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Forward Thinking Pest Control

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Forward Thinking Pest Control

EHS Pest Control

RI, MA EHS Pest Control Blog

Florence floodwaters result in 'islands' of floating fire ants

20 Sep 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

Residents affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Florence may have noticed something unusual floating in the storm’s floodwaters: “islands” of fire ants.

"Fire ant colonies construct their nests in the soil. Sometimes these nests can grow to be 3-4 feet deep. Flooding after a storm event, like Florence in The Carolinas, will saturate the soil and push the ants up and out of their nest," Adrian Allen Smith, a research biologist and head of the Evolutionary Biology & Behavior Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, told Fox News in an email Wednesday.

"So, when they are displaced from their nest, they cluster together and form a living raft. Workers cling to each other and provide their nest mates ground to stand on," he continued.

The ants will "float like this until they drift into dry land or the flood recedes and they can dig into the soil and rebuild their nest," Smith said, noting to The Charlottesville Observer the ants will "float indefinitely" if no dry land is found. "That’s when you get reports of people bumping into them."

Fire ants, much like other creatures, such as snakes, can be displaced from their habitats during hurricanes or heavy rainfall that results in flooding.

As for colonies of fire ants, the creatures will “form a loose ball, float, and flow with the water until they reach a dry area or object they can crawl up on. Floating fire ant colonies can look like ribbons, streamers, mats, rafts, or an actual 'ball' of ants floating on the water,” Texas A&M University Agrilife Extension specialist Paul Nester said.

“These amoeba-like ant masses contain all of the colonies’ members: brood (eggs, larvae, pupae), queen ants, winged reproductive males and females, and worker ants,” he continued.

While the ants work to survive, the insects can prove to be dangerous to humans who cross their path.

According to Smith, rafting fire ants are "in a state where their entire colony is unprotected and vulnerable to would-be predators" when they're displaced and floating to find a new area to call home. This can result in the ants producing more venom, he said, adding the insects have been known to deliver multiple stings if humans come into contact with them.

"Fire ants are notorious for their painful stings. A floating fire ant colony is 10s to 100s of thousands of stinging ants out in the open. Unlike honeybees, an individual fire ant is able to deliver multiple stings," Smith said.

“Avoid contact with floating mats of fire ants. If you are in a row boat, do not touch the ants with the oars since they can 'climb aboard' via the oars. Occasionally, floating ant masses are encountered even indoors in flooded structures,” Nester advised in the handout.

Fire ant stings can be treated by washing the affected area with soap and water, or using over-the-counter anti-itch or pain relieving creams, according to Healthline. Those allergic to fire ant stings could have a serious reaction if stung. Signs of a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction include nausea, dizziness and difficulty breathing, the publication warns.

North Carolina residents still dealing with the aftermath of Florence should wear protective clothing — such as “boots gloves, long pants, long-sleeve shirts, and socks. Spray insect repellent containing DEET onto your shoes and lower pants legs,” Nester recommended.

Spraying fire ants with a mixture of water and biodegradable liquid dishwashing detergent has been known to sink the ants as well, according to Nester.

After Hurricane Harvey, Texas residents also saw an influx of floating fire ants.

Contact EHS Pest for ant control.

Raccoons and Wildlife Trapping

17 Sep 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

Racoon Pest Removal & Control Service

Looking to rid our area of raccoons. My daughter has seen two climb onto our roof. This had been noticed for about three weeks. Looking for an estimate on this type of job.

EHS would be happy to assess and assist to humanely remove and exclude animals from inside of any structure.

If these animals are not in the structure, we can possibly offer an anti climbing service but we DO NOT trap and euthanize wildlife when they are just living and surviving in an outdoor environment.

Contact EHS Pest with any questions.

Mosquito and Tick Seasons

14 Sep 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

We often think of October as the end of M&T season, think again.

Last year I had mosquitoes much later and ticks well into November in my yard.

Humans often encounter ticks (especially tiny nymphs) during leaf cleanup.

From Dr. Matt Frye:

In one week, mosquito eggs laid in a puddle, flower pot, bird feeder, kids toy or tarp can grow into biting adult mosquitoes. Where are mosquitoes breeding in your yard?

SeaTac Airport Battling Rat Infestation

11 Sep 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

Some unexpected visitors have overstayed their welcome at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport: rats. KIRO 7 reported Thursday that over 120 active construction projects at the air hub are effectively “pushing” the rodents inside, an issue only escalated by the amount of trash left by SeaTac travelers.

A SeaTac rep told the outlet that the airport and restaurant vendors are working their hardest to keep the critters away.

“A lot of the food spaces are doing some new deep cleans in their spaces, some of the spaces that are in and around construction, they’ve gotta make sure they have holes sealed up that wildlife may end up getting into,” SeaTac spokesman Perry Cooper told the outlet.

Additional measures include a $449,000 investment into the airport’s pest control program, adding more rat traps, finishing improvements on the ceiling structure, and hiring four new employees to respond to related issues, KIRO 7 reports.

Health inspections have been making weekly visits to the air hub, too.

In the meantime, no airport restaurants have been forced to close due to the infestation.

“Our Environmental Health team is aware of the rat issue in the central terminal, and they are providing technical assistance to the facilities to help them address the problem,” the Public Health of Seattle & King County told KIRO 7 of the matter. “So far, nothing we've seen has risen to the level of an imminent health threat, and they are making progress on correcting the issue.”

Rats thrive because humans provide for them

10 Sep 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

Street rats are one of the most universally despised creatures on the planet. Thinking about them makes many people’s skin crawl, and subway riders scream just being in their presence.

Those feelings aren’t totally unreasonable, though — rats are a really big problem. It’s estimated that they cause $19 billion of damage in the US every year, and they can carry some dangerous diseases. But what if our rat problems aren’t really their fault?

I walked around New York City’s Chinatown with rodentologist Bobby Corrigan, who showed me how human behavior enables rats to succeed.

EHS Pest in MA, RI - Rodentologist Bobby Corrigan


Bobby says rats couldn’t proliferate if it weren’t for our bad behavior. Improper trash disposal, not maintaining our infrastructure, and not taking preventive measures are just a few ways that we allow these rodents to overrun our cities.

There are lots of things we can do to prevent the spread of rats, and New York City recently allocated $32 million to the fight. But Bobby says there is one thing that all humans can do to pitch in: “Be a smart mammal. Whatever you do with your trash, ask yourself: Can the rats get to it?”

Ways to Prevent Bringing Bedbugs Home From Vacation

07 Sep 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EHS Pest - Bed bug in Upholstery, MA, RI

Great summer memories don't have to include red blisters or inflamed patches on your body caused by bed bugs. Bed bug bite marks can take 4 weeks to 6 months to vanish! If you have upcoming travel, remember that bedbugs can travel too.

Bed bug infestations often result from travel. Hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and cottages can have hidden bed bug problems. Bed bugs tend to latch onto clothing, accessories and luggage. This means they can travel home with you and move from the hotel or cottage to your bedroom. Here are ways to prevent bed bug infestations at home after your vacation.

  • Inspect seams and edges of hotel mattresses before placing your things on top of it.
  • Avoid using hotel drawers and cabinets if possible.
  • Keep your things off carpeted floors. Bedbugs tend to stick and hide in thick furry materials.
  • Isolate and wash all textiles and luggage that was taken on vacation as soon as you reach home. Treat all clothes and accessories that you use with hot water.

If you already have had bedbugs make themselves at home in your home, contact EHS Pest. Professional bedbug inspection and treatment can totally eradicate this pest.

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