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Daily Archives: June 27, 2012

6 Household Pests You Don’t Want to Know

Most of the pests we face around our homes are well known to us: house ants, mosquitoes, and cockroaches. But what about those weird creatures that look like they’ve dropped in from another universe, or at least from another continent? Here’s a list of six of the creepiest critters you may find on your property and what you can do about them:

Carpenter ants
As their name implies, they’re ready to work on your wood and they don’t have a contractor’s license. Carpenter ants are found in many parts of the U.S. and Canada, and are especially attracted to moist, soft woods. Unlike termites though, they don’t actually eat wood. They just enjoy biting through it and creating channels through a beam or two. Once they’ve found a home, carpenter ants can be difficult to get rid of by yourself. Your best bet is to clear out any damp wood piles around your property line and, if in Florida, be careful. There’s a species there that can give you a painful bite.

Ladybugs
It’s hard to picture one of these gentle, orange little bugs as an exotic pest, but they can be.  The problem is that in winter they’ll swarm inside of an attic and hibernate during the cold weather.  Then in the spring they’ll start dropping down through holes in the ceiling onto people’s heads or into their food. Then they’re not so cute.  If it’s a serious infestation a professional probably needs to be called. However, you can prevent infestations by making sure the attic vents are screened off and any conduits going into the space are secured.

Bed bugs
It seems these pests have been making a comeback, and travelers everywhere are pulling down the covers of their hotel beds before jumping in, looking for the tell-tale little brown insects. Why the sudden resurgence, like a bad Broadway musical? One reason is that the chemicals we use in pest control are safer today.  They break down more quickly. But that also gives the pests more time to get away and thrive. So to be effective, you need to increase the number of treatments.
Remember some things that are labeled natural are just as harmful to humans as a chemical pesticide. You’ve got to follow the directions carefully.

Formosan termites
The Formosan is also called the Super Termite by pest control pros, primarily because a mature colony can eat more than 13 ounces of wood per day. If they latch onto a wood structure they like in May, they can turn it into sawdust by August. Originally from Asia, they’re generally found in structures in the Southwest and Southeast U.S. You can make your house less of a termite target by keeping firewood piles away from the house and making sure any wood siding or eaves are well primed and painted.

 

Brown recluse spider
This small spider, which is found in the lower Midwest and South, packs a wallop with its bite. Its venom can create skin necrosis, a serious condition where healthy skin rapidly dies off. However, the brown recluse is also painfully shy and is also reluctant to bite.  It’s a creature that a great many urban legends have formed around.  It’s not some blood thirsty monster. Most people who have them in their house don’t even know they’re there.   To keep out the recluse or other spiders like the black widow, clean up cluttered corners of your yard and garage, try using a yellow-tinted outdoor light to repel the bugs that spiders like to feed on and make sure your door sweeps are intact.

Rhesus monkeys
Hard to believe, but yes, in parts of Florida, monkeys are a pest.  They’re not native of course, but there are areas where you’ve got groups of them and you don’t want one of them getting into your yard or your house.  They might seem like a lot of fun, but they can break a lot of stuff.

To prevent a monkey raid–or to make your property less homey to more common pests like rats and possums, make sure to pick any ripe fruit from your trees as soon as possible and clean up fallen fruit regularly; don’t let pet food stay out all night and keep garbage containers tightly closed.  Much of pest control is about making the creature look for food and shelter elsewhere.

 
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