Author Archive

Protected Pests: What Homeowners Need to Know About Bees and Wasps

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beeonflowerIt’s unfortunate that bees get such a bad reputation. Many people run away screaming if they even spot a honey bee or bumblebee buzzing lazily around their home patio. However, bees are one of the most useful insects on the planet, and far from being killed as pests, they should be encouraged and protected.

With bee populations on the decline, it’s more important than ever for homeowners to spot the difference between wasps, yellow jackets, or hornets and honey bees or bumblebees. Here’s what you need to know about bees and wasps and what you can do to tackle wasp and bee colonies in or around your house. 

Take These Steps to Keep Cockroaches Away From Kitchen

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kitchencockroachMany Illinois residents assume that cockroaches are a “southern problem” and that they don’t need to worry about these pests. But while the massive, two-inch cockroaches seen in Florida may not be common in Illinois, there are certainly roaches around. The German cockroach, in particular, tends to take up residence in homes during the winter since it cannot survive out in the cold. American cockroach infestations are not unheard of in Illinois, either.

All cockroaches need to survive is warmth, moisture, and food. They’re not too picky, but they are most attracted to food scraps. For this reason, most cockroach infestations begin in the kitchen. Here are some steps you can take to ensure these pests don’t move into your kitchen this winter.

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4 Winter Pest Problems and How to Prevent Them

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The holidays approach. Frost coats the tips of grass on your lawn. Winter is here.

Insect eggs aren’t hatching. Flies and mosquitoes aren’t buzzing. But you still seem to have some kind of pest infestation in your house. Why?

Most homeowners aren’t aware that winter doesn’t necessarily kill off all pests. It brings many of them indoors, often right into your house. Here are the five most critical winter pest problems you should be aware of and how you can prevent them.

1. Rodents

Rodents are the most common winter infestation. Their collapsible skeleton allows rodents to squeeze into tiny spaces. For example, a mouse can get through a dime-size hole, while a rat can compress its body through a quarter-size hole. After they get into your home, rodents will aggressively search for food and reproduce at a rapid pace.

Prevent rodent infestation this winter by applying drywall or caulking any gaps in your house’s walls, foundation, doors, and windows. Seal your food in containers and don’t store the containers on low-hanging shelves.

2. Termites

Termites love your firewood, particularly because they can burrow through it and stay inside on a cold night. Once they’re in your house, they will try to find other wood materials to consume like your floors and furniture.

To keep them out of your house, store your firewood on a raised platform outside and cover it with a plastic sheet. This storage solution will both protect the wood from infestation and increase the temperature, killing any insects who try to make your wood their home.

3. Spiders

Depending on the species, certain spiders look for warm, dry places like your air vents. Others look for warm, moist places like your basement. They tend to like dark places within your house, entering through small cracks in your doors and windows. Once they’ve taken residence, spiders are difficult to find and, therefore, challenging to remove.

Most of the spiders you see in the Chicagoland area aren’t poisonous. They may, however, bite you or your pet. They also can lay a significant amount of eggs, potentially skyrocketing the amount of spiders who live in your home.

To spider-proof your home, seal up cracks and gaps in your doors and windows. Repair, or replace, any torn window screens. These little entryways are ground-zero for spider infestations.

After you’ve sealed these areas up, dust your home thoroughly. Spiders feed on other insects, some too tiny to see, but if you’ve vacuumed the dust up, you’ve probably gotten all the bugs with it. Once you’ve dusted, vacuum your carpets. Clean your upholstery and your window treatments. This intense cleaning process should rid your home of spider eggs while your current spider population dies out.

4. Cockroaches

Cockroaches become a problem in your home, particularly in the winter months, because they seek out warmth. What exacerbates this problem is your schedule of holiday parties.

Between the stocked pantry, the regular food preparation, the crumbs of food that fall off your guests’ plate, and the leftover dishes that linger into the morning after the party, cockroaches who discover warmth in your house have plenty to eat.

Stop cockroaches from moving into to your home by meticulously removing trash, compost, and recycling from the house. Wipe down your kitchen counter tops, dining room table, and other surfaces where you and your guests might dine.

Keep your floors clean, too, sweeping and vacuuming them regularly. Store foods in tightly sealed containers, like Tupperware, and wipe down the shelves within your pantry. Clean out crumbs and spills out in your refrigerator as well.

If you do host a dinner party, don’t leave the dishes until the following morning. Collect the dishes immediately after your guests leave. Though you might not have the energy to wash everything that night, you can leave the dishes in soapy water and avoid attracting cockroaches. Once clean, hang or place your pots and pans upside.

As winter progresses, review our description of common winter infestation issues and how you can prevent them in your house. If you do discover that pests have made your house their home, contact Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management and ask about our residential pest control services. We offer a tri-annual service, which includes an inspection and pest prevention treatment in summer, spring, and fall. We also offer a single service, a one-time infestation treatment with a 90-day guarantee.

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You “Mite” Want to Know the Difference Between the Three Basic Types of Termites

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Uncategorized

Termites: they’re those pesky insects that chew apart buildings and turn wood piles into sawdust. But how much do you really know about these destructive creatures? “Termite” is actually quite a general term, as there are more than 3,000 species of termite on the earth and about 50 living in North America.

Luckily, North American termites can be classified into three basic groups. Knowing the basics about these three types of termites will help you protect your home from these destructive wood munchers.

Subterranean Termites

When you think of termites, this species is the type that most likely comes to mind since subterranean termites are the most common variety in the US. They can be found in every contiguous state, including Illinois.

Lifestyle Habits

Subterranean termites, as their name suggests, live beneath the ground where they build complex networks of tunnels. Each colony of termites contains a king, a queen, and numerous workers who collect wood material to feed the colony. There are also soldiers who guard the colony with their large, sharp jaws.

Appearance

Subterranean worker termites are about 1/8 inch long and have soft bodies. They’re cream or white in color and have no wings. In the spring after a rainstorm, however, you may see a winged caste of subterranean termites emerge from a colony. These insects are known as swarmers, and they are essentially the scouts of the termite colony. They fly through the air, land somewhere else, shed their wings, and begin a new termite colony.

Signs of an Infestation

Subterranean termites attack a structure from below the ground, entering buildings through cracks in concrete or faulty plumbing. They prefer moist wood. If they are to blame for the wood damage to your home, you’ll notice little mud trails on the ground around your home that stretch across the wood they’ve attacked.

You can also identify subterranean termites by their excrement, which looks like chewed up cardboard. Subterranean termites only chew the softest part of the wood between the grains, so the holes they leave in wood seem to follow the grain.

Pest Control

If you think you may have subterranean termites on your property, do not disturb them. Disrupting their colony may cause them to move and damage another part of the building. A licensed pest control company can fight the infestation by carefully baiting and trapping the insects. The soil around the perimeter of your home may also be treated to eradicate termites as they seek entry into your structure.

Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites are not very common in Illinois. They are mostly found along the Pacific Coast and in Florida. Still, some less-damaging species do pop up in the Midwest from time to time, so it’s important to know about them.

Lifestyle Habits

Dampwood termites often access a home through the ground, but they set up their colony within the wood itself. Their colonies stay quite small compared to other termites, but a mature colony can still house several thousand insects. Dampwood termites are named such because they only feed on and live in moist wood.

Appearance

As with subterranean termites, there are several castes of insects within each colony. The workers are soft and cream colored, and the soldiers are brown with large, sharp mouthparts. In the reproductive stage, dampwood termites reach about 3/4 inches long and develop dark brown wings. You may see them swarming in the summer or early fall.

Signs of an Infestation

Dampwood termites plug the holes they make in wood with their fecal material, so it’s unlikely you’ll see the wood damage until it is very severe. However, you may see the discarded wings of swarmers around your wood structure. You may also see piles of these moist feces on the floor. Note that dampwood termites are often found in basements and near the ground. They don’t travel very far up and they will not bother dry wood.

Pest Control

Treating a dampwood termite infestation requires you to dry out your home. Your pest control team may need to partner with a contractor to correct issues like leaky pipes or a cracked foundation. Once the wood is dried out, the termites will typically die off. Sometimes, your wood may also be treated with insecticides to accelerate the eradication process.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are mostly found in California and Arizona, and they cause terrible destruction to both homes and forests.

Lifestyle Habits

This type of termite establishes its colony directly inside dry wood. Many colonies live inside dead trees and brush, and then when the land is cleared and homes are built, the insects invade those homes. They can enter a home from the attic, through a roof vent, or through any little crack.

Appearance

Drywood termites are about a 1/2 inch long, including their wings. They’re light to dark brown in color and often have reddish brown heads with white spots. Unlike the other types of termites, which only swarm for a few weeks, dry wood termites swarm throughout the spring and summer.

Signs of an Infestation

When you have drywood termites in your home, you typically see the termites themselves as they tend to enter from obvious access points like windows and roof vents. The damage they cause to wood is extensive—you’ll see wide, gaping tunnels build through it. These galleries within the wood look smooth and sculpted, not rough and frayed like the damage caused by dampwood or subterranean termites.

Pest Control

Chemical insecticides are generally the go-to remedy for a dry wood termite infestation. The pest control company will also need to seal off any access points to prevent more termites from entering the home.

Termites of all varieties can cause serious damage to a home. If you think a colony of termites may be chewing away at your home, don’t try to remedy the situation yourself. Contact a pest control company like Chem-Wise. We’ll inspect your home and recommend the best course of treatment based on our findings.

4 House Pests You Can Be Glad You Don’t Have

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The Chicago area is a beautiful, diverse part of the country with a countless cultural events, gorgeous landscapes, and nearby job and recreational opportunities. But it also has its fair share of downsides, including bad weather, gridlocked traffic, and destructive pests. If you live in the area, you’ve probably dealt with wasps and hornets in your garden and rats and mice in your home.

But even with all the house spiders, ants, and rodents you have to deal with, you still have a better deal in Chicagoland than many other homeowners nationally and globally. Read below to learn more about some of the world’s worst house pests, none of which you’ll ever have to deal with in your Illinois-area home.

1. Sydney Funnel-Web Spiders

You’ve dealt with your fair share of house spiders, including daddy long legs and small jumping spiders.
You might have even encountered a black widow or a brown recluse. But you’ve never wrangled a spider like the Sydney funnel-web, one of the most venomous spiders in the world.

Funnel-web spiders burrow beneath debris in yards across New South Wales in Australia. They can grow up to 4 inches long, and they move incredibly quickly as they dart outside their homes to catch any prey that wanders near, including snails, beetles, and even small lizards.

Funnel-web spiders are quite clever. They sit inside their burrows, away from their predators’ prying eyes, and spin thin lines of silk that they set just outside their front doors. They can then wait for a wandering insect to trip the line. The vibration sends the spider dashing out of its hideaway for an easy snack.

Funnel-web spiders generally keep to themselves and stay outside where they belong. However, they sometimes wander into houses and give homeowners a nasty surprise. They’re also dangerous to pets, especially curious cats and dogs who like to dig in the yard.

Most often, homeowners encounter funnel-web spiders in their backyard pools-funnel-web spiders fall in and, instead of drowning, swim around for hours.

Most funnel-web spiders are very venomous. If one of these spiders bites a person, the victim usually needs hospital treatment.

2. Scorpions

Scorpions are far from the deadliest creatures in the world, but they’re some of the most obnoxious and most frightening pests in the Western United States. Scorpions are particularly troubling because they love to climb into dark, secluded areas-including the toes of shoes. Scorpions are also small enough to squeeze between cracks in the door and infiltrate homes.

Scorpion stings hurt, but they don’t kill. The only truly dangerous scorpion in the United States is the Arizona bark scorpion, whose sting can provoke severe allergic reactions in some people. These scorpions are more aggressive than other types of scorpions in the area.

The eeriest part about Arizona’s scorpions? Bark scorpions live in packs, which means when you encounter one, you’re likely to encounter more. They can also survive freezing temperatures. Once the frozen scorpion thaws out, it gets back to business as usual.

3. Bullet Ants

These South American creatures have the dubious distinction of delivering the most painful insect bite in the world. In fact, they get their English name from the fact that their bites are so painful, even one feels like a shot from a bullet.

The only other insect capable of producing a similarly painful sting is the tarantula hawk wasp. However, although a sting from a hawk wasp is intensely painful, the pain alleviates after a few minutes. Hawk wasps rely on their venom to paralyze tarantulas, so it only needs to last long enough to keep the wasp’s dinner still. In contrast, the pain from a bullet ant’s sting can last up to 24 hours.

According to Justin Schmidt, the entomologist who created an index that rates the intensity of insect bites, getting bitten by a bullet ant feels just like sticking your hand in a socket-in other words, it’s exceedingly painful, not just at the site of the bite, but throughout your entire body.

Fortunately, bullet ants are only found in the rainforests of Paraguay and Nicaragua. Although they might wander into locals’ homes occasionally, they generally keep to themselves deeper in the forest.

4. Tsetse Fly

As you know if you’ve ever battled a housefly or a batch of fruit flies, keeping flies out of your house is nearly impossible. But although houseflies and fruit flies are certainly annoying and can contribute to the spread of disease, they can’t compare to the tsetse fly.

This fly from sub-Saharan Africa spreads a serious disease called sleeping sickness. The fly bites a human host and transmits a parasite that can cause fevers and aches and, in its most intense form, nerve damage, lethargy, and death.

Keep Pests Out of Your House

Thanks to your home’s location, you don’t have to deal with any of these noxious pests. But that doesn’t mean you have to discount your own pest problems! Whether you’re dealing with a mouse infestation or a plague of mosquitoes, call Chem-Wise for help. We’ll ensure you, your family members, and your property are safe from any detrimental effects from any type of pest.

Harmless Spiders You May Find in Your Home

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Colored bodies. Eight legs. Beady eyes. You can instantly recognize a spider as soon as you see one. No matter where you live in the US, you’re bound to encounter spiders at some point or another. Some spiders, like the black widow or the brown recluse, are poisonous. If you notice these crawlers on your property, take caution and contact a pest control specialist immediately.

Other spiders, however, are completely harmless, and you’re more likely to find them in the nooks and crannies of your home. Below, we’ve provided you with a guide to some of the most common harmless spiders you may find in your home.

Read on to learn how to identify these critters and what you can do about their presence in your house.

Woodlouse Hunter

This spider is known by several names, including woodlouse spider, slater spider, sowbug killer, sowbug hunter, pillbug hunter, and orange spider. Its scientific name, Dysdera crocata, roughly translates to “hard-to-fight, orange-colored spider.” This arachnid preys specifically on woodlice in, around, and near buildings, so if you see one on your property, you don’t need to fret.

Not including their legs, male woodlouse spiders range between 9 and 10 millimeters in size. The females measure between 11 and 15 millimeters. They have eight slender legs that are usually a bright orange color, and the tips of each leg have two claw tufts, or small hair clusters, that make climbing easier. Additionally, woodlouse spiders only have six eyes shaped like a tight semicircle.

Both male and female don a few different colors, such as red, orange, brown, and tan. Sometimes, they may look gray in color. Typically, though, the cephalothorax (or combined head and thorax) ranges from yellow-brown to deep red-brown, and the abdomen is a light tan or gray in color. Their bodies also appear shiny.

Unlike most spiders, the woodlouse hunter can be found year-round in gardens, forests, and fields. You may also find these spiders in your basement or cellar or under piles of wood or stone. Depending on the weather, you may find these spiders inside your home. Again, they’re harmless, so you don’t have to worry if you find one or two scattered in your house.

House Spider

As the name suggests, the house spider is an arachnid you’ll primarily find indoors. They’re also found across the Northern Hemisphere, but one common species that you’re likely to encounter in the US is Tegenaria domestica.

Tegenaria domestica, or the domestic house spider, is also called the barn funnel weaver. The males range between 1/4 to 3/8 inches, while females measure 1/4 to 1/2 inches. Male domestic house spiders have longer banded legs than the females as well as a long abdomen. These spiders only feed on other small insects and aren’t venomous to humans.

Typically, domestic house spiders have two dark stripes on their cephalothorax, and the top of the abdomen is patterned with beige and brown speckles. You’ll often find these arachnids inside man-made buildings, usually in dark, cool places like basements and cellars. Some house spiders live beneath rocks and wood stacks.

Aside from the domestic house spider, you may encounter red house spiders, brown house spiders, southern house spiders, giant house spiders, and black house spiders, depending on where you live.

Daddy Longlegs

These spiders also go by a few different names, including cellar spiders, carpenter spiders, granddaddy spiders, and vibrating spiders. These arachnids are more delicate spiders. Their fused bodies size from 2 millimeters to 10 millimeters and their legs can measure up to 50 millimeters long. Interestingly, daddy long legs can have either six or eight eyes. These spiders also don’t produce venom, so they’re perfectly harmless.

Daddy longlegs are found everywhere in the world, excluding Antarctica. You’ll often find these spiders in damp, dark spaces indoors and outdoors. These creatures also thrive in various habitats such as basement corners, cellars, attics, and windows. They may also live below rocks or tree bark if they have access to a food source.

Surprisingly, daddy longlegs are closely related to scorpions. These arachnids have also been around for a long time-the oldest known daddy longlegs was found in a fossil in Scotland. Scientists determined that the spider in the fossil was at least 400 million years old.

What Should You Do if You Spot Spiders in Your Home?

If you spot one or two of these spiders in your home, don’t worry. They’re completely harmless to humans and actually benefit your home. As mentioned above, they eat small insects that could otherwise harm or damage your home or landscape.

However, if you notice several of these spiders in your home, they can become quite a nuisance. Contact Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management and schedule spider control services so you can remove small infestations in your home.

A pest control expert can also help you find entry points, food sources, or similar factors that could attract these spiders to your home. Use these professionals’ advice to prevent other spiders from coming into your home in the future.

Tired of Mosquito Bites? Why They Itch and What to Do About It

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Summer can be truly beautiful. You probably love sitting outside during the evening when the sun goes down, the air cools off, and people are out and about-but the mosquitoes like summer evenings too.

By now, you’ve probably been bitten a few times, and you’re tired of dealing with the itchy red bumps. As you scratch away in frustration, you may have a few questions. Why do mosquito bites itch so much? Why do they get bigger when scratched? And how can I lessen the itching? This blog can give you the answers.

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?

When a female mosquito (males don’t bite) feeds on you, she inserts her proboscis (or needle-like mouth) into your skin to draw blood. However, blood has platelets that form clots over cuts and scratches. If a clot forms around the bite, the mosquito could get trapped.

To make sure they don’t get caught, mosquitoes inject a little of their saliva into the person they bite. The saliva contains an anticoagulant, and this substance prevents clots from forming.

By injecting this mixture, the mosquito gets to feed on your blood and get away with it. However, exposure to the anticoagulant is not so great for you. Your immune system recognizes the foreign anticoagulant and fights off the “invader” by releasing histamine.

Histamine causes the bitten area to swell up with extra blood (extra blood means extra white blood cells, which fight off germs and aid in healing), and it also causes the area to get irritated and itch, just like how your eyes itch when they get pollen in them. The result is the itchy red bump you know all too well.

However, some lucky people don’t react to mosquito bites, or they rarely react at all. In areas with lots of mosquitoes, some people have been bitten so many times that their immune systems stop reacting and just accept the bite as normal. In that case, the bite will not itch or swell, and the person may never know they were bitten.

If that person travels to an area with a different species of mosquitoes, though, the bites will contain a different anticoagulant. That person will again get the itchy bites the rest of us suffer from.

Why Do Mosquito Bites Get Bigger When Scratched?

Probably the worst thing about mosquito bites is that if you scratch them, they get bigger and last longer. You can only let them heal if you ignore the itching.

The bite marks get bigger when scratched because of your immune system’s response. As previously mentioned, the area swells in an attempt to get rid of anything that could harm your body. If you scratch it, you’ll irritate the area more, convincing your body that the problem is getting worse instead of going away, so the immune system will release more histamine instead of less. The area gets bigger as a result.

You have to let your body calm down by ignoring the bite if you want it to go away.

How Can I Treat Itchy Mosquito Bites?

To soothe your body’s response, you can try various lotions or salves, including:

  • Hydrocortisone cream. Hydrocortisone contains a mild steroid that reduces inflammation and swelling. Essentially, it reduces your immune system’s reaction. You can find a tube of it in most drugstores for a few dollars.
  • Cold. Numbing the area can provide some temporary relief. Take a cold shower if you have bites all over your body, or use an ice pack to numb just one or two bites.
  • Protection. If you worry that you’ll scratch a bite no matter what, cover it so you can’t get to it. A Band-Aid or some tape might do the trick. Additionally, some people say that the pressure feels good on the bite.
  • Baking soda. Some people swear by baking soda. Make a paste with baking soda and water, and spread it on your bite. Similarly, toothpaste (many of which contain baking soda) may get the job done.
  • TUMS. If you have these antacids on hand, they can also be crushed and made into a paste that many users have found effective at relieving itchiness.

If all else fails, you may have to rely on simple measures like using distractions and willpower. You should be rid of that itchy bite in a day or two if you leave it alone.

 

If you’re sick of mosquitoes getting into your yard, you may have a pest control problem. Calling in an expert can help. Call Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management to get started. We can answer your questions, assess your property, eliminate mosquito breeding areas, and treat existing mosquito infestations.

With our help, you can get back to enjoying your summer evenings without worrying about mosquitoes and getting bug bites. Enjoy sitting on your porch!

10 Cool Facts About Termites

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You don’t want termites in your house-they can destroy the structure of your home quickly. However, when you’re not dealing with them, termites are actually really interesting.

Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with termites, but you can learn more about them by reading this blog.
Read these 10 fascinating facts about termites.

1. Termites Don’t Sleep

Termites are busy bugs. With all the tunneling, burrowing, and nest building to do, termites work 24/7.
Though it seems impossible, they survive without rest for one or two years, which is their average life span.

2. Termites Are Ancient

Though individual termites don’t live long, as a species, they’ve been around for ages. Termites are closely related to cockroaches. Both insects descended from a common ancestor that lived about 300 million years ago, before dinosaurs walked the earth. Termites as a species emerged during the Cretaceous period, about 130 million years ago.

3. Termites Are Ecologically Important

When they aren’t eating through people’s homes, termites are actually useful bugs. They help decompose plants by eating tough fibers like wood, which breaks the plant
matter down and returns it to the soil, making the dirt more fertile for new growth. Termites also aerate the ground they tunnel through, and the added oxygen encourages new growth.

4. Most Termites Are Blind

Except for the kings and queens of the colony, most termites don’t have functional eyes. They don’t need to-they spend their entire lives underground.

5. Termites Communicate With Scents and Vibrations

A termite colony has its own complex social order, and the members work together to ensure the colony’s survival. To signal where food is, termites leave a scent trail for other termites to follow. When something dangerous is approaching the colony, termites that spot it will hit their heads on the walls of the colonythe vibrations will warn other termites to be on guard or to come help fight.

6. Termite Colonies Are Founded by a King and Queen

Most termites are born blind and wingless. However, some termites have functioning eyes and wings. They are the only termites that reach sexual maturity, and when it’s time for them to mate, they swarm outside their colonies to find another termite to pair off with.

A mated male and female termite pair will then look for a place to find a new colony. When they find a good spot, they shed their wings and begin reproducing. The king will help look after the eggs the queen lays, at least until some of their children have grown up enough to help out around the colony.

7. Queens Lay Millions of Eggs

Queens may lay as many as 30,000 eggs in just one day, and queens can live for possibly more than 10 years, if the conditions are right. In 10 years, at 30,000 eggs a day, one termite queen will lay 109,500,000 eggs.

The termite queen does nothing else after she has mated and begun the colony. She will stay in her chamber for the rest of her life, be fed and groomed by her mate and her children, and lay eggs to keep the colony going.

8. Some People Eat Queen Termites

Queen termites are considerably bigger than other termites. In Singapore, they’re considered a delicacythey can be served in many ways, including live or preserved in rice wine.

9. Worker Termites Take Care of Business

Inside the colony, each termite has a job to do. Some termites tend the queen, some look after the termite eggs and larvae, many go look for food, and many work to build the colony’s nest.

Those that perform these essential functions are called worker termites. They can be either male or female, unlike the members of beehives, where all the workers are female. They form the majority of the colony’s members. If a colony forms in your home, these worker termites are the ones that cause the damage to the wood in your house’s structure.

10. Soldier Termites Protect the Colony

Solider termites look different from workers-they have large mandibles to fight off intruders or predators (the most common problems for termite colonies are ant colonies).

Soldiers guard the colony and go out with the workers on foraging expeditions. Because their heads are large, they sometimes use them to block tunnels that lead to the nest so intruders can’t get in, or they plug holes in the tunnels with their heads until the workers can repair them.

Soldiers aren’t as common as workers. They make up maybe 15 percent of the colony. Like the workers, they can be male or female.

 

Termites may be interesting, but you don’t want them in your home. They can cause expensive, dangerous damage to your house in short amounts of time by chewing through your wooden structures. If you suspect you have termites, call Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management immediately. Contact us and we’ll promptly investigate, assess, and treat the problem so your home stays safe.

Best and Worst Bugs Found in Gardens

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Homegrown tomatoes, crisp zucchini, fresh green beans, tender snap peas-gardeners know well the joy of growing and enjoying their own veggies. Unfortunately, those tasty plants often attract bugs as well. Some insects help gardens to flourish while others sneak samples of your harvest without permission.

Learn the difference between beneficial and baneful garden insects below.

Bugs to Banish

The worst garden pests earn that superlative because they feast upon your plants. They nibble on the leaves or even take large bites out of the vegetables you were planning to eat. Take steps to eliminate any of the following bugs when you find them in your garden.

Aphids

Aphids make every list of the most annoying garden pests. These creatures are tiny, about one-tenth of an inch in length, and come in many colors-including green and light pink. But don’t be fooled by their small size and their fun colors. Aphids multiply quickly and spread to other plants fast. Plus, they feed on essentially any plant, so you should get rid of them as soon as possible.

Caterpillars

The book “The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar” makes this insect variety seem like a cute, fun bug-but don’t forget that they crunch holes in leaves on their path toward becoming beautiful butterflies. In fact, they have to eat a large amount of plant matter so they can store enough energy to survive and transform inside their cocoons. If you find these creatures, move them to a different area so your garden can thrive.

Spider Mites

Think of spider mites as tiny vampires that suck plant juice instead of blood. They are quite small and repopulate in large numbers, so they can do quite a bit of damage before you notice their presence.

Your plants will look dull or wilted if spider mites have started feeding on them. Unless you notice the infestation early, the mites may also have time to make thin webs in between leaves and plant stalks that could harm the plant.

Thrips

Thrips look like tiny, translucent worms with legs. This pesky pest often causes the most trouble in the hottest months. During warm conditions, fresh eggs can hatch in about two weeks. Thrips are also troublesome because they can hide inside plant parts like flowers, making them hard to eradicate.

When you find any of these insects in your garden, request eco-friendly pest control that protects your plants while targeting all these pesky bugs.

Bugs to Attract

Unlike the pests named above, helpful garden bugs will not eat your plants. Instead, they usually eat harmful bugs or discourage them from taking up residence in your garden. You can welcome the following insects to your rows of thriving vegetables.

Ground Beetles

If you don’t visit your garden much when it’s dark outside, you may not realize ground beetles live there. This species is nocturnal, emerging at night to consume pests like slugs and snails. A ground beetle’s prey also includes cutworms and gypsy moth larvae, which are actually types of caterpillars.

Lacewings

Master gardeners know that delicate adult lacewings reach maturity after devouring many garden-dwelling pests as larvae. Lacewing larvae have earned the nickname “aphid lions” because of their huge appetites for aphids. Each larva can eat more than 200 aphids per week. The larvae also eat scales, thrips, and caterpillars.

Lacewing larvae look almost like miniaturized alligators with pincers instead of jaws. Lacewing eggs typically lie under leaves in small groups.

Ladybugs

These spotted red bugs aren’t just pretty to look at. Both the full-grown adults and their less developed larvae feast on garden pests. Their favorite meals include spider mites and aphids. Some devoted green thumbs even order ladybugs in the mail and deliberately release them into their gardens to control other bug populations.

Spiders

Sorry to those with arachnophobia, but most spiders should be welcome guests in your garden. They spin webs that catch insects, thereby controlling the overall bug population. You really only need to worry about poisonous species, such as the black widow or the brown recluse. Next time you see a web on the fence near your pumpkin patch, think of “Charlotte’s Web” and leave it alone.

Spined Soldier Bug

This insect looks quite a bit like the stink bug, but instead of rounded shoulders, it features more pronounced pointy shoulders. The other distinguishing trait you can see is the shorter, thicker nose on the spined soldier bug.

But the most important difference between these two bugs is that spined soldier bugs eat beetle larvae and some types of caterpillars. Stink bugs, on the other hand, love to eat the same fruits and veggies you enjoy. Plus, they obviously smell when crushed.

Remember that even these beneficial bugs can become pests in large numbers. Bigger populations may wander away from your garden and into your home. If you experience this issue, partner with a meticulous pest control company like Chem-Wise. We can keep these bugs out of areas where they aren’t welcome.

Biological Pest Control: What Works and What Failed Miserably

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Uncategorized

In 1962, Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring,” a book about the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. Carson’s book effectively launched the modern environmentalist movement and changed our nation’s policies on the use of pesticides, especially those containing the chemical DDT.

Pest control today is much safer than it was during the ’60s, and Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management takes our responsibility to the earth seriously. However, today’s methods are the results of a lot of experiments, some of which did not turn out.

Biological pest control, or using natural forces like predators and parasites to keep pest populations low, is one of those alternatives with mixed results. Keep reading to learn which methods have proved successful and which haven’t.

Biological Pest Control That Works

Some biological pest control methods are older than human memory, and some are recent developments. You’ll find some from both categories in this list.

1. Cats

Most people today keep cats as pets, and cats have been domesticated since possibly 8,000 BCE. However, cats are often kept as pest control instead of as companions. Domestic cats in the United States kill about 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds and 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals (primarily rodents like mice and rats) every year.

2. Dogs

Similarly to cats, many dogs were bred to hunt rodents. Most terrier breeds are natural mousers, such as the rat terrier, dachshund, and Yorkshire terrier. Their small size and high energy help them chase and fit into tight places when on the hunt.

We usually treat these dogs as companions now instead of workers. However, they still have natural instincts for chasing small prey. If you have one of these dogs, you’re probably familiar with how much they want to chase balls or dig-or chase any rabbit, mouse, or gopher that they might come across. If you also own another pet like a hamster or a gerbil, you probably have to keep the two pets apart.

3. Ladybugs

Aphids are tiny bugs that consume leaves. If an infestation develops, an entire crop in a garden or a farm can be decimated. Ladybugs offer a natural solution: ladybugs and their larvae feed on aphids, caterpillars, scale insects, and mites. Some farmers have bought live ladybugs to release into their fields to cut down the pest population.

Another way to take advantage of ladybugs and similar insects is to encourage their native populations instead of simply importing them. In England, researchers found bugs that eat aphids living in grass by the sides of the farmers’ fields. To encourage the aphid predators, the farmers planted those grasses in patches throughout the fields, allowing the bugs more places to live and ultimately reducing the aphid population.

4. Cactus Moths

One of the issues with globalization is the rise of invasive species. If a plant or an animal travels to another part of the world where it does not have natural predators, that species’ population can explode. One example of this is the prickly pear cactus in Australia-the plant was introduced as an ornamental shrub for people’s gardens, but it quickly became a weed.

In this case, the solution was to bring the cactus’s parasites over to Australia as well. To stop the spread of the cactus, scientists brought over the cactus moth, among other bugs. These parasites feed on the cactus, weakening and even killing it.

Biological Pest Control That Failed

Some biological pest control measures didn’t work, and some made things even worse. These two methods were failures.

1. Mongooses

The mongoose is native to Asia and preys on small animals like rodents and birds. In 1883, Hawaiian plantation owners introduced mongooses to their fields in an effort to keep the rat population down.

In theory, this should have worked. However, unlike current methods of biological pest control that take into account the entire environment, this attempt was short sighted. Mongooses don’t just eat rats-they eat whatever they can get. As a result, they have aggressively picked off Hawaii’s bird population without doing much damage to the rodents. They are considered an invasive species and a nuisance today.

2. Cane Toads

The cane toad is another classic example of early failed biological pest control. In 1935, the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations brought the toad to Australia to control the local beetle population. The beetles, though native to Australia, threatened sugar cane crops, and the South American cane toad looked like a good solution.

Instead, no evidence exists that shows that the toads have helped with the beetles. But they multiply quickly and are still spreading over Australia. Unfortunately, they can carry diseases that affect native animals around them, making them an enormous threat to Australia’s ecosystem.

 

Some biological pest control methods work, and some don’t. However, you don’t have to get a cat if you’re worried about mice-call Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management. We can help you find a low-impact, quick pest control method right for your family. Contact us to get your pest problem solved.