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!

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO OUR BATON ROUGE NEIGHBORS

termite-plansStructural 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!

Ants are Back

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 common-pestswater, 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.

The Difference Between Winged Termites and Winged Ants

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. Ant-and-Termite

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 Are Here…and They’re Attempting to Get Inside Your Home

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

Bob Belmont, Board Certified Entomologist, and the Pest Prevention Pest home page pictureTechnical & 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.

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 and Caribbean Crazy 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.

Did You Know? A Few Facts about Ants…

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 action08redfire_enl 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.

Massey Services Discovers New Ant Species Not Native to Florida

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.Bob and Shawn

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!

Beware of Crazy Ants!

Be on the lookout – a recent report hit the news that crazy ants are spreading like “crazy” in Central Florida. In some cases, these ants are even known for shorting out electrical systems due to the high numbers of the ants that can cause arcing. And during the summer, a shorted electrical system caused by crazy ants  is about the last thing any of us want to deal with.

Crazy ants are agricultural and household pests found in most tropical and subtropical areas. They can be a pervasive pest indoors in temperate areas. They even have the ability to successfully survive in highly disturbed and artificial areas, including ships at sea.05crazy_enl

The crazy ant is thought to be of either Asian or African descent but has widespread populations from Florida to South Carolina and west to Texas. They are commonly found in residences and warehouses over much of the eastern United States and in California and Arizona.

The crazy ant is 2.2 – 3 mm long, with a slender body and long legs. The body color is dark brown to black.

The crazy ant derives its names from its erratic, jerky movement. They nest in both dry and moist environments, in trash, plants, rotten wood and soil. They also nest adjacent to foundations in landscape mulch and behind thick vegetation.

According to the University of Florida, modular units that were being used as temporary schoolrooms by a North Lauderdale elementary school in 1970 had a severe crazy ant infestation. The principal reported that the units were so inundated by the ant that students were constantly in a state of turmoil. The invasion reached such proportions that the students’ sack lunches were kept in closed plastic bags placed on tables, with each table leg sitting in a pan of water as a barrier to the ant.

Fortunately, with Massey’s Pest Prevention, we’ll prevent these pests from becoming a problem in your home or business. If you’re not a pest prevention customer, contact us today to schedule a free inspection today!

Insects and Their Bites

As summer quickly approaches, pests will begin multiplying, which means a higher likelihood to experience bug bites. Some bites can hardly be noticed, but there are others that can cause such severity they become life threatening.

Here are a few bugs that you should be aware of this summer and try to prevent from becoming victim to their bites:

  • Mosquitoes:  Female mosquitoes feed on blood to help their eggs develop into offspring.  When mosquitoes bite, they release saliva into the bite area. Allergic mosquito-abatementreactions to the saliva cause the itchy bumps and swollen hives some people get after being bitten.  In addition to their bites, mosquitoes are also well-known for carrying diseases.  Mosquito-borne diseases currently of public health concern include St. Louis encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, West Nile virus encephalitis, and dengue.
  • Red Imported Fire Ant:  The Red Imported Fire Ant was first introduced from Brazil into either Mobile, AL or Pensacola, FL between 1933-1945.  They now fireantinfest Puerto Rico and all or parts of the southern states and western states from Maryland to southern California.  The sting of this ant possesses an alkaloid venom, which is responsible for both the pain and the white pustules that appear approximately one day after the sting occurred.  The remainder of the venom contains an aqueous solution of proteins, peptides, and other small molecules that produce the allergic reaction in hypersensitive individuals.
  • Fleas:  The cat flea is the most important flea species in the United States and attacks both cats and dogs. Adults are 1/16″ long and are usually found on the host. The 16flea_enlflea inserts its mouthparts in the skin, injects saliva and sucks blood. The bite leaves a red spot on the skin. The saliva is irritating to the host, causing dermatitis and hair loss in allergic animals.  Fleas can also transmit tapeworm.
  • Ticks:  Ticks are not insects and are closely related to the spider. Ticks are known to transmit serious diseases to animals and 17tick_enlhumans even though humans are not the preferred host. They are known to be almost as important as mosquitoes in terms of public health importance.  Diseases ticks are known to carry are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and relapsing fever.

There are many other pests to be aware of as the warm weather arrives.  Always be cautious around bugs to help protect yourself from painful bites and stings this summer!

Going Crazy with Crazy Ants

It’s no laughing matter—the colloquially called “crazy ant” has invaded! Currently, 20 Florida counties have reported invasive colonies, with Sarasota County being the hardest-hit. Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana have also recently experienced problems with this pest.

Crazy ants, called “crazy” due to their erratic movements when disturbed, can establish colonies with multiple queens and millions of workers. These ant colonies have countless negative effects: they blanket lawns and sidewalks, kill native species, short electrical systems and cause pounding headaches for homeowners.

To help keep crazy ants from making you crazy, make sure to have an ongoing pest prevention service to keep pests out of your home. There are also a few efforts homeowners can take to prevent creating a breeding ground for these pests. For example, crazy ants nest outdoors in damp, confined spaces, so remove leaf litter, storm debris, and other yard waste that could provide shelter for these pests. As with most insects, the crazy ant needs water to thrive, so be sure to fix leaky outdoor faucets, pipes, and irrigation systems, and minimize standing-water sources such as pet bowls and flower pots.

Established colonies do not utilize the typical dirt mounds other ants use. Instead, look for golden-brown ants running erratically on structures, vegetation or the ground.

If you suspect that your property has become the new home for these troublesome insects, contact the pest management professionals at Massey Services today.

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