What’s Bugging You: Patrolling for Pests

15 November 2011 By Kelly Sanford

In order to keep bugs at bay, crew must be vigilant. Awareness and proper cleaning, maintenance and attentiveness are paramount. Peg Nusser of Fort Lauderdale-based Ladybug Pest Control offers advice on awareness that will keep the yacht bug free.

The Pantry and Dry Storage
Check expiration dates on food packaging. Carefully inspect dry goods like beans, pasta, grains, dry mushrooms, even chilies and cereal. Many of these products frequently contain bug eggs and keeping them aboard for long periods of time gives these eggs plenty of time to hatch. Adult weevils are easy to spot, but signs of larvae may not be as evident.  

Unusual amounts of dust in a package can be a sign of bugs in the larval state. Transfer dry goods to clear, zip-top bags for easy inspection. Avoid storing food in odd places where it might be forgotten. Boats with high crew turnover or freelance chefs are especially vulnerable to pantry pests. To prevent roaches and rodents, keep the galley and food storage areas clean.

The Humidor
Cigarette Beatles resemble brown ladybugs. When they’re present, they are easy to spot, as they’re slow, flying insects. Holes in cigars are a sign of trouble, and these pests can invade the galley once on board.

Native Crafts
It’s really best not to bring straw market items aboard, but if you must, keep a close eye on woodcarvings, dried flowers, baskets, etc. Wood boring insects can come aboard in these items and quickly spread throughout the boat.
When a new item is brought on board, quarantine it when it’s not in use. Nusser says, “Those giant zip-locks are a great place to store questionable items. You will see bugs or signs of bugs in the bottom of the bag, and the bag should keep the pests contained long enough for you to discover their presence.”

Bilges, Voids and Crawl Spaces
Inspect inconspicuous areas occasionally for any signs of pests. Rodents have been known to nest among the electronics; mosquitoes can breed in any warm, stagnant water and of course, be sure to check for any one of the warning signs mentioned in What’s Bugging You: Bug Trouble.

Regular Maintenance
There are very few pest control professionals who specialize in the unique yacht environment. Busy yachts should receive an inspection and preventative treatments twice a year,and all yachts should be treated at least once a year. Be sure to schedule your inspection far in advance, as high season may have you waiting several weeks for an appointment.

Nusser shares another one of her creepy stories on creepy crawlers on board a yacht:
The Redback Spider in a Scupper
“It was an Australian-built boat,” begins Nusser, “with an Australian crew and an American captain.” They called Lady Bug because they had recently arrived in the States after taking delivery of the boat down under and a crewmember had found a very unwelcome stowaway in a scupper on deck. It was a very poisonous spider native to Australia and New Zealand, called a Redback spider. The Australian crew were able to recognize it right away by its telltale markings and conical web.

At first glance, the Redback spider resembles the black widow, and taxonomically it is a close relative; however, Nusser had never seen this particular type of spider before, so she took the sample (which was fortunately found deceased) to an entomology professor at the University of Florida’s Davie extension to confirm its identity.

“He was in classes at the time,” says Nusser, “so I left the spider on his desk with a note asking him to call me. When he called he was very excited. He said he had never seen a real one before, only photos.” When his excitement abated, he said, “Peg, you have to go back. You have to be sure there are no more; we don’t want them colonizing in the U.S. This is serious. You have to go back, and you have to go at night. You have to crawl around the decks and crawl spaces with a flashlight and make sure there are not any more.” He then concluded the conversation with an ominous, “Be careful!”

After reading about the spider, and how its bite could be fatal to the very young and very old, Nusser spent much of her search wondering if — as a woman over 50 — she qualified as “old.” Fortunately, no other spiders were found. But the captain and crew were left with strict directions to document the incident in the logbook, and to perform regular searches on their own for the following year.

For Information and Appointments Contact:
LadyBug Pest Control
954.764.4936 or 954.288.9564

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