Pest Advice Blog

Spring into Swarms: Prepare your Atlanta Home for Termite Season

Spring time in Atlanta, Georgia is truly the ideal time of the year to enjoy the many outdoor activities that the city has to offer. Warm sunshine and cool breeze invigorates the whole city and breathes new life into nature. Although this great weather can encourage homeowners to spend most of their days out of the house, it is important to remember that while you are out and about, pest problems may be lurking on the inside of your home.

Termite swarm
While pest control should be addressed 365 days of the year, changes in the seasons means that different pests can be more active during one season and more dormant during others. In the case of termites, spring is the optimal time for them to swarm and infest new areas. Properly preparing your home to prevent termite damage is key to weathering the swarm. Truly Nolen of West Atlanta, GA outlines special concerns for Atlanta homes, paying close attention to areas in the home more susceptible to damage such as crawl spaces, attics, basements, chimneys and any wooden structure that may be attached to, or near to your home.

Why Do Termites Swarm?

Found throughout most of the United States, termites are particularly prevalent in the South East, with Atlanta claiming one of the top hot spots for termite infestations. In particular, subterranean termites are the most common type, making a name for themselves in many Atlanta homes. Drawn to moisture, subterranean termites will build their nests in wet wood, as well as underground, hence the name “subterranean.” Winding their way through tunnels in the soil, subterranean termites are on the search for wooden structures in any form, as this contains cellulose, which is the primary basis of their diet. Trees, decaying woods, branches and other wood elements don’t stand a chance against these voracious eaters. Unfortunately, many of these wooden elements can also be found near to or attached to your home, making them the perfect gateway for termites to enter.

Should termites find their way into your home and establish their colonies, there will come a time when these colonies will become overcrowded or these termites will be on the search for new areas to inhabit. When this happens, “swarmers” or winged termites will emerge and swarm, indicating the start of the termite reproductive cycle. These swarmers have the primary responsibility of taking flight in order to reproduce, in turn creating new colonies away from its current environment.

Areas of Concern in Atlanta Homes & How to Prepare

With much of Atlanta surrounded heavily by trees, combined with the wooden architecture and construction design elements of most Atlanta homes, there are many opportunities for these wood destroying insects to enter the home and wreak havoc. Termite infestations can be a tremendous financial drainage for homeowners who are not aware of a problem until it is too late. This is also a consideration for those wishing to buy or sell their properties, as undiscovered termite problems can damage property values and affect pending transactions.

Residents in Atlanta are advised to be particularly aware of certain areas in the home that are more prone to termite infestations. By being cognizant of these areas, homeowners can be proactive in scheduling regular inspections from a trained Truly Nolen pest control expert. In addition, homeowners can also take steps to help deter termites from wreaking havoc in their home.

Areas that are susceptible to termite damage include:

  • Crawl Spaces – Construction elements that are found in crawl spaces can be cellulose in nature, thus providing ample bait for termites to forage. Also, crawl spaces are prone to excessive moisture if not properly ventilated, making them an ideal environment for termites to flourish.
    How to Prepare: Ensure that all crawl spaces are inspected for insufficient ventilation, being sure to address this sooner than later. Proper ventilation decreases the humidity factor, where termites tend to thrive.
  • Basements – Close to the ground, basements can serve as an entry point for termites due to issues with moisture and its proximity to the soil.
    How to prepare: Ensure that all window frames or doorways in the basement are properly sealed and caulked. Proper insulation, as well as maintaining adequate temperatures allow for less moisture in the air and can also deter termites.
  • Chimneys – With chimneys having a direct route to the exterior of the home, as well as the presence of chopped firewood, termites can find their way inside.
    How to prepare: Routinely check firewood for signs of termites and store at least 20 feet away from the house if possible.
  • Attics – Old, wooden exposed beams in the attic can provide the perfect place for termites to get their fill.
    How to prepare: For older homes in particular, a professional attic inspection can reveal any signs of damaged or rotting beams that may be in need of repair.
  • Porches/Decks – Generally constructed of wood, termites are notorious for doing damage as exposed porches and decks are prone to weathering from natural elements such as rain or snow.
    How to prepare: Regularly apply protecting sealants to help keep moisture from infiltrating the wood. This will ensure that your deck lasts longer, as well as provide a barrier between the wood and water, keeping termites at bay.
  • Wooden sheds –Outdoor wooden sheds can find themselves under attack since they are prone to getting wet.
    How to prepare: At the first sign of rotting wood, replace or repair the damaged area to avoid giving termites an easy meal. Applying insecticide, or painting the exterior of the shed can also help discourage termites.
  • Wooden siding- With cracks and creases to hide in, wooden siding is often a source of termite infestation in most Atlanta homes.
    How to prepare: Ideally, siding should start at a minimum of 6 inches from the ground to avoid wood to soil contact.
  • Wooden fencing – In direct contact with the soil, untreated wooden fencing makes it easy for termites to crawl up and do damage to the fence itself, as well as to adjoining structures.
    How to prepare: Addressing any signs of decaying wood is the first step in keeping your wooden fence termite free. It can also be helpful to paint the fence, as this will create an additional barrier to the wood.

Since termite infestations can often go unnoticed for a period of time, it is important for residents in Atlanta to schedule home inspections on a regular basis. Consistently monitoring and treating your home will ensure that termites do not have a chance to enter, and any existing problems are dealt with safely and efficiently by your trained service professional.

Your Truly Nolen West Atlanta professional can provide a free home inspection and customized treatment options that are just right for you. Through Truly’s Total Termite Protection Plan℠, homeowners are covered for protection from all types of termites. Call Truly Nolen today at 404-939-7277 to schedule your free inspection and discuss how we can help you keep your home termite free this spring!

Palm Desert Visits Pegasus Therapeutic Riding

Employees at Palm Desert (Branch 063) became “Side Riders” for a day of fun at Pegasus Therapeutic Riding. Throughout the event the team helped special needs children with horseback riding by steadying them on horse as they ventured around an enclosure. The fun didn’t stop there as the team then helped the children with other fun activities like ring tosses and basketball shooting throughout the rest of the afternoon!  

The “Green” Side of Truly

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Each year April 22nd marks the anniversary of “Earth Day”, a day that is largely considered to be the founding of the modern environmental movement in 1970. The inspiration for Earth Day came to former U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, after witnessing a catastrophic oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Senator Nelson came to the realization that a public movement with enough attention would force the notion of environmental protection onto the national political agenda and in doing so, spark advances in water and air pollution technology.

This Earth Day, Truly Nolen Pest Control explores advances in residential pest control treatments that will continue to ensure our commitment to remain environmentally conscious. We will also discuss major industry changes that have had an impact on the “greenness” of pest control treatments from a commercial standpoint.

Advances in Residential Pest Control

Unfortunately, pest control service is associated with the idea that only highly toxic chemicals are the primary ones used to prevent pests from our homes. However, advances in residential pest control over the decades helped to establish new industry protocol where both the health of the consumer and the environment are the focal points.

Today with the support of extensive research, industries like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have made drastic reforms to pest control practices. An example of the aforementioned modifications is the mandating of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Integrated Pest Management as defined by the EPA is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment (EPA 2014).

With our obligation to environmental protection, Truly Nolen fully embraces the ideals of IPM by “managing” pests rather than simply exterminating them by any means possible. IPM programs incorporate the use of both non-chemical and chemical-based treatments to promote pest management that is as ecologically responsible as possible. Examples of green treatment methods Truly Nolen incorporates residentially include:

  • Using Botanical Aerosols derived naturally from plants
  • Exterior web wiping: a treatment that involves cleanly wiping away spider without the addition of any repellants
  • Borate-based powder application: Borates have little to no toxicity with mammals
  • Mechanical Exclusion: using tools and knowledge of pest behavior to blockade every possible entry point into a home

Seeing Green: Environmentally Conscious Commercial/Industrial Treatments

Although commercial/industrial properties may differ from residential ones, Truly Nolen’s commitment to environmentally safe pest control remains constant. We realize the health of both employees and customers are at stake and with that being said our IPM program’s reach extends beyond the residential setting, and addresses the commercial ones as well.

In addition to the previously mentioned green options, Truly Nolen combines a range of options designed to address pest issues in a commercial setting, including:

  • A free, detailed inspection the property
  • Constant monitoring of the property
  • Precise installation of baiting/trapping systems

Whether you are a home or business owner, Truly Nolen service experts can customize an effective and environmentally friendly plan to meet all of your pest control needs. This Earth Day, we ask that you please keep the environment in your thoughts and “go green” in all that you do, including choosing a pest control service provider!

What’s Eating Your Lawn?

florida-grass

The Sunshine state is truly the ideal place to live and work. With the sun shining year round, your yard is the perfect place to host a BBQ, watch the kids play, lounge by the pool or even take a nap under the shade of a tree.

Having a healthy and beautiful lawn in Florida is important when it comes to maintaining the aesthetics of your home, but all of that sunshine and Florida’s humid climate can put a lot stress on your lawn. Our year round tropical climate makes keeping your lawn healthy and beautiful a year-round task. Florida is susceptible to grass and plant funguses and other pathogens, salt intrusion and poor water retention, providing the perfect conditions for invading insects and weeds to thrive. Considering the multiple types of grass found in Florida, in combination with the different types of common pests that are known to destroy the aesthetic value of Florida Lawns, all Florida homeowners can benefit from a brief Florida Lawn 101.

Types of Grasses Found in Florida

Florida is home to certain types of grass that flourish well in warm, humid climates. While many lawns consist of a mixture of grass varieties, let’s take a closer look at some of the specific types commonly found in the Sunshine state:

  • Augustine grass/Floratam

This dark green, course grass is probably the most common grass found in warmer climates. With a broad blade and rounded tip, St. Augustine grass (also known as Floratam) requires a lot of moisture in order to survive. In summer month’s it grows quickly, requiring weekly mowing. During the winter, spring and fall months the grass can generally be cut every five weeks.

  • Bahia grass

This soft, deep green grass tends to do well in sandy soil and warmer conditions. Similar to the St. Augustine blade, Bahia grass grows quickly in the summer month’s but slows during the other seasons. Unlike St. Augustine grass, Bahia grass has a pointed tip instead of a rounded one. Even though the blade itself grows slowly, the seed stalks tend to grow rapidly.

  • Bermuda grass

With a deep green color and a sharply pointed blade, Bermuda grass can most often be spotted on the rolling hills of the golf courses in Florida. Chosen for its dense quality, this grass requires consistent watering and fertilizing.

  • Centipede grass

Centipede grass prefers more humid, warm areas and does not require as much fertilizer as other grasses. The blades themselves tend to be pointier, and grow very low, almost horizontally to the ground.

  • Zoysia grass

This dark green, turf type grass tends to have a softer blade, and is the most susceptible to damage due to lack of moisture. Homeowners like this grass because of its ability to stand up to foot traffic, as well as provide an attractive choice for lawn cover.

Common Lawn Pests found in Florida

Due to Florida’s environmental conditions and warm weather, many pests tend to thrive in both the Northern and Southern parts of the state, causing headaches for many homeowners as their lawns become susceptible to damage. Actively seeking on-going pest management and lawn maintenance is essential to identifying the culprit at hand early on, saving homeowners’ money in the long run, as well as unnecessary additional damage to the lawn.

Some of the pests that might be causing damage to your lawn include:

  • Chinch Bugs

If you’ve noticed areas in your lawn turning yellow, and then a reddish color before dying, chances are Chinch bugs are around. Partial to the St. Augustine grass, Chinch bugs extract the liquid found in grass through their needle like beaks, depleting the grass of its nutrients, often feasting in large groups. Since Chinch bugs like the sunny areas of the grass, you may notice patches on your lawn, especially in well exposed areas.

  • Mole Crickets

Preferring the warm coastline of the southeastern United States, Mole Crickets can be particularly destructive to your lawn if left untreated. Feeding on the roots of mostly Bermuda grass and Bahia grass, Mole crickets, tunnel through the soil causing the roots of the grass to loosen eventually drying out the grass and killing it. Though hard to spot, you’ll notice evidence of mole crickets by dry patches of grass on your lawn and signs of tunneling in the soil.

  • Sod Webworms

Adult sod webworms are in fact a small brown moth that lives in turf grasses. Though the adults do not actually consume the grass, their offspring are the main cause of lawn destruction. After the female sod webworms lay their eggs, these eggs hatch and the small caterpillars that emerge begin feeding on the top growths of the grass where they have hatched, usually in the spring time.

  • Army Worms

St. Augustine grass and Bermuda grass are often times the feeding choice for Army worms. Growing up to 2” in length with gray/yellow stripes going down its body, army worms feed mostly at night on the blades of these warm weather grasses. Since these insects love chewing on grass, you’ll notice brown areas on the blades that indicate where an army worm has chewed.

  • Grubs

White grubs in particular, are the most damaging turf insect pest. Feeding on the roots of grass plants, they tend to be most active in mid to late summer. Just under an inch in length and shaped like a “C”, these bugs can go undetected for a long time before evidence, such as irregular sections of brown grass, appears. Since they have been busy eating away at the roots of the grass, the damaged turf can be easily detached from the soil.

  • Spittlebugs

As their name implies, Spittlebugs produce a white, ‘spit’ like protective barrier that can appear as a frothy substance on plants and grass. Adult spittlebugs do not produce this foam, but rather the nymphs that have hatched in early spring who then adhere themselves to plants and begin feeding. In particular, the Two-lined spittlebug damages grasses such as St. Augustine and Bermuda grass by causing patches of turf to turn yellow and eventually, brown. Proper fertilization techniques can aid in discouraging the development of Spittlebugs in your garden.

The Grass is Always Greener

Tips for Ornamental Care

Ornamental plants generally require little care and can provide interesting textures and colors to any garden. The benefit of ornamental plants is that they can flourish in diverse soil conditions. Unlike lawn grasses that require specific care and treatment, ornamental plants can be considered a bit hardier, despite their often delicate appearance.

Some ways to keep your ornamental plants happy among the rest of your garden:

  • Maintain regular fertilizer, pruning and pest control.
  • Add compost to the soil when transplanting ornamental plants.
  • Proper drainage and irrigation are important despite moisture retentive plants.
  • Periodically trim your ornamental plants, preferably in the spring as new growth occurs.
  • Allow enough space for your plants to grow.

Tips for Grass care, Fertilization & Weed Control

In addition to active pest management control, proper fertilization and weed control techniques should be used to help maintain healthy, vibrant grass. With year round tropical conditions, applying best practices to lawn care can extend the life of your lawn and provide a beautiful landscape for you to enjoy.

  • For thin grass, consider seeding it during the spring. If overseeding, it can sometimes be helpful to choose a different grass variety that has been grown for natural insect resistance.
  • Paying special attention to the type of grass ensures that the appropriate amount is cut. For example, Floritam grass should be cut at 4”, while Zoysi grass is typically cut between 2 -3 inches.
  • Watering your lawn less frequently, but with more water helps ensure that the roots are receiving adequate moisture, which will encourage them to grow deeper.
  • Fertilization applications are best done in spring and late summer.
  • Proper mowing techniques can also ensure that fertilization treatments have had time to work. Ideally, waiting a day before and after your lawn has been fertilized makes for the optimal time for mowing.
  • Weed control is best applied when the weeds have grown a bit to allow the solution to adhere from the top right down to the root

With Truly’s Lawn Care program, an initial analysis can help determine current problems pertaining to pests and overall health of your lawn. Taking into consideration everything from grass type, nutrition, watering, fertilization and more, Truly’s Lawn Care experts can identify areas that are prone to weed or insects and provide tips on how you can maintain a beautiful lawn. Contact Truly Nolen today to see how we can develop a customized lawn care plan that will keep you and your toes happy all year round!

Those Aren’t Mosquitoes… They’re Crane Flies!

It’s a Bird! It’s a Mosquito! NO! It’s a Crane Fly!

Over the past month, Arizona has seen a tremendous influx of flying insects that look very similar to giant mosquitoes. However, these insects are not mosquitoes; they are, in fact, crane flies! Often mistaken for mosquitoes, crane flies look somewhat similar to mosquitoes but are different in many significant ways.

The similarities between the crane fly and the mosquito are mostly physical, they do look similar and this is why they are often confused. Crane flies and mosquitoes also share the same type of life cycle – complete, which means that they are both born from eggs that hatch into larvae before pupating where they develop into their final adult form.

The differences between the crane fly and the mosquito are much more in number than the similarities.

  • The crane fly tends to be larger than the mosquito, with a skinnier body and very long legs.
  • Crane flies vary in size from very small up to two and a half inches long with as long as a three inch wingspan. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why people call them ‘mosquito hawks’, although the truth is that they do not eat mosquitoes or even attack them.

Interestingly, adult crane flies might not even eat at all during their short lives. After emerging from the pupa stage crane flies live for just a couple short weeks. During this time it is not known for sure if they eat nectar from flowers or not, but it is fairly certain that nectar is the only substance they eat during their adult lives if at all. They do not eat “blood meals” like mosquitoes; this is the most important difference between the two insects.

Crane flies pose no threat whatsoever to humans, so if you see one in your home, fear not, it is not there to feast on you like a mosquito. If you do see a crane fly in your home it is most likely because a door or window was opened and the crane fly sensed the light, following it inside to the source. They are very poor fliers and will simply fly toward any light source they see.

In order to keep crane flies out of your home follow these simple tips.

  • Seal, screen, or close any doors, windows or other entry points into your home as this will make it harder for them to get inside.
  • Turn off porch lights at night. Since crane flies are attracted to light, they will not be as likely to be drawn to your home in the dark if you turn off your lights at night.
  • Keep foliage, wood piles and other decaying organic matter away from the perimeter of your home as this is what the larvae feed on.

Between their poor flying skills, short life expectancy and these tips, you will drastically reduce the crane fly population in your home.

A truly amazing fact about crane flies is that their bodies have features that humans have mimicked to allow for more effective design – halteres. Halteres are small club shaped objects about the size of the crane fly’s antennae that stick out of their body and sit just behind the wings. When the insect flies at high velocities the halteres vibrate which allows the insect to maintain control of the yaw, pitch and roll of its flight. This is similar in function to what we call a gyroscope on our modern aircraft. Crane flies, though annoying, had perfected flight long before humans ever thought it possible.

Mesa Leads Insect Presentation at Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce

Branch manager Joe Miksesell met with the Lost Dutchman leads group of the Apache Chamber of Commerce and gave a 20 minute presentation on the top five bugs that Truly Nolen receive the most calls about. Roughly 20 local businesses were represented by a combination of owners and managers at the meeting. Branch 049 added value to others’ by providing a better understanding of the bugs with the greatest impact on the local area!

Mesa Teams Up With Greenfield Elementary Dad’s Club

Mesa (branch 049) teamed up with the Greenfield Elementary Dad’s Club in their annual “Stuck In the Swap Extravaganza” The Mouse Limo was accompanied by an entire array of other vehicles ranging from Helicopters, SWAT Vehicles, Fire trucks, Ambulances along with a host of buggy friends: a Colombian Goldburst Tarantula, a Pumpkin Patch Tarantula, a Desert Hairy Scorpion, and Bark Scorpions. The team also handed out over 200 sport packs filled with coloring books, cups, pens, air fresheners and tattoos. A big thanks to all of the Truly Nolen Team: Ron Pratt, Mike Willis and his wife, Jim Sivigny, and Scott Loveridge

Fumigation vs. No Tent Solutions

trenching
Choosing the proper termite treatment for your home is an important decision. Homeowners should be aware of all the options available to them. Each year thousands of large-scale and small-scale fumigations occur to deal with numerous forms of pest infestation. In the case of a drywood termite infestation, the treatment choices are between traditional tent fumigation solutions and non-tent solutions.

Fumigation

In certain instances, infestation can be so severe that tent fumigation is the only option. Infestations that become widespread, particularly in inaccessible areas, are what make tent fumigation an attractive option. Once settled into a home, termites are able to live in areas we can’t readily see like beams, walls, or perhaps underneath floorboards. When a structure is fumigated, the gas reaches every area and deeply penetrates its wood structures where termites live and feed. The fumigant used is a true gas (meaning it’s lighter than air) once the home is completely aerated it leaves behind no residue whatsoever.

Homeowner should equally be aware of the drawbacks:

  • Neither convenient (must vacate property for 72 hours), nor inexpensive
  • The house must be prepared properly: total removal of all occupants, pets, plants, medicine, food, open containers, and cosmetics. Gas service must be disconnected and pilot lights must be extinguished.
  • Fumigants do not provide protection from future infestation; they only treat for existing termites
  • The heavy tarps used to hold fumigants in can easily damage gutters, tile roofing, and shrubbery

Edison house tenting

Non-Fumigation Solutions

There are several alternatives to fumigation; however the two most predominant methods outside of fumigation are heat and liquid pesticide treatment. Similar to fumigation, each alternative has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Heating: Heat-based treatments have proven to be effective against termite swarms. Heating requires tenting and raising the temperature of the wood throughout a home to 120-130 degrees for a minimum of 35-60 minutes.

  • Effective when localized colonies can be identified
  • Cause damage to heat sensitive belongings (electronics, vinyl, beauty supplies, wiring, furniture, etc…)
  • Energy costs can make heating expensive

Spot Treatment: Involves drilling multiple holes into infested areas of flooring and walls so that a termiticide can be injected.

  • Less expensive and more convenient than heating and fuming
  • Treatment provides lasting effects for protection against future swarms
  • Does not affect termites in inaccessible areas (spot treatment is roughly only 2 square feet)
  • Multiple treatments may be necessary

Total Termite Protection Plan ℠ (TTP):

The treatment option provided by Truly Nolen, which differs from both spot treatment and fumigation. Application of treatment includes areas both on the interior and exterior of household.

  • Covers more area of home than spot treatment
  • Protect against both Drywood termites and Subterranean termites
  • Residual effects of treatment protect against future swarms
  • Preliminary inspections are offered free of charge

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