Differences Between Mice & Rats

Rodents can cause serious damage in your home. They chew on literally everything including electrical wires, ductwork, HVAC units, walls, and foundations. They eat your food and contaminate the area with droppings. They also carry a variety of deadly illnesses such as plague, salmonellosis, trichinosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), and Lyme disease, which can be lethal for you, your family, and your pets.

So if mice and rats do the same types of damage, why does it matter which one has invaded your home? The answer lies in the methods of extermination – a mouse trap is very different from a rat one.


What is the difference between mice and rats?

When it comes to visual characteristics, rats are distinguishably bigger than mice. Generally, a mouse weighs about two ounces, while a rat is about 10 ounces. Besides looking different, mice and rats also have distinct behaviors and habits. Gaining knowledge about these details can help aid your control efforts. Here are the basic difference between mice and rats:



Rats are a bit shy and cautious about new things. If you decide to place traps, first set some that won’t hurt the animal. This way the rat will get used to it, and next time you lay down a functioning one, it won’t be afraid to go near it. Mice, on the other hand, are a bit more curious. They like to play detective. To catch one, you just need to place a trap anywhere you think they might be present.

When you place traps, bear in mind that they have a home range, which is the limited area these rodents inhabit. It is no larger than necessary to acquire food, shelter, and water. If the conditions are good, the range is no bigger than 10 feet. If there is not proper access to the described necessities, the range can expand up to 150 feet. Rats have a wider range than mice.



Rats will eat anything. They are muricide, meaning that they have a predator-like behavior and will hunt on smaller rodents if there are any around. A rather disturbing fact is that they can go on a cannibal diet. Yes, rats consume other rats!

Mice are a bit pickier. If you find one in your box of Oaty-Os, don’t be surprised – they have a soft spot for cereal and plant-based foods.



Mice like to build nests in hidden places near a food source. Rats prefer to dig under buildings, along fences, and under plants and debris.



Both species like to make babies and they make a lot of them. In one year, a female mouse can give birth up to 10 times and each litter can consist of five or six babies – that means about 60 mice a year. Rats can parent 70+ youngsters in a year. Now imagine all those babies making their own family. It’s easy to see how quickly infestations can happen.



Another way to figure out if you have a rat or mice infestation is to listen for specific noises. Any type of scratching, squeaking, hissing, and chattering sounds mean that you are definitely dealing with one of the two. While rats tend to move through sewers, mice can jump, swim, and climb. They can even climb up rough, vertical surfaces and run really fast.

When moving through your home, rodents leave dark, greasy marks from their bodies. You can tell if it is a mouse or rat even by inspecting those. Rub marks left by rats are most commonly seen beneath beams or rafters. Mice don’t usually leave distinctive spots, except if the infestation is big.



One of the best ways to figure out which rodent is in your home is by inspecting the droppings. Before you look for droppings, put on some gloves. Rodent feces can carry harmful bacteria, diseases, and viruses. Typically, you can find the droppings where the animals eat. Check your kitchen and pay particular attention to cabinets where cereal is stored. Another place to look is near their nests. Rodents tend to make houses in old furniture and insulation.

Mice produce more droppings (around 70 to 150 per day), but are smaller in size (3-6 mm). Rats leave fewer poops behind, but they are much bigger (2 cm). You can find mice excrement scattered around their housing, while rats tend to leave their poop in a small bunch.


We can help

No matter how intimidating or pervasive your pest problem, you can trust that Amco Ranger knows exactly how to handle it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Give us a call today if you need helping getting rid of mice or rats in your home.

Check out our commercial program against rodents.

How to Get Rid of Squirrels in Your Attic

Squirrels are interesting and funny creatures to watch in nature, but you certainly don’t want them invading your home. Squirrels tend to come inside and make nests in the attic to escape cold weather. They can create a mess and be quite noisy.


Here are some ways you can get rid of squirrels in your attic:


Through Exclusion

The first method to get rid of squirrels in your attic is exclusion, which is the process of sealing potential entrances to prevent squirrels from entering your home in the first place.


The first step in the exclusion process is to seal off your attic. Patch up any visible holes and make repairs as needed to prevent squirrels from squeezing in. When sealing your attic, keep these steps in mind:

  • Cover your chimney: It may seem crazy, but a dedicated squirrel can make his way into your home through your chimney. The simple addition of wire mesh or a chimney cap can prevent squirrels and other animals from entering.
  • Make sure vents are covered and sealed.
  • Patch any visible holes on the outside of the home (even the smallest hole can be chewed into a viable entrance).

If there are still squirrels in your attic, you need to give them a way to get out that won’t allow them back in. This is most often done by professionals, where a funnel shaped exit, baited with food, is used to lure the critters out but prevents them from getting back in once they’ve squeezed through.


Removal by Trapping

When placing traps, put them in corners and away from open areas of your attic, as squirrels may be wary of obvious traps placed in traffic areas. Squirrels won’t go near your traps without the right bait, so make sure to use something that will attract them like peanuts, crackers, bread pieces, or apple slices. Be sure to place the bait far enough toward the back of the trap to make sure they get in, while leaving it far enough away from the edge to prevent squirrels from grabbing the bait from the outside.


Prevention Through Repellents

Whether you purchase a specific ultrasonic device or simply leave a radio on in your attic, sound can be a great deterrent to any squirrel looking to make a home in your attic.

If leaving your radio on in the attic sounds a bit annoying, consider purchasing a strobe light or leaving the light on in your attic for a brief period of time. Any squirrels that enter your attic will prefer the darkness, and the constant light source may work to deter squirrels from sticking around.

The last option available is to use commercial spray repellents. These chemicals can be applied to your attic to deter squirrels from building nests. These repellents can be made from predator urine, like the fox and can be purchased at hunting supply or farm supply stores. The other option is to use ammonia soaked rags. Simply soak a folded rag in ammonia and leave them placed around your attic in areas you suspect may be home to squirrels.


We can help

No matter how intimidating or pervasive your pest problem, you can trust that Amco Ranger knows exactly how to handle it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Give us a call today if you need helping getting rid of squirrels in your home.

Brown Recluse Spider Identification & Prevention

Few things cause as much fear and anxiety in people as the thought of poisonous spiders. Missouri is home to many species of spiders; however, only two are poisonous – the black widow and the brown recluse.



The brown recluse is a shy spider that does not attack people and usually only bites in response to being injured. This is quite the opposite of what most people think. Most reported bites occur when putting on clothing in which the spider is hiding or rolling on a spider in bed. Most people living in proximity to the spider will never see it, nor be bitten by it.

The brown recluse is a medium-sized spider. The legs span an area roughly the size of a quarter to a half-dollar. The color of the brown recluse ranges from a light yellowish brown to a dark reddish or chocolate brown, but most are light to medium brown. The second pair of legs is always longer than the remaining pair in both the male and female. The most distinguishing characteristic is the violin-shaped marking on the top of the body directly above the legs. The violin-shaped marking is usually much darker than the surrounding areas and may appear lined. Since some other species of spider have a violin-shaped marking, the best identification feature for the brown recluse is a semicircular arrangement of three pairs of eyes.



Brown recluse spiders prefer sheltered areas with low moisture levels and generally live in walls and attics. They do tend to enter living areas during periods of extreme temperatures – heat in August or cold in January – and may be seen in dark areas such as closets and cabinets.

Since most brown recluse spiders hibernate in the winter (except for those that live indoors), most bites occur between March and October when humans accidentally disturb their habitat.


Here are some useful tips for keeping spiders at bay:

  • Store clothing in sealed plastic bags or storage boxes.
  • Store shoes in plastic shoeboxes.
  • Shake clothing and shoes before wearing.
  • Move beds away from walls or curtains.
  • Remove bed skirts from box springs.
  • Do not use bedspreads that touch or come close to the floor.
  • Inspect bedding before climbing into bed.
  • Seal all cracks and crevices where spiders may enter the home.
  • Move firewood away from the home, elevate it off the ground and cover it with plastic.


We can help

No matter how intimidating or pervasive your pest infestation, you can trust that Amco Ranger knows exactly how to handle it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Give us a call today if you need helping getting rid of brown recluse spiders.

Learn facts and fiction about the brown recluse spider.

Brown Recluse Spider – Fact & Fiction

It’s hard to think of a critter that inspires as much hysteria as the brown recluse spider. If you believe the tales, these small arachnids are biting people all day, every day, producing huge craters around the bite that require months of intensive care.

Although there is some truth in the hype, it is greatly exaggerated. Brown recluses do not lay in wait to bite you. However, a spider that is potentially harmful, moves erratically, unpredictably, and sometimes quickly, is easy to fear. Especially when the misinformation, misdiagnosis, and gross internet photos of bite wounds feed the fear. So let’s sort out the fact from fiction.



The brown recluse only lives in a few states. Arkansas and Missouri have the highest populations, while Kansas, Oklahoma, the western portions of Tennessee and Kentucky, the southern parts of Indiana and Illinois, and the northeastern parts of Texas round out the recluse’s range.



Brown recluses are nocturnal and shy away from daylight. They mainly live in the walls and attics of homes, and are rarely seen by humans. They do tend to enter living areas during periods of extreme temperatures – heat in August or cold in January – and may be seen in dark areas such as closets and cabinets.



Most bites occur when people roll over on the spiders in the night, put on a jacket that has been in storage, or put their foot in a shoe with a spider in it. Biting is a response to being crushed, but they’d much rather run away. In fact, the spiders’ fangs are too short and small to bite through pajamas or socks, and really only sturdy enough to puncture thin skin.

Brown recluse bites can be bad. Some of the spider’s venomous bites lead to necrotic skin lesions(thedeath of skin cells or tissue in a localized area of the body), but only around 10 percent of bites are this serious. Most bites are not that bad. They look like little pimples or mosquito bites or something else that doesn’t merit a trip to the emergency room, and they heal by themselves.

There are some ways in which brown recluse bites are different from many other wounds. A raised, reddish, and wet wound is likely not a recluse bite. Recluse venom destroys small blood vessels and causes them to constrict, turning the area around the bite white, purple, or blue. Fluids can’t flow to the area, and it sinks a little, and dries out.



Unfortunately, the brown recluse bite diagnosis is a popular catch-all for situations where the cause of a skin lesion can’t be easily identified. There are about 40 conditions that are often misdiagnosed as brown recluse bites, including bacterial, viral, and fungal infections; poison oak and poison ivy; thermal and chemical burns; bad reactions to blood thinners, and herpes. Most physicians don’t have a lot of experience discriminating between a recluse bite and something like necrotizing Staphylococcus, and even if a patient brings in a spider for identification, it’s unlikely the ER doctor has been trained to identify a brown recluse.


Mistaken identity

Part of the problem is that the brown recluse is small and brown and about the size of a quarter; it looks like many other arachnids and insects. The best way to identify a brown recluse is to count its eyes. They have six eyes instead of eight, arranged in three pairs of two. However, most people are not going to get in a spider’s face with a magnifying glass and count its eyes.

Some people may try to find the marking most commonly described as identifying a brown recluse: a violin shape on the spider’s head, oriented with the violin’s neck pointing toward the spider’s butt. However, people are incredibly good at “seeing” violin markings on every portion of a spider’s body, which means this marking isn’t an especially helpful diagnostic.

If you suspect you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider, contact your primary care physician for treatment.


We can help

While brown recluse spiders aren’t as scary as people think, they are still an unwelcome houseguest. No matter how intimidating or pervasive your pest infestation, you can trust that Amco Ranger knows exactly how to handle it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Give us a call today if you need helping getting rid of brown recluse spiders.

Have a spider issue? Check out our pest control options for your home or our blog about brown recluse prevention.

Fall Lawn Care

As the heat of summer gives way to the cooler, crisper days of fall, it’s time to prepare your lawn for fall and winter. Check out the tips below, and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful, green, weed-free lawn next spring.


Keep doing what you’re doing

Existing lawn care, such as mowing, edging, and watering should continue as needed. Remember that while the best time to water is early in the morning, the best time to mow is in the evening right before the sun goes down, because the grass is dry and temperatures are cooler.


Fall planting

Early fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs, because planting in autumn allows them time to establish their roots and transition into the garden while the conditions aren’t as harsh.


Air it out

Aeration perforates the lawn by removing small plugs and has several benefits for your lawn. It takes compaction out of the soil, which allows for better water percolation and allows fertilizer to reach the root zone. The plugs that are left on the surface due to aeration also have a purpose: The soil from the plugs will dissolve into your turf, and the microbes from the soil will decompose the thatch (a layer of organic matter that accumulates on a lawn around the base of the grass plants).


Remember to fertilize

When you feed your lawn in the fall with a fall/winter fertilizer, the nutrients are changed into carbohydrates, which improve the root system in your lawn. By putting energy into the roots instead of promoting blade growth, you are improving your lawn for next spring.


Get it under control

Fall is a great time to control broadleaf weeds in your lawn. Broadleaf weeds like clover and dandelions prepare themselves for winter just like your lawn. There are many options for lawn weed killer, which work by causing the plant to grow beyond its ability to sustain that growth. For best results, try to spray for weeds when temperatures are in the mid-50s or warmer.


Mow it down

As the weather cools in the fall, lower the height of your mower. Mowing the lawn shorter in the fall encourages rhizome (stems running underground horizontally) development in the turf, which will thicken the lawn and help choke out weeds. Begin in September and continue through October, gradually reducing the height of your lawn until you’re mowing to a height of approximately one inch. By slowly reducing the height, your lawn will not be stressed by the shorter mower height as the fall temperatures cool.


Overseed it

Fall is the best time to seed, because warm soil temperatures and plenty of rain help the seeds germinate quickly. The faster the seed germinates and the lawn becomes more established, the less competition it has with weeds. The cool air temperatures also allow the young lawn to grow strong without the threat of heat stress. If weeds have caused thin areas, make sure you kill and remove the weeds before overseeding.


We do lawn care

Did you know that Amco Ranger does lawn care in addition to pest control? We give these services the same professional attention to detail and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Give us a call today to ensure a lush-looking lawn in the spring.

Wrong season? Check out our spring bug survival guide.

How to Get Rid of Centipedes and Silverfish

Creepy crawlies can invade your home and give you quite a scare when one appears on your wall or runs across the bathroom floor. Two common pests that are often mistaken for each other are centipedes and silverfish. Both of these pests like damp conditions and can be a nuisance to your family. How do you tell the difference?


House Centipede

Appearance: About one to 1-1/2 inches long; flattened, with one pair of legs on most of their segments; segments number from 10 to 100; yellowish, brown, or grey-yellow with bands of brown striping on their torsos and long legs.

Habits: Usually live outdoors beneath damp accumulations of leaves, stones, boards, etc.; sometimes find their way into homes, where they hide in dark, moist basements and bathrooms; when disturbed, they run fast.

Diet: Insects and spiders.

Life span: Some species live as long six years.

Harmful? They can bite humans and administer venom if cornered, but neither the bite nor the venom is dangerous. They don’t carry disease, eat your food, or damage clothing. They only eat bugs, which can actually be beneficial.



Appearance: About 1/4-1/2 inch long, somewhat “carrot-shaped” from above; grey-blue or silver; three filaments extend from rear.

Habits: Nocturnal; move swiftly, can jump; found in cool, dark, damp places like basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms.

Diet: Carbohydrates, sugars, and starches found in books, glue, silk, food, and flour.

Life span: About two years.

Harmful? They don’t bite or spread disease but can destroy books, papers, clothing, and other textiles.


Getting Rid of Centipedes and Silverfish


Remove moisture

Fix any leaky pipes and use dehumidifiers to reduce areas of high moisture. Install an exhaust fan in the bathroom. Centipedes will actually dry up and die without adequate moisture, while the silverfish will seek a new place to live.


Clean the house

Silverfish feed on anything organic so clean up food crumbs and spills and clean dishes right away. Vacuum regularly. Also refrain from stacking books, papers, mail, etc. in boxes or in high moisture areas such as basements. This is the perfect feeding ground for a silverfish. Cleaning should also get rid of other types of insects that the centipedes eat.


Store off-season clothing in sealed bins

Avoid storing your clothes in dark closets or basement areas as silverfish prefer inhabiting dark areas and will destroy your clothing. Try placing them in plastic bags or sealed bins with tight lids.

No matter how strange, intimidating, or pervasive your pest infestation, you can trust that Amco Ranger knows exactly how to handle it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Give us a call today if you need helping getting rid of house centipedes and silverfish.

Have seasonal allergies? Let us help you.

Protecting Yourself Against Summer Pests

Summer means spending time outdoors relaxing and having fun. It also means more exposure to bugs. Here are some ways to protect your self and your home from summer insects:



Mosquitoes cause itchy bumps and carry dangerous diseases that can make you very sick. Aside from yard treatments to eliminate mosquitos, these tips can help keep mosquitoes away:

  • Eliminate stagnant water. Divert water away from your home through downspouts and regularly change the water in birdbaths, ponds, and other water features.
  • Wear insect repellent when outdoors.
  • Light citronella candles around your outdoor areas.



Ticks can cause major illnesses. Reduce your chance of tick bites by following these suggestions:

  • Wear insect repellent when outside.
  • If you are in tall grass, bushes, or trees, wear long sleeves and long pants tucked into your socks.
  • Complete a thorough inspection of your body when you go inside.



Wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets can be a real pain. To keep your home nest free, try the following tips:

  • Seal cracks and entry points into your home.
  • Examine overhangs and eaves on your home, which make a cozy place for a nest.
  • Keep bushes and trees trimmed and check for nests before you trim anything.
  • If you see a nest, contact a professional. It can be dangerous and painful to attempt removal your self.



Ant colonies can include thousands of ants, which can quickly lead to an infestation. To keep them at bay, try a few of these strategies:

  • Keep bushes, trees, and foliage trimmed and away from your home.
  • Keep your kitchen clean and place food in sealed containers.
  • Vacuum regularly.
  • Place sticky traps or ant bait in problem areas.
  • Seal cracks and holes where ants can enter your home.


If you are still having problems with pests after trying these tips, give Amco Ranger a call. We’ll fight the bugs so you can relax and enjoy the summer.

Learn more about how you can protect your pets during the summer. Also find out if you have a cockroach infestation.

Keep Your Pets Safe from Summer Pests

The good old summer time is the perfect time for outdoor activities for the entire family, including pets. However, pests like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can cause all sorts of problems for your fur babies. Following these tips can help your furry friends get through the summer without pest problems.



Flea infestations can be transmitted through contact with other animals in addition to spending time outdoors. Once fleas latch on, they can cause problems like hair loss, inflammation, skin infection, anemia, and dermatitis. To keep fleas from causing long-term harm, invest in a flea collar, bathe your pets often, and be sure to regularly wash and vacuum everything they touch.



Like fleas, ticks can pass on serious diseases when they come into contact with your pets. Anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Lyme disease can result from tick bites, so it’s important to do everything you can to prevent tick bites in the first place. Use a tick collar, and be sure to inspect your pets anytime they have been outside. If you spot a tick, pull it out with tweezers very slowly so the mouthparts aren’t left in the skin. After removal, flush the tick down the toilet to prevent it from biting again. Also, keep your grass cut and weeds in check – tall grass can be an excellent hiding place for ticks.



Just like humans, pets can contract dangerous diseases like West Nile virus from mosquitoes. More commonly, mosquitoes can pass on heartworm to your pets, which can lead to weight loss, seizures, and blindness. To lessen the number of mosquitoes in your yard, remove all sources of standing water, since this is where they breed. Unfortunately, the only guaranteed way to avoid being bitten is to minimize outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most active from dusk until dawn.


In Your Home

Medications that repel and kill fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are available to protect your pets and dramatically reduce your risk of home infestation. If you do end up with an insect problem in your home, call a professional like Amco Ranger. It can take a combination of efforts to get rid of these pests for good.


Prepare Your Yard to Guard Against Mosquitoes

It’s mosquito season. With over 3,500 species of mosquitoes out there laying 100-300 eggs at a time, they can’t wait to start bugging us. They are everywhere, but there are actions you can take to get your yard and home ready so mosquitoes don’t eat you alive this summer.


Here are a few things you can do for your own mosquito pest control:


Eliminate Standing Water

Get rid of standing water, and eliminate opportunities for it to accumulate. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes; they lay eggs on the surface of standing water, and only need a quarter of an inch to do so.

  • Remove items from your yard that might catch rainwater, such as unused plant pots, wheelbarrows, and children’s toys.
  • For containers that constantly have water, such as birdbaths, clean and refresh the water at least once a week.
  • Drill holes in tire swings, trashcans and recycle bins to allow water to drain out easily.
  • Repair leaky outdoor faucets to avoid water pooling underneath them.
  • Tackle ponds by installing an aeration pump, fountain or water bubbler to keep the water circulating continuously and prevent the chance for mosquito larvae to mature.
  • Clear out your gutters so that water can move freely down the spout instead of pooling there.
  • Get rid of blockages in the ditches near your home so that storm water moves out of them quickly.
  • Fill low spots in your yard with soil, or improve drainage so that water doesn’t remain after a storm.
  • Remove old leaves, which can trap moisture and invite mosquitoes and other pests.


Keep Vegetation Short

Keep your grass and shrubs cut short. Mosquitoes are shrub hoppers and gather to rest in shady, cool areas, which is why it’s best to keep your yard weed free and avoid any overgrown vegetation.


Hang Mosquito Netting

Hang some mosquito netting around decks and patios to block off the areas where you know you’ll be hanging out. Be sure to place the netting around the perimeter, as well as over the top. Buy netting with small holes that is specifically designed to keep mosquitoes out.


Switch to Yellow Bug Lights

When preparing your outdoor space for the summer, choose opaque, yellow bug lights to lessen the number of mosquito swarms. Yellow bug lights transmit different wavelengths that are less visible to insects. Therefore, fewer mosquitoes and bugs are attracted to your space.


Scout Out Entry Points

Cracks, gaps, screens and other vulnerable areas of your home are opportunities for pests to enter. Make sure that any entry points are properly secured around the house to prevent unwanted insect guests.


Call a Pest Control Company

Following these tips can significantly decrease the mosquito population around your home. If you are still having issues with mosquitoes, give Amco Ranger a call to get a free quote for professional, ongoing defense in your yard. Treatments are tailored to your property and are applied by certified, trained technicians.

Learn more about lawn care from the professionals with these tips. 

Identifying & Eliminating Fungus Gnats, Fruit Flies & Drain Flies

When your home is invaded by tiny, flying insects, you may assume you’ve got fruit flies, but that may not be the case. Fungus gnats, fruit flies, and drain flies are often similar in size and can overtake your home. Here are a few tips for identifying and stopping these three pesky flies.


Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnat adults are less than one-eighth inch long, brown or black with light colored legs and have a mosquito-like appearance. They fly erratically and seem to bounce through the air. You will find fungus gnats flying near potted plants, which offer a nice moisture layer for the larvae to grow into mature adult gnats.

If you have fungus gnats, cut back on watering and treat the soil with an insecticide. Also, avoid adding water-retaining material such as peat moss when potting a plant.


Fruit Flies

Fruit flies look similar to house flies but are much smaller. The two most common fruit flies, the red-eyed fruit fly and the dark-eyed fruit fly, are brownish/black and have striped abdomens. They fly in a smooth path. Any rotting food or area of moist, organic material will be attractive to fruit flies, including garbage cans, compost bins, sink drains, and garbage disposals.

The best way to get rid of fruit flies is to keep your kitchen and garbage cans clean of any accumulated debris that may attract them. This includes thoroughly rinsing out beverage containers, using fruit quickly or placing it in the refrigerator, sealing garbage cans, and removing trash regularly from the area.


Drain Flies

Drain flies have a hairy body with large wings and breed in the slime that coats drains in your home. Once you recognize that you have drain flies, put some tape over the drains where you suspect they are emerging and leave it overnight. The next day, check to see if any flies have been collected. Once you know their source, you can begin eradication.

Use an enzyme drain cleaner and follow the package instructions. A few hours after applying the drain cleaner, flush warm water down the pipe to eliminate any remaining sludge. By completely cleaning the drains, the flies should vanish as a result.


If your fly invasion is more than you can handle, Amco Ranger Termite & Pest Solutions can get rid of the invaders using safe options for your family and pets. Contact us today at (636) 441-BUGS (2847).