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Ant Spotlight: Florida Carpenter Ants

Ant Spotlight: Florida Carpenter Ants

The source of more South Florida homeowner complaints than any other of the sunshine state’s ant species, Florida carpenter ants, make more appearances inside structures than all of Florida’s ant species combined. One reason homeowners panic when they detect these large bi-colored ants seems to be a case of mistaken identity. It doesn’t help these arboreal ants’ reputation that they swarm in alarming numbers during mating season, between April and November and can be mistaken for termites. While winged ant reproductives, called alates and winged subterranean termite alates look similar, on closer inspection, slight but significant differences in termites and ants include:

Ant alates (Winged Ants)

  • Elbowed antennae
  • Larger fore wings than hind wings
  • A constricted waist

Termite alate: (Winged or Subterranean Termites) 

  • Beaded antennae
  • Two sets of equal length wings
  • A broad waist

The Florida Carpenter Ant vs the Black Carpenter Ant

Homeowners, fearing for the structural integrity of their homes, also mistake Florida carpenter ants for the destructive black carpenter ant that burrows through the structural wood in your home, causing almost as much damage as termites. Florida carpenter ants will nest in damp or decaying wood cavities inside structures but don’t carve out galleries in sound wood and damage your home.

Two species of Florida carpenter ants are common in South Florida homes

Camponatus floridanus, is widely distributed throughout Florida and neighboring states, while Camponatus tortuganus is limited to central and southern Florida. According to the University of Florida’s (UF) insect index, “the ratio of C. floridanus to C. totuganus is about 2:1 in South Florida.”

Largest ants in South Florida

Florida carpenter ants range in size, with workers measuring 1/4” to 3/8” in length and the largest, winged female alates measuring little over 3/4” in length. With ash brown to rusty-orange thoraxes and heads and black abdomens, Florida carpenter ants sport long, abundant golden hairs all over their bodies and 12 segmented, elbowed antennae.

Stinging vs. biting

Another reason homeowners contact pest control professionals more about Florida carpenter ants, has to do with the myth that these large ants sting and can cause allergic reactions. However, this is not the case. Florida carpenter ants do not possess stingers; however, these ants do have large mandibles and when threatened, will bite intruders. Their bites can break the skin and cause pain because they may inject a defensive chemical, called formic acid into the bite site. Although painful, the formic acid in carpenter ant bites is not venomous and poses no serious health threats to humans or pets.

Florida carpenter ants are attracted to sugary foods

Tending to forage at night, with peak foraging hours just before sunset and just before dawn, some Florida carpenter ants forage in loosely defined trails, as well as some wandering individual ants. In nature, Florida carpenter ants prefer floral nectars and honeydew produced by aphids, scale and mealy bugs. Carpenter ants also eat other living or dead insects. In your home, Florida carpenter ants can be found in your kitchen in search of sugary snacks.

Damp places to nest are best

Florida carpenter ants seek moisture and damp places to nest, like under your dishwasher or other places in your kitchen and bathrooms near water leaks. Preferring damp voids for nesting, Florida carpenter ants prefer locations close to sweet food sources, safe from predators, such as birds and lizards and out of the heat and other environmental extremes, such as flooding.

Indoors: In addition to moist wall voids, Florida carpenter ants nest under attic insulation and under eaves, as they are acrobatic in trailing across wires and cables attached to your home. These ants are prone to nest under damp windows and door frames, in bags and boxes, under appliances, in flat roofs and behind wooden panels. Sometimes, Florida carpenter ant nests have even been located in electrical boxes and computer printers.

Outdoors: While Florida carpenter ants will hollow out damp wood, dead tree trunks and other damaged wood, they do not attack sound wood.  They are also attracted to old leaf petioles in palms, under bark, tree roots, especially citrus trees, all kinds of debris, coconuts on the ground, old fences and decks, old shoes, in expansion joints, under rocks, exterior wood, patio ceilings and the list goes on.

Contact a professional

Finding the nests created by carpenter ants can be challenging and carpenter ant colonies can number several thousand and contain many satellite nests. Hulett suggests contacting a trusted pest control professional. The entomologist-trained technicians at Hulett will inspect your property and recommend environmentally responsible materials and treatments utilizing our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system.

South Florida homes are subjected to numerous household pests that can damage your home, harm your loved ones and just be downright annoying. Hulett’s Healthy Home Program creates a barrier around your home to safeguard your property and loved ones year-round, from household pests. We guarantee you will be satisfied. Contact us to schedule a free pest inspection today. Just call Hulett at (866) 611-BUGS!

New Invasive Ant Identified in Fort Lauderdale: Little Yellow Ant

New Invasive Ant Identified in Fort Lauderdale: Little Yellow Ant

As a South Floridian homeowner, you probably know more about ants than you care to, as the tropical climate you enjoy supports over 200 ant species. While not all of these ant species are considered nuisance household pests, you have also probably encountered some of the usual suspects including white-footed ants, Florida carpenter ants, crazy ants, fire ants, ghost ants and other pesky foragers that enter your home in search of food.  Now, it seems, there is another contender on the horizon for the most annoying pest title.

According to the University of Florida’s (UF) press release, UF researchers are concerned about the discovery of a “new invasive ant species in south Florida.” A Madagascar native, the little yellow ant, Plagiolepis alluaudi, “is already invasive in several Caribbean Islands, including Barbados, St. Lucia and Nevis, among others,” said Thomas Chouvenc, UF/IFAS Assistant Professor of Entomology. Chouvenc said that in addition to the Caribbean, the little yellow ant has also been detected in Hawaii and Australia.

First US sighting of yellow ants occurred in a Ft. Lauderdale neighborhood

Discovered in early 2017 in the Riverland neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, Chouvenc said this is the first sighting of the little yellow ant in the continental US, but that “over a period of six months, the big headed ants that were dominant in that area were apparently displaced by this tiny yellow ant, which was quite surprising.” Based at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Fort Lauderdale, Chouvenc revealed that subsequent surveys indicated that yellow ants may have been establishing a presence for “several years without being detected.”

What does this mean to South Florida homeowners?

On the upside, the little yellow ant does not bite or sting; however, these ants are so small that they can reach extremely high population densities before being detected which can cause them to become difficult to control. Like many invasive species, little yellow ant populations can grow rapidly into super colonies “due to their intricate nesting system with multiple queens,” Chouvenc said, adding that because little yellow ants go undetected for such a long time, by the time that they are noticed, colonies containing upwards of three million members can spread out in a network of nests that are difficult to control.

Hurricane Irma may have contributed to the yellow ant’s infestation in the Riverland area

Researchers think that because Hurricane Irma’s winds and rain flung massive amounts of plant debris around as she wound through South Florida, little yellow ants from the Caribbean may have been dispersed to the Riverland area during and after the storm. Chouvenc said that because the little yellow ant is a tropical species, the hope is that this species will be contained to South Florida. However, Chouvenc indicated that “looking at the patterns of invasive ants in the southeast US over the past 50 years, it may be a small ant, but is still going to be a big problem.”

Researchers found that baits can knock out home infestations temporarily

In the Riverland neighborhood, researchers found little yellow ant nests in dead vegetation that included dead branches on living trees, as well as dead wood as small as twigs, lying on the surface of the soil. Eventually, researchers detected little yellow ant foragers inside a home and used baits to stop the infestation.  While baits worked to initially control the home infestation, within a week the home was reinfested with little yellow ants, as the bait only affected a small percentage of the foraging ants and had no effect on the established population outside the home. Chouvenc speculated that homeowners could regularly bait little yellow ants “with sweet bait liquids but in areas with high ant densities, recurrent infestations may be unavoidable,” saying that little yellow ants are probably another invasive ant species “that will cause homeowners problems down the road.”

Also, researchers speculate that because little yellow ants are attracted to insects like aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects, all of which produce honeydew, this invasive species may potentially impact agriculture by harming crops and ornamental plants. UF/IFAS plans to publish more information about the little yellow ant as they learn more about its habits and potential impact on homeowners, the industry, and the environment.

Contact a licensed pest control professional

In the meantime, Hulett suggests that homeowners contact a licensed professional pest control company to tackle ant infestations, especially large ant populations that involve a network of nests. South Florida’s owned and operated Hulett Environmental Services utilizes an integrated pest management system that uses environmentally conscious methods and materials to manage pests in and around your home.

Under the direction of a Graduate Entomologist for over 35 years, Hulett technicians are trained and licensed in the most current and effective materials on the market. Using granular and gel baits, our professional staff addresses the source of your infestations: the nest, or nests, and the queens. Once the queens are gone, the colony collapses. Strategic bait placement and skill in locating nests are some of the ways Hulett can save homeowners a lot of money, time, and peace of mind.

Homeowners can do a number of things to prevent household pest infestations

Little yellow ants, like some other ant species, are attracted to sweet, sugary substances in your home. Making your home inaccessible to little yellow ants and other household pests begins with:

  • Excluding pests by sealing or caulking entryways, such as cracks and crevices in your foundation and around doors and windows
  • Regularly cleaning all surfaces where sugar and sweets are consumed in your kitchen and dining areas
  • Storing all dried goods in glass, metal or hard plastic containers with air-tight lids
  • Keeping pet bowls cleaned between feedings
  • Eliminating clutter and debris from the interior and exterior of your home- Get that Hurricane debris picked-up.

Hulett’s Healthy Home program helps prevent pests with regular treatments and monitoring

Keep little yellow ants and other household pests away from your loved ones and off your property. Hulett’s Healthy Home program involves pet and people-friendly pest prevention protocols that create a pest barrier around your property. We quickly deal with any current infestations and monitor pest prone areas for any sign of further pest activity. We are so confident you will be so satisfied with your Hulett Healthy program, we guarantee it! Protect your home and loved ones from little yellow ants and all household pest invasions.

Just call Hulett!

Do Spiders Get their Bad Reputation from Halloween?

Do Spiders Get their Bad Reputation from Halloween?Ever notice how spiders are everywhere in Halloween themes, from décor to candy and other All Hallows Eve festivities? Tons of wispy webs, strung up in doorways, sport eight-legged hairy, fanged fiends just waiting to ensnare victims in their wicked webs? From the itsy-bitsy spider to Little Miss Moffat sacrificing her breakfast due to a spider sighting, many humans possess an inordinate fear of these mostly harmless arachnids.

Halloween spreading fake news about spiders

Halloween doesn’t help dispel any of our fears about spiders. Some sources say that our fear of spiders is linked to spiders being associated, along with rats and cats, with witches, dating back to medieval times.  Then there’s Hollywood, with films ranging from Arachnicide, Arachnophobia, Eight-Legged Freaks, Earth vs Spider and so on . . . where some nuclear event or natural disaster creates giant, mutant monster spiders.

Guilt by association: Spiders just hang with the wrong crowd in Halloween depictions

Also by association, creepy, crawly spiders and cobwebs feature predominantly in mummy, vampire and ghoul themes that take place in abandoned, haunted houses, dark lairs, murderous crypts, terrifying vaults and other deep dark Halloween locales. True, some spiders do prefer dark, undisturbed places to build webs but then again, some prefer the middle of your garden as a perfect place to set up shop. This Halloween, Hulett takes a closer look at our eight-legged friends, debunking some myths and old wives’ tales about spiders. Knowledge is power.

Myth: Spiders are aggressive and ready to attack people

The truth is, most spiders are very laid back, just hanging around their webs, waiting for prey to come to them; that’s why they spin webs. However, some spiders, such as wolf spiders do not spin webs but do hunt down their prey and pounce on it. Fortunately, humans are not on their menus, like we are on bedbugs’, ticks’, mosquitoes’ and other arthropods’ bills of who need a blood meal to survive. Most humans in the US who do encounter spiders that bite them have either disturbed these spiders or threatened them in some way.

Myth: All spider bites are venomous and dangerous

In North America, only two types of spiders pose significant physical threats to humans, the brown recluse spider and a variety of different hues of widow spiders, such as black, brown and red. Brown recluse bites can cause severe swelling and pain at the bite sight in addition to some other flu-like symptoms that may require immediate medical attention. Widow spiders can pack a powerful punch with their potent venom but rarely prove fatal, due to advances in antivenom therapy.

Myth: People swallow spiders in their sleep

Because spiders don’t usually hangout around sleeping humans, on purpose, at night or any other time, according to arachnologist, Catherine Scott, “The chances of having a spider on you are pretty low. Contrary to popular belief, spiders do not go into your bed at night to bite you or try to go into your mouth. That myth that you swallow spiders is totally false,” Scott says.

Myth: Killing spiders is bad luck

One myth that’s not that easy to quantify states that killing spiders, accidentally or otherwise, brings bad luck down on the head of the arachnid killer. This idea probably originated with different narratives concerning spiritual figures, such as David, who hid from King Saul in a cave, where a spider built a web across the entrance to deter soldiers from looking in the cave and a similar story involving Mohammed, where a tree sprouted in front of a cave entrance and a spider built a web to dissuade his enemies from searching for him inside the cave.

Then there’s the myth that states that burning a spider will cause witches to visit you. Mark Twain has a little fun with this myth in his quintessential novel, Huckleberry Finn. Huck unwittingly swipes a spider off his shoulder directly into the flame of a lit candle.Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it lit in the candle; and before I could budge it was all shriveled up. I didn’t need anybody to tell me that that was bad luck”.

Myth: Spiders are evil and bad

In many cultures, spiders are considered a mystical being due to their ability to spin webs. In Native American lore, female spiders play important roles as the co-creator of humankind and the bringer of light to the world. Spiders, on a more earthly, practical level help control mosquitoes, as well as ants and other insects that get snared in their webs. Some arachnids, such as scorpions, give birth to live young that they carry around on their backs until they can take care of themselves. If you can see tarantulas up close, which is difficult, as they’re shy and run away, they look kind of cuddly, like they are wearing velvet.

Just call Hulett!

In reality, most spiders are harmless and many are beneficial in controlling mosquitoes, flies and other potentially dangerous insects. However, if spiders are weaving webs into your South Florida home, most likely there’s a market for other household pests the spiders are interested in eating.

With Hulett’s Healthy Home Program, our entomologist-trained technicians seal cracks, crevices and holes that invite household pests into your home. Along with excluding pests and correcting pest prone areas and conditions, our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system utilizes quality products and methods, to create a pest-free barrier around your property. We guarantee you’ll be satisfied with our environmentally responsible approach to safeguarding your home and family. Spiders or other pests bugging you? Contact us to schedule a convenient, free pest inspection today. Just call Hulett!

Mosquito Outbreak in South Florida Following Hurricane Irma

Mosquito Outbreak in South Florida Following Hurricane Irma

South Florida is recovering from one of the most powerful hurricanes in history, life is just beginning to return to normal. While most of the power has been restored and businesses have reopened, South Florida is busy trying to get ahead of a threat from one of her most persistent pests in the form of a potential mosquito outbreak.

Standing water from flooding and debris is causing concern

On the eve of October’s king tides and almost a month after Hurricane Irma thrashed South Florida, flood waters have receded but standing water is now causing concern in areas such as Bonita Springs, where wet soil and standing water make perfect breeding grounds for disease-causing mosquitoes. Piles of debris left in Irma’s wake also pose the potential for even more places for water to collect. Authorities are spraying many areas in order to keep mosquito numbers down.

With 90% of South Florida’s power knocked out, officials waited until power was restored to spray in some areas, to avoid mosquito fighting materials floating into homes where citizens opened windows to combat the heat. On September 27th, USA Today reported that mosquito trucks have been spraying in Broward County, “all week long in several Broward cities that have large debris piles following Irma.” The article goes on to say that Palm Beach County has been spraying the region for days, “especially in cities closest to the Everglades.”

West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis more likely than Zika to present problems

Although the outbreak of the Zika virus in Miami in 2016 led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue unprecedented domestic travel warnings, Duke-NUS Medical School’s mosquito-borne disease expert, Duane Gubler, said, in a September 28, 2017 Vox article, “If there’s increased transmission of mosquito-borne diseases [after the hurricanes], it’ll be from West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis.” Gubler said that massive floods, such as the recent floods caused by Irma wash away mosquito breeding grounds, “as well as the insects that transmit diseases like Zika and West Nile.”

Gubler explained that West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis are endemic to the US, unlike Zika and chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases that need to be imported by travelers. Gubler said that even though mosquito breeding grounds are washed away in storms, mosquitoes can rapidly re-infest areas with favorable breeding areas, such as standing water and wet soil.

Gayle Love, a spokesperson from the Miami-Dade Department of Solid Waste Management, the department that oversees mosquito control, said the county would resume its regular truck-spraying schedule the evening of Tuesday, October 3rd, according to the USA Today article, targeting areas affected by the 2016 Zika outbreak.

No aerial spraying since Irma

Love went on to say no aerial spraying has happened since Irma, but that “the county has resumed their usual procedures,” monitoring areas to determine where and when spraying should be administered, inspecting mosquito traps and deploying inspectors who follow up on citizen complaints to identify areas affected by large mosquito swarms. Love said, “We stand ready should those numbers go up.” Inspectors will have to completely re-assess the Florida Keys because so many mosquito breeding grounds were destroyed during Irma and new breeding grounds are now being established.

What you can do if mosquitoes are ruining your backyard fun

As South Florida continues to get back up to speed after the fury of Hurricane Irma, homeowners may encounter more mosquitoes in their backyards. Hulett Environmental Services suggests that South Florida homeowners contact a professional pest control company to inspect their properties for mosquito breeding grounds and treat for mosquitoes around your home.

Just call Hulett for a free mosquito inspection

Contact us to schedule a free inspection of your property to identify areas where mosquitoes are likely to hide or breed. Environmentally responsible, our skilled technicians will treat mosquito-prone areas with a residual product and apply a sticking agent to resting areas mosquito retreat to in the daytime. In order to keep mosquitoes from entering your home, we use a micro-encapsulated product, applied at all potential mosquito entry points, around doorways and windows to create a protective barrier between your home and your loved ones and these annoying insects.

Planning a cookout, pool party or even a wedding reception in your backyard?

We offer an additional, effective tool, geared towards large events: Hulett’s Fogging Services. With our ULV, or Ultra Low Volume, foggers that deflect and fight adult mosquitoes outdoors, your family and guests will be able to enjoy your event to its fullest.

How you can help prevent mosquito issues

  • Eliminate standing water around your property. Any object that collects water provides a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes. This includes kids’ toys, extra flower pots and gardening containers, birdbaths, your dog’s water bowl, patio furniture and even bottle caps.
  • Eliminate leftover construction materials and any debris from around your property.
  • Clean your gutters regularly and make sure drain spouts drain away from your house.

Contact a professional pest control company when biting mosquitoes are ruining your porch or backyard fun. Call Hulett for a free mosquito inspection today! Just call Hulett!

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

Ant Spotlight: Fire AntsAs 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, 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.


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.


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.


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!

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