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Pest Library

Common Pest Identification & Prevention In Houston, TX

Texas is a place where pests like insects, wildlife, and rodents thrive. Our warm, humid climate provides them with conditions that allow insects and other pests to feed and breed year-round. If ever the environmental conditions outside make it difficult for them to live comfortably, many pests will move inside our homes and businesses to have their basic needs met.  To help you stop your indoor or outdoor spaces from being overtaken by pests, we have put together the following pest guide.

Ants

Ants are social insects that live together in large groups, so if you see one ant on your property, don't be fooled; hundreds or thousands more are nearby. Depending on the species, ants will nest outside in your yard or sometimes inside your home. Additionally, some are dangerous because of their ability to bite or sting or cause structural damage. Others are simply unwelcome nuisances that contaminate food. Inside, ants usually nest out of sight behind walls, under floors, or above ceilings. These secluded nesting locations make these pests difficult to get rid of once they move indoors. Several ant species live worldwide, but in Houston, the following species are most likely to make themselves at home on your property:

  • Carpenter ants
  • Black ants
  • Fire ants
  • Pavement ants
  • Sugar ants

Ants have found their way to your property because it offers them a source of food or moisture. Feeding an ant colony is a full-time job, and worker ants are always out and about searching for food. Once they find a suitable food source, they will lay down a pheromone trail that other ants from their colony can follow. Trash cans, compost piles, outdoor eating areas, gardens, leaky pipes and fixtures, and low-lying areas provide ants with the food and water they are looking for; they are also things found on most of our properties. When foraging for food and water near our homes, it is easy for ants to move their small bodies inside through cracks and crevices they find in exterior walls or the foundation.

To help you stop ants from taking over your Houston area home, we want to provide you with some helpful prevention tips.

  • Repair openings that develop in your home's exterior walls and foundation. 
  • Use caulk to seal spaces in exterior walls and foundation and repair damaged screens. 
  • Keep lids on trash cans and regularly maintain gardens and outdoor eating areas to help eliminate an ant's easy access to food. 
  • Reduce moisture around your homes that attract many ants by cutting back overgrown shrubbery from exterior walls and repairing low-lying areas that collect rainwater. 

Bed Bugs

Preventing bed bugs is difficult because they don't typically enter our homes as most other pests do. They don't move inside through spaces in the exterior that they come across on their own. They move from location to location by hitchhiking on people and our belongings. Therefore, the more people regularly move in and out of an area; the more likely bed bugs will be present. Some of the most common places to come into contact with bed bugs include hotels, laundry mats, schools, hospitals, movie theaters, shopping centers, and secondhand stores.

After bed bugs get into your home, they will take cover in areas that put them near our sleeping or resting spots. Bed bugs stay close to people because our blood is their preferred food source. Bed bugs are primarily nocturnal and hide during the day, emerging at night to feed on our blood as we sleep. If these apple seed-shaped insects ever find their way into your Houston home, you may notice the following signs:

  • Drops of blood or dark streaks of excrement on mattresses, sheets, upholstered furniture, or walls
  • A sweet, musty odor in your home because of the pheromones that bed bugs emit to communicate with each other 
  • Piles of their shed skins under mattresses, on floors, or in drawers due to their growth
  • Live or dead bed bugs in your house
  • Waking with unexplained bug bites

To help you stop bed bugs from taking over your Houston area home, we want to provide you with some helpful prevention tips.

  • After traveling, always inspect and thoroughly wash and dry the clothing and bags you brought on the trip on high heat.
  • Place bed bug-proof covers on all mattresses and box springs in your home. Doing so will take away hiding spots that put them near you as you sleep. 
  • Regularly vacuum your house to pick up stray bed bugs.
  • If you use a laundry mat, make sure to bring your own baskets and take your clothing out of the dryer immediately and bring it home to fold.
  • When in public, keep your belongings up off of the ground and other surfaces as much as possible. Avoid placing your belongings on top of other people's belongings.

Mosquitoes

No matter where you live, mosquitoes are a constant and unwanted presence in our lives. These small flying pests thrive in warm, humid weather, and our area produces large populations throughout most of the year. Mosquitoes have an elongated mouthpart called a proboscis that they use for feeding. Unfortunately for us, their feeding habits include female mosquitoes biting us and feeding on our blood and the blood of other warm-blooded animals. At best, the result of being bitten is usually a red itchy welt and, at worst, being infected with a disease like the West Nile virus.

The biggest reason mosquitoes are out and about and can live in an area successfully is moisture availability. Females mosquitoes lay their eggs on top of standing water, and our Houston yards usually provide them with many breeding sites. Popular breeding sites include clogged gutters, containers like buckets and flower pots, and low-lying areas. Mosquitoes are prolific breeders and quickly increase their numbers. Our yards also provide mosquitoes with plenty of places to rest, such as areas under trees, decks, or in tall grass.

To help you stop mosquitoes from taking over your Houston yard, we want to provide you with some helpful prevention tips.

  • Always store containers that can collect water upside down when they are not in use.
  • Keep grass cut short and garden areas well-maintained.
  • Keep gutters clear of debris that can allow standing water to collect. 
  • Fill in low-lying areas in your yard that collect rainwater.
  • Regularly shake off the water that collects on things like tarps and trash can lids.
  • Repair leaking irrigation drains, pipes, or hoses.

Rodents

Having any pest in your Houston home is not something you want to discover; however, having to deal with rodents is particularly concerning. These small mammals reproduce quickly, contaminate food, and spread diseases and parasites. The mouse and rat are two of the most common rodent species that make themselves at home on our Texas properties. Though mice and rats differ in appearance, they have their front incisors in common, which grow throughout their lives. To prevent their teeth from overgrowing, they constantly gnaw, causing a lot of damage to vegetation, trees, and our home's structure in the process.

Both mice and rats are problematic for people because they have discovered how beneficial it is to live near people. We unintentionally provide them with food, water, and places to nest. Nesting and feeding sites include gardens, fruit trees, flower beds, trash cans, compost, and outdoor eating areas. Inside of our garages or sheds, they often nest in lawnmowers, cars, and other equipment, causing major damage to them in the process. Preventing rodent problems is difficult because they are good at making themselves at home wherever it benefits them. They will use their teeth to gnaw entrances into our homes. They like to nest in dark spaces behind walls, cabinets, appliances, and the backs of closets in locations that put them near food sources, such as kitchens and pantries.

To help you stop rodents from taking over your Houston area yard or home, we want to provide you with some helpful prevention tips. Check the exterior of your home, and if you discover any gaps or cracks, make sure to fill them in. Use a material strong enough to hold up against a rodent's sharp front incisors. Severely limit their access to food by keeping lids on trash cans, recycling bins, and compost pins. Make sure outdoor eating and cooking areas are always clean and free of food debris. Greatly reduce their access to food in your home by regularly vacuuming, keeping counters clean, and storing food in the fridge or containers with airtight lids.

If you need help removing pests from your Houston area home, reach out to the local professionals at Caraway Pest Control. We understand the unique pest control needs of home and business owners in Houston. Our dedicated professionals will provide the services necessary to remove insects, rodents, and wildlife from your property and prevent them from returning! Let us help you protect your family and property from unwanted pests. Give us a call today to discover the benefits of partnering with Caraway Pest Control and learn the details about our commercial and residential pest control solutions!

Termites

Termites are wood-eating pests that live throughout most of the country and thrive in warm, humid areas like Houston. In our region, we have not one type of termite to deal with but three:

  1. The subterranean termite has high moisture needs and is the most widespread species. They nest in the ground and prefer to feed on water-damaged or wet wood.
  2. The Formosan termite is a type of subterranean termite uniquely capable of nesting both in the ground and above the ground.
  3. The drywood termite nests inside the same dry wood they feed on.

When termites live outside, away from our homes and business, they are an intricate part of the environment. Their feeding behaviors help break down and get rid of things like dead trees and other organic matter. However, when termites set their sites on feeding on our home's structural wood, they are destructive pests that need quick elimination. Below are some of the biggest reasons why termites are so dangerous to have in our homes:

  • They live underground and feed on the interior of wood and therefore can work for months or years without notice.
  • Often the presence of termites is only discovered once their damage is done. Termite damage is usually not covered by homeowners' insurance and is expensive to repair.
  • Termites are a year-round threat in our area and never sleep. They constantly work to feed their large colonies, causing more and more damage each day.
  • Depending on the species, termites can find their way into our homes in various ways, such as through spaces in the foundation or roof, wood making contact with the ground, or wood or wooden furniture brought into your home already infested.

To help you stop termites from taking over your Houston area home, we want to provide you with some helpful prevention tips.

  • Clean gutters, install weatherstripping around windows and doors, and repair roof damage to stop rainwater from seeping into your roof and walls.
  • Repair cracks in the foundation of your home.
  • Fix leaky pipes, faucets, and air conditioners.
  • Limit soil to wood contact around your property.
  • Use air-conditioners and dehumidifiers to lower humidity levels in your home. 
  • Remove fallen trees, tree stumps, old fences, and the like from your property. 
  • Inspect newly purchased furniture, wooden beams, and other wooden items for signs of termites.

Wildlife

In Houston, various wild animals live in the outdoor areas surrounding our homes, and living close by means they frequently find their way to our properties while searching for food, shelter, and water sources. When wild animals are living near people, they will introduce many problems.

  • They can cause problems to the structures of our homes, damaging wires, pipes, cables, drywall, siding, and foundations. 
  • Through their feces that can transmit bacteria and pathogens that make people ill. 
  • They carry and transmit a variety of parasites on their bodies, like fleas, ticks, and mites.
  • If they ever feel threatened or are startled, they may react by biting or scratching.
  • Wild animals will damage lawns, trees, and gardens.

Some of the most common unwanted wild animal intruders that property owners in our area of Texas deal with are bats, opossums, raccoons, skunks, and squirrels. All have different diets and nesting needs, but all can find what they are looking for in our yards and sometimes in our homes. Places where wild animals regularly forage for food include trash cans, compost piles, bird feeders, pet food bowls, gardens, lawns, and fruit trees. Spots in our yards and homes where wild animals create nesting or resting places include trees, woodpiles, fallen trees, spaces under sheds and foundations, attics, and chimneys. If you see wild animals regularly in your yard, entering or exiting your home, or are discovering damage, don't hesitate to reach out for help to eliminate them. The quicker you remove unwanted wildlife, the less damage they will be able to generate around your Houston property!

To help you stop wild animals from taking over your Houston area property, we want to provide you with some helpful prevention tips. Wild animals hang out in wooded areas, fields, lakes, and streams near our homes. Keep your property's grass cut short, cut back overgrown shrubs, trees, and other vegetation to stop wildlife from viewing your yard as a place they can hang out. Stop them from foraging for food in trash cans by placing locking lids on them. Place fencing around the bottom of your shed to help stop wild animals from burrowing under them. Seal spaces in the foundation, exterior walls, and place cover over vents and chimneys to help keep these pests out of your house.

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