Springtime Pest Prevention

Spring House

Spring is an exciting time, especially when you live in a region where the winters are long and can seem to last forever. It’s a time for birth, regrowth and renewal. The sun emerges, the rain comes, and all is washed new in preparation for the warm weather ahead, and that welcomed time outdoors. Many of us are cleaning our homes, ridding of things we no longer need, and making small repairs. Along with the clearing and renewal, we also see the re-appearance of some “not so invited” things too. The spring is prime time for the re-emergence of ants and beetles, and we often times see them in our homes at this time. While professional treatments done in the fall will easily prevent us from having to deal with these issues, those of us who have forgotten are feeling the need to take action now.

So many people inquire about the best ways to rid of the spring pests that begin to plague our homes, and want to know the most effective ways of taking care of them. It’s a popular desire to want to take care of ants or beetles on your own…hoping for a simple solution to the annoying issue. The most popular questions are typically regarding what type of baits or chemicals are best to rid of these critters. The simple answer is this:

Continue reading Springtime Pest Prevention

The Ants Go Marching


Ants are for certain a social insect, which belongs to the same order as wasps and bees. Each ant is a member of a highly organized colony or nest, which can sometimes consist of millions of individual ants. Within a single nest, there can be hundreds of workers, soldiers, drones and queens and colonies can occupy and use a wide area of land to support them.

There are about 11,880 known ant species, most of which are tropical, but in the Mid West, and throughout most of the US, the Odorous House Ant is the most common ant that is found inside of our homes. Ants are extremely social creatures and their ability to adapt to almost any environment has enabled them to colonize almost every landmass on Earth, which would explain why we so commonly see them around. Typically seeing ants isn’t very bothersome, because we realize that they are fairly harmless, however seeing them in our homes is a different story. Because their colonies can be so large, when we find them in our homes, it can be overwhelming!

Most people tend to make sure their food is well sealed up, and head to the store for the typical ant bait traps to take care of the problem. What isn’t realized is that those bait traps that are found in stores and readily available to mainstream society, are actually likely to do much more harm than good. The bait traps found in most stores, have such a small amount of poison in them, typically mixed with a bit of sugar water, and they are ineffective in staving off the problem. The ants that visit them, will create a trail leading back to their colony, which will lead many other ants out to seek what they find in the trail…which becomes a problem, because when there isn’t enough poison to kill the subsequent ants, they are led to seek additional food sources, and will venture into other areas of your home to do so. This increases the problem, rather than killing it off. Effective ant management will usually be a combination of control methods that involve inspection, sanitation and exclusion, habitat modification, and often some type(s) of insecticides. Because of this, it’s most often best to seek out a professional pest control service.

At this time of year, in the very late winter, or early spring, is when we typically begin to encounter the issues with ants. Ants do not hibernate as it may seem (because we tend not to see them during winter), but instead, they go into hiding from the cold, often migrating underneath pavement or concrete slabs until they feel the warmth of the sun heating up the place where they have chosen to migrate to. Once that happens, they will begin to come out, and seek a new home, which is often times in the comfort of your home. Ants are quite often seeking food, water and shelter, and our homes provide all of these things for them, in abundance. Being attracted to water is something to consider when attempting to prevent ants from entering your home. Check around sliding patio doors to see if there is moisture built up in the wood frame, or surrounding track. It will typically collect there, and provides an excellent source of water, and point of attraction for ants. Another place to check is in your windowsills, also for a buildup of moisture. These are both very common attraction and entry points for ants entering your home. If you are suddenly seeing ants in your home, you very well may have a moisture issue, or even some rotting wood or trim in your home. Checking for this each year in the spring, and replacing any rotting wood, or wood that has absorbed moisture will likely prevent any issues with ants.

Carpenter Ants are particularly bothersome when discovered in the home. Due to their life cycle, and massive hatching, carpenter ants can seem quite overwhelming. Upon hatching, hundreds or even thousands of ants will emerge at once, making it seem as if there are enough to just carry your house away. They appear in such great numbers, and what seems like all at the same time, that it seems to exacerbate the problem. You can easily identify carpenter ants by their wings, but this also scares many people into thinking that they have discovered termites in their home. Despite the common misunderstanding, carpenter ants do not actually eat any wood in your home in the way that termites do. They actually use their mandibles to chew out decaying, moist or rotting wood, and push around the chewed up wood, creating hollow cavities, by which they use to travel through your home. They can cause structural damage, but not in the same aggressive manner that termites do. These ants are also extremely attracted to moisture, and the same prevention and awareness will help to keep the carpenter ants away as well. As with any ant or insect, a professional pest control service will be most effective in ridding of the problem, and preventing future issues with treatment and prevention education.

A Stranger Sleeping in the House: Hibernating Pests

Erdye's Pest Control

The winter can seem like a peaceful time for those of us who really can’t stand insects and spiders in our homes. If you’re anything like me, you can finally relax when it gets to be cold enough outside that you no longer see signs of these creepy crawlers in and around your house! Sometimes I feel like a super ninja warrior who is always on guard, watching for invaders who have multiple legs! The thing is, despite this false sense of comfort I feel in the winter, it turns out that some of these critters aren’t actually absent at all. There is actually a stranger sleeping in the house, and that stranger is a hibernating pest.

Many insects indeed hibernate during the cold season, just waiting for the warmth of the sun to release them from their sleep. Asian beetles (the ladybug) and box elder beetles are two of these hibernating winged insects that are laying in wait for the warmth of the sun to make their entrance into our focus. Ants, although they don’t technically hibernate, also begin to migrate into our homes when they sense the warmth and sunshine. They are in search of food that may be hard to find towards the end of the winter. While none of these multi-legged pests are of serious harm to us, or our homes, they are most certainly unsightly, can cause bad smells, and are annoying and unwelcomed!

Asian beetles, or ladybugs, are often the most annoying of these hibernating pests, because they tend to emerge in such great number, that it can be overwhelming. They “call” out to each other in the autumn by using a type of pheromone that they have, to attract others. At that time they forge huge groups or swarms and will join together in a place that attracts warmth, and they may gather inside of the outer walls of a house. It’s there that they will become dormant, and lay in wait for the sun, and temps that reach around 50 °F, before re-emerging. They become incredibly invasive at this time due to the sheers numbers in which they might emerge into your home. Along with the overwhelming amount of insects that may be entering your home, they also leave behind an incredibly unpleasant odor and stain when they excrete body fluid when either frightened or squashed. These beetles also have a tendency to bite if frightened or provoked. The box elder beetle carries with it the same issues as the Asian beetle, when it comes to large congregations, and omitting awful smells as a way to protect them.

Ants, although they don’t actually hibernate, do migrate into homes (after remaining in a sheltered area outside of the home), when they feel the warmth of the sun. The most overwhelming repercussions of having ants in your home is that they form and live in colonies, which are made up of a few dozen, up to millions. When you have the possibility of that kind of a colony being active in your home, it can drive you crazy. The worst thing you can do when you being to spot ants in your home is to try to handle the problem yourself by purchasing ant traps. The traps available to the typical consumer in a store will likely just exacerbate the issue. This happens because they are basically just a sugar water source with a tiny amount of chemical poison. Often times the ant after visiting this trap will attempt to get back to their colony, leaving behind a scent trail for the other ants, which will do the same and attract even more ants to leave the colony, in search of that food source, until the bait trap is empty, and the ants are spreading out everywhere in your home, seeking additional food sources. At this point not only have you “called out” to more ants to enter your home, but you have exhausted the food source that was available to them in the trap, forcing them to seek alternative sources, such as food left in the open, or containers that are easily penetrable to an ant. As with all pests that enter your home, it is best and most wise to contact a professional pest control professional, as soon as you notice a problem. The trained professional is equipped with the knowledge and the resources necessary to eradicate the problem completely and efficiently.

The Great Squirrel Invasion

Squirrel Entering House

In case you haven’t taken notice, in the last few years, there has been a boom in the squirrel population. Squirrels are cute and furry little creatures, which jump to and fro from tree to tree. They’re playful and fun little creatures, and are often fun to watch while they play in the trees or grass. When they forgo the trees and grass, and decide to come inside, they don’t seem quite as adorable anymore. Now, instead of cute little creatures, they have become quite the interlopers…non-paying tenants of the very worst kind!

Weather has a lot to do with the growth in the squirrel population, and with the warmer summers and colder winters we have experienced in the last couple of years, there has been a huge influx in population growth, and therefore an increase in problems that homeowners and even commercial buildings have experienced in what seems like “The Great Squirrel Invasion”. Although many squirrels hibernate, grey squirrels do not, and will seek any heat source they can find as a more secure home, and a source of food.

While living in the wild, squirrels are arboreal, living solely in the trees. The squirrels will usually have several nests, called a drey that they can go to and in case they lose one, they will go to the next one. In the wintertime, you can see their summertime dreys. They are those collections of leaves and twigs visible in the trees throughout the leafless branches. They usually abandon these summer homes in the winter and seek something more secure. The hollow of a tree is an ideal winter home, but your warm attic is a much better choice for them. The problem is that once they find their way in your home, which is much more satisfying, they won’t want to return to the more cold, less abundant option.

Squirrels, unlike mice, are incredibly intelligent, causing a much larger issue than you might have imagined. They are quick to find ways to enter your home. As your home ages, the normal weathering provides the squirrel with the opportunity to discover a damaged piece of trim, allowing them partial entrance. They’ll finish the job, quite easily, and usually very quickly, if they want to. They don’t really need entrance to your attic, when exposed soffit will do just fine. If it’s a soffit, you may not even hear them, and they could be in there for months, undiscovered, causing damage to your home. They are intelligent enough to find any small area to enter in through, and will investigate whatever they can. Squirrels can fit through pretty much anything they can get their head through, which is a tinier space than one might think. Once inside, their innate curiosity will force them to explore their new surroundings, and this is when you will often hear or discover them.

Once squirrels gain access to your home, getting them out and keeping them out, often becomes a very difficult job. The longer they are in there, the harder it is to evict them. If they remain undisturbed for a great length of time, it will be especially difficult. Not only that, but such the structure, over a period of time, tends to acquire an odor that attracts more squirrels. Houses like these will often have intermittent and sporadic squirrel problems for years, unless you take immediate action once you suspect squirrels in your home. The best form of action to take is to hire a professional pest control professional to ensure that the issue is eradicated fully and quickly, and measures are recommended by that professional to prevent re-entry.

These animals, once inside your home, will destroy your home, and many of your possessions and soil the rest. They will search for food, breaking into even sealed containers they suspect of holding food. They could even attempt to consume non-food items as well. They will often times destroy your insulation, and they love to chew…chewing apart your building materials, and domestic possessions. Quick action will ensure you stop any further damage, and keep the population of squirrels in your home from growing.

Looking Out for Parasites While Traveling to Warm Climates

A winter escape to a warm climate is a common activity for those of us who reside in places where the cold winters never seem to end. Leaving the cold, ice, snow and wind to lie on the beach, soak up the sun and sightsee in temperatures that seem like perfection is so welcoming and inviting! What you may not know, is that while you are enjoying that warm getaway, you might just be getting more than you bargained for. Packing up to head home, you look around to be sure you have everything you brought with you. Flip-flops? Check! Clothing? Check! Toiletries? Check! Sun hat? Check! Parasites? Check…wait a second…parasites?!?!Not exactly a welcomed travel mate!  Looking out for parasites while traveling to warm climates is a real concern.

Tropical Beach

It’s happens when you don’t even realize it! You might be relaxing in a hammock on the beach between two gorgeous palm trees. You might be holding a local iguana or chameleon (they’re harmless, right?), admiring how unique they are. You won’t even see it happening, but you’ll know it eventually! Mites are easily transferred from a tree, lizard, or by other means to you and your clothing, and you won’t even know until it’s too late, that you are now dealing with a parasite infestation. Having to call a pest control professional is important if you do have an infestation, or problem with having brought home some new “friends” from your vacation, but most would rather avoid the situation when possible. The following is how you can take caution against bringing mites home with you from your tropical destination:

Know what to look for!  Mites tend to group up, so even though they are super tiny and often times you will need a microscope to see them, with lots of them in one group, they can really be seen quite easily if you know what you’re looking for.  Below are some pictures of mite infestation on a gecko, so you can get an idea of what to look for.  Dark brown, or dark red patches of skin is how you can recognize mites on a lizard.

Mites on Lizard

Here is a picture of mites gathered on a palm tree:

Mites on Palm Tree

The effect of the mites on a palm is seen in what looks like the leaves drying out.  They will appear very dry and brittle, and the tree will look unhealthy in general.  Keeping an eye open for these things, and avoiding them is helpful to ensuring you don’t bring mites home with you.

If you do handle lizards, or are around palms, or other plants and trees, it’s really important that you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.  This will help to keep the mites from remaining with you.  Tea tree oil, or melaleuca is terrific for so many things, and putting a few drops on your clothing or rubbing it into your hands is another great way of staving off mites.

Upon suspecting that you do have a mite infestation in your home, as we stated above, it’s incredibly important to call a professional pest control service!  Mites can be brutal to get rid of.  Because they are so tiny, and easily undetected, knowing that you have taken care of the entire problem can be especially difficult.  You might not even be sure that you have a mite infestation to begin with, but itching or irritated skin that occurs right after a trip where you could have been exposed to mites is a good indication.  You will also want to protect any pets that you have in your home from getting a mite infestation as well.  A pest control professional will have sure-fire ways of checking your home, and dealing with the infestation, and if they are reputable, will back up their work, ensuring that you get rid of the entire problem.