Reports flooded in this morning, September 5th, of swarms all over Tucson. People from many different locations throughout Southern Arizona reported seeing small winged creatures swarming about one to twenty feet off the ground above a nest where many more insects lay on the ground below. It turns out, these critters are Harvester ants, and they were swarming in hopes of finding a mate!
Reproductive members of a Harvester ant colony will leave the nest in search of a mate, typically during one or two days each year. What is truly amazing is that most Harvester ant colonies all begin this mating process at almost the same exact day! This usually happens in late summer to early fall, depending on weather, moisture and other factors. The ants exit their mound, take flight and search for a mate using chemicals called pheromones. The ants then return to the ground with their newfound partner and finish the mating process.
Harvester ants are very prevalent in the Southwest. They typically prefer desert climates and tend to stay away from homes and urban areas but as we build structures further into their territory, we are bound to run into one another. When threatened, Harvester ants will defend themselves and sting what they perceive as a threat! So use caution, and remember to contact Truly Nolen for your free inspection if you see these or any other pests near your home or business!
Truly Nolen of Tucson, Az recently sponsored a team competing in the Tucson Summer Pro League. It just so happens that our team went on to win the tournament championship!
Branch manager Anthony Molina from our East Tucson service office, accompanied by limo driver Ron Pratt and marketing specialist Keanu Nelson, met with children from the summer program at Ana Henry Elementary to discuss bugs. After the presentations the kids got a chance to see the inside of the limo and were given gift bags chock-full of Truly Nolen items.
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.
Branch manager Anthony Molina (023) and Ron Pratt were accompanied by sales inspectors and technicians as they visited Hermosa Montessori to educate students on insects that are crucial to our ecosystem. The children learned about all sorts of insects: from bees and moths to wasps and termites.
On December 22nd, 2014 we really wanted to make a big impact on a family’s life. We decided to “Adopt-a-family” for the holidays and make sure they had an opportunity to enjoy them with no stress. We went grocery shopping, wrapped all their presents, and personally delivered them to the family. The amount of tears shed from everyone there was the most touching feeling any of our team had in all the events we have done. We are excited to participate in this event again for many years to come!
On October 24th, 2014 a group of our team went out to Sabino Canyon and Tanque Verde to show our customers a BIG Thanks. We bought breakfast for over 5 families coming into the McDonald’s on the corner and received a tremendous amount of gratitude, including the manager of the store. He told us “This is the company that I would do business with, giving back to the community is great!”. We were humbled by the statements and look forward to many more breakfasts with the citizens in Tucson.
On October 18th, 2014 we partnered up with Long Realty and adopted Camino Loma Alta Road in Vail, AZ. We walked the 1 1/2 mile stretch finding bottles, plastics, paper, and lots of other debris that didn’t belong. We were able to join some of the other citizens of Vail and work as a team to make the road look beautiful. We plan on doing this every year with the Vail Preservation Society and are looking forward to adopting more roads with them.
Earlier this month, seasonal monsoon moisture combined with the remnants of Pacific Hurricane Norbert, Odile and Polo dumped torrential rain throughout the desert southwest. Record-breaking rainfall covered Phoenix to Las Vegas and points in between. According to the National Weather Service, parts of five western states — California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado — were under flood watches or warnings as part of this storm. Phoenix set a single-day rainfall record.
|City||Rainfall (in inches)|
The National Weather Service recorded 3.29 inches of rain at the Phoenix airport, by far the most precipitation ever received in one day in the city. The previous record for Phoenix was 2.91 inches in 1939. Phoenix received 5.7 inches of rain during the summer storm season in 2008, followed by less than an inch the next summer. Average September rainfall for the Phoenix area is typically just over a half inch (0.64 inches).
The epic floodwaters led to widespread power outages, flight delays, and forced the closure of dozens of schools and roads. As the storm water subsides and the cleanup begins, be on the lookout for increased insect activity. The stagnant water left behind is causing a great concern for mosquito breeding areas. Area homeowners are seeing intensified ant presence and termite swarmers are starting to appear.
Mosquitoes breed in areas where water is present and the recent rainfall provides mosquitoes with a variety of new breeding areas. Mosquitoes prefer stagnant water, like an uncirculated pond or fountain, or other moist conditions such as flowerbeds, flowerpot saucers, unkempt gutters, sprinkler heads, or shady areas.
In addition to their annoyance, controlling and repelling mosquitoes is essential to minimizing the risk of contracting the many diseases carried by mosquitoes such as Dengue Fever, Encephalitis, Malaria, and dog-heartworm. The best protection from mosquito-transmitted diseases is to prevent exposure to mosquitoes.
- Drain any standing rainwater. Drain water from garbage cans, pool covers, coolers, toys, or other containers where water has collected.
- Inspect your yards and drains. Dispose of bottles, cans, old tires, buckets, plastic swimming pools, birdbaths, or other debris that can hold standing water.
- Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. If you must be outside when mosquitoes are active, cover up. Wear light-colored clothing, shoes, socks, long pants, and long sleeves.
- Maintain a clean yard. Repair leaky pipes and maintain and clean roof gutters.
When the wet weather arrives, ants can begin invading your homes. Although they are tiny, ants can pack a powerful punch as they can pose both health concerns and costly property risks damage. While most ants are considered harmless, an ant infestation can be a major nuisance and difficult to control. 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.
The main tactic to preventing an ant infestation is to create a less inviting environment for pests around your home. This includes eliminating access and removing suitable sources of food and water. If you have an ant infestation:
- Determine what the ants are attracted to and remove the food source. Keep your kitchen clean. Seal food items properly, clean counters, do the dishes, fix leaky pipes, and perform general household maintenance. Doing so will ensure you can more easily avoid persistent ant problems.
- Exclude ants by caulking or sealing cracks, holes, and any other potential entry points as well as doorways and other entrances that aren’t completely sealed.
- Prune all shrubs and trees at least 4 feet away from your home – this prevents easy access for pests into your home.
Exclusion can prove difficult to the untrained eye and covering every single entry point is virtually impossible. Many times DIY efforts do not totally eliminate the ants or the nest. And since ants are not at the top of the pest food chain, they may invite other predators like roaches into your home.
Termite infestations can be a major problem, causing dangerous and expensive damage to homes and businesses. Subterranean termites nest underground and need contact with soil to meet their moisture needs. A mature nest will periodically emit a large number of swarmers to find a mate and start a new colony. Termites can cause serious structural damage to any home in a matter of months if left untreated. Common signs of termite activity include:
- Cracked or bubbling paint
- Wood that sounds hollow when tapped or is extreme soft
- Damaged wood, sagging floors or ceilings.
- Pencil-sized mud tunnels or tubes located near the foundation or on exterior walls
The main things homeowners can do to prevent a termite infestation involve eliminating excessive moisture and removing potential sources of food for the termite:
- Avoid moisture accumulation near the foundation. Divert water away with properly maintained clean downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks.
- Promptly repair leaking faucets, water pipes, and air conditioning units.
- Seal entry points around water and utility lines or pipes
- Keep all wooden portions of the house foundation at least 6 inches (and up to 18 inches) above the soil. Use concrete or steel supports when in contact with soil.
- Check decks and wooden fences regularly for damage. A minimum of 6 to 8 inches between ground level and porch steps is recommended.
- Install trellises, vines, and trim plants so that they do not contact the house. Do not build flower planters against the house.
- Remove dead trees, debris, and stacks of firewood from around your home.
Truly Nolen’s Four Seasons pest control and treatment program treats the both the inside and outside of your home, reducing the risk of future infestations. Having your trained Truly Nolen pest control specialists eliminate the pests in your home can save you time, money, and a huge headache. No matter what the season or disaster, Truly Nolen has you covered. Give us a call today for a free inspection or conveniently schedule online.