All posts by Mosquito Joe

Things to Do at Home

For the introverts amongst us, staying at home is not much of a change in routine.  But for the extrovert, thumb twiddling could become the next sport.  We thought we would gather together some ideas to keep you busy during this strange time.

If you are looking for some “big” ideas, consider learning a new language or taking up an art form. From painting to simple doodling, you can pass a few happy hours this way: watercolor, oil paint, drawing, sculpting and so on.   There are a lot of tutorials available on YouTube for every art medium you can think of. If you want something that requires less skill, check out some of the new paint by number options out there. You can paint some pretty impressive and large pieces of art these days. You can also consider scrapbooking. Do you have a pile of old photos you’ve always been meaning to sort out? Now is a great time to sit down and create some albums for your family to treasure. Create a vision board and get your kids to do the same.

Baking is a great hobby that has the added benefit of filling up your kitchen with yummy treats. The only down-side here is the possible lack of ingredients in your local stores.  Check out Instagram for streaming bread-making classes, or, again, head to YouTube for some free lessons. There are also a multitude of companies that offer classes online if you want to take that path.

If you love to organize, now is a great time to set about with a plan to sort out your home.  Marie Kondo and her book “The Magic Art of Tidying Up” approaches tidying from a new perspective and you can drill down and get your whole house revamped in a few weeks.  It’s also a great time for all those honey-do’s that there is never any time for.

Gardening is another great hobby that you can really enjoy this time of year. Maybe you’ve always intended on laying a new bed or revamping some old ones. Getting outside can really keep your spirits up when you are asked to stay home and what better way to use your time than to make some changes and upgrade your curb appeal.

If gardening isn’t for you, work on the inside of your home and consider painting a new color on the wall or moving some furniture around.

If you have children, you know that starting a new hobby is not as easy as it sounds. But consider making it a family affair and learn something new together. Have an afternoon of art, create a fairy garden outside or sort out their toys with them. Pulling out some cards or jigsaw’s or games is a great way to spend time together. Think about putting a tent up in the yard and going on a “camping trip” or build a fort in the game room.

Speaking of the kids, consider getting everyone involved in some family exercise like yoga or aerobics. An hour of expending some energy will help everyone’s sanity. Opt for a picnic in the garden instead of dinner at the table if the weather allows. The key with kids is having some kind of routine to make each day have purpose. Honestly, routine is key with us adults too. Consider writing down all the tasks you wish you had time for, and all the things you wish you had time to learn.  Then create a calendar to get those things accomplished. Just don’t forget to intersperse some fun in there!

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What is a Mosquito Misting System

Controlling mosquitos in your property is based very much in science.  However, choosing from the many mosquito control options and applying them can be somewhat of an art.  Mosquito Barrier Treatments are custom applications, performed by a licensed pest control technician, that conform to the intricacies of each individual property.  They take into consideration the mosquito pressure from outside of the property, breeding areas within the property, and vegetation and landscaping in and around the property; all with consideration of the areas of human activity where the mosquitoes need to be controlled. 

Some properties seem to be better suited for Mosquito Misting Systems.  It is estimated that about 5% of the properties in the NW Houston and S Brazos Valley area may actually get better mosquito control from one of these systems.  Many of these properties have smaller back yards with little or no barrier to adjacent properties by either vegetation or privacy fencing.  A good example is a golf course property, where there is nothing between the vast expanse of the course and the home.  

Like the Mosquito Barrier Treatments, installing a Mosquito Misting System is an art.  There has to be consideration for future vegetation growth, prevailing winds, times and areas of human activity, and locations of areas of high mosquito pressure.  These systems are a much more permanent option so carful design is a must.  Once the system is installed there have to be decisions on misting times and durations, to provide the greatest impact to the mosquito population with as little pesticide use as possible.  It is recommended that a licensed pest control technician design, install, maintain, and fill your mosquito misting system.  

What is a Mosquito Misting System?

 Simply it is a device that stores a product used to control mosquitoes.  It has a pump that is controlled by a timer.  At preset times of the day, a diluted solution of the pesticide is pumped through small tubing to areas within a property and dispersed through misting nozzles creating a very fine mist. This mist lands on areas where mosquitoes live, killing adult mosquitoes.  These systems can also be designed and installed to control spiders around the eaves of your home.  

I have a Mosquito Misting System and I’m still getting bit.  Why?

 Mosquito Misting Systems have to be maintained.  Clogged nozzles and dirty filters can cause your system to not work at peak performance.  A regular maintenance schedule is a must.  Also, if you’ve added landscaping or your landscaping has matured since the system was installed, it may need an upgrade.  Sometimes this can be as simple as adding tubing and nozzles to areas that are lacking in coverage.  Occasionally, a property can benefit from using a different product in the tank. Mosquito Joe can provide maintenance and expand your system, even if we didn’t install it. 

There are times when some larger properties will benefit from regular Barrier Treatments that can treat areas outside of where the misting system is.  This combination treatment can certainly take care of those pesky mosquitoes and allows us to control your biggest source; standing water.

Should I have a Mosquito Misting System installed or have Mosquito Barrier Treatments?

The only way to know is to have a Licensed Pest Control company evaluate your property.  Mosquito Joe provides Mosquito Barrier Treatments and installs and maintains Mosquito Misting Systems and can evaluate any property as well as give the pros and cons of both.

Which option is more expensive?

That’s a tough question.  There are so many variables involved that there is not one answer that fits every property.  

A misting system has a greater up-front cost.  Typical systems for smaller properties average from $2200 to $2800 to install.  Fills and maintenance make up the ongoing cost and generally occur every couple of months depending on the number of nozzles, number of mist cycles a day, and the length of each mist cycle.  Mosquito Barrier Treatments are a service and require no up-front costs.  Treatments are applied every 3 weeks (2 weeks for botanical and all-natural services) by a pest control technician, and include larvicide application in standing water, organic applications to flowering plants and vegetable gardens, and a barrier spray to all foliage.  Mosquito Joe will always provide a free quote for either and can help you decide what is the best option for your property.

 

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How to Treat Fire Ants

Fire ant service from Mosquito Joe (and some fascinating information on Fire Ants)

Fire ants are not just a nuisance in Texas, they are dangerous and do an incredible amount of damage.  Red imported fire ants are an invasive species, not just to the US but to Australia, China and Taiwan.  Over five billion dollars (yes, BILLION) are spent each year in the States on medical treatments, damage and control of fire ants.  They also cause $750 million dollars’ worth of damage per year to agriculture in the US.  What is just as incredible is the amazingly fast adaptation some of our local creatures have gone through to deal with these imports.  In 2009, a study found that in just 70 years, lizards have adapted both their behavior and their leg length to help them avoid and escape the danger of fire ants.

Distinguishing native and imported fire ants is difficult, particularly since the imported ants vary in size.  Imported ants are also composed of two genetically distinct types: Monogyne (one queen colony) and polygyne (multiple queen colony). Regardless of which type we look at, there are some common themes amongst all fire ants that are fascinating and impressive.  This understanding of their behavior is what enables us to treat them effectively.

Image of the fire ant colony's QueenFire ants don’t bite, they sting.  Well actually they do both – they bite to grip and then sting, but the latter is what causes us the pain and lends them their name, as a sting really can feel like a small fire.  We all know that when one bites, so do many.  However, there is no evidence that pheromones are the cause of this.  Typically, one ant bites us, we jerk in reflex and this motion causes the other ants to bite as well.

There are up to 250,000 ants in a colony.  These ants are made up of workers – who forage for food, soldier ants – these have larger and more powerful mandibles, and the queen (or queens depending on the type).  The queen lives up to 7 years, while the males live between 5.5 – 6.5 years each.

Fire ants’ mate when the temperature is between 70 and 95 degrees, the humidity is high, and the winds are low (a typical day in this part of the country).  They also tend to breed within 24 hours of rain.  Once they mate the male dies.  The female will then fly for 2-3 miles, up to a height of 2,000 feet, until she lands to nest.  It is interesting to note that 99.9% of these females die before they nest (a fact we should all be thankful for).

When the female lands she pulls off her wings and eats them.  This meal sustains her until her eggs hatch and her offspring are ready to head out and forage.  The queen will then burrow and lay her eggs.  Forty-five days later her offspring hatch.  The workers head out of the nest and gather food to bring back.

Fire ants don’t eat solid food.  Instead they bring the food back to the nest and place it near the late-stage larvae.  The larvae secrete enzymes which digest the food into liquid.  The ants then pass this liquified food to one another to eat in a process called trophallaxis.  This behavior creates a built in “taster ant” process.  Simply, if an ant gets sick or dies from a liquid, the queen is not fed that same liquid.  This process is in place for a couple of days, meaning we can get around it by delaying the effect of our bait.

The most successful treatment for fire ants is a two-step method and this is what we employ at Mosquito Joe.  The first step is a bait broadcast that is placed in the yard.  This bait has a 3-day delay on it, which enables us to circumvent the taster ants and kill the queen.  Particularly in a monogyne colony, killing the queen will end the reproductive ability of the colony.  We combine this broadcast with a nest service that we perform at each visit.  We recommend the broadcast be repeated every 10-12 weeks, and a visit once in between to directly treat the nests.  For this portion of the service, we inject down into each nest and kill all the ants we contact with the product.

While we may kill all the queens in the yard, it is important to remember that new queens will fly in.  Fire ants are also excellent at moving locations when circumstances require it.  You may recall the images posted after Hurricane Harvey of fire ant rafts floating along the flood waters.  These rafts are composed of a colony of ants, gripping to one another to form a living raft, with the queen protected within.  This behavior will occur whenever circumstances dictate, so while your yard may be fire ant free one day, a heavy downpour and localized flooding can change that quickly.  Treating consistently and using this two-step method will get rid of them and keep them out of your yard.

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