Carpenter Ant Damage: Know the Warning Signs and Prevent Pests from Invading Your Home

Carpenter Ant Damage: Know the Warning Signs and Prevent Pests from Invading Your Home

Carpenter ant damage causes serious problems for homeowners. These petite pests turn wood into a fine sawdust. This is great outdoors in their natural environment, where the rotting sawdust creates compost for nature’s new growth. Indoors, however, is a different story. The industrious insects easily chew through wooden structures, causing major issues. Here’s how to tell if you have carpenter ant damage in your house.

Why Worry about These Petite Pests?

Carpenter ants make nests in woody places. Despite popular belief, they do not eat wood like termites do. Rather, they chew through it to make nests that potentially hold thousands of colony members. As the colony grows, and the nests expand as well, so does the integrity of the wood structure they choose to make their home. Damage often goes unnoticed for years, so it’s important to know the signs before it’s too late.

Signs and Symptoms of Carpenter Ant Damage

Of course, the ants themselves are a tell-tale sign of the potential damage occurring inside walls or window frames. Colonies of ants nesting remain out of site, while a worker ant is sent out to locate food sources. That is the one spotted crawling in the kitchen or bathroom. Otherwise, these pests stay hidden.

Another sign to look for is the sawdust-like material (excavated wood) these destructive insects leave behind, called frass. Frass resembles fine pencil sharpener shavings usually piled in a cone shape. Look in crawl spaces, basements, garages, or around baseboards for it. If there’s a tunnel to the nest nearby, frass may lead you to it.

Lastly, check the structure of your home for warping. Windows and doors that stick or sloping ceilings and floors suggest damage to a home’s frame. Unfortunately, at this point, your home has been compromised. Call in a professional right away to find and treat for pests, and to repair damage.

Prevention

Once carpenter ants get inside, it’s hard to get rid of them, and even more difficult to detect them in the first place. Prevention is key. Take precautions to pest proof your home and keep out these destructive ants. Here are some things to do to prevent carpenter ant damage.

  • Seal up cracks and crevices around your home’s foundation, chimney, windows, doors, and pipes.
  • Correct moisture issues immediately and replace any damp or rotting wood.
  • Keep firewood piles away from the house and cut back any branches that touch the roof or outer walls.
  • Clean out clogged gutters and repair roof leaks.
  • Remove any rotting wood outside like old tree stumps or dilapidated sheds.

Carpenter ants slowly destroy wood structures to make nests, eventually making them unsafe for residents. If you suspect carpenter ant damage in your home or wish to take preventative measures, call Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone]. We’ll put pest problems to rest once and for all.

Bad Ladybugs vs. Good: Why the Asian Lady Beetle Is an Unlucky Look Alike

Bad Ladybugs vs. Good: Why the Asian Lady Beetle Is an Unlucky Look Alike

This is a tale of two look-alike bugs: one is beneficial and the other one is an invasive pest. Find out why it’s important to know the difference between bad ladybugs and their luckier relatives.

Luck Be a Lady?

A cute little critter, the native ladybug symbolizes luck to many and is good for the environment. Homeowners are happy to have these beneficial bugs in their gardens because they feed on harmful pests like aphids, mites, and scale insects. Most are bright red in color with dotted dome-shaped bodies and six legs.

Asian lady beetles also prey on pests, however besides looking like the beneficial ladybugs, that’s where the similarities end. Introduced to this country in the 1960s to control agricultural pests, Asian beetles reproduced rapidly, quickly becoming an invasive species. While ladybugs are harmless, the more aggressive Asian lady beetle bites if provoked. The bad ladybugs like to overwinter in large numbers, often finding a way inside homes or buildings. The beneficial bugs tend to stay outdoors. Lastly, Asian beetles secrete a stinky yellow fluid as they overwinter in your home. It often stains walls and furniture.

Bad Beetle or Good? How to Tell the Difference

Telling bad ladybugs apart from the good is difficult because they look alike and share some similarities. But look close for a noticeable sign. If it’s an Asian lady beetle, a white M-shaped mark appears on an otherwise black head. The luckier look alikes, however, boast mostly black heads. Although often orange in color, the imported beetles vary in color from yellow to good-ladybug red and sport more spots. Size is another distinguishing trait: bad ladybugs are a little bigger.

Doing Battle with Bad Ladybugs

The best way to beat a lady beetle infestation is to prevent them from accessing your home. Seal up cracks, crevices, and gaps focusing on doors, windows, and screens, as well as openings around pipes. Once the bugs are inside your home it’s hard get them out. Avoid swatting lady beetles as this causes them to secrete the odorous fluid. Instead, use a vacuum cleaner or sticky tape to remove them from your home. Be sure to empty the vacuum outside. A gentler method is to sweep them up in a dust pan and put them outdoors.

If you find a large congregation of bad ladybugs, or any other pest, in your home, contact us right away. Call Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] and we’ll get unwanted guests out of the house and provide you with prevention techniques.

How to Stop Summer Weeds Before They Start

How to Stop Summer Weeds Before They Start

Summer is time for soaking up the sun and sizzling summer barbecues. No one wants to spend it waging a war on weeds. Get ahead of the game if you want to stop summer weeds before they start. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Stop Summer Weeds Now?

Classified as grassy or broadleaf, annual weeds appear in late spring or early summer, depending on the variety, and die off after the first frost. But their death brings no relief to the homeowner. The pesky plants leave behind a bevy of seeds to plague your landscaping the following year. Some of them produce thousands of seeds in one season! Don’t wait until unwanted weeds take over you turf. Once established, the mature plants are difficult to destroy. And you want to stop summer weeds before they set seed to save yourself the time and effort in the following year.

Prevention

Pre-emergent herbicides stop summer weeds by creating a barrier in the soil that prevents growth before it starts. Read the labels on these products to find one that targets the type of weeds you want to prevent. And follow the application directions carefully. However, pre-emergents only prevent weed growth. For already established weeds use a post-emergent product.

Weeds are opportunists. They work their way into thinning grass, bare patches, and weaker turf. Think of an unhealthy lawn like a welcome mat for weeds. You won’t be able to stop summer weeds without working to make your lawn thick and healthy. This requires a proper maintenance program that includes the following:

  • Regularly mowing the lawn to the height that’s ideal for that type of grass.
  • Instead of lightly watering the lawn often, give grass a deeper watering less frequently to promote growth.
  • Test the soil to find out what nutrients it needs. This helps you pick the right fertilizer to apply, and helps determine if you need to add lime to the soil.
  • Aerate compacted soil and keep foot traffic to a minimum to prevent further compaction.
  • Reseed thinning or bare areas.
  • Cut back shrubs and branches to shed more light on shaded areas where grass has a hard time growing.

The best way to keep your lawn weed free is to leave it up to the experts. At Free Spray Lawn Care, we offer a unique program for preventing weeds and keeping your turf in great shape. Call us today at [phone]. We’ll stop summer weeds before they get in the way of your warm-weather fun.

Beware of Greedy Grub Worms in Your Grass

Beware of Greedy Grub Worms in Your Grass

You may have grub worms in your lawn and not know it. These grass-eating pests go virtually unnoticed underground until it’s too late. Here’s why you need to worry about greedy grubs.

Why Worry About Grub Worms?

Not really worms at all, grubs go by a variety of names like lawn grub, white grub, and my favorite, grub worm. They are beetle larvae. Female beetles lay eggs early in summer. Once hatched, the larvae burrow underground to feed. Unlike the beneficial earthworm that has a healthy impact on turf, grubs destroy grass by devouring the roots underground, eventually killing the green lawn above.

Visible Signs and Symptoms

While you don’t see grub worms as you glance at the grass, you see signs that tell you of their presence. Look for thinning grass, slower growth, yellow or browning patches, and a sudden influx of predators, like moles, that find these little devils delicious.

But the most tell-tale sign of grub worms is the greedy little creatures themselves. Pull back a patch of damaged grass to find the plump little pests. (The turf peels back easily, like a rug, if the underground grubs are destroying the roots.)

White in color with brownish heads, grubs are small fat creatures with six legs. They curl up into a “C” shape when disturbed or revealed by a pulled back piece of turf. If, in fact, it is an infestation, expect to see more than two or three pests per square foot.

Getting a Grip on Grubs

There are several methods on the market for dealing with these destructive pests. Plenty of pesticide options are available at your local garden center. For a more natural approach, try milky spore disease powder to sprinkle on an infested lawn. This safe fungus kills grubs by devouring them. Beneficial nematodes are also available at the garden center. These microscopic parasites eat grub larvae.

Is your lawn healthy and well-maintained? It may then be strong enough to fend off a few hungry pests. But an infestation of grub worms does serious damage to the lawn on which you’ve worked hard to keep beautiful. Infestations require immediate attention. And because grub damage is similar in appearance to other pest infestations and lawn diseases, get a professional to properly diagnose it.

Don’t let these underground grub worms get greedy in your yard. Call Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone]. We’ll find out what’s ailing your lawn and fix it.