Fleas and Flea Control in Tennessee

Flea 101

adult fleaSummer time is prime time for flea infestations in middle Tennessee.  It all starts in May when the weather warms and animals and pets are beginning to move around outside.  The flea pupa have been laying dormant and are awaiting the proper conditions to emerge and become biting adults.  Did you know that the adult flea can remain in the protective cocoon (pupa phase) for up to 5 months waiting for the proper conditions before if emerges?  Heat, carbon dioxide, and vibrations are all triggers that tell the adult when to emerge.  The adult female is the only flea stage that requires a blood meal and will bite a host.  The adult flea generally makes up less than 5% of the total population inside a household.  The other 95% are the ones you don’t see: the eggs, larva, and pupa.  This is why it can be difficult to to control fleas.  But, more on this later.

What can the homeowner do to prevent flea infestations?

Lincoln is a tick free dogThere are steps that a homeowner can take to help prevent a flea infestation.  We highly recommend talking with your pet’s veterinarian about flea control for your four-legged family member.  They will usually recommend a product that can be used on the pet to help keep the pet from bringing outdoor fleas inside the home.  Outdoors, it is a good idea to keep the grass trimmed on a regular basis and all shaded areas free from overgrown bushes, shrubs, and debris.  Fleas can not survive for long in direct sunlight.  Also keep the crawl space access properly sealed to keep pets, feral animals, and rodents from entering and leaving behind a flea infestation.  Wash pet bedding on a regular basis to help remove any flea eggs, larva, and pupa that may have been left behind.

I have fleas!! Now what??

If you have a flea infestation, the first thing that needs to be done is to ensure your pet has been properly treated. Please discuss this with your pet’s veterinarian.  Next, wash all of the pet bedding and vacuum all of the floors in the house.  This includes hard surfaces and carpets.  Use the crack and crevice tool along the baseboards to help remove any pet hair and flea dirt.  Vacuum under beds and furniture, and pick up clutter.  Fleas love the cracks and crevices.  The vacuum can pick up to 60% of the eggs, larva, pupa and adult fleas in the home.  Vacuum every day for the quickest relief.  And don’t forget, empty the canister or dispose of the bag from the vacuum after each cleaning or the fleas will emerge out of the vacuum!

Once the cleaning is done, now you can consider a flea treatment.  At this time, you can find a do-it-yourself product or call The Bug Man.  If you do it yourself, please read the label and follow the directions carefully.  Flea treatments take time to work. Once the flea treatment is applied, the adult fleas will continue to emerge from the pupa cases (cocoons) and continue to bite before the flea treatment has time to kill them.  This is normal and the cycle can last a few days to a few weeks, depending on the level of infestation and how often you vacuum!  Please refrain from repeated applications of flea sprays, as most products will have limits on how often they should be re-applied.  Safety first!

Aside from the cleaning benefits of the vacuum there is another major reason why you vacuum. Vibrations!! Remember that I mentioned that flea pupa can lie dormant for months? Well, they will emerge from the pupa phase if they detect that a blood meal may be nearby. The vibrations from the vacuum on a daily basis sends a signal to them that there is activity in the area. The faster you get them to emerge from the pupa phase and start moving around, the faster they will come in contact with the treated surfaces and begin the cycle of elimination.

What can I do to prevent fleas?

Our customers have asked, so The Bug Man has begun an exterior flea prevention add-on service for our 4 Season Pest Service.  During each quarterly seasonal service, our certified technician will provide an inspection and exterior treatment for the prevention of fleas.  We target the areas that fleas are likely to nest.  With this protection, in the unlikely chance that you have an interior flea infestation, The Bug Man will provide interior flea treatment as necessary at no extra cost.  The Bug Man also offers flea infestation service if you are not currently a 4 Seasons Pest Service customer.  If you are interested in more information on this protection, please contact us.

 

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When is termite season?

When are termites active?  When is termite season?

Termite WorkersTermites are reason for concern, and two of the most commonly asked questions we receive at The Bug Man office are: “When are termites active?” and “When is termite season?”.  In Tennessee, termites are actually active year-round.  We have found active termites in crawl spaces in the winter time when there has been snow on the ground.  Yeah, pretty funny… snow on the ground in middle Tennessee? Ha! That hardly ever happens.  The termites may not be as active, or active outside in the mulch when the ground turns cold but, with our heated homes, the crawl spaces stay warm enough to sustain termite activity year round.

Termite Shelter TunnelsMost people become aware of termite activity during termite swarm season.  In middle Tennessee, this generally occurs in the spring time, between March and May.  This is the time of year when you see the alate termites (the winged termites) emerging from the walls, floors, and ceilings of homes.  Swarm season is The Bug Man’s busiest time for termite work because most homeowners are calling in with sightings of the termite swarmers.  Most swarming termites will die after swarming, as they become a food source for birds, lizards, and other insects and spiders.  And the termites that swarm indoors all die if they are unable to return to the soil in short order after locating a suitable mate.

Termite swarmers are not the termites that homeowners need to fear, but they are a great indicator that you have an infestation.  The termite colony consists of termite workers that consume the cellulose in wood and feed the rest of the colony.  These are the termites that cause the damage to structures.  Our treatments are designed to target and eliminate the colony of termites and protect the structure from future attacks.  The Bug Man treatment of choice is Termidor HE.  Termidor has been proven to last for over 15 years in studies, and we are able to offer a 20 year renewable warranty with our treatments.

When should I have my home inspected?

Termidor HEThe Bug Man recommends having a termite inspection every 12-18 months.  Termite inspections can be completed year round in Tennessee.  During this inspection our certified technicians will inspect all accessible areas for evidence of termites.  We inspect for termite shelter tubes, tunnels, exit holes, wood debris in crawl spaces, and other conducive conditions that can lead to a future termite infestation.  Even with a complete inspection, it is still possible that a structure can have a termite infestation that goes undetected.  Termites can gain entry behind brick, through block, travel behind walls and under floors.  Many of these spaces are not accessible during a visual inspection.  Many times, even the professional must wait until there are visible signs of damage before we are able to locate an active termite infestation.  This is the reason that we recommend treatments on homes even when there is not a current visible sign of termites.  Termite treatment is one of the maintenance requirements of home ownership.  Once a home is under a termite protection treatment and warranty, we continue to perform yearly inspections to ensure the home remains termite free.

The Bug Man offers a free termite inspection and quote for Termidor HE Termite Protection.  Our certified technicians will provide a detailed written report of findings and quote for Termidor HE Termite Protection Protection.  Our goal at The Bug Man is to educate and provide the findings of our inspection so you have all the tools necessary to make a decision on how best to protect your home.

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Attack of the Spiders

Spiders on attack in middle Tennessee

Brown Recluse SpiderWhy do we have so many spiders, one may ask?  The answer to this question is a simple one.  Spiders feed on insects, and the hot summer days cause many insects to procreate, and this provides an ample food source for the spiders.  When you see spiders and spider webs, there are other insects in the vicinity.  The spiders are natural pest control.  Go green, grow spiders!  The problem is, most people prefer not to have spiders as pets.  So, we are tasked with controlling the spider population, and to do this we must control the other pests, too.

Brown Recluse and Black Widow Spiders, Oh My

Most spiders in middle Tennessee are pretty harmless.  The two spiders that have a health importance in our area are the brown recluse spider and the black widow spider.  These two spiders can cause harm when they bite humans.  Most of the others are either unable to bite through human skin or the bite does not cause a major reaction.

Spiders are beneficial in nature and we believe that they serve an important role.  They help to reduce insect population and also provide a food source for larger predators, such as birds, lizards, and frogs.  They only become a pest when they enter into an area that the spider is unwanted, undesired, or can cause harm or damage.  This is when pest control is necessary and you call The Bug Man.  Our trained technicians have the knowledge and training to identify the problem and provide the solution.

Treatments for Spiders

Treatment strategies for spider control can differ depending on the type of spider, level of infestation, and treatment locations.  With all pest services, we always recommend removal of clutter, as this gives the pests areas to hide and these areas are very difficult to treat effectively.   One of the most successful treatment strategies for spider control is the use of insect monitors, also known as glue traps.  The monitors capture the spiders and other insects, help identify the level of infestation, what parts of the structure are infested, and remove every insect that is caught from the house.   When used as part of a full treatment plan, the insect monitors play an important role in keeping a home pest free.  The Bug Man’s certified technician will design a treatment stately for each situation after an inspection is complete.

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Fire Ants found in middle Tennessee

Are there fire ants in middle Tennessee and Murfreesboro?

Fire AntsI am asked frequently if fire ants are found in middle Tennessee.  The short answer to that question is Yes!  The first documented case of imported fire ants in Tennessee was back in 1987 in Hardin County.  Since then, the fire ants have been spreading across the state at a rapid pace.  Each year since 2001 when we started The Bug Man, we have seen increased activity and had increased customer calls requesting fire ant control.

Fire ants have been found in the Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Christiana this past week and they are active!  We have sited them at local parks and sports complexes, in the median strips in parking lots, and even while out camping this past weekend in Oliver Spings, Tn.  The imported fire ants are taking over at a rapid pace.

Fire ants are easy to locate, look for the mounds

Imported fire ant nests are easy to locate once they are built.  The ants build large mounds in the soil that can be over a foot tall and two feet wide.  The nests can extend into the ground up to 3 feet and spread out a few feet past the width of the visible nest.  Please, Do NOT disturb these nests.  A typical nest can have between 80,000 and 250,000 stinging ants in the colony!  Keep children and pets away, as the fire ants are dangerous when defending their nest.  When a fire ant nest is disturbed, all of the ants surface and begin to attack and sting any intruder.  They will climb up a stick or other device that was used to disturb the nest and sting the one holding it.  They will also swarm your feet and climb your legs, and sting!  The resulting stings will cause puss-filled blisters and will last few days to weeks.  This is not fun.  Growing up in Florida, I know personally what it feels like to be stung repetitively by fire ants.

If you find imported fire ant mounds when out around town, please leave them be.  If you locate them on you property, it is best to have them eliminated for the safety of your children and pets.  This can be done professionally by The Bug Man or you can visit a local store and purchase products to do-it-yourself.  If you choose the do-it-yourself option, please be sure to read and follow all label directions and be sure to wear your personal protective equipment.  Be safe!  I am including a link here to the University of Georgia that discusses in more detail the fire ants and the how to control them.

The video below shows what a typical fire ant nest looks like and how active they become once the nest is disturbed.  We do not recommend disturbing a fire ant nest.

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Cicadas in Tennessee 2011

We’re using Llama Font to deliver bad news about the 2011 Cicadas in Tennessee…

Here at The Bug Man, we’re big fans of humor. It’s great to laugh! Because, honestly, some things are quite funny. If laughter is the best medicine, then we’ve got an entire medicine cabinet full of it!

While browsing Twitter today, we stumbled upon a funny little web page called Llama Font. It genuinely cracked us up to think about Tina the llama from the movie Napoleon Dynamite bending to make llama letters.

The creators of Llama Font suggested that their llama letters should be used to deliver bad news…

Bad News About the 2011 Cicadas in Tennessee

Though the news you just read is tragic, don’t be dismayed. Rather, take relief in knowing this good news…

Good News About The Bug Man

If you found this page on Google and really want legit info about cicadas, please read our previous blog post The 13-Year Cicada Set to Invade Middle Tennessee.

Have any questions about cicadas (or any other pest)? Please post a comment. Maybe we’ll answer your questions in Llama Font!

Just kidding. We won’t answer in Llama Font. 🙂