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How The Recent Climate In East Texas Has Led To An Explosion Of Swarming Termites In The Region

Termites start becoming active during the spring season in Texas, and it is during this time that homeowners need to start being mindful about the destructive insects and their possible presence on properties. Spring and early summer is the best time to have a home in east Texas inspected for termites, as the climate during this time of year causes swarming termites to emerge from the ground in search of new colony nesting sites. Winged termites (alates) are already beginning to swarm in large numbers in the region due to the recent increase in temperatures and the rise in humidity levels. According to experts, the subterranean termites that are most abundant in east Texas begin to swarm when temperatures reach 80 degrees and when humidity levels reach 80 percent. Therefore, it is highly likely that numerous homes in the region have already become infested with species like eastern and Formosan subterranean termites.

After finding an area of a home that has become infested with termites, it is common for the home’s owner to dismiss the notion that termites may be infesting other areas of his/her home. However, pest controllers claim that it is typical to find termites eating away at structural wood located within vastly different areas of a home. In fact, one termite colony often feeds on wood located within 35 to 40 different locations around a house. So even after a termite infestation has been spotted by a homeowner, there remains a good chance that he/she has not seen the worst of the damage being inflicted. Already this year, an unusually high number of homes in east Texas have become infested with termites. One resident, Arleen Sterling, claims her home became infested despite personally inspecting all areas of her home on a daily basis. Of course, Sterling did not waste a moment contacting a pest control operator who promptly drilled into her home’s foundation in order to inject termiticides that dissolve the destructive insects. Due to the high number of termite swarms spotted in east Texas already, residents of the area are strongly advised to have professional inspections carried out on their property.

Have you ever found a termite infestation in multiple areas of your home?

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How Texas Residents Can Recognize Damage Inflicted On Their Homes By Wood-Boring Beetles 

Unfortunately for homeowners there are numerous insect pests that can infest and damage the structure of a house through the consumption of structural timbers, stored wood, and other wood contained within the home. Termites and carpenter ants are far from the only pest you need to watch out for when it comes to the structural integrity of your home. One major player in this category of pests are the various kinds of wood-boring beetles. Texas homes owners need to look out for signs of these little pests, as they can cause as much or more damage than the more commonly known pests such as termites.

The key to protecting your home against damage from wood-boring beetles is being able to properly identify the species of wood-boring beetles that are infesting the house. There are 12 different families of wood-boring beetles, and they can vary greatly in their size, the nature of damage they can cause, their wood preference, as well as other factors. The control measures necessary to rid a house of these insect pests can vary by species, hence the importance of properly identifying the specific culprit.

When detecting whether you have an infestation of wood-boring beetles, one of the most common signs are holes left by adult beetles that have chewed their way through the wood. The other common indicator to watch out for is a powdery material called frass, which is often mixed their excrement, that the beetles produce while they are feeding on the wood. The frass is pushed out of the holes the beetles make as they emerge from the holes, and can usually be found piled below said holes. Depending on the species, the consistency of the frass can range from very fine to coarse. You may also find the adult beetles piled near the holes they create if it is in a confined space, as they are attracted to lights and windows and may congregate in those areas.

If you are lucky enough to find the adult beetles outside the holes they’ve created, identifying them is simply a matter of seeing what size and color they are. The adult wood-boring beetles can range in size from ⅛ of an inch to over 2 inches in length, and they vary in color from dark brown to metallic blue or green, as well as striped yellow or red. Knowing the type of wood that is infested can also help you identify which species of wood-boring beetle they are. The shape of the holes they create is another indicator of which species is infesting the wood. The holes are usually round, but some beetle species will carve out oval or semicircular holes. Another thing to watch out for is the texture and location of the frass they produce, as some will be packed into the holes, while others push their frass out of the hole. The texture of the frass can be powdery, coarse, shredded, or pelletized. When you have identified these different aspects of the beetle infesting your home, it is best to leave the rest to the professionals, as they will be able to identify what species they are easily, and decide on the control measure needed from there.

Have you ever noticed signs of a wood-boring beetle infestation in your home? What species of beetle was infesting your home and what kind of control measure did you have to use?  

 

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Massive Insect Invasions

Massive Insect Invasions Bring Bugs Into Restaurants Just As Often As They Bring Bugs Into Homes In Texas

Texas is home to numerous insect pest species of all kinds. Some are nuisance pests, like swarming crickets and Asian lady beetles, while some pose a public health threat, like mosquitoes and Africanized honey bees, and some insects in the state fit both categories. Homes in all regions of Texas can become infested with an array of different insects and spiders all year round. For example, last year saw numerous homes in San Antonio become infested with scorpions. The scorpions were bark scorpions, which are the most dangerous scorpions in North America, as their venom can be lethal without antivenom treatment. This mass invasion of scorpions into homes occured due to the intense heat and excessive dryness that plagued the southwest region of the state for a long period of time. Although scorpions are built to withstand harsh conditions, they need to cool off indoors every now and then. What is alarming is how often restaurants in the state become infested with nuisance insects, or worse, disease-spreading insects. Since restaurants contain a variety of foods that attract insects and several large objects that can provide shelter for bugs, it should not be a surprise to learn that restaurants are more vulnerable to arthropod infestations than homes are, especially when it comes to cockroach infestations.

Every summer, the city of Austin is inundated with cricket swarms, and one new resident, Erica Waksmunski of Texas learned this the hard way during her visit to a drive-through Whataburger. Upon pulling into the eatery’s parking lot, she noticed what looked like moving concrete. After receiving her food at the drive-through, Erica found several crickets on her bag of food, both her and the employed screamed in response, and she then understood what had been making that crackling sound beneath her tires. The Texas Health Department often shuts down restaurants after finding insect pests during walkthroughs. Not long ago, a popular donut shop named “Ken’s Donuts” was forced to shut down for two days after an insect pest infestation was found in the establishment on several occasions. In most cases, the insects that infest restaurants are cockroaches, which have been known carry disease-causing bacteria on their bodies due to their habit of basking in fecal matter and other found conditions. So the next time you visit your favorite restaurant, you may want to check its pest control history.

Have you ever found insects within fast food that you had ordered?

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Why Are Pets Often Attacked By Red-Imported Fire Ants? And What To Do If Your Pet Sustains Stings

The presence of red-imported fire ants (RIFA) in Texas is well known to residents of the state, as this insect species’ sting transmits a dangerously potent venom into the bloodstream, making RIFA a public health concern. While most people likely associate RIFA with the painful and dangerous stings that they inflict on humans, pets and small animals are far more likely to sustain RIFA stings than humans. In fact, a survey conducted by veterinarians found that pets (mostly dogs) are treated for RIFA stings more often than any other type of animal.

There are several reasons as to why pets are particularly vulnerable to sustaining medically significant RIFA stings. Some of these reasons are obvious, while others would surprise most people. For example, it is not well known that RIFA are attracted to pet food. RIFA often blanket pet food bowls, covering the pet’s food source entirely. Not surprisingly, this ant behavior leads to many nasty and dangerous pet injuries inflicted by large numbers of RIFA. In addition to the pain and medical significance of RIFA stings inflicted around and inside of the nose and mouth of pets, these encounters can make pets avoid consuming their food in fear of a repeat attack.

Most pet owners are mindful about where they allow their pets to wonder, as disease-spreading ticks are abundant in many regions of the US, but most residents feel comfortable allowing their pets to run and play within the confines of their property. Unfortunately, RIFA are known for establishing habitats in a vast array of environments and landscapes, and the ants are by no means uncommon in residential yards in Texas. When RIFA are disturbed, thousands will emerge from their underground nesting galleries with the intention of stinging the source of the disturbance. The roughhousing and digging behaviors demonstrated by many dog breeds is more than enough to rally the ants from their nests. Given the much smaller size of pets compared to humans, RIFA venom has a far more dangerous effect on pets, and multiple stings are sufficient for delivering a lethal dose of venom into an animal’s bloodstream. Although RIFA habitats cannot be eradicated entirely, the ants can be controlled to the point where they no longer pose a threat to humans or pets. Simply keeping an eye out for RIFA specimens and nesting mounds on a property can prevent dangerous encounters between the ants and your pet/s.

Has your pet ever sustained a medically significant insect or arachnid sting or bite?

 

 

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A Beehive Containing 200,000 Africanized Killer Bees Was Found In The Walls Of A Texas Home After The Bees Swarmed Houses And Attacked Residents In The Area

It is not even May yet and Africanized honey bees are already out in full force in areas of southern Texas. Of course, Africanized honey bees need no introduction, as this species is infamously known as “the killer bee”. However, today the southwest US is populated with hybridized colonies of Africanized honey bees and common European honey bees. This genetic mixture has resulted in several generations of offspring that are both resourceful and ferocious, and they emerge each Spring in Texas where they inflict many merciless attacks on bystanders that are unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nobody knows the horrors of being caught in the middle of a killer bee swarm like one Aledo family that suddenly became inundated with the bees after they emerged from the walls in their home.

Last weekend, Krysta Mullins was sleeping-in at her Aledo home when she was awoken by her 9 year old daughter who claimed that the family’s two dogs had been heard crying on the patio. Unfortunately, Mullins could not have received a more unpleasant wake-up call, as she immediately sustained a sting to her eye after opening the patio door slightly. One of the dogs jumped to the ground below the patio to safety, while the other dog fled into the home while being pursued by what experts believe was a 200,000 strong killer bee swarm.

During the struggle to find safe shelter, Mullins found herself covered in the dangerous bees. Her family ran out of the house and into the street in different directions while frantically removing their clothes. Two doors away, John Lombardy and his wife were enjoying their Saturday morning coffee before they too were swarmed by the massive cloud of deadly bees. The couple heard the bee’s buzzing sounds seconds before the swarm became visible. Later, a pest control professional retrieved a hive from inside a wall within the Mullins family home. The pest controller estimated that the bees had been building the hive for at least three years, and he claimed that removing all the bee corpses from the home would be impossible. Happily, nobody was seriously injured, but several residents spent the rest of the weekend pulling stingers out of their skin.

Have you ever sustained a bee sting on a particularly sensitive spot on your body?

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An Out-Of-Control Crazy Ant Infestation Caused A Texas Man To Nearly Shoot A Colony That Had Been Nesting In His Yard

The non-native ant species, Nylanderia fulva, was discovered on a Texas property back in 2002, by a pest controller, Tom Rasberry. The insects then became known as “Rasberry ants” before later earning the nickname “crazy ants”. The latter nickname comes from the ant’s erratic movements. These ants are relatively small and they move slowly, as their annual marching distance is about equal to the distance of two football fields. Despite this, the ants have become known for their nuisance marches across urban and suburban regions of Texas and other Gulf Coast states.

Texas A&M University researchers have trapped crazy ants in 23 Texas counties, most of which are clustered in the southeastern portion of the state. Not surprisingly, these ant marches bring them into homes and buildings, and they are commonly found in Texas homes all year round. Due to the massive size of crazy ant colonies, which are also 100 times denser than all other ant colonies found in any given area, crazy ant infestations can reach maddening proportions. On one occasion, a Texas man who had been sharing his home with thousands of crazy ants finally flipped out and pulled an AR-15 automatic gun on a large crazy ant nesting-mound that had been in his front yard. Luckily, his wife’s actions caused him to calm down before he pulled the trigger, but this particular instance still serves as an illustration of how frustrating a crazy ant infestation can become.

Crazy ant colonies are so large that researchers are not exactly sure how populated a particular nest can become. One experiment had Texas researchers placing bottles around an infested outdoor area. Once the bottles were retrieved shortly afterward, they were filled with a total of 180,000 individual ants, far more than have been found in red imported fire ant colonies, which are also notorious for being massive in size.

Have you ever found a group of pale-colored ants moving erratically within your home?

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A Raccoon Infestation In A Run-Down Home in Texas Caused The Critters To Invade Neighboring Yards

Raccoons, opossums, rats and other critters are by no means rare in residential areas of Texas. This is especially true in Houston where the large and dense population attracts raccoons looking for human food sources and warm shelter during the winter months. As far as a raccoon is concerned, an abandoned home is the ideal winter shelter, as such a location is free of humans while also being located in close proximity to nearby houses where food can easily be accessed in garbage bins. Unfortunately for residents of a neighborhood in Houston, this precise scenario became a living nightmare.

Not long ago, residents of a Third Ward neighborhood were hassled by raccoons that made a home out of a run-down and abandoned house located within their usually peaceful residential enclave. The abandoned home, which is located near Texas Southern University, was infested with raccoons, bugs and even opossums. Initially, the home seemed to be infested with a few raccoons that did not cause problems for neighbors, but eventually, the house became infested with numerous raccoons and opossums, as the house was clearly a popular party spot for local wildlife. Once this large-scale infestation emerged, it was not long before the animals, mostly raccoons, started to invade neighboring lawns. Apparently, this infestation had been growing within the dilapidated home for several years, as one resident claimed that she began experiencing raccoon problems on her own property not long after moving into her home nine years ago. The infested property, and the hassle it caused for neighbors, soon made the local news. Reporters working for the news station managed to contact the owner of the problem home. The owner claimed that he had been planning on demolishing his house, which came as welcome news to the long aggrieved neighbors. However, it is unknown as to whether or not the owner made good on his claim.

Have you ever fallen victim to a wildlife infestation caused by the habits of a neighbor?

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How The Daniel Boone Log Cabin Was Saved From Termite Destruction

Texas is home to several termite species, the most common of which are eastern subterranean termites, Formosan subterranean termites and western drywood termites. All three of these species dwell within most of Texas, while the Formosan termite is typically found only within the southeastern to central region of the state. Texas, especially eastern Texas, is located within a high activity zone for termites, so infestations within homes are not at all uncommon in the state. Homes located in east Texas see the highest rate of termite infestations. Luckily, newer homes are more likely to be surrounded with a termiticide barrier which prevent subterranean termites from accessing a home’s boundaries, but infestations in new homes are certainly not unheard of in any area of Texas. Considering how common termite infestations are in Texas, you can imagine how vulnerable a 160 year old log cabin must be to termite attack, especially if that log cabin is located in east Texas. Not surprisingly, the historically significant Daniel Boone log cabin succumbed to a termite infestation decades ago. The treasured site was nearly destroyed by termites until a group of University students worked to restore and relocate the cabin during the mid to late 2000s.

Back in 2005, students in professor Caroline Crimm’s hands-on history class started to rebuild Daniel Boone’s termite infested cabin when it was located 11 miles outside of Huntsville in eastern Texas. The cabin was owned by Boone’s relatives until they donated the infested cabin to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in 2004. The next year, students at Sam Houston University disassembled the cabin and rebuilt the structure at the museum. The students did the best they could to reuse the cabin’s original logs, but many had been heavily damaged by termites. In order to prevent further termite infestations in the cabin at its new location near the school’s dormitory, cement was used to fuse the logs together, as opposed to mud and hay, which attracts termites. The roof, which had been damaged by termites, was replaced with an aluminum roof, and the cabin’s porches were also replaced. The cabin’s restoration cost a mere 25,000 dollars thanks to the efforts of Sam Houston University history students.

Do you know of any other historical structure in Texas that had to be rebuilt due to having sustained termite damage?

 

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Raccoons Can Behave Aggressively Toward Humans Even When They Are Not Infected With Rabies

While raccoons may prefer to nest within certain structures on residential properties, such as in sheds, garages and beneath decks, the nocturnal animals make every effort to avoid being spotted by nearby humans. This is why raccoons are rarely brazen enough to invade a home where their presence would become immediately noticed by a home’s occupants. Of course, raccoons sometimes manage to secure warm shelter within attics and storage spaces, but raccoons are relatively intelligent creatures, and they know that residents rarely venture into such locations. Despite this, on rare occasions, a raccoon, or several, will invade a home in clear view of the occupants. In these cases, the invading raccoon may be infected with rabies, as this infection negatively affects neurological functioning, causing raccoons to behave boldly, aggressively and in a manner that runs contrary to their instinct for self-preservation. Sadly, back in December of 2017, an aggressive raccoon invaded an inhabited home before brutally attacking a baby. Luckily, the child lived, but the raccoon was never caught.

While this unexpected incident is certainly tragic, the baby’s parents were not at fault, as they were unaware that a raccoon had invited itself into their home. Surprisingly, some people willingly bring wild raccoons into their home in order to adopt one as a misguided gesture of compassion. For example, during the spring of 2014, a two-week year old baby boy was attacked by one of the two raccoons that his mother had adopted and left alone in her son’s room. It did not take long before the baby began to scream. Upon entering her son’s room, she found the raccoon thrashing at her son’s face, drawing blood and leaving serious wounds. Happily, the boy fully recovered, but officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife cited the mother for housing two raccoons without a license. In addition, police had also considered charging the mother with child endangerment as a result of the incident. The two raccoons were euthanized immediately within the home before they were sent to a lab for disease testing. It turned out that neither raccoon had contracted rabies or any other disease, proving that being infected with rabies is not a precondition for a raccoon to aggressively attack humans. This is why residents should always avoid meddling with raccoons no matter the circumstance; instead, a wildlife removal service can safely remove problem wildlife from properties.

Have you ever found a raccoon within your attack or garage?

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Why Are Termite Infestation Cases Increasing In Southeast Texas?

Several destructive termite species exist within every region of Texas, but cities in the southeast near the Gulf Coast have been seeing a dramatic rise in termite infestations over the past few years. Last summer it was reported that the invasive Formosan termite species had been establishing colonies within new areas of Houston and Galveston. During 2017, San Antonio and surrounding towns saw a whopping increase in termite infestation cases within homes and buildings. Infestation cases also exploded in other southeastern cities during 2017. That same year, San Antonio was ranked as the second most termite-infested city in the United States. And earlier this year, two Texas cities, Tyler-Longview and Dallas, made the top ten list of most termite infested cities in America. Last month entomologists and pest control professionals in Texas claimed that the southeastern portion of the state will soon see frequent and large sized termite swarms. The increase in termite swarms and infestation rates in southeast Texas is due to a few factors. First of all, Formosan subterranean termites are still spreading to new areas of Texas, mostly in the east and southeast region of the state. Climatic conditions, particularly short mild winters and frequent rainfall, are also contributing to the termite explosion within the state.

Native subterranean termites typically swarm during the late winter and early spring seasons in Texas, but a cold winter and a lack of rainfall may have postponed their seasonal swarms. Formosan subterranean termites typically swarm toward the beginning of May in Texas, and considering the growing Formosan termite population in the southeast region, cities like Houston, Galveston, Baytown and even San Antonio are likely to see frequent and massively sized Formosan termite swarms in about two weeks from now. Formosan subterranean swarms are known for being relatively sizable, as their colonies contain up to 50 million termites, which is far more than the mere 50,000 that can exist within a native termite colony.

Do you think that 2019 will see a record amount of termite infestation cases in Texas?