Katherine S. was getting ants on her kitchen counter in her home in Spring Lake. I Inspected the interior and didn't see any ant activity at the time I was there. I went outside to conduct an inspection and as expected, found ants trailing from her neighbors yard into her garage area and then filing into kitchen. I treated the areas with a gel bait and granular. The ants will eat the bait and bring it back to the rest of the colony. Bye Bye ants!
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In early spring, we start getting more and more calls from homeowners after observing an insect swarm. Swarming is a natural phenomenon that occurs periodically with social insects — insects that live in large colonies with a specialized division of labor. Sometimes insects swarm when they leave their nest all at once to move to another location. Another common reason for an insect swarm is when reproductive insects take flight out of the nest for the purpose of mating and starting new colonies.
Although insect swarms can be frightening to observe, for homeowners, they are often the most visible sign that there is a subterranean nest on their property. Usually, we assume the worst and it is a termite swarm. I was sent to a home in Spring Lake, NJ, to conduct an inspection for possible termite activity. The homeowners contacted Cowleys after observing an insect swarm. Fortunately, these weren’t termites. Rather, they were flying ants. It’s easy to confuse the two. Out of an abundance of caution and considering the potential property damage that termites can cause, it’s always a good idea to have a pest control professional confirm the type of swarming insect. The particular insect determines the particular treatment that’s necessary get rid of the infestation.
Here, after determining these were flying ants, I located the ant nest. Ants had formed a nest in a bait station. It was an active nest filled with larvae.
In Spring Lake, NJ, a homeowner was dealing with chronically high humidity and moisture build-up in their basement. Musty basement odor permeated the entire house, and the basement conditions were ripe for mold growth. This is a problem that will not go away on its own. Dehumidification is the only long-term solution to this problem. The excess moisture has to be taken out of the air. this homeowner had gone through two store-bought dehumidifiers. These residential dehumidifiers are not meant to be working all the time in basements and crawl spaces. Homeowners cannot be expected to be constantly adjusting the settings and emptying pans of water. Cowleys offers homeowners commercial-grade dehumidifiers that are specifically designed to work in below-grade chronically damp basements and crawl spaces.
The humidifiers we install have a built-in humidity sensor that enables the machine to turn on and off automatically depending on moisture conditions with no manual intervention. As such, they are ENERGY STAR certified for efficiency. For this homeowner, we installed the SaniDry Sedona dehumidifier, which has the capacity to remove up to 100 pints (12.5 gallons) of water out of the air daily, if necessary, and move over 300 cubic feet of dry air. By keeping the basement’s relative humidity under 55%, dangerous mold growth can’t take hold and dust mites will die off, dramatically improving indoor air quality and removing that sickening musty odor that enters the home’s living spaces, and was, for this homeowner, affecting the livability and enjoyment of her residence. We installed the Sedona so that it would drain directly into her sump pump. The homeowner would no longer have to worry about overflowing dehumidifier trays or buckets of water to empty. The lesson with basement and crawl space dehumidification is that you have to have a machine that’s up for the job — and store-bought machines just don’t cut it.
I was recently sent to a home in Spring Lake, NJ. The homeowner contacted Cowleys because groundhogs were actively burrowing underneath a backyard shed. They were causing significant damage to his yard and he was concerned that they would start to bore their way into the shed itself.
To catch the groundhogs, I placed two traps near the burrow holes used by the groundhogs to hide underneath the homeowner’s shed. The idea behind successful trapping is to put the animal at ease and not give them any cause for concern by making the trap look like an old familiar friend! For example, when baiting, I use the same or similar food that the animal is used to eating, and I always put organic materials like mulch, dried grass, dirt on the floor of the trap to project a familiar environment for the animal. I’m confident that my “secret” combination of bait and lures will be too irresistible for even the most cautious and wary groundhog. I’ll check the traps in a couple of days, and told the homeowner to contact me immediately once any critters are trapped. I know how these guys think and how they behave. It won’t take long for these burrowing groundhogs to be captured, and this homeowner’s groundhog problem to come to an abrupt end.
I was sent to a home in Spring Lake to conduct a periodic servicing that’s covered under our home protection plan. During these visits, we perform preventative treatments, discuss with the homeowner any pest issues that have surfaced if they have not called us, and perhaps most important, conduct a thorough interior and exterior inspection. We often find problems that have escaped the attention of the homeowner.
During my visit, I noticed an old bee nest under the homeowner’s deck railing, and removed it. Wasps (as well as baldfaced hornets and yellow jackets, both of which are a type of wasp) and bees have a lot in common — not the least of which is that they are all capable of delivering painful stings and it’s best to not have them on your property! Of the two, bees are far more beneficial. Chubby, fuzzy bees pollinate and are mild-mannered. They live on a diet of nectar and pollen from flowers. Most bees have a barbed stinger and can sting only once. Streamlined, shiny-looking wasps are voracious omnivores that will also eat other insects. Wasps are far more aggressive and can sting repeatedly. In short, at least to me, bees are mostly good and wasps are mostly evil!
One way to know the type of stinging insect on your property is by identifying the type of nest. If you have an open nest with hexagonal cells shaped like an umbrella, that’s a paper wasp nest. Hornets build nests with smooth walls that are shaped like a football. Wasps flying in and out of a hole in the ground or in a building are probably yellowjackets. Finally, nests made of a waxy substance is almost certainly a bee hive. Bees build a wax comb and live on the outside unlike hornets, which live inside their brown or grey paper-like nest.
After I removed the the old nest, I did some further checking to see what else might be lurking under the deck railing. To my surprise, I found another. And then another! By the time I was finished, I removed four small nests from under this homeowner’s deck railing.
Recently, my partner and I were dispatched to one of our commercial accounts, a condominium complex in Spring Lake Heights, to perform a termite treatment. One of the unit owners found herself with a termite swarm in the bathroom. Termites are subterranean insects that live in underground colonies. Termites feed on any product containing cellulose, most commonly wood and processed wood products. They are, by far, the most destructive insect faced by homeowners.
A mature termite colony will produce thousands of winged termites that venture out of the nest when temperatures start to warm in the spring, especially after a spring rain. Their sole purpose is to find a mate and start a new colony. To reach the open air, they will squeeze through the tiniest cracks and crevices. While termite swarms are the most visible and disturbing of any signs of termite activity, homeowners should consider it as a blessing in disguise. A swarm gives the property owner a big red flag that they have a termite problem. Otherwise, these silent, hidden infestations could easily go unnoticed until there is already significant property damage to the home.
In this particular swarm, the winged termites (plates) emerged from an exit hole in the sheetrock at the top of the shower wall. This shower wall faces the building’s exterior wall, which had a brick veneer facing. There is also a concrete sidewalk that runs along the side of the building.
To treat termites, the pest control technician must be able to access the soil where the nest is located. Often, the soil is not directly accessible and some drilling is required. With this termite treatment, to reach the soil, I needed to drill through the concrete sidewalk. Once the holes were drilled, I then injected a highly effective non-repellant termiticide into the soil, which will soon kill he entire colony, including the queen. In order to protect the rest of the building, I drilled through more of the sidewalk so that I could extend the treated area to the entire length of the building. In areas where the soil was directly accessible, I trenched and treated the soil with the termiticide.
Also, we knew that there were termites in the void between the shower wall and the building’s exterior because of the location of the swarm. To reach these termites, my partner drilled through the brick veneer so that he could treat the space with a foam termiticide. The foam application works exceptionally well in wall voids and other hard-to-reach areas.
With this treatment, we quickly resolved this condominium’s termite problem. This building now has a protective underground barrier against further termite infestations that will last for years. In New Jersey, termite infestations are an unfortunate fact of life. Homeowners and residential property managers should periodically have a termite professional inspect for the often subtle signs of termite activity. It’s an easy way to avoid potentially significant property damage and protect your investment.
Drilled concrete sidewalk and Brick veneer. The shower is on the other side of this wall.