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!

Arizona Monsoon Rains Bring Increased Insect Activity

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)
Chandler, AZ 5.63
Mesa, AZ 4.41
Moapa, NV 4.67
Phoenix, AZ 3.29

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

Mosquito ControlMosquitoes 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.

Ants

Ant ControlWhen 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.

Subterranean Termites

Termite ControlTermite 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.

Truly Nolen and The Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure

Truly Nolen’s Phoenix, Arizona branches participated in the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure on Sunday, October 12, 2014. Showing support for the communities we serve, and on a mission to add value to the lives we touch, Truly Nolen employees, their families and friends joined thousands of Phoenicians as they walked the 5 kilometer route through downtown Phoenix helping raise money and awareness for the cause.

This event brought several Truly Nolen branches together as Truly Nolen of Tempe, Truly Nolen of Phoenix, Truly Nolen of Chandler, Truly Nolen of Sun City and Truly Nolen of Mesa all participated!

Pictured (left to right) are district manager Leo Gomes, technician Sean Telesford and service coordinator Tom Morin, all out of the Phoenix area.

Truly Nolen Phoenix in the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure

Yellow Jacket Infestations In Atlanta, Georgia

Yellow jackets are a common pest in the Atlanta, GA area — even our beloved Georgia Tech mascot Buzz is a yellow jacket. But last week, while a Georgia police officer was in pursuit of a suspect in the Brookhaven, GA area, the officer was stung over 100 times by a swarm of yellow jackets. The officer suffered a severe allergic reaction to the wasp stings and the attack left the officer hospitalized. Yellow jackets were later found in the officer’s shirt, pants, and mouth.

This recent attack reminds us of the dangers yellow jackets pose, particularly to those individuals that are allergic. Truly Nolen of Atlanta finds it important to share information about this type of wasp with our customers. We want to let you know what you can do to eliminate yellow jackets and their nests if you find them in or around your home.

What are Yellow Jackets?

Yellow jackets are a type of wasp. Wasps in general make up a wide range of insects with over 30,000 known species. Yellow jackets are often mistaken for bees, given their black and yellow body segments. However, you can typically identify yellow jackets by their pointed lower abdomens and thin waists. Yellow jackets have two wings that measure about 1.5 inches in length.

Social hunters, they typically live in colonies that contain workers, queens, and male drones. Workers and male drones both measure about ½ inch in length, however the queens are slightly larger (¾ inch).

Yellow jacket colonies are active for a year, with the queen emerging in late spring or early summer to choose a nesting site in which to lay her eggs. Yellow jackets are often considered a nuisance because nesting sites are often found close to the home. Generally, yellow jackets prefer to nest in a location that provides shelter from the elements. Some of the yellow jackets’ favorite nesting sites are under porch steps, along sidewalks and walkways, at the base of trees, and at the corners of buildings. The queen will often utilize a void in a wall or low-lying bush in which to create her nest.

The queen lives through the fall, constantly laying eggs inside the nest and feeding the larvae for a period of 18 to 20 days, until they reach maturity. Through this period the colony expands rapidly, reaching a maximum of 4,000 to 5,000 workers and containing 10,000 to 15,000 cells by the late summer. After the initial larvae mature, they take on the responsibility of feeding and caring for the other larvae. These infertile female workers forage for food and defend the growing colony as the queen continues to lay her eggs, which she will continue to do until her death. Once the colony has reached its peak size, new males and new queens are produced. These mature fertile females and males will leave the existing colony to reproduce, leaving their existing home abandoned.

Even if yellow jackets are proving to be a nuisance for you around your home, they are actually considered to be beneficial to the environment as they are responsible for eating other nuisance insects like beetles, grubs, and flies!

How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets?

Yellow jacket infestations can be fairly common in residential areas. If you notice a few yellow jackets flying near your home, this might be a sign that that a nest is located nearby. Careful inspection of your home should be conducted in order to determine the nest’s location and determine steps to safely eliminate it. Nests are usually small in size but if left undisturbed, some can grow to be very large and house enormous populations.

To get rid of a yellow jacket infestation special precautions must be taken to prevent being stung, as yellow jackets will sting if they feel threatened. A severe allergic reaction can occur in individuals who are sensitive, as we saw in the case of the Brookhaven officer. Truly Nolen does not recommend the use of do-it-yourself products or attempting to remove any wasp nest on your own. For your safety, consult a qualified pest control professional. At Truly Nolen our trained technicians apply a fast acting natural product to the nest that works quickly to eliminate the colony all while keeping our customers safe.

Yellow Jacket Facts

  • Yellow jackets live in colonies and are social insects.
  • Nests can contain thousands of wasps.
  • Yellow jackets primarily eat fruit and plant nectars.
  • Yellow Jacket is a city in Colorado.
  • The Georgia Tech mascot is a yellow jacket named Buzz.
  • Yellow jacket stingers are found at the end of their abdomens.

Yellow Jacket Pictures

Yellow JacketYellow Jacket

Yellow Jacket Stings

The best way to avoid a wasp sting to is avoid both wasps and their nests. Wasps will usually only sting if they feel threatened or when their nest is disturbed but some will sting if they are swatted. Take extra care while eating and drinking outdoors because it is common for wasps to climb into soda cans and sting. If a sting does occur, the symptoms are usually short-lasting. The initial burn of the sting usually fades to tenderness and swelling. Wasp stings can be extremely dangerous for those allergic to them. If at any time you feel that the sting is serious, seek medical help as soon as possible.