You May Be Caught Unawares

Subterranean termites, as their name indicates, make their way into a house by burrowing under the ground and looking for their comfort zone, mainly soil and a moist area. Once inside a structure, they create tunnels and look to feed on wood and other like material. After forming organized colonies and assigning duties in a similar way to that of ants and worker bees, they are capable of creating significant damage in a very short period of time.

A large majority of the time a homeowner is not aware of the existence of a colony until the termites have begun their work and wrecked significant havoc. Similar to other pests, as they gain a foothold in a structure, they like to multiply and continue their onslaught. It is considered wise, especially in certain climates, to take preventative measures.

There are many types of subterranean termites across the United States (eastern, western, dampwood, drywood). While it is not good to be infested with any of these creatures, the eastern subterranean termite causes the most damage nationwide due to its large population. They generally swarm during the spring, more towards the morning, when soil temperatures are hovering around 70 degrees.  

Prevention is the key to avoiding swarms of termites from entering a home. Control of entry points around the outside of a house, especially near damp and moist areas, is one of the better means of preventing swarms from gathering and multiplying. Setting baits and traps at these locations can also help prevent the formation of colonies. Once a colony is discovered, there are several proven solutions available to eradicate termites including Sentricon® or Dupont™ Altriset™ termiticide. Another viable way of ridding a house of subterranean termites is injecting the nest with borate and liquid nitrogen, which the termites must ingest or come in contact with to work. A trusted professional is recommended to test for termites and propose a solution if needed. Contact Triple S Services at 800-457-3785 for a free inspection.

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Canine Pest Detection for Bedbugs

Why use canines for bedbug detection? In addition to the superb sense of smell dogs possess, using them for bedbug detection also cuts down on the use of pesticides, which in turn can save you money and help the environment.

Dogs have a sense of smell that is 1 million times more sensitive than that of a human. It has been reported that canines have a 97% accuracy rate of detecting live bed bugs by scent compared to the 30% rate humans do by sight. Since bed bugs have five cycles in their lives, the easiest ones to see with the human eye are adults. Dogs can sniff them out at all life cycle stages, from nymph to adult. By using canines, we can detect where bedbugs are located which helps pinpoint where to treat for them. And with our heat remediation treatment, we don’t use pesticides, only heat to kill bedbugs. Bedbugs are becoming increasingly more resistant to the pesticides created to kill them, which means several treatments are needed to achieve the desired effect. By combining canine detection and heat remediation, we can cut down on the number of visits and eliminates pesticides.

The breeds of canines used for pest detection typically include Hounds and Beagles, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, Jack Russell Terriers and Aussies. However, not all dogs within these breeds are a good fit, just like there can be dogs in other breeds that are excellent for the job. It depends on the individual dog and their desire to “hunt.”

Some important information to know about the canines used for bedbug detection are: Where and how are they trained? Can certification be provided of their training? What does the dog do during the inspection? These questions and more are answered using our service.  Call us today to find out more about canine pest detection. 800-457-3785.

Rodent Hide and Seek

We’ve discussed how mice and rats can get in to your home, but where do they hide once they’ve found shelter? The answers can be surprising. Rodents don’t want to be in the middle of the action in your home and find quiet hiding spots. Likely areas are inside walls, the attic, and even behind baseboards, but here are a few more spots they like to hide, some of which can be dangerous – heating elements and wires, which rodents will chew, can pose dangers. If you feel you have rodents in your house, check the following areas:

  • Dryer vents. Dryer vents are a cozy place for mice to hang out in the cold months. If you have access, check the vent outside and if possible, put a screen on it to prevent rodents from getting in.
  • Ovens. Because ovens are warm and hidden, it provides rodents the privacy and heat they search for. However, in addition to being unsanitary, it can also pose a fire risk. If you have an oven that is not used often, check it periodically for chewed wires or insulation around the oven door. Also look for evidence of food or droppings.
  • Linen closets or dresser drawers. While seemingly unlikely places since food is not nearby, these dark spaces can be a cozy place to set up a nest.
  • Storage boxes. Storage areas are a rodent’s dream home. Since they are rarely accessed, and kept in a dark quiet space, rodents will often create nests in them.
  • Under sink cabinets. Under the sink offers everything a rodent wants: warmth, protection and water.
  • Behind the refrigerator. This is a common hiding spot for rats to create a nest. Periodically move the fridge out and clean dust and food debris to make sure you don’t provide an incentive.

If you find rodent droppings, see evidence of missing food, or chewed wires and packages, you might have a rodent infestation. In addition to checking these areas regularly, call Triple S Services for an inspection. 800-457-3785.

Where Do Insects Go During the Winter?

Here’s a little entomology humor for you: What does the stinkbug say to the ladybug in the fall? “Let’s go inside, I’m so over winter.”

The weather is getting cooler. Where do the bugs go? Overwintering insects, such as stinkbugs, seek warmth and shelter to survive. We know that they like to go inside homes and other buildings, but in 2013, as part of a project called “The Great Stinkbug Count,” USDA scientists surveyed forests along the Appalachian Trail in Maryland and West Virginia, using trained canines, and found that they also like large, dry dead trees, with oak and locust being their preferred type. It was also learned that homes in more wooded areas experienced a higher number of overwintering stinkbugs than homes in more urban settings. In our region, we are accustomed to seeing stinkbugs inside as they overwinter. And they can get in without you noticing. Openings in screens and screen doors, gaps in pipes, and virtually any known entrance to your home is inviting to them. However, they are not the only insects who like to go inside.

Ladybugs will gather together to stay warm and can be found in sun-filled areas in your home. They prefer light-colored homes with southwestern exposure.

Centipedes will come indoors, and head down to your basement where it’s cool and moist. Unlike other overwintering insects who slow down during these months, centipedes continue to hunt other bugs and can actually be beneficial, (even though they are creepy).

Wasps can also overwinter. Typically if you find one in your home, it is a queen who is looking for shelter and will be dormant until she can go outside in the spring to create a new colony. She will seek out a quiet area like your basement, or behind a baseboard and unless threatened, will be largely inactive.

Given how these insects have had years of adapting to conditions and surroundings, they are hard to spot when they come in. Many people don’t even realize they have them in their homes over the winter. Triple S has over 35 years of experience inspecting homes for overwintering insects and can help you determine if you have these insects in your home, and where they might be coming from. Call today for your free inspection: 800-457-3685.

How to Keep the Stink Out

Brown marmorated stinkbugs are adept at getting into tight spaces. You might think your house is well sealed, but stinkbugs can get into the smallest spaces. Even if your screen door appears to be free from holes, they can get in through cracked weather stripping. The entry points into your home for utilities such as water and electricity also offer opportunities for these bugs to get in. These are just two examples.

What do you do once they are inside? It’s known that when threatened or killed, stinkbugs emit an odor. No one wants that stink in their house. There are ways to capture them alive and avoid the smelly result. In addition to Triple S’s service plans to help control the stink bug population in and around your home, here are some tips from the University of Maryland’s Home and Garden Information Center on how to keep stinkbugs out and how to remove those who already made it in. Watch the video below.

Interesting Facts About Wasps

Most people fear them, but wasps are actually fascinating and have an interesting social order.

  • Unlike bees, wasps can sting repeatedly and an ordinary wasp sting (for someone who isn’t allergic) can be treated with deodorant containing aluminum.
  • The sting of a wasp should wear off for most people (again, those who aren’t allergic) within 24 hours.
  • Wasps can travel up to a quarter of a mile to find food to bring back to the colony.
  • Wasps scavenge food for their young larvae and in return, the young produce sweet secretion which is eaten by the adult wasps.
  • Wasps are omnivores and scavengers.
  • Wasps don’t swarm.
  • Wasps don’t create honey.
  • Wasps make their nests in the ground, mud, or create a paper-like substance.
  • Male wasps are called drones. Drones have one purpose, to mate with the queen in the wasp colony.  Once they’ve performed their job, they die shortly after.
  • Wasps are most aggressive between August and October when their food habits change. It is during this time frame that they are known to attack humans.
  • During the latter part of summer, wasp colonies produce males and new queens. These wasps fly away to mate and the queens then find a place to hibernate and overwinter. The cold weather eventually kills the males, workers and foundation queen.
  • Young fertilized queens are the only wasps that survive the winter. They emerge from overwintering in the spring to build new nests. Initially the queen lays up to a dozen eggs and when they hatch into larvae she feeds them until they become workers. The workers then forage for food, feed the new larvae and defend the nest.

If you see a wasp’s nest or think you have wasps around your home, call Triple ‘S’ today for an inspection.  800-457-3785.

 

How to Effectively Remove a Tick

Residents of the Washington, DC, Northern   After all, our region is ripe for Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Erlichiosis – all tick-borne illnesses.

 

So what do you do if you find a tick on you?

1. Relax.  Ticks must be on you for 24-48 hours in order to have a blood meal and transmit disease.  That doesn’t make it any less gross when you find one embedded in your skin, but rest assured that if it crawling, or still small, while on your skin, you have time.

2. Use a pair of clean, fine tipped tweezers and grasp the body of the tick as close to your skin as possible, moving in an upward motion.

3. Clean the area of the bite with rubbing alcohol, soap and water.

4.  Dispose of the tick.  Flush it down the toilet, or put in a bag and put in the trash.  Do not squeeze the body of the tick with your fingers.

The goal is to detach the tick as quickly as possible.  Stay away from myths about suffocating a tick with petroleum jelly, nail polish remover or other solvents.  This could hurt your skin, and also not achieve the goal of successfully removing the tick.

If a rash appears within several days or weeks after you remove the tick, or if you develop a fever or rash, it is best to consult a doctor.

Avoid ticks while outdoors by using a bug repellant with DEET, and if you are participating in outdoor sports such as fishing, hiking,   If you have pets, make sure their flea and tick treatment is up to date as ticks like to not only bite pets, but use them as a means of transportation indoors.  Finally, ensure that ticks will stay out of your home by scheduling a visit from Triple S Services. Let us take care of the perimeter of your home, to keep the ticks out.

What’s Biting You?

It’s summer and that means hours spent outdoors. Unfortunately this can lead to bug bites. Sometimes mosquitoes will have a feast on a host leaving several bites in the same location. But other times, those bites might be from a different pest: a bed bug. Summertime is also a busy season for these tiny, yet ungracious houseguests. Summer vacations increase the chances of exposure to bed bugs, and it is possible that you can unknowingly bring them home from a trip. How can you tell the difference between a mosquito bite and a bed bug bite?

Location

A significant difference between bed bug bites and mosquito bites is the location of the bite. Mosquitoes cannot crawl under clothing but bed bugs can. If you have a bite in a location that was covered, you can rule out mosquitoes. While mosquitoes can bite a host multiple times, the bites are not in an even pattern. Bed bugs tend to bite along the line where your body comes into contact with your mattress. If you find bites in a line, check your mattress for bed bugs and their debris.

Appearance and Reaction

When a mosquito bites its host, it anesthetizes their skin, so they are unaware they are being bitten. However, once the mosquito leaves, the skin’s reaction is instant. A welt will appear immediately with odd borders followed by itching. Bed bugs also anesthetize their host, but their bites are small, red and don’t form a welt. The reaction time for a bed bug bite is typically longer than that of a mosquito – it can take minutes, hours or even days to have a reaction.

Mosquito Bites Bed Bug Bites
Bites are random and isolated Bites are aligned in a row
Bites resolve within days Bites resolve after a long period of time
Mosquitoes can pass diseases such as West Nile, Zika and more when they bite. Bed bugs cannot pass disease when they bite.
The human body reacts immediately to a mosquito bite. It takes longer time to react to a bed bug bite.
Mosquitoes cannot bite through clothing. Bed bugs can crawl under clothing and bite a host.

The best way to avoid a mosquito bite when outdoors is to apply mosquito repellant with DEET in it. There is not a bed bug repellant. If you travel, be sure to check mattresses (under the sheets and around the seams) for evidence of bugs and their debris.

Are You a Mosquito Magnet?

Are you that one person in the crowd who seems to always get mosquito bites when you’re outside? Why is it that they prefer some people over others?

Certain exhaled chemicals, such as carbon dioxide attract mosquitoes, so they tend to “bite” those who output more. If you like to exercise at dusk, you might become a mosquito magnet, since your carbon dioxide output is higher when you exercise. They are also drawn to lactic acid, which is released when you exercise. Estrogen is another chemical mosquitoes find desirable, meaning some women might be a target. Unfortunately, there is no magic trick to outputting less carbon dioxide, lactic acid or estrogen (other than holding your breath) so this is really up to your chemistry and body.

Your wardrobe might play a role as well. While not known for being fashion conscious, mosquitos do tend to seek out colors that contrast with their natural habitat (such as black). So even though black is a tried and true wardrobe staple, you might want to rethink wearing it to your next barbecue.

There isn’t proof that alcohol attracts mosquitoes, however some studies have shown they like to “bite” a person who has recently had a beer. The CDC hasn’t confirmed that specific foods and drinks make you more susceptible to mosquito bites, but anecdotal studies have raised the question.

When a mosquito finds a hospitable host, they search for the hottest part of the body – this would be the place where the blood is closest to the skin. Common target areas are the forehead, neck, elbows and wrists.   Good information to know when considering application of mosquito repellant.

Annoying as mosquitoes are, the science behind what attracts them to their hosts is fascinating. Obviously you don’t want to worry about your outfit, choice of barbecue beverage or exercise regimen this spring and summer, so protect yourself with mosquito repellant, preferably containing 25-30% DEET (concentrations can be higher if you are in a wetland, wooded or area infested with mosquitoes). And the best measure of prevention is to have monthly mosquito abatement visits with Triple S Services. Visit our mosquitoes page for more information.

Ant Societies

Surprisingly, ants and humans have a lot in common. Ants live in highly developed societies in which every ant has a designated role. These assigned roles assure that ant colonies are efficient and thrive. Ants are highly intelligent insects. So how do these miniscule insects that have been on earth for 92 million years – long before humans – survive and thrive in their colonies?

A team of scientists at the University of California, Riverside, reported that ants work together, much like humans, in response to emergency situations. In this particular study, they found that ants are adept at linking their bodies to create chains, or rafts, to float in the case of a flood. Brilliant method to ensure survival.

Another team of scientists from the University of Melbourne Australia learned that ants use their antennae as a method of two-way communication, much like walkie-talkies. And, that through complex chemical reactions, they have adapted how they can communicate who is a friend or foe.

All of this productive work does leave ants exhausted, though. Every ant colony has its fair share of lazy workers. But make no mistake, a brief period of laziness doesn’t mean that ants aren’t productive. Ants are easily trained and even the laziest of workers will eventually tow the line.

It’s humbling to realize that ants, some of which are so small the human eye can easily miss, a species of insect that have already survived a mass extinction, can exist in such an organized manner.