Spring is in the air! At least we hope it is. Seems we bounce from freezing to beautiful every day now. While it may confuse us, it’s not confusing pests. As the days become warmer, you’re going to see more issues with ants, bees, cockroaches, earwigs, flies, mosquitos, silverfish, wasps, and rodents.
- Ants are most active in spring, building routes into homes to bring food and moisture back to their nests.
- Beetle grubs begin to feed on your yard roots… preparing for summer when they’ll emerge.
- Stink bugs will emerge from their hiding places and begin to mate and lay eggs.
- Wasps, hornets, and yellowjacket queens are coming out of hibernation and ready to start new nests.
- Mice and rats are on the hunt for food – finding any way they can to get into your home to feast on whatever they can find.
- Spiders mate in spring and their fall eggs will begin to hatch.
- Ticks that have stayed warm in leaf bins and garden mulch for the winter begin to lay eggs for the summer.
Since it’s also Spring Cleaning time, be on the lookout as you’re cleaning out your garage, opening the windows for fresh air, and clearing up the winter mess from the yard. Be on the lookout for three things:
- Water or moisture that will attract bugs and small posts.
- Dark and hidden spaces where bugs and spiders will make their new home.
- Cracks and crevices in your home’s foundation, siding, and roof where pests can make their way indoors.
This is the best time of year to prepare and prevent pests since they’re most vulnerable, mating, and laying eggs. Treating your home, gardens, and yard today can save you a ton of energy and money later! Here’s a detailed checklist:
- Cabinets and Pantries – empty out, vacuum out, and wipe down to ensure no food or traces of food are in there.
- Windows and Doors – patch and replace screens and insulation that may be damaged and provide a means into your home.
- Garages – move your lumber and stuff off the floor onto shelves with plenty of room to wipe and vaccuum in, around, and behind them. Break down boxes and toss out anything that will provide a home or bedding for pests.
- Leaks and Drips – keep an eye out for any puddles or moisture around pipes and hoses and fix them all.
- Foundation – walk around your home and look for breaks in your siding and cracks in your foundation. You can typically find outdoor caulking kits you can use to fill them.
- Firewood – store old firewood away from your home. Spiders and pests love wood piles.
- Soffit – clean and inspect your soffits frequently looking for wasps who may start building a new hive.
And, as always, if you find a nest or some other creature that sends you screaming – give us a call and we’ll take care of you.
Temperatures have dropped this week, and we’re not the only ones preparing for winter. This is a highly active time for pests who are seeking food, water, and some protection from the cold weather. Our partners at PestWorld have developed this fall checklist in coordination with the National Pest Management Association to keep pests outside during the fall and winter:for home and business owners to avoid an infestation of rats, mice, spiders, or insects… the most active fall pests that make the migration.
This week, we even found a black widow spider that had taken up shop in a customer’s garage. The female black widow is highly venomous and dangerous to humans and pets. You can’t miss these spiders, they have a bright red hourglass marking on their abdomen. They often build a web in between storage boxes or in the gaps of firewood where you can’t see them. A misfortunate reach in to grab a box, and you’re going to be heading to the hospital.
So, before the ice and freezing weather sets in, take a few hours and do your own little home inspection to find any spots where pests are going to hold up for the winter!
Pro Tip: Buy some heavy work gloves, a heavy hoodie, and put on some safety glasses while you do your home inspection. That way, as you move or inspect items around the house, you don’t accidentally get bit, touch pest droppings, or have anything drop into your eyes.
Whether you’re a business or a home-owner, here’s a great checklist. Mice only need a hole the size of a dime or a 1/4″ crack to squeeze into your home (rats can fit through a hole the size of a quarter), so be sure to pay close attention as you inspect!
Fall Pest Prevention Checklist
- Openings – Screen attic vents and openings to chimneys, crawl spaces, and any other areas where homes may be open to the outdoors, including mail slots and animal doors.
- Moisture – Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry. Pests are attracted to areas of moisture, something they need to survive. Using dehumidifiers in basements and garages will help keep these areas dry.
- Cracks – Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home using caulk and steel wool. Pay close attention to where utility pipes enter the structure. Some rodents can fit through a hole the size of a dime. Be sure to use a quality, outdoor, 25-year caulk.
- Food – Keep kitchen counters clean, store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles. Crumbs and a buildup of garbage are attractive to pests scrounging for food. It is recommended to clean up after each meal and to properly close garbage cans when they are stored in the home or garage.
- Foundation – Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows. These are easy ways to keep not only pests, but also cold air out of the house.
- Firewood – Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and keep shrubbery well trimmed. Removing areas where pests can hide near your home can reduce the chance of them finding a way inside.
- Screens – Install door sweeps and repair damaged screens. Torn window screens and cracks under doors are an ideal entry point for household pests. When you open the window, you could be letting in more than just fresh air.
- Storage – Inspect items such as boxes of decorations, package deliveries, and grocery bags before bringing them indoors. Pests can find creative ways to get inside a home. Shake out or inspect anything that has been left or stored outside.
- Pet Food – Avoid leaving pets’ food dishes out for long periods of time. Pests don’t discriminate between people food and cat food. Pet dishes that have been left sitting out are enticing for all kinds of insects and rodents.
- Drainage – Have a proper outdoor drainage system. Installing gutters or repairing an existing system will help draw water and moisture away from your home, preventing any leaks or build up that might attract pests. Since it’s fall, you may want to get those gutters cleaned out!
You might notice that many of these items are good strategies for keeping your home energy efficient, too! Our friends over at Amos Exteriors have a great article on how to winterize your Indiana home – be sure to check that out for some great tips. They can also assist with ensuring your home is well-insulated as well as installing energy-efficient replacement windows and doors.
Note: If you find pet droppings or some webs, you may already have an unwanted guest. Give us a call and we’ll take care of it for you.
Freedom Pest Control are Members of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA)
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a non-profit organization with more than 5,500 members from around the world, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. This commitment is reflected both in the continuing education of pest management professionals and the dissemination of timely information to homeowners and businesses.
Every once in a while, we receive a frantic call about a giant wasp or bee in someone’s yard. When we go check it out, we find the amazing – and quite scary – Cicada Killer Wasp. And when we say giant, we mean it. These wasps can grow up to two inches long! These wasps emerge in summer, typically beginning around late June or early July. They die off in September or October as their feeding season on Cicadas ends.
About the Cicada Killer Wasp
Sphecius speciosus, often simply referred to as the cicada killer or the cicada hawk, is a large digger wasp species. Cicada killers are large, solitary wasps in the family Crabronidae. The name may be applied to any species of crabronid which preys on cicadas, though in North America it is typically applied to a single species, Sphecius speciosus. However, since there are multiple species of related wasps, it is more appropriate to call it the eastern cicada killer. Wikipedia
These wasps are hairy with reddish and black areas on the thorax (middle part). Their abdomen (rear part) is black to reddish brown marked with light yellow stripes. The amazing thing about these killers is that they’re quite docile to humans, though! As with any insect, if you irritate it enough, you’re asking to get stung, but these giants are often be handled without any risk… although we don’t recommend it! People often get stung by mistakenly stepping on the wasp’s nesting area.
You may have an infestation of these wasps if you have well-drained clay or sandy areas where you see dirt spots throughout. These spots are often mistaken as ant infestations. Eastern Cicada Killers nest in the ground by burrowing up to 20 inches below the surface. They’re specially built to kick the dirt up behind them as they burrow – the dirt you see at the opening to their nests.
Cicadas emerge and are rampant on 13 and 17-year cycles, but you can find some in virtually any year. According to Cicada Mania, we’re going to start seeing Cicadas emerge in a few years in Indiana… peaking from 2021 to 2027. And when there’s food, there are predators!
Eastern Cicada Killers live and nest alone in the ground. They viciously attack Cicadas mid-air and utilize their massive, strong stingers to penetrate a Cicada’s shell. Once stung, the Cicada is paralyzed, brought back to the nest, and feasted upon by the Cicada’s offspring grub.
Think this wasp is the top of the food chain? Nope… its attacked by another wasp, the parasitic velvet ant wasp. It’s also known as the cow-killer wasp. That wasp lays an egg in the nest cell of the cicada killer, and its larva consumes the cicada killer larva! Nature is amazing.
Bees are not only known for their honey, but for their painful stings as well. As sweet as the name may sound, an upset bee will sting you with all it has. Eventually, the bee also dies after stinging when its stringer breaks into the skin and is ripped off their body.
Typically, a sting might annoy you with a little temporary swelling, pain, itch, and redness at the infected area. But if you are allergic to bees or suffer multiple stings, things can get severe and problematic.
When a honeybee stings you, it leaves behind its stringer embedded in your skin which contains a toxin, if you are allergic to that toxin you will suffer severe symptoms. The toxin contains proteins that infect skin cells and immune system.
Bee Sting Symptoms
Symptoms of bee stings may vary from mild to extreme reactions, according to the nature and quantity of stings. These stings can produce a different reaction; some may experience mild pain, while others may suffer a severe allergic reaction.
- Mild reaction – Most reactions from a bee sting will be mild and symptoms will include a burning feeling at the site of the sting, slight swelling and a red welt. For most of the people the symptoms will last only for few hours.
- Moderate reaction – Some people might develop moderate symptoms that include extreme redness and swelling, which enlarges for a day or two. A moderate reaction lasts up to 5 to 10 day. If you develop these symptoms each time you suffer a sting, then consulting a doctor is advisable.
- Severe allergic reaction – Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction caused by a bee sting. It can, at times, be life-threatening and require immediate medical treatment. In rare cases, people suffering from a bee sting develop severe symptoms including hives, itchy skin, pale skin, fainting, a weak heartbeat, swelling of tongue and throat, difficulty in breathing, nausea, and diarrhea.
People with allergies to bee stings may be advised to get immunotherapy to avoid these reactions. Or, your Doctor may prescribe an Epinephrine Kits at home. These kits provide an auto-injector for you to inject yourself in the event of a bee sting. Having a kit at home can be the difference between life and death for someone who has a severe reaction to getting stung.
Multiple Bee Stings
Usually, bees sting in self-defense. If a person disrupts a hive or a swarm of bees, he will likely end up with multiple bee stings, especially if they’re African honeybees. African honeybees are an invasive species that are slowly taking over the United States. They are widely known for their aggressiveness and attacking in swarms. Thankfully, we’re not seeing them in our climate at this point!
Symptoms of multiple bee stings include a severe headache, nausea, vomiting, high temperature, convulsions, vertigo, and fainting. Multiple bee stings require an emergency treatment, as they can cause serious complications in children and adults with heart and breathing problems.
Bee Sting Home Remedies
If your reaction is mild, you may not need to visit a doctor. Home remedies will ease your pain and treat other symptoms, as well. The first thing you’ll want to do is carefully remove the stinger with tweezers or something similar. Don’t squeeze the stinger, as it can cause more venom to be released. After the stinger is clear and you’ve washed with an antibiotic soap, you’ll want to relieve the pain.
Following are the remedies that are mostly used to counter the reaction of a honeybee’s sting:
- Toothpaste – A quick remedy is to apply toothpaste on the affected area as soon as possible. It is believed that the alkaline nature of the paste neutralizes the acidic bee-venom and relieves the patient.
- Papain is an enzyme which is believed to breakdown the protein of the venom that causes pain and itchiness. Make a solution of one part papain and three parts water and apply on the sting area for 30 minutes.
- Baking Soda – Apply a paste of baking soda to the area. This will relieve the pain, swelling and itchiness by neutralizing the venom.
- Honey from the culprit itself will help relive the symptoms. Apply a decent quantity of honey and wrap in a loose bandage.
- Apple cidar vinegar helps neutralizing the bee venom. Soak a cloth in vinegar and apply at the sting point for about 15 minutes.
- Herbs and oils such as aloe vera, natural oils, witch hazel and many others are known for their pain and swelling relieving nature. Dab few drops of one of these on the affected area and dab for few minutes, you will forget about the pain.
Medical Treatment for Bee Stings
If the reaction is severe then you are strictly advised to consult a doctor because as discussed earlier, a severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening. A mild reaction doesn’t need medical help, but a multiple sting and a severe reaction are considered as an emergency which require an immediate medical aid.
A medical team may even perform CPR if you stop breathing as result of an anaphylactic reaction. You may be given following medications:
- Epinephrine, to reduce the allergic response of your body. If you are allergic to bee sting then medical experts recommend keeping an epinephrine auto injector with you all the time, in case of emergency situations.
- Oxygen, to help you breathe.
- A beta agonist, to help you counter breathing problems.
- Intravenous antihistamines and cortisone, these medicines will reduce the inflammation of your air passages, so you can breathe properly.
If you ever experienced a severe or multiple sting reaction, then a physician might recommend you to get allergy shots. These shots are generally given regularly for few years and are known to eliminate allergic response to bee venom.
How to Avoid Getting a Bee Sting
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; therefore it is wise to take necessary steps to avoid any such condition. If you live in an area where you have to face honeybees then you should:
- Get the hives near your homes removed by a professional
- Don’t wear bright colored and loose clothes
- Stay calm while walking past through bees
- Wear close-toed shoes
- If it appears that you have a swarm or collection of hives, contact your local government to see about removal.
Following above mentioned advises is important, as it is better to be proactive than to be reactive!
Fine Print: We’re not Doctors, so always check with professionals on the proper treatment of bee stings. We’re just trying to put some commonly known information out there. And of course, you can call us BEFORE you get stung if you see a bee infestation. Of course, if you have a large property, you may even wish to start beekeeping!
NOTTick season has arrived here per the Indiana State Department of Health. Last year, over 250 tick-borne cases were reported in Indiana… including Lyme disease, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis.
How to Check for Ticks on You or Your Kids
You don’t have to be out in the deep brush to pick up ticks, they’re right in your backyard. Give us a call if you’d like to treat against ticks. Pets are highly susceptible to picking up a tick or two each season so its imperative that you keep an eye out for them. If you or your kids spend time outside, the CDC recommends that you check your body for ticks in the following places:
- In and around your hair and ears
- Under the arms, between the legs, in the backs of the knees, and around the waist
- Inside the belly button
If you check for ticks immediately, you can often just remove them because they’re still traveling and not actually embedded in your skin. Her’es a great video where tick expert Kateryn Rochon explains how to check:
How to Check for Ticks on Your Pets
Since pets are outside every day, you should get in the habit of checking your pet for ticks every day, too. Brush your fingers through their hair trying to feel any small bumps. Don’t forget to check behind their ears, around their eyelids, under the collar, under their armpits, around the tail, between their toes of their paws (Yea, dogs have toes!), and in the genital region.
How to Remove a Tick
Within hours of embedding their head into the skin, ticks begin to transmit any pathogens they’re carrying. That’s why it’s so important to not waste time and immediately remove any ticks. If they aren’t embedded, just pick them off and get rid of them. Since you picked up one, you should fully inspect yourself looking for others.
If you find a tick and it’s already feeding on you, you have to be extremely careful in their removal. Many people make the mistake of pulling them out, but the problem is that they have barbs like harpoons in their mouth. You pull off the body and the head stays… still infecting and still trying to feed.
There are quite a few methods of tick removal out on the web, but one that’s tried and true is to arm yourself with a tick removal tool. You can find one on Amazon for just a few bucks (buy it today so you have it when you need it!)
Tick removal tools are specially designed so that the claw grabs the head of the tick and they can be twisted out of the skin.
NOTE: Don’t use nail polish or petroleum jelly to try and make the tick detach. The CDC advises that this is folklore and you’re putting yourself in more danger of being infected. You want the tick out as quickly as possible.
After you remove the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or iodine. Within days or as late as months later, you may experience symptoms of lyme disease – headaches, dizziness, stiffness, fever, chillse, fatigue, and body aches. If you see a rash around the bite area or have any of these symptoms, you should immediately make an appointment with a health professional.
Don’t forget to get rid of the tick! Don’t crush it, just flush it down the toilet.