Indian Meal Moths: Silently Lurking in the Kitchen

Nothing makes me shudder more than the thought of indian meal moths in my food pantry. We all have our bug fears & rants. Mine happens to be this evil little time gobbler of an insect that invades our food. This particular blog is personal for me, today. If you have not heard or experienced indian meal moths before then you will want to definitely read on.

Where are all of these moths coming from???

This will be the first thing that you say. Indian meal moths seem to come from nowhere. In the beginning it’s one here or there. After a couple of days it’s three or four. The next thing you know… they’re everywhere!  Indian Meal Moth

They struck our family last summer when we were in the middle of a family emergency. We had to travel to and from Tennessee for weeks on end. It’s almost like they sensed that we had no time to find the exact source of the problem. If you can find the source of the problem quickly then you will avoid the pantry crisis. We did not have the time to look at every item in the pantry like we KNEW we should do. We opened a few items like cereal, corn starch, flour, dog food, and nuts. We found several infested foot items and considered the matter finished.

How long do indian meal moths live?

The larvae of indian meal moths can take anywhere from 2 to 14 days to hatch. An adult will live anywhere from 5 to 25 days. Of course, this is all depending on the environmental conditions. In my book, 5 minutes is too long.

The indian meal moths continued to flutter about my kitchen for days on end. The problem was becoming worse by the day. Until finally, I said enough is enough. I’m tearing apart the pantry!!   Well, I found the nasty culprit. It was a lovely tin of popcorn from Christmas (thanks Mom!) that had gotten pushed to the corner over time and forgotten about. When I opened up that tin it was like something from that scene in the movie The Green Mile where John Coffey “takes back” the bugs. There were literally hundreds of them and they swarmed out of that tin in a black cloud all around my head. To say that I invented a new dance in the kitchen of my Murfreesboro, TN home that day would be an understatement.

Indian meal moth elimination
The kitchen was a mess!

Actually, finding the source was great news! I knew that I could finally get down to solving the problem. I removed every food item AND sealed container and inspected it. Every corner and crevice. Any containers with larvae, pupae, or moth was discarded in a trash bag. Everything else was wiped down thoroughly with a soapy sponge. Every time I saw a moth I would quickly suck it up in the vacuum.

There were all stages of indian meal moths everywhere I looked: In the food, crevices of bags, crevices of boxes, the screw-on lids of herbs, cracks of wall shelving, corners of pantry, inside lip of the chip clips.   Everywhere! I even found larvae & pupae in “sealed” storage containers holding herbs and seasonings that I had blended together myself. Some things are just not as sealed as you think they are. I was very disappointed to have to throw away those blends. Herbs and seasonings can be so expensive!

Indian meal moth pupae in chip clip lip
Look closely for the cocooned pupae on inside lip of the handle of this chip clip!

The process was very time consuming, but in the end the problem was resolved. Did I mention that no pesticides were used? The solution for indian meal moths can never be accomplished with pesticides. Sometimes, the job of a professional is not in what they do but in what they know. In the work of an exterminator this is called Integrated Pest Management or IPM. Basically, it is a combination of common sense and scientific principles we use to solve a pest problem whereby we reduce the risk to the environment and people. In the case of indian meal moths, we cannot treat the food or their containers so we rely on IPM to remedy the problem.

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The Ants are Marching in Murfreesboro

It seems that almost everyone who calls us this week says that the ants are marching in a big way through Murfreesboro and the rest of middle Tennessee. Even for the professional like The Bug Man, ants can be the most challenging pest to control. But, with thorough training and know-how even the trickiest ant problems can be resolved with a little patience.  Ants marching in Murfreesboro

What Causes the Ant Invasions??

Ants are very weather sensitive insects. During periods of heavy rain or, the opposite, abnormally hot and dry weather the ant colonies will move to the indoors. Why? Because their homes have either become flooded or else they lack food and/or water. They are very much like us, those pesky ants. When we understand why they react to certain situations then we can usually solve the problem pretty quickly.  Lately, we have had a lot of rain and the temperatures have been getting nice and warm. So, the ants have been quite active!

Late spring and early summer is the time of year when you can expect to see swarming ants in the Murfreesboro and middle Tennessee area. If you see a swarm inside your home then chances are that the colony is somewhere in or under the home. You will want to get that taken care of quickly before the problem gets worse. However, they should not be a problem if you only see them outside. If they are a nuisance around porch lights then consider turning them off or else use a yellow outdoor light. Ants will find the yellow light less attractive.

So Many Ants, So Little Time…

Carpenter, Odorous, Pharaoh, Imported fire, Pavement, Yellow, Acrobat & Little black ones, too. Yes, these are all various species of ants found in Tennessee. Why is that important to know?  Identification, my friend. One of my favorite entomologists, Dr. Austin Frishman, would ask the following questions: 1. What is it? 2. Why is it here? 3. How can I solve the problem for my client NOW? and 4. What are the long-term solutions?  When we know the answers to these questions then we can solve the ant crisis. So, save some of these little creatures for your pest control technician!! Specimens are very helpful in solving the big ant puzzle.

Ants in a Potted Plant in Murfreesboro, TN

 

What can you do to help with the ant problem?

Lots! Ant colonies exist in and around homes because there is ample food and water nearby to support the ant colony. Make the ants unwelcome and they will find another place to hang their hat. Where do you start in your quest to eliminate the food and water? Try some of the following tips:

  • Fix leaky faucets, remove standing water, etc.
  • Replace any wet or rotten wood
  • Clean window sills of dead insects which can serve as food for the ants
  • Remove the food source if ants are trailing to food. Use a mild detergent to wipe ant trails and remove the trail pheromone. (Do not interfere with any ants trailing to bait that your technician has used to draw the ants out of the home.)
  • Locate entry points around the home such as around windows and doors and seal those areas to prevent ants and other insects from entering.
  • Check potted plants and firewood for ants before bringing them indoors
  • Keep vines, branches and limbs from coming in contact with your house. The ants use the branches as a mini-highway.
  • Pull mulch away from the foundation for your home about 12-18 inches.
  • Do NOT use any over-the-counter sprays! They can often aggravate your ant problem and be counter-productive. It’s best to leave actual treatment to The Bug Man!

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Don’t worry… bee happy about beneficial insects!

Children Embrace our beneficial insects. Shouldn’t you?

Children are so fun and curious about bugs!  Little Johnny often doesn’t think twice about picking up a spider by the leg and running to show his mommy. When he shows her his discovery, mom will often scream and run as far away as possible. Johnny will inevitably laugh, uncontrollably, while mom yells “Get that thing out of here!”

Beneficial insects are fun for the children to study and read about

It’s a common story that we hear over and over.  There are so many exaggerated horror stories about various insects: Brown recluse spiders will cause your leg to fall off. Termites will eat your house down to the ground. You will surely die a terrible disease if bitten by a mosquito. Who knows where these stories come from or why. But, they create a fear in some folks that are hard to shake.

The honey bee and other beneficial insects have an important role in our environment

Take the honey bee, for example.   They are the pollinators for our food crops. Their population has been in a steady decline in recent years due to a number of factors such as viruses, parasites, poor nutrition, limited access to clean water and exposure to pesticides. WHAT??? Exposure to pesticides?? Yes, it is true. We all (including us) have a huge responsibility in taking care to protect the honey bee and other beneficial insects.

In the spring you will sometimes see huge swarms of bees in the bushes and flowering trees. Sometimes they will stick around for a few minutes and then be gone. Sometimes they will stay for a few days. It’s easy to grab that jug of bug juice or call an exterminator to get rid of them. But, if they are not in an area that will harm you or your loved ones then it is usually best to leave them to collect the pollen. The additional benefit is that your plants and flowers will be even more beautiful later on.

There are a variety of other insects that are beneficial. Usually, most people first think of ladybugs or the asian lady beetle. Absolutely! Did you know that there are more than 400 species of the lady beetles in North America? There are also lacewings, parasitic wasps, spiders, tachinid flies, pirate bugs (aaaargh!) and ground beetles, just to name a few.

Honey bee gathering pollen: We must protect our beneficial insects.
Honey bee gathering pollen: We must protect our beneficial insects.

Protecting the environment and people at the same time

As a pest control professional, our goal is to protect your home from a pest invasion. If there is a pest problem in your living space then, yes, there is a cause for concern. You will want to eliminate the problem to prevent disease and illness/injury in your family. But, if we can keep your environment safe without having a negative impact on the rest of Murfreesboro, middle Tennessee, and beyond, then we are all winning.

Knocking Out Boxelder Bugs

Winter is knocking on our door, and with the swing of climate shift comes a wave of boxelder bugs. In the last several days, we’ve received numerous calls from our customers about these bothersome bugs.

Whether congregating outside the house en masse or making a little boxelder village inside, these red and black bugs are unwelcome.

 

Boxelder bugs are often found near boxelder trees. As you can imagine–if you have a boxelder tree in your yard–you may find yourself with an infestation of boxelder bugs around this time of year.

However, boxelder bugs also feed on maple trees, and the apples, prunes, and pears that fall off of trees.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that adult boxelder beetles gather on the south sides of trees, rocks, and other buildings to sun themselves. Fall may be in season, but the boxelders are still longing for some soaking sun time.

The boxelder bugs will fly up to two miles to find a place to hide out for the winter. Which, unfortunately for many homeowners, is inside the walls. After settling in, they often make an appearance in bathtubs, sinks, and floors near their cold weather chill spot. This social event for the boxelder bugs often occurs on the south and west side of the house when it’s sunny outside.

It kind of seems like the boxelder bugs are little weather forecasters, notifying onlookers that the sun is shining. Unless you’d like to receive your weather report from black and red bugs in your bathroom, perhaps you should call The Bug Man at 615.217.7284. 🙂

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. 🙂

The 13-Year Cicadas Set to Invade Middle Tennessee

The cicadas are coming! You may have heard rumors that the dreaded 13-year cicadas are emerging this year in Tennessee. It’s true. They are coming between April and June.

The cicadas are coming!

You may have heard rumors that the dreaded 13-year cicadas are emerging this year in Tennessee. It’s true. They are coming between April and June. It is predicted that they will appear when the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Several have been spotted in the area already. In no time, there will be thousands of them!

What exactly are the 13-year cicadas? And why are they coming out this year? Don’t they come out every year? What makes this year special? What’s the difference between a 13-year and a 17-year cicada? What’s the difference between a cicada and a locust?

CicadasCicadas are known for their beady little eyes. Contrary to popular myth, they are not blind. They can see just fine. However, fine eyesight does not prevent them from flying onto humans occasionally.

There are several different types of cicadas. You’re probably familiar with the annual cicadas that come out every summer, typically called dog-day cicadas. The rarer 13- and 17-year cicadas are growing underground all the time, feeding on nutrients in trees, but only come out after they’ve fully grown (after 13 or 17 years). The difference between a 13-year and a 17-year cicada is that one species simply takes four years longer to mature than the other.

When the 13-year cicadas appear and make a loud racket, it’s called an emergence. After maturing and growing into adulthood underground for 13 years–they are ready to emerge above ground and begin mating. The loud sound that you hear comes from the males. It’s their mating call. The females hear the mating call, find the males, mate and then lay their eggs in tree branches. Check out this informational page from The Tennessean for more details.

The reason the cicada emergence is so loud is because millions of cicada babies grew into adulthood underground together for 13 years. Then those millions appear above ground singing together in a shrieking chorus, ready to mate and create millions more babies. It’s an ongoing cycle.

The 13-year cicadas sing loudest during the hottest parts of day. They do sing at night, but not as frequently or as loudly. If you hear singing at night, it’s most likely a cricket, katydid or frog.

At The Bug Man, we don’t treat for cicadas because treating them with pesticides has proved ineffective. Other than producing a loud and annoying noise, cicadas are not harmful to humans. They don’t attack or sting. They don’t destroy the wood in houses. Cicadas in a Tree

However, if you have young trees growing in your yard, it’s recommended that you cover them with bird netting or cheese cloth, or to delay pruning until the cicadas have left because female cicadas cut and pierce the branches of young trees, making the trees weak.

Also, if you were planning on any outdoor painting project this summer, perhaps you should reschedule to another time because flying cicadas might ruin your paint job.

Although cicadas are often called locusts, they are not synonymous. Locusts are short-horned grasshoppers. Cicadas are an entirely different, plant-sucking creature.

The 13-year cicadas are a mysterious thing. Many people don’t understand this phenomenon and will respond in fear. If this blog was helpful and informative to you, please forward it along to your friends and family. Hopefully knowing more about cicadas will help you endure their courtship choruses.

The Buzz on Bees and Other Sting Things

“Killer” bees. Yellowjackets. Wasps. Nests. Allergies. Pain. Do you feel the fear? Honeybee, carpenter bee, bumble bee… How do I tell them apart?“Killer” bees. Yellowjackets. Wasps. Nests. Allergies. Pain. Do you feel the fear?

With warmer weather comes more bug activity, including bees and wasps. In this season, there are many different kinds of stinging insects flying around your home, car and work place. But you may not be able to tell those insects apart–especially if you swat at them fiercely or run away.

Through this blog, we’ll try to teach you a few memorable points about a few of the stinging insects active in your neighborhood. However, this explanation will not be exhaustive. If you’re seeing insect activity, please call us. We’ll come out and identify–as well as try to remove–the wasp nest or beehive from your property.

Carpenter Bee

Though carpenter bees don’t pose a public health threat. They do have the potential to damage wood through the building of their nests. Sounds a lot like termites, huh?

Painting and staining the wood on your house may help prevent carpenter bees because they prefer to nest in untreated wood. However, they will occasionally make themselves at home even in treated wood. If you discover carpenter bees, we will assist you in treating them, and recommend having the holes filled or repaired.

Bumble Bee (not to be confused with Honeybees)

These bees have quite a fuzzy appearance. However, don’t let their apparent softness fool you, because bumble bees can sting more than once. In defending their nest, bumble bees will chase any threatening thing (that means you) a considerable distance.

Dealing with bumble bees can prove tricky because they defend their homes so aggressively and can sting multiple times. Please don’t try to take care of a bumble bee nest on your own. For your own safety, let us help you.

Honeybee

These little buzzers only sting once. That’s good news if you ever come in contact (literally) with one. Unfortunately, a honeybee sting is one of the most painful stings. Like bumble bees, honeybees chase invaders of their nest for a relatively long distance.

Taking care of a honeybee nest is the same as taking care of a bumble bee nest. Consider the safety that comes from a professional pest management company and spare yourself the stinging.  If we find a honeybee nest, we recommend contacting a beekeeper to have them relocate the hive.

Though they can harm you, both the honeybee and bumble bee are beneficial because they help in the process of pollination.

“Killer” Bees

By the way, don’t worry, because “killer” bees aren’t active in Tennessee. However, if you visit Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada or Texas, you would find them there. The name “killer” bee is applied because they attack as a group, which causes more damage to humans. If someone is highly allergic to bee stings and gets attacked multiple times by this species of bee, the person may die of an allergic reaction, if left untreated.

Yellowjacket

Wrapping up today’s little list of sting things is the yellowjacket. Getting stung by a yellowjacket can cause an allergic reaction. Over 500,000 people are sent to the emergency room every year because of stinging pests like these.

Yellowjackets often hang out at BBQs and picnics near the sugary beverages and meaty meals, or by trash cans and recycling bins. Remember to properly dispose of your meats and sweets. Overall, proper trash disposal is very helpful in pest control.

If you suspect yellowjacket activity, call a pest professional.

Those are your bug basics for today. Thanks for reading!

Garage Sale Goodies and Bed Bug Bites

Be cautious when searching for that great bargain at the local garage sale. You could be bringing bed bugs and roaches to your home. I drove by my first yard sale of the season this afternoon while cruising through Murfreesboro on Highway 96. You’d think that gazing at the steals-of-a-deals and knick-knacks strewn about on the lawn would bring me feelings of joy and delight.

I did not feel those warm, fuzzy feelings. Instead, I was provoked.

Why the provocation? Allow me to offer you an explanation.

In addition to the goodies out for sale on the lawn, I also saw furniture. I was then reminded that bed bugs and roaches often hang out in used couches, chairs, appliances, and beds. Sometimes bed bugs can even be transferred in used clothing.

Most bargain shoppers are unaware of the dangers of bugs as they shop. We’re not writing this blog in an attempt to scare you away from your neighborhood garage sale. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to provide for you and your family. But we are informing you on bug basics for bargain shopping.

If you purchase any clothes at a garage sale/yard sale/thrift store/etc., wash them before you wear them. The heat of the clothes washing and drying process kills a possible bug threat.

If you see a piece of used furniture that you simply must buy because it’s such a great deal, thoroughly inspect it before you buy it. Look in the seams of the fabric. Lift up the cushions. Inspect the crevices. Look underneath the furniture.

If you’re shopping for mattresses–especially used mattresses–look for any tiny blood stains or dark spots. Comb through the cracks and crevices of this cushioned comfort.

The exhilarating feeling of getting a great deal can easily fade upon discovering a pest infestation because of a lack of diligence while shopping.

Spring is in the Air and Ants are on the Move in Middle Tennessee

At The Bug Man, we want to equip you with as much information as we can on how to keep your home pest free.Here’s your latest installment of Bug Basics. Follow these tips to help your pest control professional better protect your home.Inside Tips:

  • If you spill something, clean it up. That ketchup on your kitchen table that fell off your corn dog last week is singing, “Come to me, ants. I have succulent sweetness for you to devour. Invite your friends. It’s a party!”
  • Regularly take out the trash. Keep this task on your chore list, folks. It is important.
  • Before you throw jars and containers into the trash that you just vowed to take out with devoted diligence, rinse them out. This applies to containers in your trash and in your recycling bin.
  • Pick up and store Fluffy’s/Fido’s food before you go to bed. Unfortunately, you may have to train your furry friend that they cannot graze on their food all night long. Much like your corn dog’s spilled ketchup, pet food attracts ants.

Outside Tips:

  • Seal your doors and windows. Not only will this help with your house’s draftiness, it’ll keep bugs out too.
  • Clean those rain gutters! This declarative sentence reminds us of the line, “Get those nail breakers!” in the classic 90s movie Ladybugs, starring Rodney Dangerfield. Hey, we’re a bug company. Of course we’re going to reference a bug-themed movie every once in awhile. If you have no idea what we’re talking about (or if you do and you love that movie), watch this YouTube clip.
  • Trim the trees and shrubs near your house. Ants will use tree limbs and bush branches like a bridge to march right into your house. Imagine it as a sophisticated ant interstate. You could call it I-ANT40.
  • Store firewood off the ground and away from your house. As you sit by your fireplace enjoying the evening and the ambiance, you don’t want ants sitting there with you, enjoying it too.

You may not know this, but most do-it-yourself pest treatments that you buy at a store actually hinder the pest removal effort because they repel bugs. Instead of killing the bugs, they just cause the pest to move locations, ultimately leading to more damage in the home.

If you find ants in your home, give us a call (615.217.7284).

 

Ant Season? Termite Season?

Tell me folks, is it ant season or termite season?

Is it Bugs season or Daffy season?

“Duck season!”
“Rabbit season!”
“Duck season!”
“Rabbit season”

Remember Looney Toons? Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck used to argue back and forth about which hunting season it was. And ol’ Elmer Fudd was befuddled by all of the crazy commotion.

Similar to Bugs and Daffy, it’s the time of year where you could find yourself saying:

“Ant season!”
“Termite season!”
“Ant season!”
“Termite season!”

In our previous blog, we talked about how ant-like bugs swarming in your house can actually be termites. To help you identify termites easier, check out the information below:

* Winged ants have two pairs of wings. The front pair is larger than the hind pair. Termite wings are the same shape and size.
* Ants have antennae that appear to have elbows. Termites have short, straight, beaded antennae.
* Ants have long, segmented bodies. Termites have short, stubby bodies.
* Both pests vary in size and color.

When you encounter pests in your home, don’t be befuddled. Call the The Bug Man. We will help you identify exactly what “pest season” it is.