Now that Spring has sprung and warmer weather is on it’s way, its good to prepare for an increase in pest activity around your home.
There’s so much to get excited about as the spring season approaches: Flowers begin to bloom. Birds start to sing. New life and color begin to emerge at every corner of your neighborhood. Unfortunately, that rule also holds true for pests. Due to the fact that many insects are dormant in the cooler months of winter, spring is when many homeowners realize that they may have a problem with unwanted guests.
Use these tips and tricks to help reduce the chances of pesky intruders creeping into your home during the spring season.
Pest Spring Cleaning Tips:
- Look for leaf litter that may have built up in the garage during the winter. Spiders love to hide in this kind of debris. Take an afternoon or weekend to clean up leaves behind stored items in your garage, back patio or shed.
- Ants are going to begin to build their colonies outside, make sure to prune all vegetation at least 6 to 12 inches away from your home to prevent them from getting inside.
- Check seals around all of your doors. As doors age, grommets can be damaged or may shrink. Regular inspection, resealing and repair will go a long way toward preventing pest entry into your home. Seal all obvious gaps around your home.
- Clean up any food, crumbs or mold from around your dishwasher and compactor, under your sinks and around your home. This will prevent residues from attracting crawling pests or small flies.
- Inspect your air conditioner and replace the filter. Make sure your system is regularly maintained and is prepared to handle the increasing temperatures.
- If you feed pets outside, bring the food inside until next winter to prevent attracting roaches and ants. If you must feed them outside, bring everything in at the end of the day, clean up the area and place fresh food out the next morning.
If you have any questions, schedule a Free Inspection, or call us at 1-888-2MASSEY (262-7739).
When reflecting on the interaction of kids and bugs, you’re reminded of how fascinating these little creatures can be – not only to adults, but especially to children.
Unlocking the door to a miniature universe of wonder can be as simple as just poking around under a rock or in the grass. Collecting insects can be a rewarding and educating experience for both you and your child as well as a great opportunity to bond and build a stronger relationship.
You and your little explorer can try these fun ideas, courtesy of Scholastic:
- Listen! Catch a non-stinging insect that makes noise in a paper cup. Crickets and flies are good candidates. Cover the cup with waxed paper and hold it on with a rubber band. Now place your ear against the paper and listen.
- Plant a butterfly garden. In a sunny spot out of the wind, plant blooming varieties like geraniums and hydrangeas, plus plants that provide food for larvae such as Mexican milkweed. Find out what else the butterflies in your area need at butterflywebsite.com.
- Do the worker-bee waggle! Honeybees “dance” to communicate the location and distance of a nectar stash to the other bees. Talk with your kids about this fascinating communication, and then make up your own version.
- Take an umbrella out on a sunny day. Place it open upside down under a leafy, low-hanging branch. Shake the branch like you mean it — then identify what lands in your umbrella with an insect book or online.
Tools for the Trade
These items will make your child feel like a real scientist:
- Butterfly net
- Tweezers (only for dead specimens)
- Observation jar (punch holes in the lid of a clean jar)
- Magnifying glass
- Notebook for recording thoughts and sketches
- Bug and spider identification book like Simon & Schuster Children’s Guide to Insects and Spiders (Simon & Schuster, $23; ages 9 to 12) or Don’t Squash That Bug: The Curious Kid’s Guide to Insects (Lobster Press, ages 4 to 8, $15)
- Referencing Massey’s Bug Database
As part of our CFHLA Adopt-A-School program with Killarney Elementary School, we brought displays and educated students on a variety of insect species!
Massey Services provides pest prevention services for residential and commercial properties, but not all insects are harmful.
Have fun exploring!
Did you know that vegetation touching your home is one of the most common avenues that ants and other crawling pests can take to transfer from the outside to the inside of your home?
Our climate in the Southeast is conducive to rapid plant growth. Gardens surrounding our homes send up growth more rapidly than around homes up North. We suggest pruning everything away from the home at least 6-12 inches on a regular basis.
What To Look Out For
Larger tree limbs or nearby palm fronds that touch your home can allow rodents or small animals to transfer onto the roof or eaves. From there, these animals can find access or gnaw through small gaps to create a convenient highway to an attic nest.
White-footed ants are one of the most invasive indoor ants in south Florida and love to get into your home this way. All it takes is one leaf or frond that touches for these pesky little ants to turn your home into their home.
You’ll be surprised how you can substantially reduce the impact on indoor invading pests by simply keeping vegetation from touching your home.
How To Prevent Future Problems
Massey’s Pest Prevention Program is based upon sound integrated pest management principles of identifying the conditions, avenues and sources of pest infestations in order to successfully deal with any pest problem in or around your home. When we find active pests transferring to the home from a small branch or leaf we will prune the vegetation away from the home to prevent pests from getting inside.
Contact us for a free pest inspection today and learn more about our Pest Prevention.
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.
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
We 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.
White-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 ants, Caribbean 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.
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!
Structural damage isn’t the only problem that floods leave behind. The following pests may also become a significant problem:
- Ants: When flooding occurs water wipes out ant nests that are underground. Ants are known to cluster on top of flood waters until they find a dry structure. This could mean an onslaught of ants in your home or on your property.
- Rodents: Rats and mice will be seeking refuge from the water and may start to invade your home. They carry many diseases and other insects such as lice and fleas. An invasion of these rodents shouldn’t be taken lightly. Once they are removed from the home, entry points must be eliminated to keep them from returning.
- Mosquitoes: Unfortunately, with all the standing water that is left behind after a flood, it is an ideal environment for mosquitoes to lay their eggs so you can expect the mosquito population to grow. Make sure you are taking proper precautions to guard yourself and your family against mosquitoes.
- Cockroaches: Cockroaches are often seeking water sources, but after a flood they will be looking for a place to stay dry. They will multiply quickly and carry diseases so it is important to eliminate conditions, avenues and sources immediately.
- Termites: Termites are attracted to moisture, and structures that have been flooded are more prone to an infestation. A thorough inspection of your home is critical to ensure termites have not gained access into your home from underground or through your attic.
If your drywall has been removed, Massey Services strongly recommends that these areas be treated with Bora-Care before the drywall is replaced. The Bora-Care treatment penetrates the wood in the structure and remains there for the life of the wood, providing residual protection. This treatment will be provided at no additional cost to current customers. Please call us to schedule your Bora-Care treatment.
If you need any help with your pest needs, please don’t hesitate to contact Massey Services at 225-752-7378 or 1-888-2MASSEY.
We’re here to help!
When visitors from out of town escape to their winter home and the warmth of Florida, they often expect to have a few guests. They prefer the human kind, but often pests may also arrive in the form of ants. Homes in Florida tend to see an influx of ghost ants and white-footed ants at this time of year. Both of these pests come indoors in search of food and water, which are plentiful when people return to their winter homes. Massey Services wants homeowners to know the facts about these small, but annoying pests.
Ghost ant colonies can run into the thousands, and while they nest mainly outside in plant materials near a home’s foundation, they can form colonies indoors in wall voids, behind cabinetry and in any dark places. You may find them in your kitchen or bathroom. White-footed ants nest in decaying plant materials, such as palms, leaf litter and hollow plant stems, but they may also set up colonies in wall voids and under attic insulation.
Ants like sheltered spaces that allow them easy access to food and water. Here are some tips to keep them out of your home.
- Keep plant material away from your home.
- Trim back shrubs and make sure mulch and ground cover are at a distance from the homes foundation
- Check under attic insulation for the ant colonies.
If you do find ants have taken up residence, work with a trained pest prevention expert to remove them from your home. Hardware store and DIY remedies are only temporary. If a large colony of ants has taken up residence in your home you’ll need professional help to remove them and put a plan in place to keep them from coming back. Contact Massey Services for a free pest inspection of your home, whether it’s your winter home or you live in Florida year-round.
In honor of Termite Awareness Week, which happens to be this week, we wanted to share the differences between a winged ant vs. a winged termite. According to PCT Magazine, the two can somewhat resemble each other, and since numerous species of termites and ants swarm at the same time of year, they can easily be confused for each other.
Termites belong to the insect order Isoptera (which means equal (iso) wings (ptera)). Their front and hind wings are nearly equal in length and width. Termites hold their wings flat over their body when at rest and shed their wings much more quickly than do ants. Ants belong to the insect order Hymenoptera (membrane (hymen) wings (ptera)). Their membranous front wings are much longer than their hind wings, and their wing veins are darker and typically more prominent than those of termites. Ants hold their wings angled above the body when at rest.
Termite swarmers’ antennae are rather straight or gently curved and are composed of round, bead-like segments. In comparison, ant swarmers have elbowed antennae, with a long first segment nearest the head.
Insects have three interconnecting body regions: head, thorax and abdomen. In termite swarmers, the thorax and abdomen are broadly joined. In contrast, ant swarmers appear to have a constricted (pinched in) “waist” because of the narrow junction between their thorax and abdomen.
Termite swarmers are soft bodied whereas ant swarmers are hard bodied. This means that if you were to place the swarmers you’re seeing in a closed jar containing a wad of paper towel, by the next day the termite alate will have died and their bodies will be shrunken due to water loss, whereas ant alates typically will be alive with no evidence of desiccation.
Ants can be a very challenging pest to eliminate once they gain access inside your home. You first have to figure out how they’re gaining access inside and then what type of ant is actually invading your home. Fortunately, the experts at Massey Services can identify how they’re getting in, the species of ant you’re dealing with and finally, put together an action plan to eliminate them and prevent them from coming back!
So while the professionals are at work, here are a few interesting facts about ants published by Animal Planet and reproduced by Pest Management Professional (PMP) magazine.
- Ants can distinguish between sour, sweet, bitter and salty tastes.
- They have two kinds of stomachs: a traditional stomach and a crop. The food an ant eats for itself goes to the stomach. Food it shares with others is stored in the crop. The ant spits up this food to feed other ants and larvae. (Hungry ants can tap antennae to ask for food).
- Some species of ants have compound eyes and well-developed vision, while others have simple eyes that can distinguish only between light and dark. More unfortunate species are blind.
- The ant’s most highly developed sense is its sense of smell. Their abdominal glands secrete various pheromones that cause specific reactions from other individuals. Pheromones act as alarms, sex attractants and trail markers; and they help individuals recognize each other.
- Tropical rain forests are bursting with insect life. If all animals in the Amazon rain forest were weighed, many scientists think ants and termites would consist of one-third the weight.
- Ants vary in length from about 1/16 inch to almost 2 inches. Most species are red, black, brown or yellow, and some are green or metallic blue.
There are many more interesting facts about ants but we also know you don’t want them in your home. Contact Massey Services for a free pest inspection today so you can prevent these pests from coming inside.
There are many different types of ants with very unique names in the state of Florida. They include the White-Footed Ant, the Ghost Ant, the Crazy Ant, the Pharaoh Ant, the Acrobat Ant and the Argentine Ant, just to name a few.
But just recently, a team member at Massey Services discovered a new species of ant that is not native to the state of Florida. Shawn Hole, a Pest Technician in our Fort Myers Service Center, discovered this ant while providing service to a customer’s home. Upon inspecting it and realizing he did not recognize what type of ant it was, he sent a photo to Bob Belmont, Massey’s Pest Prevention Technical & Training Director and Board Certified Entomologist, asking what type of ant he had discovered. Both agreed the ant species looked similar to black compact carpenter ants, but they wanted to receive a final confirmation.
Belmont contacted Dr. Mark Deyrup, Florida’s ant expert. Bob then asked Shawn to forward a sample of the ants to place in Massey’s specimen collection. When the ants arrived, Bob noticed characteristics on the ant that he had not seen before. At that point, specimens were sent to Dr. Deyrup, who confirmed the ant was new to Florida! After more research and verification from museums and curators, the ant was verified as Camponotus novogranadensis, an introduced species that ranges from Mexico to S. America, never before encountered in Florida.
This ant is common in areas of low vegetation and is an opportunistic cavity nester. It will build nests in live stems as well as dead branches of various sizes.
If you’re having an ant issue in your home, contact the experts at Massey Services today for a free inspection!