Ants

While sitting in front of my computer screen thinking about what I was going to write about next; I watch a small little row of ants walk along the edge of my desk. Instinctively, the first thing I do is try to identify the pest. When dealing with ants it can be very hard to determine the specific type of ant based on its different physical characteristics unless you have a magnifying glass available or have the “eye of a hawk” as me and my cousins used to call it. I have read many books that would say this ant is this color, and that ant is this color, etc; but I have found that in the real world trying to distinguish based on color is quite a dreadful task as different types of ants can be within the same color ranges. Here are some characteristics about different ants that may help you identify your home’s native ant-lings. (Did I go there…yes I did; Ant-lings…LOL.)

Pharaoh Ant: Primarily indoors, known for splitting into different colonies, sometimes found in wounds of hospital patients.

Carpenter Ant: The largest, Biggest, humongous, enormous fellers. (Exaggeration)

Harvester Ant: Known for producing mounds with entry points that are at least approximately 2 inches in diameter.

Pavement Ant: Generally will reside under or around pavement.

Argentine Ant: Also a very popular ant, known for producing super colonies…these infestations can grow rapidly.

Odorous House Ants: When crushed emit a coconut like smelling odor.

Red Imported Fire Ant: These ants are very aggressive and secrete a toxin when biting. These ants are what we refer to as a “quarantined” species; so if you think you have come across them contact your local department of agriculture etc for removal. Each case is required to be documented and handled in a specific fashion.

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Pest Control Myth #3

The busiest time of the year for the Pest Control Industry is mostly during the summer months. Pest activity increases in the spring and peaks in the summer months. Pest Control Myth #3 revolves around the assumption that Pest Control is only needed during these times. Of course the premise of my position excludes tropical and sub-tropical habitats that may be considered conducive for pests year-round.

The major reason why Pest Control is going to be needed more and more year-round in areas where there exists an “off-peak” season for pests is because of Human Intervention.

The decrease in pest activity or an off-peak season is primarily due to pest life cycles. These life cycles are developed in harmony with the earth’s seasonal changes. Although it is true that there will be a decrease in pest activity during colder times, experience has revealed that the human element of warmth in naturally cold times has been conducive to pest activity.

Most human homes provide enough food, water, and shelter for pests to coexist during the winter/colder months. If we have learned anything of Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection/Evolution; we should recognize the significant ability of insects/pests to adapt to their environment (natural/artificial). Empirical evidence supports the notion that our homes provide adequate harborage for pests/insects year-round.

I have seen on a warm winter day an influx of ants, silverfish, adult sized spiders, raspy roaches, rats in a jacuzzi set up, earwigs with the morning cup of coffee, the infamous scorpion in its glory, etc… All within the confine of the human habitat…The well heated, well watered, well fed, artificial harborage, with vegetative decor to boot…Does anything say “MOVE IN” better than the human home on a winter’s cold night?

KT

Bulwark Pest Control

IPM: Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is sometimes referred to as a total science that encompasses the basic principles that guides the perception of the right way to approach pest control and pesticide application. The ultimate goal of Integrated Pest Management should be to identify conditions that are conducive to unwanted pest presence, the measurement of tolerable pest thresholds, and the best way to control pests in a manner that is the least destructive to the environment.

We can better identify conditions that are conducive to an unwanted pest presence by recognizing the three aspects that make up Integrated Pest Management.

The three parts of Integrated Pest Management are:

  • Environment
  • Insect/Pest
  • Food Source

The goal is to see how our homes play out relative to these three components of Integrated Pest Management. Integrated Pest Management is a science that focuses itself on these three factors and how they specifically can be applied to any specific property. For example I will give you my IPM perspective towards controlling scorpions. First and foremost I look for environmental factors that are conducive to scorpions and/or scorpion activity. I look for construction nearby which may have removed the scorpions previous habitat, or perhaps may have disturbed the current habitat and encouraged migration. Secondly, I would look for the introduction of new landscaping, and particularly types of agriculture used as a natural habitat for the scorpion. Furthermore, does the customer have various water sources, pool, poor drainage, etc?

Does the customer have a lot of make shift harborages for scorpions; firewood, old washer and dryer, kids toys, un-maintained brick walls/fencing? What type of (gravel/rock) landscaping are they utilizing? There are many different things that although artificially created produce an environment that scorpions are naturally attracted to.

In addition to environmental conditions, (and probably after recommending that nothing sit up against the house for at least 2 feet) I would focus on food sources. Although controlling the scorpion’s food source may be a good idea, I am always cautioned by my respect for their antiquity. The fact is that scorpions have been around for millions of years and have over the ages developed the ability to survive under the direst circumstances. Scorpions eat various insects; ensuring that you eliminate the scorpion’s prey of choice can help control an unwanted scorpion population. Divulging from my scorpion perspective to help add emphasis to the “food source” aspect of Integrated Pest Management I would like to quickly point to fruit flies. I would often run into customers who would complain about fruit flies and come to find out they have a huge pomegranate tree in their backyard with fully ripened fruit dotted throughout the problem area. The IPM way would be to remove the fruit (food source) and in turn, remove the pest.

The final aspect would be to look at the insect/pest or in this case the scorpion. The nature of this pest may justify more drastic measures because of the type of danger a scorpion bite poses to humans. Secondly, the threshold of scorpion tolerance is very low (as opposed to a fruit fly, where tolerance can be significantly higher). I have not met a person who could tolerate sharing their home/yard with scorpions. I would always recommend that every precautionary measure be taken when it comes to scorpion control.

The general theme surrounding Integrated Pest Management is that overall there may be a progressive approach that you can take to pest control that in some cases may not utilize pesticides or is more environmentally friendly. Sometimes changing environmental factors within your control can eliminate/control various pests. Desert Landscaping as opposed to Green Grass is conducive to different insects/pests. Sometimes controlling the availability of food sources; dog food, dog poop, fruit trees, wood, etc. will help prevent the unwanted pest who prey on your unsuspecting food sources. Finally, look at the insect and identify a threshold of tolerance. Insects/Pest all have its own implications on our environment. Nature’s equilibrium rests upon a delicate balance that requires the participation of all natural living beings and their life processes.