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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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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Chikungunya Fever and Mosquito Reduction

Chicken who?? Chikungunya.

Prevent Chikungunya and other mosquito illnessesThe Chikungunya virus has been limited to Africa and Asia for a very long time. In fact, it was first recorded in a human in Tanzania in 1953. So, this is not a new virus. But, it’s quickly becoming a hot topic in the media since it was discovered in the caribbean in December 2013. The concern is that this could soon spread to the United States in the coming year from travelers.

According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), the Chikunguyna virus can cause high fever, severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and headache. The disease is spread by being bitten by a mosquito that has previously bitten an infected person. It is not transmitted person to person.

The Bug Man is in the business of controlling pests and we are not medical professionals. But, because pests can spread disease and cause a variety of illnesses we are often caught in the middle of addressing the medical concerns caused by the pests. If you have any of the symptoms listed above we will always tell you to discuss them with your physician. What we CAN help with is education on what you can do to reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, in general.

The mosquitoes that carry the chikungunya virus (as well as other viruses) are the Yellow-Fever Mosquito (aedes aegypti) and the Asian Tiger Mosquito (aedes albopictus).

As of this writing, no infected mosquitoes have been found in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, or anywhere in the United States. So far the CDC is reporting that all of the documented cases of chikunguyna in the US have been in people who have recently traveled outside of the United States to a country with the infected mosquitoes.

Recommendations to reduce the mosquito population in Murfreesboro, middle Tennessee, and beyond:

To reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes we have a long list of recommendations that we give to every customer on our Mosquito Management Program. Almost every item in our list involves getting rid of anything that holds standing water and/or making sure to empty and scrub items that hold water, frequently. Also, contact your City and/or County and make sure that they are treating water retention areas with a larvicide on a regular basis.

  • Dispose of old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums, bottles, plastic sheeting, or any water-holding containers.
  • Clean debris from rain gutters to allow proper drainage.
  • Fill in or drain low places (puddles, ruts, etc) in your yard.
  • Keep drains, ditches, and culverts clean of weeds and trash so water can flow properly.
  • Cover trash containers to keep out rain water
  • Check around outdoor faucets and air conditioner units and repair leaks or other causes for water puddles.
  • Empty plastic wading pools at least once per week and store indoors when not in use.
  • Make sure your backyard pool is cared for while away from the home.
  • Fill in tree holes and stumps that hold water with sand or cement.
  • Change the water in bird baths, plant pots, and drip trays at least once per week.
  • Keep the grass cut short and shrubbery well trimmed around the house where adult mosquitoes may rest.
  • Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing.
  • Eliminate seepage from cisterns, cesspools, and septic tanks.
  • Stock ornamental pools with top feeding predacious minnows.
  • Check window and door screens on the home. Be sure they are in good condition to seal out mosquitoes.
  • Wear light-colored clothing, plus long sleeve shirts and long pants for extra protection.
  • Use repellants on skin and clothing while outdoors.

    Mosquito Reduction to prevent chikungunya
    Mosquito Reduction Program by Robert at The Bug Man

In addition to these steps, The Bug Man also offers a Mosquito Reduction Program. You can read more about that service on our past blog titled Mosquitoes… The Bug Man to the rescue or feel free to give us a call at  615-217-7284.

 

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. 🙂

How Do I Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

We’re receiving more calls than ever about bed bugs. There is lots of information out there on the internet about bed bugs. What’s the best way to get rid of bed bugs? Our blog offers helpful advice on what to do when you encounter them.

Bed bugs have made a comeback in a REALLY BIG WAY.

Just this morning, as we had our morning cups of coffee, The Bug Man staff discussed bed bugs. We are receiving more calls for bed bugs than we’ve ever had.

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Back in the day, we’d get maybe one or two calls a year about bed bugs. Now we get one or two calls per week. That’s a big difference!

Now that the internet is so prevalent in our culture, you can find tons of different ways to take care of bed bugs. If you Google, “How do I get rid of bed bugs,” you’ll find home remedies, ads promoting pest control companies, and suggestions on what you can do.

In this economy, everyone is looking to save precious pennies, epecially in Middle Tennessee. It’s tempting to just go with the cheapest thing that you find. But how do you know if it will work? How do you know it won’t hurt your family?

Without the guidance and assistance of a pest professional, you don’t know.

So, let’s go with what we do know:

    • Home remedies for bed bugs are often dangerous
    • Bed bugs are incredibly difficult to get rid of
    • Treating just one room for bed bugs is usually not effective
    • In most instances, at least two rooms (the bedroom and the living room) need to be treated
    • If you’ve had bed bugs, you need to get a bed bug certified mattress cover/box spring cover
    • When in doubt, ask questions. If you’re unsure of if you have bed bugs, give The Bug Man call at 615.217.7284. We will help you identify what you’re dealing with and recommend a method of treatment.

Shameless Plug: Calling the Exterminator Isn’t a Bad Thing

Are you ashamed to call The Bug Man? We don’t think it’s shameful that you need our help. We’re proud of you for calling us and letting us help protect your family.

Customers are interesting.

Some of them rave about pest control.
“Now, honey, let me tell ya. I love your mosquito service. I can sit in my yard all day and not get a single bite. But my friend, Jeannie. Now she’s always gettin’ bit up real bad. But I’m not, cuz y’all come out here and spray my property and you do a real good job.”

Some of them have a lot of questions about pest control.
“So is your termite service separate from your pest control? Or is it all bundled together? What if I need one and not the other? Can I do that? Is that ok? How much does that cost?”

 And, still there are other customers who call us, with what sounds like a sense of shame.
“Uh. Hi. My name is_________. Um. *nervous laughter* I’ve…*clears throat* I’ve never called an exterminator before. *sigh* Wh-wh-wha-how, uh, how much does it cost to get rid of bugs? I’ve got mice. And I have seen a few spiders. And I really don’t like bugs. I’m sorry, I’m not sure what to ask you. I’ve never needed an exterminator before…”

We named this post “Shameless Plug” because we want you to feel shameless when you call us. 

Rest easy, folks. It is ok to call the exterminator. It’s not a shameful thing to call The Bug Man. We don’t think you’re grimy and gross when you call us. Pretty much every homeowner has an encounter with bugs.

When you ask us to come treat your home, we don’t assume that it’s your fault that you’ve got bugs. We don’t imagine your home as a rickety shack destined to be featured on the show Hoarders.

Rather, we imagine you as a friendly Middle Tennessean. We envision you as a homeowner in Murfreesboro who wants to be educated on the best practices for keeping pests out. We think you’re a good mom or dad in Lebanon who wants to protect your family by keeping your home pest free.

Don’t be ashamed to call us, because we’re not ashamed of you. We are proud of you for taking care of your loved ones. And we’re honored that you let us help you do that.

Find the Local Bugs in Middle Tennessee on TheBugMan.us

Whether you’re a (rare) Tennessee native or you’re new to the area trying to become Nashville’s next big star, we’ve got a great resource for you: our website.Isn’t it interesting how bugs in one part of the U.S. are different from bugs in another part of the country?

If you’re a northerner visiting Florida for a sunny vacation, you may discover roaches bigger than you’ve ever seen! Termites are terrible and dangerous in Tennessee, but they may not be so threatening in Nebraska.

Whether you’re a (rare) Tennessee native or you’re new to the area trying to become Nashville’s next big star, we’ve got a great resource for you: our website.

If you’re ever curious about bugs, please leave a comment on our blog, on Facebook, or send us a tweet to@TheBugManTN.

Things to Consider: Termite Protection for Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs

If you or someone you know has a swimming pool, consider termite protection, because termites are attracted to water.We recently received a call at The Bug Man office from a customer who discovered termite damage in the vinyl lining of their swimming pool.

“But termites eat wood,” you reply. “They don’t eat plastic. Why would they eat the liner?”

Termites are able to sense when there is water on the other side of a pool liner. So, if they are desperate enough, they will eat through the liner to get to the water.
The damage caused by termites to pool liners is often gradual. People may not suddenly notice it. However, they may see that their water gets a little low sometimes, yet think nothing of it. Eventually, they may also find tiny little holes in the pool liners. The tiny holes likely came from termites eating the lining to get to the water.

Pools that don’t use liners are not immune to termite damage. Due to a number of factors, and the GIANT source of water, many pools are at risk.

Closely related items in this conversation are hot tubs. They too are a source of water and are often covered with wood.

In case you’re not that familiar with the lifestyle of a termite, their colonies are forever on the hunt for food and water. Many pools and spas are built with wooden framing at the bottom or underneath the vinyl. Lots of pools and spas have a wooden deck surrounding them. The combination of wood touching the ground and a huge source of water inside is quite dangerous.

So what should you do if you had no idea that you needed to protect your pool and hot tub from a termite attack? Well, we recommend inspecting your pool and/or spa to check for damage.

However, we cannot do a termite treatment or an inspection on a pool if it is full of water. We can only do an inspection and a treatment during the construction stage, or if the liner is being replaced. If you’re in the Rutherford and Wilson county areas of Middle Tennessee, we can come out for a free termite inspection. You can call us at 615.217.7284 or email us at service@thebugman.us. We would be happy to provide you with a free quote and a treatment plan.

Your pool and hot tub are for your enjoyment. They are not meant to be a termite buffet.

If you know somebody who has a pool or spa, please inform them that they may need termite protection. Lots of people are unaware that termites target pools and spas. It’s easy to share this article on Facebook, send out a quick tweet or email it to a friend or family member.

For more information on termite protection offered by The Bug Man, visit our website.

Got questions? Please post comments below. We’ll reply as soon as we can.

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.