Category Archives: General

Carpenter Ants vs. Termites

It’s important to differentiate between two flying, wood-destroying pests – the carpenter ant and the termite. Many people will often confuse the two, as both pests are very similar in color, size, and shape. Knowing what pest you have will make getting rid of them faster, easier, and safer, saving you time and money in the long run.

According to the National Pest Management Association, termites cause an estimated $5 billion in property damage each year. Homeowners are generally aware of the devastation termites can leave in their wake, but carpenter ants can also prove to be destructive to the wood found both in and outside of the home. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood they come in contact with but instead hollow out galleries inside the wood for nesting and living as they feeding on food left behind by people (especially meats and sweets). Carpenter ants are frequently mistaken for winged termites during mating season when the male and female ants leave the colony to find a suitable mate. If an infestation from either pest is left undetected for a prolonged period of time, they each can cause expensive damage. Treatments for either a carpenter ant or termite infestation should be handled by a pest control professional.

There are certain characteristics that can be used to differentiate swarms of carpenter ants as compared to termites, the most important being the appearance of elbowed antennae and small or pinched waist with wings that are longer in the back than the front pair.

carpenter-ant-vs-termite

Carpenter Ants Termites
Bent antennae Straight antennae
Hourglass waistline No waistline; straight abdomen
Unequal wing length in the front and back Equal wing length in both front and back
Wings are partially translucent Wings are opaque or appear to be silver in color

Carpenter Ants

Characteristics

  • Carpenter ants are normally 5/8 inch long.
  • Carpenter ants have two small wings and two large wings (females only).
  • They also have very narrow, hourglass-shaped waists that separate their abdomen from their thorax and head.
  • Their antennae are elbowed.
  • Carpenter ants have reddish-brown thoraxes and heads with black abdomens.
  • They commonly nest around man-made structures and are the most common household pest in Florida.

Infestation

  • Carpenter ants do not feed on the wood they remove. Their feeding habits are similar to other ants, favoring sweets.
  • Carpenter ants search for moist wood to build their nests, particularly in attics, ceilings, and floors.
  • Carpenter ants are not a typically a year-round concern for homeowners. However, during spring swarm season, carpenter ants travel en masse to find new nesting locations.
  • Their nests consist of an expansive network of tunnels and passages within the structure of your home. Over time, these nests can seriously weaken your home’s structural integrity.

Termites

Characteristics

  • Termites are normally 1/4 inch long. Termite swarmers range from 3/8 to 1/2 inch long.
  • Termites have four wings of equal length (reproductive only).
  • They have thick waists which are similar in size than the rest of their bodies.
  • Termites have two antennae that are straight.
  • They are characterized by thin white skin and are commonly light to medium brown in color.
  • Nests are either underground (subterranean) or in the wood of your home (drywood).

Infestation

  • Termites feed on wood and some species build nests in wood.
  • Drywood termites, unlike subterranean termites, do not need contact with soil for their moisture needs. They get their moisture from the wood they eat.
  • Termites can be a huge problem anywhere. Also problematic are the nesting habits of many termite species which can make them difficult to spot.
  • Termites can cause serious structural damage to any home in a matter of months if left untreated.

The first step in controlling a pest problem is identifying the pest itself. If you are unsure which pest you’re dealing with or if you need help eliminating an infestation, Truly Nolen can help. Our Four Seasons Pest Control program will help prevent ant infestations in and around your home throughout the year, including carpenter ants. Our Total Termite Protection plan will eliminate termites and prevent future infestations. Most importantly, it’s backed by our Million Dollar Guarantee.

Don’t Let Fabric Pests Ruin Your Wardrobe

As you start digging through the back of your closet for warmer clothing this fall season, keep an eye out for household pests that may be destroying your clothes. Even though these pests are not usually disease or germ carriers, their presence can be a nuisance and difficult to eliminate. It’s important to ensure your clothes and other fabrics are protected as these pests can cause considerable damage before you even know they are present.

Generally, it’s the newly hatched larvae that do the damage on everything from sweaters, pants, jackets, wool rugs, to decorative needlework on your walls. Typically insect damage occurs on fabrics containing natural or animal fibers such as wool, mohair, silk, cotton, leather, fur, feathers, down, and any synthetics blended with these natural fibers.

Clothes Moths

clothes_moth

Clothes moths are a light tan color, have very narrow wings, and can grow up to 1/2 inch long. It is the larva (small white worm looking) that actually eats wool garments, not the adult moths themselves. But if you see the adult clothes moths around you can assume they are laying eggs. Clothes moths pose no serious health concern to humans; however, an infestation can quickly ruin rarely used or stored clothing such as old military uniforms, blankets, feathered hats, tuxedos, overcoats, evening gowns, hats, antique dolls and toys, and wall hangings.

They thrive in dark, moist areas, such as closets and attics, where larvae have easy access to food sources like naturally occurring fibers such as wool and cotton. The damage from clothes moths appears as many small holes throughout the garment. Once you identify the presence of clothes moths, it is important to take action immediately. It is rare that infestations will be isolated to one particular location; moths like to travel around the home, searching for new places to lay eggs. Be sure to check carefully to find everything that has been infested. Clean, treat, or get rid of infested items. It may be better to throw out an infested item to protect uninfected woolens.

Washing items in a hot water wash cycle can be enough to kill all life cycles of the moth and ensure pests are removed at all life stages. Conversely, freezing temperatures can also kill any eggs or larvae in your wool garments. Depending on your environment, you can put the clothes outside on a cold day or use a freezer. Getting rid of clothes moths can be difficult so if signs of an infestation are severe enough, seek the help of a pest control professional as additional treatments may be required to eliminate the infestation.

Carpet Beetles

Carpet_Beetle

Carpet beetles commonly cause damage to fabrics such as wool, silk, leather, and fur; they do not feed on synthetic fibers. Just like the clothes moth, the carpet beetle larvae are the ones to do the damage to your clothing. Carpet beetle larvae measure 1/8 to 1/4 inch long and appear to be densely covered with tiny hairs or bristles. The garment damage appears in one portion of a garment, or concentrated area. They easily find food in obscure places and can be easily dispersed throughout the home considering their unique ability to travel. Carpet beetles can be difficult to control and can cause extensive damage if left unchecked.

Getting rid of carpet beetles starts by ensuring you remove conditions conducive to infestations. Start by eliminating buildup of lint, dead insects and hair found inside the home. Wash drapes and other washable items in a hot water cycle, as they may contain eggs, larvae, and other adult carpet beetles. To treat items that are stuffed with hair or feathers, simply placing items in a dryer may not be enough – you may want to enlist the help of a pest control company. The application of targeted treatments can ensure proper removal throughout the home.

Silverfish

silverfish

Silverfish are carrot-shaped insects with wingless, flattened bodies that are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long and silver in color. They feed on insulation, carbohydrates, starches, and proteins and both adults and nymphs damage fabrics. They are attracted to and commonly found in natural fabrics such as linen, rayon, and cotton. They require very high humidity or access to water, moderate temperatures, and dark places. Infestations are common around leaking pipes and closet areas.

They thrive on the tiniest scraps of food and once they establish a food source, they will remain and breed in the area. They tend to be most active at night and feed on natural starches and glues, leaving visible damage on finer fabrics such as silk, cotton, linen, and rayon. Silverfish eat at the surface leaving a “shaved” look, but will usually not leave actual holes in the fabric. Although they prefer starchy food, silverfish are quite able to digest cellulose and will devour your books as eagerly as the food stains on your garments! Your local Truly Nolen pest control company can help you protect your home from outside silverfish intruders.

Crickets

cricketThe most common types of crickets are the field cricket and the house cricket. Crickets are about three-quarters of an inch in length and black or brown in color. Although crickets rarely cause any problems and pose no serious health risks, many people find their chirping annoying. Only house crickets can reproduce inside the home. Cricket infestations are rarely problematic since crickets thrive outside. If crickets are a common disturbance in your home, following up with a pest control expert will help you “cricket-proof” the interior of your home.

Tips for keeping your clothes pest free!

  1. Store only clean garments. Thoroughly clean clothes prior to storage by emptying pockets, washing to remove food stains, perfumes, and perspiration as these can be a reliable food source for a wardrobe-destroying infestation. Have garments dry cleaned (without starch) or place in dryer on high heat for 15 minutes to eliminate any insect eggs or mildew spores.
  2. Regularly clean and vacuum. Clean rugs and carpets, draperies, upholstered furniture, closets and anywhere else larvae can hide. When you are finished, immediately dispose of the vacuum bag.
  3. To avoid future infestations, store clothes in containers located in a cool, dry place. Use garment storage bags made of cotton and or vinyl. Make sure to utilize breathable bags for leather or fur garments. Preventative products such as moth balls and cedar products can provide additional protection. If the insects cannot lay eggs, they will not eat your clothes.
  4. Be careful what you buy second-hand. Always launder or dry-clean woolens that are bought from thrift stores or given to you as hand-me-downs. You could have unexpected guests along with that sweater!

Don’t let these fabric-eating pests ruin your winter wardrobe. Want to leave it to the professionals? Contact a trained Truly Nolen pest control expert. Schedule a free inspection today!

Back to School Pesky Critters

By Scott Svenheim, ACE
Spokesperson and Associate Certified Entomologist, Truly Nolen of America 

With the back-to-school season nearing, parents have already started to think about preparing their kids – and how can anyone forget that the start of school is looming with commercials already airing!

With pesky critters like bed bugs, head lice and mosquitoes becoming more prevalent in our communities, parents need to take the necessary precautions to avoid infecting their homes.

back-to-school

Bed bugs are nocturnal and have the capabilities to climb softer surfaces such as that duffle bag you sent your children to camp with. Here are some tips to avoid allowing a possible bed bug infestation in your home:

  • Leave luggage outside, in a garage or a secluded area away from other soft materials where they can’t find a way to transfer to another item in your home.
  • Wash and/or Dry possibly infected clothing separately and with hot water, or medium temperature at least 20 minutes.

Head lice is one itchy problem and another pest that can easily hop from one head of hair to another. When your child arrives back from camp, make sure to conduct a thorough screening of his/her scalp with a fine-tooth comb. Many convenience stores will have specialty combs available for purchase. Signs your child may have head lice include:

  • Scratching
  • Small red bumps or sores from scratching
  • Adult lice or eggs on hair strands

Mosquito bites are one of the most common and with viruses like Chikungunya spreading quickly through the United States every bump and bite is worth inspecting. Check any suspicious bumps and circle them with a marker – this will allow you to monitor the bite to ensure it doesn’t get any larger, red or swollen.

If bed bugs or other pests become a bigger issue in your home, call your local pest control company who will be able to assess the level of infestation and recommend necessary courses of treatment.


About Scott Svenheim and Truly Nolen
Scott Svenheim, an expert for Truly Nolen of America and Associate Certified Entomologist, has 27 years of experience in the pest control industry.  Scott brings an informative as well as unique and entertaining perspective to consumers’ pest problems in the 21st century. Founded in 1938, Tucson, Arizona-based Truly Nolen of America is the largest family owned pest control company in the United States. Truly Nolen has over 80 branch offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The company also has independently owned and operated franchises in an ever-growing number of territories including Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, Canada, Puerto Rico and 60 countries. For more information, please visit www.trulynolen.com.

When traveling, avoid unwanted stowaways

Million of people will travel near and far this holiday season. From visiting family to exploring new places, there is one souvenir that no traveler wants to bring home: Bed bugs. These pests can latch onto humans in hotels, movie theaters and buses and they can cause an extremely aggravating and expensive infestation upon entering a home. It's a good idea for homeowners to protect themselves with these travel tips.

Inspect, inspect and inspect
Whether homeowners are staying in a hotel or at Grandma's, they should thoroughly inspect their room before settling down. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) highly recommends keeping suitcases on tile or wood floors before bringing them onto carpet room.

Using a flashlight travelers should inspect the entire room, including curtains, dressers and couches and other furniture.

Upon approaching the bed, it's a good idea to pull the sheets back completely and inspect the mattress cover and seams and the bed's headboard for small brown marks, peppery flakes of shedded skin and lentil-size bed bugs.

If travelers who are staying in a hotel notice any signs of bed bugs, they should alert management immediately and ask to be moved to a different room. Because bed bugs can travel on cleaning carts and through wall sockets, it's a good idea to ask for a room that is not next door, above or below the infested area.

Take care of personal items
To avoid inviting pests into luggage, travelers may consider covering their suitcases in trash bags and keeping them off the ground on luggage racks throughout their trip, advises NPMA. Hanging clothes up will limit the chances of sneaky pests infesting them.

In addition, placing clothing in sealed plastic bags will protect items against bed bugs. It's always a good idea to check personal property periodically when traveling to ensure pests haven't latched onto clothing in public places.

Protecting the home upon returning
After flying or driving many miles, the last thing homeowners want to deal with is a bug problem. It's a good idea to unpack luggage outside to avoid bringing in any unwanted stowaways.

All clothing, whether dirty or not, should be brought into the house in a plastic bag and washed immediately in hot water. Dry-clean only items should stay outside until homeowners can take them to the cleaners.

After emptying a suitcase, residents should vacuum each corner and thoroughly inspect crevices and pockets.

If homeowners suspect they've brought home bed bugs, they should contact a pest control professional promptly.

Watch out for firewood pests

As temperatures go down this season, fireplaces are a great source of warmth and provide a pleasant gathering space for many households. Homeowners may be inclined to keep firewood either in or near their homes during colder months. However, residents doing so may unknowingly be harboring troublesome and dangerous pests. To avoid contact and infestation, firewood should always be kept on a platform outside, away from inhabited structures. Residents should be aware of the types of bugs that nest in firewood and lumber.

Wood-boring beetles
According to Purdue University's Department of Entomology, several species of beetles can take over woodpiles, long-horned beetles being the most common. These critters lay their eggs in still-standing trees. Therefore, when firewood is chopped and sold, it may already house larvae and fully grown beetles. While these bugs favor ash, oak and hickory trees, they'll settle for other options. Long-horned beetles are attracted to moisture and warmer temperatures. Therefore, if infested wood is brought inside, these pests may emerge and travel throughout the home.

Meanwhile, residents who embellish their fireplace with logs found outside may be welcoming flathead borer beetles into their home. These bugs emerge during warmer months. While they don't attack finished or dried wood, they can be very destructive for yard trees.

It's very important to inspect wood before purchasing or handling it. In addition, Purdue strongly advises against moving and transporting firewood long distances.

Carpenter ants
Damp wood and firewood stacks that insulate humidity can harbor black or red carpenter ants. As their name suggests, they excavate dead wood to build their nests, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). While these ants may initially be attracted by wet, decaying tree parts, they can also build paths through dry, undamaged wood. If residents bring infested wood near or into their homes, carpenter ants can start attacking building structures and damaging wiring and yard plants.

It's a good idea to eliminate any cracks in walls, windows and doors, as carpenter ants and other pests can travel through them. Residents should also eliminate moisture in their homes and get rid of standing water on their property.

Termites
Wood stacked on the ground is like a free hotel and meal for drywood termites. These pests form colonies of up to 2,500 members quickly, and can be especially difficult to get rid of, the NPMA explains. To check for termite infestation, homeowners can inspect wood for mud tunnels.

Termites can cause serious damage to buildings and structures and are usually associated with hefty repair and replacement costs. While burning pest-carrying wood immediately may not cause an infestation, firewood left leaning against an outside wall of a home allows these bugs to tunnel indoors.

Commercial pest management professionals can help homeowners identify and exterminate termites and other troublesome bugs that may enter a structure via firewood.

Spiders
While many firewood spiders are harmless, there are a few dangerous species homeowners should be aware of. Black widows are notorious for their venom, as bites can cause severe pain and sometimes be fatal. These spiders harbor in dark places at ground levels, which makes woodpiles extremely susceptible to their presence.

Another important species to be aware of is the brown recluse.These nocturnal spiders tend to live outdoors in piles of wood or debris. According to the NPMA, a brown recluse bite is extremely painful and can produce an open, ulcerating sore.

Homeowners should always approach firewood with caution and wear gloves. The safest way to get rid of dangerous spiders and other wood-dwelling critters is to call a pest control professional.

Preventing infestations after water damage

Shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit, rat displacement was reported in New York City and other locations affected by the hurricane. For many, these rodents may just be the beginning of storm-related pest infestations.

Bugs need three things to survive: shelter, food and water. Moisture elimination is therefore vital to properly protecting a home from a pest infestation. East Coast homeowners should take measures to dry out their homes completely.After a storm, heavy rain, pipe leaks and wet basements can attract crickets, centipedes, cockroaches and other critters. In addition, moisture can lure in thirsty termites, which can cause severe wood damage in a short amount of time.

While a pest control professional can eliminate unwelcome visitors, there are several measures homeowners can take to keep moisture from attracting bugs. Even if  residents don't suspect water damage, they should thoroughly inspect  basements, under sinks and around water heaters for leaks. Any crevices, holes or gaps should be filled promptly.

Homeowners may also invest in a dehumidifier to drastically lower the chances of pests entering their homes. Even if a home hasn't experienced water damage, these machines are great tool to keep bugs out year-round.