Wolf Spiders: A True Halloween Horror

A wolf spider sits on a stepping stone near some grass

You may enjoy the sweets and scares of Halloween, but things get all too real as soon as you see an actual spider in your home. For most the instinct is to grab the nearest and heaviest object and use it to squish the eight-legged invader. The urge will probably be even stronger if it’s a particularly big spider. But what if we told you that stomping that spider without looking may result in a rippling onslaught of baby spiders by the hundreds?

This isn’t the plot of a cheesy horror movie – it’s a very real possibility when dealing with the wolf spider. So how can you identify this particular arachnid, and what can you do to keep it from getting into your home?

Wolf Spider Habits and Appearance

Wolf spiders range in size, from 1.5″ to 4″ depending on the climate they’re found in. Their bodies are made up of two parts, the cephalothorax and the abdomen, along with a set of fang-like mouthparts called the chelicerae. Because of their appearance, they’re often mistaken for other, more dangerous species like the black widow or the brown recluse. Wolf spiders are unique in that unlike these sister spiders, they’re free roaming and don’t make webs.

While being far from the fastest runners in the world, the wolf spider can skitter to capture prey at two feet a second. They eat larger insects like roaches and grasshoppers, and other smaller, less fortunate spiders. And since they don’t have a web, the mother wolf spider chooses instead to carry her young on her back. From eggs in a sac to a cluster of spiderlings, this hardworking single mother keeps her hundreds of children close at all times. So, if you kill or attempt to disturb the mother, these babies will scatter in every direction.

You can avoid turning your home into a daycare of scared spider children. All you need to do is take a few simple precautions.

Getting Spider-Free

Spiders, wolf spiders included, like to hide in a place where they won’t be disturbed. When out in the wild, wolf spiders love to nest under tree roots or in the cover of fallen leaves. If they were to get inside, they’ll prefer to stay amongst the cluttered, quiet corners of the house. That’s why we suggest vacuuming on a regular basis, along with keeping your closets, basement and attic clear of clutter. Doing that will make it so spiders have fewer places to hide and set up shop.

Outside the home, you can create a similar effect by moving piles of firewood and debris away, if they’re against the side of your home. You can also trim shrubs and any tree branches touching the roof. Spiders do not choose to come into your house by chance. If you make it inconvenient for them to get in, they usually won’t. But if all that doesn’t work, you can count on Southern Pest Control to solve your spider problem in no time.

Southern Pest Spider Control

We provide long-term spider control for homes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We can send an expert to your home that will find entry points that spiders can take advantage of and seal them up.  Once we finish, you’ll be able to enjoy your scares through the safety of a television screen – and have a happy, and spider-free, Halloween. To get started, contact us today!

Is DIY Pest Control Worth It?

cockroaches inside on a windowsill

cockroaches inside on a windowsillAt first glance, it’s easy to think that DIY pest control is a great way to save time, money, and unneeded hassle. Why wait for a professional exterminator when you can solve an infestation on your own with a quick trip to the hardware store? It seems so simple – and that right there might be the problem. Do-it-yourself pest control can, in fact, result in significant downsides if done by someone without the right training. If you don’t know what you’re doing you can actually hurt yourself, those who live with you, and your home. So if you’re considering this approach, you need to make sure you understand the risks involved.

 

What Are the Risks of DIY Pest Control?

There’s a lot that can go wrong if you try to handle a pest infestation on your own. You might overuse toxic pesticide, kill beneficial insects, get bitten or stung or simply waste money on products that don’t work. Every home pest control tactic comes with risks, whether you misuse toxic pesticides or get shocked by poorly installed bug zappers. It’s important to make sure that anything you use comes with instructions. and that you follow these guides to the letter in order to prevent any of the risks listed below.

Negligence

If you use pesticides without taking the proper level of care and it goes poorly, you may be held liable for any damage caused. This could look like spraying pesticides in an unventilated room and leaving toxic fumes in the air. Or the problem might be as simple as eradicating a species of pest that’s considered endangered and protected by law. These are only two examples that may result in civil, and even criminal liability. As stated above, there’s no such thing as too much research when it comes to poison and the safety of yourself and others.

Pesticide Exposure

It isn’t difficult to imagine that pesticide exposure can be bad for your health, regardless of whether or not it’s used correctly. But these chemicals can do more than hurt you. If you misuse pesticides during a DIY pest control treatment, you run the risk of leaking toxic chemicals into the soil of your property. It can render food poisonous, water toxic, and any animals or people that depend on either fatally ill. That’s why ventilation is so important when applying pesticides indoors. And. if working on spraying the exterior of your home, it’s especially crucial to make sure every window is closed to prevent from poisoning anyone inside.

When not in use, pesticides should be kept out of reach of children or animals, and the space where they were applied vacated until the chemical has had a chance to dissipate.

Health and Safety Issues   

Do-it-yourself pest control is especially risky if done by or done around sensitive individuals. Pregnant women and young children are among the kinds of people that should avoid areas where pesticides have recently been used. And if you are working with pesticides, you should always make sure that you’re wearing the right protective equipment – including a mask and eye goggles in areas where there might still be pests or rodents. Doing all this will not only limit the risk of pesticide exposure but also protect you from potential bites or stings from the swarm that you might encounter. You’ll also be protected from pest droppings, which may contain harmful bacteria or roundworms. And once you apply the pesticide, you should carefully research into the proper methods to sanitize the space to prevent any insects or rodents from returning.

Leave it to the Pros

By now you’ve probably gathered that home pest control isn’t as clear-cut as you might have assumed. With all the precautions needed to keep things safe, it becomes clear why many choose to leave extermination to the professionals. At Southern Pest Control, our team has the ongoing training and experience to clear any home or business on the Mississippi Gulf Coast of pests and keep them from returning. We know how to tackle an infestation at its source. Every property is different, though, which is why we come to everyone we serve with an innovative strategy that’s personalized for their needs. That’s why we suggest you skip the hardware store and contact us today.

 

America’s Most Dangerous Ants

Velvet ant
Velvet ant
Velvet ant

If you’ve encountered ants on your property, it stands to reason. Ants are one of the most prolific types of insect in the world. There are over 12,000 different ant species and they inhabit almost every corner of the globe except for Greenland, Iceland and a few other islands. 

Since ants live almost everywhere, sooner or later you’ll cross paths with them. Most species aren’t a threat to humans but some are dangerous because they’re especially venomous or aggressive. You can reduce your risk of being bitten or stung if you know which types of ants to avoid. The experts at Southern Pest Control show you which ants to steer clear of.  

What are America’s Most Dangerous Ants?

In the eastern US, the field ant is a very common species. They usually build nests underground although sometimes they make nests in rotten wood. They’re not venomous or aggressive. They made this list because they’re common in a large portion of the country and will bite you if you mess with their nest. 

The velvet ant isn’t actually an ant. It’s a type of wasp, but the females of the species lack wings so they’re often mistaken for ants. While they may not be able to fly, they do have a venomous and extremely painful sting. That’s given this insect the nickname “cow-killer” where it lives in the eastern US.

There are many species of harvester ants in the US. Most of these species aren’t much of a hazard to humans. However, two species, the Maricopa harvester ant and Florida harvester ant pose a real threat. The Maricopa harvester ant is one of the most common ant species in Arizona and lives throughout the southwestern US as well as in Mexico. It’s believed to have the most toxic insect venom on earth. The Florida harvester ant is common from Florida to North Carolina and its venom is also extremely powerful. In fact, it’s more toxic than the venom of a cobra.

The red imported fire ant originated in South America but was accidentally introduced to the US, Australia and some Caribbean nations in the 1930s. It’s the most dangerous species of ant in the US. Their stings are extremely unpleasant. They don’t just cause burning and swelling. They also create itchy pus-filled blisters that can last for over a week. Some people stung by these ants even go into anaphylactic shock. More than 14 million people per year are stung by these insects, according to research from Texas A&M University. Over 80 deaths have been reported in the US  due to red imported fire ant stings.

Why are Ant Bites so Painful?

So, what makes ant bites and stings so unpleasant? Ants use their mandibles (jaws) to bite the skin of their target and then release formic acid – an irritating chemical – on the skin of the target. You might think the swelling, redness and irritation were caused by the bite itself, but the formic acid is a larger factor. People who are allergic to formic acid may experience more serious symptoms, like those that accompany an ant sting. 

Why are Ant Stings so Painful?

Almost all ants have jaws or pinchers to bite with, but not all of them have stingers and venom. Even fewer have venom that’s strong enough to be hazardous to humans.

An ant sting starts off like an ant bite. They lock their mandibles (jaws) in the skin of their target and release formic acid. Then they pivot their rear end, poke their stinger into the target’s skin and inject venom.  The longer it takes to get the ant off of you, the more times you can be stung, the more venom will be injected and the more painful the sting will be. Ant venom – fire ant venom in particular – can also cause an allergic reaction which may include: itchiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, hives, and tightness in the chest, or difficulty breathing.

Ant Exterminators in the Mississippi Gulf Coast 

Southern Pest Control has been eliminating ants from homes and businesses throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast since 1975. If you have ants on your property, especially if you suspect they may be fire ants, don’t wait until after you, your family, or your pet is bitten or stung. Contact us today

Why Do Ants Keep Coming Back In?

Ants inside a house

Ants inside a houseAnts are incredibly difficult to get rid of entirely if you approach them the wrong way. If you’ve dealt with an ant infestation in your home before, you know that they seem to keep on coming back no matter what you do. They’ll pop up in new areas in your home every day, becoming a total headache to deal with. Why are ants are so persistent?

In order to conduct the best ant control possible, you have to learn about the ways ants work and avoid the strategies that so commonly fail. If you need expert advice on ant control on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, read on for insight from Southern Pest Control!

Why Is My DIY Ant Control Failing?

The problem with the most commonly chosen ant control strategies is that they ignore the source of the problem in favor of addressing its symptoms. When ants show up in your house, your first inclination might be to squash them or spray them with a store-bought pest control product. This will only delay or worsen your problem.

“How could it possibly worsen it?” you might wonder. It helps to know that when you kill ants, they release a pheromone signal that warns nearby ants to avoid the area. Other ants will sense this signal and change their method of approach. Given that they’re so small and sneaky, ants should have no problem finding a new way into your home.

Ant Control Strategies That Really Work

What can you do if you can’t squash or spray ants to get rid of them? We believe that these three steps lead to the most exhaustive and long-lasting ant control solution:

  • Find where they’re coming from: If you can determine where the ants in your home came from, you can seal their entryway with caulk, block it with a screen, or spray it with a citrus-based cleaning product to discourage activity.
  • Take away their food and water: Ants are probably living in your house because they have access to food or water. Cleaning up spills, storing your food in airtight containers, and keeping your kitchen and bathroom well-ventilated will prevent easy food and water access.
  • Call your local experts: Professional ant exterminators are trained to follow ant trails all the way back to their source in a nest or ant hill. Getting rid of the ant colony on your property is the only way to ensure that ants never bother you in your home again.

Expert Home Ant Extermination on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

If you’re ready to live an ant-free life in your home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it’s time to team up with your local ant exterminators. The licensed and certified technicians at Southern Pest Control are trained to conduct full-service ant removal. We can visit your property to determine where your ants are coming from, eliminate the colony, and show you how to prevent future problems on your own. Reach out today for a free quote!

Mosquito Prevention: 4 Signals Mosquitoes Use to Find Humans

A mosquito on the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Southern Pest Control

A mosquito on the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Southern Pest ControlOur climate along the Mississippi Gulf Coast creates opportunities for mosquitoes to thrive for most of the year. Sometimes, it can feel like there’s no way to avoid these insects, but you shouldn’t give up hope! Mosquitoes are actually simple creatures that operate based on a small set of signals they seek out. If you can learn how to control what they do and don’t sense, you’re well on your way to a mosquito-free summer! Read on to learn more about mosquito prevention with our mosquito exterminators at Southern Pest Control.

4 Signals Mosquitoes Use to Look for Hosts

Some people refer to themselves as “mosquito magnets.” You might even know one or be one yourself! Although it certainly seems true that mosquitoes prefer some people over others, scientists have not yet firmly established the metrics with which to calculate one’s vulnerability to mosquito bites. However, we do know that there are 4 main signs that mosquitoes use to seek out potential hosts:

  1. Breath: Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide that we release when we exhale because it tells them that there are people nearby.
  2. Body odor: Our natural odor is another signal to mosquitoes, and this signal is amplified when we perspire. Wearing floral perfumes can also tip off mosquitoes to your presence.
  3. Body temperature: Mosquitoes can sense higher body temperatures and gravitate towards them. When we wear darker colors that trap heat, we make ourselves more visible to mosquitoes.
  4. Color: No matter the pigmentation, the longer wavelengths that human skin gives off attract mosquitoes.

Preventing Mosquito Bites in Knoxville TN

Although we can’t keep ourselves from giving off these signals to mosquitoes entirely, we can make efforts to block these signals and make our properties less hospitable to mosquitoes. Here are a few ways to implement mosquito prevention into your routines:

  • Get rid of standing water: Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, so collected rainwater buildup in tarps, buckets, planters, gutters, and more can provide adequate breeding grounds. Pour it out or cover it when you find it in your yard.
  • Wear clothes that cover your skin: Light-colored clothing, too. Limiting exposed skin and dark colors that trap heat will take away two main signals that mosquitoes use to find you.
  • Use bug spray: EPA-registered mosquito spray products using either DEET or picaridin will safely keep mosquitoes from biting you for hours. If you wish to use a natural alternative, try lemon eucalyptus oil or citronella oil.

Why Professional Mosquito Control Helps

We have found that in many cases, our customers’ mosquito problems have built up out of sight, or at least in hidden or densely vegetated areas that non-experts wouldn’t think to look. Our experienced mosquito removal specialists at Southern Pest Control can provide a full-property inspection to put your mosquito infestation to a stop. By developing a unique barrier spray system for your yard, we can ensure that you’re receiving the best possible protection against mosquitoes. Contact us today for a free quote!

Protect Your Backyard from Pests in 10 Steps

A backyard to be serviced on the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Southern Pest Control

A backyard to be serviced on the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Southern Pest ControlAlong the Mississippi Gulf Coast, our warm and rainy springs provide the ideal conditions for a long list of pests. While we can appreciate the sunshine starting back up in spring, locals know that it means pest problems for people throughout the area. Are you looking to keep bugs, rodents, and wildlife out of your backyard this year? Read on to learn some actions to take on your own with the experts at Southern Pest Control!

10 Ways to Get Rid of Backyard Pests

If you don’t start putting in effort early to keep pests out of your backyard, your property could become overrun with critters once spring is in full swing. Here are our top 10 pest prevention tips you should use to protect your backyard this spring:

  1. Trim your plants: Overgrowth of trees, bushes, and shrubs can lead to shaded hiding places that pests will take advantage of. Keep ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, and other pests out of your backyard by keeping up on plant maintenance.
  2. Clear out standing water: Even the smallest standing water pools can be made into mosquito breeding grounds. Pour out or cover standing water your find accumulating in gutters, buckets, planters, tarps, and anywhere else you find it.
  3. Use garden nets: Garden netting can both protect the plants you’re growing and keep all kinds of pests out of your yard by restricting their access to food.
  4. Deal with yard waste: If you leave piles of yard waste out in your yard or even let a branch or two lay around for too long, you could be unknowingly providing all kinds of insects with temporary shelter. Get rid of yard waste early and often.
  5. Mow your lawn regularly: Keeping your lawn shorter will prevent it from trapping excess moisture and hosting regional lawn pests. Mow the lawn once a week to keep it in good shape.
  6. Dethatch your lawn if necessary: While we appreciate a thin layer of thatch for its insulating purposes, too much of it will suffocate your lawn and allow many lawn pests to thrive.
  7. Store firewood correctly: Any piles of firewood stacked against your home can easily lead to a termite infestation with expensive consequences. Store your firewood off of the ground, away from your home or backyard deck, and covered.
  8. Keep your trash bins closed: All kinds of pests from wasps to raccoons will rummage through your trash for food. Make sure your trash cans close all the way and keep them at a good distance from your home and backyard if possible.
  9. Watch how you water your lawn: Unfortunately, both overwatering and underwatering can lead to pest problems. An irrigation or sprinkler system can regulate your lawn’s water intake.
  10. Hire an exterminator: A professional exterminator can figure out the reasons for your pest problems and create a plan that will keep them out of your yard going forward.

Pest Control for Your Backyard

If you want to be certain that you’re in for a pest-free summer, reach out to your local pest control company. Our technicians at Southern Pest Control are well-versed in the common pest problems faced around the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We can ensure that your backyard stays protected with professional exclusion programs and industry-leading pest control products. Get in touch today for a free estimate!

Our Top 10 Interesting Spider Facts

Finding spiders around the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Southern Pest Control

Finding spiders around the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Southern Pest ControlHere at Southern Pest Control, we believe that the more you learn about spiders, the less you’ll fear them. Most spiders want nothing to do with us and just want to go about their day! We have dealt with many different spider species around the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and along the way, we’ve learned a lot about the quirks and habits of each. Read on for our ten favorite spider facts!

10 Facts About Spiders

  1. Most spiders can’t hurt you: Although all spiders have venom that they use to kill their prey, most spiders don’t have enough venom to do any considerable harm to a human.
  2. Spiders are all over: Research shows that you are likely no more than 10 feet away from the nearest spider at any point!
  3. There are thousands of kinds of spiders: Over 35,000 have been documented across the globe. Spider experts expect to uncover many more species as the search for new spiders continues.
  4. Spiders give presents: During the courtship process, the male spiders of some species will wrap a fly or other small insect in silk to give to a female as a gift. However, some spiders have been observed wrapping leaves or other junk to fake a gift!
  5. Spiders can dance: Another element of some spiders’ courtship routines is a flashy dance to catch a female’s attention. Their dances often involve frantic scuttling and arm-waving.
  6. Female spiders eat their mates sometimes: This can happen either before, during, or after copulation. Sometimes a female spider will kill a male for an unsatisfactory courtship attempt, and sometimes they will kill them after copulation to save their body for their offspring to eat.
  7. Spider silk does many things: We often think of spider silk as the material they make their webs from, but different spider species also use their silk to build nests, tunnels, paths for transportation, and even as floats to glide through the air on.
  8. Silk beats steel: We often think of spider webs as flimsy, but this is only because of the density of the webs that spiders spin. Spider silk is actually 5 times stronger than steel!
  9. It’s a liquid: What’s even more impressive about the strength of spider silk is that it only becomes solidified when it comes in contact with air. It starts as a liquid in their spinning gland.
  10. Spider muscles only retract: Spiders can only pull their legs back in, not extend them out with the same mechanism. To do so, they pump a special fluid through their legs. This fluid also enables them to jump great distances.

Spider Control Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast

While we hope that our spider facts have given you some reasons to change your mind about spiders, we understand that having a spider infestation can be stressful, no matter how harmless your spiders are. If you need help getting rid of spiders in the Mississippi Gulf Coast region, reach out to your local spider exterminators at Southern Pest Control. Contact us today for a free quote!

Houseflies: More Than a Bother

Houseflies in window of Mississippi home - Southern Pest Control
Houseflies in window of Mississippi home - Southern Pest Control

We’ve all been annoyed by a nuisance fly or two in our house. But are these flies dangerous, or just an annoyance? Houseflies are scavengers and land on us because they are attracted to our scent. And while not interested in biting, the common housefly, or musca domestica, does want to suck up the salt, dead skin, oil, and whatever they find edible on the exposed epidermis with their straw-like tongues. Needless to say, no one wants to let houseflies land all over them, making it important to know what to do to keep flies away for good.

What to Know About Houseflies

Thanks to hearty appetites aided by an excellent sense of smell and a pair of complex eyes that cover half of their heads, houseflies also land on us and everything insight in order to defecate. This charming land-and-defecate-everywhere routine has made flies vectors of communicable diseases, ranging from typhoid to tuberculosis. The pathogens transmitted by houseflies, picked up after feasting on things like dung heaps and dead animals, are carried on their legs and around their mouths. Think about it: Each time a fly lands on your arm or takes a stroll around the rim of your mug of morning coffee, it could be shaking a whole lot of germs off of its hairy little legs.

Tips For Preventing Houseflies

The easiest, most inexpensive way to make the area in and around your home a “no-fly” zone as you put it is to take basic preventative measures. Here’s what to do:

  1. If you have a dog and aren’t quick to pick up and dispose of its poop you should start making this your number one priority. There’s a reason why flies love dog poop: It serves as both an all-you-can-eat buffet and an ideal egg depository.
  2. Also, don’t leave food out for too long, maintain a clean and tidy house (pay special attention to kitchen surfaces), empty your garbage cans regularly and keep an eye out for organic rotting matter. It’s about keeping a spic-and-span, sanitary home.
  3. Install screens on your doors and windows, especially in the summer. Also routinely check these windows for cracks and crevices that could be letting flies indoors.

Housefly Control in the Mississippi Gulf Coast

At Southern Pest Control, we know that flies are one of the biggest nuisance pests. If you’re having trouble identifying where the flies are coming from or need assistance getting rid of them, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more!

How to Get Rid of Termite Swarmers

Termite swarmers in the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Southern Pest Control

Termite swarmers in the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Southern Pest ControlHere on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, insects look forward to spring just as much as we do! It’s the season when many insects, including termites, start to become more active after the winter. Out of all the pests we deal with in our region, termites are undoubtedly the biggest threat. In spite of the fact that these insects are active throughout the year, they tend to swarm and infest new structures during spring. As a result, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for flying termites during this time of year and take steps to prevent them from entering your home.

At Southern Pest Control, we know how stressful it can be to deal with termites. We’re here to help—read on to learn everything you need to know about termite swarmers.

How to Identify Flying Termites

“Swarmer” termites are also known as “alates,” and are most often called flying termites. This type of termite reproduces in the spring by leaving its nest to form a new colony. The presence of these flying termites near your home can indicate an infestation, which is why it’s important to know how to identify them. Swarmers range from black to brown in color and measure 3/8 inches long, including the wings. The color of their wings is translucent or slightly milky or smoky. Wings may overlap and are typically as long as or slightly longer than the body.

During spring, swarmers invade structures around basement windows, doorways, near porches, or anywhere wood comes in contact with soil. Before you realize it, a termite infestation can severely damage your home’s structure. Preventative measures should be taken in order to keep them from showing up in the first place.

Tips to Keep Termite Swarmers Away

Spring is the best time to look for signs of flying termites. To stop them from infesting your home, here’s what to do:

  • Routinely clean your yard of any rotting wood, trees, etc. Ensure your porch or deck is maintained.
  • Keep all mulch away from the foundation of your home.
  • Store all firewood above ground and away from the perimeter of your property.
  • Repair issues with your plumbing to avoid any leaks or moisture that could attract termites.
  • Work with a professional termite control expert to implement treatments that repel termites.

We Protect Your Home From Termites

You will need professional assistance if you see flying termites or if your home has a termite infestation. Getting annual pest control inspections is the best way to protect your home from wood-destroying insects. The experts at Southern Pest Control are ready to help—contact us today to protect your property from termite swarmers.