Fixing the issue early is key to enjoying an ant-free summer.
Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and ants are everywhere. It must be spring time! There are a lot of things to enjoy about spring, but an overabundance of ants around your home is definitely not one of them. There are more than 50 different species of ants that regularly infest our homes, and they can be more than just a nuisance in our daily lives. Ants can destroy goods and property, and they can even pose a health risk by contaminating foods. Although it may not be possible to prevent ants from entering your home without professional help, you can reduce your chances of an infestation by following a few useful steps.
Ants invade your home in search of three things: food, water and harborage. Eliminate attractive food sources by immediately cleaning up food spills, not leaving dirty dishes in the sink and storing food items in the refrigerator or in sealed containers. Foraging ants often attack homes from colonies nesting outside. Minimizing resources around your yard is equally as important to slow the invasion.
Start by removing overgrown foliage, brush piles and excess fallen leaves to eliminate harborage or nesting sites on your property. Keep trees, shrubs and bushes trimmed back away from any structure to prevent ants from using branches as a sky bridge into your home. Keep waste containers clean and stored away from the home. This eliminates food sources that may attract hungry ants. Lastly, fix leaky pipes, AC drip lines or over-irrigated areas of the yard that could serve as moisture sources.
Common pest entry points include poorly sealed doors, windows, and plumbing and utility penetrations. Many of these access points can be corrected by replacing worn out weather stripping on doors and windows, or by using an appropriate sealant to fill other gaps. Failing to identify or correctly seal all access points may still give ant’s free access to forage and nest inside your home.
Call us today to inspect your home, and to provide a detailed assessment of how we can protect your family from ants.
Your flower beds are not the only things to enjoy the higher temperatures and increased rainfall this time of year. Springtails also thrive in these warm, wet conditions. Springtails, fittingly named for their jumping behavior, are tiny insects that typically live in moist soil. They are present year round, but populations typically spike in early spring where they can overflow into your pool, patio or even into your home. Springtails do not bite or sting, and are therefore harmless to people. However, because Springtails jump when disturbed, they can easily be confused with fleas and can become a major nuisance pest indoors.
Springtails are very small, wingless insects about 1/16 of an inch long. They can vary in color from white to blue, grey or black depending on the species. Springtails prefer to live and breed in moist soil and leaf litter where they feed on decaying organic material, fungi, molds and algae. Their natural feeding behavior serves an important role in our ecosystem because springtails break down old plant material, helping in decomposition and returning important nutrients to the soil. Weather conditions play an important role in why springtails may move out of their typical soil environment. Springtails need just the right amount of moisture to survive. If their habitat becomes too dry or to wet, springtails will seek out more favorable conditions. This can lead to tremendous numbers of springtails moving onto higher ground, which can often include your home.
Once inside, Springtails continue their search for moisture where they commonly end up in rooms with high humidity such as bathrooms or damp basements. Although these areas may be humid, Springtails often die once inside the home unless a leaky pipe or similar moisture source is found. The key to avoiding an indoor invasion of Springtails is to focus on sealing the home and reducing moisture conditions.
Outside, check for windows and doors that may not close completely, or plumbing and utility penetrations that may need to be sealed. Also, eliminate breeding sites such as areas with excessive mulch or leaf litter. Pay special attention to low spots around your yard that may collect water, and avoid over watering shaded areas that may not dry as quickly. If a crawl space is present, ensure that the space has adequate ventilation. Inside the home, be sure that door sweeps provide a tight seal, and that leaky pipes or other sources of water leaks are corrected immediately. Potted plants can also serve as an indoor breeding site for Springtails. Therefore, avoid over watering plants to keep moisture levels low, and always inspect outdoor potted plants for signs of Springtails before bringing the plants inside.
Remember, the presence of Springtails can be an early warning sign of moisture issues that could attract pests and lead to costly water damage, so be sure to let us know if you have noticed Springtails in or around your home
As you prepare for holiday parties and visitors, issues with spiders and other pests are probably the last thing on your mind. However, winter is the perfect time for the development of infestations of spiders and other insects. When the outdoor temperatures drop, spiders seek warmth and protection by making their way into your home. It’s important for homeowners to be aware of where to look for spiders and how to protect themselves from spider bites. The brown recluse spider is common in many parts of the United States and poses a particular threat to families during the winter months. Find out how to recognize and protect yourself from this common spider below.
What is a Brown Recluse Spider?
The brown recluse is one of the most common types of spiders throughout many parts of the United States. It is also among the most feared spiders because of its poisonous bite that can be painful and damaging to the tissue of the body.
Image Credit: PestWorld
Brown recluse spiders have a unique appearance that makes them easy to differentiate from other types of spiders. As their name suggests, they are brown in color and feature a prominent violin-shaped mark on their back. Their name also gives away a key clue about their nature. Brown recluse spiders are generally very shy and will choose to remain hidden as much as possible. However, they lash out with a painful and destructive bite when they feel trapped or threatened in some manner, making them a huge safety concern for homeowners everywhere.
Are Brown Recluses Dangerous?
Brown recluse spiders inject a venom when they bite either humans or animals. This venom can cause many potentially serious health concerns. Each person reacts differently to a brown recluse bite. The severity of symptoms can vary depending on the age and health of the victim, the size of the spider, and the amount of venom that was injected with the bite. Physical symptoms of a brown recluse bite can include fever, chills, skin blisters, necrotizing of the skin around the bite, and other serious reactions. It’s easy to see why everyone wants to avoid being bitten by a brown recluse, and this includes the need to protect any household pets from being harmed by these spiders.
Favorite Places for Brown Recluses to Hide
As mentioned earlier, brown recluse spiders are shy by nature. They will usually choose dark and quiet areas within your home to take up residence and reproduce. It’s important that homeowners are aware of the most common locations for the development of spider infestations. Regularly investigate the following areas of your home for the presence of spiders.
- Attics – Attics are a prime real estate for brown recluse spiders. The perfect combination of warmth, darkness, and a crowded environment to hide in provides these spiders with a comfortable home.
- Basements – Depending on the type of basement you have, this may be another area of your home to keep an eye on. Many people tend to store unused clothing, toys, and random containers in their basement. Be aware that brown recluse spiders can quickly take up residence in these items.
- Closets – Clothing, shoes, and unused winter weather gear are the perfect hiding places for spiders. It’s a good idea to not leave items on the floor of your closet and to check the insides of shoes, hats, and gloves before wearing them. This is especially true if the item has not been worn for a long time.
- Garages – The garage is another area of the home where people tend to store boxes of items such as sporting goods and out-of-season clothing. This creates a cramped location for spiders to hide away undetected.
How to Keep Brown Recluse Spiders Out of Your Home
Now that you’re aware of some of the more common places for brown recluse spiders to hide in your home, you may be wondering how to keep them from coming inside in the first place. There are several steps you can take to lessen the chances of developing problems with brown recluse spiders. Consider the following tips.
- Declutter favorite hiding areas – Creating unfavorable living conditions is the best way to prevent infestations of brown recluse spiders. Decluttering any storage bins, boxes, clothing piles, seasonal decor, and even paperwork can prevent these spiders from having good places to hide and deter them from sticking around.
- Seal any cracks or holes in the perimeter of your home – While this step may not be able to prevent the entry of all spiders and insects, sealing off all small openings around the perimeter of your home will reduce the number of spiders that get inside.
- Eliminate outdoor hiding places – When you’re working to cut down on hiding places for brown recluses, don’t forget about common outdoor habitats. These shy spiders love to hide under wood piles, loose stones, or areas where a lot of yard debris accumulates.
- Use sticky traps in common hiding areas – Setting up a few non-toxic sticky traps in areas that spiders tend to favor can easily catch the few who do make it into your home, keeping them from being able to reproduce and create a problem.
Common Ways People Get Bitten by Brown Recluse Spiders
Most people get bitten by a brown recluse spider when they inadvertently disrupt its hiding place. Slipping on a pair of boots you haven’t worn since last winter without knowing a spider is inside can surprise both of you. The same applies to clothing such as gloves, hats, and jeans. If you’re moving boxes or stored items that may have spiders in them, wear thick gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself.
How to Identify and Treat a Spider Bite
Brown recluse bites do not always have the same appearance for all people. However, pay attention to any painful or itchy bites that don’t go away within a day or two. If the skin surrounding a bite becomes red, hot, inflamed, or begins to break down, seek medical help right away.
Where and When to Seek Medical Help for a Spider Bite
While brown recluse bites will not kill you, they can be painful and lead to significant scarring in some individuals. If you have a spider bite that is worsening, causing you discomfort, or resulting in an open wound that resists healing, you need to seek medical care. A family physician or an emergency room facility can analyze the bite and may be able to offer helpful suggestions to encourage healing and reduce scarring.
The holiday season is a time of joy and gathering together with loved ones. It’s not a time to be worried about being harmed by brown recluse spiders. With the help of the information above, you’ll be better equipped to locate and handle any issues with spiders that you may have this holiday season.
Every company has a story and Douglas Karr of the Off the Circle podcast asked us to share ours. We’re serial entrepreneurs and have worked across several industries. Over the years, we’ve identified what makes businesses perform well and what doesn’t.
With regard to the pest control industry, we saw an industry with several issues:
- A lack of competition aside from huge national brands that didn’t have a stake in the local region.
- Intense sales pressure for unnecessary contracts and excessive treatments for extermination services.
- Unlicensed staff that applied chemical treatments requiring much more attention.
- Poor expectations set by uneducated staff that really don’t understand how to prevent and rid homes and businesses of pests.
We still see these issues with our competitors, even new ones that are unlicensed and using dishonest sales and marketing strategies to compete with us. It’s of no concern, though, as word of mouth continues to be the best resource for growing our business. Read our reviews and speak to our clients and you’ll find that we work to exceed expectations and carefully educate our clients with every service call.
As a business owner or homeowner, we know how frightening or embarrassing having a pest problem can be. We’ve been there – that’s why we started the business! But pests aren’t your fault – virtually every pest is seeking food or a place to lay their nest that just happens to be in your business or home. We’ll help you understand how they got there, how to pre-treat, how to rid yourself of them, and how to keep them from coming back.
What you’ll find with Freedom Pest Control:
- We are your neighbors and have worked in central Indiana all our lives.
- We do not push sales contracts and promise to only provide the treatments that are necessary.
- We are licensed and you can look us up at the Office of Indiana State Chemist website. Select the second tab, Pesticide Businesses, and search for the business name. The business should have Category 7A recorded online.
- We continue to educate ourselves on treatments, pests, and pest control strategies through our membership in both the National Pest Management Association and the Indiana Pest Management Association.
Read our post on How to Select a Pest Control Company for more information.
We know that the best way to grow our business is to provide superior service to our customers. And it’s working! Got a question? Feel free to give us a call!
Note: If you’re reading this post via our feed or email, click through to Off the Circle to listen to our interview, From Pests to Alarms, We’re Talking Home Service Companies.
Even when you’ve done your best… wearing long sleeves, rugged pants, a hat, light clothing, or even put on repellent, it never fails that when the warm weather hits we’re going to get bitten by bugs.
PLEASE READ: Bites and stings can be deadly. If you’re reading this because your child has been bitten or stung, please get them immediate care at the local emergency room. Children are much more susceptible to allergic reactions. Adults are also susceptible, so it’s always recommended to seek assistance from a medical professional immediately if you have fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, severe sweating, slurred speech, trouble breathing, swelling, or other symptoms.
Venomous insects lead the list of deaths in the United States, with 90 to 100 people dying each year from the bee sting complications – typically allergic reactions leading to anaphylactic shock and death from complications. Additionally, wasps, hornets, fire ants, scorpions, and spiders can also inject venom.
Non-venomous insects like mosquitos and ticks can spread disease and also cause allergic reactions. Recently, a young girl at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health tested positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from a tick bite and died a few days later.
Leave, Remove, Clean, and Treat
Before you decide to treat your insect bite or sting yourself, you’ll want to take some steps first:
- Move away from the area you were bitten or stung. You don’t want to attract more bees or insects and wind up with more bites or stings.
- Remove any bug, stinger or the jaws of the insect that may be left. Do this carefully to ensure you don’t leave anything in the wound.
- Clean the area with mild soap, rinse, and dry off.
- Treat the symptoms by applying oils, ointment, or taking medication.
Do topical treatments actually work?
You may be surprised to find there’s a lack of evidence that oils and ointments actually work. A study in the UK (which excluded ticks, mites, and lice) found that with or without topical treatments, bug bites and stings generally took the same time before discomfort disappeared or swelling dissipated. Personally, I still think a cold compress and some aloe felt better… I don’t care if it was all in my head!
Symptoms of Insect Bites and Stings
The human body is quite amazing and our ability to fend off complications with bug bites is incredible… but bites can lead to many problems, including:
- Itching – when insects bite, their saliva or venom also injects histamine. Histamine causes our muscles to contract and our blood capillaries to dilate. This is why treatment of bites often includes the use of an antihistamine.
- Hives – some people experience hives and swelling over their entire body from the allergic reaction to a bug bite.
- Rashes – while most insect bites are identified with local swelling, the histamine can also produce a widespread allergic rash beyond your bite area.
- Swelling – along with rashes, your body may have a mild or severe allergic reaction that intensely swells the area. For immediate relief, you can apply ice packs to reduce swelling.
- Blisters – the reactions of bug bites often cause fluid-filled areas called bullae or circular areas called weals. Blisters may be a sign of a more serious reaction and may not appear immediately.
- Ulcer – a dark region called an eschar may appear from a venomous bite after a blister. Get medical assistance immediately for assistance.
Outside of allergic complications, the worst thing you can do with a bite is to scratch it. Scratching can create an open wound that’s highly susceptible to infection and infection can lead to many more complications, including scarring. Try to immediately the relieve the itching so that you’re not tempted to scratch the area.
Natural Antihistamines for Insect Bite and Sting Treatment
In mild cases, you may be able to ingest a natural antihistamine to help fight the histamine release of insects. Healthline lists these 4 best natural antihistamines.
- Stinging Nettle – Freeze-dried nettles can be found online and at health food stores and has been found to relieve the symptoms associated with histamines.
- Quercetin – found in grapefruit, apples, okra, and red wine, or as a supplement, Quercetin helps relieve the side effects of allergies.
- Bromelain – found in pineapples and supplements, it’s also been found to alleviate breathing and inflammation complications associated with allergies.
- Vitamin C – good old Vitamin C has been found to be a great natural antihistamine and it’s found in many fruits and vegetables as well as in supplements. It’s also non-toxic and free of side effects!
Natural Topical Remedies for Insect Bite and Sting Treatment
There are natural remedies that can be applied to your bug bite to help alleviate itching and swelling. This article from Optiderma points to 6 natural remedies:
- Emu Oil – Emu oil is extracted from the fat of the emu bird, can relieve the itching and swelling and can help your bit heal faster without scarring.
- Calendula Cream – relieves irritation and itching and provides antiseptic benefits. A blister can be also be treated by applying calendula ointment on it.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – unpasteurized and organic apple cider vinegar with sediment applied to bug bites can relieve itching and burning. Dilute it if your skin is sensitive and dab it on the wound with a cotton ball or swab.
- Witch Hazel – helps calm itching caused by bug bites. It contains tannins that have a mild anesthetic effect. Apply it on the bite for 10 minutes using a cotton ball.
- Aloe Vera – fresh aloe vera applied a few times a day will relieve your itching with its natural compounds and amino acids. It’s also a soothing gel that will assist in healing.
- Plantain – Native Americans chewed plantain leaves and applied them to insect bites and bee stings. You can shred the leaves and apply it directly to the area to stop the itching of allergic rashes and promote healing.
Over the Counter Insect Bite and Sting Treatment
There are some outstanding oils and ointments that provide incredible relief from the itching and swelling of insect bites and stings that you can find at your local pharmacy or store.
- Hydrocortisone Creams – Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid and works by activating natural substances in the skin to reduce swelling, redness, and itching.
- Oral Antihistamines – diphenhydramine (Benadryl Allergy and generic) can help ease burning or itching. These can cause drowsiness, so use with caution.
- Pain relievers – as acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic), ibuprofen (Advil and generic), or naproxen (Aleve and generic) can help alleviate the pain associated with the bite or sting.