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World’s Largest Bee was Found Alive After Going Missing for Almost 40 Years

World’s Largest Bee was Found Alive After Going Missing for Almost 40 Years  Imagine a bee as long as your thumb, four times larger than a honeybee with massive mandibles, like that of a giant stag beetle. That’s a big bee but the likelihood of you encountering this largest of bees is slim because it was discovered living on an Indonesian island of the North Moluccas.

First discovered in 1858

Known as Wallace’s giant bee, the British explorer and naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, who according to the NY Times, “like Charles Darwin, worked to formulate the theory of evolution through natural selection.” Wallace discovered the bee on the Indonesian island of Bacan in 1858, remarking only that the female resembled a “large, black wasp-like insect, with immense jaws like a stag beetle. Although Wallace didn’t seem that interested in the giant bee, devoting only one line in his journal to it, entomologists developed an obsession for his giant bee.

Feared extinct

Until now, the bee was feared to be extinct, as the last time one was reported was some 37 years ago. In 1981, American entomologist, Adam Messer sighted the bee on three Indonesian islands, observing how the bee wielded its giant mandibles to gather tree resin and wood for its termite-proof nests. Messer brought back a handful of specimens that are now housed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the London Museum of Natural Science and other institutions.

Giant bee not an easy find

This past January, the Wallace giant bee made news when a team of American and Australian conservationists actually rediscovered one female in a termite’s nest, in a tree six and a half feet off the ground. The Megachile pluto specimen, a resin bee that somehow prefers to build its nest in an existing termite nest, sports a wingspan of 2.5 inches. While you might naturally assume that the world’s largest bee might be easy to spot – not so much. Wallace’s giant bees tend to be somewhat elusive and reclusive, preferring to hide in resin nests inside tree-dwelling termites’ nests, up in trees, as opposed to buzzing around the rainforest all of the time. The Wallace giant bee, a solitary bee, cares for her own young so a good portion of her time might consist of child-rearing.

The expedition spent five days searching termite nests

According to Clay Holt, the team’s photographer, who captured the very first images in history of a living Wallace giant bee, “I personally know of at least five attempts to find the bee,” Bolt said. University of Sydney biologist, Dr. Simon Robson, added, “It was a lot of walking around the forest in 90-degree heat and the highest possible humidity looking at termite nests and chasing after bees,” said Dr. Robson. On the Australian radio show, 3AW Breakfast with Ross and John, Dr. Robson told the early talk show hosts that the team listened for the sound of the giant bee’s wings and looked for the right size holes in tree termite nests the bee dug as an entrance to the nest. In fact, that’s how the team found this Wallace giant bee.

Not an aggressive bee

Asked if the Wallace giant bee could sting, Dr. Robson said these bees are capable of stinging, “We were all keen to get stung to see how bad it was,” he said, “but because we only found the one, we treated it very carefully.” Robson added that the bee seemed like a very nice bee, “It’s just ridiculously large and so exciting,” said Robson.

Expedition raises hope

Although the expedition’s find lays to rest the fears that the Wallace giant bee is extinct, conservationists are concerned about the bee giant’s survival, due to deforestation in the bee’s natural habitat. According to Global Forest Watch, the islands in Indonesia where these giant bees have been found suffered a 7% tree cover loss between 2001 and 2017.

Team fears collectors threaten the bee’s survival

Additionally, the expedition is concerned that this new sighting of the giant bee will catch the attention of collectors. A rare find like this would mean a lot to some collectors willing to pay the price to secure a specimen. As recently as last year, a previously unaccounted for specimen was sold on eBay by an anonymous seller for $9,100. “If you can get that much money for an insect, that encourages people to go and find them,” said Dr. Robson. In order to dissuade people to go out and try to find the giant bee, the research team agreed not to reveal the exact location of their rediscovery. Currently, no laws exist to regulate the trade of these bees to collectors.

Conservation awareness

According to conservation biologist, Robin Moore with Global Wildlife Conservation, and The Search for Lost Species program head, “We know that putting the news out about this rediscovery could seem like a big risk given the demand, but the reality is that unscrupulous collectors already know that the bee is out there.” Emphasizing the importance of conservationists to make the Indonesian government aware of the rarity of this find, as well as encourage them to take steps to protect the bee and its habitat, Moore said, “By making the bee a world-famous flagship for conservation we are confident that the species has a brighter future than if we just let it quietly be collected into oblivion.” The expedition team also plans to return to the island to conduct further research but, “that will involve making links with local scientists in the area and getting permission to go and work with them,” said Dr. Robson.

Sponsored by Global Wildlife Conservation

The Wallace’s giant bee expedition was funded in part by a non-profit Texas Global Wildlife Conservation, that began a global search in 2017 for 25 “lost” species. Animals on this list include species that may or may not be extinct but haven’t been sighted in at least ten years. This list includes the Pink-Headed Duck, the Fernandina Galápagos Tortoise, and the Namdapha Flying Squirrel, along with Wallace’s giant bee.

While you can rest assured that your South Florida home won’t be invaded by Wallace’s giant bee, Hulett is there for you whenever pests threaten your home or loved ones. Our Healthy Home programs go one step further to create a pest barrier around your home, that’s guaranteed to work and comes with a money back guarantee.

Go with a giant in local pest control, Just call Hulett.

Termite Awareness: How Much Do You Know About Termites?

Termite Awareness: How Much Do You Know About Termites?

This month includes Termite Awareness Week so it’s that time of year for South Florida homeowners to brush up on their knowledge of termites. According to the University of Florida’s (UF) Institute of Agricultural Sciences Department, six invasive species of termites in the South Florida area, along with Florida’s native population of subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites, are on a trajectory to infest about half of the structures in Florida by 2040. These six invasive species include the formidable Formosan and Asian subterranean termites that build much larger colonies than native termites and are responsible for most of the five-billion-dollar termite damage toll worldwide. The kicker is that most homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover termite damage.

Termites can do a lot of damage before you know you have a problem

Because termites enter your home from wood to ground contact, you may not be aware that these destructive pests have invaded your home and may be causing structural damage as well as cosmetic damage to your most valuable asset. Drywood termites live in the wood inside your home and do not need an external water source to survive as their bodies have adapted to only need the water in the wood they eat to live healthy hungry lives inside walls, attics, window soffits, and furniture.

Subterranean termites live in the soil outside your home

Subterranean termites, however, live in the ground in your yard. Building mud tubes from their network of nests, subterranean termites tunnel into your home and transport the wood in your home to the hungry termite population in their nests. While native subterranean termite colonies can number in the thousands, Formosan and Asian termites have many more mouths to feed, their termite colonies can do more extensive damage in less time than our native subterranean termites or drywood termites.

Asian and Formosan subterranean termites will eat anything that smacks of wood

Most native termites do not eat live wood but invasive Asian subterranean termites will infest trees and slowly starve them from the inside out by cutting through their vascular systems. In the last few hurricanes to hit Florida, several live oaks toppled due to the work of Asian subterranean termites. Researchers found that Asian termites will also infest slash pines, one of South Florida’s native species. These invasive subterranean termites also show an affinity for utility poles and boats and will even eat through plastic to get to the wood underneath.

What do termites look like?

  • Drywood termites: Ranging in size from ¼ to ⅜ inches long, adult worker termites vary in color from almost white to a cream color. Drywood termite soldiers, slightly longer than the workers appear darker ranging from cream to brown and sport strong mandibles in addition to a distinctive tarsal claw. The reproductive alates appear brown to black with two sets of equal length wings. Alates swarm as part of the mating ritual from February through March, usually after a rainstorm in the morning or at dusk.
  • Native subterranean termites: Ranging from ¼ to ⅜ inches long, workers appear white to creamy in color. Soldiers resemble workers in size and color but have pronounced brownish heads and strong mandibles. Primary alates vary in color from coal black to pale yellow-brown. Secondary and tertiary reproductive termites appear white to cream colored. Swarming occurs during spring and early summer.
  • Formosan subterranean termites: At about ⅛ an inch long, workers appear cream colored and soldiers with elongated brown heads have pronounced mandibles. The primary alates range from brown to black with wings. Swarming takes place usually from April to July at dusk on calm, humid evenings.
  • Asian subterranean termites: Very similar to Formosan subterranean termites, with teardrop shaped elongated heads, Asian alates are slightly smaller than Formosans, with a dark brown head, prothorax, and top of abdomen. Alates swarm from February to April.

Signs of termite activity

  • Walls and floors that seem to sound hollow when tapped.
  • Buckling floors and walls that may appear water damaged.
  • Evidence of piles of frass, or drywood termite excrement, in six-sided barrel shapes.
  • Loose bathroom fixtures and mirrors due to termites eating drywall paper.
  • Loose kitchen tiles due to termites attacking subflooring.
  • Mud tubes running from the ground up your home’s exterior walls.
  • Hollow sounding utility poles with evidence of mud tubes.
  • Wings deposited on windowsills.
  • Swarming inside your home.

South Florida homeowners can take precautions to discourage termite activity

  • Keep mulch 6-8 inches off of your foundation.
  • Stack firewood 20 feet away from your house.
  • Correct any wood to ground contact areas.
  • Eliminate any water leakage issues.
  • Clean gutters regularly.
  • Seal any cracks and crevices in your foundation.

Get proactive, contact a professional

In South Florida, where termites seem to be inevitable, homeowners are fortunate to have many resources at their fingertips to prevent, control, and eliminate termites. Get ahead of the game and contact a trusted professional pest control company. At Hulett, we offer free termite inspections and a variety of termite control programs. Protecting your biggest investment should be your top priority and our entomologist trained, certified and licensed technicians make protecting your home our priority.

Hulett’s locally owned and operated company spans three generations as a leading pest control company in the South Florida area. We guarantee you’ll be satisfied with one of Hulett’s Healthy Home Termite Treatment options and will find a solution that solves your termite problem.

Because preventing a termite infestation is a lot easier than dealing with one, Just Call Hulett!

New Study Concludes Worst US City for Termites is Miami

New Study Concludes Worst US City for Termites is Miami Known as the Magic City, Miami reigns as one of the most glamorous metropolitan areas in the country, with her tropical year-round climate, her famous beaches, her saucy culture mix, and her legendary waterfront. Miami’s luxurious backdrop of skyscrapers and tropical waters has been featured in many films and TV shows over the years. So, you probably wouldn’t expect Miami to show up at the top of the world’s worst cities for termites but that seems to be what’s happening. In Paul Scicchitano’s Patch Media article, he revealed that a recent study ranked Miami as the worst city for termites in the US. The second spot going to another crowd favorite, Los Angeles, the study placed Tampa third, followed by New York and New Orleans.

Miami and Tampa in good company

Sharing the spotlight with two of the Sunshine State’s most popular cities, West Palm Beach took the eighth spot, while Orlando finished twelfth. Showing up a little later in the study, Ft. Myers placed 21st and Jacksonville brought up the rear in the 38th position. In horse racing, Florida would be showing out just fine, but in the race against termites, the odds are stacked against this South Florida paradise.

Location

Several factors make Miami and the rest of South Florida ideal places to live and to visit. The year-round warm and humid climate attracts folks from the north who just need a break from frigid temps and the doldrums of winter. This warm and moist environment agrees with at least six invasive termite species that include aggressive subterranean Asian and Formosan termites.

Formosan and Asian termites most destructive

Turns out the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Palm Beach area marks the only place in the continental US where Formosan and Asian species coexist. Formosan subterranean termites have been found as far north as Charleston, SC but Asian termites don’t venture further north than Palm Beach County. However, University of Florida (UF) researchers speculate that rising global temps may make it possible for these menaces to infest areas farther north in the near future. Also, researchers’ fear that longer, warmer weather seasons would cause the mating seasons of Formosan and Asian subterranean termites to overlap has become a reality and the UF team is waiting and watching to see if a hybrid super-breed termite will result.

Responsible for most of the destruction worldwide

Formosan and Asian subterranean termites consist of massive colonies, unlike native subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. Responsible for most of the destruction worldwide, Formosan and Asian termites can fly further than native termites and need to feed millions of termites in their supercolonies. Asian and Formosans will eat anything wooden, including utility poles, live trees, and boats. These voracious eaters will eat through wiring and plastic to get to a cellulose source.

Study called termites “silent destroyers”

The study went further to say that termites are often known as “silent destroyers” because they infest your home from the ground up, where you’re not likely to notice. Termites infest homes from wood to ground contact, generally. Sometimes drywood termites can be transported from one location to another in infested furniture. At any rate, most termite activity can go on for a while before homeowners realize they are under attack. In the past, native termites may take a while to damage your home but more aggressive Formosan and Asian termites can destroy a home in less than half the time, in some cases causing structures to collapse. The problem is that you may not see anything going on in your home because termites work from the inside of your wood out, working round the clock, transporting cellulose to their nests.

Signs of termite activity

  • Hollow sounding walls, floors, doorways, support beams, eaves, siding, and house trim when tapped can indicate termite activity.
  • Buckling floors, blistering paint, and surfaces that appear to be water damaged can be the result of termite activity.
  • Barrel-shaped excrement, known as “frass” can provide a clue about the presence of drywood termites. Drywood termites process their food, extracting the water they need to survive from it.
  • Mud tubes running from somewhere in your yard to your foundation and up walls can indicate subterranean termite activity, as subterranean termites live in the ground outside your house.
  • Trees and utility poles that have mud tubes running up their bases.
  • Termite wings deposited near window sills.
  • Termites flying around inside your home.

Ongoing Termite Prevention

For South Florida residents, termites are a fact of life. With increasing activity and data that suggests that by 2040, half of the structures in Florida will be infested on the current trajectory, protecting your home from termites should be a priority. Many resources are available to South Florida residents in the fight against termites. At Hulett, our Healthy Home Programs offer tried and true solutions to creating a termite barrier around your home, starting with a free termite inspection. Because it’s easier to prevent pests than it is to eliminate an infestation, Hulett’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to pest control offers Annual Termite Renewal Programs that tackle all of your termite potential problem areas. Our Total Termite Protection program comes with a million dollar guarantee that says you will be satisfied with our services or we will pay any damage up to 1 million dollars.

Hulett protects with the best of techniques and services

As the weather warms, you will appreciate the peace of mind our licensed and certified technicians will bring to your home and loved ones. Family owned and operated, for over 51 years, Hulett is ranked as one of the 20 best pest control companies in the US. Termites are on the rise in South Florida. Protect your most valuable asset from these destructive pests, Just call Hulett!

Cockroaches: What You Need to Know but Didn’t Want to Ask

Interesting Facts about Cockroaches

In a world where cockroaches live in the wild, you might say, “Wow they’re interesting creatures,” however, when a cockroach, a known carrier of diseases, runs across your floor or kitchen cabinet, you’re probably thinking, “not so interesting.” While most South Florida residents cringe at the sight of cockroaches and want nothing but to see less of them in their homes, preferably none of them, from a scientific point of view, cockroaches are quite amazing creatures. Here are several reasons why:

  • Most species don’t try to destroy your peace of mind by hanging out in your home

    Of the 4,600 types of roaches that inhabit the third planet from the sun, only about 30 have gone to the dark side and only about four species are most apt to infest South Florida homes. The two most common cockroaches in the US are the small German cockroach, Blattella germanica and the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana.

    In the wild, cockroaches live in forest burrows, caves, and brush and dispose of organic waste. It’s only when they decide to come into your home that the trouble begins. Running around scavenging through trash and waste, they spread diseases when they also run through your food.

  • Cockroaches have been around for over 350 million years

    Thought to have originated during the Carboniferous era, modern cockroaches were dashing around forest floors, disposing of dead plants at the same time the dinosaurs roamed the earth, 200 million years ago. Their ancestors showed up even earlier, some 350 million years ago. Highly adaptable, cockroaches have survived the many geological and atmospheric changes that left other species in the dust or ice, if you will.

  • Cockroaches can stay underwater for forty minutes

    One of the reasons cockroaches have been around so long is that they can do the roach-paddle for as long as they need to and can hold their breath for close to an hour underwater. Cockroaches breathe through small tubes in their sides, spiracles, that carry water vapor and regulate water loss. So, trying to drown them is a no-go, unless maybe you use really hot water. Some DIY accounts suggest that soapy water will kill cockroaches, as well. Perhaps they just can’t handle cleanliness.

  • Faster than a speeding cockroach

    Cockroaches are pretty quick to run for cover when you flip on that kitchen light, but did you know these pests can run 3 miles per hour? In terms of their length to speed ratio, that would convert to 220 mph human length. Those six legs don’t hurt their speed either, but cockroaches can sense changes in air pressure and prepare for threats, like you and that light they really don’t like.

  • Losing their heads, really not a problem in the short term

    As horrific as it sounds, cockroaches can live without their heads for a month. As it turns out, cockroaches breathe from their sides and their other functions aren’t dependent on their heads being intact. Since cockroaches can live for a month without food, headless cockroaches can survive until they need water or food. Then, they usually succumb to dehydration or starvation.

  • Food can be almost anything to a cockroach

    Speaking of food, cockroaches will eat almost anything. Picky eaters would have been extinct by now. Scavengers by nature, cockroaches are inclined to eat sweets and sugary foods but will eat almost anything including glue, soap, grease, wallpaper paste, book bindings, leather, and hair. They also scurry around in trash bins, sewer pipes, and feast on rodent excrement and then spread germs and bacteria on the food in your cabinets and kitchen, causing Salmonella and other pathogens that they can keep in their digestive tracts for up to a month.

  • If you think you can’t fight them, well, you can

    Originating in China, cockroach fighting was introduced in the US in the 1880’s. Reported in an 1886 New York Times article, a group of Chinese sports and gambling enthusiasts toured major US cities, staging cockroach fights that brought in thousands of betting dollars. On the lighter side, Entomology students at Loyola University in Maryland hold Madagascar hissing cockroach sprinting and endurance tests. Cockroach racing in Brisbane, Australia has evolved into a community charity event that has been going on for over thirty years.

  • Cockroach colonies are governed by group decisions

    In Dr. José Halloy’s 2006 study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he reported that “Cockroaches use chemical and tactile communication with each other.” Halloy, who co-authored the research, said cockroaches can also use vision. “When they encounter each other they recognize if they belong to the same colony thanks to their antennae” that act as highly sophisticated olfactory organs. Testing his group behavioral theory, Dr. Halloy placed 40 cockroaches in a dish containing three shelters. After much consulting with each other through antennae mail, the subjects divided themselves into two equal groups and left the third shelter unoccupied.

  • Cockroaches don’t survive well outside of their colonies

    Cockroaches prefer to live in multi-generational nests, ranging in size from just a few members to a few dozen or so. Research shows that cockroaches who don’t interact with others in their colonies often, show signs of illness and an inability to mate.

At Hulett, while we appreciate these amazing facts about cockroaches, we realize the stress and inconvenience these pests can cause homeowners. Our Healthy Home programs guarantee to get your South Florida home back on track and your peace of mind intact. Contact Hulett for a free pest inspection and watch cockroaches do a real disappearing act!

Just call Hulett!

Most Common Rodents in South Florida

Most Common Rodents in South Florida

It’s no secret that rodents have cohabitated with humans since they made their way to Europe via cargo ships from Asia. Today, Old World rodents, such as Norway rats, roof rats, and house mice have made their homes in many cities in the US, as well as spreading out to any place humans dwell. Why do more rodents seem to be entering homes than before? More building means more people moving into more spaces. Humans bring rubbish and trash that rodents find easier to eat than hunting down their own food. Additionally, land development encroaching on animal habitats can deplete natural food sources, as well as crowd rodent habitats. Moving into your home just seems a lot more advantageous than wintering in the wild.

South Florida perfect place to attract rodents

South Florida’s famous coastline is ideal as a port of entry for rodents wanting to live in South Florida. And who doesn’t? South Florida’s mild temperatures attract all manner of household pests and uninvited visitors. However, rats and mice can’t be content with just enjoying the sunshine in South Florida; when the temps do drop slightly in the fall and winter months, rodents want to go inside where it’s warm and spend the winter not worrying about predators. Rodents adapt readily to almost any environment and those environments with plenty of food, water, and shelter rank high on the list of winter rodent retreats.

How do rodents get in your home?

Well, they’re tricky and able to squeeze their bodies through spaces no bigger than a dime for house mice and a quarter for rats. Rodents climb, which means they can enter homes through attic vents and other cracks and crevices in your home’s foundation. Rodents can chew their way through many different materials including concrete and metal. Because their teeth grow 4½ to 5½ inches annually, rodents need to chew constantly to keep their choppers in check.

Rats have also been known to enter homes by swimming up toilets. Rats can swim up to three days; they can out swim your Labrador retriever and some ducks.

Norway rats

Also known as brown rats, sewer rats, and ship rats, Norway rats inhabit every continent except Antarctica. In South Florida, these ubiquitous pests mostly inhabit coastal and canal areas, thriving in marinas and recreation areas where trash may not be contained properly. Reddish-brown to gray in color with blunt muzzles, Norway rats appear heavy-set and weigh about ¾ to a pound, as adults. With distinctively long tails, just slightly shorter than their combined head and body lengths, Norway rats can measure 15-18 inches in length. Norway rats also burrow, digging under buildings or concrete slabs for food. Burrowing can cause significant damage by:

  • Undermining building foundations
  • Blocking sewer lines
  • Eroding levee banks
  • Disfiguring landscape plantings

In the one-year lifespan of female Norway rats, they reach sexual maturity in 3-5 months, bearing 8-12 offspring per litter and expect to bear up to 7 litters per year. That’s a lot of rats.

Roof rats

Thriving in attics, roof spaces, palm trees, and ornamental shrubbery, roof rats prefer to nest off the ground and climb wires, trees and limbs to get to higher ground. In South Florida attics, roof rats are suspected to cause many house fires by gnawing through electrical wires. Ranging in color from black to grizzled gray to tan with a lighter belly, roof rats are smaller than Norway rats, weighing in at ½ to one pound. Slender, with large, floppy ears, and a pointed muzzle, a roof rat’s tails is longer than their head and body combined, with a total length of 13-18 inches. Like Norway rats, roof rats mature sexually in 3-5 months, with females producing 6-8 young per litter at up to 6 litters per year.

House mice

While more mice enter structures than rats, due to their smaller sizes, house mice usually live outdoors in fields, occasionally entering structures, settling in behind walls and in cabinets and furniture. Ranging from brown to gray in color, with large ears and tiny dark eyes, house mice can measure up to 7½ inches, with tails as long as their head and body lengths combined. Living about a year, like roof rats and Norway rats, house mice mature sexually in 6 weeks, producing 5-6 young per litter, up to 8 times per year.

What if you suspect rodent activity in your home?

Tell-tale signs of rodent activity

Scratching sounds in your walls, running sounds in your attic and squeaking sounds at night all indicate rodent activity. Urine or feces detected near food sources, oily marks on walls, and evidence of chewed materials are good indications that rodents are nearby. If you see a rodent in your home, you’ve reached the point where you need to call a professional pest control company. Trying to eliminate a rodent infestation on your own can be a lengthy, unpleasant, and often unsuccessful undertaking. At Hulett, our strategic placement of baits ensures that rats won’t expire in hard to find spaces in walls. Our highly trained, licensed, and certified technicians will return to your home to remove rodent carcasses until no rodent activity is detected.

How do you keep rodents and other pests from entering your home?

The best way: Exclusion, making your home unattractive to rodents by sealing all cracks, tiny holes, and crevices around your foundation, in your attic, around windows, doors, and other potential entryways. Other things you can do include:

  • Trim branches away from your home
  • Clean up thoroughly after dining and snacks, washing all dishes, sweeping or vacuuming crumbs and ensuring rubbish is securely contained in trash receptacles
  • Eliminate clutter indoors and out
  • Keep grass cut short and eliminating any areas of dense, tall vegetation

Contact Hulett for a free rodent inspection and get on board with one of our Healthy Home programs to keep your home pest-free year-round. We guarantee you’ll be satisfied. Just call Hulett!

Mosquito, Cockroach and Rodent Populations Expected to Spike

Mosquito, Cockroach and Rodent Populations Expected to SpikeAfter record-breaking rainfall last spring and summer, along with hurricanes Alberto, Florence and Michael pummeling the southeast with unprecedented amounts of water and lingering moisture, The National Pest Management Association’s biannual Bug Barometer® is predicting a spike in “major pest populations in the Lower 48 this fall and winter,” according to weather.com. A seasonal forecast that measures pest pressure and activity the US can expect to encounter in different regions of the country, the Bug Barometer® is based on several factors:

  • Weather patterns
  • Long-term weather predictions
  • Biological behavior of pests

More moisture-loving pest activity expected

According to entomologists at the National Pest Management Association, a wetter than normal spring, summer and fall, in addition to erratic weather patterns, will likely result in increased pest pressure across the continental United States. “With most of the country still damp from summer and fall, and winter forecasts predicting even more precipitation, said chief entomologist,” Dr. Jim Fredericks, “expect an increase in activity from moisture-loving pests such as mosquitoes, termites, cockroaches, stink bugs and rodents.”

Fredericks went on to say the drought in the Southwest may cause an increase in rodent activity, as well. “Rodent populations will become public enemy number one as they seek shelter indoors and are in search of steady sources of food and water,” Fredericks said.

NOAA ‘s 2018-2019 Winter Outlook

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Winter Outlook predicts a mild winter this December through February, also indicating a “wetter-than-average” season in the mid-Atlantic states and across southern states, with above-average precipitation in southern Georgia and Northern Florida. Drier than average conditions will likely prevail in the north and western parts of the country.

A round-up by region could look like this:

  • The Northeast – A wet and hot summer followed by a wetter winter could cause ticks to stay active longer. Stink bugs and lady beetles may thrive in the wetter conditions and rodents will try to move indoors as temps drop.
  • The Southeast – Inundated by flooding caused by three hurricanes and a wetter than usual summer and fall, mosquitoes will increase in numbers and varieties. Excess moisture is also predicted to prolong termite and ant activity.
  • The Midwest and the Great Lakes – After summer flash floods and a warm and wet winter, northern parts will contend with mosquito populations flourishing in the fall, while the southern, drier areas will battle ants coming indoors in search of food and water.
  • South Central – Excessive rainfall in parts of Texas should result in increased mosquito activity in the fall, while the drought in parts of the region over the summer will see increased numbers of rodents and ants heading indoors for water and food this fall and winter.
  • North Central – Increased roach and ant activity likely in northern parts after flooding in summer and a wet winter, with more rodents expected to seek shelter indoors for winter.

El Nino and Arctic Oscillation

Driving the long-term outlook, NOAA points to the “70 to 75 percent chance” of El Niño developing. An ocean-atmosphere pattern caused by warmer than normal ocean temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, El Nino typically means a wetter-than-average winter in the “southern US states and warmer, drier conditions to parts of the North,” NOAA’s outlook says. While the US may experience a weak El Niño this winter, other factors may come into play that will affect our winter weather.

Arctic Oscillation, a weather pattern that can shift the jet stream further south during its negative mode and further north during its positive mode can make a difference in the amount of wintry precipitation the Midwest and eastern states see during the winter. NOAA says that “Arctic Oscillation influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the southern US and could result in below-average temps in the eastern part of the US.”

Meanwhile, in South Florida

In South Florida, due to the expected weakness of this winter’s anticipated El Niño event, the probability of a wetter than normal winter is predicted to be less than 50 percent. This is good news for South Florida residents, who are no strangers to mosquitoes, termites, and ants. To get ready for increased mosquito activity, diligently apply insect repellent with DEET and wear appropriate clothing when outside, especially in the evening and early morning hours. If you can, avoid extensive outdoor activities during these times, as well. On your property, eliminating standing water and replacing or repairing all window and door screens can also help ward off mosquitoes. With vector-borne disease diagnoses on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control, South Florida residents should take precautions against mosquitoes and ticks.

Termites, rodents, and ants

If it seems like you are in a constant war with termites and ants in South Florida, it’s because you are. These guys just love South Florida living. Ants often invade homes looking for higher ground after heavy rains and searing heat. Reproductive Termites swarm after rains in the spring so warm, wet winter weather may encourage the formation of new colonies, earlier than usual.  Damp and water damaged woods are always an open invitation to termites to come on in and feast on the wood in your home. Rodents come indoors to get out of the rain and cooler temps.

Contact a professional, such as Hulett

Your South Florida home needs the protection of a qualified pest control professional. Hulett’s Healthy Home program creates an extermination barrier around your home and property using targeted environmentally responsible techniques and materials, with our customized, IPM approach to pest prevention. Trust your home health to Hulett. Locally owned and operated, Hulett has weathered over 50 “winters” in the battle against persistent pests in South Florida, just call Hulett!

Holiday Decorations Become Pest Hiding Spots

Holiday Decorations Become Pest Hiding Spots

Storing your holiday decorations in cardboard boxes in your attic or garage might seem like the logical thing to do. Logical but also very convenient for a number of holiday pests such as mice and other rodents who like to chew through your boxes or shred them for nesting materials. Also, making the holiday pest list, roaches like to hang out in cardboard boxes to hide out from you and other predators. Spiders like to hitch rides indoors on wreaths and trees, plus silverfish also like to get in on your silver bell theme, frequenting boxes, as well.

A mouse in the house

So, what does a mouse chewing through a box mean? It could mean nothing. It could mean that a mouse passed through your attic or garage for a quick cardboard chew to keep those teeth in check and moved on to your neighbor’s or decided to winter out-of-doors. Sure, it’s possible but not likely. Check for other signs of rodent activity such as chewed through bags in your pantry or mouse droppings in your kitchen. If you’ve heard scratching in your walls, tiny feet running across your attic or squeaking sounds in the night, it’s beginning to look a lot like it could be time to contact a professional pest control company to inspect your home for rodent activity.

Roaches: Never a good thing

You never want to see roaches anywhere, especially during the holiday season. With so many food opportunities present, what roach wouldn’t want to walk through all of those holiday goodies? At a hectic time, when you open your home to friends and family, you don’t want to have to worry about the health threats of these pests, not to mention the embarrassment of cockroaches strolling across your holiday cocktail spread.

Spiders: Not a bad thing but not really winter holiday festive

Most spiders come indoors, looking for food and that works out well for homeowners, keeping the insect levels low in your home. However, even though we know that most spiders benefit the environment, our eight-legged friends suffer from their association with scary things and they scare the fa-la-la-la-la out of some folks. That’s why you don’t really need spiders coming in your house on trees, garlands, wreaths, and other seasonal greenery.

Silverfish: Not fish and not the kind of silver you might be thinking of for your holiday decor

Hopefully, should you find holiday pests, such as silverfish in your holiday boxes, they haven’t made it to the stored stockings that will hang by the fireplace with care. Notorious for feeding on paper, fabric, and wallpaper, silverfish are attracted to carbohydrates, especially sugary and starchy items. What could possibly go wrong in this holiday scenario? Silverfish, who usually enter homes in cardboard boxes could head for those beautifully wrapped gifts, trashing the gift wrap and even going for books and other gifts under your tree.

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? Holiday pests won’t be an issue . . .

So, how do you keep holiday pests out of decking your halls, attic, or garage? What’s to stop spiders, roaches, silverfish, and other insects from catching the Polar Express into your holiday plans? Here are a few quick and easy ideas that can help prevent holiday pests.

Contain your joy

To keep your storage space as pest-free as possible, store your jingle bells, ornaments and other decor in airtight containers. Source hard plastic totes with tight-fighting lids to store boxes of ornaments. Large metal boxes, stackable hard plastic totes, and other containers can also help organize your attic or garage. Holiday cookie and popcorn containers make great storage containers that you can even put under your tree as accent pieces until the real gifts arrive.

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

During the holidays, we bring a number of greenery items and trees indoors that would otherwise stay outside. With the cooler temps, all manner of insects are looking for warmth, food, and shelter from the elements and predators. Out-of-doors is where bugs normally live so when we bring the outdoors inside, it seems logical to expect to find a few stowaways in the process. So, when you get home with your tree, garlands, and wreaths, before you take them inside, why not give them a good shake and a thorough going over before hauling them inside.

Totes maggots- keep the bugs out of your home

The same thing goes for bringing cardboard boxes and paper bags into your home. Not just around the holidays but year-round, if possible, unload boxes and bags outside or in a carport or garage and then disposing of those boxes in an outside recycling container. This can reduce the likelihood of insects entering your home. Sound like a lot of trouble and who’s going to unload all of their groceries outside instead of just bringing them in the house? More and more environmentally responsible shoppers are shopping with their own recycled or cloth bags to cut down on plastic consumption. You might even explore the idea of carrying a plastic or recycled plastic tote around with you in your vehicle when shopping. That way you can skip a step, placing groceries in the tote before leaving the grocery store.

Hulett wishes you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season! Don’t let holiday pests put the bah-humbug in your very merry!

Just call Hulett!

Keeping Rats Out This Winter

Keeping Rats Out This Winter

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and with the cooler temps, rodents are looking for a place to settle down for a long winter’s nap. Your warm and cozy home, brimming with holiday goodies, not to mention the out-of-the-way, wall voids and attics to build nests in seem like ideal winter destinations, as far as rats are concerned.

Rats are resilient and able to chew through almost any material

Rats have coexisted alongside humans since humans started sharing their shelters, water, and food with them. Resilient, rats can squeeze through tiny holes in your foundation, your attic, and other entry points. These guys, with their large Freddie Mercury-like chompers, can also chew through just about anything, including brick, lead, cinder block, brick, mortar, aluminum, wood, glass, vinyl, and improperly cured concrete. Unlike the Queen rockstar, rats’ front teeth grow 4.5 to 5.5 inches each year. That’s why rats are always chewing everything they can, to keep those teeth in check.  Rats chewing through electrical wiring are suspected to cause hundreds of unexplained house fires annually.

So how do you keep these persistent pests out of your South Florida home this winter?

Even though rats can chew through almost anything, sealing all cracks in your foundation and all entryways, including windows, doors, and vents will keep them from finding a way to get into your home. The right kind of wire mesh covering vents and grates can help deter rats. Mesh made from stainless steel with a diameter of at least 0.56 mm is considered thick enough to keep rats from chewing through it. Galvanized steel, softer than stainless steel, is way easier for rats to chew through, even at the same thickness as stainless steel.

Branches act as bridges

Tree branches and landscape shrubbery can be a welcome sign for rats that use them to access upper windows and vents. Keeping branches trimmed away from your home can deter rats from finding ways into your home.

Tall grass, dense vegetation, and debris

High grass, dense vegetation areas, and piles of debris, such as leftover construction materials, attract rats for all the wrong reasons. Keeping your lawn trimmed and eliminating piles of debris in your yard can eliminate places where rats can form satellite nests. Clearing out overgrown vegetation near your property can make your home less attractive to rodents, as can stacking firewood at least twenty feet from your house.

Indoors

Making the interior of your home unattractive to rodents involves cleaning it thoroughly. Even though you clean your house regularly, you might not think to check for spills in your pantry or vacuuming after each meal you serve.  Rats can live for up to a month without eating and for several days without water, so crumbs in food prep and dining areas mean rodents score big.

Water readily available in your home

Rats consume water from the food they eat and don’t necessarily need a constant source of water but once rats gain entry to homes, water is readily available in kitchens and bathrooms, as well as around leaky faucets. Repair leaky faucets, dripping pipes and correct other water-prone areas in your home.

Clutter

Eliminate clutter in closets, under beds or anywhere rodents can hide. This includes clearing out stacks of stored cardboard boxes in attics and garages that rodents like to shred for nests and roaches that feast on rat feces like to hang out.

 Food in metal, hard plastic, and glass containers

Your pantry’s important because it’s probably an out-of-the-way place with low traffic, perfect for rats to forage through for food. Notice any flour, sugar, or pancake mix boxes that look like they’ve been chewed on? Organizing your dried food supplies in metal, glass or hard plastic containers can eliminate many food sources for rats. The same goes for open bags of chips, cookies and other snacks. Keeping snacks in airtight containers may sound like a pain but not nearly as much trouble as eliminating a rat infestation.

Got rat concerns?

Tell-tale signs of rodent activity got you thinking about your next step? Those chewed bags and boxes in your pantry, scratching and/or squeaking noises behind your walls or an actual rodent sighting? Rats and other rodents are nocturnal and move around at night most of the time. You might encounter rodents at night but it’s not likely. That said, rats, when surprised or threatened have been known to bite, putting your pets and children, as well as you and your other family members at risk.

  • Rats pose more health risks than the rare chance one might bite someone. Vectors of several diseases, rats, infected with a bacteria called Yersinia pestis are thought to have spread Bubonic plague, causing the fall of the Roman Empire and later killing off more than half of the European population during the 14th
  • Rats also spread salmonellosis, when humans do not wash their hands after coming into contact with rodent droppings or if food, water, or utensils are contaminated with rat feces.
  • Rats also transmit Leptospirosis, also known as Weil’s disease, from contact with water, food or soil containing urine from an infected animal. Symptoms range from mild or no illness to life-threatening meningitis, liver damage, and kidney failure.

If you suspect you have rat issues, Hulett suggests contacting a trusted pest professional in your area. Rats can be tricky, they’re smart and leery of new things, like baits, in their environment. Contact Hulett to schedule a free rodent inspection.

Don’t let rats ruin your winter, just call Hulett!

Venomous Puss Caterpillar Returns, Florida Officials Warn

Venomous puss caterpillar returns, Florida officials warn

Twice yearly, South Florida residents bear witness to puss caterpillar season, as do people in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the southeast and Texas. The larval form of the southern flannel moth has been spotted in the Tampa Bay area; this has prompted Florida officials to send out a warning about these furry little menaces. University of Florida’s (UF) Entomology Department database recognizes puss caterpillars as one of the most venomous species of moths in the US. One source said that the sting from a puss caterpillar can be debilitating and “even make your bones hurt.”

Couldn’t just go with “cat-erpillar” or kitty caterpillar?

Scientists conjecture that puss caterpillars get their name from their resemblance to tiny Persian cats. Indeed, these inch-long larvae sport thick and abundant long bristles that look like fur. The UF database describes puss caterpillars as varying in color from “downy grayish white to golden brown to dark charcoal gray.” Some flaunt a horizontal streak of bright orange. In early-stage larvae, the “fur” can be quite curly, producing a puffed up, cottony look, tapering to a longish tail. As puss caterpillars evolve, the middle instars look more disheveled, like they’re having a bad hair day and no distinctive tail – just venomous spines.

The Trouble with Tribbles

Remember the Star Trek episode, where furry, little purring creatures, called tribbles invaded the Enterprise and wreaked havoc on the status quo? Like the crew of the Enterprise, puss caterpillars, also known as “Toxic Toupees” can throw the unsuspecting and curious into a world of hurt. Seems that underneath these caterpillars’ adorable fur are venomous spines that stab the skin of all who venture too near. “A puss caterpillar sting feels like a bee sting, only worse,” UF entomologist, Don Hall said. “The pain immediately and rapidly gets worse after being stung,” he further elaborated. Some victims say the puss caterpillar’s sting feels like a broken bone or blunt force trauma.

Reactions may be localized to the affected area but often more severe

While the pain might just irritate the skin in the affected area, often reactions can be more severe. Pain radiating up a limb is not uncommon, causing burning and swelling sensations, along with nausea, abdominal distress, and headache. Some victims experience rashes, blisters and some even report chest pain, numbness, and/or difficulty breathing. UF sources say that sweating from the welts or developing hives at the sting site isn’t unusual.

It gets worse

So, you’re already in writhing pain from a puss caterpillar’s venomous spines embedded in your skin.  The next thing that needs to happen, preferably sooner than later involves placing tape over the offending spines and ripping them out of your skin. You will want to consult medical attention or at least the help of a loved one or friend for this activity. After removing the spines, some victims have applied ice packs, taken oral antihistamines, covered the area in a baking soda paste, hydrocortisone cream, or “the juice from the stems of comfrey plants and calamine lotion,” to varying degrees of success.

Allergy and asthma sufferers may require medical attention

For most victims, a trip to the emergency room probably isn’t necessary, due to a hapless encounter with a puss caterpillar. However, the Florida Poison Information Center notes that if you are affected by seasonal allergies, specifically hay fever, are prone to asthmatic issues or develop an allergic reaction, “contact a physician immediately.” Alfred Aleguas, director of the Florida Poison Control center said that stinging victims can also contact the center to, “tell you things to do to relieve a lot of the pain.”

Puss caterpillar populations vary in size from season to season

While not particularly prolific, some years are better than others as populations can rise and fall dramatically, depending on the weather, food availability and the number of parasites in a given season.

A 2014 National Geographic article reported, “Young children from Florida to North Carolina are reporting excruciating pain after coming into contact with” puss caterpillars. The article goes on to note that some children had been injured when they petted these caterpillars or when the caterpillars fell on them from trees.

Earlier this summer, a Florida teen, was stung 20 times while landscaping at his family’s home, Weather.com reported. The teen was hospitalized for a severe reaction to the stings.

Natural predators

Because puss caterpillars are all about defense, their natural predators are mostly clever, parasitoid flies who lay eggs so small that puss caterpillars eat them. Tachinid flies, a large group of true flies are considered beneficial insects, in that the larvae stage feed on host insects, eventually kill hosts, such as puss caterpillars.

Just call Hulett Watch out for DIY (Do-it-Yourself) pest control products, they can kill puss caterpillars’ natural predators and actually increase the puss caterpillar populations, Hulett suggests contacting a professional pest control company to address your puss caterpillar concerns.

West Palm Beach County: West Nile Virus Detected

West Palm Beach County: West Nile Virus Detected

According to Gary Detman at CBS 12, as of October 17th, West Nile Virus has been detected in the western part of Palm Beach County. Over 60 sub-species of mosquitoes that like to lay their eggs in stagnant water can carry West Nile Virus. Because mosquitoes thrive in Florida’s tropical climate, the Florida Health Department uses sentinel chickens as an early warning system for diseases. These chickens play an essential role in detecting mosquito-borne diseases in Florida. Blood samples are extracted weekly from flocks of sentinel chickens placed strategically around Florida counties and tested for the presence of antibodies to West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis.

West Nile Virus

A flavivirus, this genus also includes dengue fever, tick-borne encephalitis virus, yellow fever virus, Zika virus, and several other viruses which may cause encephalitis. Named from the yellow fever virus, most of these viruses are transmitted from an infected arthropod, mosquito, or tick and so are classified as arboviruses. FloridaHealth.gov says that first identified in Uganda in 1937, West Nile Virus was introduced to the US by way of New York in 1999 and by 2001, it had reached Florida. Now considered endemic to the US mainland, West Nile Virus has been identified in all US states except Alaska and Hawaii.  Annual epidemics of West Nile Virus are not uncommon in some parts of the country during the summer.

Fortunately, West Nile Virus only affects 1 in 5 people

Most people infected with West Nile Virus, around 80%, show no symptoms; however, some do develop mild flu-like symptoms, with fever, nausea, headaches, and fatigue, along with body aches and pains. Less than 1% of people with West Nile Virus develop the most severe form of the disease, neuro invasive West Nile Virus that can involve meningitis and encephalitis, escalating into irreversible neurological damage, paralysis, coma, and death, according to FloridaHealth.gov. Because no vaccine has been developed to combat West Nile Virus, “We are constantly monitoring for mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus,” said Health Department Director, Dr. Alina Alonso. She added, “With these continued confirmations from the state lab of the presence of West Nile Virus, it is a good reminder for all to take the necessary preventative measures.”

How can you reduce mosquito populations?

Here are some tips you may want to review for protecting yourself and your family from mosquitoes:

The necessary measures include applying insect repellent

With confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Belle Glade, Pahokee, and Jupiter Farms in western Palm Beach County, health officials recommend that residents in South Florida apply insect repellent with DEET. Recently, DEET has been used extensively to protect against other mosquito and tick-borne illnesses, such as equine encephalitis and Lyme disease. While DEET has been protecting people from gnats, ticks, mites, and other bloodsucking arthropods since 1973, concerns about the adverse effects of DEET on the nervous system has driven some people to seek other mosquito repellents. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites (EPA)-registered insect repellents that have been proven safe, “even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.” Surprising to some, these include DEET, as well as the following:

  • Picaridin
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-methane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone

These insect repellents should be used according to the manufacturer’s directions. When using DEET, officials say, “less is more.”

Wear appropriate clothing

In order to minimize the use of DEET and other repellents, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed toe shoes when hiking or walking in wooded areas.

Think about the time of day

Mosquitoes tend to show up early in the morning or at dusk to feed on unsuspecting hosts. Plan outdoor activities at other times when mosquitoes aren’t as active. Steering clear of the woods at dusk or dawn can help avoid mosquito bites.

Eliminate standing water

The best ways to discourage mosquitoes breeding in your backyard? Get rid of objects that can trap water. Store kids’ toys, extra planters, and empty plant containers in a shed or storage building. Drill holes in recycling containers to allow water to drain out. Removing clutter and debris in your yard can help eliminate areas where water can collect. Changing the water in pet bowls and birdbaths every other day can reduce the odds that mosquitoes will breed in your yard. Ensuring that downspouts are draining properly, away from your house, in addition to correcting any water-prone areas in your yard helps keep mosquitoes from moving in close to a food source – you, your family, and your pets.

Screens and doors

Repair or replace torn screens in doors and windows around your home. You can use mosquito-netting to keep mosquitoes out of strollers and baby carriages.

Contact a professional

In May, the CDC’s report indicated that vector-borne diseases are on the rise in the US due to global travel and a warming planet. If you suspect mosquitoes might be breeding in your backyard, contact a trusted pest control professional, such as Hulett Environmental Services to inspect your property.

Our technicians address potential mosquito breeding areas, treating them with a residual product, and applying a sticking agent to the places mosquitoes tend to rest during the day. Additionally, we treat all doorways and windows with a microencapsulated product that creates a mosquito barrier around your home. Take back your backyard from mosquitoes.

Contact us to schedule a free mosquito inspection. Just call Hulett!

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