THE BLACK WIDOW SPIDER is active when the temperature is 70 degrees or higher, but can survive lower temperatures with the right conditions. The black widow spider spins irregular webs, which is built at night near ground level. Once complete, these spiders hang upside-down in their webs.
Bites will only cause localized pain, however, if a substantial amount of venom is injected it leads to pain, muscle rigidity, vomiting, and sweatinglasting 3 to 5 days.The venom of the black widow spider is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s although most people who are bitten by the black widow spider suffer no serious damage. The bite can be fatal to small children, the elderly or the infirm.
Outdoors, black widow spiders commonly live in protected areas like under stones and in firewood piles. They are often found in barns, outhouses and sheds. Indoors, black widows prefer cluttered areas of garages, basements and crawl spaces.
AVOIDING BLACK WIDOW SPIDER BITES
- Reduce clutter in basements and garages to eliminate hiding spots.
- When spider webs are visible, use caution before putting your hands or feet in that area.
- Wear heavy gloves when moving items that have been stored for a long period of time.
- Shake out shoes before wearing them.
- Store firewood at least twenty feet from the home and five inches off the ground.
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Springtails are one of the most common pests in the environment, although they are inconspicuous and are often overlooked. When suitable habitat occurs, they can develop tremendously large numbers and are one of the most world’s abundant insects. You may find millions of springtails naturally in about 2.5 acres of land. Springtails can be a nuisance when they occur in and around homes and other buildings.
These critters are very small, commonly between 1/16th- and 1/8th-inch long. They have moderate length antennae and are usually slender, elongate insects, although there is a group of springtails that is round and stout. Most springtails are dark-colored, brown, grey or black although some species are white, and some are even iridescent and brightly colored.
Springtails are wingless and do not fly but they can jump, using a specialized forked appendage called a furcula, located underneath the abdomen. When not in use, the furcula is tucked under the body, set like a mouse trap. When it is released, it extends down rapidly propelling the springtail forward, jumping up to several inches.
Springtails are associated with damp conditions and organic debris and are found outdoors in soil, leaf litter, lichen, under bark, decaying plant matter, rotting wood, and other areas of high moisture. They are found in many different habitats, feeding on fungi, pollen, algae, or decaying organic matter. Springtails are also commonly found in the soil of houseplants. However when conditions are suitable, you can also find springtails indoors, especially in bathrooms, basements, and kitchens.
There are several reasons why springtails may be found indoors. They are commonly found in areas of high moisture; e.g., around plumbing leaks, areas of condensation and damp basements.
If excessively moist conditions occur near a structure, that can encourage large numbers of springtails which may move indoors. High springtails numbers can be associated with mulch. It is also possible when it is excessively dry outdoors that springtails may move indoors to find moisture. Springtails can also be found in the soil of overwatered houseplants.
If you are finding just a small number of the critters, just ignore them or physically remove them by hand or with a vacuum. However, if you are seeing persistent number of them, they are associated with a moisture problem. The best management is to dry out these areas with a fan or dehumidifier, because springtails do not tolerate dry conditions. Also remove any wet wood, especially if it is moldy. Make any structural changes to correct the moisture problem.
If springtails are moving indoors from the outside, check around the house for moisture problems. This could include rainspouts that do not carry water far enough away from the foundation, landscapes that slope towards buildings, excessive irrigation, or non-functioning drainage systems around the building. It could even be a moisture problem with the roof. Correct existing moisture conditions to decrease the number of springtails. When necessary, remove or reduce the amount mulch that is around the foundation of your home. If you have a problem with them in houseplants, let the soil dry out and water less frequently but more deeply.
If you have questions or concerns about springtails or other pesky bugs, contact us HERE at ClearDefense Pest Control. We can help!
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Carpenter bees are very active from early spring through summer around houses and other wooden structures. These insects bore one-half inch wide holes that appear to be perfectly round on exterior wooden surfaces of house siding, eaves, window trim, fascia boards, shingles, decks and outdoor furniture. For a successful carpenter bee pest-control strategy, several tactics must be employed.
CARPENTER BEE BOMBERS
Homeowners are often frightened by these pesky black bees that fly erratically around their homes. The male carpenter bee is very territorial and protects its nesting sites by hovering and attacking intruders. Although the male is aggressive, it does not have a stinger, making it harmless. The female does have a stinger, but rarely stings.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Fine sawdust caused by the adult bees excavating activities during the spring of the year will normally be found lying on the ground beneath the gallery entrances. Repeated boring activities may result in unsightly stains caused by falling bee waste around the entrance hole. Homeowners often notice a buzzing or burrowing sound coming from within the wood this time of year. The excavating bee will bore directly into the wood with her mouth parts for about an inch, then turn sharply and bore at a 90-degree angle usually along the grain of the wood. Normally, the gallery will extend about four to six inches, but with repeated use galleries have measured ten feet long. Nest sites by a single bee results in slight damage, but repeated colonization over several years may result in considerable destruction.
HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS FOR CONTROL
Unpainted, exposed wood is especially attractive to carpenter bees. A helpful deterrent to carpenter bee activities is a painted (oil-base or polyurethane) surface. Wood stains provide little repelling action. Nail holes or exposed saw cuts should be filled in with wood putty or dowels and painted. If practical, remove severely damaged wood and replace with chemical pressure-treated wood to deter nest construction. To further discourage carpenter bees looking for potential nesting sites, a homeowner should secure all doors, windows, and other building openings during the spring. Non-wood surfaces such as vinyl siding are not damaged by carpenter bees.
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ODOROUS HOUSE ANTS – As their name suggests, odorous house ants, when crushed, emit a smell of rotting coconuts. They tend to build nests both inside and outside. Common places to find odorous house ant nests are in wall crevices, near heaters, under carpets, and beneath floors.
This small ant that goes by the common names odorous house ant, sugar ant, stink ant, and coconut ant. Their colonies are polydomous (consist of multiple nests) and polygynous (contain multiple reproducing queens). Like many social insects, it employs complex foraging strategies, allocates food depending on environmental conditions, and engages in competition with other insect species.
These ants can be found in a huge diversity of habitats, including within homes. They forage mainly for honeydew, which is produced by aphids and scale insects that are guarded and tended by the ants, as well as floral nectar and other sugary foods. They are common household pests.
Quick control is crucial, because the larger the population becomes the longer it will take to control the infestation. You should be on the lookout for these ants in late winter and early spring (particularly after rain), because is when they most commonly appear. Taking these steps should help:
- Standing water should be eliminated: odorous house ants are attracted to moisture.
- Plants should be trimmed back so they cannot be used to get inside.
- Cracks, holes and joints should be sealed with polyurethane foam or caulk, especially those that are near the ground.
- Firewood, rocks and other materials should not be stored next to a home because it encourages nest building.
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PAPER WASPS gather fibers from dead wood and plant stems, which they mix with saliva, and use to construct water-resistant nests made of gray or brown papery material. Some types of paper wasps are also sometimes called umbrella wasps, due to the distinctive design of their nests.
WHERE TO LOOK
The nests of most true paper wasps are characterized by having open combs with cells for brood rearing, and a “petiole,” or constricted stalk, which anchors the nest. Paper wasps secrete a chemical that repels marauding ants, which they spread around the base of the nest anchor to prevent the loss of eggs or brood. Nests can be found in sheltered areas, such as the eaves of a house, the branches of a tree, on the end of an open pipe, or on an old clothesline.
ATTACK WHEN THREATENED
Unlike yellow jackets and hornets, which can be very aggressive, paper wasps will generally only attack if they themselves or their nest are threatened. Since their territoriality can lead to attacks on people, and because their stings are quite painful and can produce a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction in some individuals, nests in human-inhabited areas may present an unacceptable hazard.
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Adult red imported fire ants are reddish to dark brown. They are “polymorphic,” meaning that a colony will contain ants of different sizes ranging from 1/16” to 3/16”. The workers perform different jobs such as tending the queen and “brood,” maintaining the nest, and gathering food. Some of the workers serve as “soldiers” which protect the colony. At certain times of the year (mostly spring and summer), you will find winged males (hich are small and black in color) and winged females (about 1/3-inch long).
THEY WILL ATTACK YOU
Fire ants are small but highly aggressive. They inject a necrotizing, alkaloid venom when they sting. The stings result in painful, itchy, and persistent pustules, and sometimes in severe allergic reactions. Five million people are stung each year in the southeastern United States. About 25,000 of these people require medical consultation. When a fire ant mound is disturbed, workers boil to the surface, run up any legs, arms, etc., in the vicinity, grab the victim’s skin in their mandibles and sting synchronously in response to the slightest movement. The attacks are coordinated and dozens or even hundreds of workers sting in unison.
Fire ants live in colonies that may have 100,000 to 500,000 ants. The queen of the colony can lay from 1500 to 5000 eggs per day, never leaves the nest and can live for many years. Worker ants take care of the queen and her eggs, build the nest, defend the colony, and find food. Preferred food of fire ants consists of protein-rich sources such as insects and seeds. Winged male and female ants fly from the colony in the spring and summer to mate in the air. The males die and the females become queens that start new colonies.
OFTEN COME INDOORS
While fire ants are typically an outdoor problem, disturbances during/after severe weather may bring them indoors in search of food or even “dry land” and, unfortunately, into closer contact with people. Worker ants forage for nearby food sources by traveling through underground tunnels that extend out from the mound and then onto the soil surface.
Here are some suggestions to follow if you find fire ants in your area:
- Watch where you step when clearing debris in yards.
- When eating outside, keep all food and drinks covered while they are not being eaten.
- Dispose of food in garbage bags and trashcans.
- Keep trashcans covered and, preferably, away from your house.
- Indoors, do not leave food exposed on tables, counter tops, or floors (in the case of dry pet foods).
- Keep shrubs and other vegetation pruned away from buildings so that ants can’t use them as a “bridge” to avoid treated areas.
Give us a call—The crew here at ClearDefense Pest Control will love to treat your property and help you control these little mobile fire bombs!
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Clover mites often become pests indoors after heavy rain, excessive heat or a change in the season, which stimulate massive numbers to enter buildings. To the naked eye, the mites appear as tiny moving dark spots crawling around walls, windows and doors. Crushing the mites to kill them leaves a reddish spot. Fortunately, the mites do not reproduce indoors and will die within a few days from dehydration.
Clover mites can be especially abundant in heavily fertilized lawns, but have many host plants including certain lawn grasses, ornamental flowers, clover, dandelion, shepherd’s purse, strawberry, daffodil, salvia, alyssum, and primrose, to name only a few.
Prevention is the most effective way to control populations of clover mites. Remove all lush vegetation from the house in an 18-to-24-inch band around the perimeter of buildings. This plant-free zone will discourage mites from movement into building and will also provide an easily treatable area. Treating and sealing cracks and holes on buildings in which mites may have crawled can also be very helpful in reducing the problem.
Large populations can also be reduced by providing supplemental watering to areas where clover mites develop, such as dry areas at the base of sun-exposed walls and around evergreens. Also, planting flowerbeds with plants that are not attractive to clover mites might be helpful, such as: geranium, chrysanthemum, zinnia, marigold, salvia, rose, petunia or shrubs such as barberry, juniper and yew.
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Encounters between people and spiders are usually accidental and bites are a response by the spider when its web or nest (or the spider itself) is disturbed. Most spiders produce venom therefore, they could be considered “poisonous.” The venom is stored in glands that empty into the spider’s fangs or chelicerae. For the most part, spider bites are insignificant. However, just as bee and wasp stings may trigger allergic reactions in some people, the same can be true for spider bites. Young children, the elderly and hypersensitive individuals are more likely to react more strongly to a spider bite.
WHERE THEY HIDE
Web-building spiders are most likely to show up in areas where insects are abundant; e.g., woodpiles, around porch lights, windows or water sources (such as water spigots). On occasion, you will find spiders on objects or in areas that have been left undisturbed which may include sandboxes or even children’s toys. Check these items periodically for signs of spiders.
Finding a large number of spiders indoors usually means that there is an ample supply of insects and other “spider food” in the area. Any real attempts to get rid of spiders should focus on eliminating the insects upon which spiders prey:
- Sanitation requires the reduction or elimination of conditions that attract insects; e.g., high moisture and ready access to food of some sort.
- Exclusion: Find the entry points used by both insects and spiders and seal or close these areas.
- Knocking down and removing webbing, or mechanically removing/killing the spiders.
- Vacuum the areas along baseboards, in corners and under and behind furniture.
- Clean bookshelves periodically.
If you’re concerned that more spiders will show up or hatch from an unseen egg sac (they probably will), then—if you know what you’re doing—you could carefully apply an insecticide along baseboards, in corners, and inside storage closets.
Crawlspaces are often attractive environments for spiders. Simply setting off foggers (“bug bombs”) is not likely to be effective and can be hazardous particularly if you contaminate your air-conditioning system. Crawlspace treatments are best left to pest-control professionals.
If you’re concerned, call us at ClearDefense Pest Control!
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STINK BUGS ARE REALLY STINKERS – The stink bug feeds on a variety of hosts in the landscape. They also attack fruit trees (ornamental or otherwise). They may inflict leaf and fruit damage by feeding with their needle-like mouthparts.
Perhaps the biggest problem for homeowners is when hordes of the little stinkers seek shelter in homes and structures, similar to the behavior of the multicolored Asian lady beetle. Stink bugs don’t harm people, but can give off a very unpleasant odor when crushed or vacuumed.
Barrier exclusion is very important. Seal and caulk areas that may give access to the wall or house. If this is not completely successful and stink bugs are still entering your home, seal or caulk around baseboards, windowsills, and any points where you see them invading your castle. When vacuuming up the little devils, some people use a dedicated shop vac to avoid stinking up their household vacuum cleaners.
- Adjust or install tight-fitting sweeps or thresholds at the bottom of exterior doors.
- Install weather stripping around other parts of the doorframe.
- Seal utility openings where air conditioner pipes, phone, cable TV and other wires enter the foundation and siding. Holes can be plugged with caulk, cement, urethane foam, or copper mesh.
- Caulk around windows, doors, siding and fascia boards.
- Keep window screens in good condition and install insect screening behind attic gable vents.
Contact us HERE—the crew here at ClearDefense Pest Control will be happy to treat your property and help you control these little mobile stink bombs!
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Houseflies, to say the least, are not the neatest of insects. They visit such places as dumps, sewers, and garbage heaps. They feed on fecal matter, discharges from wounds and sores, sputum, and all sorts of moist decaying matter such as spoiled fish, eggs and meat. Nasty. They are a pest control challenge.
Houseflies are strongly suspected of transmitting at least 65 diseases to humans, including typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, poliomyelitis, yaws, anthrax, tularemia, leprosy and tuberculosis. Flies regurgitate and excrete wherever they come to rest and thereby mechanically transmit disease organisms.
- General exclusion; e.g., sealing cracks, fitting door sweeps, window screens, etc.
- A moist compost bin will be a breeding site for houseflies. Create dry compost by scattering it around the bin so that it will dry rapidly. Flies will not lay eggs on dry manure.
- If dogs or horses are part of the family, clean up fecal material in timely fashion and dispose of properly. Planting flowers and bushes may attract predators and parasites that can help manage flies.
- Employ correct sanitation methods within the home to eliminate possible breeding sites.
- Outside garbage cans and dumpsters should have tight-fitting lids and be emptied and cleaned regularly. All garbage receptacles should be located as far from building entrances as possible.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact HERE us at ClearDefense Pest Control. We’ll be happy to help!
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