Archive for March, 2010

Pest Control Problems During the Spring

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Spring is the time of year when flowers bloom, babies are born, and new pests start to invade. The sad part about spring for homeowners is that pests become a big problem. Like new vegetation and new babies, there are new pests. Some may have been hibernating for the winter, while others can’t survive the cold of the winter, and still others are just more of the same pests from last season.

Spring Pest Control Problems.

Spring brings beautiful flowers, but it often brings out many insects who like to feed on these flowers.

So while some pests have gone away for the winter and did not seem to be much of a problem they will be back in action now that it’s spring.

Homeowners need to be extra cautious inside their homes during spring cleaning as many pests are awakening from their winter hibernation. Moving boxes and other items stored away for the winter you may discover pests or evidence of pests. Be extremely cautious as some of these pests can bite or sting if they are disturbed.

One reason for the increase in pest activity is that spring is reproduction season. Pests will want to get back outdoors, because many of them will not reproduce within a home and they need to start that process outside in a more natural environment.

Within a few weeks people will start to see populations double or triple as pests will be reproducing at high rates, and remember some pests reproduce many multiples of eggs at once. This becomes a problem because there will be more pests to get rid of. Make sure to call your local pest control agency to come out and help with the problem.

Spring Pest Control Problems

Even cacti will bloom flowers. Many rodents and insects will use cacti as a place to live so be very cautious around cacti.

Another reason pest problems rise in the spring is the new vegetation that is growing and blooming. This is a huge attraction for pests. Hornets, wasps and bees particularly like the fresh pollen on flowers. People will see an increase of these pests wherever flowers can be found. If you have flowers on your property, especially near your home, be extra cautious. Like many other pests, bees don’t like to be disturbed and if they are, they will go into attack mode. Also the new vegetation is a food source for many other pests and insects.

Not only is the new vegetation tempting, but any old vegetation left over from winter such as rotting citrus or compost, can attract pests. Make sure to monitor anything that you are growing, as some pests can be good for plants etc. while others can be bad. If you have bushes, trees, or plants growing make sure to maintain their growth. Homeowners do not want to let them grow wild, as many trees and plants are used by pests for homes and traveling paths. Keep them trimmed, and most importantly make sure no leaves, branches, etc. are touching the house, roof, or surrounding walls.

These steps are basic prevention tips to help keep most pests from getting inside your home. Some homeowners will go as far as having a low maintenance yard. For instance, you may decide to not have trees or bushes. But there are other ways to keep a low maintenance yard and still have some vegetation. Check out our prevention tips to help maintain your home from being an open door to pests. These steps can also be used year-round, which is extremely helpful so that come spring your home is already set to prevent any pests from getting in. Following is a list of the most common spring pests by state:

If you do not see the state you reside in on this list please check back as more states are still being added to our database. Also the database is still adding more and more pests, so if you have a problem with a pest and don’t see it listed in the database please continue to visit www.localpestcontrolservices.com as pests are continually being added.

Pictures courtesy of www.creativecommons.org

Ant: Fire Ants

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Fire ants are one of the most aggressive species of ants. Many people can attest to this as people are often bitten by fire ants. Fire ants usually bite people because their mounds (the large piles of dirt we always see on sidewalk or in lawns) are threatened.

ant fire ants

Here is a very large fire ant mound.

Mounds can range from about 15-inches long and up to five feet deep. The fire ants actually live inside these mounds and are very protective of their home because it’s their colony. If a person appears to be a threat to the mound the fire ants will attack and bite.

These small ants range from one-eighth of an inch to one-fourth of an inch long. They are dark reddish brown to black, and their abdomens are darker than the rest of their body. Like other types of ants they all have roles as either Queens, drones, or workers.

ant fire ants

Fire ants are not bright red as many people assume. They're a dark reddish tone, and their abdomen is always darker in color.

The fire ant workers are typically smaller in general than the Queens and the drones. Also, like other ants the workers are what keep the colony alive. Workers forage for food, protect the mound, take care of the Queen, and take care of the larvae and pupa. For the most part workers make up the bulk of the population of the colonies, which can be anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 fire ants. Within the colonies there can be differences from their neighboring colonies. Some colonies have one Queen, while others have multiple Queens.

Even though the Queen is the one in charge, many colonies are fine with having more than one Queen and these colonies seem to be a little less aggressive compared to single Queen colonies. Often times fire ant colonies are built near each other, possibly even on the same piece of land. Multiple Queen colonies usually have their mounds closer to other multiple Queen colonies unlike single Queen colonies where they are known for going to battle with neighboring colonies over the land and territory.

Fire ant colonies/mounds are found in places like large open areas such as lawns, parks, meadows, fields and underneath things. They also like to build mounds against the foundation of buildings and often times peoples homes. With some mounds being close to homes there is a slight chance that the fire ants will go inside, but most often they like to remain outside in the wide open areas.

Although on the rare occasion that fire ants do get inside it is because they are looking for food and or water. This can happen when people do not keep a clean home, there is a moisture problem, or there are openings within the foundation of the home or anywhere else on the outside of the home.

Another problem that comes with fire ants liking these areas to live is the danger they pose to the other animals already living there. There have been many cases where fire ants have attacked pets, livestock, and wild animals that live in, or are passing through these areas. Because there can be so many fire ants in one area they can cause a lot of damage to an animal. It is best to have a professional pest control company come and check your property for any fire ant mounds, as animals can be outside and accidentally step in a mound and then get attacked. Farmers also have this same problem, and even worse the ants can cause damage to the crops as they will feed on the vegetables or fruits that are growing.

Fire ants will eat pretty much anything so be careful. Another thing to think about is at parks; make sure you don’t set up a picnic near any mounds, as fire ants will travel up to 100 feet from their mound in search of food. When it comes to eating, ants cannot eat solids, everything has to be in liquid form. Also fire ants regurgitate food. This is done in order to share food, and to feed the larvae and pupa. The workers are the ones that will do this task, as they take care of the colony.

This task is constantly being done, as Queens lay hundreds of eggs. In one day a Queen can lay up to 1,500 eggs. From there the eggs either become fertilized or not. The unfertilized eggs develop into winged males, drones. The drones will mate with new Queens; the new Queens come from the fertilized eggs. Also workers come from fertilized eggs. This process is how the population of a fire ant colony can get so high, and it peaks during the summer time. Once the eggs become larvae they develop into pupa and from pupa they will develop into adults. From this point they will either be given a duty as a worker or be a new Queen and mate, after mating the male will die. This whole process takes 25 to 45 days, and is never ending.

Pictures courtesy of www.creativecommons.org

Ant: The Pavement Ant

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

One of the many varieties of ants is the pavement ant. This ant gets its name because it usually makes its home on or under pavement. When you see those little dirt looking mounds on the sidewalk or flushed up to the foundation of a building, those are where pavement ants hangout.

ant pavement ant

Here is a mound that pavement ants have built on a cracks of a side walk.

The piles of dirt are actually soil particles that they have moved from their colonies, usually the colonies are nearby or under the pavement where the mound is located. Pavement ants will make their colonies under things like sidewalks, building slabs, large rocks, wood, and or boards. Lawns and anywhere water might be are also popular spots for pavement ant colonies. As the pavement ants build their colonies they can become very territorial of them and during the spring there are often ant wars over territory on the sidewalks where they reside.

These pavement ants that go to war seem pretty scary, but for the most part they usually don’t bother people unless people bother them – for instance, destroying their mound on the sidewalk. Don’t forget ant bites are never fun to get.

ant pavement ant

Here is an up close image of the pavement ant.

Pavement ants are dark brown to black in color and are small, measuring about one-eighth of an inch long. Their body parts help distinguish that they are pavement ants too. They have an uneven thorax with 1 pair of spines, grooves on the thorax and head, and two pedicels that connect the thorax and abdomen. These traits are hard to see on such tiny insects, but are visible once you get up close. Another trait is that some of the pavement ants have wings. Like other ants, there are the workers, swarmers and Queen. In the pavement variety of ants the swarmers have wings, and are twice as large as the workers.

The swarmers are also the reproducers. They mate with the Queens who will bury her eggs in soil. Often the soil is the location for the new colony that this group of workers will help start. The swarmer’s only job is to mate with the Queen, and reproduction is at its highest in spring and summer. As the eggs hatch and the ants develop, they will spend that time about two to three months, tending to the Queen of their colony. Once the workers develop into adults they will continue helping the colony. One very important thing for workers to do is to get food.

ant pavement ant

These pavement ants are eating away at a sunflower seed shell, see they will eat anything.

The pavement worker ants leave the colony to find food. They will eat pretty much anything they can find, although they prefer things like greasy food, sweets, fruits, and insects — dead or alive. As they leave the colony in search of food, ants leave a trail behind them in order to know where to go back for more food and how to get back to the colony. Their journey in search of food can take the pavement ant up to 30 feet away from the colony. If there is a home, office, or restaurant within that 30 feet radius, the pavement ants may make their way into them to find a meal. This is usually the ant that people find in their kitchens, and so on. The pavement ant will really only go inside to find food, otherwise it stays outside.

Although depending on the location of the colony there are rare occasions that the pavement ants will migrate into homes for heat during the winter. If this does occur, the pavement ants will reside within walls, under floors, or inside insulation. So homeowners won’t really see that they are there, until they come out looking for food. This can become a problem as the pavement ants can contaminate the food with their waste. If you see pavement ants inside your home — no matter what season — call your local pest control company to get rid of the ants.

Pictures courtesy of www.creativecommons.org