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Category: Ants

Keep Your Cool in the Summer Months!

Green Ways To Keep Cool this SummerAs we move into the hottest months of the year, we thought we’d share some green tips on how to keep your cool in the house while still keeping your electric bill in check.

Cool Your Rooms!

For starters, cover your windows. As much as we enjoy a little natural light during the day, experts say that 30% of your home’s excess heat is coming through your windows. Using blinds, shades or curtains can reduce the temperature in your home on a hot day up to 20-degrees. Not to mention the electricity you’re not spending on air conditioning and fans.

Speaking of fans, make sure all your ceiling fans are turning counter-clockwise. This circulates the air and creates a wind-chill breeze effect, making you feel cooler, especially at higher speeds. In the winter, you can reverse the fans back to clockwise so the warm air that naturally rises is pushed down into the room. (Most ceiling fans have a switch in the base that changes the direction.)

If you don’t have ceiling fans, how about creating your own homemade DIY air conditioning. Fill a mixing bowl with ice or a frozen ice pack and position it at an angle behind a box or table fan. The fan will draw the cool air into the room, rapidly reducing the temperature. Or, if you’re feeling particularly industrious, check out these steps on how to build a “swamp cooler” that can reduce the temperature in a small apartment for only $25!

Cool Your Furniture!

Make sure your sheets are fresh – used sheets absorb sweat and body heat and hold onto it for longer than most people think. Cotton sheets breathe easier and stay cooler.

Water works! While you’re pulling off your sheets to change them, lay a large towel or two down before sliding the fitted sheet into place. Then take a clean, empty spray bottle and fill it with cool water. Spray the top sheet with a light misting of water from the bottle and the dampness will draw heat away from your body. And store the spray bottle in the fridge for the next night!

Also consider investing in a buckwheat pillow. Not only does the pillow not collapse under the weight of your head and neck, helping promote a more comfortable sleep, the buckwheat hulls also don’t hold onto heat – so both sides are the cool side!

Cool Yourself!

Sometimes the best way to beat the heat is by reducing your own temperature! We’ve heard lots of old wives tales about licking your wrists or plunging your head into an ice bucket. We’d like to think our methods are a little more sensible.

Of course, we endorse the standard approach of keeping yourself well hydrated through hot days. Technically, any liquid will do, but we recommend light and healthy beverages like iced tea, lemonade, and, of course, cool refreshing water!

Rather than licking your wrists, a cool compress on pressure points like your wrists and neck will make you feel cooler.

Consider a cold shower. The cool water is bracing and can reduce your body’s overall temperature. It’s especially effective right before bed, even if you don’t dampen the sheets.

(Don’t) Cool It on the Home Improvements!

Certain renovations may take longer to feel the effects from – but are definitely worth the expense for the long-term savings.

Trees can be valuable for shade, but also help cut down on the sun’s heat even when it’s not directly shining on them. Palm trees are less effective, but there are many native Florida fauna that will work well.

Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs – you know, the curlicue ones. The standard incandescent bulbs we’ve been using for generations expend 90% of the energy they use (which itself is much higher than CFL’s) on generating heat. CFL bulbs use less energy, last longer and will reduce the temperature in your home considerably.

You might already be considering insulation, but what about insulation that saves you considerably on your energy bills, reduces sound pollution AND helps control pests access to your house?

Our Thermal Acoustical Pest Control (TAP)  system is 32% more efficient than standard fiberglass insulation and provides a barrier for roaches, ants, silverfish and the sound of your neighbor’s dog that just won’t stop barking. It reduces heat in the summer, cold in the winter and, like all of our products, is 100% safe for your whole family, including pets! And while it’s not pink and doesn’t have a cartoon mascot, it is made with 87% recycled materials that would otherwise be filling a landfill – and is EPA certified!

Call us today to get more information on this remarkable product or any of our natural pest solutions!

Big Headed Ants – A BIG Problem

Big Headed Ants - A Big ProblemJust like most of our residents here on the Gulf Coast of Florida, a lot of our animals, plant life, and insects are also from other parts of the United States and the world. Sometimes that can be a good thing. But in many cases, bugs introduced from foreign sources are more invasive – taking over the native insects’ habitat and creating an imbalance in the natural ecosystem.

That’s definitely the case with Big Headed Ants (BHA).

Pheidole megacephala is considered one of the top 100 most invasive species on the planet. Big Headed Ants were first identified in 1793 on the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Like many other species of ants, BHA’s managed to board the trading ships of the Silk Road – the routes between Europe, Asia, and the Americas – and then were transplanted all across the globe.

Including the Sunshine State…

Here in Florida, the Big Headed Ants were first introduced in the Everglades, Key West, and St. Augustine, but they quickly spread to Charlotte, Broward, Brevard, Hillsborough, Highlands, Lee, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Seminole and Monroe Counties.

Big Headed Ants have been a problem for decades – even displacing many of the other invasive ant species, like red fire and white footed ants. But scientists are saying that in recent years, they’ve become an even larger problem. They believe the large spate of hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast, from 2003 to 2005, the most active tropical activity for our area since the ’60’s, destroyed lawns and trees, which resulted in importing replacement soil and vegetation, which may have been infested with BHA’s.

What do Big Headed Ants Look Like?

Despite their name, only 1% of the Big Headed Ants population sports the larger head – the major worker or soldier ants. The front half of the soldier’s head is sculptured while the back half is smooth and shiny. Minor workers look much like other ants, except for small spines on their midsection pointed upward and the long hairs that cover their entire bodies.

Colonies are very large and will contain a high number of fertile queens, another reason for their rapid spread. Because of our subtropical weather, the ants reproduce almost year round. You may see the winged queens flying about in the winter and early spring, but once fertilized, they shed their wings and nest in loose soil. They will burrow down and can lay almost 300 eggs per month.

The BHA’s feed on dead insects and sometimes live ones, devouring the honeydew extracts from sap-sucking aphids, whiteflies and planthoppers. Strangely, Big Headed Ants have a symbiotic relationship, since both are targeted by the same predators, lady beetles and certain butterfly larvae.

Should I be Worried?

Like their other invasive ant neighbors, the red imported fire ants, Big Headed Ants do bite when defending their nest or colony. Unlike fire ants, BHA bites don’t sting, but some people may still have an allergic reaction to them.

The real problem, though, is food contamination. Once the ants find a food source – sugary items to them are similar to their natural nourishments – they quickly alert any and every Big Headed Ant in the area – drawing them in large numbers. Trust me, you don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night to find your bed or carpets crawling with hundreds of ants because a cracker crumb wasn’t picked up.

Check With the Experts!

BHA’s are sometimes mistaken for termites because of the way they burrow into trees and their dirt leaves small tubes that they travel through, similar to those created by subterranean termites. Because of this, if you think you have an infestation, call us right away. Our highly-trained staff can quickly identify and properly treat whatever infestation you’re experiencing. We cover most of the Gulf Coast – from Lakewood Ranch to Punta Gorda, and we specialize in natural products that are safe for the whole family!

Florida Has the Best Bug Scientists Around!

Best Bug Scientists Around at UFWe don’t like to brag, but we have a lot of great things here in Florida. In St. Augustine, we have the oldest existing (and still settled) European settlement in North America; the Miami Dolphins are the only NFL team to play a perfect season;  we invented Gatorade, Coppertone sunscreen and air conditioning; and we have the strongest hurricanes… okay, so maybe not that last one!

And recently, the entomology department at the University of Florida was honored as the best in the entire world by the Center for World University Rankings.

How do They Know?

The Center ranks universities across the globe in 227 subject categories, ranking the education and training of students as well as the prestige of faculty, based on several factors, including the number of articles published in top-tier research journals.

The center uses data from Clarivate Analytics, formerly part of the Reuters news service, and is the only such list to rank universities worldwide.

The Center started the ranking project in 2012 as an experiment to rank the top 100 out of 25,000 degree granting universities in the world. Two years later, they expanded to the top 1000, the largest ranking of universities in the world – far more than the US News & World Report or Forbes reports.

That’s Impressive!

And did we mention, UF got a perfect score? Number 2 was the University of California, Riverside with a 95, with Cornell, Kansas State, and North Carolina State University rounding out the top 5.

And speaking of the best, we’ve made it our mission to be the number one provider of 100% natural, family-friendly, truly green pest solutions for the entire Gulf Coast of Florida, from Port Charlotte to Lakewood Ranch. Whatever your issue is, from rodents to ants to mosquitoes, we have the answer that’s right for you. Contact us at your earliest convenience.

And if you’re thinking of getting an entomology degree, we know the perfect place!

Argentine Ants – A Global Problem

The Extraordinary Argentine AntAh, the Mighty Ant! From Solomon’s exhortation to “go (look) to the ant, thou sluggard,” to the Ancient Greek fable later recounted by Aesop, to the strange reverence some native peoples of Africa have for the tiny insects, ants have been a cultural touchstone throughout society. There’s even a government-funded research program to make the Internet more useful by modeling interaction on the World Wide Web with the way ants communicate to the rest of their colony.

Ants can lift & carry food weighing up to 20 times their own body weight. That would be like you or I hoisting a 2-ton hamburger on our backs! They can construct structures up to 500 times their own height. And interestingly enough, ants also have 2 stomachs. The second one is strictly used for storing food to share with others later!

There are approximately 13,000 known species of ants, and myrmecologists – the technical term for the people who study ants – believe there could be thousands more waiting to be found. Today we’re going to focus on one of the most interesting and mysterious species, Linepithema humile, commonly known as the Argentine Ant.

So, from Argentina, Right..?

As you can guess from the name, Argentine ants are native to South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. Unfortunately, when the Spanish conquistadors and European missionaries came to explore the area, they inadvertently spread the Argentine ants all across the globe – from Europe to Japan to Australia, New Zealand, and of course, what eventually became the United States. The Argentine Ants are now established in 15 countries on 6 continents!

That wouldn’t be such a big deal, except that the Linepithema humile are a very aggressive species of ants. When you add that to their genetic makeup and unique colonization methods, they very quickly become a force to be reckoned with.

In most insect colonization efforts – and those of mammals as well – there is a natural tendency to protect those of the same family, extended family and then, if possible, the global family. Evolutionary biologists call this “kin selection theory,” proposing that they have developed that predisposition for the preservation of the uniqueness of their genetic heritage.

Supercolonies: the Avengers of Ants?

Argentine Ants defy this supposedly predisposition because of their extraordinary social organization, called unicoloniality or ‘Super Colonies.’ This essentially means you can take an Argentine Ant from one colony in Africa, preserve it long enough to drop it into a colony in Hawaii and the ant would join the new colony with virtually no adjustment period!

By the same token, colonies of Argentine Ants, instead of battling other neighboring Argentine Ant colonies for dominance, instead cooperate in destroying the colonies of any other species of ant. In fact, Argentine Ants are ranked among the world’s 100 worst animal invaders.

It is estimated that one of the largest Super Colonies of Argentine Ants – ranging from San Diego to San Francisco, CA (more than 450 miles) – may consist of approximately 1-TRILLION ants.

But that’s not all…

To further confuse matters, Argentine Ants in the native habitat co-exist with their neighboring ant species and don’t grow to Super Colony levels.

While several factors have been tested, there is no definitive reason science has yet discovered for these ants unusual and varied behavior. It’s just one more mystery of God’s creation that we continue to notice and explore.

Chances are high that you’ve run into Argentine Ants. They often attempt to occupy homes when the temperatures rise, or their nests are displaced with excessive rain. Yes, our Florida weather is the perfect place for them to thrive. And often the queens are right there invading your home, and making it difficult to fully eliminate.

There is Good News!

Here at Good News Pest Solutions, we deal with all sorts of ants, from the biting fire ants to the home invading ghost ants, and yes, the Argentine Ant. While ants may seem like a simple problem to handle, once entrenched, they tend to be difficult to relocate without professional help. If you’re having an ant problem of any size, indoors or out, please contact us. We utilize the best all-natural, organic solutions that protect your family while eliminating the problem.

Tropical Fire Ants: Stowaway Spanish Sailors

Fire Ants Were Sailors Too!If you’ve been in Florida long at all after a heavy rainstorm, you may have noticed that fire ants will climb trees, tires, grass, and of course, your legs to get high enough up to sail through the storm. But research is now showing these aggressive insects used a different way of sailing to move all across the globe.

Recently, some researchers from the Department of Agriculture in Gainesville used genetic markers to learn that our second favorite biting insect in Florida originally came from Central America. The tropical fire ant (Solenopsis geminata) is native to the rainforests of our southern neighbors. But somehow, they managed to travel to tropical regions all across the globe.

The researchers were stymied until a couple of graduate students noticed that the pattern of the spread of the tropical fire ant coincided with the trade routes of 16th century Spanish vessels.

You probably recall from history class that the Spanish were some of the first Europeans to land on what we now call America. They established colonies and set up trade between the colonies, their other island territories, Asian markets and even Australia.

Back in the day, these ships didn’t have mechanical means to be stabilized, so more down-to-earth methods had to be employed. And by down to earth, we mean specifically: Earth.

The early Spanish traders would load the bottom of their vessels with loads of dirt to offset the additional weight of cargo that they picked up. As they reached a new destination and either sold or acquired cargo, dirt would be added to or removed from the ship to maintain that balance.

Of course there weren’t any dirt farms or stores, they simply used what was at hand wherever they landed. Which often meant it was crawling with grubs and bugs, including our friend the tropical fire ant.

So a load of dirt from Brazil or Southern Mexico would get dumped in the Philippines, Hawaii, India and, yes, the colonies in the Floridas. And we all know how quickly those darn ants build up a new ant hill colony.

Within a few years after the first trade visit between Central America and other regions, the tropical fire ant had spread halfway across the globe, stowaways sailing on the Spanish galleons.

Here at Good News Pest Solutions, we’re committed to stopping the spread of these painful pests in your yard, using the most cutting edge organic products available. Contact us today to find out how we can help curb your ant problem as well as numerous other creepy crawlies.

An interesting side note: during World War II, American supply ships bringing relief to bombed areas in Britain, used rubble from bombed buildings for ballast in a similar fashion that eventually became FDR Blvd. in New York.

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