Carpenter Ant Prevention

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Preventing Carpenter Ants: Northeast Ohio’s most Destructive Pest

Carpenter Ants are one of Northeast Ohio’s most destructive pests. These small creatures are responsible for millions of dollars in damage every year, but with a few simple precautions, your house doesn’t have to be part of that statistic.

Identifying Carpenter Ants

In Ohio, the black carpenter ant, *Camponotus pennsylvanicus*, is the most common species. This ant is black, with very fine whitish or yellowish hairs on the abdomen. Minor workers of the black carpenter ant generally are about ¼ inch long and major workers are approximately ½ inch.
Carpenter ants create their nests in soft, damp wood, or wood that’s been damaged by fungus. They do not nest in mounds in open fields. This is the *formica* or field ant. These are common in Ohio and easily confused with carpenter ants since they are also large and black.

Why are Carpenter so Destructive?

Carpenter ants like to nest in soft, damp wood which makes Cleveland’s aging housing stock particularly vulnerable. Unfortunately, once established, the colony will move to undamaged adjacent wood to increase the colony’s size. While they do no eat the wood, as termites do, they tunnel through it creating small channels that weaken the wood, compromising the structure. Carpenter ants can be difficult to detect because the colony can take years before it begins satellite colonies. By this time the nest can have 2000-4000 individuals.

Detecting Carpenter Ants

These large black ants are usually discovered by the sawdust-like shavings they leave behind. Carpenter ants don’t eat the wood. They tunnel through it, and those shavings must go somewhere. Inspect baseboards, toe kicks, and basement rim joists for unexplained sawdust. If you spot sawdust near a hole anywhere around your house, it’s a good indication there are carpenter ants. If you see sawdust around the base of a tree around your property, have it treated as well since carpenter ants can quickly spread into your house. Buying a home? Consider having a pest inspection so you are not buying someone else’s pest problem.
Carpenter ants are most active at night, making this a good time to look for signs of activity. Leaky plumbing, kitchen sinks and any sources of water or food are good places to check. Carpenter ants also make noise as they chew through wood. This noise is described as cellophane crinkling. If you hear this coming from your walls at night, it’s a good chance there could be carpenter ant activity inside.

Preventing Infestations

Keep your house maintained. Carpenter ants prefer old, damp wood, so making sure your home is free from leaks and repairing any rotting wood immediately will help discourage a colony from establishing.
Avoid placing mulch against the foundation of your house. Leave a barrier of stone at least 9 inches to prevent insects from entering.
Seal any cracks in your foundation and around basement windows.
Stack firewood away from structures, and keep it dry with a tarp to prevent ants from nesting.
Eliminate any sources of water in and around your home as carpenter ants will need it to survive.
Trim back branches and shrubbery from contact with your home.
Keep tall grasses and weeds trimmed.
Remove debris and rotting logs from your property.
Inspect any trees on your property for damage and treat any that have signs of carpenter ant infestation.

Carpenter ants don’t have to become a destructive force on your property. With these simple precautions, you can minimize your risk, potentially saving yourself from thousands of dollars in costs down the road.

If you find signs of carpenter ant activity, don’t wait. Call us today. (440)528-1234

MicheleCarpenter Ant Prevention
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Don’t Bring Bed Bugs Home from Vacation

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With travel this summer limited to domestic locations, you may think you don’t need to worry about bed bugs. But bed bugs are no longer an international problem. Right here in the US, bed bugs can be found in all fifty states and the primary place people pick up infestations is from hotels and motels. If you’re thinking about a road trip this summer, make sure you aren’t bringing along unwelcome guests.

After a long day on the road the first thing you will likely want to do is stretch out on a bed and click on the television, but preventing bed bugs is worth the extra effort. These tiny little pests not only will ruin your good night’s sleep, but will leave you with an itchy rash that will plague you throughout the day.

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny parasitic insects about the size of an apple seed. They feed on human blood, usually at night. During the day, they prefer hiding in dark crevices in fabric and upholstery, usually around seams or piping in furniture. Bed bugs will also travel up to 20 feet from their hiding places looking for a meal.

Why are Bed Bugs Back?

For decades, bed bugs seemed to have vanished from popular culture except as a children’s story, but the reemergence of the bed bug is likely due to the increase in foreign travel and the emergence of chemical resistant strains due to incomplete or ineffective treatments by amateur and unqualified pest professionals.

Avoiding Bed Bugs During Travel

Upon arrival at your hotel, place luggage on the bathroom floor or another hard surface while you check the rest of the room.
Start with the bed. You can perform this check with the naked eye, but a flashlight may also be helpful. The Flashlight app on your phone should be sufficient. Check the headboard, paying special attention to the crevices of tufting or where the headboard joins the wall. Inspect the mattress. Pull the sheet off at the corner and check around the piping and between the top and bottom mattresses. Finally, check the curtains and the luggage rack.

If you find any signs of a bed bug infestation, inform the hotel staff immediately, and ask for a new room.

What to Check for (from EPA website)

  • Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses.
  • Dark spots (about the size of a period.), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.
  • Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
  • Live bed bugs.

Print and carry the EPA’s bed bug prevention tips card 

While Staying in the Hotel

  • Use the luggage rack to keep your suitcase off the floor.
  • Store dirty clothing in a travel laundry bag off the floor.
  • Do not place your clothing in the hotel furniture.

Arriving Home

  • Unpack your suitcase directly into the washing machine.
  • Wash all clothing, even clothing you didn’t wear.
  • Dry all clothing on high heat to kill bed bugs. Washing only will not kill bed bugs.
  • Store suitcases away from your bedroom if possible.
  • Never store suitcases under your bed.

By taking these precautions, you can limit your risk of bringing these pests home with you from your travels. However, no method is foolproof. If you find evidence of bed bug activity in your home, give us a call right away (440)528-1234. We can take care of the problem before it has a chance to spread.

MicheleDon’t Bring Bed Bugs Home from Vacation
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Tick Prevention Tips

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Summer is back and that means so are the ticks. Fortunately, these little biting menaces don’t have to ruin your outdoor fun. A few simple precautions can help keep you and your family safe all summer long.

Ticks in North East Ohio

There are four types of ticks in North East Ohio. These are the American Dog Tick, the Blacklegged Tick (also known as the deer tick), Brown Dog Tick, and, less common, the Lone Star Tick. While all these species spread various illnesses, the Blacklegged tick is responsible for Lyme disease. This tick doesn’t stay in the woods. Blacklegged ticks can be found in any grassy/wooded area. Including your lawn.

Reducing Ticks in the Yard

There are some things you can do to help reduce the number of ticks in your yard.

  1. Mow the lawn frequently.
  2. Remove leaf litter.
  3. Make sure any compost piles are hot and that brush is not allowed to accumulate.
  4. Remove/mow tall grasses and remove brush around your home and at the edge of lawns.
  5. Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas.
  6. Discourage rodents by keeping trash cans indoors.
  7. Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.
  8. Use rubber mulch under playground equipment.
  9. Choose plants that are deer and rabbit resistant to discourage them from entering your yard.
  10. Remove any trash, old furniture, or abandoned items from the yard and keep your lawn free from debris.

Avoiding Tick Bites

Any outdoor activity, walking your dog, hiking, gardening, could bring you in contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard.

Before you go outside

Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
Always follow product instructions, and do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
Walk in the center of trails.

When You Come Inside

Examine clothing, gear, and pets for ticks. Any ticks should be removed and disposed of.
Wash clothes in hot water. Jackets and backpacks can be put in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill ticks. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.

Shower within two hours of coming indoors to wash off any unattached ticks and do a full body tick check paying special attention to less exposed areas like underarms, inside belly button, in and around the hairline.

Ticks don’t have to be part of your summer experience. By following these simple tips, you can reduce your risk to ticks and the diseases they carry.

Want more protection from ticks? Call your Mulholland Pest specialist and ask about lawn treatments today (440)528-1234

MicheleTick Prevention Tips
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Predicting Mosquito Populations

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Bad year for Mosquitos?

Seems like every year around the beginning of summer someone will say, “I heard this is going to be a bad year for mosquitos.” But how does anyone actually know? And is there anything that can be done to prevent it?

Is Predicting Mosquito Populations Possible?

Despite what the Farmer’s Almanac says, it’s impossible for someone to predict where a particular area will have an above average mosquito population in any given year. Mosquito breeding conditions are heavily affected by the weather. Differences in temperature and rainfall can have a huge impact on the local population. So while it’s impossible to predict mosquito activity for an entire summer, it’s a good bet that a recent bout of warm, wet weather will make a local population explode.

Why Does the Weather have a Measurable Impact on Mosquitos?

The entire life-cycle for mosquitos occurs in 8-10 days, which means it can go from egg to blood-sucking menace in less than a week. The weather during this cycle has a direct impact for two reasons. First mosquitos, like all insects, are cold-blooded. This means that when the weather is warm, so are the mosquitos. In fact, in Northeast Ohio mosquitos become inactive if the temperature dips below 50 degrees.
Second, mosquitos need standing water to reproduce. They lay their eggs in standing water, and the offspring remain there until they emerge as adults. If something happens to the water, either a freeze or evaporation, the mosquitos die. This is why warm, wet weather promotes mosquito activity.

Using the Cycle to Your Advantage

Anything you can do to disrupt the breeding cycle of mosquitos will help curb the population. Search for any standing water on your property and remove it, permanently, if possible. Mosquitos will lay eggs in the smallest amount of water. Change bird baths regularly by completely emptying them. If you have a pond on your property, add a fountain or consider stocking it with larva eating fish such as koi, mosquito fish, or minnows.

What about Mosquito Sprays?

The mosquito control salesman will try to convince you that a weekly spray program will completely disrupt the breeding cycle. However, sprays can only kill adults, which means a brand new batch will be emerging every day until your next spray. It also won’t prevent them from blowing in from your neighbor’s property. In the Midwest, mosquitos can travel miles from where they hatch, which is why effective spray programs need to be community-wide. Mosquito sprays can be effective for a short term, so consider them if you will be hosting an outdoor event such as a barbecue or wedding.

Making Yourself Less Attractive to Mosquitos

The best repellent is still DEET. Developed in 1957, there has not been another repellent as effective as DEET. For most applications, 10% concentration will be sufficient and last about 90 minutes. DEET is safe for most people, including children aged 3 years and up, if used as directed. Picaridin (sold as Cutter) and lemon-eucalyptus oil (sold as Repel®) have also been shown to be strong alternatives. Wearables, repellent candles, citronella, and other vapor barriers are not a substitute for spray repellents. Also, eating or avoiding certain foods has shown to have little to no effect on the attractiveness of people to mosquitos, with one unfortunate exception: drinking beer may make you more attractive to mosquitos. However, the effect is small enough that you don’t need to worry about giving up your favorite brew.

No matter what the weather, battling mosquitos will take a multi-pronged approach. Take steps to reduce your local population, avoid activity at peak mosquito times, and wear protection if you plan to spend time outdoors. By following these steps you can still enjoy the summer without become dinner for one of nature’s more obnoxious beasts.

MichelePredicting Mosquito Populations
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