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    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.

    Images
    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.

     Indoors:

    • 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.

    Outdoors:

    • 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.

    Patches

    • 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.

    Mildews

    • 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.

    Spots

    • 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.

    Patches

    • 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.

    Mildews

    • 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.

    Spots

    • 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

    Groundhog Day is fast approaching as we move into February. It’s a day when we celebrate a historic tradition centered around an adorable critter emerging from its underground burrow to help forecast the remainder of winter. Though we all enjoy watching the infamous Punxsutawney Phil take a look for his shadow every February 2nd, there are other pests making their home underground that, if seen emerging, can forebode more troubles that 6 additional weeks of winter. One of these pests is the rover ant, an ant species that is still relatively new to to the U.S., but has nonetheless made its presence felt.

    What do Rover Ants Look Like?

    Rover ants are a particularly small ant species, with workers only about 1/16” in size; that’s about half the length of a sesame seed. Notably, the workers are monomorphic, meaning they are uniform in size, though they can vary greatly in color from a pale yellow to dark brown or black. They also have simpler antennae than many other ants, containing only 9 segments and no club. Their thorax is uneven with the front portion having a humped appearance, a bit like a camel.

    The winged rover ant reproductives are close to double the size of the workers and are similar in size to a termite swarmer (winged reproductive). Even worse, both pests tend to choose similar locations to build their colonies. As such, it’s particularly important to know the difference between ants and termites, so you don’t have to live in unnecessary stress every time you see one of these winged pests. Check out a few of our articles on this topic: “Termites vs. Carpenter Ants” and “Termite 101”. And at the first sight of these winged pests, call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS to give you a definitive ID and treat before the problem, whichever pest it is, gets worse.

    Where do Rover Ants Live?

    You can find rover ants both indoors and outdoors, and they are particularly fond of living in urban areas, largely because these ants greatly favor moisture and access to sweet treats. Outdoors, you can look for colonies to be dwelling in moist soil, mulch, leaf litter, and trash piles; they have even been known to form colonies under the slab of a home. Indoors, you will generally find them in bathrooms and kitchens, though they will have built their nests inside water-damaged wood, cinder blocks, potted plants, electrical outlets, light sockets, and wall voids.

    A single rover ant colony will be fairly small, with somewhere between a few hundred and a few thousand members; however, you can often find more than one colony infesting a home or yard if there are enough conducive conditions. This is one of the reasons that rover ants are notorious as one of the more difficult ants to control as you need to find and eliminate multiple colonies in order to get rid of the problem. Fortunately, the technicians at TheBugDude.com have plenty of experience in dealing with rover ants and have learned the most successful methods to quickly and effectively rid your home of these pests.

    Within the United States, rover ants are predominantly found in the Gulf states, though their reach into the rest of the contiguous states is constantly expanding. These tiny ants have a distinct advantage in their spread in that they can successfully live in close proximity to other ants, including fire ants, tawny crazy ants, and Argentine ants. They even have a protection against fire ant venom: they can blanket themselves in a protective layer of formic acid.

    What do Rover Ants Eat?

    Though rover ants are primarily omnivorous, they tend to prefer sugary food options. This preference is one of the reasons that they are likely to enter homes in search of tasty treats, such as fruits left out on kitchen counters. Outdoors, they will often create their colony around plants and trees where aphids and scales are feeding on the roots, getting their sustenance from the honeydew created by these pests. When sugary food options are scarce, however, they will happily scavenge for a variety of foods including other insects.

    Are Rover Ants Dangerous?

    Fortunately, these ants are primarily harmless, though they can quickly become a horrible nuisance if they get inside your home or workplace. Rover ants do not sting or bite, so they will not cause direct harm to people or pets; they also are not a wood-destroying pest like carpenter ants, so they aren’t going to create structural damage. However, because they tend to have multiple colonies, and thus are difficult to control, once they establish a foothold inside a building, they can be a continual headache for quite some time, especially if professional help isn’t quickly sought. Outdoors they can also present a significant nuisance, as they are drawn to sources of water and will thus often invade pools, leading to extra time needed for cleaning before getting to enjoy a swim on a hot summer day.

    Though not extreme, these ants can present a health risk if they get into sterile or healthcare facilities as they do have the potential to transmit certain type of bacteria, including E. coli.

    How do you Prevent Rover Ants?

                    The prevention of rover ants needs to be two-fold if it’s to be successful: eliminate sources of moisture and eliminate sources of food. Here are a few steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of being invaded by these pests:

    • Do not self-treat for these ants, at the first signs of infestation call The Bug Dude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) to have our experts put down the correct products to eliminate these pests. Products that are available for home use are not only likely to be fully ineffective, but they can also interfere with the effectiveness of a professional treatment.
    • Replace any water-damaged wood in and around your home
    • Dispose of yard debris (such as leaf litter and grass clippings)
    • Fix any known water leaks and thoroughly dry any affected areas
    • Keep an eye out for aphid or scale infestations on plants and get them treated immediately
    • Trim trees and shrubs away from the roof and walls of your home
    • Keep gutters cleaned out
    • Keep kitchens clean and free from accessible sweets (i.e. keep fruit in the fridge, don’t leave sweets out uncovered, etc.)
    • Maintain a regular pest control service plan with The Bug Dude to keep your home pest free.

    How do you Eliminate Rover Ants?

     Rover ants are notorious for being difficult to control long-term. If you are having an issue that you suspect could be these tiny ants, call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350. Our experienced technicians will be able to identify the exact type of ant that has invaded your home and, even for these tough little rover ants, they will know the most effective means to eliminate the problem so you can get back to your normal life, whether that will include six more weeks of winter or not.

    Further Reading:

    “[Pest Profile] Rover Ant” – PCT Magazine

    “Rover Ant, Brachymyrmex sp.” – Chris Keefer – Urban and Structural Entomology Program at Texas A&M University

    “How to Get Rid of Rover Ants” – ants.com

    “The Dark Rover Ant and Other Rover Ants” – Michael Merchant – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

    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.

    Preventing Unwanted Christmastime House Guests

    Friday, December 11, 2020 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    It’s Christmastime again, a time when halls are decked, the scent of pine fills the air, and the chorus of Christmas carols can be heard all around. It’s a time when families cozy up with freshly baked treats and their favorite Christmas movie as they celebrate this wondrous season. With all the joy and magic filling the air, a scuffling on the rooftop would naturally bring to mind the image of reindeer alighting, their hooves clicking on the shingles, bringing with them good old Santa Claus to come down through the chimney with lots of toys.

    Unfortunately, the noises being heard are rarely those of magical reindeer, and are generally signs of either a rodent or wildlife invasion. You see, animals don’t know what’s expected of them during this season, and even on the night before Christmas, mice can, in fact, be stirring. So what can be done to keep unwanted guests from staying over for the winter? In addition to the standard pest control methods, which you can read more about in the articles below, a vital part of keeping out uninvited guests is to eliminate their access to your home. This can be accomplished in part through home maintenance and repairs you can perform yourself, and in part through professional exclusion work.

    What is Exclusion Work?

    Exclusion work refers to a variety of physical barriers that The Bug Dude can employ in order to keep pests out of your home. These barriers can be items that are installed (like door sweeps), items that are replaced (like vent covers), or they can even be repairs to holes on the exterior of the home itself. Whatever their form, these barriers must be carefully chosen and installed by The Bug Dude in order for them to be both safe and effective.

    Our experienced technicians can not only discover the likely sources where rodents or wildlife are finding ways into your home, they also know which materials are effective in preventing these animals from gaining re-entry. On top of that, they can determine which entry points can be safely sealed and which are necessary in order to maintain the integrity of the home (after all, it’s not a good idea to 100% seal up a home).

    When you call The Bug Dude out to evaluate your home for an issue with rodents or wildlife, they will also check for any potential entry points that these animals are utilizing. If any entry points are found, exclusion work can be performed once the primary issue has been reduced or resolved. It’s important to get the timing right when performing this repair work, as you don’t want to trap animals inside, but you also don’t want to get rid of one issue only to leave an open door for another animal to find its way in.

    What Can I do to Help Prevent Pest Issues?

    Though exclusion work is often necessary once a rodent or wildlife issue has been established in your home, there are steps you can take to make your home less enticing for these animals and prevent having extended holiday house guests.

    The first step is to go through your home and yard and look for any of the issues listed below. Remember, you are trying to keep your home from providing food, water, and shelter to unwanted critters. It may take a little time, but your investment now can keep you from spending sleepless nights listening to scratching and scurrying above your head, and can save you money and stress in the long run.

    In your Home

    • Reduce potential nesting sites:
      • Organize and declutter closets and attic spaces
    • Reduce potential food sources:
      • Keep pantry items in airtight containers
      • Keep non-pantry items in the fridge
      • Don’t leave food out (including pet food)
      • Keep trash in securely closed bins and take the trash out regularly
    • Reduce potential water sources:
      • Fix any plumbing or roof leaks
      • Don’t leave pet water bowls out
    • Inspect for potential entry points:
      • Check that any gaps around doors are less than 1/4” high (mice are able to get in through a 1/4” or larger gap)
      • Check that all window & door screens and weather stripping are intact

    Around your Home

    • Reduce potential nesting sites:
      • Keep yard debris (i.e. leaves, branches, grass trimmings, etc.) away from the home
      • Trim bushes to keep them away from your home and up off the ground if possible
      • Keep firewood at least 20’ from your home and off the ground
    • Reduce potential food sources:
      • Don’t leave pet food bowls out
    • Reduce potential water sources:
      • Keep gutters cleared and in good working condition
      • Don’t leave pet water bowls out
    • Inspect for potential entry points:
      • Check for any cracks in the foundation over 1/4” in width
      • Check for any signs of chew marks on siding or eaves
      • Check around all voids where pipes and wires enter the home and make sure there are no gaps over 1/4” in size
      • Make sure attic vents are property screened
      • Make sure chimneys are properly capped
      • Check for any broken vents, loose siding, loose shingles, or visible holes
      • Remove vines from you walls (rodents can use these to gain easier access to your home)
      • Trim any overhanging tree limbs (they should be at least 8 to 10 feet from the roof)

    In your Garage

    • Reduce potential nesting sites:
      • Organize and declutter any stored items
      • Inspect any cars that are rarely used for signs of rodent activity, especially under the hood
    • Reduce potential food sources:
      • Keep trash in securely closed bins and take it out regularly
      • Keep pet food or bird seed in airtight containers made of glass or metal

    In your Yard

    • Reduce potential nesting sites:
      • Regularly clear all yard debris (i.e. leaves, branches, grass clippings, etc.)
      • Keep your grass trimmed
      • Keep any storage buildings organized and decluttered and make sure to inspect them regularly
      • Regularly inspect hot tubs for signs of rodent activity (the warm, protected area under a hot tub makes an ideal nesting site)
      • If you have a double fence, check for signs that rodents may be nesting in the gap between the fences
    • Reduce potential food sources:
      • Remove bird feeders
    • Reduce potential water sources:
      • Remove bird baths
    • Inspect for potential entry points:
      • Place sheet metal bands around tree trunks to discourage squirrels from climbing them and finding their way to your roof

    This December, give yourself the gift of peace of mind and treat your home to some extra attention in order to pest-proof your house and yard. And if you hear noises up on the rooftop, give The Bug Dude a call at 800-310-BUGS (2847) and let our technicians make sure that on Christmas day, the only noises you hear are those of comfort and joy.

    Further Reading:

    “Rats: Not Even Their Own Are Safe!” – Alissa Breach – The Bug Dude Blog
    “The Twelve Days of Squirrels” – Alissa Breach – The Bug Dude Blog
    “Things that go Bump in the Night” – Alissa Breach – The Bug Dude Blog
    “Make Pest Control Part of Your New Year’s Resolutions” – Alissa Breach – The Bug Dude Blog
    “Are Unexpected Guests Crashing Your Thanksgiving?” – Alissa Breach – The Bug Dude Blog

    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 Credits
    Photo by Joshua Hibbert

    Are Wasps Ruining your Fall Fun? Give us a Buzz…

    Monday, November 09, 2020 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    Fall is here and while many are celebrating the influx of cooler temperatures, that same seasonal change can lead to an influx of pests into your home. Though this time of year is notorious for its increase in rodent and wildlife activity inside homes, there is another pest that is likely to be inviting itself to be your house guest this holiday season: wasps.

    Though we often associate wasps with the threat they pose to our outdoor summer fun, these pests create an entirely additional problem in the fall. For most wasps, the fall is their time for procreation. This is the time when male and queen wasps are produced and mate, leading to greater wasp activity. As the season gets colder, the fertilized queens will seek shelter, often in and around houses, to hibernate till the spring, when they will emerge and create their nests, often in the same locations as the previous year. This means that the fall is the time when wasps are essentially staking out their future nesting sites, and any that decide to call your house their winter home are likely to be the worst kind of house guests: the kind that never leave.

    What Kind of Wasps are in Texas?

    Though there are quite a few types of wasps that call Texas home, there are five kinds that are exceptionally common throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. These five are: paper wasps, yellowjackets, hornets, cicada killers, and mud daubers. All five of these varieties have distinctive appearances and habits, but can be generally broken down into two categories: social wasps and solitary wasps.

    Social wasps are the most common group of vespid wasps, living in nests that are built and defended by the colony. They use their stinger primarily as a defensive tool to protect both their nest and the colony in general. This category encompasses paper wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets.

    Solitary wasps are generally found in much smaller numbers than social wasps as they do not create community nests. This lack of a community nest also accounts for the solitary wasps’ significantly decreased likelihood to sting a person. Their stinger isn’t needed to defend a colony, since they don’t have one, and as such is primarily used to subdue prey. The cicada killer and the mud dauber are the most common types of wasp in this category.

    Though both types of wasps can sting, social wasps pose a far greater threat than solitary wasps.

    What do Wasps Look Like?

    Wasps come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and tend to be brighter and have less hairy bodies than bees.

    Paper wasps are between 3/4” and 1” long, are reddish-orange to dark brown, and have yellow body markings.

    Yellowjackets are between 1/2” and 3/4” long and have alternating yellow and black stripes/markings across their body.

    Baldfaced Hornets are approximately 3/4” long, and black and white in color, and has a primarily white head. These are also the only true hornet in Texas, with the term often being incorrectly applied to any type of wasp.

    Cicada killers are very large wasps and are around 1.5” long, have a red rust-colored head, thorax, and wings, and have yellow and black stripes on the abdomen.

    Mud daubers are between 3/4” and 1” long and are either dull black with bright yellow markings or an iridescent blue-black. They also have longer and slenderer waists than most wasps.

    What do Wasp Nests Look Like?

    Wasp nests can vary almost as much as the wasps themselves, from tiny to large, and from in the ground to in the air.

    Paper wasps create uniquely shaped nests out of chewed wood fibers. Their nests hang from a single filament and consist of a single tier of hexagonal-shaped cells with the comb pointing downward; the shape of the nest is a bit like an upside down umbrella. These nests are generally found in protected areas like under the eaves of a house, in attics, sheds, shrubs, or trees. Each nest can contain around 30 adult wasps.

    Yellowjackets create their nests from a paper-like material that is made of wood fiber. These nests are complete enclosed except for the entrance hole, and can vary in size from a few inches to over 6 feet! Unsurprisingly, one of these nests could house up to 20,000 wasps. These nests can also be found in both subterranean and aerial locations: from gardens and flower beds to trees, eaves, and even inside wall voids.

    Baldfaced Hornets make round or pear-shaped nests that are gray to brown in color and have a entrance near the bottom. These nests, which can grow up to 3 feet long are generally found high above ground in trees, though are sometimes seen on eaves as well. One nest can house up to 400 wasps.

    Cicada killers make their nests in lawns where they dig galleries to lay their eggs and feed their young. The creation of these nests has been known to damage lawns and gardens. The nests generally house only 1 adult wasp and their offspring.

    Mud daubers make small tube-like nests out of mud, as their name suggests. These nests are generally found under eaves or in attics. The nests generally house only 1 adult wasp and their offspring.

    What do Wasps Eat?

    Though there is variation in exact diet depending on the type of wasp, most consume insects and spiders. Some wasps, like yellowjackets, also gather and feed on nectar and honeydew. It is for this reason that wasps can be particularly attracted to sweets and be a troublesome pests for outdoor recreation.

    Are Wasps Dangerous?

    Not only are wasp stings painful, they have the potential to be fatal. Generally, a wasp sting results in intense pain and creates redness and swelling in the area around the sting. For most people these symptoms will last for a bit and then subside, but for others they can grow into a systemic allergic reaction that can lead to severe swelling and pain lasting for days, and in some cases can lead to an anaphylactic reaction. The most dangerous stings are the ones to the head, eyes, and neck, and any time there are multiple stings in short succession.

    How do you Prevent Wasps?

    Though it’s impossible to prevent wasps from getting onto your property, there are steps you can take to make it a less hospitable place for them to call home.

    1. Maintain regular pest control (give The Bug Dude a call at 1-800-310-BUGS (2847) to see what service plan would be best for you) to keep insect populations near your home low; this will limit the food sources available to the wasps and will also increase the likelihood of a technician discovering a wasp nest before it gets out of hand.
    2. Remove food sources from around your home. A few examples are ripe fruits and hummingbird feeders.
    3. Seal any noticeable cracks and crevices around porches and eaves that wasps could use to get into your home.
    4. Tightly seal all garbage cans.
    5. Immediately pick up any food trash and clean up any food/drink spills that may happen during outdoor recreation.

    How do you Eliminate Wasps?

    Wasps do not like to be disturbed, and are at their most dangerous when their home is being threatened. This is why it’s always best to call The Bug Dude at 1-800-310-BUGS (2847) to handle any wasp issues, as our technicians have the experience and the equipment to treat the issue while keeping themselves and your family safe. This fall, don’t let wasps ruin your holiday time by making themselves at home in your house. If you see evidence of wasps on or near your house, give Mid-Cities Pest Control, Inc. a.k.a. TheBugDude.com @ 1-800-310-2847 a call and let us help keep this season about an abundance of thanks, not an abundance of pests.

    Further Reading:

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

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

    “Cicada Killer Wasps” – Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist – University of Kentucky College of AgricultureAuthor 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

    Photo Credits:
    @kammiesavidge
    @countess_anne
    @thonyguillen
    @osoconfuzed

    Witches, and Goblins, and Spiders, Oh My!

    Friday, October 16, 2020 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    It’s October, fall is officially underway, the heat of summer has faded, and thoughts have turned toward the upcoming holidays. Kicking off the festivities is Halloween, a time to embrace all things creepy, crawly, and anything outright scary. It’s the one time of the year when spiders (at least the plastic kind) are welcomed into our homes and the opinion on spiderwebs is “the more the merrier” (just as long as they’re synthetic). And though just about any spider is creepy enough to use for decorations, the most iconic is assuredly the black widow spider. Possessing venom, a distinctively sinister appearance, and a chilling moniker, it’s no wonder this arachnid is among the most common Halloween decorations.

    But just how dangerous are these spiders and what can you do if you find yourself faced with something other than a plastic black widow?

    What do Black Widow Spiders Look Like?

    Black widow spiders are sexually dimorphic, meaning that the males and females have different appearances. The females have the iconic black widow look, with a round abdomen, a shiny black body, and the famous red hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen. They are about 1.5 inches long in total, with their body accounting for a little less than a half inch of that length. Males, on the other hand, are smaller, with a body length of just over 1/4 inch, and they lack the distinctive red marking, instead having white lines along their sides.

    Are Black Widow Spiders Dangerous?

    With venom reportedly 15 times stronger than that of a rattlesnake, it’s safe to say that black widow spiders are a dangerous pest. Their venom is highly virulent and affects the nervous system. The good news is that they are only able to inject a minute quantity of venom with each bite, making their fatality rate relatively low. Still, a black widow bite is no laughing matter with symptoms including severe pain, stiff muscles, nausea/vomiting, difficulty breathing, severe abdominal cramping, weakness, and tremors. For those in high-risk groups (i.e. young children, the elderly, and those who are already ill), a black widow bite should be taken very seriously and medical assistance should be immediately sought.

    Where are Black Widow Spiders Found?

    The most common places to find these spiders are dry, dark, relatively undisturbed areas either outdoors or indoors. Outside, you are likely to find them under stones, logs, or decks, in wood piles, in tree stumps, or in holes in dirt embankments. Unlike some pests, however, the black widow spider is just as happy, if not more so, to make its home indoors. Look for them in barns, sheds, garages, basements, and crawl spaces, especially in sections that offer more harborage areas. As with most predatory pests, the black widow spider will be looking for areas that offer plenty of accessible food sources, so any places of your home that have conducive conditions for pests like ants, beetles, roaches, and scorpions will be prime real estate.

    What are the Signs of a Black Widow Infestation?

    Other than seeing the spiders themselves, keep an eye out for webs in the areas black widows like to call home. Their webs are irregular, close to the ground, usually less than 1 foot in diameter, and can often have a retreat (a small, less than 1/4 inch, circular silken tent where the spider lives). In addition, keep an eye out for egg sacs suspended on the webs. These sacs are light-colored (white, tan, or gray), pear or circle shaped, have a papery texture, are between 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter, and can contain over 400 eggs. That’s a lot of potential baby black widows.

    How did they get their Name?

    These spiders get their ominous name from the belief that the females often consume male black widows after mating. However, though this behavior has been observed many times in captivity (where the males had no way to escape), it is much less common in real-world scenarios.

    How do you Prevent Black Widow Spiders?

    There are two important steps to take to keep your home and yard from becoming a haven for black widows. First, you need to declutter all areas that would be an attractive site for these spiders to spin their webs. This means keeping your yard free from debris, cleaning out any woodpiles, and regularly cleaning any sheds or storage spaces in your yard. Inside your home it’s pretty much the same story: declutter. Keep all storage areas and less-frequented spaces (like garages, attics, crawl spaces, etc.) tidy and remove any excess stuff that a black widow could hide in or under.

    The second step is to maintain regular pest control, call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350. By keeping the insect population in your home and yard to a minimum, you will limit the spider’s food supply and make your home a much less inviting space. Remember, a black widow finds fire ants a tasty treat, so by getting rid of them in your yard and home not only do you not have to deal with the hazards of those ants, you also help minimize the likelihood a black widow spider will take up residence in your home.

    How do you Eliminate Black Widow Spiders?

    If you see evidence of black widow spiders in your home or yard, call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350 immediately. Though they make an excellent Halloween decoration, a real black widow is certainly no treat to find lurking in your home. Our experienced technicians will eliminate the spider threat and let you get back to enjoying the non-venomous scares of the season.

    Further Reading:

    “Southern Black Widow Spider” – Field Guide to Common Texas Insects – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
    “Black Widow Spiders” – PestWorld.org
    “Black Widow Spider Bite” – WebMD
    “This Bites: Venomous Spiders in Texas” – Texas Department of State Health Services

    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.

    Images By
    NeONBRAND
    Jared Subia
    Adam Winger
    Bas van den Eijkhof

    The Cricket Swarm is Upon Us

    Thursday, September 10, 2020 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    When someone says “cricket” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you’re a sports aficionado, you may think of the most recent match results or of the iconic cricket bat. If you’re a Disney fan, you probably imagine a little Jiminy Cricket singing and dancing, complete with top hat, umbrella, and gold badge. If you’re a techie, your first thought may be the U.S. wireless company that’s been around for over 20 years. However, if you’re a Texan, there’s a good chance the first thing you’ll think of is a time when you were surrounded by hundreds of crickets.

    Though the little black crickets can be seen throughout the year in Texas, the late summer and early fall often bring a drastic influx of cricket activity. These hopping insects can be seen bombarding homes and businesses in numbers reminiscent of a biblical plague. So why does this happen and what can be done about it?

    What do Crickets Look Like?

    There are more than 900 species of crickets, but when we talk about crickets in Texas, we are almost always referring to field crickets. These insects are dark brown to black, range from a 1/2 inch to over 1 inch long, have oblong bodies with wings that lie flat along their back, rounded heads, long antennae, and powerful hind legs. But perhaps the most notable feature of crickets isn’t how they look, but how they sound. Known for their distinctive chirp, these insects are an ever-present sound of summer evenings outdoors. Fun fact: only adult male field crickets can chirp, and do so both to mark territory and to attract females; the familiar sound is created when they rub their wings together.

    Whats the Difference Between Crickets and Grasshoppers?

    Crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts are all relatives and are part of the order Orthoptera. Sharing a similar body shape and ability to produce sound by rubbing together parts of their body, they do differ in color, behavior, and diet. Crickets are nocturnal and are omnivores, happily eating both plant and animal matter, and even eating scavenged and decaying plants or animals. Grasshoppers, on the other hand, are active during the day and are herbivores. Locusts, on an individual level, are pretty similar to grasshoppers, but when they congregate in large numbers they cause exceptionally damaging, and notorious, plagues. If you thought the cricket swarms were bad, they are nothing compared to a swarm of locusts.

    Where are Crickets Found?

    Predominantly found outdoors, crickets prefer to live in areas that are cool, dark, and damp. This generally means they can be found around plumbing, under rocks, and in dense foliage or leaf litter. However, they do sometimes make their way indoors, usually in the pursuit of food or shelter. Fortunately, once indoors, crickets won’t set up a colony or reproduce inside your home. If you do see a large number of crickets inside, it’s a sure sign that there are gaps or other entryways that are making it easy for these pests to invade your home.

    Are Crickets Dangerous?

    Though they are far from making anyone’s top ten list of dangerous insects (they don’t even sting or bite), crickets aren’t simply a nuisance pest either. A single cricket can’t do much damage, but in large numbers, like the swarms seen pretty much every August/September in Texas, they can pose a risk to people, plants, and possessions. When they go in search of food, they will often be found eating plants (like those in a home garden) or even some fabrics, including clothes and rugs, causing definite damage to whatever they are feeding on. But the damage to fabrics isn’t only from being eaten; even if they don’t nibble on your fabrics, they can still cause damage through stains created by their feces or feeding activities. Still, stains aren’t the biggest concern when it comes to cricket droppings; when these insects show up in large numbers, both their excrement and their corpses can prove to be a sanitation issue. Compounding the issue is the fact that any time you have that many insects in one place you are always at a higher risk of attracting predators (like raccoons) to your home or business, which can cause a a whole host of other problems.

    Why do Crickets Swarm in Texas?

     The annual late summer/early fall cricket swarm in Texas arrives as large numbers of nymphs reach their adult stage simultaneously. Field crickets lay their eggs in the fall; these eggs remain in the soil they were laid in until the following spring when they hatch. Approximately 3 months later (around August/September) they reach adulthood, and at that point are capable of flight and go off in search of mates, this is when we see the notorious swarms. So why are crickets so much more prolific some years and not as bad others? Though the exact reason why this happens isn’t fully known, there is a strong correlation between a dry spring & summer, and an abundant cricket season.

    How do you Prevent Crickets?

    The number one thing you can do to prevent crickets from congregating around your home or business is to reduce the use of outdoor lighting. Crickets are attracted to brightly lit areas and will swarm to them during the night when they are most active. If possible, turn off or drastically reduce the hours that outdoor lights are used after dark. In cases where that would prove to be a safety hazard or otherwise is just not possible, consider switching to yellow incandescent lights or low-pressure sodium vapor lamps as they are significantly less attractive to crickets.

    In addition, removing harborage areas from your property and sealing up any obvious insect entry points will go a long way toward preventing a major cricket infestation. A few common areas to address are:

    • Firewood: make sure this is kept off the ground and away from the home
    • Leaf litter/yard debris: remove this regularly
    • Door thresholds: make sure that the seals and sweeps are in place and in good condition

    How do you Eliminate Crickets?

    If a cricket swarm has established itself on your property it can feel like you’re living in a Hitchcock film. The quickest and most effective way to eliminate these pests and take back control of your home is to call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350 and let our experienced technicians treat the swarm.

    Further Reading:

    “Cricket control in the fall” – Michael Merchant – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

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

    “Grasshoppers, crickets, katydids and locusts: Order Orthoptera” – David Britton – Australian Museum

    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.

    Image Credits:
    Cricket Photo by IMRE Daniel

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