Now That Brown Recluse Spider Season Has Arrived, Homeowners Should Regularly Inspect Indoor Areas Where The Dangerous Spiders Are Known To Congregate

While the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is native to the southern and midwestern regions of the US, their ability to inflict medically hazardous, and potentially lethal bites were not widely known until the medical community began to take notice of several fatalities that occurred in response to brown recluse envenomations during the 1950s. Since then, medical professionals often couple the brown recluse with the black widow as the only two medically significant spider species in the US.

Three black widow spider species and two additional widow spider species have been documented as inhabiting the US, with the southern black widow (Latrodectus mactans) being the most commonly encountered black widow species in central Texas. In addition to widow spiders, a total of 13 recluse spider species have been documented as inhabiting the US, two of which are invasive. Of these 13 recluse spider species, the brown recluse is the most widely distributed species in the US, and while several studies have shown that all recluse spider species in the US are equally venomous, the brown recluse is the only one that prefers to live indoors where they derive benefits from human settings.

Every year in October or November, brown recluse spiders respond to the progressively shorter days by retreating into cracks, crevices and other protected harborages in order to overwinter, and overwintering behavior is exhibited even by brown recluse specimens that are already living within heated homes and buildings. Brown recluse spider species are usually categorized as house spiders due to the fact that they establish permanent reproductive populations within homes and buildings.

These venomous spiders are attracted to indoor environments where abundant clutter provides numerous harborages where brown recluse spiders can hide during the day. For example, these spiders are frequently found beneath attic insulation, folded flaps of cardboard boxes, behind pictures on walls, behind bookcases, or between pages of newspapers. Brown recluse spiders also spend their days cramped within cracks and crevices in walls and flooring, and they are especially well known for congregating within inaccessible spaces such as wall voids and ceiling voids where their population can grow rapidly.

Have you ever encountered a brown recluse spider within your home?




How Do Cricket Pests Find Their Way Into Homes, And How Can Infestations Be Prevented And Eliminated?

Crickets are one of those pervasive insect pests that everyone comes across in their home at some time or another. In Texas in particular, the annual cricket outbreak that happens in the late summer and fall is one of the most predictable insect pest issues people have to deal with every year. This is when the crickets found in homes become especially abundant, and the most infestations occur.

The cricket species most commonly dealt with in homes in Texas are referred to as field crickets. While crickets are most commonly found outdoors, when the new adults participate in their mating season, which lasts from throughout the late summer and fall, the season peaking in August and September, their population explodes, in addition to their presence within people’s homes. Crickets don’t enter people’s homes on purpose, only ending up inside by accident. Since crickets are nocturnal, this generally happens at night. It can be rather hard to pinpoint exactly where the entry point a cricket used to slip inside your home, but they can enter buildings through any kind of cracks or crevices found in the foundation or external walls, as well as through openings in doors and windows. This happens more often in the late summer and fall, as this is when the new adults conduct their nighttime mating flights en mass, making the likelihood of some getting lost and finding their way indoors much higher.

There are two methods of controlling the presence of crickets inside your home. The first involves preventing crickets from being able to enter your home in the first place. You basically want to find and eliminate any areas around the outside of your home where crickets might be able to gain entrance inside. Repair and caulk any cracks and crevices found around the outside of your home. Removing any debris or objects such as brush, firewood, and bricks that are close to your house and cutting weeds and tall grass you see growing close to the foundation will help eliminate any hiding spots as well as reveal other possible entry points. You also want to reduce outside lighting at night in addition to turning off unnecessary lights inside, as the light will attract crickets. Keeping the inside of your home clean and uncluttered is also important when it comes to keeping crickets out, as this eliminates places they could hide. You can also utilize certain insecticides and traps to deal with crickets in your home. There are ones designated for use outside to keep crickets from entering, most of which are designed to be sprayed around the outside of the structure in a straight line along the foundation and the ground. Sticky traps can be used to catch crickets inside your home, and should be placed wherever you are finding crickets.

Have you ever had to deal with an infestation of crickets?


What Is The Difference Between Face Flies And Eye Gnats, And Can Either Of These Fly Pests Transmit Disease To Humans Within Homes?

What Is The Difference Between Face Flies And Eye Gnats, And Can Either Of These Fly Pests Transmit Disease To Humans Within Homes?

Horse flies, stable flies, black flies, and countless other fly species that resemble domestic house flies in both appearance and body-size belong to the Diptera order of insects. The Diptera order is composed of more than 100,000 species of two-winged insects, a small minority of which are frequent pests of homes. The most commonly controlled Dipteran fly pests of homes are house flies, fruit flies, drain flies, phorid flies and blow flies. Musca autumnalis is another Dipteran fly species that has become a widespread pest of homes throughout the US, and they are particularly abundant in the southern states.

autumalis is more commonly referred to as the “face fly” due to its habit of darting into the eyes, nose and mouth of cattle. This species is commonly mistaken for flies of the Liohippelates genus, which are frequently referred to as “eye gnats.” Adult female face flies lay their eggs on undisturbed manure piles located in open areas on ranches and farmland. Once larvae (maggots) hatch from these eggs, they consume nutrient-rich manure. After spending a short time developing on manure, maggots migrate between 25 and 30 feet away from the pile before diving beneath the ground to pupate into adults. Given the prevalence of cattle in Texas, face flies proliferate rapidly in the state, and they frequently transmit fecal matter to the mucous membranes of cattle, resulting in pink eye and other diseases. While face flies do not pose a significant health threat to humans, they do invade homes in massive numbers during the late summer, fall and early winter seasons in order to secure warm shelter for overwintering.

Much like face flies, the eye gnats mentioned above naturally consume mucous and other bodily fluids, but unlike face flies, eye gnats are not host-specific. That is, eye gnats feed on fluids secreted from wounds, eyes, nose, and other areas of humans as well as livestock and domestic pets. Naturally, eye gnats are also well known for transmitting fecal material to the mucous membranes and open wounds on humans and animals, resulting in pink eye and multiple other, more serious diseases in humans. However, eye gnats do not enter homes as readily as face flies are known to do during the colder months. That being said, eye gnats sometimes breed in moist soil and leaf litter in residential yards where they sometimes enter houses, and homeowners have been known to take costly measures to modify their homes to prevent eye gnats from transmitting disease indoors. Ultimately, however, the chances of contracting disease from indoor contact with eye gnats is highly improbable.


Have flies ever invaded your home in large numbers?

waco termites

The Most Common Routes That Subterranean, Drywood And Dampwood Termites Take To Reach Structural Wood In Homes

Now that the summer season is about to arrive termite activity is in full swing in central Texas. Given the frequency of swarms spotted in urban and suburban areas, experts predict a heavy termite pest season in the region. Multiple species of dampwood, drywood and subterranean termite species can be found in Texas, some of which are pests that attack structural wood. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood and dampwood termites live in single-nested colonies that are contained entirely within single pieces of above ground wood.

Only one species of dampwood termite, Paraneotermes simplicicornis, is an economically significant pest in Texas, and like all dampwood termites, this species only attacks wood that is heavily saturated with moisture, particularly the roots of citrus trees and desert shrubs. This species is more commonly known as the “desert dampwood termite,” and it only attacks wood that is in contact with the ground and crudely processed, such as telephone poles and mailbox posts. The desert dampwood termite is not much of a concern to residential homeowners and it’s problematic only in the southwestern area of Texas.

Drywood termites are unique, and aptly named, for their ability to feed on dry wood, and just like dampwood termites, only swarmers (alates) leave colonies. Alates of most dampwood and drywood termites swarm during the spring season in the south, but fall swarms are also common. The southern drywood termite (I. snyderi), the western drywood termite (I. minor) and the powderpost drywood termite (C. brevis) can all be found in central Texas, but the southern and western species are the most economically significant drywood pests in the region.

Subterranean termites are responsible for a majority of the annual termite damage reported in the US, and the eastern subterranean termite (R. flavipes) is the most destructive termite pest to homes in central Texas. Subterranean termites live beneath the ground where workers leave the nest to gather food. Workers infest the structural wood in homes from the ground up, making substructural lumber components around foundations the most commonly affected areas. Since drywood and dampwood termites literally live within their food source at all times, a worker caste does not exist in their colonies; instead, alates initiate entirely new colonies within structural wood while taking flight. This means that drywood termite damage can occur just about anywhere on a home, making them difficult to detect. However, drywood termite infestations are less damaging than subterranean termite infestation due to the relatively small size of drywood termite colonies.

Have you ever found signs of a drywood termite colony within your home?

House Mouse

How To Accurately Identify Deer Mice, White-Footed Mice And House Mice, And Why Doing So Is Important

How To Accurately Identify Deer Mice, White-Footed Mice And House Mice, And Why Doing So Is Important

Rodent pests infest homes in central Texas all year round, and the most commonly managed rodent pest species are house mice, Norway rats, deer mice and white-footed mice. It is important for homeowners to learn how to identify common rodent pest species, as each one differs somewhat in their pest behaviors and the hazards they pose to humans. The White-Footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) and the Deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) are very similar in appearance, and it often takes a trained professional to tell the difference between the two. These two rodent species are between 3 and 7 inches in length and both have white underbellies and reddish-brown fur coats. They are considered more pleasing to the eye than house mice due to their larger eyes and ears. Also unlike house mice, deer mice and white-footed mice are not associated with the foul odor that typically accompanies house mouse infestations.

While house mice invade homes throughout the year, deer mice and white-footed mice prefer to dwell outdoors, and they tend to establish shelter within homes in order to escape the winter cold and other extreme weather conditions. These two species are not as likely as house mice and Norway rats to repeatedly seek out stored foods, as deer mice and white-footed mice share a similar diet that consists of seeds, nuts, berries, fruits, insects, and carrion. However, all rodent pests of homes are known for feeding on stored foods, and any foods that have made contact with filthy rodents should be discarded to avoid disease or food-borne illness. All rodent pests mechanically spread disease-causing microorganisms to humans, most notably house mice and Norway rats. The deer mouse has also been responsible for spreading Hantavirus, which is a serious disease that can be deadly. Because of the Hantavirus threat associated with deer mice, homeowners should be well protected with a face mask and gloves when carrying out post-infestation cleaning projects.

Have you ever encountered a wild mouse that was not a house mouse?


The Current State Of Professional Bed Bug Control

Bed bugs have been a pest to humankind well before the advent of civilization, but due to the introduction of insecticides and establishment of the private pest control industry during the mid 20th century, bed bugs were nearly eradicated from the United States in the early 1960s. Obviously, this bed bug absence did not last, as the bloodsucking pests resurfaced shortly before the turn of the millenium, and today, bed bugs are one of the most commonly controlled insect pests within homes.

The initial insecticides that eradicated bed bugs from the US for a period of time were banned several decades ago, but even if they were still legal they would be ineffective, as bed bugs have developed varying degrees of resistance to virtually all insecticide formulations that currently exist. Although the worthlessness of insecticides against bed bugs had been a serious problem for a little more than a decade following their resurgence, it is not much of an issue today. This is because modern pest control professionals practice “integrated pest management” (IPM), which focuses on chemical free pest control methods. While insecticides are still necessary to control pests in some situations, they are only used minimally, and always as a last resort.

Several non-chemical methods of bed bug control have been introduced, including high-heat treatments, freezing, and the use of industrial strength vacuums. High-heat treatments are considered the most effective method of bed bug control, but when it comes to heavy infestations, minimal insecticide applications are still sometimes necessary to eliminate the pests. Currently, pest control developers are working on new bed bug control methods, especially methods that attract bed bugs to bait stations using pheromone odors as lures. In fact, scientists have recently identified bed bug pheromones, but successfully synthesizing or reproducing these pheromones for use in traps and baits remains a challenge.

Have you ever battled a bed bug infestation within your home?


Are Fire Ants Solely Landscape Pests, Or Do They Establish Indoor Infestations As Well?

The red-imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) is native to central Brazil, and several decades ago it was discovered in the southeastern United States. Today, these ants can be found in the southeastern states, most of Texas and up into Oklahoma. The red-imported fire ant (RIFA) is a soil-dwelling landscape pest, and it can and has infested just about every type of landscape, with the exception of swampy areas and dense forests. These ants infest residential yards where they construct sizable and unsightly earthen mounds that destroy turf grass.

Once these ants move into one yard in a residential area, they rapidly spread to neighboring yards, eventually colonizing entire neighborhoods. Most RIFA sting incidents occur when people walk through their yards and unknowingly step on nesting mounds. RIFAs are tremendously aggressive, and they will immediately emerge from their nests in massive numbers to inflict repeated stings to anyone they perceive as a threat. Millions of people sustain RIFA stings every year, many of which were hospitalized as a result. More than 80 people in the US have died from RIFA stings, most of which had an allergy to the ant’s venom. Of these deaths, 19 occurred in Texas. Unfortunately, these ants also nest in houses on occasion, especially during dry spells or on excessively hot days.

Incidents of RIFAs nesting within homes have been increasing in recent years, probably as a result of climate change. High temperatures and a dry climate prompts these ants to move indoors in search of cooler conditions, food, and water. Once indoors, RIFAs often infest pantries and kitchen cupboards where they enter food packages, and there have been numerous cases of people sustaining stings while sleeping. Removing crumbs that fall to the floor and cleaning up spills will make homes inhospitable to RIFAs. Repairing leaking pipes, rainwater leaks, or any defect that increases indoor moisture will also make homes less attractive to these dangerous pests.

Have you ever sustained red-imported fire ant stings?


The Southeastern Drywood Termite

For more than a month the most destructive termite pest species in the United States has been swarming and establishing new colonies in southern Texas, and they recently began swarming in central and northern Texas. This species, Reticulitermes flavipes, is the most widespread and economically significant termite pest in Texas, and their annual mating swarms take place from March to May in central Texas. R. flavipes is more commonly known as the “eastern subterranean termite,” and while these termites infest homes and buildings at a very high rate in central Texas, swarmers (alates) will not infest wood. Spotting swarms near a home does not necessarily mean that the home is vulnerable to infestation, but it does mean that an active and mature colony is located nearby. Termite swarms should only cause alarm when they emerge indoors, as such incidents indicate that an infestation has been established. Soon, alates from colonies of highly destructive and invasive Formosan subterranean termites will begin swarming in central Texas, but luckily for homeowners in the area, these termites are relatively uncommon in the area. Subterranean termite species are not the only wood-infesting pests that pose a threat to homes in central Texas, as drywood termite species can also be found in the area. Incisitermes snyderi is the most common drywood termite pest in Texas, and reproductive alates of this species take flight from existing colonies from May to June.

Snyderi is commonly known as the “Southeastern drywood termite,” and unlike subterranean termite swarms which are made up of thousands of alates, southeastern drywood termite (SDT) swarms consist of only around a dozen or more alates. Although SDT swarms are much smaller in size than Formosan subterranean termite swarms, homeowners often mistake the former species’ swarms for the latter species’ swarms. This is understandable, as SDT alates look very similar to Formosan alates, and both of these species swarm at the same time of year and around the same time of day. SDT swarms usually occur at around dusk, but midday swarms are also known to occur on occasion. SDT alates are 7/16 of an inch in body length, including the wings, and they are yellowish-brown to reddish-brown in color. In central Texas, SDTs are not nearly as common as eastern subterranean termites, and drywood termites are not nearly as destructive to structural wood as subterranean termite pests. However, drywood termite infestations are much more difficult to detect within homes than subterranean termite infestations, as the former initiates colonies within a variety of interior and exterior locations, while the latter sees workers initiate infestations almost exclusively within substructural wood around foundations.

Have you ever encountered termite-damaged wood within or on your home?

Waco Fly Control

How To Recognize The Very Common And Particularly Filthy Phorid And Drain Fly Pest Species

The insect pests commonly known as phorid flies and drain flies are among the top five most commonly managed fly pests in and around structures. These two pests, along with many other fly species, are frequently referred to as “filth flies,” as they breed in filthy conditions and readily enter houses where they smear pathogens on every indoor surface in which they make contact. The most common filth fly pest species include house flies, fruit flies, blow flies, latrine flies, little house flies, phorid flies, drain flies, and other species. While all filth flies prefer certain breeding sites over others, female phorid flies are unique for laying eggs either on or beside a variety of rotting organic materials, such as animal carcasses, garbage, drain pipes, flowers in vases, wet potted plant soil, garbage cans, broken garbage disposals, dung, feces, sewage, and fungi. Drain flies breed in all the same places, but they are more commonly associated with sewage water, septic tanks, and waste-water treatment plants.

Phorid flies look similar to common house flies, only phorid flies are a bit smaller at around ⅛ inch in body length, and they can be identified by their dark brown to black humpbacked physique. Drain flies are also commonly referred to as “moth flies,” which makes sense given the species’ fuzzy and moth-like appearance. Drain flies are even smaller than phorid flies, as the average length of an adult drain fly is between 1/16 and ⅕ inch, and they are dark grey to black. Since phorid and drain flies inhabit conditions that even most fly species would find excessively putrid, their presence in kitchens should be treated as a serious hazard. When drain flies or phorid flies emerge from sink drains, dishwashers, downspouts, or the crevice where the floor meets the toilet, contact with the pests and contaminated surroundings should be avoided and cleaned after the pests are eliminated.

Have you ever witnessed flies emerge from your kitchen sink?


The Bizarre Looking Firebrat Is A Common Insect Pest Of Homes That Frequently Feeds On Valued Fabrics

Silverfish are well known and commonly encountered insect pests within homes, and they are considered economically significant pests due to their habit of feeding on a variety of indoor materials, resulting in costly damage. Several silverfish species are classified as occasional indoor pests, including the common silverfish, the four lined silverfish, and the grey silverfish, the first of which is responsible for the majority of silverfish infestations in the US. Silverfish are closely related to a species of insect species that is often mistaken for a silverfish species due to its similar appearance. This species, Thermobia domestica, and silverfish are often said to belong to the Thysanura order of insects, but due to frequent taxonomic revisions, these insects now belong to the Zygentoma order of insects. T. domestica is more commonly known as the firebrat, and it’s a fairly common insect pest of homes in virtually every area of the US.

Silverfish species and the firebrat are very similar in appearance, as they look more like marine organisms than insects. Firebrats are slightly larger than common silverfish at around ½ inch in length, and they can be recognized for their scaled exterior that is metallic or brown in color. Their six legs are scarcely visible, and just like silverfish, firebrats continuously shed their exoskeleton throughout their lifespan. The strikingly unusual appearance of firebrats can be attributed to the fact that they are among the most ancient of insects in existence, as they first appeared shortly after the emergence of terrestrial organisms, and have changed little since. Both the firebrat and silverfish species require humid conditions in order to survive, but firebrats are unusual for inhabiting excessively hot conditions between 90 and 102 degrees. Because of this, firebrats congregate in dark harborages near ovens, heating units, fireplaces, and hot-water pipes within homes, but they avoid sunlight. Firebrats remain hidden from human sight at night within homes, but they emerge at night to forage. Firebrats feed on carbohydrate-rich foods, and their habit of feeding on starchy cotton, silk, linen, rayon, paper, glue in bookbinding and wallpaper can result in costly damage. Their exoskeletons and feces are known to stain indoor surfaces and furniture.

Have you ever discovered firebrats hiding within your home?