Category Archives: Pest Database

What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

Over the last few weeks, the Zika virus has been in the news as it continues to spread around the globe. The Zika virus initially appeared in Brazil in May of 2015 and has since affected more than 1 million people in over 30 countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a global emergency as experts agree that the disease has “explosive pandemic potential” and could affect more than 4 million people by the end of this year.

Here is what you need to know about the Zika virus:

What Is the Zika virus?

Zika VirusThe Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. It was named after a forest in Uganda where it was first discovered in 1947 from blood drawn from rhesus monkeys that scientists were testing for yellow fever. The first case of a human being infected wasn’t until 1952 when it was reported in Uganda and Tanzania.

Since 1947 no large scale outbreaks have been reported until now. Micronesia in 2007 had 49 confirmed cases but no hospitalizations were reported from that outbreak. In 2013-2014, 19,000 suspected cases were reported in French Polynesia. The current outbreak has already passed 1 million suspected cases making this the worst outbreak in the virus’ history.

What Happens to people who have been infected?

Less than 20% of those infected with the virus will show symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain, and red/itchy eyes. Side effects are mild, rarely fatal, and fade within a week. The Zika virus has made headlines mostly because of conditions that the virus has been linked to. It was recently associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disease often triggered by infections in which the immune system attacks the myelin lining of nerve cells. Individuals who suffer from Guillain-Barre may experience widespread weakness and paralysis after an attack. A large majority of those who suffer from this disease will lose mobility and may need a mechanical ventilator because of weak respiratory muscles.

Another condition linked to Zika is microcephaly, a birth defect in which a developing baby’s brain fails to grow to its proper size. Since the start of the Zika pandemic nearly 4,000 Brazilian infants have been born with microcephaly. In addition to microcephaly, doctors in infected areas say that newborns who have been exposed to Zika may also suffer from vision and hearing problems. Pregnant women are being warned not to travel to areas where the Zika virus is spreading due to the risk.

How is Zika Spread?

The Zika virus is spread by yellow fever mosquitoes, Aedes Aegypti, who are distinguishable by the white markings on their legs. These mosquitoes are most active in the morning and early evenings and fly on every continent but Antarctica.

Is the United States at Risk for the Zika Virus?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO are looking ahead to the summer months when mosquitoes become more active. While the outbreak has mostly stayed out of the United States, the chance of an outbreak is still of concern.

As of February 24, 2016, the CDC has reported 107 travel-associated cases of the Zika virus and zero locally acquired in the United States. American’s who are traveling to South America should take steps to protect themselves while overseas. This could include wearing long sleeve shirts and pants, staying in lodgings with screened windows and air conditioning, using insect repellants, and using permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

How You Can Protect Yourself

As we move into the warmer months you should take the following steps to control mosquitoes in and around your home:

  • Remove any sources for standing water, including bird baths, rain barrels, and recycling containers.
  • Cut back vegetation around your home to eliminate breeding and hiding grounds.
  • Get rid of old yard items that may be attracting mosquitoes such as old pots and spare tires.

As there is currently no vaccine or treatment for the Zika virus, the CDC recommends that pregnant women consider postponing any travel to countries where Zika transmission is ongoing and all other travelers use due caution if traveling to infected areas.

Truly Nolen offers a mosquito control program designed to reduce the number of mosquitoes found in and around your home. Combined with our Four Seasons Pest Control program that provides year round protection against household pests, it is a comprehensive approach.

It is best to be proactive and prepare your home for mosquito season while the weather is still cool than to wait until mosquitoes become more active. Contact us with any questions on our mosquito control program or if would like to schedule a free pest inspection. For more information and tips to prepare for mosquito season, go to https://www.trulynolen.com/other-services/mosquito-control.asp.

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.

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!

Slacker Ants

Think colony ants are the last word in insect industriousness? A recent study published by the Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology Journal and reported on in PC Mag and Science Magazine states that colony ants are lazy slackers.

Over 70% of Colony Ants are Inactive

Ants
While colony ants have always enjoyed a solid reputation for efficiency and dedication, it turns out many ants that live in colonies may not do much of anything at all. A group of researchers studied five separate colonies, marking all of the members with spots of colored paint, each with a specific color code. Then, the research team set up a camera to record the ants in five minute segments, six times a day over the next two weeks, and sat back to watch what happened. The researchers learned that so-called worker ants were actually inactive over 70% of the time! Additionally, just about a quarter of all the ants were not recorded working at all. In fact, only about 3% of the ants were consistently active at all during the recorded segments. But what does this mean in the bigger picture? Since the ants aren’t watching Netflix or playing on tiny smart phones, why are they so inactive?

Lazy…or Labor Distribution?

Ant inactivity isn’t news to researchers. While previous studies have shown that the lethargy of the ants might be temporary and due to the influence of circadian rhythms, this new information seems to imply that time of day has nothing to do with the laziness of the ants. However, the scientists suggest that the inactivity of the ants may have something to do with the way a colony distributes labor, possibly allowing the ants that are either too young or too old to stay inactive, while the healthier ants do the brunt of the work.

In a recent interview, one of the lead researchers on the project confirmed this theory of labor distribution, stating that it may be a critical part of the colony’s organization, potentially having something to do with an overabundance of ants, not all of which need to be working at once.

Dealing with Ants

No one wants to share a home with ants – industrious or otherwise. If you think you’ve got an infestation of either active or inactive ants, give us a shout.

Home Invasions on the Rise in Atlanta: Pantry Pests Making Their Way Indoors for Thanksgiving

Fruit fliesThis season, before you gear up for Thanksgiving preparations, think about safeguarding your home from pantry pests that could potentially turn your Thanksgiving feast into a Thanksgiving fiasco. Certain types of moths, and beetles, along with other food insects, can often be found in grains, cereal, nuts, dried fruits and other holiday pantry items. So before you start on your favorite Thanksgiving dishes, take a few minutes to see where your pantry stands on your pest prevention program.

Out of Date, Don’t Remember the Last Time you Used It, Out of Here

Stored foods items, especially those you don’t use a lot, tend to be invitations to pantry pests, who like dark, undisturbed places to breed. So, if you don’t break out the baking skills except to make holiday musts, then chances are you’ve got flour, as well as other grains and possibly nuts from last year’s holiday season in your pantry. To be on the safe side, toss anything not stored properly in metal, glass or heavy plastic. Because insect infestations are more likely to occur in dried food products that have been open for long periods of time, check dried good expiration dates. If you find yourself on the fence about how long you’ve had an item, it’s better to toss it.

Clean Up Your Act

To help safeguard your home against pantry pests, consider pulling everything out of your pantry and vacuum the area, especially cracks and crevices where crumbs can attract insects. Then, as an added precaution, caulk cleaned crevices and cracks, then empty or discard the vacuum cleaner bag. If you suspect you have a pantry pest infestation, do something about it as soon as possible.

What If I Suspect I’ve Been Pantry Hacked?

For starters, what kind of insects am I dealing with, and how did these pesky pests get in my pantry?

The most reported pantry pest is the Indian meal moth, with the saw-toothed grain beetle following close behind. Grain moths, silverfish, centipedes, millipedes, ants, stinkbugs and weevils can also be found.

Indian Meal Moths and Saw-toothed Grain Beetles

Indian Meal MothsAn adult Indian meal moth measures a mere 1/2”, with distinctive beige and copper wings. Cereals, grains and dried dog food make excellent places for the adult female moth to lay her eggs.

Sawtoothed Grain BeetlesThe saw-toothed grain beetle, a flat 1/8” long insect, with a row of teeth just behind its head, is almost as common as the Indian meal moth. They can also be found in the same food sources as Indian meal moths, with the addition of birdseed, chocolate, dried fruits and nuts.

All of these flying and creepy-crawling household pests may be hard to detect as they also hide out in other dried goods including corn and pasta. Some also like dried herbs and spices. Some dried food insects even thrive on plant décor, like dried flowers, gourds and ornamental corn. Equally as attractive to pantry pests are dried garden seeds, birdseed, and potpourri, not to mention rodent baits.

The Bottom Line

While these miniscule food foes are not known to transmit diseases or cause structural damage to your home, according to The University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), “Stored product pests can introduce bacteria into foods, and their presence and wastes can spoil the taste of food.” This is not good for your Thanksgiving meal.

Generally, pantry pest infestations occur from dried food products, infected in retail outlets and in homes. Inspect any boxes, bags and plastic containers before purchasing them. Bulk bins should be inspected before purchasing grains, cereals, nuts, spices and dried fruit. Indian meal moths produce silky webbing in food items, and you can detect beetles with a magnifying glass.

Signs of a pantry infestation can include Indian meal moths flying around your house and/or finding small beetles in cabinets and on counters or collecting on windowsills. These are the adult stages of pantry pests.

The good news: You can fight back. Take these steps:

  • Eliminate all open or suspect food products.
  • If you suspect a recently purchased, unopened food item of an infestation, put it in the freezer for at least four days, or until you can return it. Pantry pests don’t do well in extreme cold or heat.
  • Thoroughly clean food storage areas.
  • Vacuum crumbs and wipe loose flour, paying special attention to any cracks or crevices.
  • As an added precaution, caulk any cleaned cracks or crevices.
  • Empty or discard vacuum bag to avoid re-infestation.

Take these additional steps when purchasing and storing food products, in the effort to eliminate pantry pest infestations:

  • Check freshness and expiration dates.
  • Inspect all packages for holes or tears in packaging.
  • Inspect bulk bin items before purchasing.
  • Store all items in metal, glass or heavy plastic containers.
  • Label items with purchase or expiration dates.

Contact a Professional

If a pantry pest issue proves persistent, or if you are not sure your visitors are in fact, pantry pests, consult a professional. Truly Nolen of Atlanta takes care to address all of Atlanta homeowners’ pest problems, season to season. Call 678-561-2847 for a free inspection.

With the Thanksgiving holiday drawing near, the only home invasions Atlanta residents need to be thinking about are those with family and friends, and not those of the pantry pest variety. A proactive approach and a few practical precautions will go a long way towards a happy, healthy Thanksgiving meal, Atlanta style. Enjoy!

Jeepers Creepers: What’s Creeping in Atlanta, GA this Halloween

In terms of both number of species and number of individuals, insects are a dominant form of life on Earth. With somewhere between 800,000 and 1,000,000 insect known species, that’s more than all other animals combined! For every human, there are approximately 1.5 billion bugs! But some of these insects are so horrifying, just one is too many. This Halloween, Truly Nolen Atlanta brings you an array of terrifying insects, some in far-away and exotic locales and some that may be right in your own Atlanta neighborhood, skittering across your front lawn, up the steps of your home right now.

Palmetto Bugs: Call Them What You Want, They’re Flying Cockroaches

palmetto-roach
Up close and personal to Atlanta and most of the southeastern US, the American cockroach goes by many names, including palmetto bug, water bug, and flying water bug. Georgia residents can tell many tales of giant flying cockroaches that won’t hesitate to drop out of a tree onto your noggin, run right across your feet or fly right at you. Some experts say that these larger than life creepy-crawlers fly at people, mistaking them for trees, but some southerners will swear that these aerial nightmares have chased them around their homes, stalking them. Creepy! Slight differences exist between species of American cockroaches.

Africanized Honeybees: Bad News Bees

Africanized Honey Bee
In the mid-1950s, twenty-six African honeybee queens imported to Brazil escaped with swarms of local worker bees from an experimental facility near San Paulo. This established renegade colonies of Africanized bees in Central America, Mexico and Texas.

Africanized honeybees don’t look a lot different than European honeybees, but they have killed some 1,000 people since their escape in 1957 and they sting ten times more per victim than European bees. More aggressive than your average honeybee, Africanized bees are more easily provoked, attack in larger groups at ten times the speed of European bees and can chase humans as far as a half mile. Don’t even try to outrun them!

Bullet Ants: Shoot Me Now

bullet-ant
Looking like a 1.5″ long chunky, wingless wasp, if that’s not enough cause for alarm, the bullet ant’s sting ranks highest on the Schmidt pain index and has been likened to being shot with a gun. The bullet ant’s venom can cause victims intense, throbbing, burning, relentless pain for up to 24 hours with possible uncontrollable shaking for days afterwards. Yikes!

Some Brazilian tribes sew bullet ants into gloves that are then placed on the hands of boys as part of their warrior rites of initiation. To complete the initiation, warriors must wear the gloves for a full ten minutes!

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach: From Hollywood Star to Household Pet

madagascar-hissing-cockroach
Like Will Smith said, “Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing,” taunting a giant, interstellar cockroach in the 1997 film, Men in Black, as he squished the bug monster’s relatives. Those guys, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, popular in Hollywood films for their creep factor are actually so easy to handle they are sold as pets and worn as living jewelry. As one of the world’s largest cockroaches, hissers, measuring 2″ to 3″ are fortunately, wingless, unlike other cockroaches we know. They make excellent climbers, able to scale smooth glass.

Madagascar hissers are found only on the forest floor of the island of their namesake, off the coast of Africa. Some twenty known species of hissing cockroaches share this remote island. So, except for the 1000s living here as pets or working as live jewelry or making you squirm in movies, you’re perfectly safe.

Japanese Giant Hornet: Move Over Mothra

Japanese Giant Hornet
Japanese giant hornets are about 2″ long with a .25″ stinger and venom that not only dissolves flesh but attacks the nervous system. These hornets can even fly 25 miles per hour in a 60 mile range. Relax, Atlanta, these ferocious buzzing beasts live in Asia. Seriously aggressive and fearless, Japanese giant hornets massacre European honeybees, attacking their hives and chopping their heads off with their powerful mandibles. They then ravage the dismembered bees, lapping up their honey and slicing their thoraxes into bite-size pieces to feed to their young.

Jewel Wasp: Diabolic Perfection

Chrysis - Ruby-tailed Wasp
Equally terrorizing, the jewel wasp, a.k.a., the emerald cockroach wasp has a more sinister plan. Can’t stand roaches, Atlanta? In a diabolically brilliant process the jewel wasp preys on roaches to feed to her young. First, she partially paralyzes her victim. Next she injects venom directly into the roach’s brain blocking neurotransmitters that leave the roach alive, but just enough to be tasty. Dragging her zombie-like victim into her underground lair, the jewel wasp lays an egg in the roach’s abdomen. When the egg hatches, the larval wasp eats the live cockroach’s insides. In eight days, the roach finally dies.

Giant Isopod: Pill Bug From the Deep

giant-isopod
Lurking in the deep waters off the coast of Georgia, the giant isopod, one of almost twenty species of large isopods are distant relatives of shrimp, but look more like their other cousin, the woodlouse. As excellent examples of deep-sea gigantism, these segmented monsters can weigh almost 4 lbs. and measure 14″ in length. And, they can, like some woodlice curl up in a ball as a defense mechanism. They prefer the cold, gloomy, pitch-black deep, where they act as deep-sea scavengers.

Mexican Red Rump Tarantula: Cuddly Pets

The Mexican red rump tarantula has a 5″ leg span, a furry red abdomen and the ability to overpower small lizards and rodents. Able to break human skin by biting, most tarantulas prefer the more passive aggressive practice of flicking skin and respiratory irritants called urticating hairs at you, to actual full on confrontations with humans. Found mostly in Mexico, the red rump tarantula has been seen as far south as Belize, the Yucatan, El Salvador, and Guatemala. In 1996, the red rump tarantula was discovered in the wild in St. Lucie County, Florida.

Tarantula Hawk Wasp: Just Lie Down and Start Screaming

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
As non-aggressive and skittish as tarantulas can be, their predators, tarantula hawk wasps, are equipped with a powerful and painful sting, second only to that of the bullet ant. The pain lasts only three minutes but is described as so intensely electric that, according to invertebrate experts in a peer-reviewed journal, the only recourse after a human gets stung by a tarantula hawk wasp is to just lie down and start screaming. Because not many people are able to function mentally or physically after getting stung and they might just go off and injure themselves, this is the best advice.

Lucky for you, Atlanta residents, except for some of these gigantic, bizarre, dangerous flying, wild things sold in pet stores or gracing Fernbank Science Center exhibits, most of these creepy crawlers aren’t very likely to jump out and scare you to pieces this Halloween. Or will they? Jeepers Creepers! If they do, contact your Truly Nolen Atlanta pest control professionals today at 678-561-2847. Happy Halloween!

Stored Food Pests: What’s Lurking in your Food & Pantry?

You may have unwanted visitors this fall. These visitors are nibbling on your food, multiplying, and slowly taking over your home. They’re known as pantry pests.   These pesky insects can be hidden from view for quite some time in your pantry and in your food. The dried foods they often infest include flour, cereal, pasta, baking mixes, grain products, cookies, crackers, powdered milk, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, popcorn, spices, pet food and cured meats.

Eventually, these pests get really comfortable and decide to let their presence be known. Some will chew their way out through paper, plastic and foil storage bags, and expand their living quarters by accumulating in pots, pans, and dishes. They may even take a stroll along your windowsills or fly right by you as they roam the interiors of your home.

Common types of pantry pests

Your most common pantry pests are certain types of beetles and moths. Four types of pantry pests that frequently appear include:

  • Anobiidae BeetlesAnobiidae Beetles, specifically the “Drugstore Beetle” and “Cigarette Beetle” species: Their nicknames should give you a clue about their preferred food choices. They have curved, reddish brown, oval shaped bodies that can even bore into wood. They will eat up every dry food in your pantry as well as your pet’s food. They will show up in your kids’ macaroni art, attic, pet food storage, garage, or utility room. They are strong flyers, and since they seek light, you’ll find them along your windowsills.
  • Dermestid BeetlesDermestid Beetles: If you come across cast-off skins with tiny little hairs or larvae that’s a bit fury, you’ve got them. The black and rust or solid black-colored species show up in the pantry, kitchen, garage, or utility room. These beetles eat anything that’s organic.
  • Flour Beetles: These are usually reddish brown in color, and they’re not necessarily great flyers, you’ll likely find them crawling around in your flour.
  • Indian Meal MothsIndian Meal Moths: You’ll know them by their webbing and cocoons. They have pale gray, reddish brown and coppery wings. They eat everything and their larvae are found in cracks and crevices.

Since you didn’t invite them in, you may be wondering how these insects ended up in your home. Well, some have traveled a long way. They may have hitched a ride inside or on top of your food product as it was transferred from the food processing plant to your home. They could have crept into the food package through its folds and seams as it sat on the store shelf. Some grain-loving insects clung on for dear life when the grain was plucked from the plant. However, one thing to keep in mind is that these insects don’t like to be alone. They will reproduce, especially in food products that are left undisturbed on the shelf, and thrive for months.

Government limits for insect parts and rodent hair

Believe it or not, the Food and Drug Administration lets insect particles and rodent hair enter food, but the amount is miniscule and poses no health hazards. Some defects in food are unavoidable. The FDA sets extremely low limits, but it does happen.

How you can secure food products

Don’t let a pantry pest infestation surge. You can cut the length of their stay. Here are five tips we suggest for protecting your pantries from these types of pests:

  1. When you’re purchasing grain-based foods at the store, take a moment to inspect the food packaging for any insect activity.
  2. Keep foods in a tightly closed containers, but also determine which pantry foods can survive in the freezer or refrigerator if possible especially if you have experienced a recent infestation.
  3. Make it a habit to use older foods first and don’t let them stay in your pantry for longer than two months. Remember to stock your food pantry first in, first out.
  4. Wiping down or vacuuming the pantry shelves as part of your weekly cleaning routine is key to keeping pantry pests out. This way you can keep an eye out for any unusual activity, clean out food spills, discard infested food products and paper etc. Wipe down any crumbs and food particles that may have built up in the shelves.
  5. Use caulking to seal the cracks along the cupboards and pantry shelving to prevent easy access into cupboards and pantries.

How to Survive a Bed Bug Infestation

Bed Bugs On the Rise: Be Proactive

Bed Bug
As the Southeast’s major commercial, economic and tourist hub, Atlanta hosts hundreds of thousands of business and leisure visitors each year. With this many visitors, who can wonder that bed bug infestations in Atlanta continue be on the rise? Atlanta residents can also take precautions when traveling to avoid unwittingly returning home with bed bugs in tow. Some of these precautions include washing and drying everything in your luggage with hot water and a high temperature drying cycle. Taking an extra precaution to vacuum your luggage is also advisable, especially if you suspect any bed bug activity. If there are signs of a bed bug infestation in your Atlanta home, consulting a professional pest control company is the best form of action.

Bed Bugs: Information and Habits

Even though bed bugs pose no threat of disease to Atlanta residents, their bites can cause ongoing physical discomfort to their human hosts, as well as creating anxiety and psychological mayhem, leading to sleep disorders and sleep deprivation that can ultimately lead to health issues and disease.

  • Flat, oval, reddish brown insects, about .5″ in length, bed bugs, engorged with blood, grow to the size of a small droplet of blood.
  • Nocturnal and fast-moving, bed bugs feed on blood, preferably human.
  • Attracted by warm bodies at rest and exhaled carbon dioxide, bed bugs come out of hiding at night and feast on their human hosts before returning to their hiding places, in mattresses, in upholstered headboards, in cracks and crevices and on curtains.
  • As their numbers increase, bed bugs can spread to furniture, artwork and walls: any object that they can cling to.
  • The first signs of a bed bug issue usually manifests in small, itchy welts on the head, neck and upper extremities.

Bed Bug Infestation: What To Do

Okay, so it’s undeniable, you’ve got bed bugs. Do not panic. Your first two impulses might be to throw away all bedding, beds and other affected furniture, and move out immediately. But, just hold on! Removing infested items may spread bed bugs to other parts of your home, making them harder to eliminate. Even worse, retreating to your relatives’ and friends’ homes could bring bed bugs into their homes. The best line of defense for Atlanta homeowners is to contact a pest control professional immediately.

What You Can Do: Before Your Inspector Arrives

Even before your licensed inspector arrives, you can take some initial steps towards prepping your home for treatment.

  • Launder all bedding, clothes and other washable items, like curtains, that can endure high temperature drying.
  • Non-washable items like shoes, some handbags, backpacks and stuffed animals can be placed in clothes dryers for at least one half hour, on the highest heat setting to kill bed bugs and their eggs.
  • Lose the clutter. Bed bugs love clutter because it makes great hiding places and is difficult to treat. Eliminating clutter around and under beds has proven to be a crucial key to getting rid of bed bugs.
  • Don’t change where you sleep. Fight the inclination to sleep in a different room or on the sofa in another room, or at relatives’ or friends’ houses. Sleeping in different places increases the potential of spreading bed bugs to the other areas of your home and even worse to your friends’ and relatives’ homes as well.
  • Vacuum all carpeting in affected area. Place vacuum cleaner bags in plastic bags, cinched tight and dispose of them in an outside container or dumpster.

Treating Bed Bug Infestations

bedbug
After your Atlanta pest control inspector verifies a bed bug infestation, skilled technicians apply a high pressure misting system that drives control components into seams and cracks where bed bugs hide.

All mattresses and box springs are treated, along with any window treatments and upholstered furniture. Removing hardware and drawers in dressers, clothing chests, nightstands and armoires can ensure as many bed bugs as possible are exposed to treatments.

Heat treatments may be required for some upholstered furniture. Additionally, attention is paid to places where carpeting meets baseboards or wall surfaces, doorframes and crown moldings, at wall abutments and ceiling surfaces. Trained technicians inject material into each wall void to eliminate hidden bed bugs and their eggs.

Technicians treat artwork and moisture sensitive items, by enclosing them in plastic bags and emitting a one-second blast into the bag. Contents remain sealed in the bag for up to a week to allow treatment to eradicate any bed bugs.

Encasement Systems Work

In order to protect and prevent future re-infestations in central Georgia homes, pest control experts recommend installing encasement systems for mattresses and box springs to seal out any future bed bugs, while sealing in existing bed bugs, that will die in a few weeks. Encasement systems offer cost-effective alternatives to buying new beds, and future bed bugs are easy to spot on the slick outer surfaces of encasements. For encasement systems to succeed, take care to purchase bed bug specific encasements. Inspect the zipper to make sure the zipper fully closes.

Unless you are just looking for a good excuse to purchase a new bedroom suite, encasement systems offer cost-effective alternatives to buying new beds and coordinating pieces.

Out of the Woods: Monitoring and Prevention

After ten days, treated areas must be inspected. Skilled technicians will thoroughly inspect, monitor and perform appropriate control actions that will address any signs of bed bug activity.

Surviving a bed bug infestation is no joke. Even with a professional’s most diligent and thorough techniques, a bed bug re-infestation can occur, as bed bugs can still enter Fulton County homes through guests’ clothing and luggage or your college student’s laptop or backpack.

Controlling bed bugs can be a daunting and frustrating task filled with tedious challenges. There’s no quick fix. Contacting a professional takes a huge load off homeowners in the Atlanta area, as DIY treatments rarely work and professionals, like Truly Nolen Atlanta can contain and exclude bed bugs through a proven step-by-step process that prevents bed bug eggs from hatching and works to control adult bed bugs.

Working towards prevention of future infestations, Atlanta homeowners are advised to wash and heat dry bedding often, vacuum often and eliminate clutter in your homes. Also, before traveling, research the Bed Bug registry site at http://www.bedbugregistry.com before you book a hotel room.

Truly Nolen Atlanta

Bed bug infestations are difficult, but not impossible to conquer. Truly Nolen Atlanta’s bed bug control program will provide a solution for treatment and prevention. Highly trained technicians will determine the extent of your bed bug infestation and devise a plan to eliminate bed bugs from your property as well as educate you and your family on ways to monitor and prevent further infestations. If you suspect a bed bug infestation, call Truly Nolen Atlanta today at 678-561-2847. Sleep tight!

Powerful Pests: Know the Difference – Carpenter Ants and Termites

At first glance it may seem that Atlanta termites and carpenter ants have no discernable contrasts, but in fact, these swarming pests have several differences.

Appearance

Carpenter antTermite white ant isolated

Carpenter ants are large in size, approximately 3.4 to 13 mm long and range in color from yellowish to black. Carpenter ants look different from termites: whereas termites have straight antennae, carpenter ant antennae looks slightly bent. The carpenter ant has a narrow waist while the termite’s body is more solidly rectangular. The four wings on a carpenter ant are all of equal size; termites also have four wings, but there the similarity ends. The termite’s front wings are longer than the two wings in the back. While termite workers are often a light color, carpenter ant workers are often red or dark. They can also be clearly visible where as termite workers are often transparent.

Behavior

Carpenter ants create communities inside moist or rotten wood, while termites will damage healthy wood. Carpenter ants also live in any wooden structure that connects to the ground, such as telephone poles. However, unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t actually feed on wood. Instead, they burrow through the wood itself, digging tunnels to make a home. Overall, the termites’ mud tunnels are not as complete or neat looking as the tunnels of the carpenter ants.

A possible sign of a carpenter ant infestation is sawdust on the ground nearby burrow openings in the wood. Termites, on the other hand, will actively eat their way through wood. Signs of a termite infestation include finding wings by the termite-infested area.

Possible Damage and Treatment

Termite Damage
Termites can cause major structural problems, an estimated 5 billion dollars in damage each year. Because termites can do so much damage, it’s always a good idea to be proactive and immediately contact pest control professionals if you suspect a termite issue.
Carpenter Ant Damage
What about carpenter ants? The main carpenter nest is often outside of the house, so experts recommend using insecticide bait and sealing all possible entries through which carpenter ants could get in. Are carpenter ant infestations as severe as termite infestations? Not necessarily, but as carpenter ant colonies expand in size, they can cause major damage over time. While there are some ways to manage carpenter ants by yourself, it’s recommended to call professionals.

There are many differences between carpenter ants and termites, ranging from behavior and appearance to types of damage. Not sure if you have termites or carpenter ants? Call Truly Nolen Atlanta at 678-561-2847 for 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

Carpenter AntsThese 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

CockroachCharlotte 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

RodentWhen 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

subterranean termitesAmong 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.