Dreaded Pharaoh Ants Establish Nests Within Hard-To-Access Areas Within Homes Where Colonies Can Develop Rapidly

Getting an infestation of the household pests Pharaoh ants is a nightmare that is, unfortunately, all too common, as they are prevalent all over the planet and the most difficult ants to control. This ant species does not nest outdoors except for in the warmest regions, making them the ant scourge of many households. They do not exactly stand apart in the looks department either, which makes them difficult to distinguish from many other ant species. Like most other ants you come across, they are small and range in color from a yellowish, light brown to red. One of the major reasons they are so difficult to control is their prolific breeding habits. They also will nest in areas that are difficult to access and establish colonies throughout an entire building. Needless to say, they are considered one of the worst indoor pests in the country.

Pharaoh ants are a major indoor pest throughout Texas, and were even reported to have infested a seven story medical center, in which they were a particular danger to the burn victims and newborns, as they can transmit over a dozen pathogens. They were seen looking for moisture in the mouths of sleeping infants, as well as from IV bags that were in use at the time. So, these guys will go after any food or moisture source, no matter how out-in-the-open and risky the place might be.

Pharaoh ants build their nests in warm, moist, hard-to-access areas in your home that have nearby sources of food and water, such as inside wall voids. While the colonies tend to be large in size, they can contain anywhere from a few dozen to several thousand and sometimes several hundred thousand ants. The reason for this level of proliferation is the short amount of time needed for eggs to develop into adults, which is around 38 days for workers and 42 days for queens and males meant for mating purposes. Mating between the queens and males happens inside the nest, with no swarming occuring. The sheer number of eggs a queen can hatch in one go also doesn’t help, as she can produce over 400 eggs in batches of 10 to 12. The colonies also often split after growing larger, with numerous daughters branching off with a group of workers to create their own nest. This can obviously result in your entire home being infested with Pharaoh ants fairly quickly.

Have you ever had to deal with an infestation of Pharaoh ants?





Why Accurately Identifying Red Imported Fire Ants Can Be Relatively Difficult, And How They Can Be Differentiated From Similar Looking Ant Pest Species

The red-imported fire ant was first documented in the US back during the 1930s, and since then this species has spread to numerous southern states where they are considered a major public health threat. Red-imported fire ants are the most common ant pest species in central Texas where their dirt mounds have become a dreaded sight to residents. These invasive ants are known for rapidly colonizing residential yards and inflicting stings that cause tremendous pain and result in unsightly pustule wounds. A relatively high number of people are allergic to red-imported fire ant venom, and for these sensitive individuals, a fire ant attack can lead to anaphylactic shock and even death if treatment is not sought out in a timely manner. During periods of drought and/or exceptionally hot weather, red-imported fire ants may invade homes where they are likely to seek out human food sources. Despite the notoriety of red-imported fire ants, colony workers can be difficult to identify for several reasons.

One of the most significant difficulties when it comes to accurately identifying red-imported fire ant workers has to do with the wide variation in their body sizes. Workers range in size from 1/16 of an inch in body length to 1/4 of an inch in body length, and the largest workers can be 3 times as large as the smallest workers. Red-imported fire ant workers are nearly identical to workers of the native tropical fire ant species, but close detection will reveal that tropical fire ants are composed of a minority of relatively large sized workers with square-shaped heads. Generally, native fire ant workers are more uniform in size than red-imported fire workers, but unlike other mound-building ants, like harvester ants and leafcutter ants, both native and red-imported fire ants create dirt mounds with no central entry/exit hole. However, red-imported fire ant mounds are typically a bit larger in both height and circumference. When finding dirt mounds with no central entrance hole, residents should assume that the mounds belong to red-imported fire ants due to the species commonality in central Texas.

Have you ever stepped on a red-imported fire ant mound?




Red-Shouldered Bugs Are Often Mistaken For Boxelder Bugs, But Both Species Are Common House Pests During The Fall Season

While insect pest issues within homes are to be expected during the spring and summer seasons, there exists a significant number of insect pests that are notorious for invading homes during the fall and early winter seasons in Texas. Some of these fall pests include Asian lady beetles, brown marmorated stink bugs, and boxelder bugs. These insect pests invade homes in order to overwinter within warm conditions before the arrival of freezing temperatures. In many cases, the above named insect pests only become problematic in and around homes during the fall season, and they tend to prefer dwelling outside in the natural environment during all other times of the year. While some common fall insect pests may inflict an occasional and ultimately harmless bite, such as Asian lady beetles, fall pests are generally nuisance invaders. Boxelder bugs may be the most common of all fall insect pests in Texas, but many infestations that residents commonly attribute to boxelder bugs are actually caused by red-shouldered bugs. Red-shouldered bugs closely resemble boxelder bugs and their pest behaviors are virtually identical.

During the spring and summer, boxelder bugs and red-shouldered bugs feed on trees, but once temperatures begin to decline during the fall, these two pests congregate on the exterior walls of homes where they seek out overwintering sites under shingles and siding, around doors and windows, and in cracks in foundations. From there, boxelder bugs and red-shouldered bugs easily gain entrance indoors by squeezing through narrow entry points. Once indoors, these two pests tend to congregate in wall voids and other hard-to-access areas where they can overwinter without being noticed by the homeowners. On winter days that are unseasonably warm, boxelder bugs and red-shouldered bugs naturally emerge from their indoor hiding spots in an attempt to escape outdoors. Since windows tend to be shut during the winter season, these bugs fail to escape outdoors; instead their corpses gather along window sill and around door frames. Sealing cracks and crevices on a home’s external walls will help to prevent these two pests from gaining entrance indoors. In serious infestations cases, pest control professionals nearly always succeed in eradicating the bugs from homes.

Have you ever noticed a large congregation of bugs on the sides of your house?


90% Of Central Texans Have Been Attacked By Red-Imported Fire Ants, Making The Region The Most Fire Ant-Heavy Region In Texas

Many of the most frequently encountered ant pests in the United States originate from other countries. Some of these common ant pests include Pharaoh ants, pavement ants and crazy ants. Although many non-native ant species in the US are well known house pests, some have inhabited the country for such a long time that they have adapted to the environment, and are not technically considered “invasive.” However, a large number of non-native ants that have invaded the country relatively recently have established an invasive habitat in Texas and other southern states where they inflict serious environmental damage in addition to being major household pests. These invasive ant pests include Argentine ants, longhorned crazy ants, and of course, red-imported fire ants. Red-imported fire ants have become established throughout the southern states, but they are particularly problematic in Texas. In fact, central Texas is the worst region in the state for red-imported fire ant pest issues, as 90 percent of the population has sustained fire ant stings.

Red-imported fire ants are well known for being one of the most dangerous insect pests inhabiting the US, and numerous people have died in response to their repeated stings since they were introduced into the country back in the 1930s. The vast majority of red-imported fire ant fatalities occur due to serious allergic reactions to their venom, and it is estimated that at least one percent of the population is allergic. Red-imported fire ants cannot be eradicated from areas of the natural environment where they have already become established, but in recent years, authorities have successfully contained wild populations, making it unlikely for the ant pests to continue expanding their habitat. While red-imported fire ants frequently establish lawn infestations, household infestations are not uncommon. In order to prevent red-imported fire ants from invading structures, the exterior cracks, crevices and other entry points on a home should be sealed. Anyone who sustains multiple stings should seek medical attention, even those who are not allergic.

Have you ever spotted red-imported fire ants within a home?


Are Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes A Major Threat To Waco Residents During The Fall Season?

For the past two decades, mosquito-borne disease has been a growing threat throughout the United States, particularly in the southern and eastern halves of the country. Last year, researchers surveyed mosquito populations in every region of the contiguous US in order to determine where disease-carrying mosquitoes pose the greatest threat to citizens. Results showed that central Texas was among the most mosquito-heavy regions in the country, and seven cities in the state were listed on the top 50 most mosquito-populated cities in the US. According to the list, the central Texas cities of Waco, Temple and Bryan each tied at number 41, and the cities of Dallas and Austin, each of which are located 90 to 100 miles away from Waco, were listed as the 2nd and 20th most mosquito-heavy states in the country, respectively. Unlike last year, Mclennan County has not seen any human cases of mosquito-borne disease so far in 2019, and this will likely remain the case, as mosquito-borne disease cases reach their peak in September and October in the state.

Texas is home to 85 mosquito species, 26 of which can be found in Mclennan County, and unfortunately, all three disease-carrying mosquito species in the state can also be found in Mclennan County. In recent years, Mclennan County has documented locally transmitted cases of the West Nile virus, and travel related cases of chikungunya, dengue fever and malaria, but mosquitoes in the county are also capable of transmitting St. Louis encephalitis to residents. Two mosquito species in the county, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are capable of transmitting chikungunya, the Zika virus and dengue fever to humans, while Culex pipiens can transmit St. Louis encephalitis and the West Nile virus. Unlike most mosquito species, the three disease-carrying species in Texas dwell in urban and residential areas where they rely on stagnant water for reproduction. Stagnant water collects in objects commonly found in yards such as kiddie pools, cups, grills, bottle caps, clogged gutters, potted plant saucers, beer cans, bird feeders, and wheelbarrows. If all residents of Mclennan County were to keep their yards free of these water sources at all times, disease-carrying mosquitoes would not only stop congregating in residential areas, but their population numbers would decrease dramatically. Pest control professionals can treat properties where mosquito pests are particularly abundant.

Are you concerned about the possibility of a mosquito-borne disease outbreak occurring in your area?






iPest Solutions shares information on common pests that may take up residence during the colder months

While it’s normal to see bats, spiders and other creatures invade your front doorstep on Halloween in the form of trick-or-treaters or spooky décor, IPest Solutions  advises people to be on the lookout for real-life ghoulish pests this fall.

Halloween is a fun celebration of all things creepy and crawly, but it also serves as a reminder that actual pest infestations can cause quite the fright. In the spirit of this spooky holiday, we are reminding homeowners to take preventative measures to keep pests from taking up residence indoors.

Here’s a guide to some common critters that may spook homeowners this fall, along with tips to prevent them from turning the home into a haunted house.

Rats – One of the most reviled pests, rats can contaminate food, spread dangerous diseases and create fire hazards by chewing through electrical wires. Before homeowners bring boxes of pumpkins and faux cobwebs inside to decorate for Halloween, they should inspect them for signs of an infestation such as gnaw marks and rodent droppings.

Bats – Bats are frequent carriers of rabies, which can be fatal if left untreated. They often enter homes through attics, belfries and under fascia boards. Homeowners should screen attic vents and openings to chimneys, and install door sweeps this fall to keep bats out of the home.

Spiders – Some species of spiders, mainly the brown recluse and black widow, can administer a painful bite when disturbed. Homeowners can avoid coming in contact with spiders by wearing heavy gloves when moving items that have been stored for a long period of time and shaking out shoes before wearing them.

Bed bugs – Bed bugs are similar to vampires in that they feed off of human blood, typically at night. These elusive pests do not transmit disease, but they can leave red, itchy welts on the skin. Before dressing up in a costume that came from a rental or second-hand store, make sure to inspect it for bed bugs.

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) offers some additional tips to prevent a pest infestation this Halloween season:

  • Seal cracks and crevices around the home’s exterior using caulk and steel wool. Pay close attention to where utility pipes enter the structure.
  • Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  • Keep kitchen counters clean, store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
  • Store fire wood at least 20 feet away from the house and keep shrubbery well trimmed.
  • If you see signs of an infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional.

For more information on common household pests and how to protect your home, visit www.wacopest.com



Harvestman Spiders Invade Homes Where They Build Many Unsightly Webs That Can Be A Nuisance To Residents

During The Fall In Central Texas, Unbelievably Large Clusters Of Harvestman Spiders Invade Homes Where They Build Many Unsightly Webs That Can Be A Nuisance To Residents

The spiders that are often referred to as “daddy long legs” are the most commonly encountered spiders indoors and outdoors, but despite the ubiquity of these spiders, there exists much confusion about the nature and pest status of daddy long legs. First of all, many arthropod groups are commonly referred to as daddy long legs, including “harvestman,” which is a common name given to an entire order of arachnids. The family of spiders commonly known as “cellar spiders” are also referred to as daddy long legs, and even a family of flies that are known as “crane flies” have been known as daddy long legs for decades due to their excessively long legs.

According to officials with the extension service at Texas A & M, the daddy long legs name can only be properly applied to one family in the harvestman order, and this family is known as Phalangiidae. Second of all, harvestman are not actually spiders at all; instead, harvestman belong to an order of arachnids known as Opiliones. Despite this, the term “daddy long legs” is commonly used by professional entomologists and other experts when referring to both cellar spiders and harvestman. While harvestman are common in homes and buildings all over the world, the abundance and diversity of harvestman species is particularly high throughout Texas where they often become a nuisance around the fall when hundreds congregate into homes.

Texas is unique for being home to multiple endangered harvestman species, and they are particularly common in south and central Texas where many species dwell in caves. Harvestman are frequently spotted grouped together in the corners of basements, cellars, attics and around structural foundations. These arachnids appear delicate and harmless, which they are, but during the fall, harvestman enter homes in tight congregations. This behavior is known as “clustering,” and it can pose a nuisance for residents. The longstanding myth that daddy long legs are highly venomous, but cannot penetrate human skin with their fangs is false, as harvestman do not possess venom glands. However, harvestman can give central Texas residents quite a scare, as a viral video clip posted to Instagram clearly demonstrates. This clip showed a Texas resident removing what he thought was a collection of fur from the corner of his home. Once he had the “furball” in his hands, he suddenly realized that he had just picked up hundreds of clustered harvestman, and surprisingly, this sort of thing happens all the time in Texas, as a similar incident was recounted in a news release not long ago.

Have you ever found “daddy long legs” in your home?


Which Recluse Spider Species Can Be Found In Waco?

Loxosceles reclusa, or the brown recluse spider, as it is commonly known, is the most widespread and dangerous recluse spider species in the United States. Generally, experts refer only to the brown recluse and the black widow as the two medically significant spider species in the US, but this statement can be misleading, as there exists three black widow species in the country, and 12 additional recluse spider species can be found in the US. The three black widow species inhabiting the US include western, southern and northern black widows, all three of which are dangerous to humans, but only the southern black widow can be found throughout Texas. Of the 13 recluse spider species in the US, a total of five can be found in Texas, two of which are known to inhabit Waco, but additional recluse species can appear in the city on occasion.

The recluse spider species that can be found in Texas include Loxosceles apachea, L. blanda, L. devia, L. reclusa and L. rufescens. Of these species, only two have a habitat distribution that overlaps Waco, the brown recluse and L. devia. The latter species is commonly known as the Texas recluse, and while the brown recluse can be found all over Texas, the Texas recluse is likely the most commonly encountered recluse species in the state. The habitat distribution of L. apachea and L. rufescens are scattered over Texas, but both of these species are rare in Waco. Residents of Waco are also more likely to encounter brown recluse spiders within their home as opposed to Texas recluse spiders, as the latter’s habitat range becomes thin around central to northwest Texas.

While brown recluse spiders get all of the attention for inflicting dangerous bites, research shows that the 12 additional recluse species inhabiting the US are also dangerous to humans, including the Texas recluse. However, very few studies have been carried out on bites inflicted by these more obscure recluse species. Brown recluse spiders are not shy about entering homes, sometimes in large numbers. These venomous spiders are often found in corners, crevices, closets, storage rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, under furniture and in garages.

Have you ever sustained a bite from a brown recluse spider?


Ghost Ants Are Very Common In Texas Where They Establish Multiple Nests In Hidden Areas Within Homes

Well over 12,000 ant species have been documented worldwide, and a significant number of these species have become well known for establishing habitats in multiple ecosystems all over the world. These widespread ant species are referred to as “tramp ants” due their habit of hitchhiking to new regions all over the world by means of maritime trade. One tramp ant species that has become well established in Texas is commonly referred to as the ghost ant. This species was first discovered in the United States when colonies were recovered in Texas back in 1994, and since then, these ants have likely spread to most areas of Texas and beyond.

Foraging workers from ghost ant colonies are notable for being small with lightly colored bodies, making them hard to spot, or “ghostlike” in appearance. Ghost ants are also known for their quick and erratic movements, as well as for their highly populated colonies that each contain multiple queens. The existence of multiple queens per colony allows ghost ants to rapidly establish new satellite nests in addition to the existing parent nest. These satellite nests are often found within hidden areas inside of homes, and the parent nest is almost always located outdoors. Since ant infestations can only be eliminated if all reproductive queen ants are exterminated from indoor and outdoor colonies, eradicating ghost ant infestations can be difficult.

Not only can ghost ants readily establish new colonies both indoors and outdoors, but these ants are small enough to nest within a variety of objects, including laptops, potted plants, luggage, cut flowers, and piles of clothing. This nesting habit also explains how ghost ants wind up infesting a number of goods that are shipped to regions all over the world. Since ghost ant workers only grow to be between 1 and 2 millimeters in body length, large numbers can easily stay hidden within homes by nesting within cracks, crevices, between books, beneath furniture and within wall voids. 

Ghost ants are opportunistic feeders, which means that they will consume just about any edible material they encounter. These ants often group together in kitchens, cupboards and pantries in search of food, and they have been found consuming meats, sweets, cheeses and a variety of other foods. Since ghost ants clearly gravitate toward sweet-tasting foods, baits are effective for controlling infestations.

Have you ever spotted a ghost ant in your home?


Texas Homes That Are Not Protected With Termite Barriers Have A 70 Percent Chance Of Becoming Infested With Termites Within 10 To 20 Years Following Construction

Homes in central Texas are located within a geographic zone where termite pest activity is at its highest in the United States. The termite species found within this area include eastern subterranean termites, arid-land subterranean termites, western drywood termites and while the invasive Formosan subterranean termite is most abundant along the Gulf Coast, these highly destructive termite pests have been found infesting structures in central and northern Texas on occasion. However, all homes in Texas can be considered vulnerable to termite infestations if they are not protected by physical or termiticide barriers.

Termiticide barriers are applied beneath the soil surrounding a property, and they reliably prevent subterranean termites from moving into yards, and eventually, homes. Physical barriers, like wire mesh barriers, are also applied beneath the soil surrounding homes, and unlike termiticide barriers, physical barriers effectively repel termites permanently unless the land where they are located becomes disturbed or eroded. Ideally, termiticide barriers are applied beneath foundations and concrete slabs before a home’s construction begins, but many home builders skip termite barrier applications during a home’s construction. This is unfortunate for home buyers in Texas since new homes in the state that are not treated with termite barriers have a 70 percent chance of becoming infested with termites within 10 to 20 years following the home’s construction.

Termiticide barriers are far more common than physical barriers, as termiticide barriers are cheaper and less labor intensive to apply to soil. Of course, termiticide barriers are vulnerable to natural erosion, rainwater percolation, and land disturbances caused by construction. Overtime, termiticide chemicals degrade, and re-treatments are normally necessary every five years, but the state of Texas only legally allows termiticide retreatments under particular circumstances. For example, if there is no way of knowing when previous termiticide treatments were performed, then homeowners are legally allowed to have their properties re-treated. No matter when an initial treatment occurred, homeowners can legally have termiticides re-applied to their property if there exists evidence of an active termite infestation on a property. Finally, if a termiticide barrier was rendered ineffective for some reason, another treatment can be applied. It is also worth noting that termiticide barriers generally remain in tact following floods and hurricanes.

Have you ever looked into having a termiticide barrier applied to the perimeter of your property? Consider Sentricon Colony Elimination