Southern Fire Ants come in both black and red versions and color variations in between. The easiest way to recognize them is that there are two distinct sizes of ants in the colonies: Majors & minors. The majors are two to three times the size of the minors.
They are very common in urban habitats in the Sonoran Desert and are often found in lawns where they forage for a wide variety of foods. They can occasionally invade homes searching for starchy, sweet or protein. The can also be found in orchards and in the desert proper. The workers perform different jobs such as tending the queen and “brood,” maintaining the nest, and gathering food. Some of the workers serve as “soldiers” which protect the colony.
Fire ants are small but highly aggressive. They inject a necrotizing, alkaloid venom when they sting. The stings result in painful, itchy, and persistent pustules, and sometimes in severe allergic reactions. Five million people are stung each year in the southeastern United States. About 25,000 of these people require medical consultation. When a fire ant mound is disturbed, workers boil to the surface, run up any legs, arms, etc., in the vicinity, grab the victim’s skin in their mandibles and sting synchronously in response to the slightest movement. The attacks are coordinated and dozens or even hundreds of workers sting in unison.
Fire ants live in colonies that may have 100,000 to 500,000 ants. The queen of the colony can lay from 1500 to 5000 eggs per day, never leaves the nest and can live for many years. Worker ants take care of the queen and her eggs, build the nest, defend the colony, and find food. Preferred food of fire ants consists of protein-rich sources such as insects and seeds. Winged male and female ants fly from the colony in the spring and summer to mate in the air. The males die and the females become queens that start new colonies.
While fire ants are typically an outdoor problem, disturbances during/after severe weather may bring them indoors in search of food or even “dry land” and, unfortunately, into closer contact with people. Worker ants forage for nearby food sources by traveling through underground tunnels that extend out from the mound and then onto the soil surface.
Here are some suggestions to follow if you find fire ants in your area:
— Watch where you step when clearing debris in yards,
— When eating outside, keep all food and drinks covered while they are not being eaten.
— Dispose of food in garbage bags and trashcans.
— Keep trashcans covered and, preferably, away from your house.
— Indoors, do not leave food exposed on tables, counter tops, or floors (in the case of dry pet foods).
–Keep shrubs and other vegetation pruned away from buildings so that ants can’t use them as a “bridge” to avoid treated areas.
Got some? Call us at 520-393-3352, we would love to help!
STINK BUGS ARE REALLY STINKERS – Stink bugs feed on a variety of hosts in the landscape. They also attack fruit trees (ornamental or otherwise). They may inflict leaf and fruit damage by feeding with their needle-like mouthparts.
Perhaps the biggest problem for homeowners is when hordes of the little stinkers seek shelter in homes and structures, similar to the behavior of the multicolored Asian lady beetle. Stink bugs don’t harm people, but can give off a very unpleasant odor when crushed or vacuumed.
Barrier exclusion is very important. Seal and caulk areas that may give access to the wall or house. If this is not completely successful and stink bugs are still entering your home, seal or caulk around baseboards, windowsills, and any points where you see them invading your castle. When vacuuming up the little devils, some people use a dedicated shop vac to avoid stinking up their household vacuum cleaners.
–Adjust or install tight-fitting sweeps or thresholds at the bottom of exterior doors.
–Install weather stripping around other parts of the doorframe.
–Seal utility openings where air conditioner pipes, phone, cable TV and other wires enter the foundation and siding. Holes can be plugged with caulk, cement, urethane foam, or copper mesh.
–Caulk around windows, doors, siding and fascia boards.
–Keep window screens in good condition and install insect screening behind attic gable vents.
Give us a call at 520-393-3352—we’d love to treat your property to help you control these little mobile stink bombs!
INSECTS RETURN ENGAGEMENT — After a brief Southern Arizona winter, you probably aren’t complaining about the recent warmer temperatures, but your attitude might change once those pesky insects come a-knockin’.
Vaughn Smith is the manager of GreenShield Pest Control home office in Tucson. “We already treated a home with a serious black-widow issue,” he reports.
Fortunately for those homeowners, the GreenShield team of technicians got the possible life-threatening situation under control and the now the deadly and creepy spiders are history.
However, as Spring approaches, Vaughn says to expect to see more bugs. “Lots of ‘em!”
“In our little corner of the universe, bug season is all year long,” Vaughn said, “but things step up once Spring and Summer arrive. Count on it. It’s best to get ahead of what’s coming.”
Ants, for example, aren’t easy to keep out. The hungry little guys only need 1/64 of an inch to sneak in and invade your home. Not fun.
“They’re like water in concrete, they will find a crack,” he said. “They could be traveling across the street just to get to your gummy bear.
“A couple of swats won’t keep ‘em away — your best bet is to call the experts here at GreenShield Pest Control (520-393-3352). We can control those pesky little fellas before they move in and make your house their home.” Nasty thought.
It’s not long before it really starts to warm up and bugs will become even more active than they are now (They wander about all year here in Southern Arizona, dang it!). We recommend that you consider taking the following steps before the bug hordes step up their attacks on your home and hearth:
1) Remove sources of food, water and shelter.
2) Store food in sealed plastic or glass containers.
3) Garbage containing food scraps should be placed in tightly covered trashcans. Remove garbage regularly from your home.
4) Fix leaky plumbing and don’t let water accumulate anywhere in the home. Don’t let water collect in trays under your houseplants or refrigerator.
5) Don’t leave pet food and water out overnight.
6) Clutter provides places for pests to breed and hide and makes it hard to get rid of them. Get rid of things like stacks of newspapers, magazines, or cardboard.
7) Close off places where pests can enter and hide. For example, caulk cracks and crevices around cabinets or baseboards. Use steel wool to fill spaces around pipes. Cover any holes with wire mesh.
Taking these steps and working with your pals at GreenShield Pest Control to protect your property will help keep nature in its place! Call us at 520-393-3352. Sooner is better than later!
Don’t let the headline scare you, but Arizona is home to a few pests that can kill. This post is informational in nature, and precautions should be taken to ensure these creatures do not come into contact with you or your loved ones.
As always, consult a licensed professional when dealing with any pest but particularly those mentioned in this article.
It’s a common myth that the brown recluse spider is native to Arizona. This is not true, mainly because the desert recluse is commonly misidentified as its deadly lookalike. With that said, there’s still at least one spider to be wary of in Arizona, and that’s the black widow.
Black widow bites are rarely fatal, but can be particularly troublesome if left untreated. Be careful around cluttered, undisturbed, damp areas (sheds and garages are common hiding places).
Arizona is home to more than a dozen types of rattlesnakes. For the uninitiated, rattlers are members of the notorious pit viper family. They carry a ruthless, venom-packed bite and intimidating warning mechanism true to their namesake. Western Diamondback rattlesnakes can grow to 8 feet or more.
Like black widow bites, rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal if treated properly.
Rattlesnakes are not the only highly venomous snakes in Arizona. The Arizona Coral Snake is also quite dangerous, but no fatalities have been reported from this snake.
Thousands of Arizonians are stung every year by bark scorpions. The most venomous scorpion in North America, this pest has claimed hundreds of lives over the years, but there have only been two recorded deaths in Arizona since 1968. Either way, these critters are difficult to spot in natural terrain and can climb walls and trees. These scorpions are known to group up in the wintertime in packs of 30 or more.
Though not traditionally grouped alongside vipers and spiders, mice carry potentially deadly diseases that can be spread through droppings, food contamination, bites, and other methods. Additionally, these little critters have been known to cause house fires from chewing on electrical wiring. As such, we consider mice to be cataloged alongside other dangerous creatures — and arguably more deadly than you might think.
Fall and Winter months bring along festive colors and holiday cheer, but also the most rodent infestations. An estimated 28% of homes in the western U.S. will encounter a rodent problem.
Mice and rats are more than just food-nibblers. They carry diseases and can ruin property and electrical wiring. Given their short reproduction cycles, a seemingly minor issue can turn into a major problem if left untreated.
Why so much activity in winter?
Mice and rats seek shelter from the cold. Unfortunately that often means unwanted tenancy in your home or office. Serving an eviction notice is sometimes harder than anticipated without professional help, as mice can squeeze through holes smaller than a dime and hiding spaces are plentiful for small critters.
Given their small size, it’s also incredibly easy for mice to invade most homes. Loose paneling, chipped wood or siding, and doors left ajar can lead to quick, unwanted entrances and escapes.
Rats and mice must eat constantly given their metabolism, and easy access to food is another reason they seek shelter within human proximity. Nearly 50% of all rodent infestations are in the kitchen.
How do I fix my rodent problem?
You should always consult a professional for a thorough pest assessment, but there are options to remove rodents on your own. Traps, both lethal and nonlethal, can be effective with the right bait and preparation.
Spring-loaded mouse and rat traps loaded with a proper bait (peanut butter, for example), can be a viable solution for small numbers. The problem with these traps is that a human scent can often deter rodents from approaching the traps. For every mouse or rat you snag, there are likely others hiding in the shadows.
The only true way to secure your home is to eliminate the current threat with a series of treatments, and prevent future exposure with proper perimeter control and maintenance. Once your home is clear of rodents, you must ensure no others can find their way inside. A licensed professional can help by identifying structural weaknesses.
Keeping scorpions away from your home can be an ongoing battle. The best way to scorpion proof your home is to keep the little devils from getting in. Whether it’s in the summer during peak activity or the winter when they are trying to get out of the cold, scorpions are always looking for ways to enter your home. Here are a few of the best ways to scorpion proof your home throughout the year:
- Remove all debris from around your home. Scorpions love hiding places, and piles of leaves, stones, wood, and even overgrown bushes make perfect homes for scorpions to protect themselves and hunt other creatures as well.
- Use caulk to seal any cracks or gaps between your home and concrete extensions such as patios or front porches. Scorpions love the gaps beneath concrete. It’s warm and protected and the perfect place to hide out.
- Make sure that the weather stripping around your exterior doors is in good shape and fits tightly. This keeps scorpions from being able to wiggle under doors and enter garages and homes.
- Cover any vents to the outdoors with a screen. This not only keeps scorpions out, it also keeps out other bugs and pests!
- Replace your door sweeps. Scorpions only need 1/16 of an inch to get underneath a door so make sure your doors fit tightly and seal your home from the outside.
Above all, make sure that you maintain your efforts to keep out scorpions. Screens get damaged, debris piles up around your yard and caulk breaks down as it’s exposed to the elements. No matter what the time of year, scorpions are seeking a place to either warm up or cool down. Your home is the perfect temperature controlled environment. Keep scorpions out and your home secure, all by maintaining your pest control efforts year round. Call us at 520-393-3352. We can help!
Scorpions are more than just a nuisance to have around your home. They are dangerous creatures that can harm both you and your family. It’s important that you know methods for keeping them out of your home and understand when they are most likely to be looking for shelter inside your home. So here is a full-length timeline of the Arizona scorpion season and where scorpions are most likely to be at every time of year.
September to October
Around this time of year, temperatures tend to drop from the blazing heat and humidity of July and August. As nights become cooler, scorpions begin to look for shelter indoors, which is why it’s crucial to seal your home before this time of year, rather than after you notice a couple of these unwelcome visitors. Additionally, keep a close eye on your doors. Scorpions tend to be sighted around exterior doors this time of year and inside garages as they seek winter shelter.
November to December
During the winter months, temperatures get cool, especially at night. Scorpions begin to winter down, looking for places that are warm and dry to wait out the winter. Homeowners also tend to take a break from pest control because there are fewer pests around to begin with. It’s very common to find scorpions inside the home at this time of year, not because they are active but because they can be unintentionally disturbed.
January to February
In the dead of winter, scorpions are very inactive. If there are significant freezes, they will enter a state of diapause, meaning they will go into dormancy. Scorpions have an incredibly low tolerance to the cold, and if they have already wintered down somewhere warm in your home, they are likely to stay put. This is the time where the fewest sightings of scorpions in the home are made. However, if they are disturbed, they will certainly become active. The most common places for scorpions to hide out are under duct work or near heaters. Keep in mind that if winters are warm, scorpions and other pests will become active earlier.
March to April
As temperatures warm up, scorpions and other pests become more active. As this is also pest control season, keep in mind that the use of pesticides can flush scorpions indoors to escape the spraying. Additionally, any scorpions who have found comfortable places to hide in your home are unlikely to venture out while the spraying is going on, but will also be more active. This makes it even more crucial that your home is proofed against scorpions to prevent them from ever entering your home.
May to June
When the temperatures get hot and humid, scorpions tend to move more slowly to conserve energy. They also look for cool places to escape the heat meaning, you guessed it, in your home! Keep up with your house proofing and your pest control efforts throughout the summer and prevent scorpion infestations in your home.
July to August
This is the time of year when scorpions are at their most active. This is also the busiest time of year for pest-control companies so scorpions are coming into contact with more applied product and scorpions will try to escape indoors if they come into contact with the treatment. Be vigilant within your home and work with us to repair any openings that scorpions might be able to use to enter your home. Call us at GreenShield Pest Control (520-393-3352).
Termites are such small creatures that it is almost impossible to believe that they can cause over $30 billion worth of damage nationwide in just one year. They cause major damage to property and are one of the most stubborn pests to get rid of. Here are a few things you should know about Arizona termites and what to do if you have an infestation.
Signs of Infestation by Arizona Termites
The main sign of an Arizona termite infestation is a swarm. When termites move from one location to another they fly in tightly packed clouds known as swarms, and when they reach a new location, they discard their wings. If you notice a pile of discarded wings somewhere on your property, chances are excellent that you have found the address of a new termite nest.
Most-common Arizona Termites
The most common termite species found in Arizona are subterranean termites. These creatures are tiny but aggressive, and they use mud tubes to reach above ground wood, and once they enter your home, they chew through wood and drywall at a truly terrifying rate. They can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage in almost no time at all.
Drywood termites are also a common occurrence, but they pose different risks than subterranean Arizona termites. Due to the use of mud tubes, subterranean Arizona termites are easier to spot. Drywood termites can live undetected inside wooden structures for long periods of time and by the time you notice clues to their existence, they may have wreaked massive havoc on your home. The most common clues to their presence are dried out wood pellets that have overflowed from their tunnels. The trouble is, when you see these wood pellets, huge portions of your wood are already likely to be unsalvageable.
Protecting Your Home from Arizona Termites
Home inspections are your first line of defense to avoid a major termite infestation. An inspection can not only catch a termite problem early, even if you have no problem yet, a technician can tell you where your home is at risk for problems and preventative measures can be taken to eradicate Arizona termites.
Crack and crevice sealant as well as chemical barriers can be used to avoid allowing Arizona termites to settle into your home. If you do have a minor problem, there are often small scale treatment options that will take care of the current problem before it spirals. And, of course, if you have a large scale problem, an expert can help you decide on the best approach to get rid of the current issue and prevent future infestations by Arizona termites.
Do-it-yourself Care Doesn’t Work for Arizona Termites
If you notice that you have Arizona termites and want to try a home remedy before calling in a professional, reconsider. If you are noticing a termite issue, chances are it is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the scope of the infestation. Do-it-yourself remedies are not nearly effective enough to get rid of a full-fledged termite problem, and if you don’t take action quickly, the bill could be a whole lot bigger than one technician and extermination treatment.
Infestations by Arizona termites can quickly spiral into a very expensive problem. Give one of our technicians a call today (520-393-3352) and see how we can pretreat your home to prevent termites from entering or to clean out a current termite infestation.
Ants do more than ruin picnics… especially if they wind up invading your home! Arizona is home to dozens of different ant species and they are by far one of the most common pests to have homeowners seeking help. Know your enemy with these tips about the most common Arizona ants.
Their name may be deceiving, but carpenter ants actually do not eat wood. Instead they make their nests in dry, moist, and rotting wood. They excavate the wood in the process of building their nests, they don’t eat it, so the damage they do is less dramatic than termites. However, they can create cosmetic damage, and over time if they are not dealt with, they can weaken the structural integrity of your home.
Named for the way they rush around in erratic fashion when disturbed, crazy ants can live in both moist and dry habitats. When cold weather sets in, this species tends to migrate indoors, into your home. Not only will they eat just about anything, they also bite when disturbed.
Probably one of the better-known ant species in Arizona, fire ants tend to build nests in sunny, wide open spaces, like in your backyard. Fire ant stings are painful and can even be fatal if you have a particular sensitivity to the venom they inject. A colony can include anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 ants, exponentially increasing the likelihood of suffering multiple stings. Fire ants are particularly dangerous to children and pets, so if you see a nest, call us!
This is one of the most common ants to be found in the Tucson area. This species is harmless, which isn’t to say they are not a nuisance, and they tend to be found raiding pantries and other food storage areas in your home.
Pavement ants are another species of the stinging and biting persuasion. They tend to build nests outdoors on patios, driveways, sidewalks, and in the foundation of your home. They can pose a threat to children and pets, especially to those with a high sensitivity to insect bites.
Odorous House Ants
As their name suggests, this type of ant, when crushed, emits a smell of rotting coconuts. They tend to build nests both inside and outside. Common places to find odorous house ant nests are in wall crevices, near heaters, under carpets, and beneath floors.
Whether you’re looking at a benign but annoying forelius ant problem or trying to protect your children and pets from the dangers of fire ants, these pests can cause major problems in and around your Arizona home. Don’t let Arizona ants take over your home, take action and call us at 520-393-3352 today! Our technicians would be more than happy to evaluate your home and provide you with a safe and effective pest control solution.