Celebrating Earth Day

In honor of the 47th Earth Day, we dug up some interesting facts about this special day and how it originated.

celebrating earth day

Facts on Celebrating Earth Day

  • According to SoftSchools.com, the first Earth Day in the U.S. was celebrated on April 22, 1970.
  • Every year on April 22, men, women and children collect garbage, plant trees, clean up coral reefs, show movies, sign petitions and plan for a better future for our planet, based on DoSomething.org
  • TimeforKids.com reports that the recycling rate has increased from less than 10% in 1980 to more than 34% in 2011
  • Earth Day was created by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.  He created it after learning about the devastating effects of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, according to Earth Day Network
  • Earth Day Network also estimates that 500 million people from 4,500 organizations in 180 countries will participate in Earth Day events during the month of April
  • Massey Services was the first company in our industry to be asked to sponsor Earth Day in Central Florida

We’re proud to provide environmentally beneficial services to our customers.  Learn more about our services and their environmental benefits today!

Asian Lady Beetles – From Beneficial Bug to Pest

While ladybugs are considered cute and pretty, the Asian lady beetle is anything but cute.

asian lady beetles

Overview of Asian Lady Beetles

Multicolored Asian lady beetles (Harmonia axyridis Pallas) were introduced into the United States from Asia to control crop pests between 1978 and 1981. They are now common throughout the United States. As predators of arthropod pests such as aphids, mites, thrips, scale and Lepidoptera eggs, they are considered beneficial most of the year.  Unfortunately, as the weather gets cooler, the adults cluster in high numbers to overwinter and can become significant pests.

Asian lady beetles are usually recognized as typical ladybugs; however, they are slightly larger than native species. Coloration varies from a mustard-yellow to a dark reddish orange. Often, a number of spots are present on the wing covers, but in some specimens the spots are absent.

asian lady beetles

Where Asian Lady Beetles Appear

Colder weather and lack of prey triggers their flight to overwintering locations. They are attracted to light colored dwellings, and can enter homes and buildings through cracks, crevices and other small openings around windows, doors and roofs.

In the southern United States, this process peaks in October and November and can take a few weeks or more. As the beetles aggregate in the walls and other parts of dwelling, they may enter houses in large numbers. Inside walls, floors, attics and crawl spaces, they look for cool places to spend the winter. Sometimes this annoying movement can be heard from inside the house.

asian lady beetles

If the interior walls are warmer than they require for dormancy, they may exit into the interior of the home. It is not advised to use insecticides to kill them.  Once inside, they fly around and land on walls, window coverings and furniture. When disturbed, Asian Lady Beetles produce a yellow viscous, foul-smelling defensive compound. They can also lightly bite but do not have venom.

How To Avoid Asian Lady Beetle Infestations:

  • Make sure you have a tight seal around doors and windows.
  • Use caulk to seal any cracks, crevices or holes in exterior walls.
  • Use a black light sticky trap without an electronic zapper in rooms where the pests are observed as soon as they are seen.
  • If Asian lady beetles gain access to a structure, they generally swarm in by the hundreds to overwinter in wall voids. It is not advised to use spray or dust insecticide into wall voids, because if they were to die in the wall void, it would cause a bad odor in the the home. Instead, allow them to emerge to the inside and outside of the home. They will usually die after a day.
  • Be aware that use of a vacuum or other cleaning tools while they are alive will cause the beetles to produce a foul smelling defensive compound.

If you need professional assistance with an Asian lady beetle infestation, contact Massey Services for a free inspection.

The Truth Behind The Brown Recluse Spider

One of the most common phobias in the world today is arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders.

brown recluse spider

Not many people enjoy coming face to face with a spider, especially since most not only have eight legs but also eight eyes!!

The brown recluse spider is a little different – they have only six eyes that are arranged in three pairs positioned in a semicircle at the front of their shell. These spiders are also known as “fiddleback” or “violin” spiders because of their violin-shaped markings on the top of their shell, or exoskeleton.

The adult recluse spider will vary from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in body length, with the females being slightly larger than the males. The legs of both sexes are long, with the males generally 1/3 longer than the females.

Where Brown Recluse Spiders Appear

brown recluse spider

Areas of establishment of the brown recluse spider.

In the United States, the brown recluse spider is considered to be the most widespread and most important species of recluse spiders. The natural range of the brown recluse is from southern Texas north to Nebraska, and east to eastern Tennessee and Alabama. They appear to be most highly concentrated in the south-central portion of the Midwest.

The brown recluse spider naturally occurs in outdoor situations, living in piles of debris, utility boxes, wood piles, and vehicles, as well as under bark, logs and stones. They have also adapted quite well to indoor habitats where they are commonly found harboring in storage areas, such as closets, attics, crawlspaces, cellars and other dark recesses. They frequently live in clothing, boxes, toys, papers, furniture and other household items, and seem to prefer areas that are “layered,” such as stacks of items or clutter.

Brown Recluse Spider Bites

brown recluse spiderTheir poisonous bite causes tissue death and the venom’s effects often are generally localized at the site of the bite. The bite may be painless but some have reported a slight stinging sensation. Usually a localized burning sensation develops and lasts about 30 to 60 minutes. During the next eight hours, the reddened area enlarges and a pus-filled blister forms in its center. Within 12-24 hours after the bite, systemic reaction may occur, characterized by fever, malaise, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. The venom usually kills the affected tissue and causes skin loss and necrosis or death of the underlying tissue.

Contact a medical professional if you are experiencing these signs and suspect you have been bitten.

To keep brown recluse spiders and all other household pests out of your home, contact Massey Services for a free pest prevention inspection.

The Most Common Lawn Weeds

The month of April brings more than just flowers, it also brings weeds!

lawn weeds

Now that spring has arrived, some of us may be looking at our landscapes and vowing that this year, “I will have a beautiful, healthy landscape.” Fortunately, this dream can become a reality. With a little hard work and time, your lawn can be healthy and able to withstand future weeds, insects and disease.

But if right now your battle is trying to figure out what weed has invaded your landscape, here’s a list of the most popular weed types in Florida:

Dollarweed

lawn weeds

This hard-to-control weed often thrives in wet soil conditions 

Blanket Crabgrass

lawn weeds

An uncontrollable weed that spreads rapidly when unattended.

Asiatic Hawksbeard

lawn weeds

An annual weed with dandelion-like leaves that is predominately found in landscape beds.

Sedge

lawn weeds

An annual or mostly perennial grass-like plan with aerial flower-bearing stems that can exist in many soil types and conditions, from very wet to dry.

Yellow Wood-sorrel

lawn weeds

This weed has three heart-shaped leaves joined at the base and yellow flowers.

Spotted Spurge

lawn weeds

This summer annual is typically found in weak areas of the lawn.

Florida Pusley

lawn weeds

This annual is low growing and is covered with soft hairs.

Still having problems identifying the weed? Let the experts at Massey Services help! Contact us for a free inspection and we’ll perform a complete, thorough inspection of your lawn and landscape and develop a customized landscape program specific for your lawn.

It’s Chinch Bug Season Again

It’s already chinch bug season, and now is the time to protect our landscapes from this destructive lawn pest before it multiplies and causes turf damage.

chinch bug season

Chinch bugs can occur almost anywhere in a St. Augustine lawn but usually prefer areas in hot, dry locations such as along sidewalks or driveways. You can often see them by examining the grass near the soil surface. According to the University of Florida, this tiny pest, rarely measuring over 6 mm in length, causes millions of dollars in damage per year.

What do they look like?

Chinch bugs are tiny, hard-to-see insects that cause damage that is often confused with drought stress.  They are red (when young) or black (when mature) with a white spot on the back in the shape of an “X.”  As adults, they grow to about 1/4″ long.

How do they cause damage?

Chinch bugs suck the juices from grass blades and inject toxins back into the leaf blade.  Irregular patches of the lawn first look drought-stressed, gradually turn yellow and then brown.  Unless they are eliminated, they will continue to spread throughout the lawn.

What can a homeowner do to prevent them?  

chinch bug seasonFollow recommended mowing and watering instructions.  Allow treatments to move through the thatch layer of your lawn.  Water deeply, but infrequently, paying close attention to ensure you’re not watering during or right after rainfall.  You should also monitor your irrigation closely to ensure proper coverage and that irrigation heads are working properly.  It is important to sod damaged areas to speed recovery and prevent uncontrollable weeds from invading.

If you suspect you may have chinch bugs in your lawn or want to prevent them from invading, contact Massey Services for a free landscape inspection and a customized solution.

Homeowner Tips to Fight Fleas

Spring has officially arrived and as the weather begins to warm up, pests that we usually encounter outside may soon be attempting to make their way indoors.

fleas

For the most part, these pests are mainly bothersome to us humans but some can also make our pets crazy!  With loyal customers stretching across from Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina to Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma, Massey Services reminds homeowners that fleas are common outdoor pests that can make your home their own by traveling on our pets.

Tips to Get Rid of Fleas:

  • Remove and wash pet bedding in hot soapy water or replace.
  • Thoroughly vacuum all rugs, carpeted areas, baseboard areas and closet floors. Also vacuum under beds, furniture, as well as between and under furniture cushions. Special attention should be given to common pet resting and sleeping areas. Vacuuming removes flea eggs, feces (food for the larvae) and some adult fleas/ticks.
  • fleas

    Quick Stats on Fleas by National Pest Management Association

    Vacuum and then mop all vinyl, wood and concrete floors. Special attention should be given to cracks along the edge of walls.

  • Be sure to discard the vacuum bag or empty the canister into a plastic bag that can be tightly closed and place in a trash receptacle outside of the home.

It’s important to keep fleas out of your home, not only because their bites cause severe itching, but they can cause diseases in humans and animals. Fleas can transmit cat-scratch fever, typhus and plague. If you suspect you have a flea infestation in your home or want to protect yourself from potential attacks, call a professional service for proper control methods.

fleas

The experts at Massey Services can conduct a thorough inspection at no charge and provide you with a detailed report of their findings. They will also recommend a customized abatement program that’s right for your home.

The Importance of Lawn Aeration

Roots need more than just water and fertilizer to survive. They also need oxygen!

Aeration

Roots absorb neither water nor fertilizer unless oxygen is also present in the soil. Aeration dramatically reduces soil compaction by removing plugs of soil from the lawn and leaving holes which allow oxygen to reach the roots, creating growth pockets for new roots. This practice intensifies rapid and healthy root growth.

A healthier root structure improves the lawn’s ability to reach water and other nutrients deep in the soil. This makes your lawn more resistant to heat and drought.

Benefits To Core Aeration:

  1. Helps conserve water
  2. Enhances heat and drought stress tolerance
  3. Enhances soil water uptake and use
  4. Reduces water runoff and puddling
  5. Reduces soil compaction
  6. Improves air exchange between the soil and atmosphere
  7. Improves fertilizer uptake and use
  8. Improves turfgrass rooting
  9. Improves resiliency and cushioning
  10. Enhances thatch breakdown

Essentially, aeration lets your lawn eat, drink and breathe!

aeration
If you would like to learn how you can have your lawn aerated, schedule a Free Inspection or call Massey’s GreenUP Landscape Services at 1-888-2MASSEY (262-7739).

Get Your Kids Into Insects

When reflecting on the interaction of kids and bugs, you’re reminded of how fascinating these little creatures can be – not only to adults, but especially to children.

insects

Unlocking the door to a miniature universe of wonder can be as simple as just poking around under a rock or in the grass. Collecting insects can be a rewarding and educating experience for both you and your child as well as a great opportunity to bond and build a stronger relationship.

You and your little explorer can try these fun ideas, courtesy of Scholastic:

  1. Listen! Catch a non-stinging insect that makes noise in a paper cup. Crickets and flies are good candidates. Cover the cup with waxed paper and hold it on with a rubber band. Now place your ear against the paper and listen.
  2. Plant a butterflyinsects garden. In a sunny spot out of the wind, plant blooming varieties like geraniums and hydrangeas, plus plants that provide food for larvae such as Mexican milkweed. Find out what else the butterflies in your area need at butterflywebsite.com.
  3. Do the worker-bee waggle! Honeybees “dance” to communicate the location and distance of a nectar stash to the other bees. Talk with your kids about this fascinating communication, and then make up your own version.
  4. Take an umbrella out on a sunny day. Place it open upside down under a leafy, low-hanging branch. Shake the branch like you mean it — then identify what lands in your umbrella with an insect book or online.

Tools for the Trade
These items will make your child feel like a real scientist:

  • Butterfly net
  • Tweezers (only for dead specimens)
  • Observation jar (punch holes in the lid of a clean jar)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Notebook for recording thoughts and sketches
  • Bug and spider identification book like Simon & Schuster Children’s Guide to Insects and Spiders (Simon & Schuster, $23; ages 9 to 12) or Don’t Squash That Bug: The Curious Kid’s Guide to Insects (Lobster Press, ages 4 to 8, $15)
  • Referencing Massey’s Bug Database
insects

As part of our CFHLA Adopt-A-School program with Killarney Elementary School, we brought displays and educated students on a variety of insect species!

Massey Services provides pest prevention services for residential and commercial properties, but not all insects are harmful.
Have fun exploring!

 

Homeowner Tips to Avoid a Termite Infestation

They’re quiet. They’re hidden. And they’re destructive. Most people don’t think about termites until they’ve already caused costly damage to their homes.

termite infestation

It doesn’t matter if your home is made of concrete, stucco or brick, termites can get into any home through tiny cracks and crevices less than 1/16 wide, and they can create havoc within the structure of your home. It’s estimated that termites cause more than $5 billion in damage each year.

Since these destructive pests work behind the walls and under the foundation, it is imperative to have your home inspected regularly for early signs of termites and proactively treated to keep them at bay.

Tips To Discourage Subterranean Termite Infestations:

  • Repair water leaks and moisture problems. Termites flourish in moist areas.
  • Keep a close eye on irrigation systems to ensure sprinklers are adjusted properly to spray away from the foundation, walls, etc.
  • Trim back bushes and plants to prevent moisture from being trapped against the walls.
  • Keep gutters free of build-up so that water can flow freely and away from the foundation.
  • Avoid any wooden items that touch your home from having contact with the soil. Elevate decks on concrete.
  • Position stucco, wood, or siding six inches above the finished soil level to prevent termites from gaining access into your home.

A house with termite damage often looks the same as any other house…on the surface

termite infestationThe best prevention against the risk of expensive termite damage repairs is to have guaranteed termite protection for your home before a problem occurs. Massey Services recommends termite inspections should be done at least once a year, and include a thorough inspection of the inside and outside of your home.

For a free termite inspection of your home, contact us today and we’ll schedule an inspection at a time that’s convenient for you.

How Do We Effectively Handle Weeds?

Everybody loves a lush, green and healthy looking lawn, but growing and maintaining a beautiful landscape requires constant care and attention.

weeds

At Massey Services, we continuously work on eliminating or minimizing the number and types of weeds that you may commonly find in your landscape. Our focus is on growing the thickest lawn possible because the best defense against weeds is a thick, dense turf. So how do we do it? Below are just a few of the proactive steps we take to ensure you have a healthy, beautiful lawn year-round.

Steps To Maintaining A Healthy Lawn:

  1. Choose the Proper Type of Grass: We’ll first identify the species and variety of turf grass presently growing in your landscape. Some varieties do best in semi-shaded areas while others need full sun areas to survive. This is important because a grass poorly suited for shady locations will be thin and susceptible to chronic weed infestation.
  2. Managing the Health of your Soil: Using soil pH testing and our years of experience in managing soils, we apply a customized fertilization program that balances the need for high lawn quality and color while maintaining the healthiest root system possible. The end result is a thick, green and healthy lawn.
  3. Recommendations for Proper Mowing: Different grass species have different mowing height requirements. When your lawn is mowed too low, the grass will become less able to promote growth. A scalped or closely mowed lawn will allow weed seedlings to receive the light and space required to root in your lawn. It’s important to mow with a sharp blade and often enough to not remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade in a single mowing.
  4. Watering Only as Needed: Many weed problems that develop in your lawn are symptomatic of over-watering or another irrigation problem. As a general rule, you should water deeply (3/4 to 1 inch of water per session), but infrequently (no more than twice a week in most cases).
  5. Controlling Pests: By reducing the amount of insects and diseases active in your property we will reduce the number of thin turf areas where grass weeds can develop.
  6. Stopping Weed Seeds Before They Germinate: We’ll apply pre-emergent herbicides in the spring and fall to manage weed seeds before they germinate. While good turf management practices and pre-emergent herbicides are an effective way to manage many types of weeds, they cannot guarantee that weeds will never develop in your lawn. Once a weed is established, there are four ways to eliminate it:
      1. Wait for it to die of old age
      2. Crowd it out with a thick lawn
      3. Mechanically remove it by hoeing/hand pulling
      4. Treat it with a post-emergent weed control product (part of your GreenUP Landscape Services program)

Now, let the Experts of Massey’s GreenUP Landscape Services make your  Lawn the Best on the Block

weeds

We know no two landscapes are alike. That’s why before we develop a customized program or provide you with a price, we perform a detailed landscape analysis to understand exactly the type of care your landscape needs. Once our landscape analysis is complete – we develop a customized program for YOUR landscape to ensure it remains healthy and beautiful.

Contact us today for a free landscape inspection!

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