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Pest Library

Pest Identification & Prevention In Waldorf, MD & The Surrounding Areas

If you’ve seen ants trailing through your kitchen or have found rodent droppings in your cupboards or attic space, you might be wondering exactly what you're up against. Our Pest Library can help! As a locally owned and operated pest control company, we're quite familiar with the common insects, rodents, and wildlife found throughout Waldorf and the surrounding areas of Maryland. Our pest guide provides helpful insight and answers to the questions you have about the most common pests found in our area.

Ants

Queens, workers (sterile females), and males make up an ant colony. Ants are social insects that live and work together to ensure the success of their colony. With more than 10,000 species of ants living worldwide, they are living nearby almost anywhere you go. While most ants live outdoors away from people, many have discovered by choice or by chance the benefits of living near us. Our yards and homes provide them with suitable areas to nest, plenty of food to feed their colony, and access to water.

Ants have three distinct body parts (head, abdomen, and thorax), and the noticeable constriction between the abdomen and thorax provides them with a narrow “waist.” The body of ants and other arthropods have a hard exoskeleton. Ants also have compound eyes, bent antennae, and six legs with three joints each. Most ants are red, black, brown, or a yellowish color.

Two of the most common invaders of our Maryland properties include the common house ant and the large carpenter ant. Both are capable of contaminating food and introducing bacteria. However, the carpenter ant poses more of a problem as they tunnel through and nest within structural wood. Over time, this causes expensive and extensive damage.

To avoid problems with ants, the professionals at Mike’s Pest & Termite Control want to offer some helpful prevention tips:

  • Remove the temptation of food. Keep foraging ants away by placing lids on trash cans and recycling bins, picking up uneaten pet food, and keeping the kitchen clean and free of food debris.
  • Take away the moisture many ants require by fixing leaky pipes, placing weather stripping around windows and doors, and using dehumidifiers.
  • Eliminate entry points by sealing cracks in foundations and exterior walls that ants can crawl through.
  • Remove things like fallen trees, woodpiles, brush, and other debris from your yard where ants can nest.

Mice

Mice are furry little creatures that can become a nightmare for any Maryland property owner. Mice are not only adaptable, but they are persistent, a combination that makes keeping them away from us and our properties difficult. Though difficult, controlling mice populations is necessary because they will destroy our personal property, contaminate food, damage structures, and destroy commercial crops.

Some of the most common species of mice living in our area are the house mouse and field mouse. Keeping mice away from our homes and families is important not only because they damage property but also because they spread diseases. Hantavirus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), salmonella, and E. coli are all spread by mice.

Both house mice and field mice nest outside in similar areas, and both regularly invade our homes and businesses. However, field mice are much more of a problem for people living on properties near fields, wooded areas, and parks. Field mice are not as common as house mice in urban and suburban areas. Mice can squeeze their bodies through a space the diameter of a pencil, making it very easy for them to find an opening into any structure that offers them food and shelter.

Inside our homes, mice like to create their spherical nests behind appliances, in wall voids, behind cabinets, and under sinks. Kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and attics are all areas of a home you will find mice.

To avoid problems with mice, the professionals at Mike’s Pest & Termite Control want to offer some helpful prevention tips:

  • Mice are great climbers; remove things from your yard that could provide them with easy access to your home, such as overgrown tree limbs, overgrown shrubbery, and dense vegetation.
  • Remove the temptation of food from in and around your home. Keep lids on trash cans, pick up uneaten pet food every night, keep outdoor eating areas free of debris, and maintain garden areas and compost piles.
  • Stop mice from easily getting into your home by sealing entry points in exterior walls and the foundation, placing caps on chimneys, placing covers over vents, and installing lids over window wells.
  • Get rid of clutter from your yard and home where mice can nest.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are a type of fly and have an extended mouthpart (proboscis) they use to feed on liquids. Males and females feed on plant nectar and sweet liquids, and females also feed on human and animal blood. Females find a host after sensing body heat, carbon dioxide, smell, and movement; most mosquitoes search for their blood meals at dusk or dawn. After having a blood meal, they can lay their eggs. Most mosquitoes lay their eggs in areas of fresh or stagnant standing water that can be found in barrels, buckets, gutters, ornamental ponds, tarps, puddles, ditches, marshy areas, and densely wooded areas.

Mosquitoes thrive in warm wet weather. The more pooling water, the more breeding areas there are for the females to take advantage of. Temperatures above 80 degrees provide them with the optimal environmental conditions for eggs to develop into adults very quickly (10-14 days). While mosquitoes can travel for miles for a blood meal, most stay close to where they hatch.

Because mosquitoes travel in order to feed, and because they feed on multiple hosts, they easily spread diseases and parasites to both people and animals. Avoiding contact with mosquitoes as much as possible is important not only to prevent their itchy “bites” but to protect yourself, family, and pets from the pathogens they spread.

To avoid problems with mosquitoes, the professionals at Mike’s Pest & Termite Control want to offer some helpful prevention tips:

  • Remove or store away containers on your property that can collect water. Keep gutters clear and makes sure pool and ornamental ponds are well-maintained.
  • Keep the grass cut short and cut back overgrown vegetation where mosquitoes like to rest to escape the heat of the day.
  • Get rid of leaf piles, grass, piles, and woodpiles from your property that allow water to collect.
  • Insert screens into open windows and doors to keep mosquitoes from flying into your house.
  • Partner with Mike’s Pest & Termite Control to provide the treatment and prevention services needed to control mosquito numbers on your Maryland property.

Termites

The eastern subterranean termite is present throughout much of the eastern United States. These subterranean termites are social, live together in large colonies, and cause billions of dollars in damages each year. Eastern subterranean termites have high moisture needs and travel through damp soil or mud tubs to maintain their moisture levels. As they move from the nest through the soil, they feed on things like old decaying tree roots, tree stumps, fallen trees, and other organic debris. Outside and away from our homes, their feeding habits help rid the ground of decaying debris.

When termites find a way into our homes, they attack structural wood, wooden fixtures, flooring, paper, books, wallpaper, and more. Inside our homes, termites are unwanted and dangerous pests. Keeping termites out of our homes is difficult as they move inside through tiny cracks in the foundation and pieces of wood, making contact with the ground. They move into our homes unseen, and it can take months or years for us to be alerted to their presence. Months and years that they are methodically feeding away at our home’s structure.

One of the biggest signs that termites are near is finding mud tubs running toward your home or along your foundation or basement walls. Another sign of an infestation is finding piles of wings left behind after reproductive termite swarm from the nest to mate and create a new colony. At any signs of termite activity, immediately contact a professional for help.

To avoid problems with termites, the professionals at Mike’s Pest & Termite Control want to offer some helpful prevention tips:

  • Keep wood from making contact with your home, such as firewood, construction debris, building timbers.
  • Remove excess moisture from your home and property by ensuring your lawn has good drainage, gutters are not clogged, and repairing leaky pipes and fixtures.
  • Replace water-damaged building timbers with sound wood.
  • Check for visible cracks in the foundation of your house and repair any you find.
  • Use dehumidifiers in basements and makes sure crawlspaces are well-ventilated.

For help ridding your property of termites, reach out to the local pest control experts at Mike’s Pest & Termite Control. Call today to learn more about termite control in and around your Maryland home.

Ticks

Unfortunately for us and our pets, the time of year when ticks are most active is also the time of year when we are most active. The warm temperatures of spring, summer, and early fall bring people outside in large numbers to enjoy parks, wooded trails, and other outdoor areas. At the same time, ticks are waiting in tall grasses, leaves, and dense vegetation. They are waiting for a host (person or animal) to brush past them that they can attach themselves to and begin feeding on. The feeding process for a tick lasts a long time; they bury their teeth into the skin of a host and remain attached for days at a time, feeding slowly. Their slow feeding process allows them to pass diseases, including Lyme disease, from host to host.

The deer tick is a small tick species living throughout Maryland. Named for their preference for feeding on white-tailed deer, deer ticks also feed on other various hosts, including dogs, cats, rodents, and people. Adults are orange-brown in color with black legs, mouthparts, and a shield behind the head. Deer ticks are responsible for carrying and spreading Lyme disease to people and our pets, making them a pest we need to be vigilant about protecting ourselves from.

Ticks are most often introduced onto properties by wild animals or wandering pets. They also move into our homes on rodents and other animals that find a way inside to nest. However, deer ticks and most other ticks are not able to complete their life cycle indoors.

To avoid problems with ticks, the professionals at Mike’s Pest & Termite Control want to offer some helpful prevention tips:

  • Keep the grass in your yard cut short.
  • Cut tall grass and weeds back away from sheds, fence lines, playsets, and tree bases.
  • Remove leaf piles, woodpiles, and other debris where ticks can hide.
  • When spending time outside in dense areas of vegetation or wooded areas, wear long pants and an appropriate tick repellent.
  • Seal holes and spaces in your home’s exterior that may allow rodents and other animals to carry ticks into your home.
  • Avoid attracting wild animals to your property by keeping lids on trash cans and removing bird and wild animal feeders.

Wildlife

There are many types of wild animals living all around us that will take advantage of the food, water, and shelter our Maryland properties provide. From furry to scaly, wildlife have learned to cohabitate with people. Wild animals are those creatures that can live, breed, and feed outside without people’s help. But, because our habitats have merged, wild animals have learned to live successfully in our neighborhoods, yards, and homes. Some of the most frequent wildlife visitors to Maryland properties include squirrels, birds, groundhogs, raccoons, skunks, birds, moles, voles, and snakes.

Keeping wild animals from living in our yards near our homes is essential in order to protect our property from the damages they can create. Wildlife will tear through our lawns, gardens, and trash cans while foraging for food. They also like to create openings in our homes and garages and damage structural items like wires, insulation, drywall, and structural wood.

Adding insult to injury, wildlife leave behind large quantities of waste and can spread diseases and bacteria. At the first sign of wildlife causing problems on your property, contact a professional for help. At Mike’s Pest & Termite Control, we know how to safely and humanely remove wildlife and help you prevent their return.

To avoid problems with wildlife, the professionals at Mike’s Pest & Termite Control want to offer some helpful prevention tips:

  • Remove bird and other wild animal feeders from your Maryland yard to avoid attracting wild animals.
  • Regularly harvest fruits and vegetables from gardens, and place fencing around vegetable gardens.
  • Keep lids on compost bins and trash cans to eliminate foraging areas for wild animals.
  • Seal gaps in your foundation, exterior walls, doors and windows, and the roofline. Place a tight-fitting cap on the chimney.
  • Keep garage, shed, and basement doors closed whenever possible.

For help ridding your property of pests, contact the local pest control experts at Mike’s Pest & Termite Control. Call today to learn more about our home pest control solutions!