Derrick was out at a property in East Houston recently for a termite inspection and came across a large mud nest filled with Formosan termites on the side of a home. To say the least...this is pretty scary. These termites are by far the most destructive of their kind. They are considered to be" most aggressive and economically devastating termite species in the country" according to Entomologists at TAMU. We always like things bigger in Texas, and these termites are no exception. Unlike most subterranean termites, Formosan termites can build casings inside the walls of their feeding site so they do not have to go back down to the soil line to forage for water. This means they are more productive than most termites...aka...they can destroy your home faster than usual. They also produce colonies that are larger and more robust than normal subs. To break it down, they are basically The Hulk of termites. They can destroy homes faster, and with great efficiency than any other termite species in our area. Because termites need water to survive Formosans tend to pop up when home owners unwittingly provide these very hungry termites with a water source within a wall space. This happens very often when there is a water leak or plumbing issue in the home which creates excess moisture in the walls. Houston is especially prone to high levels of moisture in the air, unstable weather that can lead to leaking or damaged roofs and siding, as well as the warm temperatures which create a hospitable environment for infestation. This is why it is so important for Houstonians to take the necessary steps to protect their homes from termites. The best way to prevent this type of infestation is by a preventative liquid soil treatment around the foundation as well as immediate repairs of known water leaks or excessive moisture areas in your home. Check out the live video of the Formosan's Derrick captured this week. Have a safe and happy weekend Houston!!!!
Pest of The Week: The Bagworm
We had a call this week from one of our customers in Bellaire with a curious question about a strange Christmas tree ornament like cocoon she was finding around the outside of her home. Perhaps you have seen these around your own Houston home and did not know what they were.
The bagworm moth is very common in our area of Southeast Texas. This is the picture of the cocoon that houses the caterpillar until it hatches. Bagworms, once hatched, can cause serious damage to trees and shrubs because they use tree foliage and bark to feed as well as maintain their webs. The webbing created from hatched worms is seen frequently in trees around Houston. Many people commonly confuse bagworms with webs created by spiders.
The best way to treat for bagworms is to remove the webbing and live worms from the tree or shrub they inhabit. However, some topical pesticides can help eliminate bagworms and prevent bagworms from developing in trees that are particularly prone to infestation like cedar, evergreens like the southern live oak, as well as pine trees. So tell us Houston...what other sort of mystery pests are lurking around your home? Tune into our Facebook or Tweet us a pic of your creepy crawlers. We'll be happy to investigate and give you tips on how to control any Gulf Coast pest in or around your home.
*(pictures featured courtesy of the Texas A&M Aglife extention website: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/newsletters/hortupdate/hortupdate_archives/2007/sep07/Bagworms.html)
Millipedes Invade Houston
We have gotten numerous calls this week about these wormy arthropods and why they seem to be coming into Houston homes when they were previously rarely seen. Houston Matters even had a discussion about bugs we see around our city and millipedes was one of the discussed topics. We decided to share the reason why millipedes would be choosing now to take up shelter in your home. The answer.....blame the rain folks! That's right. Not only are fire ants going to be building larger mounds due to extreme weather and increased flooding, but, millipedes, among other insects, are going to try to hunker down with you until this stormy weather passes. This is a part of their normal Spring migration. We will see more millipedes migrating into homes during mid spring as we continue to experience unusually rainy weather. Though their migration is common this time of year the increase in the number we are seeing is due to large amounts of standing water around your home. However, fear not Houstonians!! We will not have to put up with their presence much longer. As the weather dries out and warms these creepy crawlers will make their way back under rocks, leaves, and other dark damp places they prefer to inhabit. Millipedes do not bite or pose any threat to humans but are considered a nuisance pest. Regular pest control and sealing windows, doorways, weep holes, and other cracks/crevices around the home will help prevent millipede infestation during these rainy times. We hope you enjoyed our pest of the Week.
Check out the link below for the Houston Matters discussion about Houston's insect world. Skip to 30 minutes into the podcast to hear the answers to interesting questions about bugs we commonly see around Greater Houston.
Bulls-Eye Pest Control
Do Your Own Termite Check
Happy Earth Day Houstonians. We have had a late termite season this year. But this month, the termites are definitely swarming. You might have seen them yourself circling around dead tree stumps, wood piles, or even inside your own home. Making sure your home is protected against termites either by regular monitoring or a preventative treatment is very important since subterranean termite infestation is very common in Greater Houston. At Bulls-eye we do free termite quotes but we thought we would share some great self monitoring tips that will allow you to check your own home for potential termite problems.
1. Monitoring starts with the foundation of your home. For slab homes, make sure you have at least 3-5 inches of visible slab around the entire perimeter. For pier and beam homes, which are very common in The Heights and areas of Montgomery, make sure that you have access either via a panel on the outside or within the interior. Regularly walk the perimeter of your home and look for termite shelter tubes that are coming from the soil up along the slab of the foundation. They look very similar to a mud wasp nest only they are typically thinner and run in a straight line. These can be found on the piers of a home as well. This is the most common sign that you have a current termite infestation.
2. Check the baseboards and windows of your home. If you notice extremely soft wood, cracking wood, or sawdust in these areas this could be an indication of termites.
3. Monitor drywall for pin hole marks. These look like someone has made small holes in different areas of the drywall and frequently you will find dirt being kicked out of the holes where it tends to pile up on the floor. This is another sign that you could be harboring termites in the walls of your home.
4. Monitor your home for damage that might appear due to age but might actually be evidence of termites. This could mean buckling wood, swollen floors, bubbling behind wall paper, or areas where there appears to be a water leak.
If during the course of monitoring your home you find anything suspicious that could indicate termite infestation make sure to call a licensed pest professional to assess the situation. Many companies, like Bulls-Eye, provide this type of check free of charge. Remember that when it comes to termites its better to be safe than run the risk of extensive and costly repairs later. We posted a video above that illustrates some different signs of termites that might be helpful for those who want to monitor their owns homes. Thanks for tuning in Houston and we hope you have a great rest of the week!!
Pest of the Week: Squirrels
We've gotten several calls today about squirrels which has prompted us to discuss them further in this edition of pest of the week. Every winter neighboring squirrel families will look for a space to nest to protect themselves and their young from the winter weather. If you attic, garage, or shed happen to be easily accessible or have openings allowing them to freely enter you can bet that some family of squirrels will be bunking down with you for the better part of the holiday season. Squirrels and other rodents can cause significant damage to electrical wiring, insulation, and items that you might just have stored in these areas. The best defense against squirrels it preparation before the nesting season. This means sealing openings, gaps, eaves, ac lines, and any other area where a squirrel or rodent can fit through. Trimming tree limbs that may be touching the home and removing the rain gutter run off or other items that allow access to the roof will help as well. If you already have squirrels in your attic, there are a series of steps that yourself or a pest professional can do to treat the issue. First you must identify how the squirrels are entering. If there are multiple entry points seal off all but one of these areas so the squirrel is now down to one place it can easily enter and depart. From here, you would have a pest professional install a one way door or exclusion cone. What this does is allow the squirrel to leave but not re-enter the space. Once the squirrels have left you can remove the door and patch the area to prevent them from getting in again. It is important to check any patched areas frequently (at least every 6 months) to ensure their continued integrity. This type of exclusion is very common and can be performed by most professional pest companies. We hope these tips will be helpful for anyone looking to treat or prepare their home against squirrels for the winter season. Don't forget to tune in next week for another edition of Pest Of The Week.- Bulls-Eye staff
Pest of the Week: German Roaches
German roaches are becoming a huge problem in the Greater Houston Area. These roaches are not your standard, large creepy-crawlers we typically see in the Spring and Summer. These roaches are smaller and reproduce rapidly forming large colonies in no-time. The German cockroach is best identified by its small size, light golden color, and by two dark parallel lines running down the back of the body. They usually prefer a warm and humid environment with a nearby food source. These insects are little scavengers and will feed on a wide variety of foods. They are most active at night when they are searching for food, water, and mates. During the day they hide in cracks and crevices and other dark places. Their narrow, flat bodies enable them to move through small openings with ease. They may be seen during the daytime, if a heavy population is present or if they are in desperate need for food or water. People with an infestation of German roaches will generally begin finding them in the kitchen or bathroom. From here, they can spread to multiple areas of the house, in some cases, completely taking over. Due to the amount of chemicals used to treat these roaches in recent years, they've developed an immunity to most pesticides. A special combination of contact, residual and growth inhibitor chemicals applied by a licensed pest technician is the most effective way to treat these sneaky critters. There are several ways to prevent an infestation of German roaches: Maintaining a clean home by removing food debris (crumbs) and covering garbage cans and using sink covers to limit the amount of food sources. These roaches WILL find ways to get into your house. They can even hitch a ride into your home hiding inside of used appliances: stoves, fridges even microwaves. Before purchasing these items, confirm they did not come from a home that may have a German roach infestation. If your dealing with German roaches, contact a licensed pest professional to help you. Only fumigation with professional grade products will be effective in eliminating these hard to kill insects.* Check out this great video shot by SunFlower Pest at a home they were treating for German roaches. YOU DO NOT WANT THIS TO BE YOU!! Tune in next week to see more tips and info about local area pests. Check out the YouTube video below of live footage of a German roach infestation in a kitchen.
Pest of the Week: Centipedes
Centipedes in our area of Greater Houston are generally considered nuisance pests. They are commonly known for their multiple legs which can range anywhere from 17-177. An interesting fact about centipedes is that they always have an odd number of legs. They typically inhabit dank, dark areas such as potted plants, bathrooms and crawl spaces when found inside the home. Despite having poisonous jaws which they use to inject venom into prey, very few centipedes in Texas actually pose a threat to humans. The only venomous centipede in our area is the Giant Red Headed centipede . The bite of a red headed centipede has been described as similar to a scorpion sting only more painful. They deposit venom not only with their pinchers but also through their legs as they crawl across the skin. The best way to prevent an infestation of centipede is with general pest control. Check out the link below about a newscast done in San Antonio about the bite of the Giant Red Headed Centipede. And don't forget to tune in next week for another edition of Pest of the Week!
Centipede Strikes!! Click to See News Story
Mosquito Prevention To Do List
Mosquito prevention is best done before the actual season begins. In the Greater Houston area we are already seeing mosquitos coming out of their hibernation areas and beginning to multiply at a rapid rate. Calls received from West University and The Heights this week are reporting a remarkable increase in the number of mosquitos they are seeing in just a few short days since the last cold snap. This is what inspired us to write about some preventative measures that you can take around your home in order to reduce the number of mosquitos you might see this season.
- Cut back all foliage around the home. This includes shrubs, bushes, hedges, high grass or vines . Make sure this foliage is kept to a minimum throughout the entire season to prevent breeding sites and resting areas for mosquitos.
- Keep child wading pools empty or drain when not in use.
- Walk your yard front and back dumping out anything that contains standing water like planter pots, buckets, old tires, paint cans etc.
- Clean roof gutters to prevent mosquitos from laying their larvae here. Any type of standing foliage is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos.
- Fill in any pot holes around your home where water could potentially collect.
- Make sure to keep the property free of grass clippings, leaves, garage or any debris that would obstruct the flow of water after a rain storm that could create water build up around your home.
- Report vacant lots with overgrown foliage to city officials to prevent mosquitos setting a permanent residence next door.
- Ensure proper screening for windows and doors to make sure they cannot get access to the interior of your home.
- Consider monthly mosquito fogging or installing a mosquito misting system if your are in a heavily wooded area. This can be especially important during peak season when despite all efforts mosquito populations are almost impossible to control.
Hope these tips on helping to control mosquito populations around your home can help you and your family this mosquito season. Remember to tune into Google+ today for our Pest of The Week feature about Ladybugs. We will be re-posting this to our blog as well so don’t forget to check back in. Have a great weekend Houston :-)!!!
Pest of the Week: Brown Recluse Spider
The Brown recluse is one of a few venomous spiders native to Houston. Frequently known for the violin shape markings on their back, they are commonly found hiding in cool dark places like garages or sheds. Many people are bitten by a brown recluse when putting on clothing or blanket items that have gone unused for long periods of time i.e. gardening gloves, shoes, or even blankets. The bite of a brown recluse spider can cause severe pain and possible tissue damage. The severity of the reaction to a recluse bite varies between persons. Some individuals have reactions so severe that it requires hospitalization while others experience only a mild skin irritation. The best way to prevent an infestation of brown recluses in your Greater Houston home is with routine pest control as well as shaking out clothing items before putting them on your body. This is especially the case with items that have not been worn or disturbed for several weeks at a time. De-webbing windows, ceilings, and attic spaces will also help decrease the number of spiders you see around your home. Spiders are very protective of their webs, once one is destroyed they tend to move their webs to safer locations away from people who might take them down. This de-webbing is a part of the service we provide to our customers when we come out to do quarterly or one time pest control. Check out the great video we found from a World's deadliest animals episode about Brown Recluse Spiders. Thanks for tuning in! Have a great week everyone!
Pest of the week: Sugar Ants
Sugar ants is a general term to describe several different sub species of ants that you typically find as an indoor pest. Named for their love of sweet foods, they are actually food opportunists that will eat whatever is readily available. Sugar ants vary in shapes, sizes and color depending on the species. They are seen typically in kitchen and bathrooms but could be found anywhere in the home where sweet treats or other food is stored. The best prevention for sugar ants is to keep all food/candy/cookies in sealed containers, sweep and mop floors frequently, as well as make sure no crumbs are left behind after preparing meals. Regular general pest control will help reduce ant activity if you are experiencing a current infestation. But even with regular pest service, if the action causing the ants (i.e. food crumbs) is not corrected, you will continue to have persistent ant problems in your home. Because there are several different types of sugar ants, it is best to contact a licensed pest professional. Different species respond better to treatment with specific pesticides, so making sure that the right products are being applied for that specific ant type is key to getting rid of these pesky food thieves. Below is a video with some self help tips on preventing and treating sugar ants that we thought you all might enjoy. Thanks for Stopping By and don't forget to tune in next week for another edition of pest of the week!!!
-Bulls-Eye Pest & Termite Control Team