waco rodent control

How Invasive Webspinners Arrived In Texas, And Why These Insects Are Considered Nuisance Pests

Several invasive insect species have become established in Texas. Some of these species include red-imported fire ants, argentine ants and Formosan subterranean termites. One little known invasive insect species in Texas, Oligotoma nigra, originates from India, and it is considered a nuisance pest in urban and suburban areas of the state due to their attraction to artificial light sources, such as porch lights and street lights. This species is commonly known as the “black webspinner,” and residents will most likely encounter males only, as females are not capable of flight. When these insects are not swarming in large numbers around porch lights they spend most of their time within their underground nests where they remain hidden from humans.

Black webspinners are around .35 of an inch in length with a dark brown to black exterior. While black webspinners are not considered an ecological threat in the US, they do consume nonvascular plants, such as moss and lichen, and they may move into yards in order to feed on dead plant matter. Recent research has revealed that black webspinners also feed on grasses and ornamental plants. Webspinners dwell in below ground nests where colonies construct tunnels coated with silk that the insects produce from specialized organs. Webspinners spend most of their lifespan below the ground in order to avoid predators. These insects have adapted to their underground habitat by developing particularly muscular hind legs that allow them to move backwards rapidly within narrow underground tunnels. Additional adaptations include thin elongated bodies, and males possess oval-shaped wings that allow for unobstructed underground tunnel movement.

There is no way to determine with certainty as to how non-native black webspinners arrived in Texas, but experts believe that this invasive pest species arrived in the state via a shipment of date palms imported from Egypt. Black webspinners are distributed throughout the Southwest, and controlling nuisance swarms around homes is often unnecessary, as most residents in areas where these insects are abundant have become accustomed to waiting out swarms.

Have you ever heard of black webspinner insects before?

 

 

 

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Termites Wreak Havoc On Historically Significant Government Buildings

Numerous timber-made structures of historical significance are still inhabited today in Beaumont. Unfortunately, Beaumont’s location in eastern Texas means that termites of several species are also abundant in the city. Multiple subterranean termite species can be found in the region, including the most economically damaging species, the eastern subterranean termite, and the highly destructive invasive species known as the Formosan subterranean termite. Naturally, the high number of termites in eastern Texas wreak havoc on Beaumont’s many historically significant structures. Several large scale restoration projects have saved many of the town’s buildings from termite destruction over the years. For example, during the spring of 2016, the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont underwent renovations in order to correct extensive damage inflicted by termites. The termite damage even reached the fourth floor of the courthouse, and renovations were not easy due to the unique style of decorative wood found throughout the structure.

The Jefferson County Courthouse was built during the 1930s at a cost of one million dollars. At the time this was a relatively high price for constructing a building, but the building’s majestic black walnut paneling was considered to be worth the high price, even during the depression era. The termite infestation had plagued the courthouse for what must have been decades, as termite damage inflicted to the expensive wood paneling in the commissioners court had been apparent for years to anyone who entered the fourth floor. Heavily damaged veneer, missing panels and deep termite tracks indicated Formosan subterranean termite activity. However, most of the termite damage had been inflicted to the soft longleaf and yellow pine timber-frame below the cosmetic wood paneling. One judge who had worked in the building claimed that he often had to brush sawdust-like wood carvings off his pants on a regular basis for years due to termite workers plowing through the wood above him. Another judge who worked in the building made a similar comment, only he recalled wood shavings landing directly on his head while presiding at his bench. Despite assurances from local pest control professionals that the building had been cleared of all termites, the judges still frequently visited the location during the renovation in order to see for themselves that the termite activity had truly ceased. Local regulations required the renovation company to find wood replacements that matched the original wood as closely as possible. Although this was a tall order, the courthouse was eventually restored to its original state.

Have you ever seen heavy termite damage within a home or building?

 

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Large Numbers Of Tarantulas Are Invading Residential Areas

When tarantulas are found within homes they are usually being kept as pets, but during the summer season, the southwest United States becomes overrun with swarms of male tarantulas looking for mates. These annual migrations sometimes bring tatrantuals into homes in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Tarantula migrations draw tourists to certain hotspots in the southwest where the arachnids are expected to be found moving in enormous masses numbering into the thousands. Once male tarantulas find a female burrowing within the ground, up to 1,000 eggs are produced, so while tarantulas may be hated by arachnophobes in Texas, the eight-legged critters are not going anywhere.

Tarantula migrations occur all summer, but the largest migrating masses occur during July in north Texas, and thousands are likely traversing through populated residential areas right now in the state. The Mexican redknee tarantula is considered one of the most commonly encountered tarantula species in Texas, and they can sometimes wander into homes. Another common species in the state, the Texas brown tarantula, is notably large in size and particularly heavy, as females often weigh in excess of 3 ounces. Females of this species are docile and prefer to remain in their burrows, but during mating season, which lasts from May until October, females may leave their burrows and make contact with humans.

While tarantulas may be intimidating to look at, they are largely harmless to humans, but those looking to avoid tarantula encounters during mating season in Texas should be mindful around bushes where the spiders are often located, and keeping an eye on city streets is also wise, as hoards of tarantulas regularly travel through urban areas. Tarantulas can inflict venomous bites, but these bites almost never require medical attention, and the stinging sensation caused by tarantula bites are comparable to bee stings. However, some residents cannot stand the sight of tarantulas, and if this should be the case, yards can be treated to prevent tarantulas from invading properties.

Have you ever encountered a tarantula on your property?

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Why And How Pest Control Professionals Use Integrated Pest Management Guidelines To Combat Termite Pests

Termites consist of subterranean, drywood and dampwood species. Dampwood termites are the least destructive termite species, as these termites can only infest wood that has an exceedingly high moisture content. The Pacific northwest sees the greatest amount of dampwood termite damage in the US, and the desert dampwood termite is the only dampwood species found in Texas. Drywood termite species are not widespread in the US, but they are abundant and highly destructive in the southern states, particularly the southwest. At least 14 termite species have been documented in Texas, of these, four are drywood termites. The most economically damaging drywood termite species in Texas is the desert drywood termite. The most economically costly termites in the US, subterranean termites, account for 80 percent of all termite damage costs per year in the country. Several subterranean termite species can be found in Texas, including the eastern subterranean termite, the arid-land subterranean termites, and the invasive Formosan subterranean termite.

For decades, fumigants and soil termiticides were the only termite treatment options available, as termites were late to be added to the integrated pest management program (IPM), which sees pest infestations addressed in a number of practical and environmentally friendly ways, as opposed to relying solely on insecticides to eliminate pests. IPM also stresses preventative pest control treatment methods in order to control pests around structures. Today, termite infestations can be prevented with soil barriers, including termiticide barriers and physical barriers, like stainless steel mesh. IPM practices also aim to manage pest infestations by modifying the indoor and outdoor environment on properties to make conditions less conducive to pest populations. Many researchers had long hoped that termite pests would be addressed with the IPM guidelines, but it was not until the invasive Fomrosan subterranean termite species became a mutli-billion dollar a year pest in the US that industry professionals realized that a broader array of tactics would be necessary to control termite pests in the US. This led to termite control research that enabled pest control professionals to combat termites in more practical, eco-friendly, and more efficient ways. For example, instead of relying on insecticides, pest control researchers now know that high-moisture conditions caused by pipe leaks, clogged gutters, or faulty rainwater drainage systems often make homes more attractive to termite pests. By simply removing a moisture source, a home can be made unlivable for termites, causing the pests to abandon a structure.

Have you ever found termites in your lawn grass?

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What Proportion Of Brown Recluse Bites Result In Tissue Necrosis, Permanent Scarring And Skin Grafts

Brown recluse spiders pose a threat to public health in all states where the spiders are abundant. Unfortunately, the brown recluse can be found in nearly all areas of Texas, but most reported bite cases occur in the central region. It is well known that the brown recluse, unlike black widows, inflict necrotic bite wounds, and recent research has found that these wounds result from particular compounds in brown recluse venom that cause tissue necrosis. Considering the danger posed by this spider species, it is important for residents of Texas to recognize the specimens when they are encountered.

While black widows are relatively easy to identify on account of their jet black exterior, bulbous abdomen and conspicuous red hourglass design, the brown recluse appears similar to many common household spider species. In fact, researchers have found that people often mistake wolf spiders, the southern house spider, woodlouse hunter spiders and fishing spiders for the brown recluse. The brown recluse can be identified by its three pairs of eyes, which is unusual as most spider species possess four pairs. The brown recluse also has an inverted violin-shaped marking on its dorsal thorax, but upon finding a specimen that you suspect of being a brown recluse, its best not to make an attempt to handle the spider in an effort to locate this marking. Most brown recluse bites occur indoors, while most black widow bites occur outdoors. In rare cases, brown recluse bite wounds may require amputations or skin grafts in order to remove infected skin.

Brown recluse bites are moderately painful, and shortly after sustaining a bite, a red halo forms on the wound. If you ever sustain a brown recluse bite, be hopeful that no other symptoms occur following local pain and redness, as 40 percent of bite victims develop necrotic tissue at the site of the wound. At this point, a bite victim will want to rush to the emergency room as quickly as possible, as infected necrotic tissue spreads rapidly. Permanent scarring occurs in 13 percent of all brown recluse bite cases, in rare cases, a finger amputation or a skin graft become necessary. It is rare for bite victims to develop systemic symptoms following a brown recluse bite, but in rare cases bites will prevent blood from clotting, red blood cells are destroyed and a toxic measles-like rash develops.

Have you ever seen one of these spiders in your home?

 

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Do Brown Recluse Bite Incidents Outnumber Black Widow Bite Incidents In Texas? And Which Species Is More Dangerous Statistically?

Fatalities resulting from black widow bites rarely occur today, but the spiders continue to have a reputation as deadly arachnids. Black widows used to pose a much more significant public health threat to US citizens than they do today, as black widows were commonly feared spiders before the advent of indoor plumbing. Black widows earned their fearsome reputation from the days when they were common within outhouses. Black widows often infested outhouses where they frequently inflicted bites on the most unfortunate of bodily areas. Today, black widow antivenoms are available in cases where patients demonstrate serious envenomation symptoms, but it should be known that children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals are at the greatest risk of suffering severe symptoms following a black widow bite. While black widow venom is 15 times stronger than rattlesnake venom, making these spiders the most venomous in the US, the brown recluse spider species is quickly displacing black widows as the most feared spider species. Unfortunately, Texas is home to both the southern black widow and the brown recluse spider species, both of which inflict bites on hundreds of Texas residents each year. Not too long ago, a study was conducted that determined which notoriously dangerous spider species inflicts the greatest number of bites to Texas residents.

Researchers used data collected by Texas poison control centers to determine the number of black widow and brown recluse bites sustained in Texas. Between 1998 and 2002, 760 black widow bites and 1,369 brown recluse bites were reported in Texas. Black widow bites were more common in men, while brown recluse bites were more common in women. Most black widow bites had mild outcomes, while most brown recluse bites had moderate outcomes, and most of these reported bites occurred on the bite victims property. Western Texas saw the greatest number of black widow bites, while brown recluse bites were most common in central Texas. This information is useful for determining which of these two dangerous spider species are most likely to sting you and others living in your home.

Have you ever spotted a brown recluse in your home?

 

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The North Texas Poison Center Receives The Greatest Number Of Calls Concerning Venomous Arthropod Bites And Stings During The Month Of July

Officials with the North Texas Poison Center state that calls from residents asking about venomous arthropod bites and stings rise in tandem with outside temperatures. Those working for the organization say that calls of this sort reach their peak during the month of July, and the most common bites and stings reported to the poison center tend to be inflicted by honey bees, wasps, black widows, brown recluses, and surprisingly, caterpillars.

It is not surprising that harmful honey bee encounters become more common at this time of year in north Texas, as these bees, which are commonly referred to as “killer bees,” can be found in most counties in the state. Last April, hundreds of thousands of Africanized honey bees emerged from wall-voids within a woman’s home in North Texas. Although the woman sustained several bites, including one on her eye, she survived the harrowing incident. However, a month after this incident occurred, a man living in Moody died after sustaining numerous stings from a swarm of Africanzied honey bees while mowing his lawn.

Many people living in the US are surprised to hear about medically harmful caterpillar encounters, but many venomous caterpillar species can be found in states located in the south. The most dreaded venomous caterpillar in the south is commonly known as the “asp caterpillar,” and this species is now a common sight in North Texas. This caterpillar is often perceived as “cute” due to its seemingly fluffy appearance, but hundreds of venomous spines are located beneath this species’ velvety white fur coat.

A couple of weeks ago, a 14 year-old southlake resident moved a branch out of his path as he had been walking to his house. Not long after grabbing the branch, the teenager felt a burst of burning pain that began to radiate through his arm. As it turned out, the teenager made contact with an asp caterpillar that had been resting on the branch. According to the teenager, his fingers suddenly felt numb, but minutes later, severe pain set in. After the boy’s mom called the poison center, she was instructed to remove the caterpillar’s venomous spines from her son’s fingers using tape. Luckily, the teenager did not suffer a severe allergic reaction to the sting, but many people across Texas require emergency room treatment after making contact with an asp caterpillar. These caterpillars are often found in residential yards where they pose a significant threat to curious toddlers and pets.

Have you ever found an asp caterpillar in your yard before?

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You Won’t Believe What Caused An Elderly Woman’s Lifelong Houston Home To Become Ravaged By Termites

Termite infestations are common in all areas of Texas, particularly in the east and southeast where the invasive Formosan subterranean termite species has been expanding its habitat in urban and suburban areas for decades. Unlike most subterranean termite species, Formosan subterranean termites are able to infest trees where they may travel along branches that make contact with houses. Ever since the Formosan subterranean termite became a common pest in Texas, experts have noted the invasive termite’s ability to infest homes by using tree branches as a sort of bridge that allows them to access roofs and wood siding.

While subterranean termites usually require regular contact with soil in order to retain water, Formsosans can maintain permanent infestations within trees, and on roofs as long as sufficiently damp natural and structural-timber can be found. Many older homes in Texas contain structural-timber that has become damp over the years, which is why Formosan subterranean termites are often found infesting a home’s upper levels and/or roof without ever making ground contact. More than two years ago, an eldelry woman’s Houston home became infested after a termite-riddled branch snapped and fell through her home, smashing a hole through her roof. Now, her entire home is infested with termites, causing the structure to literally fall apart around her.

Mary Dunham moved into her Houston home 70 year ago, but due to the termite-related structural damage her home sustained a couple of years ago, the city of Houston ordered the home to be demolished. In response, Mary applied for assistance through the City of Houston’s housing program, and she qualified in May of 2018. However, help never came, and Mary’s home continued to fall apart around her. Luckily, a local news station covered Mary’s story, which prompted her to be bumped to the top of the housing assistance priority list after the mayor himself surveyed the damage. Mary’s old home will still have to be demolished, but the city has agreed to build her a brand new house. While Mary will certainly miss her lifelong home, she admits that she is eager to move into her new termite-free house.

Have you ever found a tree that had become heavily infested with termites?

 

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Red-Imported Fire Ant Sting Fatalities Are Disturbingly Common Within Texas

Numerous ant species are well known pests within homes located in every region of the United States. Some of the most commonly reported ant species found within Texas homes include pavement ants, carpenter ants, crazy ants, and worst of all, red-imported fire ants. Texas is obviously a large state in terms of area, and due to its southern location bordering Mexico, several ant species that are native the South America have journeyed into the state where they quickly established an invasive habitat. One of these species, the crazy ant, is becoming more well known among residents of the lone star state due to its rapidly expanding habitat. While the crazy ant has been documented as causing nuisance infestations that sometimes result in serious damage to appliances, televisions, video game consoles and numerous other electronic devices, the notorious red-imported fire ant remains the most widely feared invasive South American ant species within the state. This fear is well justified, as the red-imported fire ant has caused many deaths within Texas due to its venomous sting, which may trigger serious allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock. In fact, Texas is second only to Florida in terms of reported red-imported fire ant fatalities..

Unfortunately, the red-imported fire ant is extremely difficult, if not impossible to eradicate from areas where it has established an invasive habitat. This dangerous ant species does not often infest homes, but they frequently infest residential yards where many fatal attacks upon humans have occurred. The first red-imported fire ant sighting in Texas occurred during the 1930s, and since then, this species has spread to every county within the state. Back in 1989, the Fire Ant Subcommittee of the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology surveyed nearly 30,000 physicians in order to determine the total amount of fatal anaphylactic shock cases caused by red-imported fire ant stings. The study collected a total of 83 fatal anaphylactic shock deaths that resulted from red-imported fire ant stings, 22 of which occured in Florida followed by 19 that occurred within Texas. This study was conducted 30 years ago, and since then, the red-imported fire ant has increased its habitat substantially within the US.

Have you ever encountered red-imported fire ants?

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How Often Do Brown Recluse Bites Result In Serious Medical Symptoms?

For decades the most feared spiders in the United States were black widows. Black widows in the US comprise three species, the western black widow, the southern black widow and the northern black widow, which is just about enough black widows to pose a threat to people living in every state within the contiguous US. While Americans continue to view black widows as dangerous and terrifying spider species that can inflict potentially lethal bites, these spiders are no longer the most feared spiders in the US. Now, the spider species that keeps Americans up at night is the Loxosceles reclusa species, better known as the “brown recluse.”

Residents of nearly every state within the contiguous US have claimed to have spotted brown recluse spider specimens within their homes, yards, and in the wild. However, the brown recluse only inhabits 16 states, and these spiders can only be found in limited habitats in most of these states. Unfortunately, the brown recluse inhabits almost the entire state of Texas. The vast majority of purported brown recluse specimens submitted to research labs by citizen scientists all over the US do not turn out to be brown recluse specimens; instead, the brown recluse is often confused with common spider species such as huntsman spiders, southern house spiders, spitting spiders, funnel weavers, and orb weavers. These mistakes are somewhat understandable, as brown recluse spiders resemble many other common species, but all brown recluse specimens have a violin-shaped marking on their cephalothorax, which is the body part that all eight legs are attached to, and the brown recluse can also be distinguished from most other spiders for its six eyes.

Brown recluse spiders are also known for infesting homes in large numbers, as one indoor infestation in Kansas saw more than 2,000 specimens trapped by pest control professionals. Brown recluse bites are also well known for causing tissue necrosis, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms that can lead to organ failure. According to researchers, a little more than half of all reported brown recluse bites healed on their own with no lasting medical issues, and most bites produce localized pain, swelling and redness. However, if you believe that you have sustained a brown recluse bite, medical attention should be sought out as soon as possible.

Have you ever spotted one or more brown recluse specimens within your home?