Friday, June 29, 2012

Ant Control Tips

 If you are experiencing an ant problem, identifying the ant species may be of help when trying to choose control methods. In this article, we review how to identify a few main species and control options available.

There are several species of ants that you may encounter invading your home or outdoor area.  Some of the more common types are carpenter ants, pharaoh ants, sugar ants, black ants, house ants, thief ants, odorous house ants, argentine ants, crazy ants, ghost ant, acrobat ant, big headed ant, pavement ant and red imported fire ant.

Carpenter ants in the United States are some of the largest ants and there can be several different types of carpenter ants infesting one home or business at a time.  You will want to look for a black or red black in color and and they are typically about 3/8 to ½ inch in size.  And you will typically see worker ants.

Carpenter ants are polymorphic meaning that the same species can have multiple sizes of workers.  One of the best methods of identifying carpenter ants from other ants, is to look for their specific characteristics.  They will have a waist with only one node and a thorax with an evenly rounded upper surface.

The Argentine Ant is thin and brown and the size of a grain of rice. If you have trouble determining whether or not you have an Argentine Ant, bring a sample to your local extension service and they should be able to tell you.  The Argentine Ant gets protein from eating insects, but prefers the honeydew liquid that is made by aphids, scales, mealy bugs and whiteflies.  You will often find him under boards, stones, tree stumps and potted plants, searching for his favorite meal. The Argentine Ant may begin to move indoors in the fall, as his food sources dwindle during that time. Although it may be difficult to completely eradicate the Argentine Ant, you can discourage him from sharing your immediate space, and from ruling your outdoor living areas. 

One of the most dangerous ants to have invading your home is the Red Imported Fire Ant. When dealing with a fire ant infestation indoors, it is important to utilize all methods of control and be safe about chemical applications.  Fire ants look like ordinary house or garden ants, but have some distinguishing characteristics. They can vary in size within one nest, from 1/16 to 1/5 inch long. Fire ants are dark reddish brown in color on the head and body, with a darker abdomen. Fire ants are extremely aggressive when disturbed, and if one bites you, you’ll know for sure you’ve been bit.

Options for indoor control include products like; gels, baits, dusters and sprays.  Some of the household ants that will be affected by these applications aresugar ants, Pharaoh ants, Cornfield Ants, Argentine Ants.  Gels and baits are good because your chemical pest control is contained to one area and are not spreading the chemicals onto numerous surfaces in your home.

Outdoor ant control may include products such as granules, liquid sprays and baits.  Granules are able to be broadcast or used to treat individual mounds.  Liquid spray insecticides may reduce populations of other nuisance insects in your area. Look for products that can incorporate in insect growth regulator to reduce the resurgence of ants on your property.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to Control a Roach Infestation


No matter what the season; summer, spring, winter or fall, roaches never seem to take a holiday at all. Roaches come in many shapes and sizes and thrive without much attention at all. There are simple steps that you can take to minimize the opportunity for roaches to flourish in your household.  In this article, we discuss ways to keep roaches under control for the do it yourself pest controller.

There are over 3,500 species of roaches, but some are more likely to be the pests that invade your home.  There are only about 12 species of roaches that are the regular invaders of homes. Roaches belong to a suborder of insects called Blattaria, which means “to shun the light”. The actual word “cockroach” comes from the Spanish word, “cucaracha”, which means “crazy bug”. Texas can boast the most cockroach species of any other state, having as many as 30-35 species. Common household roaches are German, Banded, American, Oriental, and Woods Cockroaches.

Roaches are not only unsightly, but their excrement and decomposing bodies are triggers for allergies and asthma. Cockroaches can also carry diseases like dysentery, typhoid and poliomyelitis, as well as gastroenteritis. It is therefore imperative for your safety and sanity to keep cockroach infestations under control.

Follow the quick and easy steps below to minimize cockroaches in your home:

  • Make sure that your home is sealed from cracks and crevices that can allow any roaches in your home in the first place. 
  • Check weather stripping, windows and screens, and utility entry points.
  • Caulk where you can to seal any opportunity to let the outside pests in. 
  • Check any pipes for even the smallest leak. 
  • Keep garbage bins sealed and away from your home 
  • Cut back any flowers and brush in direct contact with your home.
  • Limit access to all food AND water sources for the roach 
  • Store pet food in sealed plastic or metal containers
  • Keep your dishes washed and dried daily  
  • Do not leave water in the sink over night
  • Wipe down counter tops as soon as you are finished using them
  • Put trash out nightly 
  • Enforce NO FOOD restriction in every room except for the kitchen dining area 



Treatment options for a cockroach infestation include:

  • Glue or “sticky” traps that can be used to monitor  for any cockroach activity and species identification
  • Boric based products that can be left on tops of cabinets or behind appliances to treat the stray few that wander into your home
  • Insecticide sprays on a seasonal basis to stop cockroaches from becoming a full fledge infestation
  • Gel based products can be used inside lower cabinets and crevices that may be allowing entry
  • Cockroach bait traps set out seasonally can also provide effective long term control solutions


Following a regular regimen using the above combination of prevention, monitoring and seasonal treatments can keep your home cockroach free. Your family will thank you for it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mosquito Borne Diseases

If you have battled the terrible creature called mosquito, then you already know, it’s a daunting task. It is not one to be taken lightly. Mosquitoes are tiny, but quick. They seem to multiply in the blink of an eye. If you see one on Saturday, given favorable weather conditions, you’re likely to see 100 on Sunday. The reality of an infestation of mosquitoes is as terrible as the myth accompanying them.  And should the tiny mean bloodsuckers make it into your bedroom any given evening, you can say bye bye to any actual REM sleep. In this article, we will discuss mosquito borne diseases and methods to control a mosquito infestation.

According to the American Mosquito Control Association:

Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism -- over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year. Not only can mosquitoes carry diseases that afflict humans, they also transmit several diseases and parasites that dogs and horses are very susceptible to. These include dog heartworm, West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE). In addition, mosquito bites can cause severe skin irritation through an allergic reaction to the mosquito's saliva - this is what causes the red bump and itching. Mosquito vectored diseases include protozoan diseases, i.e., malaria, filarial diseases such as dog heartworm, and viruses such as dengue, encephalitis and yellow fever.

A mosquito has four life stages; egg, larva, pupae and adult.  The first three of the mosquito’s life cycles occur in water.  The adult stage, you already know about.  Mosquitoes need water or damp marsh like areas to hatch from their eggs.   Therefore it stands to reason, that in order to stop mosquitoes in your habitat, you need to limit their access to standing water. 

The female mosquito lays her eggs on the water and they hatch in one to three days or remain dormant until they are flooded.

In order to survive, the larvae or "wigglers" that hatch must live in water. This stage lasts from five days to several weeks.

The larvae transform into pupae or "tumblers." During this stage, they do not feed but still move around while breathing. The adult mosquito is developing and will emerge in two to three days. Mosquitoes will over winter in either the egg stage or as adults.

Use the following guidelines to minimize your exposure to infected mosquitoes:

  • Reduce breeding sites for the mosquito: The mosquito needs water to lay it’s larvae, so make certain that they is NO, nunca, nada, standing water anywhere in  your area.
  • Wear mosquito repellant:Use an EPA recommended mosquito repellant for you and your family.
  • Avoid being outdoors at dusk/dawn:which are mosquito high activity times and wear dark clothing and long sleeves if you are.
  • Check and double check screen and cracks around your home:Make sure that the mosquitoes cannot gain access to you in your home by installing good screens and using weather stripping to seal doors ways.
  • Treat standing water with products containing the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, var. israelensis


If you have used all of the above tactics and continue to have a serious mosquito problem, consider using a regular regimen of mosquito targeting insecticides or a mosquito misting system, which allows for an automatic misting of mosquito insecticides on a scheduled basis.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fly Problems? How to Treat a Fly Infestation

Summertime is prime time for flies to increase activity and become a problem for the do it yourself pest controller. There are many of types of flies that can cause a problem in our homes.  There are house flies, fruit flies, blue and green bottle flies, and moth flies.  Flies are prolific proliferators and eat most anything. Some flies can lay 150 eggs at a time, every 5-6 days.  Not only are they annoying, they can be carriers of numerous diseases and pathogens. In this article, we discuss ways to treat and limit a fly infestation.

Ohio State Extension Program says:

Domestic flies, often called "Filth Flies," are not only a nuisance by their presence, but are important from a human and animal health standpoint.  House flies may spread diseases such as conjunctivitis, poliomyelitis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, anthrax, leprosy, cholera, diarrhea and dysentery. They may serve as intermediate hosts for parasitic tapeworms on poultry or parasitic roundworms on horses.

Luckily, there are a now plethora of pest control products to address our fly pest problems available to the general public. There are insecticide sprays, fly lights, fly baits, fly traps and treatments. Some treatments such as contact sprays are good for the immediate treatment of unwanted flies. Whereas other fly treatment options, such as fly traps and fly lights provide an ongoing support system to keep fly infestations under control.   

It is important to determine if your fly problem is only a fleeting instance, or associated with an ongoing breeding site. The treatment method for each situation would be different. For instance, have you only had fly issues during a gathering where food was outside for extended periods of time or do you constantly notice fly activity in and around your home?

For the first situation, you may only need to spray the outdoor area that will be used for your gathering a few hours before guests arrive. For the second situation, you may have a fly breeding site in or around your home.  In that instance, the breeding site would need to be located and eliminated. But you would also want to use a combination of baits and residual insecticide sprays to control the existing fly population and stop them from entering your residence.

There are other easy steps you can take to stop a fly infestation from happening in the first place:

  • Be certain that your windows, screens and entry ways are sealed tightly and in good repair.
  • Spray your entry ways and sills with a residual insecticide
  • Use time released pyrethrin sprays
  • Do not locate trash cans located near any entry ways.
  • Empty cans regularly, and wash them out weekly with a good bleach bath.
  • Use only trash cans with locking lids
  • Keep food covered at all times
  • Wipe up any crumbs, etc immediately
  • Don’t leave produce on the counter without cover
  • Check any cracks between your appliances and counter tops to be sure that there are no trapped food particles
  • Keep the backs of cabinets clean and clear from excess storage items or clutter
  • Review under sinks and appliances to be certain that there is no accumulation of food or moisture
  • Do not leave any standing water or food build up in drains
  • Regularly flush your drains to remove any ‘gunk’ that may be building up on the insides of pipes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Controlling Pests on Pets

Pet lover’s, who also live in the deep and humid south, know how expensive and time consuming it can be to keep your pets safe and free from insect pests.  Mosquitoes that can carry heartworms and cause allergic reactions, while fleas and tick that carry a number of vector borne illnesses, as well as tape worms. A conscientious pet owner can easily spend $400 a year, minimizing they’re pets exposure to dangerous fleas and mosquitoes. In this article we will discuss the insect risks to our furry family members and ways to control infestations in our home and yard.

Both fleas and mosquitoes are extremely difficult pests to control in the warmer weather of the south. Given the opportunity, mosquitoes, ticks and fleas will completely take over your home and yard to make it their own, leaving your family pet as a 24 hour buffet.  The ideal situation is to make sure that your pet has protection against these nuisance pests and that they are also controlled for the sake of your family.

To keep your pet safe from mosquito borne diseases: It is imperative that your canine be on a heart worm preventative. There are options for injections that can last up to six months, or monthly ‘pills’ that you are able to administer at home. Although, no product can claim 100% efficacy, this dramatically reduces the possibility that your dog will develop heartworms. You should also try to keep your family pet inside during high mosquito traffic times, like dawn and dusk. If you are using a topical flea and tick controller application, there are some that include mosquito repellant as well. There are natural options that can repel mosquitoes and minimize the possibility that he is bitten at all. It is said that lavender, peppermint and geranium essential oils repel mosquitoes. Other reported effective natural repellents include lemon, cedar, eucalyptus, myrrh, neem and rosewood. You can try this by putting a few drops between the dogs or cats shoulder blades or on their collar.

In order to minimize fleas and ticks on and around your pets, monthly topical repellants are a good option. Especially the water proof types for pets that are in and out of doors regularly. Natural repellants such as Lavender, lemongrass and geranium repel ticks.  Lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and citronella are said to repel fleas.  Be sure to consult with your veterinarian to see if your pet is a good candidate for topical applications. Newly developed products offer fewer side effects than when they were initially developed. Be careful of strong pesticide applications on your pet, they can be toxic.

You must also be diligent about keeping fleas and mosquitoes out of your home and yard.  Mosquitoes need moisture to breed, so remove all standing water. If mosquito insecticide sprays, mists, or foggers are used for treatment of your home or yard, remove your family and pets until the area has dried completely.  Some products like Diatomaceous earth and Insect Growth Regulators offer control with less impact on our environment. Although, they will not kill the insect pests immediately, they will help you keep your insect populations under control. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Use IGR's for Flea Control

Insect Growth Regulators are a relatively newer class of pest control agents that have less harmful effects on our environment. In this article, we will discuss ways that Insect Growth Regulators can be used to control flea infestations for the do it yourself pest controller. Insect growth regulators were developed by entomologists as they studied the growth cycle of insects. Insect grow regulators are much more specific to insect development and therefore have less impact on other life forms, including mammals. Insect growth regulators can perform their magic my mimicking juvenile growth hormones in insects and either altering the production of chitin (the compound insects use to make their exoskeleton) or by altering an insect's development into adulthood. In some cases, the insect will develop too quickly, in other cases, IGR’s stop development. Most other pesticides work by delivering neurotoxins to the pests, and since basically most animals neurological functioning is similar, the pesticides are toxic to numerous organisms. IGR’s circumvent this by delivering the chemical directly relative to that pests biology to alter development. This gives the do it yourself pest controller an additional tool against pests that can be used with much more peace of mind. Why Use Insect Growth Regulators: • They Target Specific Pests • Less impact on our environment • Decrease chances of insects developing resistence • Breaks the life cycle of the pest In regards to controlling flea infestations, IGR’s are a godsend. Fleas have four life stages and have different needs in each. The different life stages have different requirements for the flea, and different requirements for controlling the flea. A pesticide that kills the adult flea may have no effect on the developing eggs or larvae. But the IGR acts on the immature stages of a flea’s life cycle. Flea eggs deposited on or flea larvae crawling onto treated surfaces will not develop into adult fleas. If an IGR is not used, you will have adult fleas again bouncing around your home within four weeks. By using an IGR, you have broken the life cycle of the flea and can effectively contain your flea infestation. The do it yourself pest controller must also be certain to treat outdoor areas and pets for fleas at the same time that the home is treated so that your fleas are not being continually reintroduced to your living area. If your yard is infested with fleas, you can be sure that they will find their way in doors, so it is important to contain the outside infestation as well. Indoors, there are some items that you will not want to spray with pesticides, such as bedding, pillows, stuffed animals, etc. Be sure to wash all of these items in a hot water cycle on your washer to kill any fleas/eggs that might have found their way there.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Termidor-You Can't Afford Not To

Termidor®b> is 100% effective at controlling 100% of termites in three months or less - a statement no other termite control product can make. That's why since its introduction in 2000, pest management professionals have made Termidor America's leading termite control, with more than one million structures treated. It's the product's unique "Transfer Effect™," allowing Termidor to achieve 100% control of termite populations at the very low rate of just 0.06% active ingredient. And because Termidor is a non-repellent - undetectable to termites - the pests freely forage through treated areas, unknowingly ingesting, picking up and transferring Termidor throughout the population •A 20 oz bottle of Termidor Termiticide will make 25 gallons of finished solutions. •Apply product at a rate of 4 finished gallons per 10 linear feet. •Product will treat 62.5 linear feet of structure for termite control •This is the same active ingredient in Frontline Drops you put on your pets for fleas and ticks. •Kills all types of drywood and Subterranean and Formosan termites