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David Colombo Pest Control Technician
Technician in the Spotlight

David Colombo

If you're fortunate enough to have David as your Pest Management Professional, ask him about being born and growing up in Venice.

David has been back in the States for many years now, and just celebrated his 12-year anniversary with Killroy Pest Control.

Actually, David is our most tenured member of Sensitive Solutions, being the division's first hire back in 2007.

Through the course of his career David has become our bed bug specialist as well. If you happen to pick up some unwanted passengers on your next trip, David will be able to "escort" them out of your home.

David spends his spare time off-roading and playing guitar. Always ready with a warm smile and a Sensitive Solution!

Killroy offers all these services:

  • Termite Services
  • Tree Straying/Injection
  • Beneficial Insect Releases
  • Tunnel Topper (ask us!)
  • Rodent Control
  • Ground Squirrel Control
  • Dormant Spraying
  • Gopher & Mole Control
  • Fertilization & Root Feeding
  • Wild Animal Trapping
  • Weed Control
  • And more!

 

Fun Pest Facts

  • Ants don't sleep!
  • No two spider webs are the same.
  • In its entire lifetime, the average worker bee produces 1/12th a teaspoon of honey.
  • The animal responsible for the most human deaths is the mosquito.
  • Mosquitoes dislike citronella, because it irritates their feet.
  • Only female mosquitoes bite.
  • Mosquitoes prefer children to adults, blondes to brunettes.
  • You're more likely to be bitten by a mosquito if you eat bananas.
  • Worker ants may live 7 years, and queens may live up to 15 years.
  • The largest insect egg belongs to the Malaysian jungle nymph, a stick-like insect, and the egg measures about 1.3 centimeters long — larger than a peanut!
  • Australian termites have been know to build mounds 20 feet high and at least 100 feet wide.

Killroy Kourier

Community Newsletter - Summer 2016

Eeeka! It's Zika!!!

no mosquitos

Pests — whether they be insects, rodents, or other inconvenient critters — have always been a cause of annoyance to us. Some sting or bite while others infest your kitchen, chew on your rose bushes, or tear up your front lawn. But in the back of our minds, we remember nature can also act as more than an inconvenience. These same pests are capable of transmitting disease, and when you see a mouse on the back fence or a mosquito buzzing overhead, these risks seem far too close to home.

Killroy Pest Control holds over 60 years of knowledge and experience which we utilize daily to eradicate these pests from your homes and businesses. However, we also hope this knowledge can provide you with some wisdom and peace of mind as we confront the topic of pest-related diseases that are currently making the news.

Zika Virus in the News

Ten seconds on the Internet and your eyes will flit across headlines warning of birth defects and epidemics and calling for abortions and the cancelation of the Olympics. All of these are prompted by the recent outbreak of the Zika virus disease.

But what is this virus and what threat does it pose to Bay Area residents?

Simply put, it is a mosquito-borne virus originating in Africa with symptoms such as fever, rashes, joint and muscle pain, headache, and/or red eyes which become apparent within days of infection and last up to a week. Many experience no symptoms at all. Zika rarely leads to hospitalization and very few deaths have been reported. More serious cases include neurological damage and birth defects. Guillain-BarrÈ (ìghee-yan bah-rayî) syndrome is an autoimmune disease that results in rare cases of serious muscle weakness after numerous viral infections including Zika. Pregnant women are also at risk of transmitting the virus to their fetuses which can lead to microcephaly, a developmental birth defect identified by a characteristically small brain and head.

The U.S. has not experienced any cases of Americans contracting the disease from mosquitoes locally. As of May 11th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had reported 503 American citizens infected while traveling abroad. Most of these cases originated from mosquito vectors but 10 cases were sexually transmitted. Of these, one case resulted in Guillain-BarrÈ syndrome.

Spread of the Virus

Zika virus is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes. But not just any mosquitoes. Only the species Aedes aegypti is known to be behind Zika outbreaks. Its relative, the Aedesalbopictus mosquito, is also a carrier but is thought to be less effective at transmitting the virus to humans. The media often warns — correctly — that these two species are present across the southern U.S. including the California Bay Area. However this does not put half the country in immediate danger. For a mosquito to become an infected carrier, it must first bite another human or animal currently carrying the virus. Since the number of American cases remains low, the disease has not yet spread to the native mosquito population.

Bay Area residents are currently only at risk for contracting the virus if they or their partner are traveling to infected regions.
The History of Zika

The virus was first isolated from a monkey in Uganda in 1947 and was identified in the human population in the early 1950s. In 2007, an isolated outbreak occurred in the Federated States of Micronesia and more widespread outbreaks became apparent in 2013. As the virus began to result in elevated reports of birth defects, Brazil declared a national public health emergency in November of last year. The CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) have been following the outbreaks closely and, as of April, the White House had amassed $589 million to aid their work. These funds will be allocated toward further research, developing a vaccine, and regulating mosquito populations. These efforts are being concentrated in areas of high risk such as Florida and Texas.

Tech Talk

with Laura Hammon...
bed bugs home
Bed Bugs!

Summer is officially here. It's time for fresh watermelon, homemade iced tea, family vacations and yard sales. It's also time to be wary of bed bugs!

Most of you would not give bed bugs a second thought when enjoying our summer activities, but to us here at Killroy, bed bugs are always on the brain! My name is Laura Hammon, and bed bug prevention is always on my mind. I am new to Killroy, but not new to pest control. I have worked in pest control for nearly a decade now, starting when I was a mosquito control technician in Pennsylvania. Now I am here at Killroy to help grow the Sensitive Solutions branch, our "green pest control" division focused on pest control techniques that lower the overall use of pesticide and implement the use of lower impact pesticides. Green pest control is my passion, but I actually spent the past six years working as a bed bug specialist.

Bed bugs are on average the size of an apple seed or sesame seed (and the babies are absolutely tiny!). When they are not sucking our blood while we sleep they like to hide in tight corners where they feel safe from getting squished. This means that the bed bug technician needs to access all the little cracks and crevices in a home when he is treating for bed bugs — he needs access to all the little corners in the furniture, the undersides of desk drawers, dressers, bed frames and bedside tables, along the carpet edges and baseboards, door frames, the back sides of picture frames and wall hangings, behind thermostat controls and lighting fixtures, etc. Take a look around your home, could you find all the hiding bugs?

Being a bed bug technician is a tough gig; it is a strenuous, detailed treatment to complete, and the bed bug technicians are working with a pest that could potentially infest their own home. David Colombo is the bed bug specialist here at Killroy, and he has got the right stuff for the job! I got the opportunity to talk with David about bed bugs, and I started by asking him, how long have you been doing bed bug services? "I've been doing bed bug services for as long as I have been at Killroy. I like doing bed bug jobs. I am good at it, and I am successful in eliminating the infestation. I like helping people."

David is equipped to handle any level of infestation. "One case that was particularly hard was a low-income retirement home. The infestation was really heavy; I felt bad for the residents. Luckily I was able to resolve the issue."

Bed bugs can be spread in many ways, and anybody can get an infestation at their home. I asked David, what are the sources of infestation that you are seeing most in your clients' homes? "In houses, my clients mostly seem to be getting their infestations from travel. But I also see people getting bed bugs from thrift stores too and yard sales, too."

Bed bugs can infest any space, primarily in areas where there are lots of people coming and going, and bringing their belongings with them. Hotels, movie theaters, cafes, taxis, buses, airplanes — all these are examples of places where bed bug infestations can get established. When going on your family's summer vacation, you should consider bed bugs. It is important to know how to recognize the signs of a bed bug infestation and to inspect your hotel rooms before unpacking your bags. When you first enter your hotel room, I recommend placing your suitcases in an area unlikely to be infested, I place my bags in the bathtub, and then use a flashlight or a flashlight app on your phone to inspect your room. Lift up the bed skirt of the bed and carefully check the seams of the mattress and box spring for evidence of bed bugs, check the insides and undersides of the nightstand drawers as well as the tufts of any upholstered chairs in the room. You may decide to inspect the headboard as well if it is not bolted to the wall. But be careful, the hotel management might not be too understanding if you break anything during your inspections! If you don't find any evidence of bugs during your inspection, I recommend that you use the luggage rack for your bags. But remember to carefully inspect that as well, checking along corners and in the seams where the fabric straps attach. I have done a fair share of traveling, but in all of my inspections, I have only found a bed bug infestation in my hotel room once. If you do find an infestation in your hotel, inform the management immediately and request to change rooms. For a detailed description of how to prevent bringing bed bugs home from your hotel stay, I recommend watching this informational video from the always reliable professionals from Bed Bug Central at: Bed Bug Central - avoiding bed bugs when traveling.

In the summer season, I see a lot of yard sales around the Bay Area, and David and I both know to be wary of hand-me-down furniture. However, I must admit, I love yard sales; it is almost like a magnetic pull for me! But I am a trained professional, so I will very thoroughly inspect any item I consider purchasing before I buy it. This goes for all items: books, toys, craft supplies, clothes and purses, and of course furniture. I check for bugs, eggs, molted exoskeletons and droppings. If I see something that looks suspicious, no matter how much I would like the item, I will put it down and walk away. No item is worth infesting my home with bed bugs! And if I see free items, I avoid them like the plague. Any bed bug specialist will tell you, picking up those items we see left on the curb with a "free" sign is a good way to infest your home with these nasty little bugs.

As realtors and property managers will tell you, summer is also the season for moving into a new home. David Colombo says that "at apartment buildings, a lot of the infestations I see are spread when a tenant with an infestation has moved out of their infested home and not reported the issue to the property manager before moving out. It's too bad, because the resident will be spreading their infestation to their new home as well. Remember, the name "bed bugs" can be a little misleading, as these pests are not only found on beds, they are found in all manner of furniture and personal items, and hiding in all the little corners of the home. So packing your things and moving out when you have an infestation of bed bugs will not solve your problem, even if you throw away the bed.

In fact, David says that "one problem I encounter is when people decide to throw away all their furniture. They drag the infested furniture through their home, dropping bed bugs as they go, and spreading the infestation through their home. And tossing their infested items does not resolve the issue either. Recently I had a client throw out all their furniture and buy new stuff before I even began treatment. Now all their nice new furniture is infested with bed bugs too!"

So, we know that bed bugs are present in the Bay Area, and hopefully you have learned a little from this article about how to prevent introducing an infestation into your home. I asked David if he has any advice for his clients who do have an infestation at home: "About 50% of my success in treating a home is dependent on the preparation done by the client. I ask my customers not to use any over-the-counter pesticides. Self-treating will interfere with the success of my treatments. And please, don't use Raid! It will just spread the infestation around the home, making it harder to successfully treat.

We here at Killroy hope that you have a fun, safe, and bed bug free summer!

We all love Monarch Butterflies!

Many of us love butterflies. And among our local butterflies, perhaps the best known is the beautiful world traveler, the Monarch Butterfly. This amazing insect has a migration pattern that spans more than one generation, and a flight path that crosses state and country borders over hundreds of miles.

To see a map of the amazing butterfly migration: http://www.flightofthebutterflies.com/epic-migrations/

As Bay Area residents, we have fond memories associated with these butterflies; whether it be hatching them from chrysalis with our grade school science class, or viewing them as the cluster for their winter migrations at Natural Bridges Park in Santa Cruz or at Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, these beautiful insects hold a special place in our hearts. Sadly, as we hear with too many species of local plants and animals these days, the local population of Monarch Butterflies is diminishing. A recent article in the Mercury News reported on a study released earlier this month: "Monarch populations have fallen 74 percent in the past two decades, from roughly 1.2 million in 1997 to 292,674 in 2015 along the California coastline where they spend winters escaping the cold, according to the most extensive scientific survey done to date."

Where have all the butterflies gone?

The Mercury's article sited Emma Pelton, a biologist with the non-profit invertebrate conservation organization, the Xerces Society, as pointing to some potential reasons for the diminished population in the California overwintering sites: habitat destruction, encroaching development in and around overwintering sites, and the excessive use of certain pesticides like glyphosate are key issues that are leading to the dropping population, among other common stresses. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Round Up weed killers. This product has made the news recently in regards to the discussion of GMO (genetically modified organisms) food products. Genetically modifying crop seeds allows for farmers to purchase seeds that are resistant to glyphosate. The legitimate concern that I have heard in discussions on the use of glyphosate resistant crops encourages excessive use of the weed killer. In fact, GMO soybean seeds recently made the news: Monsanto has developed a soybean seed resistant to glyphosate and the herbicide dicamba.

See the NPR article here:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/01/487809643/crime-in-the-fields-how-monsanto-and-scofflaw-farmers-hurt-soybeans-in-arkansas

Loss of habitat is a common discussion here in the Bay Area; we have all seen this with our own eyes, and heard the story over and over again. It is difficult as a Silicon Valley resident to balance the excitement of gaining more locally run offices, and to still keep our thoughts on maintaining thriving local habitats. One action we can all take is planting local California plants in our yards and encouraging our workplaces to do the same. The California Native Plant Society has resources on their page about conservation and gardening for our region, including a link on their page to nurseries in the Santa Clara Valley area where you can purchase plants local to our area:

Where to buy native plants

Logging in Mexico means less butterflies in the U.S. and Canada!

I read a recent article in American Entomologist magazine with the descriptive title of "Illegal Logging of 10 Hectares of Forrest in the Sierra Chincua Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Area in Mexico." The area discussed, Michoacan Mexico, is not an area that our local migrating Monarchs are known to visit, but it is a site for large migrations of Monarchs from east of the Rocky Mountians, from regions as far north as Canada!

This article discussed the details of the researchers' findings from a recent large scale illegal logging inside the butterfly reserve. The area that they discussed was found in April 2015 by an unnamed local environmentalist and reported to authorities. Later in May, small notification about the illegal logging was posted in the local news. Not until late November was there a major report on this situation, but neither reporters nor environmentalists were granted access to the area to view and confirm the logging activity. However, with satellite imagery of the area, researchers were able to get a good look at the extent of the destruction. A full report was made by researchers at the Third International Symposium on the Monarch Butterfly, held near the reserve in Morelia, Michoacan Mexico, on December 18th 2015. But it was not until January 19, 2016 that the location of the logging was made public.

The area was logged sporadically, and totally clear cut in several places. One thing that stood out to the researchers in reviewing the maps of the logged areas is that the logging was concentrated on state lands, and the ejido parcels of land were avoided, almost completely. I have not yet gotten the opportunity to dive fully into the somewhat convoluted environmental politics of Mexico's conservation laws for these Monarch overwintering sites, but if I understand it correctly, these ejido land parcels are intended to be set aside for people who are indigenous to the area, and whose way of life is pressured by modern culture. Why these lands were spared by the illegal loggers was not discussed in the article, but it has made me curious. One book that has now made it to the top of my reading list is Four Wings and a Prayer: Caught in the Mystery of the Monarch, by By Sue Halpern, which I was able to refer to online when trying to understand the significance of the ejido parcel mentioned in the American Entomologist article.

While the area logged was not that large, 10 hectares is about 0.04 miles, it is a significant loss for the Monarch Butterflies. The area is recorded in numerous papers over many years, dating as far back as 1977, as having large Monarch colonies landing in the very areas that were logged. The colonies were so large that from an aerial picture it looks like the pine and fir trees have been painted brown with the huge masses of Monarch Butterflies resting on the trees, in such large numbers that they have engulfed the trees. Now that these trees are gone, the question is what will happen to the butterflies that were migrating there. Perhaps they will return from their overwintering sites too soon and potentially not survive their flights.

Some action was taken, the Mexican government reported that between March and May 2015, the Mexican army and police raided the area, confiscated 147 cubic meters of illegal wood from logged area, and arrested 35 loggers. But this action is not enough to stop logging. Illegal logging continuities in the Michoacan Monarch Butterfly reserve, mostly on a small scale, and not much is being done to stop this habitat destruction.

The take away for us butterfly lovers:

The Monarch reserve in Michoacan, Mexico has long been on my bug travel bucket list, but now I think I shall have to make my way to this threatened reserve sooner than I had planned! In the meantime, I plan to take the advice of the Mercury News and make sure that I plant some local California flowers in my yard, like California Poppies and Lupine for the butterflies to feed, and local milkweed for the caterpillars to eat. I am a licensed pest control technician, and when I have pest issues in my yard and around my home, I employ the techniques of Killroy's Sensitive Solutions division to reduce the risk of pesticide exposure to butterflies and other pollinators in my garden. By choosing the appropriate products and applying these pesticides in the correct manner, our Sensitive Solutions™ division can keep you home and your workplace pest free, and still preserve your native insect ecosystem.

If you want to get involved locally, there are many organizations dedicated to the preservation of local green spaces, like the Committee for the Green Foothills at:
Green Foothills Website, aiming to preserve green spaces for local plants, animals and insects, and human recreation too.

For more information about the preservation efforts of the Xerces Society:
Xerces Society Website

Sources:
Illegal Logging of 10 Hectares of Forest in the Sierra Chincua Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Area in Mexico - Entomologist magazine Summer 2016 Vol. 62

Monarch butterfly population drops 74 percent in California - 7/8/2016 the Mercury News

Past Issues:
Spring 2016 (Rain, Termites, 60-year Anniversary, David Flowers in the Spotlight) Fall 2015 (Drought, Bees, Kenneth Hamilton in the Spotlight) Summer 2015 (Tribute to Phil Olavarri, Steve @ Killroy in the Spotlight) Fall 2014 (Winter Pest Control, Trees Need Killroy, Pismo Beach Trip, Customer Service, Daniel Corry, etc.) Summer 2014 (Killroy is Growing, San Jose Giants, Drought, Andrew Gibson, etc.) Spring 2014 (Drought, Olive Trees, Trees, Richard Schmidt, Vice President, etc.) Fall 2013 (Wildlife, Lynn Olavarri / President, Nematodes, Lawns, etc.) Spring 2013 (Ants, Termites, Trees, Rain, etc.) Summer 2013 (Summer Pests, Tri Valley Branch, Diamond Certified, Mike Flowers Sr. - General Manager, Lawns Need Killroy, Referral Rewards, etc..)