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Wet spring, hot summer a perfect combination for pests

Bugs and other assorted pests have a lot to worry about this summer, according to Trevor Lavancher. No, he’s not talking about his exterminating skills as the owner of Dr. Death Pest Control. He’s talking about bats.

“There has been a lot of moisture this spring,” said Lavancher, who runs Dr. Death with his wife, Suzanne. “In fact, May became the wettest May in more than 30 years here, and that means more bats are going to be feasting on the many mosquitoes and moths expected in the coming months.

“A good exterminator pays close attention to weather. Increased precipitation is a major factor because we live in such a dry environment, unlike other cities. I believe we’re going to see more mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. And that leads to more bats.”

As the weather heats up, homeowners also are seeing an escalation of ants and cockroaches in search of water, which, in turn, brings out predator pests like spiders and scorpions to feed on them.

“I’ve been doing this since 2006, and that’s about the same time homeowners started changing over to desert landscaping,” Lavancher said. “Grass was removed and yards were altered to match the ecosystem of the scorpions where they now thrive.

“Yards were decorated with palm trees, and inside these trees were scorpions called Arizona bark scorpions. They were under the bark of the trees when those trees were shipped here, and the scorpions just settled in when planted in some front yard. The trees have been coming in ever since and are found everywhere throughout the city in elaborate landscaped yards.”

Pigeons are pests that carry a host of diseases and have become such a problem that many local pest control companies focus solely on the control and extermination of these birds.

“There’s a real science to pigeon control,” Lavancher said. “They sit on roofs and make an unhealthy mess, and their droppings carry assorted diseases and parasites.

“The pigeons that are sitting on the roof have probably built a nest there. The thing to do is put a screen over that nest so they can’t get back in. Repellent gel around the edges of the screen is uncomfortable to the pigeons when they walk on it, so they fly away and don’t return.”

It is incumbent upon homeowners to do their part in keeping pests away from the house. It is known that pests need three things: water, food and a hideout. Eliminate any of those, and there is less of a problem.

“The best thing that can be done in controlling them is by starting with a clean house,” Lavancher said. “Clean the kitchen every night. Don’t leave food out on the table. Plug up holes in the walls, and sweep and vacuum the entire house regularly.

“In the backyard, if there are fruit trees, pick up fruit that falls from fruit trees as soon as possible. Keep pet food inside the house and pour large bags of dog food into an aluminum garbage can.”

Over-watering lawns and gardens creates a haven for pests that normally would not have access to a significant water source. The excess water encourages pests to stay close to homes, so follow guidelines on landscape irrigation.

While over-the-counter pest sprays work in the short term, they’re dialed down to be safe for consumers. If the problem doesn’t go away, it’s more effective to call a professional service.

Some other advice from Lavancher is to speak up if you see something.

“I encourage my clients to call the health department if they notice a dilapidated swimming pool in their neighborhood that is not being properly cared for,” he said. “We all know that stagnate water in these unkempt pools becomes a perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. It’s not a matter of telling on your neighbor; it’s a matter of protecting your family and those around you.

“My other suggestion is to take the time to carefully walk your yard and look for small mounds of dirt or dead bugs or anything out of the ordinary. A good pest control person will advise you if there is an issue. If not, it’s worth the call just to satisfy your own curiosity.”

What the pest control person might see is a tree branch touching the side of the home or vines climbing up the side of the house. These are highways for any number of bugs or rodents to travel into the home and find food, water and shade. It is advised to keep trees and bushes and plants at least several feet away from walls of homes.

According to Lavancher, residents moving to Las Vegas from other parts of the country are always surprised to see cockroaches and sometimes rats. They associate these pests with dirty dwellings, and they claim their home is clean.

“Well, their home is clean,” he said, “but what they don’t understand is that cockroaches live in the root systems of trees that are highly watered. They live in a wide range of environments but prefer warm conditions found within buildings.

“Rats have been associated with human dwellings since the beginning of time, and right now Las Vegas is seeing the growing pains of an ever-expanding city of human dwellings and that includes rats.”

Lavancher predicts it’s going to be a busy bug season with high summer temperatures pushing into September and October.

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