Category Archives: Ants

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.

Fire Ants in Texas

Truly Nolen - Fire Ants in TexasWith the recent rains in Texas, many residents are seeing the emergence of fire ant mounds in their lawns and in fields. These aggressive ants cause harm and damage to people, plants, and animals in both urban and rural areas – according to Texas A&M University researchers it is estimated fire ants cost Texans $1.2 billion annually in property damage and control costs, with residential households making up 50% of the total expense incurred.

What Are Fire Ants?

“Fire ant” is a general name referring to six different species of ants, five of which are found in Texas. Since they all cause damage and harm to humans and animals, there is generally little need for the homeowner to tell them apart. To the naked eye, fire ants resemble ordinary ants. They are very small (average 1/8 to 1/4 inch in length) and are reddish brown to black in color.

They are very aggressive, attacking anytime their mound is disturbed. Fire ants can be dangerous to small animals and humans because of the toxin released from the sting.

Where Are Fire Ants Found?

This biting ant is most commonly found in the southeastern United States including the eastern two-thirds of Texas. Fire ants live in colonies and build mound-shaped nests favoring open, sunny areas. Mature colonies appear as fluffy worked soil and can contain more than 200,000 ants. Fire ant mounds look different from other ant mounds since they do not have a visible opening in the center. Instead, fire ants come and go through an extensive network of underground tunnels.

Undisturbed mounds in rural areas can grow up to 18 inches tall but most are only a few inches. Mounds are often built next to sidewalks, roads, or anywhere fire ants can find food or water – around flowerbeds, landscaped areas, parks, playgrounds, sports fields, and tree trunks or roots.

Even though they are present year-round in Texas, fire ant colonies become more visible after rainfall or heavy irrigation, because the ants are trying to move out of the flooded soil. They are sensitive to temperature and humidity. When the weather gets hot and dry, they tunnel deep into the soil – some as deep as 4 feet – to find cooler temperatures and water. The ant colony seemingly disappears.

FUN FACT: Although fire ants can be extremely dangerous, they are also a very interesting species. Fire ants are social insects that work together in order to survive harsh conditions. During instances in which their homes are threatened by water, fire ants form a raft using their own bodies to reach dry land and keep their queen safe from harm. The colony of fire ants continually take turns being above and below the water level in order to help each ant breathe and remain alive. This adaptation and others like it enable the fire ant species to be tremendously resilient.

Why Are They So Bad?

Truly Nolen - Fire Ant Info TexasFire ants are very aggressive and if their mound is disturbed in any way, worker ants will rush out in large numbers to protect the colony from harm. They will climb up nearby grass and vertical surfaces and attack the person, animal, or thing that disturbed their nest by biting and stinging aggressively and repeatedly. Each ant firmly grasps skin with its jaws and stings many times. Fire ants can pivot at the head and inflict more stings in a circular pattern.

As they bite, fire ants inject a toxin that stings, causing a strong burning, fire-like sensation (hence the name “fire ant”). The sting swells into a bump that can cause a great deal of pain or irritation often with localized swelling. Within 24 to 48 hours, a small itchy pustule (a small, firm blister-like sore) forms around the bite site. Excessive scratching can open the pustules, possibly leading to secondary infection.

The toxin is not deadly for most people, although some are very allergic. The elderly, very young, sick, or those with compromised immune systems may be more affected by the toxin. It is always a good idea to seek medical advice if you believe you have been stung or bitten by a fire ant.

How Can I Avoid Fire Ants?

Although it is impossible to completely eliminate the fire ant population in Texas, you can avoid contact with them and prevent getting stung.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Be sure to regularly look for fire ant mounds around your property. Do not stand on or near nests or areas where they are foraging.
  • Watch your step. Pay attention to where you’re standing. Serious incidents occur when a person unknowingly allows several fire ants to get on them, usually when they stand on a mound for more than a few seconds without realizing it.
  • Wear protective clothing. Wear boots and/or tuck pant legs into socks to reduce the risk of a bite.

What Do I Do If I Find A Fire Ant Mound In My Yard?

Truly Nolen - Fire Ant Mounds in TexasA possible preventative measure is long residual contact insecticide treatments. Your local pest control expert will apply an insecticide to the lawn surface in order to prevent fire ants from settling into the area. Although there are several self-help methods to eliminating fire ant colonies, it is best to contact your local pest control expert in order to eliminate the infestation safely.

What Do I Do If I Get Fire Ants On Me?

  • First of all remain calm and do NOT panic.
  • Leave the area immediately while quickly brushing the fire ants off using a gloved hand or a cloth. The most effective way to remove fire ants from the skin is with a fast, repetitive brushing motion. Remove the ants that climb up on your body as quickly as possible.
  • Quickly strip off shoes, socks, and clothing where the fire ants are stinging you. Shake out the clothing and inspect every fold before put¬ting them back on.
  • Do not try to shake them off – fire ants hold on tightly with their jaws so they will not just fall off. Do not try to rinse them off with water – it just makes them hold on and sting in another spot.

What Do I Do If I Get Stung?

People vary greatly in their reactions to fire ant stings. Most people just suffer a burning sensation, itching, and pustules with no lasting effects. Those who may be sensitive to fire ant venom may see the sting area become slightly swollen.

  • Ease the burning and itching by using ice, cold compresses, or painkiller sprays and ointments such as over-the-counter antihistamine products.
  •  Treat the pustules, whether intact or open, like any other small wound. Keep it clean.

Watch for problems if a person is stung more than a few times or has an impaired immune system due to a medical condition (e.g., heart condition, diabetes, etc.). The important thing is to watch for severe reactions. Although rare, seek emergency medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following as it could be a sign of a life-threatening allergic reaction:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Faintness or dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain
  • Tightness in chest or throat
  • Hives or rashes
  • Serious swelling
  • Nausea
  • Severe sweating
  • Slurred speech
  • Shock
  • Coma

Like many pests, fire ants are a fact of life in Texas. Being aware is the best way to stay safe.

The Essential Ant Treatment Guide for Homeowners

essential-ants-guide-homeowners

One of the first insects to become active each year is the irritatingly persistent ant. When warmer weather arrives, ants can begin invading our homes. A recent survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) revealed that this pest is everywhere. In fact, ants have been deemed the #1 nuisance pest in America. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that this pest can also pose health and property risks – from food contamination to costly property damage.

Understanding Ants – What Are Ants?

Ants are social insects and typically live in large groups or colonies. Depending on the species, ant colonies can consist of millions of ants. Their structured nest communities are commonly constructed with soil and plant materials and located underground. However, depending on the type of ant species, nests can also be found in mounds built on the ground level or even in trees.

There are three kinds of ants in a colony, divided into classes by the type of job they perform: the queen, male drones, and the female workers. The queen heads the colony and lays thousands of eggs to ensure the colony’s survival. Depending on the ant species and the nest community size, there may be one or more queens in the colony. The fertile male drone ants often have only one role – mating with the queen. They usually die within a few days after mating. The worker ant (the ones typically seen in your home) are wingless females that never reproduce, but instead forage for food, care for the queen’s offspring, build and repair the nest, protect the community, and perform many other duties to benefit the colony.

Ants will eat practically any kind of food, but are especially attracted to sweets as they supply a large amount of energy to the relatively small ants. Depending on the species, ants can range in size from 1/12 to 1 inch and are usually red or black in color. Ants are close relatives of bees and wasps and can be identified by their three distinct body regions: the head (including antennae), the thorax, and the abdomen. Ants have a narrow “waist” between the abdomen and thorax, while a termite’s body is not constricted and they have a broad waist. Like other insects, ants have six legs, each with three joints. Ants also have large heads with compound eyes, elbowed antennae, and powerful jaws. They can live from several weeks to several years.

Winged forms of ants are often mistaken for termites. In warm weather, both species “swarm” and leave the nest in large numbers to mate and establish new colonies. However, shortly after their flights, both ants and termites lose their wings, so wings usually aren’t present.

Common Types of Ants You Can Find At Home / Ant Infestation

While most ants are considered harmless, an ant infestation can be a major nuisance and may be difficult to control. There is the common myth that seeing one ant indoors does not equal a full-blown infestation. Although this can be true, ants cooperate by leaving an invisible chemical trail (pheromones) for other ants to follow once they locate a promising food source. If that food source is in your home, you can count them quickly entering your home through the smallest cracks and crevices. Ant colonies can be found anywhere in and around your home. Although they typically won’t harm you, there are those – such as fire ants (that sting) and carpenter ants (that damage wood) – that can actually pose a threat to your family’s health and property.

There are more than 700 ant species found in the U.S., although only about 25 species are known to commonly invade homes. Many have been given nicknames based on their distinguishing characteristics:

  • Acrobat ants get their name from their ability to acrobatically raise their abdomen over their thorax and head as if they were performing a balancing act. It is common for acrobat ants to enlarge cavities formed by other insects such as old galleries of termites, carpenter ants, and other wood-infesting insects
  • Argentine ants are native to the Paraná River basin in South America, which spans across northern Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil. Argentine ants are common in urban areas and can nest in diverse types of habitats. They can produce large numbers of offspring and survive on a wide variety of food.
  • Big head ants get their name from the appearance of the major workers – they have very large heads in relation to their bodies. Big head ants can quickly move into new areas to establish nests and kick out other ant populations.
  • Crazy ants get their name from the worker’s habit of running in an erratic, jerky manner when searching for food – the trail it leaves behind is highly irregular. They also have the potential to change the ecological balance in the southeastern U.S. largely because the ants can wipe out colonies of fire ants, widely considered the insect villain of the region.
  • Fire ants were first brought to the U.S. from Brazil in the 1930s and without any natural predators in the U.S., have been able to spread relatively quickly throughout the Southern U.S., from Maryland to Texas, as well parts of California and New Mexico. The bite and the sting that these ants deliver give them their name.
  • Florida carpenter ants (aka red and black carpenter ants) are largely found throughout Florida with colonies that may contain up to eight thousand individuals. They do not eat the wood they remove during their nest-building activities but can severely damage it, digging smooth tunnels inside the wood causing structural weakening. Florida carpenter ants are considered one of the most serious structural pest species.
  • Ghost ants get its name from its incredibly small size (less than 1/16 inch long) and pale color of its legs and abdomen, which make it difficult to see.
  • Pharaoh ants (aka sugar ants) are possibly named from the mistaken tradition that it was one of the plagues of ancient Egypt during the time of Pharaohs although it is more commonly referred to as the “sugar ant.” It is one of the more common household ants, and carries the dubious distinction of being one of the most difficult household ants to control.
  • Rover ants are native to Argentina and Paraguay, and were introduced relatively recently to the U.S. They may be seen excitedly running up and down vertical objects in yards, such as blades of grass, chairs, and fence posts, accompanied by larger winged individuals.

At Home Prevention / How To Get Rid of Ants

If you have an ant infestation:

  • Determine what the ants are attracted to and remove the food source. For example, keep your kitchen clean. Seal food items properly, clean counters, do the dishes, fix leaky pipes, and general maintain your household. Doing so will ensure you can more easily avoid persistent ant problems.
  • To help reduce the amount of ants currently in your home, put out bait stations or apply gel bait at entry points. Baits, purchased at hardware and grocery stores, can be effective for a bit. However, ants are highly adaptable and able to change their diets. If they see that consuming something like bait isn’t advantageous to their colony, they will simply stop eating it. Baits may only be a temporary solution.

The main tactic in effective prevention plan is to create a less inviting environment for pests around your home. This includes eliminating access and removing suitable sources of food and water. Exclusion is the process of keeping pests outside of your home. This involves caulking or sealing cracks, holes, and any other potential entry points such as cable entry points as well as doorways and other entrances that aren’t completely sealed like window and sliding glass doors. Prune all shrubs and trees at least 4 feet away from your home – this prevents easy access for pests into your home. However exclusion can prove difficult to the untrained eye and covering every entry point is virtually impossible. The most effective method is for a trained pest control technician to apply a chemical treatment around the exterior of your home that is safe for pets and humans.

Reduce moisture content around the exterior of your home in surrounding flower beds and other landscaping. Reduce the watering times and increase the frequency of your irrigation system. Direct the downspout flow as far away from your home as possible; add downspout extensions if needed. Also, reduce the depth of mulch around the exterior of your home to no more than one inch – the deeper the ground cover, the more moisture will be trapped, creating an ideal breeding area for all pests.

Many times DIY efforts do not totally eliminate the ants — especially the nest, where the queen lays her eggs. And since ants are not at the top of the pest food chain, so they may invite other predators like roaches into your home. Some species are particularly troublesome to get rid of. For example, Sugar ants often have more than one queen. A professional pest control company is the most effective method for eliminating an ant colony. They have access to professional level insecticides that are not available to the general public, and are very effective at getting rid of colonies inside a structure.

A Truly Nolen pest control professional can treat your home regularly to not only get rid of any bugs that may lay dormant within walls or hard to reach places, but also keep new pests away. Our ant treatment program treats the both the inside and outside of your home, further reducing the risk of future infestations. A professional has the expertise and experience to find and eliminate the source of the infestation. Having your Truly Nolan pest control specialists eliminate the ants in your home can save you time, money, and a huge headache.

Ant Bites and Treatments

There is a wide range of ant species in the world. Most ants are usually just a nuisance; however, a few varieties are capable of biting people. Red imported fire ants can both sting and bite. Carpenter ants and acrobat ants are also capable of biting – these two types of ants will bite and inject venom into their victims but this is rarely dangerous, and may commonly result in a mild itch.

Most ant bites cause itching, which may last from a few hours to a few days. These mild reactions are very common and home treatment is often all that is needed to relieve the symptoms. Before applying any type of medication to the area, you should wash it thoroughly with cool water and soap to lessen the risk of an infection. This is also why you should refrain from scratching as much as possible. Once the area is clean you can apply topical medications. An ice cube, a cold washcloth, calamine lotion, a paste of baking soda, or an over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointment can soothe the discomfort. If you have a large number of ant bites, you may want to go to your doctor for a prescription strength antihistamine or topical ointment. If the bite causes a severe reaction, seek immediate medical attention.

National Pest Management Month: Four Common Pests to Watch Out For

We all know the feeling of the cringe-worthy moment when we hear little scurries across the floorboards, or see teeny droppings in our cupboards and run to call for the first available pest control service appointment.

For more than 30 years, the National Pest Management Association has celebrated the month of April as ‘National Pest Management Month’ to recognize pest management professionals for their efforts in protecting individuals’ health and property from those cringe-worthy moments. With spring season upon us, now is a good time to brush up on four common household nuisances and how to prevent or identify an infestation.

So the next time you see a creepy crawler and wonder what it is, keep in mind these four common pests:

Ants: Ranging from reddish browns to blacks and even yellow, ants are common throughout the year. No matter the climate, ants have an arduous way about them, making their homes in the tiniest of places. As the number one nuisance in the U.S., ants are capable of infesting office buildings, homes and restaurants. Ants are often attracted by sweets and proteins, so keep spills, pet food and other foods cleaned up and/or containers tightly sealed.

Termites: Termites live in colonies that can grow to large numbers. Their usual methods of infesting a home can include entering through cracks in concrete floors from underground, a space as small as 1/64th of an inch or larger. Termites can also be carried in through infested wood such as old furniture, firewood or building materials. Both Subterranean and Drywood termite colonies even have members equipped with wings, being able to fly into a home and begin a new colony. Make sure to have your home thoroughly inspected yearly by a professional to spot termites and/or damage before it’s too late.

Spiders: Varying greatly in size, spiders are often the sign of a more serious insect infestation. As carnivorous hunters, spiders feast on insects such as ants and crickets and hide in cracks and crevices under well-protected areas inside or outside the home. Being popular all year round, the best way to reduce the risk of spider invasions is to remove clutter, repair windows and screens and dust regularly.

Bed Bugs: Bed bugs are known to be travelers, packing away in your suitcase until the most opportune moment to make themselves cozy in your home. Living up to one and a half years, bed bugs produce between one and eight eggs daily. Since you can’t feel the bite of a bed bug, homeowners should be aware of inflamed bites with clusters or rows. Inspect your surroundings carefully when traveling to avoid bringing bed bugs home with you.

Indoor and outdoor ants can wreak havoc on the home

Ants are some of the most difficult pests to remove from the home. According to National Geographic, the insects live on most of the world and account for 15% of the total terrestrial animal population. They can be especially problematic because, regardless of whether they nest indoors or outdoors, they can still find their way inside. 

Indoor ants 
Ant infestations inside the home can begin when a winged potential queen ant makes its way inside the home. These ants look similar to flying termites but are bent in the middle instead of the cylindrical shape characteristic to termites. Some winged ants are merely drones, but they almost exclusively leave their original nests to establish new ones. If a potential queen gets inside a home, it will begin laying eggs and create a new colony as soon as possible. While many ant colonies ultimately fail, the ants may be able to eventually develop an indoor nest and from there they will travel into the pantry and kitchen in search of food.

House ants will nest in any dark, undisturbed spot they can find. The College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky reports that ants will build nests in the walls, behind cabinets, and under seldom-used appliances. The fact that the ants will often nest in places that are already neglected can make them even more difficult to find. If the nest is hidden well enough, professional pest control is the best way to find and exterminate the insects.

Outdoor ants
Spotting an indoor ant does not always mean that there is a colony indoors, but may be an indication that they are coming in from outside. Ants leave trails of scent for each other to follow from the colony to the source of food or water. Known for their strength, ants will carry the food and water back the colony. Crumbs or water left on the floor are ideal sources for ants, so one of the best ways to prevent ants from entering the home is to discourage outdoor ants from getting inside. If they are coming frequently enough it may be possible to simply follow the line of ants heading in and out of the house to their colony.

Although outdoor-nesting ants are often less of a household problem, it can make their colonies much harder to find. There are many places ants can nest outdoors, including under gravel, beneath bushes, under old construction equipment, in the foundation of houses and many other places. Ants are able to nest virtually anywhere they can dig so the possibilities are nearly limitless.

Extermination
There are many do-it-yourself methods to dispel ants, but none are known to be as effective as professional exterminators. Pest control is usually best left to the professionals, especially since many of the products marketing for ant prevention will not fully solve the problem. To remove ants completely, the entire colony needs to be eliminated or the ants will rebuild. 

Carpenter ants cause extensive damage

Carpenter ants are known for being large, often having wings and destroying wood structures to make their nests. These pests can cause hundreds or thousands of dollars of damage before being noticed, so it’s important to know the signs of carpenter ants.

Nests
These ants typically have two kinds of colonies: parent and satellite, according to the University of Minnesota. A parent nest contains the queen and thousands of worker ants, and is where most of the resources gathered will go. Satellite nests can also contain up to thousands of workers but no queen or ant larva. It is possible for a parent colony to be outside and to have satellites of that colony inside a house. In order to maintain a full level of insect control, a complete extermination of all nests is necessary.

Nests will be most often located where wood is damp, since that is easier for the ants to mine. The University of Kentucky states that areas that are near consistent leaks or around sinks are common locations for carpenter ants to build their nests. The insects will often choose the bathroom, the kitchen or rooms with poor circulation where condensation tends to gather. There may be multiple colonies within the same house in different areas that are all affected by water in one way or another. 

Detection
Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not actually eat the wood that they destroy. It is possible to spot a nest by noticing small piles of what appears to be sawdust on the floor. Occasionally the ants will push all the wood they have ground up out of the nest to make room. However, this is not always the case, as they will sometimes keep the wood dust inside the nest with them.

Visually, carpenter ants look similar to other species of ants as well as termites. These ants are larger than other species of ant, however, and often have wings. While termites are smaller and typically white, these pests are large, black and have jointed bodies like that of a wasp. 

Extermination
Since carpenter ants will so often make multiple nests that are nearly impossible to detect, it is almost always best to seek professional pest control. Often exterminators will need to find all the satellite nests as well as the parent nest to ensure that the ants do not return. Simply spraying the visible ants will not work, as they will reproduce and return.

Pests to look out for in the early spring

Warmer weather introduces new challenges in terms of pest control. As winter wears on and spring approaches, homeowners may want to check for signs of infestations.

Ants
Carpenter ants are a common issue in the spring. They are more than just a nuisance- they are known to cause structural damage in homes. Spotting one or two ants isn’t indicative of a nest, but homeowners would still benefit from checking for their presence. Ants tend to congregate near the spot that they entered the building. The SnoValley Star suggests looking around where wiring comes through the wall, around windows in the basement, and small, out of the way spaces. Carpenter ants are known to nest in wood, and can often be found in walls and ceilings.

Wasps
Wasp nests can also pose a new threat in the springtime. The University of Michigan warns that yellow jackets tend to nest in attics, walls, and under eaves. The only way to verify an infestation is if the insects are spotted flying in and out of a crack in the walls. Paper wasps, one of the more common species, are typically found on horizontal surfaces such as beams, overhangs and supports in places such as attics, garages and tool sheds. Both types of wasps gravitate toward quiet, out​-of-the-way areas, but can be dangerous if they choose to stay in the walls of a home.

If a nest is spotted, but no wasps were seen in the area, it’s possible that the nest is dead or inactive. Wasps only use their nests for one season, so it may be that the nest is not in use. It’s better to have an exterminator come and look at the nest before attempting to remove it, however, to avoid the risk of getting stung.

Termites
One of the most common pests early on in spring is the termite. These pests are nearly impossible to spot, and the best method of prevention is to have a house inspection each spring. According to Business Wire, they can chew through most flooring materials in addition to wallpaper, making them able to invade a home with ease. Tips for termite control include keeping the areas around a house’s foundation dry, keeping holes sealed and stacking lumber away from structures.

Ask an exterminator agency to send a professional to evaluate the risk of pests for your home if you’re concerned about infestations as spring approaches.

Ants heading into Southern California homes

A hot summer is causing pests to seek shelter indoors, but Southern California residents are less than thrilled when they find ants in their homes.

A local pest control expert told the Southwest Riverside News Network that during different times of the year, ants usually seek several things when they invade homes. In the summer, ants often head indoors in search of water or carbohydrates. The unusually hot and dry conditions that have lingered across the nation this summer have resulted in many homeowners finding water-seeking ants in areas water is frequently used, such as bathrooms, kitchens and pools. In the winter, the insects are on the hunt for protein sources.

There are various types of ants causing insect control issues for residents across the region.

The invasive Argentine ant has no natural predators, so it can be difficult to eliminate entire colonies. These pests also are able to cohabitate with other ant colonies, rather than competing with them. Carpenter ants use many methods to get into homes, and can get in along pipes, utility lines and tree branches, in addition to crawling in through open doors or cracks. Pharaoh ants can travel long distances for food, meaning homeowners may find ants in their home from a colony far away.

Fire ants have also been found in California in recent years. These insects are more aggressive than other species of ants, and are known to sting both humans and animals. Keeping fire ants out of the home and nowhere near a homeowner's property will prevent a large group of the pests from attacking if they are unexpectedly disturbed.

There are some steps homeowners can take to prevent these infestations. Making sure cracks, holes and crevices are closed is an important measure in keeping homes free from ants. Storing food in tightly sealed containers will help to prevent ants from entering for sustenance. If a few ants are spotted inside, homeowners should wash down the surfaces they crawled across. This will eliminate the pheromone trail that other ants may follow to get inside the home and find food.

However, sometimes it is impossible to prevent an ant infestation. In these circumstances, an exterminator should be contacted to handle the problem. A pest control professional can advise the best form of treatment for a severe ant problem in a home.

Ants drive Texans crazy

The invasive Rasberry crazy ant has been frustrating homeowners in the Houston area. Besides being an annoyance to locals,  the ant has the potential to damage electrical systems and decrease home and property values, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Since the pests were discovered in Texas in 2002, they have spread to multiple counties and do not appear to be slowing down.

The crazy ants do not sting or bite, and they tend to rid areas of fire ants because the two struggle to compete for food sources. The crazy ants tend to win, and the Austin American Statesman reported that they are causing more problems than the fire ants ever did.

Roger Gold, a professor of entomology at Texas A&M University, told the paper that families are already wishing the fire ants were back, as they struggle to rid their homes of the crazy ants.

One of the problems with the crazy ants is their ability to breed extremely quickly. A single colony often is home to millions of the pests, since multiple queens lay several hundred eggs.

"Their reproductive capability is astronomical compared to what we’re normally dealing with," Wizzie Brown, program specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Office, told Austin-area NPR affiliate KUT. "And the ant population can grow really large at certain times of the year. So we want people to keep an eye out for them, know about them and manage them properly so the populations don’t get that huge."

The enormous colonies are a serious problem, as they can cause expensive issues for homeowners and businesses. According to the Austin American Statesman, Gold said the ants have a habit of making their way into air conditioning units and getting electrocuted. The shock causes the ant to produce a pheromone that prompts the rest of the huge colony to invade the systems, which become so jammed with ants that they short out. The source said a local chemical plant that dealt with this problem suffered a $1 million loss.

Thousands of ants also invade homes in search of food. Homes are often easily accessible to them, since they tend to live under mulch, wood and other landscaping products in yards.

Because so many ants invade buildings at once, it is necessary to have pest control experts handle the situation. Exterminators can determine the best form of treatment depending on the severity of the crazy ant infestation.