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WacoPestControl

Why Leafcutter Ant Infestations Are Extremely Difficult To Eradicate From Residential Lawns, And How They Can Cause Damage To Structures

Texas is home to numerous arthropod pest species that damage vegetation in residential yards. Some of these pests include chinch bugs, spider mites, fleas and many grub and caterpillar species. Some insect pests of this sort also inflict unsightly and economically significant damage to lawn grass, such as the red-imported fire ant. However, very few insect pests in the state are capable of damaging trees and houses in addition to lawns and garden plants, but leafcutter ants happen to fit the bill. During the mid 2000s, leaf cutter damage to properties in east, south and central Texas became a serious issue. During this time, the rate of leaf cutter ant infestations on residential properties began to skyrocket, and many infestations became extensive enough to damage the foundation of homes. The reason for the sudden increase in this species’ pest activity was largely due to the discontinuation of over-the-counter insecticides that homeowners had come to rely on to combat infestations. Today, leaf cutter ants have spread to most areas of Texas where they continue to stubbornly maintain infestations despite efforts to eradicate the pests from properties.

Leaf cutter ants cause more lawn damage than any other native ant pest in the US, and this is partly due to the massive size of their colonies, which can grow to contain 2 million individual specimens. These ants inhabit colonies that span great distances below the ground in urban, suburban and rural areas, and they strip the leaves off of countless plant species, including trees. Leaf cutter ants transport the foliage they collect to their subterranean colonies where they use the plant matter to cultivate fungus gardens. This fungus is fed to larval specimens and it is the only form of food that these ant pests eat. This makes leaf cutter ants difficult to eradicate from properties, as they tend to ignore baits, even sugar baits, and unfortunately, baits are the only way to control subterranean pests that build extensive colony tunnels over large areas of land deep below the ground. Leaf cutter ants also excavate sizable open ditches on properties, and when these dithces are excavated below homes, the foundation can crack due to the uneven weight distribution.

Have you ever had an ant infestation in your yard?

 

 

 

 

WacoPestControl

50% Of All Kissing Bugs In Texas Can Transmit Chagas Disease To Humans

While the group of insects that are frequently referred to as “kissing bugs” may sound like approachable and affectionate insects, like ladybugs or butterflies, they are actually a public health threat in the southern states due to a parasitic disease that the insects transmit to humans through their feces. The term “kissing bugs” is a common name for the airborne insects belonging to the Reduviidae genus. These insects inhabit South America, Mexico and several southern US states, and they are well known for invading homes where they can pose a nuisance, as well as a serious health threat to residents in the southernmost states, particularly Texas, Arizona, and Louisiana.

Kissing bugs get their name for their habit of inflicting bites on people’s faces, sometimes around the lips. Several kissing bug species that inhabit the southern states carry a parasite species known as T. cruzi, which is regularly expelled from the insects’ bodies within feces. The parasitic disease that these insects transmit to humans, chagas disease, cannot be treated if the illness advances, and no vaccines have been developed to induce immunity to this disease. Unsurprisingly, the current number of reported chagas disease cases in South America exceeds 8 million, and although the southern US is home to several of the same kissing bug species that transmit disease to humans in South America, the T. cruzi parasite is not normally found in US specimens. This is why very few people have contracted the disease in the US during the past several decades. Unfortunately, this is now changing, as researchers are beginning to find more disease-carrying kissing bug species in the US, and chagas disease cases have been increasing slightly during the past 20 years in the country.

A ten month old baby girl in Texas was the first person documented as having contracted chagas disease within the US. This case was described in 1955, and only a small number of people have contracted chagas within the US since then, but several studies have confirmed that around 50 percent of all 11 kissing bug species in Texas are carrying the T. cruzi parasite. Chagas disease is often asymptomatic in younger people for many years, but 30 percent of all disease cases see victims develop life threatening medical conditions, and the disease can be passed to unborn fetuses from infected mothers. Kissing bugs do not transmit the parasite with their bites, but they do defecate on human skin after collecting a human blood-meal. These bites are irritating, and when people go to itch the wound, they are likely to unknowingly smear the parasitic feces into the bite wound, allowing the parasite to enter the body. The CDC states that kissing bug bites often occur indoors, but applying insecticides within a home can repel the insect pests.

Do you fear the possibility that chagas disease may become more common in the southern US?

Waco Pest Control

Texas Woman Was Recently Diagnosed With A Disease Spread By Kissing Bugs

Back in 2013, a 49 year-old Texas woman, Candace Stark, donated blood in support of those suffering from leukemia. However, Candace was surprised when she received a letter from the Blood Centers of Central Texas telling her that she had chagas disease. Of course, the letter informed her that she could no longer donate blood, and that she would need to consult with a medical professional about her condition immediately. Candace’s condition is rare in the United States, especially when she was diagnosed with chagas disease six years ago, but in recent years, chagas disease cases have been increasing in Texas and other southern states.

Chagas disease is caused by a parasite known as T. cruzi, and this parasite originates from the feces of kissing bugs. Not only do kissing bugs bite humans, but they also defecate on human skin. In many cases, kissing bug bites are inflicted on the face, hence the insect’s common name. After sustaining a bite, people itch at their skin, which causes the fecal parasite to enter the bite wound, resulting in chagas disease. Although Candace does not specifically recall sustaining a bite from a kissing bug, she did spot and capture a kissing bug at her parents’ house around a year and a half after her chagas diagnosis. Testing revealed the captured kissing bug specimen to be a carrier of T. cruzi. Considering the significant amount of time Candance had spent at her parents’ house, she believes that she must have contracted the disease at some point while visiting.

Kissing bugs can be recognized by their black backs and the orange or red-colored stripes along their sides. Kissing bugs can be as small as a penney and as large as a quarter. While most biting insects pester people outdoors, kissing bugs are notorious for inflicting bites both indoors and outdoors, and they are often found within homes, particularly around beds. During the past several years, Texas public health officials have recorded 20 human cases of chagas that had been contracted by kissing bugs in the state. Sealing foundation cracks, installing door sweeps and replacing damaged window screens will help to keep kissing bugs out of homes. The disease is currently considered rare in the US, but cases are becoming more frequent.

Do you believe that chagas disease cases will continue to increase in the United States?

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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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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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 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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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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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?