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Fall Pest Control Tips

The lazy days of summer are just about over. Fall is upon us, and so will be fall pests if you don’t prepare the outside of your home properly.

As the cooler weather begins to settle in, the pests we so often associate with the outdoors can quickly become indoor pests. Just as humans seek shelter from the cold, outdoor pests will do the same and your warm home, full of food and water, is the perfect winter retreat.

What kind of pest might I find in my house in fall?

There are many fall pests: rodents, spiders, yellow jackets, ants, and cockroaches are the most common. But you might also find stink bugs, flies, beetles, bed bugs, lady bugs and bees.

Rodents

When we say ‘pest’ we aren’t just talking about bugs and insects. Mice and rats are the most common fall and winter home invader.

Keep these pests out of your home by sealing points of entry, usually around the outside of the house, with caulk and mesh.

Make sure vents are covered, screens are repaired, and install weather stripping around doors. Last, cut back shrubs and branches so mice can’t just walk up and over into your home from the yard.

Spiders

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You can knock down cobwebs all winter long, but before you do consider this … spiders are natures insect repellant. Spiders can reduce the amount of other pests in your home and out.

Sure, it is not fun to walk into a cobweb, but if you can avoid it you might consider leaving it alone. A spider wouldn’t build a web if it didn’t think there was food in the area.

Stinging Insects

Yellow jackets, hornets and wasps are the most common stinging insects found in the home. As the food source for these stinging insects starts to diminish, these stinging pests seek new food sources including juice, candy, pastries, meet, and dairy.

Keep your garbage cans closed tight, your screen doors fixed and closed, your vents sealed, and food sealed and stowed away if you wish to keep these pests from seeking shelter inside your home.

Ants

ants

Ants create trails so other ants from the colony can quickly and efficiently seek out new food sources. If you don’t want a trail that leads into your home you should consider the following prevention tips.

Seal all cracks around the foundation, store food in airtight containers, sweep floors often, eliminate sources of standing water and keep tree branches and plants cut back.

Additionally, don’t store firewood and building materials next to the home and don’t store unused firewood in the home overnight.

Cockroaches

cockroach - sigma pest control

The cockroach – day or night, summer, fall, or winter, these are pests you do not want in your home; ever! Cockroaches are known to carry and spread all kinds of bacteria and they can trigger asthma attacks in children.

Since cockroaches tend to be found near pipes and drains, keep kitchens and bathrooms sanitized, vacuum frequently and ensure that all cracks around the home are sealed.

Also, store leftover food and pet food in storage containers, take out the trash daily, and seal entry points into the home with caulk and expanding foam.

10 fall pest control tips

Toss the chip clips, clothes pins, and paper bags. When it comes to proper sealing and storage of food use storage containers instead. Storage containers are harder to access, can be easily stacked and sorted, and they keep your food dry.

Insects are attracted to leaves, mulch, wet soil, and other common fall materials, and rodents often seek shelter in a garage or basement. But if you rake and dispose of the dead leaves, and clean up the inside of the garage, you are eliminating the hiding places often sought after by fall pests.

Pests need water to survive. In the winter, indoors, these pest will seek out water from condensation, leaking pipes, and ceiling leaks. Fix these issues and you’ll reduce one major resource that pests need to survive. If they can’t find water, they won’t stick around in the winter.

Pests like nothing better than easy entry into your home. A shrub, placed close to the house, gives them easy access to windows and doors. While a tree branch provides a path to your roof, chimney, and eaves just in case the windows are shut.

Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter. Use caulk and expanding foam to seal the space and deny entry.

Take the time to perform a thorough exterior inspection of your home. Look for openings, cracks, gaps, including in all exit and entry points of utilities and vents, damaged screens, and damaged or missing door sweeps. Remediate any issues you might stumble upon if you want to prevent pests from getting inside.

Many homes use firewood for warmth in the winter, but don’t be tempted to store it close to you home. Keep firewood at least 20 feet away from the house, and only bring in the amount that you plan to burn. You do not want to leave firewood in your home if isn’t being burned.

Windows screens, mosquito nets, and similar barriers protect against inquisitive summer and fall pests, but only if they provide complete protection. And as long as the frame is in good shape repairs are easy and can be done in a few minutes.

Make it a rule to never leave food out overnight, including dirty plates. These draw in hungry fall pests that will happily make your kitchen their winter home.

We need vents in our homes to expel bad air and bring in new/clean air. You can’t close these areas off completely, but you can introduce screens and mesh that allow the air to flow in and out, but is small enough to keep the pests from entering through this window.

The last word ...

To be honest, there are hundreds of precautions, preparations, and fixes you can install to help seal and prevent your home from the fall pest migration. Crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s can be a real chore and still, despite your best efforts, pests still might find their way into your home.

If they do, call Sigma Pest Control. At Sigma Pest Control, our pest technicians are trained to help manage pests of all kinds. Regardless of whether you have one pest or a thousand, we will design a program that is right for your situation.

We offer free inspections, and our professional and courteous customer service speaks for itself. No sales pressure, no gimmicks, and no hidden costs. You get first rate service and an end to your fall pest problems. 

Call Sigma Pest Control for a free inspection – 540-94-SIGMA. 

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What do Carpenter Ants Eat?

Seems like there is an obvious answer to this question; carpenter ants each wood! In fact, they don’t each wood at all. The name ‘carpenter’ is used to describe a builder of things. The unfortunate outcome of this story is that in order to build they must first tear down.

Carpenter ants don’t get their building materials from Home Depot. Instead, they use your home, and the materials that you used to build it, as their own personal hardware store. Carpenter ants chew through wood in order to make tunnels, or galleries, in which to raise their young. In other words, they are building a nest in your home to raise a family.

While carpenter ants do not consume or digest wood, they do seek food, moisture, and shelter in order to make a suitable place to live. Your home may inadvertently provide the very resources that attract carpenter ants in the first place. It is a good idea to know the food ants crave and the ideal conditions that lure them to your property, and we have the answers if you’ll just read on.

So what do they eat?

Carpenter ants crave protein above all else. They get most of their protein from living and dead insects, but they’ll gladly consume the food scraps and crumbs found in your kitchen, under the stove, beneath the dishwasher, and in the pantry.ant and aphids - sigma pest control

In addition to protein, carpenter ants are attracted to sugars such as honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by aphids. Other sugar sources include:

  • Syrup
  • Honey
  • Granulated sugar
  • jelly

What attracts carpenter ants to my home?

Like most living creatures, ants need food and favorable living conditions to survive. In the case of the carpenter ant, they require three things: moisture, food, and shelter.

Moisture – Carpenter ants favor moist, damp areas. The moisture often makes things easier to chew through. Leaks that go unattended will lead to a softening or rotting of the wood and materials around the leak. They also seek areas where condensation collects such as doorways, windows, bathrooms, kitchens, drains, pipes, roof vents and laundry areas.

Food – Carpenter ants love protein and sugar. They are also extremely attracted to honeydew, which is a sweet liquid produced by aphids. Carpenter ants forage for food at night and look for anything sticky, sweet or meaty. 

Shelter – Carpenter ants will take up residence in wood and leaf piles, dead tree stumps, rotting fence posts … just about any place they can find rotting wood and debris.

Carpenter Ant prevention

To prevent carpenter ant problems indoors, consider addressing the following concerns:

  • Correct roof leaks, plumbing leaks and other moisture problems which will attract carpenter ants.
  • Seal cracks and openings in the foundation, especially where utility pipes and wires enter from the outside.
  • Replace/remove moisture-damaged wood … Remove tree and shrub stumps and roots.
  • Remove rotten wood or lumber that is stored in a garage or near the house.
  • Store firewood as far away from buildings as possible.
  • Clip back tree limbs and vegetation touching the roof or siding of the house. 

What do I do if I have carpenter ants?

In most cases, you should contact a pest management professional to treat carpenter ants. At Sigma Pest Control, our licensed Pest Management Professionals are experienced in inspecting properties, locating nests, baiting techniques and proper/safe pesticide application.

The best way to control carpenter ants is to locate and destroy the nest, replace damaged or decayed wood and eliminate moisture problems, if they exist. This is not a job for ant traps and baits. Carpenter Ant infestation can become a huge problem real fast, and do-it-yourself remediation isn’t going to the do the job. You need a professional.

The last word ...

Now that you know what carpenter ants do eat, you can focus on what to do if you are seeing these insects near your home. Even though they don’t eat wood, carpenter ants can still cause a lot of damage.

Remember, ants are active year-round, that means you need protection year-round. Sigma Pest Control staff are trained to help manage ants and similar pests. Keeping ants out of homes and buildings is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. That’s why we recommend Sigma’s Quarterly Pest Control Service (QPCS) as the best solution for ant prevention and infestation.

Once we’ve addressed the ant issues inside your home, we’ll focus our efforts on the outside to keep your home pest free. Exterior services will occur once every three months, and will include a foundation treatment, removal of wasp nests and spider webs using a telescopic tool that reaches up to 30 feet, a perimeter band around the home. And crack and crevice service. However, if the bugs don’t listen, we will come back and take care of it at no additional charge to you.

Call Sigma Pest Control at 540-947-4462 today and we’ll make sure your carpenter ant problems aren’t a problem anymore.

ant

Carpenter Ants

Summer is a popular time for building things. When a new home is built, those people doing the building are called carpenters. In this blog, however, the kind of carpenter we’ll be talking about is not the kind you want working on your home.

The Carpenter Ant does not construct and build in the manner you might think. When a carpenter ant decides to ‘build’ a nest in your home, it is not like adding a bedroom or third car garage to your home. In order to make room for their nest, carpenter ants will chew through the wood that makes up the floor and framing of the home.

These pests prefer damp or decaying wood. Homes with moisture issues caused by leaks are prime targets for carpenter ants. The pests will also use tree branches that overhang roofs to access buildings to find a way inside. Unsealed openings around utility pipes and wires are common entry points.

Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not consume the wood.

What do carpenter ants look like?

The carpenter ant lives in large groups known as a colony. A mature carpenter ant colony can contain anywhere from 10-20,000 workers. Each colony usually has only one functional, wingless queen.

Carpenter ants vary in size and can be anywhere from ½” to ⅝” long. Most carpenter ants in America are black, but some species have reddish or yellowish coloration.

carpenter ant

How serious are carpenter ants?

When carpenter ants build nests, they dig out tunnels in wood, weakening the wood from the inside. A long-term infestation with multiple colonies in a home often means serious structural and cosmetic damage.

Because they chew through the center of the wood, a carpenter ant infestation will often go unnoticed until it’s too late. The damage caused by carpenter ants is often confused with termite damage, as are the insects themselves. Termites actually eat and digest the cellulose found in the wood, carpenter ants simply hollow out galleries to use as nests in wood.

Signs of carpenter ant infestation

The most obvious sign of carpenter ant infestation is the presence of workers inside a building or home. Even though you might see the ants, it does not necessarily mean that a carpenter ant colony has established its nest within your home. Carpenter ants forage for food within great distances of their nests. Just seeing a couple of ants in the kitchen probably means you just need to clean your kitchen.

When a carpenter ant infestation is severe, piles of wood shavings can usually be found beneath wooden items. It is also likely that you’ll see workers and/or swarmers emerging from small openings on the surface of wood

Carpenter ants burrow into wood to create their nests, and an infestation can also be detected by faint rustling noises inside woodwork or walls. Furthermore, when large winged ants emerge from ceilings, walls and other hidden crevices, an infestation is almost certain.

How do I get rid of carpenter ants?

To control an infestation properly and reduce the chances that the colony can return, the number one thing you should do is contact a pest control professional.

To control a carpenter ant infestation, it is necessary to first find the nest. Once identified, it can be removed. In addition, all moisture conditions that the ants found must be corrected.

If treated early, serious structural damage to houses and buildings can be avoided. However, these ants could damage structures immensely if they continue undiscovered for an extended period.

DIY tips to prevent carpenter ant infestation:

  • Seal cracks in the foundation with caulk.
  • Store firewood away from the home and trim back bushes and trees from the edge of the house.
  • Fix water leaks and adjust the grading around your house so there is no standing water.
  • Use airtight containers to store food in the pantry.
  • Install proper screening in windows and door sweeps on entry doors.

Ant Control

Ants are active year-round, that means you need protection year-roundSigma’s Quarterly Pest Control Service (QPCS) covers antsspidersroaches, wasps, fleas, centipedes, crickets, mice, rats, and much more.

Once we solved any issues on the inside of your home, we will focus our efforts on the outside to keep your home pest free. Exterior services will occur once every three months, and will include a foundation treatment, removal of wasp nests and spider webs using a telescopic tool that reaches up to 30 feet, a perimeter band around the home. And crack and crevice service. However, if the bugs don’t listen, we will come back and take care of it at no additional charge to you.

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Carpenter, Odorous, and Pavement ants – what’s the difference?

Carpenter ants get their name from their nest building. They prefer to nest inside decayed, wet wood, and excavate the wood to form tunnels from which to get around. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood, they only tunnel and chew through wood to create nests.

What do Carpenter Ants look like? carpenter ant

Carpenter ants vary in size and can be anywhere from ½” to ⅝” long. While black carpenter ants are common, some species have reddish or yellowish coloration. The color also varies among species, ranging from black to brown, red, black, yellow, orange, yellowish tan or light brown. Some ants exhibit both red and black coloration.

How serious are carpenter ants? Should I be worried?

Carpenter ants, like termites, can go undetected for long periods of time. By the time you know you have them you have an infestation that is not easily corrected. The damage caused by carpenter ants is often confused with termite damage. Remember, termites eat and digest the cellulose found in the wood, carpenter ants simply hollow out galleries to use as nests in wood.

Signs of carpenter ants:

All species of carpenter ants prefer decayed wood for their nesting sites. Although carpenter ants do not eat wood, damage can be severe when nests remain active for several years. Outside of seeing them marching around your home, you’ll often find evidence of sawdust outside their kick-out holes. In addition, if you see winged ants creeping out from ceilings, walls, or other hidden crevices then you’ve got a problem. If the infestation is severe, you might find stuck doors or windows, uneven floors, sinking ceilings and bulging walls.

Among ant species, the odorous ant is the most commonly found house pest. They build colonies consisting of multiple nests and reproducing queens. Odorous house ant colonies can range from fewer than 100 workers and one queen to more than 10,000 workers and hundreds of queens. They feed mainly on honeydew produced by aphids, as well as floral nectar and other sugary foods. Odorous house ants nest indoors (under sinks and doormats and in insulation and dishwashers) and outdoors (under rocks and in garbage cans, potted plants and exposed soil).

What do odorous ants look like? odorous ant

Odorous ants are small and range in color from brown to black. Their overall size/length varies from ​1⁄16 to ​1⁄8 inches (1.5–3.2 mm) depending on the caste. When crushed, these ants leave a coconut like smell as a defense mechanism against predators.

How serious are Odorous ants? Should I be worried?

Odorous house ants are not dangerous, but they can contaminate your food as they feed and forage.  They are considered a nuisance pest. These ants can bite, but they do not cause much pain. 

Signs of odorous ants:

Odorous house ants are recognized as being one of the most commonly encountered ants inside homes. Odorous House Ants can be found trailing through kitchens in homes all across North America. Odorous ants are most often found to enter homes after a heavy rainstorm; attempting to escape flooding of its nest. 

Unlike the carpenter ant that chews through wood, the pavement ant doesn’t chew or damage cement. They don’t cause any structural damage; they’re just a nuisance. Pavement ants get their name because they build nests underneath or along the edge of sidewalks, driveways, and other hard surfaces. They excavate dirt and debris from the nest, piling it in small mounds through cracks in the slab. Pavement ants have been known to consume insects, seeds, honeydew, honey, bread, meats, nuts and cheese. They map out trails for distances of up to 30 feet in search of food. 

What do pavement ants look like? pavement ant

The pavement ant workers are about 2.5–4 mm long and vary in color from dark brown to black, with parallel lines on the head and mid-section. Worker ants measure around ⅛ – 1/16 of an inch long and can be dark brown or black. Flying ants of this species are about twice the size of the workers.

How serious are pavement ants? Should I be worried?

Pavement ants have a stinger, but they rarely sting people. If you get stung, it is usually too weak to penetrate the skin. A bite from a pavement ant can cause skin irritation or a rash. These ants are not venomous, and their bites are not medically important.

Signs of pavement ants:

One of the best ways to identify pavements ants is to look where they prefer to build their colonies and forage; underneath sidewalks, cement slabs, and large rocks. Pavement ants will enter homes and buildings through foundation cracks. If you see sand piles and small soil particles in structures near cracks in concrete slabs, this is likely pavement ants disposing material from excavated nests.

How do I treat ant infestation?

It is very difficult to eliminate an ant problem on your own. A successful ant control program requires that the entire colony be eliminated, including the queen(s). This often requires professional assistance.

There are somethings you can do to prevent ants from entering your home or business:

  • Sealing cracks in foundations and gaps around windows and doors.
  • Don’t leave food out on your counter or dirty dishes in your sink. 
  • Signing up for year round home pest control services can also help you protect your home and prevent ants and other pests from taking over.

Treatment

Ants are active year-round, that means you need protection year-round. Sigma’s Quarterly Pest Control Service (QPCS) covers antsspidersroaches, wasps, fleas, centipedes, crickets, mice, rats, and much more.

Once we solved any issues on the inside of your home, we will focus our efforts on the outside to keep your home pest free. Exterior services will occur once every three months, and will include a foundation treatment, removal of wasp nests and spider webs using a telescopic tool that reaches up to 30 feet, a perimeter band around the home. And crack and crevice service. However, if the bugs don’t listen, we will come back and take care of it at no additional charge to you.

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