Tag Archives: pests

How to Protect Your Home and Electronics from Crazy Ants

How to Protect Your Home and Electronics from Crazy Ants

How to Protect Your Home and Electronics from Crazy AntsThere are very few (if any) species of ant out there that people actually like. For a long time the fire ant enjoyed top billing as the most destructive and invasive species. Now, though, it looks like there is another type of ant that will win that title and it is called, appropriately, the Crazy Ant.

In some places it is called the Raspberry Crazy Ant after the exterminator who “discovered” them and brought them to the attention of scientists and the government. In scientific circles and outside of Iowa Colony, Texas, the same ant is called the Tawny Crazy Ant. Whatever you want to call it, the “crazy” part is right.

What is a Crazy Ant?

Crazy ants are a species of ant thought to have originated in Brazil that is invading and taking over the Gulf regions of Texas, Florida and other bordering states. They were first spotted a few years ago and have steadily and alarmingly been marching outward ever since.

At first glance they might look like reddish sugar ants. They’re tiny—about an eighth of an inch big—and swarm in extremely large numbers. They get the name “crazy” because unlike other ants that are known for traveling in lines, these ants move in unpredictable patterns, making it hard to track them back to their “home bases.”  It is not uncommon to find piles of billions of them swarming around and up and over each other, looking like piles of squirming top soil.

What Do the Crazy Ants Want?

Another feature in their “crazy” moniker is that the things that attract “typical” ants: wood fibers, sugar and other sweet smells and foods have little to no effect on these ants. These ants are found more often in the electrical workings of homes and belongings. While scientists think they are drawn to the warmth of the electrical currents that pass through homes and other devices, some think that they might actually be attracted to the electricity itself.

Whatever their motivation, these ants invade wiring systems (house-bound and device-bound alike) by the millions, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage by shorting out electrical devices and wiring systems.

What Can You Do If You Find Them?

Once you find these ants the only realistic way to fight back against them is to call an exterminator or professional to help you kill the creatures that have invaded as well as any eggs that may have been laid; their queens seem particularly indestructible. Don’t try to take them on yourself unless you have experience in professional levels of pest control.

How Do You Discourage Crazy Ants and Keep Them Out of Your Stuff?

Experts agree that some of the best things you can do to keep crazy ants at bay involve keeping any vegetation on your property well away from your actual home or pathways into it. Be sure to seal all of the cracks and crevices in and on the outside of your home and keeping your home as clean and sealed up as possible.

A publication from the State of Texas also stresses the importance of carefully inspecting everything you buy before you bring it into your home or onto your property to make sure that you aren’t accidentally bringing crazy ants home with you. It is also important to inspect luggage and other items you may have been traveling with—especially if you’ve been traveling within the gulf region.

Act Quickly

Many exterminators and experts will say that if you notice huge swarms it might actually be too late for you to do anything about the infestation—even on the professional level. This is why as soon as you see even one crazy ant (learn how to identify them here) you should get a professional onto your property to make sure that any colonies that might be setting up are wiped out before they can really take hold.

7 Things You Need to Know About Tent Fumigation

7 Things You Need to Know About Tent Fumigation

7 Things You Need to Know About Tent FumigationWhile tent fumigation, or “tenting”, is usually a last resort for pest infestations, it is also something that sometimes cannot be avoided. If your pest control expert has told you that tenting is in your future, here are some things that you need to know.

Prep Work for Tenting Is Extensive

The work that goes into preparing your house to be fumigated is extensive. There is more to it than simply getting you and your kids and pets out of the house. House plants need to be moved out temporarily. You’ll need to make sure that the doors in your house, big and small, are open. Take all of your bed linens out of the house. You also need to get all of your food and food prep items out of the house as well. You’ll need to make sure that all of your appliances are off and that any gas flames and pilot lights are out. You can find a good list of each detail you need to take care of over at About.Com.

Prep Work Isn’t Just Inside

While the fumigation gasses are going to be centered inside of your home, some are going to leech out via gaps in the tenting or around the bottom seals. This means that you’re going to need to make sure that you prepare the landscaping that sits close to your home. You’ll need to trim things back so that they are at least a foot away from the structure of your home. This helps keep them protected and keeps unruly shrubs or trees from preventing the tent from fully covering your home.

There are Different Types of Fumigation

Tenting does not get rid of all termites or wood beetles. There are subterranean termites too and those pests will need their own treatment. This extra treatment helps set up a barrier that keeps them from getting from their nest and back into your home.

The Time for Tenting Varies

Some homes only need to be tented for a few hours to solve an infestation problem. Other homes need to be tented for as long as a week. How long your home needs to be tented is going to depend upon the size of your home and the extensiveness of the infestation.

You Can’t Do It Yourself

A lot of people will try to do their own “DIY fumigations” by trying things like setting off a bunch of room-specific bug bombs. This can be helpful if your home has been infested by pests such as fleas, which can be conquered on a personal level. The DIY fumigation cans are not nearly as lethal or dangerous as tenting (though they aren’t exactly super safe either). Tent-level fumigation though is something that can only be done by a professional. In some states, a fumigator needs specific licensing and certifications before they can do any fumigating. If the pest problem has infested the structure of your home as well as its surface, always go the professional route!

Don’t Rush Back In

It can be tempting to rush back into a fumigated home as soon as your pest control expert posts the notice that re-entry is okay. It is important though that you not rush things. Go in yourself first—give the house at least an extra day to settle before you bring in kids and pets.

Hire a Sanitation Expert

In fact, before you and your family move back into your home, hire a sanitation expert to clean your home from top to bottom and to sterilize the space so that it isn’t just suitable for re-entry but suitable for living in again. Yes, you could do some cleaning yourself, but a sanitation expert will have skills and products he can use to make sure your home really is as clean as possible.

Tenting can be environmentally responsible even if it doesn’t appear that way at first glance. Make sure you hire a properly certified and licensed pest control expert such as Hulett Environmental Services.

Avoiding Bed Bug Nightmares

Avoiding Bed Bug Nightmares

Avoiding Bed Bug NightmaresIt’s been a couple of years since bedbugs made the national news, but the problem with these pests is far from solved. Bedbugs are still problematic for apartment dwellers, hotel stayers and even homeowners.

What Are Bedbugs?

Bedbugs are tiny, flat, parasitic bugs. They burrow into bedding and upholstered furniture (hence their name) and come out only at night to feed. They will target the exposed skin of any other living creature, though humans are the most common targets because of where the bugs live and lay their eggs.

Do You Have Bedbugs? How to Tell?

The most obvious way to tell if you have bedbugs is to wake up and find one crawling around. You might also wake up and find that you’ve got insect bites. Your face, neck, arms and legs are the most common places to find them, but they can be on any part of your body.

Unfortunately, according to the CDC, it can take a couple of weeks for a bite to actually show up. Bedbugs can also go a few weeks without eating. This is why it is important to regularly inspect your home to see if you can find traces of these insects.

How to Find Bedbugs

Look through your sheets and bedding for exoskeletons that have been shed as the bedbugs grew. These exoskeleton shells are typically light brown.

  • After a bedbug feeds, it will typically leave bloodstains behind on your bedding.
  • You might also find dark colored fecal stains (these often get mistaken for the fecal stains of other pets).

The best places to look for these things include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Your own bedding. Look at your sheets and blankets.
  • Inspect your mattresses for signs of infestation: run your finger along all of the seams and check for breaks or holes.
  • Check out your dresser and table drawers. Make sure you pull these pieces out from the wall and inspect their backs.
  • Go over all of your upholstered furniture carefully, checking seams, cracks, and tufts.

Keeping Bedbugs from Infesting in the First Place

Over the summer, we have published an article called “How to Check for Bedbugs” that teaches readers how to do exactly that while they are traveling. One of the things mentioned in this article is the importance of working to keep from tracking the bedbugs in. After you get back from taking a trip, inspect your luggage thoroughly outside before you take it into your house.

It’s good to do this even if your trip is to a friend or family member’s house. Remember: bedbugs can happen anywhere! You might also like this video that goes into more depth on the subject.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs—Hire a Professional!

Unfortunately, simply keeping your home clean isn’t enough to keep bedbugs from invading. Remember, these bugs have been found even in pristine, almost sterile five star resorts. To make matters worse, bedbugs are typically billed as the “non-DIY” pest.

Basically, if you find one bedbug you are likely already infested and sadly, there isn’t anything that you can do yourself to get rid of them. Unlike fleas or lice there aren’t any “at-home” products you can buy to rid your home of these creatures. Laundering all of your clothing and bedding might help you feel better but it won’t keep the bugs from furthering their infestation.

The only way to truly eradicate bedbugs once they’ve set up shop is to hire a professional exterminator to get rid of the pests for you. The good news is that since the banning of DDT, most of the products that exterminators use to rid your home of bedbugs are environmentally responsible.

Don’t waste time – if you find one, get to work inspecting and contact us to keep these pests from taking over completely!

Note: Although DIY tips can be useful, they can also be ineffective and potentially very dangerous! It’s always advised that, when in doubt, you seek out the help of a certified professional such as Hulett Environmental Services to take care of any pest issues you may have.

How to Keep Your Home Rodent-Free This Winter

How to Keep Your Home Rodent-Free This Winter

Keeping your home pest free is hard enough during the warm months when those critters have just as much interest in the outdoors as they do in the treasure trove that is your house. During the winter, when their primary instinct is to try to stay warm, keeping rodents and other pests out of your home can feel almost impossible. You might even be tempted to just give up and accept that you’ve got some new roommates.

How to Keep Your Home Rodent-Free This Winter

Earlier this year, we published a great list for keeping pests like insects out of your home. There are a lot of great tips here for making sure your home is safe from the creatures that seem to be able to traverse even the tiniest foundation cracks, but what about the “big kids?” What about rodents?

How Do They Get In?

According to an article in the New York Times, mice in particular can usually squeeze through spaces that are just slightly larger than the average pencil, like the space between the pipes delivering water and evacuating sewage and the walls of your foundation and house.

Other larger animals take advantage of entryways like dog/cat doors and unscreened doors that are left open (like when you’re unloading groceries from the car) and windows that get propped open to allow some fresh air into the home.

The Best Offense is a Good Defense

The simple truth is that you cannot watch every single potential entryway into your home every minute of the day. Rodents are quick and often subtle. You often don’t even know they’re there until you start noticing signs of destruction or seeing droppings.

Take some time to go through your home from the literal top to the literal bottom, both inside and out. Look for holes and cracks and do your best to plug them up. The aforementioned New York Times article says to plug the small gaps between the walls and pipes with steel wool, and we couldn’t agree more. Put solid weather stripping around your doors, especially on the bottoms. Fill any holes you find, caulk any cracks, etc.

What If They Get in Anyway?

Even though you love all creatures big and small (even the ones that skeeve you out), that doesn’t mean you have to surrender your home to them when they are cold or if they are causing destruction to your property. There are a lot of ways to discourage rodents from taking up residence in your home that don’t involve you having to worry about your karma.

Effective and Environmentally Reliable Tactics

One of the best things you can do to discourage rodents that want to get into your house is to use Bounce Dryer Sheets in cracks and to put them under the pipes in your kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Rodents do not like the smell of that product in particular and will likely turn around and seek friendlier smelling homesteads.

Other great ways to discourage rodents that might be seeking food and refuge include:

  • Keeping food items (including those that are boxed or bagged) up and off the floor and in tightly sealed containers.
  • Keep your garbage in a metal garbage can that has a lid that can be kept sealed tightly all the time.
  • Seal up any grains and/or pet food in containers that have hard to open lids.

You can find a bunch of other great tips in one of our previous articles.

Note: Although DIY tips can be useful, they can also be ineffective and potentially very dangerous! It’s always advised that, when in doubt, you seek out the help of a certified professional such as Hulett Environmental Services to take care of any pest issues you may have.