Tag Archives: Ants

Ants: What You Need to Know

Ants: What You Need to Know

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

Identification

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

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

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

Keeping Ants Away

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

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

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

Ant Spotlight: White-Footed Ants

Ant Spotlight: White-Footed Ants

Another pesky ant that persists in annoying South Florida homeowners, the white-footed ant, an “old-world” species is often confused with other ants, such as Argentine and crazy ants.  The white-footed ant, a nuisance pest in South Florida, fortunately does not sting, bite, or possess powerful mandibles that would cause structural damage. So, what’s the problem?

Well, the problem seems to be that white-footed ant populations can number 3 million members and that is a lot of ants foraging around in your kitchen, surprising you in your bathroom and just basically irritating homeowners by foraging up exterior walls and into your home in search of sweet things to eat.

White-footed ants can present bigger problems for agriculture

This farmer’s nightmare is a medium-small, black-brownish colored ant with yellowish-white feet, white-footed ants have a single segmented waist and measure 2.5mm in length. These small ants can be fierce defenders of their food sources, preferring sweet plant nectars and honeydew produced by many sap-sucking insects, such as mealy-bugs, scale and aphids, these white-footed ants protect these sap-sucking insects, causing big problems for commercial greenhouses by negatively affecting the imported exotic orchid and fruit markets.

White-footed ants were first collected in 1986 at a nursery in Homestead, Florida.  By 2002   white-footed ants had spread to Brevard, Broward, Collier, Miami-Dade, Hendry, Lee, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Polk, St. Lucie, Sarasota, Seminole, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in Florida. 2004 saw suspected infestations in Indian River and Charlotte counties. These prolific white-footed ants have managed to spread to urban and suburban areas in south and central Florida as well.  Like many non-native insect species, white-footed ants were probably transported to the US in residential landscaping plants and materials accidentally.

White-footed ants can be difficult to control for several reasons

The fact that white-footed ants can reproduce quickly and in large numbers make these ants difficult to control. Close to half the colony of white-footed ants consists of fertile, reproductive females that are inseminated by wingless males. These reproductive females, or intercastes, eventually leave the nest with other nest mates to form new colonies, a process known as “budding” or causing new problems in the neighborhood.

These fertile, winged reproductive ants, known as alates swarm between July and August in South Florida. During their nuptial flights, pairs of alates mate and form new colonies. These nests form part of the intricate networks of nests that can make up an extended white-footed ant colony, which is often spread out over a large area.

White-footed foraging workers do not ingest food and then share it with other colony members, like other ants. Also, sterile workers lay unfertilized eggs, called trophic eggs, that are fed to non-foraging adults and developing offspring. The eating habits of the white-footed ants make them difficult to control for professionals and a hopeless endeavor for the do-it-yourselfer.  They do not share their food with other ants, so only half of the colony is affected by using baits.

Nesting habits also make white-footed ants a persistent problem for South Florida homeowners

Many locations in, and around your property, can be inviting to white-footed ants. In the wild, white-footed ants prefer to nest at ground level or above in shrubs and bushes containing sap-sucking insects, in old trees, under loose bark, in rotten tree trunks and limbs, in the palm petiole bases, under piles of leaves, in compost piles, under rocks, following fence lines and in outdoor furniture, in addition to abandoned termite galleries. While these ants tend to prefer outdoor nests to indoor nests, getting too close for comfort, white-footed ants can be found nesting under doormats, in wall voids, in attics, under roof shingles and in cardboard boxes. Any damp spaces in and around your home can be fair game for white-footed ant nesting places.

This ant’s need to colonize a big slice of real estate adds to homeowners’ frustration. White-footed ants like to spread out around your property. Ants in the same colony can live in a primary nest with many satellite nests, some indoors and some outdoors. Nesting sites house the eggs, the developing young, the pupae and the adult ants. With numerous nests making up a colony, delineating the limits of a single colony is sometimes impossible, as all nests in an area seem to be interconnected.

Homeowners often detect white-footed ants when they forage in distinctive trails

With millions of members in a white-footed ant colony, food is a priority.  Preferring sweet foods, white-footed ants can be found foraging on bushes and ornamental plants that contain nectars and are frequented by aphids, mealybugs, scale and other sap-sucking insects. Foragers lay down a trail of pheromones that lead to food sources. As nest mates move back and forth from food sources to their nests, they can be spotted trailing in lines, along external walls that leads to a small crack or crevice in your home’s foundation or walls. Often, trailing inside walls, following electrical cables, white-footed ants find their way into rooms where liquids and solid food sources can result in heavy trailing activity, especially in kitchens and bathrooms.

Contact a licensed and certified professional pest control company

If you suspect you are dealing with white-footed ants, the most reliable way to control these insects with huge colonies and networks of satellite nests is to contact a pest control professional. Do-it-yourself baits and other materials may work to cut down a percentage of a white-footed ant population for a while, but unless nests are pinpointed for treatment with industry-tested and proven methods and materials, by certified and licensed professionals, chances are white-footed ants will continue to pester you and your loved ones.

Hulett’s Healthy Home Guarantee

Hulett Environmental Services, locally owned and operated for over 35 years by Tim Hulett, utilizes the highest quality, most efficient, environmentally responsible methods and materials to eliminate white-footed ants from your property. Strategically placing liquid and gel materials where they will kill the reproductive queens causes the colony to collapse. Locating many satellite nests, using our integrated pest management system, Hulett gets to the multiple sources of your white-footed ant concerns.

Things you can do to deter white-footed ants and other pests

As a preventative measure, Hulett’s Healthy Home Guarantee offers a variety of annual pest protection plans that create a pest-proof barrier around your home and property. We are confident that you will be so satisfied with our services, we guarantee them. Homeowners can also take some common-sense measures to prevent white-footed ants and other household pests from finding your home attractive. These measures include:

  • Trimming all tree branches and shrubbery away from your home
  • Eliminating all debris and clutter in and around your home
  • Keeping grass cut short and eliminating areas of tall vegetation
  • Regularly cleaning your home, wiping down countertops, tables and other food and dining surfaces
  • Sweeping or vacuuming after every food event
  • Storing dried goods in metal, glass or hard plastic air-tight containers
  • Storing opened bread, pastries and other sweet items in air-tight containers or in the fridge.
  • Repairing all leaky faucets and drains
  • Eliminating water prone areas in your yard
  • Sanitizing outdoor trash receptacles and keeping all trash contained in air-tight containers
  • Sealing all cracks and crevices in your foundation and around entryways

South Florida is a haven for many household pests. Let Hulett safeguard your home and loved ones from white-footed ants and all other pesky would-be intruders. Contact us to schedule a free pest inspection today!  Hulett nips your white-footed ant issue in the bud! Just call Hulett at (866) 611-BUGS!

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!

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!

Jenga! The Building Blocks of Ant Tunnels

Jenga! The Building Blocks of Ant Tunnels

Fire ants with their painful bite are a particularly nasty pest to confront. But now it turns out this simple pest may be an architectural genius. Daniel Goldman, a physics professor at Georgia Tech, and his colleagues were impressed when they conducted a study of fire ant tunnels recently. These invasive creatures may just be nature’s best excavators with their prowess in building intricate tunnels and mounds. What’s more surprising is the new discovery that the fire ants’ digging process uses the same concept as childrens’ building block games.

Similar to the concept of building Jenga towers, the fire ants carefully construct their tunnel walls by balancing each particle precariously on top of another. And just like the wobbly Jenga towers we used to build as kids, the ants’ tunnels immediately collapsed when they were prodded with a metal rod.   This intricate design explains why they are able to so deftly squeeze around each other within the tunnels…as long as one clumsy ant doesn’t knock the whole tower down, of course.

So, does this mean we simply need to stomp around foiling fire ants’ Jenga tunnels with metal rods? Would they cry and yell in frustration as we do when their precarious tower falls?

South Florida Ant Control Tips | Hulett Environmental Services

Homeowners must pay close attention to signs of an infestation and take action if ants are found. The first step to eliminating an infestation is to identify the ant species, which will help determine the necessary course of treatment. However, this can be a challenge for someone without proper training.

Experts from Hulett Environmental Services recommend the following steps that homeowners can do today to thwart an ant infestation.

Ant Control Tips
Fort Pierce Pest Control Company
  • Block off access points. Take time to inspect the outside of your home for cracks and crevices, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter. Seal any small holes or gaps with a silicone-based caulk. Keep tree branches and other shrubbery well trimmed and away from the structure.
  • Eliminate sources of water in and around the home. Indoors, routinely check under sinks for areas of moisture and repair any leaky pipes. Consider using a dehumidifier in damp basements, crawl spaces or attics. Outside, ensure that downspouts and gutters are functioning properly so that water flows away from the home’s foundation.
  • Keep a clean kitchen. Wipe down counter tops and sweep floors to remove crumbs and residue from spills. Store food in sealed containers, and keep ripe fruit in the refrigerator. Also, make sure to dispose of garbage regularly.
  • Don’t forget about the pets. After mealtime, keep pet bowls clean and wipe up any spilled food or water around them promptly. Store dry pet food in a sealed plastic container rather than the paper bags they often come in, which can be easily accessed by ants, rodents and other pests. 

Helpful or Horrid? Why Ants Can Be the Ultimate Nightmare

Ants can be nightmare pestsAnts are one of the few bugs that most people seem to be able to, for the most part, live with peacefully. Even if someone hates ants, they are not likely to panic when one or two are encountered.

Why Aren’t Ants as Vilified as Other Bugs?

There are several theories about this, though there isn’t any real scientific research to back it up. Some think that growing up seeing parents just swat at or sigh over ants as opposed to shrieking and running away from spiders taught us that they aren’t that big a deal.

But Ants Aren’t Really Harmless Are They?

Most ants are fairly aggressive and are more likely to bite a handler than a spider is. Some species of ants are incredibly destructive and need to be “taken care of” as soon as they are discovered.

Which Ants Should I Worry About?

In North America, there are several species of ants that should merit at least a modicum of concern. For example, if you live in the gulf regions of Florida and Texas (and, to a lesser extent, the other states that border the Gulf of Mexico) you definitely want to worry about Crazy Ants. Crazy Ants are ants that swarm by the millions and can do tons of damage to electrical systems.

Carpenter Ants are perhaps the most common and one of the most destructive species of ants that you’ll find in your home. These ants burr into wood and create intricate living structures. Keep in mind that they don’t eat the wood. They eat other dead bugs and decaying materials so, in that respect, they can actually be fairly helpful. The amount of damage they cause by building their homes in your home, though—that’s enough of a reason to want them out.

Fire Ants (sometimes called Red Ants) are found all over North America. While fire ants prefer to live outdoors and away from humans, they can still do quite a lot of damage during an encounter. Their bites and stings can make the victim feel like he or she is on fire.

There are, of course, other types of ants that are problematic and pose threats to you and your home, but these are the most prevalent and likely encountered.

What Should I Do If I Find a “Bad Ant?”

First of all, if you encounter an ant that is known for being “one of the bad ones”, don’t panic. Trap it under a glass so that you can get close to it and figure out what kind of ant you’re dealing with. The type of ant you have in your home will dictate a lot of your next actions.

Next, try to find the source of the ant. Is this ant merely a scout or is it part of a line or a swarm? Do a close inspection of your house, starting with the area in which the ant was found.

How to Get Rid of Ants When You Find Them

There are all sorts of natural and “DIY” methods that you can use to discourage or eradicate the ant population that has invaded your home. These are just a couple of them.

Use Powder: you don’t have to use toxic powder—anything powdery (like nutmeg, baby powder, etc) will work fine because it will suffocate the ants as they try to walk over or through it.

Diatomaceous Earth: it’s the stuff you see used often in fish tanks—it’s actually the fossilized remains of diatoms and is incredibly sharp. As the ants try to walk over or through it, it cuts into them causing them to dehydrate and die.

When to Call a Pro

At some point—if you are part of the population that is afraid of ants or if natural eradication methods have failed, you should call a professional pest control expert. If the population is incredibly large or you find an extensive nest, you’ll want to call a professional. If the ants are crazy ants, it’s time for a professional.

Basically, you’ll want to hire a pro to help you with anything that isn’t “just a few here and there.”

Ants and Termites: Spotting the Difference

Spotting the difference between ants and termites

Ants and termites are both incredibly common pests. They are so common and look enough alike (termites and flying ants in particular look eerily alike) that, at first glance, many people confuse the two. It is important, though, that you learn how to tell the two apart.

What Does the Science Say?

Even in terms of entomology, the differences between ants and termites are subtle. Both live in social swarms that typically revolve around the reproductive agent known as queens in ants and swarmers in termites. The Kansas State Entomology Department has a great page that goes into detail about the scientific differences between these two creatures.

How You Can Tell what’s Crawling on Your Counter

The good thing about ants and termites is that, while they have wings, you don’t have to worry about them buzzing your face when you lean over to get a better look at them (the first step in figuring out which pest you’re dealing with). The three parts of the pest’s body you need to focus on are the antennae, the waist and the wings.

Spotting the difference between ants and termites.With Ants: the antennae are typically bent or arched. Their bodies narrow down at the waist and their frontal wings are larger than their wings in the rear.

With Termites: their antennae are usually straight. They have broad waists and their front and hind wings are of equal size.

Basically, a termite looks like a chubby and more proportionate ant.

What You Should Do with What You’ve Found

Deciding how to handle an invasion of ants or termites is going to depend largely upon which pest is plaguing you and how many ants or termites you are dealing with. With that said, there are plenty of things you can do yourself to prevent and defeat both ants and termites.

How to Deal with an Ant Infestation

If you have an ant infestation, things can get a little bit tricky. While cleaning and sealing up your home can do quite a lot to deter ants from forming colonies inside your home, if the colony has already been built, more action is going to need to be taken.

The good news is that you’re probably going to notice the flying ants for a few days while they explore your house and yard looking for places where they can mate and build new colonies of their own. You’ll start to notice “mounds” and that’s where you should focus your actions.

Create a “toxin” of honey and artificial sweetener to attract the ants along with borax, which is deadly for ants but not for humans or most pets. You can also sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the mounds—it will dry them out and kill them when they come into contact with it. Also use turmeric. Turmeric is completely harmless for pets and humans and acts as an antiseptic and discourages flying ants.

How to Deal With a Termite Infestation

Even if you work hard to prevent termites from getting into your home, sometimes they win anyway. This is why if you start to notice termites in or around your home, you should hire a professional pest control expert to do a thorough inspection and help you come up with a plan for eradicating the infestation. A good expert will know how to “fix” an infestation in a way that has as little impact on you and your family as possible.

It is important to act quickly. The less time these termites and flying ants have to crawl over your walls, the easier it will be to get rid of them.