How to Protect Your Home from Insects This Winter

When we think of bug problems, we often think of summer with its mosquitos, ticks, fleas, ants and bees, but winter insect control is needed too. Keeping your home free of insects during cold weather is almost more important than during warmer months because your time is spent primarily indoors when things get frosty outside.

Learn about common winter pests and how you can stay bug-free throughout the chilly season.

Answering Your Top Questions About Winter Pest Control

  • What winter insects should I be worried about? The type of bugs to worry about during the winter months can vary from region to region. Here are some that are annoying just anywhere you hang your hat. The most common winter bugs are Indian Meal Moths and Carpet Beetles. Indian Meal Moths are found in kitchens and pantries. They’re especially attracted to grain and cereal products. Carpet Beetles seek food sources like silk, leather, wool, fur and hair. Carpet Beetles are commonly found in carpets, furniture, pillows, blankets and clothing.
  • What can I do to prevent a bug problem this winter? In all areas of pest control, prevention is the best strategy. A few simple steps can help you avoid a winter insect problem entirely:
    • Fill in cracks – Let’s face it—over time, cracks in the foundation of your home happen. Those cracks create portals for bugs to make the crossover into your home. This simple step can create a defense against unwanted visitors.
    • Clean up debris – Keeping the outdoor area of your home tidy may become less of a priority during winter with more indoor gatherings, but ensure to make time to clean up flower beds or anything covering your lawn. Winter insects find breeding grounds in your lawn’s debris, then make the easy trip into your home.
    • De-fruit your fruit trees – Most of the bounty from your fruit-bearing trees was consumed over the summer or fall months, but if not, that fruit could be attracting insects that can easily make an entrance into your home. Clean up the fruit from your trees to keep the pests away this winter.
    • Use window screens and seal doors – Cracking the windows during winter to let some cool airflow through is a common practice, especially when the heater is operating at full blast. Feel safe to air your home out as needed by ensuring you’re protected with window screens to keep out unwanted guests. It’s also an easy fix to check doors that need to be sealed. These do-it-yourself efforts can keep your home free from annoying bugs all year round.
    • Check shipped packages and shoes at the door – ‘Tis the season to get lots of packages at the door, but don’t let your delivered packages bring additional baggage from the outdoors. It’s also a good idea to institute a “boots off” policy to avoid the possibility of winter insects entering your home on footwear.

By following a simple list of do-it-yourself tasks, you may be able to help mitigate a bug problem. However, insects can still infest your home during the cold months of winter. To ensure you’re taking all precautions, learn about our pest control services and schedule an appointment today.

How to Prevent Wasp Nests On & Around Your Home

wasp nest

During mid- to late summer, wasp activity, along with the temperatures, begin to heat up. If you notice wasps and wasp nests are showing up around your home during the summer months, you don’t have to be a prisoner to the threat of these pesky flying pests. While we cohabit with nature and many of nature’s creatures, wasps can pose a threat to our well-being if left unchecked. For this reason, it’s important to level up your knowledge of wasps and take a few easy steps to keep them at bay. Of course, if you are having a wasp invasion that’s gotten out of control, it might be a prudent move to call in an expert to help you rid your area of these stinging insects. If that’s the case, contact your local Spring-Green pros to find out if they’re offering wasp services to assist you. For the rest of us, let’s get prepared by exploring how wasps get attracted to your home, what the early signs of a wasp nest invasion looks like, as well as how to remove wasps and their nests when they do pop up.

Before the Sting: Preventative Measures to Keep Wasps at Bay

Get to Know Your Enemy

Wasps are most attracted to sweet foods such as open cans of pop, fruit juice, fallen apples underneath fruit trees, among others. It’s best to clean up quickly after your outdoor BBQ and not leave these sweets out for long.

Aside from understanding what attracts a wasp, you must also learn about where they like to make residence. Wasp nests vary based on the stinging insect that makes its home there. So, let’s start our wasp-related learning quest with a quick primer on the types of wasp nests:

  • Yellowjacket Nests – Yellowjackets usually seek out abandoned rodent homes, old logs, or any empty hollow structure to build their nests. It’s possible that a yellowjacket will build a hanging nest off the ground on occasion as well. This type of wasp nest will have a thick protective layer and one point of entry.
  • Hornet Nests – The European Hornet is the most common type of hornet. Their nests also consist of the outer protective layer with tiers on the inside. They are most commonly found above the ground in tree cavities or other raised empty spaces, typically at least six feet above the ground.
  • Paper Wasp Nests – The nest of the Paper Wasp will not have the protective outer layer like the hornet and yellowjacket.  This nest will have open cells that look like an open umbrella.  Paper Wasps craft their nests under roofs, up in tree branches, and in the overhangs of sheds, attics, and garages.  
  • Mud Dauber Nests – Mud daubers are loners, so they build homes for themselves only. Their nests are made up of their own saliva mixed with soil to make mud that is molded into a nest that can appear on the side of a building or a hole in the ground.

The Case for Getting Rid of Wasps is Strong

So, if we want to coexist with the natural world and try to reduce our carbon footprint, can’t we just leave wasp nests alone? The answer, in this case, is no. The reality is that most wasp nests grow in size and become a risk to you and your family. To put things in perspective, a Yellowjacket nest can contain thousands of wasps. If disturbed, an attack can cause them to become aggressive and attack – causing pain, possible allergic reactions, and potentially serious health threats.

wasp

Avoid Attracting Wasps to Your Home, Obviously

By understanding what places attract wasps to build their nests at, you can actually prevent the problem before it begins (best case scenario). Here are some tips to keep the wasps from feeling compelled to make nests on your home:

  • Clove-Geranium-Lemongrass Oil BlendA combination of clove, geranium, and lemongrass essential oils has been successful in keeping wasps away. You can spray the mixture in areas where you know wasps might want to build their nests like under eaves, porch roofs, as well as ledges and crevices.
  • Wasp Traps – Another option to keep unwanted visitors from setting up home base on your property is wasp traps. They lure the wasps in and then trap them inside. They can be purchased at the store or easily made yourself.

  • Close Gaps – Now that we know the places that wasps like to settle in, you can certainly make some small improvements and cleaning efforts to keep the nesting at bay. Sealing up cracks and tidying up debris can reduce the places for wasps to make their nests.
waspnests

Safe Removal of an Existing Wasp Nest

Safely removing wasps’ nests near your home or in your yard is not easy. As you can imagine, the wasps can be aggravated when you start to mess around with their home. You have a couple of choices here: you can go it alone and get rid of the wasps yourself, or you can call in a professional to do the work for you. Here are some tips and help in making that decision:

  • The Do-It-Yourself Wasp Removal Strategy – If your wasp’s nest is not overly large and not overly populated, you may be able to get rid of it yourself. If there’s an exposed nest near your home, you may choose to use a wasp spray. Be sure to wear gloves and protective eye wear along with long pants and sleeves when you apply the poison. The best time of day is early morning when most wasps will still be inside the nest with minimal activity. Also, be sure you can back out of the area quickly after you bother the wasps. Leave the area for a day or two and then check for any signs of wasps still lingering, in which case, you may need to repeat. If the wasp’s nest is tucked behind a wall or deck, it’s much harder to get rid of. You may need to drill holes and apply a dust insecticide through the holes.
  • The Time to Call a Pro – If you have an extremely large (in size or quantity) wasp presence or if the wasps are deeply embedded into a structure, you may be better off calling professionals to assist.

Spring-Green, your neighborhood lawn care partners since 1977, also specializes in pest control that includes wasp removal and prevention services. From pesky biting mosquitoes to wasps making their nests on and around your home, Spring-Green is here to help with your pest control needs. Not all pest services available at all Spring-Green locations. Please contact your local Spring-Green professional to check if these services are available in your area.

Contact Spring-Green Today!

Perimeter Pest Control: Keeping Insects Out Of Your House

insects

The estimated number of insects per acre of land on Earth range from 10 million to 400 million.  It is also estimated that there are close to 90,000 spiders per acre included in those totals.  It is no wonder why bugs can invade our homes, looking for a place of protection and food.

Common Insects Invading Homes

The two most common insects that invade homes are probably ants and spiders. Most of them nest outdoors and move inside the home to look for food.  Once the weather starts to turn cold, many more species of insects will begin looking for a place of refuge inside.  These common indoor invaders include flies, beetles, true bugs, mites, cockroaches, silverfish, springtails, centipedes and millipedes.

Insects don’t need much of an opening to move into your house. A good point of reference is if an insect’s head can get through the opening, most likely the rest of the bug can get through as well. Even the opening in a fine mesh screen may not be small enough to keep out all insects.

There are numerous points of entry in an average house, such as openings around windows and doors, cracks in foundation walls, crawl spaces, openings around dryer vents and numerous other tiny openings that you may never notice.

Keeping Insects Out of Your House

It is a good idea to check around your house for these types of opening and try sealing them with chalk or other materials that insects will not feed upon.  Another practice to keep bugs from entering your home is to trim bushes and other plants that come in connect with walls or windows.  These can act as a type of highway for insects to invade your home. Also, rake back any mulch that may be in contact with the house as insects like the security of hiding in and under mulch.

Sometimes the vinyl on a threshold can wear out and no longer remain in good contact with an outside door.  These are easily replaced and will also help to keep out insects.  Repair rips or tears in window and door screens is another good practice.  Of course, making sure doors are not left open for an extended period of time is also a good idea, but can be a challenge if there are small children in the home.

As was mentioned earlier, most little critters live outside and travel indoors for protection from the weather and predators.  Although this occurs throughout the warmer times of the year, the mass migration of insects usually occurs in the fall as the weather becomes colder. A great way to control these migrating insects whenever they are active is to apply a preventative barrier of an insect control material around the outside perimeter of your home.

This barrier should extend three feet up on the side of the house and about 6 feet out from the house into the landscape or turf areas. Be sure to also spray the threshold area in front of doors.  As bugs move through this barrier, they will be controlled. Most insect control products have a 21 to 28-day residual, so replying this application at least once a month during the period when insects are active will ensure a bug-free indoor environment.

Spring-Green offers Perimeter Pest Control services in most states.  Contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green to schedule this service and keep insects outside where they belong.

My Lawn Has Dead Spots. What Do I Need To Do?

lawn spots

Visitors to the Spring-Green website, have the opportunity to send in their questions regarding lawn and landscape problems. In most cases, the questions are fairly specific when describing the problems that are being observed. Occasionally, a question comes in that is seeking information, but not enough information is provided to determine a possible cause. In other words, the question is, “My lawn has brown spots. What do I do?” This question needs more details.

Want To Identify the Lawn Spots?

It almost goes without saying that it is impossible to answer this question without additional information. Knowing something about the lawn itself is the first step:

  1. Where is the lawn located? Specify the city and state.
  2. What type of grass is in the lawn? If unsure, ask a neighbor or take a sample to a local nursery or garden center.
  3. How old is the lawn? Certain diseases are common to sod that is 2 to 5 years old.
  4. Was the lawn sodded, seeded or sprigged or a combination of these methods? Some insects and diseases are more common in sodded versus seeded lawns.
  5. Is the lawn in full sun, shady or a combination of the two? Turfgrasses need sunlight for 70% of the day to grow well.

The next thing to discover is something about the physical symptoms:

  1. Are there any spots, lesions or fruiting bodies present on the grass blades?
    These can all be signs of disease activity, such as red threads from the disease called as Red Thread or spots on the leaves that could indicate Leaf Spot or Brown Patch.
  2. Does the damage form a shape or is it just random dead areas? Circular patches are a good indicator of disease activity. Irregular or random dead spots are much more difficult to diagnose without being on the lawn.
  3. Are there any signs of insect activity? Turf that pulls up easily could indicate grub activity. Birds feeding on a lawn could indicate sod webworm or armyworm activity. Small trails through the lawn could indicate mole cricket activity.
  4. Does the turf look healthy or does it appear to be dying? Areas that appear to be dying off could indicate drought or is could indicate disease or insect activity. Again, this type of damage often requires a visual inspection.

Knowing the current weather conditions when the damage was first observed is also important, especially for disease activity. The environment plays an important role in when a disease may be active. There are diseases that are active in cool, warm and hot temperatures. The amount of moisture present also dictates when certain diseases are active, whether it is excessive or lacking.

Although not as critical, where the damage is located can be a key in determining the cause. If it is close to the road, sidewalks or driveways and the home is located in an area where salt is used during the winter, the damage is most likely from the salt. Another consideration is if the same damage is seen in any neighboring properties. That is usually a good indication of a disease or insect problem.

If you are seeking answers to a lawn problem, these suggestions can be helpful when communicating with a lawn professional. Please consider these details when submitting. You can send in your question at the “Ask Harold” section of our website or contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

 

Where Do Insects Go in Winter? Winter and its Effect on Insect Populations

Winter Trees

I’ve been asked many times what impact a really cold or mild winter has on insect populations. It is a good question and one that begs a better answer than the actual truth… a really cold or mild winter does not make much of a difference for the survival of insect populations.

Insects have been around for millions of years and have endured all sorts of weather patterns. Because of this they have adapted to survive and persist despite the winter weather.

But Where Do Insects Go in the Winter?

Many insects simply enter a dormant stage called diapause. It can occur in winter, or summer, and is a fairly common occurrence. Many insects have the ability to dehydrate themselves during the winter. Even the insects that may sneak into your house in the fall to escape the winter often dehydrate themselves.

Fly

If you’re wondering where insects go in the winter, check your windows. They hide on window sills and window edges as they wait for the return of warmer temperatures.

As a result, you may see a fly or Multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle flying around your house on a warm, sunny day in January. The warmth of the sun coming in through the window allows them to re-hydrate and they will then attempt to fly around. If you’ve seen this, you may have noticed that the insect flies in a zig-zag pattern, and that they are very easy to catch in mid-flight.

What Effect Does Winter Have on Insects like the Emerald Ash Borer?

Many people thought the recent “Polar Vortex” of 2014 would reduce Emerald Ash Borer populations. While it may have reduced the populations in some areas in the far north, the overall average mortality rate was only about 5% or so. This is because the cold weather didn’t last long enough to result in a greater impact on populations. Also, even in cold weather the sun will warm-up a tree enough so that the larva stays warm and is protected from the bitter cold.
The reality is that each year we will never know what will happen during the months of winter. The one thing that we do know is that insect populations are not greatly affected by the winter weather. And yes, they will still be a problem in lawns and landscapes when spring comes along!

Spring-Green offers an array of insect control services, from flea and tick control and mosquito control in certain markets to perimeter pest control, which prevents spiders, ants and other critters from entering your home. Get in touch with your local Spring-Green to find out more about our guaranteed insect control services.