Difference Between a Mole and Gopher?

If you spend time outdoors you are likely going to come across some soft spots in a yard that look like tunnels. Does this mean that you have a mole or gopher in your yard?

Surprisingly many people can get confused by this. Why? We shall call it, because of “Caddyshack“.

We love the movie “Caddyshack” it is a staple for most golfers out there. But it helped to mess up what people generally know about moles and gophers. So what do you need to know about both of these little pests to properly identify and prevent?


Moles are insectivores and eat insects, mostly earthworms. Mole’s have been known to eat nuts when needed, but the preferred meal of worms and small underground insects. Mole rarely shows itself above ground. If they do it is probably a mistake on their part. Moles have tunnels more towards the top side of the earth, so their tunnels are easily seen. Sometimes if you pay attention to the ground you can see the soil moving where they are currently digging. Rarely do moles make mounds, though they may dig a larger tunnel in spots as they root around for food sources. This can be confused for being a ‘mound’ in the same fashion that a gopher creates a mound.

Moles - Gophers - Johnson Pest Control

Scene from Caddyshack, Orion Pictures, 1980 used for reference purposes


Gophers are herbivores and will eat plant roots. Do you remember the scene where the gopher in “Caddyshack” was eating the flowers in the garden? That is a bit dramatic, but eating your flowers from underneath would be what a gopher would do. Gophers are generally solitary creatures, though some of the ground squirrels in their species do create communities. If you notice the signs of a gopher in your yard chances are you only dealing with one, maybe two, rodent/s.

Gophers dig their tunnels much deeper than moles. You are unlikely going to notice them. Gophers rarely are seen above ground. You will, however, notice random mounds of dirt (often in a kidney or fan shape) pop up in a yard. This would be a sign of a gopher.

In “Caddyshack” the feared gopher that was wreaking havoc on the golf course was often seen tunneling through the fairways and greens and popping his head out. That type of behavior is just not accurate for a gopher.

If you see the tunnels in your yard then you likely have a mole or moles. If you just see the mounds then you have a gopher or two. Knowing what you have in your yard will dictate how you want to treat for the pest. Both animals you can order tunnel/mound traps online that will help to kill off the pests. However, if your yard has an abundant food source they are looking for then you may be looking at a constant battle with this underground pests.

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The State of Tick-Borne Disease

Tick Borne Disease

Ticks are all over Tennessee, so is the possibility of getting a tick-borne disease. I, in fact, pulled one off the head of my nephew this weekend who was over for my kid’s birthday party. Not sure if the tick fell on his head in our yard or he showed up with it the creepy little blood sucker. Ticks are known to pass along some pretty nasty diseases.

Tick-Borne Disease in Tennessee

Ehrlichiosis is a disease caused by at least three different ehrlichial species in the United States and is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. Usually, these symptoms occur within 1-2 weeks following a tick bite.

Heartland virus belongs to a family of viruses called Phleboviruses. Viruses in this family are found all over the world and most of the phleboviruses that cause people to become ill are passed through the bite of a mosquito, tick or sandfly. Since Heartland virus disease was first described in 2012 and there have only been a few cases, scientists are still learning about it. All patients diagnosed with Heartland virus disease had a fever and felt very tired. Some also complained of headaches, muscle aches, diarrhea, losing their appetite or feeling sick to their stomach.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the second-most problematic tickborne illness in the United States with about 2,000 reported cases per year. Initial symptoms are fever and rash, which may be accompanied by/with malaise, headaches, chills, and gastrointestinal distress. The rash is where this fever gets its name, and it usually starts on the extremities and spreads throughout the body, but in rare cases, some people do not get a rash.

Tularemia is caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis and is transmitted to humans not only by the bite of infected ticks, and also by deer flies and other insects. People may also become infected through contact with infected animals or infected carcasses, by inhaling airborne bacteria, and ingestion of infected food or water. Symptoms often appear three to five days after infection, but can take as long as two to three weeks. Typical symptoms include fever, joint pain, chills, appetite loss, and malaise.

Lyme Disease & Powassan Virus are also found in our part of Tennessee though it is readily considered not a high-risk area.

Remember to protect yourself and your family when going into the outdoors from tick bites. If you take those precautions then you will have less worry about possible tick-borne diseases becoming a familiar part of your lives.

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Good Bugs In Your Garden

Bugs generally are no fun, but there are good bugs in your yard that you may want to keep around. Bugs do help to balance out the natural environment and can provide benefit to your yard, depending on the need.

Good Bugs In Your Yard - Johnson Pest ControlHere is a list of Good Bugs In Your Yard

Beetles: There are a few hundred thousand beetles that you could get familiar with. That part isn’t so important, what is important is not to freak out about the presence of beetles in your garden or yard. Beetles are a predatory bug that feeds on insects which often feed on flowers & garden plants. You do not want those bugs in your garden, so beetles provide a pretty good hedge of protection. Example: the ladybug (aka. ladybird) is a beetle that feeds on aphids which are a very destructive bug to plants.

Bees: You probably already know this but bees are quite essential to pollination. Especially with the collapse of bee populations around the United States keeping bees is essential not just to your garden and yard, but to the food population in general. Bees are responsible for successful flowers and plant foods. Wasps are not as cute as bees, generally downright scary, but can be helpful as well as they will be predators for your yard and garden picking off destructive little insects.

Butterflies & Moths: Bees are not the only good bugs for pollinating your garden and yard. Butterflies and moths are important for pollination as well. Plus butterflies and moths can be pretty cool to look at, unlike the wasps. Another interesting plus to more butterflies and moths in your yard is that their caterpillars are a solid food choice for birds. More birds will find your home attractive if there is a large food source in caterpillars. More birds in the yard make for some pleasant views from the porch or house windows. Birds in the yard will also clean up the unhelpful bugs by feeding on more than just the caterpillars.

Spiders: Yes, scary and downright freaky sometimes, spiders are the constant predatory and will eat up bugs that feed on your garden and yard plants. Different spiders use different hunting techniques so you might want to brush up on your spider knowledge (Spiderman does not count). Orb spiders are very common sights to house landscaping because they will weave webs to catch their prey, but Jumping Spiders & Wolf Spiders are also common in our area that will stalk their prey. So, before you squash that spider, think about what type of spider it may be, it could be very helpful for you.

Dragonflies: Unlike the prior bugs that we’ve mentioned the dragonfly will feed on those airborne pests that make living outside a “pain”. Mosquitoes are a favorite food source for the dragonfly. Dragonflies will also eat the larvae of mosquitoes in standing water. They may be an annoying for you, but they are far less annoying than treating a large batch of fresh mosquito and gnat bites. If you wanted to add some more natural bug protection from mosquitoes you can also add in a bat house.


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Tips For Looking For Termites

How should you go about looking for termites? Here are a few tips to get you started so that you know what to look for.

Subterranean Termites are a huge problem across the United States, and the high humidity of our coastal area makes it a particularly attractive home for subterranean termites, who build colonies in the soil. Not only do these critters eat continuously, but they often go undetected for months or years. According to the National Pest Management Association, termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in annual damage. Local homeowners should be concerned about potential termite damage and know the signs.

How do you know if you have termites?

Look for Swarms

Termites are most visible in the spring, although they are active all year. “Swarmers” are seen in the spring, when reproductive termites come out of the ground to mate and create new termite colonies. This is the easiest time of year to spot termites – so if you see flying insects or “discarded wings” call a termite specialist.

Termite Swarmer

Tap your trim!
Does it sound hollow? Termites could be damaging your wood from the inside out. Since termites prefer humid, dark spaces, they could be hiding. If your wood sounds hollow when tapped, you could have a problem. Get it checked out!

Check for mud tubes on your foundation.
Subterranean termites like to build little tunnels on the outside of walls so that they can stay damp while they look for food. If you see them, you may have a problem. Termite Mud Tube
What can you do to prevent termites?

      Do not store firewood near your house’s foundation.
      It can create moisture and termites love to live in firewood. Then they can take a short walk to your house. Be careful when mulching near the house, for the same reason.
      Clean your gutters & downspouts to give termites one less food source.
    If you already suspect that you have termites or see signs of termite damage, call a professional. Protect your biggest investment!
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Spring and Summer Bugs

Spring Bugs 2016

What can you expect from the spring and summer bug population here in East Tennessee? Well, here’s a handy little infographic to give you something to talk about at the company water cooler.

Southeast US Spring and Summer Bugs Prediction

Our winter season was much warmer and generally more precipitous than our normal. This combination will throw off our normal spring and summer bug experiences.

We have strong breeding grounds for mosquitoes with the close of spring and the beginning of summer. It is prudent to be on the watch for standing water and other breeding areas for the mosquito. A cold winter will kill off a good chunk of the population, a milder winter will allow that population of mosquitoes to continue to live and then add to their ranks to built a blood sucking empire.

Termites love to thrive in moist environments. This is my we stress keeping the house clean and drive (especially underneath the home). Termite swarms will soon become prevalent.


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Where are Mosquitoes Growing?

Your home does not need to be a welcoming place for mosquitoes. With some awareness and a few tips, you can prevent mosquito breeding grounds around the house and live a life bite free.

Mosquitoes Breeding Grounds

Preventing Mosquitoes Breeding Grounds Around the House

  1. Gutters – Remove leaves and other debris
  2. Flowerpots – Pour out stagnant water from flowerpots and planters (outdoor fire pits as well)
  3. Grill Cover – Make sure water is not gathering on top of the grill cover (especially if folded and laying on the ground).
  4. Baby Pool – Do not let water sit in baby pools for long periods of time.
  5. Birdbath – Frequently change out the water in birdbaths
  6. Leaky Pipes – Repair any leaky pipes or faucets (they can cause pooling on the ground).
  7. Tires – Drill holes in the bottom of tire swings and wheel barrels to allow water to drain (or keep wheel barrels upside down during storage).
  8. Trash Cans – Ensure trash cans are tightly sealed and lids aren’t flipped upside down.
  9. Buckets – Remove water collecting in buckets (or just store in a dry spot).
  10. Ponds – Keep swimming pools and ponds adequately treated (same can go for creeks where the water levels drop enough where water can become stagnant).

If you would like some professional help in getting rid of mosquitoes around your home give us a call at Johnson Pest Control. We would be thrilled to help you identify potential hazards and treat your yard for mosquitoes.

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Ouch! So Many Fire Ant Bites?

We hope that you are not out and about ready to stick your hands into a fire ant hill. Though, if you wonder what disturbing a colony and enduring a swarm of fire ant bites would be like? Well, this guy has your answer, and you can safely watch from your computer.

Fire Ant Bites
Fire ants protect their colony with ferocious aggression. If you disturb them (or a family pet or child does) you can expect bites from all sides. If you find yourself in a situation like this the prudent thing is to remove yourself and brush off the fire ants as quickly as possible. This might entail removing clothing, shoes & socks might be obvious, but pants may not and the ants might get underneath your pants and bite your legs. After sustaining bites you will want to treat bitten areas with anti-itch salves and refrain from scratching the bites as much as possible.

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Mosquito Prevention This Spring

As new cases of Zika continue to pop up across the United States, it’s more and more essential to take proper precautions to avoid contact with biting mosquito populations. Mosquitoes are vector pests and can transmit other harmful diseases such as West Nile virus and Chikungunya, in addition to Zika. With warm weather rolling in we are urging our friends to take extra precautions when spending time outdoors and when getting their homes and property in shape for spring.

Mosquito Prevention - Johnson Pest ControlPrime mosquito season is fast-approaching and it is important for people to be aware and to know how to protect themselves from these potentially dangerous insects. Given the health risks like Zika or West Nile Virus that are increasing in our country, it is important to remain vigilant in mosquito prevention techniques. These techniques include eliminating breeding grounds around the yard, understanding mosquito behaviors, and correctly applying insect repellent.

To prevent the health risks that can potentially accompany an already-pesky mosquito bite, be sure to follow these mosquito prevention tips from the NPMA:

  • When spending time outdoors, apply an insect repellant containing at least 20% DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon-eucalyptus, and reapply as directed on the label. People who are spending long amounts of time outdoors should also consider wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes to limit exposure to mosquitoes. The main type of mosquito that carries Zika is a daytime biter, so taking preventive measures at all times of the day is crucial.
  • Anyone traveling outside of the United States should be aware of travel advisories currently in effect. Pack plenty of insect repellant and protective clothing. If a person falls ill upon returning home, seek prompt medical attention.
    Mosquitoes need only about a half an inch of water to breed, so homeowners should eliminate areas of standing water such as flowerpots, birdbaths, baby pools, grill covers and other objects where water collects.
  • Even children’s toys like buckets and sandboxes can collect water and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes right in the backyard, so be sure to keep these objects water-free.
  • Screen all windows and doors, and patch up even the smallest tear or hole on screens.
  • If there are concerns about mosquito activity on the property, contact a licensed pest control company or the local mosquito abatement district.
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What to Look For Hiring A Pest Control Company

Hiring a Pest Control CompanySpring is in full force and bugs are emerging all over. Many people will start to notice all this bug activity and seek out pest control. What should you look for in hiring a pest control company?

Here is a quick list so that you get the results that you want from a pest control company.

Know What a Pest Control Company Can Do

Pest control companies can do many things to help with prevention of pests in and around your home. If you live near a wooded area though your propensity to have bugs are increased and a pest control professional can help but may not be able to get eradication results. There are always circumstances that can be present which make the job difficult for a pest professional.

What you want to look for are pest professionals who listen to your expectations and are honest about their capacity & timeline to help you reach those expectations. A pest professional that promises the moon is often setting you and them for a letdown.

What To Look For Hiring A Pest Control

  • DO YOUR RESEARCH: Compare prices. It is not a bad idea to get bids from at least three different pest control companies before making a decision, especially if the scope of services is extensive. Feel free to get references from friends and colleagues. Internet reviews can be helpful but often can be rated low as happy customers are less prone to post reviews versus that one or two angry individuals. If a pest control company offers to give your house a free inspection for pests feel free to take advantage of that. However, be cautious if they then pressure you for immediate or costly treatments. If you seek out multiple quotes you will have a good feeling which company you trust and feel safer with.
  • CHECK LICENSING & SAFETY: Hire a qualified pest control company and verify they meet state licensing requirements with the Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture. All pest control companies should have liability insurance to cover any damages to your house or furnishings during treatment. It is a good idea to ask about that in case your house were to sustain damage that they would be able to fix it. Pesticides and pest control products can be dangerous, be sure to ask the company about the safety of the chemicals they are using. A really good company will explain that to you without prompting, but knowing what is spread around you home is a good practice.
  • REVIEW YOUR CONTRACT: If a pest control company wants you to sign a service contract be sure you understand the nature of that contract. If a company is trying to insert extra services you may want to rethink working with them. Know what pests are expected to be exterminated with the services contracted for. Often people sign up for termite treatments and wonder why they have bugs in and around their house. Termite treatments are different than general pest treatments. Alternately, if you have general pest treatments, you may not be covered for termites. If you have a specific infestation and they require you to do work necessary to solve the problem you will want to make sure you have solid understanding of that so that you do no inadvertently void a contract. If there are guarantees be sure they are clearly stated in writing with details about the service agreement. Understand what the “what if” procedures are if a pest problem arises after being under their pest services.

If you are thorough with these steps you will have a good understanding of the hiring a pest control companies in your area. The likelihood of making a decision that makes you and your family happy is higher. The likelihood of enduring pest problems in diminished.

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Low Tech DIY Mosquito Trap

Low Tech DIY Mosquito TrapFrom Gizmodo:

Mosquitoes love to breed inside discarded car tires. So why not use this against them? Such is the thinking of Canadian researchers who have developed a DIY mosquito trap that’s already proving its worth in field tests.

The trap is called Ovillanta, and it was developed by researchers from Laurentian University with help from Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health (plus a little money from the Canadian government).

This Low-Tech Trap For Killing Mosquito Eggs Is Brilliant
The egg trap is constructed from two 20-inch (50 cm) sections of discarded rubber car tires. The bits of tire are fashioned into a mouth-like shape, and a fluid release is added to the bottom.Once it’s ready and hung on a wall or tree, a non-toxic solution is added. A chemical pheromone is added to attract the mosquitoes. A wooden strip or paper floats in the artificial pond, where the female lays her eggs.

Twice a week, the strip is removed so that it can be analyzed, and the eggs that have been collected are destroyed using fire or ethanol. The solution is recycled back into the tire, but over time it collects even more mosquito pheromones, making it even more irresistible. From a mosquito’s perspective, it’s actually quite diabolical.

This Low-Tech Trap For Killing Mosquito Eggs Is Brilliant
The researchers recently conducted a 10 month trial of the system in Guatemala where it worked to reduce virus-carrying Aedes mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are responsible for spreading viruses like Zika, dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, West Nile virus, and others. Population control measures to reduce the number of mosquitoes are an important aspect of combating these blights.

Over the course of the 10 months, the Ovillanta system worked better than traditional ovitraps, which are usually made from one-liter buckets. During the field trial, the team collected and destroyed over 18,100 Aedes eggs per month using 84 Ovillanta traps in seven neighborhoods. That’s seven times more efficient than traditional traps. At the same time, no new cases of dengue were reported in the regions where the traps were set up, but the researchers caution that this is merely an anecdotal observation. It’s also important to point out that this study is still awaiting peer review. That said, this area of Guatemala typically records about 24 to 36 cases during the same months.

Neat, right? Nice to see low-tech solutions perform so well. It’s cheap, easy to make, and environmentally friendly. On it’s own, the system likely won’t be able to completely curb the spread of mosquito-borne viruses, but when used with other population control strategies, it could contribute significantly to the cause.

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