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    Wednesday, December 01, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    One of our office staff is “REALLY” into Christmas.  So we welcomed her back from her Thanksgiving break.  To all our Clients, HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!  We appreciate Your business 🎅

    Paper Wasps: A Hidden Holiday Danger

    Tuesday, November 09, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    A fall breeze rustles the leaves and sends gentle white clouds meandering across a bright blue sky. Jack-o-Lanterns and skeletons have vacated lawns and been replaced with corn stalks, turkeys, and decor welcoming family and friends to sit by the hearth and give thanks for the shared love and fellowship. Family recipes are perused in anticipation of Thanksgiving dinner, while those already dreaming of a white Christmas begin to hang lights along rooftops and eaves. But while the peace of the season is permeating the air, a menace may be lurking on your home, about to turn joyous holiday preparation into a trip to the emergency room: paper wasps. Though these pests are not as notorious as hornets, their sting still packs quite a punch, and unlike some ground-dwelling wasps, they like to make their nests in the exact places you are about to hang your beautiful Christmas decorations. And while being surrounded by family and friends while you decorate your home would be a magical moment, being swarmed by angry paper wasps while standing on a ladder attempting to hang lights is a recipe for disaster. So before you rush into the most magical time of the year, read on to find out what surprises may be waiting on your rooftop (sadly, they are not Santa or his reindeer), and what you can do to keep your upcoming days merry and bright.

    What do Paper Wasps Look Like?

                    There are several species of paper wasps in Texas, each with slight differences in appearance. In general, they are between 3/4 and 1 inch long with slender bodies and narrow waists. Their body color ranges from brown with yellow markings (somewhat similar to yellowjackets) to an overall reddish-brown color. They have smoky black wings and a unique stature when flying: their back legs hang down while in flight.

    Why are they called Paper Wasps?

                    Though most commonly known as paper wasps, these pests have another apt moniker: umbrella wasps. Both of these names derive from the unique nests that these wasps create; one based on the material of the nest, the other based on the shape. Paper wasps create their nests from wood fibers collected from posts (or other man-made wooden structures) and plant stems that are then chewed up and made into a paper-like substance. This substance is formed into a single tier of downward-oriented hexagonal cells suspended from the rear by a single filament, giving the appearance of an upside-down umbrella. But being made of wood and shaped like an upside-down umbrella doesn’t stop their nests from being exceptionally waterproof; this is due to the fact that their saliva (which is mixed with the wood fibers) is a highly effective waterproofing medium; enough so that it has been studied as a foundation for synthesizing alternate waterproofing methods.

    Where do Paper Wasps Live?

                    A single paper wasp nest generally houses between 20 and 75 adult wasps. These nests are often found on or around man-made structures like houses, garages, sheds, outdoor porches, or barns, and are generally built in highly protected areas, like under eaves, decks, or railings, on ceilings, window frames, or door frames, or in attics. When not on a man-made structure, they can usually be located hanging from shrubs or trees. Though wasps are generally found outdoors on their nests, this can change in late fall as fertilized queens look for highly sheltered areas to hibernate over the winter. It’s around this time of year when you will notice a lot of wasps flying around, especially high off the ground near tree tops or towers, as male and reproductive females mate. Once fertilized, the soon-to-be queens will seek out safety in high up places like peaked attics or chimneys; it’s in this search for safety that they have been known to enter homes and offices, sometimes in small groups.

    What do Paper Wasps Eat?

                    Though adult paper wasps consume sugars, such as ripe fruit, plant nectar, or honeydew (a substance excreted by aphids), they are also a significant predator of other bugs, such as caterpillars, beetle larvae, flies, and spiders. These captured bugs are fed to the paper wasp larvae, which mature over about 6 weeks in their individual cells, until the cell is capped and they pupate into an adult and emerge to join the colony (if they are a non-reproductive female worker) or to eventually help form a new colony (if they are a reproductive female or male).

    Are Paper Wasps Dangerous?

                    Paper wasps are among the relatively rare group of stinging wasps that are known to be potentially dangerous to humans. Though there are thousands of wasps that can sting, the majority are either highly unlikely to sting a human or do not carry a venom that is likely to cause a significant reaction in humans. Paper wasps are a member of the Vespidae family, which includes hornets and yellowjackets; Vespidae wasps are known to be social insects, living in and fiercely defending their colony. As such, their stinger is used primarily as a defensive tool, and when they sting they deposit a venom containing more than 30 different compounds, any of which could spark an allergic reaction in a person. Though a wasp sting is never pleasant, and almost always results in intense pain and swelling around the sting site, in some instances the sting can be extremely severe and even fatal. In the United States, insect stings are responsible for around 40 to 100 deaths annually. Generally, the deaths are due to systemic allergic reactions that can cause anaphylaxis in as little as 10 minutes. This extreme risk factor is one of the biggest reasons to always call The Bug Dude whenever wasps invade your property, and let a professional mitigate any risks these pests could be to you and your family.

    Point of Interest: only female wasps and bees are capable of stinging; this is due to the fact that the stinger is a modified egg-laying organ, which only females possess.

    How do you Prevent Paper Wasps?

    Although paper wasps rarely use the same nest year to year, once a successful nesting location has been found, it will be utilized over and over again as new nests are built annually in the spring. This habitual behavior is one reason why it’s particularly important to take preventative measures whenever possible, so you don’t have a persistent wasp invasion.

    Given that wasps are capable of flight and are small enough to hide in any number of locations in and around your home, it’s impossible to fully prevent them. However, here are a few tips to make your house less enticing for these dangerous pests:

    1. Regularly inspect secluded areas around your home (i.e. eaves, porch ceilings, etc.) for evidence of wasp nests. If a nest is found, immediately call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) to have it safely treated and removed.
    2. Maintain a regular pest control service with The Bug Dude to drastically reduce other pests on your property, thereby limiting the potential food sources for paper wasp larvae.
    3. If a nest is found in an area in/on your home, look for any repair work that can be done in that area to make it less enticing for future wasps. A few examples include: sealing any voids or openings in the area, repairing window screens, or putting on a fresh coat of paint or varnish on the area to make it more difficult for wasps to attach their nests.
    4. Keep bushes, trees, and shrubs around your home well-trimmed and appropriately thinned.
    5. Immediately clean up any sugary foods left out on your porch or in your yard (i.e. open soda cans, partially eaten fruit, etc.).
    6. Make sure garbage cans are covered with secure lids to help eliminate attractive food sources.

    How do you Eliminate Paper Wasps?

                    Paper wasps are not a pest to trifle with. When their nest is disturbed they will attack the intruder en masse, and with each wasp able to sting multiple times, they can inflict considerable, potentially fatal, damage. This is why the technicians at Mid-Cities Pest Control are expertly trained with how to safely and effectively treat and remove wasp nests. With the proper knowledge, products, and equipment in hand, the technicians at The Bug Dude can quickly eliminate a wasp issue and get you back to preparing for your holiday feasts. Give The Bug Dude a call at 817-354-5350 at the first sign of a wasp issue and let our expert techs take one thing off your plate this holiday season (so you can have room for an extra helping of turkey).

    Further Reading:

    “Paper Wasps, Yellowjackets and Solitary Wasps” – Glen C. Moore and Mike E. Merchant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “Paper Wasps” – Eric P. Benson, Extension Entomologist/Associate Professor and Patricia A. Zungoli, Extension Entomologist/ Professor, Department of Entomology, Soils, and Plant Sciences, Clemson University.

    “Paper Wasps, Yellowjackets and Other Stinging Wasps” – Hal C. Reed, Richard Grantham, Russell Wright – Oklahoma State University Extension

    Author Bio: Alissa Breach has been gaining knowledge and experience around pest control concerns over the last 12 years while working for Mid-Cities Pest Control. She has a creative writing BA from UW-Madison and is always pursuing new and interesting writing projects.

    Don’t Let Armyworms Become a Halloween Nightmare

    Monday, October 18, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    October has arrived, bringing with it the promise of fall weather, and the joys of the holiday season, and first up is, of course, Halloween. While you’re busy planning costumes for the family and beginning to decorate your home and yard for the upcoming fun, pests may be lying in wait to play a trick on you while having themselves quite a treat. One of the major trick-or-treaters this season is armyworms. Armyworms are wreaking havoc on yards and crops in unprecedented numbers across the US this fall, and Texas is at the center of it all. Though a soldier costume may be just the thing to bring a smile to your child’s face this Halloween, armyworms in your yard are sure to bring nothing but ghoulish nightmares.

    What do Armyworms Look Like?

                    The name “armyworms” evokes the image of an earthworm dressed in military camouflage, which isn’t fully inaccurate for the appearance of the larval stage of these pests. However, it hardly tells the full story of these insects, which are in truth not worms at all. Belonging to the insect order Lepidoptera, they are actually moths when fully grown, and the “worm-like” stage is just one part, albeit a very important part, of their life cycle.

                    Though there are many species of armyworms throughout Texas, the one most likely to attack your yard is the fall armyworm. These pests begin as tiny eggs deposited in large masses of 50 or more on surfaces such as desirable host plants, tree leaves, or man-made objects in yards (i.e. fences, light posts, chairs, etc.). Once hatched the larvae will grow quickly (within 2 to 3 weeks) to their full size, which is around 1 to 1.5 inches long. The larvae (caterpillars) are green, brown, or black and have stripes running along their body from head to tail: a yellow-ish stripe down the middle and a thinner black stripe on each side of that, and have 4 black spots near their back end. They also have a dark-colored head with a pale inverted “Y” marking on it. Once the caterpillar has finished its feeding, it will tunnel into the soil and enter the pupal stage. Within 14 days, the adult armyworm moth will emerge. Armyworm moths are generally a gray-ish color and have a wingspan of around 1.5 inches. Their forewings are a mottled dark gray, while their underwings are whitish.

    Why are they called Armyworms?

                    As discussed above, the term “worm” is a misnomer as these pests are not worms at all; rather, they are caterpillars, the larval stage of a moth, they just happen to have a smoother body like a worm instead of a fuzzy one like many other caterpillars. So how did they get their name? Primarily, it derives from their behavior. As larvae, they move quickly, marching side by side, through lawns, fields, and crops in large numbers, leaving behind large swaths of destruction in their wake, much like an army. In fact, when faced with these pests you can often feel like you are waging war with an immense and intractable enemy.

    Where do Armyworms Live?

                    Fall armyworms are highly sensitive to the cold and cannot survive the winter temperatures of north Texas. This means that they spend the winter months in south Texas and only begin to move northward when temperatures begin to rise in spring. Their peak season, however, as their name implies is during fall, when the temperatures are warm (but not blisteringly hot) and rain is prevalent, the ideal mixture for armyworms to thrive in.

                    As caterpillars, you will find them living on the plants they feed upon: turfgrass and crops. Eggs are difficult to spot and can be found on just about any surface in a yard (as discussed above). Moths are migratory but can be found near light sources or areas of lush plant growth (their preferred place to lay eggs) during nighttime hours when they are active.

    What do Armyworms Eat?

                    As adults, armyworm moths are relatively innocuous and simply consume nectar. However, as larvae, they have voracious appetites and can consume copious amounts of plant material. Their preferred diet includes: turfgrasses (ideally warm-season varieties such as Bermudagrass), small grains, corn, sweet potatoes, beans, spinach, cucumber, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, and more. Caterpillars chew the green layer from leaves and leave behind a clear “window pane” area. The tips of leaves and grass blades are consumed first, but further damage happens quickly as they strip tissue from the leaves, first appearing brown and like drought damage, but rapidly progressing to a complete loss of foliage. Perhaps even worse, they feed primarily during the late evening and early morning hours, meaning your yard could seem fine when you go to bed but be nearly devastated by the time you wake up.

    Are Armyworms Dangerous?

                    Though armyworms are not dangerous to people or animals, they can be devastating to crops and grasses. In a matter of hours they can devastate a lawn, field, or crop. Dalton Ludwick, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Corpus Christi, estimated that just 2 armyworms per square foot of land can consume around 84 pounds of foliage per acre. And most of this eating (around 85%) is done in the final 2 to 3 days of their larval stage. This means that the first sign of a problem is often immediately followed by massive destruction.

                    Fortunately, healthy, well-established grasses can often withstand the onslaught and will eventually recover. Newly planted or sickly grasses, and many crops, however, often do not survive an armyworm attack.

    How do you Prevent Armyworms?

                    Unfortunately, there is very little you can do to prevent armyworms from invading your yard. As moths, these pests can travel great distances in relatively short periods of time and can take up residence in your yard without you ever knowing. Once in your yard, a single female moth can lay up to 2,000 eggs, and in a single year, there are often 4 or 5 generations of these pests, largely owing to their relatively short (28 day) life cycle. So is all hope lost? Should you just lay down AstroTurf or make your yard into a rock garden? While there isn’t a a lot of prevention you can do, there are a few things that can help (see below), and if armyworms do invade, The Bug Dude has the expertise, experience, and products needed to keep your yard from devastation.

    1. Keep a watchful eye on your grass and garden. At the first sign of damage, call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) to get the issue diagnosed. If the problem is armyworms you won’t have much time between the first sign of a problem and complete devastation.
    2. Remove thatch, leaf litter, and other yard debris from your lawn.
    3. Eliminate crabgrass and other grassy weeds from your lawn; they are known host plants for armyworms.
    4. Except for during winter, minimize the use of outdoor lights at night to keep from enticing the moths into your yard.
    5. Watch for unusually large numbers of birds feeding in your yard and call The Bug Dude as soon as you notice this as it’s a sure sign of an infestation.
    6. Keep your lawn healthy; though this won’t prevent an issue, it will help your lawn weather an attack should one occur.

    How do you Eliminate Armyworms?

                    At the first sign of armyworm trouble, call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350. The only surefire way to get rid of these destructive pests is to use the correct products in the right areas as soon as an issue arises. Though it can often be tempting to try DIY or over-the-counter treatments for yard pests, when it comes to armyworms, you generally only have one shot to take them out before they destroy the yard or crops you have worked so hard on all season. Don’t let armyworms turn this Halloween into a nightmare, call The Bug Dude as soon as you see a problem and let us keep the holiday full of treats instead of tricks.

    Further Reading:

    “Armyworm” – Casey Reynolds, PhD, Mike Merchant, PhD and Diane Silcox Reynolds, PhD – AgriTurf – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “The Fall Armyworm – A Pest of Pasture and Hay” – Allen Knutson, Extension Entomologist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Dallas

    “Armyworms in Turfgrass” – Chris Sansone, Rick Minzemayer, and Mike Merchant Extension Entomologists, Texas AgriLife Extension – Insects in the City

    “Fall Armyworms On The March Across Texas” – Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications – Texas A&M Today

    “Battalions of armyworms are chomping up fields across the nation – sometimes overnight” – Caroline Anders – The Washington Post

    “‘Unprecendented’ outbreak of armyworms are destroying lawns across the US, often overnight” – Christine Fernando – USA TODAY

    Author Bio: Alissa Breach has been gaining knowledge and experience around pest control concerns over the last 12 years while working for Mid-Cities Pest Control. She has a creative writing BA from UW-Madison and is always pursuing new and interesting writing projects.

    There’s a New Roach in Town, and its Name is Turkestan

    Friday, September 03, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    Over 200 years ago Benjamin Franklin wrote: “the only two certainties in life are death and taxes,” and while that still holds true, I would venture to add a truism of my own: if you live in Texas long enough you are certain to encounter a cockroach in or around your home. Though Texas is home to 38 different types of cockroaches, there are four that are considered to be the most common: American cockroaches, German cockroaches, oriental cockroaches, and smokybrown cockroaches. However, recent findings have unveiled an invasive roach species that is rapidly making its way onto the most common list: the Turkestan cockroach. Though a relative new-comer to the United States, first showing up in the late 1970s at Army bases in California and Texas, it has quickly gained a foothold throughout the Southwestern United States and is beginning to displace the existing oriental roach populations due to its rapid rate of reproduction. With Turkestan cockroach populations on the rise, the likelihood of this being the roach you encounter while innocently spending time at home is ever-increasing. So what makes these roaches different and why should you be concerned?

    What do Turkestan Cockroaches Look Like?

    Turkestan cockroaches are sexually dimorphic as adults, meaning that adult females and adult males look quite different. Adult females are dark brown with small white or cream-colored dashes behind their head and at the end of their short, rounded, wings (which are not capable of flight); they are approximately 1” long and are strikingly similar in appearance to female oriental roaches. Adult males are reddish brown with a light yellow border along the edge of their fully developed wings (which support limited flight); they are approximately 1.25” long and resemble small, narrow American roaches. It is the coloration of the males that gives this roach its nicknames: rusty red cockroach and red runner cockroach.

                    As with other roaches, the adults are the easiest to identify and to detect the presence of. Turkestan cockroach egg capsules (oothecae) are only 3/8” long and are dark brown in color. These oothecae contain approximately 17 eggs each, and a single female can produce up to 25 oothecae in her life; that’s over 400 eggs! The nymphs begin life at less than 1/6” in length and will go through 5 instars in their life cycle before becoming adults, becoming larger with each subsequent stage. They are fully mature within approximately 7.5 months and can live for at least 13 months as adults.

    Where do Turkestan Cockroaches Live?

     Originally native to central and southwest Asia, these pests thrive in warm climates and are rapidly taking hold in the southern and southwestern United States. Believed to have originally been introduced to the U.S. as stowaways in military equipment returning from the Middle East in the 1970s, these pests have more recently gained an additional route into all sections of the U.S.: the internet. Because of their prolific breeding and relatively limited mobility (they are not great fliers and they are not good at climbing smooth surfaces, though they are more than capable jumpers) they have become an ideal feeder insect, being used as live food for reptiles by breeders and owners. The ease with which these pests can be purchased online, combined with their high success rates in the U.S. so far, mean that these roaches are likely just beginning their encroachment onto our turf. And yes, their presence has been confirmed in north Texas.

                    So where are you likely to encounter a Turkestan cockroach in or around your home? These pests live in much the same places as oriental roaches, which primarily inhabit outdoor locations, especially those that are damp. Most commonly they can be found in locations such as crawl spaces, water meter boxes, electrical boxes, cracks in concrete, compost, leaf litter, potted plants, hollow block walls, and sewer systems. However, they have also been found indoors, especially during summer months when they reach their peak population. More often than not, these nocturnal pests are drawn into homes either from being attracted to lights or in search of food and water, and once inside they are more than capable of establishing a sizeable indoor presence, particularly behind baseboards, in wall voids, around sinks and drains, around hot water heaters, and in drop ceilings.

    What do Turkestan Cockroaches Eat?

                    As with most roaches, the Turkestan cockroach feeds on a wide array of plant and animal matter. They will happily consume human foods, including remnants such as crumbs, garbage, and compost, but are equally content to munch on pet food, leaf litter, dead insects, paper, cardboard, leather, and even fingernails, just to give a few examples.

    Are Turkestan Cockroaches Dangerous?

                    Though Turkestan cockroaches do not bite or sting, they cannot be considered harmless. These pests carry a legitimate risk of being a disease vector for people as well as plants. Just think about all the unsanitary places they like to live, such as sewage systems, and then imagine them crawling all over your kitchen, and you can see the potential for disease transmission. In addition, they are known to carry a fungi that can cause diseases in plants.

    How do you Prevent Turkestan Cockroaches?

                    As always, taking measures to help prevent a pest invasion is the best first step. When it comes to roaches, there are a few main avenues of prevention to pursue:

    1. Maintain regular pest control service with The Bug Dude.
      1. Eliminates the roaches themselves before their population explodes.
      1. Technicians can point out potential harborage areas.
    2. Eliminate entry points.
      1. Seal any visible cracks, crevices, and holes around your home.
      1. Check window and door screens for rips & repair or replace as needed.
      1. Check interior plumbing voids for gaps and seal them.
      1. Use door sweeps and weatherstripping.
      1. Inspect items prior to bringing them indoors, such as items that were recently in storage and food deliveries.
      1. If possible, create a 6” to 12” gravel barrier around the perimeter of your home to reduce dampness against the structure.
    3. Maintain good sanitation practices indoors.
      1. Regularly sweep and vacuum floors, especially where food is consumed.
      1. Wipe up crumbs on counters or tables.
      1. Keep sinks and counters clear of dirty dishes by maintaining a regular washing regimen.
      1. Don’t leave food out on counters overnight.
      1. Keep storage organized and tidy.
      1. Regularly take trash out to a sealed exterior container.
    4. Maintain good sanitation practices outside.
      1. Trim shrubs and landscaping around the home to reduce moisture retention and increase light and air circulation.
      1. Rake up and remove leaf litter and yard debris regularly.
      1. Keep firewood and lumber away from the house.
      1. Make sure trash and recycling containers are well-sealed.

    How do you Eliminate Turkestan Cockroaches?

                    When it comes to roaches the best thing to do is call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) at the first sign of an infestation. Roaches are incredibly resilient as a species, and are more than capable of flying under the radar while growing their populations. When it comes to Turkestan cockroaches in particular, they can create large colonies at an alarming rate. Our expert technicians not only can identify the type of roach (whether it be American, German, Turkestan, etc.) that’s causing problems and use the correct products to take care of that species (not all roaches get treated the same), but they can also help locate potential harborage areas or colony sites that need to be addressed in order to both eliminate the existing infestation and keep it from becoming a problem again in the future. As we’ve seen with the success of the Turkestan cockroach taking over the habitats of the oriental cockroach, the presence of these pests are not to be taken lightly, so give The Bug Dude a call at the first sign of trouble and keep this invasive species from invading your home.

    Further Reading:

    “Turkestan Cockroach” – Texas Invasive Species Institute

    “Life History and Biology of the Invasive Turkestan Cockroach (Dictyoptera: Blattidae)” – Tina Kim, Michael K. Rust – Journal of Economic Entomology, Volume 106, Issue 1, 1 December 2013, Pages 2428-2432 – Entomological Society of America

    “Getting to know the Turkestan cockroach” – Mike Merchant, PhD – Insects in the City – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “A Changing Population – Turkestan Cockroach Overtakes the American Southwest… and Possibly NYC” – Marcia Anderson – The EPA Blog

    “The Invasive Turkestan Cockroach” – Christian Wilcox, A.C.E. – Columns: Tech Talk – PCT Magazine

    “Turkestan cockroach” – Verseris – PestWeb

    Author Bio: Alissa Breach has been gaining knowledge and experience around pest control concerns over the last 12 years while working for Mid-Cities Pest Control. She has a creative writing BA from UW-Madison and is always pursuing new and interesting writing projects.

    Don’t let Gnats become a Texas-sized Problem

    Wednesday, August 11, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    Texas is known for many wonderful things, from top-notch sports teams, to beloved historical landmarks (remember the Alamo), to amazing food, and so much more. However, it’s also well-known, especially by those who live here, as being exceptionally hospitable to bugs. Though these pests can range from the kind that sting, to the kind that do severe damage to our homes, perhaps one of the most common, and irritating, insects to contend with is gnats. These tiny pests are infamous for their ability to reproduce rapidly and create long-lasting, and highly annoying, infestations.

    There isn’t just one type of gnat, however, and the diversity in habits, habitats, and appearance can vary widely; even worse, the term gnat is often used colloquially to refer to any small fly. So what are people referring to when they say they are having an issue with gnats? Generally speaking, in Texas, they will be referring to either fungus gnats, fruit flies, or drain flies. All three of these small flies are exceptionally common to find in homes, offices, food/drink establishments, and yards, and without expert knowledge (and magnification) can be difficult to discern the difference between them. Since these three can be remarkably different in their habitats, it can be difficult to find their source without expert help, which is why it’s always helpful to call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) to get a proper pest identification and treatment plan in place as soon as you notice an infestation.

    What do Gnats Look Like?

    All three types of small flies have a few things in common: they have six legs, a three-segmented body, and 1 pair of wings they use for flying. They also all go through a complete metamorphosis, which means they start as eggs, and mature through a larva and pupa stage before becoming adults.

    Fungus gnat adults are between 1/8 & 1/4 inch long, are generally black with dark wings, have a long, slender abdomen, and have very long legs; to the naked eye, they resemble a very small mosquito.

    Fruit fly adults are around 1/8 inch long, are yellowish to pale brown in color with clear wings, have red or white eyes, and antennae with a feathery appearance.

    Drain fly adults are between 1/6 and 1/5 inch long, are dark gray to black in color, are densely covered with hairs (giving them a fuzzy appearance), and hold their large wings over their body while at rest (like moths or butterflies); the fuzzy appearance and wing posture is the reason these flies are also known as moth flies.

    Where do Gnats Live?

    In simplest terms, gnats live in places of high moisture with abundant food supplies. For each of the three flies, this will mean a different preferred location.

    Fungus gnats are most commonly found near potted plants (both indoors, outdoors, and especially in greenhouses).

    Fruit flies are most commonly found on overripe and decaying fruits and vegetables that are left out (such as on a counter or in a trash can).

    Drain flies, as their name suggests, are most commonly found near drains in kitchens and bathrooms, especially in the thin film that forms in these areas, as well as sewage treatment beds and standing water.

    All three can also regularly be found near windows as they are attracted to light.

    What do Gnats Eat?

                    Just as their habitat varies depending on the type of gnat or fly in question, so does their diet. Though all three of the common pests we are talking about do not bite humans, there are many types of gnat, such as the sand gnat, that do like a blood meal. Fortunately, you are not nearly as likely to encounter a biting gnat as you are a fungus gnat, fruit fly, or drain fly.

                    Fungus gnat larvae feed on fungi and various organic matter in soil, including root hairs and roots. Adults don’t consume very much, and when they do, they feed on liquids such as water or nectar.

                    Fruit flies feed on decaying plant material, which includes fruits (like bananas) and vegetables (like potatoes). They are also attracted to some liquids, such as wine, beer, vinegar, sodas, and juices.

                    Drain fly larvae feed on the organisms that grow in the liquid/slime layer around drains, these include fungi, bacteria, and algae. Adults consume liquids such as sewage, polluted water, and nectar.

    Are Gnats Dangerous?

                    Gnats are certainly not one of the most dangerous or damaging pests to find in your home; however, they also aren’t simply a nuisance pest. Biting gnats are capable of transmitting parasitic infections to humans as well as viral infections to livestock. Non-biting gnats, such as fruit flies and drain flies, can pose a health risk to humans by transporting pathogens from their unsanitary habitats to to foods or drinks that are being consumed, while fungus gnats pose a risk to potted plants (both from damage to roots as well as from pathogen transmission). When food and water sources are abundant, they can all reproduce quickly, with females laying between 100 to 300 eggs during their 1-2 week lifespan. With a life cycle that generally takes less than a month to complete, this means populations can soar rapidly, significantly increasing the potential danger.

    How do you Prevent Gnats?

    Since gnats and their eggs are particularly small pests, it is incredibly easy for an infestation to get out of hand before you even know you have a problem. Fortunately, there are quite a few preventative measures that you can take to reduce the risk of being inundated with these flying pests.

    • Whenever possible, refrigerate produce and vegetables instead of leaving them out on counters or in bowls.
    • Use a lidded trash can in kitchens or anywhere else food waste may be disposed.
    • Regularly clean the interior of trash cans where food waste is disposed (don’t forget the lids).
    • Regularly clean sinks and drains throughout your home (diluted bleach can be a very effective way to clean drains).
    • Clean garbage disposal blades by running ice cubes through it.
    • Do not over-water potted plants (the top soil should dry out between waterings) and make sure all potted plants have good drainage.
    • Thoroughly inspect potted plants and cut flowers prior to bringing them indoors for any signs of adult gnats.
    • When purchasing produce, do not buy damaged (i.e. brown or bruised) items.
    • Keep kitchen counters and tables clear of any food or drink residue.
    • Eliminate any areas of standing water in and around your home.

    How do you Eliminate Gnats?

                    If you find yourself facing a gnat infestation, the first thing to do is try to find the source of the problem: this means inspecting your drains, potted plants, and produce. If you are able to find the source(s) and remove it from your home, there is a good chance the gnat issue will subside within two weeks when the current adult population dies out. If the source cannot be removed, adjusting your watering (for potted plants) or cleaning (for drains) practices can be extremely effective, though may take longer for results to be seen. However, if you need immediate results or haven’t had luck with the preventative practices alone, call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) to have an expert technician evaluate the infestation and provide professional control options and keep these small pests from becoming a Texas-sized problem.

    Further Reading:

    “Horticulture Update: Fungus Gnats” – Dr. Carlos Bogran, Assistant Professor, Department of Entomology, and Scott Ludwig, Extension Program Specialist in IPM, Texas A&M University – Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University

    “Drain Flies” – Chris Sansone, Rick Minzenmayer, and Bastiaan M. Drees – Extension Entomology – Texas A&M University System

    “How to get rid of fruit flies in your house” – Rob Williams – Department of Entomology – Texas A&M Agriculture & Life Sciences

    “Fungus Gnats in Office Buildings” – Dr. Mohammed El Damir, B.C.E. – Fly Control Annual Issue – PCT Magazine

    “Fungus Gnats as Houseplant and Indoor Pests” – W.S. Cransaw and R.A. Cloyd – Colorado State University Extension

    Author Bio: Alissa Breach has been gaining knowledge and experience around pest control concerns over the last 12 years while working for Mid-Cities Pest Control. She has a creative writing BA from UW-Madison and is always pursuing new and interesting writing projects.

    Tell Carpet Beetles to get Moving

    Wednesday, July 21, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    Texas is a great place to live, a fact that those living in this great state already knew, and the growing number of Americans relocating here are attesting to. In 2019 alone, more than 500,000 people moved to Texas from other states (most commonly California). And though these new residents are sure to be in for a treat with everything the Lone Star state has to offer, they first need to find and settle into new housing, a daunting task even before considering the pest control concerns that need to be taken into account. One pest that can often fly under the radar until well after an infestation has been established is the carpet beetle. These small pests are infamous for causing property damage but are often only detected after the damage has been done. Though it may be the last thing on your mind, keeping an eye out for signs of carpet beetles during a move (both in the home you are moving from and the one you are moving to) can spare you a lot of heartache and work down the road. And for those not currently in the midst of a move, it’s always important to keep your eyes open for the signs of an infestation and take preventative measures to keep your household belongings in excellent condition.

    What do Carpet Beetles Look Like?

    There are 3 main types of carpet beetles found in the U.S.: varied carpet beetles, furniture carpet beetles, and black carpet beetles. Though there are some physical and behavioral differences between the 3, they are overall substantially similar. Adults are approximately 1/10th to 3/16th inches long and have rounded or oblong bodies (about the shape of a lady bug, only smaller). They can range in coloring from mottled brown and white to dark brown or shiny black, and can have yellow/orange scales on their wings that they will lose as they age. Larval carpet beetles are elongated and are bigger than their adult form, measuring 1/8th to 1/4th inch long. They can range from tan to brown in color and have stiff hairs coming off their bodies. As they grow, they will leave behind shed exoskeletons until they reach pupation (anywhere from 6 months to nearly 2 years after hatching). Carpet beetle eggs are tiny (less than a millimeter in size), white, and oval-shaped.

    Where do Carpet Beetles Live?

    Adult carpet beetles are predominantly found outdoors, generally on the blossoms of crape myrtles, Queen Anne’s lace, daisies, and other flowering plants rich in pollen. When discovered indoors they are generally near doors or windows, though they can also be found in bird or rodent nests.

                    Carpet beetles in their larval stage can be found throughout the home in dark, undisturbed areas. Common locations are: in pantry goods, in stored natural-fiber fabrics, and in areas where dead insects accumulate.

    What do Carpet Beetles Eat?

                    Adult carpet beetles feed on pollen and nectar from flowering plants and as such are relatively harmless.

                    Larval carpet beetles generally consume foods high in protein, but can also feed on plant material and are able to digest foods containing keratin. As such their diet can be diverse and includes powdered milk, dried meats, pet food, wool, felt, fur, feathers, dead insects, leather, silk, hair, and dried plant products. They do not, however, eat synthetic fibers, though they can be drawn to them if they are stained with body oils or food.

    Are Carpet Beetles Dangerous?

                    Neither adult nor larval carpet beetles bite or sting humans or pets, though the hairs on the larvae can irritate skin when they come in contact. Adults are generally not considered harmful except in that adult females can lay their eggs indoors, and these eggs will hatch into the destructive larvae.

                    Larval carpet beetles are known to do a lot of damage to a wide assortment of household items such as rugs, linens, draperies, upholstery, clothing, furniture, pillows, taxidermied animals, as well as infesting stored foods. If you notice a natural-fiber item with damage (i.e. irregular holes or threadbare spots) to a large area on only one section (as opposed to scattered holes) there is a high chance that the damage is due to carpet beetle larvae; if you find shed exoskeletons alongside the damage you can be virtually certain that they are the culprit. With adult females laying between 50 and 100 eggs near food sources, and the food sources of choice being in heavily undisturbed areas, the damage can add up quickly before you even know you have a problem.

    How do you Prevent Carpet Beetles?

                    There are 2 crucial steps to preventing a carpet beetle infestation: exclusion and sanitation. In order to protect your belongings from attack, the first step needs to be keeping the adult beetles from entering your home. This is best achieved by utilizing intact window and door screens, removing any wasp, bird or animal nests around your home, and inspecting any plants or flowers for beetles prior to bringing them indoors.

                    Sanitation is a bit more time-consuming but is the only way to prevent carpet beetle larvae from getting a foothold in your home. Examples of important sanitation procedures are:

    • Maintain regular pest control service with The Bug Dude to keep other pest infestations from becoming a buffet for carpet beetle larvae.
    • Immediately clean up any accumulations of hair, pet fur, and dead insects (look for them in spiderwebs, light fixtures, etc.).
    • Regularly clean carpets, rugs, drapes, and upholstered items, especially along edges and in any cracks and crevices.
    • Inspect natural-fiber or animal-based items annually (i.e. leather, wool, down, or silk clothing or linens, or taxidermied animals).
    • Keep pantry items in sealed containers.
    • Inspect and clean closets, attics, and any other areas of long-term storage regularly.
    • Thoroughly wash fabrics between uses and store in sealed containers.
    • After vacuuming any areas of suspected carpet beetle activity, immediate empty the vacuum in an outdoor trash can.
    • If there has been prior rodent activity in the home, check for nests or food caches under cabinets and in other unused nooks.

    How do you Eliminate Carpet Beetles?

                    Once carpet beetles have invaded your home, the first step is to call The Bug Dude at 1-800-310-BUGS (2847) to have an experienced technician help you track down the source(s) of the infestation and eliminate them. In the meantime, any items that have been discovered with damage should either be disposed of or properly handled to destroy the pests living on them. If the item can be laundered, wash it in hot water and dry it thoroughly, or dry clean the item. For items that cannot be laundered and aren’t too large, heating or freezing may be an option (depending on the item in question and its relative safety in those environments). Items need to be either frozen for at least 2 weeks at temperatures below 18°F or heated for at least 30 minutes at temperatures over 120°F. Any specialty items should be handled by an expert in cleaning those specific items (i.e. furs or mounted game trophies).

                    Carpet beetles are known for being one of the most difficult pests to detect and control because they can be anywhere within a home. This makes moving the most ideal time to inspect for these pests, as it’s the one time you will be going through every item in your home, and also the only time you can inspect a completely empty home for signs of activity or conducive conditions. If you find any signs of infestation or are concerned about potential high-risk areas, give The Bug Dude a call at 817-354-5350 and let us help you keep your new home and your cherished possessions beetle-free.

    Further Reading:

    “A massive number of people are relocating to Texas from these 2 states” – Lindsey Wilson – CultureMap Dallas

    “Carpet beetles” – Wizzie Brown – Extension Entomology – Texas A&M Forest Service

    “Pest Notes: Carpet Beetles” – Dong-Hwan Choe, Entomology, UC Riverside – University of California Statewide IPM Program

    “Carpet Beetles” – Changlu Wang, Extension Specialist in Entomology & George Hamilton, Extension Specialist in Pest Management, Rutgers University – Rutgers

    “Carpet Beetles” – Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

    “Carpet Beetle Conundrum” – Kevin Hathorne, B.C.E. – PCT Magazine

    Author Bio: Alissa Breach has been gaining knowledge and experience around pest control concerns over the last 12 years while working for Mid-Cities Pest Control. She has a creative writing BA from UW-Madison and is always pursuing new and interesting writing projects.

    Don’t Let June Bugs Take Over Your Summer

    Tuesday, June 29, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    As June arrives in Texas, one of your first thoughts, other than the heat, is probably of Father’s Day and the many delightful ways you can celebrate dad. Among the many possibilities is most certainly a relaxing evening in the yard, when the temperature has dropped enough to make sitting outside with a cold beverage and good company an all-around pleasant experience. That is unless some uninvited “fathers” (quite literally) crash the celebration.

    If you’ve spent any time outdoors in Texas at night, especially near a light source, you have undoubtedly encountered the lumbering June bug. These moderately sized beetles are infamous for gathering around light sources in the early summer nights and for bumping their way around homes, often audibly hitting windows or smacking into people in their awkward flight patterns. Though it’s not known exactly what entices the June bugs to the light sources, it has been documented that the majority of these bugs that are clumsily flying around your lights are male June bugs, and since June is a major reproductive season for these pests, the majority of them will in fact be fathers. But how do you keep these new “fathers” from wrecking the day for your dad? Read on to find out more about these pests and then call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) to keep the holiday bug free.

    What do June Bugs Look Like?

    June bugs are a reddish brown beetle of about 1/2 to 5/8 inches in length. They have shiny wing covers (called elytra) that form a hard shell when the insect is not in flight, and 3 pairs of legs, which are particularly sticky and allow the beetles to cling to a variety of surfaces. In their larval stage, they are white grubs that can be up to 1 inch long, are “C”-shaped, and have a cream-colored body and brown heads. Though the adult June bug is more easily discovered in your yard, the larval (white grub) stage is significantly more destructive.

    Why are they Called June Bugs?

    The terms “June Bug, “May beetle” (another common term for June bugs) and “white grub” (the larval state of June bugs) can be generically applied to over 100 species of scarab beetles in Texas, though some species, such as Phyllophaga crinita are more common than others. They get their moniker due to their prevalence and notability during the adult phase of their life cycle. These beetles begin to emerge from the ground as flying adults in spring, with the peak of their flights occurring in mid to late June in Texas. During this time, they will reproduce and females will deposit their eggs (each female can lay around 75 to 100 eggs) between 2 and 5 inches deep in soil, while males will continue their flights around light sources. Within 3 to 4 weeks the eggs will hatch and small white grubs will emerge into the soil. They will then proceed through several stages of development over the next 1 to 2 years before emerging as adults.

    Where do June Bugs Live?

    June bugs can be found throughout the United States. As adults, they are nocturnal feeders and are drawn to sources of light, making interactions with them around your home difficult to avoid. During the day, they can be found on porches, clinging to window screens, and nearby other nighttime light sources, though in many cases the ones you encounter in daylight are already dead. As grubs they live between 3 and 6 inches deep in soil. They are particularly common in Texas turfgrass, especially Bermudagrass and St. Augustine grass.

    What do June Bugs Eat?

    In both adult and larval stages June bugs feed on vegetation. As adult beetles, they are particularly fond of leaves and are known to feast on grass, flowers, fruit, and food crops. Though they can cause damage to yards when feeding in their adult form, the greatest destruction is from their larval (white grub) stage. White grubs feed on the roots of grasses, weeds, vegetables/crops, and ornamental plants.

    Are June Bugs Dangerous?

    In all stages of their life cycle, June bugs are not harmful to humans or pets, though the adults can be a significant nuisance, particularly when attempting to spend time outdoors in the evening. The safety to your lawn, however, is a different matter and June bugs in their larval stage can cause severe destruction in your yard. Most notably, when there is an abundance of white grubs in the soil (more than 5 grubs per square foot) they can destroy grasses and plants. If you see your lawn yellowing or browning in patches in the spring or fall and the turf can be rolled up like a carpet, that is a sure sign that grubs have attacked your yard.

    Additionally, white grubs are a tasty treat for many animals and large concentrations of them will make your yard a favorite buffet for pests like skunks, raccoons, armadillos, and moles. These animals will do further damage to your lawn by digging for the grubs, and can become a significant problem in their own right if they decide to make your house their home. See our articles on raccoons, armadillos, and moles for more.

    How do you Eliminate June Bugs?

    When it comes to eliminating June bugs, the axiom “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” couldn’t be truer. The best way to eradicate a June bug infestation isn’t to treat for the bugs themselves, but to control their larval stage and prevent them from ever growing into adults. Reducing white grub populations in your yard not only keeps the potential exponential growth of June bug infestations at bay, it is also the most important step in protecting your yard from severe damage. In addition to getting expert advice by calling The Bug Dude, it is helpful to keep your yard healthy and robust. Here are a few ways to keep white grubs from making your yard their preferred home:

    • Overseed thinning areas of turf
    • Regularly dethatch your lawn
    • Maintain proper irrigation and fertilization
    • Regularly aerate your soil
    • Don’t cut your grass too short in the summer

    If you are seeing signs of white grub damage in your lawn (or seeing the grubs themselves) or if you have a large population of adult June bugs flying around your home immediately call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) and have one of our experts identify the problem and put together a treatment plan to get your yard back to a healthy, peaceful state in time for Father’s Day.

    Further Reading:

    “June Beetle” – Field Guide to Common Texas Insects – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “White Grubs and June Bugs: Lawn Party Crashers” – Nathan Riggs – Garden Style San Antonio

    “How to Get Rid of June Bugs” – David Beaulieu – the spruce

    “May/June Beetles” – P.J. Liesch, UW-Madison Entomology – University of Wisconsin-Madison Wisconsin Horticulture Division of Extension

    Author Bio: Alissa Breach has been gaining knowledge and experience around pest control concerns over the last 12 years while working for Mid-Cities Pest Control. She has a creative writing BA from UW-Madison and is always pursuing new and interesting writing projects.

    Photo by Riley Pitzen

    Keep Springtail Infestations Out of Your Springtime Fun

    Thursday, May 20, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    Spring has settled in over North Texas, bringing with it the customary rains and burgeoning heat. Gardens have been planted and new life is emerging all around as May begins and Mother’s Day draws near. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the beauty of nature and let mom relax in her immaculately cultivated yard. However, with the excess rains and drive to water lawns before the oppressive Texas summer heat arrives, it’s also an ideal time for bugs to thrive. A pest particularly drawn to high moisture areas is the tiny but prolific springtail, an insect known as much for its method of locomotion as it is for the large swarms that can invade a home and ruin a peaceful Mother’s Day celebration.

    What do Springtails Look Like?

                    Springtails are some of the smallest insects you are likely to encounter in your yard or home, at just around 1mm in length. These diminutive pests possess a soft body and moderate-length antennae and are so small they are barely visible to the naked eye. Though they can range greatly in shape (from slender and long to round and stout) and color (with hues including black, white, yellow, green, and red) when viewed under a microscope, to the human eye they generally just look like small gray specks. They are wingless and as such do not fly; however, they do have a long tail that enables them to jump several inches at a time. The tail (furcula) is a forked structure that is kept underneath their body and functions similar to a catapult when sprung from its folded position. To the untrained eye, this jumping action can cause the springtail to be mistaken for fleas, though fleas are generally a larger insect. This misidentification is one of the most important reasons to call 1-800-310-BUGS (2847) for The Bug Dude at the first sign of infestation so the proper treatment and prevention can be used not only to eliminate the actual issue, but also to prevent unnecessary or counterproductive treatments from being used.

    Where do Springtails Live?

                    These tiny pests are extremely adaptable and thrive throughout the United States, including in cold-weather climates. In fact, they are even active during winter, earning them the moniker “snow fleas” when they are spotted traversing snowy areas. In general, though, they are found in dark areas with high moisture content, favoring damp soil, decaying wood, and even swimming pools. When spotted in pools, there can be millions of these tiny pests floating on the surface, covering the water like a fine film; and yes, they can still be alive while floating there. Springtails are primarily a yard pest, whose abundant numbers can easily rise into the millions in a single yard. Though that may sound like a horrifying statistic, with their minute size, you are unlikely to discover their presence until they decide to move en masse to your home.

                    When their populations reach such high numbers, or when the outdoor conditions are unfavorable (dry and hot), they will begin to look for new habitats, and this can lead to hoards of springtails covering the outside of your home and getting inside through the gaps between bricks or around windows and doors. In no time you can go from a pest-free home to surrounded by hundreds, or thousands, of tiny, jumping pests. Though they will generally enter a home near windows and doors, they will seek out areas of high humidity and moisture and can be found in bathrooms, kitchens, and in the soil of houseplants. If you see springtails inside, it is a good sign that there is a significant moisture problem either in your yard, in your home, or in both; call the experts at TheBug Dude.com immediately to get assistance in discovering the source of your springtail woes.

    What do Springtails Eat?

                    Springtails belong to a highly primitive insect group (Collembola) and have an internal chewing mechanism rather than the external chewing parts of other insects; they also possess a tube-like structure under their abdomen that aids in water uptake. The diet of springtails primarily consists of algae, decomposing vegetable matter, bacteria, and fungi. In smaller populations, this can make them a beneficial pest as they aid in the natural decomposition process in the soil. However, when their numbers get out of hand, they can quickly turn into a significant nuisance pest, and can even harm young plants.

    Are Springtails Dangerous?

                    Given the excessive numbers these pests can reach in a single yard, it is fortunate that they are generally harmless. They do not bite or sting and do not cause any structural damage to your home. The biggest threat they pose, other than the emotional toll of seeing a swarm of tiny jumping bugs, is to young or otherwise susceptible plants, causing stunted grown and damage, which is why it is especially important to get their population under control in spring when new growth is occurring in abundance and gardens are just beginning to thrive.

    How do you Prevent Springtails?

                    When it comes to springtail prevention, it all comes down to finding and eliminating areas of high moisture and humidity in your home and yard.


    • Check the soil of houseplants for excess water and allow overly wet soil to dry more thoroughly before watering.
    • Make sure that any cracks or gaps on the exterior of the home are well sealed.
    • Check that door seals and window weatherproofing strips are installed and in good condition.
    • Check around plumbing protrusions for signs of moisture or fungal growth and properly repair and treat those areas.
    • Check walls for any signs of water damage or dampness.


    • Check that gutters are in good condition and rainspouts carry water far enough away from the foundation that there is no sitting water along your home.
    • Make sure that any low-lying areas of your lawn are regularly monitored for standing water or excess moisture.
    • Adjust landscaping if it causes the lawn to slope toward your home’s foundation.
    • Reduce the amount of mulch around your foundation as it can retain moisture.
    • Do not overwater your lawn; allow soil to dry completely before watering.
    • Make sure that sprinklers are not spraying onto your home when watering your landscaping and lawn.

    How do you Eliminate Springtail Infestations?

                    Any time you notice an excess of insects in or on your home, the first thing to do is call The Bug Dude at 1-800-310-BUGS and have an expert identify the pest in question. Different insects require different treatment plans, and the experienced technicians at The Bug Dude can quickly diagnose the problem, help to find its source, and apply the most effective products to eliminate the pests invading your home. This is especially true for springtails, as their populations can quickly skyrocket if not properly taken care of, and they can also easily be confused with other small insects that need completely different treatment plans to eliminate. This Mother’s Day don’t let springtails stress mom out; call The Bug Dude at the first sign of trouble and let mom enjoy a well-deserved day of rest in her tranquil yard.

    Further Reading:

    “Springtails” -Michael Merchant, Ph.D., Professor and Extension Urban Entomologist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service – Insects in the City – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “Springtail” – Field Guide to Common Texas Insects – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “Springtails” – Michael Merchant & Mark Muegge – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “Springtails 101” – PestWorld.org – National Pest Management Association

    “Springtails In Your Home Could Mean You Have A Moisture Problem” – By Laura Rice, Written By Shelly Brisbin – Texas Standard Author Bio: Alissa Breach has been gaining knowledge and experience around pest control concerns over the last 12 years while working for Mid-Cities Pest Control. She has a creative writing BA from UW-Madison and is always pursuing new and interesting writing projects

    The Fungus Among Us

    Tuesday, April 06, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    As spring warms its way through North Texas, and ushers in the rainy season, replete with its torrential downpours, the familiar adage “April showers bring May flowers” is bound to come to mind. And though the promise of beautiful blooming gardens may help get you through the cloudy rainy days, that popular adage neglects to mention the hazards such days present to your lawn, shrubs, trees, and any other plants adorning your yard. While it’s true that rain is overall very beneficial (no one wants a drought!), excess water mixed with mild weather and gray skies are a perfect recipe for fungus and mildew to prevail, causing significant, and sometimes permanent, damage to your beloved yard.

    Now when you hear the term fungus your first thought is probably of some sort of mushroom, whether that be a baby bella you get from the store or the kind that pop up in yards this time of year, but the visible mushrooms are only a small part of the wide world of fungi. Likewise, when you hear mildew, you probably envision the black stuff that likes to grow on shower tile grout, but the mildew that threatens your yard is a whole different beast, with different signs and treatments needed. Below we will take a look at some of the common fungi and mildew that can plague your yard, but a good rule of thumb is if you are seeing damage to your lawn, trees, bushes, or plants that you can’t easily explain, it’s better to call an expert from The Bug Dude @ 800-310-BUGS (2847) immediately to identify and treat the issue rather than risk permanent damage or death of the affected part(s) of your yard.

    What are Some Common Fungus and Mildew Diseases?

                    When it comes to making a list of the afflictions that can attack the various plants in a yard in North Texas, there are a daunting number of choices, even if you narrow it down to just fungi and mildew. Below are four primary categories of fungal and mildew afflictions and a few of the common diseases within each category.

    Root Rots

    • Cotton Root Rot (fungus)
      • Caused by one of the most destructive fungal organisms for plants.
      • Attacks more than 2,000 species of plants, particularly ornamental plants (plants that are grown for display rather than function) and fruit/nut/shade trees.
      • Only exists in the southwestern U.S.
      • Symptoms occur when soil temperatures reach 82 degrees.
      • Permanent damage occurs by the 3rd day and death of the plant follows soon after.
      • The fungus grows continually through the affected soil moving from plant to plant and can be transported on the roots of infected plants. It can survive in the soil for many years.
    • Mushroom Root Rot (fungus)
      • Attacks orchard trees, shade trees, and shrubs.
      • Occurs most frequently in wooded areas and recently cleared land, and to trees that have undergone other stressors (i.e. drought, flood, repeated defoliation by insects, etc.).
      • Lawn grass sod growing too close to a tree or shrub can also aid in the susceptibility of the plant to this fungal infection.
      • Generally leads to the death of the plant.
    • Stem and Root Rot (fungus)
      • These fungi cause fibrous root tips to decay.
      • Particularly likely to infect plants that are over-watered, crowded, and injured.
      • Once symptoms are observed, the damage done is usually severe.


    • Anthracnose (fungus)
      • Attacks grasses, particularly Common Bermuda, Buffalo Grass, and St. Augustine Grass.
      • Leads to the eventual death of the plant.
    • Brown Patch (fungus)
      • Attacks several types of grass including Hybrid Bermuda, Common Bermuda, and St. Augustine Grass.
      • The appearance of this fungus varies depending on the type of grass (cool vs warm season grasses) as well as environmental conditions.
      • Patches develop in the fall, winter, and spring as grasses enter and emerge from dormancy.
      • Favorable conditions also include cool evening temperatures (below 68 degrees), moderate daytime temperatures (between 75 and 85 degrees), and higher rainfall.
      • Rots the leaf sheaths, making them easy to pull off.
    • Take-all Patch (fungus)
      • Attacks several types of grass, including Hybrid Bermuda, Common Bermuda, and St. Augustine Grass.
      • The fungus is most active in fall and winter, but symptoms are noticed in late spring and early summer when the stressors of high temperatures and dry weather are first experienced.
      • Can destroy large sections of turf grass if not controlled.
      • Roots can become so rotted that the stolons (stems) can be easily pulled from the ground.
      • Regrowth into afflicted areas is slow and often unsuccessful.


    • Downy Mildew
      • Attacks St. Augustine Grass.
      • It will disfigure the grass and stunt growth.
    • Powdery Mildew
      • Attacks Perennial Ryegrass and Poa Series Grass.
      • Spreads quickly in shaded areas.
      • Repeated infestations will kill the plants.


    • Gray Leaf Spot (fungus)
      • Attacks St. Augustine Grass.
      • Favorable conditions include excess moisture, warm temperatures, and shaded areas.
      • The disease develops rapidly under favorable conditions.
    • Necrotic Ring Spot (fungus)
      • Attacks Bentgrass, Fescue, and Poa Series Grass.
      • Presents mostly in the the spring, where it will fade as summer approaches, only to reappear when the stressors of heat and drought hit.
      • Roots, along with other sections of the plant, will rot, causing the plants to be easily removed from the turf.

    What do Fungus and Mildew Look Like in a Yard?

    Unlike the noticeable mushrooms that we are all very familiar with, many of the fungi and mildew that attack your yard are best observed through the damage they do rather than their own distinct forms. Below are the visual expressions of the diseases listed in the above section. If you notice any of these symptoms in your yard, call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) immediately to get an expert to examine the issue before it progresses, as many of the infections can ultimately be fatal to the plant.

    Root Rots

    • Cotton Root Rot
      • Begins as a slight yellowing/bronzing of the leaves and progresses to wilting upper leaves within 48 hours. Within 72 hours, lower leaves will also wilt.
      • Affected plants can easily be pulled from the soil; their roots are brown and decayed with bronze-colored strands of the fungus on the root surface.
    • Mushroom Root Rot
      • Initial symptoms can range from a slow decline to rapid death, with a gradual decline leading to death being most common.
      • Dead areas occur in the bark on the main stem and large roots near the soil surface. The white fungal growth can be seen over the surface of the wood when the dead bark is peeled back.
    • Stem and Root Rot
      • Spots varying in color from gray, brown, black, or red, occur on the stem and roots near the soil level.
      • Common symptoms include wilting and poor vigor.


    • Anthracnose
      • Irregularly shaped patches ranging in size from several inches to many feet in diameter.
      • Patch color begins as reddish brown and goes to tan.
      • Occasionally causes the same colored spots on leaves.
      • Tiny black acervuli, which look like spiked spheres, form in dead leaves and stems.
    • Brown Patch
      • Circular or irregular patches of thinned light brown grass; patches can be up to several yards in diameter.
      • A darker border, or smoke ring, may develop along the perimeter of the patch.
      • An active infection will present with yellow leaves at the edges of the patch.
    • Take-all Patch
      • The initial symptom is usually yellow leaves that will eventually die.
      • The turf then becomes thin as the disease spread to the roots and the plants die.


    • Downy Mildew
      • Visible powdery growth on the lower leaf surface.
      • White or yellowish lines running parallel to the leaf veins.
      • Leaves will turn yellow and the tips may turn brown.
    • Powdery Mildew
      • Grayish-white growth on the upper surface of leaves and leaf sheaths.
      • Infected leaves turn yellow and slowly die.


    • Gray Leaf Spot
      • Causes severe thinning of the turf.
      • Brown or ash colored spots with purple or brown margins appear on leaves. As the spots grow they become diamond-shaped.
      • Grass may appear burned or scorched in appearance as the spots grow and leaves die.
    • Necrotic Ring Spot
      • Creates circular patches over a foot in diameter.
      • Initial symptoms are purplish, wilted leaves.
      • As plants die they will turn straw colored.
      • Older patches (2 or 3 years old) can start to have new growth in the middle of the affected area.

    How do you Prevent Fungus and Mildew?

                    When it comes to protecting your yard from the damaging effects of fungus and mildew there are a few main tips that will help prevent just about every disease mentioned above.

    • Most importantly: at the first signs of disease call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350 to have our experts evaluate the affected plants to determine the cause of the affliction and get it treated immediately before the infection can worsen or spread.
    • Water plants and yards in the early morning before the sun is out.
    • Water turf deeply but rarely.
    • Maintain proper fertility of the soil for the plants in your yard.
    • Avoid over-fertilization in the spring and fall.
    • Aerate the soil annually.
    • Maintain a good drainage system for your yard.
    • Avoid applying high rates of nitrogen during the summer.
    • Be especially cognizant of moisture levels and aeration in shaded areas of the lawn.
    • Promptly remove grass clippings from the yard.
    • Place plants in sunny areas as much as possible.
    • Maintain good air circulation throughout your yard.
    • When mowing, don’t cut more than 1/3 of the leaf blade.

    What Should you do if you see Signs of Fungus or Mildew?

    At the first signs of damage to your lawn, trees, shrubs, or other yard plants, call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350 to get one of our certified technicians out to diagnose and treat the issue. Not only do several different types of fungal and mildew infections present with a similar appearance, but many pest infestations can cause damage that can be difficult to distinguish from other types of plant deterioration (see our article on common yard pests here), and having an expert’s treatment can save you time and money, and ultimately can mean the difference between saving the life of your plants and watching them die. So this spring as the rains and clouds approach, be mindful of the conducive conditions in your yard and don’t let fungi and mildew ruin the beauty of your outdoor oasis.

    Further Reading:

    “Problems Affecting Multiple Crops” – Texas Plant Disease Handbook – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “Lawn & Turf” – Texas Plant Disease Handbook – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “Shrubs” – Texas Plant Disease Handbook – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “Trees” – Texas Plant Disease Handbook – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “Powdery Mildew on Ornamentals” – W. D. Gubler, Plant Pathology, UC Davis; S. T. Koike, UC Cooperative Extension, Monterey Co. – UC Statewide IPM Program, University of California, Davis.

    Author Bio: Alissa Breach has been gaining knowledge and experience around pest control concerns over the last 12 years while working for Mid-Cities Pest Control. She has a creative writing BA from UW-Madison and is always pursuing new and interesting writing projects.

    How to get Pharaoh Ants to Pass Over your Home

    Monday, March 08, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    March has arrived, bringing with it a welcome change from the cold winter weather, and the hope that is endemic to spring. This hope is perhaps best exemplified in the celebrations of Passover, that will begin at the end of this month, and of Easter, which will occur in early April. As holidays, they remind us of the miracles of life and freedom and present some of the most well-known stories in our history. In fact, they are so ingrained in our culture, that the story of Passover is believed to have inspired the naming of the Pharaoh ant, an ant species native to Africa. According to PestWeb, in 1758 the scientist Carl Linnaeus gave the name Pharaoh ant to this species after studying a specimen from Egypt; it is believed that Linnaeus may have considered it as one of the ten plagues of Egypt. Given the pervasiveness of this ant species, its ability to spread disease, and it’s remarkable ability to survive and thrive, it’s little wonder that they could have been seen as a plague. Even today, these small ants can quickly become a significant cause for concern, and are notorious for being exceptionally difficult to eliminate.

    What do Pharaoh Ants Look Like?

    Pharaoh ants (often referred to generically as a sugar ant or piss ant) are among some of the smallest ants you are likely to encounter, being only 1.5 to 2 mm long (this is about the size of the tip of a new crayon). They range in color from yellow or light brown to red and often have a darker abdomen. And though they do have a stinger, they rarely exsert it, and do not sting humans. Due to their small size and variation in coloring, they can often be confused with several other types of small ants, which is one reason why it’s so important to seek professional advice when faced with an ant issue, as different ants require different treatment plans. If you see an ant you think could be a Pharaoh ant call TheBugDude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) to give you a definitive ID and create a treatment plan tailored to this pest and your home.

    Where do Pharaoh Ants Live?

    Though this ant is native to Africa and thrives best in warm southern regions, it has spread worldwide and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. It is primarily an indoor pest, preferring to nest in heated buildings and take advantage of the water and food sources associated with them; however, in tropical regions and southern latitudes they can be found nesting outdoors.

    Pharaoh ants create nests that can range in size from a few dozen to several hundred thousand individuals. They are known for their habit of budding (splitting) their colonies into numerous daughter colonies, which maintain a peaceable relation to the mother colony while increasing the size and range of the infestation. These daughter colonies can grow quickly as the workers only need 38 days to develop from egg to adult, and males and queens only need 42 days. A single queen can produce 400 or more eggs and can live between 4 and 12 months; however, for large Pharaoh ant colonies there can be several hundred reproductive females.

    Within a structure, these ants nest primarily in inaccessible, warm, humid areas that are near food and water sources. Though wall voids are a particularly favorite nesting place, they can also be found in furniture, under floors, between sheets of paper, in layers of fabrics, in appliances, etc. Because these ants live in hidden areas of a structure and do not release winged swarmers during mating season, the only way you are likely to know you have a Pharaoh ant infestation is when you see one of them out foraging for food.

    What do Pharaoh Ants Eat?

    Pharaoh ants aren’t terribly particular about their food sources and will eat most anything containing sweets, oils, or proteins. This can range from peanut butter to pastries, to other insects. Because of this generalized diet, they can be found near just about any food source, and are commonly found in commercial food establishments including ones you might not think of, such as hotels and hospitals.

    Are Pharaoh Ants Dangerous?

    Though Pharaoh ants themselves aren’t dangerous to people (they don’t bite or sting) or home (they aren’t a wood-destroying pest), they are known to spread more than a dozen diseases. Among the diseases they are known to spread are Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus. This makes them both a monetary problem (as any food or sterile areas they get into are now contaminated and need to be thrown out or sterilized) and a safety problem. Of particular concern are infestations in hospitals as these ants have been known to seek moisture from the mouths of sleeping patients and even from in-use IV bottles. Given their ability to transmit disease, this is of special concern for anyone who is at high risk of infection, such as burn victims and infants.

    How do you Prevent Pharaoh Ants?

                    When it comes to small ants, and Pharaoh ants in particular, it is virtually impossible to fully prevent them from being able to enter your home. As such, the best approach is to limit any easy access points and to make your home a less ideal location for them to set up a colony. Here are a few tips on how you can accomplish those goals:

    • Most importantly: Do not self-treat for these ants, at the first signs of infestation call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350 to have our experts put down the correct products to eliminate these pests. Using an incorrect product can cause the colony to bud or split, making the process of eliminating the infestation much more complicated and time-consuming.
    • Seal any entry points around your home or establishment (this includes cracks and small openings).
    • Keep all food areas clean and free from crumbs.
    • Store food in airtight containers.
    • Trim back any overhanging tree limbs.
    • Trim back bushes and shrubs so they do not touch the structure.
    • Eliminate any areas of standing water in and around the home.
    • Maintain a regular pest control service plan with The Bug Dude to keep your home pest free.

    How do you Eliminate Pharaoh Ants?

    The first step you should take if you are confronted with an infestation you think may be Pharaoh ants is to call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350. Pharaoh ants are not a pest to be trifled with, as their habit of budding/splitting their colonies and their knack for getting into hard to access areas make them a notoriously difficult pest to control. If the proper treatment is not performed, it can cause the colony to bud and increase the severity and duration of the infestation. This is why our technicians have been trained on the most effective products to use for a Pharaoh ant infestation as well as the correct areas in which to place the products to eliminate the colony/colonies as quickly as possible so they don’t plague your springtime celebrations.

    Further Reading:

    “common name: Pharaoh ant” – J.C. Nickerson and D.L. Harris, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry; and T.R. Fasulo, University of Florida – University of Florida

    “Pharaoh Ants” – PestWorld.org

    “Pharaoh Ant” – Texas Invasive Species Institute

    “Creature Feature: Pharaoh Ants” – PestWeb – Veseris

    Author Bio: Alissa Breach has been gaining knowledge and experience around pest control concerns over the last 11 years while working for Mid-Cities Pest Control. She has a creative writing BA from UW-Madison and is always pursuing new and interesting writing projects.

    Photos by Andre A. Xavier, Asiya Kiev, Martha Dominguez de Gouveia, and Jim Reardan

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