Preparing for Swarms

With Spring upon us, the temperature will start to get warmer, finally! This is great news for us, but it also means that insects are beginning to come out of hibernation. Two insects of great concern, particularly in the spring, are the ant and the termite.

Both of these insects, flying ants and termites, will begin to swarm soon, so it is important to know the differences between them so you can help out your Pest Management Professional. Should you catch one, there are three noticeable differences between a flying ant and a termite.

  1. Ants have bent antennae. They look like they have an elbow. Termites have straight antennae.
  2. Ants have a narrow waist. Have you seen the old pictures of women in corsets? That is what the waist of an ant swarmer will look like. The termite looks uniform from top to bottom.
  3.  Ants have wings that are two different lengths – the best analogy is a butterfly wing. The top wing is longer than the bottom one, similar to how a butterfly wing looks. Termites have wings that are the same length. (I caught one the other day, and it looked like one giant wing stacked together, not four individual parts.)

flying ants vs termites

If you see swarmers and are worried, call your local Northwest Exterminating Service Center. They will be happy to help you with all of your pest control needs, and can target problem insects as needed.

Katherine King
kking@callnorthwest.com

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

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

 

 

Mythical Origins of Insects

People love a good myth. These narratives contribute bright symbolism of interactions between higher powers, people, and nature. They assist in many relevant functions as well as further adding colorful stories. One valuable role of myths is to illustrate some angle of life.

Several myths describe the beginnings, morphology, and conduct of various insects. Here are just a few:

The origin of mosquitoes is revealed by The Tlingit Indians of North America.  The narration tells of a blood sucking carnivorous giant who dines on humans. This giant is eventually avenged after his horrific death by coming back to feed on humans in the appearance of blood sucking mosquitoes.

An Algonquin tale of North America justifies why bees, wasps, and hornets have stingers. This myth grants that the god Wakonda bestowed stingers to bees because the bees were industrious, but required a defense. Since wasps and hornets are linked to bees, The Great Spirit willingly endowed them with stinging weapons as well.

Ant actions are revealed in an African myth that reminds us of the everlasting punishments of Atlas, Prometheus, and Sisyphus of classical mythology. An infinite punishment of bearing a burden is handed down to ants by deception in the African myth. Accordingly, we see the outcome today in ants repeatedly transporting things in their everyday routine.

Atlas

And on an absolutely universal spectrum, the composition of our galaxy, The Milky Way, is translated in an insect myth of the Cochiti. This myth tells of an Eleodes Beetle that was in charge of depositing stars in the sky. The stars were dropped due to his ego and recklessness, thus forming the Milky Way. The beetle was so distraught at what he had done, that even today, the beetle hides his face in the dirt when approached – will lower its head, raise its abdomen, and emit a disagreeable odor probably for defense. This simple insect myth explains not only insect behavior, but also the start of our own galaxy.

Beetle

Who are your favorite mythological characters?

 

Mound Ants & Their Mounds

The allegheny mound ant is a common ant found outdoors.   They feed on small insects or arthropods that are found outside so they rarely have a need to make their way into a structure…but that doesn’t mean you will never find them inside.

Identification:

  • 1/4″ long
  • red bodies and black abdomen
  • most often identified by the large mound that they build

The Mound:

The allegheny mound ant is known for the large mounds that they build.  This is the easiest way to identify the species.  Their mounds are made up of built up soil that can go up to 4 feet above soil and extend 3 feet deep into the ground.  A 5 month old mound can be about 2 feet wide and 8 inches tall.  A two year old mound can be up to 3 feet tall.  These large mounds are mostly found in unkept grassy areas, pastures, nurseries, and turf.

Allegheny mound ants produce formic acid that can damage bushes, plants, and gardens.  Formic acid can kill small trees and shrubs within 40-50 feet of a mound and the grass of your lawn that is located around a mound.  Most new mounds are made in late May and early June.  This can cause issues if you spend time in your lawn because the mound ants will bite if they feel like their colony is being disturbed.

Protect yourself and your lawn by hiring a professional exterminator that can eliminate ants around your home and prevent damage and harmful bites.  Call Northwest Exterminating to get rid of your ant problems.

 

 

 

 

Do it Yourself Pest Control VS. Professional Pest Control

There is a whole market for people who like to do it yourself.  I am one of them.  I enjoy the occasional weekend project around the house like painting, fixing a leaky faucet, or changing out fixtures.  However, there are some do it yourself projects that are just not for me.  I don’t touch wires, I don’t clean high chandeliers, and I don’t clean out gutters (thank goodness Northwest Exterminating does).  Those are the tasks that I leave for the professionals.

In the recent years of the down economy, we have witnessed more people resorting to a do it yourself method of getting rid of bugs.  There are certain situations where we agree that do it yourself is a good alternative to hiring an exterminator.  If you spot a single bug such as a fly, yellow jacket, or ant, there is usually no need for a professional pest control company to come to your home.  But if you spot a termite, a bed bug, or any other insect that can cause damage to your family or your home, it is necessary to call an exterminator.

There are certain things that need to be considered when deciding to DIY or hire a professional:

  • Expense

o   DIY – A trip to the store and the purchase of chemicals is typically less expensive than hiring a pest control company.

o   Professional – Although the initial investment is more expensive with a professional, it may end up being the cheaper alternative.  If the in store pesticides are not effective they may result in the growth of your pest control problem.  Continuing to buy in store products can get expensive.  Not to mention the potential damage to your home that pests can cause.

  • Convenience

o   DIY – When doing it yourself, you can go to the store, purchase the pest control product, and apply it at your own convenience.

o   Professional – It can be a pain to find a time that is convenient for both you and your exterminator to meet at your home for a treatment.  More often than not, this is at the inconvenience of the customer.  However, a good exterminator will work with the homeowner to schedule the best time for them.

  • Knowledge

o   DIY – The instructions are on the label.  Not only can information be found on the label but it is very easy to go to the internet and do a research on the particular product or insect.  Be sure that all instructions are followed exactly as listed on the package.

o   Professional – An experienced and knowledgeable exterminator will be able to quickly identify and treat your problem.  They are also able to answer any questions that you have about prevention or other issues that you are experiencing.  Their experience and expertise can keep your home and family healthier than just reading the instructions on a label.

  • Risk

o   DIY – Chemicals of any kind can carry a risk.  Applying chemicals that you are not knowledgeable about could potentially cause harm to humans, pets, or plants in the area.  This is not to scare you but to remind you that we cannot stress enough the importance to read all instructions and follow all directions listed on the product label. 

o   Professionals – By hiring an experienced and knowledgeable pest control company, most risk is removed from the homeowner.  Be sure to read all contracts and get reviews from past customers before hiring a pest control company.

  • Effectiveness

o   DIY – For small pest problems, store bought exterminating products can oftentimes be effective.  For a bigger infestation, it can be more difficult with store bought products.  Pests are adaptable creatures and can get become immune to certain chemicals after a certain amount of time. 

o   Professionals – A reliable pest control company will have up to date information and products to treat your infestation. 

  • Warranties

o   DIY – Depending on the store and product, you can return a product.  Check your local store return policies before purchasing.

o   Professionals – Always ask about a company’s policies before hiring them to treat your home.  Will they return to your home for no charge if your issue is not solved? Do they offer warranties on their work?  A good exterminating company will.

When trying to decide if you should tackle your pest control problem, consider the list above.  For a small infestation, do it yourself is a good option that can be inexpensive.  For larger infestations or a continuing problem, save yourself the time, hassle, and money and call a professional exterminator.  As always, the key to pest control is prevention. For pest prevention tips visit this blog.

If you have a pest or termite issue in the Atlanta, Columbus, Savannah, or Nashville area, call Northwest Exterminating. 

What kind of do-it-yourself projects do you enjoy?

Have you ever tried to do-it-yourself and had to call in the professionals?