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The Difference Between Yellow Jackets and Hornets

Can you tell the difference between yellow jackets and hornets? If not, you’re not alone. Many people have trouble distinguishing between these two pests. While they look similar, they’re two different creatures and have different behaviors. Apex, the Orlando pest control experts, have prepared a guide to help you tell these pests apart.

Appearance

At around 1/2 inch in length, yellow jackets are fairly small. Their bodies are black with yellow bands. Some types of hornets, like European hornets, have a similar coloring but are much larger. European hornets are generally between 3/4 and 1 1/2 inches in length.

Bald-faced hornets are another type that can sometimes be confused with yellow jackets. These hornets are about the same size as yellow jackets, but they’re black with white markings.

Behavior

While yellow jackets and hornets may look similar, their behavior is very different. Unlike most stinging insects, European hornets can remain active at night; you might notice them repeatedly flying into your lighted windows in the evenings. Yellow jackets, on the other hand, spend the evenings inside their nests.

Aggression is another way to tell these stinging pests apart. Yellow jackets are not particularly aggressive and will only sting if they feel like their nest is in danger, whereas bald-faced hornets are more aggressive and attack anyone who invades their territory.

Nests

Yellow jackets usually live in underground nests, though they can sometimes live in walls voids. Outdoors, they can be found living in abandoned rodent burrows, old stumps, wood piles, or other hiding spots near the ground.

Hornets make their nests above ground. European hornets tend to live in sheltered places like hollow trees, attics, and hollow walls of houses, but they may also build unprotected paper nests above ground. Bald-faced hornets build unprotected paper nests which can be seen hanging from tree branches, utility poles, overhangs, and other structures.

Stings

Yellow jackets and hornets are both able to sting people multiple times. For people who aren’t allergic, these stings can be painful, swollen, or itchy, and the effects can last for up to 24 hours. People who are allergic to these stings can experience much more serious symptoms including wheezing, trouble breathing, hives, or dizziness. People with these symptoms require immediate medical attention.

If yellow jackets or hornets are living on your property or inside your house, they need to be controlled. For help controlling these stinging pests safely, turn to the Orlando pest control professionals at Apex.

 

Fun Facts About Fleas

Fleas are blood-sucking parasites that are found throughout the United States. While you probably don’t want to share your home with fleas, these pests are much more interesting than you might think! Apex, the Tampa pest removal experts, are here to share eight fun facts about these common pests.

  1. There Are Many Kinds

Throughout the world, there are more than 2,000 known species of fleas. North America is home to more than 300 of those species.

  1. They Have a Long History

Like many insects, fleas have been on the planet for a long time. Fossil evidence shows that they lived in China between 125 and 165 million years ago, but at nearly an inch long, these ancient fleas were much larger than their modern counterparts. Their mouthparts were also much larger, which let them feed on dinosaurs.

  1. Their Lives Are Short

Fleas have very short lifespans. Depending on the species, they can expect to live anywhere between two weeks and two years.

  1. They Have Large Appetites

Fleas feed on blood and they have large appetites. In a single day, a flea can drink 15 times its weight in blood! Their appetites can sometimes harm their hosts. When a small animal, like a kitten, is heavily infested with fleas, it could develop anemia from blood loss.

  1. They Can Skip Meals

While fleas have huge appetites, they can go a long time without eating if necessary. After having a single meal, some fleas can survive for up to two years without more food. To reproduce, fleas need to feed on blood, so these hungry fleas won’t lay eggs.

  1. They’re Talented Athletes

Fleas have long, strong legs that are designed for jumping. They can jump as high as eight feet vertically, which is 150 times their height. If people were as athletic as fleas, a 6-foot-tall person could jump 900 feet in the air!

  1. They Multiply Quickly

During their short lives, fleas produce many offspring. A flea with a 100-day lifespan can lay as many as 400 to 500 eggs. When those eggs hatch, they’ll go on to produce their own offspring. Large numbers of fleas can infest an area in a short time.

  1. Humans Can Get Fleas

Fleas are often thought of as a problem for dogs and cats. However, fleas can feed on any warm-blooded animals, including people, and can spread diseases like plague and typhus. Some people can even have allergic reactions to the bites.

Fleas are fascinating, but they don’t make good housemates. If you’re concerned about fleas, call the Tampa pest removal experts at Apex at (813) 221-2847 or (877) 459-2847.

Welcome to Mosquito Season

Spring has arrived in Orlando, and that means the weather is warming up and rains are becoming more frequent. This creates ideal conditions for mosquitoes. These biting pests will remain active until cooler weather arrives in the fall. Until then, homeowners will need to rely on Orlando pest control methods to control mosquitoes.

Mosquito Habitats

Since mosquitoes breed in standing water, properties that collect water are a favorite habitat of mosquitoes. If your backyard has a pond, depressions that collect rainwater, or other sources of standing water, mosquitoes could be drawn to the area.

Some types of mosquitoes rest in thick vegetation, like shrubs. They hide and wait for suitable hosts to pass by. If you have a lot of thick foliage in your yard, these mosquitoes may be attracted to your property.

Sometimes, mosquitoes can even live indoors. Mosquitoes can fly through open doors or open windows, and rest in moist, sheltered areas. You might find them hiding under your sinks or in your laundry room.

Dangers of Mosquitoes

Mosquito bites are very itchy, but that’s not the worst part. Through their bites, they can spread dangerous diseases to people. In Florida, these diseases include West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, and Eastern equine encephalitis. Diseases from other parts of the world, like dengue fever or malaria, can be brought to Florida if infected people are bitten by Florida mosquitoes.  

How to Control Mosquitoes

Draining standing water from your property is a key way to control mosquitoes. Empty standing water from flower pots, birdbaths, and pet water dishes regularly. Clean your gutters to ensure water doesn’t get trapped by debris. Fill any depressions in your soil to prevent puddles from forming.

To keep mosquitoes out of your house, keep your doors and windows covered with screens. Screens should be tight-fitting to keep mosquitoes from slipping inside. They also must be free of tears and other damage.

Controlling mosquitoes on your own can be challenging. A pest control professional can help you by performing a property inspection and identifying where the mosquitoes are coming from, and what type of mosquitoes they are. With this information, they can create a personalized mosquito treatment plan for your property. This can help keep mosquito populations under control.

Mosquito season is here, and it’s not going away any time soon. For help keeping mosquitoes under control in your home and garden, contact the Orlando pest control professionals at Apex.

Florida’s Dangerous Arachnids: Recluse Spiders

Florida is crawling with spiders, but only a few are venomous. One of these venomous spiders to look out for is the recluse spider. You can find three different recluse spider species in Florida, though none of them are native. Tampa pest control experts recommend keeping an eye out for these non-native pests.

Identifying Recluse Spiders

Recluse spiders are medium-sized brown or yellowish-brown. Their bodies are usually between 6 and 12 mm long. The three varieties of recluse spiders all have violin-shaped markings on their backs, though the coloring can vary. Brown recluses have a dark mark, while Mediterranean recluses have a lighter mark with parallel sides. Chilean recluses have a dark violin marking that’s wider in the front than in the back.

Many brown spiders can be mistaken for recluse spiders. The easiest way to identify a recluse spider (if you’re close enough) is to count its eyes. Most types of spiders have eight eyes, while recluse spiders only have six. Their six eyes are arranged in three pairs.

Recluse Spider Hiding Spots

These spiders tend to be found in out-of-the-way places, like in or under objects. They could be found lurking inside boxes, underneath furniture, or underneath clutter. Recluse spiders aren’t aggressive, but they may bite someone who inadvertently disturbs their hiding place. It’s a good idea to look before you reach your hand into any dark, undisturbed areas. If that’s not possible, make sure to wear gloves to protect yourself from spider bites.

Bites from Recluse Spiders

If you’re bitten by a recluse spider, you may not notice right away. These spiders have small fangs, and the initial bite is usually painless. Three to eight hours later, the bite site can become swollen and red. Most of the time, the bite heals within three weeks and doesn’t cause any serious complications. In rare cases, people can experience systemic reactions, with symptoms like chills, dizziness, and vomiting.

Other people are less lucky. Sometimes, a necrotic lesion can appear at the site of the bite. This lesion can grow up to several inches and persist for months. When the lesion finally heals, it can leave a deep scar.

Chilean recluse spiders are more dangerous than the other types, and in rare cases, their bites can be fatal. According to one study, these bites are fatal in about three to four percent of cases.

Recluse spiders aren’t native to Florida, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be found in the state. These sneaky spiders can easily hitch a ride to Florida with a traveler or shipment from out of state. If you’re worried about recluse spiders in your home, contact the Tampa pest control experts at Apex for help.

The Importance of Preventing Pantry Pests

There’s nothing worse than opening a box of your favorite breakfast cereal only to discover that insects are already snacking on it. Since bugs love many of the same foods that people do, this experience isn’t surprising. Apex, the Orlando pest control experts, recommends focusing on preventing these hungry pests.

Favorite Foods for Pantry Pests

Pantry pests will feast on nearly any dry foods. Besides cereals, flours, and spices, they also eat dried fruits, chocolates, cookies, and even pet foods.

When small numbers of pests are present, they can go unnoticed. Later, when the pest population increases, you may notice bugs in your cupboards, on your counters, or in packages of food. Sometimes, people don’t realize a food is infested with pantry pests until they’ve already eaten it.

Where Pantry Pests Come From

Pantry pests can enter homes in infested food products. These products can become infested at any point in the supply chain, including in the warehouse, delivery vehicle, or the grocery store. Sometimes, they can fly through open windows or doors.

To prevent infestations, inspect any packaged goods before purchasing. Check for tears or holes in the packaging, and if you find any, don’t buy the item. Unfortunately, foods can still be infested with bugs, even if the packaging is undamaged. When you get home from the grocery store, transfer your pantry items into hard plastic containers with tight-fitting lids. If pantry items are infested, the bugs will be confined to the containers.

Control Methods

When pantry pests move into your home, they must be controlled. To successfully control these bugs, you need to inspect your pantry and remove the infested food. Once the infested foods are removed, the number of pantry pests in your home should decrease quickly.

Clean your cupboards and pantry shelves to remove any crumbs or spilled foods. Vacuum and wash these surfaces thoroughly to avoid attracting any more pests.

Typically, insecticide sprays aren’t required for pantry pest infestations. If throwing out infested food and cleaning thoroughly doesn’t eliminate the pests, contact a licensed pest control professional for help. They have the experience to apply the necessary insecticides safely and effectively.

Pantry pests are gross and getting rid of them can be inconvenient. To avoid these problems, take steps to keep these creepy pests out of your home. If they’ve already moved in, the Orlando pest control experts at Apex can help you reclaim your pantry.

Pest Spotlight: The Armyworm

Florida is home to many species of lawn-destroying pests. Apex, the Tampa lawn care experts, frequently encounter one particularly concerning species: the armyworm. Here’s what you need to know.

How to Identify Armyworms

The first generation of armyworms appears in April, and there can be three generations per year. The larval stage is responsible for the damage to lawns. Larvae molt multiple times as they grow, and each instar looks slightly different. The youngest larvae have greenish bodies and black heads, while the older larvae have brownish bodies with white lines and reddish-brown heads.

The larvae form cocoons in the soil and emerge from their cocoons as fully-grown adults. Adult armyworms are gray and brown moths. These moths are active at night and lay their eggs on foliage. Egg masses can contain 100 to 200 eggs, and they may look moldy or furry.

Armyworm Damage

Armyworm larvae feed on foliage such as blades of grass. The young larvae start by eating tissue from just one side of the leaves, but as they age, they start to eat right through the leaves. These older larvae can cause extensive damage to plants.

When armyworms are feeding on your lawn, you might notice patches of chewed grass. Another clue is an increased number of birds on your lawn; birds eat armyworms but can’t eat fast enough to keep these pests under control.

Control Methods for Armyworms

If you’re concerned about armyworms, it’s important to seek advice from a lawn care professional. Other species of larvae can damage lawns, and identifying the pest that’s responsible is essential for effective treatment. A professional can let you know if armyworms are present and propose an effective treatment strategy.

To control armyworms, lawn care professionals apply an appropriate mix of chemicals. This could include both granular and liquid insecticides. Since armyworms are resistant to some insecticides, products must be selected carefully, and these commercial-grade chemicals may need to be applied throughout the year to prevent future armyworm problems.

Once the armyworms have been controlled, the lawn may need to be repaired. If any patches of your lawn are discolored and dead, the areas may need to be aerated and overseeded.

Armyworms can cause serious damage to Florida lawns. If you’re worried that these pests are feasting on your lawn, contact the Tampa lawn care experts at Apex right away.

Cockroaches Aren’t Just Creepy – They Can Harm Your Health

Many people recoil in disgust when they see a cockroach. With their greasy bodies and fast-moving legs, these pests are certainly repulsive. However, they’re not just creepy looking — they can harm your health by triggering allergic reactions. To help you stay healthy, the Orlando pest removal specialists at Apex have prepared a guide on cockroach allergies. 

Symptoms of Cockroach Allergies

The symptoms of cockroach allergies are similar to those of typical seasonal allergies, including nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, or a skin rash. Since cockroaches are present year round, the symptoms of cockroach allergens may become chronic and last longer than typical seasonal allergy symptoms. If you think you might have a cockroach allergy, see an allergist for testing.

Causes of Allergic Reactions

At night, cockroaches come out of their dark, damp hiding places. Their saliva, feces, and shed body parts (such as exoskeletons) all contain allergens, and as they roam around the home, these are spread. When those allergens are kicked up in the air, they can aggravate allergy symptoms.

Controlling Cockroach Allergens

The best way to control cockroach allergens indoors is to eliminate the cockroaches themselves. To make your home less appealing to cockroaches, keep everything as clean and sanitary as possible, especially your kitchen. Your counters, sink, and floors should be clean and free of clutter and crumbs. Store your food in airtight containers to further deter cockroaches.

Barrier exclusion is another key step for homeowners seeking to control cockroaches. This means sealing up the cracks and gaps that cockroaches could use to sneak into your home. Cracks in walls, tears in window screens, and gaps beneath doors are just some of the potential entry points for roaches.

Controlling cockroaches is a big job, but you don’t need to tackle it on your own. For help, contact a pest control professional. They have the expertise and specialized equipment to effectively treat cockroach problems.

Cockroaches are creepy, but for people with allergies, they can also be dangerous. If you have a cockroach allergy, controlling the roaches in your home is very important for your health! For help controlling roaches, turn to the Orlando pest removal specialists at Apex.

Protect Your Yard From Fungus

There are many fungal diseases that can affect Florida lawns. These diseases don’t just make your lawn unhealthy, but they harm its appearance. Apex, the Orlando lawn care experts, knows how important green, thriving lawns are to homeowners.

Identifying Fungus

Fungal diseases can seriously impact the look of your lawn. One sign of fungus is the appearance of round, discolored patches that are brown and sunken, and sometimes bordered by orange. Irregular patches of yellow or light green grass, or patches of dying grass, can be signs of fungal activity.

Mushrooms, or toadstools, are another sign of fungal problems. Large, white mushrooms (4 to 5 inches wide) are commonly seen on Florida lawns. In addition to being an eyesore, many common lawn mushrooms are poisonous to both people and animals.  

Fungus isn’t the only cause of lawn damage; cold weather or drought can also damage your lawn. Since these problems have to be treated in different ways, it’s important a lawn care professional diagnoses your lawn.

Preventing Fungus

To prevent a fungal infestation, focus on properly caring for your lawn. When lawns aren’t cared for, they can become more susceptible to disease.

Set a regular mowing schedule and mow your lawn to the recommended height for your grass species. Be careful to avoid overwatering your lawn — Florida lawns usually need between 1/2 and 3/4 inch of water during each watering session. It’s best to water your lawn in the early morning, rather than in the evenings, so your grass blades can fully dry out during the day.

Controlling Fungus

If your lawn is affected by fungus, the first control step is to accurately identify the type. Once identified, you can start an appropriate treatment. Fungicides may only need to be applied to affected areas of the lawn, but in some cases the entire lawn requires treatment.  

It’s also important to eliminate the conditions that originally let fungus invade the lawn. Depending on your lawn’s needs, this could include adjusting your irrigation system or mowing on a regular schedule. Disease control isn’t a simple process, but your lawn care professional can set up a customized plan to get your lawn back on track.

Fungus can damage your lawn, but this can be prevented with proper care. To keep your yard looking and feeling its best, call the Orlando lawn care experts at Apex.

 

Termites are Back – and They’ve Brought Their Friends

Did you know that termites aren’t the only insects that can damage wood? In Florida, there are many species of insects that could cause damage to the wooden structure of your home. Orlando termite removal specialists often encounter these wood-damaging insects.

Termites

Termites are the most well-known of the wood-damaging insects. There are a few different types of termites found in Florida. Subterranean termites are a particularly destructive type, and they live in underground colonies. Drywood and dampwood termites are also found in the state, and they feed on dry wood and damp wood, respectively.

Termites are sometimes called “silent destroyers” because of their ability to stay out of sight while they’re causing damage. On the surface, the infested wood can look fine, but below the surface, the wood could be severely compromised by termite feeding. To detect termite infestations, homeowners should schedule regular termite inspections.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are large, winged ants that make their nests in wood, but unlike termites, they don’t eat the wood. They just tunnel through it as they grow their nests. Still, this can cause significant damage to wooden structures.

These ants are drawn to wet, deteriorating wood. To prevent carpenter ant infestations, homeowners should replace any wet or rotting wood. If an infestation is already present, removing the damaged wood may be the only treatment that’s required.

Powderpost Beetles

The larval form of these beetles live in dry, seasoned wood, like the kind used for beams, subflooring, and plywood. They can even live in hardwood furniture and floors. They eat tunnels in the wood and can cause serious damage. Since the tunnels are entirely below the surface of the wood, the damage can remain undetected until the wood falls apart.

Beetles are usually introduced to houses through infested wood. If you’re doing renovations in your home, inspect all the wood before you install it. Once an infestation develops, pest control professionals can use treatments like surface insecticides to control the beetles.

Wood Borers

Wood borers are another annoying pest that can damage wood. These bugs lay their eggs in the crevices of logs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore through the wood. The adult beetles then emerge through holes in the wood. Fortunately, the damage occurs slowly.

The most effective way to get rid of wood borers is fumigation, a process that can only be performed by licensed pest control professionals. If the infestation is localized, replacing the damaged wood may also be an option.

 

Termites aren’t the only insects that can damage the wood in your home. If you’re concerned that wood-damaging insects may be in your home, call the Orlando termite removal experts at Apex to schedule an inspection.

Ants: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Ants are common nuisance pests in Florida homes and backyards. As Orlando pest control experts know, ants are much more interesting than they may seem. These complex creatures have many effects on people and the environment from positive to rather nasty.

The Good

Did you know that ants are good for the soil? In fact, they’re better for the soil than worms are. The vast underground tunnels they dig are a major reason for this. As they tunnel, they redistribute nutrients and improve air and water circulation. The food scraps and waste they leave behind improve the soil chemistry. Ants also help distribute seeds by bringing them into their nests, and some of those seeds will take root and grow.

Ants have another important function: they eat other pests such as ticks, termites, scorpions, and stink bugs.

The Bad

Unfortunately, ants aren’t entirely good. Some of them can cause severe structural damage to homes. Black carpenter ants are one of these bad ants to watch out for as they invade homes and tunnel through the wood to build their nests, causing significant damage in the process.

Repairing the damage that carpenter ants leave behind can be costly, which is why keeping these ants away from your home is so important.

The Ugly

Structural damage is bad enough, but some ants can cause even worse problems. If you’ve lived in Florida for a while, you’ve probably already had a run-in with fire ants. These aggressive ants bite and sting repeatedly when their nests are disturbed. These bites are painful and can cause allergic reactions.

Unfortunately, fire ants aren’t the only type of ant that can give you a painful sting. Twig ants are another type to watch out for. These ants look like wingless wasps, and their stings have been compared to those of hornets.

Ants have many beneficial effects on people and the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re welcome in your home. If you need help controlling the bad and ugly effects of ants, call Apex, the Orlando pest control company.

 

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