How Do You Know if You Have Termites?

Termites typically live in colonies underneath your home and when the ground thaws, they emerge, entering your structure through cracks in the foundation. You won’t even know they are there until you see signs in your home.


Signs of Termite Infestation
The following list indicates common signs of a subterranean termite infestation. It is recommended that you have your house thoroughly inspected by a pest control professional trained to detect what can be subtle signs of termites.

The swarm
The appearance of a swarm of what looks like flying ants is a good indication of the existence of a termite nest. Swarming occurs when a colony reaches a certain size and is most common in the spring (March, April, May, and June). Most swarmers emerge on warm days after rain.

Bugs and bug parts
You may see live termites in your home. Reproductive kings and queens are 1/2″ long, winged and black or brown in color. Workers are sterile and usually hidden within infested wood. They are 1/4″ long, wingless and white. You might also see piles of wings, indicating that the swarmers have entered their next phase of development.

Mud tunnels
Subterranean termites live in the ground and build “mud tubes” – pencil-sized tubes made from mud particles, saliva, and fecal matter that connect the nest to the food source. Mud tubes are proof of termite infestation, but their absence does not necessarily mean that a structure is free of termites. You can break open tubes to determine if termites are still active inside. Termites often rebuild damaged tubes, another indication of continued activity. Old tubes are dry and will crumble easily.

Hollowed-out wood
Termite-damaged wood makes a hollow sound when tapped with a hammer and may appear crushed at structural bearing points. If you pick and probe the surface of an infested piece of wood with a sharp object, you will find tunnels running parallel to the wood’s grain.


What to do
Termite problems are not a do-it-yourself project. If termites have invaded your home, contact a pest control professional like Amco Ranger that can provide ongoing treatment to protect your largest investment – your home.

Also find out how to control dust mites.

What’s That Smell?

Spring is nearly here and warmer temperatures are bringing out the insects. Recently, you may have encountered a weird looking one that smelled terrible when you squished it. It was probably a stink bug – named for its smelly-foot-like odor when crushed. Although stink bugs are not known to bite humans, their tendency to invade homes in high numbers can be a nuisance.

The Bug
Stink bugs are brown, shaped like shields, and are 1/2 to 3/4 inches long. Young stink bugs are similarly shaped, but more rounded and may be black or light green. Although they don’t cause structural damage to homes or buildings, stink bugs can cause significant damage to trees, shrubs, tree fruits, blackberries, corn, beans, tomatoes, and other crops.

Prevention
The best defense against the stink bug is a good offense. To prevent stink bugs from entering your home, seal cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys, and underneath the wood fascia and other openings using a good quality silicone caulk. Repair or replace damaged screens on doors and windows.

Elimination
To get rid of stink bugs that have already entered your home, vacuum up dead and live bugs and throw the vacuum cleaner bag in the outside garbage. Contrary to popular belief, dead stink bugs do not attract other stink bugs – but they can attract other insects, such as carpet beetles, and live stink bugs will emit odors to attract other stink bugs. If an infestation has developed, a pest control specialist such as Amco Ranger should be called to assess the problem.

Find out how you can prevent and eliminate centipedes and silverfish and other summer pests.

Eliminate Pantry Pests

Packaged foods in your pantry can attract pests such as moths, weevils, and small beetles. The good news is that although annoying, they are not dangerous; they won’t bite or sting you or damage your home. Getting rid of these pests is not hard, but it does take time.

 

Where do they come from?

These unwelcome guests can be found in even the most spotless home. Pests often hitch a ride in your food at the grocery store, during delivery, or at the processing plant or warehouse.

 

What foods attract pests?

Nearly any dried food that is stored at room temperature can be a draw, such as grains, cereals, beans, dried fruits, nuts, and spices. Open packages that aren’t sealed well are prime targets, because they allow easy entry. However, many insects can chew their way into unopened packages as well.

 

There’s a bug in my flour.

If you find a bug in a product, throw the entire package away and check the food stored near it. If you don’t spot anything in the other packages or elsewhere in the pantry, the bug was probably an isolated incident, and the other foods are fine to keep. If you want to be extra-cautious, freeze any potentially affected products for three to four days. This will kill any eggs or insects.

 

The bugs are everywhere.

If you find insects in multiple places, empty your pantry completely and vacuum the shelves, floor, and corners, then wash everything with soapy water. Do not apply bleach, ammonia or pesticides – these chemicals won’t prevent a future infestation and can be dangerous if they come in contact with food. Before returning food to the pantry, thoroughly check that each package is undamaged and uncontaminated.

 

Keep the bugs out.

The longer a product sits in your pantry, the more likely it is to become infested, so buy small packages you can use in two to four months. Avoid buying packages that have dents, holes or scratches, and follow the “first in, first out” rule when using food. It’s also helpful to transfer grains, cereals, etc. into glass, metal, or sturdy plastic containers with airtight lids. These containers keep insects out much better than cardboard, paper, or foil. Thoroughly clean your pantry every three to six months, which will help you stay organized and keep pests at bay.

 

Ewww! I think I ate a bug.

If you’ve just enjoyed a nice meal and spot a critter in your pasta package, don’t worry. Pantry pests aren’t poisonous, and accidentally ingesting a bug won’t hurt you.

 Schedule your Free Inspection today!

Keep Nuisance Wildlife in the Wild

As human populations continue to grow and move into traditional wildlife habitat, human/wildlife contact is becoming more prevalent. This poses a danger to human life and property as wild animals such as birds, squirrels, opossums, skunks, raccoons, and bats can damage your home and expose you to infectious diseases.

Fortunately, keeping nuisance animals out of your house can be easier than getting rid of them after they have invaded your home. The key to wild animal control is blocking their potential points of access and removing their preferred sources of food, water, and shelter.

Here are some easy prevention tips to follow:

Eliminate openings
Close all openings under and into your home. Animals look for places to den and raise their young – don’t give them that opportunity. Make sure that uncapped chimneys, broken vents and other openings along rooflines are screened, covered or repaired as applicable.

Cover the trash
Keep trash inside until the morning of trash pick-up or place trash in an animal-proof container, such as a trashcan with latches on the lids.

Keep bird feeders out of reach
Make sure bird feeders are only accessible by birds. Squirrels, raccoons, opossums and even bears are drawn to birdseed. Homeowners should also place birdbaths where small animals cannot reach them. Birdbaths and fountains may attract wildlife to the property, especially in areas where water is scarce.

Clean up the yard
Clear overhanging tree limbs and branches, which may be providing wildlife access to structures. A good rule of thumb is to keep vegetation at least six to eight feet from the house. Do not leave brush, leaf piles or other debris in the yard, as these materials make the ideal harborage site for small animals. Also, make sure that firewood is stored at least 20 feet from the house and is on a rack off of the ground.

If you encounter nuisance wildlife on your property, it’s extremely important to contact a pest control professional instead of attempting to trap and remove the animal on your own. Amco Ranger’s pest control professionals know how to remove nuisance animals and keep them from coming back.

Are Allergies Bugging You?

Most people are aware that stinging insects such as bees and wasps can cause an allergic reaction. But did you know that common household pests such as cockroaches and dust mites can also cause allergic reactions? The symptoms they trigger range from sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes to severe, life-threatening asthma attacks.

What causes the problem?
All homes contain dust mites and more than 63% of homes have cockroaches. Their saliva, urine, feces and decomposing body parts contribute allergens when they become part of your household dust, and you regularly touch and inhale this debris.

What can you do to protect yourself and your family?
At Amco Ranger Termite & Pest Solutions, we understand how important your living space is to your family’s health, and we can help. Our expert technicians provide comprehensive, professional and environmentally responsible pest control services that remove insect-related asthma and allergy triggers from your home environment. Contact us today for a free inspection.

There are also changes you can make to your home to reduce the numbers of these unwanted guests.

Cockroach Prevention

  • Cover all trashcans tightly.
  • Store food in airtight containers.
  • Do not leave dishes in the sink or on the counter.
  • Clean spills and remove food crumbs from counters, stovetop, tables, and floor.
  • Avoid leaving pet food out and clean the bowl regularly.
  • Fix leaky pipes under sinks and in the basement.
  • Seal cracks in the walls and floors where cockroaches can enter your home.
  • Use cockroach baits and traps.

Dust Mite Prevention

  • Cover mattresses and pillows in zippered, dust-proof covers.
  • Wash your bedding weekly in hot water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Get rid of all types of fabric that mites love and cannot be washed regularly in hot water. Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting, curtains, blinds, upholstered furniture and down-filled covers and pillows. Put roll-type shades on your windows instead of curtains.
  • Use a HEPA filter with your central furnace and air conditioning unit. Special HEPA filter vacuum cleaners can help to keep dust from getting back into the air.
  • Wash rugs in hot water or dry clean them.
  • Keep the humidity in your home less than 50 percent.

Check out our pest control strategies to help you fight your allergies.

How to Prepare for an Amco Ranger Visit

If you’ve never had a pest control service, like Amco Ranger, treat your home, you might be wondering about the process. Although every home and situation is unique, we have some suggestions for maximizing the effectiveness of Amco Ranger’s treatments.

Housekeeping
Clean your home before we arrive. Pick up loose articles of clothing, toys, magazines, books, or any other items that are on the floor or other surfaces and put them away.

Kitchen Preparation
Cover and store any open food. Remove small appliances from countertops and clean off stove and top of refrigerator.

In Case of Infestation
Remove any live insects and insect dirt or eggs. Clean and disinfect the vacuum cleaner. Wash all bedding, including pet bedding, and shake out pillows and cushions from beds and couches.

Outdoor Preparation
Mow the lawn at least one day prior to your scheduled appointment, and do not water the lawn the day of. Sweep sidewalks, but do not hose them down. Make sure the garage is accessible.

Additional Preparation
Take note of any locations on the property where pests, or evidence of pests, have been seen. Compose a list of questions or concerns you would like to address with Amco Ranger during the appointment. Depending on the specific pests, we may suggest additional actions or precautions. As always, if you have any questions about your service or the procedure, please ask us.

Schedule your free Amco Ranger termite and pest inspection.

How to Bug-Proof Your Home

It’s a bug’s world, and we’re just living in it.
Keeping bugs out of your home can seem like a losing battle, which is understandable when you consider that there are an estimated 10 quintillion bugs in the world (that’s ten followed by 18 zeros – 10,000,000,000,000,000,000). Fortunately, knowing what attracts bugs to your home can help you make changes that will end their invasion.

How do you know you have bugs?
If insects are living in your home, there will be signs. Dead insect bodies, especially on window ledges and in the basement are a good indicator of an infestation. Also, look for lots of spider webs and even insect droppings.

Why do bugs want to be inside?
Insects need food, water, and shelter to survive. Buildings are a great source for all of these.

How do I get rid of the bugs?
By eliminating their food supply and getting rid of their favorite hiding spots, you can reduce the risk that insects will take up residence in your home.

Here are 10 steps to make your home unattractive to bugs:

  1. Put Food Away
    Store all food in airtight containers or in the refrigerator whenever possible. Limit food consumption to a single area of the home and clean crumbs or spills. Wash dishes immediately after use, or put them in the dishwasher. Pet food can also attract ants and cockroaches, so keep it is airtight containers as well.
  2. Eliminate Clutter
    Hidden by piles of newspaper or in a packed closet, insects can reproduce in huge numbers before they’re discovered. Roaches in particular love to hide in corrugated cardboard boxes for food, shelter and reproduction. Keep clutter to a minimum, recycle papers, magazines and cardboard boxes, and dust and vacuum frequently.
  3. Seal Your Doors
    Install a metal threshold under the door along with a door sweep, which helps cover the gap between the threshold and the door bottom. Add weather stripping to the perimeter of the frame and use clear caulk to seal the joint where the doorframe meets the wall and along the bottom of the frame.
  4. Add Screens
    Open windows are an open invitation to flying insects, so install screens that are a 20-mesh or finer to keep them out. Repair holes quickly and check the seal between the screen and the window frame for gaps.
  5. Repair Cracks
    Examine the exterior of your home for damaged or missing sections of siding, cracks in foundations, loose or crumbling brick and rotted wood. Use mortar or cement to patch foundations and masonry walls. Replace rotting wood or trim, and repair or replace damaged sections of siding.
  6. Seal Around Pipe Penetrations
    Some common types of through-wall penetrations include water, gas, electric, or air-conditioning piping. Fill smaller gaps or cracks using pipe sealants or caulk. For larger openings, look for expandable polyurethane foam.
  7. Cover Large Openings
    To fill larger openings such as chimneys, use very fine wire mesh, often called hardwire cloth. Wire mesh should also be installed over holes in crawl spaces and basements, as well as over grilles, vents, and registers.
  8. Maintain Your Yard
    Eliminate pooled water in your yard to reduce the mosquito population. Make sure your yard has proper drainage and keep gutters and drains free from leaves, grass clippings and debris so they’re able to operate effectively. Also be sure to remove piles of leaves, limbs, or other debris.
  9. Store Trash Properly
    Keep food trash in the kitchen and not in wastebaskets throughout the house. Trash should be placed in a container with a lid and should be emptied each night. All interior and exterior trash receptacles and recycling bins should be cleaned and sanitized regularly.
  10. Encourage Natural Predators
    Small insects are the main source of food for a large number of birds and bats. To encourage birds to help with your pest control efforts, provide trees and bushes where they can establish nests. Encourage bats by installing a bat house or roost in your yard.

What if these actions don’t work?

If your insect problem continues after you have followed these steps, you may need to take more aggressive action by hiring a licensed exterminator to eliminate your pest problem. Need solutions for your office? Check out commercial solutions at Amco Ranger!

Don’t Let Bed Bugs Ruin Your Vacation

What are bed bugs, and why are they a problem?

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed exclusively on blood. They like to hang out in warm houses, especially inside bedding and usually feed at night. Their bites leave marks, which can cause rashes or other allergic systems.

If these bloodsuckers travel home with you, they can take up residence in your own mattresses, box springs, and furniture, causing an infestation that you cannot eliminate on your own. That’s a holiday gift no one wants.

 

How do I avoid bed bugs when traveling?

Thousands of people travel for the holidays, so it’s inevitable that hotel and motel rooms are a hotbed for bed bug activity. To protect yourself from infestation, you should always check for bed bugs in hotel rooms. Even luxury hotels are susceptible to these unwelcome guests.

 

Here’s how to protect yourself and you family from giving bed bugs a ride to your own home.

  1. When you enter a hotel room, don’t unpack. Put your luggage in the bathtub or on a rack away from the bed that will keep your luggage off the floor until you have inspected the room.
  2. Pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress and box spring. Using a flashlight (or the flashlight app on your phone), closely examine the folds and seams in the corners of the mattress for signs of bed bugs. Lift the mattress and look underneath and check the box spring. You are looking for actual bugs, which are reddish-brown and tiny (4mm long) or small, dark brown stains, which are blood spots. Be sure to check all four corners of the mattress and box spring.
  3. Also check other areas of the room such as the headboard, nightstands, upholstered furniture, and curtains for signs of bed bugs. They like to hide in dark grooves and folds.
  4. Leave immediately if you find evidence of bed bugs and notify the manager. Hopefully you will not find any evidence of bed bugs, and you can unpack and enjoy your vacation.

 

What should I do when I get home?

Even if you found no evidence of bed bugs in your hotel room, it is always a good idea to quarantine your bags when you return home from vacation. Decontaminate your luggage and clothing by putting your entire suitcase into a large chest freezer (if you have one) for four days before bringing them back into your home. Extreme hot or cold temperatures kill bed bugs. You can also put your clothes in the dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes, and steam clean your luggage and clothing that cannot be placed in the dryer.

Need a professional? Hire Amco Ranger today!