Longview

Understanding Termite treatments

Termites can cause billions of dollars in damage each year. They primarily feed on wood, but they also damage paper, books, insulation, and even swimming pool liners. Although buildings may become infested at any time, termites are of a particular importance when buying or selling a home. A termite inspection (Wood Destroying Insect Report) is normally a condition of sale. The possibility of thousands of winged termites emerging inside one’s home is an emotionally trying experience, not to mention the thought of termites feasting on one’s large investment.

Spring is typically when large numbers of winged termites can emerge inside homes. These are called swarmers. Termites swarm to disperse and start new colonies. Due to warm temperatures and rainfall, the winged termites emerge from their colonies and fly into the air.

The swarmers will drop to the ground, shed their wings, pair off with a mate. They attempt to begin new colonies in the soil. Very few swarmers that emerge outdoors survive to start new colonies. Although swarmers found indoors are incapable of eating wood, seldom do survive. It’s best to remove them with a vacuum cleaner. Swarmers found inside a home does indicate that an infestation is present. Finding winged termites indoors almost always indicates that an infestation is needing treatment.

People often confuse winged termites with ants, which swarm at the same time of year. Termites bodies are different from those of an ant. Termites have straight antennae, a uniform waist and wings of equal size. Ants have elbowed antennae (bent), constricted waists and top wings that are longer than the bottom wings.

Termite swarmers are attracted to light. They are often seen around windows and doors. They can also been seen coming from tree stumps, woodpiles, and other locations in the yard are not necessarily cause for a concern. This also does not necessarily mean that the house is infested. Although, if winged termites are seen emerging from the base of a foundation wall or adjoining porches and patios, there is a potential of an infestation. Termite treatment may be needed. Other signs of infestation are mud tubes extending on top of foundation walls, support piers, floor joists, etc. Mud tubes are typically about the diameter of a pencil, but sometimes can be thicker. Termites make these tubes for shelter as they travel between their underground colonies and the structure. To help determine if an infestation is active, the tubes may be broken open and checked for the presence of small, creamy-white worker termites. If a mud tube happens to be vacant, it doesn’t mean that the infestation is inactive. Termites will often abandon sections of mud tubes while foraging elsewhere in the structure. Sometimes termites create tiny holes in the plaster or drywall. Ripples or sunken traces behind wall coverings can also be indicative of termites tunneling underneath. Usually there won’t be any visible indication that a home is infested. Termites are mysterious creatures and their infestations can go undetected for years. They can be hidden behind walls, floor coverings, insulation, and other obstructions. Termites feeding and the damage can even progress undetected in wood that is exposed because the outer surface is usually left intact.

Termite control utilizes specialized equipment such as masonry drills, large-capacity tanks, and soil treatment rods. A typical treatment may involve hundreds of gallons of a liquid pesticide, known as a termiticide. Termiticide is injected into the ground alongside the foundation, beneath concrete slabs, as well as foundation walls. To be quite honest with you, termite treatment is a job for professional pest control . There are TWO general categories of termite treatment: liquids and baits. Soil-applied liquid termiticides have been around for decades. The purpose of a liquid treatment is to provide a long lasting chemical barrier that will keep termites in the ground from entering buildings. In most cases, termites already in the structure die off as well because they cannot return to the soil. The chemicals used are non-repellent, therefore, termites tunneling into the treatment area are unaware that they are being killed. The non-repellent products are proving to be more reliable in their ability to resolve termite problems in the first attempt.

The other broad treatment category is Termite bait treatment. Termite baits consist of paper, cardboard, or other palatable food, combined with a slow-acting substance lethal to termites. Termite bait stations are installed below the ground in the yard, in cylindrical plastic stations. Foraging termites will consume the bait and share it with other termites in their colony, which will result in a gradual decline in the termite colony. On some properties, baits may constitute the only form of treatment, while on other property, they may be combined with liquid applications to areas where termites are being observed.

All liquid termiticides are supposed to control termites for at least five (5) years when applied according to label directions. The actual length of control on a given structure will depend on various factors such as: thoroughness of the application; environmental conditions; and the density of termite colonies in the area. If termites swarm again and continue to be a problem the year after treatment, it’s usually not from degradation of the termiticide but because termites have found an untreated gap in a chemical barrier.

Let’s be clear, termite control involves LIVING CREATURES. The best treatments performed by knowledgeable pest control firms may fail at times because the ground where a chemical barrier had been applied was disturbed. (Ex: digging up the soil to plant flowers or removing shrubs, plants, etc)  Also with the use of bait stations, if they are dug up and not replaced properly due to creation of flower beds, porches, etc, there will be a large gap between the stations to help with the control of termites as well. Therefore, termites can find their way through tiny, untreated gaps in the soil.

 

The PROBLEM with Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are a problem. They are actually considered a public health pest, but they are not known to spread diseases. Bed bugs do, however, cause a variety of negative physical and mental health consequences. The bites from bed bugs can cause allergic reactions that range from a small bite mark to welts. Also the impact of living in a home with they pesky suckers could lead to anxiety and insomnia, which has been reported by the CDC.

Let’s address what’s on everyone’s mind. How do you get bed bugs? You can get them in your home a number of ways. It could be from traveling and you brought them home in a suitcase, or on you. You could have purchased an item such as furniture that may have already been infested. You could have had someone visiting you who may have picked up the pesky bug from their travels. Any way we approach it, bed bugs can sometimes be difficult to pin down exactly where or how you could have picked them up.

What can you do if you find bed bugs? First thing is first. Make sure that you indeed have bed bugs. Don’t panic! Although it can be difficult to eliminate them, don’t give up. There are things you can do to help with the control and elimination process. Start by reducing the number of hiding places for a bed bug. De-clutter your house. Get bed bug rated mattress cover for both the box spring as well as your mattress. These need to say “Bed Bug rated” or else you will be wasting your money. Reduce the number of bed bug eggs by washing and heat drying your bedding, blankets, bedspreads, and clothing. Carefully and thoroughly vacuum your home. That means Rugs, Floors, upholstered furniture,  your beds, under the beds, bed frames, headboards, etc. Be sure to remove the contents that are in the canister or vacuum bag outside in a sealed trash bag. Do NOT, let me repeat this. DO NOT leave the vacuum cleaner canister or bag full inside of your home. The bed bugs can and will crawl out of there and re-infest your home.

Be sure to call a pest control company an ask them how they treat for bed bugs. If you have any questions about bed bug treatments, please be sure to leave a comment or email us. We’ll be glad to answer any and all of your questions.

Protect yourself from the Zika Virus

On February 1, 2016, The World Health Organization declared the Zika Virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Recently, the CDC activated their Emergency Operations Center to monitor and coordinate the emergency response to the Zika Virus.

Here is some information from the CDC:

Zika virus is a disease spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die from Zika. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious fetal brain defects. It can also cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

To help prevent mosquito bites, take the following precautions:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. When choosing an EPA-registered repellent be certain that the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women when used as directed. Be sure to follow product label instructions. Reapply the insect repellent as directed. If you are using sunscreen, apply the sunscreen BEFORE applying insect repellent.

Check out Mosquitoes, the diseases they carry and your back yard. Be sure to treat your yard for mosquitoes regularly. Remember, PREVENTION is key!

Ants!

Ants are very common insects. There are more than 10,000 known ant species around the world. Ants are especially prevalent in tropical forests and may make up to half of all the insects living in some locations.

Ants look like termites and the two are often confused, especially by homeowners who are worried about termites. Ants, however, have a narrow “waist” between the abdomen and thorax, termites do not. Ants also have large heads, elbowed antennae, and some powerful jaws.
Ants usually live in structured nest communities that can be located underground, in ground-level mounds, or in trees. Carpenter ants nest in wood and can be very destructive to buildings. Some species of ants do not have permanent homes, instead they seek out food for their enormous colonies during periods of migration.

Ants communicate with each other by using chemicals that can alert other ants to danger or lead them to a promising food source. Ants typically eat nectar, seeds, fungus, or insects. However, some species of ants may prey on reptiles, birds, or even small mammals.

So what can you do to prevent Ants from invading your home? First, ants can enter through the tiniest of cracks and crevices seeking out water and food sources. So be sure to seal up those cracks and crevices. Secondly, ants leave scent trails so other ants can be lead to the food source others have found. Be sure to clean up the sugar and creamer area around your coffee makers. Ants really love those areas. Also, clean off the counter tops and behind the faucets on your sinks. Sometimes food particles will get behind there and can become a good food source for ants. Lastly, look around the perimeter of you home and in your yard. Do you see any mounds or old tree stumps? If you do, make sure to remove the old tree stumps. Treat the ant mounds directly by sprinkling ant bait around the mounds, not on top. Prevention is the key to all your pest problems, even ants.

Wood Siding and Termites

This is what wood siding does when it's in contact with soil. It absorbs the moisture from the soil, causing it to rot. This can attract termites.

This is what wood siding does when it’s in contact with soil. It will absorb the moisture from the soil, causing it to rot. This can and will attract termites. The soil grade is too high. Our recommendations are to remove to soil off the siding to where at least 3-4 inches of the slab line is showing. Any time that wood comes in contact with the soil, the wood will absorb the water. This is not good because termites now have an easy access to your home.

Wasps and their uses

There are approximately 30,000 identified species of Wasps. We are mostly familiar with the ones that are wrapped in bright colors, such as the yellow jacket and hornets. Wasps come in a vast array of colors, the very familiar yellow to bright red, brown, and even metallic blue. The brighter colored species of Wasps are in the Vespidae family, other wise known as the stinging wasps. What you may not know is most wasps are actually solitary, non-stinging insects. They all do far more good for us by controlling other pest populations than harming us.

Wasps are very distinguishable from bees. They have pointed lower abdomens and a narrow “waist” that separates the abdomen from the thorax. Wasps are divided into two primary subgroups: Social and Solitary. Social wasps make up about a thousand species of Wasps, including the awesome colony-builders, the yellow jackets and hornets.

All wasps build nests. Wasps create papery abodes from wood fibers scraped with their hard mandibles and chewed into a pulp. Bees, on the other hand, secrete a waxy substance to construct their nests.

Social wasp colonies start from scratch each spring by a queen who was fertilized the previous year. These queens usually will hibernate in a warm place during the winter. Once the queen emerges, she builds a small nest and raises a starter brood of worker females. These workers begin to expand the nest, building multiple six-sided cells, into which the queen will continuously lays eggs. By the end of the summer, a colony could have more than 5,000 members, all of whom die off at winter, including the queen. Only the newly fertilized queens will survive the winter to start the process over in the spring. If a Social wasp is in distress, it will emit a pheromone that sends nearby colony members into a defensive, stinging frenzy. Unlike bees, wasps can sting repeatedly. Only female wasps have stingers. The stingers are actually modified egg-laying organs.

Solitary wasps are by far the largest subgroup. They do not form colonies. This group includes some of the wasps largest members: the cicada killers and the striking blue-and-orange tarantula hawks. Both of these wasps can grow to be 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) in length.

Despite the fear the wasps sometimes evoke, they are extremely beneficial to humans. Almost every insect on Earth is preyed upon by a species of wasps, either as food or as a host for it’s parasitic larvae. Wasps are widely used as a form of agricultural pest control because they prey mostly on pest insects and have very little impact on crops.

Do It Yourself Pest Control- the non-toxic way

You’re probably thinking, “Yeah right, what are you trying to sell?” The answer is nothing. Now that spring is coming and the cold weather is starting to wane. Those lovely creepy crawlers that lurk in the corners and give you nightmares will be out and about before you know it. First thing about “Do It Yourself Pest Control” is prevention. PREVENTION! That is key to keeping them away.

There are many ways to prevent the insects from infiltrating your dwelling. First, wipe down your counter tops and other kitchen surfaces to remove odors and food particles. If chemicals are not your thing, you can use a dilution of vinegar and water as your cleaning agent. Second, fix any and all leaky faucets. Insects, such as ants and roaches, are attracted to the leaks because they also need water to survive. If you don’t have jars or containers that seal well, get some. Place your dry goods (Ex: Cereal, Cookies, Sugar, Pasta, Rice) in jars or containers because insects need food as well to survive. Third, rinse out all the sauce jars and juice containers before placing in a recycling or trash receptacle. This is also considered a food source for the insects. Lastly, CLEAN YOUR DRAINS! We will get calls often saying that someone has fruit flies and cannot get rid of them. Clean your drains! They need to be cleaned out from all the food that was just washed off your dishes. It sits and accumulates in the pipes. Our suggestion is baking soda and vinegar. Let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes in the drain. The use boiling water to thoroughly clean out the drain pipe. Now that your drains have been cleaned, let’s address the fruit flies. Get some Apple Cider vinegar. Use a small glass and fill it with 2-3 inches of the apple cider vinegar. Cover it with plastic wrap and poke small holes in it. Fruit flies are attracted to the sweet smell of the apples.

Let’s tackle the outdoor pests. As previously mentioned in Mosquitoes, the diseases they carry and your backyard, there are quite a few plants that can be planted through out your yard and some even in plant containers inside your home to keep these flying buggers at bay. These are a few of the plants we suggest to help you better manage the warfare against mosquitoes, flies, gnats, chiggers, ticks, and fleas: Citronella, Marigolds, Catnip, Horsemint, Lemon Eucalyptus, Geraniums, Lavender, Lemon Grass, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Tea Tree.

You don’t always need toxic chemicals to rid yourself of the creepy crawling bugs.