Fight the Bite! Prevention Tips for Homeowners

Nothing drives Floridians indoors faster than a swarm of mosquitoes. They’re more than a nuisance, however — they can also be a danger to your family’s health.

Prevent Mosquitoes Around Your Home This Spring

When you live in South Florida, you anticipate spring with the same excitement a child has while waiting for Christmas. Unfortunately, nothing ruins a nice day outside like a swarm of bloodthirsty mosquitoes. If you’d like to learn how to prevent mosquitoes around your South Florida home this spring, read on.

Early Intervention is Your Best Opportunity to Prevent Mosquitoes

Before the weather warms up too much, you have a unique opportunity to keep the mosquito populations low around your  home. Eliminating standing water around your home is the best way to keep mosquito populations low. Take the time in early spring to look around your property for any areas where water can pool, then take measures to prevent it from happening.

Where to Look to Prevent Mosquitoes Around Your Home This Spring

Common places where water collects include, but are not limited to, the following:

      • Containers, such as flower pots, barrels, and pet dishes.
      • Toys, such as tire swings, bikes with baskets, and upturned frisbees.
      • Gutters, if clogged with leaves and other debris.
      • Lawn debris, such as leaf piles.
      • Low spots on the lawn or near the foundation of your home.
      • Overgrown or shaded areas.
      • Uncovered pools or hot tubs.
Mosquito bite prevention info-graphic: protect your home and environment from mosquitoes

Steps to Take to Prevent Water From Collecting

To prevent water from pooling in the areas mentioned above, try the following:

      • Remove unnecessary containers.
      • Drill holes in necessary containers to allow water to disperse.
      • Put toys away when not in use.
      • Clean out your gutters.
      • Remove lawn debris whenever it collects.
      • Fill low spots in your lawn or create a drainage system that directs water away from your lawn.
      • Cut back overgrowth and keep the foundation of your home free of excess moisture.
      • Cover pools and hot tubs with tight-fitting covers when not in use.

The Best Way to Prevent Mosquitoes Around Your South Florida Home This Spring

Even by eliminating as many wet areas as possible, mosquitoes can still find their way onto your property. By utilizing the Mosquito Control program offered by Island Environmental, you can take care of the mosquitoes that would otherwise be missed. Mosquito Control targets the areas where mosquitoes spend their resting time, ensuring they won’t bother you when they’d normally become active later in the day.
Contact Island Environmental to learn more about our mosquito control program. You’ll be glad you did!



Green Solutions: Biological Control for Ficus White Fly

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Many homeowners are seeking solutions that are less dependent on traditional pest control methods to control pest infestations. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the combination of actions and decisions homeowners make to protect their home and yard from unacceptable damage caused by insects, disease and weeds. IPM uses all available methods: biological, organic, mechanical, cultural controls and even more traditional non-organic methods, when needed to prevent pests from damaging plant material beyond the action thresholds set.

Biological Control is just one of the tools Island Environmental uses from the Integrated Pest Management tool box. Today, we are working with two homeowners to combat white fly on their ficus trees and hedges by releasing beneficial insects that are known to target white flies as well thrip.

Paulo showing homeowners the beneficial pests we are releasing today.

The first step in Integrated Management (IPM) is scouting for pests. Scouting can be as simple as walking your yard and looking for problems. Pay attention for signs of plant stress and damage such as wilting, yellowing leaves, defoliation, chewed leaves and even insects themselves. Today we are adding yellow sticky traps to help monitor pest activity in-between monitoring visits.

Bruce attaching monitoring traps to ficus hedge.

Prior scouting, monitoring and property history has indicated we need to be treating for white fly on the ficus. The homeowner has decided on biological control as their preferred method for combating white flies. Biological controls do not eliminate pests but rather suppress insect populations below levels damaging to the plant material. This method of control is slower acting and requires more patience for results.

Paulo scouting plant material for pests for signs of both harmful and beneficial insects.
Paulo scouting plant material for pests. Here we see the cast skins from white fly that have previously hatched. However, we do not see signs of adult white fly today.

The mites arrived in sachets attached to sticks. We placed a sachet of mites into the ground at the base of each ficus plant. We also released mites into foliage 4-5 feet from the ground. The mites will emerge from the sachets over the next 4 weeks. Because these mites feed on white flies and thrips, our goal is to build the population of beneficial insects up enough to control white fly damage below damage thresholds.

Bruce placing beneficial mites at the base of ficus.

We have scouted the property, identified the target pest, and taken action by releasing beneficial insects to control the pest, now what? Because biological controls are slow acting, we will return to scout and monitor the ficus on a regular basis. We will check the traps for adult white fly activity and monitor the overall condition of ficus. We should start seeing mites moving throughout the ficus and feeding on white fly and thrips. What we find during our scouting and monitoring in the upcoming weeks will determine what, if any, action we take next. For more information on biological control, check out the Green Solutions section of our website.  Follow our blog to see who is winning the Battle of Mighty Mites vs White Fly.

Pet Owners Beware: Are Poisonous Toads Invading Your Yard?

Unusually warm weather coupled with extensive rain has led to what some experts are calling a “toad vortex”. Thousands of Cane Toads a.k.a. Bofu Toads are invading some Palm Beach Gardens neighborhoods with experts saying a larger outbreak could occur in 22 days. What do you need to know?

The Good: Like all toads and frogs, the Cane toad eats may insects. They particularly love beetles and their larvae along with a host of other insects like roaches, spiders, flies and mosquitoes.

The Bad: Can toads are truly indiscriminate eaters. They also feed on native lizards and frogs.

The Ugly: Cane toads are a nonnative species that can be deadly to curious pets. If your pet bites or swallows a cane toad, they can become sick and die in as little as 15 minutes. Symptoms may include frantic or disoriented behavior, brick red gums, seizures, and foaming at the mouth.

How do I identify a Cane toad?
Many people can’t tell the difference between a native frog and a cane toad because they share features such as warty skin, a visible ear drum and webbed toes.

However, unlike native frogs, adult cane toads have all of these features:

  • Distinct bony ridges above the eyes, which run down the snout
  • A large paratoid gland behind each eye
  • Unwebbed hands but webbed toes
  • Dry warty skin
  • Cane toads can range in color from grey, yellowish, red-brown, or olive-brown, with varying patterns

What can I do to prevent Cane toads?
Most encounters with Cane toads happen in your backyard. Here are some tips that can help keep your pet safer:

  • Mow & Trim: Keep your lawn trimmed to make it easier to spots toads. Keep shrubs beds clean and off ground to eliminate hiding places.
  • Clean: Mess attracts pests. Outdoor food and water bowls for pets, brush piles, and other clutter can attract toads – and their prey which in turn attracts toads.
  • Watch: Keep a watchful eye on your animals when they are outside especially if cane toads have been detected in your area. Toads are nocturnal and love damp weather. Keep them inside at night or after the rain whenever possible.
  • Build a barrier: Because toads can only jump around 1 foot in the air, you can erect a barrier of fine mesh to keep toads out. Barriers should be around 20″H and preferably go down 6″ into the ground to prevent toads from tunneling under.

I saw a toad. Now what?
Despite your best efforts to prevent Cane toads, they have made their way into your backyard. While chemical pesticides will work on toads, they are slow acting and not usually recommended for several reasons. Remember: A dead toad is still poisonous to your pet. 

You can physically remove them from your yard. Because they are invasive, you will want to humanely kill them as well. The recommended way is to put them in an airtight bag in the fridge for a few hours and then freeze them.  Leave in freezer for a long time – preferably a few days – because there are lots of stories about apparently-frozen toads coming back to life if they haven’t spent long enough in the freezer!

Most people don’t want to kill them, they just want them gone from their yard. We offer repellants that we apply to prime nesting areas that are safe for your pets, children and water sources. In most cases you will see immediate results with toads migrating away within 24-48 hours of the treatment. Call or email Island Environmental for more information.

What if my pet came in contact with a toad?
Pet owners who suspect their dog may have been poisoned by a toxic toad should immediately rinse the animal’s mouth out with a water and wipe the substance away from its lips and tongue. Dog owners should watch for panting, disorientation and dilated eyes — signs of toxicity — and get the pet to a vet immediately!