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?

 

Steps to Identifying Ants

close-up of an ant crawling on a wood floorThe southern part of the United States is home to more than 100 ant species.  Georgia is among the states that has a particularly tough time with ants due to the many species that dwell in our region.  Our diverse climate aids in the relocation of many invasive ant species because we have both tropical and temperate northern climates available.

When you call your exterminator to get rid of ants, you want to know that they are really researching the issue and not just spraying.  Northwest takes a IPM approach to managing pest programs.  The first step is identifying the issue, in the case, ants.

 Steps to identifying ants:

  1. Analyze the coloration of the ant.  For example: house ants range in colors from yellow to black; black ants are dark brown to black; thief ants are yellow to light brown; pharaoh ants are light yellow to a reddish brown with black markings on the abdomen; and carpenter ants are red or black.
  2. Look at the size of the ant body.  Many ants we commonly see range in size from 1/16″ to 1/2″ or larger.  Many species will have several different sizes within the nest.
  3. Take notice to where the ants build their nest.  In damaged wood, in oil, in a wall void, etc.
  4. Examine the type of food the ant eats.  Most house ants are attracted to sweet foods left behind in trash, on counters, etc.
  5. Analyze the ants’ behavior.  Some house ants, such as Argentine and carpenter ants, are more aggressive than others.  Do the ants travel in a line or are they more separate in their trails?

Are you having a problem with ants?  If so, call Northwest Exterminating today or go online to fill out your FREE inspection form.

Exploding Ants?

 

The Earth is full of interesting, magnificent creatures.  One of those interesting creatures is the camponotus cylindricus… an ant that can explode itself.

The camponotus cylindricus, or exploding ant as we like to call it, uses their talent as an act of self-defense.  When the ant nest is threatened by an intruder, the ant will grab hold of the intruder’s face with its teeth.  They will then bend their bodies so violently that their outside burst and a layer of chemicals explode…making an attempt to kill both the intruder and themselves.

The chemical is stored in sacks that run along the ant’s body.  It acts as an irritant to external organs and dries into a glue-like substance that attaches the ant to the body of its attacker.  Many times this causes the intruder go blind and stops it from making it’s way to the nest.  Either way…the intruder loses the battle.

Now talk about chemical warfare.

Why Should You Tackle Fire Ants in the Fall?

We’re officially in the Fall season and you’re thinking that you are in the clear when it comes to fire ants…ALMOST!  The nice fall weather brings fire ants to the surface after spending the summer underground.  Fall is an ideal time to target fire ants for next spring.

We typically think of treating in the spring and summer but southern states such as Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina can treat in the fall as well.  Fire ants generally slow down in the winter months so in the fall baits produce better results before the cold weather arrives.

Fire ants are travelers so it’s a good idea to team up with your neighbors to start a fire ant control program together.  Northwest Exterminating offers a fire ant program that works within 24-72 hours.  Other products can take up to 30 days to control fire ants, need immediate irrigation to work, can be harmful to family and pets, and may require over 80 pounds of product to work.  Northwest’s fire ant service is fast, effective, covers the entire yard to wipe out colonies, even the ones underground, and it’s environmentally friendly to your family and pets.  Call us today to find out how you can take the first step in protecting your yard from fire ants.

The Odorous House Ant

Just because the odorous house ant is most active in the summer months does not mean your problem with them will go away with the warm summer temperatures.  In fact, odorous house ants often enter structures during rainy weather or fall temperatures.  You can find these ant nests in walls voids, around hot water pipes and heaters, crevices around sinks and cupboards.  Outside, they feed on insects, honeydew, plant secretions, scale insects, and mealy bugs but inside they are in search of human food.  Foods such as sweets, high protein items, meat and cheeses are all ideal for the odorous house ant.

The odorous house ant can have hundreds of colonies that are made up of several hundred to 100,000 ants.  Colonies have several queens and produce 4-5 generations per year.  Reproduction occurs in the nest, and colonies spread to new locations by budding off workers and queens.

Odorous House Ants are a particularly pernicious pest because they can infest block foundations and areas under garage slabs. In such protected locations, control efforts become extremely difficult. It is not unusual to drill slabs or block foundations in an effort to rid a home of these pests. Drilling is a last resort, after baits and nonrepellent products have already failed to control the problem.

Homeowners can significantly reduce their ant problems by ensuring that vegetation is not in contact with the structure. Any ground cover such as ivy or wild strawberries should be cut back at least 5 feet from the foundation. Ants may still enter the home, but removing the vegetation will allow a treatment zone to be created around the home that will be more effective at preventing pest entry. Ants will also be more easily seen trailing on the exterior, if the vegetation has been pruned back from the structure.

Field Ant

 

Field ants, or the One Node Ant, are large ants that are often confused with carpenter antsField ants are found in a variety of colors including black, brown, tan, red or red and black.  The key to telling the field ant apart from other ants are the ocelli, or “simple eyes” that are found on the front of the head in between the compound eyes.  (See picture above from University of Nebraska-Lincoln).

Field ants are most often found outside.  You may find their nests in open fields, grass, and under objects such as rocks, timbers and piles of firewood.  When treating for field ants, it is necessary to overturn these items and treat underneath.  Treating should take place around the structure including under and on top of the pine straw.  In addition to spraying outside, any vegetation should be cut back from walls and roof at least 18” and reduce any mulch where you can around the structure.

Sources:
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Jerry Hatch – jhatch@callnorthwest.com
Board Certified Entomologist
Certified Environmental Health Professional
Certified Professional-Food Safety
LEED Green Associate

Ants in the Kitchen?

As  been discussing lately, spring and summer bring many pests.  One pest in particular that affects everyone, regardless of region, is ants.  There are so many different varieties of antsArgentine ants are mainly found in southern states across the US, fire ants are notorious in the south and carpenter ants don’t discriminate by living in both the south and the north.  Ants are one of the few living organisms that live in all ecosystems.

Ants are often found in the kitchen looking for food sources.  Although ants are typically harmless…it is not sanitary to have them around your food.  To prevent ants coming into your kitchen follow the tips below:

  • Keep your sink clean.  Wash and dry any residue that may be left from cleaning dishes.
  • Check for holes or cracks that ants are using as entryways into your home and seal them off.
  • Pour vinegar down the drain to remove the smell of food (this can also be helpful if you have fruit flies).
  • Wipe the counters down regularly.  Remove any food or spills that may attract ants.
  • Sweep and mop your floors often.
  • Take the trash out regularly.
  • Keep food in containers instead of out in the open.
  • Keep trash cans rinsed and cleaned.  You can also deodorize the cans with baking soda.
  • Pour chili powder on hives and nests outside you home to prevent ants from entering.
  • Spray peppermint oil in the corners of each room.  Don’t forget the kitchen and the kitchen cabinets.
  • Use products with Borax, a mineral that is refined and dissolved and used in many ant baits.  Borax is non toxic to humans but poisonous to antsAnts take borax back to their colony and dispense it to the other ants.
  • Use white vinegar or bleach.  Both are known to get rid of ants.
  • Ants do not like the taste of cucumbers.  Cut up a small amount of cucumber and place in infected areas.
  • Place mint leaves or mint tea bags in infected areas.
  • Add salt to boiling water and spray in the corners of the house.

If the above suggestions do not work…call the experts at Northwest Exterminating

Odorous House Ants in Atlanta Area

Odorous House Ants are one of our most notorious ant pests. Together with Argentine Ants, Odorous House Ants account for the majority of service calls in the Atlanta area. At one time, Fire Ants were also a significant ant pest, but a number of products are now available that control fire ants very effectively. Odorous House Ants, like Argentine Ants, can have hundreds of small colonies throughout the landscape and can infest structures throughout the year. These ants become active in March and April and remain active through the summer months. Colonies may contain thousands of workers and dozens of queens. Reproduction occurs in the nest, and colonies spread to new locations by budding off workers and queens.

Odorous House Ants are a particularly pernicious pest because they can infest block foundations and areas under garage slabs. In such protected locations, control efforts become extremely difficult. It is not unusual to drill slabs or block foundations in an effort to rid a home of these pests. Drilling is a last resort, after baits and nonrepellent products have already failed to control the problem.

Homeowners can significantly reduce their ant problems by ensuring that vegetation is not in contact with the structure. Any ground cover such as ivy or wild strawberries, should be cut back at least 5 feet from the foundation. Ants may still enter the home, but removing the vegetation will allow a treatment zone to be created around the home that will be more effective at preventing pest entry. Ants will also be more easily seen trailing on the exterior, if the vegetation has been pruned back from the structure.

Baits in the form of gels, granules, and liquids can help in the long term control of ant pests, and newer nonrepellent products can offer quick knockdown and control of existing populations. Unfortunately, populations usually rebound quickly during the summer and multiple visits are necessary throughout the year to keep ants from reinfesting the structure. Visit our website to find out how Northwest Exterminating can assist you with our Fire Ant Management Program.

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