Serving all of South Florida

Ant Spotlight: Ghost Ants

Ant Spotlight: Ghost AntsNot really as spooky as they sound, ghost ants, Apinoma Melanocephalum, are an invasive species thought to originate in Asia or Africa. According to the University of Florida’s (UF) Entomology and Nematology Department, one of the most prevalent and persistent ant species, “ghost ants are associated with a complex of ant species, known as tramp ants.” It is an invasive species with widespread global distribution in tropical and subtropical regions.

Ghost ants introduced to South Florida most likely by boat in shipping containers

Introduced to the US in shipping containers and potted plants, ghost ants were well established in South and Central Florida as well as Hawaii by the early 1990s. They made their way to Texas by 1995 in a shipment of potted tropical plants from South Florida. Since then, ghost ant populations have been found in most southeastern states, as well as Arizona and California. Traditionally, ghost ants have only been found in northern climates in heated greenhouses and in one instance in an apartment block in Winnipeg on the Assiniboine River. However, with global temperatures rising, scientists predict that ghost ants and other invasive tropical species will likely spread north.

The scariest thing about ghost ants

According to a UF/IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) study in South Florida, ghost ants now run a close second to fire ants as major nuisance pests. Unlike fire ants, ghost ants don’t bite, sting or pose health threats to humans, but their tenacity and persistence have been known to cause mental and emotional distress to South Florida homeowners.

Ghost ants infesting quarantine greenhouses have proven impossible to eliminate because of restrictions on using toxicants in these greenhouses. Ghost ants defending honeydew producing plant pests, such as aphids, against introduced biological control organisms present a problem for growers.

Ghost ants in a Gainesville, Florida lab preyed on small beetle larvae and have been shown to be a significant predator of the two spotted mite in greenhouses. Aside from these minor benefits of ghost ants, they are one of the most prevalent nuisance pests in South Florida homes that you can’t see.

Pale ants with secretive habits are a little spooky

Ghost ants get their name from the fact that they are extremely small, 1.3-1.5 mm, or .05-.19 inches. These tiny ants also sport pale legs and gasters or abdomens, with black thoraxes and heads, making them difficult to see. Ghost ants tend to trail behind carpet and along exterior foundations, building nests indoors behind wall voids, in spaces between cabinetry, around baseboards and between books on shelves. Outdoors, ghost ants prefer to build nests in moist soil, under rocks and in dead trees or other yard debris. Disturbed soil in potted plants makes an excellent nest for ghost ants as ghost ants are readily adaptable to many environments, as long as it’s warm and moist.

No big surprise here, ghost ants like sugar

Preferring honeydew and honeydew-excreting insects, ghost ants will eat dried insects and also substitute their organic diet for your store-bought sugar and fruits. Baked goods, breads, spills in your pantry or just straight up sugar, ghost ants don’t discriminate. Hmm… could this be the reason worker ghost ants, when disturbed, run around rapidly and erratically? Under normal circumstances, trailing ghost ants move in slow, deliberate lines. On closer inspection, researchers found that some of the workers were carrying larvae and pupae. Looks like someone’s moving in.

Multiple queens can produce many offspring in a network of nests

Like most invasive ant species, ghost ants can build a network of nests underground but due to ghost ants’ small size, these nests don’t exhibit the stability to become mega-populations, like invasive termite species. Still, with multiple queens in a network of sub-colonies, eliminating ghost ants can be challenging to attempt without professional assistance.

Hulett Environmental Services Healthy Home Guarantee

At Hulett, we believe that exclusion is the best way to prevent all household pest infestations, including ghost ants. Along with some basic DIY pest prevention techniques, regular treatments by Hulett’s entomologist–trained technicians, we create a barrier around your property that keeps pests out of your home. Using environmentally responsible materials and treatments whenever possible, Hulett’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system, utilizes the most current technology and methods in household pest control in the industry today. Unlike other companies that merely use smelly sprays to eliminate ghost ant infestations, Hulett’s programs have been developed from 45 years of experience. As a South Florida family-owned and operated business, Hulett provides responsible results that protect your home and family from Florida’s extensive array of household pests.

Hulett treats the source of your ghost ant infestation

Hulett goes to the source of your ghost ant infestation. With odorless baits and liquid treatments, Hulett strategically targets ghost ant nests that may consist of multiple queens. When ghost ants track liquid materials or bring baits back to their nests, other ants will become contaminated until, eventually, the queens are killed, causing the colony to collapse.

A few DIY things you can do to prevent ghost ants from haunting your home

Make your home unattractive to ghost ants and other household pests, you can:

  • Regularly clean up crumbs, spills and table scraps from food prep and dining areas.
  • Store sugar, syrup and honey in metal, glass or hard plastic containers.
  • Keep sweet treats such as candy, cookies and other baked goods in secure containers or in the fridge.
  • Repair or replace leaky pipes and faucets.
  • Trim branches away from your home, cutting off routes of entry.
  • Maintain secure and sanitized outdoor trash receptacles.
  • Remove left-over construction materials and other debris from your yard.
  • Keep grass cut short.
  • Remove plants that attract aphids, whiteflies and other honeydew-loving insects.

With Hulett’s convenient, regular preventative treatment programs, we guard your home against ghost ants and other household pests in Southeast and Southwest Florida. Contact us to schedule a free inspection today! Just call Hulett!

Ant Spotlight: Fire Ants

As South Florida homeowners can attest, red fire ants are capable of turning outdoor athletic events, picnics and yard work activities into unpleasant, painful scenarios. There’s really no mistaking, “what just happened?” when people and animals accidentally disturb fire ant nests.

When threatened, red fire ants in South Florida do not play. With their powerful jaws, they attach to their intruders and release venom through their stingers. A strong burning sensation lasting for several hours is followed by white pustules forming at the bite sites, giving way to extreme itching that can result in secondary infections. Fire ants attack in numbers and can sting their victim multiple times, which can result in severe allergic reactions that require immediate medical attention.

Where do red fire ants come from?

With around 300 fire ant species, making life uncomfortable to miserable for someone, somewhere in the world, probably the most notorious ants in South Florida, red invasive fire ants, a.k.a. RIFA. They originally arrived in the US in the 1930s, most likely as accidental stowaways on a South American cargo ship that docked in Mobile, Alabama. Native to Brazil’s Amazon forests, aggressive, red fire ants soon spread throughout the southern states and parts of the southwest. Red fire ants look very similar to our native Florida fire ant.

Fire ant appearance and behavior

With red to brown abdomens and thoraxes and copper heads, fire ant workers range in size from 1/16” to 1/4” long, with a stinger attached to the gaster. Worker mandibles have four distinct teeth and segmented antennae that end in a two-segmented club.

Sometimes more than one queen

Enormous fire ant colonies usually only contain one queen but some fire ant populations do have multiple queens, sometimes up to a dozen. It seems that for whatever reason, unrelated queens and daughters are allowed to move in and set up shop in another queen’s territory. Invasive fire ant workers can forage up to one hundred feet in search of food and will recruit other colony members to help bring a large store of food back to their nests.

Not picky eaters, fire ants’ diverse appetites enhance their resilient factor

Omnivores, fire ants prefer proteins, such and insects and meats but will also eat fruits, sugars, syrups and other carbohydrates, as well as grease, lard, seed oils and other fatty foods. Workers will forage for food more than one hundred feet from their nests. Foraging by day, as well as by night, when a large food source is found, these ants recruit other workers to help take the food back to the colony.

Fire ant habitats

Like our native tropical fire ants, the more aggressive and invasive RIFAs build large nests in the ground, near moist areas, generally in grassy, sunny areas. Ballparks and open-air stadiums, playgrounds and any open lawn areas in community parks or in your backyard make ideal RIFA nesting areas. Marked by distinctive dirt mounds in open areas that might be easy to avoid, red fire ants also build not-so-visible nests:

  • Under patio tiles, cracks in pavement and in small crevices in buildings
  • Around landscaping shrubs and trees
  • In rotting logs and around tree stumps
  • In utility housing or boxes and inside electrical equipment, causing short circuiting to occur

Fire Ant Control

Large fire ant colonies not only create threats to humans, as well as to pets and livestock, they harvest seeds that cause considerable damage to crops and wreak havoc on landscaped yards, as well. Many products and methods have been used to eliminate fire ants from South Florida properties. These treatments may reduce populations for a while but unless these treatments affect the colony’s queen, the colony infests other areas nearby.

In South America, red fire ants have natural predators, plus parasites and viruses that keep fire ant populations in check and currently, scientists are exploring the idea of introducing these agents in the US. Recently, scientists discovered that crazy ants, from the same part of the world as red fire ants secrete a substance that neutralizes fire ant venom. Crazy ants are, in fact, displacing some fire ant colonies in South Florida. While biological solutions sound like a good idea, the cure could be worse than the disease, with crazy ant infestations causing more danger and damage than fire ants.

What’s the most reliable thing to do when you notice a fire ant mound in your yard? Just call Hulett! Our trained team will utilize a pest management system that is custom to your home, possibly including granular bait products with additional applications, as needed. With Hulett, not only will your fire ant problem get taken care of but we also offer a money back guarantee should you continue to have a fire ant problem.

If you’ve got fire ants, just call Hulett! Get your pest problem taken care of today! Same day service available.

Parent Termites Reproducing Millions More, Sibling Termites Take Care of Termite “Kids”

Large families have always been a favorite motif in Hollywood’s pop cultural themes, witnessed by the popularity of movies, like Cheaper by the Dozen and countless TV sitcoms, including The Brady Bunch and Eight is Enough, as well as a current fascination with reality show mega-families. Face it, we love a little chaos, sibling bickering and a train wreck or two in the course of a large family story.

However, University of Florida (UF) scientists recently discovered an evolutional development in non-native subterranean termites that’s not so amusing. Unlike the dysfunctional antics of older human siblings complaining about being forced to drag their younger siblings along with them on outings with friends, Asian and Formosan termite colonies have channeled this concept of older siblings caring for their younger siblings into a powerful population expanding nightmare for South Florida homeowners.

New study by UF/IFAS scientists shows brood care by older siblings is a big deal

In a new study published in the journal Economic Entomology, University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) scientist Thomas Chouvenic and UF/IFAS entomology professor, Dr. Nan-Yao Su turned their focus to the care of young termites by older termite siblings in invasive subterranean termite colonies. In South Florida, two invasive subterranean termite species, Formosan and Asian subterranean termites are responsible for a significant part of the $40 billion annual cost in termite damage worldwide. To conduct their study, the scientists from the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center used a light trap to collect swarming Asian subterranean termites in Broward County.

Study reveals that older subterranean termite siblings grow into workers that care for younger siblings

Subterranean termite colonies, much larger than native subterranean termite colonies can have millions of members. According to Brad Buck’s, August 2017article on Newswise.com, the UF/IFAS team, “discovered that at the very beginning, the queen and the king termites . . . care for their first babies,” but as soon as these young termites grow into workers, “they take care of their younger brothers and sisters,” leaving the king and queen with a singular mission: to reproduce in order to expand the colony.

The importance of brood care by older termite siblings offers insights into eliminating termite colonies

In subterranean termite colonies, the older siblings also take care of the queen and king, as well as raising their younger termite siblings. Older sibling brood care seems to be an evolution in termite colonies over time to meet the needs of aggressive, rapidly growing subterranean termite colonies. As subterranean termite societies became more complex, with over a million individuals, “Some termite species became so good at taking care of their own that they colonized new ecological niches, including the wood inside your house,” said Chovenic.

Because the study revealed that brood care by older siblings in subterranean termite colonies is essential to the growth of colonies, Chovenic/Su can now develop materials that “disrupt this behavior to eliminate colonies.” Indirectly revealing what Chovenic termed “an Achilles heel” of subterranean termite colonies, “future improvement for baiting technology may tap into this aspect,” Chovenic said.

Hulett Termite Protection program safeguards your property

Proactive homeowners in South Florida know that the best termite control is termite prevention and Hulett’s Healthy Home approach guarantees your satisfaction with our Annual Termite Protection and Renewal Program. With various precise treatments, using quality materials and non-invasive methods and techniques, we trust that you’ll be satisfied to the tune of our Million Dollar Guarantee in the elimination and prevention of subterranean termites. We guarantee it. Contact Hulett for a free termite inspection today! Just call Hulett!

Why Hulett is Committed to Offering Environmentally Responsible Pest Prevention Services

Environmentally Responsible Pest Prevention

South Florida’s warm and humid weather provides a welcoming environment for household pests of all sorts. At Hulett Environmental Services, we take your home, your family and your pets into consideration when devising a plan to prevent pests from entering your home and property. Hulett’s environmental approach to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) gives our customers an environmentally responsible result to pest management. We use only high–quality materials and non-invasive methods to create a pest boundary around your property.

Traditional one-size-fits-all treatments do not take steps to effect colonies of pests that may have formed multiple nests on or near your property. With our strategically placed odorless baits and gels, when pests come into contact with these products they transfer them to the other members of their colonies.

Hulett focuses on the exterior of your home, to prevent pest problems where they originate

While integrating green initiatives, our environmentally responsible pest control service places emphasis on the pest prone exterior areas around your house. Focusing on your exterior our skilled, entomologist trained, technicians can regularly inspect, monitor and exclude pests before they can enter your home.

Preventing household pests through green initiatives reduces health risks posed by pests

Keeping many types of household pests, including roaches, rodents and flies out of your home reduces the health risks these and other pests can cause. Additionally, termites, as most South Florida residents know, can cause extensive structural damage, requiring costly repairs and lowering your property value, if left untreated. In the event of a pest problem in your home, Hulett inspects and treats your pest situation, consisting of pinpoint placement of treatments and using the most conservative amounts of baits or gels. When a spray product is necessary, we use low odor doses, in minimal applications. Because every home is different, we devise a plan customized to your home that safeguards your family and pets while protecting the environment.

Environmentally responsible methods for pest prevention

Some of our environmentally responsible methods that promote pest prevention include making your home less attractive to pests. Many of these methods are precautions that proactive homeowners can take on a regular basis to support green pest prevention methods.

Make the outside of your home a fortress against pests

  • Seal or caulk cracks, crevices and holes in your foundation and around doors and windows to keep pests from entering your home through these small openings.
  • Get rid of clutter and debris, such as wood piles and leftover construction materials around your home to eliminate possible nesting and breeding areas.
  • Removing standing water and correcting water prone areas in your yard will reduce mosquito breeding environments.
  • Cleaning gutters regularly and making sure downspouts drain away from your home, eliminates other mosquito breeding areas.
  • Storing toys and gardening materials that can collect water in a dry storage area.
  • Replace or repair torn window and door screens to keep bugs out.
  • Install outside lighting away from doorways or use lighting that doesn’t attract bugs.
  • Trim tree and shrub branches away from your house to eliminate bridges into your home.
  • Keep mulch at least 6” away from your foundation to deter pests from trying to enter your home.
  • Keep grass trimmed and remove areas of tall vegetation to reduce hiding places and nesting habitats.
  • Sanitize outdoor trash receptacles and pads to keep pests away from your home.

Now for the inside of your home

  • The first and most important thing is sanitation.
  • Wipe down counters and sweep or vacuum floors in dining and food prep areas to cut down on pest food sources.
  • Discard leftover food scraps in tight-lid trash receptacles and clean or rinse dishes immediately after meals and snacks will also reduce pest food sources.
  • Store dry goods and dry pet foods in air-tight metal, glass or hard plastic containers.
  • Wipe up pantry spills off rodent food supplies and avoid other pantry pests.
  • Remove clutter and resist the urge to save cardboard boxes in your closets, attic or basement. Old cardboard provides hiding places for insects and nesting material for rodents.
  • Repair leaky faucets to cut down on water supplies that most pests need to survive.

Just call Hulett Environmental Services and ask about our environmentally responsible pest prevention services. At Hulett, our environmentally responsible, Healthy Home pest prevention program stands out as a healthy alternative to routine smelly sprays and/or outdated methods that other pest control companies may use to treat for pests.

Our environmentally responsible program goes green with your South Florida home’s, loved ones’ and pets’ best interests at heart. Let Hulett customize a plan that creates a pest barrier around your property, in a non-invasive way. Using pinpointed placements of odorless baits and gels, we guarantee our environmentally responsible program will work for your home, family and the environment!

Just call Hulett for your free inspection and evaluation!

Summer Pests in Florida

Summer Pests in FloridaIt’s summer, which means it’s time for those backyard cookouts and poolside parties. In South Florida, where the differences between summer and any other season can be subtle, you can tell it’s summer because school is out, family outings are on the rise and there is heightened pest activity.

Yes, while it’s true that a lot of summer insects don’t die off in Florida’s mild winters, insect activity increases during spring and summer, with pest mating and reproductive cycles in full swing. An estimated 12,500 species of insects live in the Sunshine State. Some are native but some are invasive species, accidentally transported here in shipping containers or by other means. At Hulett Environmental Services, we want you to get the most out of your summer.  Below is a guide to recognizing some of South Florida’s most noticeable and notorious seasonal pests.

Mosquitos

South Florida hosts many species of mosquitos, including the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. In the news currently, as a carrier of the Zika virus, yellow fever mosquitos, originally from Africa are also vectors of Chikungunya, Dengue and other diseases. Small to medium-sized mosquitos, adult yellow fever mosquitos have dark bodies, measuring 4 – 7 mm in length with banded or striped legs.

With mating activity happening in the early spring, around March or April, yellow fever mosquitos are day-biters and will bite indoors. Due to the introduction of Asian tiger mosquitos, to South Florida, by way of Texas in 1985, the yellow fever mosquito population in Florida has declined dramatically, “but still thrives in urban areas of South Florida,” according to the University of Florida’s Featured Creature site.

South Florida homeowners can reduce mosquitos in their backyards by eliminating standing water, such as unused gardening containers, kid’s toys and other water-collecting objects. Untreated swimming pools, drainage ditches and poor drainage areas make excellent breeding grounds for mosquitos.  Hulett’s Healthy Home approach addresses mosquito prone areas before the summer starts with our environmentally responsible people and pet friendly Integrated Pest Management system.

Termites

Due to South Florida’s warm climate, different types of termites swarm throughout the year. Flying ants are also commonly found swarming in Florida year-round. The differences between flying ants and termite alates are:

  • Flying ants and termites both have sets of wings but termite wings are twice as long as the termites’ bodies.
  • Ants have pinched waists, elbowed antennae and long legs, whereas termite alates sport straight antennae, broad waists and short legs.

Large swarms of winged termites could be drywood termites. Swarming outdoors can indicate a termite colony near your home; however, swarming indoors may indicate an infestation in your home. Discarded pairs of wings near windows can point to termite activity.

Tell-tale signs of a drywood termite infestation include piles of “frass,” distinctive, six-sided fecal pellets that resemble sawdust, in addition to paper thin, hollow sounding wood, warped or buckling wood and loose ceramic tiles.

Subterranean termite activity can become obvious if you spot earthen tunnels running from the ground up the walls of your home, nearby trees and utility poles. Subterranean termite activity should be addressed right away as these termites can damage structures in less than two months. All termite activity should be handled by a trusted professional pest control company. Hulett’s Healthy Home Termite Control programs can ward off these destructive invaders as well as other types of termites.

Ants

South Florida has 32 ant species, some, such as crazy ants, are active year-round, wreaking havoc on electrical circuitry and just being general nuisances with their erratic behavior. In the spring and summer in South Florida, ghost ants and fire ants show increased activity.

  • Ghost ants love sweets and will come into your home in the summer, in search of sugary foods. Tiny, measuring 1.3 to 1.5 mm in length, ghost ants’ coloring goes from dark brown heads and thoraxes to milky white abdomens and legs. When you see one or two ghost ants on your kitchen counter, slurping up popsicle drippings, know that soon the word will get around the colony, inundating your kitchen with tiny ghost ants!

More of a nuisance than a threat, ghost ant colonies on your property can be a constant battle for South Florida homeowners. Don’t spend your summer fighting ants. Hulett’s Integrated Pest Management approach uses baits and gels to eliminate colonies, not just the ants you can see.

  • Fire ants, with their signature mounds, can fortunately be easy to avoid. Reddish brown in color, fire ants can pack a powerful sting, when threatened. Generally keeping their distance from humans, fire ants can be problematic for homeowners with small children and pets, so hiring a professional pest control company, such as Hulett is recommended.

Wasps and Bees

While most bees and wasps are beneficial as pest control for crops and exponentially important to global food production as pollinators, they’re not the most welcome guests at outdoor events or poolside in the summer months. In South Florida, it’s always bee and wasp season, it’s just that people may encounter them more in the summer months. While most bees and wasps will only attack, if threatened, the guys you need to worry about in the greater Miami-Dade area, the Keys and the Everglades this summer include yellow jackets and Africanized honeybees.

  • Yellow jackets, ½ inch to 1 inch long, shiny, black and yellow striped wasps, swarm when disturbed and can sting multiple times, as many South Florida homeowners have discovered when running over their nests with lawn mowers or when watering planters where these aggressive pests can build their nests.
  • Africanized honeybees look just like European and native American honeybees. It’s their attitude that’s the problem. Some apiologists have theorized that all feral honeybee colonies in the US are now Africanized, as more animals and people have been stung by wild honeybees that previously peacefully co-existed alongside farmers and livestock. Africanized bee suspects should be handled by professionals, like Hulett, as these bee swarms will chase people and animals and sting with more force than other honeybees.

Ticks and fleas

With warmer, year-round temps, ticks and fleas are predicted to be more of a problem this summer. Already, veterinarians are reporting an increase in tick related diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.

  • Lone Star ticks, the most common ticks in South Florida, are vectors of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and can be identified by a white spot on the female’s back.
  • Black-legged ticks are the most common carriers of Lyme disease in South Florida.

Pet owners should check themselves and their pets for ticks, after walking in wooded areas or tall grass. Ticks can be hard to spot, as they are no larger than a ¼ inch. Female ticks, engorged with blood can measure about ½ inch.

Fleas, a nuisance to pets and pet owners, can be controlled by various over-the- counter and prescription medications, available at pet care locations throughout South Florida. Along with vacuuming pet bedding and carpeting regularly, Hulett can help prevent fleas and ticks, on your home’s interior and exterior with pet-friendly materials formulated with the same ingredients your vet recommends for your pets.

Proactive homeowners can get the most out of their backyards this summer! Hulett’s Healthy Home approach helps create a barrier around your property to safeguard your family, pets and guests from South Florida’s wide variety of household and yard pests. Get the most out of your summer! Just CALL HULETT!

10 Things Attracting Bugs to Your Home

10 Things Attracting Bugs to Your Home

It’s summer and in South Florida that means more bugs trying to get into your home. Water, food and shelter are what they’re after and a lot of homeowners unwittingly put out the welcome sign, attracting insects to their homes. Hulett Environmental Services wants you and your family to live in a bug-free environment this summer. In addition to contacting us to create a pest barrier around your home and property, here are 10 ways proactive South Florida homeowners can make their homes less attractive to bugs, by eliminating conditions that make your home vacation central for household pests.

  1. Cracks and crevices

While you probably can’t caulk all of the cracks and crevices in older homes, you can seal off the majority of them to exclude insects from entering your home.

  1. Doors and screens

Replacing door sweeps and repairing or replacing torn screens can deter mosquitoes, roaches, flies, spiders and other pests from entering your home.

  1. Standing water

Nothing says “Mosquito party,” like standing water. Your backyard can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Store kids’ toys and extra gardening supplies where they can’t collect water. Changing the water in birdbaths and pet bowls is a great idea to dissuade mosquitoes from breeding near your home. Clean gutters regularly and make sure downspouts drain away from your house.

  1. Wood piles and leftover construction materials

In South Florida, termites present many challenges. Don’t give them more reasons to invade your home. Remove all extra wooden construction materials from around your yard and any other collections of debris that may be attractive to bugs. Stack firewood at least 20 feet away from your home.

  1. Trees, shrubs and mulch

Trimming tree branches and shrubbery away from your home eliminates bridges insects can cross to invade your home. When spreading mulch, keep mulch at least 6” away from your home’s foundation.

  1. Food and dining

After meals and snacks, be sure to sweep or vacuum food prep and dining areas.  Clean dishes, tossing all leftover food on dinner plates in a tightly sealed container or in your compost pile. Eat fruit before it passes its peak. Seal all dry goods in air-tight metal, glass or hard plastic containers.

  1. Trash Cans

Sanitize your outdoor trash receptacles regularly and ensure lids fit tightly.

  1. Outdoor Lighting

Moths, mosquitoes and many other flying insects are attracted to lighting outside your home. While porch lights are necessary for navigating outside at night, installing motion detectors or positioning security lights, higher, away from your doorways can draw bugs from entering your home.

  1. Bird seed and pet food

Ants, roaches and other bugs like birdseed and pet food, as do other wild life. Keep pet food bowls inside or remove after feeding. Place bird feeders further away from your home.

  1. Cardboard boxes and clutter

Roaches, spiders and other crawling things like the privacy of cardboard boxes stored in your basement and attic. Eliminating all clutter from your home cuts down on insect hiding places.

The folks at Hulett Environmental Services wish you a healthy and happy summer. Enjoy those pool parties, beach days, picnics and backyard BBQs and remember, If you run into a pest situation, this summer, JUST CALL HULETT!

Protect Your Home: How to Keep Termites Out

How to Keep Termites Out of Your Home

Each year, over two million homes in the United States will be treated for a termite infestation. Termite damage in the United States costs homeowners more than $5 billion in property damage every year. South Florida homeowners are at higher risk than some other cooler parts of the US due to the hot and humid climate.  Some experts say that with this year’s generous rainfall amounts and warmer than usual temperatures, termites are expected to be in abundance and hungry, looking for your home’s wood to devour.

Termites can go unnoticed, causing extensive damage

The tricky thing about termites lies in the fact that, more often than not, termites are not visible in your home until you find damage. Drywood termites live in the wood they infest, hollowing out the cellulose. Subterranean termites, more aggressive than drywood or dampwood termites, with larger colonies, build earthen tunnels into your home, through ground to wood contact but they actually live in massive nests in the soil outside your home. Formosan subterranean termites are capable of building nests in homes and buildings, damaging your walls, attic, ceiling and roof. Drywood termites, not needing soil contact to survive, can live in your walls, attic, roof and ceiling. Conehead termites, a new species to South Florida, live in live trees or shrubbery near your home, entering your home through earthen tubes.

Invasive subterranean termites do more significant damage in a short period of time

University of Florida researchers are currently on the lookout for a super breed hybrid species to emerge as, due to warmer temperatures, invasive Asian and Formosan subterranean termites are swarming at the same time, for the first time in South Florida. While cases of hybridization are rare, a super breed termite could grow twice as fast as their parents, with the potential for extensive damage to occur faster. Currently, Formosan termites can cause significant damage to a home in a couple of months, whereas native subterranean and drywood termites, with smaller colonies can take several years to cause significant damage.

Structural damage can threaten the stability of your home

Termite infestations, if left untreated can cause extensive damage. Roofs, ceilings, floors and walls can collapse if termites weaken your structural supports, including posts and beams, wall studs and floor or ceiling joists. Damage to hardwood floors can be a complicated repair job, as termites can damage your subflooring and floor supports. Damage to subflooring can cause laminate floors to blister and sag. Removing sections of laminate may be necessary to assess the damage to the subfloor and support joists, as well. Termite damage can also affect tile flooring, when moisture seeping into the subfloor allows termites to move among the tiles, causing tile adhesives to weaken. Buckled tile flooring, caused once again by termite damage to subflooring, can loosen even ceramic and porcelain tiles.

Termites can also cause damage to parts of your home you may not associate with termite activity

Termites eat anything containing cellulose, including sheetrock paper. Because ceilings are composed of sheetrock and wood, termites in your walls can gain access to your ceilings, especially drywood and Formosan termites. Usually, if you find termite damage in your ceiling, such as cracks and shifting boards, your wall supports have also been compromised by termites making their way to your ceilings.  Termites in your attic can cause damage to your roof supports, eaves and fascia, causing moisture to leak into your home.

Although we don’t think about termite damage in bathrooms, high humidity levels and the potential for leaky pipes and drains create an ideal environment for termites to thrive. Termite infestations going on behind ceramic tile walls and porcelain fixtures can be invisible, until the sink supports give way to termite damage or tiles fall off of walls or your bathtub’s support structure is damaged. Repairing bathtub supports can be challenging and expensive due to the complication of accessing infestations near plumbing and fixtures.

Be a proactive, responsible homeowner

In South Florida, where termites abound, proactive homeowners get a jump on protecting their homes and loved ones, by contacting a trusted pest control professional, such as Hulett Environmental Services to deal with any current infestations and to take advantage of our Annual Termite Protection that creates a barrier around your home to guard against termites and other pests. Hulett also offers a Million Dollar Subterranean Termite Damage Warranty that covers repairs up to a million dollars, should termites return.

Utilizing environmentally responsible materials and methods, we treat any signs of termite activity with a non-repellent liquid, Termidor, sprayed directly into termite galleries that termite workers spread to their entire colonies, through contact, destroying the colony.  Environmentally sensible bait stations can also be installed on your property to control subterranean termite activity. Recognizing the signs of termite activity can also help to detect termite activity before damage is done.

Signs of a termite infestation

  • Discarded wings near windows indicate termites swarming indoors in search of mates. After young reproductives swarm as part of a mating ritual, new kings and queens look for a cozy place to set up shop and raise their young. Swarming indoors can indicate an existing colony.
  • Piles of “frass,” the distinctive pellet-shaped excrement pushed out of nests by drywood termites.
  • Mud tubes running from the ground to your foundation.
  • Noticeable buckling and squeaking in flooring or flooring that looks water damaged can point to termite activity.
  • Wood that sounds hollow when tapped or that is easily punctured with the point of a tool.
  • Sagging ceilings and walls that look water damaged.

Contact Hulett today to schedule a free termite inspection. Select from many convenient time slots that work for your busy schedule to start receiving the termite protection every South Florida homeowner needs. Just call Hulett!

Termites 101: A South Florida Homeowners Guide

A South Florida Homeowners Guide
South Florida is an attractive place to call home. It’s no wonder termites also love Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and other South Florida neighborhoods. In fact, termites are predicted to damage over 50% of South Florida structures by 2040, according to University of Florida researchers in a 2015 report.

What kinds of termites are we talking about here?

The four major types of termites that could infest your South Florida home are:

  • Asian subterranean termites are currently confined to South Florida.
  • Native Eastern subterranean termites can be found in most of the US.
  • Formosan termites are found in Florida, other southern states and Hawaii.
  • Sharing some subterranean behaviors, newcomer invasive species, conehead termites are confined to one county in South Florida, so far.
  • Drywood termites are usually found in coastal, southern states and the Southwestern states.

Each of these termites presents unique challenges to homeowners, who are advised to contact a professional pest control company, such as Hulett at the first sign of termite activity. Regularly scheduled year-round protection is the best way to prevent termites in South Florida but educated homeowners can also help spot termite activity before extensive damage is done.

Subterranean termites can cause more extensive structural damage than other termites

Because subterranean termites live in the soil, entering homes from mud tubes, near your foundation, they may go unnoticed for quite some time, causing widespread damage that isn’t covered by your homeowner’s insurance.

  • Eastern subterranean termites, the most widely distributed termite in the US, consist of soldiers, with orange, rectangular, armored heads and jaw-like mandibles, measure about the same size as workers, at .25” long. Alates or reproductives, with dark brown bodies, measure about .375” long, including their dark-veined wings.
  • Imported from China, Formosan cream-colored termite workers and wingless soldiers with elongated brown heads, mandibles and brownish-yellow undersides are slightly smaller than light-colored alates and range from brown to black, measuring .5” to .6” long, including wings.
  • Asians, a tropical species, look very similar to Formosan termites but Asian alates range from caramel to brownish yellow and they keep their wings longer than most other termites after swarming. Subterranean termites swarm after a rain shower in the morning or evening, usually in the spring, but can swarm any time of the year.

Formosan and Asian termites are much more aggressive than native subterranean termites

Due to their larger populations, with multiple queens and networks of nests, Formosan and Asian termites are more aggressive and forage further than other Florida termites, in search of food for their expansive colonies. Formosan termite populations can number in the millions and Formosans infest structural timbers, live trees and utility poles and will eat through electrical wiring. Voracious eaters, Asian termites will eat through rubber and plastic to get to available wood.

Attracted to wood directly contacting soil, subterranean termites build foraging tunnels or tubes from your home to their underground nests. Earthen tubes running up walls and trees are clear indications of subterranean termite activities. These invasive subterranean termites can infest and destroy a structure in a matter of a few months. Wings of swarmers indoors can point to a subterranean termite infestation.

Conehead termites are currently contained to Dania Beach in South Florida

Not a traditional subterranean termite, coneheads are small termites, with workers and soldiers, measuring about .125” long. Conehead alates, larger than most Florida termites, sport wings as long as .5” long. Soldiers with black, pear-shaped, pointy-heads excrete a sticky substance that protects these termites from predators. Conehead alates swarm at twilight in spring after rain.

The tricky thing about coneheads revolves around their habit of disappearing into wood to raise their young, leading people to assume that infestations have been eradicated, when a new population is growing inside nearby wood. Coneheads will eat any kind of wood, including living trees, shrubs and bushes and go on to infest your home, as well. With huge appetites, these tiny termites can cause extensive damage and task forces are vigilantly trying to keep coneheads from establishing more colonies in the US.

Conehead termites build large, hard, round nests

Once conehead populations grow to their tipping points, they build large, round hard nests in trees, shrubs, and structures or on the ground. Building long, trailing tunnels up the sides of trees and foraging around on the ground, mature conehead colony termite activity is more visible than most other types of Florida termites.

Drywood termites with smaller populations do not need soil contact to survive

Drywood termite soldiers measure from .13” to .20” long, with white antennae, black heads with reddish hues, they have brownish yellow bodies and pale yellow legs. It may be difficult to identify Cryptotermes brevis by its soldiers, who make up only 1 to 2% of a colony. Swarming alates are more visible, measuring .33” to .38” long, including two pairs of clear, membranous wings, with dark veins and long antennae. Wings found on windowsills and around light fixtures indoors can indicate drywood termite activity.

Drywood termites infest wood in older homes and furniture

Because drywood termites are drawn to spring wood, infesting the center sections of wood timbers, flooring, wooden frames, windowsills fascia, furniture and attics, you can’t see them. Carving out the center spring wood, drywood termites leave piles of distinctive, six-sided, fecal pellets resembling sawdust or coffee grounds that are tell-tale signs of infestations.

Infested wood surfaces look blistered or warped, sound hollow when tapped and may puncture easily with a screwdriver or other tool. Although drywood termite damage is centralized to one area, multiple nests may be found in that area.

Dealing with a termite infestation requires a trusted professional pest control company

Hulett, a leader in the termite eradication business for over 45 years, uses a combination of liquid materials and bait systems, as part of our Healthy Home pest management program to solve the termite issue in your home.

A leader in the South Florida pest control industry, we are charter members of Dow Agro Sciences “Commitment to Excellence” Program for tent fumigation procedures to solve drywood termite infestations. As an alternative to tent fumigation, Hulett also offers no-tent drywood termite treatment. Our million-dollar guarantee shows just how dedicated we are to eradicating termites from your home and property.

Hulett advises homeowners to protect their most valuable investment, their home, with our affordable and convenient Annual Termite Protection plan that creates a powerful and secure barrier between you, your loved ones and any of the many termites that may want to infest your South Florida home. Locally owned and operated, our termite trained and certified technicians lead the way in solving your home’s termite issues. Just call Hulett! It’s time to schedule your free termite inspection.

To Tent or Not To Tent?

To Tent or Not To Tent
In South Florida, with moderate temps, high humidity and tropical conditions, termites present a major concern for homeowners. It has been said that, “There are two types of homes in South Florida; those that have termites and those that will have termites.” At least three types of termites cause significant damage to structures in Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe, Collier and Palm Beach Counties, including drywood, subterranean and conehead termites.

Drywood termite colonies are smaller than subterranean termites

Subterranean and conehead termites are an invasive species that need ground contact to survive. These termites enter your home through ground to wood contact, foraging great distances for food to take back to their nests. Subterranean termites form large colonies with millions of workers who can cause widespread damage supporting their growing populations. Drywood colonies are smaller with infestations usually confined in one location but can consist of multiple nests.

Infesting sound, non-decaying wood in older homes, drywood termites have adapted to drier, indoor conditions

Adaptable, drywood termites, on the other hand, not needing soil contact to survive, and relatively little water, due to a harder outer cuticle live in the wood they infest. Typically infesting sound, non-decayed wood in more seasoned homes, drywood termites will infest hardwood flooring, wood frames, window sills, doors and furniture, in addition to fascia boards and attics.

Pairs of discarded wings found inside your home can indicate a drywood termite infestation

Likely, drywood termites will enter your home during swarming season, when young reproductives fly in search of mates and a place to start their own colonies. This mating activity occurs in the summer months, after showers, generally. After drywood alates or reproductives mate, the new couple shed their wings and find a new home in cracks in your home’s wood. One indication of a drywood termite infestation can be evident in pairs of wings found on window sills and in light fixtures.

Drywood termite “frass” indicates drywood termite activity

Termite infestations can go unnoticed for an extended period of time because drywood termites live inside your home’s wood, out of sight and can remain dormant for a year or more. While not always the case, drywood termites are often found in wood near ground level. In addition to finding discarded pairs of wings on window sills, pellet shaped excrement called “frass,” can be an even more telling sign of drywood termite activity. From light brown to almost black in color, these distinctly shaped pellets are formed by drywood termites’ ability to extract water they need to survive from their excrement. Usually found in piles, these six-sided fecal pellets resemble mounds of sawdust or coffee grounds.

Hollow sounding wood and paper thin wood surfaces point to drywood termite infestations

As drywood termites ingest the interior spring wood inside your boards and timbers, the surface of the wood appears blistered or warped as the structural foundation beneath the surface has been carved out for termite galleries. Termite infested wood may sound hollow when tapped and can be easily punctured by a pointed tool. Sometimes, a honey comb pattern on wood surfaces is evidence of termites burrowing into wood. Because multiple nests can exist in one structure, when one nest is found, all areas must be checked for additional nests.

Hulett offers two termite treatment options

Hulett Environmental Services wants you to be aware that when it comes to termite treatment options, you have two options – fumigation where your home is tented as well as no-tent fumigation. We offer both forms of treatment here at Hulett.

It is important to note that not all homes qualify for no-tent fumigation. However, we will happily come out to your home and conduct a FREE termite inspection. After the inspection, we will advise you if your home is a good match for our no-tent solution.

If your property does not qualify for the no-tent solution, have no fear, Hulett also offers fumigation. The fumigation process requires experience and knowledge and Hulett is your best local option. Locally owned and operated, we know South Florida and we know termites. Hulett has been a trusted source for all of your fumigation needs, whether tent or no-tent, for over 45 years. Education and training of our technicians is a priority and so is keeping your home happy and healthy.

No-tent termite solutions target termite colonies:

  • Hulett technicians perform injections of an advanced repellent product directly into termite galleries.
  • Immature nymph workers spread these specialized materials throughout the entire termite colony.
  • When the repellent materials infiltrate the entire colony, the queen dies and the colony collapses.

Monitoring for additional colony activity may be the only other inconvenience you’ll need to endure with Hulett’s innovative, alternative no-tent termite treatment. With over 45 years as a leader in the local professional pest control business, Hulett has tented thousands of homes and businesses in South Florida. However, with technological advances in pest control materials and methods, we can offer you other, simpler environmentally responsible ways to solve drywood termite issues. With our no-tent termite treatment, you won’t need to worry about:

  • Moving out of your home for several days, making arrangements for accommodations for your family and pets and upsetting routines.
  • Relocating your furniture, houseplants and other large objects away from fumigation areas.
  • Removing (or film wrapping) all uncanned food items from your home.
  • Removing all cosmetics and medications from your home.
  • Whether or not your roof will be damaged or your landscaping compromised.
  • Special shrub and tree trimming activities.
  • Disconnecting satellite dishes and antennae.

Hulett’s no-tent treatments work in certain homes. However, depending on the infestation found in your home during our FREE termite inspection, it may be determined that your home does not qualify for the no-tent approach. We will recommend the best approach for your property, whether to tent or not to tent. If tenting is found to be the recommended course of action, Hulett has 45 years of experience with tenting homes and we are committed to excellence in South Florida’s homes.

Just call Hulett! We will be happy to schedule a FREE termite inspection to help keep your home happy and healthy for your family.

 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