Serving all of South Florida

Ants: What You Need to Know

 

Ants: What You Need to Know

You can tell it is summer in South Florida when you spot ants checking out your kitchen, bathroom or boldly foraging along walls and floor in search of food to feed their fellow ants in nearby nests. Social insects, ants live in colonies and these colonies can number in the thousands. Some of South Florida’s ant species form colonies consisting of only one queen, while others can support many queens through a process called budding. The queen ants’ only function is to reproduce while worker ants care for the young, forage for food and defend the colony from intruders and would-be predators. The pesky ants you just can’t seem to get rid of are worker ants on a mission. The vast majority of ant issues are best resolved by a professional pest control company such as Hulett Environmental Services.

Identification

Which ant species call South Florida home? The short answer is: there is no short answer. Many ant species live in South Florida – some are native, but many invasive species arrive in containers, along with tropical plants and the like. In order to devise a plan to eliminate your ant issues, it would be a good idea to know what type of ant you have. Some ants are attracted to carbohydrate-based baits and some to protein-based baits. How can you tell which type of bait to use? Ant identification can be tricky with so many ant species prevalent in South Florida. The good news is there’s a short list of the usual suspects that invade homes, sting (or bite), or cause structural damage.

  • Acrobat ants: Light brown to dark brownish black, workers measure 1/8th of an inch, with heart-shaped abdomens they can raise over their thoraxes and heads, as a defense mechanism. Acrobat ants generally nest outdoors in soil, wood or leaves and indoors in abandoned wood galleries hollowed out by termites or carpenter ants, in addition to rigid foam insulation. These ants eat sweets, as well as protein.
  • Argentine ants: Light brown to medium brown, 1/10th of an inch long, Argentine ants, an invasive species, often with large colonies containing multiple queens and the ability to move their nests daily, move in large trails on structures and up trees. Argentine ants prefer sweet food but will eat almost anything.
  • Big-headed ants: Light brown to dark reddish brown, ranging from 1/16th to 1/18th of an inch long, big-headed major workers’ heads appear disproportionately large for their body size. Big-headed ants often forage in trails covered with soil and prefer foods high in protein.
  • Crazy ants: Most often dark brown to black but range from red-brown to grayish, crazy ants measure from 1/12th to 1/8th of an inch in length and are distinguished from various other ant species by their seriously long antennae and legs. Crazy ants move in erratic patterns, use formic acid to defend themselves against fire ants and can cause electric circuits to short out by the accumulation of dead ants that occurs when one crazy ant is electrocuted, and other crazy ants answer attack signals sent out by dying ants. Crazy ants prefer honeydew secreted by aphids and will eat sweet food.
  • Red imported fire ants: Reddish brown bodies with darker abdomens, ranging from 1/16th of an inch to 1/4th of an inch long, fire ants use their powerful jaws to grasp a victim’s skin and inject venom from the stinger in their abdomen, when disturbed or threatened. Medical attention may be required in severe cases and in people sensitive to formic acid. Typically nesting in sunny exposed areas away from structures, fire ants prefer foods high in protein foods but will eat plants as well.
  • Florida carpenter ants: Reddish with black abdomens, as long as 3/4th of an inch, Florida carpenter ants are among the largest of Florida’s ants. Unlike other structure damaging carpenter ants, Florida carpenter ants do not destroy wood but nest in previously insect- and water-damaged wood. Foraging in loose trails, these ants prefer sweet foods and will bite and inject formic acid into wounds, if not removed quickly.
  • Ghost ants: Dark heads and thoraxes with pale abdomen and legs, ghost ants measure less than 1/16th of an inch long and are not easily seen with the naked eye. Often nesting in moist areas, ghost ants, aka “sugar ants” are known for their attraction to sweets.
  •  White-footed ants: Usually black with white tarsi, measuring 1/8th of an inch long, white-footed ants have become a major nuisance pest in many parts of the world, including South Florida. Often mistaken for crazy ants and Argentine ants, white-footed ants build enormous colonies and forage in thick trails up the sides of buildings. White-footed ants can cause agricultural damage by protecting aphids and other insects that produce the honeydew nectar these ants like to eat.

The list goes on to include pharaoh ants, little black ants, odorous ants and other nuisance ant species that can enter your South Florida home. Visit our bug database for more information on these and other ants you are interested in identifying.

Keeping Ants Away

The very best way to eliminate ants is to exclude them and keep your home as clean as possible. Keep the following in mind:

  • Keep all snacks and open packages of food in air-tight containers or in the fridge.
  • Wipe up any spills and clean dining and food prep areas regularly.
  • Wash dishes immediately after meals and dispose of any food scraps in air-tight receptacles.
  • Sweep or vacuum floors in dining and snacking areas.
  • Seal or caulk all cracks and holes in your foundation and around entryways.
  • Repair all leaky faucets and water-damaged wood.

To tackle persistent ant issues in South Florida, contact Hulett to schedule a free inspection. With over 50 years serving South Florida, Hulett’s certified and entomologist-trained technicians know how to nip your ant issues in the bud. Ranked as one of the top 20 pest control companies in the US, Hulett’s Healthy Home approach to integrated pest management uses only quality materials and methods for environmentally responsible treatments keeping your home pest-free and your family stress-free this summer and every season. Got ants? Just call Hulett!

Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Does it seem like you’re hearing about Lyme disease and other tick-related diseases more in the past few years? Today, almost everyone knows someone who has battled or is battling Lyme disease. In honor of Lyme disease Awareness Month, Hulett Environmental Services takes an in-depth look at this elusive, debilitating illness and offers ways to prevent contracting Lyme and other vector-borne illnesses.

South Florida enjoys summer-like temperatures all year which means dealing with tick and flea issues year-round.  That said, originally between 2002 and 2011, only 673 cases of Lyme disease were reported in Florida. Only 23% of the cases were acquired in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health and 77% were contracted when Florida residents traveled to other states and countries. Because of the low occurrence of Lyme disease cases originating in Florida, Lyme disease was not considered a big issue here, but it is on the rise, or at least our ability to make an accurate diagnosis is on the rise.  Florida ticks feed on the wealth of native reptile species that aren’t vectors for Lyme disease, this had factored into the lower number of Lyme disease cases in Florida.

Lyme disease cases and awareness of Lyme disease on the rise in Florida

Unfortunately, that changed in 2012 with the CDC adjusting their reporting to 12,730 new cases of Lyme disease in Florida between 1990 and 2012 making Florida one of the CDC’s top 20 list of states with the most cases of Lyme disease in the US. Over the past decade, an increase in reported tick-borne illnesses has resulted in more in-depth research and public awareness campaigns. Due, in part to these factors, healthcare professionals and researchers have determined that many cases of Lyme disease were not reported or misdiagnosed in previous years.

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks

Transmitted primarily by deer ticks, also known as black-legged ticks, Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. First identified on the Connecticut River in 1975, Lyme disease ranks the highest in reported vector-borne diseases in the US. While Florida’s Lyme disease cases seem to be on the rise, most reported cases occur in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and the Northern Midwestern states during the summer months.

Much confusion and misdiagnoses caused by complex bacteria

Known as “the new great imitator,” Lyme disease is capable of producing symptoms that mimic head colds, arthritis, Epstein Barr, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Parkinson’s Disease, Lupus, Autism, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome and even Alzheimer’s. Unreliable diagnostic testing often turns up false negative results.

As it turns out, the Lyme disease bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi happens to be the most complex bacteria known to science, according to The Lyme Action Network’s website. Shaped like a corkscrew, Borreliae spirochete drill into tissues. This skill allows Borreliae to infect any area of the body. Adept at shape-shifting, Borreliae can change from a spirochete into a cyst-form by coating themselves with a protein, thus avoiding antibiotics. Borreliae can even alter their cell walls or hide in a biofilm to trick antibiotics. Researchers recently discovered that Borreliae demonstrate the ability to produce “persister” cells that thrive beyond antibiotic treatment. It’s no wonder that Lyme disease can be challenging to diagnose.

Symptoms of Lyme disease

Lyme disease poses many obstacles to direct diagnosis and treatment, from many victims not realizing they’d been bitten by a tick, to symptoms not showing up until some years later.  If you find a tick biting you and remove it, chances are you can nip Lyme disease in the bud with a 28-day round of antibiotics.

Some of the classic symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Bull’s eye rash – 60-80% of people will develop a circular red rash, that may or may not occur at the bite site
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Low-grade fever with chills
  • Headaches
  • Stiff muscles and joints

Early detection and thorough treatment are key to total recovery

Left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to neurologic, cardiac, arthritic and/or psychiatric complications in humans that can cause systemic problems and organ failure that can lead to death. Chronic Lyme disease has been estimated in 20-30% of those infected with the virus and can cause immune system breakdowns that lead to severe difficulty in curing illnesses.

Some people infected with Lyme disease don’t show symptoms until years after they were infected by a tick. Muscle and joint problems, in addition to cognitive issues, can occur as a result of non-treatment or misdiagnosis. Sometimes, one round of antibiotics isn’t enough to eliminate the virus. It’s not uncommon for infected people to require a second round of antibiotics. Early detection, diagnosis, and thorough treatment seem to be the trifecta for complete recovery from Lyme disease.

Tick life cycles play a part in infecting humans and animals

In the spring, black-legged tick or deer tick eggs hatch and become larvae long enough to feed once, molt into nymphs and go into dormancy until the next spring. The next spring, these nymphs feed again in order to molt into adults. Feeding on rodents, usually, white-footed mice, the larvae, and nymphs can contract the Lyme disease virus at this stage. In general, nymphs infect humans, as nymphs and adults feed on humans and other large animals. Reports vary but some studies indicate that a 24-hour period of attachment is needed for nymph and adult ticks to transmit Lyme disease. Prevention is actually the best way to avoid Lyme disease and the many other pest control issues that surround fleas and ticks.

Hulett advises diligence during tick season

Deer ticks live at ground level in moist areas. Ticks are hard-wired to climb blades of grass, reach out with their front legs and grab onto legs as they pass by. Once connected to a human or animal, ticks climb upward, looking for a place to hide. It’s important to protect yourself and your pets when venturing into wooded and grassy areas by:

  • Applying or acquiring topical or ingestible tick and flea prevention treatments from your vet.
  • Wearing insect repellant.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants with the legs tucked into socks, sneakers or boots.
  • Wearing light-colored clothes.
  • Wearing closed-toed shoes.
  • Staying on marked trails.
  • Avoiding sitting on the bare ground.
  • Checking yourself and your pest for ticks, each and every time you go into tick-prone

Hulett’s tick prevention tips for the home

  • Keep grass trimmed short.
  • Eliminate woodpiles in and around your yard.
  • Wash pet beds regularly.
  • Clean pet resting areas and check for ticks.
  • Vacuum pet beds and carpets regularly.

This summer, Hulett wants you and yours to have fun outdoors – camping, gardening, hiking and the like. Lyme disease and other vector-borne illnesses are preventable. With a few necessary precautions for the people and pets in your life plus some thorough afterthought and inspection, we hope your summer can prove to be as pest-free as possible. For help with ticks and all other summer pests, find out how our pest-free Healthy Home solutions, can be the key to your happy, healthy summer. Just call Hulett!

Termite Spotlight: Subterranean Termites

Termite Spotlight: Subterranean Termites

South Florida’s unique tropical ecosystem supports more species of household pests than anywhere else. Most homeowners in South Florida know that they need to protect their most valuable investment from the heartache and financial headache of termite damage. Aside from the cost associated with termite damage repair, termite damage can decrease your home’s value and even worse, homeowner’s insurance doesn’t usually cover termite damage. Adding to the unpleasant subject of termites, for some homeowners, out of sight is out of mind. In the past, those termites you couldn’t see infesting your home, in out of the way places like your basement, needed a while to do any major damage to your home.

Enter Formosa and Asian subterranean termites

Well, times have changed. Since the 1980s and 90s, several invasive termite species are, as the University of Florida (UF) reported, “on track to infest over half the structures in South Florida by 2040.” It’s a sobering thought but these aggressive termites are voracious eaters on a mission to multiply. South Florida does have its own native subterranean termite species but the invasive Formosan and Asian subterranean termites leave those guys in the sawdust, building larger colonies, with millions instead of a few thousand members.

Invasive subterranean termites were most likely introduced to the US via shipping containers

Formosan subterranean termites: Coptotermes formosanus, the most widely distributed termite of economic concern gets its name from an early 1900 description of this species in Taiwan but is thought to be endemic to southern China. Reports point to accounts of Formosan termites in Japan before the 1800s and in Hawaii during the late 1800s. In the 1950s, reports of Formosans in South Africa were soon followed in the 1960s by instances in Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Then, in 1980, a well-established colony was discovered in a condominium in Hallandale, Florida. Today, Formosan termites can be found in almost every urban area in Florida including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, according to the UF Entomology Department.

Asian subterranean termites: Coptotermes gestroi, similar to the Formosan termite is endemic to southeast Asia. Collected in 1932 in the Pacific, on the Marquesas Islands, as well as in the Indian Ocean’s Mauritius and Reunion Islands, in 1936 and 1957, respectively, Asian subterranean termites were first reported in Brazil in 1923 and in Barbados in 1937. Recently collected in West Indian islands, the list of Asian termite locations include all major islands in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba and southern Mexico. In 1996, Asian subterranean termites made landfall in the continental US in a storefront and church in Miami. 1999 found an Asian subterranean termite infestation in a Key West home.

Both Formosan and Asian subterranean termites are established in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties today, making these locations the only place in the world where these species overlap territories. Due to warmer temps, both species are swarming at the same time, leading UF researchers to keep a lookout for a new hybrid super-species.

Identifying subterranean termites

Native subterranean termites – Averaging 0.3 inches in length, including wings with dark brown bodies, native subterranean termite alates generally swarm February through March, usually after a rainstorm in the morning or around dusk.

Asian subterranean termites – About ½ inch in length, yellowish-brown in color with hairs on their wings, Asian subterranean termite alates swarm February to April.

Formosan subterranean termites – Yellowish-brown bodies with small hairs on their wings, Formosan termite alates, range in size from about ½ inch to a little over a ½ inch. Swarming occurs April to July beginning at dusk on calm and humid evenings.

Formosan and Asian swarms can be distinguished from native subterranean termites by the massive number of alates in prenuptial flight. The soldiers of both Formosan and Asian subterraneans feature a large forehead opening, known as a fontanelle, thought to be used for spraying a sticky substance to fight off predators.

Swarming may indicate termite activity

After termite alates swarm in order to find mates and start new colonies, they lose their wings and burrow into a quiet place to breed. Discovering discarded wings outside your home could be a sign to check further for termite activity. Alates are attracted to light so if you’re finding discarded wings on windowsills and near other light sources inside your home, you should contact a pest professional as soon as possible, as this may indicate a termite infestation.

Other signs of subterranean termite activity

Subterranean termites live in a network of nests under the soil outside your home. In order to access your home through wood to ground contact or through damp wood near your foundation, subterranean termites build mud tubes that worker termites use to transport wood from your home to feed the throngs of hungry termites in nests below. Invasive subterranean termite colonies can support multiple queens, building networks that contain millions of members.

With so many mouths to feed, invasive termites are much more aggressive than native subterranean termites and can destroy a home in a matter of months. Mud tubes running up the walls of your foundation indicate subterranean termite activity.

Contact a professional

Subterranean termites, especially Formosan and Asian termites, should be handled by professional, trusted pest control technicians. Hulett Environmental Services, a leader in South Florida pest control for over 45 years employs certified and licensed, entomologist-trained technicians that address your subterranean termite issues. Utilizing our IPM, or integrated pest management system, we use environmentally conscious approaches to pest control. Just call Hulett!

We Like Big Bugs and We Cannot Lie

We Like Big Bugs and We Cannot Lie

Humans have always been infatuated with super-sized, larger than life phenomena, such as dinosaurs, Godzilla, Mothra, King Kong, the world’s largest whatever and giants in general. While dinosaurs no longer roam the earth and Hollywood’s skyscraper-sized monsters remain the fantasies of the big screen, gigantism in the insect world is a fact of life in some parts of the globe.

Giant wetas

Scientists think that giant wetas evolved to take the place of rodents on some continents. In fact, when mice were introduced to New Zealand, the giant weta population took a significant hit. Related to crickets, the largest giant wetas can weigh more than 2.5 ounces. Weighing more than a sparrow, giant wetas weigh in as some of the heftiest insects in the world. Thankfully, their weight makes them too heavy to fly. That, along with the fact that these large bugs measure about 4 inches long, not including their legs and antennae. They get their name from the Maori word “wetapunga,” that translates into “God of Ugly Things.”

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Another example of island gigantism, Madagascar hissing cockroaches hail from the large island of the same name off the African mainland. Woodland creatures, these dark reddish brown to black cockroaches grow up to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide and hiss as a defense mechanism when touched. Excellent climbers, these hissing bugs can even scale glass.

In Florida, as in some other states, a permit is required to keep Madagascar hissing cockroaches. In a recent trend, lizard owners begin purchasing exotic insects like Madagascar hissing cockroaches and others to feed their pet lizards. Authorities warn that misplacing some of these exotic insects may provide invasive species the opportunity to multiply and throw Florida’s already complicated eco-system out of whack.

Giant Water Bugs

Most homeowners in South Florida and other southern states cringe at the mention of American cockroaches that go by many names, including palmetto bugs and water bugs. Although these large bugs can be quite disconcerting, especially when flying straight for your head, they’re no match for a species of beetles, known as toe-biters and alligator ticks. Inhabiting streams and ponds in many parts of the world, including the US, giant water bugs can reach 4 inches in length, right up there with some of the largest beetles on the planet. Voracious predators, giant water bugs can pack a punch with their large, powerful pinchers, hence their toe-biting reputation. According to Scientific American, giant water bugs surprise their prey, which can be fish, other small aquatic animals, and toes, evidently.

In Thailand, giant water bugs are considered delicious

Attracted by black light, giant water bugs are collected, harvested and served up as crunchy munchies in parts of Thailand. Take that, giant water bugs!

Goliath Beetles

With their spectacular, bold black and white designed bodies with brown, leathery wings, goliath beetles live up to their names. Native to Africa and able to lift loads 850 times their weight, these large bugs are thought to be strong contenders for the world’s largest insect title. Goliath beetles can exceed 4 inches in length and weigh 3.5 ounces, as larvae. In Japan, beetles are thought of as good luck charms, so these super-sized beetles enjoy great popularity there.

Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing

The world’s largest butterflies, Queen Alexandra’s birdwings sport wingspans of more than one foot wide. Named in honor of Britain’s King Edward VII’s Danish wife, Queen Alexandra birdwings were discovered in 1906 in the remote lowland rainforests of Papua, New Guinea. Reportedly, the first specimen ever found was “taken down by a shotgun.” Considered on the endangered list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, these larger than life butterflies are falling victim to palm oil plantations, as encroaching development squeezes them out of their natural habitat.

Adult females and males differ in wing shape, coloration, and size. The larger female has brown wings with white markings and a cream-colored body, while the smaller male has bright blue and green wings and a yellow body. Poisonous to natural predators, due to their diet of tropical pipevine plants, animals steer clear of Queen Alexandra’s birdwing, remembering their unpleasant encounters with these brightly-colored gentle giants.

Atlas moths

The Malay Archipelago plays host to the world’s largest moths. Atlas moths’ wings can measure over 60 square inches in total area, with wingspans as long as one foot. That’s about as big as an iPad or seven times larger than a playing card. Primarily brown, with bold lines and colorful wing tips, several theories circulate about the origin of the Atlas moth’s name. Some hold that the geometric lines and shapes of these giant moths bring to mind a map, while others think that the name harks back to Greek mythology when Zeus condemned Atlas, the god of war to hold the sky upon his shoulders for eternity. The Chinese call the Atlas moth, “snake’s head” moths because their wingtips look like snakeheads, which may possibly be a defense mechanism.

Chinese gigantic stick insect

In 2017, a stick insect measuring 25 inches long was bred in captivity in China’s Guangxi Province. According to the UK’s DailyMail.com, entomologist, Zhao Li found the giant insect’s mother “at midnight in a forest” during a field inspection in Guangxi Province in 2014.  After laying six eggs, voila, the largest stick insect to date was hatched.  Stick insects of all sizes and varieties populate the earth, with most large stick insects found near the equator.

Known as walking sticks, tree lobsters and many other names, stick insects win the award for camouflage in the giant insect category. Think about it; it’s hard to hide when you’re one of the world’s largest bugs. But these guys excel at taking on the shape and color of tree branches, leaves, and other foliage, depending on their size and surroundings. Zhao noted that his giant stick insect has a sweet tooth, preferring strawberry jam, even giving up other food for this fruity treat.

To protect your home and loved ones from the pests, just call Hulett to schedule a free pest inspection.

South Florida: Outbreak of Yellow Fever in Brazil Concerns Health Officials Here

South Florida: Outbreak of Yellow Fever in Brazil Concerns Health Officials Here

As South Florida residents can tell you, mosquitoes come with the year-round warm weather that makes living in the Sunshine State so appealing. In addition to their annoying bites, mosquitoes also carry serious diseases, such as malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus and yellow fever, among other viral hemorrhagic infections.  These diseases can manifest in high fevers and chills, backaches, headaches, and loss of appetite, in addition to nausea and vomiting.  Yellow fever gets its name from the yellow tint evident in the eyes and skin associated with jaundice victims. Most yellow fever symptoms subside in a few days but the World Health Organization (WHO) website states that 15% of victims “will develop a second, more severe, stage of illness within the next two to 48 hours,” possibly advancing into jaundice and viral hepatitis, as well as liver or kidney failure.

Yellow fever outbreak in Brazil affecting areas not usually at risk

A yellow fever outbreak in Brazil that started in 2017 has expanded into areas not usually at risk for yellow fever. According to the WHO, from July 1, 2017 to Feb 16, 2018, “464 confirmed human cases of yellow fever have been reported in Brazil, including 154 deaths.” Unlike most seasons, a growing number of confirmed cases were reported in urban centers: “São Paulo (181 cases, including 53 deaths), Minas Gerais (225 cases, including 76 deaths), Rio de Janeiro (57 cases, including 24 deaths) and in the Federal District (1 fatal case).”

South Florida health officials concerned about travelers from Brazil

Health officials in South Florida are concerned that travelers from Brazil may be bringing the deadly virus into the US, through airports in Miami-Dade and Broward County. This is cause for concern, as while yellow fever isn’t contagious from human to human contact, infected people may transmit the virus via infected mosquitoes, from human to human. Most likely the same mosquito that caused the Zika virus outbreaks, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, can be infected by a person with the yellow fever virus and then can transmit the virus to other people.

While US outbreak “highly unlikely,” warmer parts of US are vulnerable to yellow fever

The Miami Herald reported that, even though it’s “highly unlikely” yellow fever outbreaks will occur in the continental United States, “the increase in domestic cases in Brazil and frequency of international travel could lead to travel-related cases occurring in warmer parts of the United States, in the Gulf Coast states, and outbreaks in Puerto Rico and other US territories.”

Traveling to Brazil not advisable without the vaccine

As far as traveling to Brazil, according to a March 26, Local 10 ABC News article, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 2 alert for people traveling to Brazil. This enhanced precaution alert advises that anyone traveling to Brazil should get vaccinated against yellow fever 10 days before traveling. The CDC also advises those who have never been vaccinated for yellow fever forego travel to Brazil at this time. Travelers should also be aware that the yellow fever vaccine is available in limited supply in the US, due to Brazil’s campaign to vaccinate as many people as possible in all Brazilian states. The Local 10 article stressed the importance of using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing in the way of long-sleeved shirts and full-length pants when outdoors, in addition to getting vaccinated before traveling to Brazil.

What about Zika?

As we begin to get ready for summer fun, many are wondering what ever happened to the threat posed by the Zika virus. Thankfully, for the most part, the Zika virus has disappeared from the Americas. In fact, according to the Pan American Health Organization, no additional countries have reported active local transmission of the disease since late 2016. The CDC’s provisional data is showing 424 symptomatic cases of Zika virus disease were reported in the US in 2017. However, to date in 2018, only one case of Zika virus disease has been recorded by health officials in the US and that was a traveler who was returning from an affected area. It seems as though there is no immediate threat of a Zika outbreak in the US but of course there is no guarantee so it is best to err on the side of caution and follow basic precautions across all of South Florida this summer.

Back in South Florida

What can you do to protect yourself and loved ones from getting infected by mosquitoes carrying yellow fever? Hulett Environmental Services outlines a few precautions you can take around your home and property to reduce your risk of mosquitoes.

Eliminate standing water on your property that can provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes

Some things you might not consider as breeding grounds for mosquitoes include:

  • Birdbaths
  • Swimming pool covers
  • Pet water bowls
  • Kids’ toys
  • Patio furniture
  • Extra potting containers for plants
  • Anything that can hold even just a small amount of water.

Storing toys and extra gardening containers in a dry, secure area can cut down on mosquito breeding grounds, in addition to changing the water in pet water bowls and birdbaths daily or by adding a fountain or drip system.

Eliminate water prone areas and repair screens on your property

  • Keep gutters clean and adjust downspouts for proper drainage.
  • Repair leaky outdoor faucets and any areas in your yard where water tends to puddle.
  • Repair or replace window and door screens to help keep mosquitoes out of your home.

Hulett Mosquito Reduction Services

These proactive mosquito prevention tips can help keep mosquitoes from ruining your backyard activities but if mosquitoes are still pestering you, they may be breeding someplace nearby that you can’t control or access. DIY methods and materials may help for a while. Most do-it yourself solutions, now that mosquitoes are showing resistance to citronella and DEET and other chemicals, really do not reduce mosquito populations but only mask human scents, it might be time to just call Hulett.

Hulett’s trained and certified pest control technicians can help reduce the number of mosquitoes in your home and yard. Schedule a free mosquito inspection and we will identify mosquito hiding places and potential breeding grounds. Then, we will treat those areas with a residual product, as well as applying a sticking agent to daytime mosquito resting places.

For those special outdoor events, Hulett Mosquito Fogging Services allows you to make the most of your backyard get-togethers and summer celebrations. Using ULV, or ultra-low volume foggers, mosquitoes can’t crash your party or cause a scene.

Don’t suffer from mosquitoes this summer. Protect your family and friends from disease-carrying mosquitoes. Remember the insect repellant, protective clothing and just call Hulett!

Friday the 13th: Bug Superstitions

Bug Superstitions

In the spirit of this April’s, Friday the 13th, Hulett invites you to take a look at some interesting bug superstitions. All sorts of superstitions and folklore surround insects. Always looking for signs in nature, humans insist on perpetuating some pretty amusing bug superstitions.

Ladybugs

  • Ladybugs can mean all sorts of good things

Take the ladybug, for example. Some bug superstitions hold that if one of these cute little polka-dotted bugs lands on you, you’re going to be lucky for as many days as the number of spots your ladybug sports.

  • Money and marriage

In medieval times, ladybugs were seen as a sign of protection. Farmers were said to pray for ladybugs when aphids threatened to destroy their crops. The English believe that if a ladybug lands on your hand, you’ll be married within a year’s time, while others think a ladybug’s spots tell how many happy months lie ahead or how much money you are about to receive.

Spiders

  • Spiders are big on the luck scale, as well

Many bug superstitions associate spiders with good luck. Due to their industrious natures, building webs and whatnot, folks have come to associate a spider’s stellar work ethic with wealth and rewards for hard work. In England, one family of spiders, the Linyphiidae, go by the name, money spiders because, according to British bug superstitions, if one such spider crawls across your hand, you’re on course to come into some money.

  • Spiders symbolize health, wealth and cleanliness

All over the globe, spider imagery graces jewelry, clothing, and charms, as ambassadors of wealth and good fortune. This good fortune and happiness imagery persists to the extent that killing a spider bodes bad luck, as Mark Twain’s Huck Finn tells us: “Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it lit in the candle; and before I could budge it was all shriveled up. I didn’t need anybody to tell me that that was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad luck…”

Because killing a spider in your home is considered such a threat to good health, wealth and cleanliness, some cultures practice a tradition of apologizing to spiders, before killing them, in hopes of negating bad luck. The Vietnamese believe that when you sleep, your soul leaves your body and turns into a spider.  Needless to say, the Vietnamese tread lightly around their eight-legged friends and family members.  Naturally, it’s considered taboo to kill spiders in Vietnam.

Bees

  • Bee part of the family

Their association with productivity, industriousness, and creativity, bees form the central figures in many Western European traditions. Bees buzzing around your home or buzzing at your window signal the arrival of visitors in parts of the British Empire.  However, if someone should kill the bee, the visitor would bring only bad news.

Bees became so integrated into some American and British customs, that they were invited to family gatherings, such as weddings and funerals. In Greece, if a bee landed on your head, your success in life potential spiked significantly. Also, if a bee brushed a child’s lips, the child was destined to a life as an accomplished poet.

  • Bee sensitive and polite

Believed to be sensitive in nature to their surroundings, in Great Britain bees must be politely spoken to, as well as kept in the loop regarding family news. “Telling the bees,” a tradition that has regional variations, supports the practice of gently informing bees of their owner’s death, in order to preserve the health of the hive, keeping distraught bees from deserting the hive, stopping honey production and ultimately, dying off.

Dragonflies and Butterflies

  • Butterflies as meteorologists

A butterfly in your home is thought of as a sign of an impending visit from your dearest love. Catching a glimpse of a white butterfly in some traditions signals good luck, especially a white butterfly at the beginning of the season.

  • Dragonflies as positive influences

In some eastern traditions, dragonflies represent wisdom and in other cultures, dragonflies also indicate changes in the near future. As a spirit animal, dragonflies indicate resilience in changing times for those associated with the dragonfly totem.

Mosquitoes

  • Mosquito superstitions geared towards warding off these health hazards

Bug superstition has it that eating green vegetables on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter prevents mosquitoes from biting you for an entire year. In yet another custom, making your bed on new hay during harvest time will keep mosquitoes at bay, as well.

This month, in the light of bug superstitions and Friday the 13th lore, we make light of myths and traditions that are ingrained in our collective consciousness. While living alongside beneficial and benign insects is a good thing, most South Florida homeowners prefer their pests outside their homes and away from their loved ones.

Just call Hulett to schedule a free pest inspection and help you get the most out of your spring and summer.

Insects & Lights, What’s the Attraction?

insects are attracted to light

Have you ever wondered why certain insects are attracted to light, while other insects are repelled by light? Have you ever asked yourself what’s so interesting about your porch light, that moths, beetles, and stinkbugs just can’t get enough of it or why roaches scatter like “We’re busted, run!” when suddenly flooded by your kitchen light?

Phototaxis

Though no one really knows why . . . several theories exist as to why some nocturnal flying insects are drawn to artificial light. One logical reason can be explained by phototaxis. A common behavior in many species, including insects and fish; phototaxis concerns survival and common logic. You can do things in the light that you can’t do in the dark. The light offers better chances of finding food and avoiding predators, increasing your survival chances.

Transverse orientation

Other entomologists point to a behavior known as “transverse orientation,” theorizing, as UC Berkley entomologist, Jerry Powell does, that somewhere in the internal navigation system of moths and other flying insects, these guys “navigate by flying at a constant angle to a distant light source,” such as the sun, the moon, and the stars. Because moths developed long before the invention of artificial light, in this theory, when insects see your porch light, candle flames or campfires, they become confused as the angle of navigation changes as they fly past the light. So, they continue to fly towards the artificial light source in effort after effort to correct their navigational compasses.

Critics of the transverse orientation theory point to the fact that, while electric lighting is a relative newcomer in the evolutionary scale of things, humans have been building fires for nearly 400,000 years. Critics argue moths, after all this time, would be extinct due to an uncontrollable urge to jump in a fire for no specific reason. Also, given the fact that not all moths migrate, especially the tiny ones dazzled by your porch light, they would need no reason for advanced navigation tools.

Pheromone mimicking

Taking a completely different approach to the question, “Why are bugs attracted to light?”

in the 1970s, US Department of Agriculture entomologist, Phillip Callahan found a connection between the infrared light spectrum of a candle’s flame and female moth pheromones. Callahan discovered that a few of the frequencies emitted by female moths’ pheromones are slightly luminescent; that is, they faintly glow.

Callahan conjectured that male moths, mistaking candle flames for frisky female moths sacrifice themselves for love, flying into the candle’s flame thinking it’s a female mating signal. However, this theory is not without controversy, either, as Powell noted that insects are much more attracted to UV light than infrared light, adding that “there’s no reason why UV light should remind moths of sex; it doesn’t contain the same wavelengths as their glowing pheromones.”

To the moon

In yet another theory, scientists discovered that moths were less attracted to artificial lights during the full moon week than during the new moon week. Urban myth had it that moths weren’t as active around porch lights and such during the full moon because they were all “flying to the moon.” Powell rejected this theory, saying, “That’s ridiculous, because they can’t carry on their life cycles if they’re flying to the moon.” As it turns out, during full moons, moths aren’t as active because there’s too much light when the moon is bright.

Just call Hulett!

Yellow lighting has been shown to deter moths on front porches. When it comes to household pests that are just annoying and those that pose threats to your home and loved ones, Hulett Environmental Services is your go-to locally-owned and operated professional pest control service for the greater South Florida area. Ranked as one of the top 20 pest control companies in the country, Hulett’s over 45 years in South Florida give them the skill and insights you need to pest-proof your home. Our Healthy Home programs use environmentally responsible methods and the latest technology and materials to guarantee you will be satisfied with our services.

With convenient options for your busy schedule, contact us to schedule a free pest inspection today. Just call Hulett!

Brace Yourself, Termite Season is Upon Us

Termite Season is Upon Us

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the southeastern US is bracing for a heavy termite season, as the weather starts to get warmer and spring approaches. The pest control resource pointed to the southeast as a “particularly prevalent place” to encounter these wood-eating “silent destroyers” who can “chew through wood, flooring, and wallpaper without any immediate signs of damage.” The NPMA goes on to say that “termites cause more than $5 billion each year,” adding the kicker that these are “costs typically not covered by homeowners’ insurance.”

The NPMA stresses the importance of homeowners knowing what types of termites are active in their areas and how to prevent them from causing damage to your home. Additionally, noting the importance of trusting your termite suspicions to a pest control professional as opposed to taking on the termite fight yourself, the NPMA throws the spotlight on several types of termites South Florida residents may be dealing with this spring.

Subterranean Termites

The hotter the climate, the more subterranean termites you’re likely to encounter. While extremely common in southern states, South Florida is now under siege, by not only native subterranean termites but also two more aggressive species from southeast Asia, Formosan and Asian subterranean termites. “By far the most destructive termite species,” invasive subterranean termites live in a network of underground nests, populated by up to 2 million members in a colony. Accessing your home from mud tunnels used to transport food, worker class subterranean termites bite off small pieces of wood to feed the expanding throngs of colony members.

Due to their aggressive natures, Formosan subterranean termites can collapse an entire building in a lot less time than drywood termites and native subterranean termites. Formosan termites also infest trees, shrubs, utility poles, timber, railroad trusses and have even been found on boats in the Florida Keys. The average Formosan termite colony can consume a one-foot 2×4 in less than a month.

  • Tell-tale signs of subterranean termite activity
    • Earthen tunnels running from the ground to walls near foundations
    • Earthen tunnels running up trees and utility poles
    • Hollow sounding live trees

Drywood Termites

Drywood termite colonies are much smaller than subterranean colonies, with around 2,500 members. Primarily attacking walls, flooring, and furniture, drywood termite infestations can take a while to discover because these pests live inside the structures they are infesting. Termites usually enter homes through direct ground to wood contact or through water-damaged wood. Because drywood termites can survive with only the water in the wood they eat, they have been found infesting eaves, soffits and other wooden areas on upper stories of homes and other buildings. Drywood termites can be problematic to treat as they can form more than one colony within the same structure.

  • Tell-tale signs of drywood termite activity
    • Signs of swarming indoors
    • Presence of “frass,” piles of sawdust-like pellets, excreted by dry wood termites
    • Hollow sounding floors, walls, and furniture
    • Buckling walls and floors that can resemble water damage

Conehead Termites

Resembling subterranean termites by their habit of building mud tubes, conehead termites, currently confined to Broward County are named for the dark brown, pointy heads of the soldier caste that dispenses a sap-like substance conehead termites spray at predators, such as ants, lizards, and other termites. These hungry and highly destructive pests build free-standing nests on the ground and in structures, as well as in trees. With nests up to 3 feet in diameter, with a hard, chewed wood surface, conehead termites forage on the ground, allowing them to move faster than subterranean termites who can only move wood through tubes underground.

  • Tell-tale signs of conehead termites
    • Dark brown tubes running up trees on the ground or up walls of structures
    • Large, round nests in trees, on the ground or on structures

Termites require professional control protection year round

In South Florida, where termites come with the territory, it is essential to connect with a professional pest control company who has your back against termites. Our 45 years of experience as a leader in South Florida’s pest control community has earned us a ranking as one of the top 20 pest control companies in the US.

Using sustainably responsible baits and the most effective materials and technology, our licensed and certified technicians create a protective boundary around your South Florida home.

Get ready for this spring, with a free in-home termite evaluation and take advantage of Hulett’s $100 off coupon for termite control. Just call Hulett!

Why You Need Pest Control All Year-Round

Pest Control All Year-Round

Homeowners who live in South Florida know that pest control services are a must, year-round. South Florida’s tropical climate keeps the weather on the warm and humid side, just the kind of conditions pests like. Because of moderate temps, many pests are active in the winter, as they don’t die off or go into hibernation. Finding a reputable pest control service is especially important to keep a pest-proof barrier around your home and a healthy lawn all year long.

Hulett’s Healthy Home

With Hulett’s Healthy Home approach, you can find customized pest control programs for your home and your lawn. In 2017, Hulett Environmental Services was rated as one of the top 20 pest control companies in the US. Locally owned and operated, Hulett has been in the business of eliminating household pests and keeping your lawn in shape and looking great for over 45 years. Calling the shots, Tim Hulett’s third generation knowledge and expertise follows him into the field, with each and every entomologist trained technician in our employ.

We are dedicated to environmentally responsible methods and materials

Focusing on environmentally responsible methods and materials, our advanced Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system utilizes the most current and effective methods. We use the appropriate amount of odorless liquid and gel baits to deter pests from setting up shop in your home. Strategic placement of materials works to fortify a pest-proof boundary around your home. As each home is unique, our Healthy Home programs are tailored to your home and loved ones’ specific needs.

Termites don’t take slow seasons off from trying to damage your home

In South Florida, several different types of invasive, aggressive termites threaten to impact more than half of the structures by 2040, according to University of Florida researchers, in a recent study. Hulett’s Healthy Home termite prevention begins with a free termite inspection.

  • Annual Termite Renewal – Keeping termites from entering your home entails treating your home annually to protect your most valuable asset. If you suspect you have a termite issue, we will deal with it swiftly and then focus on termite-proofing your home and property. We offer a broad spectrum of targeted solutions to any current termite activity in and around your home.
  • Termidor Liquid Defense for subterranean termites: Non-repellant material is odorless and faster than bait systems in destroying subterranean termite colonies.
  • Sentricon Baiting Stations for subterranean termites: Environmentally-friendly technique to rid your property of termites by causing colonies to collapse after ingesting bait.
  • No-tent termite control for drywood termites: Way to treat for drywood termites, with a non-repellant material injected directly into galleries to help get rid of colonies.
  • Tenting for drywood termites: In extreme cases where multiple colonies are discovered, fumingation may be the best solution and Hulett has many years of experience in tenting and fumigating South Florida homes and businesses.

Our Lawn Services help keep your lawn and landscaping healthy all year long

Just like termites and other household pests, South Florida’s mild and humid climate keeps lawn and garden pests active and looking to chow down on your lawn and ornamentals year-round. We take pride in nourishing and protecting your lawn with seasonal treatments using the latest technology and materials on the market.

Go Green with Hulett

We use green initiatives and methods for managing insect infestations. Besides countering insect activity, Hulett’s certified and trained lawn professionals are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, strict guidelines, and reference sheets to ensure your lawn gets the proper blend and amount of ingredients to keep it green and healthy throughout each season. Hulett’s lawn services also include:

  • Customized seasonal fertilization and weed control, based on your lawn’s needs
  • Equipment dedicated to specific procedures to avoid cross-contamination
  • Faster, more efficient sprayers to reach grass roots for better application of nutrients
  • Satisfaction with your greener and healthier lawn

With a happy and healthy lawn under your feet, many household pests are kept in check. Say farewell to human and pet health threats from fleas and ticks, as well as chinch bugs, ficus whitefly, spiraling whitefly, aphids, worms and the host of other lawn, shrub and tree pests that are prevented from a Healthy Hulett lawn and yard.

Healthy Home homeowners on the rise

Serving South Florida year-round, we invite you to schedule a free pest and/or lawn inspection. Contact us, like the other satisfied Healthy Home homeowners in your area for a pest-proofed home and a healthier, greener lawn all year long.

Just call Hulett!

Pest Control’s MVP Goes to… Hulett Environmental Services

Pest Control's MVP Goes to... Hulett Environmental Services

Hulett is the MVP of South Florida pest control. Ranked in the top 20 pest control companies in the US, Hulett takes the top prize in the game against pests in South Florida. Serving all of South Florida from locations in Palm Beach, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft Myers, Ft Pierce, and Naples, Hulett’s team of licensed, certified technicians not only puts up the points in Broward, Collier, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties but extends coverage to all 12 South Florida counties.

Local company knows South Florida’s pests and answers the call on the green front

Locally family-owned and operated for over 45 years, with three generations dedicated to tackling all pest situations, including ants, termites, spiders, roaches, fleas, ticks and many other pests . . . such as mosquitoes, wasps or whatever pest control helped is needed.  Our customized IPM, Integrated Pest Management, system addresses your pest concerns, with your family and pets at the heart of Hulett’s game plan to keep your home . . . a Hulett Healthy Home!

Recognized as a leader in environmentally responsible pest control, Hulett runs defense for your home and loved ones, utilizing non-invasive materials and methods that, unlike traditional pest control methods don’t have to necessarily involve smelly sprays. Winning many thumb-ups from an increasing number of South Florida homeowners, our Healthy Home Program guarantees you’ll be cheering for Hulett!

Tim Hulett: Head Coach and graduate entomologist

As Hulett’s head coach, CEO, and University of Florida graduate entomologist, Tim Hulett is a life-long South Florida resident, committed to excellence in customer-centered pest control service. The former president of Florida Pest Management Association and a current active member of FPMA and the National Pest Management Association, Hulett motivates his staff with cutting-edge information and innovative techniques in pest management solutions and training. Supported by the highest caliber and knowledgeable employees available, we continually train and update our full-time, state-certified, pest control division on the latest products, along with proper usage protocols and handling, by way of our ongoing training camp regimen: Bugs University.

Proactive Healthy Home programs save money and time

Hulett believes that proactive preventative measures can keep your home and family in the pest-proof zone better than trying to control pest infestations. When you get onboard with Hulett’s Healthy Home programs, you can “take it to the house,” scoring big points with an assurance that your home and property are treated with environmentally responsible techniques and methods to create a pest barrier around your home.

  • During the initial service visit, we will focus on both the interior and exterior of your home. Inside your home, this will include treating cracks and crevices, kitchens, bathrooms, exterior doors and thresholds, plumbing penetrations, around windows, and your garage. On the exterior, our entomologist trained technicians will pinpoint placement treatment of areas conducive to pest infestation, removal of spider webs, and a perimeter baiting treatments to prevent future infestations.
  • Once your Hulett Healthy Home Program is in place, ongoing treatments are performed by our experienced and trained technicians to the exterior of your home. This will include perimeter baiting and monitoring to prevent future infestations, removal of spider webs, removal of any insect nests on the soffits, and application of granular and gel baits as needed.
  • We also apply pinpoint placement treatments to pest prone areas on the exterior of your property.
  • Our technicians also apply baiting treatments to your property’s pest prone areas to deter pest activity going forward.
  • With follow-up monitoring, you can rest assured that your home and loved ones are protected against household pests

Hulett’s Termite Control – Over 45 Years of Experience

Termites can be a problem anywhere but especially in South Florida because of the many different termite species prevalent here, particularly the invasive and highly destructive subterranean Formosan and Asian termites. With over 45 years of experience treating all types of structures, our termite treatment strategies include:

  • Sentricon Baiting Systems for subterranean termites
  • Termidor Liquid Defense treatment for subterranean termites
  • No-Tent Termite control for drywood termites
  • Tent fumigation for drywood termites

Hulett’s Termite Guarantee

With Hulett’s Annual Termite Guarantee Renewal programs, your home is protected for the long haul. If you suspect you may have termite activity, contact Hulett to schedule a termite inspection as soon as possible.

Through our experience in South Florida, Hulett can handle any other pest issue you may encounter in or around your home, such as ants or rodents. You can be assured that our technicians will treat your home as if it were their own and will make every effort to keep your home in the pest-free zone.

Hulett is revved up and ready to take on your pest control issues with the best environmentally responsible pest management programs and the most current methods and materials on the market. Contact Hulett to schedule a free pest inspection and see why we’re kicking the extra point and taking home the MVP award for pest control in your South Florida community. Go team!

To get your Home Healthy on Hulett’s pest control program, JUST CALL HULETT today and ask to schedule a free inspection!

 Serving All of South Florida Since 1968 (All 12 Counties)

Pest Control Palm Beach

Pest Control Fort Pierce

Pest Control Fort Myers

Pest Control Miami

Pest Control Ft. Lauderdale

Pest Control Naples

Pest Control Miami Gardens

Better Business Bureau Hulett Environmental Services