Pest Advice Blog

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.

Atlanta Winter Pests: What to Look For!

Where do pests winter?

Rat
Summer is long gone; Atlanta’s chilly and days are short. As you cozy up by the fire and sip hot chocolate, do you ever wonder what insects, rodents and other pests do during the winter? We are smart enough to know that pest problems aren’t going away and that pests don’t just die off in the colder months and magically reappear in the spring.

All the warm weather gets pests scurrying, burrowing, gnawing, buzzing, biting and stinging but as temperatures drop, pests slow down, making them more vulnerable to predators. So in the winter, pests are looking to find shelter from the cold and from predators. They look for a food source and a cozy place to multiply, and your home is on their list especially if they can easily sneak in through cracks, crevices and other entryways.

Where are these pests hiding?

Attics, crawlspaces, basements, wall voids and vacant rooms make favorite places for pests to slow down, build nests, grow their young and hibernate. Also, some insects like your pantry so much they have their own designation as “food insects.” Indian meal moths, grain beetles and other food insects like grains, flour, dried fruits and well, most items in your dried food storage. Dark, quiet pantry cupboards provide excellent breeding grounds for all sorts of food insects that lay their eggs and contaminate food. Even outside, in storage sheds, in woodpiles and neglected debris, insects and rodents can make happy little nests.

Exclusion: Blocking pest intruders

mouse-trap
Keeping pests out of your home in the winter can be tricky. The first and most important thing to remember is that if pests can’t get into your home, more than likely you won’t have a pest problem. The problem is: Pests can gain entry into your home through smaller spaces than you might realize. Rodents need no more than nickel to quarter size holes to make your home their home. Rodents can spread diseases and wreak havoc on the structural integrity of your home and possibly destroy your home by causing electrical fires by gnawing at wiring. Insects can also easily get inside your home and need less space than rodents to invade your Atlanta home.

On the exterior: Proactive things to do to exclude and deter pests

  • Seal, caulk or repair any and all holes, cracks, crevices and other potential entryways on the exterior of your home.
  • Remove all debris from around your home. Pests love clutter, so clean up woodpiles, surplus building supplies and other materials on your deck or patio that can make nice cozy nests.
  • Stack firewood at least 20 feet from your home.
  • Repair or remove damp wood, as some pests seek entry through soft, wet or rotting wood.
  • Clear out weeds and overgrown vegetation that attract pests.
  • Trim shrubs and trees branches away from walls and roofs, eliminating pest pathways into your home.
  • Ensure that your outdoor trash receptacles close securely.
  • Whenever possible, unpack boxes outside.
  • When returning from vacations and overnight trips, especially if you stayed in a hotel, launder or dry clean all clothing and vacuum luggage thoroughly to avoid introducing an insect that knows no season: bed bugs.

On the interior: Please do not feed the pests

  • Always wash dishes after meals and wipe down food prep and dining areas.
  • Sweep or vacuum kitchen and dining areas after meals.
  • Store all dried food in airtight containers, including pet food and birdseed.
  • Clean all spills, loose flour and grains from pantry shelves.
  • Be on the lookout for pest activities, like droppings near food areas, evidence of chewing, and random sawdust, plus scurrying and scratching sounds in your walls and attic.

You don’t have to go it alone: Contact a pest professional

To put your mind at ease this winter or to address winter pest problems, contact Truly Nolen Atlanta. Truly’s Four Seasons approach takes into account pests’ seasonal behaviors. Utilizing a combination of innovative application methods, materials and exclusion tactics, Truly Nolen Atlanta’s proactive process impacts pests’ reproductive cycles to reduce future generations and eradicate pests from your home. Convenient quarterly inspections ensure that your home is protected throughout the year. Truly Nolen’s eco-friendly pest control solutions strive to keep your family and pets safe and your home pest-free from season to season.

For effective year round pest control, call Truly Nolen Atlanta to schedule an inspection at (678) 561-2847. So, throw another log on the fire and savor that hot chocolate!

Reduce Clutter and Stay Pest Free in 2016

There’s a difference between a house that is comfortable as opposed to one that is filled with clutter. Cluttered homes can lead to organization issues as well as sanitary concerns. From dishes in the sink or clothing left on the floor, to stacks of paper on surfaces and crowded closets, clutter can take on many forms and can invade every room in your home. Not only can clutter prevent you from having a clean space, it can also be an open invitation for pests to share your home.

Want to evict the pests by the end of 2015? Follow these tips and eliminate places for pests to hide!

Food

KitchenMost pests are drawn to trash – and the food within trash. Bugs and rodents love to snack on leftover food, assorted waste, and crumbs in the garbage can. Make sure that house trashcans are emptied right away so that pests don’t make a buffet out of your trash can. Similarly, unclean counters or dishes left in the sink can provide a welcome haven for pests. Do the dishes and clean kitchen surfaces on a regular basis. Be sure to properly store pet food and promptly remove anything that was not eaten by your furry friend.

Paper and Fabric

Newspaper ClutterItems such as old newspapers, books, random papers, and cardboard boxes can provide a cozy home for pests. These items can also serve as a food source. Many pests will eat paper, as well as fabric, especially if the paper or fabric has become moldy or stained. For this reason, donate old clothing instead of leaving it around the house. Don’t want to provide hiding places for potential pests? Recycle old newspapers, put books away, place papers into a filing system, and get rid of old boxes.

Clutter Free Kitchens and Bathrooms

bathroom clutterPests are often drawn to areas with standing water, so check under sinks and around pipes. Most of all make sure that kitchens and bathrooms are free of clutter. That means putting dirty clothing in the laundry basket and keeping counter surfaces clean and clutter free.

Outside Clutter

Bag of LeavesKeep your home and the surrounding outside areas clean. Bag leaves, tree or plant clippings, and other garden debris and put them out with the trash right away. Don’t let garden debris clutter up your yard or outside areas, as pests will be attracted to make nests. The same rules apply for outside trash: place it into bins and move the bins away from the house so that pests aren’t tempted by the inside of your home. Do your best to keep your attic, basement, or garden sheds neat and tidy, with items placed on shelves or safely stored away and sealed in containers if possible.

Do you think you’ve got pest problems stemming from clutter? Call Truly Nolen Pest Control today.

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!

Tis the Season: Pest Control

The holiday season is upon us! Like many Atlanta homeowners you’re probably decking the halls, throwing another log on the fire and baking delicious holiday treats to celebrate the season. While you’re getting your fa-la-la-la-la on, take a moment to follow some simple tips to ensure that your merry and bright is also pest-free. The holidays offer rodents and insects numerous opportunities to have their own happy little holidays in your home. How do they get in, and how can you keep them out? We thought you might ask.

Oh Ho the Mistletoe

Christmas treeWhen you’re ringing in the season, check to see you aren’t also bringing in pests with your seasonal greenery. Always carefully inspect Christmas trees, mistletoe, fresh fir garlands and other botanicals before purchasing them for signs of insect activity. Also, before bringing plants and greenery indoors, just give them a hearty holiday shake to dislodge any pests. Spiders and other insects make much better Halloween decorations than Christmas tree ornaments.
The same goes for firewood. First, clean up woodpiles and stack firewood at least twenty feet from your home. Inspect firewood for insect activity before bringing a stack inside, as you might not burn an entire stack immediately and any insects in the wood can invade your home. So now you’re ready to decorate! Just a few words of caution: Holiday décor presents more fun ways pests can celebrate the holidays.

Break out the decorations

Cardboard boxes stored in attics, basements, garages and sheds make excellent places for rodents and insects to settle down for that long winter’s nap. To be on the safe side, unpack stored cardboard boxes outside whenever possible. Storing your holiday decorations in tightly sealed hard plastic totes helps to eliminate chances of insect and rodent infestations occurring inside your Griswald lighting extravaganza. Treasured tree ornaments you’ve collected over the years store nicely in large decorative cookie and popcorn tins that you can leave out under the tree, as an added décor element.

Holiday Wrap

You know those decorative gift boxes from last year, plus last holiday’s tissue paper and wrapping paper that are hanging around in your closets or under the bed in the guest room? Turns out rodents love to chew cardboard and paper to line their nests. Cockroaches love collections of random piles of paper and cardboard boxes to hide in as well. The easy solution would be to just toss old wrapping paper and boxes. But if you really can’t just throw away perfectly good wrapping supplies, find some hard plastic totes, made just for rolls of wrapping paper.

Popcorn, Cranberries and Candy Canes

While popcorn and cranberry garlands, sugar cookies, candy canes and other edible ornaments lend a homespun charm to Christmas trees; to rodents and insects they’re like hanging holiday feasts. Rodents and insects want to move into your home for warmth, shelter, food and water. Food, whether ornamental or just crumbs, spills and dirty dishes is fair game to pests.

Getting ready for guests

Holiday Dinner
About those dirty dishes— while we know this season is chock full of holiday activities, from baking, to decorating, to gift giving and holiday parties, keeping your home clean in this frenzy of festivities is essential for keeping pests out. While hosting family and friends requires extra cleaning, with more than usual trash generated, here are a few cleaning tips for the holidays:

Before visions of sugarplums start dancing in your head, give your Atlanta home a thorough cleaning. Wipe down pantry shelves, eliminating crumbs and spills. Store dried food items in airtight containers, including dry pet food and birdseed. Clean dishes after meals, so leftover food can’t attract insects and rodents. Wipe down countertops, plus all food prep and dining area surfaces after baking and/or preparing meals. Sweep or vacuum food prep and dining areas often to keep crumbs from attracting pests. Eliminate clutter in attics, basements, extra rooms and storage sheds. Pests love clutter; it’s like Christmas every day to them.

Recapping: Pest-Free Holiday Checklist

  • Always carefully inspect Christmas trees, mistletoe, fresh fir tree garlands, firewood and other botanicals before purchasing them for signs of pest activity.
  • Unpack decorations outside whenever possible.
  • Decorate with inedible ornaments: Skip the candy canes, popcorn garlands and sugar cookies.
  • Store holiday décor and wrapping supplies in airtight, hard plastic totes.
  • Keep your home wiped clean of crumbs and spills, dishes washed, floors swept and vacuumed regularly.
  • Keep outside trash in secure receptacles.
  • Seal any cracks, crevices and holes on the exterior of your house to exclude pests.
  • Eliminate debris and clutter from your property. Mow or remove all overgrown vegetation.
  • Stack firewood at least twenty feet from your home.
  • Trim shrubs and trees off the walls and roof of your home, eliminating pest pathways indoors.

Truly Nolen Atlanta wishes you and yours a happy holiday season. In the event you run into pest problems this holiday season, don’t hesitate to contact us at (678) 561-2847 for a free inspection. Happy Holidays!

Gross and Ugly: A Closer Look at the Insects that Make Us Squirm

Insects can be downright creepy. Countless movies have capitalized on Americans’ love/hate relationship with creepy crawlies. From films like The Fly to Mimic, our fear of insects has made its way onto the silver screen to captivate audiences everywhere. Here are just a few gross and ugly insects guaranteed to make you squirm!

Spiders

From films like Eight Legged Freaks to the creature features of the 1950s, spiders have gotten a bad reputation. Perhaps we’re secretly terrified of something that – if huge – could grab us with any one of its eight legs, trap us in a web, and enjoy us for lunch. But nature boasts a host of utterly creepier-than-normal spiders. A particularly horror-film worthy arachnid is the glass-climbing, fast-moving Brazilian Wandering spider (also known as the banana spider).

Brazilian Wandering spiderLike the Goliath Bird Eating tarantula, the Brazilian Wandering spider is also very large, approximately the size of a human face. While it is usually found in Asia, the Brazilian Wandering spider has been spotted in subtropical areas of Florida, California, and Texas. These spiders are among the most dangerous and venomous in the world and its bite can be fatal to humans. It’s also been known to hitch rides on bananas. According to the Daily Mail, a spider that may have been a Brazilian Wandering spider recently traveled on a bunch of bananas into a terrified British family’s home.

Roaches

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Roaches keep to the damp dark, and they’re attracted to debris and garbage of all kinds. Maybe that’s why horror movies, such as the Stephen King classic Creepshow, feature them so prominently. A hissing cockroach can seem like only something found in a movie, but it’s a reality – at least in Madagascar. The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, which grows to an estimated 7.5 centimeters – make their trademark creepy noise by channeling air through many breathing holes on their body. Similarly gross is the aptly named Death’s Head Cockroach, which measures up to 60 centimeters. That’s a whopping 23 inches!

Wasps

Wasps don’t die after one sting. That might be a reason behind creature feature films like 1959’s The Wasp Woman or 2012’s Dragon Wasps; wasps can be very dangerous and can continue to sting a victim, causing pain, potential allergies, or death. At the very least, being stung by a wasp is downright uncomfortable.

Tarantula HawkHowever, the terrifying tarantula hawk – a solitary wasp that inflicts stings so painful that they’ve been described as electric — will experience what doctors call the world’s most painful sting. It lasts for approximately three excruciating minutes. The good news is that if you don’t bother one of these tarantula hawk wasps, they likely won’t bother you. Still, turning around and fleeing the area might not be a bad idea.

The odds are good that you’ll never run into these spooky creepers here in the U.S. However, if one of these bugs should make your autumn even scarier, call us – we’ve been the name you trust for over 75 years.

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.

Fall is Here: Lookout for Common Pests This Season

If you’re already noticing a chill in the air and have an intense craving for everything pumpkin, then it’s time to say goodbye to summer and hello to the fall season. Though you’ll be glad to be rid of pesky summer pests, the cooler months promise pest problems of their own. Here, Truly Nolen outlines the common types of pests found in the fall months, tell tale signs of what to look out for and pest hot spots in and around your home.

Rodents:

House MouseAs the temperature drops outdoors, you won’t be the only ones happy for the warmth your home provides. Mice, rats, squirrels, and raccoons will also look to find a warm, safe haven for the fall and winter months. Since rodents are one of the bigger pests prone to invading your home this fall, keeping a keen eye out for signs can help you identify a rodent problem before it gets out of hand:

  1. Rodent droppings- black in color and capsule shaped, you may notice these around food and water sources in your home or in attic or basement corners.
  2. Rodents will gnaw on wiring, PVC pipes, ducts, plumbing, and through insulation because they need to constantly wear their teeth down. Rodents will often chew through electrical wiring which can lead to electrical fires. Wires are covered with insulation in order to protect objects nearby from getting overheated. Rodents gnaw through the protective coating often leaving the hot metal exposed. With wires left exposed they often end up shorting out causing a spark, causing nearby objects to ignite.
  3. You may hear a “scratching” sound coming from your roof or attic. This is in fact the chewing noise that rodents make as they are having a field day with that insulation in your attic!
  4. Plumbing or wiring inspections may reveal a rodent problem. If it is brought to your attention that wires have been chewed through, address the wiring and rodent issue immediately.

Roaches:

cockroachAs one of the main perpetrators of the spread of bacteria, pathogens and allergies, roaches are also likely to seek out protection from the cooler weather. Your home is the perfect environment. With access to water, food and shelter inside your home roaches are all too glad to stay close by. Here are some of the typical hot spots for roaches:

  • Cockroach droppings or dark spots may be near small cracks or openings or in corners of rooms. Droppings can also resemble ground pepper on countertops and may give off a “musty” smell.
  • Empty egg cases from female roaches may be left behind.
  • Roaches gravitate to places that are more prone to moisture, such as pipes and faucets found under your sink. Roaches live in groups, so even if you only see one or two, chances are there are many more hiding behind the scenes.

Spiders:

SpiderAlthough intimidating, most spiders that enter your home (such as the common household spider) are not dangerous. Even though the majority of spiders are not dangerous they can be a sign that other pests are present in the home. Here are some of the typical places you might find spiders in your home:

  • Spiders are likely to make their homes in garages and attics, as well as near windows, eaves and doorways.
  • Certain spiders, such as the retreat spider, may also venture through cracks in wood flooring or shelving and in between furniture.
  • Where there are spider webs, there are spiders. Some webs represent the abandoned home from a previous set that may have exhausted its food supply in that particular area.
  • Keeping a close eye out in dark, moist areas such as garages, basements, window wells, and crawl spaces is also a way for homeowners to be aware of any spider activity that may be taking place.

Truly Nolen Treatment Approach

During the winter months, pests will aim to make their way inside your home as a means of protection from the outdoor elements, and to continue their feeding and breeding habits in a more controlled and comfortable environment. Based on this seasonal change in pest behavior and life cycle, Truly Nolen protocols adapt to meet the needs of homeowners looking for safe and effective pest treatment that will prevent and eradicate brewing infestations and eliminate pests inside the home.

Using advanced application methods and techniques, Truly Nolen’s innovative approach to tackling fall and winter pests involves using naturally occurring and environmentally friendly products that work to minimize pest resistance over time. Your Truly Nolen professional will work with you to identify ways pests and rodents may get in your home in the first place. This method is a more proactive approach designed to keep working throughout the year.

Truly Nolen’s Fall Treatment Approach Includes:

  • Botanical aerosols to naturally eliminate pests hiding in closets or cabinets.
  • Removing spider webs from windows, beams and ceilings.
  • Setting of bait stations throughout the home, especially under bathroom and kitchen sinks.
  • Application of powder to treat pests hiding in smaller areas of the home (window and door frames, eaves and fixtures).
  • Placing monitoring stations in specific areas to trap pests.
  • Dust treatment in small crawl spaces and attic.

Through targeted methods and applications, Truly Nolen is able to keep your home pest free this fall and winter, allowing you and your family to enjoy the warmth and comfort of your home without the worrying about pests. Call Truly Nolen today to schedule your free inspection!


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