Carpet Beetles

                                                    Carpet Beetles

It can be hard to think of “beetles” living in your carpet without realizing it, but it can happen. Many people have seen them but few people know what these tiny insects actually are and capable of. Carpet Beetles are a common pest and often is mistaken for “some sort of ladybug” because of their similar characteristic shape. Carpet Beetles are small (about 1/8th to1\4th) dome shaped insects. The Varied Carpet Beetle has an irregular pattern of white, brown, and dark yellow scales on its wing covers. In older adults the scales that form this pattern wear off, so the beetles may appear solid brown or black. Mature larvae are slightly longer than adults and are covered with tufts of hair that extend upright to form a round plume if disturbed. They have alternating light and dark brown stripes and are distinguishable from other carpet beetles because they are broader in the rear and narrower in the front.
Carpet Beetles have an unusual ability to digest keratin, the chief protein component of skin and hair giving them the ability to eat clothing, carpet and upholstery. They can be a significant nuisance in the home, in storage facilities, museums, and clothing stores.

What to look for?

Seeing adult Carpet Beetles are typically the first sign of an infestation, they primarily feed on pollen and usually don’t cause too much damage. It’s the Carpet Beetle larvae that are responsible for damage to clothes, ornamental decorations, and other natural fiber house wares. The larvae are what you should be seeking to control if you are unfortunately dealing with this insect. If you do have an infestation, examine those types of items closely. You can usually find traces of their discarded molt skins in darker areas, such as closets. The discarded molt skin from the larvae has been known to cause asthmatic episodes in some individuals.

It’s wise to remember that the most damage is caused by the larvae, which are typically found in dark, secluded areas of closets, under furniture, or at the area of where carpeting meets a wall. Adult Carpet Beetles have wings and are capable of flying; the adults are typically attracted to light and sunny windows. The females tend to lay eggs in clusters of lint where the larvae can emerge and sustain themselves on a high quality source of both essential proteins and oils shed by humans and pets. The more mature larvae tend to be more mobile and can sometimes be found crawling up walls or across ceilings.

Occasionally Carpet Beetle infestations can be the result of bird or wasp nests in wall voids where the larvae are feeding on discarded feathers and debris. More commonly the infestation can be traced to a pile of forgotten/neglected clothing or old upholstered furniture left in the attic, so it’s important to not overlook materials when inspecting for these fabric loving insects. Also, if you have pets be sure check around pet areas like beds or where your pet likes to lay. Carpet Beetles may be hiding under the pet bed or kennel as there would be plenty for pet hair for them to consume.

The majority of Carpet Beetle infestations can usually be controlled and eliminated by the homeowner being proactive, regularly vacuuming and staying on top of good housekeeping habits. If you feel like you have a case that is beyond what you can handle, give us a call!

(208)475-4440

Box Elder Bugs

                                                 Box Elder Bugs

Do you have Box Elder Bugs hanging around your porch and windows?

Its never fun when you notice you have bugs in your home, a few here and there usually isn’t a big deal right? Not so much when it comes to the Box Elder Bug. You may notice one or two inside but beware, these guys stick together and invade by the thousands.

The bodies of box elder bugs are black in color and are marked by red lines along the thorax and sides. Their wings are flat and red. They measure between 11 to 14 mm long.

Box Elder Bugs like to make their homes in Box Elder, Maple and Ash trees during the warmer seasons and find their way into buildings and homes seeking shelter for the winter. Like many other pests, they may enter through small cracks and crevices within the building, and remain inside, hibernating, through fall and winter. They emerge again when heat sources within the building are high and can usually be located in the warmest areas of the walls. Although Box Elder Bugs do not cause damage to buildings, their droppings are unsightly and leave stains on furniture and fabrics.

Adult bugs live and breed on the leaves of box elder trees, laying their eggs in spring. They feed on soft parts of box elder trees, including leaves, flowers and new twigs. They also extract juices, causing minimal to substantial damage to their host tree.

The eggs of box elder bugs are reddish brown in color, allowing them to stay well hidden in the bark of the host tree. After a few days, the eggs hatch into red and gray nymphs, which eventually mature and begin the breeding process again. Mature box elder bugs can be found gathering in large numbers on branches and where there is the most sunlight.

Once the Box Elder Bugs are established in a tree it can be nearly impossible to eliminate them. There are some things you can do to help control and reduce them. To stop Box Elder Bugs from multiplying, it is often helpful to remove their host trees from the area surrounding your home, but note the adults can still fly from locations off the property. Exclusion is a great, long-term treatment option if done properly and works well for most general pests. Keeping them out is critical.

Repairing damaged windows and door screensInstalling door sweeps on exterior doors

Installing or repairing screens in roof and soffit vents (Remember they can fly)

Sealing holes or gaps around places where cables, wires or plumbing enters the structure

Sealing off/plugging gaps at doors, windowsills, roof joints, and fascia boards. Checking for and sealing gaps and cracks where different building materials meet. For example, where siding meets the brick exterior or foundation.

If you think you have an infestation of Box Elder Bugs, it is best to contact your pest professional for treatment advice and recommendations.

Give us a Call (208)475-4440

http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Clover Mites

As we’ve mentioned in a previous article Clover Mites can be  pretty difficult to control. These mites invade by the armies and are so small they can get through even the smallest cracks. While they are difficult to control their numbers can be reduced. So whether you already use professional pest control service or if you are a “do it yourself er” check out our Do It Yourself Tips for Clover Mites:

• Inside: Use a wet sponge or vacuum with a crevice attachment to remove mites from the inside. Be sure to use caution and try to avoid crushing them as it will result in a red stain

• Make sure all window screens fit properly and have a tight fit, and the screen is free of rips and holes

• It is important to locate and seal potential entry points around the home. Sealing any small openings and cracks around window and doors with calking materials

• Remove all grass and weeds from around the foundation. Grass and plants are one of the things clover mites eat. Creating a gravel or stone barrier (about two feet) between the lawn and the foundation of the home will help reduce of clover mites. Material such as pea gravel can be helpful
o The Mites are less likely to hike through gravel or stone barriers over soil supporting plants that are touching or near the homes foundation

• Don’t over fertilize the lawn since clover mites tend to love over fertilized lawns

(208)475-4440

http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Tiny Red Bugs aka Clover Mites

If you’ve ever noticed tiny red bugs crawling in or around your window chances are they are Clover Mites. Clover Mites are a close relative to ticks and spiders but they are true mites, not insects. To the naked eye they are no more than tiny red bugs and appear no larger than a pinhead. Clover mite adults have an oval shape body, eight legs, and are red to reddish-brown in color. The front pair of legs are very long compared to the other six legs and may be confused for the mite’s antennae. They mostly feed on clover, grassy lawns, plants and weeds and seem to appear by the thousands in the spring and fall.
These tiny red bugs will crawl up the side of the structure from the ground to invade your home. They get in through cracks and tiny openings around windows and doors. Inside, you may find them crawling around window sills, walls, curtains, drapes, furniture or directly on windows. The tiny red bugs will leave behind a tell-tale stain when smashed. When clover mites are smashed they leave a red stain. The stain is not blood, but is the mite’s body pigment. On the exterior, you may find thousands of tiny red bugs in large numbers on siding, brick walls, under loose bark of trees, foundation walls, around window frames and other outside surfaces. Clover mites can be found throughout the house, but they are frequently found on the sunniest side of the house or foundation, commonly the south side due to the warmth.
Clover mites are not dangerous. They do not bite and are not harmful to humans or pets. Also these tiny red bugs do not cause structural damages like termites. They are simply nuisance pests, although they can be hard to eradicate. They are difficult due to their size; they invade homes in great numbers and are so tiny they can get through even the smallest opening.
If you have the tiny red bugs invading your windows and home, give us a call for an inspection and we’ll discuss efficient Control and Preventative measures.
(208)475-4440

http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Plants That Help Repel Insects

These days, more and more people are looking for a nice environmentally friendly approach to dealing with unwanted insects and mosquitoes. Have you ever thought of using plants that help repel unwanted insects? There are some helpful herbs too!

Basil helps to repel house flies and mosquitoes. A helpful tip is to plant basil in containers near your house doors and around outdoor settings such as the patio, where you may like to do some relaxing. You also can use fresh basil to make an insect repellent spray. A simple recipe calls for pouring 4 ounces of boiling water into a container holding 4 to 6 ounces of clean, fresh basil leaves(stems can be attached), letting the leaves steep for several hours, removing the leaves and squeezing all of the leaves’ moisture into the mixture. Then thoroughly mix 4 ounces of (cheap!) vodka with the basil-water mixture. Store in the refrigerator and apply as a spray when going outdoors. Be sure to keep the spray away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

Lavender can help to repels moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes. Lavender has been used for centuries for all sorts of home remedies. Most people enjoy the smell of lavender while mosquitoes, flies and other unwanted insects are not so fond of it. Helpful tip: Plant it in sunny areas of the garden or by entryways to your house to help reduce pest activity in those areas.

Lemongrass helps to repels mosquitoes. Of course you’ve seen citronella candles or patio tiki torches in stores during the summer to help keep those mosquitoes at bay during summer parties. Please note that lemongrass is a perennial which means it will come back year after year in many climates. It does best in warmer and humid areas and can get quite large, but it is possible to grow indoors in colder areas or during colder months.

Mint helps to repels mosquitoes. It’s safe to say that mint is best grown in pots rather than the ground because it spreads aggressively fast. Once it gets established in the garden, it can be difficult to remove. The aromatic properties found in the leaves are also present in the stems and flowers. Helpful tip: Containers of mint strategically placed in the garden area or on the patio area will help keep nearby plants insect free.

Rosemary repels mosquitoes and a variety of insects that are harmful to vegetable plants. Rosemary is available in various forms. Plants can be grown in containers on a patio, grown in herb gardens or planted in landscaped beds, where some varieties can grow quite large. Rosemary’s oils are unpleasant to many insects. The plant itself and its cuttings are effective repellents. You can make a simple repellent spray by boiling 1 quart of dried rosemary in a quart of water for 20 to 30 minutes and then straining the liquid into a container at least a half-gallon in size that contains a quart of cool water. Put a cap on the combined liquid and store it in the refrigerator. Add the repellent to small squirt bottles as needed when going outdoors. Discard the remaining repellent in the refrigerator when it no longer has a strong telltale smell of rosemary.

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Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants, which usually make their homes in pavements, are small about 2.5 to 3mm long. They are black-brown ants, with lighter legs and antennae. They can be identified by two spines on the back, two nodes on the petiole, with parallel lines on head and thorax. The colonies can be moderately large.

Pavement ants find their way into buildings while out foraging for food. Their nest can be found outdoors under stones/rocks, along curbs or in cracks of pavement such as drive ways or patios. Nests can been found indoors as well, under floors, inside insulation and within walls.

Pavement ants, like other ants will feed on a wide variety of foods, including meats, grease, live and dead insects, seeds and honeydew from aphids. They prefer greasy foods, and can eat many foods consumed by humans. They forage for food for their colonies and set up trails to the food source from their nests. Pavement ant workers go into houses to forage and can become a bothersome pest when large groups infest your homes kitchen or backyard patio.

Seeing worker pavement ants is the one of most noticeable signs you may have an infestation, but another well known indicator can be small piles of excavated materials or sand along the sides or cracks of your patio or drive way pavement. The typical colony of pavement ants includes multiple queens and numerous workers. A queen establishes a new colony of pavement ants by laying eggs. Pavement worker ants then tend the queen’s brood until they develop into adults. During their development, broods are transferred from location to location to protect them from fluctuations in moisture and temperature.

The nests of pavement ants can be difficult to locate and may require some investigating. It’s important to understand what the proper treatment is for this particular ant. Some treatment products can cause the ants to panic and spread, which will just result in new colonies rather than solving the problem. It’s always wise to consult a professional before trying to treat on your own.

Give Alpha Home Pest Control a call (208)475-4440

http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Billbugs

In Idaho one of the most common lawn pests is the Bluegrass Billbug; these pests can cause some serious damage to your lawn if not taken care of properly. Alpha Home Pest Control can help make a proper diagnosis.
Damages from billbugs can resemble drought/lack of watering, with irregular patches of dry grass. Some people may think the dry looking lawn isn’t getting enough water and will continue to water more, however, the damaged lawn will not respond to the extra watering.
Adult Bluegrass Billbugs are gray, brown, or black with a curved snout and a hard body that is about 3/16″ (5 mm) in size. They overwinter in the soil mostly as adults. In the spring when the temperatures are starting to rise, the adult billbugs can often be seen walking on patios and sidewalks around May –mid June. Lawn damage from an adult billbug usually consists of holes in blades of grass caused by chewing. Damages that are far less serve than what their young larvae can do.
The Billbug larvae are white with a brown head, legless, C-shaped and about the size of a large grain of rice. The larvae are where the real damage is done. They feed on the grass roots and can easily spread causing large patches of dry looking lawn.
If you are noticing your lawn starting to get odd dry patches, it’s a good idea to do some investigating. (Remember, you can always call a pest professional to do this for you). Try the “Tug Test” to see if you have a billbug infestation:
• Find a spot where the dry grass meets green grass, hold the dry grass with your hand and gently tug on the dry grass
• If the grass easily lifts up with no attached roots, and has a saw dust like material at the base of the blades and stems, billbugs are likely the cause.
• You may also see the white larvae with their brown heads in the soil on the ground or on the piece of lawn you pulled up.
As spring time approaches and the temperatures warm, its best to stay ahead of the game and start a treatment plan before major damage has occurred.

Call Alpha Home Pest Control today! (208)475-4440

http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Hobo Spiders

Hobo Spiders

Hobo Spiders also known as Aggressive House Spiders can easily be confused with other spiders because of its common features and colors. They resemble many other common spiders such as wolf spiders and, some people have mistaken them for the brown recluse spider. Characteristics to identify a hobo spider are difficult to see with for the average person and require close examination for proper identification.
If someone has ever told you that they’ve been chased by a hobo spider, they just may be telling the truth. Hobo spiders are labeled as aggressive but they usually are not, UNLESS it feels threatened. Hobo spiders are extremely protective of their egg sacs and will bite if they sense a threat to their young. Oftentimes, humans do not realize that they are approaching upon a hobo spider, this often occurs when a spider is residing in dark areas.
As a species of house spider, hobo spiders are commonly found in and around human dwellings and structures. They prefer dark, less used areas, inside they can be found it corners, basements, and cluttered areas that don’t have much activity. Outside they can be found in a variety of spaces such as woodpiles, rock/flower beds, along fences, fields, in the grass and areas where it can weave a funnel web.
Similar to other spiders, Hobo spiders weave webs in the shape of funnels and it’s usually waiting inside to catch prey. The web of a hobo is not very sticky so once an insect gets caught, the hobo spider has to act quickly and attack to ensure it doesn’t escape. The web is also acts mating grounds. Females generally stay within the perimeter of their nests, while males move about in search of potential mating partners. Males have to cautiously approach their female counterparts, attempting to mate only after finding that the female is receptive, rather than hostile. If the female is hostile, she may attack and kill him. Females remain in their nests after mating. Males will move on and usually die soon after mating.
Like most of the spider species, female hobo spiders have larger abdomens and are larger than males. Females can grow in excess of 14 mm in length, while males are rarely longer than 11 mm. Its brown legs are a solid color, show no markings or rings and are smooth looking. They have a herringbone pattern on the top side of their abdomens. The males have larger appendage that are often referred to as “boxing gloves”. These are not fangs, but are merely the hobo spider’s reproductive organs.
Hobo spiders are thought to have necrotic venom, similar to the brown recluse spider, however, there is currently no solid scientific evidence suggesting that the venom of this species is of medical importance. The research results that were used to report the necrotic effects of the venom have not been consistently reproduced. This spider may or may not be a venomous as people believed. No matter the type, no one wants to be bitten by a spider.

Always to remember to use caution if you think you have hobo spiders in your home and to call a professional that can help identify and take care of the problem.
Give us a call (208)475-4440

http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Termites

Termites/Subterranean Termites

Color: Creamy white to dark brown/black
Legs: 6
Shape: Oval, Long, Narrow
Size: about 1/8 inch long

In Southern Idaho, the one main species of termites we have is the Subterranean Termite. These pests are actually beneficial ecologically in the fact that they break down detritus and add nutrients to the soil. However, that same feeding manner that is helpful to the ecosystem can cause severe damage to homes. Termites feed primarily on wood; they are able to compromise the strength and safety of an infested structure. Sometimes, if untreated, termite damage can cause structures to be deemed unlivable, until expensive repairs are completed. If subterranean termites find their way into your home or building, it is critical that the termites are properly eliminated as soon as possible, as the structural damage they can cause on a building can be shocking if left untreated.

Subterranean termites are soil-dwelling, social insects, and their food source is the cellulose in wood. This can be the wood in a tree stump or the wood inside your home. They live in colonies underground from which they build tunnels in search of food; the mud tunnels (referred to as mud tubes) are created from saliva, mud (of course) and feces. These tunnels are located near the foundation of infested homes/structures. Sometimes when moisture levels are high enough, the colony is well established and the area is secluded enough, they may have a nest above ground. Tiny mud tubes are an indication you may be dealing with termites.

Tips to avoid subterranean termites:

Avoid letting water collect and accumulate near the home’s foundation.
Redirect water away with properly working downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.
Don’t bury wood waste or leave scraps of lumber in the yard.

Most importantly, remove wood contact with the soil/dirt. Always maintain a one-inch space between the soil and wood portions of the building.

Subterranean termites are by far the most destructive termite species. Their hard, saw-toothed jaws are able to bite off extremely small fragments of wood, one piece at at time. Over time this can cause a building to collaspe entirely, leading the homeowner to financial distress.

If you suspect a termite infestation, contact a profession about proper treatment options!

Give us a call (208)4754440

http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Odorous House Ants

Odorous House Ants

Color: brown or black
Legs: 6
Shape: Segmented; oval
Size: 2.4 to 3.3 mm
Region: Found throughout the U.S.

Odorous house or sometimes referred to as “sugar ants” are small, measuring 2.4 to 3.3 mm in length. They have dark brown or black bodies with one node on their petiole, which is hidden by their abdomens. The thoraxes of odorous house ants are unevenly shaped when viewed from the side. The most noticeable characteristic of these tiny ants is the strong, rotten coconut-like smell they give off when crushed.

Odorous house ant’s nests can be found in a variety of places. Inside buildings they are often found nesting near a source of moisture, beneath the floor or in the walls, beneath leaky fixtures, and inside wood that has been damaged by termites. Rainy weather is a great reason for them to invade buildings. While indoors they love to eat sweets but have been known to feed on meats, grease, sugary foods, dairy products, pastries, cooked or raw vegetables and fruit juices. Outside they are often found in exposed soil and often found under stacks of fire wood. They often feed on honeydew (a sugary waste produced from sap from feeding insects like aphids). These tiny ants are always on the move foraging and hunting for food night and day.

As all other ants, odorous house ants live in colonies. Each colony may contain two or more queens and over 100,000 workers. The odorous ant queens can produce hundreds of reproducers and thousands of workers. They also have been known to move their nests every three months or so.

Since odorous house ants are always on the move exploring and hunting for a new source of food, they can easily contaminate human food supplies. Odorous house ants do not sting or bite, but they can quickly become quite the persistent pest as they travel in large numbers.

If you think you may have odorous house ants in your home, contact a professional pest control company to discuss a proper course of action for odorous ant removal.
Give us a call! (208)475-4440 http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

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