Spring gives rise to pest problems

POOLER, Ga. (WSAV) – There are lots of people who look forward to the spring season, as it marks the return of pleasant temperatures and blooming flowers.  

It also marks the time of year when some unpleasant pests make a comeback and some of them can really take a bite out of homeowners maintenance budgets.  

Unfortunately, stink bugs, kudzu bugs, and carpenter bees spring into action this time of year. Carpenter Bees have a slight resemblance to bumble bees, but their bare, shiny black abdomen is the best way to recognize them.

Much more than just a buzzing nuisance, Carpenter Bees can cause serious damage as they bore holes in wood to create nests to lay their eggs. The male carpenter bees are the most aggressive, hovering in front of people that get near their nests, however, they do not have stingers. The female bees do have stingers, but will only sting if provoked.

Carpenter Bees are attracted to a softwood such as cedar, pine, redwood and cypress and prefer wood that is bare, weathered and unpainted. They may target typical wooden objects found on and around the house including decks, shingles, fences, windowsills, and wooden lawn furniture.  

If homeowners are experiencing a problem with these insects, the best action to take is to call a professional pest control company. Arrow Exterminators Service Center Manager, Chris Thompson, says Carpenter Bee damage can occur quickly. “They can do it in just a couple of weeks. They can go in and drill a hole and run verticle with the grain of the wood, say, six, eight, nine inches even,” Thompson said. “And layer in their young and their larvae in their food source.”

Termites are among the most devastating intruders a homeowner could ever face. Every year, they invade millions of homes, causing billions of dollars in property damage. The startling fact is termites do more damage to homes than fires and storms combined and yet the damage is rarely covered by homeowner’s insurance since termite damage is considered preventable through proper home maintenance and termite protection.

Arrow Exterminators, a local pest and termite control company, is urging homeowners to learn more about this destructive pest and be proactive as termite swarm season nears. When temperatures warm, reproductive termites swarm from an existing colony to create a new one in a different location.

These signature swarms are often the first time a homeowner becomes aware of a potential infestation. “Once a termite infestation begins, the damage can occur very quickly so it’s imperative that homeowners get an inspection early in the season,” said Jones. “Many homeowners believe that termites don’t exist simply because they can’t see them, however, this is not the case as termites are most often present in a home well before they start to swarm.” 

Possible Warning Signs of a Termite Infestation:

  • Termite wings which are thin, papery wings and typically found near window sills or floors.
  • Mud tubes built by termites to connect them from the soil to their food source.
  • Distorted areas of paint or wood surfaces which appear “bubbled” or cracked.
  • Hollow-sounding wood
  • Frass or termite droppings is a sign of dry wood termites and has a hard, gritty feel to it.

Advice to help prevent a termite infestation this spring:

  • Eliminate moisture around foundations.  Also, divert water from the house by using proper downspouts and gutters because termites are attracted to moisture.
  • Do not stack firewood or lumber near home. Termites can burrow into the woodpile and then right into the home.
  • Remove old tree stumps in the yard.
  • Keep tree branches and shrubbery well-trimmed and away from the house which will also help with inspections and finding termite infestations. Additionally, avoid excess piles of mulch since this is a favorite food source for termites.
  • Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.
  • Have your home inspected annually by a licensed pest professional who specializes in termite control. If you have termite protection is important to maintain your coverage and renew annually.

The warmer temperatures mean an increase in pest activity for common household pests and the first step to avoiding pest problems is prevention.

Arrow Exterminators’ pest expert Charlie Jones suggests taking a room-by-room approach to spring cleaning and pest proofing to prevent pest problems that could occur now or later in the year. 

Kitchen: A primary source of food and water for pests, it’s no surprise that the kitchen is a popular location for insects to make themselves at home. Keep an eye out for ants, cockroaches and Indian meal moths which are among the most common pests found in the kitchen.  More than just a nuisance, these pests can contaminate food and spread bacteria.

Prevention Tip: Store all food in an airtight plastic or glass containers, immediately wipe spills, vacuum often and empty the trash frequently.  

Bedrooms and Bathrooms: Time to clean out the closet? Moths may have taken up residence feeding on natural fibers like silk, cotton, and wool.  Silverfish are also commonly found in bedrooms and bathrooms and can damage synthetic fabrics, books, and other paper products.

Prevention Tip: Make sure to wash and iron or dry-clean winter garments before storing them for the summer and use fans or dehumidifiers to eliminate damp conditions.  Ensure openings where pipes enter the bathroom are sealed and dry out bath towels and mats regularly. 

Living Spaces: While kitchens and bathrooms are the most likely areas to harbor pests, common living areas are not off the hook.  Pets can bring in fleas and ticks, left-behind snacks can provide an attractive food source and mice can settle behind floorboards and under furniture.

Prevention Tip: Keep living areas crumb free by removing snacks and vacuuming floors and under furniture regularly.  Also, keep the family pets groomed and their flea and tick prevention current.   

Garage: Stored boxes and sporting equipment in the garage provide the perfect winter harborage for pests like squirrels, mice, and rats.  As you are unpacking your spring and summer gear, keep an eye out for signs of nesting and rodent droppings.  

Prevention Tip: Use airtight plastic storage bins for seasonal items and store them off the floor when possible.  Also, be sure to sweep out the garage regularly. 

Outdoors:  Spring cleaning and proper pest-proofing around the exterior of the home goes a long way in keeping pests such as cockroaches and termites outside where they belong and controlling the population of other pests like mosquitoes.  

Prevention Tip: Seal all cracks and small openings around the foundation of the home including entry points for wires and pipes. Eliminate sources of standing water and moisture.  Keep garbage collection areas clean and ensure all receptacles are tightly closed and trim back branches and shrubbery away from the house. 

“Pest populations rapidly increase during the spring,” Jones said. “The spring cleaning most homeowners undertake should include the necessary steps to identify the conditions that may welcome these unwanted pests inside.”

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