July Pest of the Month: Fire Ant

Fire Ant

Fire Ant

Brief description:

Fire ants get their name through their ability to inflict painful bites and stings.  They vary considerably in size and build large raised mounds in lawn areas.  One interesting fact about fire ants is they have been known to infest electrical boxes en masses, causing the equipment to malfunction.

Habits:

  • Build nests in soil near structural foundations or in landscaping.
  • Nests can be between 2 and 4 square feet in size.
  • Although they typically make their nests outside, they can enter structures through HVAC systems, electrical lines, and even under siding.

Different species:

  • Argentine ants
  • Carpenter ants
  • Odorous house ants
  • Pavement ants
  • Crazy ants
  • Acrobat ants

Threats:

  • Produce a painful sting when they feel threatened.
  • Sting results in a painful, raised bump.
  • Often receive more than one sting at a time.
  • Devastates local insect populations and small wildlife when it invades an area.
  • Many grouse and ground nesting bird species have been eliminated by fire ants when they attack newly hatched nestlings.

Prevention:

  • Avoid fire ant mounds.
  • Seal all entry points into a structure.
  • Contact a licensed pest professional if you have fire ant nests in your lawn.

Other pests to look out for:

  • Other species of ants listed above

 

Northwest Exterminating
830 Kennesaw Ave MariettaGA30060 USA 
 • 888-466-7849
 

Pests That Affect Your Lawn

It’s summer time, so you and your family will likely spend a great deal more time outside enjoying the weather. However, your household won’t be the only ones wanting to take advantage of your lawn. Especially during the summertime, certain insects can cause damage or even kill your turfgrass. Signs of insect feeding include grass turning yellow or brown and eventually dying. This begins as small patches of grass but can eventually lead to widespread damage. It’s important to eliminate lawn damage using preventive measures and Northwest Lawn Care offers just that!

 

 

One pest in particular that you may be used to seeing is a white grub. These insects are the larvae stage of several species of masked chafer beetles. This said, if you spot beetles in your yard, you’re likely to have white grubs. They are small, white “C” shaped bugs with six legs. When these insects infest, they can destroy grass roots, which weakens the affected area. If ever you’ve been able to lift your grass easily from the ground, it’s likely to be due to these insects.

White GrubMasked chafer

Another common insect pest is the armyworm, which is actually the larva stage of a moth and is therefore, a caterpillar. Like all caterpillars, army worms like feed of plants, including all types of grass. They like to chew on leaves as well as the base of leaves, leaving irregular patches of grass. Once again, if you notice a fair amount of brown or gray moths in your yard, you’re likely to already have an armyworm problem.

Armyworm

Armyworm

Other common insect pests include billbugs, black turfgrass ataenius, fiery skipper, lawn moths, sod webworms and the southern chinch bug. Keep in mind that these pests are perfect treat for larger pests such moles, skunks and raccoons. If you feel like your lawn may be at risk, call the Northwest Lawn Care Team and they will meet your needs.

Sources:

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7476.html

http://www.diynetwork.com/outdoors/how-to-identify-common-lawn-pests/index.html

http://www.hort.uconn.edu/ipm/homegrnd/htms/13inslwn.htm

http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/white-grubs-lawns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technician Tales: Funny Stories From the Field

DSC_0304Several years ago, I was scheduled to perform a Sentricon check at a home in Alpharetta.  It was a nice home in a “well to do” community with a huge fenced-in backyard and custom built swimming pool. I remember it being a nice, sunny, and warm afternoon. The kind of day that you feel blessed you get to work outside. Back then each Sentricon station was checked with a hand held device that would scan the bar code located on the bottom of the station cap and would make a “beep” sound when it registered. I always made it a point to make some noise before entering a backyard. If you didn’t know any better you would think every time I open a gate is the first time I’ve ever done it. What I’m doing is making noise and waiting to hear for any response. I would do this especially in the summer because you can easily walk up on a house wife sun bathing by the pool who dozed off and the last thing you want them to do is wake up as you’re standing next to them. Fortunately, that scenario has never been a problem but it terrifies me still today that it could happen so I’m very careful. I also want to alert any dogs that someone is about to encroach on their territory because a mad dog is bad enough but, as any good sports fan knows, we always fight harder on our own turf.

Well this day I had already gone through my normal routine and had assumed no one (or dog) was in this particular backyard and I could proceed with my inspection without hesitation. I got as far away from the gate as this check would take me when my “beep” was followed immediately by a very deep growl. I looked up and the biggest German shepherd I’ve ever seen to date slowly came out of a door I hadn’t noticed, until now, between the house and the garage. He had his head down and was creeping toward me like a lion you see on National Geographic prowling a wildebeest in the tall grass of the African plains. It may sound dramatic but you weren’t there were you? It was the most frightened I have ever been on the job to this day and that would include my previous construction job where I had to be revived by chest compressions after losing consciousness 30 feet deep in a manhole.

The thoughts that went through my head, other than “I’m screwed”, included the fact that I was a good 100 feet from the gate to safety and I was on a deck. To get away unharmed I would have to go down the stairs before running to the gate or jump off. Not to mention I would have to turn my back at some point to run and I was not looking forward to that either.

Just then, he let out one loud bark and leaped at me going right for my face. I leaned back and did the only thing that felt natural at that moment. I punched him in the face. It definitely hurt me more than him and seemed to have no affect  whatsoever. I turned and ran as fast as I could knowing there’s no way I could out run him because I’ve seen way too many episodes of “Cops.” I knew initial speed was very key so I had no choice but to run straight passed the stairs that would take me down the deck. Unfortunately, it also meant I would have to jump off the deck but there was no turning back now.

Thinking back, it’s probably what saved me from being ripped to shreds because either he didn’t feel like jumping off too or simply had a great deal of respect for me for jumping. I remember being about 12 feet in the air looking down at the ground and thinking, “as soon as you hit the ground, GET UP AND RUN!” I don’t know how but I actually landed on my feet and jumped immediately again over the six foot fence landing safely on the other side. I can only assume its the same adrenaline pumping force that allows a woman to lift a car off her child in a moment of despair.

Since that day, I approach every yard with an even greater precaution for dogs. Now almost everyone in this area has an invisible fence and their dogs run all over the yard. Because of my experience with the massive German shepherd that looked like it was bred for pulling a coach full of Budweiser I am easily freaked out by dogs. I got away but we all get lucky once in our lives.

The feeling from that day has never left me. About a year ago, I pulled up to a home to check their stations. All the signs were there that they had outside dogs. Dog house, food, and water dishes, toys, piles, etc… Nothing came running up when I pulled in the driveway but I knew to proceed with caution. I got around to the front door, bent over to check the station and saw a large shadow on the sidewalk moving toward me. I immediately panicked and ran like crazy to my truck. For whatever reason I turned to look over my shoulder to see how close the dog was. I guess its because I knew I’m not as fast as I used to be. Funny enough, the only thing I saw was a beautiful orange and black Monarch butterfly fluttering in the breeze casting its shadow on the walkway below. It was then that I realized that I had the moxie equivalent to an elementary school girl and was running away from a freaking butterfly.

So this story goes out to those who have ever been chased by dogs, reacted drastically to something that wasn’t what it seemed or anyone who saw an idiot running from nothing down a side walk one afternoon in Milton and thought, “what’s that guy’s problem?” Now you know the answer. He is haunted by a memory he hopes he never has to relive.

Austin Milligan
Northwest Exterminating
Alpharetta Service Center Manager
amilligan@callnorthwest.com

 

Health & Mosquitoes

It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s a…MOSQUITO?!?!

Source

Source

Yes, that is right mosquito season is here!  And although we all enjoyed the mild winter, we may not be able to say the same this summer.  Mild winters usually mean an influx in pest pressure for Pest Management Professionals and their customers…including mosquitoes.

There are currently 63 different species of mosquitoes found in GA.  Approximately$125,000,000 is spent annually in Georgia in an effort to reduce and treat the effects of disease and nuisance caused by mosquitoes.  That’s a lot of money to control one insect.  But is there a cost to protect the public’s health?  Because the mosquito has become a big threat!

Worldwide malaria remains the most important human disease transmitted by mosquitoes.  Malaria counts for almost 2 million deaths each year and is estimated that there are over 400 million cases in the world.  In Georgia, we see about 50 to 60 cases of Malaria a year.  Although Malaria affects the most humans worldwide there are two other diseases that we see more frequently in Georgia.

The West Nile virus was first found in the states in 1999.  In 2002, the virus spread over most of the United States and caused over 4,000 cases and 277 deaths.  The virus is transmitted from the mosquito to a host bird, where the virus grows and then is transmitted to an incidental host (humans) by another mosquito.  To date, there is no antivirus for those affected with the disease.

Another common disease doesn’t affect humans directly but it does affect the family dog.  Dog heartworms are a serious problem and are spread by mosquitoes.  Infection rates in some states have been reported to be as high as 80% in dogs over 2.5 years old, and almost 100% in dogs over 5 years old that are left un-vaccinated.  There is approximately $60,000,000 being spent on heartworm prevention in Georgia each year and it cost nearly $1,000 to treat a case of heartworms.  Bottom-line…make sure you treat your dog for heartworms BEFORE it’s an issue.

So what can we do?  Mosquito prevention at Northwest Exterminating is a five step program following the basic principles of an Integrated Mosquito Management program:

  1. Education
  2. Surveillance
  3. Source Reduction
  4. Larviciding
  5. Adulticiding

It is important as homeowner’s that we do our part.  Here are some simple steps to help reduce mosquitoes around your home:

  •  Reduce water collection sites
  • Clean gutters regularly
  • Remove yard clutter

For more tips like these and to help reduce the amount of mosquitoes around your home call Northwest Exterminating.  Our goal is to create a healthier environment around your home so you can enjoy your yard!

Adam Vannest
Director of Pest Services
Northwest Exterminating
avannest@callnorthwest.com