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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
Scientists recently performed a study comparing the complexity of brain function in social insects as opposed to solitary insects. They found that unlike vertebrate species, which evolve to have increasingly complex brains the more complex the society becomes, social insects that share information among the members of the colony reduces their need for complex brain function and the complexity of their cognitive brain functioning actually decreased as the complexity of their societies increased.
In vertebrate animal societies as the social environment grows more complex over generations the cognitive abilities of the individuals in that society are forced to adapt and also become more complex. More complex social societies tend to have an increased amount of competition between their individuals. As individuals have to navigate more and more challenges such as conflict over resources, their cognitive abilities are forced to evolve in order to continually sharpen their intelligence so they can continue to survive in more and more complex societies.
However, in social insect species the colony tends to be made up of family groups, with the children staying to help their parents, and while there may be some conflict in these colonies, the survival of the group depends on their ability to work together as a cohesive unit. The more cooperative structures of social insect colonies end up affecting the evolution of the brain differently.
Researchers studied the brains of 29 related species of wasps from Costa Rica, Ecuador and Taiwan. They studied both solitary and social species that had varying colony sizes and structures. They found that the solitary species had evolved to have larger brain parts associated with complex cognition used for such things as spatial memory, associative learning, and multi-sensory integration. On the other hand, the social insect species had less complex cognitive function. The researchers believe that this is because social insect colony members are able to rely on group members, meaning they don’t have to invest as much energy in more complex individual cognitive functions. These social species evolved to survive cooperatively, utilizing such things as sharing information among colony members, which reduces the need for individual cognition.
Do you think humans could have evolved in this manner if we had more cooperative societies, or is that impossible due to our conscious brains? How might our humans society be different if our brains had evolved in the same way as our societies became more complex?
Off With Their Heads! Brutal Insect Decapitators
We’re all pretty familiar with the gruesome practice of using the guillotine during the French Revolution to decapitate hundreds of French nobility. But that was actually the most humane method of head removal us humans have come up with to date. We’ve been chopping off heads left and right for centuries, and not always in the most clean manner…but it turns out we’re not the only species to use this gruesome killing method. There are actually a number of insect species that specialize in decapitation.
One of the most ruthless headhunters in the world is the seemingly unassuming tropical flies of the Dohrniphora genus. Three species of these phorid flies make their living by slicing the heads off of trap-jaw ants. A female fly will surgically remove her victim’s head with her very long proboscis that is tipped with a sharp blade-like organ. She will then either drag off the head so she can eat the goo inside in peace, or use the empty head as a vessel for her to lay her eggs in. How do these tiny flies outwit these fearsome giant ants? They attack them when they are injured during a colony battle. That’s pretty clever if you ask me.
What do you think of this ruthless behavior in such innocent looking flies? Will this make you a little more wary of these seemingly insignificant creatures in the future?
This April, Hulett Environmental Services is proud to celebrate National Pest Management Month, a public observance formally recognized each year by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to acknowledge the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health and property from household pest threats. Additionally, as spring is an especially busy time for pest-related activity, Hulett Environmental Services encourages homeowners to take proactive pest proofing steps in the coming weeks.
We are proud to be members of an industry which plays an important role in people’s everyday lives and are committed to helping homeowners protect their homes and ensuring public places and residences are free of disease-carrying pests.
As pests emerge from their overwintering spots, we encourage the public to tackle simple home improvement and landscaping projects that will make a big difference in staving off infestations during the warmer months.
Hulett Environmental Services experts recommend the following tips to pest-proof the home this spring:
- Seal any cracks on the outside of the home with a silicone-based caulk, including entry points for utilities and pipes.
- Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows.
- Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
- Repair fascia and rotted roof shingles.
- Keep mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation.
- Eliminate sources of standing water around the house, including birdbaths and in clogged gutters.
- Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
- Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
- Avoid leaving pet’s food dishes out for long periods of time.
- Just call HULETT if an infestation is suspected.
Why Bed Bugs Aren’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon
Bed Bugs—two words that have become infamous for several reasons. One, they are exactly the type of insect that so many fear … they hide during the day and come out at night to feed on unsuspecting humans. Secondly, once you have them in your home they are extremely hard to eliminate.
Think you have Bed Bugs and want to try to get rid of the problem on your own? No chance. This is a job for professionals. We are experts in Bed Bug elimination and control, and this is exactly what you will need should you have or suspect Bed Bugs in your home.
The problem is not going away, and in fact, a new report shows that the number of Bed Bugs in New York City hotels has sky rocketed. What’s more, one of the most common ways Bed Bugs get into homes is by bringing them back after travel. Hotel beds, furniture and even luggage racks are common areas to find these pests. They then latch onto belongings and “hitchhike” their way into homes.
So, what can you do while traveling? In short, be sure to lift up the bed sheets and inspect the mattress (bear in mind Bed Bugs tend to hide in the seams of mattresses) and consider leaving your suitcase in the bathtub, as this is one area that Bed Bugs are unlikely to be found.
What do you think? Will you be storing your luggage in the bathtub from now on when you travel? What other precautions do you take when it comes to Bed Bugs?
Stopping the Spread
As crazy as it sounds (or maybe not crazy at all) invasive insects cost the U.S. an estimated $120 billion a year in damages to our environment, agriculture and native species. Below I will list out 5 invasive pests, and how you can stop their spread!
Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP):
A disease-infected insect that spreads Huanglongbing (HLB or citrus greening disease) throughout citrus producing states. I order to stop the spread of the ACP; consumers must avoid moving citrus plants. Unfortunately once a tree is infected there is no cure, leading the tree to produce green, misshapen and bitter fruit.
Imported Fire Ants:
Both black and red fire ants commonly move to new, non-infested areas by doing so naturally or by spreading colonies, and potentially even by hitchhiking on agricultural commodities. Reduce their spread by cleaning all farm equipment that may be caked in mud and dirt before moving them between properties.
Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB):
These beetles attack 12 different types of trees, with the most being maple. Once a tree is infested with ALB the tree will due. We can help by reporting signs of ALB that way the spread can be prevented by the state. Signs of ALB include ¼ inch or larger exit holes, egg sites, frass (sawdust-like material) on the ground or in brand crotches, dead or fallen branches and an larva or tunneling holes in cut wood) Make sure you do not move firewood either because you may be moving ALB or other damaging pests.
Although this beetle has not been detected in the United States, we want to be sure that it stays this way as it is one of the world’s most destructive pests. They are a threat to stored agricultural products, including grain, spices, packaged and dried food and animal products. The plants at risk include wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, rice and flour. To help prevent this beetle from entering the U.S. be sure you are always declaring all agricultural products when traveling internationally.
9 Killer Insects to Watch Out For
Usually we hear about all of the deadliest insects coming from Australia or Africa. We consider ourselves pretty safe in the U.S. But, don’t let your guard down just yet. We too have deadly insects that can deliver a fatal blow should we encounter them. They typically spend the winter far away from humans, so we’re relatively safe…for now. Here are nine deadly insects that are native to the U.S.
The Arizona bark scorpion is the only scorpion whose venom can be fatal. If you’re stung by one you can expect to experience numbness, convulsions, and frothing at the mouth. Sounds fun…
Most people are familiar with the black widow spider. But did you know that its venom is fifteen times stronger than a rattlesnakes? Symptoms include chest pain, vomiting, swelling, and fainting.
Brown recluse spiders lurk in the dark, hidden corners of your home. Their bite causes your skin cells to necrotize, and if not treated immediately, can lead to fatal infections and loss of limbs.
Puss caterpillars may look cute and cuddly, but those fuzzy “hairs” are actually spines that can become embedded in your skin and cause an incredibly painful reaction.
Anopheles mosquitos transmit malaria, and many of them are resistant to insecticides.
Kissing bugs transmit the parasite T. cruzi, which causes Chagas disease. Symptoms can include stroke, constipation, and even sudden cardiac arrest.
Wasps actually cause a surprising number of deaths in the U.S. every year. This is mostly because many people are allergic to their sting.
Africanized bees are much more aggressive than their traditional counterpart, and tend to attack in swarms. The sheer number of stings a person can get from one of these swarms is what kills people.
Do you remember learning about the bubonic plague in history class. Well, Oriental rat fleas still carry the bacteria that causes the plague. Catch this bad boy and you can expect symptoms as awful as internal bleeding and seizures.
What do you think of the U.S.’s most dangerous insects? Do they make you afraid to go to sleep at night?
Bug Free Bbq
Summer time is filled with social events and of course this includes the beloved bbq. If you know you are going to have one you can prevent unwanted buggers before the party even starts. At least a week before the festivities, make sure you repair all window and door screens and needed. If you find any standing water, such as in planters or other items in your yard, be sure to dump it as mosquitoes loves standing water to breed. Mosquitoes are also most active when most bbq’s heat up. From dusk to dawn. Be sure to have a supply of spray for your guests or remind them that long sleeves are always a plus. Ants, yellow jackets and flies love bbqs as much as we do! Asks your guests to please make sure the doors are closed tightly behind them as the traffic flows in and out of your home. Serving food inside can help eliminate some of the attraction, as well as making sure all spills are cleaned up and trash is thrown away in a sealed container. Can and bottle can be a great hiding spot for a stinging pest. You may want to use clear glassware to keep an eye on things. Don’t get bugged at your next bbq.
For more information on mosquitoes, flies, ants and yellow jackets click here