Family Outdoors

May and June Newsletter

Watch for Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are a double whammy. Not only are they a serious nuisance as they crawl about, getting into your food and leaving piles of sawdust and dead ants, but they also damage wood as they tunnel into it to create nesting areas. Their excavation activities can weaken a wooden structure and can also result in water getting in and causing wood rot.

Sometime during the spring, carpenter ant colonies in our area will send out winged “swarmers” in large numbers, and people sometimes see these. Swarmers are the reproductive ants that fly out of the nests and start new colonies. You may find these ants around window sills indoors because they instinctively fly toward light after emerging from an indoor nest.

Other signs of a carpenter ant infestation include “dump piles” of fibrous sawdust, dead ants, and other debris that they push out through tiny slit-like openings. Sometimes you can also hear the faint rustling noises of their jaws, called mandibles, as they click shut.

Worker ants crawling about are another sign of a problem. Carpenter ants are most active at night, although some can be seen crawling about during the day. Their nests may be either inside or outside the home, or both. A mature carpenter ant colony often has a main parent colony and several satellite nests; some indoors, and others outdoors. It is important to locate and treat all of these nests.

We are the area experts at carpenter ant control. Call us if you see any of the above signs of these troublesome and damaging pests!

Moisture Sources that Lead to Wood Decay

Moisture in wood results in wood decay, costing homeowners billions of dollars a year to repair. Not only does wood decay strongly attract termites and other wood-destroying pests, which can cause much more damage, but it also reduces the structural integrity of your home.

We have found that often wood decay could have been prevented or repaired at a relatively minor cost if it had been detected early. That’s why a small investment in having us do a professional inspection often pays huge dividends.

Here are a few of the many ways moisture gets to wood:

  • Direct soil contact - Whenever wood touches soil directly it will soak up moisture.
  • Wood seepage - Water most easily seeps into the ends of boards and where they are joined together, such as at the edge of a roof, house corners, and especially around door and window frames.
  • Plumbing leaks - A common problem that can cause constant wetting and promote wood decay.
  • Condensation - This can happen in many places around a home—often around windows and under homes built over a crawl space, especially if the ventilation is poor due to an inadequate number of vents.
  • Rain water - Water may get inside a leaky roof or get backed up in clogged rain gutters and flow over onto wood. Water may also splash against the side of a home if there is no splash guard at the downspout, or may seep back under a foundation if it is dumped at the base of a wall.

New Viruses & Super-bugs Found in Mice

Mice live where we live, so it can be easy for whatever germs they carry to be transferred to us. A new, year-long assessment of mice in New York City discovered an amazing six new viruses, as well as antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The study collected 416 mice in the city over a year period, and then analyzed their droppings for bacteria and viruses. Running genetic tests, the researchers found 149 species of bacteria. Included were the most common causes of gastrointestinal problems: Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, and C. difficile. Salmonella alone causes 1.2 million reported cases in the US each year, including 450 deaths.

Also alarming was that the genes indicated antimicrobial resistance to several common antibiotics, meaning the mouse droppings contained bacteria that would be difficult to treat with common antibiotics.

There were also 36 different viruses in the droppings, including six new viruses never seen before. Fortunately, none of the known viruses were known to affect humans, but it is not known if the new viruses can infect humans.

Bed Bugs Get Around


A live infestation of bed bugs was discovered recently in an upholstered chair in the sitting area at the Kanas City International Airport.

If these blood-suckers wanted to hitch a ride somewhere, they were in the right spot! The entire area had to be closed off and treated before it could be reopened.

Surveys nationwide showed bed bug activity slowed down in most areas during the cooler months, as it always does. Bed bug activity will pick up when the weather warms and the bugs start becoming more active and reproducing faster.

Many Mosquito Repellents are not Effective

Have you ever put on a mosquito repellent and then been bitten? A study at New Mexico State University found that most mosquito repellents being marketed actually do a very poor job of repelling mosquitoes. Of the many spray-on and rub-on products tested, all of them were poor repellents except those that contained DEET or PMD (oil of lemon eucalyptus).

Of the two DEET formulations, a 40% and a 98% product, the higher concentration was the most effective product tested. (It usually is both a better repellent and lasts longer.) The oil of lemon eucalyptus that worked was a 30% concentration. Other botanical and herbal products repelled fewer or no mosquitoes and tend to be shorter-lived.

In addition, several mosquito bracelets and wrist bands, and a wearable sonic repeller, were all found to be ineffective in repelling mosquitoes. (The sonic repeller uses ultrasonic sound, and sound has never been found to be effective at repelling mosquitoes—it’s a waste of your money!)

One wearable device fared well. It was a clip-on that had a nebulizer to vaporize its chemical repellent, Metoflurthrin.

A repellent candle was also found to be ineffective.

If you are outdoors and there are mosquitoes around, please use an effective repellent to protect yourself!

Giant bug