April Showers Bring May … Pests?
Weather can have a dramatic influence on the number and kinds of pests that enter a structure. Extreme heat and dry weather in the summer can result in ants seeking sources of water and cooler environments indoors. In the winter, pests like box elder bugs and cluster flies seek warm structures to overwinter. Rainy springtime weather is no different. Warmer temperatures and wet weather can cause pests to move from their outdoor overwintering locations into structures.
During the winter months many outdoor insect invaders, including ants, spend much of the winter
in sheltered locations under rocks, logs, under mulch and in soil. Spending the winter underneath
insulated items or below the frost line in soil allows individuals as well as entire colonies to survive cold
temperatures. When the weather warms and spring showers begin, resulting in saturated soil, many of
these pests are forced out of their hiding places in search of drier places to nest. Ants are especially
likely to enter homes following a heavy rain event. In addition to seeking higher ground, ants
may be forced indoors to forage for food when the sweet secretions of honeydew producing insects
like aphids and scale insects is washed way during heavy rain. Honey dew is an important food for
many ant species. Without their primary food source present outdoors, ants may come indoors in
search of food.
Few insects strike more fear into the hearts of homeowners than subterranean termites, and for good reason. Over one billion U.S. dollars are spent every year on controlling termites or repairing the damage they caused. To make matters worse, most damage caused by termites is not covered by traditional homeowners insurance, leaving you to pay out of pocket for repairs. One reason why termites are so effective at inflicting such carnage is because they can feed on wood around the clock, all while remaining well hidden behind your walls. Despite their best efforts to go unseen, termites do leave behind clues that they are in the area. Here is some useful information and tips to spotting hungry termites that every homeowner should know.
Subterranean termites are eusocial insects that live mostly underground in groups known
as colonies. They are considered eusocial insects because more than one generation lives together,
they cooperate with each other to raise their young, and they have specialized castes, or roles, that
perform specific functions for the colony. Each termite colony has three primary castes: worker,
soldier and reproductive. Workers are small, creamy white termites that measure about 1/4 inch long,
and are responsible for the feeding damage to your home. Soldiers are tasked with protecting the colony, and often have a larger head and mandibles used for defense. Reproductives are for, you guessed it, reproduction. In the spring as temperatures rise to the low to mid-70’s, swarms of winged reproductive termites emerge from their colonies by the thousands in search of a mate to start a new colony. This mating period is known as swarm season.
Swarming termites offer a few valuable clues that can be used to determine their presence. The first and most obvious sign is to actually witness swarming termites. The farther away from the colony you are, however, the more difficult it becomes to spot termites in flight. But, even lone mating pairs of termites can leave behind evidence. After winged reproductives have found a mate, they drop to the ground to find a cozy underground honeymoon spot to start their new colony. Before disappearing, the termites break off their wings since they will no longer need them for flight. Finding these small, translucent wings in spider webs, window sills or anywhere else around your home is a sure sign that termites are in the area.
Time is always of the essence with pests, especially when it comes to subterranean termites. The sooner that termite activity is detected, the greater the chances are of minimizing costly damage to your home. However, just
because you find small insect wings doesn’t guarantee that your home is infested with subterranean termites. Other damaging pests such as ants or beetles may also have wings that may look similar to the wings of termites.
And, each of these invaders requires a very different management strategy to eliminate. Therefore, positively identifying pests is important to protecting your home as well as the health of your family. Be sure to call us at the first signs of any evidence so that we can identify the invader and keep your home pest free