Hearts Pest Management - Blog

Farming Aphids – Herder Ants A.K.A. Farmer Ants Wednesday April 10, 2019
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Farming Aphids – Herder Ants

Farming Aphids - Herder Ants

Drawing of a Farmer ant accepting honeydew from an aphid.

If you have ants on your plants, you’re sure to find aphids doing their ‘sugar-bum’ dance. …

It’s spring!  Flowering plants, green grass, farmer ants, and dancing aphids. …

Have you ever noticed areas on your plants and shrubs where the leaves are starting to curl and turn odd colors?

If so, did you also see some ants crawling over and under the leaves?

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Insects and Wildflowers of California Chaparral Monday January 7, 2019
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Insects and Wildflowers of California Chaparral

– California’s Wildland-Urban Interface

by Donna M. Walker

Golden yarrow, Monkeyflower, Bush –mallow, California sagebrush, and many more make up a “Bouquet of Wildflowers” – Lake Hodges, San Diego, CA

Growing up in San Diego’s South Bay, I found being outdoors very healing and soothing to my sensitive nature, especially as a teenager.

I was one of those kids who could easily entertain themselves.

I’d get especially excited when I spotted a horny toad lizard (I learned much later that it’s called a ‘Coast Horned Lizard’ Phrynosoma coronatum).

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Stinking Stink Bugs Wednesday December 12, 2018
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brown marmorated stinkbug

The brown marmorated stinkbug has ruined many an apple.

The Brown Marmorated Stinkbug

Invasive Stinkbugs

Here in America, we have our own native stinkbugs: of which, as kids, I'm sure there isn't a one of us that hasn't harassed a stink bug long enough into rearing its hindquarters – just for the fun of watching it do so. But, there’s a new bug in town – the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug.

This particular stinkbug is believed to have arrived in the country by accident via cargo ships from Asia. The Asian stink bug originated in China, Japan, and Korea; it was first discovered in Pennsylvania and is now established in 41 states (including California).

Map of origins of the brown marmolated stink bug

The Brown Marmolated Stink Bug´s Native Land is Asia.

The brown marmorated stinkbug is only about the size of a dime but it sure has cost a “boatload” of money in crop damage since it “sailed” into our ports.

Stinking Stinkbug Invasion

According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Department, the brown marmorated stinkbug is a “winged invader from Asia that is eating our crops and infesting U.S. homes . . .”

This invader will eat just about anything, including fruits, vegetables, and beans.

It is also considered a residential pest because it overwinters inside homes until spring arrives. We’re not speaking of just a few bugs in the house but thousands of these stink bugs! And – their stinky smell, used as a defense mechanism, attracts enemies such as spiders – which results in additional pest problems!

Pinacate Beetle

This big black stinkbug is the kind of stink bug Californian´s are most familiar with; you know, the stinkbugs we played with as kids. . . . They´re called - Pinacate Beetles or Clown Beetles.

Damage to Crops Caused by the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug

Close up of brown marmorated stinkbug

Close up of the brown marmorated stinkbug´s face. True bugs have sucking mouth parts, check this mouth out! Next time you see a depression in an apple, think before you decide to eat it - it may have been injected by this guy´s saliva. Yuck!

You can blame this stink bug for the additional pesticides commercial growers have been using on apple orchards! In 2010, the brown marmorated stinkbug caused $37 million in damage to the apple industry, just on the Atlantic side alone!

Some of the ways the stinkbug damages fruit is by injecting its saliva, causing brown spots and depressions in the fruit.

For vegetables such as corn, individual kernels are destroyed; in beans, the pods are scarred. Evidently, the brown marmorated stinkbug likes wine grapes too, leaving grapes destroyed and/or providing us with tainted wine!

The USDA is having some success with pheromone lure type traps to catch as many of the invaders as possible in order to protect crops.

Effective Pest Control for the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug

USDA Staff inspecting traps for brown marmorated stinkbug

USDA Staff Inspecting Traps Baited with Experimental Pheromone Lures.

Homeowners also have to be careful of the brown marmorated stinkbug: besides overwintering, they also cause damage to plants and trees in garden landscapes.

The stinkbug sucks out juices from plants and feeds on tree leaves. Eggs are usually found in a cluster on a leaf of the host tree or plant.

Research conducted by the USDA, indicated that essential oils act as a repellent for the bug but the best form of pest control, at least on large crops, is the pheromone lure traps.

The biggest problem for homeowners is when the weather starts to turn cold: Brown marmorated stink bugs make their way inside and go into semi-hibernation during the winter months.

Because the bugs are small, they can enter through cracks, holes in screens, under siding, etc.

One can prevent, not only stinkbugs from entering the house, but spiders and a variety of other insects as well, from entering the home by caulking every crack and cranny come spring and the end of summer.

P. S. Stinkbugs don’t bite humans . . . they just stink when threatened or squished!

Article by Donna Walker


City Services for Pest Control in Los Angeles
Los Angeles • 800-986-1006
Agoura Hills North Hollywood
Alhambra Northridge
Arcadia Pacific Palisades
Beverly Hills Palos Verdes Estates
Burbank Pasadena
Calabasas Pomona
Cerritos Rancho Palos Verdes
City of Industry Redondo Beach
City of Los Angeles Reseda
Claremont Rolling Hills Estates
Culver City Santa Fe Springs
Cypress Santa Monica
Diamond Bar Sherman Oaks
El Monte Sylmar
El Segundo Tarzana
Encino Temple City
Glendale Toluca Lake
Granada Hills Torrance
Hacienda Heights Venice
Hidden Hills Walnut
Hollywood West Covina
La Verne West Hollywood
Long Beach West Los Angeles
Malibu Westlake Village
Manhattan Beach Whittier
Marina Del Rey Woodland Hills

City Services for Pest Control in Orange County
Orange County • 800-986-1006
Aliso Viejo Laguna Hills
Anaheim Laguna Niguel
Brea Lake Forest
Buena Park Los Alamitos
Capistrano Beach Mission Viejo
City of Orange Newport Beach
Corona Del Mar Orange
Costa Mesa Rancho Santa Margarita
Dana Point Rossmoor
Fountain Valley San Clemente
Fullerton San Juan Capistrano
Garden Grove Santa Ana
Huntington Beach Tustin
Irvine Villa Park
La Habra Westminster
Laguna Beach Yorba Linda

City Services for Pest Control in San Diego
San Diego Inland • 858-486-1006
4S Ranch Rancho Penasquitos
Poway Scripps Ranch
Rancho Bernardo
Back Country • 760-789-4004
Descanso Ramona
Julian Santa Ysabel
Pine Valley
North Inland • 760-745-1331
Bonsall Hidden Meadows
Escondido Pauma Valley
Fallbrook Valley Center
San Diego City • 619-440-6080
Carlsbad Pacific Beach
Coronado Point Loma
La Costa San Ysidro
Mira Mesa The City of San Diego
Otay Mesa
North Coastal • 760-753-8008
Cardiff By The Sea Oceanside
Carmel Valley Rancho Santa Fe
Del Mar San Marcos
Encinitas Solana Beach
La Jolla Vista
South - East San Diego • 619-440-6080
Alpine Imperial Beach
Bonita Jamul
Chula Vista La Mesa
East Lake Chula Vista Lakeside
El Cajon Santee

City Services for Pest Control in Ventura
Ventura • 800-986-1006
Camarillo Oxnard
City of Ventura Port Hueneme
Moorpark Simi Valley
Ojai Thousand Oaks

City Services for Pest Control in Riverside
Riverside • 951-693-5005
Canyon Lake Norco
Chino Hills Perris
Corona Sun City
Eastvale Temecula
Lake Elsinore The City of Riverside
Menifee Wildomar
Moreno Valley Winchester

City Services for Pest Control in San Bernardino
San Bernardino • 909-793-0252
Chino Ontario
Fontana Rancho Cucamonga
Highland Redlands
Loma Linda Upland
Montclair Yucaipa

United States Department of Agriculture – ARS (Agricultural Research Service), Brown Marmolated Stink Bug.
Wikipedia. (2014). The Free Encyclopedia: Harmonia axyridis.
BIRC (Bio-Integral Resource Center). The IPM Practitioner. IPM for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. June 2014.
Wikipedia. (2014). The Free Encyclopedia: Halyomorpha halys.


Bees in Spring Tuesday March 20, 2018
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Bees in Spring

Honey Bee on leaf

Spring is here and the bees are gearing up their pollen baskets ready for the spring flower harvest. Springtime is the buzziest time for honeybees; all the flowers, including wildflowers, are in full bloom.

Are Honeybees Ever Pests?

Honeybees only become a pest issue if they start making a hive in your attic or within 150 ft. of your home. Then they become a threat to the health of your family, especially if anyone is allergic to bee stings.

Hearts Pest Management understands the essential role bees play in nature. Read more


Asian Lady Beetles vs. Native Ladybugs Monday July 24, 2017
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Invasive Asian Lady Beetles

Asian Lady Beetle

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis)

Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away . . .”

Invasive or Invited? The Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle looks like our North American ladybug but it’s really an invasive species.

The Asian Lady beetle, however, could make an argument that rather than have invaded the country, it was invited – by our government.

It seems we didn’t have enough ladybugs so the Asian Lady Beetle was introduced into the states during the 1970´s to perform chemical-free pest control, for both our agricultural crops and our national forests.

Nine-spotted ladybug

The native Nine-Spotted ladybug is a threatened and endangered species. It has four spots on each wing and one spot that is split in the middle.

Native Ladybugs

Today, there are very few native ladybugs; so much so, that there´s an actual website dedicated to “lost” ladybugs!

Hearts Pest Management is concerned about ladybugs and other beneficial insects…that’s why we practice Organic Pest Control!

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Packrats and Traders Friday December 2, 2016
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Packrats and Traders

What do human packrats, traders, and woodrats have in common?

Big-eared Woodrat – aka Packrat

Big-eared Woodrat – aka Packrat

Big-eared Woodrats AKA Packrats and Traderats

You’ve heard the term “packrat” used to describe a neighbor, a family member, maybe even yourself … yep, I see you raising your hand, albeit slowly. …

It’s ok, no one is judging, I’m raising mine too. I admit, I’m a bit of a packrat myself. You just never know when that piece of shiny ribbon will come in handy.

I bet you have special places for such things, a drawer, a box; this way you know exactly where they are when it comes time to use them.

You argue, “I might need it someday, or ‘member the time I threw such-and-such out just to find I needed it two weeks later?”

As a nature guide, when I come upon a mound of sticks, I’ll stop and ask if anyone knows where the term “packrat” came from and most people will say they don’t.

I then tell them about California’s Big-eared Woodrat, formally known as the Dusky-footed Woodrat, aka “packrat” or “trader” and why some of us share her name. Read more


Rat Lungworm and Snails Monday October 24, 2016
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Rat Lungworm Disease Transmitted via Snails

by Donna M. Walker

Here’s a very good reason not to eat snails … just in case you were thinking of picking one up and popping it into your mouth, yuck, right?!

Who would have thought the little slimes, with long beady eyes, could be such a health hazard?

You think you’re safe because you’d never eat a snail? Not so. …

Why? – Rats! They carry a parasite called “rat lungworm,” Angiostrongylus cantonensis.

The larvae of lungworm pass through a rat’s feces, a.k.a. rat droppings, snails then come in contact with the droppings, leaving trails of infected slime behind (grounds for washing lettuce, not once but thrice!).

The result, if infected, is meningitis. In humans, juvenile worms migrate to the brain; as adults, they live in the arterioles of the ileocecal area (blood vessels around a valve between the small and large intestines). Lovely.

Rat Lungworm uses rats as its host.

Rat Lungworms use rats as their  host.

Washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly is the best preventative measure against Rat Lungworm disease.

If snails are not part of your diet then how do these worms get into your system? Remember, I mentioned washing your lettuce, not once but thrice? If you eat salad or raw vegetables that an infested snail has come in contact with, you could very well ingest the parasite.

Rat Lungworm disease causes Eosinophilic meningitis. Contaminated produce is the main culprit from trails of slime left by snails, slugs, and flatworms. And, it’s not just humans that can become infected; dogs, even horses have been known to become a host for Rat Lungworm.

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Native Bees and Other Pollinating Insects Wednesday April 13, 2016
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Native Bees, Honeybees, and Mimics

by Donna M. Walker

“Auntie, auntie, the biting flies are chasing me! You know – the ones with the little yellow shorts!” exclaimed Calvatina’s niece as she ran inside the house. …

Springtime Pollinators

It’s spring and all that buzzing you hear isn’t just coming from honeybees! . . .

The Honeybee arrived in North America during the 17th century via European settlers but did you know that we already had an abundance of native bees? – 4,000 different species, to be precise.

These resourceful native insects, unlike honeybees, have managed to escape domestication.

Native bees, including bumblebees and mimics, have been pollinating the continent’s flowers for eons.

The wind was blowing the petals of this poppy making it difficult for a honey bee to gather her pollen. Beeing the bee-lover that I am, I held the petals firm so she could keep pollinating the poppy. I think I saw her wave an antennae in thanks. …

Honeybee on red poppy.

Most people don’t realize that native bees are still around and play an important role in pollination. It’s not all about the honeybee; we need to protect our native bees as well.

For instance, the European honeybee doesn’t know how to pollinate tomatoes or eggplants (What would salad be without tomatoes, or Eggplant Parmesan without the eggplant?). Read more


Crazy Ant Invasion Thursday February 11, 2016
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California’s Crazy Ant Invasion

by Donna M. Walker

There’s a new invasive species of ants making their way to California from the eastern and southern states.

Actually, they’ve already arrived but not in large numbers like in Florida and Texas.

How do they travel across country?

Map of both the Crazy and Argentine ant invasion into the U.S. By way of human transportation – potted plants, cargo, trash, boxes, etc.

The Tawny (AKA Rasberry) Crazy Ant has made its way from Argentina and Brazil into the U.S. causing millions of dollars in damage.

If these Crazy ants are anything like their cousins from Argentina, the invasive Argentine Ants, then we could be in for another supercolony of ants crawling all over the state.

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California’s Monarch Butterflies Tuesday December 1, 2015
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by Donna M. Walker

Protecting California’s Monarch Butterflies

Black and orange wings soar through the air for thousands of milesthen flutter gracefully towards the ground where they find rest in southern and central California trees.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) Male – Note the two black spots on the bottom wings.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) Male – Note the two black spots on the bottom wings.

If there is one insect, because of its beauty, that has captured the heart of Californians, it’s the Monarch Butterfly … unless of course, you happen to be an entomologist, then you probably find beauty in Jerusalem crickets – as only an entomologist could and would!

Migrating Monarchs

In southern California, once fall approaches, Monarch butterflies take refuge from their long journey south to the sheltering trees of San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties.

Map of Monarch Butterflies Fall Migration

Map of Monarch Butterflies Fall Migration

There are two populations of Monarch butterflies in North America that are separated by the Rocky Mountains; each with different migration patterns.

The Monarchs east of the Rockies migrate south to spend their winters in Mexico.

West of the Rockies, here in California, Monarchs migrate from Canada to the coast of central and southern California where they overwinter.


Wintering Monarchs

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