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San Mateo County  Mosquito & Vector Control District's December 2020 Newsletter





Article Source:  San Mateo County Mosquito & Vector Control District - CA


Happy Holidays from SMCMVCD

On behalf of our staff, we wish you and your family a safe and joyful holiday season and a happy New Year!

News
Holiday Office Hours
We will be closed on Dec. 24th and 25th and on Jan. 1st. More information.
Board of Trustees Meeting Schedule
There is no Board of Trustees meeting in December. The Board of Trustees will meet next on Wednesday, Jan. 13th. Board of Trustees meetings will be held remotely via Zoom until further notice. Download meeting agenda.
Our Work by the Numbers
In November, technicians responded to 101 service requests, including 16 reports of mosquitoes or standing water, 29 rodent inspections, and 34 yellowjacket or wasp nest removals. Read more.
More Than Gifts Under the Tree

If your holiday decorating plans include a live tree, prepare yourself for the possibility of a few unwanted visitors.

No, we don’t mean your opinionated uncle – we’re talking about bugs. Your live tree has spent several years growing outdoors on a tree farm where it served as a home for all kinds of insects, spiders, and other creepy-crawlies. Most of them probably dropped off before your tree arrived at your home - especially if it was shaken to remove loose needles or shipped from far away - but a few may have hitched a ride inside.

Fortunately, most of the animal life you’ll find on your live tree is harmless to people, like aphids, bark beetles, and scale insects. These plant pests are after your tree – not your family.

You can reduce the likelihood of bringing insects and spiders in on your holiday tree by checking the tree for bugs before buying, and choosing a different tree if you notice a major infestation. A few stray spiders and insects can be caught and released outside. You can vacuum under your tree to remove any small insects that may have fallen off.

However, DON’T reach for an aerosol bug spray! These products are flammable, and can create a fire hazard when sprayed near fireplaces and other ignition sources – including tree lights.

Termites Emerge After Winter Rain

If you take walks in the early morning or evening you may have recently seen clouds of fluttering insects rising from the ground. They don’t fly well, but when backlit by the sun, it makes you think of quiet days sitting by a lake in the morning mist.

If only they weren’t termites.

When the rains fall, subterranean termites produce reproductive versions of themselves (kings and queens) that have wings. They leave the colony in massive swarms and attempt to find new places to live. Once they land, their wings fall off, they mate, and they try to start a new colony. It’s often a futile effort – the vast majority of new colonies fail.
 

A lot of termite prevention can be accomplished by making sure the boards of your home and your fences are treated or painted. Subterranean termites live in the ground so they don’t colonize in the rafters or siding like the larger drywood termites. The District recommends checking (or have someone check) your home every year to make sure there is no moisture build-up under the house, that soil is brushed away from touching any wooden surface, and that there is no rotten or untreated wood that termites could move into. You can sometimes detect infestations by looking for mud tubes coming up from the ground.

Just because you see termites outside (or even one or two inside), doesn’t mean you have an infestation. But many termites indoors (10+) could indicate a problem. If you catch infestations early, much of the damage can be remedied with epoxies and some replacement, but advanced infestations can be costly to repair.

Termites are an incredible food source for a large number of birds, insects (like dragonflies), reptiles, and amphibians and these fly offs are a Thanksgiving treat for those species. Subterranean termites are also really important for breaking down mulch and fallen logs into rich, fertile soil for plants. Careful planning and vigilance on our part can take much of the stress out of termite season and they will soon disappear into the earth like they never were here at all.

Learn more about termites from the UC IPM Program.

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