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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Ticks in Tennessee will be active this year

Ticks in Tennessee during the summer can be very frustrating. Actually, as I wrote this Ticks in Tennesseeblog there were several words describing ticks that floated to the surface: creepy, gross, worrisome, concerning… just to name a few. Mostly, people are very fearful. Not really about the tick, itself, but more about the diseases caused by the bite of a tick.

The best cure for tickborne dieases such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is to avoid getting bitten by ticks.

This is another one of those situations where pest-related problems concern our health. Since we are in the business of pest control and are not health professionals, we generally prefer not to comment on the medical conditions caused by the pest. We do recommend  information on the CDC site titled Symptoms of Tickborne Illness. If you have health symptoms that you suspect may be caused by a tick or other pest then we suggest that you contact your physician. What we can do is educate you on tick control in order to reduce the chance that you may be bitten by a tick.

Ticks are arachnids, not insects, and classified as an external parasite.

A lot of people are surprised to learn that ticks are actually in the same family (arachnid) as spiders, mites, and scorpions. They have 8 jointed legs and no antennae. They require  a blood meal from a host in order to survive. A tick will attach firmly while they slowly feed on the blood of their host. They will feed, unnoticed, for several days before they release their grasp. They will feed on mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

There have been many species of ticks found in Tennessee. The three most common species are the American dog tick, lone star tick, and brown dog tick. All of these common ticks have four life stages- egg, larva, nymph, and adult. According to Dr. Karen Vail in her article titled Common Ticks of Tennessee and Their Control, each of the stages, other than the egg, requires a separate animal host to complete its development, which all together may be two or three years long. Each blood-engorged female leaves her host animal and lays a single mass of 3,000 to 6,000 eggs.

Ticks in Tennessee are most active from April through September. Though, it is not uncommon to see some tick activity through the winter months. During periods of high activity we recommend that you remain extra vigilant. Avoid areas known to be infested with ticks such as wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. If you have to walk though these types of areas we recommend that you apply a repellent according label directions. Also, walk in the center of trails to avoid brushing up against vegetation.

Wear long sleeve shirts and pants. Tuck your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from climbing up the inside of the pant legs. Also, wear light-colored clothing so that you can detect ticks more easily. Upon returning from tick infested areas make sure to thoroughly check your body for ticks. You will want to quickly remove all ticks that are found.

Modify your environment to make it less desirable to ticks

Maybe you’re not going on a hike in the woods but you want to reduce or prevent a tick infestation around your home. There are several non-chemical things that you can do:

Make your surroundings less inviting to rodents and wildlife. They are often carriers of ticks. Reduce the rodents and you will reduce the ticks. It’s a win-win situation.

  • Repair areas where rodents can enter the home.
  • Remove wood piles and debris that make a good nesting area for rodents.
  • Keep pet food stored in sealed containers
  • Keep the lawn mowed and weeds to a minimum

    Lincoln is a tick free dog
    Lincoln is our precious golden doodle

Don’t forget about your four-legged babies, too. Please discuss tick treatment for your pets with a veterinarian.  There are many treatment methods available and something that works well for one pet may not be best for the other. Cats and some breeds of dogs can be sensitive to some products. So, it is always best to check with your vet, first. Also, you will want to inspect your pets and their bedding frequently for ticks.

The final measure for tick management is to hire a professional such as The Bug Man in Murfreesboro to treat the exterior of your home. Our technicians are very knowledgeable about areas that make a great tick habitat and areas that don’t. Most people are surprised to learn that ticks will avoid direct sunlight. So, treating the entire lawn is rarely necessary. We have noticed that customers on our mosquito program usually do not have a problem with ticks. This is probably due to the fact that mosquitoes and ticks have similar habitats such as the trees, shrubs, and shaded areas. Check out our blog, Mosquitoes… The Bug Man to the rescue and contact our office at 615-217-7284 if we can answer any questions for you.

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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.

Tips for Mosquito Control This Summer

The Bug Man offers tips to help reduce the mosquito populations around your home.

There are a lot of different ways to approach mosquito control. You could dance if you want to. You could leave your friends behind.

A graduate student from the University of Florida Entomology program prefers the dance method. We found a video that features a ‘skeeter slap dance.’ Check it out below:

Not only is that video amusing, it also offers a closer look at mosquitoes. Most of us slap them away too quickly to actually see what they look like.  Below we list steps you can take to help reduce the mosquito populations around your home.  While you may not achieve complete mosquito control, this will help.

Steps to help mosquito reduction and control.

  • Standing Water in Bird BathAs you saw in that video, the student was wearing long pants and a long-sleeve t-shirt. When you’re out and about with mosquitoes out, it helps if you wear clothing that covers up your arms and legs.
  • Emptying out areas of standing water is also really helpful for mosquito control. This includes kiddie pools, unused bird baths, tins in the yard, and even inside old tires.
  • Change the water in bird baths, plant pots, and drip trays at least once a week.
  • Clean the debris out of your rain gutters to allow proper drainage.
  • Use a mosquito repellent with deet when you’re outside.
  • Check around outdoor faucets and air conditioning units and repair leaks or puddles.
  • Cover trash containers to keep out rain water.
The Bug Man also offers a seasonal mosquito reduction program. Please call our office at 615.217.7284 for more information on how we can reduce the mosquito population in your yard.
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Rats! I’ve got mice! Tips and Tricks for Keeping Rodents Out of Your Home

Rodents are rapidly running inside homes this holiday season. Check out our blog for tips and tricks on how to keep them out. Baby, it’s cold outside. And, just in time for your holiday gatherings, rodents are moving inside your home to steal a meal.

To rodent-proof your home, here are a few tips and tricks:

  1. Thoroughly examine the exterior of your home. If there’s a hole larger than a quarter or a dime, then a rodent can get through it. If a rodent’s nose fits through the hole, then their entire body can fit through, too. Check the area around pipes, heating/cooling hoses, etc., etc.
  2. Use steel wool and/or caulk to seal up any holes you may find.
  3. Remove any vines hanging down the side of your home, because rodents can use those to climb up to your roof and potentially get inside.
  4. If your doors and windows have gaps, seal them. Not only will this help keep pests out, it will also keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. #winning
  5. Trouble with rodents? We would be more than delighted to help you. Call us at 615.217.7284 to schedule an appointment.

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Ladybugs: Coming Soon to a Crevice Near You

Watch out for ladybugs after the first frost. Check out our blog for tips on how to keep these overwintering pests out of your home.

The ladybugs are coming! The ladybugs are coming! The polka-dotted redcoats of the pest world are readying their army so they can invade your homeland!

We’re here to sound the alarm that they are coming by air after the first frost (mid-late October). They will head straight for any cracks and crevices they see in the surface of your home, especially if the exterior of your home is lightly colored. Ladybugs target the warmest side of your house. This concept of moving inside when it gets cold is called overwintering.

Ladybugs

Take up arms by calling The Bug Man at 615.217.7284 to do a preventative spray. Also, seal any crevices on the exterior of your home. Repair any holes in your doors, windows, screens, siding, etc., etc.

If you find yourself infested in a flurry of ladybug activity, vacuum up all of the ladybugs and then dispose of the bag, because the decaying carcasses will attract other bugs into your home.

Snug as a Bed Bug in a Rug: Tips for Dealing with Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are back! Read our blog for tips and tricks for the prevention and removal of bed bugs.Sad but true, bed bugs are back to haunt you.

Although bed bugs were nearly eradicated several years ago, they have made a bold resurgence in America–and around the world.

It could be because of an increase in world travel. Or lack of education. It could be due to overcrowding in urban areas. Or because of the crack down on chemicals like DDT.

Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT/I don’t care ’bout spots on my apples, leave me the birds and the bees, please…
Whatever the reason, it’s important to realize that the threat of bed bugs is real and worthy of attention.

Oh, the places we will go
Bed bugs are quite the hitchhikers. They’ll grab a ride on whatever they can:

Used furniture from stores, garage sales, relatives, dumpsters: Couches, beds, chairs, mattresses, love seats, etc., etc. Bed bugs hang out on furniture so they can get to you, their meal.
Clothing: Have you stayed in a hotel recently? Bed bugs love your luggage, especially when you put it on the floor, on the bed, or in the dressers. New college student in a not-so-new dorm room? Bed bugs have parties, too. They wait for you to get their party started. Are you a couch surfer? You may be the gnarly wave that a bed bug rides in on. Bed bugs can also be found in clothing stores. But believe us, clothes with bugs in them aren’t a bargain.
Outlets: Have you ever wondered how bed bugs get from one room to another? Besides using people as a vehicle, they will also go through the outlets in the walls. They travel through phone jacks and through holes in the ceiling or floor, too.
Movie Theaters: People like movies. People sit in seats. Bed bugs fall off people. Other people sit in seats. Bed bugs get on new people.

For more information on bed bugs, please visit the All Things Bed Bugs website. It’s a great resource with tons of tips. For example, here are links to their tips for:

College Students
Travelers
Shopping
The Office

If you discover bed bugs in your home, office, or dorm room, it’s important to call a professional. Bed bugs are not a do it yourself pest and they are tough to get rid of. For peace of mind and professional service, call The Bug Man at 615.217.7284 today to set up an appointment.

For more on bed bugs, here’s a stellar article from TODAY Health.

Curbing Crickets: Tips on How to Keep the Chirpers Out of Your House

Read these tips to learn how to prevent chirpy, destructive crickets from entering your home.Blue Raiders

Fall means football. That’s an undeniable, wonderful reality! That’s a guarantee.

For many, the fall season also means crickets. Swarms of chirpy, destructive crickets.

Crickets chew on field crops. But did you know that crickets also feast on your fabrics of cotton, wool, linen, silk, synthetics, leather, or fur? They especially enjoy clothes soiled with sweat or food stains. Imagine them chewing on your son’s football practice gear. And, as a final kicker, they even eat other dead cricket carcasses. Yeesh!

Check out these handy tips for how to prevent crickets from invading your home:

  • Secure your doors and windows. Patch up any holes in screens, seal off drafty windows, fix holes in masonry. This not only deters crickets, but lots of other pesky critters, too. Check out this page for other pest prevention tips.
  • Change your outdoor light bulbs.  What a bright idea! By using yellowish-tinted light bulbs or a sodium vapor lamps, you’ll attract fewer crickets. And, like we wrote about in our blog about outdoor lighting, using different types of light bulbs will ward off lots of other pests, too.
  • Remove woodpiles. Not only is this good for crickets, but wood piles could spell disaster here in subterranean termite country. Read our blog about termite prevention tips for a helpful story about that particular problem.
  • Call The Bug Man! We are always willing to come cease the chirping. We want you to be able to sleep at night, chirp free.

Thanks for reading! We’ll catch ya next week for more Bug Basics!