Sunday, September 20, 2015

Odorous House Ant - Tapinoma Sessile
Odorous House Ants are notorious for their love of sweets. They will search your kitchen for any sugary snack that they can find, from the sugar bowl, to the cereal, into the fridge for a quick bite of left over cake.  Outdoors the Odorous House Ant will eat honeydew – a byproduct of aphids, but they will also eat dead insects and spiders. These ants are brownish black to black and are on the small side. The workers are approximately 1/16 – 1/8 of an inch long. These ants are found all throughout the United States. They typically will nest indoors under sinks near plumbing voids, under doormats, and the insulation around automatic dishwashers, just to name a few. Outdoors you will find them under rock, near garbage cans, potted plants, or shrubbery that can give them easy access to the honeydew produced by the aphids living on the plants. One easy way a technician can identify whether the infestation is an Odorous House Ant or other ant is by crushing a specimen. The Odorous House Ant gives off a distinctive scent as a defense mechanism which smells a little like rotting coconut. These ants do not sting. They lack the stinging appendage to do any damage. The colony can range from a few hundred to about 10,000 and will have multiple queens. The best thing a person can do to help eliminate this ant from invading a home is to make sure that all sugary items are in sealed containers that the counters stay wiped up with no crumbs left over. Water should not be left in sinks and any leaks should be corrected to eliminate an essential element that is needed for their survival. Sometimes exclusion work such as caulking may be necessary if the nest is found on the outside of the structure to help eliminate the highway the ant is using to come indoors. Identifying the correct ant, habitat modifications such as exclusion work and sanitation, and using the proper products will help to reduce and eliminate any ant problem.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Carpenter Bees - Xyclopinae

Carpenter Bees - Xyclopinae

Have you noticed some perfectly round holes in your wooden siding, deck or other areas of your home, that have happened not by you doing so, or from a mischievous child? Perhaps this is late-spring, early summer and you happen to see some large black bees hovering around outside your home. They are roughly the same size or little bigger than a bumblebee, but these are probably carpenter bees searching for a mate and looking to make nests in those round holes that have been bored into your structure. They can be quite destructive, as once they have bored into the wood, they will turn in 90 degree angles to the left and right to carve out areas to make cells for their offspring.  Carpenter bees prefer softwoods like redwood, cedar, cypress and pine. If these are left bare, unpainted or are weathered it is like an open invitation to the bee to make their nest. Painted or pressure treated wood will also be used, but they are less likely to go to these types of wood if there is other more desirable wood present. The most common areas that they will bore into to make nests are eaves, window trim, fascia board, siding, decks, and outdoor furniture.
Carpenter bees will overwinter in abandoned nest tunnels and emerge in the spring around April or May.  The female will clean out old nests or will excavate new nests and tunnels after mating, so that she can place her fertilized eggs into sectioned off cells with food for the larvae to feast on until they emerge as adults in late summer.
The male carpenter bee will protect the nest, but are quite harmless as they lack stingers. The female carpenter bee can inflict a painful sting, but rarely do unless someone tries to handle them. The upper surface of their abdomen is shiny black and does not have hair like the bumblebee, and they usually do not have the yellow marking of a bumble bee, but may have some yellow on the face or body depending on the type of carpenter bee.
Carpenter bees do not consume the wood as food. They simply excavate the tunnels for nesting sites. Newly formed tunnels made by carpenter bees will have tell-tale signs of formation by the coarse sawdust that is left below the perfectly round hole (roughly ½” in diameter) that the carpenter bee has made. The entrance holes go into the wood about ½” or more then will turn horizontally and follow the wood grain.  The galleries will typically run for about six to seven inches, but have been known to exceed 12”, probably by the re-use of nests from year to year.
Preventing carpenter bee damage is difficult.  Use of a residual spray, helps and will keep working on the wood for an extended amount of time as the carpenter bees are active over several weeks. Treat all tunnels with a liquid or a dust, since what is seen is not the full scope of how large these tunnels are and all the areas need to be coated. Sometimes it just is not practical to treat every single area of wood on a home. Dusts work well in the voids as they will coat all the areas of the tunnels with relative ease.  Once the tunnels are vacant (usually after treatment within 24-36 hours) it is important to seal the entrance points with a ball of steel wool or aluminum foil and to caulk or use wood putty so that the tunnels can’t be used for overwintering by adults.  If you try to plug untreated holes, you may just end up with more holes if the adults are still in there, since they will just chew another exit hole to get out.
It is always best to have an experienced pest control operator to come and assess your problem and give you helpful guidance and recommendations as to what is best for your particular problem. As with all pest control products, make sure that they are labeled to be used in your particular area or state. If you are a do it yourselfer, make sure to follow label instructions implicitly for your safety as well as the environment.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber
(Trypoxylon Politum)
The Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Trypoxylon politum is a type of wasp that builds multiple tubes for nests that resemble a pan flute or pipe organ – hence the name. These wasps are fairly large (one inch in length) and are shiny black or sometimes bluish that are beneficial as they keep down the spider population. Spiders and nectar from flowers are two sources of food for these wasps. Their nests can be a nuisance as they will build on any available protected or sheltered vertical area such as: under decks, porches, garages, protected porch walls or corners. These nests can be scraped off the structure using a putty knife or any other flat surfaced object. The nests are made with mud and saliva to keep them attached to the wall. The female will pick up mud in her mandibles, roll it into a ball and grasp it with her front legs. She will use her forehead to place the mud balls and rub them out into long strips. The nests are usually no longer than six inches long, one to six tubes across and contain about six cell sections in each tube for offspring. Numerous nests can be found together as even though these are solitary wasps, they will tolerate one another having nests close by. Male organ pipe mud daubers are among the few male wasps of any species to stay at the nest. The male protects the nest to prevent theft of food and to keep predators and parasites off the nest while a female is away collecting spiders. Mating typically occurs when the female returns to the nest. The female does not stay with the nest, preferring to hunt, gather and collect for the future offspring and the making of the nest.
The eggs that the female Organ Pipe Mud Dauber lays in the mud cells will produce both male and female wasps. The fertilized eggs become females, and the unfertilized become males. Researchers have found that the female wasp will stash more paralyzed spiders (food) in the cells that fertilized eggs are stored. The reasoning behind this seems to be that a better nourished larva will transform into a larger adult. The female wasps need to be bigger than the males due to the extra energy it takes to produce young.
Organ Pipe Mud Daubers are considered a docile species of wasp. Stings to humans are very rare, almost non-existent. However, if squeezed, Organ Pipe Mud Daubers will sting in self-defense.
If you want to discourage Organ Pipe Mud Daubers from being attracted to your home, you have to consider modifying the habitat area. This means you would need to reduce the availability of the food for these insects to prey on.  Removal of spider webs in corners and crevices, removal of nests and screening or caulking open areas to buildings will prevent nesting in those areas. If you or a loved one has a known allergy to wasp or bee stings, chemical control may be necessary. Pyrethrins or synthetic pyrethroids are known to be effective. Normally, late evening or early mornings are the best time to spray areas as these are the time when there is less activity on the nests. If you are uncomfortable with taking care of the problem, consider hiring a professional in the pest control industry to help you.