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Termite Spotlight: Formosan Subterranean Termites

Formosan Subterranean Termites

The cornucopia of household pests that thrive in South Florida’s ideal conditions certainly won’t object. While most of us are familiar with Florida’s mosquitoes, ticks, rodents and other pests that carry pathogens and transmit diseases, other pests are out to get your house and they’re pretty sneaky about it.

Formosan subterranean termites live in underground nests and tunnel into your home in search of cellulose and non-cellulose materials

Formosan subterranean termites may go unnoticed for a while in homes, because they live in underground nests in the soil, outside your home and travel through tubes in search of the cellulose in timber structures, as well as support beams in stucco and brick buildings. But they don’t stop there. Formosan subterranean termites will also attack live trees, as well as plastic, plaster, asphalt and thin sheets of metal, according to a University of Florida report.

The point is that Formosa subterranean termites are hungry and bent on expanding their populations. This invasive species is capable of growing much larger populations in a shorter amount of time than domestic subterranean termites, wreaking much more havoc on Miami’s metropolitan area, as well as Monroe, Broward and Collier County homes. So where did these aggressive termites come from?

Originating in Southern China, Formosan termites got their name from a Taiwanese description, after they were discovered in Japan

Coptotermes formosas, the Formosan subterranean termite is thought to have originated in Southern China and was transported before the 1600s to Japan but this termite takes its name from a Taiwanese description in the early 1900s. From Japan, the Formosan termite made it to Hawaii in the late 1800s. Reported in South Africa in the 1950s, by the 1960s this destructive termite species appeared in Texas, Louisiana and South Carolina. “By 1980, a well-established colony was thriving in a Hallandale, Florida,” (Broward County), according to scientists at the University of Florida.

Formosan subterranean termites have piqued homeowner interests in the sheer force of these relentless insects.

With the capacity to forage for up to 300 feet, Formosan termites build primary nests, with many satellite nests that can contain populations of several million termites. By comparison, native subterranean termites produce colonies in the hundreds of thousands. Other notable differences include:

  • Increased percentage of soldier termites in comparison to native subterranean termites, with 10-15% Formosan soldiers, compared to the 1-2% soldier population in native species
  • Formosan termites can cause more structural damage than native species due to their impressive population size
  • More potential for damage to nearby structures due to their foraging range of 300 feet
  • Formosan communities, once established in an area, haven’t been eradicated to date
  • Formosan termites can chew through electrical wiring and cables, causing fire hazards

Where can these marauding subterranean termites be found in Florida today?

University of Florida entomologists report that Formosan subterranean termite activity has expanded, since the first colony in Hallandale, to include “all major urban areas of Florida,” including much of “the coastal areas of Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.”

Tips for preventing Formosan termites entering your home

  • Repair leaky plumbing, replace damp wood and correct areas of your home that are prone to moisture, such as areas where air-conditioner condensation collects.
  • Make sure gutter downspouts drain away from your foundation.
  • Keep irrigation systems away from your house and foundation
  • Keep mulch at least 6” away from your foundation
  • Pile wood at least 20 feet from your house.

Get real protection with Hulett’s Annual Termite Protection program

While these measures can help deter subterranean termites, in order to really protect your home from termites in South Florida, contact a trusted, professional pest control service, such as Hulett Environmental Services to enroll in our Annual Termite Protection program.

Protect your home and loved ones with the highest quality, most environmentally responsible materials and IPM methods available. We also offer a million-dollar warranty against subterranean termites, as part of our Healthy Home Guarantee.

Contact Hulett to protect your home and loved ones from Formosan subterranean termites, as well as the vast array of household pests that thrive in the southeastern tip of the US. We will happily send a trained expert to inspect your property and diagnose the issue at no charge. With over 45 years as local leaders in responsible pest control, our skilled and trained staff, led by owner-operator and Graduate Entomologist, Tim Hulett, deliver the most convenient and effective pest control in South Florida, all day, every day, season to season, year after year!

Healthy Green: Tricks and Tips for Healthy South Florida Lawns

Healthy Green: Tricks and Tips for Healthy South Florida Lawns

Floridians love their lawns and South Florida’s lush, green manicured landscapes are some of the finest in the country.  With the area’s warm, humid climate, maintaining a healthy, attractive lawn may seem to some homeowners like a “set it and forget it” project, after the initial planting. Well, yes, if your intention is to offer a turfgrass buffet to a number of known lawn and landscape pests. Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties are not only inviting to many people, the sub-tropical climate makes life good for:

  • Chinch bugs who like to extract the juice from grass blades
  • Mole crickets who like to tunnel through your lawn, uprooting grass and drying out the root system
  • Sod webworms, who feast on grass, as larvae
  • Aphids and whiteflies who feed on ornamental plant leaves
  • Fire ants that build unsightly mounds in your yard and expose your family to attack by these aggressive ants.

Pest control is just a part of the solution to a healthy and happy lawn

On top of getting pests under control, you need to know when to water and how much fertilizer to use for different types of turfgrass, in order to establish a strong and healthy root system, and on and on, it’s exhausting. However, hope awaits at Hulett, where exceptional lawn care is our passion.

Like all living things, a beautiful, healthy lawn takes some good old-fashion work, informed watering and mowing practices and usually the help of a respected, lawn care professional. At Hulett, we’ve been helping local homeowners keep their yards in great shape for over 45 years.  Family owned and operated, with CEO, Graduate Entomologist, Tim Hulett calling the shots, our continuously trained staff, state of the art equipment and environmentally responsible methods and treatments make sure your lawn is at the top of its game, year-round.

Hulett takes your lawn to heart with exceptional standards and practices

Hulett’s Healthy Home is designed to repair any existing lawn problems and proactively addresses any new issues before they become problems. Our professionals know South Florida’s variety of pests and the appropriate treatment for each one. We study the life cycles, habits and behavior of pests and apply specific treatments for different types of pests. Equipped with the latest training and the most effective products, we emphasize precision in applications, adhering to industry standards.

  • We exercise stringent cleaning protocols in our equipment, using dedicated sprayers, reels and pumps for each separate lawn or shrub treatment, to safeguard against cross-contamination and the potential incompatibility of treatments. Starting each day with clean water and a clean mixing tank, eliminates any chances for cross-contamination. We start each day with a clean mixing tank and a 600-gallon fresh water holding tank. At the end of each day, we flush any leftover product and start fresh the next day.
  • We calibrate our equipment twice a month to ensure accuracy and monitor calibrations daily.
  • Our professionals use reference sheets that provide precise prescriptions for proper mixture of treatment and water flow amounts.
  • Our high-pressure water nozzles, unlike the shower head sprayers other pest control companies use, with their spray wands gets right down to business, with product reaching down beyond the thatch to nourish and defend your grass roots, at three times the volume of product penetration.

At Hulett, we constantly train and update our staff on industry innovations and the latest breakthroughs and treatments for your lawn, shrubs, florals, trees and other landscape plants. Our professionals are adept at customizing your lawn care services for specific pests and nourishment needs.

Hulett emphasizes its environmentally responsible stance

At Hulett, we focus on environmentally responsible treatments and methods, to keep your lawn and landscape plants protected, as well as your pets and your human family. Our technicians are skilled in using many nontoxic alternative methods to eliminate lawn pest infestations. Among these techniques, disrupting pest life cycles, modifying pest habitats, excluding pests and strategic bait placement excel where smelly sprays and chemicals can be ineffective and unpleasant.

We stand by our work:  Satisfaction guaranteed!

We guarantee our work and it shows! We will return to resolve any lawn care issue with your yard at no extra charge. Hulett understands your lawn care needs and we make your lawn care needs our priority. We promise to respond within a 24-hour period, or less should a problem with your lawn arise. Your lawn will be nourished and protected from lawn and plant pests, 24/7. Your lawn deserves our Healthy Home Services. Contact us today to set up a free lawn analysis and to take advantage of our $50 off Lawn Care offer.

Termite Spotlight: Conehead Termites

Conehead Termites

Conehead Termites

No doubt long-time SNL fans will be amused at the mention of the1970s sketch centered on an extra-terrestrial family’s struggles to adapt to Earth life, featuring Jane Curtain, Lorraine Newman and Dan Ackroyd. Like the pointy-headed family from the planet Remulak, conehead termites are also alien, an invasive species, introduced to South Florida via Central or South America or some Caribbean islands. Unlike the hilarious antics of SNL’s faltering and often confused Conehead family, these South Florida visitors aren’t funny at all.

Coneheads concern scientists in their potential to become permanent US pests

To date, conehead termites have been confined to “less than ½ square mile of residential, commercial and natural landscape area in Dania Beach,” in Broward County. More flexible and diverse than drywood and subterranean termites, coneheads readily adapt to a variety of habitats. Voracious eaters, these termites will devour dead wood of any type in a short amount of time in order to populate their colonies. According to Dr. Barbara Thorne’s 2015, Pest Control Technology article, conehead termites pose threats, not only to South Florida, but to other states, as well. Dr. Torne goes on to say that these fast-spreading termites display “tremendous potential for survival in a variety of structural and natural habitats across a broad geographic range, with decisive economic consequences if they become permanently established and spread.”

Conehead termites feast on dead wood from live trees, as well as many other wood sources

Consuming dead wood from dead or living trees, the conehead diet includes not only citrus trees, grasses, shrubs and roots, a concern not only for Florida’s agricultural and turfgrass industries, but for home and commercial property owners, as well. Coneheads may even share your home furnishing tastes, in an entirely different way than you do. Even cardboard and paper products are not immune to the conehead appetite. Hungry and highly destructive, conehead termites, if left to their own devices could cause extensive damage resulting in expensive repairs, not covered by your homeowner’s insurance.

Conehead termites are named for the dark, pointed heads of the soldier caste

Originally, when discovered in Broward County in 2001, coneheads were referred to as “tree termites” but this caused confusion, as Nasutitermes corniger isn’t confined to living and feeding in trees and by the fact that other termite species also live and feed in trees. Quite different in appearance from subterranean and drywood termites in South Florida, this invasive species was given the name, “conehead,” for the dark, distinctive teardrop or pear-shaped heads of the soldier caste. A sap-like substance squirted from the tip of soldiers’ heads acts to detain and deter lizards, frogs, birds, ants and other would-be predators from feasting on conehead termites, that can’t be bothered with tunnels and often crawl across lawns, like ants.

Smaller than other South Florida termites

Measuring just over 1/8 inch in length, conehead soldiers are just slightly shorter than the workers. Small, compared to Florida drywood termites, conehead workers and soldiers are around the same size as subterranean workers but somewhat shorter than subterranean soldiers.

Like South Florida’s Formosan and Asian subterranean termite species, conehead termites build foraging tunnels in the ground but unlike subterranean termites, conehead show-offs build extensive networks of half-inch brown tunnels on almost any surface, including 40 feet up tree trunks, inside structural walls, on the sides of houses and over roof eaves. These vast tunnel networks are often the first indication of an infestation.

Bent on colony expansion, conehead termite colonies expand rapidly

  • With multiple queens and kings and a population of around 20-30% workers and soldiers, conehead colonies can expand in a fraction of the time it takes other types of termites to expand their colonies.
  • Conehead termites build large, round, bumpy nests, in trees or in grass roots that can be as large as basketballs.
  • Reproductive alates, identified by long black wings and black bodies are larger than other South Florida termite species.
  • Conehead alates swarm, usually in May, forming shimmery, black clouds of tens of thousands of swarmers, from a single, large colony.

Conehead termite colonies can be tricky to spot in their early stages

After alates swarm, new kings and queens find secure places inside dead wood, where they grow their colonies, over the span of four years or more. Once grown to a sizable population, conehead termites build their extensive tunnel networks and ultimately, a primary nest, as well as satellite nests. This is how coneheads deceive homeowners. After eradicating mature nests and satellite locations, homeowners think their conehead termite infestation is a thing of the past. Not so fast, re-infestations can occur by maturing colonies that were hidden when the initial infestation was eliminated.

Conehead termites are so aggressive and opportunistic in their expansion efforts that Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is intent on eradicating conehead termites in South Florida. The good news is that “these exotic termites build conspicuous tunnels and above-ground nests . . . that render colonies more vulnerable to discovery and possible eradication.” Constant and diligent monitoring for conehead activity helps in this effort to keep these pests from spreading. As a number of termites thrive in South Florida’s warm, moist climate, proactive homeowners are urged to contact a trusted pest control professional, such as Hulett Environmental Services, for a free termite inspection and get started with services to create a pest-free barrier around your property.

You can also help in efforts to deter termites and other pests by:

  • Removing all debris and wood piles from your property
  • Repairing water leaks and replacing damp wood
  • Keeping gutters and downspouts clean
  • Making sure water drains away from exterior walls and foundations
  • Regularly monitoring your irrigation system
  • Trimming shrubbery and tree branches away from your home
  • Keeping mulch at least 6 inches from your foundation

At Hulett Environmental Services, our team of trained and certified termite specialists effectively and affordably defend your home and loved ones from the invasion of conehead and other South Florida termites. Locally-owned and operated, for three generations, with Graduate Entomologist, Tim Hulett, at the helm, our Healthy Home program protects your home and loved ones, with the highest quality, most environmentally responsible materials and methods on the market. For the most effective and convenient termite protection available for your home and lifestyle, contact us to schedule a free termite inspection today.

Twelve Vials of Anti-Venom Save Australian Adolescent from Deadly Spider Bite

Twelve Vials of Anti-Venom Save Australian Adolescent from Deadly Spider Bite

As spring approaches, Hulett Environmental Services would like to remind homeowners that when spring cleaning motivates you to get rid of all of that junk cluttering up your sheds and other seldom visited storage areas, remember that dangerous spiders could be lurking in dark, quiet places. Just ask an Australian boy, who didn’t see this coming.

According to a recent Daily Telegraph article, on February 24th, a 10-year-old boy received the largest dose of anti-venom ever administered in Australia. Home to the world’s most venomous snakes, lethal box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopi and crocodiles, another animal on the world’s deadliest list is Australia’s funnel-web spider. An aggressive biter, when threatened or disturbed, the funnel-web spider releases neurotoxins into its unsuspecting victims, packing a power punch to the nervous system.

Funnel-web spider, hiding in shoe attacked ten-year-old, Matthew Mitchell

While helping his dad, Darren, clean out a shed on their Berkeley Vale property, north of Sydney, a hapless, Matthew Mitchell reached into a shoe where a funnel-web spider, ‘“clawed onto me and all the legs and everything crawled around my finger and I couldn’t get it off,” the boy told the Daily Telegraph.

Fast-thinking dad slows venom’s effects

Amid shoes flying everywhere and Matthew screaming frantically, attested his mother, Shellie, his father quickly created a compression bandage with his shirt and drove the boy to the closest medical facility, a neighborhood pharmacy. From there, paramedics rushed Matthew to Gosford Hospital. With his condition rapidly declining, doctors “were forced to treat the boy, with a record 12 vials of anti-venom.”

Matthew’s attacker now in much-needed anti-venom milking program

Coincidentally, the Australian Reptile Park, running dangerously low on anti-venom, sent out a notice last month requesting live funnel-web spiders for their anti-venom program. Mitchell’s funnel-web attacker was consequently captured and is now doing time at the Reptile Park, as part of the venom milking program. Although Matthew suffered a “significant bite,” his mother reported that he was doing well. “I’ve never heard of it, it’s incredible,” the park’s general manager, Tim Faulkner told the Australian Associated Press, on Friday. “To walk out of hospital a day later with no effects is a testament to the anti-venom.”

Matthew’s mother, Shellie, still reeling from the incident, “is keen to tell the family’s story to warn others of the dangers posed by funnel-web spiders,” so others will take care when cleaning garages and sheds.

Average dose of anti-venom is 3 to 5 vials

Faulkner told reporters that, “an average funnel-web bite usually requires three to five vials of anti-venom,” adding that male funnel-web venom is five times stronger than the female spider’s venom. While children are more vulnerable to the venom, Faulkner said, without anti-venom, Matthew’s bite would have killed an adult. “It would have been a fatal bite (without anti-venom) there’s little to no doubt of that,” he said.

Sydney’s funnel-web spider’s venom can prove lethal in as little as 15 minutes. Since the introduction of anti-venom in the 1980s, no deaths have been reported.

Australian funnel-webs do not live in the US but other venomous spiders can inhabit South Florida

Although poisonous funnel-web spiders are indigenous to Australia, about 100 species of non-threatening funnel-web spiders can be found throughout Europe and the US. Southern black widow spiders and some brown recluse spiders live in Florida but aren’t established in the South Florida area. Brought into the area by travelers, bites from these venomous spiders can cause neurological damage and victims should seek medical attention immediately. Additionally, banana spiders, who visit South Florida via banana boats aren’t poisonous but they do bite and their bites hurt.

Hulett’s pest prevention program safeguards your home and your family

This spring, Hulett suggests wearing gloves, long-sleeves and long pants when cleaning dark, quiet spaces where spiders like to hide out. At Hulett, our pest prevention services go further to protect your home and family using materials and treatments customized to your needs without potentially harming the environment.

With our Healthy Home Guarantee, our responsible, graduate entomologists ensure that your home, family, and pets live pest-free. Our system excludes pests from your home, makes your home less attractive to pests and creates a pest deterring environment around your home. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection!

7 Signs You Need to Invest in Pest Control

7 Signs You Need to Invest in Pest Control

As South Floridians know, termites love the warm and humid climate, as much as they do. Even worse, drywood, dampwood and several species of native and invasive subterranean termites are predicted by University of Florida researchers to affect over half of the structures in Florida by 2040 if their numbers continue to increase their current trajectories. Further, some researchers believe that due to warming trends, two aggressive species, the Asian subterranean and the Formosan subterranean termite may have already created a super hybrid poised to cause extensive damage to the Greater Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach area as well, in the near future.

Hulett encourages homeowners to take proactive preventive steps to deter termites

Due to your location in a subtropical paradise, Hulett Environmental Services strongly encourages South Florida homeowners to contact a professional pest control company, preferably one dedicated to pet and people friendly practices and materials for a free termite inspection and to get started on a guaranteed, termite prevention plan.

Termite damage can go unnoticed until extensive damage leads to expensive repairs

Termites can go unnoticed for quite some time, as they tend to build nests in dark places, in areas of your home where you may not see them. Entering your home through cracks and crevices in your foundation, some termites carve out galleries in your walls, eating the wood in that area as they burrow.

Subterranean termites don’t live in your walls but travel back and forth from your home to underground nests via mud tunnels they build to transport food to their nests. Spotting termite activity isn’t as straightforward as one might think. Below we listed some tell-tale signs to tip you off to potential termite activity.

Signs of a termite infestation

  1. Swarming
  • Especially in the spring and summer, young reproductives fly around as part of their mating ritual.
  • Often confused with flying ants, termite alates are the only termite stage to possess wings.
  • Although similar to ants, termites have wide bodies, whereas flying ants sport pinched waists.
  • With two sets of identical upper and lower wings, termite wings are twice as large as their bodies, as opposed to more body proportionate flying ant wings.
  • The lower pair of flying ant wings appears smaller than their upper set of wings.
  1. Wings found on floors, on windowsills and in light fixtures
  • After alates swarm in search of mates in order to begin building new nests, they shed their wings.
  • Wings found outside your home should alert you to the potential for termites living in the wood near your home.
  • Wings found indoors mean it’s time for you to start searching for the source of the wings and a termite issue.
  1. Evidence of “frass”
  • When termites burrow into the wood in your home, they leave behind tell-tale signs of feasting on your wood, in fecal matter, known as frass that resembles sawdust.
  • Drywood termites drill knockout holes in wood to discard frass.
  • Tiny holes in home furnishings may point to termite activity.
  • If, after removing piles of frass from a particular area, the frass reappears, signs point to an active termite infestation.
  • Carpenter ants also burrow through wood to make their nests but do not eat wood.
  1. Warped or buckling walls
  • As drywood termites make themselves at home in your walls, they compromise the structural integrity of wood fibers and drywall construction.
  • Cavities caused by termites hollowing out spaces in walls cause walls to buckle and appear water damaged.
  • Flooring, including hardwood and laminates can show signs of subterranean termite infestations, buckling and warping flooring.
  1. Sagging floors and hollow walls
  • In addition to buckling and warping, sagging floors and hollow walls indicate long term termite activity.
  • Test for hollow walls by tapping on walls. Termite affected walls sound hollow or like tapping on paper.
  • Sometimes termite infestations are discovered when light pressure exerted on walls, doors and molding creates holes or give way to hollow spaces.
  • Sagging floors might not be evident to homeowners as termites initially damage subflooring which is out of sight.
  • If termite damage isn’t addressed in time, severe structural damage can affect the value of your home.
  • By the time termites cause expensive structural damage, your infestation may be so large it will be almost impossible to eradicate.
  1. Mud tubes near the foundation of your home
  • Subterranean termite activity can be detected by the presence of dirt piles in unusual places near your foundation inside and outside your home.
  • Because subterranean termites develop massive colonies underground, they build networks of mud tubes that can be seen near your home’s foundation.
  • Not only do the signature mud tubes act as central roadways for workers hauling food back to nests, they protect termites from exposure to the sun and predators.
  1. Termite sounds
  • Although subtle, termites do make sounds inside walls.
  • Termites cannot hear or emit audible vocal sounds but soldiers will bang their heads inside tunnels when disturbed or threatened, creating a rapid, clicking sound.
  • Worker termites, wielding massive mandibles can be heard chewing wood, when you place your ear to a termite-infested wall.
  • These sounds may be difficult to detect, as termites prefer softer interior wood inside timbers, below the surface

If you suspect termite activity in your home, you are advised to act immediately to eliminate a current infestation and get started on termite-proofing your South Florida home. Many insurance companies warn against taking on termites yourself. Subterranean termites, when under threat may spread out, creating new colonies that may also affect not only your home but your neighbor’s, as well.

In South Florida, termites cause more damage to homes than fires, tornadoes and hurricanes. An annual termite protection program not only protects your home now but helps preserve the value of your home should you decide to sell your home down the road. Hulett’s people- and pet-friendly, environmentally responsible solutions to your pest control needs form the foundation of our Healthy Home approach. Contact us to schedule a free termite inspection and to find out more about our Termite Protection Plan that efficiently eliminates termites and other pests that currently threaten your home and your family’s well-being.

Pet Friendly Pest Control: Keeping Your Pet Flea and Tick Free

Pet Friendly Pest Control: Keeping Your Pet Flea and Tick Free

In South Florida, it’s always tick and flea season. Keeping your four-legged family members happy and healthy can be more challenging than in other cooler parts of the country. Warm, humid subtropical conditions with lush vegetation and the wide spectrum of wildlife contribute to the potential for many tick and flea associated diseases in the Greater Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach areas.

Our pet-friendly programs are an important feature in our Healthy Home guarantee

Hulett Environmental Services’ pet-friendly pest control program keeps fleas and ticks out of your home and off your favorite family members, your pets. Our Healthy Home approach to pest control uses materials designed for low concentration applications to effectively eliminate small insects, without harming people or pets.  We customize our treatments to your home, often using the same ingredients to treat your home’s interior and exterior as your pet care provider offers in flea and tick prevention for your pets.

Hulett’s proactive pest control programs are designed to not only address current flea and tick issues but also to prevent fleas and ticks moving forward. Because fleas and ticks carry deadly diseases, Hulett urges pet owners to contact a pest control professional as soon as possible with flea infestations and tick trouble.

Fleas carry several diseases that can affect humans and pets.

While fleas are generally just considered a persistent nuisance; these vectors also can cause several diseases in animals and humans, including:

  • Mycoplasma haemofelis
    Infecting red blood cells, M. haemofelis, a bacterial disease is spread to cats through flea, ticks and mosquito bites. M. haemofelis causes fever and anemia primarily in cats but may also affect humans with compromised immune systems, due to bacteria attacking red blood cells.
  • Tapeworms
    Tapeworms are a commonly known intestinal parasite. Children, dogs and cats may get tapeworms from accidentally swallowing diseased adult fleas. Easily treated in both humans and pets with an injection in pets and orally in humans, a drug, praziquantel dissolves the tapeworm in the intestines.
  • Murine typhus
    Another disease carried by cats that affects humans, murine typhus, is confined to Texas and California. While rats are the main carriers, cats coming into contact with diseased fleas can transmit Rickettsia typhi bacteria to humans. Murine typhus causes flu-like symptoms, followed by a rash beginning in the trunk of your body that spreads to your arms and legs. Murine typhus, should be treated as soon as possible as typhus can be fatal if ignored.

Generally, fleas cause a great deal of discomfort. Pets scratching flea bites can break the skin and cause secondary infections. Flea allergy dermatitis can make your pet itchy and miserable, causing excessive licking and scratching at the bite site or all over your pet’s body. Ticks present more dangerous health issues in pets.

Ticks can cause many serious diseases that can affect you and your pets
Most pet owners are more familiar with life-threatening diseases, such as:

  • Lyme disease
    The most commonly reported tick related disease, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium, Lyme disease is thought to be transmitted by the blacklegged tick in Florida. In dogs and cats, Lyme disease can cause joint swelling, lameness, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy and loss of appetite. In rare cases, severe progressive kidney disease can occur.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
    Considered the most severe tick-inflicted disease in the US, RMSF can be misdiagnosed, due to its flu-like symptoms in humans.  Mainly transmitted by the American dog tick in Florida, untreated cases of RMSF can affect organs and lead to death. Dogs exhibit flu-like symptoms in addition to depression and edema. In advanced cases, pneumonia, heart arrhythmia and renal failure can all be fatal to dogs.
  • Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis
    Ehrlichiosis, transmitted by the lone star tick and anaplasmosis, transmitted by the    black-legged tick resembles Rocky Mountain spotted fever with flu-like symptoms and rashes. Anaplasmosis can cause allergic reactions to cats and red meat in humans. Most ehrlichiosis cases are brought into Florida from other states and are difficult to diagnose due to their similarities to other diseases.

Flea infestations require the attention of trained professionals working in conjunction with pet owners 

While it’s tempting to try to tackle your flea infestation on your own, most commercial flea bombs, foggers and sprays prove ineffective, as they kill fleas in the immediate area but cannot penetrate to all areas where fleas can hide.

Trained and licensed professional pest control technicians, such as Hulett’s team of pest experts, use the most effective, pet friendly materials and methods to disrupt flea reproduction cycles, eliminating all four life stages of fleas inside and outside your home.

Flea and tick elimination and prevention is a collaborative effort

To successfully eliminate fleas, pet owners and pest control professionals need to work together. Pet owners need to provide flea and tick preventive treatments to their pets to eliminate the source of the infestation. Pet owners should make the following part of their ongoing efforts:

  • Thoroughly vacuum carpets, rugs, upholstery and pet bedding and then remove cleaner bags from your home.
  • Launder all pet bedding and pet toys.
  • Outside your home, eliminate all debris and clean pet lounging areas.
  • Keep grass trimmed.

In the battle against ticks, pet owners should keep the following points in mind for their own safety and the safety of their family members and pets.

  • Pet owners can wear long-sleeve shirts and pants when walking through tall grass and in wooded areas.
  • Check their pets, as well as themselves for ticks when returning from walks.
  • Wear insect repellant when outdoors.
  • Keep grass trimmed and your property clutter-free.

Exclusive to South Florida, Hulett Environmental Services works for you and your loved ones, including your pets, to quickly resolve all of your flea and tick issues, as well as all other household pest concerns in a pet friendly approach to a Healthy Home. It’s our guarantee!

Rats: If Only They Paid for Rent! Common Rat Entry Points and What You Can Do

Common Rat Entry Points and What You Can Do

Rodents have always co-existed with humans. Since the Roman Empire rodents and their disease-carrying vectors, such as fleas and ticks have been responsible for most of the major plagues throughout history. Alongside the increasing human population, rodents continue to increase in numbers as well. So, how do you keep rodents out of your South Florida home? This can be a tricky task given the fact that mice can squeeze into your home through dime-sized openings and rats are capable of squeezing through holes the size of a quarter.

Rodents are naturally equipped to get into any place they desire to

Rodents, armed with teeth stronger than platinum and amazing jaw strength can eat through wood, stucco, cement and even steel. Incredible sounding, yes, but true, nonetheless. Also, rodents must constantly chew to keep their teeth filed down to a manageable size. Rats and mice in your home will chew on anything and everything, including wood, drywall and electrical wiring.  Many house fires of undetermined sources point to rodents chewing through electrical wiring to sharpen their teeth and get through holes drilled for wiring in attics.

But how do rodents get into your home?

The short answer is, anyway they can. Besides squeezing through small holes, crevices and cracks in your home’s foundation, rodents can enter your home through vents, your air conditioner’s line set cover and through drainpipes.  As disconcerting as it is, rats can even enter your home through your plumbing by swimming up your toilet.

Rodents are excellent swimmers

Their swimming abilities explain, in part, how bubonic-infested rats were able to wreak havoc on Great Britain and half of the known world, during the Great Plague in the 1600s. In Erika Engelhaupt’s 2015 National Geographic blog article, she writes about rats entering her home through sewer pipes. Rodents, it turns out, can swim for three days at a time and can survive on food people flush down their toilets, as well as the undigested food in human excrement, if necessary.

Capping off sewer lines could result in rodents chewing through your plumbing or dying in your pipes, setting up the perfect nightmare scene for a fly or roach infestation. Rodents in your capped plumbing don’t just give up; they tend to pop up somewhere else. In apartment and condo settings, this might be your neighbor’s toilet.

Excluding rodents from your home

South Florida homeowners can take precautions to exclude rodents from their homes by sealing all cracks, crevices and holes in their foundations and around windows and doors.  Additionally, trimming tree limbs and shrubbery away from your home’s exterior eliminates bridges to your attic and other upper areas in your home. Removing all clutter and debris from the exterior of your property, keeping your grass cut short and your outside trash receptacle areas sanitized can make your home uninviting to rodents and other pests.

Create an unfriendly environment for rodents on the interior of your home

Rodents are resilient but dependent on humans for their sustenance. Mice and rats need the basic essentials that humans do. Your home offers warmth, shelter, food and water to mice and rats in one convenient location. Rodents don’t have to dodge predators, except your cat, in order to set up shop in your attic, walls or basement. In fact, rodents have cohabitated with humans for so long that, according to National Geographic, Norway rats (also known as common city rats) do not exist in the wild.

With that in mind, keeping all dry food storage containers tightly sealed in glass, metal or hard plastic containers and thoroughly cleaning food prep and dining areas after every meal can eliminate food sources for rodents. Washing dishes and placing food scraps in sealed trash receptacles can also make your home less inviting to rodents, as can sweeping and/or vacuuming dining area floors after each meal.

Repairing or replacing leaky faucets and pipes can reduce rodent water sources, even though rodents can get the water they need to survive and multiply from their food sources.

Signs of rodent issues include scurrying and squeaking sounds in your walls and attic, as well as:

  • Rodent droppings near food sources
  • Chewed food packages
  • Rodent sightings
  • Sudden fly or roach infestations

If you suspect rodents in or around your south Florida home; it’s time to call a professional

Hulett Environmental Services suggests contacting trained rodent elimination technicians who know how to handle rodent issues before they become infestations. Using environmentally-conscious techniques and materials, Hulett ensures you and your family responsible rodent removal with the placement of the latest and most effective capture equipment and non-toxic baits.  We monitor your home until all rodent activity ceases, sealing rodent entryways and installing entry limiting screens to your pipes and other pathways rodents may use to enter your home.

Preventive measures, such as making your home uninviting to rats, mice and other pests can help home pest-proof your sunshine state home. When pest issues arise, contact Hulett at the first sign of household pest activity.

How to Prevent South Florida Pests from Seeking Shelter in Your Home

Prevent South Florida PestsAlthough South Florida’s tropical environment allows her the leisure of moderate temperatures during the winter months, even cold snaps can find their way to the sunshine state. That’s when certain insects and rodents run for the shelter and warmth of your South Florida home. These household pests include carpenter ants, ghost ants, cockroaches, silverfish, ticks, roof rats and house mice. Not only are these pests annoying and inconvenient for you and your loved ones, they can also cause considerable damage to your home. Hulett Environmental Services encourages you to contact a pest professional at the first indication of insect or rodent issues in your home this winter.

Pests wintering in your home can spread pathogens and disease

  • Rodents carry life-threatening diseases caused by bites from vector insects, such as fleas and ticks.
  • Roaches that feed on rodent droppings can cause the dangerous respiratory condition, Hantavirus, as well as allergic reactions that can trigger asthma attacks, particularly in children.
  • Rodents, if startled or threatened, will bite people and pets.
  • Because rats and mice reproduce at a rapid rate, rodent problems should be handled immediately by professionals, trained and certified in rodent removal and elimination.

Some pests can put your home’s structural integrity at risk and even cause electrical fires

  • Carpenter ants burrowing through wood can cause as much damage as termites.
  • Rodents who can chew through wood, asbestos, brick, concrete, aluminum and ½-inch thick metal, also gnaw through electrical wiring and are suspected of starting house fires.

The best way to avoid the headaches of winter pests in your home involves making your home an uninviting place for pests to enter. Along with contracting a trusted pest control company, such as Hulett to create a pest barrier around your property, you can help protect your property from pests with a few common-sense practices.

Indoors, you can start by:

  • Keeping food prep surfaces and dining areas clean and sanitized
  • Sweeping, mopping and vacuuming floors regularly
  • Sealing all open dry goods in air-tight metal, glass or hard plastic containers
  • Cleaning dishes immediately after dining
  • Storing leftovers and desserts in your fridge
  • Using air-tight trash receptacles
  • Repairing leaks in pipes and any moisture-prone areas

Taking a look at your home’s exterior, make note of places where pests like to hide or nest. Removing all debris from your home’s exterior is a great place to start creating a clean, pest-free environment that excludes pests any time of year.

  • Remove all construction materials and unused plant containers.
  • Keep your lawn cut short and remove areas of tall grass nearby.
  • Stack firewood 20 feet away from your home, if possible.
  • Reposition rocks and mulch away from your foundation.
  • Trim branches away from your home and remove vines growing up your exterior walls.

Shifting focus to water-prone areas around your house, it is important to also look at areas where water is commonly found and take appropriate measures there.

  • Store any toys, planters and other items that collect water in dry places.
  • Repair any damp or rotting wood that makes it easier for pests to gain access to your home.
  • Clean your gutters and downspouts.
  • Make sure your downspouts are functioning properly to direct water away from your home.
  • Remove piles of gathered leaves from the base of your home and off your property.

Now that you can see your clean foundation, seal all cracks, crevices and holes at the base of your home. This not only deters pests, but also improves your home’s energy efficiency.

  • Check windows and doors for cracks and other places pests can enter your home.
  • Make sure door seals are in good shape or replace worn weather stripping.
  • Check crawlspaces for tight-fitting seals around openings
  • Seal or caulk cracks and crevices in crawlspaces.
  • Stuff small holes with steel wool to deter rodents.

Consider your roof and the upper area of your home, as well. Roof rats and flying insects can enter your home through tiny spaces.

  • Repair your roof or replace as needed.
  • Replace any damp or rotting flashing, fascia and eave boards.
  • Check attic vents for tight seals.

Other initiatives you can take to exclude pests include:

  • Keeping all trash receptacles clean and away from your home.
  • Sanitizing the area around your trash receptacles.
  • Moving compost piles away from your home.
  • Trading out standard white exterior lightbulbs with yellow or sodium vapor lights.
  • Installing storm windows. For year-round screen usage, your screens need to be intact, with no holes or tears and fit snugly.

With these pest prevention tips in mind, Hulett Environmental Services hopes you have a fun, pest-free south Florida winter. Cleaning up and repairing the exterior of your home this winter, plus keeping the interior of your home clean and sanitized goes a long way in creating a healthy place where pests can’t survive and reproduce. Come spring, you’ll be ready for the increased pest activity that comes with the season.  For comprehensive pest protection, contact Hulett to design a seasonal integrated pest management plan (IPM) that uses human and pet-friendly methods and treatments to create a pest barrier around the perimeter of your property. Don’t bug out this winter, call Hulett and keep your peace of mind intact. You’ve got our Healthy Home Guarantee!

Winter Pests are Here to Stay: Find out Which Pests are Most Common in Florida This Time of Year

Winter Pests are Here to Stay: Find out Which Pests are Most Common in Florida This Time of Year

This winter, as a large part of the US battles blizzards and frigid temps, Southern Florida, known for her gentler climate with more moderate temperatures welcomes visitors to catch a break from the cold and alleviate their winter blues, in her soothing sunshine. Know who’s not so welcome in Southern Florida during winter months? It’s those pesky household pests that insist on invading your home when Florida temps drop a few degrees below 60 for a few days?

The usual suspects making themselves at home this winter include insects and rodents

While some insect species, such as beetles dig into the ground to weather the winter outdoors, others prefer the warmth and resources of your home. Some of the usual suspects likely to be making an appearance in your greater Miami or Florida Keys area home this winter include ticks, ghost ants, carpenter ants, silverfish and cockroaches.

Along with insects, warm-blooded rodents, such as rats and mice, also prefer your dark, warm attic or convenient crawlspaces and wall voids to hunker down in during cold spells. House mice and roof rats take this quiet time to build nests and start families, while Norway rats, more acclimated to the cooler temps don’t usually take up residence in your home but come in for food they take back to their nests.

In addition to making nuisances of themselves, insects and rodents destroy property and pose health threats to humans and pets.

Cohabitating with humans since the dawn of civilization, rodents have been at the center of historic world-wide plagues, throughout history. Disease-ridden rodents, infected by ticks and other vector insects, played heavily into the fall of the Roman Empire and brought about the Great Bubonic Plague. Rodents also cause electrical damage, as well as structural damage, because they must chew on anything, including wiring and walls in order to keep their teeth in check.

It gets worse. Cockroaches and other insects that feast on rodent excrement can cause a serious respiratory condition, called Hantavirus, when rodent feces and urine particles become airborne during cleaning. Roaches crawling around in trash cans and garbage bins transfer bacteria and pathogens to food sources in your home. Some roaches also cause allergic reactions in children and sensitive people.

Carpenter ants, second only to termites in their capacity to destroy wooden structures, unlike termites, don’t actually eat wood but tunnel through it, in order to nest inside the wood. Also, although carpenter ants don’t damage wood at the same incredible rates as subterranean termites, they can go undetected for long periods of time inside your home.

Signs of insects and rodents in your home can manifest in various ways

Some winter household pests are easier to detect than others.

  • Ghost ants, despite their name and their miniscule size, nest indoors under cabinets, in wall voids, behind cabinetry, in between books, in potted plants and other inconspicuous places. Ghost ants foraging from food sources in your kitchen to their nests can be an obvious sign that you might have a ghost ant infestation in your home, although indoor foragers may come from a nest outside.
  • Carpenter ants can be detected by the sawdust they produce from burrowing through wood in your home, or in the altered appearance of affected wood.
  • Smaller, German, Asian and brownbanded cockroaches hide in dark, sheltered places in attics, storerooms, kitchens and bathrooms during the day and come out at night to feed. They can be found under sinks or drain boards, in cabinets and cupboards, behind drawers, around pipes, and around windows and doorframes.
  • Larger roaches, including the Florida wood roach and American, Australian, brown and smokybrown cockroaches, often known as palmetto bugs are generally outdoor types and may cause hysterics when they come indoors, due to their size and erratic movements.
  • Silverfish, with a voracious appetite are drawn to starchy foods and can be found in closets, pantries, bookshelves, attics and anywhere cereals, flour, paper and fabric are stored in your home. Tell-tale signs include affected books, fabrics or starchy food stores.
  • Rodents can often make scurrying, squeaking and chewing noises in your walls and attic. Droppings, found near food sources and evidence of chewed food packaging indicate a rodent issue. You may even spot rodents in your home.

Winter is here and although South Florida’s seasonal change is subtle, when temperatures do drop at times, insects and rodents might try to make a beeline for your home looking for warmth and food. These pests can wreak havoc on your winter, if left to their own devices.

Hulett Environmental Services encourages South Florida homeowners to contact a pest control professional at the first indication of insects and rodents attempting to winter in your home. Hulett ensures preventative measures, such as regularly scheduled pest control services that create a pest barrier around your property with our Healthy Home guarantee. To set up a pest barrier for your home and/or address an existing indoor pest issue this winter, contact Hulett Environmental Services today!

Zika Virus Fears Incites Majority of Brazilian Women to Avoid Pregnancy

Zika Virus Fears Incites Majority of Brazilian Women to Avoid Pregnancy

Brazilian women recently chimed in that over 50 percent of the potential mothers have been avoiding pregnancy due to their fears about the Zika virus. The survey conducted was able to collect data through face-to-face questionnaires as well as ones slipped in secret ballot boxes from 2,002 urban, literate Brazilian woman between the ages of 18 to 39. They collected data about women’s reproductive health and pregnancy, and even received information about abortion experiences. Only 27 percent said they hadn’t tried to avoid pregnancy, with 56 percent claiming that they were avoiding it, and the other 16 percent claiming they had already not been planning on getting pregnant as it was.

This widespread fear of getting pregnant is especially present in Brazil since they have been the country hit the hardest so far. There have been 2,200 cases of microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and more often than not leads to serious developmental problems that can lead to the child requiring a lifetime of personal medical care and a vastly shortened lifespan. This study gives an important peek into how the Zika virus is affecting Brazilian women and their pregnancy desires and intentions. It also could be a good indication of how women across the globe may all eventually be affected by the virus. The dangers are so high for pregnant women and their babies that perhaps women around the world will be deciding to avoid pregnancy for years to come due to fears about the Zika virus. Birth rates could drop dramatically.

These new findings also suggest that Brazil may need to take a serious look at changing some of their reproductive health policies, placing reproductive health concerns at the top of their priority list in their response to the Zika virus. Women need better access to safe and effective contraceptives for one, and many health experts believe the government should lift the ban on abortion considering the kind of serious health issues the Zika virus causes in babies, as well as the emotional and financial toll it puts on the mother of infants born with severe birth defects due the virus.

This could be just the beginning of women avoiding pregnancy all over the world. In the U.S. there have already been 32 cases of Zika-linked birth defects in infants reported, and that number is likely to rise in the coming months and years. 1,172 of the reported cases of the Zika virus in the U.S. have involved pregnant mothers, and a recent study estimated that 6 percent of those infected pregnant women will have babies with Zika-linked birth defects.

Do you think the Zika virus will end up causing a significant worldwide drop in birth rates? How could this effect the countries, governments, and people on this planet?

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