Archive for March, 2011

Pest Profile:The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

March 31, 2011

Bedbug Hatching

March 30, 2011

Holiday woman finds storage unit infested with rats

March 29, 2011

Holiday woman finds storage unit infested with rats

New Port Richey, Florida — A Holiday woman says she came across a disgusting problem when she showed up to her storage unit at Sentry Mini-Storage recently.

Inside unit 712 at the facility on U.S. 19 in New Port Richey, Naomi Verilhac says she found two dead rats and evidence of many more.

Photo Gallery: Rat Damaged Storage Unit

Most of her belongings, including furniture and her wedding dress, were either chewed through or soaked in rat feces and urine.

“My brother or son moved something, and the maggots just scurried,” Verilhac recalled.

Right away, she went to the facility’s front office.

“[We] told them we had a critter, and they were like, ‘Oh, so you’re the one.  We had it narrowed down to you and the [unit] next to you.'”

Verilhac says the rodents left her $100 leather reclining chair saturated in urine, gnawed up the bottom of a custom $300 wooden cabinet, left feces and urine on a $250 upholstered massaging recliner and soaked her $700 mattress and $100 box spring with urine.  Her $800 David’s Bridal wedding dress also had rat urine down the side of it.

“The worst was my bed.  Because I need that,” she said.

Verilhac walks with a limp and says she suffers from arthritis in her three lower lumbar and her right hip.

She’d first put the items in storage in October, as she was going through a divorce.  She was moving into her brother’s house, which didn’t have room for her furniture.

In February, she decided to return to the storage unit to get her bed so she could sleep better. That’s when she found the damage.

“It looks like the rats had a party in my unit,” she said.

When Verilhac first talked to Sentry Mini-Storage management, she says they refused to give her any compensation for the damage. Legally, according to the lease Verilhac signed, they’re not required to. Her lease clearly states that the company isn’t liable for any damage in the unit for any reason.

Eventually, management offered her $80 to have the mattress cleaned.

After 10 News Reporter Janie Porter spoke with management, they upped their offer to $300 “purely as a matter of good will and for the purposes of settlement only,” their attorney told 10 News through a faxed letter.

Still, Verilhac says the damaged items total about $2,200.

“To me, when you rent a storage unit, you have that expectation of it being critter-free,” Verilhac said.

And even if she had purchased insurance, the items wouldn’t have been covered. According to the company’s insurance booklet, their insurance covers burglary, lightning, windstorm, hail, water damage, fire, smoke, earthquake, building collapse, explosion, vandalism and even riot.

Rodents or pests are never mentioned.

“They consider this an act of God,” Verilhac said.

“I’m sorry.  I don’t think this is an act of God.  This isn’t a tornado [or a] robbery… this is pest control.”

A member of Sentry Mini-Storage management, who only disclosed his first name, told 10 News that the rats “aren’t my problem.” He says he blames the rodents on ongoing construction along U.S. 19, which he says has pushed rats onto his property.

Sentry Mini-Storage, which has locations in Holiday and New Port Richey, is not listed as an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau and hasn’t had a complaint filed against it since 1997.

Verilhac immediately went online and filed a complaint against the company.

She’s also working with the BBB’s free mediation service to try to get a better offer from Sentry Mini-Storage through phone mediation.

She has not yet accepted Sentry’s $300 offer.

Before renting a storage unit, the Better Business Bureau suggests customers make sure the company is accredited by the BBB.  Also, check for any past complaints against the company.

Sometimes, homeowners insurance will cover damage or theft of items in a storage unit.  Verilhac didn’t have homeowners insurance.

Here are some more tips from the BBB on renting a storage unit:

  • Cost: Obtain written cost estimates from at least three facilities. Most will insist on inspecting your items before offering an estimate. If a facility gives a phone estimate, look elsewhere. Costs to consider include the monthly rental fee (usually there are a minimum monthly storage charge and a minimum number of month’s storage); storage preparation, padding, packing or transportation fees; and fees for extra options (electricity, pest control, insurance) you may choose. Ask how the fees are to be paid and by what date.
  • Size: What size storage units are available? Is there a maximum weight limit for unit contents? Can you jam-pack the entire unit from floor to ceiling?
  • Climate: Consider the general climate and whether your belongings might be subject to mold or water damage. If so, you may want to consider an environmentally-controlled unit.
  • Insurance: Make sure your items are insured from theft, fire or other damage. The facility may provide basic insurance or you can choose to purchase insurance from an alternate source. Some homeowners’ policies cover self-storage.
  • Safety: You will need a heavy-duty, secure lock protecting your storage unit. Ask if the facility has surveillance cameras on the property and if a system is in place to restrict access by strangers. Ask for contact information to reach someone at the facility in case of an emergency.
  • Contract: Get everything in writing – the size and location of the unit, options (such as climate-control) that you have selected, termination regulations, insurance coverage and payment terms.
  • Access: What are the hours and related charges for accessing your unit? Is there adequate room for parking and is the distance from your car/truck to the rental unit acceptable?

Florida Rat Control Company

Swarms of insects won’t let up

March 28, 2011

Swarms of insects won’t let up

Anne-Louise Brown   |  March 28th, 2011

SWARMS of winged creepy crawlies have invaded the Gold Coast, leaving scientists and locals puzzled as to where they came from.

Hot on the heels of tonnes of water beetles taking over the Coast’s beaches, droves of dragonflies are buzzing in.

Jessica Guertin, of Nobby Beach, could not believe her eyes when she went for a walk near her home, with countless dragonflies swarming “as far as the eye could see”.

“The entire sky was just filled with dragonflies. I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.

“It happened around sunset. Everybody was just standing on the beach dumbfounded.”

Various theories surround the reason for the sudden arrival of the bugs, some suggesting it could be the result of contaminated mulch on the foreshore.

This theory was rejected by the Gold Coast City Council.

“There is no evidence that such a swarm of beetles can be sourced to the mulching which occurs within council parks along the foreshore,” a council spokesman said.

“As a rule, the council does not mulch the foreshore but does undertake some minor in-fill mulching in our parks, something which has occurred for decades.”

Mosquitoes bite but Hollywood is biting back this April

March 25, 2011

Mosquitoes bite but Hollywood is biting back this April

From now until March 18th, you can get 15% off your ticket purchase with promotional code “MNM15“!

Some of today’s hottest stars will take the stage at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on April 16th at 7:30pm for Hollywood Bites Back!, a night of celebrities and comedy to benefit us, Malaria No More!

Conan O’Brien, Elizabeth Banks, B.J. Novak, David Arquette and Jeff Probst are among the many celebrities, comedians and musicians that will entertain to help end malaria deaths.

Although malaria was eradicated in the U.S. 60 years ago, it still claims the lives of 781,000 people every year — and most of them children under 5 years old in Africa. Get your tickets to Hollywood Bites Back! to help bring that number to zero:

  • Tickets start as low as $10. Get yours here.
  • VIP tickets are $500 and offer premium seating and access to the after-party; available here.

Hollywood Bites Back! is an extension of the Comedy Fights Malaria campaign that launched last October with the help of 25 stars, including John Mayer, Orlando Bloom, Elizabeth Banks, Ed Helms, B.J. Novak, Josh Groban and many many more.

Ant & Termite Institute

March 24, 2011

BASF (The world’s leading chemical company) has recently launched a couple of very useful, informational websites for consumers. The Ant Institute is a site dedicated to relaying vital ant control information to home owners. The site features great tips on how to avoid an ant infestation, and also contains facts about colony behavior, and the biology of ants. Another cool aspect of the site is it has an ask the expert feature, which is always a useful resource. Remember, you can always ask us about your pest & termite control questions.

The other site BASF recently launched is The Termite Institute. The site has many similar aspects as the ant institute does except the focus is on termite inspection & control. The site provides homeowners with many answers to questions that people constantly have about these common invaders. You can find the answers to questions such as…

Can termites tunnel through cement?

Does homeowners’ insurance cover the cost of termite damage?

Can I treat my termite infestation myself?

You can also find a useful termite identification chart to help you identify this particularly annoying pest. Be sure to let us know what other pest and termite control resources you use when looking for a professional to protect your home and famil

Scientists build a better bedbug trap — and it works for cockroaches and grain pests, too

March 23, 2011

Scientists build a better bedbug trap — and it works for cockroaches and grain pests, too


Flour beetles mostly wriggle, German cockroaches run or crawl and bed bugs mostly scrape — and the distinctive sounds those nasty critters make as they creep and crawl into our lives has led scientists to a way to detect and trap them.

After 8 years of research, United States Department of Agriculture scientists at the Agricultural Research Service have devised a way to monitor the unique sounds of insects.
Excerpts from the report, in the March edition of Agriculture Research magazine:

Their objective was to create a device that would make automated insect monitoring not only affordable, but also easy to use and reliable.

Their system uses the sensors to collect infrared, acoustic, and vibrational signals generated by three kinds of insect movements: wriggling, crawling, and scraping. The software analyzes the signals to create a profile of the target insect that distinguishes it from other species.

14 Facts About Monarch Butterflies

March 22, 2011

Ladybugs can be deceiving – Home & Garden –

March 21, 2011

Ladybugs can be deceiving – Home & Garden –

Tulane study to test whether roach control program helps asthma in La. inner-city children

March 18, 2011

Tulane study to test whether roach control program helps asthma in La. inner-city children

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Tulane University researcher will study whether killing roaches can alleviate asthma symptoms in children who live in public housing.

Associate professor Felicia Rabito (ruh-BEE-toh) says just focusing on killing roaches would cost less than full-blown pest-control.

Studies have found that inner-city children have worse and more frequent asthma attacks than other children.

Allergic reactions to roaches are known to make asthma symptoms worse.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave Rabito and North Carolina State University entomologist Coby Schal (shahl) $942,000 for the study. It will look at 100 children who have moderate to severe asthma, are allergic to cockroaches and live in infested homes.

CDC report:
Article from The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology:
Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine:
NCSU Department of Entomology: