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WacoPestControl

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?

 

WacoPestControl

PESTS THAT GIVE HOMEOWNERS A SCARE THIS HALLOWEEN

CREEPY CRAWLY PESTS THAT GIVE HOMEOWNERS A SCARE THIS HALLOWEEN

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

 

wacotermitecontrol

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?

WacoPestControl

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?

WacoPestControl

The Most Common Insect And Arachnid Yard Pests That Frequently Enter Waco Homes

The mosquito pest population was particularly high in central Texas this year, and several insect pest reports name Texas as one of the worst states for biting mosquito pests. Texas is home to some of the most dangerous disease-carrying mosquito species, including Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. In residential areas, mosquito bites are generally sustained while residents are gardening or performing yard work, but it is not uncommon for people to sustain mosquito bites within their own home as well. In addition to mosquitoes, chiggers and fleas are common yard pests in central Texas. Chiggers are technically arachnids known as mites, and they are very common on turf lawns where residents often sustain bites. It is not uncommon for residents to unknowingly transport chiggers into their homes, but luckily, chiggers do not survive long within indoor conditions. However, this is not the case when it comes to another common lawn-dwelling arthropod pest, fleas. Fleas inflict bites on humans and pets in order to feed on blood, and both humans and pets often transport fleas indoors after the insect pests become attached to the body. Once indoors, fleas can establish stubborn infestations that are difficult to eradicate.

Basically everything people have heard about “natural” mosquito control is wrong. For example, bats prefer to feed on beetles, moths and grasshoppers, but not so much mosquitoes, and the Environmental Protection Agency states that ultrasonic mosquito repellent devices do not work to keep mosquitoes out of yards. Homemade repellents containing garlic are also ineffective against mosquitoes, and bug zappers may do more harm than good, as they also kill beneficial insects that prey on mosquitoes. The best way for homeowners to control residential mosquito pests is to remove stagnant water and containers that gather rainwater from lawns, as disease-carrying mosquito pests congregate around and breed within standing water sources. There also does not exist any reliable remedies for keeping chiggers out of lawns, but wearing pants and long sleeves can go a long way at preventing bites. Chiggers release digestive enzymes into skin in order to feed on tissue, and while some people may have a serious allergy to chigger bites, these mites can simply be brushed off of skin once they are found. Fleas routinely establish indoor infestations where they burrow into carpeting, upholstery and curtains. In order to avoid flea infestations, dogs should be treated for fleas and humans should perform yard work in pants. There does not exist in home remedies or over-the-counter products that can reliably eradicate flea infestations, so professional pest controllers must be contacted for flea treatments.

Have you ever experienced a flea infestation?

 

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?

 

 

 

0X2A5304

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?