If you’ve been outside lately you’ve probably seen signs of spring – blooming flowers, pollen that aggravates our allergies, and lots of new insects buzzing around. Another thing that spring brings is swarms – of termites! Termites are present year round but their swarming season is during spring and early summer.
Termites cause billions of dollars in damage to homeowners each year. Here in the Southeast, subterranean termites are the most common types and are particularly destructive. These insatiable eaters can damage not only wooden structures, but have even been known to cause damage to brick and concrete homes as well. Termites can invade your home through cracks and holes as small as 1/32 of an inch!
Swarms are most common in spring and summer because they are triggered by warm, humid weather. Swarming marks the start of a new termite colony. Winged termites leave their nests when they become overcrowded and their isn’t enough food to sustain them. They then take flight and actually reproduce in mid-air. The females will then shed their wings and fall back to the ground. They then go in search of a new location to start their colonies.
Swarmers don’t usually cause any damage but once they establish their new colonies their offspring can cause significant damage – usually within 2 years. If you see flying termites it can signal one of two problems:
- There could be an existing termite problem nearby.
- Your home could potentially be at risk of a termite infestation when the swarm lands looking for a new place to colonize.
If you see winged termites inside your home this is a good indication that you already have an established termite colony inside or that there is existing damage already.
What can you do to prevent termites from coming into your home? Check out these tips to keep the termites out!
- Have regular inspections done by a termite control company.
- Do regular inspections of the outside of your home and the subfloor of your home checking for wood damage and the presence of mud tubes. (Mud tubes are pencil-sized tunnels located around termite nests, wood structures, and concrete or stone foundations.)
- Repair any damaged roof tiles, soffits, and fascia on your home.
- Keep mulch away from your foundation as this retains water and the moisture can attract termites.
- Keep your basements, attics, and crawlspaces well ventilated and dry. Consider enclosing your crawlspace completely.
- Make sure gutters are clear of debris and downspouts are working to make sure water is diverted away from your home. Consider installing gutter guards to help prevent clogs.
As always, if you suspect you have termites or find signs of damage, contact a termite control company who can come in and do a thorough inspection and set you up with a comprehensive treatment plan.
With the weather thankfully getting more spring-like, it’s time for a good deep-clean of your home. While a good spring clean is great for your spirit, it will also aid in keeping pests out of the house, along with your quarterly pest service. That way, you get to enjoy a pest-free spring!
Ants, pantry pests, and other common spring pests will seek to invade your kitchen where they will find food and water with ease. A deep clean of your pantry and counters can greatly reduce the occurrence of pests. If it is feasible, clean out from behind your appliances; food will have fallen that pests will find. Also, place your trash can away from doors that lead in from outside and away from windows.
Roaches and silverfish tend to be attracted to bathrooms due to the excess moisture. Reducing sources of water is the best solution to ward off an infestation. Check around tubs, sinks, and toilets for any leaks, and wipe off standing water on any surfaces.
The perfect hiding place for pests is often your basement. Mice, spiders, and many others like the dark corners to hide from the outside. Instead of using cardboard boxes for storage, go for plastic tubs with secure lids. Also, make sure to seal any found cracks; mice only need ¼” opening to enter your home!
A spring clean of the exterior of your home is crucial. Start with moving any plants and vegetation away from your home to make it harder for pests to come in. Be sure to clean out clogged gutters to eliminate another pest hiding place. You may want to consider installing gutter guards to avoid the possibility of clogged gutters. Other tips to remember: dispose of leaf piles properly and keep grass cut low.
If you suspect a pest problem in your home, contact a pest control company. They will be able to evaluate your home, identify what kind of pest you are having issues with, and set you up with a comprehensive treatment plan.
As winter comes to an end, many animals are starting to emerge from hibernation. You may not have realized it but these animals will often take up residence over the winter in your home. Now that the weather is warming, they will start moving around in search of food and water and to try and get out. Some wildlife that get into your home are harmless but some can cause significant damage both to your home and to your health. They can leave feces behind that can contaminate the air in your home. They can chew through wires and wood in your attics and walls. So what can you do to keep these animals from seeing your home as a safe haven? Check out these tips to keep the wildlife out this spring.
- Check the outside of your home for any possible entry points and seal them.
- Repair any leaks or damaged and rotted wood around your home.
- Repair or replace damaged window and door screens.
- Use chimney caps.
- Use screens over dryer vents, air vents, and stove vents.
- Trim back trees from your roof line and shrubs from the sides of your home.
- Seal trash in containers with lids and don’t put it out until the day of trash pickup.
- Don’t leave pet food or water out overnight.
- Store unused pet food in sealed containers.
- Empty bird feeders daily.
- Keep your gutters clear or consider installing gutter guards.
- If you suspect you have a wildlife problem, contact a professional wildlife control company to safely remove any animals you may have.
The best approach to controlling mosquitoes takes advantage of every life stage of a mosquito. This approach is known as an Integrated Pest Management approach (IPM). IPM employs a variety of different pest management techniques with an emphasis on pest prevention, pest reduction, and the elimination of habitats that can lead to pest infestations. A successful IPM strategy is made up of 4 different strategies:
- Removal Of Habitats. Mosquitoes require a water habitat for 2 stages of their life cycle. Elimination of water leaves them with nowhere to breed. Get rid of any standing water in gutters, buckets, toys, old tires, tarps, and any other container in and around your home. Consider installing gutter guards to prevent standing water in your gutter systems. Empty and change out the water in your fountains, bird baths, rain barrels, wading pools, and potted plants at least once a week. This will get rid of any eggs that may have been laid in the water since emptying it the week before. Make sure to keep your swimming pools treated and circulating.
- Use Structural Barriers. Using structural barriers decreases the incidence of mosquito bites. Install screens on your windows and doors and make sure they are in good repair. Make sure the edges are sealed. Cover any gaps in walls, doors, and windows.
- Control Adult Mosquitoes. This is the best and fastest method to prevent diseases transmitted by adult mosquitoes. Adult mosquito control uses an EPA-registered pesticide and is applied by aircraft or on the ground by truck-mounted sprayers.
- Control Larval Mosquitoes. Controlling mosquitoes in the larval stage allows them to be eliminated before they emerge as adult mosquitoes. This involves a method called source reduction (also known as physical or permanent mosquito control). Source reduction is the removal or permanent destruction of mosquito breeding sites. The goal of source reduction is to minimize larval mosquito production through habitat destruction. It can minimize or completely eliminate the need for multiple applications of both larvacides and adulticides. Source reduction can be as simple as properly disposing of containers that can hold water or as complex as draining swamps or installing ditches. Some methods of source reduction you can do at home include disposing of, covering, or tipping over any containers that can hold water such as flowerpots, cans, and old tires. Source reduction for freshwater lakes and ponds include periodic drainage, minimizing emergent or standing vegetation, and maintaining steep banks. Source reduction for swamps and marshes is difficult because of severe restrictions in environmental law.
If you suspect you have a problem with mosquitoes in or around your home, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough inspection and comprehensive treatment plan.
During the colder months of winter, most of us like to stay bundled up and warm – with warmer clothes and inside our cozy homes. Unfortunately, many animals also seek this same shelter and warmth in the winter – oftentimes in our homes! Do you know which animals can cause problems for you during these colder months? What can you do to prevent them from seeking shelter in your home? Check out these common winter wildlife pests and 6 ways you can prevent them.
Squirrels can be a problem year round. They don’t hibernate in the winter and stay very active. They like to seek shelter and warmth in attic spaces. They may also seek out your attic as a storage space for their winter stash of nuts, grains, and seeds so they don’t have to search for food in the cold winter months. Squirrel nests are easy to spot in the winter in bare trees. Squirrels are notorious chewers – so if you have them in your attic you can expect your wood, insulation, and electrical wiring to suffer damage.
Skunks live in the same areas during the winter as they do in the summer. They like to burrow under our decks, patios, and stoops. Skunks don’t technically hibernate, but they do lower their body temperature and heart rate in the winter to conserve energy and therefore become less active. They can go up to a week without food and water but will venture out on a semi-regular basis in search of sustenance. They live in larger communities in the wintertime for warmth.
Rats and mice are also year round pests but they can become more of a problem in the winter. These rodents seek out warmth, food, shelter, and water inside our homes during the harsh winter months. They can squeeze into your home through extremely small openings. Like squirrels, they are also notorious for chewing through insulation, wiring, and wood.
There are at least 40 different species of bats in the United States. Bats are mostly active in the summer months and will hibernate in the winter. They will, however, hibernate in your attic! Bats like to roost in attics, belfries, behind shutters, and loose boards. They are carriers of rabies and can spread disease.
Raccoons are nocturnal and rarely seen during the day. Raccoons can cause significant damage to roofs and chimneys in their search for den sites. They will also get into crawlspaces in search of den sites. They are a major carrier of rabies.
Chipmunks are like squirrels in that they gather and store their food in the fall. They are less active in the colder weather, lowering their body temperatures and heart rates to conserve energy. They usually make their nests in underground burrows that can be up to 10 feet long. They will venture out every few days to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom. Oftentimes they will use attics as a storage space for their winter stash.
Opossums are the only marsupial found in North America. They will occasionally make their dens in attics and garages. They are known to make very messy nests. Opossums have very sharp teeth and will show them, as well as hiss, when they feel threatened. They are known to bite in very rare cases.
Winter wildlife can be a problem especially if they build a nest or store food in or near your home in the wintertime. The cold weather also doesn’t eliminate the diseases that they carry and spread. If these pests get into your home they can cause significant damage to your roof, insulation, foundation, wiring, and more. What can you do to prevent winter wildlife from making your home theirs? Check out these 6 tips to prevent winter wildlife.
- Eliminate Entry Points. Winter wildlife can’t get into your home if they don’t have a way in. Carefully inspect your home for any openings that animals can use to get in. Check and proof any weep vents in your bricks. Seal around HVAC and utility lines, in gaps in the foundation and siding, in gaps between your roof and soffits, and gaps between the soffits and fascia. Check your roof vents, as well. Seal gaps around windows and doors, including your garage door. Many rodents can chew through rubber or thin plastic seals so consider using heavy duty metal seals or caulk. Check screens on doors and windows to make sure they are in good repair. Use chimney caps. Consider enclosing your crawlspace to prevent unwanted critters, as well.
- Clean Your Gutters. Clogged gutters can block the drainage of rain and melting snow and ice. This can not only cause damage to your home, but also invites birds and other wildlife to build their nests here. Make sure drains are clean and that your spouts are far enough away from your foundation. Consider installing Leafproof XP Gutter Guards to make gutter cleaning and maintenance easier for you.
- Clear Out The Clutter. Now is the time to reorganize your belongings. This not only lets you get your garage or attic cleaned out, but also allows you to inspect areas of these spaces that you might not normally have access to. If possible, get rid of cardboard storage boxes and use plastic containers with lids instead. Get rid of old newspapers or other paper products as these invite rodents and other pests to make nests.
- Get Rid Of Their Food. Winter wildlife will eat anything they can get their hands on. If you have birdfeeders, take them down in the evenings and put them back out in the mornings. Clean up any spilled birdseed from the ground underneath them. If you do keep your birdfeeders out all the time, consider squirrel proofing them. Use trash and compost bins with locks and store them in the garage if possible. Make sure outdoor composts are well sealed. Store food in airtight containers and refrigerate them if possible. Don’t leave pet food out overnight, especially outdoors. Clean up any spilled food and crumbs daily and sweep and vacuum often.
- Clean Up Your Yard. Clutter and debris in your yard can invite all sorts of pests to invade. Keep your yard clean and free of debris. Trim shrubs and branches away from your home as pests can use these to access your house. Stack firewood at least 2 feet off the ground to keep animals from nesting underneath. Dead trees, brush piles, and tall grasses should be put in yard waste bags and kept in the garage until garbage day.
- Call The Pros. If you suspect you have a wildlife problem, call a professional wildlife control company. They can come out and inspect your home, remove any unwanted critters, and provide you with a prevention and treatment plan to keep them from coming back.