Tag Archives: Pest Control

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!

Insect Colonies Share Brain Power

Insect Colonies

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

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?

April marks annual designation celebrating the important role of pest professionals

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 Spider Controlcommitment 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.