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10 Pest-Proofing Tips for Fall

Cooler weather is a favorite for many, as it notifies us that Thanksgiving and Christmas are upon us. Time to spend with family and friends and enjoy the warmth of our homes, pests and rodents are looking forward to some heat of their own-in OUR homes.

Pests and rodents can pose serious risks for people and homes. They are known to pass on diseases including Salmonella and Hantavirus. Cockroaches can also spread disease and their saliva and droppings can trigger asthma attacks, especially in young children.

Below are a few tips from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) that you can do to keep these unwanted guests outside during the fall and winter:

  1. Keep kitchen counters clean, store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
  2. Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry. Pests are attracted to areas of moisture, something they need to survive.
  3. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and keep shrubbery well-trimmed. Removing areas where pests can hide near your home can reduce the chance of them finding a way inside.
  4. Avoid leaving pets’ food dishes out for long periods, they are very enticing for all kinds of pests and rodents.
  5. Screen attic vents and opening to chimneys, and any other areas where homes may be open to the outdoors.
  6. Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter. Some rodents can fit through a hole the size of a dime.
  7. Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the foundation and windows.
  8. Have a proper outdoor drainage system. Installing gutters or repairing an existing system will help water and moisture away from your home, preventing any leaks or build up that might attract pests.
  9. Inspect items such as boxes of decorations and package deliveries before bringing them indoors. Shake out or inspect anything that has been left or stored, indoors or outdoors. Pests can find creative ways to get inside your home.
  10. Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens. Torn window screens and cracks under doors are an ideal entry for pests.

The best way to protect your home and prevent any type of pest or rodent infestation is to follow these tips. However, if you think you have an infestation, be sure to contact Clark’s Termite & Pest Control for us to assess the situation and recommend treatment.

Oooh…That Smell…STINK BUGS!

Mar-mor-a-ted-what???

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) can become a serious nuisance pest when large numbers are able to invade your home in the fall.

The word marmorated  means having a marbled or streaked appearance; which is fitting since BMSB adults are about 1/2 inch long and have

shades of brown on both the upper and lower body surfaces.

BMSBs can be identified by looking for white stripes on the antennae, alternating bands of brown and white on the other edges (lower left and right) of the abdomen; and faint white bands are also on the legs.

Where did they come from?

The BMSB (Halyomorpha halys), is a plant pest, that was accidentally introduced into the United States from Japan, Korea, and China. It first was seen in 2001 in Allentown, PA, but since, it has spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic States and is very slowly moving South.

 

Eat your Fruits & Veggies – Before they do!

The BMSB feeds on crops by sucking the juices out of the inside tissues with its straw-like mouth (stylets). This feeding not only causes direct damage to the crop, but pathogenic bacteria and yeast can be transmitted causing rot.

What to do and NOT to do

Yes

  • Perform a “light leak test” and seal up any cracks and crevices
  • Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from your home’s foundation to keep from attracting pests.
  • If your home has a fireplace, cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out pests.
  • To get rid of dead (and alive) BMSB, hand-pick them up and toss them back outside. They may release the “stink” when they are threatened – so be gentle.

No

  • Don’t squish them – they release a very foul odor – kind of like the powerful smelling spice – coriander.
  • Do not leave a bunch of dead MBSB around as they will still stink and can attract other insect pests and they can stain surfaces.

 

 

 

Buyer Beware – They’re Back!

They come around every couple of years…

Door-to-door pest control salesmen that blanket neighborhoods with a scripted sales pitch. Sometimes they try to scare our customers into believing that we use substandard products, or that we are not doing a good job because they found a spider web on the fence or in the yard somewhere. My advice to homeowners is as follows:

  1.  Ask them how long they’ve been in business
  2.  Read the fine print on any contract

Clark’s has been around for 56 years, and we don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. Remember the adage; If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

Alan Wilson, Technical Director/Entomologist

Spiders, Spiders Everywhere!

Spider Facts:

Brown Recluse
  • There are currently over 3000 species of spiders in North America but thankfully in our service area we only have to be concerned about the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow.
  • Spiders have horrible eyesight. A spider is even unable to see a human until they are about a foot away from it!
  • Unlike other insects, spiders do not clean themselves, so spiders can crawl through the pesticide all day long and not die. This is due to the fact that pesticides work by having the pest crawl through the dried pesticide, get it on their feet, clean themselves, ingest the pesticide and die.

 

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Spiders in your Home

If your home currently has spiders or you would like to prevent spiders from entering, these few tips will help:

  • Vacuum up all webs along with the actual spider.
  • Perform a light leak test and seal all cracks and crevices around doors and windows.
  • Replace exterior white lights to yellow lights. This attracts fewer flying insects which will lead to fewer spiders.
  • Trim bushes around the house.

 

How to Perform a Light Leak Test

To perform a light leak test you must do the following:

  1. Wait until dark and then turn on all interior lights and close all blinds, curtains, shutters, windows and doors.

2. Go outside and see if there is any light “leaking” through.

 

If you have a spider problem, our Quarterly Pest Control Service guarantees spider control on the inside and within the treatment zone on the exterior, and we also have Spider Control service for yards, landscaping and other areas as well.

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite

From left to right: Egg to Adult Full of Blood

 

Bed bugs (pictured left) likely get their name from their habit of feeding on humans while they sleep in their beds. They are found in virtually every place people tend to gather, including homes, hotels, schools, offices, retails stores, and even public transportation. The good news is bed bugs do not transmit diseases, but their bites can become red, itchy welts.

 

 

 

Signs of Bed bugs:

Bed bugs are about the shape and color of a very small to medium sized apple seed. This means that they are small but it is possible to see them without the use of a magnifier. Beside visual confirmation of a bed bug you can look for the following signs:

  • Black-rusty-reddish fecal spots sheets, mattresses and/or box springs
  • Pale yellow  skins that have been shed by growing bed bugs

 

 

Bed Bug Prevention:

There are a few ways you can help prevent your home from getting bed bugs.

  1. While traveling:
    • Upon arrival at destination:
      1. Place your suitcase in the bathtub (bed bugs have a hard time climbing up smooth surfaces).
      2. Inspect the mattress and box spring by gently peeling back the covers into the middle of the bed. Look for signs of bed bugs. Definitely check the seams and don’t forget those plastic corner guards – bed bugs LOVE those hiding spots!

 

  • Upon returning home:
    1. Place your suitcase in the bathtub and unpack it, shaking each item into the bathtub (bed bugs are hitchhikers and can be shaken off clothing easily, and bathtubs are usually light colored and bed bugs are darker colored, so you should be able to see them easily).
    2. If you have any suspect items, place them in the dryer on high-heat setting for 20-ish minutes (anything above 125 degrees Fahrenheit will kill all stages of bed bugs).

  1. While at home:
    • Never bring second-hand furniture, especially mattresses and box springs, into a home without thoroughly examining for signs of bed bugs.
    • Bed bugs like humans best, but do feed upon pets, so regularly check where pets rest and sleep.

Building Barriers: Clark’s Quarterly Pest Control Service

If you find yourself with some unwanted house guests this summer, we offer one-time or quarterly pest control treatments that can leave you with peace of mind that your home is protected against pests. If you already have pest control services and are interested in what makes them effective, look below for a brief description of our pest control services:

 

The interior and exterior of the home are treated to build up a barrier against pests during the initial service.  Once the barrier is established, the exterior treatment will cover 98% of covered pests from entering the home and is maintained quarterly. Your pest control is guaranteed between services and we will come back out if you experience any issues following the treatment.

 

For the interior treatment, the cracks and crevices along the baseboards are treated throughout the entire home. We place an insecticidal dust around appliances, in plumbing voids and around large pieces of furniture. If you have a garage, the corners and along the ceiling are spider brushed. A liquid treatment is applied to the cracks and crevices along the baseboards. Two monitors will be placed on either side of the garage door.

 

On the exterior, treatment includes spider brushing under the eaves and around the windows and doors. A liquid treatment is applied under the eaves and around the windows and doors as well. The perimeter of the home is treated 2 feet up and 3-5 feet out. An insecticidal bait will be placed in a around the exterior of the liquid treatment.

 

Did you know? If you already have termite protection with Clark’s, you can receive pest control at a discounted rate! Call us to start pest control service today at 866-781-4991 or email us at ClarksCSR@ClarksPest.com.

6 Ways to Say Goodbye to Mosquitoes

Not many things are more enjoyable than a southern summer evening outdoors. If your outdoor parties leave you with some unwanted mosquito bite favors, take a look at these 6 ways you can help prevent mosquitoes:

  1. Keep mosquitoes outside
    • To keep mosquitoes outdoors, use air conditioning or screens for windows and doors.
  2. Use insect repellent
    • The CDC recommends the following here:
      • DEET
      • Picaridin
      • IR3535
      • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
      • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
      • 2-undecanone
  1. Eliminate standing water from the immediate area of your home
    • Certain species of mosquitoes breed in standing water which can be collected in receptacles such as unused plant pots, tires, children’s toys, buckets and trash cans. Ensure stagnant water is removed to reduce mosquitoes.
  2. Wear light-colored clothing
    • Did you know that mosquitoes can be more attracted to dark colors? They use visual cues to locate humans.
  3. Plant a garden
    • These plants naturally repel mosquitoes:
      • Citronella
      • Lemon Balm
      • Basil
      • Lavender
  1. Cover up
    • If mosquitoes are particularly bad, wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts can reduce the likelihood of getting mosquito bites.

These tips in combination with our people and pet friendly treatments can keep the mosquitoes in your yard at bay.

How can we help?

For effective and safe mosquito control, we offer one-time or monthly mosquito treatments. We treat standing water that cannot easily be cleared such as bird baths, tree holes and flower pot saucers. In addition to treating small areas of standing water, we treat the bushes and foliage around the home to the perimeter of the yard on the front, sides and backyards where mosquitoes are found. Following our treatment, people and pests are to remain outside of the treated area for 30-60 minutes.

To learn more about our mosquito treatment options and pricing, give us a call toll-free today at 866-781-4991 or email us at ClarksCSR@ClarksPest.com. Contact Clark’s to help take back your outdoor living space!

Gettin’ Grassy: 3 Tips for Summer Weed Control

How do I control weeds throughout the summer?

Summer is the perfect season for a great vacation, but it is also peak season for weeds.

Weeds do not easily invade a healthy stand of turf that is properly fertilized, watered and mowed at the correct frequency and height.  Weeds like bare and thin areas which can be caused by:

  1. Improper fertilization
    • Too much or too little of the correct nutrients and/or improper timing of application
  2. Too much or too little watering
    • Overly moist soils are subject to various sedge weeds that can be really tough to eliminate once they take hold
  3. Failure to control diseases and insects
    • For example: fungus, grub worms, mole crickets and moles

There are 3 main ways to control your lawn’s weed population:

1. Mowing

The best cultural practice for weed control in your lawn is frequent mowing (weekly if possible). This breaks the weed’s life cycle by cutting the seed heads before they mature, thereby preventing them from spreading. Many weed species do not tolerate frequent mowing.

Mowing at the correct height for the turf type is equally as important as frequent mowing. Mowing too low can cause injury to the turf, and mowing too tall will result in excessive thatch buildup.

2. Fertilization

Many professional lawn care companies apply pre-emergent herbicides in late winter to early spring, then again in late April to early June.

Pre-emergent is a type of herbicide that prevents the germination of seeds. It typically lasts 4 to 6 weeks depending on environmental factors like rainfall and temperature. Late June, July and early August can be prime time for weeds to flourish based on the last application time of the pre-emergent. When the effects lessen over time, weeds are able to germinate and start to appear in your lawn.

Did you know? If you have a newly sodded home, you cannot use pre-emergent for 6 months as it is a root inhibitor.

3. Post-Emergent Herbicides

Post-emergent is a type of herbicide that kills weeds after they have germinated.

After weeds appear, many lawn care companies will not apply post-emergent weed control when daytime temperatures are over 93 degrees for fear of killing the turf.

Did you know? For new sod, you have to be careful with using post-emergence herbicides until after the turf is well-established.

 

There are many beautifully maintained DIY lawns out there. If you would like some DIY tips, give us a call. But for many of us, the service and expertise that professional lawn fertilization companies provide is well worth the investment. The burden of results is placed on the professionals, which allows you to utilize your free time for more enjoyable activities.

If you are in the Midlands of South Carolina, contact us today for a quote on professional lawn care toll-free at 866-781-4991 or email us at LawnHelp@ClarksTurfPro.com. Thank you for your business!

Fire Ants – Ouches & Facts

Why are they called Fire Ants?

Red imported fire ants get their common name from 2 factors:

  1. They have a reddish appearance (the color of fire);
  2. Their ability to inflict painful bites and stings. Some say the pain caused by the sting is same as the pain caused by a fire burn.

“Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch.”

This is how Dr. Justin Schmidt (“The King of Sting”) describes the sting of the Red Imported Fire Ant (aka RIFA). He rates the pain level of the Fire Ant as a 1.5 on a scale from 1 to 4 on THE SCHMIDT INSECT STING PAIN INDEX (See below).

Ouch! What do I do if there are fire ants on me?

If you somehow get fire ants on you, it may be your first instinct to try and shake them off in a state of panic. Though it is important to remove the ants quickly, shaking will not work. They’ll likely latch on, and shaking will only make them hold tighter. The most effective way to remove them is to quickly and repeatedly brush them off of the skin. If they are stinging through clothes or shoes, promptly remove the clothing and ensure they are gone before re-dressing.

 

What should I do if I get stung by fire ants?

There isn’t much you can do, except watch the affected area for excessive swelling, itching or redness, or other symptoms like shortness of breath, thickening of the tongue, sweating, etc. that could indicate a severe systemic allergic reaction. If this occurs, seek medical attention immediately.

 

Is my pet at risk of fire ant stings?

Due to the amount of time dogs spend outdoors, the possibility of them being stung by fire ants is high. Dogs can easily disturb a fire ant mound just by playing or digging nearby. The areas most vulnerable to stings are those with little or no hair, such as ears, nose, or abdomen. Additionally, dog food attracts fire ants. Fire ants often swarm a food bowl, making it not only difficult but also dangerous for your pet to eat. If fire ants sting your dog, move him or her from the source of the fire ants immediately and remove all ants by brushing them off.

 

Did you know?

Fire ants are attracted to the electric fields created by the high voltage devices. They tend to build nests close to the high voltage switch boxes, invade the electrical equipment, short out electronic gadgets, and cut through the metal wires.

 

 

Fire ants can form waterproof clusters up to thousands of ants. They keep the queen and larvae in the mound’s center for protection while the outside ants take turns cycling from the top of the mound to the bottom. The ants can do this for several days while they search for dry land.

6 Signs You Might Have Termites: The Unwanted Guests That Will Eat You Out of House and Home–Literally

Termites cause billions of dollars in damage to American homes and businesses each year. US residents spend approximately $5 billion annually to control termite infestations and repair damage. Termites never sleep, meaning they work for 24 hours a day for their entire lives. These small, wood-eating insects can consume up to three percent of their body weight in a single day! Queen termites can live for up to 25 years, producing offspring every 15 seconds.

The Formosan “Super Termite” is by far the most aggressive and destructive species of termite, and wreaks havoc on homes specifically in Charleston, Fripp Island, Isle of Palms, and other coastal towns. Formosan termites colonize in above-ground infestations, and have been known to chew plaster, vinyl, linoleum, underground cables, and even asphalt.
However, no part of the country is immune from severe termite damage, since most species are very adaptable and can make themselves at home in a variety of environments.

Fortunately, there are a number of tell-tale signs of a termite invasion. Keeping an eye out for these signs can help you identify a termite problem early and seek professional treatment before the damage gets out of control.

Signs of a Termite Invasion

    1. Mud tubes- Termites need moisture in order to thrive. To stay out of the sun, they build pencil-like tubes out of dirt and mud. Look for these around the foundation of your building.
    2. Discarded wings- Termites discard their wings after they mate in the spring and fall. A pile of small wings is another tell-tale sign that termites have made their home on your property.
    3. Small piles of dirt- Termites carry small amounts of dirt with them as they enter and exit your building.
    4. Insect swarms near your foundation- Swarming insects, especially during mating season in the spring and fall, is another sign of termites.
    5. Hollow-sounding walls- Since termites consume beams from the inside out, you may not notice any outward signs of damage. However, if you knock on the wood and hear a hollow sound, you might have a termite problem.
    6. Termite “droppings” – Termite droppings look like small pellets. Look for them in the corners of your basement or around your foundation.

Keeping your South Carolina home free from termites is not a DIY project. Getting rid of these insects and keeping them away requires the experience, equipment and skill of a professional pest control company like Clark’s Termite and Pest Control. We’ve been helping property owners in and around the Midlands with their pest control needs for nearly a decade. To learn more about the signs of termite damage and how to get rid of them, contact Clark’s today.