene is, in essence, is BIRTH CONTROL for roaches. It will deform the adults and cause them to be unable to reporoduce. This will, in effect, put them “out of commission” so they don’t continue to breed back behind the wall voids and places that they nest and hide. FYI – Roaches can live without water for two weeks and without food for 3-4 weeks, so the roaches you see today, haven’t been out in at least a couple of weeks. Hence the importance of using the IGR!

The areas of treatment will be: along and behind the cracks and crevices of baseboards, door frames, window frames, sliding glass door tracts, underneath bathroom and kitchen sinks where the plumbing fixtures are, under the major appliances, stove, fridge, dishwasher, hot water heater, washer and dryer. Be mindful that treating cracks and crevices is the key to controlling these pests. You will also want to treat the garage perimeter, any storage our out buildings, around the A/C pad and garbage containers outdoors as well as the eaves (soffit and fascia) around the outside of the house. You will then USE UP THE REMAINING mixed chemical around the outside perimeter of the house. I like to spray up a foot and out a foot.

This should do it. You may need to do a follow-up using just the Cypermethrin in about 2-4 weeks if you continue to see live, fast-moving bugs, but usually the one treatment will cure a normal infestation. You will then [slideshow]follow-up about every 4-6 months with the Cypermethrin to keep things under control.

As always….ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURERS LABEL DIRECTIONS!

Be blessed, and until next time, Have a SAFE SPRAY!!

The Ants Go Marching 100 By 100, Hurrah, Hurrah…NOT!

[slideshow]When is the last time you saw just “one” ant? The typical scenario is you see “many” ants, either following a trail or going here and there in a frenzy.  The truth is, there is NEVER JUST ONE ANT. What you are seeing is, most likely, just 10% of the colony, so if you see 20 there is at least 200 nearby. If you see hundreds, then there are thousands and on and on it goes. Here’s how it works; there is a “colony” of ants somewhere (whether it be inside or outside of your home.) And the “Queen” or “Sub Reproductive” sends out about 10% of the adult workers to gather food and water. Ants are a highly complex group of social  insect., each one within the colony has a specific job. The “Queens and Sub Reproductives” reproduce–that’s it. The “Soldiers” defend the colony. Adult Workers” gather food and water, “Nursery Ants” eat the regurgitated food from the ” Adult Workers and feed the “Immature Workers” the soldiers and the Queen. Interesting, isn’t it? We could really learn a great deal from ants, don’t you think? Imagine if we applied that to our human world–we would never have too many chiefs and not enough indians causing confusion in the organization!

Now, we, as humans, desire instant gratification so, we grab a can of spray (or cleaning chemical or a rag) a bag of granules or a liquid pesticide and we kill them dead. This is exactly the opposite of what needs to be done to control ants! You see, when we exercise our “dominion” over these tiny creatures (“we bad, yea that’s right, we bad!”) we are actually “making the problem WORSE! The ants are the true victors and they are laughing all the way to their next feast on your food OR, in the case of Fire Ants or Harvester Ants their next attack on your body! 

Okay, okay, so you didn’t know any better and what you did  made the problem worse. The ants disappeared for a short time, but they just surfaced in a new area, and it seems as though there are even more of them.  Sound familiar? Not to worry, once you know what really needs to happen you will gain control of the ant population, I promise.

Here is what you need to know and after you read this, you will know more than most of the “sales clerks” at Chain Stores and even many Professional Company’s Pest Control Technicians (that only had five days of training before they were set loose with a “spray can!”)  THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT STEP IN CONTROLLING ANTS IS PROPER IDENTIFICATION. With the exception of the very large ant species (Red Velvet Ant and Florida Carpenter Ant) the ants should be placed under a 30-50 power magnifying lens. This is NOT something you can do with the naked eye. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times when a somewhat  knowledgable clerk or PCO, by knowing the ant’s color, size, habits and food choices, can make an educated guess and be successful BUT, more often than not, you need to be able to see if they have a “single or double-node petiole”, if they have clubs on the antennae, and if so, how many? Do they not have any clubs, but just lots of segments or perhaps 3 clubs followed by lots of tiny segments (as in the case of the Pharaoh Ant?)  Is their body covered with hair? Do they have a stinger? Is their antennae elbowed or straight?  You get the idea… The other thing of paramount importance, here in Florida, is to make sure that what you are seeing is actually an ANT and NOT A TERMITE which can cause more damage to your home than fires, hurricanes and earthquakes combined! Do you want to take a chance with your home? This is serious business and you need to know what you are “going after” before you arm yourself with pesticides and put your family and the environment at risk only to end up with MORE ANTS THAN YOU HAD TO BEGIN WITH!

So, here’s what you do. Step One: Either call a Professional Pest Control Company that has a good reputation with someone you know OR bring your ant sample to a Pest Control Store that is run by a Certified Pest Control Operator (or the like) and has a trained staff. MAKE SURE THEY, TOO, PUT THE ANT UNDER A MAGNIFYING DEVICE AND NOT JUST EYEBALL IT. If that is not feasible for you, then you can send them to us and we’ll be happy to identify the ant species and recommend the proper selection of BAIT AND INSECTICIDE. Please notice that I said Bait AND Insecticide. It takes BOTH to truly control ants.

Ants, after they have been identified properly, need to be  Step Two: “BAITED” first for a period of time. Remember the 10% that leave the nest to go forage for food and water? They are looking for SPECIFIC FOOD TYPES. Some ants feed on PROTEINS (dead bugs, dish soap, laundry soap, grease, pet food, etc.) while others feed on CARBOHYDRATES  (sweets, toothpaste remnants on your toothbrush (ewe!), or how about Pepto Bismol or the cough drops by your night stand? Those are all food  sources for ants. Some Queens need both types of food, but perhaps at different times. That is why it seems like they “don’t take the bait” or take it just for a period of time and then go to other source. ALL TYPES OF ANTS NEED WATER so many times I recommend a bait that is liquid OR put out both gel or granular bait AND a liquid sweet bait or water. Some of the Professional Ant Baits on the Market are MAX FORCE GEL OR GRANULES, TERRO PCO, ADVANCE DUAL CHOICE, NYBAN, OPTI-GUARD, etc., etc. There are many and there are many because DIFFERENT ANTS LIKE DIFFERENT BAITS BETTER. It all depends on the species, which takes us back to Step One–PROPER IDENTIFICATION.

Okay, you’re “cooking with gas” now. You’ve had your ants properly identified by an expert, you’re armed with the Professional-Strength product for the job at hand. You’ve put out the bait and replenished the bait, and replenished the bait and replenished the bait (yes, at least three times–even more for some ants) and the ants are now slowing way down. Are you done? NO!! You have taken all that time to “do the job right” and you don’t want to become re-infested with ants, right? Right. So….now it’s time for FOLLOW UP. FOLLOW UP IS A MUST! After the Queens and Sub-Reproductives have died from the SLOW-RELEASE STOMACH POISONS IN THE BAIT, it’s time to use a RESIDUAL PESTICIDE to KEEP THEM (and many other types of insects) UNDER CONTROL. It’s important to note here that you would never, ever use this until you have used the bait for at least two weeks, even longer for some species. That is totally counterproductive! THE ANTS NEED TO LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO TAKE THE BAIT BACK AND FORTH TO THE NEST.

With all that said, you may be wondering “why in the heck is all this stuff necessary just to kill these little ants? ” Im glad you asked. The reason this is necessary is because if you just kill them, the workers don’t get back to the nest with what the Queen needs to feed her “babies” and so she starts “pumping them out double time” and sends out another 10% to get the job done. When they go out, they too, get killed or squashed or smashed and now she’s down 20% and her “babies” are still not fed! At this point, she sends out a “Sub-Reproductive” and BAM instead of one nest, you have two! When that maternal instinct kicks in, she’s going to do whatever it takes to tend her colony.

Now for Step Three: When the “Baiting Process” is complete, it’s time to do your FOLLOW UP. After you’ve gone through all the time and trouble to KILL THE QUEENS, it’s imperative that you put out a RESIDUAL INSECTICIDE to ensure that you don’t just end up re-infested. Here in Florida we have a myriad of Professional Strength Insecticides to choose from (Unlike NY, CA and some other states). But, that too, can be a a dilema with all the choices that there are to choose from . The following products are some of the leaders in the field, but just because they are a Professional Product does NOT mean that you just pick a product and spray it! Here are just a few of the product names: TALSTAR, CONQUER, DEMON, BIFEN, SUSPEND, ECO PCO, PERMETHRIN, PYRETHRUM and on it goes. We teach homeowners and businesses THE BEST CHOICE FOR THE JOB AT HAND after hearing all the facts. And then there’s the issue of resistance and chemical rotation.

Please understand something, I am NOT talking about products such as RAID, COMBAT, SPECTRICIDE, BLACK FLAG, ORTHO or other “retail products.” Any and ALL the products you will here me refer to are not going to be found in a chain store environment. I will always be referring to the “tools of MY trade” as a Professional. I make NO claims that the retail products will even come close to really solving the problem at hand. I also need to make it clear that not everyone that has a Pest Control Store is an expert. Unfortunately, there is a gross misconception that opening a Pest Control Store is a “Get Rich Business” in Florida. ALSO, Unfortunately you can be mislead and sold the wrong products that, if misused, can cause serious illnesses or worse yet, even death to unsuspecting consumers! BE SURE YOU ARE DEALING WITH A CERTIFIED PEST CONTROL OPERATOR, who is trained in these types of applications AND accountable to The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS). Those of us that are properly trained and licensed, are also required to do Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) each and every year to keep our credentials in force.  We are Not  Sales Clerks or an ONLINE Marketers! The HEALTH AND SAFETY OF YOUR FAMILY, PETS AND THE ENVIRONMENT MAY SOMETIMES COST MORE THAN “THE CHEAPEST PRICE” THEY, INSTEAD, ARE INVALUABLE! Don’t take a chance.

Well, I guess that is a pet peave of mine since I have gone on a tangent, but as a Mother and Pet Owner…it matters!

I’ve said all that and you are probably going “Man! That is way to complicated” or “I had no idea it was such a big deal.” Well, consider this. If you take just a little time to do your homework and do the job right, not only will it save you a lot of money by not wasting time, effort and dollars on things that don’t work, but you will KNOW THAT YOU HAVE DONE IT SAFELY, and you, can then, in turn, tell others so in essence, you too, will be protecting your family and the environment. You can do-it-yourself. WE CAN HELP.

If you don’t have a Professional Operator or Pest Control Store to turn to OR if you just like doing it yourself and saving money, you can send me a sample of your ants attached to CLEAR SCOTCH TAPE OR PACKING TAPE, Write “Hand Cancel” on the outside of the envelope so they don’t get squashed beyond recognition, and send them to me. I will be happy to identify them for you and let you know what products you need to get to do the job right.

Send it to:

PEST CONTROL GENERAL STORE –  Attn: Mona -2636 US Hwy 19 – Holiday, Florida 34691.

As always, ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURERS LABEL DIRECTIONS. And until next time, HAVE A SAFE SPRAY!

Mona Giordano, “The Bug Lady”

BRRR! My Lawn and Plants Are Freaking Out!!

Good Morning! Many of us woke up recently to find some very unhappy (and extremely UGLY) plants in our landscape! Well I’ve got some good news and some bad news. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s talk about this for a minute. Florida’s climate is very conducive to having lush tropical and sub-tropical plants abounding in our landscape…aaah, it’s like paradise–but not when we get to the cold, potentially freezing time of year! Some tender-leafed plants (Hibiscus, Dracaenas, Oyster Plant, Schefflera just to name a few) can suffer severe damage to the leaves even when the temp dips to 45-50 degrees. Now imagine what happens when we get frost or, Heaven, forbid, freezing temperatures. We’re talkin’ dead and ugly. There are some precautions you can take to help avoid this and if it’s now after the fact and you’re looking at some disturbing sights in your flower gardens–you need to hear what I have to say so you don’t add insult to injury, okay?

Here are a couple of things you need to know right off the bat: DO NOT PRUNE THE DEAD STUFF OFF YET, let me repeat that DO NOT PRUNE THE DEAD STUFF OFF YET! I know it’s yucky looking. I know it bother’s the heck out of you. I know it makes your landscape look like poop. I know that, BUT this dead, ugly stuff will actually protect the plant when the even colder, even more damaging temperatures come that usually happen in, say, February and sometimes into March. It cold, it’s hot. It’s cold, it’s hot. The poor plants don’t know what to do. All they want to do is take a little rest from the growing season and “chill out” (okay, that was in poor taste) for a while. But NOOO, The weather has them all fouled up. So they grow and they rest and grow and rest…These plants, including our grass (which incidently, is just the biggest “plant” in your landscape) need to have a dormant time to rejuvenate and rest from all the growing and producing they have to do most of the year. Give them a break.

So you’ve heard that hind sight is 20/20. In a “perfect world” you would have chosen cold hardy plants and not just lush, tender tropiclals. You would have put the cold-sensitive plants under the canopies of larger trees, along fence lines and against the house  to help protect them when our usually, short-lived, cold snaps come. The lighter weight plants in pots, you would have brought inside, of course. You would have made sure that your last fertilization was done way back in November  AND that you only used half the amount you normally do in the Spring, right? Certainly, you would not have pruned the plants after late fall, as this would have caused NEW growth which is much more susceptible to cold, frost and freeze damage! Alrighty then , you also would have watered lightly before the potentially damaging temps (but not too much, that would actually cause a rot problem, right? ) And, of course you had already insulated the ground by applying about 3″ of mulch around the base of the really tender plants in your garden. Being the serious gardener that you are, I’m certain you have light sheets or the like , NEVER HEAVY PLASTIC, and bricks to weigh them down on hand to loosely cover the plants and keep them from blowing away. The other thing you thought about was, putting a light (like a mechanics light or utility light) under the cloth (not touching the leaves) to keep the heat in. I’m also sure that you made sure to give everything, including your lawn a nice dose of MICRO 5 (zinc, copper, boron, iron and manganese–NO NITROGEN) to ensure they have all the nutrition they need to head off damage or at the least, help them bounce back from damage they may sustain.

Now, even though you thoroughly prepared, you may still end up with the aftermath of extremely cold or freezing weather to your landscape. Not to worry, unless the root system was completely killed or has rotted from too much water, you have a great chance that they will come back. This is the time I need to really emphasize and reiterate how important it it that you  DO NOT PRUNE THE DEAD LEAVES AND BRANCHES OFF UNTIL ALL DANGER OF FROST AND FREEZE IS GONE (usually around mid to late March–but sometimes later). It may seem that I am obsessed with this fact, but, seriously, it is that important. You see, during January, February and March we have awesome spreads of amazingly warm Florida weather. You know what I’m talking about–at the end of a cold spell the weather turns warm and beautiful and we want to get out there and prune and trim and plant and fertilize and make everything look pretty again. But this should be avoided at all costs or you may end up with damage on top of damage or young tender new plants that die out before true spring really hits! Now I’m not saying you can’t pick off dead leaves that are just barely hanging on, I’m talking about pruning and cutting back. Even though the plant may look unsightly for a bit, that damage is a blessing in disguise and will help prevent future damage when the REAL cold gets here. When you prune and trim and pinch, you are actually telling the plant to “grow” and that new growth is extremely vulnerable to cold/freeze damage. Trust me on this, okay? You’ll be glad you did–and so will your pocketbook.

If you would like information on cold-hardy and cold-sensitive plants for Florida, shoot me an e-Mail and I’ll get that to you within a day or two. In closing, I want to tell you that the single most important thing that you can do for your lawn and all your ornamental plants, whether cold sensitive or hardy, whether fragile and brail or woody ornamental is PROPER FEEDING AND WATERING! That is an entire subject in and of itself, so I won’t get into all that today, but you can expect that it is coming in the very near future as we proceed past the winter and into the spring growing season. In the meantime, if you have any questions that can’t wait–feel free to contact me and I’ll get you the answers ASAP.

Be Blessed and Stay warm–it’s cold out there!!

 

Mona Giordano “The Bug Lady”

[slideshow]