Posts tagged: pests

Termites 101: A Basic Primer on Termites and Termite Inspection

When anyone mentions the word “termite”, images of damaged homes usually come to mind. And rightly so as termites feed on wood, and wood is the number one material used to build homes in the U.S. But just what are termites, what do they do to wood, what can be done about them, and how does termite inspection help homeowners?

Meet Mr. and Ms. Termitoidae

Worker Termites on Rotten Wood

The scientific name for a termite is termitoidae. Not every termite is bad, as many feed on dead leaves and plants, soil, animal waste, and some forms of wood. But the destructive kind can cause havoc on crops, forests, trees, and significant damage to homes and buildings.

Termites are social animals that live in colonies numbering from a few hundred to a million or more. These insects live in different types of environments and form colonies underground, in large pieces of timber or wood, in mounds above ground, in trees, and in the wood of buildings.

Some species of termites are “polycalic” or form more than one nest. As a result of this behavior, termites are sometimes hard to get rid of because they form multiple nests throughout an area. One nest may be eliminated from a home, but the underground tunnels that termites form are connect to other nests and reinfect the original location.

Subterranean and dry-wood termite species are the ones responsible for damage to buildings and homes, and these pests must be detected to prevent serious long-term damage to property. They literally eat up the wood in a home and cause extensive damage by weakening and destroying the beams, walls, floors, and joists.

How Do I Detect A Termite Problem?

Termite Evidence

Termite Evidence

Termites are shy creatures and rarely make a public appearance in the open because they are usually tunneling underground or infesting the wood of buildings. Although a termite inspection by a pest control expert is the best way to find out if your home is infested, there are also some common tip-offs that may indicate there is a termite problem:

Mud tubes: These look like long quarter-inch diameter tubes running up and down outside walls, fences, floor joists, and other similar structures; they appear brown in color like mud. There are many stands of tubes, are hollow, and serve as a transportation system between underground termite nests and the upper levels where buildings are.

If a mud tube is broken, inspect the inside to see if small, cream-colored insects are there. If there are, these are worker termites.

Insect swarms: In some cases termites are mistaken for ants. During the warmer months of the year, termites swarm and can be identified by their cream-colored bodies, small wings, and narrow-long shapes.

Little holes and residue: The telltale signs that termites may be present in a building are little holes appearing in plaster or drywall. If termites are present, there will be small bits of soil that line the rim of the hole.

Wood that has been damaged by termites may appear sunken or dented and may be weak or soft when pushed upon. There may also be “sawdust” or dirt in and around wood.

Solving The Problem

Pest Control Tech Termite Damage

If you suspect that your home has a termite infestation, the best way to approach this potential problem is to call a professional pest exterminator for a termite inspection of the premises. He or she can tell you if your home or building is infested with termites.

The solution for termite elimination are varied and can incorporate insecticides, soil treatment, fumigation of the premises, or green methods using natural oils from fruits and plants, or by using methods to disrupt the insect’s digestion through the use of certain strains of microbes. For new home builders who want to greatly reduce the risk of a termite infestation before it even happens, there are several pre-construction treatment options available.

Check with your pest control professional to see what options are available to you.

Author Bio

Frank Ling writes for websites and companies and thinks it is fun to learn about so many different things, while on the job. His favorite food is anchovy pizza—something that not many others seem to appreciate; but he finds that there are always more slices left for him to eat.

 

Live Brown Snake Found In Toilet

Toilet Snake

Photo Courtesy: Facebook

Most of us don’t see a brown snake in the toilet until after we’ve done our business; so imagine the horror of looking down and seeing a live brown snake wrapped around the toilet bowl, before you’ve done your big job!

That’s exactly what happened to Bruce Ahlswede in a San Antonio Starbucks last week, proving once and for all that toilet snakes do exist!

Toilet Snakes In Starbucks: Would You Like Snakes With Your Coffee?

Toilet snakes in Starbucks isn’t the next B-list Hollywood movie; a follow up to the 2006 hit Snakes On A Plane, but was one’ mans experience at a San Antonio Starbucks.

After a business presentation, Bruce Ahlswede decided to stop in to a San Antonio Starbucks for a latte and a bathroom break. Upon entering the Starbucks bathroom he was utterly shocked when he saw a brown snake curled up around and inside the toilet bowl.

At first the snake appeared to be a fake. A plastic snake used to pull off a prank. Then, the snake slithered, proving that it was indeed real! Upon finding the live brown snake, Ahlswede bolted out of the bathroom and alerted the nearest Starbucks’ employee.

A crowed gathered around the toilet to see what all the commotion was about. The snake must have been shy; slithering around the toilet bowl and eventually disappearing. The above photo was taken by Mrs. Ahlswede, before the snake disappeared, and posted on Facebook so that we all may be aware of the possibilities of brown snakes in the toilet.

What Type Of Live Brown Snake Is Found In A Toilet?

Experts agree that it’s very uncommon to find live brown snakes in your toilet. In the rare chance of finding a live toilet snake; it may give you the runs… you’d run out the door! The live toilet snake that was found in a San Antonio Starbucks’ bathroom appears to be a brown rat snake. These snakes are not poisonous, but can bite if they feel threatened.

It is proposed that the brown rat snake slithered up into the toilet through the pipes; but many experts also suspect that this snake could’ve been somebody’s pet that was abandoned in the coffee shop. If so, what a sick joke!

Next time you use a public toilet, better check for a toilet snake. Better safe than sorry!

Author Bio:

Thomas Bulwark is a lively blogger for Bulwark Exterminating, an industry leader in providing high quality pest control. After reporting this toilet snake story, I’ll be double checking every public toilet I use from here on out!

5 Low-Maintenance Plants To Keep The Mosquitoes Away

Mosquito

Mosquitoes can be a real issue, especially during the hotter, more humid times of the year. There’s nothing worse than trying to enjoy the weather or go about your day than being hassled by blood sucking mosquitoes.

There are a number of things that you can do to try and keep mosquitoes from eating you alive, such as using mosquito repellent, turning on your fans and lighting citronella candles. However, these are all short-term solutions. For a long-term solution, you should consider introducing a few naturally mosquito repelling plants.

The following are five plants that are not only mosquito repelling; they are also easy to grow and to maintain:

1. Citronella

Citronella

Many people will use citronella-scented candles to get rid of mosquitoes, so it’s only natural that the citronella plant will do the same – except it won’t burn out after a period of time like a candle will. The citronella plant provides a distinctive aroma that covers up nearby smells that tend to attract mosquitoes, which will make it more difficult for mosquitoes to find you. Citronella can be grown wherever frost does not occur. It’s a perennial grass that grows to between roughly five or six feet. If you do live in an area with frost, you can grow the Citronella in a pot or planter and simply move it indoors during the colder periods of the year.

2. Marigolds

Marigolds

The great thing about marigolds is that they will not only provide your home with a natural mosquito repellent, they will also make the area you plant them in look absolutely beautiful. These annual plants contain Pyrethrum, which releases an odor that mosquitoes hate. Pyrethrum also happens to be used often in many different types of insect repellents. Keep in mind that marigolds need plenty of sunlight and fertile soil in order properly thrive. You can also grow marigolds in pots or planters and place them around the home for additional protection from mosquitoes.

3. Catnip

Catnip

Catnip is a perennial herb that is related to mint, and is also quite easy to grow. According to recent studies, it was found that catnip is actually as much as ten times more effective than the chemical known as DEET, which is used in a large amount of commercial insect repellent. However, catnip only has an effect on mosquitoes within a close proximity. Many people will apply crushed leaves for better protection from mosquitoes. You should also keep in mind that catnip plants do affect cats, which means that if you own a cat you may want to consider using a different plant.

4. Ageratum

Ageratum

Like many of the previously mentioned plants, ageratum contains an element that mosquitoes find incredibly offensive and that is commonly used in insect repellents. This component is known as coumarin. Like marigolds, ageratums boast some especially gorgeous flowers. Its blooms are typically blue, but they come in several varieties that include white, pink and violet as well. Ageratum plants don’t need very much sunlight and can thrive with in full or partial sunlight. You won’t need very rich soil either, which is why they are often used in rock gardens, especially because they are a low-lying plant.

5. Horsemint

Horsemint

Horsemint has the same effect that citronella plants do; they produce a strong scent that tends to mask nearby scents that attract mosquitoes. Horsemint has several positives going for it, including that it grows fast, can grow in the shade, can resist droughts and does well in dryer conditions.

Use some of these plants near your deck, backyard, pool area, or other outdoor areas of your home in order to naturally repel mosquitoes.

Nicole loves her beautiful little home that she shares with her husband. She enjoys learning about anything to do with home improvement, from ways to keep the bugs away to the best decking suppliers in Perth, Australia.

Little Brown Bats In Danger Of Extinction

Little Brown Bat

The little brown bat is one of the most common species of bats in North America, and has been the preferred model organism for bat studies, and research. As well, these insectivores have been widely acclaimed by pest management experts, for their natural insect pest control services.

Little Brown Bats In Danger Of Extinction

Unfortunately, recent studies released have offered evidence that the little brown bat population in the North Eastern United States, is experiencing a steady and hasty decline from exposure to White nose syndrome- a disease caused by exposure to a particular fungus; first discovered in 2006. This infliction could result in the complete extinction of these natural exterminators, and the subsequent increase of insect pest control problems in the North Eastern United States; and throughout the rest of North America.

Concerned American biologists are asking the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, to place the little brown bat, once one of the most common mammals in North America and (to date) the most-affected species, on the endangered species list; until a formal review can be completed.

White-Nose Syndrome

The White-Nose Syndrome fungus was first discovered back in 2006, in the caves of New York. It has since spread to some 28 U.S. States. It’s believed that the fungus was brought over from Europe, where WNS didn’t seem to have the same affect as it has on the 26 different species of hibernating North American bats.

White-Nose Syndrome affects Little Brown bats by altering their hibernation. Essentially, a white fungus will grow on a Little Brown bat’s nose and awaken the bat when it should be hibernating. The bat will use all of it’s energy reserves needed for hibernation, and eventually die off before spring rolls around and the bat can once again hunt bugs. The fungus also affects the little brown bat’s blood pressure, body temperature, and ability to fly and catch insects. It’s estimated that WNS has killed between 7-10 million hibernating bats.

The Little Brown Bat

As this bat’s name would suggest, it’s fur is uniformly dark brown and glossy on the back. The upper body is slightly paler, with greyish fur underneath. This species of bat has thirty-eight, relatively sharp teeth. As is typical for most insectivores, the little brown bat’s canine teeth are very prominent, enabling it to grasp hard-bodied insects; while still in flight. Considered very effective exterminators, a healthy population of Little Brown bats, can consume thousands of pounds of insect pests; each year.

 

Getting Rid Of Fire Ants

Red Imported Fire AntIf you’ve had more-than-preferable experiences with fire ants, you might know that their bites can really pack a punch. They are very aggressive foragers, have exceedingly high reproduction rates, and build unsightly mounds around the yard. Their painful poison and aggressive nature make their presence a danger especially to children playing in the yard. As a common sight and problem in homeowner’s lawns and yards, there are many urban legends and old wives tales surrounding the issue of dealing with and getting rid of fire ant mounds. Well, we’ve tested them all, and here are the sure-fire methods of controlling fire ant populations in your lawn:

Bucketing

Dig up the mound and dump it into large buckets. Once “bucketed,” you can proceed to drown the ants or move them somewhere else, where they won’t bother you or your property. Tips: before you dig up the mound, cover the sides of the bucket with baby powder or cornstarch to prevent the ants from crawling out of the bucket; dig up the mounds quickly; tuck your pants into your socks; if drowning the ants, add dish soap to the water to drown them faster.

Fire Ant SignBoiling Water

This is one of the most common ways of dealing with fire ant mounds. The water doesn’t actually need to be boiling, just scalding hot. It might take three or four applications to totally kill the mound. Tips: use about four gallons of hot water per application; be careful about your application, as hot water can kill surrounding grass and plants.

Granular Baits

This option may be preferable if your lawn has a large number of fire ant mounds. These baits contain small amounts of insecticide that release slowly enough to get to the queen without the workers discovering that it’s poison. Spread these throughout your yard with a spreader, and you should see results in, typically, around five weeks (depending on the bait you use). Tips: slower acting insecticides typically provide longer control; you only need two pounds per acre; use a handheld spreader and not a lawn fertilizer, which would apply way too much.

Individual Mound Treatments

Fire Ant Mounds

These insecticides are also available for treating single mounds. Unlike the baits, these contain fast acting insecticides (since they don’t rely on the workers to carry them home to the mound). For controlling fire ants specifically, the treatments are typically in dry form rather than liquid. Liquid treatments, however, are typically faster, though they require more work and are more expensive. Tips: don’t disturb the mounds before application, as the workers might evacuate the queen to a safer location; use a watering can when mixing and applying treatments; first apply the treatment around the outside of the mound to trap any escapees and then proceed to drench the mound in it.

Fire Ant Stings

If you get stung by fire ants, stay calm. Elevate the infected areas, clean the area with soap and water, and apply antihistamine or use a hydrocortisone cream. Don’t pop the blisters and be patient as the stings heal. Unless you have an allergic reaction, fire ant stings should not pose a threat to your health or life. If you find yourself having trouble breathing or feeling your throat tightening up, seek professional medical care immediately.

Mike Piwonka is the CEO of The Grass Outlet, a Texas sod provider. He and his family-run business are dedicated to making Texas green, one lawn at a time, and providing top quality grass in a time-efficient manner.

7 Steps To Avoid Brown Recluse Spider Bites

Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse Spider

Homeowners in San Antonio, TX have been on high alert as of late, due to the increase of Brown Recluse activity in the City and surrounding areas. These spiders are very dangerous, and their presence should not be taken lightly. If you are frequently seeing these deadly spiders in and around your San Antonio home, you need to take some effective yet practical measures to ensure your safety. Here are a couple steps to take in your bedrooms to keep from getting bit by a Brown Recluse spider:

7 Steps To Avoid Brown Recluse Spider Bites

Brown Recluse spider bites most frequently occur when a spider is trapped against the skin in shoes, clothing, towels, and bed sheets. Take these seven steps to minimize possible bites:

  • Move beds away from walls and curtains.
  • Remove or adjust bed skirts that touch the floor.
  • Do not leave clothes or towels on floor.
  • Shake out articles of clothing before putting them on.
  • Inspect bedding before climbing under the covers.
  • Keep shoes in plastic storage containers.
  • Store articles of clothing in sealed plastic containers inside drawers or closets.

Brown Recluse Spider Bites

Picture of a brown recluse spider bite

Brown Recluse spider bite (Photo credit: Armed Forces Pest Management Board)

If you are bitten by a Brown Recluse spider, seek medical attention immediately; even if you only suspect the biting culprit to be a Brown Recluse. Early stages of Brown Recluse bites have been passed off as something less significant until rotting dead tissue (necrosis) begins to set in. By then, it’s too late, with treatment possibly requiring skin graphs. The longer a bite victim waits to seek medical treatment, the less effective that treatment will be.

Initially, a bite will look like a raised, red, bump that is accompanied by tremendous pain. A bite will soon blister, turn white, and then eventually turn black as the skin dies.

San Antonio Brown Recluse Control

It’s no secret that San Antonio has Brown Recluse spiders. Do not get bit by these spiders. Take a few steps to minimize your chances of getting bit, and get San Antonio Spider Control!

Bulwark Exterminating
118 Broadway Street
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 224-2706
bulwarkpestcontrol.com
 
San Antonio Chimney & Wildlife
333 West Olmos Drive #123
San Antonio, TX 78212
(210) 607-0347
texaschimneywildlife.com
 
Critter Control
1075 Grassland Drive
Bulverde, TX 78163
(830) 438-6108
crittercontrol.com

How To Get Rid Of Nuisance Crickets

Imagine that your backyard is filled with hundreds of crickets that are chirping in the dead of night. Do you think that you’ll be able to get enough sleep? The repetitive noise that a single cricket makes is tolerable, and it can even be considered as quite enchanting since it is one of those nighttime sounds that call to mind quiet family picnics or barbeques. You might even prefer the sound over the clamor of city noises. But what if your backyard is filled with too many crickets that are all chirping at the same time? That can really be a huge nuisance. But getting irritated by the noise made by these insects is the least of your worries. If you love your garden or if you want to protect your home, you have to take measures to control the cricket population in your area.

Why Crickets are a Nuisance

- Crickets can be noisy.

As mentioned, a hundred or more crickets can create a raucous noise that could disturb your sleeping habits. A cricket problem can be a huge headache especially if you have a child or a baby at home who wakes up at the slightest sound.

- Crickets eat vegetation.

Crickets like to eat all sorts of ornamental plants. Your once lush landscape could die after the crickets have eaten most of your plants. You also need to prevent a cricket infestation if you have garden plants and fruit trees.

- Crickets can invade your home too.

Inside the home, crickets can also do a lot of damage because they also consume many types of textile and paper products. Crickets that have found their way inside your house can definitely cause damage to your furniture, clothes, as well as wallpaper and other fabrics.

How to Get Rid of Them

Before you consider a pest eradication method, you have to be aware that crickets are a vital part of the food cycle. These animals are an integral part of the ecosystem. Understanding their value to the environment will make you realize that you do not have to totally eradicate them. Instead, you can utilize pest control methods that will help in controlling their population. Below are a few suggestions.

1. Using insecticides

There are several forms of bug sprays that are readily available in the market. Most of these are easy to apply — just find your target and spray. But using a bug spray is best if you only see a cricket or two inside your home. When dealing with a serious infestation, ask for help from pest control experts. These people can apply stronger chemicals, such as cyfluthrin, propoxur and pyrethrins. Because these are more concentrated substances, exposure can also pose serious health risks.

2. Using traps and baits

You can create your own cricket bait with molasses, a bowl and some water. For more ideas about how to make a homemade cricket bait, do some research online. You can also use sticky traps to catch the bugs that have found their way into your home.

3. Preventing an infestation

As they say, prevention is better than cure. Cricket can be drawn to your property if your landscape or garden is not well-kept. These insects are attracted to moisture, mulch, dense vegetation, weeds and garbage. By eliminating the features that attract these bugs, you also reduce the possibility of a getting a bad infestation.

Claire Lassiter’s specialty is pest management. She usually discusses the health effects of having pests around, but you’ll find her talking about Bentonville cricket control at times too.

Three of the Longest Lived Insects on Earth

The Earth is home to some 900,000 known species of insect, and probably many more unknown. Most of these insects lead short lives of a few months or a couple of years. However, there are some insects who are much longer lived. These bugs can live almost as long as a human in varying forms, and some live longer than people.

Termites

Termites Interacting

These insects are a pest to homeowners dealing with an infestation, but in the wild they can build some truly magnificent termite mounds. Termite colonies are often hierarchal in nature with workers and soldiers maintaining the colony, while a Queen termite and King termite provide each new generation. Most workers and soldiers only live about two years in captivity. Studies have found that the Queen and King termites can last for decades, up to fifty years or more. Although, most of the colony ends up with a short live span, the royalty can live as long as many humans.

Cicadas

Cicada_Swarm

Another long lived insect are cicadas. These insects have an unusual life cycle during which they spend most of their lives underground before emerging for a brief few months to breed and die. There are over 2,500 classified species of cicada and probably more unknown species. Cicadas are known to live underground as ‘nymphs’ or juveniles for between 13 and 17 years before emerging to begin their adult life cycles. Cicadas are usually harmless with no mouth parts, but they do have a proboscis that they use to suck sap out of trees. These insects are known for the loud mating calls of the male that can cause annoyance to humans in the area.

Wood Boring Beetle

Wood_Boring_Beetle

A wood boring beetle is also a nuisance to homeowners who do not have properly treated wood. These insects spend a large part of their lives as larva, eating wood. This is better done in trees, but sometimes they do make it into a home and live in the wood framing and paneling. There are many species of wood boring beetle, most of which live as larva in the wood for a few months to a few years. However, some wood boring beetles have been found living in wood as larva for up to twelve years, or even thirty years.

These are just three long lived insects. You never know, there may be some insects, as yet unidentified, that live even longer. One creature, called the “Springtail”, is a hexapod that looks very insect like. Springtails can enter a state of suspended animation when dehydrated or under stress and return to life later on. They could ‘live’ indefinitely in this manner. However, this does not mean they are invincible and will die from injury, poison, or even getting eaten like any other creature.

About the author: Chris is a blogger for a New Jersey pest control company.

Texas Bedbug Laws

Bed Bug

Bed Bug (Photo credit: agrilifetoday)

Across much of the United States, bedbug infestations have reached epidemic levels; and the State of Texas has not been immune to these tiny bloodsuckers. In San Antonio, bedbugs have been found in homes, apartments, dorms, trains, airplanes, theaters, and of course, hotels. Even high end hotels have had unfortunate bedbug encounters. The rich and poor alike have been victims, as bedbugs do not play favorites. If you have been a victim of bedbugs, whether you’re a property manager or tenant, it is important that you understand the bedbug laws in the State of Texas.

Texas Bedbug Laws

Out of the 22 different states that have bedbug laws, Texas happens to be one of them that has laws that mention bedbugs specifically. The State of Texas currently has two bedbug laws. They read as follows:

Texas Revised Code Sec. 341.011. NUISANCE

Bedbugs are a public health nuisance.

Texas Revised Code Sec. 341.012. ABATEMENT OF NUISANCE

(a) A person shall abate a public health nuisance existing in or on a place the person possesses as soon as the person knows that the nuisance exists.

(b) A local health authority who receives information and proof that a public health nuisance exists in the local health authority’s jurisdiction shall issue a written notice ordering the abatement of the nuisance to any person responsible for the nuisance. The local health authority shall at the same time send a copy of the notice to the local municipal, county, or district attorney.

(c) The notice must specify the nature of the public health nuisance and designate a reasonable time within which the nuisance must be abated.

(d) If the public health nuisance is not abated within the time specified by the notice, the local health authority shall notify the prosecuting attorney who received the copy of the original notice. The prosecuting attorney: (1) shall immediately institute proceedings to abate the public health nuisance; or (2) request the attorney general to institute the proceedings or provide assistance in the prosecution of the proceedings, including participation as an assistant prosecutor when appointed by the prosecuting attorney.

Enlist An Attorney

Whether you are a landlord, tenant, property manager, or vacationer who brought home bedbugs, and you are battling a bedbug infestation, seek assistance from an attorney who specializes in bedbug infestations. This blog post is for informational purposes only.

Ketterman Rowland & Westlund – Personal Injury Attorneys
16500 San Pedro Avenue #302
San Antonio, TX 78232
(210) 490-4357
krwlawyers.com
 
Herrera Law Firm
111 Soledad Street
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 224-1054
herreralaw.com
 

Get San Antonio Pest Control

If you are being bit the bedbugs while you sleep in your home, get help… Get professional pest control.

General Pest Control

Bulwark Exterminating
118 Broadway Street
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 224-2706
bulwarkpestcontrol.com

Bedbug Control

Bee Safe Pest Control
7306 Brandy Ridge
San Antonio, TX 78250
(210) 858-9883
beesafepestcontrol.com
 

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