Termites terrorize Texas

Swarming termites were a disconcerting sight for many San Antonio residents this holiday season, states amateur scientist Forrest Mims in an article for San Antonio Express-News.

Several days before Christmas, Mims noticed flying insects on his property. Upon approaching the swarm, he noticed a patch of ground below it covered in a rippling, shimmering white film, he writes. What he was looking at was actually a thousand winged termites, which then suddenly  took off into the air.

While termites serve an important purpose in nature eating up dead tree particles, they’re a major nuisance for residents. There are a variety of termite species and most share the commonality of destroying wood and causing severe damage for homeowners.

Subterranean termites live in underground colonies that can contain up to 2 million members, according to the National Pest Management Association. They build mud or soil tubes in the ground around exposed concrete foundation, which homeowners should be aware of when expecting their property for signs of an infestation.

Meanwhile, drywood termites rarely come into contact with the soil and live in dry wood, as their name implies. They can also cause serious structural damage.

If residents suspects termites on their property, they should contact a pest management professional promptly.

Bed bugs wreak havoc in Indiana and Kentucky

Residents of the Asheville Housing Authority complex in Aston Park, Indiana, are troubled by a lingering bed bug problem, reports local ABC affiliate WLOS. After dealing with a large bed bug infestation in 2011, authority officials have told the station the problem hasn't worsened and is under control and that they've only received one complaint recently. However, bed bugs remain an ongoing concern for residents.

Occupants of public housing complexes in New Albany, Kentucky, are facing the the same problem, states local news station WHAS 11. The housing authority has recently brought in pest management professionals to search more than 1,000 homes.

Bed bugs have become a  major issue for homeowners and communities across the country, notably in the Midwest and the South. City officials in a Louisville, Kentucky suburb met earlier this week to discuss recent infestation reports, according to WDRB, which covers news for areas of Kentucky and Indiana.

The suburb of Shelbyville code enforcement officer Darryl Williams said bed bug cases in the area are mostly sporadic and occur in apartment complexes. He conducts building inspections weekly.

"We started having problems with mattresses sitting on the side of the roads. We had couches, chairs sitting on the side of the road," Williams told the news service.

Bed bugs are particularly troublesome because they bite and they populate quickly. Many Shelbyville residents are realizing how difficult getting rid of them is without professional help.

"It has to be a professional pesticide company that comes in and does it," said Williams. "It just can't be an individual."

City officials are holding a meeting on Thursday night to discuss pest management and property owner education initiatives.

Because bed bugs infestations are among the most troublesome pest problems, homeowners and landlords should take precautionary measures to catch them early on. It's important to call a pest management professional promptly upon seeing bed bugs, bites or pepper-like flakes of shedded skin on furniture and in fabric or carpeting.

Roof rats cause trouble for Washington residents

While roof rats are usually only found along the coast of Washington, exterminators are seeing an increase of reported sightings in other parts of the state, local news source Yakima Herald reports.

Officials have yet to determine whether the increase in roof rat calls pest management professionals are receiving is caused by a species population growth or migration. Despite the cause, the rodents are resulting in problems for homeowners throughout the area and an increase in calls to pest control professionals.

Roof rats are named after their tendency to dwell in structure attics, trees and vine-covered fences, the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management (ICWDM) states. These pests often enter buildings through roof openings and from overhead utility lines and nearby trees. Roof rats can be extremely troublesome for homeowners as they can gnaw through insulation and wiring, which can result in costly damage and potential health hazards for a family experiencing an invasion.

Preventing an infestation
To avoid luring roof rats into a home, residents can take precautionary measures to pest-proof their property. Because roof rats often eat the pulp of oranges, it's a good idea to clean up any fruit that may have fallen from yard trees. Residents should also trim branches near structures and eliminate brush on their property to eliminate hiding places and routes into the home.

These rats are attracted by water and materials that can be used to build nests. It's therefore a good idea to eliminate moisture and potential harborage throughout the home. Those homeowners who suspect the pests may have gotten into their homes are advised to contact rodent control specialists who can ensure the problem is taken care of promptly. 

USDA shares preventative advice on Asian longhorned beetles

Faced with Asian longhorned beetle infestations throughout parts of Ohio, local municipal leaders met with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officer Philip Holmes last month to discuss containing current bug populations and preventing further infestation.

While these beetles have been spotted in surrounding towns, the city of Milford hasn't seen any reported cases yet. City officials are taking preventative measures nonetheless, local news source Community Press reports.

"We are so close to an infested area that there is absolutely a possibility of it becoming a problem here as well," Milford Mayor Geoff Pittman said, according to the newspaper.

Spotting an infestation
The Asian longhorned beetle is a destructive wood-boring pest that was first discovered in the U.S. in the 1990s, according to the University of Vermont Entomology Research Laboratory. These bugs are glossy black with white spots and can be up to 1.5 inches in length.

Holmes warned officials and homeowners should not confuse Asian longhorned beetles with emerald ash borers, which are also currently causing problems for property owners in the Midwest. While ash borers only attack ash trees, Asian longhorned beetles infest 13 types of hardwood trees, including ash, birch, buckeye, maple and goldenrain.

After Asian longhorned beetles lay eggs under the bark of trees, larvae hatch and eat the soft wood near the outer parts of trees. These young bugs will move into the heartwood and stay there for two-and-a-half years before fully maturing. Once they hit the pupal stage, adult beetles emerge from the trees.

While these bugs do not attack finished wood, their presence can be extremely troublesome for residents because they can destroy yard trees and infest firewood.

Know the signs
One sign of an infestation is a random pattern of holes in trees. When these bugs emerge from wood, they make a dime-sized exit hole with smooth edges, according to Community Press.

In addition, beetles create excretions called frass that look similar to sawdust. Egg sites may also be noticeable and are the size of a deer eye.

It's a good idea to look for these signs early, as an infestation can ravage a plant quickly.

When homeowners take proactive measures to protect their property, they limit the chances of having to deal with costly tree removal services. If residents suspect their home or yard is being frequented by unwelcome critters, they should notify a pest management professional promptly.