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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 occurred 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?

 

 

 

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The Large Southern House Spider Can Live Year Round In Texas Homes Where They May Establish A Significant Presence

Experts are in the habit of telling people that spiders are easy-going and misunderstood creatures that rarely bite humans, and when bites do occur, they are considered harmless by entomologists and medical professionals. Of course, such experts will also mention that only an incredibly small amount of spider species are capable of inflicting bites that can be hazardous to human health. In the United States, medical professionals usually refer only to the black widow and the brown recluse as being medically significant spider species. They say this despite the fact that there actually exists three black widow species in the US, all of which are capable of injecting highly toxic, and potentially deadly venom into the human bloodstream. It is also not often mentioned that 13 recluse species can be found in the US, two of which are invasive, and all of which have been documented as inflicting dangerous bites wounds that sometimes result in hospitalizations. However, it cannot be denied that very few spider bite cases result in serious medical consequences, and most people are not likely to encounter the most dangerous spider species within residential homes. Unfortunately, this too, is not entirely accurate, as the common southern house spider has been documented as causing bites that resulted in significant pain and localized swelling that lasted for two days.

Luckily, the southern house spider’s bite is not toxic enough to result in death. In fact, the vast majority of bites inflicted by this species require no medical attention, but their bites are painful, and considering their abundance within homes in Texas and other southern states, sustaining a bite should not be considered an unlikely event. The worst aspect of southern house spiders is not their bite as much as their tendency to establish large populations within homes. One survey of 114 southern house spider sightings reported 94 indoor sightings, while the other 20 sightings occurred within residential yards. Females grow to be around three fourths of an inch in body length, but their long legs make them appear much larger. Males are much smaller and are often mistaken for brown recluse species. In addition to being unpleasant house guests, these spiders can fill homes with numerous webs that can become a nuisance to residents. These spiders are able to fit through extremely narrow cracks in foundation walls, allowing them to establish sizable indoor populations. Sealing these crevices with caulk is an effective method for keeping them from entering homes, but some infestation cases require the services of a pest control professional.

Have you ever sustained a spider bite within an indoor location?

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Termites Have Been Found In Homes And Buildings Only 4 Days After Construction 

Every year in the United States termites cause well over one billion dollars in property damage alone, far more than the economic cost of tornadoes, hurricanes and all wind storms combined. Having a termite inspection conducted in and around a home is not expensive, but having an active termite infestation eradicated from a home can be costly depending on the extent of the infestation and the degree of damage inflicted. Unfortunately, the entire eastern half of Texas is located in a geographic zone where termite activity is categorized as “very heavy,” while the western half is categorized as “heavy to moderate.” The high termite activity in eastern Texas is largely due to the well established presence of the invasive Formosans subterranean termite, which is considered the most destructive termite species in the world. Also, the Gulf Coast area is a hotbed for termite activity, as all termite species rely on copious amounts of water and high-moisture conditions in order to survive, which explains why the destructive insects thrive in southeast Texas. It is recommended that residents of east Texas have two termite inspections conducted on their property per year in order to avoid the economic burden of a termite infestation, while residents of west Texas should have one termite inspection conducted per year.

Many residents are under the impression that only old homes are vulnerable to termite attacks. While it is true that older homes are particularly vulnerable to termite attacks, termite infestations have occurred in Texas homes during construction, and it is not uncommon for homes in southeast Texas to become infested a mere four days after construction is complete. In some cases, an old home may be better protected from termite infestations than a new home, as old homes that are bordered by a termiticide barrier are less likely to become infested than a new home that is lacking such a barrier. While drywood termites are less common than subterranean termites in Texas, the former can be more difficult to detect and eradicate from a home. Subterranean termites can often be eradicated from a home with wood treatments or bait stations, but drywood infestations often require fumigations, as spot treatments can be a gamble. The only sure method of ridding a home of termites is to have a wood-penetrating fumigation carried out, but this is only a last resort, and recently developed termite control methods have proven effective while being far less of an inconvenience for the occupants of an infested home.

 

If your home became infested with termites which sort of eradication method would you prefer?

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Why Are Termite Infestations More Difficult To Treat In Homes With Insulated Concrete Walls?

Termites depend on the cellulose in wood and plant matter in order to survive, so it’s no wonder the insects will do anything to access the massive amount of wood within homes. A home’s structural wood provides termite colonies with a virtually endless food source, which is why termites often use their jaws to chew through drywall and concrete in a frantic effort to access tasty structural lumber. Some termite species have been documented as chewing through such durable materials as ivory, lead and billiard balls. Concrete slabs and foundations can prevent termites from accessing structural wood, or at least concrete makes doing so more difficult. A tiny hairline crack in concrete is enough to provide termites with an entry point into a home, and most species are capable of using their jaws to slowly plow through concrete slabs and foundations.

Not too long ago, insulated concrete forms (ICF) became a popular alternative to traditional insulated walls. ICFs are concrete walls that are sandwiched in between two insulated foam panels that are made from polystyrene. Unfortunately, subterranean termites have been chewing their way into these insulated walls where they eventually penetrate the concrete. After penetrating the concrete, subterranean termites proceed to infest wood flooring and joists. Infested homes with ICF walls make termite inspections difficult and these walls have been banned for below ground use in many jurisdictions due to their vulnerability to termite attacks.

The foam insulation is covered in siding or brick masonry, which allows termite infestations to go undetected, and treating infestations within the foam insulation is very difficult or impossible. Making it illegal to place ICFs below ground renders the insulated walls largely worthless. Luckily, homes that are constructed with ICFs can be protected from termites by applying termiticides to the foam insulation, or by installing physical barriers around a home to block subterranean termites. Some homeowners are protecting their ICF homes by applying a sand barrier beneath the soil surrounding their home’s foundation. These sand barriers are composed of sand particles that termites are not able to travel through.

Is your home made with ICF insulated walls?

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The Southern Flannel Moth Has Sent Numerous Texas Residents To The Hospital

Numerous venomous caterpillar species can be found in every region of the continental United States. Venomous caterpillars are particularly abundant in the northeast where multiple native and invasive species can be found in residential areas. While the northeast US may see the greatest abundance of venomous caterpillar species within urban and suburban areas, the most dangerous caterpillar species is most prevalent within the south and southeastern regions of the US. This species is commonly known as the southern flannel moth caterpillar, and they are responsible for sending numerous residents to the emergency room every year. One of the most recent envenomation cases involving this species occurred in Texas last fall. This incident saw a five year-old girl sustain a serious sting after a specimen fell from a tree and landed on her arm.

The southern flannel moth caterpillar can be found as far north as New Jersey and as far west as central Texas. The stings inflicted by this caterpillar species are extraordinarily painful, and potentially deadly. Unlike many stinging insect species, the southern flannel moth caterpillar inflicts stings via its venomous hair-fibers. These venomous hair fibers become embedded within human skin where they continue to inject venom into the bloodstream. In order to prevent serious injury, southern flannel moth hair fibers must be quickly removed from skin following contact. The five year old girl who fell victim to a southern flannel moth caterpillar sting was lucky enough to have adults nearby who rapidly removed the venomous hair fibers from her skin before serious systemic effects occurred. Luckily, the girl only experienced local pain and swelling and a minor upset stomach, but less fortunate victims can experience seizures, convulsions, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, abdominal pain and muscle spasms. Several schools in southeastern, central and northern Texas have cancelled classes in response to local southern flannel moth scares.

Have you ever spotted a southern flannel moth within a human-populated area?

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Which Termite Species Are Most Destructive In Texas, And Where Can They Be Found In The State

While termites infest homes within every region of Texas, infestations are more common in the south where a greater number of species can be found. The termite species responsible for the greatest amount of property damage in the United States, the native eastern subterranean termite, is abundant throughout the state, particularly in the cooler north. This is the only termite species out of several in Texas that may be more abundant in the northern half of Texas than in the south. Despite this, the eastern subterranean termite is actually more destructive in the south, as the state’s largest and most populous cities are located in the south where timber-framed structures are in greater number and are more densely located. This allows the ground-dwelling termite to move from house-to-house in suburban and urban southern areas. However, the significant disparity between the north and south concerning termite infestation rates largely stems from the fact that the south is home to several highly destructive termite species, most notably the invasive Formosan subterranean termite, which is the most structurally devastating termite species in the world next to the Asian subterranean termite, which has established an invasive habitat in the state of Florida only. Luckily, the Formosan’s invasive habitat in the US is limited to the southeast where the insects are particularly abundant near the Gulf Coast. This puts the largest city in Texas, Houston, right in the center of the most active Formosan subterranean termite zone.

While the Formosan subterranean termite has been found in counties in every area of Texas, this species maintains a permanent habitat within 31 counties in the southeast and into the central portion of the state. The native eastern and invasive Formosan subterranean termites are usually the only two subterranean termites in Texas that are mentioned by experts, but another subterranean species, the arid-land subterranean termite, can be found all over Texas, but infestations are almost exclusive to the west and southwest portion of the state only. Although this species is highly damaging, it is often overshadowed by the far more destructive eastern and Formosan subterranean termite species. Another native subterranean termite species, R. virginicus, also maintains a small population in eastern Texas. A Drywood species, the desert drywood termite, is the most destructive drywood termite in the United States, and it is abundant in the west and southwest region of the state. The desert dampwood termite is the only dampwood species in Texas, and it can be found in the southwest, west and even the northwest portion of the state. This species is of little concern in the state, as it does not infest structures often.

Have you ever heard of anyone’s home becoming infested with dampwood termites

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Yellow-Sac Spiders Are One Of The Most Aggressive House Spiders In The World, And They Sometimes Inflict Repeated And Dangerous Bites

Many people hate finding large spiders within their home, and for some particularly arachnophobic individuals, spotting one single indoor specimen warrants the services of a pest control professional. Pest control professionals do not generally consider spiders to be pests that establish indoor infestations, but the presence of a potentially dangerous spider species within homes poses a clear threat to the home’s occupants. Spider species that are considered a danger to residents within homes include black widows and brown recluses, both of which can be found indoors within the state of Texas. If so much as one single specimen from one of these species is found indoors, pest control professionals will make it a priority to inspect an entire home in an effort to locate and destroy each specimen found. These two spiders can also pose a threat to residents when specimens are found near homes, and black widows and brown recluses are commonly found along structural foundations, especially in areas such as beneath leaf-litter, trash piles, outdoor clutter, and patio furniture. Although black widows and brown recluses are the two most frequently cited spiders of medical importance, several yellow-sac spider species can also be a threat to residents. Unfortunately, yellow-sac spiders are capable of surviving all year round within Texas homes.

More than 200 yellow-sac spider species have been documented within the United States and Canada, and all of the most dangerous species are abundant within Texas. Yellow sac spider adults grow to be 1/10 – 1/2 inch long in body length. Although yellow-sac spider species vary in color, they can be recognized for their particularly long front legs. One of the most commonly encountered yellow-sac spider species within homes is the agrarian sac spider, and like many sac spider species, the agrarian sac spider can inflict painful and medically significant bites to humans. Agrarian sac spiders sometimes infest homes in great numbers, and they are often found within bedding, walls, and ceilings during the nighttime hours. Infestations are particularly frequent during the winter months.

Have you ever found a group of spiders clustered together within your home?

 

How An Ill-Advised DYI Effort To Remove An Indoor Hive Filled With Killer Bees Led To A Serious Traffic Collision That Struck A Pedestrian And Nearly Destroyed A House

Some people are familiar with the invasive insect pests known as “Africanized honey bees”, and just about everyone in the United States has heard of “killer bees”. These two common nicknames are used interchangeably to refer to the offspring of European honey bees and African honey bees. Unlike the common European honey bee, the highly aggressive African honey bee, which was documented for the first time in Texas back in 1990, cannot tolerate the United States’ temperate climate well, so the invasive African bee maintains a habitat only within the hot southwestern and southeastern states during the warmer seasons.

Unfortunately, African bees constantly invade European honey bee nests in the southern states in order to produce hybrid specimens that are better adapted to surviving within non-native North American conditions. These hybrid bees are referred to as “Africanized honey bees” and “killer bees”. The former nickname obviously indicates the hybrid bee’s native lineage, while the latter nickname aptly refers to the hybrid bee’s natural penchant for attacking, and sometimes killing humans during the spring and summer months in the south.

For the past three decades, killer bees have been wreaking havoc and causing numerous human deaths in the southern US every year, particularly in Texas and Arizona. For example, killer bees have caused large-scale traffic accidents, housing collapses, medical emergencies, structural infestations, and as already mentioned, numerous human deaths each year in Texas alone. Six years ago, an Austin man made a poor choice to remove a killer bee nest from within his home without professional assistance. Unsurprisingly, this DYI pest control method resulted in a disaster that nearly took several lives.

During the summer of 2013, a resident discovered a large and active beehive within an obscured area of his home. Rather than calling a pest control professional to address the bee infestation, the man attempted to eradicate the bees himself by sucking the insects into a vacuum cleaner. Needless to say, this gesture further angered the already hostile bees, as the man was posing a clear threat to the queen bee that had been nesting within the hive. In a matter of seconds, a massive swarm of killer bees emerged from the nest and began inflicting repeated stings on the homeowner. In a rush to find quick medical assistance, the man jumped into his car and drove himself to the nearest hospital. Sadly, the man did not make it, as he lost control of his car in response to a severe allergic reaction caused by the killer bee stings. Due to the man’s consequent loss of consciousness, he hit a pedestrian with his car before causing a massive multi-vehicle traffic accident that ended with him crashing into a residential house. In retrospect, the man likely regretted his effort to save money on a pest control service bill. Injuries incurred from this incident could have been severe. If you’ve ever been involved in a road accident, you likely will want to seek legal assistance with your case and approach professionals like the Wilshire Law Firm.

Have you ever found a frightening spider or insect within your car as you were driving?