All Creatures Great and Small

Fire ants, fungus gnats and spiders

PEST MANAGEMENT TIPS

Fire Ants

The imported fire ants can be very dangerous. They have several different size workers (polymorphic) and reddish-brown to black in color. They have severe stings that can cause blisters and allergic responses to the venom as well as anaphylactic shock. Over 30,000 people a year in this country seek medical attention from the sting of these ants. Fire ants have successfully invaded many southern states. They have been found in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Arizona, New Mexico, Mississippi, California, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Their mounds can be 2 feet in diameter and a foot and a half high. A single colony can contain close to a quarter million ants. Fire ants will eat both plant and animal products including rodents and some reptiles. They will feed on a wide variety of plants, including strawberries, potatoes, and corn. Queens in the colony will need proteins, so when you mix baits for these ants you have to make sure they are protein-based. These ants are attracted to magnetic fields and will get in transformers, air conditioners and other electrical equipment. One good thing about fire ants is that they like to feed on ticks. If you have fire ants in your yard, you won’t have ticks. They will also feed on fleas, cockroaches and several species of flies. When you control these ants, make sure you dust any electrical equipment outside with food-grade diatomaceous earth, Comet cleaner or talcum powder. This will keep the ants out of these areas. For a bait, you can mix boric acid or aspartame with sugar, jelly, honey or pet food. You can flood their nests with one gallon of orange juice mixed with two gallons of water and a cup of dish soap.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are very small flies with long legs and long antennae and distinctly patterned wings. They are dark brown or black in color. They are generally found in over-watered house plants where the larvae feed on fungus in the potting soil and moist organic material. The best way to control them is to let the plants dry out almost to the point of wilting before re-watering. That will kill the larvae in the soil. Then put an inch of aquarium gravel on the soil to prevent female fungus gnats from laying anymore eggs in the potting soil. You can also place a yellow sticky trap on a stick in the soil to catch the adult gnats.

Spiders

Although most spiders possess venom glands, most are too small to break the skin with their fangs and have no desire to do so. All spiders will bite in self defense if they are handled carelessly, such as being squeezed. Most bites occur when people roll over in bed on one and get bitten or when they put on their clothes and a spider inside the clothing bites when it is pressed against the skin. I am not saying all spiders are harmless. Black widows are certainly capable of producing a serious bite and any such bite by this spider should be considered a major medical emergency. The brown recluse is also dangerously venomous. Sac spiders and wolf spiders can give serious, though not fatal bites, particularly if you are allergic to any of the components of the venom. Jumping spiders are interesting to watch but are not dangerous although a large one can bite if mishandled. Most of the small hunting spiders, such as ground spiders are incapable of hurting anyone.  To control spiders around your home, here are a few suggestions. Control the lighting at night that attracts their food, which is flying insects. Keep trash and rubbish out of your yard. If you have firewood, stack it somewhere where there is a lot of sunlight and cover it with black plastic. It will get so hot under there, that spiders and other insects / arachnids won’t go in the wood. Seal any cracks or crevices around the house that would let hunting spiders inside. If your doors do not close tightly, install door sweeps on them. If you find webbing around your home, sweep it down often or hose it down. The spiders will get tired of having their webs destroyed and move someplace else. Make sure your bed isn’t touching the wall. This will make it hard for spiders to get into bed with you. Don’t leave clothing on the floor. If you do, completely shake it out before putting it on. If you have a stray spider you need to kill, use a mixture of water (40%), alcohol (40%) and dish soap (20%).

If you have any pest questions, you can contact me at askthebugman2013@gmail.com

About askthebugman

I have been in the pest management industry for over 40 years. In that time I have used almost every pesticide available to control so-called “pests”. With this experience, I have learned over the years that the pesticides we use are far more dangerous than the pests we are trying to control. As a result, it has become a passion for me to improve the quality of life for humans and the planet, by assisting people to not only become more educated and aware of their environment – but also by learning to manage their home and business with a sustainable and healthier approach to tending to unwanted infestations of bugs. Please enjoy my blog posts, check out my publications, utilize my services, or simply stay in touch if you have a bug question…

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