How to Prevent Tawny Crazy Ants from Spreading

Dugas Pest Control provides ant extermination services in New Orleans and Baton Rouge LouisianaFire ants are pretty much the worst, right?

Their painful stings and aggressive swarming behavior make them more than a nuisance – they can be dangerous.

But there’s a new ant moving into Louisiana that has some people wishing fire ants were the worst of their problems.

It’s called the Tawny Crazy Ant, and though the name sounds a little silly, these crazy ants should be taken seriously.

What makes these ants so “crazy?”

Originating in South America, crazy ants take out any competition in their territory, killing fire ants, bees, even birds. They can harm pets and livestock as well.

They were discovered in Texas back in 2002, and they got their name from the erratic, almost crazy way they move around. These tiny ants have colonies in the millions and BILLIONS, and they will infest your home quickly, killing all other pests that get in their way.

Tawny crazy ants have another crazy trait: they love electrical wiring. In fact the first time you discover them it may be because some of your home’s wiring or appliances short out (we’ve heard reports of them destroying A/C units, interior wiring, and even car electrical systems!).

Prevent crazy ants from moving into your home

Many typical pest control tactics don’t work on crazy ants, because they will nest inside your home as well as outdoors. They also aren’t typically attracted to the usual ant foods, like sugary spills or most ant baits, so control and prevention of crazy ants is highly specialized.

Here are the main things to consider when fighting crazy ants:

  • They love moist conditions, so ensure you have good drainage around your home, and remove fallen branches or debris they may find a home in.
  • Avoid spreading them to new locations: check anything from an infested location before moving it. Tawny crazy ants will hitch a ride on anything they can (even your car)!
  • Professional chemical control is preferred for this highly invasive and aggressive species. Consumer chemical products simply don’t work on crazy ants.
  • After treatment, piles of millions of dead ants will appear. These need to be removed to continue treating the surface underneath.

If you suspect you have Tawny Crazy Ants in or around your south Louisiana home, call Dugas Pest Control to get ahead of these pests. We can help you eliminate these invasive ants and work together to prevent their spread through our region.

How a love of animals led to a career in pest control

Meet Debbie!

Debbie-from-Dugas-Pest-Control

She’s one of our pest control technicians and she’s been with us for almost 4 years now.

It might seem unusual that we have a woman working as a technician in our industry, but the pest control world offers wonderful opportunities for people with all sorts of interests.

You see, Debbie has always loved nature, animals, and the outdoors. In fact, she started out working at Audubon Zoo at just 18 years old!

After many years of working as a zookeeper, curator, and educator, she moved on to another career with animals: managing an animal shelter.

Even though both of these jobs had serious challenges and tough situations, Debbie has always loved helping, learning about animals and educating people.

Then one day as she was considering a career change, her interest in the natural world led her to us in what most people refer to as the pest control business!

It was an amazing coincidence – Debbie wanted to work outdoors and manage her own schedule, and our job post was the first thing she saw. She applied at Dugas, and the rest is history… 

Know Your Enemy

It seems like an unusual career change, but a love of learning about science and nature makes Debbie a great pest control technician.

“I’m not the annihilator,” she says, “but I know that pests can get out of control, especially with our climate and terrain. All the standing water this year is a perfect example.”

By learning how to identify bugs, knowing their habits, and staying aware of the dangers they present, Debbie has quickly become one of our top pest control technicians. Once she performs an inspection, she has the knowledge and expertise to determine the best way to solve your pest problem.

She loves the challenge!

Knowing the difference between similar-looking pests and their habits helps Debbie create a customized plan to keep your home pest-free as well as safe from the diseases they can carry. She even collects some insects to show to other technicians!

So even though it seems like a former zookeeper and animal lover with 3 dogs (and maybe a foster or two), 3 miniature horses, a Cockatoo, and a Macaw might not be what you expect in your pest control technician, Debbie’s interest in nature and knowledge about animals and bugs inspire her to solve pest problems for her customers each and every day.

Next time you see Debbie in one of our vehicles headed to a job, give her a wave! We promise she’ll smile right back 🙂

Don’t take any chances with West Nile virus

Dugas Pest Control provides mosquito control service in New Orleans and Baton Rouge Louisiana Pretty much everyone in South Louisiana can agree that mosquitoes are one of the drawbacks of the warm summer season.

The stinging.

The buzzing of that one evasive mosquito – right in your ear.

And now… the danger to you and your family’s health.

With West Nile virus found locally, our customers (especially those who are expecting a baby), are taking no chances this summer. With so much standing water everywhere, mosquitoes have been especially persistent this year, and local mosquito control boards have ordered extra spraying to control the population.

Why worry about West Nile?

If an infected mosquito bites you, the most common illness contracted is called West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, body- and head- aches, vomiting, fatigue and a skin rash.

About 1% of people get something called West Nile encephalitis or meningitis, which is extremely dangerous. This infection causes swelling of the brain, the membranes around it, and the spinal cord. The symptoms are more severe than West Nile fever, and additional symptoms like a stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, even seizures or partial paralysis can result.

Who’s at risk?

Anyone can contract West Nile, but some people have a higher risk if infected. People over 50, those with cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, and of course pregnant women are all at a higher risk. West Nile can cause brain damage in unborn babies, even in mild cases.

Pets can also be infected, although many flea and tick treatments also repel mosquitoes.

What can you do to protect your home and family?

You can take steps by staying indoors at dawn and dusk and using a personal mosquito repellent with DEET, but this only prevents bites without eliminating mosquitoes.

At Dugas, we control mosquitoes with a variety of techniques. Our mosquito suppression treatment reduces mosquito populations by up to 90%, and we offer 6-12 month annual programs to keep your yard mosquito-free year-round.

Our automated mosquito misting systems kill and repel mosquitoes around pools, porches, and patios during pre-set times of the day. They are easy to maintain and professional support is available.

Our technicians will also inspect your yard and around your home to identify places mosquitoes might live and breed, like standing water, overgrown or dead vegetation, and clogged gutters.

Contact us to learn more about our treatments to kill mosquitoes around your home or business.

Academy 2017 – Hosted by NPMA

Our own Daniel Hill recently attended Academy 2017, hosted by NPMA (National Pest Management Association).

This was an Olympic style conference for the Leadership Development Council of which Daniel is a member.

He produced this video of his experience captaining the Red Team, which won first place.

Get to know your local Louisiana termites

Dugas Pest Control provides termite treatment and extermination service in New Orleans and Baton Rouge LouisianaTermites are termites, right? Well, sort of!

Sure, all termites are on the hunt for food and water. And unfortunately, food is often found in the form of your home. But knowing what kind of termites are behind an infestation is important, as it helps us create a treatment and prevention plan that will successfully eradicate the problem.

Two kinds of termites are prevalent in Southern Louisiana: Formosan and Native Subterranean.

Knowing the difference can help you spot an infestation and prevent damage.

Formosan termites: the tough guys

Originally hailing from Asia, Formosan termites (Coptotermes Formosanus) are common across the southern states, with sightings as far north as the Canadian border. Fierce defenders of their territory, Formosan termites are fast acting and aggressive. Preferring warm, damp climates, they reproduce quickly. Colonies have up to 350,000 workers, and a queen can lay up to 1,000 eggs in one day!

These termites build their nests in the soil, and make mud tubes to bring food and moisture to their colonies. Preventing Formosan termite infestations means keeping moisture away from your home’s foundation, so properly functioning gutters and downspouts are important. Good ventilation in crawl spaces reduces humidity, and most importantly, eliminate any wood contact with the soil.

A mature Formosan termite colony can cause serious structural damage to a home in as little as six months. Prevention is key with this species.

Native subterranean termites

Native subterranean termites (Reticulitermes) also live in colonies underground and spend their days searching for food. They are found throughout the U.S. in every state but Alaska, making them much more common than the Formosan termite.

Like their Formosan cousins, native subterranean termites build nests in damp soil, making mud tubes to transport food and moisture to their colony. They eat anything containing cellulose, with sharp, scissor-like jaws that can collapse a building entirely if an infestation goes unchecked.

You may not be able to identify which type of termites are swarming in your yard, but either species can cause damage very quickly. If you see winged termites around your home, they’re looking for a new place to live. Make sure your home and property are protected by calling us to inspect, prevent, and remove termites before they cause real trouble.

Daniel Hill talks fruit fly management for PCT Magazine

When handling fruit flies, how many times have you said to a commercial customer, “It’s a sanitation issue,” pointed out some things that need to be fixed or cleaned and left? If so, you should never do it again after today! I’d like to give you some tips and selling points, as well as equip you with the knowledge to stop fighting symptoms and start seeing results. Let’s jump into our first tip.

1. Stop using the word “clean.” There’s a reason it rarely works; everyone has his or her own definition of what “clean” means. The way to combat that is to give them a visual definition. Say the words, “scrub and remove.” This gives your customer an image in his mind of what he is supposed to do because you’ve replaced a concept with an action. Don’t stop there: Carry extra cleaning tools (nylon brush, scraper) and show the client how to scrub and remove. You can even give him the tool. You have just instantly made him accountable for handling the source of the problem with a scraper investment of just a few bucks!

2. Be scientific and speak their language. Generally speaking, a fruit fly can go from egg to adult in one to two weeks and is sexually mature two days later, ready to mate and lay up to 500 eggs at one time. If you’re having problems with customer cooperation, give them that scientific fact. It’s enough to make the average person think twice about turning a blind eye to the problem.

Another way to have your customer buy in to looking past the symptoms is to use the word “maggot” instead of “larvae.” This tip works wonders. When people think of the word “larvae,” they picture butterflies. But, when people hear the word “maggot,” they think…well, maggot. It’s a visceral word that sounds gross.

3. Put on your best Sherlock Holmes. This is where you become the detective and search out the source. You’re looking for grime; the perfect amount of moisture. The larval stage/maggot of a fruit fly will be deep in moist, decaying matter. The most common areas are the underside of drain covers; caulk lines; backs of appliances like ice machines and dishwashers; dark corners where mops have slosh build-up; decaying food and more. The trick to seeing them is thorough use of a flashlight. Take a few minutes (yes, literally, a few minutes) and watch. Maggots will constantly move, and you’ll see a sort of pop of light — a flicker or glimmer — where the light reflects off the maggot as it moves. Use your scraper to get it out and show your customer as you uncover the white larvae coming from the build-up.

The next stage of a fruit fly can be a little more difficult to find. The maggot moves away from the food in search of a dry place, and turns into a hard, dark shell. Then, the adult fly emerges and is sexually mature in just 48 hours. You can shine your flashlight directly onto P-traps and PVC pipes under sinks and you will see dark spots where build-up is apparent (see photos above).

4. Create the right conditions. One good tip is to recommend a box or snail fan. (It’s not a bad idea to buy some nice fans and lease them out either.) The idea behind a fan is to keep things dry and keep the fruit flies from mating or landing in that area. Fruit flies are weak fliers and can be deterred by air disturbance. Traps and fly lights are also useful and should be used to catch emerging adults, but they are not the only answer or a permanent solution; they are just another tool in the toolbox.

5. Damage their home (the fruit flies, not your clients). Another tip is to use bioremediation products packed with good microbes to fight that organic build-up and odor. It’s important the customer removes anti-microbial and bleach products from their sanitation practices when you use these solutions, as they kill the good microbes and corrode pipes, mitigating the effectiveness of your treatment. Another chemical suggestion is to use a waterproof dust. If used in a drain, it will coat the drain as the water rises and falls. An IGR mixed with a pyrethroid is good for a quick knockdown, just follow the label closely before any application.

FINAL THOUGHTS. Implementing these tips and suggestions can result in not only making your customers happy and their accounts fly-free, but also be the inspiration for a more comprehensive bioremediation protocol for your business. Managing fruit flies can be a very rewarding and profitable experience.

Laura Simpson interviewed by 225 Magazine April 28th 2017

On muggy summer nights in Louisiana, it’s sometimes best just to not look down when you’re walking on the streets. That way you can be blissfully oblivious to whatever creatures might be scurrying around near your feet.

It’s a little tougher to turn a blind eye when those creatures invade your home, though. Then, it’s war. The key to keeping pests away, says Dugas Pest Control President Laura Simpson, is eliminating food, shelter and water for insects. This may prove difficult, as most of us love plants, trees and water features around our home. But practiced locals, like Simpson, know the precautionary measures to take.

1. Keep plants and trees trimmed. You want them to be 20-24 inches away from the sides and roof of your home, Simpson says.

2. Don’t let vines grow on the outside of your home. This can be a nice look, but keep it on a fence or trellises.

3. Fill in or contour any low areas around your yard. Lower areas may stay wet for a few days after a rain, attracting bugs.

4. Keep your gutters clean and free of debris. This is the area where the most problems start. All insects love the moist environment of rotting plant material, which is what you end up with in clogged gutters.

5. Check seals and weather stripping on your doors and windows. If you can see daylight, insects may be able to enter.

6. Keep flowerbeds 4-6 inches below the top of your slab or piers/chain wall foundation. Insects that live in the soil, including termites and roaches, can enter between the exterior siding and the foundation of your house, according to Simpson.

7. Routinely clean spider webs from the exterior of your home. The spiders don’t like to be disturbed. So the more often you bother them, the more likely they are to leave.

Dugas Volunteers

Since 1995, the Volunteers of America Drop In Center has served as a point-of-entry for the street homeless. The primary focus of the Center is to assist homeless individuals and families with obtaining treatment and housing. The Center provides case management as well as a place for homeless individuals to do their laundry, shower, receive mail and use the telephone.

When we were approached to quote an annual inspection of Volunteer Services of America Greater Baton Rouge’s drop in center, we discovered an opportunity to give back to the Baton Rouge community we’ve been part of for 60 years.

Dugas Volunteers

The whole company came together to donate time and services for the Center. “These guys are all off the clock right now,” said Jeremy Clark, our General Manager , as four employees inspected the building. “We’re proud to be in a position to be able to give back. Our team enjoys volunteering their own time in the community, and we want to encourage and support them in that.”

Dugas Volunteers

“We are pleased to have this partnership with Dugas Pest Control,” said Janet Pace, President and CEO of Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rouge. “They are a recognized leader in their field and share in our efforts to ensure that the individuals we serve are in safe and welcoming spaces. It is heartening when companies invest in their communities.”

Please join us in supporting this valuable organization – learn more about the Drop In Center here: https://www.voagbr.org/

Warm Spring 2017 Weather Has Local Bugs All in a Tizzy

We Louisiana folks love teasing our Yankee friends about our mild winters. Thanksgiving with the AC running. Christmas in shorts while they shovel snow.

Some winters are milder than others. But this year, some folks have put out a “missing person” report on our winter and spring.

It’s only March and our late spring and early summer pests are already starting to party.  Here’s a lowdown on the pests which are active early and what you can do to keep them at bay…

Termites

We received our first calls about termite swarms around Valentine’s Day. That’s EARLY!

Termites swarming this early in the season is not a good harbinger of things to come.

The reason that termites swarm is that the colony gets too big for it’s current location. They outgrow the food and water source.

When this happens, the “alates”, or swarmers, grow wings and take off to find a new food source. About half of any given colony will become alates and leave.

Those swarmers are looking for a new home. Or maybe it’s a big colony that’s outgrown it’s space in your home…

In either case, it’s time to take action.

If you’re a do it yourselfer, check the soil levels in your garden beds and around your home to make sure they’re not higher than the slab or touching the bricks. Seal the access points to your home.

You can also call us to schedule a free termite inspection and make sure your termite protection is totally up to date.

Mosquitoes

2016 was a nasty year for mosquitoes. Zika made us forget all about West Nile at least for awhile.

We’re already getting calls for people requesting mosquito suppression treatments for their yards.

Here in south Louisiana, once the temperature gets above 65 degrees for 4-5 days, you can bet the mosquitoes will be out in force. Especially after a rain!

The flooding in greater Baton Rouge last year isn’t helping this spring’s mosquito problems either. Many people don’t know that mosquito eggs can lie dormant for months just waiting for the right temperatures to hatch.

Make sure to eliminate all standing water from around your home. Turn over the frisbees, kids toys and anything else that might hold even a small amount of water.

Then get rid of damp coverings or brush piles where mosquitoes may breed.

And while these types of prevention tips will always help, nothing beats professional mosquito suppression treatment. Call us for more information.

Other Pests Who Are Active Early

It seems like all the bugs are active early this year. We’ve had calls for fire ants, spiders and roaches (just to name a few) already and it’s not even April.

These pests are actively moving about seeking new sources of food and water. And of course, new mates for breeding.

If you’re seeing pests running around your home, don’t wait until your regular service or for the bugs to get out of hand. Call us today to schedule service, even if it’s early, and keep your home pest free for the spring!