An Overview: Ants, Ants and More Ants

Possibly the most social networking insects on Earth, ants have evolved to include 10,000 different species that fill various, unique niches. Some types are named for the work they do, some for their actions, like thief ants that rob from other ants’ nests. Ant colonies consist of one or more queens who lay thousands of eggs, female workers who gather food, care for the young and perform other essential colony tasks and male ants. It seems male ants have only one purpose in some ant societies— to mate with the queen after which, the male dies. Close relatives to wasps and bees, ant bodies consist of three distinctive sections, a head, a thorax and an abdomen. Also, ants love Atlanta.

With her peach trees, pecan trees and temperate weather, who could blame ants for wanting to live in Atlanta? Some of the most common ants in Atlanta include Argentine Ants, Carpenter Ants, Pavement Ants and Fire ants.

Argentine Ants

Argentine Ants
Well adapted to urban environments, dark brown to black in color and no bigger than 1/8,” Argentine ants nest in moist soil near buildings or under them, looking for a way to get inside. Marching up and down buildings and trees along driveways and sidewalks, Argentine ants forage in neat little lines, guided by pheromone trails set out by scout ants. Because they can form super colonies with multiple queens, Argentine ants can be difficult to control and eradicate on your own.

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants
Balancing on their tiny front legs, acrobat ants can raise their heart-shaped abdomens over their heads when disturbed. No larger than 1/8” long, acrobat ants, who are yellowish brown to dark brown, with darker abdomens also put off an odor and have been known to bite when disturbed as well. Indoors, acrobat ants can cause damage to electrical wiring, as they infest damp places, often the foam sheathing behind siding. Because acrobat ants excavate former termite nests and other pest nests, homeowners may think they have a termite infestation, due to the debris acrobat ants leave in their wakes.

Carpenter Ants

Florida Carpenter Ants
The black carpenter ant and Florida carpenter ant are some of the largest pest ants found in Georgia. Black, red or light to dark brown in color and typically 5/8” in size, Florida carpenter ants, like neglected moisture and can enter Atlanta homes through damp and decaying wood. Black carpenter ants are dull black in color with yellowish hairs covering their abdomen and typically between 1/4 to 1/2”. Once in your attics, ceilings, carpets and flooring, carpenter ants bore through wood, causing as much, if not more structural damage than termites. Carpenter ants forage for food in loosely defined trails or as aimlessly, wandering individuals, drawn to insects, sweets, meats and nectars.

Fire Ants

Fire Ants
Anyone in Atlanta who has ever disturbed a Fire Ant mound knows that their sting is no joke and burns like fire. Relatively small, measuring between 1/8” and 3/8” in length, reddish brown to reddish black, with copper colored heads, Fire Ants prefer the loose soil in landscape areas and around structural foundations to build their mounds. Also preferring dry, sunny, flat spaces, Fire Ant mounds can measure two feet in diameter. Mounds regulate the temperature of colony tunnels, allowing Fire Ants to survive significant drops in temperatures. If left undisturbed, Fire Ant colonies can grow to 250,000 members with multiple queens. As a result, Fire Ants have been known to sting with enough force to kill cattle and other large animals. Coming indoors through tiny cracks and crevices, Fire Ants are drawn to sweets and your pets’ food bowls.

Crazy Ants

Crazy Ants
Making inroads on the Atlanta pest scene, crazy ants aren’t called that just because of their erratic movements. These 1/8” black ants, covered with reddish brown hairs, are attracted to electrical wiring and components in peculiar ways. Sometimes crazy ants destroy electrical products and sometimes their carcasses wreak just as much havoc on electrical components. For example, one crazy ant may find its way into a transformer and is electrocuted. As the insect waves its abdomen in the air, it releases pheromones that attract more and more crazy ants who come into contact with the first ant or a hot spot and are electrocuted as well. As their carcasses begin to pile up, dead crazy ants can actually clog electrical switches, causing system malfunctions.

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh Ants
Also known as “sugar ants,” Pharaoh Ants, tiny 1/16” sized, light yellow insects with red and black markings may get their name from mistaken information about these busybodies causing one of ancient Egypt’s historical plagues. A worldwide pest, Pharaoh Ants are one of the world’s most common ants and are known to be difficult to control and also for their ability to “get into things” like sweet foods.

Citronella Ants

Citronella Ants
Giving off a lemon scent when crushed, these 4 mm to 5 mm long yellow ants’ eclectic diet consists of the “honeydew” secreted by aphids and other small bugs. Citronella ants pose no threat as home invaders, but can occasionally be seen flying around indoors while swarming.

Field Ants

Field Ants
One of the most diverse types of ants in the world, with over 150 species, at only 1/8” in length, field ants vary widely in color from yellow, red, black and bi-colored red and black combinations. Nicknames include mound ants, wood ants and thatching ants. Like citronella ants, these insects dine on the “honeydew,” secreted by mealy bugs and aphids, and pose no threat of indoor infestations. Field ants do, however, build unsightly nests on walking paths and can secrete painful formic acid when provoked.

Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants
Fond of building nests in cracks of sidewalks, driveways and slab foundations, pavement ants, who are dark brown or black and a mere 1/8” long, aggressively build nests of up to 30,000 individuals. Although pavement ants feed on seeds, grease and insects and don’t typically move into homes in Atlanta, they do forage up to 30 feet from their nests in search of sweets and fruit found in your kitchen, leaving convenient pheromone trails for worker ants to follow.

Big-Headed Ants

Big-Headed Ants
Big-headed ants are reddish and brown in color. Their name refers to the larger than life heads of the major workers, who are larger than the minor workers, 1/8” in length, as compared to the 1/16” length of minor workers in a colony. Major workers acting as soldiers, defend the colony’s nest, usually found in disturbed soils, lawns, flowerbeds, under bricks, cement slabs, walkways, rocks, logs and flower pots. Not given to moving indoors, big-headed ants will forage into your home for food.

Odorous Ants

Odorous Ants
As their name implies, odorous ants, who are dark brown or black in color and 1/8” long emit an odor similar to rotten coconuts when crushed. A frequent nuisance in Atlanta homes, odorous ants tend to infest indoor spaces near heat sources or insulation, in wall voids and beneath floors. Following long foraging trails, odorous ants contaminate sweets, meats, fats and grease found in your home.

Ghost Ants

Ghost Ants
With pale abdomens and legs, sporting dark heads and thoraxes, ghost ants are tiny – less than 1/16” long, making these tropical interlopers difficult to see. Like odorous ants, ghost ants give off a coconut-like odor when they are crushed. Seen in Atlanta kitchens and bathrooms on sinks, counters, and floors, these Florida natives easily hitchhike in boxes, crates, potted plants and shipped household goods and spread several strains of bacteria in your home.

Rover Ants

Rover Ants
On the rise in recent years, rover ants, 1/16” long and dark brown to pale blonde in color, adapt well to many habitats from kitchens and bathrooms to cinder blocks and wall voids, to light sockets and electrical sockets. Outdoors, rover ants nest under mulch and heavy vegetation and shingles, in potted plants and under stones, entering your home through openings around pipes, cracks, windows and tree branches that are too close to your home.

How to Prevent Ants in your Atlanta home

Following good sanitation habits will go a long way in deterring ants from your home.

  • Trim trees so branches don’t touch your house.
  • Secure outside trash receptacles and clean area around trashcans.
  • Clean up all vegetation and old woodpiles near your home.

Inside your home:

  • Clean all dishes and wipe down all food prep, dining and food storage areas.
  • Keep all food and cooking ingredients in airtight containers.
  • Sweep and vacuum floors on a regular basis.

Most importantly, contact Truly Nolen Atlanta to initiate an ant prevention program or to eradicate an existing ant infestation. Call us today to schedule a free inspection at (678) 561-2847.

New Year’s Resolution: Four Seasons Solutions for a Pest-free 2016

Happy New Year! Out with the old and in with the new! Yes, it’s a new year, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. All around Atlanta, folks are making resolutions to get in shape and make other positive changes in their lives. While protecting your home from pests might not make the top ten list of popular New Year’s resolutions, it should definitely be on the list.

From season to season, Atlanta homeowners battle different pests as rodents try to find their way inside your home during the winter and ants during the summer. Getting an early start in protecting your home from pests is a good way to start the year right. Truly Nolen Atlanta’s Four Seasons approach—pest control that protects you throughout the year from season to season, will help you establish a carefully managed pest-free environment year round with both preventative measures and solutions to current pest problems. Here’s how it works:
Pest Activity Calender

Truly Nolen’s Four Seasons Program

Effective year round pest control relies on eliminating pests, not only during their active periods, but also by disrupting pest behavioral cycles during dormant periods. Truly Nolen Atlanta’s Four Seasons pest control program uses a proactive approach, plus an innovative series of high quality materials and treatments. Truly Nolen’s system works to minimize insect resistance over time.

Winter Winter: Pests Seek Warmth

Because pests will be trying to winter in the comfort of your cozy Atlanta home, Truly Nolen technicians work to deter these pests and eradicate those already hiding in your home. These measures establish long-term diversions to insect infestations all year long. Truly Nolen Atlanta protects your home in the winter by:

  • Wiping spider webs from room corners, windowsills and exposed beams, so spiders can’t trap food and thrive.
  • Applying boron-based powder around door and window frames, inside cracks and crevices and around wall plates and baseboards as well.
  • Administering dust treatments in attic and crawl spaces to deter rodents and disease carrying vector insects.
  • Positioning ant and roach bait stations under kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • Strategically placing pest monitoring stations in crucial areas to detect and trap intruders.
  • Applying material around exterior doors, windows and eaves.

Spring Spring has Sprung!

Come Spring, flowers, plants and trees flourish as temperatures rise, days get longer and everything comes bouncing back to life, including pests. Insects and rodents are bent on increasing their populations in the spring, and for that reason Truly Nolen zeroes in on pests with materials and applications that have been proven to reduce pest reproduction cycles. Technicians focus treatments in the areas where insects live and breed, on the exterior of your home and possible entry points into your home. Truly’s proactive stance against pest invasions in the spring involves introducing colony-eliminating materials that establish long-term protection against pest invasions. In the spring, the Four Seasons program shifts into power mode, starting with removing spider webs from the exterior of your property, then Truly technicians:

  • Apply dust treatments to exterior entry points, from attic access points to utility box entryways.
  • Treat outdoor hot spots, including potential pest living spaces and food sources.
  • Power treat your home’s foundation and landscape features to form a barrier around your home.
  • Place dual-acting granular bait for ant larvae and workers.
  • Suppress ant reproduction by application of granular ant bait.

Summer Summer: Pests’ favorite season

In the summertime, pests go all out, eating and destroying everything in sight. With the increase in temperatures and pest populations in the summer, pests can move around faster and seem less fearful of predators. Truly Nolen Atlanta addresses the change in seasons and pest behavior by treating your landscape and other probable pest habitats with fast-acting products. Your summer Four Seasons process begins with Truly technicians removing spider webs and applying a repellent, followed by:

  • Treating outside entry points and hot spots
  • Power treating the edges of landscape features and paved surfaces like patios, driveways and walkways.
  • Spreading granular bait in mulch, rock beds, thick grass and other areas with decorative landscape features
  • Minimizing insect reproduction by applying granular baits in strategic locations.

Fall Fall: A change in the air

After long, hot Atlanta summers, many people look forward to cooler temperatures and the change of seasons. In the fall, pest populations are maturing, collecting reserves for the winter and looking to move into a warm home, like yours, in the greater Atlanta area. When the temperatures drop, pests slow down, and your home is a great place to hide out from predators, do a little hibernating, and wait for spring. Our technicians will repel these pests by creating a barrier to the interior of your home. Truly Nolen’s skilled technicians caulk and seal all inviting holes, cracks and crevices around your exterior and apply materials around potential pest entryways.

For the fall, Truly Nolen Atlanta’s process begins with removing spider webs from ceilings, light fixtures, doorframes, windowsills and exposed beams indoors, then moving outside to do the same under eaves and around windows and doors. The Four Seasons process continues on the exterior of your home by:

  • Dust treating exterior entry points from attic access points, to utility boxes and anywhere in between
  • Treating outdoor hot spots, like potential pest habitats and food sources.
  • Sealing or caulking any and all cracks and crevices where insects may gain entry to your home in the winter.
  • Spreading bait granules in mulch, rock beds, thick grass and other decorative landscape features, like walkways, patios and along driveways.
  • Strategically placing rodent monitoring stations, as needed in critical areas.

Make a New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

Make this year the year you keep a New Year’s resolution. Keeping your home pest-free throughout the year is Truly Nolen Atlanta’s mission. Call today (678) 561-2847 to learn more about our innovative, proactive Four Seasons approach to pest control and to schedule a free inspection.

Beware of Spiders

Several kinds of spiders are commonly found in Charlotte, but how can you tell the difference between poisonous and harmless spiders? More importantly, how can you keep these eight-legged critters safely out of your home?

The Dangerous: The Brown Recluse Spider and the Southern Black Spider

 

Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse SpiderCommonly found in closets, attics, and basements or in other dim areas of the home, the Brown Recluse is noted for its violin-patterned markings on its back. For this reason, it’s also known as a fiddleback. With leg spans about the size of a quarter, the males have slightly longer legs. Perhaps one of the most dangerous of the spiders commonly found in Charlotte, the Brown Recluse usually bites only when surprised. Most people get bitten by Brown Recluses when they put on shoes or clothing in which the Brown Recluse is hiding, or when they’re cleaning a dark storage space. The Brown Recluse Spider’s bite looks like a bull’s-eye on the skin. Eventually, the central blister in the bull’s eye falls off. The bite of the Brown Recluse Spider can often result in burning pain, itching, body aches, or fever. If a Brown Recluse has bitten you, apply an ice pack to help with swelling and immediately seek medical attention.

Southern Black Widow

Black WidowAlso found in dark areas such as garages or attics, the Southern Black Widow Spider also may make her home in areas of the outdoors. Distinctly hourglass shaped, black, and shiny, the Brown Recluse is about 1.5 inches long and has eight eyes. Female black widows are poisonous while males are benign. Their webs are stronger than that of other spiders and the build of the web tends to have a random pattern.

Like the Brown Recluse, the Southern Black Widow may be found hiding inside clothes or dark areas and is not aggressive, usually biting by accident. Woodpiles and tree stumps may house a Southern Black Widow. Where there is one Southern Black Widow, there are probably babies as well. A Southern Black Widow’s bite may not hurt and may go unnoticed, but it can cause abdominal pain, dry mouth, sweating, swollen eyelids, and muscle aches. If bitten, wash the bite, use a cold compress to control the swelling, and go to the doctor or hospital immediately.

The Mostly Harmless Spiders

With the exception of the above two spiders, most spiders in North Carolina are fairly harmless, unless the person is highly sensitive to spider bites. If you think a spider has bitten you, seek medical attention immediately.

Controlling Charlotte Spiders

Spiders can often be beneficial to outdoor gardens. However, to control outdoor spiders, blast webs with water or move them with a rake or broom. One of the best ways to control spiders is to clean bookshelves, baseboards, and behind furniture on a regular basis. If you’re concerned about the appearance of new spiders in your home, consider an insecticide made for in-house use; these can often be used in closet, around baseboards, or in storage areas or other potential areas where spiders may be found. Use work gloves when handling boxes or working in dark areas such as garages. Also use gloves when stacking lumber or firewood. Inspect clothes and shoes before putting them on.

If you’re concerned about spiders or suspect an infestation, call Truly Nolen of Charlotte at 704-910-2936 to schedule an inspection.