All posts by Truly Nolen of Charlotte NC

Boxelder Bug vs. Stink Bug

The boxelder bug and the stink bug are two easily confused insects, which can be seen congregating in and around homes, especially populating the Charlotte, NC area. Although slightly similar in appearance and peskiness, these pests are not one and the same. It is true, although different species, both stink bugs as well as boxelder bugs are attracted to the warmth coming from the crevices and entryways of your home. This is because both species need shelter and protection for over-wintering. So how do you tell the two apart, and keep them both out? Identification and prevention are key with these two pests.

Identifying Differences

Neither stink bugs nor boxelder bugs cause harm to humans, but they do have some pretty interesting reactions to danger. When crushed, the boxelder bug will secrete a dye that stains. The stink bug, no surprise, gets its name from the odor it emits when squashed. For mess-free removal of these bugs, be sure to use a vacuum hose attachment.

Boxelder Bug

Boxelder bug features:

  • dark brown or black coloration
  • ½ inch long
  • red veins on wings with markings on abdomen
  • scentless, plant bugs
Stink Bug

Stink bug features:

  • green to brown coloration
  • short legs, narrow head
  • broad, flattened shield-shaped body
  • scent glands

Pest Prevention for Your Home

Prevention is the best method of managing pests, so it’s best to be proactive and safeguard your Charlotte home and its surrounding areas. Broken screens let bugs in and should be repaired or replaced immediately. Sealing holes and cracks around doors, windows and walls with silicon latex caulk can decrease access points. Lastly, you can benefit from expert advice and professional services by reaching out to your local Truly Nolen Charlotte location at 704-910-2936 for a free pest inspection.

Keeping Roaches Out of Your Charlotte Home

As we cross over the seasonal threshold into Spring once again, cockroach concerns arise in the Charlotte area. An increase in indoor allergens points toward the possibility of heightened allergies and asthma during this period, which can be managed as long as you arm your home against these pests. Cockroaches are known to carry diseases, and tend to seek out cool, dark places. As the weather warms up, it is not unlikely to find roaches populating your kitchen, basement or garage.

Cockroach Classifications

Learn more about the four main types of roaches that pose a threat to our residential population here in Charlotte:

  1. roach controlThe first and most common is the German cockroach; this insect is typically ½ inch long, dark brown in color, and has two visible brown lines by the head. The adult German roach is winged but rarely flies. It is one of the most common and rapidly reproducing species and can cause infection and disease. Because it will feed on practically anything, they are often found nesting in small cracks and crevices in areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.
  2. roach exterminatorThe second and largest type of roach often hosted in Charlotte area homes, is the American cockroach, also known as the Palmetto or Flying Water Bug. This winged, yet flightless insect, is dark brown with lighter brown shades on the head region. Measuring 1½ to 2 inches in length, you may find this creature in the dark, moist crevices of your basement or under the sink.
  3. roach exterminatorThird in line is the Wood cockroach, living in rotten, organic material in dens, kitchens, storage sheds, on decks, etc. Wood cockroaches look similar to American cockroaches; however, they are smaller in size and appear active during both day and night.
  4. roach controlOriental roaches, often known as Waterbugs, are typically 1 inch in length and are black in color. It is the filthiest of the roach species and although it can live an entire month without food, it can only live 2 weeks without water. They like to feed on decaying material and trash so they are found under mulch and rocks, under debris and in sewer systems.

Pest Prevention

In a national, cross-sectional survey over 831 homes in the U.S., research concluded that the cockroach allergens were found to be associated with allergic sensitization in 11% of U.S. living room floors and 13% of kitchen floors. Cockroach allergen levels also showed an association with asthma morbidity in 3% of living room floors and 10% of kitchen floors.

Follow these simple guidelines to ensure your home is protected:

  • Tight-fitting doors and windows. Make sure all accessible entry points are sealed well, including cracks and gaps.
  • Limit porch light usage (for Wood cockroaches). The adults are attracted to the light.
  • Utilize outdoor insecticide treatments around windows and doors and along the foundation of the house.
  • Store firewood piles further from the house, far from any entry points.

It is important to shield your household from these asthma and allergen-causing pests through maintenance, prevention and management. Call Truly Nolen Charlotte today at (704) 910-2936 and one of our experts will help keep your home free of roaches all year long!

Protecting your Charlotte Home Against Ants

In Charlotte, you can tell the winter is over and spring is in the air, not only because of the crocuses, tulips and daffodils sprouting up everywhere but also because of the reappearance of ants in your kitchen, and other parts of your home and property. While winter weather conditions impact Charlotte with below freezing temperatures a couple of times during the winter season, this year, due to the current el Niño system in place, the Carolinas experienced warmer temperatures and more rain than usual. So, ant activity could be on the rise during spring and summer 2016.

As we know from going on picnics and watching National Geographic specials, ants are the original social networking experts. Therefore, they naturally thrive in advanced, highly sophisticated communities. Ants have evolved to include 10,000 different species that fill various, unique niches. Truly Nolen invites Charlotte homeowners to take a look at the most prevalent ant species.

Argentine Ants

argentine ants
Well adapted to urban environments, Argentine ants are dark brown to black in color and no bigger than ? of an inch. Nesting in moist soil near buildings or under structures, Argentine ants march up and down buildings and trees, along driveways and sidewalks, looking for a way to get inside your Mecklenburg County home.

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 and best treated by pest control professionals.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants
One of the largest ants in the Carolinas, carpenter ants can be black, red or light to dark brown in color and measure just over ½ inch in length, carpenter ants are attracted to moisture around the outside of your home. Damp and decaying wood near your home rolls out the welcome mat for carpenter ants to enter your home, where they can get to the good wood in your walls and attic.

Once in your attic, ceilings, carpets and flooring, carpenter ants bore holes in wood, carving out cozy nests and 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. Outdoors, most ant species are drawn to a substance called honeydew, which is secreted by aphids.

Fire Ants

Fire Ants
Relatively small, but packing a powerful punch, fire ants are reddish brown to reddish black, with copper colored heads and they prefer to build their mounds in your landscaped area’s loose soil and around structural foundations.

Regulating the temperature of colony tunnels and allowing fire ants to survive significant drops in temperature, fire ant mounds can measure two feet in diameter. An undisturbed fire ant colony can grow to 250,000 members with multiple queens, giving them enough power and force to kill cattle and other large animals.

One homeowner in the Charlotte Motor Speedway area places brightly painted wire tomato cages over fire ant mounds as a warning to kids playing in the yard. At times, in search of food and water, fire ants enter homes through tiny cracks and crevices. In this event, contact Truly Nolen Charlotte immediately.

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants
As the name implies, acrobat ants can balance on their tiny front legs, raising their heart-shaped abdomens over their heads when disturbed. No larger than ? inch long, acrobat ants, who are yellow-brown to dark brown, with darker abdomens, put off an odor and have been known to bite when disturbed.

Indoors, acrobat ants can cause damage to electrical wiring, as they infest damp places, often in the foam sheathing behind siding. Because acrobat ants excavate former termite nests and other pests’ nests, homeowners may think they have a termite infestation, due to the debris acrobat ants leave in their wakes.

Odorous Ants

Odorous Ants
Odorous ants, dark brown or black in color and ¼ inch long emit an odor similar to rotten coconuts when crushed. Usually seen in large numbers, odorous ants frequent Charlotte homes, infesting indoor spaces near heat sources or insulation, in wall voids and under flooring. Known for long, foraging trails, odorous ants contaminate sweets, meats, fats and greasy foods in your home. Odorous ant colonies can grow to 100,000 ants with many queens forming super colonies, capable of transporting resources between colonies, making them difficult to control.

Little Black Ants

Little Black Ants
Not unlike the little black dress, little black ants can be found at parties, especially outside in humid conditions, where they hang out under mulch, beneath lumber and debris, crashing events to get to the sweet and greasy menu items. Shiny, black and only 1/16 inch in length, little black ants make up for their small size in their numbers. With multiple queens, colonies range from medium to large and are difficult to eradicate on your own.

Outdoors – Tips for Proactive Ant Prevention in your Charlotte area home include:

  • Removing clutter near property and cleaning up brush piles around structure
  • Keeping mulch to 2-inch depths or less
  • Sealing gaps around doors and windows and repairing foundation cracks
  • Replacing moisture-damaged wood outside the home and repairing all structural leaks
  • Cleaning gutters and downspouts regularly
  • Cleaning outside trash receptacles and moving them 25 feet from the home
  • Cleaning all pet food dishes and removing all spilled pet food

Indoors – Tips for Preventing Ants from getting inside your Charlotte area home include:

  • Cleaning all dishes and wiping down all food prep, dining and food storage areas
  • Keeping all food and cooking ingredients in airtight containers
  • Sweeping and vacuuming floors on a regular basis

Most importantly, contact Truly Nolen Charlotte to initiate an ant prevention program or to eradicate an existing ant infestation. Locating, treating and eradicating ants in their colonies, can be an exercise in futility unless you are a trained pest control professional. Call us today to schedule a free inspection at (704) 910-2936 or schedule an inspection online. Truly Nolen Charlotte: Ant Control Solutions that work!

Pest Prevention is the Best Cure for Household Pests

According to Disney’s The Lion King, the circle of life is what keeps us in balance. It’s what causes grass to grow; the frost of winter to turn into the warmth and gentleness of springtime. However, the spring doesn’t just bring warmth and sunny weather, it also brings a renewed existence of pest and bug activity to your home. Being proactive and taking preventative measures during the cold months will help to ensure your home is pest free in the spring.

Preparing the Home for Spring Hatching Cycles

Bug and pest activity lie dormant in winter, but when the warm weather returns, so do they. Many people mistakenly feel that once spring and summer are over and the colder months are upon us, that pest control can stop for the year. After all, pests are attracted to the warm weather and aren’t as active in the colder months, right? Unfortunately, this is a misconception.

MouseMany rodents and pests are active in the winter. Mice, for example, seek shelter during the colder months and are carriers of various kinds of diseases; they can easily enter through cracks in the concrete. Similarly, bugs that find a way into your home will wait out the cold weather until the first warm day and then come out of winter hibernation. After all, several types of spiders, roaches, wasps, and the dreaded bed bugs may slow down, but they won’t stop. In other words, just because you don’t see insects in your home, doesn’t mean that they’re not there. Chances are, webs, eggs, or nests are simply hiding safely inside, patiently waiting for spring to come so the new generations can infest your home.

To protect your home, make sure that all entry points are tightly sealed off, including window and door screens. Make sure that leaves and branches are trimmed back from all home windows to keep pests from using plants as bridges into your home. Once you’ve done your part, it is best to contact a pest control specialist for an inspection.

The Importance of an Annual Inspection

Furniture TreatmentDue to the year round activity of pests, having a yearly pest inspection and service plan for pests is critical to keeping your Charlotte home pest free all year. Truly Nolen’s Four Seasons approach to pest control is a proactive annual program that takes into account the changes in pest behavior from season to season, giving you peace of mind throughout the year.

Our trained exterminators will conduct a thorough inspection of your property, both inside and out, to find and prevent any hint of future infestation. Not only will our experienced pest control technicians know what to look for; they’ll also remove any nests, webs, egg cases, or other proof of incubating bugs.

It is important to determine and handle pest issues regularly along with taking preventative measures rather than waiting for a pest infestation to occur in order to take action. By planning ahead, you can enjoy a pest free spring.

Keeping up with year-round pest control is one of the most important things a homeowner can do. Call Truly Nolen Charlotte today at 704-910-2936 and schedule a free pest inspection.

Charlotte’s Triatomine Bug: A Kiss to Die For

As the North Carolina Panthers ‘keep pounding’ all the way to Super Bowl 50 and we get ready for Valentine’s Day, we also need to pay attention to other news that may not be as exciting but definitely very important.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported finding a deadly insect known as the “kissing bug” in North Carolina. Actually, kissing bugs have been discovered in 28 states, and as far north as New Jersey. The CDC reported there are 300,000 cases of Chagas Disease in the U.S. so far but most were infected in Latin America where it is most often found. The CDC maintains that the likelihood of contracting the disease in the U.S. is still relatively low but it is important to be aware as sometimes symptoms do not show up for years.

Triatomine, aka kissing bugs

kissing bug
Triatomine include conenose bugs, assassin bugs and kissing bugs. Typically found in Latin America where, in 1909, Brazilian doctor Carlos Chagas discovered that kissing bugs were responsible for the transmission of a parasite, trypanosoma cruzi, to his patients.

Chagas Disease, caused by the trypanosoma cruzi parasite entering the bloodstream, in chronic cases can cause intestinal issues and heart failure. While some victims experience no symptoms, some suffer flu-like symptoms, with vomiting, swollen lymph glands and high fevers. Typically, Romaña’s sign, which refers to the swelling of an eyelid, occurs in early stages of the disease.

If left undetected or untreated for years, the trypanosoma cruzi parasite can cause chronic disorders in the intestines and break down the heart and the digestive system.

How do triatomine infect humans?

Like bed bugs, ticks and mosquitoes, kissing bugs are little bloodsuckers that feed on human blood. And while bed bugs don’t pose serious health threats to humans, kissing bugs carry a parasite in their excrement that can be deadly if left untreated.

However, according to epidemiologists, a kissing bug would have to feed, relieve itself and have its feces be rubbed into the bite wound or an open sore, in order to infect a human being with Chagas. Other ways trypanosoma cruzi can be transmitted include:

  • Ingesting infected kissing bug feces in uncooked food
  • Blood transfusions
  • Mothers can pass the parasite to newborns during pregnancy or childbirth
  • Infected donor organ transplants
  • Laboratory accidents

The good news: One case out of 900-4,000 contacts with infected kissing bugs in the US results in a case of Chagas Disease. Also, the disease is not transmitted like the cold or flu through casual contact with infected individuals.

What to know about kissing bugs:

Known in Latin America as barbeiros, vinchucas, pitos and chinches, kissing bugs measure about an inch long, with pear-shaped bodies, brown, red or yellow stripes and a pair of transparent wings. Some say they resemble a cockroach.

Adult kissing bugs do fly and during warmer months are attracted to light coming from your home. Like bed bugs, kissing bugs are nocturnal, hiding during the day and coming out at night to feast on humans and pets, attracted by exhaled carbon dioxide, skin odors and body heat. Their bites are relatively painless, usually not waking victims. Kissing bugs feed near the mouth and eyes of their human hosts, hence their name. Their hiding places include:
kissing bug controlOutside: Piles of wood objects on the exterior of your home, such as firewood, lumber, tiles, stones, bags of food and animal habitats, like chicken coops and goat corrals.

Indoors: Cracks in walls, crevices in beds, behind pictures, in furniture crevices, cardboard boxes and hanging clothing near their food sources.

Kissing Bug Control

No vaccination exists for Chagas Disease, but in the initial stages of the disease, benznidazole and also nifurtimox have shown to be highly effective, but the effects of these anti-parasitic drugs diminish the longer a person is infected. The drugs are also not FDA approved in the U.S. and are only available from the CDC and both drugs have some fairly common side effects.

The best prevention plan for kissing bugs is exclusion, guarding your home against entry. Truly Nolen Charlotte suggests a few guidelines to follow in excluding kissing bugs and other pests from your home.

  • Seal all cracks, gaps and holes around foundations, crawlspaces, windows, walls, roofs and doors.
  • Eliminate clutter outside and indoors, especially in bedrooms.
  • Eliminate wood and rock piles near your house.
  • Stack firewood at least 20 ft. from your home.
  • Install screens on doors and windows. Repair existing screen holes or tears.
  • Seal gaps and holes leading to your attic.
  • Keep pets indoors overnight.
  • Clean your home regularly, vacuuming and sweeping often.
  • Sanitize outdoor pet areas and indoor pet beds and periodically check areas for bugs.
  • Practice safe and sanitary food preparation, consumption and storage measures.

Contact a professional

Because commercial pesticides do not eradicate kissing bugs, should you find a kissing bug, do not squash it or touch it with your bare hands. The CDC recommends placing a plastic bag over your hand to pick the bug up. Deposit kissing bug in a container, then drown it with rubbing alcohol or freeze the bug in water. Anything the kissing bug has come into contact with should be thoroughly cleaned with a bleach solution.

With so many new pests emerging, it is best to contact a professional pest control company, like Truly Nolen Charlotte, to inspect your property for kissing bugs and all pests and devise an effective exclusion, reduction and prevention plan of action. Call Truly Nolen Charlotte at (704) 910-2936 to schedule an 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.

A Bug’s Life: Holiday Travel

Hundreds of tiny bed bugs climbing aboard suitcases and backpacks, cars and planes, hitching a ride to travel with you… It sounds like a charming holiday movie, doesn’t it? But there’s nothing cute about bed bugs seizing the chance to infest your home. Thousands of Charlotte residents travel during the holidays, but when you’re packing your coats and holiday presents to go home, you might not be traveling alone. Learn how to keep a bug free holiday season and prevent critters from sharing the holidays with you.

Bed Bugs: How to Recognize Them and Where They Hide

Bed BugTiny, parasitic bed bugs survive on the blood of sleeping animals and people. They’re reddish-brown, have no wings, and are extremely tiny (between about 1mm to 7 mm). They can wait for months between meals, and they’re considered one of the most problematic bugs for homeowners and travelers. While bed bugs aren’t considered a health hazard, they are extremely irritating, and can cause difficulty sleeping and itching, which may result in a secondary infection. Some people may also be allergic to bed bug bites and need medical attention as a result. Bites, which may take up to two weeks to show up on the skin, can often be found on the face, back, hands, arms, and other limbs.

Bed bugs may be found in the fold of sheets and their exoskeletons may be found on or around the infested item of furniture. Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are not only found in mattresses, although they are often found nearby where people sleep. They’re also found in stuffed animals or in any material covered with fabric, such as a chair, sofa or luggage, as well as in bed frames, headboards, behind wallpaper, or even living in clutter piled close to the bed.

Preventing Bed Bugs from Coming Home to Charlotte

Bed Bug Registry: Prior to checking into a hotel, look it up on a bed bug registry. Once you’re checked in to your room, don’t be fooled by cleanliness, as these blood-sucking fiends can hide in clean environments and five-star hotels.

Bed Bug MattressUse a Hand Held Flashlight: Shine a flashlight around the four most common areas where hotel bed bugs can be found: the mattress, the box spring, the headboard, and the footboard. You’re looking for either tiny bugs or blood spots along these areas. Look in screw holes as well.

Don’t Put Stuff on the Bed: What’s the first thing most of us do when entering a hotel room? Swing our luggage up on the bed. Don’t do that – bugs will likely be hiding either there or in the carpet. To avoid bed bugs, put your suitcase either on a luggage rack or in the bathroom. (Bed bugs are far less likely to be prevalent in rooms with chrome or tile.)

Heat It Up: Bed bugs can’t stand heat, so if you think that the luggage itself may have become infested with bed bugs, throw soft bags into the washer and drier. Empty suitcases directly into the washing machine and wash clothes in the hottest water possible. Dryer time will kill most bed bugs.

Car Tips: Those who rent cars for trips would be advised to check the trunk, regardless of the time of year. Rental cars are not often prone to bed bugs in the summer because of the heat but it’s best to be cautious throughout the year.

Storage: When not in use, luggage should stay out of the bedroom. Instead, store luggage and travel bags away from the bed. Rather than store them under the bed, make sure they’re in the closet or the garage.

Make it hard for bed bugs to travel home to Charlotte! Prevent them from hitching a ride inside your suitcase. If you have any concerns, call Truly Nolen of Charlotte today at 704-910-2936!

Keeping Mice out of Your Charlotte Home

Mouse In KitchenOver the last few weeks there has been a noticeable change in the weather in Charlotte. Fall has arrived and with that means shorter days, pumpkin flavored desserts, and preparing our homes for winter. Rodents have noticed the change in the weather as well. During the cooler months, field mice will search for warm locations that can provide access to food and water. Unfortunately, this usually means your home and once they arrive, they make themselves comfortable. They eat food left on the counter, chew the trim on the walls, tear up insulation, and possibly cause electrical damage.

There are many steps you can take to prevent mice and the snakes that chase after them from finding their way into your home. Here are some tips to keep your home rodent free this fall.

Stop Feeding Them

Your home is full of food sources for rodents. Leftovers, dirty dishes in the sink, loosely sealed items in the pantry, and even your pet’s food bowl are all scrumptious meals for mice. Before you go to bed, spend some time wiping down the counters, putting away leftovers, and cleaning up the dishes.

Seal Them Out

mouseWhile small cracks in your homes foundation might appear too small for a mouse to crawl through, anything larger than a quarter is the right size for a mouse to squeeze through. Take a walk around your home and check for cracks in the foundation, gaps in doors or window frames, or missing screens on crawl spaces or vents. Fill holes with caulk or cover them with wire mesh to remove an access point.

Check your basement, attics, and crawl spaces to make sure they are sealed and dry. Also, make sure any blankets, rugs, or coats that are stored in these areas are in bags or plastic bins.

Keep It Clean

Secure the trash cans both in your home and outside with a lid. Mice are scavengers who will seek out any food source possible. If possible, keep your garbage cans in your garage rather than outside. Having them inside provides one more obstacle between the mice and the food source.

During the holiday months, our homes are a location to enjoy our families and loved ones. Don’t let pesky field mice invade your space. If you notice mice in your home this winter, contact Truly Nolen of Charlotte at 704-910-2936 for an inspection. Our certified technicians will work with you to evict the mice and return your home to the tranquil place you know and love.

Invasion of the Termites: Charlotte

termites
At any given time, there are more termites in Charlotte than there are people. Charlotte’s Termite Infestation Probability (TIP) Zone rating is high and the city is dealing with a massive termite invasion. Particular construction methods commonly utilized in the region increase the vulnerability of residential homes and may be adding to Charlotte’s termite problem.

The TIP Zones

What’s a TIP Zone? A TIP Zone is based on calculations and studies from the US Forest Service. TIP Zones are used to calculate the potential for termite damage in a geographical area and to determine what is needed to protect homes. The International Code Council uses this zone information to figure out code requirements for the prevention of termites. TIP Zone information is also used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to create mortgage loan underwriting requirements.

Charlotte is located in TIP Zone #2, which means that its termite population is moderate to heavy, and thus, a significant issue for homeowners. This is a huge concern, considering that termites cause over $5 billion in damage to homes and businesses every year, according to the National Pest Management Association. This is more than fires, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes combined. Additionally, there are a certain types of Charlotte construction that make this area uniquely vulnerable to termites.
TIP Zone

Termite Prone Types of Charlotte Construction

There are certain kinds of home construction found in Charlotte that are prone to termite issues, and because of Charlotte’s high TIP Zone rating, more termite control measures are required in the building codes.

According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, there are several types of construction concerns found in Charlotte homes. One concern is the concrete slab, which rests on soil (LINK: http://www.ncagr.gov/SPCAP/structural/pubs/preconstruction.htm). Usually, over time, a slab will slowly move away from the foundation wall. This allows termites to infest the above wooden structure. In general, concrete slabs give the termite population many places through which to enter the home, such as through plumbing outlets or construction joints. In cases like these, the soil surrounding the slab must be treated for termites.

Homes with a crawl space are also particularly vulnerable to termite pressure. If the foundational voids and spaces are found close to known termite activity, they must be treated accordingly. The side walls of porches that are within three feet of structural wood or a foundation wall must also be treated or drilled. (LINK: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/termites/#chemical).

Before purchasing a home, it is a good idea to have a termite inspection. If you already own a home, taking preventative measures is essential. These precautionary measures can save you money in the future. Call Truly Nolen Charlotte at (704) 910-2936 to schedule an inspection.

Back to School: Charlotte’s Most Common Pests

The kids are back to school and it’s time for the parents to go back to school too! It’s important for parents to learn about some of the most common kinds of pests found in Charlotte.

Ants

Ant ControlThese tiny pests often infest woodpiles and trees in the outdoors. While many kinds of ants are prevalent, fire ants are one of the most common ant species found in North Carolina. As of 2010, they were found in 71% of NC counties. They range from 3-6 mm long and are far more aggressive than black ants or ghost ants. When they are disturbed, fire ants can lash out by biting their perpetrators. Fire ant bites can swell up and cause itching, pain, and even allergic reactions. They are at their worst during hotter weather and are fairly adaptable. Fire ants are attracted to trash, so it is important to keep the area around trash cans free from debris and prune back any trees or greenery around your home so that fire ants can’t use branches as a way to invade your home. An old wives’ tale recommends pouring grits or hot water over the ant mound, but these methods are questionable: call a pest control professional for best results.

Roaches

Roach ControlCharlotte makes a cozy home for roaches, whether it is a large, flying American roach (also known as a palmetto bug), a wood roach, or any other kind of roach. While the habits of individual roach subtypes greatly vary, you can find most roaches by looking for droppings that seem similar to coffee grinds. Roaches can cause breathing issues or allergies. They are most active at night and are drawn towards heat as well as damp areas. As roaches are drawn to damp areas, be sure to repair any holes or gaps around water pipes, doors, or baseboards and dispose of trash, leaves, and paper debris. Be sure to store food carefully and clean the kitchen after use.

Rodents

Rodent ControlWhen you think of mice, you probably think of Mickey Mouse. Well, think again; not every mouse or rat is as harmless as the Disney mascot. Mice and rats breed year round, carry diseases and harmful organisms such as Salmonella. They damage property, and chew through food packages or insulation. Do you have rodents? Look for mice and rat droppings or household cats exhibiting stalking behavior. Be careful to immediately clean any droppings: breathing air associated with their waste can cause illness. Try rodent proofing your HVAC system and make sure that all food is carefully stored. Install foundation vent screens, seal all cracks in the property, and remove outside brush clutter away from your home.

Termites

Termite ControlAmong the most common pests found in Charlotte are termites. Termites have been known to cause an annual $5 billion dollars in damage in the U.S. Catching them early can save you thousands of dollars, as many home insurance policies do NOT cover termite issues. Termites are most active in the spring and summer months. Subterranean termites use moisture from the soil to survive and then build “mud tunnels” to reach their food, while drywood termites live inside dry wood and can easily spread. Look for tiny wings (or in the case of subterranean termites, “mud tunnels” along a surface) near a possible entry point or termite droppings. Does your wood sound hollow when tapped or do your wooden surfaces appear to be puckered or damaged? Then termites may be the cause. Keep A/C units and areas clean, and direct water away from your home, as some termites are attracted to moisture.

Termites, ants, roaches, and rodents are some of the most common pests in Charlotte. To prevent these pests from choosing your home, keep inside areas clean of food debris and water issues, and keep outside areas clear of tree branches and other plants that may act as bridges to the pests. Don’t share your Charlotte home with pests, call Truly Nolen Charlotte at 704-910-2936 for an inspection.