Tag Archives: Pest Control

Rats, a Rat!

Rats, a Rat!

As winter approaches, days get shorter, temps begin to finally fall, and rats start to look for places to settle in for the season. Even in South Florida, where temps stay relatively warm, cool spells can send rodents scurrying for warm and cozy places to escape predators, where they can find food, water and focus on enlarging their families. They don’t take up much space or eat that much food but if your home becomes a winter retreat for rats, you could be in for a rough season.

Rats create fire hazards, cause structural damage and carry diseases

Rats not only cause damage to structures and create fire hazards, they can carry at least ten diseases including bubonic plague, murine typhus, jaundice, rabies and ratbite fever as well as cause food-related illnesses. Resilient and intelligent, rat brains closely resemble human brains and by studying lab rats, researchers can better understand how the human brain works. But that’s a different story for a different day. For now, let’s focus on how to identify rats in your home and eliminate them from your property.

Two of the most persistent rats in South Florida are the roof rat and the Norway rat:

  • Roof rats: These rodents are also known as fruit rats, citrus rats and black rats
    • Ranging in color from black to gray with tan to white undersides, roof rats have large ears and eyes and measure up to 16 inches, including their tails, which are longer than their bodies.
    • Roof rats like to live above the ground, usually in trees and in your attic.
    • Maturing in 3-5 months, roof rats produce 6-8 young per litter, up to 6 times per year
    • Roof rat droppings average ½ inch long and are spindle-shaped
  • Norway rats: Rodents are known by their more popular names such as sewer rats, wharf rats, brown rats and river rats
    • Reddish-brown, with scattered black hairs, gray to white undersides and blunt noses, Norway rats are larger than roof rats, measuring 18-20 inches, including their tails.
    • Norway rats live near water and burrow under homes as well as in your basement (should you have one in Florida) and crawlspaces.
    • Reaching maturity in 3-5 months, the more prolific Norway rats can produce 8-12 young per litter up to 7 times per year.
    • Norway rat droppings average ¾ inch long and are capsule–shaped.

Rats need to gnaw and will chew through almost any substance

With teeth harder than platinum and incredible jaw strength, rats can chew through wood, metal, stucco, electrical wiring and even concrete (CBS). Rats, also excellent swimmers have been known to chew through sewer caps, entering homes through toilets. To survive they must constantly chew to manage their rapidly growing teeth, rodents make up the list of prime suspects in house fires of unknown origins. Norway rats can cause foundation damage by burrowing under concrete slabs and under home foundations. Rats possess superior balance, running easily on pipes, ledges and utility wires. Roof rats will climb anything they can hold onto, including pipes, wires and rough walls.

Rats can spread diseases and other pathogens in a variety of ways

Rodents are vectors for Bubonic Plague, Hantavirus and a number of serious diseases.  Rats carry fleas and ticks that feed on their blood, infecting them with pathogens that pose risks to human and pet health. Hantavirus, a respiratory condition, can be contracted from inhalation of airborne particles in dried rat feces, urine and saliva. Rats can transfer bacteria to food sources causing salmonella and E-coli.

Rodents coming into direct contact with humans and your pets spread diseases and viruses by:

  • People and animals handling or touching dead rats
  • Live rodents biting people and/or animals
  • Humans inhaling dried rodent excrement, while cleaning rodent affected areas- Never clean-up without a mask.
  • Humans ingesting food contaminated by rats

Nocturnal pests, rats tend to sleep and stay put during the day, moving about at night in search of food and water

Unless you actually see a rat in your house, chances are you might not even know there’s a population growing in your attic, basement or inside your walls. Since rats multiply at an alarming rate, Hulett suggests homeowners learn to recognize tell-tale signs of a rat issue early on, in order to prevent an infestation.

  • Scratching and scurrying noises in your walls and attic can indicate rodent activity, as rats make for your kitchen at night
  • Chewed food bags and rat droppings in your kitchen indicate rat activity
  • Chirping and squeaking noises in your walls and attic are indicators of rats nearby
  • Rats like to use regular pathways, so packed down areas near walls and greasy marks on walls indicate rodent activity.

Your first line of attack when dealing with a suspected rat situation: Contact a professional

Rats are intelligent and leery of anything new in their environments, relying on trained and licensed pest control professionals can save you time and money investing in traps and baits that either don’t work and/or in retrieving rat carcasses from hard to reach places, due to improper placement of traps and baits you are exposed to disease and unpleasant smells.

At Hulett, our integrated pest management system (IPM) uses the most current rodent capture equipment, in addition to non-toxic, environmentally responsible baits, placed in strategic locations to reduce rat populations. We then remove carcasses, until rats are eliminated. Monitoring for additional rodent activity, Hulett affixes locked, tamper-proof feeding stations to patio stones around your home’s perimeter that use an anticoagulant material to finalize your rat elimination process.

Exclusion seals the deal

  • Rats can squeeze through holes no larger than a nickel. Sealing or caulking all small cracks, crevices and holes in your home’s foundation and around   windows, doors and other entryways makes a huge difference in rats gaining     access to your home and loved ones.
  • Fitting all pipes, drains, vents and other potential entryways with screens can further deter rats from entering your home.

Make your home uninviting to rats

  • Maintain an uncluttered clean home, with attention to food storage and wiped down food surfaces.
  • Eliminate clutter inside and outside your home.
  • Remove debris and leftover construction materials from your property.
  • Repair or remove moisture-prone areas in and around your home.
  • Keep tree limbs and branches trimmed away from your home and your lawn cut short.

Hulett offers a variety of options in our Healthy Home programs that create a pest-proof barrier around your home, so you won’t have worry about rats, mice, and other household pests any time of the year. Customer satisfaction is our priority; we guarantee it. Contact Hulett for a free pest inspection today! Just call Hulett at (866) 611-BUGS!

Name this Native Floridian: Common Bugs of Florida and What You Need to Know About Them

Common Bugs of Florida

On a top ten list of reasons people love Florida, her vast variety and copious amounts of insects never makes the cut. However, in addition to her stellar tropical weather, her pristine beaches, world renowned tourist attractions and exotic plant life, the Sunshine State is also home to a wealth of household pests. Hulett Environmental Services wants homeowners to be informed about the most common bugs in Florida and how to prevent them from invading your home. As some of these bugs are invasive species, they are here on a mission and are more aggressive than native species. As many proactive Floridians can tell you, pest prevention is much more desirable than pest control.

Hulett’s Healthy Home Guarantee

That’s why Hulett’s Healthy Home Program focuses on creating a boundary that deters pests from entering your home, removing conditions that attract bugs to your home and maintaining a hostile environment for bugs that may be brought in on pets or clothing or in boxes, firewood and shopping bags. Our innovative Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program uses environmentally-friendly methods and materials, customized for your home, instead of the traditional smelly sprays used by most pest control companies. Homeowners can also help prevent bugs from entering their homes through some common-sense DIY (Do-it-Yourself) pest control practices.

The list of the most common bugs in Florida goes something like this:

Ants

In South Florida, since there are several common types of ants, they tend to be a problem year-round. Here’s a closer look at some specific types:

  • Red Imported Fire ants

Known for their powerful, burning stings, red imported fire ants, an invasive species from South America, appear reddish-brown and measure 1/8” to 1/4” long. Usually preferring to stay away from humans, fire ants build rather obvious mounds in open spaces, such as your backyard. Humans and pets encounter trouble when they inadvertently step on or mow over a fire ant nest. Disturbed fire ants will aggressively swarm intruders and sting repeatedly.

Fire ants are notoriously difficult to get rid of. With no natural predators and commercial products that do little to reduce fire ant numbers, the best way to deal with fire ants is to avoid them and call an experienced pest control company, like Hulett.

  • Florida Carpenter Ants

Florida’s largest ant, some measuring 3/4” long have ash brown to rusty-orange thoraxes and heads and black abdomens. Florida carpenter ants are covered with long, abundant golden hairs all over their bodies and have segmented, elbowed antennae. Often mistaken for wood-damaging black carpenter ants or termites during mating season, when these winged Florida carpenter ants swarm in alarming numbers often alarming homeowners. Nesting in hard to locate places, in wall voids and expansion joints, as well as any place near water and food sources, Florida carpenter ant nests are difficult to find and DIY baits and repellents don’t really work effectively.

Florida carpenter ants prefer sweets and will nest in almost any place near food and water, so the best way to prevent these pesky bugs from entering your home is to clean up crumbs and spills after sweet snacks, store all sugary foods and other foods in secure containers or in the fridge. Eliminating clutter in your home and around your property can also help prevent Florida carpenter ants from finding your property attractive.  Don’t hesitate to call a pest control specialist, such as Hulett, to locate and deal with these hard to find nests.

Subterranean termites:  Asian and Formosan

Two invasive subterranean termites from Southeast Asia, Asian and Formosan termites, are much more aggressive than native subterranean termites and can damage structures at incredibly rapid rates. With populations running in the millions, Asian and Formosan termites have a lot of mouths to feed and all wood is fair game, including utility poles and live trees, as well as the wood in your home.

Termites can be difficult to detect because they usually enter your home where wood to ground contact allows them to tunnel into your home. Subterranean termites live in the soil around your home, constructing tunnels from their nests into structures, where they consume as much cellulose (wood) as possible.

Spotting these earthen tunnels running up walls, trees and other wooden structures indicates subterranean termite activity and should be addressed by a pest control professional. Armed with expert termite knowledge and over 30 years as a leading South Florida pest control company, Hulett’s technicians know where and how to administer termite fighting materials that get to the source of termite populations, the colony’s queen. Homeowners can protect against termite activity by ensuring that the wood around the home’s foundation doesn’t directly contact the soil, replacing damp wood and by getting on board with a termite protection program, such as Hulett’s Total Termite Protection program, to safeguard your home from termites, year-round.

Spiders: Wolf and Widows

While Carolina wolf spiders look menacing due to their size, reaching almost an inch in length, they tend to steer clear of human involvement. Carolina wolf spiders feast on other pest insects making them beneficial and the females are known to carry their young on their backs, very maternal.

Southern black widow spiders are considered the most venomous spider in the US with venom 15 times more poisonous than rattlesnake venom. The good news is that black widows only attack when disturbed from rock piles and old tree stumps.

The best way you can help prevent spider bites is to be aware of potential spider nesting areas and to have your property regularly swept for spiders by a pest control professional.

Roaches

In South Florida homes, it is common to find a roach from time to time but that does not mean that South Florida homeowners are rolling out the welcome mat for them. House-invading roach species vary in color from brown to black and tropical species can be green, orange and other colors. They typically grow to 1½ inches in length and as you may already know, have a strong preference for dark, warm and moist areas.

The best way to prevent roaches from entering your home is to exclude them by sealing all cracks in your foundation, repairing all water leaks, keeping your house clean of crumbs, spills and clutter, and your trash and recycling receptacles sanitized. However, regular pest control from professionals like those at Hulett should also be considered to keep roaches away from your home and family.

Some common roach species in South Florida are:

  • American Roach
  • Asian Roach
  • Australian Roach
  • Brown Banded Roach
  • Cuban Roach
  • Florida Woods Roach
  • German Roach
  • Oriental Roach
  • Smoky Brown Roach
  • Surinam Roach

Mosquitoes: Yellow Fever, Asian Tiger and Equine Encephalitis mosquitoes

Florida is home to 80 mosquito species, 33 of these species pose threats to humans and animals. In South Florida, the yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito are common vectors of yellow fever and the dengue virus. Culiseta melanura mosquitoes transmit Eastern equine encephalitis, along with Psorophora ciliate, a mosquito species closely associated with floodwater mosquitoes. The Zika virus, which made headlines in 2016 across South Florida, is carried by the same mosquito that carries yellow fever, Chikungunya, and dengue.

You can help prevent mosquitoes by eliminating standing water around your property including water that collects in toys, patio furniture, planters, etc. left outside. Removing clutter and debris from your property, cleaning your gutters regularly and correcting moisture prone areas can help reduce mosquito populations. Additionally, you may want to consider Hulett’s Mosquito Reduction Program and Mosquito Fogging Service for immediate and effective relief from mosquitoes on your property.

Don’t let South Florida’s common bugs be a constant problem. Contact Hulett to get started on our environmentally responsible programs designed to safeguard your love ones from unwanted visitors. Call us to schedule a free pest inspection today to start getting results with Hulett’s Healthy Home program that guarantees your satisfaction. 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!

Do Spiders Get their Bad Reputation from Halloween?

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

Halloween spreading fake news about spiders

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

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

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

Myth: Spiders are aggressive and ready to attack people

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

Myth: All spider bites are venomous and dangerous

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

Myth: People swallow spiders in their sleep

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

Myth: Killing spiders is bad luck

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

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

Myth: Spiders are evil and bad

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

Just call Hulett!

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

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

Mosquito Outbreak in South Florida Following Hurricane Irma

Mosquito Outbreak in South Florida Following Hurricane Irma

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

Standing water from flooding and debris is causing concern

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

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

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

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

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

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

No aerial spraying since Irma

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

What you can do if mosquitoes are ruining your backyard fun

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

Just call Hulett for a free mosquito inspection

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

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

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

How you can help prevent mosquito issues

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

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

Ant Spotlight: Ghost Ants

Ant Spotlight: Ghost AntsNot really as spooky as they sound, ghost ants, Apinoma Melanocephalum, are an invasive species thought to originate in Asia or Africa. According to the University of Florida’s (UF) Entomology and Nematology Department, one of the most prevalent and persistent ant species, “ghost ants are associated with a complex of ant species, known as tramp ants.” It is an invasive species with widespread global distribution in tropical and subtropical regions.

Ghost ants introduced to South Florida most likely by boat in shipping containers

Introduced to the US in shipping containers and potted plants, ghost ants were well established in South and Central Florida as well as Hawaii by the early 1990s. They made their way to Texas by 1995 in a shipment of potted tropical plants from South Florida. Since then, ghost ant populations have been found in most southeastern states, as well as Arizona and California. Traditionally, ghost ants have only been found in northern climates in heated greenhouses and in one instance in an apartment block in Winnipeg on the Assiniboine River. However, with global temperatures rising, scientists predict that ghost ants and other invasive tropical species will likely spread north.

The scariest thing about ghost ants

According to a UF/IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) study in South Florida, ghost ants now run a close second to fire ants as major nuisance pests. Unlike fire ants, ghost ants don’t bite, sting or pose health threats to humans, but their tenacity and persistence have been known to cause mental and emotional distress to South Florida homeowners.

Ghost ants infesting quarantine greenhouses have proven impossible to eliminate because of restrictions on using toxicants in these greenhouses. Ghost ants defending honeydew producing plant pests, such as aphids, against introduced biological control organisms present a problem for growers.

Ghost ants in a Gainesville, Florida lab preyed on small beetle larvae and have been shown to be a significant predator of the two spotted mite in greenhouses. Aside from these minor benefits of ghost ants, they are one of the most prevalent nuisance pests in South Florida homes that you can’t see.

Pale ants with secretive habits are a little spooky

Ghost ants get their name from the fact that they are extremely small, 1.3-1.5 mm, or .05-.19 inches. These tiny ants also sport pale legs and gasters or abdomens, with black thoraxes and heads, making them difficult to see. Ghost ants tend to trail behind carpet and along exterior foundations, building nests indoors behind wall voids, in spaces between cabinetry, around baseboards and between books on shelves. Outdoors, ghost ants prefer to build nests in moist soil, under rocks and in dead trees or other yard debris. Disturbed soil in potted plants makes an excellent nest for ghost ants as ghost ants are readily adaptable to many environments, as long as it’s warm and moist.

No big surprise here, ghost ants like sugar

Preferring honeydew and honeydew-excreting insects, ghost ants will eat dried insects and also substitute their organic diet for your store-bought sugar and fruits. Baked goods, breads, spills in your pantry or just straight up sugar, ghost ants don’t discriminate. Hmm… could this be the reason worker ghost ants, when disturbed, run around rapidly and erratically? Under normal circumstances, trailing ghost ants move in slow, deliberate lines. On closer inspection, researchers found that some of the workers were carrying larvae and pupae. Looks like someone’s moving in.

Multiple queens can produce many offspring in a network of nests

Like most invasive ant species, ghost ants can build a network of nests underground but due to ghost ants’ small size, these nests don’t exhibit the stability to become mega-populations, like invasive termite species. Still, with multiple queens in a network of sub-colonies, eliminating ghost ants can be challenging to attempt without professional assistance.

Hulett Environmental Services Healthy Home Guarantee

At Hulett, we believe that exclusion is the best way to prevent all household pest infestations, including ghost ants. Along with some basic DIY pest prevention techniques, regular treatments by Hulett’s entomologist–trained technicians, we create a barrier around your property that keeps pests out of your home. Using environmentally responsible materials and treatments whenever possible, Hulett’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system, utilizes the most current technology and methods in household pest control in the industry today. Unlike other companies that merely use smelly sprays to eliminate ghost ant infestations, Hulett’s programs have been developed from 45 years of experience. As a South Florida family-owned and operated business, Hulett provides responsible results that protect your home and family from Florida’s extensive array of household pests.

Hulett treats the source of your ghost ant infestation

Hulett goes to the source of your ghost ant infestation. With odorless baits and liquid treatments, Hulett strategically targets ghost ant nests that may consist of multiple queens. When ghost ants track liquid materials or bring baits back to their nests, other ants will become contaminated until, eventually, the queens are killed, causing the colony to collapse.

A few DIY things you can do to prevent ghost ants from haunting your home

Make your home unattractive to ghost ants and other household pests, you can:

  • Regularly clean up crumbs, spills and table scraps from food prep and dining areas.
  • Store sugar, syrup and honey in metal, glass or hard plastic containers.
  • Keep sweet treats such as candy, cookies and other baked goods in secure containers or in the fridge.
  • Repair or replace leaky pipes and faucets.
  • Trim branches away from your home, cutting off routes of entry.
  • Maintain secure and sanitized outdoor trash receptacles.
  • Remove left-over construction materials and other debris from your yard.
  • Keep grass cut short.
  • Remove plants that attract aphids, whiteflies and other honeydew-loving insects.

With Hulett’s convenient, regular preventative treatment programs, we guard your home against ghost ants and other household pests in Southeast and Southwest Florida. Contact us to schedule a free inspection today! Just call Hulett!

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.

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!