Serving all of South Florida

The Secret Behind the Success of Invasive Fire Ants

Researchers recently discovered what makes invasive fire ants so successful. They found that these ants are extremely sophisticated manipulators of sand and soil. They can build in any type of soil because they can excavate no matter the size of the grains. These ants are actually able to change their excavation technique to better suit the type of soil they are digging in.

The researchers placed 100 ants in containers of different types of soil – small, medium and large grained, and let them excavate. They also placed ants in containers with different levels of moisture in the soil. The researchers found that that ants could build faster in coarser soil, but in the more moist coarse soil the ants tended to build more complex structures.

Taking an even closer look, the researchers discovered that in coarse soil the ants will grab one particle and drag it with them as they shuffle backwards up the soil. When they are dealing with finer grains, they will pack two or three particles together, almost like they are making a snowball, and pick it up and march up the tunnel. Scientists hope the study will help them build better robots.

How do you think studying the way these ants excavate their tunnels will help improve robotics?

How to keep pets pest free!

To help shield pets from the discomfort of ticks and fleas in their fur as pest activity increases in the warmer spring and summer months, Hulett Environmental Services recommends pet owners use the following tips:

  • Check pets frequently for ticks and fleas. Be aware of excessive scratching and licking.
  • Avoid walking dogs in tall grass, where fleas and ticks often hide.
  • Bathe pets after walks or playtime with other animals.
  • Frequently wash pet bedding, collars and plush toys.
  • Wash bed linens and vacuum carpets, floors and furniture frequently.

South Florida Homes at Risk for Termite Damage during Termite Season

South Florida Homes at Risk for Termite Damage during Termite Season
Two subterranean termite species swarming now in South Florida are raising concerns for homeowners and entomologists alike, as well as the beginning of drywood termite swarm season…

Hulett Environmental Services, pest control’s finest, encourages South Florida homeowners to be aware that researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences predict that the Formosan subterranean termite and the Asian subterranean termite are on track to cause damage to at least half of the structures in the greater Southern Florida area by 2040.

Interestingly, it is important to note that not even concrete homes are safe from some termites as they can breach through to your attic and even furniture both inside and outside your home. Just because homeowners do not see the termites does not mean they are not there…as in South Florida there are two types of homes: Those that have termites and those that will. Better safe than sorry is definitely the case so yearly termite home inspections are heavily recommended.

Subterranean termite population expanding!

Currently, Florida houses six invasive termite species but UF researchers are focusing their attention on the Formosan and Asian subterranean termites because expanding numbers of these species pose the potential to cause the most damage to the Greater Miami Beach/Palm Beach/Ft. Lauderdale areas. Also recently discover was an Asian Formosan subterranean species that is a cross, and has been called the “Super Termite”. Hulett, other companies and industry experts hope to see this species eradicated or at least unable to spread throughout Florida due to its heavily destructive nature.

About subterranean termites

  • Natives of China, Formosan workers are cream-colored and wingless, soldiers have elongated brown heads and mandibles and brownish-yellow undersides, while supplementary reproductives are light-colored and primary reproductives range from brown to black with wings. Most South Florida residents will only see the termites swarming, which appear this time of year (as it is termite season) and have wings.
  • Asians are a tropical species, endemic to Southeast Asia. Asian alates range from caramel to brownish yellow and after swarming, keep their wings longer than most other termites. Formosans look very similar to Asian alates. Hulett was actually the first company in Florida to discover the Asian subterranean termite had spread to our area.
  • Subterranean termites swarm in the morning or early evening usually after a rain in the spring or summer, but can swarm at any time of the year.
  • Formosan termites build giant underground nests containing millions of termites. They move fast and cause damage not only quicker but at a higher rate, and require immediate treatment when discovered to avoid further home damage not cover by homeowner’s insurance.
  • Formosan termites destroy structural timbers, utility poles and other timber structures, including ships and barges within a few months. They have even been known in some cases to move through concrete.
  • Asian termites have been detected in boats and in homes near the shore in South Florida; they are voracious eaters and can even eat holes in rubber and plastic in their search for wood and the food it takes to reach the wood.
  • Formosan and Asian termite infestations can occur even in living trees, such as oak, cypress, pine and maple. Formosan termites often also cause power failures, chewing through electrical cables. There termites than swarm from these areas to nearby homes starting a new colony.

Fundamentally, subterranean termites cause most of the termite damage worldwide.

Globally, Formosan and Asian subterranean termites are responsible for damage totaling around $32 billion dollars annually at least. This figure includes structural damage repairs, as well as pest control services. The University of Florida study, led by Professors Nan-Yao, Su Rudy Scheffrahn and Assistant Researcher, Thomas Chouvenc is set for a June 2016 publication, in Florida Entomologist, and states that Formosan and Asian subterranean termites account for most of the termite damage worldwide.

Oddly, in the continental US, the overlap of these two subterranean termite species occurs only in South Florida, home to 6 million residents. Formosan termites can be traced all along the Florida coastlines and beyond, and the Asian subterranean termites continue to spread to new areas raising concern in the pest control industry. It is important to keep in mind how quickly termite species have been known spread and move.

Study analyzes increasing termite activity

By analyzing the geographic spread of subterranean termite specimens from 1990-2015, the UF study estimates that any home or structure within a 500-foot radius of a Formosan or Asian subterranean termite would be at risk for a termite infestation, and that is the minimum as cases have occurred from farther distances.

Since 1990, these two types of termites have expanded their ranges considerably in Florida. Because of the distances these two types of termites fly and due to a rising increase in moving termite-infested material from one location to another, the UF Gator team said that as a result, “the number of infested structures has increased exponentially.”

Another potential threat, according to the University of Florida study is that Formosan and Asian termites have been able to breed producing a stronger, super breed termite hybrid. Known by most as the “super termite” found only here in South Florida recently.

Fortunately, South Florida homeowners do have a variety of options for both preventative and curative treatments and can contact Hulett Environmental Services; as we have been treating South Florida homes for termites for over 45 years and are a full service, fully licensed and certified family business. We offer a free home and landscape inspection with no obligation, and then customize a family and pet-friendly termite prevention and monitoring plan for your South Florida property.

Pest Q and A

What makes homes attractive to pests?

Pests are attracted to food, water and shelter. Exclusion techniques and removing food and water sources will help deter pests. Simple measures such as keeping food in sealed containers and cleaning up after each meal to avoid leaving crumbs can help. Fix leaky pipes and drains to ensure that if pests do get in, they won’t have ideal conditions in which they can thrive.

How do pests get into homes?

Pests enter structures through cracks and crevices around windows, doors, along foundations, ripped screens, uncapped chimneys, and also through holes where utilities enter a structure. Firewood, groceries, and other deliveries can carry pests in, too. Seal any openings with silicone caulk or steel wool, and to avoid hitchhiking pests, examine packages thoroughly before bringing them inside.

Where are pests most likely to settle in?

Pests have direct access to basements and attics through roofs and foundations, so they should be kept well ventilated, dry, and clutter-free. Also, because of the concentration of food and water, kitchens and bathrooms are other common areas.

What should I do if I have an infestation?

Despite even the best efforts, pests can still find their way inside. If you have a pest problem or need advice on how to better pest-proof your home, Just call HULETT!

Off With Their Heads! Brutal Insect Decapitators

Off With Their Heads! Brutal Insect Decapitators

We’re all pretty familiar with the gruesome practice of using the guillotine during the French Revolution to decapitate hundreds of French nobility. But that was actually the most humane method of head removal us humans have come up with to date. We’ve been chopping off heads left and right for centuries, and not always in the most clean manner…but it turns out we’re not the only species to use this gruesome killing method. There are actually a number of insect species that specialize in decapitation.

One of the most ruthless headhunters in the world is the seemingly unassuming tropical flies of the Dohrniphora genus. Three species of these phorid flies make their living by slicing the heads off of trap-jaw ants. A female fly will surgically remove her victim’s head with her very long proboscis that is tipped with a sharp blade-like organ. She will then either drag off the head so she can eat the goo inside in peace, or use the empty head as a vessel for her to lay her eggs in. How do these tiny flies outwit these fearsome giant ants? They attack them when they are injured during a colony battle. That’s pretty clever if you ask me.

What do you think of this ruthless behavior in such innocent looking flies? Will this make you a little more wary of these seemingly insignificant creatures in the future?

Utah Woman with Zika Virus Delivers Healthy Baby

Utah Woman with Zika Virus Delivers Healthy Baby

For months we have been hearing all about the devastating risks of Zika—but it seems there is finally some good news coming out of the reports surrounding the Zika Virus.

According to The Salt Lake County Health Department, a woman in Utah who was infected with the Zika Virus while pregnant gave birth to a healthy baby boy. The infant tested negative for the virus.

Another important note—the woman, as with all U.S. cases so far, contracted the virus while travelling abroad.

Given this news, health officials will continue to investigate the link between Zika infections in pregnant women and a rare birth defect called microcephaly. There is a possibility that the likelihood of transmission from mother to infant depends on which trimester of the pregnancy the virus is contracted.

Are you surprised at this good news coming out of Utah? Do you think a vaccine for the Zika Virus is on the horizon?


If you have any concerns about mosquitoes in your area, be sure to hire a professional pest control company that offers mosquito reduction services.

Mice on Mars

Mice on Mars

The next time you see a mouse in your house, think of this: there is a new NASA mission that involves sending mice to space!

According to reports, a group of mice will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard the SpaceX resupply rocket.

The reason? NASA researchers will be subjecting the mice to conditions of low gravity to find ways to protect humans in space from skeletal muscle atrophy. The experiment, named Rodent Research-3, will study the degeneration of bone and muscle tissues that result from staying in space for long periods of time. The hope is that the mice can help scientists find a way to prevent (or delay) the process from happening to astronauts.

You may be wondering—why did NASA choose to send mice over another species. Well, as it turns out, mice are pretty biologically similar to humans.

Do you find this mission to space fasnicating? We do! Love ‘em or hate ‘em, mice have done so much for scientific research and advancements!

Did You Know? Spiders Feast on More than Just Insects

Did You Know? Spiders Feast on More than Just Insects

Most people find them creepy and will take the necessary steps, such as hiring a professional pest management company, to keep these insects out of their homes. But others don’t seem to mind having a spider or two around the house, as they are known to eat other insects.

However, scientist Martin Nyffeler, who studies spiders at the University of Basel in Switzerland, has discovered that some spiders also eat plants.

“I always found this topic very intriguing,” he says, “since I am a vegetarian myself.”

Nyffler and his team have observed that some spiders feed on leaves by digesting them with enzymes prior to eating, just as they do when eating other insects. Other spiders pierce a leaf with their chelicerae, and then suck out plant sap. What’s more, some even drink nectar from flowers and other plants!

Are you surprised that some spiders have a “vegetarian” diet? Do you do what it takes to keep them out of your home?

This Just In: Insects Can Self Repair

This Just In: Insects Can Self Repair

While insects may not have bones like mammals and reptiles, they do have very structured bodies, which as you can imagine, are prone to damage. Whether it be narrowly avoiding a predator, or being hit by a moving car, insects are certainly at risk.

But researchers at Trinity College in Dublin have discovered that when an insect is injured, its body immediately goes into repair mode. In fact, it lays a patch of new cuticle beneath the affected area, which essentially acts like a bandage that stays in place until the wound heals. Think of it as Nature’s Band-Aid.

“Unlike us, insects cannot completely repair their ‘bones,’ but it turns out that by using this cuticle bandage they can do a pretty good job,” said David Taylor, lead author of the new study at Trinity College Dublin. “They are able to restore most of the original strength, which allows them to keep using their limbs for normal activities.”

Are you impressed by these self-recovery skills of insects? Or does it make you think insects are even harder to terminate that you once thought?!

If you have pest control needs in your home, be sure to hire a reputable pest management company.


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Pest Control Ft. Lauderdale

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