Archive for April, 2010

Legal battles setting rules on who pays for termite damage

April 30, 2010

by Michael Hinman Staff Writer

These pests typically grow no longer than an inch, but their impact to the housing industry can be devastating.

Termites are responsible for more than $2 billion of damage each year, according to the National Pest Management Association Inc. — some $500 million in Florida alone. The moist, subtropical environment filled with plenty of wood-frame structures is paradise for these insects, but who is responsible to pay up when termites attack is a question still being answered through insurance policies, contracts and lawsuits.

Termite feasts tend to take place inside walls and other out-of-view areas, not announcing their presence until it’s too late — when walls and floors begin to buckle and sag from weakened wood. The most severe damage has been generally found inside structures built in the 1970s and 1980s that may not have received regular pest control visits or where less-than-ideal construction techniques make infestation easier.

Multifamily community buyers keep that in mind when eyeing a piece of property, and look closely at past treatments and what kind of bonds are established by pest control companies to ensure infestations are properly eradicated.

“Florida is loaded with termites, so it’s absolutely a concern for buyers,” said Byron Moger, director of apartment brokerage services with Cushman & Wakefield of Florida. “It’s like making a boat out of steel and floating it out in the ocean. You better make sure you keep putting paint on it, or it will rust away. Termites have to be treated with the same diligence, or there could be some real problems down the road.”

Those problems can carry hefty price tags that could be left for owners to shoulder.

Peter Cardillo of the Cardillo Law Firm in Tampa is known as Florida’s “Bug Lawyer” and has focused entirely on infestation cases around the state since 2003. He has seen firsthand some of the damage created by termites and has as many as 60 active cases involving pest damage in Florida courts.

Two of his more recent cases involve Park Place Condominium Association of Tampa Inc. near the University of South Florida main campus and The Oaks Unit III Condominium Association Inc., both which are fighting both insurance and pest control companies to pay for damages of $5.5 million at Park Place and more than $1 million at The Oaks.

“The insurance companies claim [the termite damage] is not covered,” Cardillo said. “They claim that the buildings have to be in a state of collapse, which is basically structurally impaired, and there is enough subjectivity in that assessment for them to screw my clients basically.”

In court documents filed with both the Hillsborough County Circuit Court and the U.S. District Court’s Middle District of Florida, Cardillo said denying the claim simply because a building hadn’t collapsed breached the contract and, at least in the case of The Oaks, was executed in bad faith.

Neither Allstate Insurance Co., the defendant in The Oaks suit, nor its attorney, Jane Anderson of Boyd & Jenerette in Jacksonville, returned calls seeking comment. But Gary Landry, VP of the Florida Insurance Council — a state lobbying group for the insurance industry — said there is a lot of misconceptions on what insurance is supposed to cover.

“What homeowners insurance sets out to do is protect them from great catastrophes that the average person can’t protect against,” he said. “But you also have a certain degree of responsibility on what happens to your home, and there are some things that can be controlled, like termites.”

That means proper treating when homes are constructed and regular treatments after that to stop infestations before they gain steam.

“You can’t take in just anything happens to a home and cover it,” Landry said. “Otherwise, policies would be too expensive.”

Courts haven’t always agreed.

“Associations and owners are required to carry property insurance, and the idea is that they do that and they’re protected,” Cardillo said. “Sometimes when something comes up where they need protection, the insurance companies simply aren’t there.”
Read more: Legal battles setting rules on who pays for termite damage – Tampa Bay Business Journal:



How did Caribbean Crazy Ants end up in Florida?

April 29, 2010

Caribbean Crazy Ants Invade the First Coast

By Kristin Smith First Coast News

JACKSONVILLE, FL — As the saying goes, almost no one living in Florida is from Florida. But people aren’t the only one’s moving in.

“The state of Florida, unfortunately, has a lot of what’s called invasive species. And they’re animals that aren’t native to Florida, but just like a lot of people like the climate, and want to stick around, so these animals do too,” said Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Senior Veterinarian, Nick Kapustin.

The Caribbean Crazy Ant has made its way to Florida.

“There are ants that were imported into Florida through cargo ships and freighters,” said Kapustin.

Jacksonville’s thought to be its second stop in this country, making its first appearance in West Palm Beach.

More specifically, the ants have found a home at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

“They’re not harmful to the animals, they’re not a problem for our guests, they’re just literally, a nuisance,” said Kapustin.

The Caribbean Crazy Ant, called that because they don’t move in any real direction, isn’t just new to this country. It’s new to the world.

And unlike many other species, these ants don’t usually eat food we leave behind. In fact, some of their favorite food is stuff we’d rather not have around.

“They eat other insects. They’ve been known to eat fire ants,” said Kapustin.

And don’t mistake them for fire ants, even though they look a little like them.

“They’re a reddish brown to yellowish brown,” said Kapustin.

And Kapustin says you might as well get used to them, because just like many people who come to Florida for the weather, these ants probably won’t want to leave.

Kapustin says while there are ways to fend off most ants, the Crazy Ants are so new, even pest control isn’t sure how to control them.

The University of Florida is now studying these ants to figure out the best method of control as well as learning more about their benefits to humans.

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/local/news-article.aspx?storyid=65207

South Florida Mosquito Control

April 28, 2010


South Florida Mosquito Control Services

Backyard hives offer sweet benefits

April 27, 2010

Check out the article below from the Orlando Sentinel I bet you find it to be quite interesting, and extremely fascinating.

What’s that buzz in the backyard?

By Eloísa Ruano González, Orlando Sentinel

Elisa Alfonso and her husband, Jerry, bought their first backyard beehives in December 2008 after friends introduced them to the hobby. The couple’s four hives at their east Orlando home bring sweet rewards, and Elisa Alfonso said her neighbors’ gardens benefit, too.

“It’s a special blessing to have honey in your backyard…. It’s an advantage for everyone. The bees will pollinate their fruit trees,” she said of the neighbors’ gardens.

As commercial hives in the state have declined because of bee deaths and other problems, backyard beekeepers like the Alfonsos have multiplied.

Last year, 400 backyard beekeepers throughout Florida registered with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. These urban beekeepers, including 108 in Central Florida, are required to register their hives so their colonies can be monitored for diseases and pests, said Jerry Hayes, the department’s apiary inspection chief.

In the past decade, many commercial beekeepers were forced out of business after their hives suffered colony collapse disorder. The disorder’s cause continues to elude scientists. Hayes said it could be a combination of factors, including disease from parasites, exposure to high levels of pesticide and nutrition problems from shuffling bees from state to state to pollinate different crops.

In 2006, the state had fewer than a thousand total beekeepers. That number has climbed to 1,500 commercial and hobby beekeepers managing about 2,500 hives.

Florida’s urban bee farmers have helped boost the European honeybee population, which has dwindled through the years because of parasitic invaders, excessive exposure to pesticides and colony collapse, Hayes said.

“I had no idea that the general population would be energized and become beekeepers to save the honeybees,” he said.

Beekeepers like ‘therapeutic,’ ‘green’ aspects

Shawn Boltz caught the beekeeping bug after some friends boasted about their experiences handling bees. Boltz, 33, started out with seven hives, but only one remains after small hive beetles killed the rest.

While he knows bees are important to the ecosystem, Boltz said he found caring for them therapeutic.

“I found all my cares slip away. It’s so relaxing. They’re really gentle,” said Boltz, who lives in Cassadaga. The insects have taught him to be “mindful of the Earth,” he said. He also started his first garden this year, growing corn, lima beans and strawberries.

As people strive for greener living, beekeeping classes and clubs are becoming more popular, said Beth Fox, a beekeeping enthusiast and former president of the Orange Blossom Beekeeper Association. The association started in 2007 with a few members but now draws 50 to 60 people at monthly meetings.

The Beekeepers of Volusia County started earlier this year after residents flooded two classes at the University of Florida extension office in DeLand. About 80 people attended the classes but even more wanted in, said Sharon Gamble, a UF extension agent. The Osceola County extension office saw a similar turnout during a course it offered in March.

Alfonso last month took part in the Bee College in St. Augustine, where 250 people attended a two-day event hosted by the Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory.

Bee lovers point out their benefits: They pollinate fruits, vegetables and nuts, including Florida blueberries, citrus, strawberries and watermelons. Hayes said bees pollinate a third of humans’ food source. And the propolis, a resin bees collect from sap and tree buds to use in hive-building, is used for medicinal purposes.

Caring for bees is like owning a Toyota Prius, Hayes said: “They are a symbol for our environment.”

Walter Cox put in a colony behind his Pierson home last year to help pollinate his trees and extensive vegetable garden. As a boy on his father’s South Carolina farm, he remembers five or six hives helping to pollinate corn, wheat and other crops.

“You get more vegetables, and they do all the work,” Cox, 84, said. Cox, who’s disabled and in a power wheelchair, has his son check on the bees and remove the honey, which he gives away to neighbors.

Gamble said it’s important to keep large numbers of European honeybees in Central Florida to consume all the nectar and pollen, keeping out the Africanized bees, which tend to be more aggressive and have larger swarms that settle in electrical boxes and other corners.

“It’ll be harder for the Africanized bees to come, and they’ll move on,” Gamble said.

European bees are more docile and won’t sting a person unless they’re harassed, said Tom Bartlett, president of the Volusia beekeepers club. Bartlett, who is in the UF master beekeepers program, said the colony will send out a few “guard” bees to buzz around an intruder’s head if they’re disturbed. Most people run off without getting stung.

Each hive, with its own queen, worker and drone bees, has an average of about 80,000 total bees, Bartlett said. Bartlett checked with neighbors before he put bees behind his Port Orange home three years ago, although city rules there don’t ban beekeeping. Neighbors were apprehensive at first but warmed up to them, and he hasn’t had any complaints of bee stings.

Fox said some urban beekeepers are concerned about telling neighbors about their hives, fearing the bees will be disturbed. She keeps two beehives in her half-acre yard. Like Fox, many beekeepers live in unincorporated areas because some cities ban beekeeping.

Orlando does not have any regulations against beekeeping, said city spokeswoman Cassandra Lafser. Other governments are loosening regulations. New York City officials lifted a longtime ban on beekeeping in March after discovering that many residents were secretly keeping hives on their rooftops.

Fox urges cities to allow urban beekeepers, with a limit on the number.

“The general public seems to think bees are going to disappear from the face of the Earth. Bees are not going to disappear, if you allow beekeepers,” she said.

South Florida bee removal & control experts

CONSUMER INFORMATION ON DRYWOOD TERMITES

April 26, 2010

http://www.dowagro.com/ppm/vikane/images/Drywood-Termite-Zone-Map.jpg

•Drywood (non-subterranean) termites as well as subterranean termites occur in Florida.

• Drywood termites infest dry wood and do not require contact with the soil. The subterranean species must nest in the soil or near a water source in order to survive.

• Signs of infestations by drywood termites and control measures differ drastically from those for subterranean termites.

• Drywood termites occur in small colonies in isolated wood pieces. Multiple colonies can infest a structure simultaneously.

• Control methods include whole structure fumigation, spot treatment with insecticides, or spot heat, shock, microwave, and liquid nitrogen treatment. Heat treatments have been used as whole structure treatments.

• Drywood termites remain hidden within the wood or other material on which they feed, so they seldom seen. Fecal pellets are ejected periodically, while swarmers fly from colonized wood in late spring and summer.

• Galleries or tunnels in the wood made by drywood termites cut across the grain of the wood and destroy both soft spring wood and the harder summer growth. Galleries made by the subterranean species follow the grain of the wood and the soft spring wood is attacked first.

• Treatment of the soil under and around the structure will not protect a structure from drywood termites.

• Winged termites can be distinguished from winged ants because termites have a thick waist, straight antennae, and equal-length wings whereas ants have a distinctly thin or wasp-like waist, elbowed antennae, and shorter hind wings than fore wings.

• Swarming (mating flights) often occur in the evening hours.

• Late Spring and Summer months are the peak season for winged drywood termite swarming flights.

• Termite protection contracts are usually only for subterranean termites. A separate contract is usually required for treatment and protection from drywood termites.

• The Florida Building Code does not require a preventive treatment for drywood termites for new construction. It does require a treatment for subterranean termites.

• Coastal and southern areas of the state are more likely to have infestation occur.

• Colonies are smaller and develop over a longer period of time than do subterranean termites therefore the potential for structural damage over a given period of time is less.

• Even though colonies are slow to develop if left unchecked for extended periods of time substantial damage can occur.

• If you suspect an infestation of drywood termites make sure a positive identification is done by an experienced pest control operator.

• Drywood termites will also infest pieces of furniture (particularly antique pieces). Removal of the item and separate treatment of the piece may be all that is necessary in some instances.

• In some cases, treatment of an infestation of drywood termites may not be needed if the area of infestation can be identified and physically removed (this may or may not be practical from a structural standpoint).

• If it is determined that a drywood termite infestation is present in your home, do not panic, take the time required to collect the information needed in order to make an informed decision as to the best course of action for your situation.

• The Department recommends obtaining at least three opinions and cost estimates for treatment from properly licensed pest control companies.

• If you have technical questions or require information on a pest control company you may contact the Department’s Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control at 850-921-4177 or visit the website http://www.floridatermitehelp.org.

Information Courtesy of http://www.floridatermitehelp.org/index.html

Visit www.alhoffer.com for Florida Termite Inspection information.

South Florida Termite Treatment & Prevention

April 23, 2010

Ants: The Spring House Guest No One Wants, But Nearly Everyone Gets

April 22, 2010

Springtime is ant time as ants march into homes in search of food. With more than 700 species of ants in the U.S. and about two dozen classified as pests, many homeowners will likely encounter these unwelcome visitors.

“Ants are more than a nuisance. They can contaminate food, bite when threatened and damage our property,” noted Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. “However, which species of ant invades can depend on geography.”

Here are some species homeowners should lookout for this spring:

Odorous house ants get their name from the strong, rotten coconut-like smell they give off when crushed. Odorous house ants like sweets and are found in exposed soil and wall cracks in every region of the U.S.

Carpenter ants typically tunnel into soft wood to build their nests and need a constant water source to survive. This species is found across the U.S. and can cause significant property damage.

Red imported fire ants will build their nest mounds in landscape areas or near structural foundations. The sting of a red imported fire ant is painful and often results in a welt and can cause severe allergic reactions. These ants are most common in southern states.

Argentine ants are found in southeastern parts of the U.S. and California. Argentine ant colonies can grow to monumental size. The ant gives off a musty odor when crushed. They prefer to eat sweets, but will eat almost anything including meats, eggs, oils and fats. Argentine ant colonies are located in wet environments near a food source.

Crazy Rasberry ants, first found in Texas in 2002, have spread to Mississippi and Louisiana and could spread to other southern states. They feed on plants, insects, and small animals, can bite humans, and are oddly attracted to electrical equipment.

Courtesy of Pest World

Termite House Party

April 21, 2010

The Termite House Party, sponsored by BASF Termidor termiticide/insecticide, is an exhibit aimed at educating people about Formosan termites, which infest an estimated 1.5 million homes each year. Now you can watch these little home wreckers in action with this 24/7 video feed. Visit often to see thousands of hungry, wood-eating termites as they consume this miniature dollhouse………before it is destroyed!

Pest control links and resources

April 20, 2010

ProBest Pest moved their blog to word press and can be found at http://callprobest.com/blog/ check it out!

Check out this great article from Bulwark Exterminating.

The Bug doctor had a great post on 5 tools every pest control operator should have for under $6.

The New York Pest Control Company JPMchale had a great post on mice infestations.

Arizona Pest Control Company had a cool post on Arizona Pigeon Control Services.

Visit the Pest Control Technology website at http://www.pctonline.com/ they have great information.

Myers Pest & Termite Services had a great post on Dallas Fort Worth Mosquito control services.

Don’t forget to check out the winners of the NPMA PSA contest.

Finally, have you ever wondered if ultra sonic pest control devices work?

www.alhoffer.com

Arbovirus in Florida

April 19, 2010

Arbovirus surveillance in Florida includes endemic viruses West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV), and Highlands J virus (HJV) and exotic viruses such as Dengue virus (DENV) and California encephalitis group viruses (CEV). During the period April 4-10, 2010, the arboviral activity listed in this report was recorded in Florida.

WNV activity: Twelve sentinel chickens from Walton, Hillsborough, and Palm Beach counties tested positive for antibodies to WNV. In 2010, positive samples from 22 sentinel chickens have been received from four counties.

To view the rest of the results click here.