All posts by Hulett Environmental

Termite Prevention Tips and Termite Destructions Signs – Tips for Recognizing Termite Infestations

Termite Prevention Tips and Termite Destructions Signs – Tips for Recognizing an Termite Infestation

Experts at Hulett Environmental Services propose several tips to avoid termite infestations for your home:

  • As most termites are attracted to moisture, avoid water accumulation near your home’s foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
  • Quickly repair house damage from a leaky roof or window as termites can thrive in this moisture.
  • Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard, especially near the building. Remove old tree stumps and roots around and beneath the building.
  • Most importantly, eliminate any wood contact with the soil. Maintaining a 1-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building is ideal.


Recognizing the destruction termites can cause, it is important to be aware of infestation warning signs:

  • Swarming of winged forms in the fall and spring – termites can easily be confused with flying ants.
  • Evidence of mud tunneling in, over and under wood structures
  • Wooden structures exhibit darkening or blistering
  • Damaged wood becomes extremely thin and can be easily punctured by a knife or a screwdriver

As termites are known to cause over $5 billion dollars in damage each year, virtually all experts recommend calling a pest professional to protect one of your most important investments, your home, from termite infestation.

Professionals offer the specialized skills necessary to rid a home of termite infestation: knowledge of building construction, an ability to identify termite species and the knowledge of applicable methods of termite control.

First Responder: Scorpion Fly

First Responder: Scorpion Fly   

Over the years, Forensic Entomologist believed that blowflies were the first on the scene of a homicide. In fact, forensic investigators examine DNA in their guts and larvae they leave at the scene for clues to solve murders. But he idea that blowflie are there first may not be entirely true. At Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas forensic field tests using a human corpse rather than animals, such as pigs that are normally used, discovered a different first responder than was expected.

According to a new study recently released, what happened could alter what forensic investigators look for in human remains while trying understand how the victim died. The first animal on the scene wasn’t a blowfly. It was the scorpion fly, a predator of bugs thought to be harmless to humans. Not only did scorpion flies feed on the cadaver, they performed mating dances and copulated.

Scorpion flies that buzz gardens and the edge of woodlands were known to gravitate only to animal carrion, said the researcher, Natalie K. Lindgren, a student at Sam Houston who was the study’s lead author. “The interesting thing about scorpion flies on human cadavers is they showed up first and remained there for a while.” Lindgren said this important because “we already know who we expect to see first,” but the undocumented presence of scorpion flies on a human remains left on soft dirt in a sub-tropical bog in Huntsville is “expanding our understanding of decomposition ecology.”

These off looking insects are called Scorpion flies because the males of one family (Panorpidae) have enlarged abdomen and genitalia which resemble a scorpion’s tail and stinger. Scorpion flies have two pairs of wings and strong hind legs. Despite their double set of wings, scorpion flies fly slowly and in erratic patterns. Scorpion flies are not known to harm humans. They seldom breed in large groups and tend to live in single, mated pairs.

Working with humans can get emotional, Lindgren admitted, but “once you realize that person or family wanted the body used for research, you feel kind of good about what you’re doing, trying to discover things and making science stronger.”

Wasps and Facial Recognition

Researchers have recently discovered that a tiny social wasp from Malaysia employs an additional security measure: facial recognition.


In order to prevent intruders from attacking their hives, wasps typically distinguish friend from foe by sniffing out foreigners. Outsiders usually have a unique scent that is not the same as the home colony. Because the wasps’ nests are found in large groups with as many as 150 built close together, each colony faces persistent landing attempts by outsiders from other nests. In order to find out why and how these Malaysian wasps employ both vision and scent to determine identity, scientists carried out a series of experiments on 50 colonies in the wild.

Close to the nests, the researchers dangled lures made of captured and killed wasps. The lures had been given different treatments. For instance, some lures made from nest mates were coated with a foe’s scent, whereas outsiders were painted with the colony’s odor. “The wasps pay more attention to facial markings than to scent when faced with a possible intruder,” the team reported online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

In tests where the wasps could assess both an intruder’s face and scent, they relied solely on facial recognition and immediately attacked those whose faces they didn’t know thus ignoring their odor. “That’s the safest strategy,” the scientists note because the wasps can recognize another’s face at a distance, but need to actually touch another wasp to detect her scent.

According to national Geographic, Wasps are “an enormously diverse array of insects, with some 30,000 identified species.” We are most familiar with those that are wrapped in bright warning colors. They buzz angrily about in groups and threaten us with painful stings. But most wasps are solitary and non-stinging. They do far more good for humans than harm by controlling insect populations.

Fireflies in China

Fireflies in China

Efforts are underway to restore firefly habitats in Taipei parks according to the city’s Department of Public Works.

Mayor Ko Wen-je at Rongxing Garden Park to check on the progress of a new pond that will provide an excellent habitat for insects. He also communicated with volunteers from the Society of Wilderness who were working to increase the depth of the pond and excavate foreign vegetation and wildlife.

Ko, after touring the site and surveying its progress, shut a new gate across a former pond-side path, which will be closed to protect the pond’s wildlife by keeping pedestrians at a distance.

“Fireflies are an indicator species for a good environment because they are very demanding in terms of the water and air they require,” National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences assistant professor Wu Chia-hsiung said. He added that, “while fireflies normally cannot survive in urban environments, the continued presence of fireflies in some areas is unique to Taipei.

“We should bring ecology back, not ‘create’ it,” Parks and Street Lights Office Director Chang Yu-huei said of the city’s plans to restore firefly habitats. She maintains that “fireflies can still be seen around the pond in April and May, but that numbers present have been sporadic due to the gradual deoxygenation and sedimentation of the still water, as well as alien wildlife being released into the pond by park visitors.”

There are about 2,000 firefly species throughout the world. These insects live in a variety of warm environments, as well as in more temperate regions. They are a familiar sight during warm summer months during evening hours. Fireflies thrive in humid regions in Asia and the Americas. In dry climates, they live near wet or damp areas and places that retain moisture.

Fireflies are familiar to most people, but few understand that they are beetles not flies. They are members of the family Lampyridae and are nocturnal. Most fireflies have wings. This distinguishes them from other luminescent insects of the same family commonly known as glowworms.

What can you do to prevent termites the best to your ability?

What can a homeowner do to prevent termites?

  • The most common types of termites love moisture, if you have any moisture around the foundation of your home, take steps to remove the moisture and eliminate the source.
  • Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
  • Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.
  • Prevent shrubs, vines and other vegetation from growing over and covering vents.
  • Be sure to remove old form boards, grade stakes, etc., left in place after the building was constructed. Remove old tree stumps and roots around and beneath the building.
  • Most importantly, eliminate any wood contact with the soil. An 18-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building is ideal.
  • It doesn’t hurt to routinely inspect the foundation of your home for signs of termite damage.

FAQ’s About Ants

FAQ’s About Ants


There are more than 700 species of ants in the United States. Some of the most common include argentine, carpenter, odorous house, pavement and red imported fire ants.

All ants are social insects that live in colonies. They can be identified by their three distinct body regions: head, thorax, and abdomen. However, the biology and habits of each ant species is different and understanding these differences is necessary to effectively control an infestation.


It depends on the species, but ants are commonly attracted to the food in a kitchen, especially sweets and protein-containing substances. Ants are most often found on floors, countertops and in food items. Some species prefer to build nests in soil – such as landscaping – or cracks in concrete on your driveway, walkway or in your garage. Carpenter ants build nests in wood. Ants are typically found indoors the spring and summer months as they search for food.


Most species of ants are considered ‘nuisance pests,’ meaning that they don’t pose a significant threat to health or property, but are an annoyance when found indoors. In fact, ants are the number one nuisance pest in the United States.

Some species of ants, however, can pose threats to health and property. Carpenter ants, for example, excavate wood in order to build their nests, which can cause extensive damage to a structure. Fire ants, on the other hand, sting when threatened, resulting in painful welts that can be dangerous to allergic persons. These species should always be handled by a professional.

Regardless of the species all ants can contaminate food sources and small infestations can grow quickly, so any sign of an infestation should be dealt with promptly.


A trained and licensed pest professional is the best person to make a recommendation based on the proper identification of a particular ant species and the threats they could pose to health and property. Also, homeowners may have a preference as to which treatment is used, so it is important that they have a detailed conversation with their pest control company.  The cost of the treatments can vary depending on the size of the infestation and the property being treated.


There are as many ways to control ants as there are species of ants! Different species eat different things – making it almost impossible to inspect a single area and control the ant population.  The best strategy homeowners can employ when attempting to control ants is to clean, clean, clean. Wipe down counters, regularly remove garbage, clean up grease spills, rinse and remove empty soda cans or other recyclables and mop/sweep the floors. Homeowners should also keep food in sealed containers and keep pet food/water dishes clean. Outside the home, eliminate sources of moisture or standing water such as birdbaths or kiddie pools. Finally, seal cracks and holes around the home to close entry points.

What are the steps a homeowner needs to take to pest proof their home?

What are the steps a homeowner needs to take to pest proof their home?

Hulett recommends the following steps to pest proof your home:

  1. Seal up any cracks and holes on the outside of your home including areas where utilities and pipes enter your home. Frequent vacuuming can help to eliminate tiny pests that other pests feed on.
  2. Make sure vents are screened and gaps around windows and doors are sealed.
  3. Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
  4. Inspect boxes, grocery bags and other packaging thoroughly to curb hitchhiking insects.
  5. Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  6. Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
  7. Store fire wood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off of the ground.
  8. Repair fascia and soffits and rotted roof shingles; some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood.
  9. Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the basement foundation and windows.
  10. A licensed and qualified pest control professional is your best resource to ensure these steps are completed properly.

Termite Infestation Signs

Here are a few clues that termites may be present in a home:


  1. Mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home
  2. Soft wood in the home that sounds hollow when tapped
  3. Darkening or blistering of wood structures
  4. Cracked or bubbling paint
  5. Small piles of feces that resembles sawdust near a termite nest
  6. Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills, indicating swarmers have entered the home


If homeowners notice any of these signs, they should contact a pest professional who can best determine the extent of the problem and recommend a proper treatment plan.


For more information on termites, please visit

Tips to limit mosquito exposure

Hulett Environmental Services recommends the following tips to avoid exposure to mosquitoes.

·         Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes to protect the skin

·         Minimize outside activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active

·         Eliminate areas of standing water around the home, such as flowerpots, birdbaths and baby pools. Mosquitoes only need about ½ inch of water to breed

·         Screen all windows and doors, repairing even the smallest holes that could serve as entry points for pests


For more information on mosquitoes, please visit