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.

Common Pests During the Late Summer

A deer tickSome of us look forward to the end of summer to finally catch a break from pests, but August and September won’t afford us this opportunity quite yet. In fact, there are several kinds of bugs and wildlife that thrive in the conditions of the late summer. If you want to ensure that the last of the warm season isn’t ruined by pest problems, you have to weave prevention strategies into your routines. To learn about common late-summer pests in Bristol TN and what you can do to stop them, read on for advice from Leo’s Pest Control!

Pest That Thrive in Late Summer

Late spring and early summer are commonly regarded as the height of pest season, but this doesn’t mean that the late summer and other seasons are free of pest issues. Here in Bristol, we commonly face the following pests in the late summer:

  • Wildlife: If an animal hibernates during the winter, you can be sure that they will be active all summer. Our late summers usually come with raccoon, opossum, and squirrel problems.
  • Bees and wasps: As long as people are gathering outside, bees and wasps are going to hang around. If you cook outside often or have a habit of leaving out sugary or protein-rich foods, you can expect bees and wasps to build nests close to these newfound food sources.
  • Ticks: Ticks breed in the early summer to produce booming populations that hang around until temperatures drop significantly again. Watch out for ticks around tall grass or dense vegetation.
  • Mosquitoes: If you don’t disturb their breeding grounds, mosquitoes can develop a consistent output of offspring that stick around into fall.

Preventing These Late Summer Pests

We want to preface this prevention information by reminding you that any serious pest infestation should be dealt with immediately by an experienced technician. However, if you want a head start on keeping these late summer pests off of your property, we have some advice for you:

  1. Look for standing water: Because mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, getting rid of all potential breeding grounds will keep them off of your property. Pour out rainwater wherever you find it — be sure to look in gutters, planter boxes, and similar places.
  2. Keep your yard tidy: Trimming plants, removing leaf piles and grass clippings, and decluttering in general will all help prevent temporary pest shelters.
  3. Seal entry points: Look around the outside of your house and any structures in your yard for gaps in roofing, siding, fencing, foundation, or elsewhere. Seal holes with a silicone-based caulk or install screens to cover window gaps.
  4. Protect your trash: Taking out your trash regularly will prevent indoor pest problems, and using lids that seal on your outdoor bins will prevent wild animals and bees.

Professional Pest Control for Late Summer

If you have already tried a bunch of prevention methods and have had no luck keeping pests off of your property in Bristol TN this summer, it’s time to team up with your local pest experts. Our team at Leo’s Pest Control knows all about the pest problems that residents and business owners face year after year in our region. We can quickly assess your property for crucial vulnerabilities and put together a uniquely-crafted plan that tackles them safely and efficiently. Reach out today for a free quote!

Pest Proof Your Backyard in 10 Steps

A backyard to be serviced in Bristol TN - Leo's Pest ControlThe sunshine and warmth bring everyone outdoors all spring and summer here in Bristol TN. However, we aren’t the only ones excited about the good weather. All sorts of common pests capitalize on the warmth that follows after a rainy season, and if we aren’t careful, our lack of preparation can invite them into our yards to settle, feed, and reproduce. Looking to learn how to keep pests out of your backyard? Read on for advice from the technicians at Leo’s Pest Control!

10 Pest-Proofing Tips for Your Backyard

Keeping pests out of your backyard during the spring and summer means adding pest prevention measures to your regular cleaning and upkeep routines. Here are our technicians’ 10 best tips to help you do so!

  1. Get rid of standing water: Still water provides breeding grounds for mosquitoes and a hydration source for many other kinds of pests. If you find rainwater pooling in buckets, planters, gutters, or elsewhere on your property, pour it out or cover it.
  2. Trim your plants: Unkempt trees, bushes, and brush can create shaded hiding places for pests like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.
  3. Clear away yard waste: Piles of yard waste can work as temporary hiding places for pests ranging from ants to rats. Dispose of your yard waste regularly.
  4. Use garden netting: Protecting your plants with garden netting can keep away common garden thieves like raccoons and even smaller garden pests like beetles.
  5. Mow your lawn regularly: Mowing your lawn once a week can ensure that longer grass blades aren’t trapping standing water and allowing common lawn pests to find easy shelters.
  6. Dethatch your lawn, too: A thin layer of thatch can insulate your lawn and keep it healthy, but too much will suffocate the grass and create a sheltered environment for all kinds of insects.
  7. Keep bins sealed and far away: Pests as small as wasps and as big as raccoons will take advantage of open trash cans to forage for food. Seal your bins if you can, and keep them at a good distance from your yard.
  8. Store firewood up and away: Keeping firewood off of the ground and away from your home or back deck can prevent devastating termite infestations from developing.
  9. Hydrate your lawn properly: Your lawn needs a regulated amount of water because both overwatering and underwatering can lead to pest problems. A sprinkler or irrigation system can solve this problem.
  10. Hire an exterminator: A professional pest control technician can approach your yard with the expertise to identify vulnerabilities and create a plan to keep pests off of your property.

Pest Control for Your Backyard in Bristol TN

If you want to make sure your backyard stays pest-free all through the year, get in touch with your local pest control company. Our technicians at Leo’s Pest Control are trained to conduct exhaustive services, starting with property-wide inspections to identify problem sites, following with extermination and exclusion measures, and returning for any preventative maintenance necessary. For a free quote, contact us today!

Protecting Your Firewood from Home Invading Pests

Subterranean termites in Bristol TN - Leo's Pest ControlOne thing that comes to mind when we think of the wintertime is a warm, crackling fire burning in the fireplace. Although this seems comforting and cozy, if you’re not careful, being too lazy with your firewood storage can lead to pest problems that ruin your holiday season. Fortunately for you, we know the best ways to keep pests out of your woodpiles and out of your home as a result. For the best pointers on winter pest control in Bristol TN, read on—we’ve asked our technicians at Leo’s Pest Control for their advice!

What Kinds of Pests Do Woodpiles Attract?

There are plenty of bugs that you might find around your woodpile that should be no cause for alarm. Earwigs, moths, boxelder bugs, some species of spiders, and other pests will simply be an annoyance in your home, not a direct threat to your family or your property. On the flip side, there are a few pests that you’ll want to keep an eye out for, those being:

  • Termites
  • Powderpost beetles
  • Carpenter ants
  • Carpenter bees and wasps

Of course, bees and wasps in your home come with the fear of being stung, but there are long-lasting issues that arise with the presence of the aforementioned wood-boring insects. Termites, powderpost beetles, and carpenter ants all tear through the wooden structures of our home in the interest of nutrition or nesting. Termites are the worst of the bunch—subterranean termites alone cause over an estimated $5 billion in property damage in the United States every year!

How to Keep Pests Out of Your Firewood Piles

To avoid a pest infestation spurred by woodpile haphazardness, you have to be extra careful about the way that you store and transport your logs. Here are Leo’s Pest Control’s three greatest tips to stop infestations of firewood-dwelling pests:

  1. Keep your firewood high up and covered: Termites and carpenter ants live underground, so woodpiles at ground level become easy sources of food and shelter. Keeping your woodpile protected and stored high will reduce your chances of bringing in pests.
  2. Keep a distance: Your woodpile should not be resting up against the outer walls of your home. In fact, the further away, the better.
  3. Burn older wood first and fast: When you take wood inside to start a fire, choose older logs and burn them right away. Older logs have a greater chance of being infested, but if you burn them quickly, there’s no need to worry about pests spreading out of them.

Winter Pest Control in Bristol TN

If you want to be sure that you’re taking the right steps to keep pests out of your home this winter, reach out to your local pest control company about your concerns. At Leo’s Pest Control, we pride ourselves on offering holistic pest control programs for every season, performing inspections, conducting treatments, and keeping up with prevention plans tailored to each of our customers’ homes. Don’t wait until it’s too late to stop pests this winter—reach out today for a free quote!