Ants are unwelcome guests at picnics and backyard barbecues, but even more so when they enter our homes. Although most species are beneficial, they become a nuisance once inside. And there are some types of harmful ants—some species sting, while others can cause structural damage.
The Uninvited Guests
Ants are highly social insects that travel in large colonies. Usually, one scout ant enters the home first, in search of food, water, and comfortable living quarters for the entire colony. The scout then creates a scented trail so that the extended family can follow suit. Once established in your home, these pests are hard to get rid of permanently. Here are some ways you can get rid of ants naturally.
Depending on the species, ants range in colors from tan to reddish brown to black. Their bodies are segmented into three parts and have a super tough exoskeleton. Ants may be small, but they are mighty. These industrious insects can lift 20 times their own body weight! Although there are more than 12,000 species of ants around the world, the most common types we find in our homes are pavement ants, odorous house ants, and the larger carpenter ants. Once you know what type of pests you have, it’s easier to find a solution.
How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally
If you see a line of ants making its way through the house, follow it to determine its origination point. Then create a barrier immediately. This can be done using baby powder, petroleum jelly, or completely sealing the opening.
Now it’s time to deal with the steady parade already inside. Vacuuming up the invading insects is easy, but it’s necessary to add talc or cornstarch to the vacuum cleaner bag to smother them. Otherwise, they just set up shop somewhere else in your home. The scout’s scented trail still remains, so use hot soapy water or a cleaning solution to wash it away. This prevents ants on the outside from picking up the scent.
Most ants take food back to the queen in the nest, so an easy way to get rid of the entire colony is to put out some tasty poison in a homemade bait and let the worker ants do their job. They will feed on the poison, take some back to the queen, and she’ll distribute it among the colony. A bait is also a good way to draw out and get rid of ants that have already infiltrated cabinets and pantries.
Make Your Own Bait
Making a bait from simple ingredients you have on hand at home is a good way to get rid of ants naturally.
Combine a couple tablespoons of borax or boric acid powder with a cup of water and two cups of sugar. Put this potent mixture into bottle caps or other small containers. If you are concerned about children or pets coming in contact with the substance, use a small lidded jar and poke holes in the lid. You can even sweeten the deal by putting a smear of honey or jelly on the outside of the jar to make certain your new-found friends find it.
No one taking the bait? Try taking the same approach with peanut butter. This should appeal to any ants that don’t have a sweet tooth.
Other substances that ants find distasteful are vinegar, peppermint oil, pepper, and cinnamon. To use the first two, soak a cotton ball in the liquid and put them in jars with pierced lids. Sprinkle pepper, cinnamon, or talc around areas of entry like window sills, doors, cracks, and crevices to deter the pests.
Ant Invasion Prevention
Once you get rid of ants that have invaded your home, there are steps to take to keep them out.
Ants are tiny and enter through the smallest openings in window sills, crevices in floors, or cracks in the walls or foundation. Seal up points of entry by caulking these areas.
Ants are particularly drawn to sweets or sugar, but also like proteins and grease. Be sure to put away any leftovers, sealing them in airtight containers. Wipe counters and vacuum often, because these pests feed on even the tiniest food morsels or crumbs that may not even be noticeable to the naked eye.
Outside, create a buffer between the house and bushes, piles of firewood, overhanging tree branches, and other foliage. These create an easy way for pests to access your home.
Sometimes these methods are not enough, especially in the case of the carpenter ant, which can cause structural damage. When you are uncertain of the point of entry, location of the nest, or how to eliminate them for good, call in a specialist. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] and we’ll rid your home of any pests properly and permanently.
Considered a symbol of luck around the world, ladybugs are often described as cute, harmless, and even helpful little insects. This is somewhat true, but before you nod your head in agreement, there are some things you should know about these tiny button-like bugs.
Also known as lady beetles or ladybird beetles, some ladybugs are native to our country. But multicolored Asian lady beetles (Harmonia axyridis) were imported from overseas to help control pests. These ladybugs first arrived in the early 1900s to feed on pests that were destroying crops. But their population quickly expanded all over the United States, making many people question if Asian lady beetles are good or bad.
Two of a Kind? Identifying Ladybugs
Native ladybugs and their Asian cousins look a lot alike. Both have tiny, domed bodies that range in color from light yellow to orange to dark red. There are some differences. The Asian lady beetle is slightly larger, darker in color (usually dark burnt orange or dark red), and has more spots (up to 19) than the native beetles. Also, these imported insects have a white mark behind the head with a black “M” shape in it. The most important difference between the two, however, is that Asian lady beetles are aggressive nuisances that sometimes even bite.
Are Asian Lady Beetles Good or Bad?
Basically, ladybugs are beneficial predators that feed on plant pests like aphids, mites, and scale insects. Farmers and gardeners consider them “lucky” for that reason. However, homeowners feel differently.
In the fall, Asian lady beetles gather in swarms on the sunny side of buildings or homes in search of places to overwinter. Structures that are light in color with dark or contrasting trim draw attention from these insects, as well as homes located near woods or fields. Structures in need of repair fall prey most often. Cracks in foundation, gaps between siding, windowsills, and door frames, and torn screens provide easy entry for the bugs.
Once inside, the swarm is a problem. Asian lady beetles release pheromones in the locations they like so that the next generation can find the same spot the following year. This is why it is difficult to get rid of these uninvited guests permanently. Also, when they are disturbed, the beetles secrete an odorous yellowish fluid that can stain walls or other surfaces. These aggressive insects bite, too, and sometimes even cause allergic reactions.
Preventing an Asian Lady Beetle Invasion
The most effective way to manage beetles is prevention. They can fit through very tiny openings, so here are some suggestions to stop them from entering your home.
- Repair or replace damaged screens in doors and windows.
- Seal or caulk cracks in foundations, gaps in siding, and any other crevices.
- Make sure the weather stripping on any door is secure.
- Patch holes in interior walls.
- Check openings for pipes, vents, and utility wires, and make sure they are properly sealed.
If these steps are not enough, hire a professional to do an inspection of your home to find the points of entry. Professionals can also create a barrier outside your home using an insecticide. These applications will need to be repeated periodically and work best when applied before fall arrives.
Getting Beetles out of Your Home
Prevention is your best bet, but what if they are already inside? Squashing or swatting the beetles causes them to secrete the smelly fluid, so you’ll want a gentle approach. Your vacuum is a good weapon of choice, but with a slight modification. Attach a knee-high stocking to the inside of a vacuum hose using a rubber band. This way, the bugs get sucked into the soft stocking without too much disturbance and can be disposed of before they secrete the fluid.
Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] and let us help you keep unwanted pests from invading your home.
Weeds are the bane of every lawn owners existence. It’s frustrating to put time, energy, and money into a yard, only to glance out the window and see ugly weeds working their way into your lawn. Spring is the prime time to find these grass-wannabees, and it won’t be long before they start spreading throughout the summer months. We’re here to help you get a leg up on the most common lawn weeds in Ohio.
What You Need to Know About Weeds
There are two categories of weeds, grass-like and broadleaf. And knowing which category each one falls under steers you in the right direction of a solution. It also helps to know if it’s a perennial or annual. A perennial is a plant that lives two or more growing seasons, while an annual has a one-year life cycle.
Weed seeds are spread in many ways. Some are carried on the wind or via water, others are tracked onto your lawn by animals or foot traffic. However these bothersome plants arrive at your door, being able to identify these five common lawn weeds in Ohio is the first step in getting the upper hand.
How to Identify Common Lawn Weeds in Ohio
Crabgrass is a warm-season annual that grows best in the summer heat. A member of the grass family, this annual has flat, wide leaf blades that stay low to the ground. In mid-summer, spiked flower heads appear in the center.
Perhaps one of the most well-known, and hated, of common lawn weeds, the dandelion is a broadleaf perennial with deep roots and a hollow stalk. It begins its reign as a showy yellow flower, but does the most damage when it turns into a fuzzy seed-spreading machine. When children pick these puffy posies and blow on them, they are aiding and abetting the spread of hundreds of weed seeds. A good breeze does the trick as well.
Also known as veronica, speedwell is an invasive perennial with small four-petal flowers in white, blue, or purple shades. Heart-shaped seed pods grow on the stems along with tiny green leaves. The problematic plant creeps along the ground and thrives in moist, shaded areas. Although it has pretty little flowers, its creeping stems quickly grow into an unattractive, fast-spreading mat. Fibrous root systems make it difficult to completely eliminate.
There are many types of this perennial weed, but white clover is the most common. Deep green in color, the plant part has groups of three oval-shaped leaves that often have a dark stripe. Spiked white flowers top off the low-growing plant and provide nectar for bees.
Also known as creeping charlie, ground ivy is one of the first plants to flower in the spring. It boasts tiny trios of bluish-purple flowers, heart-shaped leaves with scalloped edges, and squared stems. This member of the mint family, gives off a mild, minty scent when leaves are crushed or mowed. It’s notorious for spreading quickly along the ground and taking root in many places.
Controlling Common Lawn Weeds
Weeds love to invade thinning areas of grass and lawns that have been mowed too short. So the first step in putting an end to these problem plants is to keep a well-maintained yard. That means proper watering, fertilizing, and mowing practices, as well as anything else that keeps the turf thick and healthy. Keep grass at the tallest recommended mowing height and let its lush density crowd out any potential for unwanted and aggressive plants.
You don’t have to fight Mother Nature alone. Calling in a professional is your best bet for weed populations growing out of control. A well-trained expert knows the best approach, the right timing, and has access to powerful products to treat invasive weeds.
Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] and let us help you build a strong, healthy lawn that can defend itself from the common lawn weeds in Ohio.
Identifying Grubs and the Damage They Do
Signs of grub damage are spongy turf, excess weeds, brown or yellow patches of grass, and dead or dying plants. How do the pests do it? They feed on grass and plant roots, cutting off the supply of needed nutrients and water. But since grubs do their dirty work underground, it’s hard to know if you have an issue.
Not sure if you have a problem? Try the turf test by grabbing a handful of grass. Gently tug it, and if it peels back easily like a loose rug, the root system is significantly damaged. And you’ll see the small, whitish, fat worm-like creatures underneath. They curl up as soon as their home turf is disturbed.
Fortunately, spotting just a few grubs is okay. But when the population grows, even the healthiest lawns can’t survive an infestation. Try using do-it-yourself remedies for grubs as soon as you suspect a problem.
Do-It-Yourself Remedies for Grubs
A healthy, well-maintained lawn is usually strong enough to survive a small amount of grubs. But even if you water, fertilize, and mow your turf regularly, it may not be immune to an infestation. Here are some tips and do-it-yourself remedies for grubs to get you going.
- Be sure not to overwater as a moist environment is ideal for beetles to lay eggs.
- Plant grasses with deep root systems. Shorter grass roots sustain damage quicker than long roots, which require less water and can survive minor amounts of damage from pest feeding frenzies. Tall fescue is a type of grass that has a substantial root system.
- Purchase milky spore disease powder at your local garden store. The environmentally safe fungus is easily applied by sprinkling the powder form over infected areas. This remedy is win-win because it kills the grubs and then the spores spread to prevent future infestations.
- Add water to laundry detergent and pour the mixture on the infected areas. Once it soaks into the ground, grubs come to the surface. Above the soil, they are in reach for birds and small animals to eat them. This also makes them prime for plucking by hand, if you choose to take on that task.
- Use neem oil as a repellant for Japanese beetles and their larvae. Mix it with water and spray this botanical pesticide on infected areas.
- Bring on the beneficial nematodes to fight grubs, and even some other pests, naturally. These microscopic parasites feed on grub larvae yet won’t attack plants and grasses. They are available at many garden stores and are easy to apply. Just make sure to water the lawn before and after application. This ensures that they soak down into the soil.
If all else fails, call in a professional. They know what pest control products work best and how to use them properly. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] and we’ll help you prevent pests from taking over your lawn.