Ant Activity On The Rise This Year

Fluctuating temperatures and rainy weather have led to a hotbed of ant activity across the southeast, and not just in yards, but also in homes.

ant

Bob Belmont, Board Certified Entomologist, and the Pest Prevention Technical & Training Director for Massey Services, notes that ants are year-round pests across the Southeastern states and ant activity can be relentless, even throughout the winter months.

Types of Ants To Look Out For

antWe may easily spot a trail of ants indoors because ants such as the Ghost ant, which typically nest outside in plant materials near a building’s foundation, can form colonies in the thousands in wall voids, behind cabinetry and in dark voids.
antWhite-footed ant colonies may also reside in walls and under attic insulation, though they are most commonly found in decaying plant materials or within palm fronds, leaf litter and hollow plant stems.
Argentine antsCaribbean Crazy ants and Red Imported Fire Ants can also move indoors in search of food and water, especially if disturbed by heavy rainfall.

Massey Services can help prevent these ants from taking up permanent residence. Contact us for a free pest inspection today and learn more about our Pest Prevention.

The Facts on Bed Bugs

The old-time expression “don’t let the bed bugs bite” has taken on a new meaning recently as these unwanted guests can hitchhike their way into your home from hotel rooms, rented houses & condos, families’ houses, and college dorms.

bed bugs

What Are Bed Bugs And What Do They Look Like?

Bed bugs, a classic travel pest, are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood. Bed bugs are tiny, oval, brown and wingless insects approximately 1/4” to 3/8” long (5-9 mm). As their name implies, these bloodsuckers make their homes in beds, but also in couches, clothing and seats of airplanes and trains. They crawl out of crevices to feed on blood and these painless attacks generally go undetected until a reaction to the bites appears or evidence of bed bugs is found in the bedding.bed bugs

What Can I Do To Protect Myself?

When checking into a hotel room, apartment or house, you can perform a simple bed bug inspection of the space.

  1. Pull pillows and sheets down about 1/3 of the way from the top of the bed and look for reddish-brown or black spots on the sheets near the bed’s headboard. You may not see the actual bugs themselves but they do leave a trail of spots.bed bugs
  2. Look for spots on mattresses, pillows, headboards and walls behind headboards.
  3. Check the inside of dresser drawers for insects and black spots.
  4. Contact a pest services company immediately if you’ve found any signs of bed bugs during your inspection.

If I Suspect Bed Bugs In A Room, What Should I Do?

  1. Isolate the items that have been infested from other items in your living space.bed bugs
  2. Put clothing and other heat tolerant items in a clothes dryer for a minimum of 40 minutes – the heat will eliminate bed bugs.
  3. After thoroughly heating the items, wash as normal.
  4. Contact Massey Services for a free bed bug inspection of your home.

How Do Termites Get Into Your Home?

There are three main areas termites can enter your home. And once they gain access, they can cause thousands of dollars in damage without you ever knowing it.

termites

Subterranean termites live in large underground colonies, with a single colony having between 500,000 to over a million termites. More importantly, there can be several colonies per acre of land.

Below Ground

termitesEven if your home is made of block and built on a concrete slab, termites can still invade your home through plumbing or other openings in the slab.  They feed on wood flooring, drywall, framing and valuable furnishings in your home.

Cracks and Crevices

termitesTermites build mud tubes to access wood sources above ground and enter through cracks as small as 1/64 of an inch.

Through Attic Vents

termitesDrywood termites swarm and enter your home through cracks, unscreened soffits and gable vents. Damage can go unnoticed for long periods of time.

How Do You Protect Yourself?

The best way to protect your home from a termite infestation is having termite protection, backed by a strong guarantee you can count on. For a thorough termite inspection of your home, contact Massey Services for a free analysis today.

The Truth about Silverfish

Ever open a drawer in your home and jump back when you see silverfish inside?  It’s never a pleasant site but unfortunately they are commonly found in homes.

silverfish

Description, Habits & Characteristics

Silverfish have a soft, scaly carrot-like body and long cerci (antennal-like structures on their rear ends). Their silver scales can easily rub off if you touch a body. Adults lack wings, and they have no metamorphosis. They are nocturnal and fully grown individuals can reach ¾ inch long.

Both immature and adult forms feed primarily upon carbohydrates and protein. They are also cannibalistic, feeding upon cast skins and dying or injured individuals. They love flour, starch, cereal, glue, especially wallpaper glue, wheat flour, beef extract, paper products, cleansing tissue, cellophane, onion skin, carpets, furs, starched cuffs, lace, leather, dead insects, artificial silk, cotton, rayon and linen, but do not prefer wool, silk, unprinted or printed newsprint, cardboard, or brown wrapping paper.

They can also live outdoors in leaf litter. Eggs are elliptical and about 1 mm. long. A female can lay about 100 eggs in a lifetime. Young silverfish hatch and molt about 6-7 times. Adults that look just like young will actually continue to molt about 50 more times! They can have 3-4 generations every 2 years, and the majority of silverfish species can live up to 3 years.

Silverfish are quite common in almost every attic, but will generally stay within dark, protected areas under the insulation and behind the walls rather than come out into an air conditioned home. They usually remain nearby their food sources. They can survive for long periods without food or water, but prefer dark moist wall voids.

Why You Should Be Concerned

silverfish

Silverfish can nibble on the edges of many types of paper and paper products, glue in book bindings and on wallpaper. When infestations are heavy, paper products are often eaten through as if a light acid was irregularly sprayed onto the surface and had dissolved through. Book bindings will have tiny irregular scrapings. Feces, if present, will be tiny black specks about 1/3 the size of drywood termite droppings, dry and loose. Tiny yellow stains, scales, and/or feces may be present on damaged items. When live adults are seen their soft wiggly bodies can annoy anyone not expecting the sudden encounter.

What You Can Do

To reduce silverfish indoors:

  • Keep leaves outdoors and in gutters removed regularly.
  • Box and tightly seal all papered items in storage to keep silverfish out.
  • Keep paper items and wrappers to a minimum.
  • Vacuum baseboards, especially in storage rooms, closets and water heater rooms.
  • Make sure roof and wall leaks are repaired.

If you have a need for professional assistance with silverfish or other pest infestations, contact Massey Services for a free inspection.

Lawn Care Tips for February

Even during the cooler months, it’s important to understand the care your lawn needs.

lawn

Irrigation

Moisture needs are greatly reduced in the winter, but your landscape will still need irrigation in the absence of rainfall. Typically, applying 1/2″ to 3/4″ of water once a week will suffice from December through February.

Landscape Diseases and Weeds

The two primary turf problems during the winter months are brown patch fungus and winter annual broadleaf weeds. Both of these problems can be greatly affected by excessive soil moisture.

  • lawnBrown patch fungus is a disease that causes turf damage in circular patterns. Dying grass blades on the outside border of the pattern are usually vibrant yellow toorange. Fungicide applications will suppress the advancement of the disease
    and the turf will recover, but they will not “cure” the problem. New areas of activity can occur anytime weather conditions are conducive.
  • lawnWinter annual broadleaf weeds are weeds that emerge when the weather is cool.  These weeds die naturally in the spring. Winter
    annual weeds tend to be more of a problem than summer annual weeds because the turf does not compete with the weeds as well in the winter as it does in the summer.

 

Mowing

Mowing your lawn is still necessary in the winter months. Mowing is necessary anytime the grass is 1/3″ higher than the height of your mower blade. In other words, if you are mowing your lawn at 3.5″ and the grass grows to a height of about 4.5″ , it’s time to mow. Mowing is a cultural practice that can greatly influence the health of your lawn.

lawn

 

For help keeping your landscape healthy and green all year long, contact Massey Services GreenUP for a free, detailed inspection.

Homeowner Tips to Avoid a Termite Infestation

They’re quiet. They’re hidden. And they’re destructive. Most people don’t think about termites until they’ve already caused costly damage to their homes.

termite infestation

It doesn’t matter if your home is made of concrete, stucco or brick, termites can get into any home through tiny cracks and crevices less than 1/16 wide, and they can create havoc within the structure of your home. It’s estimated that termites cause more than $5 billion in damage each year.

Since these destructive pests work behind the walls and under the foundation, it is imperative to have your home inspected regularly for early signs of termites and proactively treated to keep them at bay.

Tips To Discourage Subterranean Termite Infestations:

  • Repair water leaks and moisture problems. Termites flourish in moist areas.
  • Keep a close eye on irrigation systems to ensure sprinklers are adjusted properly to spray away from the foundation, walls, etc.
  • Trim back bushes and plants to prevent moisture from being trapped against the walls.
  • Keep gutters free of build-up so that water can flow freely and away from the foundation.
  • Avoid any wooden items that touch your home from having contact with the soil. Elevate decks on concrete.
  • Position stucco, wood, or siding six inches above the finished soil level to prevent termites from gaining access into your home.

A house with termite damage often looks the same as any other house…on the surface

termite infestationThe best prevention against the risk of expensive termite damage repairs is to have guaranteed termite protection for your home before a problem occurs. Massey Services recommends termite inspections should be done at least once a year, and include a thorough inspection of the inside and outside of your home.

For a free termite inspection of your home, contact us today and we’ll schedule an inspection at a time that’s convenient for you.

How Do We Effectively Handle Weeds?

Everybody loves a lush, green and healthy looking lawn, but growing and maintaining a beautiful landscape requires constant care and attention.

weeds

At Massey Services, we continuously work on eliminating or minimizing the number and types of weeds that you may commonly find in your landscape. Our focus is on growing the thickest lawn possible because the best defense against weeds is a thick, dense turf. So how do we do it? Below are just a few of the proactive steps we take to ensure you have a healthy, beautiful lawn year-round.

Steps To Maintaining A Healthy Lawn:

  1. Choose the Proper Type of Grass: We’ll first identify the species and variety of turf grass presently growing in your landscape. Some varieties do best in semi-shaded areas while others need full sun areas to survive. This is important because a grass poorly suited for shady locations will be thin and susceptible to chronic weed infestation.
  2. Managing the Health of your Soil: Using soil pH testing and our years of experience in managing soils, we apply a customized fertilization program that balances the need for high lawn quality and color while maintaining the healthiest root system possible. The end result is a thick, green and healthy lawn.
  3. Recommendations for Proper Mowing: Different grass species have different mowing height requirements. When your lawn is mowed too low, the grass will become less able to promote growth. A scalped or closely mowed lawn will allow weed seedlings to receive the light and space required to root in your lawn. It’s important to mow with a sharp blade and often enough to not remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade in a single mowing.
  4. Watering Only as Needed: Many weed problems that develop in your lawn are symptomatic of over-watering or another irrigation problem. As a general rule, you should water deeply (3/4 to 1 inch of water per session), but infrequently (no more than twice a week in most cases).
  5. Controlling Pests: By reducing the amount of insects and diseases active in your property we will reduce the number of thin turf areas where grass weeds can develop.
  6. Stopping Weed Seeds Before They Germinate: We’ll apply pre-emergent herbicides in the spring and fall to manage weed seeds before they germinate. While good turf management practices and pre-emergent herbicides are an effective way to manage many types of weeds, they cannot guarantee that weeds will never develop in your lawn. Once a weed is established, there are four ways to eliminate it:
      1. Wait for it to die of old age
      2. Crowd it out with a thick lawn
      3. Mechanically remove it by hoeing/hand pulling
      4. Treat it with a post-emergent weed control product (part of your GreenUP Landscape Services program)

Now, let the Experts of Massey’s GreenUP Landscape Services make your  Lawn the Best on the Block

weeds

We know no two landscapes are alike. That’s why before we develop a customized program or provide you with a price, we perform a detailed landscape analysis to understand exactly the type of care your landscape needs. Once our landscape analysis is complete – we develop a customized program for YOUR landscape to ensure it remains healthy and beautiful.

Contact us today for a free landscape inspection!

Avoid Furry Pests From Entering Your Home

If your home has small openings to the great outdoors, even cracks and crevices, insects and furry pests, like rats and mice — could be making their way inside.

furry pests

Rodents: The Dirty Truth

Rats can squeeze through holes half an inch wide and mice can get through holes one quarter of an inch wide, taking up rodent residence in your attic, in the crawl space under your home, even where the dryer vents to the outside. Rodents are generally nocturnal animals, with peak activity occurring shortly after dusk and again prior to dawn. Inside occupied structures, they often become active within about 30-60 minutes following the subsiding of evening human activity.

Rodents are the most common pests this season. These pests are capable of causing damage to property by chewing through drywall, insulation, wood and electrical and automotive wiring, increasing the potential risk for fires. They are also known to spread a variety of diseases, including Salmonella, murine typhus, infectious jaundice, rat-bite fever and the potentially fatal Hantavirus.

Tips To Avoid Furry Pests:

  • Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.
  • Screen vents and openings to chimneys.
  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home, using caulk, steel wool or a combination of both.
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly.
  • Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  • Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
  • Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains.
  • Inspect items such as boxes, grocery bags and other packages for evidence of rodents before bringing them indoors.
  • Regularly check under the hood of the car for signs of a rodent infestation.

Do You Suspect Rodents In Your Home? Don’t Worry!

Contact Massey Services for a free pest prevention inspection and recommendations on how you can help keep rodents out of your home.

Milder Winter Means More Spring Pests

spring pests

A unpleasant consequence of a milder winter is earlier and heavier pest activity in the spring. In colder winters, many pests will die due to freezing weather. In warmer winters, the majority of pest colonies survive, and as soon as the warm spring weather arrives, pest colonies will begin to thrive.

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) releases a bi-annual Bug Barometer, forecasting what to expect from pest populations in regions across the country.

In the Southeast, rainier regions collected more standing water, creating ideal mosquito breeding grounds. Areas that were hotter and drier may experience increased rodent pressure in buildings as temperatures cool in fall and winter. The warmer winter season can yield above normal ant and occasional invader activity through the winter months.

Tips To Prevent Spring Pests:

  • Maintain a one-inch gap between soil and wood portions of a building.
  • Keep mulch at least 15-inches from the foundation.
  • Seal cracks and small openings along the bottom of the house.
  • Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants trimmed back from the house.
  • Keep indoor and outdoor trash containers clean and sealed.
  • Screen windows and doors.

Massey Services offers additional homeowner tips for preventing pests around your home.

Massey’s Pest Prevention program will identify and eliminate the avenues and other unseen entry points pests use to gain access to your home.  Contact us today for a free pest inspection!

Signs of a Termite Swarm

While many states in our country are threatened by more cold weather and snow, we have a different kind of threat in the Southeast – termites. Mid-February to early May marks Subterranean termite swarm season. And now is the time to be vigilant against a pest that causes $5 billion in property damage each year.

Signs of Termite Swarm Infestation:termite swarm

  • Check around window panes and door thresholds. If you find discarded termite wings in your home, it’s a possible sign you have an infestation.
  • Look for mud tubes along the foundation of your home. Termites prefer dark, moist conditions, so they construct mud tubes from the earth as they make their way into the interior of your home. Once they gain access, they eat away at the structural composition and contents of your home.
  • Look for small sized exit holes in drywall. When reproductive termites swarm, they often create small exit holes to fly out of. As they emerge from the walls in the home, they fly toward light sources such as windows, doors or skylights.
  • Finally, if you notice any soft spots in your molding and trim, baseboards or window sills, it’s a good possibility Subterranean termites have invaded your home.

“Subterranean termite swarms begin to occur during the spring. This is when winged termites leave their colony to go on mating flights to establish new colonies,” explains Ed Blumenthal, Technical and Training Director in Termite Protection at Massey Services. “It is important for homeowners to recognize the signs of a swarm so they can seek the help of a professional.”

If you see these signs in your home or want to protect your home from termites, contact us today and schedule a free, detailed inspection!

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