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    This Flag Day Celebrate Your Freedom…From Dirt Daubers

    Friday, June 10, 2022 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    When I was in elementary school, I got to be part of a group of kids who were responsible for putting up and taking down the American flag each day. It was exciting, the pomp and circumstance of raising the flag up the pole, of learning the proper way to fold and store the Star-Spangled Banner, the feeling of great importance to work together to keep any part from the sacrilege of touching the ground. It’s a memory that comes to mind especially on the holidays where raising the Stars and Stripes feels particularly ceremonial, like Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, and of course, Flag Day.

    June 14th is Flag Day, a holiday commemorating the original adoption of the official flag of the United States in 1777 (think Betsy Ross). While not an official national holiday, and not as showy as Independence Day, it’s a nice time to pull out Old Glory and let it fly free in the summer breeze. If you’re like most homeowners, you don’t fly a flag year-round; between needing to follow proper procedure (did you know the flag needs to always be lit, meaning you should only fly it during daylight hours or if you have a dedicated spotlight on it for nighttime) and making sure to tend to your flag when inclement weather approaches, it can feel more like a chore than a celebration of the U.S.A. But, if you’re like many Americans, you probably own a flag that you keep stored, ready to fly for the right occasions. With Flag Day around the corner, you’ll be heading into your garage or shed to get to your storage for outdoor items, and as always, any time you enter a storage space, it’s a great time to take a look around for signs of pest activity. This is especially true as summer gets into full swing and pests that may have overwintered in and around your home are becoming more active and beginning to reproduce.

    As you enter your garage or shed, take a look at the corners, especially up by the ceiling, for signs of spiderwebs or wasp nests. Keep an eye out for spiders skittering out of the way as you open the door, or drawer, or box to get to your flag. Watch out for wasps buzzing angrily around your head as you pass through the main doorway. And especially take heed if you notice any interestingly shaped mud accumulations higher up on walls or ceilings, or in other protected areas, as those are a sure sign of a dirt dauber infestation. While dirt daubers might not be the scariest wasp you could encounter, if letting the flag touch the ground is sacrilege, then letting dirt daubers take over your home is certainly a desecration. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to stay that way for long, as The Bug Dude is here to help get your home back to a place of veneration.

    What do Dirt Daubers Look Like?

    Dirt Daubers (also known as mud daubers)is a generic term for several different species of wasp. Though each species has its own unique look, ranging from pure black to black and yellow, to an iridescent blue-black, the one distinguishing feature that pervades all species is a long, narrow waist section (the part that connects the thorax and abdomen). In general, these wasps are between 1/2” and 1” in length and often have dark reddish-brown wings. To the untrained eye, the wasps themselves could be mistaken for any number of types of wasp, but they do have a characteristic that makes it easy to identify if you have a dirt dauber issue: their nests.

    What does a Dirt Dauber Nest Look Like?

    The exact shape of a dirt dauber nest varies with the species, but they all have one thing in common: they are made of dirt (hence the wasp’s name). The basic construction is generally the same across the wasp species. It begins with the female dirt dauber, after mating, picking out a nesting site and beginning to gather balls of mud to construct her nest. Once the first cell of the nest has been constructed, she will begin a hunt for spiders. Upon catching a spider, she will paralyze it, place a single egg on it, and set that at the back of the cell. She will then continue to fill the cell with paralyzed spiders until it’s full (this can be up to 25 spiders). When the cell is full (about an hour after construction began), the female wasp will cap it and begin constructing the next cell. Each dirt dauber nest is home to a single female adult wasp, and several wasp eggs, which will hatch within the nest, consume all of the paralyzed spiders in its cell, and pupate into an adult wasp. As an adult, it will emerge from the nest, leaving a round exit hole in its former cell. If you notice a mud nest around your home but don’t see the distinguishing round holes in it, that means the nest is currently active!

    The most common nest shapes come from the black and yellow dirt dauber (Sceliphron caementarium) and the pipe organ dirt dauber (Trypoxylon politum). The black and yellow species creates stacks of cells to form nests which are rounded and approximately the size of a fist. The pipe organ species creates vertical, parallel rows of cells next to each other to form a nest, with the end result resembling a pipe organ (again, hence the name). Interestingly, the third most common species of dirt dauber, the blue mud wasp (Chalybion californicum) doesn’t have its own unique nest shape due to the fact that it doesn’t actually build its nests from scratch. Instead, this wasp reuses the old nests of other dirt dauber species, carrying water to the nest instead of mud in order to soften and remodel the existing nest.

    Where do Dirt Daubers Live?

    Dirt dauber nests can be found predominantly in secluded, protected areas where there are good sources of mud and spiders. In nature, this means they are generally found around cave entrances and under rock overhangs. Around town they can be found in barns, rafters, protected sides of buildings, and under bridges. At your home, they are most likely to be found in garages, under eaves, on porch ceilings, in sheds, in attics, and under undisturbed wood and rocks. Since dirt daubers are solitary wasps (for more on this, see “Are Wasps Ruining your Fall Fun? Give us a Buzz…”), there will be only 1 adult per nest, but with each nest hosting several young wasps waiting to emerge, you could easily find an entire conglomeration of nests in any of the areas listed above.

    What do Dirt Daubers Eat?

    As noted earlier, young dirt daubers consume spiders that were left in their cells by their mothers, but did you know that different wasp species prefer different spiders? For example, the black and yellow dirt dauber prefers crab spiders and other small, colorful spiders. And the blue mud wasp prefers black widow spiders. Adult wasps consume primarily liquids: plant nectar, honeydew (aphid secretions), and the body fluids from spiders they capture. Since spiders are such an integral part of their survival, it’s important to remember that any place you notice a lot of spider activity could be an invitation for dirt daubers to move in. So at the first signs of a spider infestation, contact The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847 to get a technician out to your home to solve one infestation before it compounds into two (or more!). And if you’re not sure what you’re looking for when it comes to spiders, check out the article “Don’t let Spiders Ensnare Your New Year”.

    Are Dirt Daubers Dangerous?

    If left undisturbed, dirt daubers are not a particularly dangerous wasp species. Unlike yellow jackets, these wasps are not known for their aggression. However, they are definitely capable of stinging, and when threatened or provoked they will defend themselves. Though they don’t defend their nests the way yellow jackets do, it’s always a good idea to call The Bug Dude if you are facing a wasp infestation. Not only will that keep you safe in case a dirt dauber does decide to sting, it will keep you safe from more aggressive insects that may have moved into an old dirt dauber nest, or even worse, from aggressive wasp species that you may have misidentified as dirt daubers. This is especially important if you are allergic to wasp stings!

    How do you Prevent Dirt Daubers?

    As with most pests, prevention essentially boils down to 2 things: remove food sources and remove housing options. For dirt daubers removing food sources should start with a call to The Bug Dude to get on a regular service plan and keep spiders from getting a foothold in your home. The other main thing you can do to help eliminate food sources, as well as assist with eliminating housing options, is to seal up any harborage areas in and around your home, such as cracks and holes. An additional measure to take to remove housing options for these wasps is to drain your yard of excess water to keep from creating mud, which the wasps will use to build nests.

    How do you Eliminate Dirt Daubers?

    When faced with a pest problem, the safest, most effective, and most time and cost efficient route to take is always to call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) at the first sign of trouble. Whether you are seeing spiders, spiderwebs, dirt dauber nests, or wasps, calling in The Bug Dude as soon as you notice the problem can get you to back to enjoying your summer in no time.

    This Flag Day, as you reverently fly the Stars and Stripes, make it a dual freedom celebration: freedom as a nation and freedom from pests.

    Further Reading:

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

    “Mud Daubers” – Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS) – Texas A&M AgriLife Research

    “Mud Daubers” – Missouri Department of Conservation
    “Open Pipe Mud Daubers” – PestWorld.org – National Pest Management Association

    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 Hidden Costs of DIY Pest Control (Part Two)

    Wednesday, May 11, 2022 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    As May gets into full swing, you might notice that Mother’s Day feels like it’s coming earlier than expected (as this year it falls on the 8th). In your last minute scramble for a heartfelt gift you might consider giving flowers or chocolates, but maybe those feel a bit cliche and you want something more useful for the woman who took care of you your whole life. Maybe you think that you could do some chores around the house for her, help weed her garden, clean up the garage, do some DIY pest control to keep her safe from bugs. If you missed last month’s article on the financial costs of DIY pest control, check it out here before making your final Mother’s Day gift selection. But maybe you’ll say, “My mom’s worth any cost,” which is a beautiful sentiment, but doesn’t negate the fact that you’ll be spending far more and getting far less. Even worse, you could end up turning Mother’s Day from a beautiful time to celebrate mom into a stressful and dangerous endeavor. In this continuation of the discussion of the hidden costs of DIY pest control we will look at the ecological and personal costs you will face if you decide to pursue a do-it-yourself route. By the end of the article you will see that whether it’s for yourself, your mom, or anyone you know and care about, DIY pest control comes with far too great a cost, and in every case it’s best to just call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) and let a professional slowly, safely, and cost-effectively take care of any pest issues you might be facing. Also, if you like the idea of providing pest control for your Mother’s Day gift, Mid-Cities Pest Control offers several pest control service plans to fit your needs.

    Ecological Costs:

    Pesticides are not something to be trifled with. Unlike DIY jewelry or home decor making, which bear little risk to the environment of your home and yard and virtually no risk to the ecosystem, DIY pest control has the potential to be quite hazardous. While you can learn the basics of a DIY craft project in an afternoon spent online, there’s a good reason that pest control technicians are required to complete extensive training before they are allowed to handle pesticides solo. As an apprentice, they will complete classroom training in topics ranging from safety, environmental protection, pest recognition, application techniques, non-chemical pest control options and more. This classroom training is accompanied by on-the-job training where they will learn from the practical experience of professional technicians and certified applicators and eventually, they will have to pass a Texas Structural Pest Control exam before they are licensed to practice pest control solo. In addition, they are required to maintain continuing education annually so they can keep up with all the latest information available to the industry, thus ensuring the highest standard of safety and efficacy for pest control treatments. No matter how much googling you do, there is no substitute for this training program when it comes to personal and ecological safety or effectiveness of treatment.

                    But what are some of the specific environmental dangers of spraying pesticides? The main elements of danger can be broken down into 3 sections: quantity, storage, and location. Let’s tackle quantity first. For some things in life the Mae West quote of “if a little is great, and a lot is better, then way too much is just about right” rings true (the loving kindness and support of a mother, for instance); however, for pest control, the aphorism “a little bit goes a long way” is much more appropriate. Though your first instinct upon seeing a swarm of insects in your home or a giant fire ant mound in your yard may be to drown the pests in insecticide, that is never the most effective solution, and it certainly isn’t the safest. Much like the issues faced in the healthcare industry with the overuse of antibiotics, overuse of pesticides proves not only ineffective but detrimental to the health and safety of everyone, not to mention its ability to create superbugs (pesticide resistant insects). Beyond this, the more pesticide used, the more likely it is to get into the water supply, which is dangerous for everyone. A pest control professional not only knows how much of a product to use, they also don’t have to worry about making too much of a product for a single treatment, as they will be doing several treatments to different locations in a day and will be able to safely use up the product they mixed. If you are mixing products to treat just your home you will end up either needing to err on the side of caution and incrementally make small amounts until you complete the job (and yes, this will be just as time-consuming and frustrating as it sounds), or you will end up with excess product that you will need to safely dispose of or store until the next appropriate time to use it (and yes, you will need to resist the urge to just dump the excess in your lawn).

                    This brings us to our next topic: storage. Storing pesticides takes not only space, but careful planning. When you store pesticides, there are quite a few requirements to take into consideration:

    1. The product needs to be kept in a dry, cool, well-ventilated area
    2. The product needs to be kept in a locked space away from pets, children, wildlife, and accidental human contact
    3. The product needs to be kept in its original container (according to the EPA, “Children and others have been poisoned by accidentally consuming pesticides stored in food or beverage containers.”)
    4. The area around the product should be stocked with appropriate cleaning supplies (such as clay absorbents)
    5. The storage area must be free of water and food (human and animal)
    6. Any equipment used for pesticide mixing or application must be similarly stored. Once an item is used for pesticides, it cannot be used for anything else.

    As is probably apparent, this is likely to cost you both time and money to properly set up, but it is vital to keeping you and your family safe, as well as keeping the products you’ve invested money in viable for use. In addition to storing your products, you will also need to safely dispose of both the unused product as well as the containers where the products were stored or used. This process could be relatively simple if you can find a hazardous waste collection facility that allows you to drop it off, or it could involve a great deal of research for proper procedures. For more on this topic, see the article “Managing and Disposing of Pesticide Wastes” from Aggie Horticulture.

                    Finally, we get to location. Besides the risk of contaminating the water supply if products are used in too great a quantity or in an incorrect location, what else do you risk harming with incorrect product usage? Sadly, this is a rather long list but it can be boiled down to: beneficial insects (like butterflies, lady bugs, or honey bees), birds, animals (from the cute bunny that visits your yard to your own pets), plants, and even yourself. Generally speaking, if you handle them appropriately, pesticides won’t present any significant risk to you or your pets; however, the list of safe pesticides can change (think of the use of DDT before its effects were known) and it’s not always easy to find out if the product your dad may have stored in his garage is still safe to use. Not only that, but if you are treating for pests outdoors, it’s difficult to know the best locations and the best products to use to keep dangerous pests away from you but keep beneficial ones around to propagate your garden and act as an additional source of all-natural pest control toward unwanted pests (lady bugs are a natural predator of aphids, for example).

    Personal Costs:

                    Perhaps the greatest and most irreversible costs come in the form of the personal costs of choosing DIY pest control. These costs span from time spent, to emotional well-being, to safety and should not be discounted when you are considering whether or not to hire a professional for your pest control needs.

                    In my family, my great-grandpa-in-law is known for having said “you can always make more money, but time only flows in 1 direction, and you can never get more of it.” This ideology is often used by his descendants when presented with a life choice, such as: get the car repaired at a shop and be able to go to the grandkid’s soccer game or attempt to do it yourself and miss out on the big game (and more). In this vein, it’s worth considering the amount of time you will actually be spending if you go the DIY pest control route, because it’s almost certainly more than you would think:

    1. Time spent researching the pest you’re having a problem with
    2. Time spent researching the best products for that pest
    3. Time spent researching the best price and place to buy the products you need
    4. Time spent tracking and waiting for the products to arrive (with supply chain issues abounding, this could be quite a prolonged headache)
    5. Time spent researching how to apply the products you purchased
      1. This will include time spent reading and interpreting the label and MSDS sheets, which is not a simple proposition. For a brief overview of what you will find on a pesticide label, see this article from Penn State Extension.
    6. Time spent researching proper pre- and post- procedures for treatment
      1. For example, there are multiple steps you will need to take prior to a flea treatment in order for it to be effective. Also, there are several steps after a flea treatment that need to be followed for both safety and efficacy.
    7. Time spent researching, purchasing and putting on proper safety gear
    8. Time spent preparing the products
    9. Time spent preparing your home for safe and effective treatment
    10. Time spent applying the products
    11. Time spent properly storing and disposing of the products
    12. Time spent properly removing, cleaning, and storing safety gear
      1. Any clothing that comes in contact with pesticides needs to be laundered separately and line-dried. If the contact was significant, the item should be properly disposed of.
    13. Time spent maintaining the equipment used for pest control treatment

    With all of this time spent away from loved ones, pets, and hobbies, you might as well pick up a 2nd job and at least potentially have extra cash to spend on a memorable family vacation instead of spending both time and money on a DIY attempt.

                    Not only is losing the time with loved ones a problem in its own right, it can also be added to the list of emotional well-being costs you will face. Perhaps the biggest cost to your well-being will come from the stress related to doing your own pest control: reading the labels can be frustrating to interpret, performing an incorrect treatment can prolong or worsen the pest problem you are trying to combat, and improperly applied products can cause damage to your home, belongings, and lawn/garden. All of these things can quickly compound the initial stress you were under when you encountered a pest issue in the first place.

                    But perhaps the biggest stress of all comes from the safety concerns you will face when dealing with pesticides. To begin, there’s the stress of making sure you are purchasing, applying, and storing a product that won’t be dangerous to your loved ones. If a pesticide product is improperly used or stored, it could result in accidental contact by a child or pet. In these cases the contact could easily become toxic and warrant a trip to the emergency room. As the University of Missouri Extension puts it: “Do not allow children or others in your home to become a statistic of the American Association of Poison Control Centers”. However, even if the product isn’t discovered by an unfortunate child or pet, you, as the one applying the product, face a potential risk of coming into excess contact with the product you’re handling. Even worse, if there is concerning contact with the pesticides, you will be alone in figuring out who to call, finding the exact product that was encountered and how much of it was encountered, finding the MSDS sheets, and all of this while trying to tend to the person or pet in distress. At the end of the day, not only is the ER trip of a loved one an absolute nightmare to face, even if everything turns out fine medically, it’s still a greater financial burden than years of professional pest control treatments.

                    Life today is difficult, between the rising cost of living, the global pandemic, the breakdown in supply chains, the war in Ukraine, and a litany of other issues that seem to pop up daily, and while pest control may seem like a drop in that ocean, as you face the myriad costs of DIY pest control, it could quickly feel like the greatest problem you are currently facing. So cut off that avenue of wasted time, money, and stress, and call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350 for all your pest control needs. Not only will you get to save money, reduce ecological costs, and keep your loved ones safe, you will get expert knowledge, excellent care, and a warranty with your service, which means you’re not only buying immediate help, but a prolonged peace of mind. And if the need for a DIY project for you or your mother creeps up, take a look at some of our previous articles for pest prevention measures you can take that are safe and often inexpensive.

    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 Hidden Costs of DIY Pest Control (Part One)

    Monday, April 11, 2022 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    It’s April, which means it’s officially tax season. Whether you’re planning out what to do with your refund, or how to come up with the cash to pay your taxes, your finances are certain to be playing a major part in your daily thoughts. As you go over the figures for the year, one inescapable fact is bound to surface: life is expensive. And it’s getting more so with alarming speed. According to US Inflation Calculator, the current inflation rate is at a whopping 7.9%, the highest since 1982, and a full 6.2% higher than just 1 year ago. Take a look at the CPI (Consumer Price Index) and you’ll see a similar story: in the last 40 years the cost of consumer goods and services have gone up over 183%. Of that rise, nearly 104% has been in the last 20 years, and nearly 25% has been in the past 2 years! With costs on the rise, it’s no wonder that DIY projects have gained ever-increasing popularity as a way to try to save money. But as many a YouTube video can attest, sometimes DIY or life hack solutions can be much worse for your mental, physical, and financial health than just buying the item or service you need. Pest control is certainly one of these services, where what might seem financially beneficial at a glance is actually quite costly once you delve into it.

    The costs of attempting DIY pest control can be broken down into 3 sections: financial, ecological,and personal. Within each section we will look at the many issues you will face if you decide to try to handle pest issues yourself. As you will see, each of these sections alone would be enough to illustrate why calling The Bug Dude at 1-800-310-BUGS (2847) at the first sign of trouble is always the better way to go. So as you’re evaluating your financial situation for the year, keep the following in mind when deciding where you can and cannot cut corners.

    Financial Costs:

                    Generally speaking, if you’re looking at doing your own pest control, it’s not because you are particularly excited at the prospect, but because you believe it will save you money. You might see a bottle of Bifenthrin for under $20 and think that you can just buy it and save yourself from having to purchase a professional pest control treatment for 3 or 4 times as much. However, that one product isn’t even close to all that you’d need to purchase to do just a single spray around your home for spiders.

    To begin with, you’re going to need something to mix the product in and then spray it. Though you could get a small pump sprayer for around $10, it won’t hold much product, which means to complete just one spray of your home you’d need to fill it at least 3 times, each time having to be extremely slow and cautious not to have the pesticide spray all over you when you open the pressurized container (truthfully, with an inexpensive sprayer this is virtually impossible to avoid), and each time having to carefully mix up a new batch. One step up from the pump sprayer, you have a backpack sprayer, coming in at around $85. While this is much better for basic jobs, to get to the eaves of your home, your yard, or get a truly thorough perimeter treatment, you’ll need to get a power spray rig, coming in at close to $2,500. Remember, though, that the rig is for the exterior only, so you’ll still need the backpack or pump sprayer to take care of the interior of your home.

    Now that you’ve got a single product and a way to spray it, you’ll need some PPE in order to keep yourself safe while using the pesticides. A one-time use kit consisting of mask, goggles, gloves, booties, and coverall will cost you about $27. This kit is only applicable to liquids, granules and gels; using dusts is a whole other ordeal and needs specialized respirator masks ($75) and dusters ($31 handheld or around $420 for electric). Already you’re looking at a minimum of $132 for one single-product basic treatment of your home (not including attics, crawl spaces, eaves, or yard). While this simple treatment will help with a few pests (such as spiders and pill bugs), what about if you’re having issues with roaches or ants? Or what if you want organic pest control options?

                    Suddenly, the price rises even further with each new product, and yes, these products won’t provide more than a few treatments per purchase. Glue boards: $15; pesticide dust: $25; roach bait: $30; ant bait: $39; organic general pesticide: $41. Keep in mind a single roach treatment is likely to use several types of bait, spray, and potentially dust. To make things worse, using the wrong products for the pest you’re trying to treat or even using the correct products in the wrong areas not only will be ineffective, but they can easily make the issue much worse and harder to treat. This may sound counter-intuitive as you would think adding pesticide would always help, but in fact many pest species can react to the wrong pesticide by increasing their numbers drastically and/or moving locations; when they move you may initially think the issue has been handled, but in reality they have simply moved to a less visible location and increased their numbers to a full blown infestation. Treating for this infestation will cost significantly more and take much more time and effort than having the original issue handled by a professional.

                    This brings us to the problem of wasted products. Not only do all of these products have an expiration date (and yes, the expiration is a real one, not one you can fudge), but they all have a limited amount of time that they will be effective for. This time-frame is based on the half-life of the product, which means how long the product has potency. In addition, certain products work best for specific pests and particular locations (as discussed above) and assuming the products you use do not make the issue worse, without training and experience to know which products to use where and for what, you are certain to have to attempt a range of products in the pursuit of eventually eliminating your pest problem, and anything that didn’t work is just wasted money. To add salt to the wound, if you’ve decided to buy the items in person to expedite the process (though not all of these will even be available at local stores), don’t forget to add the rising cost of gas to your total. At over $3.85 per gallon (up almost $2.30 per gallon in just 2 years per the U.S. Energy Information Administration), this can make a dent in your wallet if you have to make several trips to several stores.

    All of the above is considering you buy reputable products. Many products that you can easily find at your local hardware stores are not quality products and are not going to do the job. You could end up doing all the work, and spending time and money (though they are generally inexpensive, you will need to buy multiple to treat your whole home, and that will quickly add up since they are around $10 each) for no benefit at all or even a negative (see above). Often these products come in their own spray container and make unrealistic grandiose claims on the bottle that they sadly can not live up to. This is not to mention that many insects cannot be gotten rid of without professional-level chemicals that can only be purchased and used by a licensed pest control technician. And there is good reason for this restriction (read part 2 to learn more about the dangers of using pesticides without the correct training).

                    Even worse than the expected costs of doing your own pest control, which we just discussed, are the unexpected costs. Without proper knowledge of which products can be used where, in what quantities, and how they are to be prepared, the likelihood of causing damage to your flooring, paint, yard, and other parts of your home is much higher than you would think. Not to mention the potential long-term pest damage that could be happening as you attempt to deal with an issue on your own. With the median Texas home currently costing $318,750 (more than double the median home cost just a decade ago per the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M), you’d be taking a high-stakes gamble that nothing goes wrong in your DIY attempt.

    So what does this all add up to? In order to do your own pest control you’re looking at a price point of somewhere between $140 and $3,500 (assuming your gamble paid off and you didn’t do any damage to your home). Yes, some of this cost is in re-usable items like the backpack sprayer, and some of the products will be good for more than 1 treatment, but it doesn’t factor in any wasted products due to ineffectiveness or expiration, and it certainly doesn’t factor in damages. Not to mention the financial gamble you’re taking that your DIY project will put you on the lower end of the range and not the higher end. It’s no fun thinking you’re going to spend around $150 only to end up needing to spend 23 times as much.

    But maybe you’re not convinced and you like the idea of taking the financial risk of DIY instead of simply calling The Bug Dude at 1-800-310-BUGS (2847) and letting our expert technicians take the guess work out of the treatment and pricing. In that case, check out next month’s article where we will discuss the ecological and personal costs that attempting DIY pest control creates. And yes, some of those costs will add to your financial burden as well.

    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.

    It Takes a Carpenter to Know a Carpenter…Ant

    Tuesday, March 08, 2022 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    If someone were to say “carpenter,” what would be your first thought? With spring cleaning and home repairs on the minds of many, there’s a good chance you would be thinking of a handyman. If you’re really into music, maybe your mind would go to the 70’s band The Carpenters (and aptly have the song “Rainy Days and Mondays” stuck in your head as spring showers find their way across north Texas). Or with Easter on its way, maybe you would reflect on a certain religious carpenter. But while all of these carpenters bring with them a sense of creation, there’s another carpenter, one notorious for destruction, about to get your attention: the carpenter ant.

    This particular ant is well-known as a wood-destroying pest, and anyone who has had to contend with it can tell you that battling a carpenter ant infestation is a sure-fire way to ruin your productive spring plans. These pests can cause both aesthetic and structural damage to your home, while simultaneously making a mess of your floors and windows and making your skin crawl as hundreds of flying ants suddenly emerge from hiding within your house. Fortunately, the experts at The Bug Dude are here to help with all the troubles carpenter ants can create, and get you back to singing a happier song of spring.

    Fast Facts About Carpenter Ants:

    • Appearance: They are between 3/8” and 3/4” long, red or black and red in color, and have a segmented body with bent antennae. During mating season, some will have semi-transparent yellowish-brown wings that are around the same size as their body.
    • Nesting Behavior: These ants create two types of nests: parent nests and satellite nests. Parent nests are generally larger and will always be found in moist areas. Satellite nests are created near the parent nest and contain worker ants, pupae, and mature larvae. The worker ants in satellite nests will move regularly between the parent and satellite nests. Since satellite nests do not contain ant eggs, these nests can occur in dry locations such as wall voids, hollow doors, and undamaged wood.
    • Indoor Habitat: When these ants make their nests indoors, they can be found in moist or decayed wood. A few common locations are: in bathrooms (behind tiles and around showers and sinks), in kitchens (around sinks and dishwashers), under roofing, under subfloor insulation, in wall voids, in hollow doors, in foam insulation, window and door frames, plumbing voids, and any wood supports in contact with soil.
    • Outdoor Habitat: Commonly, outdoor nests will be found in hollow trees, decaying trees or logs, tree roots, boards or firewood left on the ground, fence posts, window areas, moisture-damaged wood siding, and any areas where wood or soil touch the foundation of a home or other outdoor structure.
    • Diet: They consume mostly proteins and sugars. Some common food sources are meat, pet food, honey, living and dead insects, fresh fruits, and sugary sweets. They do NOT consume wood.
    • Signs of an Infestation: There are two telltale signs of a carpenter ant infestation: swarmers and frass. Swarmers are large, winged carpenter ants, which will often be found around windows and doors during the spring and early summer as they attempt to reproduce and create a new colony. Frass is the term for the sawdust-like substance that the ants push out of their nests as they excavate; it is generally seen around baseboards and windowsills and can sometimes be mistaken for a pile of dirt.
    • Danger: The biggest danger these ants provide is to the wood in, on, and around your home. Carpenter ants do not sting, but they can bite, and will do so in defense if their nest is disturbed. As carpenter ants have powerful jaws, if you are bitten, you’re bound to feel it, and it could even break the skin. Generally, a bite will result in redness, mild swelling, and a burning sensation that can last up to a few days.
    • Damage: Though the most notorious wood-destroying insect has to be termites, carpenter ants are more than capable of causing structural and aesthetic damage to your home, and are well-known as a highly destructive pest in their own right.

    How do you Prevent Carpenter Ants?

                    The most important thing to keep in mind with prevention is to reduce moisture around your home. Here are a few tips to help prevent a Carpenter ant infestation:

    • Maintain regular pest control with The Bug Dude!
    • Fix any plumbing leaks, roof leaks, and drainage issues
    • Replace any water or insect damaged wood
    • Make sure attics and crawl spaces are well ventilated
    • Keep firewood away from the house
    • Remove logs and stumps close to the home
    • Keep trees and shrubs trimmed away from the house (don’t forget to remove any branches that hang over the roof) and electrical lines

    How do you Eliminate Carpenter Ants?

                    The first trick to eliminating a carpenter ant infestation is inspection. Before any treatment can begin, the home and yard need to be inspected by a pest control technician for signs of the ants and their nests so that the ants can be identified, and their source(s) located. Keep track of any ants, ant swarmers, and frass piles you have seen and exactly where you have seen them and inform your technician when they arrive; whenever possible, leave dead ants and frass piles undisturbed for your technician to evaluate. Carpenter ants are known to be a difficult pest to eliminate, in part because they make their nests in hidden locations, and in part because they require specialized products to effectively treat for them. They are not a pest you could or should try to treat yourself. In fact, using the wrong treatment can make it even more difficult to eliminate the infestation due to detrimental product interaction, and will lead to a longer and more difficult battle for you and your technician. Instead, at the first sign of a carpenter ant problem, call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350 or 1-800-310-BUGS (2847) and set up an appointment to get an expert technician out to your home before the infestation, and damage, escalates.

    What About Carpenter Ant Damage?

                    Eliminating the carpenter ants themselves is the obvious first step when dealing with an infestation, but what happens once the ants are gone? Unlike ghost ants, pharaoh ants, or even fire ants, the effects of carpenter ants can plague you for years to come. When you look out your window at a beautiful sunset, the glaring damage to your windowsill may be all you see. When you grab a glass of sweet tea and sit in your yard admiring your garden, the ever-growing spot of rotting wood on your siding may sour the view. Every time you shower, you may anxiously keep your eyes fixed on the tunneled-out baseboard and pray you don’t see an ant crawl through. And it almost goes without saying, the countless sleepless nights spent worrying over all of the unseen damage. Whether the issue is aesthetic, preventative, or functional, the damage done by carpenter ants is no laughing matter and the sooner it’s dealt with, the quicker you can put the whole ordeal behind you.

                    Though it may seem that ignoring the damaged areas is fine for a while since you have had the infestation treated, you are actually just leaving a “welcome” sign on your home for wood-destroying pests and several other pests that like to make old carpenter ant tunnels into their home (like the acrobat ant). Once an area is damaged it is more susceptible to future attacks, plain and simple. So what do you need to do? As soon as the active infestation has been eliminated, it’s time to go to work on fixing the known damaged and conducive areas. Fortunately, when you have a Bug Dude technician at your home, you have someone with the experience to locate the problem areas, the knowledge of how to repair them, and a company who will stand behind their work.

    What The Bug Dude Can Do For You

    It’s bad enough having your home overrun with ants, but knowing that these ants have been gnawing away at the wood inside your home is enough to keep you up at night. One of the first thoughts most people have when faced with a wood-destroying insect is: how bad is the damage to my house? Fortunately, The Bug Dude is here to help alleviate the stress associated with a carpenter ant infestation.

    When it comes to repairing the damage done from carpenter ants excavating parts of your home for their nests, or repairing conducive areas where wood is rotting from the past year’s rains, you don’t need to look any farther than The Bug Dude to find a solution. With technicians able to assist in anything from purely functional fixes, to preventative, to aesthetic, The Bug Dude offers a one-stop-shop approach to dealing with these pests. There’s no need to worry about finding a carpenter, repair man, or contractor to help you deal with the repair needs you discussed with your pest control technician. There’s no need to try to remember the exact areas your technician pointed out or try to explain what the issues are to yet another person you have to hire to get your home back in order. Instead, you can rest easy knowing that you have a technician and a company taking care of your home that is an expert in not only treating for pests, but fixing the issues they create.

    But what are some of the things The Bug Dude can do to help with carpenter ant damage or prevention? Sometimes the fix is something simple, like installing door sweeps to help mitigate ants getting in. Sometimes the project is more extensive, like repairing or replacing water-damaged wood on the exterior of your home to help prevent that area becoming a target for carpenter ants or even termites. Other times, the damaged area could look alright on the exterior, but be tunneled out on the inside, requiring an expert inspection to locate and a skilled hand to repair. Whatever the situation is, The Bug Dude is here to help, with excellent service, decades of experience, affordable prices, and warranties for both treatments and repairs. So what are you waiting for? Give The Bug Dude a call today at 817-354-5350 to set up an appointment with one of our specialists so you can rest assured that your carpenter ant battle hasn’t “Only Just Begun.”

    Further Reading:

    “Termites vs. Carpenter Ants” – Alissa Breach, The Bug Dude Blog

    “Spring, and Carpenter Ants, are in the Air” – Alissa Breach, The Bug Dude Blog

    “Carpenter Ants” – Wizzie Brown and Roger E. Gold, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    “Carpenter Ants” – Jeffrey Hahn and Stephen Kells, University of Minnesota 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.

    Keep Valentine’s Day Full of Love, not Crazy (Ants)

    Wednesday, February 09, 2022 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    February has arrived, bringing with it a warm burst of love to help get us through the remaining winter. Yes, Valentine’s Day is nearly here. Stores are full of heart-shaped goodies, every love song plays softly in the air, and it seems like the world has been wrapped in shades of pink and red. But while you may be feeling Crazy in Love as you plan a romantic evening with your sweetie, there may be something lurking in your home getting ready to play a Wicked Game and make you feel just plain old Crazy: the tawny crazy ant.

    What do Tawny Crazy Ants Look Like?

                     These small ants are monomorphic, meaning virtually all adults have the same appearance. They are 1/8 inch long, reddish brown in color, covered with many long hairs, and they have particularly long antennae and legs. Occasionally, winged reproductive males and females will be produced, but these ants are not known for flying, unlike carpenter ants that can often be seen swarming during their reproductive season. Tawny crazy ant queens are often a bit larger and darker than the rest of the ants in the colony, and each colony has numerous queens, which will produce millions of “naked” (without cocoon) larvae within a colony. 

    Why Are They Called Tawny Crazy Ants?

                    Tawny crazy ants, also known as Rasberry crazy ants received their name for several reasons. “Tawny” comes simply from the color of the ants and is a helpful way to distinguish this ant from other types of crazy ants. The alternate name of “Rasberry” comes from the name of the man who first discovered this ant near Houston in 2002 (Tom Rasberry). Perhaps more importantly, however, is why they were called “crazy ants” as this gives an important clue to identifying these pests before you have to pull out a magnifying glass or microscope…their behavior. These ants were called “crazy” due to their quick, irregular movements. Where other ants follow a distinct foraging trail and seem to march orderly along that trail, the crazy ants forage erratically; that randomness combined with their gangly limbs gives these ants a particularly unwieldy appearance.

    Where do Tawny Crazy Ants Live?

                    Unfortunately, these ants are extremely pervasive and are excellent survivors. Believed to originate in tropical South America (i.e. Columbia and Brazil), these pests prefer tropical and subtropical areas and as such have successfully invaded Texas, starting with the Gulf Coast and spreading outward.

                    Not only are tawny crazy ants successful in multiple countries, but they thrive both indoors and outdoors. Indoors, you can expect to see them near food sources if they are foraging, or nesting in warm, secluded areas (i.e. wall voids, in electronics, under carpeting, in potted plants, etc.). Generally, they will nest a good distance from their foraging area, and most often they will nest outdoors. You can find them in places like trash bins, crevices in plants and trees, in mulch, under yard items (i.e. rocks, stumps, wood piles, etc.), in rotten wood, under leaf litter, and in soil. Importantly, unlike fire ants, tawny crazy ants do not create noticeable nest mounds, which can make their nests much more difficult to locate.

                    These highly prolific ants grow their colonies by “budding,” which means that they establish new colonies at the periphery of their existing one, rather than creating a new one some distance away. As such, this can lead to gigantic, sprawling nesting areas of tawny crazy ants. On average, they will spread around 65 feet per month in neighborhoods, and nearly 100 feet per month in industrial areas. This means that left unchecked you could rapidly be facing an infestation of millions of ants.

    What do Tawny Crazy Ants Eat?

                    As omnivores, these ants can thrive on a widely varied diet. From consuming insects (alive and dead), to fruits, seeds, honeydew (aphid excrement), and many human foods, there are very few places these pests can’t find a good meal. Two of the most common meals for tawny crazy ants are sweet parts of plants( including over-ripe fruit), and honeydew, which they obtain by “tending” other insects, such as aphids, scale, and mealy bugs.

    Are Tawny Crazy Ants Dangerous?

                    Though tawny crazy ants can bite and can excrete formic acid from their acidopore on the end of their abdomen, they aren’t known to pose any significant danger to humans, other than a brief, sharp pain if you’re bitten. However, they are far from being simply a nuisance pest. Presenting a danger to livestock, homes and equipment, plants, and the ecosystem, these little ants are a pest to be reckoned with.

                    As an extremely successful invasive species, the tawny crazy ant is even capable of fighting and winning against the more commonly known invasive ant: the imported red fire ant. But the bigger concern isn’t one invasive supplanting another, it’s the threat they pose to native insect and wildlife populations. In areas where tawny crazy ants have created huge, dense populations, they have been known to displace native ants and arthropods, leading to a decline in bird populations, and potentially even greater ramifications down the road.

                    In agriculture, they present a two-fold threat. First, they have been known to directly harm livestock: asphyxiating smaller animals (like chickens) and attacking eyes, noses, and hooves of larger animals (like cattle). Secondly, they can lead to indirect crop damage by both encouraging higher populations of plant pests (like aphids) and by translocating pathogenic organisms.

                    For homes and business, they present a significant danger to electrical equipment. They are known to heavily infest these areas, causing short circuits and equipment failure of anything from A/C units to TVs to the outlets themselves.

    How do you Prevent Tawny Crazy Ants?

    When it comes to prevention, the single most helpful thing you can do is maintain a regular pest control treatment plan with The Bug Dude. Not only can our expert technicians eliminate the tawny crazy ants and their insect food sources, they can keep their trained eye on conducive areas in and around your home to help spot a problem before it becomes an infestation.

    The other main steps you can take to help prevent an infestation from these pests are:

    • Remove all yard waste and leaf litter
    • As much as possible, remove all items that sit directly on the ground
    • Reduce the usage of sprinkler and irrigation systems and ensure the yard has good drainage
    • Keep mulch at least 1 foot away from your foundation and ensure it is less than 2 inches thick
    • Seal visible cracks and crevices on the exterior of your home
    • Maintain good sanitation practices in and around your home
    • Thoroughly inspect potted plants for possible pests before transporting them
    • If you or your belongings have been in an infested area, ensure that you perform a thorough inspection for ants before entering a non-infested area

    Since the ants are less active during the winter months, it’s an excellent time to take preventative measures before the invasion arrives in the summer.

    How do you Eliminate Tawny Crazy Ants?

                    At the first sign of an ant problem, call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847). When it comes to tawny crazy ants, eliminating the issue without professional help is virtually impossible. These pests are notorious for rapidly rebounding from partial treatments, which means that without expert help identifying and treating all the sources of the issue, you could find yourself in a never-ending battle with these ants. Additionally, tawny crazy ants are particularly tricky to treat for and need a specific combination of professional-grade products to effectively attract and eliminate them.

                    So don’t risk this Valentine’s Day being ruined by ants, call The Bug Dude ASAP so you can have peace At Last and get back to the Wonderful World of your Endless Love.

    Further Reading:

    “Crazy Ants” – Brackenridge Field Laboratory, College of Natural Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin

    “Tawny Crazy Ant, Rasberry Crazy Ant” – Texas Invasive Species Institute

    “Tawny (Rasberry) Crazy Ant, Nylanderia fulva” – Urban and Structural Entomology Program at Texas A&M University

    “Invasive Ants” – Texas Parks & Wildlife

    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.

    As We Start a New Year, Make Flour Beetles a Thing of the Past

    Monday, January 10, 2022 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    Christmas is over and a new year has just begun. For many of us, our kitchens have been bustling with activity over the past 6 weeks as foods and treats of all sorts have been made and consumed. Whether you opted for a pecan pie, sugar cookies, a gingerbread house, chex mix, or a cracker platter, holiday goodies have surely abounded. With generosity being the clarion call of Christmas, most people will find their fridges and pantries still brimming with treats well into the new year, and well past the start of new year’s resolutions. Though most treats will eventually find their way into tummies or trash cans, all the remnant baking supplies are sure to be kept, gradually being pushed farther and farther back on shelves until they are all but forgotten. But just because you’ve forgotten about them, doesn’t mean they’ve been abandoned, for it’s just when you’re not looking that flour beetles can move in and eventually take over your pantry, turning your new year into a new headache.

    What do Flour Beetles Look Like?

                     There are 2 main types of flour beetles in the United States, the red flour beetle and the confused flour beetle; these 2 species are virtually identical in every way (appearance, behavior, habitat, food source, and control methods), so much so that the confused flour beetle gets its name from the fact that it was initially mistaken as the red flour beetle when it was first encountered. Adult flour beetles are around 1/8 to 1/4 inch long, have flat, oval-shaped bodies, are reddish-brown in color, have 2 clubbed antennae, and have wings (though only the red flour beetles are known to fly). Their eggs are tiny, white, cylindrical, and coated with a sticky secretion that will become covered with the food source in which they are deposited; eggs are deposited in groups of 2 or 3, with up to 1,000 eggs being laid by a single female in her life span. When the eggs hatch (in 5 to 12 days), a yellow-white cylindrical grub, less than 1/8 inch long, emerges and grows for the next 27 to 29 days until it pupates. The pupae are similar in appearance to the larvae, but are a lighter, more whitish color, and are only around for 3 to 7 days before the adult beetles emerge. Adults can live for up to 3 years.

    Where do Flour Beetles Live?

                    These pests are found throughout the world, and though there is overlap in their distribution in the United States, generally red flour beetles are found in southern states, and confused flour beetles are found in northern states. They are primarily an indoor pest, living in and around their food sources. You will most commonly find them in stored food items, or in cracks and crevices in pantries, cabinets, and baseboards.

    What do Flour Beetles Eat?

                    Both adult and larval flour beetles eat stored food, primarily milled or prepared items. Common examples include: flour, corn meal, grain products, cereal products, shelled nuts, spices, chocolate/cacao, dried beans/peas/peppers/vegetables/fruits, dry pet food, birdseed, dried milk, dried flowers, animal hides, museum specimens, and even some drugs. Though they cannot consume undamaged grains or unshelled nuts, they can survive off very small amounts of food and are able to subsist off as little as the grain dust that occurs in packages from the grains rubbing against each other.

    Are Flour Beetles Dangerous?

                    Given their ability to rapidly proliferate, it’s fortunate that flour beetles do not pose a direct danger to people or pets. They do not bite or sting, are not toxic, and are not known to carry disease. However, their presence in food products does make the food unfit to consume and can very quickly become both costly and a source of major food waste. Not only is it unpalatable to think of eating these beetles, their eggs, larvae, and pupae, but since they live where they feed, the food products will also be contaminated with their dead bodies, fecal pellets, and secretions. In large populations, this will cause the contaminated food to take on a foul odor, turn grayish, and often encourages the growth of mold. Once infested, the food products should immediately be thrown away.

    How do you Prevent Flour Beetles?

    Generally speaking, if you have a flour beetle infestation, it initially came home with you from the store. This means that the most vital step in preventing an infestation is a thorough inspection of any susceptible goods (see above for examples of their food sources) before you purchase them or bring them into your home. If you notice any leakage from a susceptible item (i.e. particles falling from a bag of flour) or see any holes, tears, chew marks, or cuts in the cardboard or plastic packaging, do not purchase the item as there is a good chance it has been contaminated.

    Once home, store all dried foods, including pet foods, in tightly sealed glass or plastic containers. Additionally, be sure to regularly go through your stored foods and dispose of any that are out of date or haven’t been used in a long time, and be especially cautious when buying in bulk that you will quickly go through the amount you are buying and it won’t simply sit on a shelf becoming a likely home for pests.

    Maintaining good sanitation practices will also go a long way in preventing a flour beetle infestation. Regularly sweep/vacuum and wash all areas where food is prepared or stored. If there is a spill, be sure to clean it up immediately. If possible, caulk around the edges and cracks and crevices of your pantry to make clean up easier and less likely for crumbs to be overlooked.

    And, as always, at the first sign of an pest problem, call The Bug Dude to get an expert technician to assess and treat the issue before a problem becomes an infestation.

    How do you Eliminate Flour Beetles?

                    Once it’s been determined that flour beetles have invaded your home, it’s important to act quickly before the issue escalates and you find yourself faced with thousands of pests costing you more and more money in wasted foods. At the first sign of trouble, call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) and set up a treatment of the affected area(s). Then, see if you can locate the source of the pests; thoroughly inspect all food products or natural decorations in the areas where flour beetles have been seen and immediately throw away any that show signs of infestation (beetles, holes in the packaging, discoloration, foul smell, etc.). When throwing away infested items, bag them up and take them directly to an outdoor trash can. If you want to keep infested decorative items, the beetles can be killed by heating the object to 120° F for several hours or freezing for at least 6 days at 0° F. Once all items have been inspected, if the source still has not been found, consult your Bug Dude technician for help in locating other possible harborage areas. When the source of the infestation has been found and removed, perform a thorough cleaning of the entire area where it had been; this may be a cupboard, an entire pantry, or a whole kitchen, depending on how severe the infestation was. Be sure to do a thorough clean: sweep/vacuum, remove and clean under shelf paper, wash and dry shelves, and pay special attention to cracks and crevices. Finally, have The Bug Dude treat the previously infested area(s) to kill any remaining beetles or eggs before they have a chance to rebuild their population and destroy more products.

                    This year, as you are saying “out with the old and in with the new” for 2022, make sure that you don’t forget to include your kitchen and pantry, and help get the new year off to a prosperous, and pest-free, start.

    Further Reading:

    “Flour Beetles” – Mike Merchant, Bradleigh S. Vinson, and Wizzie Brown – Extension Entomology – Texas A&M Forest Service

    “common name: confused flour beetle & common name: red flour beetle” – Rebecca Baldwin and Thomas R. Fasulo, University of Florida – Featured Creatures – Entomology & Nematology – University of Florida

    “Reason No. 138 to Decant Dry Goods (Or, How to Prevent Flour Beetles: A Cautionary Tale)” – Annie Quigley – The Organized Home

    “Stored Product Pests: Red And Confused Flour Beetles” – Linda J. Mason, Extension Entomologist – Purdue University

    “[Tech Talk] Stored Product Pests — America’s Enemy” – Jeff Weier, BCE – 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 Silverfish Overtake Silver Bells This Christmas

    Monday, December 13, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    Christmastime has arrived, bringing with it all the joy and festiveness of the season. It’s the time of year when you get to excitedly unpack all the winter clothes, Christmas sweaters, and decorations you haven’t seen for a year. But as you go through all the red, green, and white you might see a bit of silver skitter across, and no, it’s not tinsel. Worse than even the shock of a mysterious bug running through your Christmas goodies is what it may have left behind. As you pull out your favorite sweater, you might notice something has chewed a hole right through it and left behind some small, black pellets (about the size of ground black pepper). Nervously going through the rest of your Christmas boxes, you may discover additional damage to your favorite clothing and decorations. So what could have caused all this destruction? Silverfish.

    Though the first thoughts of things silver at this time of year are probably bells, tinsel, and a whole host of decorations (from reindeer to sleighs to trees), silverfish can play a prominent part in your celebrations if you’re not careful. These destructive critters can not only give you the creeps as they skitter around, they can severely damage some of your most beloved stored items. Fortunately, The Bug Dude is here, and though he’s not Santa, he can quickly get you back to singing “Silver Bells” instead of lamenting silverfish.

    What do Silverfish Look Like?

                    Silverfish are an ancient, primitive insect, predating cockroaches and possibly even dinosaurs! They are around 3/4 inch long and are generally silver or gray in color with a flat body that is shaped like a carrot (wider at the head and tapering to a narrow, pointed bottom). They have 6 legs, 2 long antennae, and 3 long, bristled tail projections. Their bodies are covered in tiny shimmery scales, which are often shed and can be one of the first signs of a silverfish infestation. These scales, along with the general body shape and the side to side movement of the insect as it runs, give a sort of fish-like appearance, which led to its common name of “silverfish.

                    Unlike a lot of other common household pests, silverfish have an ametabolous life cycle. This means that when they first hatch from their eggs they resemble miniature versions of the adult; they then molt several times throughout their lives (somewhere between 22 and 66 times), including as an adult.

    Where do Silverfish Live?

                    These pests can be found throughout the world, though one of the most common continents for these critters to dwell is North America. Generally, they are found indoors in secluded, warm, humid environments, such as attics, basements, and bathrooms. However, in some cases they can be found in garages, sheds, and in some landscaping around a house. They are nocturnal, excellent climbers, and can move extremely quickly, which means that their presence in your home is often difficult to detect unless you happen to disturb them while they are foraging or eating.

    What do Silverfish Eat?

                    Equipped with chewing mouthparts, the diet of a silverfish consists primarily of starches, carbohydrates, and protein. Some of their preferred food items are: paper (especially glazed paper), books, cardboard, glue, wallpaper, clothing, carpets, curtains, fabrics (linens, silk, cotton, plush furniture coverings), cereals, rolled oats, flour, sugars, cellulose, vegetables, dried meat, dead insects (including other silverfish), and even human hair that’s been shed. This makes stored paper and cloth goods in an attic an especially tempting target for a holiday buffet for these insects. Even worse, they are extremely resistant to starvation, and can survive for up to a year without food and weeks without water.

    Are Silverfish Dangerous?

                    Fortunately, silverfish are not directly dangerous to humans or pets: they don’t bite or sting and are not toxic. However, their molted skins and scales can instigate or worsen an allergic reaction to common household allergens, such as dust and dust mites. In addition, these molted skins and scales can propagate a carpet beetle issue by increasing their food sources.

                    The greatest danger from these insects, by far, is to your treasured possessions. From family photos to beloved clothing items, these long-lived (around 4 years) pests can do a lot of damage before you even know you have a problem.

    How do you Prevent Silverfish?

                    Given their ability to go without detection for extended periods of time while they consume and multiply, it’s especially important to take preventative measures when it comes to silverfish, lest you discover them at the same time you find your treasured family photos ruined. Here are some of the best methods to reduce the likelihood of a silverfish infestation in your home:

    • Maintain a regular pest control service with Mid-Cities Pest Control @ 800-310-BUGS ( 2847 ) to eliminate the pests before they have a chance to take over
    • Get a dehumidifier for especially humid areas of your home
    • Repair any pipe or drain leaks and eliminate any standing water
    • Fix or replace any moldy or wet wood
    • Seal exterior gaps in your foundation
    • Replace mulch in landscaping touching your home with gravel to reduce moisture retention
    • Keep stored foods (including pet food) in airtight containers
    • Regularly vacuum your flooring and upholstery to remove food crumbs
    • Regularly tidy your home, especially paper-goods
    • Ensure that crawl spaces are properly ventilated or lined to prevent excessive moisture
    • Ensure that attics are properly ventilated
    • Maintain clean and clear gutters that properly drain away from your home
    • Seal cracks around windows, doors, plumbing pipes, and baseboards
    • Keep yard debris (leaves, cut grass, etc.) and lumber piles away from the house
    • Japanese cedar essential oil can be used around areas of stored papers and clothing to help act as a repellent

    How do you Eliminate Silverfish?

                    Though it might be tempting to try to self-treat for silverfish, these pests are notorious for being difficult to fully eradicate without the proper knowledge and products. Plus, with their ability to get into just about any crack or crevice and the speed with which they can evade detection, by the time you discover an issue, chances are you’re already facing an infestation. That’s why as soon as you see a silverfish or signs of one (molted scales or skins), you should call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350 and have one of our trained technicians out to assess the issue and treat accordingly. Most often, just one treatment by our skilled technicians is all it takes to get you back to joyously singing Christmas carols and putting all thoughts of non-holiday silver out of your mind.

    Further Reading:

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

    “Silverfish and Firebrat” – Plant & Plant Diagnostics – Michigan State University

    “common name: silverfish” – Eleanor F. Phillips and Jennifer L. Gillett-Kaufman, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida

    “What Are Silverfish and Can They Hurt You?” – Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI — Written by Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA

    “Silverfish” – National Pest Management Association – PestWorld.org

    “Silverfish Vs. Firebrats” – Jeffrey Tucker – PCT (Pest Control Technology)

    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.

    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.

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