Talking About Pest Control

Termite Spotting 101: How To Spot An Infestation

Termites may be beneficial in the wild, but in your home, they’re a silent, yet deadly killer of wooden structures and paper products. According to the LSU College of Agriculture, termites contribute to over $2 billion in damage to buildings each year. Add on the fact that termite damage isn’t covered by your homeowner’s insurance, and you’ll understand why you’d want to detect an infestation sooner rather than later. Discarded Wings as a Calling Card When young winged male and female termites (also known as swarmers) arrive at a new location, they’ll often start chewing their way through the bases of window sills and near doorways, discarding their wings in the process. Seeing a bunch of wings near a window or entryway could be the first outward sign of a termite infestation. Mud Tubes and Wood Damage Mud tubes are a common sight among structures damaged by subterranean termites. Although the termites spend much of their time underground, they’ll typically feed on the wood above. Subterranean termites usually keep these tunnels covered with mud to retain moisture as they travel back and forth. Another potential sign of termite infestation is the presence of cracked or distorted paint on the wood’s surface. If you see your home’s paint finish coming apart in one particular area, it could mean there’s a termite infestation in progress. For highly destructive insects, subterranean termites have rather picky tastes. These termites only dine on softwood, leaving the hardwood portion behind. In addition, subterranean termites also tend to feed along the grain, whereas their drywood counterparts happily dine against the grain. Knock on Wood Termites prefer to carry out their business under the cover of darkness and humidity, meaning that they seldom stick their heads out of their wooden or mud tunnels. As a result, a wooden wall that’s been severely damaged by termite infestation might look fine on outside, but it could be destroyed on inside. You can see for yourself by tapping on the surface of the wood. If it happens to sound hollow as you tap, then chances are you’re dealing with an advanced termite infestation that needs to be taken care of right away. Is It Really a Termite? Of course, seeing live termites is a definite sign of a possible infestation. But can you really be sure that it’s a termite you’re looking at? Termites and flying ants are often mistaken for […]

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Outdoor Maintenance Tips To Prevent Termites From Infesting The Home

If you have a wooden home, then you may be concerned about termites destroying your residence and leaving you with a structurally unsafe place to live. The damage can actually occur quite quickly as well, because a single colony may contain over 500,000 termites, and these bugs will eat wood throughout the entirety of the day. Generally speaking, a single colony can also consume almost 13 pounds of wood in a single year. This wood may be consumed throughout the different areas of your house, but significant damage will be noted over time. If these facts leave you fearful for your property, then make sure to make your home less desirable to termites. A termite infestation will start with an outdoor colony, so make sure you are inspecting the spaces outside to prevent a house infestation. Inspect Your Trees Termites will eat the cellulose of wood when they find a good place to build a colony, and wood that has partially broken down is easier for the termite to consume. This is why dead or decayed wood is perfect for termites. This type of wood also likely contains a good deal of available water, and this keeps the termite colony from having to seek out a separate water source. A single dead branch or portion of a tree trunk can serve as a termite home, while the rest of the tree thrives and continues to grow. This is why you need to inspect your trees often to note any signs of death or decay.  Pruning and Cutting Trees To spot dead tree branches, look for growths that do not contain any healthy leaves while the rest of the tree flourishes. Branches without any bark are generally dead too, and so are the ones covered in moss or mildew. If you see these types of branches, then remove them from the tree immediately. If the branches are considered large with a diameter of several inches, or if they grow directly out of the tree trunk, then make sure to prune the correct way to keep the rest of the tree alive. When cutting the branch back, make sure to leave several inches of growth where the branch meets the trunk. This area of the branch is called the collar, and the tree will naturally grow around this collar to close off the opening where the trim cut was made. Along with general pruning, you need to identify […]

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Finding And Destroying Terrible Termites

Termites are tiny bugs that can do enormous damage to your home and property if left to their own devices. Because termites tend to attack wood from the inside out, it can be hard to tell whether you have them. That means they are likely to cause extensive damage before you even know they are there. However, some detective work can help you discover if your home is being invaded by terrible termites. Here are a few things to look for and what to do when you discover the creepy critters.  Termite Warning Signs Termites live in large nests, and they often leave clues of their presence around your property. Take a walk around your yard and home’s foundation while keeping your eyes open for these signs.  Check spider webs for termites that are likely to get caught up in them and saved for an upcoming meal.  Look around the base of your house for small tubes that resemble tiny brown straws. Termites build these tubes to travel from their food source, the wood in your home, to their nests.  Look for spaces or cracks in concrete structures that have been oddly filled in with dirt. Termites will often seal their nests to keep moisture inside.  Knock on wood in your home to determine if it is hollow. If some wood in your home sounds more hollow than other wood, termites could be the reason why.  Check your window wells for discarded termite wings and termite poop, called frass. It looks like black dust.  Look for a large cloud of termites swarming in spring. This is when young termites fly out from the nest in search of food. Track the source of the swarm, and you will find the termites’ nest.  Fight Back There are several ways to fight termites if you believe they are attacking your home or property. You can begin by taking these steps on your own.  Take Infested Furniture Outside Termites cannot live in direct sunlight. If you believe you have termites in your furniture take it outside and let it soak in the sun.  Spray Vinegar You can eliminate a small group of termites by spraying them with vinegar. Be sure to completely moisten the entire areas where you have seen the termites, or spray down the nest. Some people like to try this method first because it does not involve chemicals.  Set Bait Traps […]

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Protecting Your Outdoor Wooden Playset From Termite Damage

Many parents dream of the day they can build or install a heavy-duty outdoor wooden playset for their children. However, these playsets can sometimes harbor a dangerous secret — termites. Not only can termites weaken the wood, increasing the potential for your children and their playmates to be injured, these winged insects can eventually migrate to your home and cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Read on to learn more about protecting and treating your outdoor playset from termites, as well as what you can do to protect and treat your home once termites have been spotted in the area.  What are termites? Termites are winged insects that look similar to medium-sized ants. They feed on dead leaves and trees, but will also consume any cellulose-based material, like wood, drywall, or even cement. Like ants and bees, they live in large colonies and serve a queen. Worker termites spend their days foraging for food — sometimes needing to go no farther than their “home” within your walls.   Like many types of pests (such as cockroaches and fleas), by the time you actually see your first termite, you may be dealing with a long-term and large-scale infestation. Termite colonies can be large in number and frequently split, multiplying the potential for damage. What can you do to protect your playset from termite damage? Unless you live in a log cabin or have cedar siding, the exterior of your home is likely covered with vinyl siding, brick, or stone — all substances that help somewhat protect the underlying wood and drywall. However, your outdoor wood playset has no such protective measures, and can be a sitting duck for termites. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to protect your investment.  First, look into having your playset treated with a special termite-repellent coating. Although this coating is available for purchase at most hardware or home supply stores, you’ll want to consider having a professional exterminator apply it, as it is both more effective against termites and much easier to apply when using an industrial sprayer rather than a paintbrush or sponge.  Be sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended drying time to prevent your children from inadvertently picking up any residue on their hands or feet. After the coating has thoroughly dried, your playset is perfectly safe for use.  Next, you’ll want to ensure that termites have little […]

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3 Venomous Spiders And How To Identify Them

The world is home to some dangerous and exotic creatures: snakes, the Komodo dragon, and deadly insects of all kind. But perhaps none strikes a resonant chord of fearfulness in your heart more than spiders. While many spiders can be helpful to your home or garden by eating pesky insects, some spiders are filled to the brim with venom. You should be aware of these three venomous spiders and just how toxic they are, symptoms of their bite, and how to identify them. Brown Recluse The brown recluse is common to the southern Midwest and South of the United States. A name feared by most, the brown recluse is identified by its light brownish hue, as well as a black marking on its cephalothorax that makes it look a bit like a violin. The brown recluse is not an aggressive spider, and most bites only occur after the spider has been startled or if it has been pressed directly against human flesh. Bites from these spiders cause serious necrosis, nausea, muscle jolts, and in rare cases, even death. However, approximately 90% of brown recluse bites will heal on their own. Poisoning can usually be identified within two to eight hours, as muscle jolts and nausea generally set in at this point; serious brown recluse bites will cause your flesh to rot around the area of the bite. Black Widow The black widow is a catch-all name for Latrodectus spiders, which exist the world over, although they primarily thrive in moderate and warm climates. The black widow is perhaps the name most people associate with venomous spiders, and for good reason. Its distinctive look – often pitch black, or a very deep brown, with a deep red “hourglass” figure resting on its abdomen – and notoriously aggressive behavior (they are deemed “widow” spiders as the females of the species tend to cannibalize their male counterparts after mating) have caused black widow spiders to become a largely feared beast. There is a large deal of myth when it comes to the public’s conception of the black widow, however. While they are toxic creatures, their bites are rarely fatal. A black widow’s bite can cause nausea, vomiting, cramping and profuse sweating. Gangrene is rarely an effect of a black widow’s bite, so they can be difficult to identify; however, the black widow is such a large suspect that most people are able to […]

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Bed Bug Prevention Tips

Household pest infestations are not created equal. Some household pests are a lot easier to exterminate and completely destroy, preventing another infestation. Other pests can take months to destroy; for the unfortunate few, they may never completely be destroyed and will continue infesting the home. Bed begs are one household pest that can be a huge burden to exterminate completely. If you have bed bugs, there are numerous methods to destroy them. However, if you aren’t infested you would be wise to take a few steps to prevent a bed bug infestation so that you won’t have to endure the long process that is ridding your home of bed bugs.  Know If Your Family Or Friends Have Bedbugs Although it might not be the most pleasant topic of conversation, you should let your friends and family know that you would like to be aware of any bed bug infestation that they might have. Unfortunately, bed bugs are adept travelers. You don’t have to stay long at a location that is infested to bring bed bugs home with you. Simply hugging a friend or family member who has bed bugs is enough to start an infestation of your home. Bed bugs cling to clothes and hair, and can jump from whomever they are traveling upon to you!  If you do have family or friends who have bed bugs, resist touching them or visiting their home until the infestation has passed. If you happen to get infested, you should also inform your loved ones so they can take the same precautions.  Stay Alert When Buying Secondhand  Many people will give away clothing, furniture or toys not knowing that they are riddled with bedbugs. Before you bring home that perfect antique armchair from the thrift shop, do your own inspection to ensure that you can’t detect signs of bedbugs.  Look carefully in the seams and corners of the furniture, a favorite hiding spot of bedbugs. Check for dark discolorations, as well as live bed bug bodies. Bed bugs are quite small and are oval in shape. They are usually brown, but they can be lighter in color and usually turn a reddish color after they have feasted on your blood. If you do spot signs of bedbugs, resist the urge to buy the infested item anyway!  Inspect  A bed bug infestation, like most other infestations will start out small before it explodes into […]

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2-Step Guide To Using A Homemade Treatment For Naturally Controlling The Fleas In Your Carpets

After seeing your ankles are being attacked by fleas every time to walk across your floor, you may decide it’s time to do something about it. However, you may not want to use poisons on your carpets that could harm your pets or small children. If so, use the two-step home treatment for naturally killing and repelling fleas in your carpets. Step 1:  Sprinkle Your Carpets With Salt And Borax The first step in this home treatment involves sprinkling your carpets with salt and borax to kill any existing fleas. Both of these ingredients work the same way. When they land on the exoskeleton of a flea, they burn through it and dry the insect up. When shopping for your ingredients, make sure you pick up borax laundry additive and not boric acid. Boric acid is a caustic poison that could cause serious harm to you, your family, and your pets. Even getting a small amount on the skin can cause blisters and chemical burns. For this step, you will need some type of shakeable container. Although a parmesan shaker works best, you could use a salt shaker with large holes in it. If you do not have either of these, puncture holes in the lid of a mason jar with a screwdriver. Fill your shaker with one part borax to one part table salt. For example, if you are using a pint-sized mason jar, you can fit a cup of each ingredient. After vacuuming your carpets, liberally shake your homemade powder onto your carpets. Do not forget to cover the corners and around the edges where fleas may try to hide. Once you have covered your carpets, let the powder remain for at least 12 hours to give it time to kill the fleas. Vacuum the floors thoroughly. If this is your first treatment or you have a rather large infestation, you may want to repeat the above step one more time to ensure you have killed all of the fleas. Once you are finished, go on to the second step. Step 2:  Spray The Carpets With A Homemade Flea Repellent After you have vacuumed the floor and killed off the existing fleas, this second step involves spraying a homemade flea repellent to deter any new fleas from taking up residence in your carpets. This spray uses herbal essential oils that are repugnant to the bugs but smell pleasant […]

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