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Category: Ants

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!

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!

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