Don't Let Pests Crash Your Summer Party!

Don't Let Pests Crash Your Summer Party!

With the last day of school, graduation ceremonies, and Memorial Day quickly approaching, you’re probably feeling the pressure to get your outdoor area ready for all the festivities. Not only are you concerned about the look of your lawn and impressing your guests, but you also need to know which pests to avoid and, if possible, prevent from ruining your celebration. Here’s your party pest avoidance checklist:

Mosquitoes

mosquitoes
We’d like to be completely rid of mosquitoes forever, but that would be a difficult task! Let’s look at what you can do to reduce their occurrence in and around your home:

  • Eliminate breeding grounds
  • Be cautious of the time of day you plan your festivities; mosquitoes are most active early morning and late afternoon
  • Minimize wearing floral prints and perfumes as they attract more mosquitoes
  • Receive regular mosquito reduction service

Ticks

ticks
We understand the concern that ticks can breed. Take a look at these tips to prevent one of these pests attaching to you:

  • Wear light-colored clothing to help you see if you have picked up any ticks if you live in a wooded area
  • Wearing long-sleeves, pants, and shoes without open toes is suggested if your festivities are in an area with tall grass. Ticks will use the tall grass to attach to you
  • Keep grass cut low and inspect yourself thoroughly after working in the yard

Fleas

fleas
Fleas are typically a nuisance for our furry friends, though they can still cause issues for you too. Here are a few suggestions to keep your home and pets flea-free:

  • Check pets frequently for fleas and flea dust
  • Vacuum carpets, mop floors, and clean furniture regularly
  • Bathe pets frequently and speak with a vet about preventative medicine
  • If you think you have a flea infestation in your home and/or yard, call your exterminator for a free flea treatment quote

Fire Ants

fire ants
Like mosquitoes, fire ants can be an unwanted fixture on your lawn during the warmer months. They leave painful bites and can be an issue for pets and humans alike. To prevent fire ants from ruining your summer fun, try these tips:

  • Avoid all contact with fire ant mounds
  • To stop them from coming into your home, seal any cracks and replace any weather-stripping
  • If you see mounds around your home, call a pest control company to discuss a treatment plan
Ant Prevention In Your Home And Yard

Ant Prevention In Your Home And Yard

Ants have been named the #1 nuisance pest in the United States. Ants are social insects that live in colonies. They enter our homes looking for food and shelter. Ants primarily look for foods that are sugary and sweet or greasy and protein-based. Once they find food, they leave a pheromone trail behind that other ants will follow.

There are over 700 species of ants in the United States. At least 20 of these species are known to infect homes and other structures. There are several species of ants that are common to our area. The 5 most common are:

FIRE ANTS:

Fire Ant
Fire ants build large, raised mounds. They prefer to nest in open, disturbed areas. They commonly nest in yards, fields, and roadsides. Fire ants are known to devastate local insect populations and small wildlife. They are also known to eliminate ground nesting bird species because they attack their newly hatched nestlings. Fire ants cause painful stings when they bite and will bite humans when threatened.

CARPENTER ANTS:

Carpenter Ant
Carpenter ants are black in color. They are nocturnal and will exit their nests about 15 minutes after sunset in large numbers. Carpenter ants will invade kitchens in the summer months in search of food and water. They will invade structures if moisture is present. Carpenter ants can be very destructive to homes.

ARGENTINE (SUGAR) ANTS:

Argentine Ant
Argentine ants are light brown in color. They can easily squeeze through small cracks and holes. Argentine ants are known to set up colonies in the ground, in concrete walls, between boards and timbers, and among the belongings in your home. These ants are commonly seen in homes and will enter them in search of food and water. They are especially common during dry or hot weather or after a heavy rainfall. Argentine ants exhibit strong trailing behavior and can exist in high numbers. They move very quickly and are named among the world’s 100 worst animal invaders.

ACROBAT ANTS:

Acrobat Ant
Acrobat ants are dark colored with a heart shaped abdomen that they will hold up in the air like a flag when disturbed. They will nest inside decaying wood. Acrobat ants form single file trails and leave behind small sawdust piles that are similar to those of carpenter ants. These ants produce a mild sting when they bite. Acrobat ants may move into your attic to incubate their eggs and will tunnel into water damaged wood.

ODOROUS HOUSE ANTS:

Odorous House Ant
Odorous house ants are dark colored and give off a strong rotten coconut smell when they are crushed. They exist in large numbers where there is plenty of moisture. They form trails similar to Argentine ants. Odorous house ants are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of from structures. They will often establish their colonies in earth filled porches and block walls.

PREVENTION:

Since ants are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of, what can you do to keep them from invading your home in the first place? Check out these tips for keeping the ants out of your personal space.

LOCATION:

  • Learn where ants are common and routinely inspect those areas for activity.
  • Ants will frequently infest kitchens because of the ample supply of food and water.
  • Ants are also commonly found in bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, basements, attics, inside walls, and in and around HVAC units.

FOOD:

  • Ants will come into your home in search of food for themselves and their young.
  • Keep your kitchen clean and tidy.
  • Wipe down counters routinely.
  • Sweep on a regular basis.
  • Clean up crumbs and spills immediately.
  • Store your food in air-tight containers.
  • Keep ripe fruit in the fridge.
  • Wipe down sticky jars such as jelly or jam.
  • Use lids on trashcans and empty them regularly.
  • Make sure sink drains and filters are cleaned regularly.
  • Enclose mulch and compost heaps when possible.

WATER:

  • Reduce moisture and standing water around your home.
  • Repair leaky pipes and check under your sinks routinely for drips.
  • Use a dehumidifer in damp basements, crawlspaces, and attics.
  • Consider enclosing your crawlspace to eliminate moisture.
  • Make sure gutters and downspouts are clear and functional so water flows away from foundations.
  • Paint or seal any exposed wood before it gets wet.
  • Replace or remove any water damaged wood.

ACCESS POINTS:

  • Ants can squeeze through extremely small openings.
  • Inspect the outside of your  home for any easy access points and eliminate them.
  • If you are having trouble identifying the access point, follow the trail of ants.
  • Once you find the entry point, clean around it with detergent to remove the pheromone trail that attracts fellow ants.
  • Trim trees and bushes away from the exterior of your home.
  • Seal any cracks and crevices in the outside of your home with silicone-based caulk. Make sure to check around areas where utility pipes come into your home.
  • Remove dead stumps from your property.
  • Store firewood off the ground and at least 20 feet from your home.
  • Flying ant season begins in spring/summer. During this time of year keep doors and windows closed as much as possible.

PETS:

  • Pet food and water bowls also attract ants.
  • Keep pet food bowls clean and clean up any spilled food or water immediately.
  • Don’t leave pet food bowls out overnight.
  • Store dry pet food in sealed plastic containers instead of bags.
  • Inspect dog and cat doors to make sure pests can’t get through them.

CALL THE PROS:

Eliminating ants can be an uphill battle. If they aren’t properly treated, the infestation can continue to grow despite your best efforts. Some ants like carpenter ants can cause serious property damage. Other ants like fire ants can pose a serious health threat to your family. Other species, while not necessarily a threat to your family, can still contaminate your food. If you suspect you have an ant problem call a professional pest control company. A professional can identify what species of ant you have which is the first step in eliminating these nuisance pests. They can also find the entry points and provide you with a thorough and comprehensive treatment plan.

Common Summer Pest Problems in Georgia

Common Summer Pest Problems in Georgia

Summer is in full-swing here in Georgia, the heat is rising, and the bugs are coming out to play (bite!). Here are 5 common summer pests to be on the lookout for and tips on how to prevent and get rid of them:

Chiggers

Chiggers (sometimes referred to as mites or red bugs) are so small they’re hard to spot. But you’ll know you’ve been bitten after an itchy, uncomfortable rash develops. While they don’t pose serious health risks, they can ruin outdoor fun and leave behind irritated skin that you’ll want to scratch. To prevent chigger bites this summer, limit time spent in areas prone to chiggers – woods, grassy areas, near lakes, ponds, streams & rivers – keep arms and legs covered when outside, and wear insect repellent with DEET. If you get bitten by chiggers (most commonly on legs and waist with red, itchy skin), take a bath or shower immediately to get rid of chiggers that may remain on your body, wash the clothes you were wearing in hot water, and then apply a itch-relief lotion or ointment to the affected areas – like hydrocortisone or calamine.

Mosquitoes

Mosquito bites, on the other hand, can be more serious since they carry multiple diseases, viruses, and parasites. The best way to minimize your risk of contracting mosquito-born illnesses like Zika, encephalitis, West Nile, dengue fever, and malaria (some of the most common) is to prevent mosquito bites by limiting travel to well-known, affected areas, keeping arms and legs covered in light-colored, loose clothing when outdoors, wearing insect repellent with DEET and reapply often, and controlling mosquitoes around your home with professional mosquito treatments. You can also reduce mosquitoes by eliminating breeding sites – any areas with standing water.

Fire Ants

Fire ants can be dangerous for the whole family, including pets. They’re aggressive and cause painful bites, often with severe allergic reactions, which can be especially harmful to small children and pets. The best way to prevent and control fire ants around your home is with regular yard treatments, specifically targeting fire ant mounds, by a professional exterminator. Treatments are usually applied in granular form and get rid of fire ants in as little as 72 hours.

Bees & Paper Wasps

Bees can be a threatening summer nuisance and often cause painful stings if threatened. One of the most common summer bees is a paper wasp. Paper wasps will form nests on or in almost any horizontal surface, resembling an umbrella attached by a small stem. They vary in color but can be brown and yellow striped or red with blackish wings. They’re most likely to sting when their nest is disturbed, which can happen accidentally when nests are hidden. Paper wasps can be highly aggressive and cause severe pain and allergic reactions so it’s recommended to leave nests undisturbed if posing no serious threat or contact a bee exterminator to access the situation.

Ticks

Ticks are dangerous for both humans and animals as they spread infectious diseases – like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, through bites. Take steps to protect yourself from tick bites while outdoors by avoiding areas where ticks are prevalent, like wooded areas and in tall grass, and use an insect repellent with DEET. You should also treat pets with tick repellent products to reduce their risk of tick bites.

Click here for tick removal tips from the CDC.

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

 

Bug Friendly Children's Books

Though having pests in your home may be a different story, books about bugs have always been favorite reads for children. Below is a list of fictional stories about bugs that your kids are sure to enjoy:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This picture book features the tale of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly accompanied by vivid colored pictures. Children will not only learn about caterpillars, but also about numbers, healthy eating and days of the week as they chronicle his journey from newborn to cocoon.

Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg

Ever wonder what ants are up to when they invade your home? Before you call the exterminator, let this picture book give you a glimpse into the mischievous adventures of two ants. Children will learn the importance of following directions and the consequences of their choices.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

This classic of children’s literature features a fun-filled cast of characters starting with a young orphan named James. With the help of a magic potion, James causes a peach tree to blossom an abnormally large fruit, which becomes home to an assortment of interesting insects.  This perfect first chapter book will offer your children lessons of friendship, bravery and loyalty.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

This American classic comes from the author of another well-known tale, Stuart Little. Told from the perspective of a pig, this novel follows the life of barn house creatures, one of which is a spider named Charlotte. Charlotte offers Wilbur much wisdom in one of the most beautiful friendships ever written.

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

This story follows a cricket from Connecticut who boards the wrong train to Times Square in New York. There he meets many interesting characters, both human and animal, that teach him many lessons, including how to play classical music.

Melissa Brown
mbrown@callnorthwest.com

Ants, Ants, and More Ants

Ants are one of the pests that can be an issue year around.  Although controlling ants can be difficult…it is possible.

Size is a big advantage to the small ants.  Because they are so small, they can enter a structure through even the tiniest of entryways.  When ants enter your home, they are looking for food and water.  Sweets and greasy foods are amongst some of their favorite foods.  To lead other ants to food, they leave behind a pheromone that allows the other ants to follow to the source of food.

Ants are social insects, meaning they live in large colonies.  You can find 300,000-500,000 ants in a single colony.   Ants can uproot and move their whole colony rather quickly.  Worker ants can live up to 7 years while queens can live up to 15 years.

Although size and quantity are on the side of ants, there are ways to keep ants out of your home:

  • Eliminate standing water.  This will help keep away ants, as well as other pests such as mosquitoes and termites.
  • Keep foliage away from the structure.  Ants and other pests can use branches, leaves, etc as a way to enter your home.
  • Seal your home.  Cracks and crevices around your home are used as entrances to your home by pests.
  • DIY methods.  Although some DIY methods can be helpful in getting rid of ants, you are not getting to the real source of the problem.  A professional pest control company can inspect your home and help you come up with a customized plan to get rid of and control future ants from coming in your home.

Call Northwest Exterminating at 888.466.7849 if you are having ant problems in your home or business. Visit us online to find out more information about ants and how to control them.

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