Tag Archives: Insect

7 Things You Did Not Know About Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ant

Although you might not care about much else aside from how to get rid of them as soon as possible, carpenter ants are actually very interesting animals we could all learn more about. So while we will cover some ways to rid your home of these pesky insects, take a moment to read this and better appreciate them as well.

1. Their Name

As you may have guessed (or found out the hard way) carpenter ants get their unique name because of their preference for creating nests out of wood. While these nests suit them perfectly fine, this obviously becomes a problem for those of us trying to live in homes made out of wood.

2. Different Types

There are over 12,000 different types of ants on this planet that we currently know about. So it probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that nine of those are considered different types of carpenter ants.

Of course, they all have different jobs within their colony. So you have a worker carpenter ant that is only about as wide as pencil’s diameter and then you have a queen ant which can be as long across as a quarter.

3. The Colony

Speaking of which, the colony is the central part of every carpenter ant’s life. This is the case with all types of ants of course. Carpenter ants build a colony around their one fertilized queen. She starts it off by finding a cavity amongst wood. From there she begins her nest.

When the first brood hatches, the queen now has a small army of workers. The queen is actually a very good mother, feeding her brood saliva and refusing to leave the nest or even feed herself.

Once they’re ready, however, the workers set off into the world with one mission and one mission only: gather food. In an impressive display of cooperation, ants will bring the food they find back to the nest to feed the queen and prepare for the next generation of worker ants. This cycle will continue as the queen continues to produce more worker ants. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a colony of carpenter ants to reach 2,000 or more!

4. Diet

Despite what many people think, carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood they harvest. Instead, they leave tiny chunks of it outside the entrance of their colony. These form into small piles.

Carpenter ants actually eat a diverse diet of things that are alive and dead. This includes other insects and scraps of food it find like meat and fats. The ants also have a sweet tooth, so any sugary substance is sure to attract them. The nectar of plants and honeydew are well documented favorites.

5. Habitat

As we covered, carpenter ants love to make their homes out of wood (just like you!). But they have a preference. Not any wood will do. Instead, their preference is the damp variety. For this reason, carpenter ants are particularly fond of tree stumps, plants you may have growing around you home and firewood.

Unfortunately, this is often how they find their way into your home. If carpenter ants find wet or damaged wood on the outside of your home, they’ll be sure to take that as a welcome sign.

Worse still, carpenter ants are quite adaptive. Was that wet wood on the side of your house a fluke? Doesn’t matter. They’ll happily adapt to drier climates in order to make use of your house.

6. Impact

Fortunately, carpenter ants aren’t the type of pests that carry disease with them. But, of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t do a lot of damage. When they burrow through the wood in your home, they leave smooth tubular paths. These tunnels can easily weaken your home’s infrastructure. In some cases, they can even weaken the foundation. In either scenario, the remedy is expensive.

7. Prevention

Alright, here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. This is how you can prevent getting carpenter ants in the first place and get rid of them if you end up having them in your home.

  • Always get rid of standing water.
  • Keep all vegetation away from the home.
  • Check the bottom perimeter of your home for cracks they could enter.
  • Keep firewood and building materials far away from your house.

Once carpenter ants are in your home, your best bet will be traps or calling an exterminator asap.

Pete Kontakos is a husband and father that enjoys writing about various topics like animals, sports and health. He is certified as a wrestling coach and has Management experience in the food and retail industries.

Pest Control Begins With Prevention

A homeowner’s first step in pest control is always prevention. Pests find certain environments more inviting than others, and you want to ensure that your living space isn’t one of them. Though insects and rodents don’t solely target unkempt households, the more meticulous you are with maintenance indoors and around the perimeter of your home, the less you should have to worry about pest infestations causing chaos and property damage and negatively affecting your health. Eliminating appealing elements and sources needed for survival (food, water, and shelter), along with having periodic inspections from a pest control professional, will help you avoid the nuisance of uninvited critters.

Food Sources

Roach On Cracker

It’s no secret that a bite to eat is what a majority of pests are looking for when they enter a home, so properly storing food and cleaning up any remnants of crumbs can help to send them in another direction. Wipe down kitchen counters, don’t leave dishes in the sink, clear up spills quickly and sweep and vacuum the floors regularly. Limit meals, snacks and beverages to the kitchen and dining areas to cut down on the number of places food residue can potentially be found. Keep pantry and leftover food in tightly sealed containers that aren’t vulnerable to gnawing teeth and holes that allow creepy crawlers to enter. Frequently wash out garbage bins (those that are kept inside as well as outside), make sure they are always covered with lids, rinse out all recyclables before tossing them out and take out your kitchen trash daily.

Water Sources

Ant Drinking Water

There are several different kinds of water sources around a property that will attract pests if homeowners aren’t careful. Don’t leave pet bowls out all day and night, thoroughly wring out wet mops, clear out slow or clogged drains and take extra notice of any leaky plumbing indoors. Outside, be sure to clean out all gutters and drainage pipes consistently, fill in any holes that could allow for standing water and keep an eye on decorative landscaping accessories like birdbaths and fountains that can easily become a breeding ground for pests. Humidity may also capture the attention of insects and rodents, making it important to keep your home well-ventilated and to routinely check attics, basements and crawl spaces for signs of dampness.

Shelter Sources

House Mouse Concrete

Sometimes vermin just need to take shelter in a cozy place, but you don’t necessarily want that to be your place. Keep your preventive pest control efforts up by blocking entry points that would give them access indoors. Secure mortar around the foundation of your home, reinforce stripping around doors and windows, install screens, caulk all holes and cracks, repair damaged roofing materials and keep vents closed off or appropriately covered. It’s also a good idea to keep all vegetation well-trimmed and away from the home and to store wood further away on the property, as these things can provide the perfect hiding spots for pests.

Practicing these methods of prevention will assist you in keeping the insects and rodents at bay. But at the first indication of a problem, it’s to your advantage to call in the help of a pest control professional before matters get any worse.

About the Author

Tiffany Olson lives in beautiful Northern California and blogs regularly on pest control and home related topics. When she is not researching or blogging you will usually find her on a weekend road trip or hanging out with good friends.

All About Giant Water Bugs

Giant water bug (Lethocerus indicus)

Giant Water Bugs are truly creepy crawly creatures that you probably don’t want to encounter. The Giant Water Bug is one of the largest insects in North America, with an average length of approximately 1.5 inches, although some grow up to 4 inches long. Giant Water Bugs are often mistaken for cockroaches and beetles, although they are not the same thing.

What Are They?

The Giant Water Bug is a true bug that lives in freshwater streams, ponds, and lakes. They are extremely strong swimmers, although most of their time is spent perching as they await their prey. Water Bugs are attracted to light, earning them the nickname “electric-light bugs.” They are also known as “toe biters” due to the nasty bites they can inflict. Another nickname these bugs are known by is Alligator Ticks or Fleas.

What Do They Look Like?

Giant Water Bugs have short, pointed beaks under their heads, along with piercing, sucking mouthparts. Their wings overlap at the hind end of their abdomen, creating an x-like pattern. They have long legs with clawed front feet, which they use to inject chemicals into the bodies of their prey.

Where Do They Live?

Giant Water Bugs are found in North America, more specifically the U.S. and Canada. They live in freshwater streams, ponds, and lakes, particularly those with aquatic vegetation. These insects prefer slow moving water, end spend most of their time waiting at the bottom of a body of water for fish or mall amphibians to pass by.

Giant Water Bug (1)

What Do They Eat?

A Giant Water Bug’s diet consists of fish, aquatic crustaceans, and amphibians, including baby turtles and water snakes. Once they strike, they inject powerful digestive saliva with their rostrum which turns their victims’ insides to liquid, which they then suck out with their mouthpiece. The Giant Water Bug’s bite is considered to be the most painful bite delivered by any insect, although it’s not really poisonous to humans – although it can cause the affected area to swell and cause excruciating pain.

What Do They Do?

Giant Water Bugs spend most of their time below the surface of water, although they are attracted to artificial lights and have been known to fly at them. When Giant Water Bugs are sitting motionless beneath water, they resemble dead leaves, which protects them from predators and camouflages them while they wait to attack their prey. The Giant Water Bug only lives for about a year. The males of the species carry eggs on their backs, which the females attach with a glue-like substance. Males cannot mate while carrying eggs.

Giant Water Bugs aren’t really a threat to humans, although their bites are extremely painful and their appearance can be intimidating. To avoid attracting water bugs, make sure you don’t have any containers of standing water around your yard. If you notice more Giant Water Bugs around your home than usual, don’t hesitate to call in a pest control professional to take care of them.

About the author: Chris is an associate for a NJ pest control company.

How to Keep Pests Out of Your Home

Roach HomeThe fight against pests in your home is a year-round battle that is tough to win. It doesn’t matter where you live or what you do to keep them out, pests eventually find a way into your home. However there are steps you can take to limit their access and reduce the number of pests you find.

A lot of homeowners act by calling a professional pest control service to come in and spray for pests. Although this is a recommended first step to take, the fight doesn’t stop there. Professional services can slow pests down and lower their population, but homeowners must carry out a few do-it-yourself steps if they wish to stop seeing pests altogether.

Finding & Sealing Passages

Most homeowners feel their home is tightly sealed, but it’s actually full of tiny holes that become passageways for small insects. Pests can find their way into your home through the smallest cracks imaginable so it may be impossible to make your home completely bug proof. However you can seal most cracks if you take the time to find them.

Start by examining the exterior of your home and filling any holes with caulk. This means checking under decks, steps and other places that may be hard to reach. The foundation of homes is often the site for many cracks that allow pests inside. It won’t be fun work, but it’s necessary if you want to stop seeing pests in your home.

Areas of the home notorious for cracks and holes include doors, windows, dryer vents, exhaust fans, soffits, and chimney gaps. Make sure to check these areas thoroughly before moving onto any other pest preventing steps.

sealing openingsMake Your Home Less Desirable

Pests are constantly on the move looking for a new place to call home. If they happen to stop at your home, there’s probably a reason why. Chances are high that you’ve either left cracks unfilled or your home’s surroundings are inviting them to stay.

Pests naturally need water to survive and they often look for places that have plenty of moisture. So if you’ve got pests you need to eliminate areas that might be collecting water. Walk around your property after it rains and see where water is collecting and not draining properly. Once you find these areas, see what you can do to fix them.

It’s best to have the soil slope away from the foundation so make sure this is the case with your yard. Places of heavy vegetation around the home can keep siding and soil damp so continually keep bushes and plants trimmed back. Mulch is well known for collecting moisture and it’s a great home for roaches and other bugs. If you have mulch around your foundation, make sure water is draining properly. Plumbing leaks should obviously be fixed to prevent moisture buildup.

Eliminating clutter is another way to make your home less desirable to pests. All bugs, insects and rodents look for clutter because it’s a form of protection. Remove all clutter from carports, garages, porches and other areas so pests don’t see it as an appealing home.

Taking these precautions is certainly going to make your home less inviting to pests. However it’s very important to have the assistance of a professional pest control company. You can buy powerful pest control products at the store, but it’s not the same as hiring a professional. If you want the best results, have a professional service spray every six months.

Author Bio: Jensen is a contributing writer for Heron Lawn & Pest Control.

Realizing the Value in Pest Control

Exterminator SprayingThe significance of pest control goes a lot deeper than many people realize. It’s safe to say that most of us dread the thought of ever having to use this type of service, but there are others that really never give it much thought until they absolutely have reason to. Pest control is much more than just making sure your residence is cleared of the bugs that commonly pop up here and there. Even if finding the telltale signs of insects or rodents in your home don’t necessarily concern you, there are several reasons that pest control services are necessary for a better quality of life.

Health Concerns

As a result of all the germs they carry around with them, pests have notoriously been the cause of sickness and disease in decades past. Better pest control over the years has led to a decrease in related health concerns, but we must continue to implement insect and rodent management strategies, especially in our homes, if we want to continue to prevent contamination. Many allergic reactions and asthma attacks are caused by pests that have infiltrated a home and gone undetected.

Agricultural Production

Pest control in agricultural production has always been crucial to maintaining much of our food source. Without it, there is a very real possibility that all of the plant-eating pests out there could wipe out many of the crops we rely on. A plant’s health and productivity depends heavily on the effective management of insects and the methods used to enforce it. In an effort to respect the environmental movement and the worries that many people have about the use of chemicals in agriculture, great strides have been taken to use sustainable pest control tactics.

Impact on Public Businesses

No one wants to eat in a restaurant or employ the services of a business where pests are obviously running rampant. This, again, suggests there should be cause for health concerns, especially when the contamination of food is in question. An effective pest control method must be executed immediately in a food service business. Any other type of industry or company can expect to see a decrease in client relations as well when they can’t keep up clean appearances which in turn will eventually begin to affect our economy’s growth.

Termite DamageStructural Damage

If you’re a homeowner, you should already be aware of the destruction caused every year by pests like termites, carpenter ants and rodents that will eat through a structure or chew on electrical wires and wreak all kinds of havoc. The cost of repairs can be quite hefty, and the stresses that come along with having to deal with an especially damaging situation can be prevented with regular termite and pest inspections and subsequent management procedures.

The key to living a lifestyle that doesn’t include pests is to be aware of your surroundings and take action before the threat of infestation becomes too much to handle. Whichever method you choose to use, the importance of pest control becomes evident once you become informed of just how much the lack of it would negatively impact our environment.

About the Author

Tiffany Olson is a full-time blogger from Northern California who writes regularly about home issues including pest control.  A great resource for information is Killroy Pest Control who specializes in pest control in Hayward.

Five Organic and Natural Pest Control Methods That Work

Two Dead RoachesThere is nothing worse than spending your valuable time and money cultivating a garden, only to wake-up one morning to find it riddled with pests – this is quite frustrating.

You have to choices to remedy this situation. One is to use pesticides, and the other is the use of natural, organic methods. We have discovered several pest control methods that actually work and are safe to use.

Soil Covers

Soil covers can be quite effective in areas where the climate fluctuates and pests are wide spread. Soil covers are made of a porous polyester material that is generally white in color. This covering will protect your garden from insects while allowing more than 80 percent of the light through for cultivation.

You can purchase this material in various thicknesses and sizes. In summer, the thinner material allows your garden to breath while keeping destructive pests out. In winter, the heavier weight material keeps pests out of your garden while holding in heat – this is great for areas where winter temperatures can also damage your garden.

Smell Traps

One of the senses, for animals and humans alike, is smell. In the world of organic pest control science has reproduced the scent called pheromones. Pheromone is a chemical produced to heighten the sexual awareness of the opposite sex. So you might ask, what does this have to do with pest control?

In organic pest control, pheromones are used lure pests into traps through their senses. These unsuspecting victims are tricked into thinking a willing mate is at the other end of the smell, but the end result is anything but happy. That is for the pest, not the garden owner.

Traps are only effective when there are a limited number of pests to get rid of. In these cases the pheromone traps are effective for identifying the initial stage of an infestation. Knowing the type of pest that is attracted to your garden gives you a jump on the problem.

Organic Insect Spray

The more common name for this type of spray is “insecticidal soap spray.” Some people have mistaken insecticidal soap spray with herbicidal soap and sprayed their plants with it. This is a fatal mistake because herbicidal soap kills plants.

The organic soap spray is made from animal fats. These fats get under the skin of the insect and kill it. The one thing you must do before spraying your plants is to test a few leaves. In rare cases this spray will burn vegetation. Spray a few leaves and wait a few days to see the reaction. Once you’ve determined your plants are safe, then spray your garden when pests are present.

Homemade Organic Oil Spray

It doesn’t have to be expensive to work. This is the theme for this organic pest control method.

To make this spray you’ll need a quart of water, a couple of drops of ivory soap, a tablespoon of canola oil, and a spray bottle. Just mix all the ingredients mentioned and put it in the spray bottle. Once the mixture is prepared, find the pesky pests and give them a shot of oil. The oil itself will accumulate and smother the pests. The effectiveness of this oil is greatly diminished when allowed to dry.

Organic Botanical Compounds

Botanical compounds can be made from plants that contain elements that naturally repel pests. The pyrethrum provides elements that you can use to make an organic compound that will control a wide variety of flying insects.

All the above methods have been proven effective in controlling pests that are harmful to your garden. Even though we are dealing with natural compounds, they can still kill beneficial insects. Try to isolate your spraying to small areas where pests are doing the most damage.

About the author:

Chris is a blogger for Excel Pest Control a NJ based pest control company.

Step Up Your Game In The War Against Pests

It’s bad enough when your partner invites some friends over to your home and you don’t really like them. You can pop out until they have left, or just hide away for a few hours in your bedroom. But what happens when the guests are uninvited, and you both can’t stand them? And these nuisances seem to show up every day without any warning? We are talking about garden and household pests, the ones that love to make our life a thing of misery. No matter how much you try to wipe them out, they always come back for more. This article takes a look at some of the more clever weapons we have at our disposal, thanks to a few clever people. See if you like the sound of them and perhaps your uninvited guests will get a big shock the next time they sneak in under the radar!

Solar Mole Repeller – $10

There are a few misguided people out there who think that moles are cute and fluffy little cuties. These individuals have obviously never had their immaculate lawn turned into a quagmire thanks to those critters. Moles are very sneaky little fellows who will stop at nothing to get to their wormy feasts. If you are at the end of your tether, maybe you should get yourself one of these cools gadgets. This device is totally powered by the sun and does a really good job at keeping those toothy nuisances at bay. It will not harm the moles but emits a sonic pulse that really keeps them far away from your precious lawn and garden. The sonic pulses are pushed out every 20 seconds and reach around 100 square meters. The frequency is 300Hz and reaches deep enough to deter even the most cunning of rodents. You may need a few of these if your garden is on the large side, but the price tag is pretty low. We love this gadget and we think your moles will soon be packing their bags!

Plug In Bug Killer With Nigh Light – $20

If you live in a warmer climate, you probably have mosquitoes at the top of your ‘most hated’ insect list. They buzz around your head just as you are about to drop off to sleep, and when you wake up, you have loads of itchy bite marks all over your poor body. As well as being annoying, these pests can pass on some nasty little diseases. They don’t play by the rules, so why should we? This neat little product will definitely tip the scales back in your favour, it’s time for payback! The Plug In Bug Killer uses the night light to bring the flying nightmares into the trap. It will also attract moths and normal house flies, and it has treats in store for all of your overnight occupants! As soon as they get within a few inches, they are wiped out with a nice but lethal dose of the bug killer. You get a good night’s sleep and wake up to a insect funeral pyre! A cool gadget that your skin will soon love you for!

Pests 0 Humans 2

We think that these two gadgets are a few steps closer to that pest free home, just ensure that your household appreciates the effort you are making on their behalf!

Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://pixabay.com/en/gray-hole-ground-animal-claws-45743/?rf=api_jitendraag
  • License: Creative Commons image source

Today’s featured writer, Kevin Ben, works for one of the leading pest control companies in Alberta.  He’s a nature lover and an ardent environmentalist.