Hart Pest Control Blog

This is the official blog of Hart Pest Control.

How to Remove Rodents Humanely

Nobody wants their house infested with rodents, however, too many methods of rodent removal are especially cruel. From traps which only kill after an agonizingly long period of time to poisons which not only take a while to take effect but also pose a danger to pets, children and the environment, rodent removal techniques have a reputation for being clumsy and macabre. Yet there are many sophisticated and convenient ways to remove rats and mice which don’t involve unnecessary pain for you or them.

Humane Rat and Mice Removal

The most humane way to address a rodent problem is to stop it before it even begins. This means taking measures to deter rodents from your place of residence and keeping them in the wild. Rats and mice can crawl through any opening larger than a coin, so even the tiniest pathway can lead them into your house. Aside from making sure that all window screens are secured, and all your doors are sealed, you can defend your home against rodents by stuffing clumps of copper mesh into places such as holes in your walls, laundry vents, electrical and plumbing entrances and gutters.

You can also make an all-natural rodent repellent with ingredients you can find in your local grocery store. Just mix salad oil, horseradish, garlic and cayenne pepper and spread the solution around the perimeter of your house—spraying it near door frames and pipes.

For rats and mice already terrorizing your home, there are easy ways to address them. Stay away from poisons and sticky traps, as these merely torture rodents and create a hassle for you as you try and track down corpses and uneaten pieces of poison scattered throughout your home. Instead, stay with the basics. The classic spring trap is efficient, clean and deadly, taking rodents out with one blow and making sanitation a breeze. Or you can avoid killing them all together and invest in a catch and release trap. These machines lock up any rodents that enter and allow you to carry them away from your house and release them into the wild unharmed. To make sure they don’t find their way back inside, take them at least 100 feet in any direction away from your house.

Hart Pest Control

Rodents are troublesome little pests, but there are effective ways to eliminate them painlessly and to even keep them away from your home entirely. For more information on pest control or to hire a specialist for your extermination needs, contact Hart Pest Control today.

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Texas Ants Come in Many Species

In Texas, there are many different species of ants. Although many of them may look similar, these ants are very different. The difference may not be their color but how they interact with other insects, how they build their nests and where they live. Understanding ant characteristics and habitats will help you determine which ant species you have.

Pyramid Ants Characteristics and Habitat

The pyramid ant has some distinct characteristics. These characteristics include:

  • The head color which is either red or reddish-black.
  • The back has a pyramid shape sticking up.
  • They live in small colonies with only one queen.
  • These ants prefer a diet of sweets such as honeydew.
  • They build their nests in sunny, sandy soils.

Characteristics of The Big-Headed Ant

This ant also has a distinct characteristic, its big head. Other features are:

  • The ant is reddish-brown in color.
  • Two types of worker ants. The soldier ant has the big head. While the minor worker is smaller.
  • They are not choosy in their diet. They will eat just about anything.
  • The colonies are extremely large.
  • They build their home under logs or stones.

Pharaoh Ant Traits

The pharaoh ant is a pest that is usually found indoors. A pharaoh ant has the following characteristics:

  • They are generally yellow or light brown in color.
  • This ant is translucent.
  • They colonize in the most inconspicuous places within the house.

Black Carpenter Ant and Carpenter Ants

The black carpenter ant and carpenter ant are probably one of the most widely known ants. It can be recognized by its:

  • Larger size compared to other ant species.
  • All black body.
  • Males have wings and fly.
  • They bite.
  • They build their homes in wood, but they do not eat it.
  • They live in a large colony with one queen.
  • Their diet consists of plant juices, food scraps and fungus.
  • The black carpenter ant is larger in size than the carpenter ant.

Crazy Ant Characteristics

The crazy ant is one of the most destructive ants in Texas. They have been known to chew through electrical wires. Other characteristics include:

  • A reddish-brown coloring.
  • They are fast and move unpredictably. Hence the name crazy ant.
  • They feed on other insects.
  • They do bite.
  • They connect their colonies to form bigger colonies.
  • They do not have many natural predators.
  • Extermination is difficult.

These are just a few of the ant species located in Texas. For more information about the ants located in your area, contact Hart Pest Control today!

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How to Treat a Fire Ant Sting

Anyone who has been stung by a fire ant readily testifies to the fact that the sting causes quite a bit of pain accompanied by a burning feeling and itchy skin. A particularly disturbing aspect of the fire ant is that the insect's tendency is to sting a person several times. Reactions typically last for several hours to several days.

Although most people are not allergic to the fire ant's venom, an allergic reaction can result in a serious condition called anaphylaxis. A person experiencing a severe reaction to a fire ant's sting needs to go to the emergency room right away. A severe allergic reaction may include difficulty swallowing, dizziness, trouble breathing or vomiting. Treatment may include a prolonged series of injections containing the fire ant's venom.

Fire ants are natives of South America but have infiltrated the southeastern area of the United States. The venom emitted by a group of fire ants is strong enough to kill a turtle. People are typically stung by fire ants when they step on their mounds. Since the average person is unable to distinguish a fire ant mound from another ant mount, the best way to prevent getting stung by a fire ant is to avoid all ant mounds.

People who are not allergic to the venom emitted by fire ants should take the following 10 steps after they are stung:

  1. Sterilize the wound with warm, soapy water. Applying hydrogen peroxide can help eliminate bacteria from the wound. Apply hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.
  2. Place several ice cubes in a washcloth.
  3. Wrap the washcloth filled with ice in a zippered plastic storage bag.
  4. Apply the ice to the sting for 15 to 20 minutes. If ice is not unavailable, use a bag of frozen vegetables.
  5. Remove the ice for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Reapply and remove the ice for an additional 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Do not apply heat to the area that was stung.
  8. If itching is causing a problem, apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. Another remedy for itching skin is to apply a paste made with baking soda and water. Baking soda may also help to reduce redness that occurs in the area of the sting. If baking soda is unavailable, apply white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to soothe the area.
  9. If the itching persists, a doctor can write a prescription for an antihistamine.
  10. If possible, elevate the affected area.

Preventing a fire ant sting is always better than getting stung. Contact Hart Pest Control if fire ant mounds exist on the premises. Exterminators at Hart Pest Control can help resolve fire ant issues.

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Unexpected Places to Find Ticks

Texas ticks get big. Some can even grow as big as a sunflower seed! In this area, you’ll likely encounter American dog ticks, black-legged or deer ticks, brown dog ticks and Lone Star ticks. Although they are arachnids much like spiders, they don’t spin nests to trap their prey. Instead, they climb onto people or animals passing by and embed themselves in your skin so that they can enjoy a meal of fresh blood.

Risks of Ticks

Ticks are more than just annoying: They also carry a variety of potentially serious diseases and infections, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and babesiosis. Ticks can hide in a wide range of places, and whenever you or your pets go outside, they can climb onto your clothing or feed on your blood. They can also hitchhike and travel into your home, making it easier to feed and reproduce.

Where Do Ticks Hide?

Ticks are strategic. They like to hide in tall vegetation that gives them easier access to their preferred hosts. Although many people associate ticks with a day in the woods, they are also quite likely to be hiding in your backyard. That’s because anywhere that animals can be found, ticks can be found, too, especially if it is a suitable habitat.

Common tick hotspots include:

  • Lawn edging, especially shrubbery, borders and ground cover
  • Lawn debris, such as leaf piles and grass clippings
  • Wood piles
  • Brick or stone walls
  • The park or dog park
  • The veterinarian’s office

Other Unexpected Tick Hiding Spots

Once a tick has found a host, it will tend to look for places that provide good cover, which means that it can be hard to find and remove. When you come in from a potentially tick-infested area, you need to check your entire body, especially in skin folds and creases and under hair.

Top tick hiding spots include:

  • On the scalp or under other hair
  • Behind the ears
  • At the back of the neck
  • In the armpits
  • Under breasts
  • In the belly button
  • In the groin and buttocks areas
  • Behind knees
  • Between toes

Getting Ticks Under Control

Although clearing away common tick hiding spots, such as leaf piles and wood piles, will help somewhat, there are no DIY or over-the-counter products that will effectively rid your property of these little blood-suckers. Hart Pest Control offers professional tick control services that are fast, affordable and reliable. We offer same-day service on not just ticks but also other common Texas pests. Contact Hart Pest Control today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.

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Types of Scorpions Located in Houston

In Texas, there's no escape from scorpions. Many residents find them in their homes from time to time. They can be crawling across the floor or resting under the bathroom or kitchen sink. Since they love dark places, they like to hide under debris and rocks as well as in linen closets, garages and under beds.

Of the 90 species in the United States, there are 18 scorpion species in Texas. However, it's very rare for people to come across species other than the striped bark scorpion. Despite that, learning more about this species and scorpions in general can help you stay safe and know when to call for pest control.

An Overview of Scorpions

Contrary to popular belief, scorpions aren't insects. They're predatory arachnids that have eight jointed legs and up to six eyes. They use the stinger on the end of their segmented tails to deliver painful blows. Their large claws help them grasp and crush their prey. Some species can live for 25 years.

Scorpions can climb trees and crawl along branches to gain access to your home's exterior walls and roof. They get inside through small cracks and crevices, where they could build a nest in your attic. When hot weather comes, they move into the lower levels of your home to stay cool.

Since scorpions are most active at night, you might only come across them when it's dark. Because of that, it'll probably see you before you see it and strike if it feels threatened.

Among the more than 1,500 scorpion species in the world, only a few have venomous stings that are deadly. In Houston, the sting from a striped bark scorpion is usually just painful. However, people who have a sensitivity to scorpion venom could have a life-threatening reaction.

Striped Bark Scorpion

You can differentiate the striped bark scorpion from other species by simply observing its appearance. It's very small, only growing to a maximum of 1.5 inches as an adult. It can be 3 inches including the tail. You might be able to tell the gender too: the males are longer and more slender than the females.

The most distinguishing feature is its color, which usually has two shades. It can be a light red or orange color with a darker stripe down its back and darker triangular mark on the head. In Houston, Texas, this species tends to be on the paler side compared to those in other states.

Striped bark scorpions are a communal species, so they nest together. They eat a diet of crickets, spiders, worms and other small invertebrates. On an occasion, however, they may feed on each other.

The Importance of Scorpion Removal

When male and female striped bark scorpions mate, they can produce anywhere from 15 to 40 babies after eight months of gestation. Because of that, a scorpion infestation can develop quickly.

Contact Hart Pest Control for an estimate today.

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