Archive for the ‘Spring Pest Control Problems’ Category

Ladybug: Information on the Ladybug

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Ladybugs are very cute insects. Unlike many other insects in the world, they do not make people cringe at the sight of them. A trait that ladybugs and insects do share is that they are pests and can be a nuisance to people. Even though people like ladybugs more than other insects they can still cause problems for people and their homes.

ladybug

Here is a ladybug that most people are used to seeing, the classic red and black ladybug.

There are over 5,000 species of ladybugs and almost 400 species just in the U.S. With so many species people often mistake the ladybug’s identity. People are used to seeing ladybugs as small insects, one to ten millimeters, with red with black spots. Many ladybugs do look like this, but there are also species with different amount of spots and some that are different colors like black, yellow, white, orange, and gray. Although the red with black spotted ladybugs are the most commonly recognized. Ladybugs also have a few names. Most people know them as ladybugs, but they are also known as ladybird beetles and ladybird. Ladybugs are actually a type of beetle.

ladybug

Here is one of the other species of ladybugs that is yellow.

Most often, people see these ladybugs in their yards or anywhere outside. An interesting fact about ladybugs is that they are actually beneficial to the outside world. The ladybug eats aphids which are bad pests for things like roses. By having ladybugs around outside it helps keep aphids and other bad insects away.

The problem that ladybugs cause for homeowners is that in the fall and winter they will be searching for a warm place to hibernate. Once the temperature hits 55 degrees, ladybugs needs extra warmth, which usually means warmth from a house, office building, restaurant, etc. Ladybugs even have specifics that they look for in a hibernation location like, light colored buildings and a place that will generate sunlight like a window. Like many other pests that hibernate in homes the ladybugs will make their new home within the wall voids and attics. Another thing when ladybugs hibernate is that they don’t just get into their new comfort spots and hang out solo for the winter, they hibernate in large groups; this being a problem of ladybugs hibernating within your home. While the ladybugs are inside your house they will not reproduce or lay eggs, which is a very good thing as they multiply very quickly. Also the ladybugs stay put for the most part, unless they find warm areas or sun soaked areas they might become a little active. The ladybugs can last a while being content though because they live off their own body fat during hibernation, which is actually a good thing for homeowners because then they won’t eat the house or anything in it.

ladybug

Imagine this many ladybugs, plus more, all in your attic hibernating for winter. Remember ladybugs hibernate in groups.

Even though the ladybugs might not physically damage anything inside a home while hibernating they can cause other problems. For one, ladybugs release a pheromone. This pheromone is known as a yellow blood, or to bleed yellow when releasing it. Often it is released when ladybugs feel they are about to be attacked, it has a bad odor and will scare off anything trying to eat it. The bad part for homeowners is that if ladybugs bleed yellow at all in the house the scent of it can last for almost a year. Even though people might not smell it and it will keep away other insects it actually still attracts other ladybugs. Another problem that can occur is that the ladybugs can become active while hibernating. It isn’t too bad of a problem, but more of an annoyance. Although if the building the ladybugs happen to be hibernating in is a business or worse yet, a restaurant, having ladybugs flying around could be very bad for business. In either of these situations of ladybug infestation this would be the time to call a professional pest control company to come in and handle the situation. If you have ever had ladybug problems and did not need to call a professional pest control company you may still want to have one come out as there could be dead ladybugs left behind. Some times they won’t make it through hibernation because they need some humidity in order to survive; it all depends on the environment in which they decided to hibernate in.

Overall ladybugs are not a harmful pest. If you do find them in your home and are not too bothered by them try to just get them back outside, without killing them. When ladybugs are outside they are very helpful insect killers. Ladybugs are omnivores and since they eat many bad insects they act like a natural outdoor pest control. The bad insects that ladybugs eat are aphids, mealybugs, and mites just to name a few. Outside you can usually find ladybugs in places like gardens, forests, trees, flowers, weed patches and fields.

ladybug

Here is a ladybug larva; it most definitely does not look like your typical ladybug yet.

Since there are so many different species of ladybugs it is hard to differentiate them from other insects. This makes it hard to know what are the real helpful insects compared to the unhelpful insects. Unfortunately unless you memorize every species it is a hard task to know what they all look like. Many times good insects may get killed for a mistaken identity. One of the most common mistaken identities of the ladybug is of itself during the larvae stage. Most other insects look similar to what they will look like as adults. The ladybug on the other hand looks completely different as a larva. The baby ladybug will only be in an egg for about a week before it hatches and turns into a larva. It will take anywhere from three to seven weeks to mature into an adult. During those weeks the larva is very active, getting its own food and moving around. Even at the larva stage they will bleed yellow to defend themselves. The larva is described as looking like an alligator, hence the mistaken identity.

ladybug

Here is another ladybug larva, again easily mistaken for another pests than a ladybug.

Of course there are things that we can do to keep ladybugs outside where they should be. A few things homeowners can do to prevent ladybugs from getting in their house include: seal any cracks, crevices, gaps by windows, doors, pipes, etc. Also add screens to any vent openings. If you already have screens on things like windows make sure they are properly installed and are in good condition. As long as you can keep ladybugs from getting inside your home they should not be a pest to you, just a useful natural pest control for the outdoors.

Pictures courtesy of www.creativecommons.org

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

Pest Control Problems During the Winter

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Winter wonderlands are great places for people to enjoy the season and all of the holidays that are celebrated during the winter. Ironically people’s homes are winter wonderlands for pests. Yes, pests are a year round problem that homeowners have to deal with, but during the winter is when pest invasions are on the rise. There might not be as many pests during the winter as there are in the spring, but the risk of pests wanting to get into homes is much higher. If you already have pest control services set up make sure you have them year round and not seasonally.

pest control problems in winter

With snow and bare trees there aren't many places for pests to live outside during the winter.

The main reason pest invasions are on the rise in the winter is that pests are looking for a warm and dry place to stay. Some pests will actually hibernate within your home because of the warmth. While other pests will remain active once they’re gotten into a warm home. Having active pests inside your home during winter can be very dangerous as they can spread their diseases. Also while in your home pests can cause serious damage to wires, beams, and so forth.

The active pests that are inside a home will be looking for food, so keep all food stored properly and do not leave fruit out in fruit bowls. If pests walk on your countertops or on any food that’s left out they can transfer their bacteria etc. that they carry onto those surfaces and food. This is the most common way for people to physically suffer from pests, other than being bitten. Also pests will be leaving droppings which are contaminated with diseases and can cause harm to people. Keep an eye out for any droppings, especially in attics, basements, corners, etc. If you do find droppings call your local pest control service right away, as this is a sign of pest activity. If there are large amounts of droppings it can be hazardous to your health so do not try to remove the mess yourself, again call a professional out to your home.

During the winter it is best to maintain any preventative methods that you do throughout the year; by maintaining these methods in the winter your home will also be ready for the spring problems. The best way to think of your house, in order to protect it from pests, is that inside your home it is like spring year round. Even though pest problems are year round, spring is the highest peak of pest population indoors and outdoors. So if during the coldest time of year the home feels like spring you are sure to have some pests trying to get inside. Here are some of the most common winter 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.

Picture courtesy of www.creativecommons.org