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Category: Ants

Pest of the Month: White Footed Ants

GNPS POM White Footed AntOften mistaken by homeowners as one of species of ‘Crazy Ants,’ no one’s quite sure how the White Footed Ant arrived in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana, as well as the East Indies, but they were first identified at a tree nursery near Miami in 1986.

The Technomyrmex albipes quickly spread across Florida like they had across Japan and Indonesia 125 years earlier. They measure 2-3 millimeters long and are shades of dark brown and black. They are best separated from other ants by their pale yellow to white feet, hence the name.

Are they a problem?

White footed ants don’t bite or sting and in fact have only one defense against extinction: reproduction. It may sound funny, but it’s no joke – unlike most ant species, almost half of the white footed ant colony are reproductive females. That’s between 4,000 and a million and a half potentially pregnant ants at any time.

White footed ants also spread more readily than other ant species. Between July and August, a small percentage of winged males and females do a mating flight, copulating in mid-air, then landing and starting a new colony. The colonies also spread by budding, where a group of non-flying nestmates will set out on a road trip to found a new colony.

Why are they so annoying?

White footed ants are not known to cause any structural damage, and as mentioned earlier, they don’t bite or sting. They’re just very annoying to homeowners as they seek out sweet foods and once they’ve established themselves in an area, are difficult to get rid of.

When not dining in your sugar bowl, White footed ants tend to go foraging along branches and trunks of trees and shrubs that have nectars and/or sap-sucking insects that produce honeydew. Once a food source is located, pheromone trails are laid down, which is why you often see lines of the ants moving back and forth between food sources. And yes, into your home.

Unlike most ant species, the foragers don’t carry food back to the colony, regurgitate it or share it with others. Despite being non-fertile, these foraging ants lay what are called ‘trophic eggs,’ which the young and the fertile feed on. This method of food production also protects the colony from toxic ant baits, as only the ants eating the bait perish. Even if they survive to lay trophic eggs, the poison isn’t handed down. Oh, and White footed ants are very good at detecting and re-routing around chemical insecticides.

Where do they live?

Technomyrmex albipes – also sometimes classified as Technomyrmex difficilis – nests in trees and bushes, tree holes, under palm fronds, in loose mulch, under debris, in rain gutters, wall voids, and attics. Also, they tend to nest outside more often than inside.

So how do I get rid of them?

Sadly, it seems that white footed ants are here to stay. Once they find their way into your home, it is almost impossible to eradicate them from it, even with professional help. One thing you can do is trim trees and bushes and arrange decorative mulch so that none of them are in direct contact with your home. You can also seal any cracks or crevices that could lead into your home, like around windows, doors and where electrical, phone or cable lines enter your home or attic.

The best defense we can recommend is our Go Green Plus 3 protection. Our trained technicians inspect the interior and exterior of your property, making sure proper precautions are taken, then they treat the perimeter foundation, entry points, eaves, plant beds and trees with reduced–risk, safe, green products. And we’ll repeat the process 3 more times during the year – and return any time there’s a new problem, without any added charges.

To be doubly sure, you might also consider our Thermal Acoustical Pest (TAP) control. While its primary purpose is to refresh your attic after a rodent infestation, it also protects your attic against most other insects, including White footed ants (TAP contains boric acid, a safe chemical that is effective against them). TAP nearly pays for itself in sound-proofing and is more energy efficient insulation than the pink stuff that funny looking cat sells. And it’s fire-retardant.

If you’re having an issue with white footed ants or any other insects, give us a call today. We’ll inspect the property and give you the best options available from our array of family-friendly, 100% organic pest solutions. We’ve been taking care of our customers from Sarasota to Punta Gorda for nearly 30 years and we’d be happy to bring you into our family of satisfied clients!

Flooding & Floating Ants: What to Know & Do

Flooding and Floating AntsWhen there’s excessive rainfall and the floodwaters start to rise – like when a Hurricane like Harvey or Irma hits or approaches the Gulf Coast – everyone fights to rise above the waves and survive it. And none are more adaptive and resilient than the Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA).

While most fire ants avoid humans unless they feel threatened, RIFA are the ones that attack anything that moves, including the 60% of Gulf Coast residents that get bitten every year, and their pets.

As the name implies, RIFA are imported from Brazil. No one’s sure just how, but they first showed up in Mobile, AL in the 1940’s and rapidly spread to 13 other states and have been found as far North as Oklahoma. They overtake and displace other species with startling regularity.

Which leads us to their latest adaptation. As early as post-Katrina (and probably earlier, but we didn’t have as much Twitter and Instagram), people posted images of huge floating rafts, made up solely of Red Imported Fire Ants.

Scientists say as soon as the ant hill starts to become immersed in water, the colony will spread out into a wide pancake shape that allows the ants to float and survive without the ants drowning, surviving until the waters recede enough for them to build a new ant hill (or at least 12 days under laboratory conditions).

The first series of ants link together in a matter of seconds by mandibles, tarsal claws, and adhesive pads on their feet to form a mass that decreases their mean density as a whole, becoming a buoyant raft, made up of 100,000 to 250,000 individual ants.

All ants are what’s known as hydrophobic. That means their bodies partially repel water, making it bead up. A group of them together can trap a whole layer of water and oxygen around their collective bodies, increasing their buoyancy.

As you can see on the short video below, posted by the Green Apple Network, the ants are moving around, active the whole time as they float down the floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey. This probably indicates that the ants move about in shifts, swapping positions so that all of them survive.

The lighter colored dots are larvae and pupae – literally the whole colony is saved.

Entomologists caution that as interesting as the ant rafts may seem, do NOT reach out and touch them by hand or even with a stick. The colony will survive even initial submersion. It will not end well for you.

However, there is a good defense against these floating mandibles of death – and it’s something easy to find – it might even be in your own kitchen.

You see, the ants survive because they cling to each other and spread out the benefits of their hydrophobic abilities. But their Achilles heel is, believe it or not, dish soap. Just like those old Dawn commercials, when a little soapy water hits the floating ant colony, it instantly breaks the ants’ grip on each other, and the makeshift raft collapses. Just make sure there isn’t any dry land they can get to easily enough, or you might get a parting shot.

There is one positive thing that is coming from the experience: scientists are hoping that they can utilize what they’ve learned from the ant rafts to develop better waterproofing and flotation devices.

Since Hurricane Irma came through, the rain will certainly rile the fire ants up, and the other place they tend to run when water starts rising is right for your house.

Protect yourself now and in the future with our Go Green Plus 3 all organic pest control that’s 100% safe for the whole family and protects your home and yard from fire ants, as well as roaches, silverfish and other crawling insects.

We protect homes all up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida, from Sarasota to North Port and we’d love to help you out too! Just give us a call to learn more.

After Irma: Stay safe from fire ants + an update on our services

Flooding and Fire Ants: Protecting Yourself and Your Family (Texas A&M)Did you come here to download Texas A&M’s guide? Click here for Flooding and Fire Ants: Protecting Yourself and Your Family

Dear Good News family and friends—

We are extremely thankful that God spared most of us from the worst of Irma’s fury. Most of our 36 member team are safe and without major damage to our property. We certainly hope our customers and Realtor® community are safe as well.

Unfortunately, our main office in North Venice was without power until late yesterday afternoon. We also had some water intrusion, but our preparation prevented any equipment damage. Though we planned to be open yesterday, without power, it was simply impossible. Most of us appreciated the extra day to clean debris from our yards and get re-settled. Our new Lakewood Ranch location is still without power today.

We regret we have not been able to respond to your calls since Friday. All of our office staff and most of our technicians and inspectors are fully operational today and will try to get to you as soon as possible. We will also be open for business this Saturday in order to catch up from missed services this week. Please be patient with us as we recover. We will do our best to serve you with excellence.

Please be safe during the cleanup

If you have standing water on your property, please be sure to watch out for floating mats of fire ants. They can look like ribbons, streamers, mats, or even a “ball” of ants floating on the water.

When handling debris—especially after it has been sitting for a few days—be extra careful, since fire ants love to try to re-establish their colonies under wood, furniture, or even carpet strips.

For more tips about keeping your family and yourself safe after flood events, download this handy guide prepared by Texas A&M University.

With thankfulness and appreciation,

Dean BurnsideDean

 

 

P.S. Our thoughts and prayers remain with all those to our south who took the brunt of Hurricane Irma… as well as all of our neighbors who are still without power. Our prayer is that the God of all comfort will do His work as only He can do!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. — 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NKJV)

How Do Bugs Think: A Guest Editorial

How to Think Like a BugSo, the nice folks at Good News Pest Solutions asked me if I’d be willing to talk to you about what it’s really like to be a bug. So I thought about it and I figured, with all the misinformation and fake news out there about me and my insect brothers and sisters, why not tell people the truth for once. Let them hear it from the horsefly’s mouth, as it were. And these guys aren’t like a lot of the other pest control guys out there. I mean, instead of dousing or baiting me with nasty chemicals that are as dangerous for you as they are for me, they were nice enough to use natural means. It still got rid of me, but I figured they’d at least print the truth as I see it. So here goes.

First things first, we are not as bad as we’ve been made out to be. We just want to live in harmony with you, share your homes, your yards! With that in mind, in the spirit of cooperation, here are a few suggestions to make both our lives easier…

So, About That Trash…

It smells SO good, don’t you think? Why else would you leave it out to mold and rot than to set free that delicious aroma?! Now some of you don’t leave your trash for us to smell and feed off of. Why wouldn’t you do that? I mean, you don’t want it anymore! Yes, we know what the word trash means, and frankly, if you’re not using it, why not let us enjoy it?

Oh, and one more thing. There are a few of you out there – you know who you are – who wash the smell right out of those cans, sometimes even with bleach! That’s really not very nice, and we’d really appreciate it if you could do us all a favor and let it linger. Thanks so much!

A Little Food For Thought

And while we’re on the subject, what’s the deal with washing your dishes as soon as you’ve used them? Don’t you know how much good flavor there is, even in the dregs. We’re little guys, we don’t eat that much; is it too much to ask you give us a day or two to wipe your plates for you?

It’s really a time saver, if you think about it. Yes, we see you rinsing the plates and bowls before you put them in the dishwasher – honestly, we don’t get it, isn’t the whole point of having a dishwasher that it washes the dishes? Your language doesn’t always make sense to us, but if you need someone to sponge off the excess food, we’re here to help!

Don’t Forget Your Pets!

We love your furry friends – and not just the ones who let us hang out in their cozy coats. But we’ve noticed that a lot of you only feed them once or twice a day! We always thought you guys considered dogs and cats members of your family. But it must not be true. You and your kids get to pillage that vast cold box whenever you like, so why not leave food and water out for your four legged children too? Sure we’ll munch on a little ourselves, but we’ve had a mutual-aid agreement deal with the animal kingdom even longer than you have!

Things Are Looking Up

On another note, we’d like to thank you for making sure we always have a way to get into the house. We get why you lock your doors, but we’re not going to steal your valuables and we appreciate all the vents, and gaps in your seals, the eaves access. It’s really helpful and we like knowing the attic is always open for us. Our good friends the rats and mice enjoy it too.

Now, we have heard that some of you have started to add more insulation and sealing everything in your attics up. Sure, we all want to save some electricity, but really, is the savings really worth risking our lives? Aren’t we worth a little extra consideration?

Outside’s Nice Too

Okay, if we have to, we can live outside too. It’s kind of like camping! If we can make one simple, small request, though… We love plants and everything about them. You do too! Lots of vegetation gives us plenty of organic snacks, dry leaves to snuggle down into, and lets us feel like we’re practically in the house.

Which reminds me, make sure those plants go right up against your house. We promise we’ll try really hard to avoid the temptation of sneaking into your house. Honest! You can trust me.

Oh, and if it’s not too much trouble, a little water is always nice. We don’t need a bowl of our own, or even a steady stream. Most of you have leaky faucets and broken sprinkler heads. All we ask is that you don’t fix them so we can continue to enjoy the much needed moisture. Besides, you’re already paying for it, and really, what’s the true value of maintaining our newly established symbiotic relationship?

Thanks again for taking the time to learn what we’re really all about. And thanks to Good News Pest Solutions for offering this forum. If you really must be rid of us, give them a call.

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!

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