What Should You Do If You See an Atlas Moth?

atlas-moth-sitting-on-a-tree-frond

In August 2022, reports of a giant Atlas Moth spotted near Seattle, Washington, made headlines because it was the first time this gargantuan species had been seen in the United States. It’s a beautiful species, the second largest moth in the world, but it’s also a big problem. That’s because the Atlas Moth is native to the boreal parts of southeast Asia and Borneo, about 7,500 miles away. They’re evolved for the forest ecosystems of that part of the world, not the forests of North America. So what should you do if you see an atlas moth here?

They shouldn’t be here, and they pose some very real threats here, like outcompeting native species and throwing ecosystems out of balance. That’s why the Atlas Moth has been classified by the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife as a “quarantine pest.” Essentially, that means it’s an invasive species. That’s why, if you see an Atlas Moth, the first thing you should do is marvel at it, and then it’s your duty to report it.

What Does the Atlas Moth Look Like?

Atlas Moths are awe-inspiringly large. If you see one, it will probably be the biggest moth you’ve ever seen. Its patterns and coloring look like the cecropia moth or polyphemus moth, both of which are native to the U.S., but those two species are significantly smaller.

The cecropia moth is the largest moth native to the U.S. Its wingspan can reach 7” – 8” long. An Atlas Moth, by comparison, can reach 10” or more. Polyphemus moths are much smaller than either: they’re usually about 3” – 4”. Polyphemus moths also have fuzzier bodies, and fuller wings.

How Did the Atlas Moth Get Here?

It’s an unfortunate dilemma because the Atlas Moth did not choose to come here. They’re not adapted to fly thousands of miles across the ocean. Sadly, it appears that a person smuggled them here for economic gain – there’s a thriving black market for insects. Shortly after the discovery of the specimen in Seattle, an eBay listing offering Atlas Moth cocoons for $60 each was found. However, the listing was quickly taken down and authorities have not been able to trace the seller.

It’s hard to know how many Atlas Moth cocoons were sold and shipped, but there could be many across the United States, which is why it’s important to know what it looks like – even if there hasn’t been a sighting in Bristol yet.

The Atlas Moth’s Potential Harm to Ecosystems

Anytime you introduce a new species into an ecosystem, there are unknown risks. Nature is a delicate balance, so removing one species can have a domino effect for years to come. It may not seem like a big deal, but one change can alter a natural area permanently.

We do know a few things about the Atlas Moth life cycle, and the ecosystems in southeast Asia they inhabit.

Atlas Moths are impressively large caterpillars before their metamorphosis. They ward off predators by spraying a foul smelling liquid. They’re voracious eaters, and spend every possible moment eating. (They have to – because adult Atlas Moths don’t eat at all, they survive only off the nutrients and fat stored when they were caterpillars). It’s because they’re such hungry caterpillars that lead to worries that Atlas Moth caterpillars may be able to outcompete cecropia and polyphemus moth caterpillars, and ultimately threaten their numbers.

What to Do If You Spot an Atlas Moth

Atlas Moths are not dangerous to humans. They won’t bite, and they’re not poisonous, yet they pose a significant threat to humans in their potential to harm ecosystems.

That’s why if you see one of these hard-to-miss Atlas Moths, we ask that you please notify the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife or your state’s office for plant and animal regulation.

Which Fall Pests Could Be Lurking in Your Walls?

a group of mice waiting out the winter inside a wallWhich Fall Pests Could Be Lurking in Your Walls?

Every year when temperatures drop, insects and vermin that don’t die off take part in a phenomenon called “overwintering,” which basically means they find a habitable environment to wait out the winter months. Some of these fall pests will migrate to warmer climates. Some find hiding spots outside under debris. The ones we’re most concerned about are those that make their way indoors into homes and buildings.

You should be aware of this possibility even if you don’t see them in places like your bedroom or bathroom. Fall pests love low-traffic areas like the space behind your walls or your attic. They can spend the entire season camping out there and come spring you may find that you’re dealing with a full-blown infestation.

Common Overwintering Pests in Tennessee

The most frequent fall pests we receive calls for here in Bristol include rodents, termites, stink bugs, Asian lady beetles, and wasps.

Rodents

Vermin can get into your attic by climbing up onto the roof. Squirrels are the most well-known culprits, but roof rats and mice are just as notorious for invading homes and making nests in the attic. How can you tell if you have rodents living in your home? The most common sign of a rodent infestation is scratching or gnawing sounds from above or from inside the walls. If you hear these sounds, it’s time to call an expert rodent exterminator.

Termites

It’s no wonder that termites are considered the most destructive pest in the United States. The cost of termite damage in the is estimated to be up to $30 billion annually. While termites are present all year, fall and winter can worsen an already-existing situation. Subterranean termites burrow deeper into the ground to survive cold weather, allowing the infestation to cultivate undetected until the following spring. Before you realize, entire colonies are ready to do significant damage to the wood structures of your home. How can you tell if you have termites? You may notice blisters on painted wood surfaces, pinhole-sized holes, and hollow-sounding wood.

Stink Bugs

As the name suggests, stink bugs release an unpleasant odor when they feel threatened or are squished. Not what you want in your home or office! Brown marmorated stink bugs are the most common type, ranging in size from about 1/4″ to 3/8″, so they’re very small and difficult to detect until you have a lot of them. The brown marmorated stink bug is an invasive species that’s taking over more and more territory across the country. They breed quickly, so if you start noticing them don’t wait, give us a call right away.

Asian Lady Beetles

Asian lady beetles are a type of beetle that look very similar to ladybugs, but they tend to be a bit larger, and not all have spots. They typically can be found in groups communicating with each other using pheromones – so if one lady beetle finds its way into a nice warm crack in your home, it will likely leave a signal to attract many more. Asian lady beetles do not pose any direct threat to your home’s structure and don’t bite or sting, but they can trigger allergic reactions for individuals with sensitivities and breathing problems. Additionally, they can cause unsightly stains around the house with their waste.

Wasps

Generally, wasps die off before each winter and the colonies do not overwinter like the rest of the creatures on this list. But to ensure the colony’s survival the following year, fertilized queens will find a warm hiding spot to overwinter, often in stumps or hollow logs outdoors, or in protected structures like crawlspaces and attics. Make sure to have your house checked for wasp queens during the winter to avoid having dangerous nests on your property the following year when it gets hot again.

Our Expert Exterminators Can Help

Think you might have pests in your walls?  As Bristol’s leader in fast, effective, and long-lasting pest control services, Leo’s Pest Control is here to keep your home pest-free all year long. Give us a call today for a free, no-obligation quote.

What Every Homeowner Needs To Know About Insulation [2021 Update]

Blown-in insulation in Bristol TN home - Leo's Pest ControlA well-insulated home provides a great number of benefits and is one of the best home improvement investments a homeowner can make. Once you determine that your home needs insulation, it’s important to understand some basics before having the work done. It would make the process really simple if there was one single type of insulation that outperformed the rest, but it’s not that easy. All forms of insulation perform very well if installed correctly along with air sealing. So how do you know what type of insulation to choose?

A professional home insulation company like Leo’s Pest Control can not only determine if your home needs insulation, but they can also tell you how much and what type they would recommend. With a little knowledge about insulation, you will be able to understand what work is being recommended and make a good decision for your home.

The Most Common Types of Insulation in Tennessee Homes

Insulation comes in several different forms, but there are four specific forms that are used the most. These include:

  • Fiberglass: Just as its name suggests, fiberglass contains fibers of glass that are threaded together to create an effective insulator. Fiberglass is available in loose-fill, rolls, and batts and can be used in walls, crawlspaces, attics, and other areas that could benefit from insulation.
  • Slag Wool: Slag wool is made from slag, minerals left over from smelting metals, and other raw materials. The insulating qualities are about the same as fiberglass, and it is available in the same forms.
  • Cellulose: This mix of paper, wood, and other forms of cellulose create an excellent form of insulation. Chemically treated for fire resistance, it’s available in loose form or with binders.
  • Foam: Made with different chemicals to create open-cell and closed-cell foam insulation. The foam is usually mixed on-site and applied with a sprayer into walls, attics, and other voids.

What to Know About Air Sealing & Insulation

While all those types of insulation are effective, none of them can give you the best insulation value without proper installation and air sealing. Air sealing is the added ingredient that helps any insulation insulate better. Attics, floors, windows, walls, and doors all have their “leaks” that let air in and out. Outlets, water pipes, and any other opening that comes from the outside to the inside, is a candidate for air sealing. Caulk or another sealant is used most often to seal up all those openings.

About the only other thing you need to know would be the way that insulation is rated. This means the “R factor”. The Rfactor sounds complicated, but it’s actually very simple. The higher the R factor, the better the insulating. So R60 insulation will keep you warmer than R30 insulation as long as it’s installed correctly and combined with air sealing.

Insulation Installation Services in Bristol TN

If you’re still wondering what type of insulation is best for your home or business, fear not. Leo’s Pest Control is proud to be your local home insulation expert. To pick our team’s brain or to schedule service, contact us today to get started!

How to Choose the Best Insulation Company

Installing insulation in Bristol TN - Leo's Pest ControlMaking a decision as large as deciding who will install insulation in your home can be daunting. The quality of your insulation will affect your living experience in your home for years to come, including the temperature regulation, air leakage, excess moisture, and even the potential for pest outbreaks. Learning the ins and outs of insulation isn’t your job, but you should know how to choose a company that understands them. Read on for Leo’s Pest Control’s insulation experts’ advice on choosing the right company to install insulation in Bristol TN for you!

The Customer and the Company

Choosing the right company to install insulation requires a lot of trust on the customer’s end. Installing insulation takes a specific skill set that the average person knows nothing about. This means that you have to feel confident that the technicians you hire to insulate your house have your back.

When considering a new company, make a call to ask any questions that you have about the process. A trustworthy and reliable insulation company will be able to answer every question that you have and will be happy to do so. If they are truly equipped with the tools and knowledge to perform the best insulation installation, they will want you to trust them with control of the process in order to do a great job.

Reading Insulation Company Reviews

Another important way to pick the best insulation company in your area is to find reviews. There are multiple ways that you can come across this information:

  1. Online customer reviews: Yelp and Google are two common places where prior customers of a business go to leave reviews. Reading through these reviews can help you find out information from real customers about the company.
  2. Online directories: Companies like Nextdoor and Angi organize reviews and put together referral statements for local businesses, organized by industry. You can read through these for professional recommendations for insulation companies in Bristol TN and surrounding areas.
  3. Word of mouth: When all else fails, ask around! Chances are, most homeowners that you know have either had problems with their insulation or can give you a recommendation based on their lack of issues.

Insulation with Leo’s Pest Control

When it comes time to reinsulate your home, give your local insulation company a call. At Leo’s Pest Control, we come to the table with a unique and comprehensive understanding of how much insulation can protect your home from a multitude of problems. Our products are always safe to use, durable, and reliable. For more information or a free estimate on installing insulation, contact our team today!