ants on a log

Common Pest Identification In Roanoke Rapids, NC & Surrounding Areas

Identifying a pest that makes its way into your home or business is only the first step in knowing what to do to get rid of it. Our pest library describes the most common pests found in our area, the problems they might cause, and how to eliminate those pests when they find their way into your home or commercial facility.

Ants

close up of black ant

Ants are well-known for being one of the most common pests to enter homes and businesses. Keeping them out of our structures is a year-round task because they are always looking for food and shelter. There are many different ants species in our area that we need to defend our properties against. Some of the species in our area include odorous house ants, pavement ants, acrobat ants, big-headed ants, Pharaoh ants, leaf ants, red fire ants, and carpenter ants.

No matter the species, all ants have three body parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), six legs, and antennae. Reproductive members have wings. All ants also have chewing mouthparts and two stomachs – one to consume food and another to store food to bring back to the nest.

Most species of ants gravitate to areas of moisture. Outside our homes, ants like to nest in the ground under mulch, fallen trees, trees stumps, in densely wooded areas, fields, and our yards. Inside, ants like to place nests behind walls and under floors around leaky water pipes, under appliances, and behind window and door frames.

Ants feed on many of the same things we do (sweets, meats, starches, and liquids), which is why our yards attract them. Things like trash cans, recycling bins, gardens, pet food, and leaking pipes attract ants. People should keep ants off their properties, not only because they are annoying, but because some transmit serious diseases. Depending on the species, ants can cause structural damage and contaminate food and surfaces with bacteria.

In addition to our professional ant control services, implementing the following prevention tips will help prevent ants from nesting on your property:

  • Store food in a way that prevents ants from gaining access to it. Keep lids on trash cans, recycling bins, and compost bins. Pick up uneaten pet food. Remove trash from your home each day and your property each week.
  • Eliminate excess moisture in and around your home by repairing leaky pipes, using dehumidifiers, and adequately ventilating crawlspaces.
  • Regularly vacuum floors, clean out under refrigerators and other appliances, and keep counters and tables free of food debris.
  • Inspect the outside of your home regularly. If you notice any spaces or gaps in the foundation, around door or window trim, exterior walls, or utilities, use caulk or another material to seal the defects.

Bed Bugs

bedbug on human skin

Hitchhiking pests, bed bugs have become a significant pest issue across the United States and worldwide. The ease and affordability of travel have allowed people and bed bugs to move from place to place without difficulty. Bed bugs are oval-shaped insects that are about the size of an apple seed and a reddish-brown color. Bed bugs leave behind red dots of blood or dark streaks of excrement on things like bedding, mattresses, walls, and the floor. They will leave piles of shed skins in areas where they are hiding. A sweet, musty odor may also develop in a home heavily infested with bed bugs.

Bed bugs solely feed on blood from warm-blooded animals, and people are their preferred hosts. If people are present, there is a chance bed bugs are present. From hotels to our family homes, bed bugs will make themselves at home with us. You may also come into contact with these biting pests in public places like airports, cruise ships, hospitals, shopping centers, libraries, movie theaters, schools, and laundry mats.

Bed bugs are mainly nocturnal, hiding during the day and emerging at night to feed on a sleeping host. To feed, they insert their proboscis (piercing mouthpart) into the host's skin to consume a blood meal. Many people want to rely on bed bug bites to alert them to an infestation, but their bites look similar to other insect bites, and not everyone reacts to bed bug bites. You could be bitten and experience no physical reaction. Therefore, knowing what bed bugs look like and the signs of their presence is essential.

It is crucial to reach out for help from a professional at any sign of bed bugs in your house so the infestation can be quickly and completely eliminated! To help you maintain a bed-bug free home, we want to offer you some helpful prevention tips:

  • Carefully inspect items that bed bugs could hitchhike into your home on before bringing them inside like used furniture, mattresses, suitcases (after traveling), and newly purchased clothing.
  • Eliminate a bed bug's preferred hiding spots by placing bed bug proof covers on mattresses and box springs, placing covers over outlets, and getting rid of clutter from your home.
  • Vacuum your floors, upholstered furniture, and mattresses regularly.
  • When out in public, always be wary of placing personal items on the ground or near other people's belongings.

Fleas & Ticks

a flea on the dirt

Tiny in size, fleas and ticks find their way onto the bodies of rodents, wild animals, and our pets and into our yards and homes. These ectoparasites are challenging to control and seem to constantly find a way into our yards and outdoor spaces. Both fleas and ticks feed solely on warm-blooded animal blood and create health risks for people and our pets.

Ticks spread many diseases that make people and animals ill. Fleas transmit some diseases, are intermediate hosts of tapeworms, and cause skin irritations. The warm, humid weather found in our area of the country allows both fleas and ticks to thrive throughout much of the year. Lonestar ticks, dog ticks, spotted ticks, and dog and cat ticks are a constant threat.

While fleas and ticks are similar, there are some significant differences worth noting. First, fleas are a type of insect, while ticks are arachnids. Adult fleas are tiny, about the size of a speck of dirt, while adult ticks tend to be much larger, especially after feeding on a blood meal and their body is engorged. Adult fleas have six legs and antennae, while adult ticks have no antennae and have eight legs. Fleas can jump great distances, but ticks are unable to jump. When an adult flea finds its way onto an animal host's body, they tend to stay there for the remainder of their life, feeding, and breeding.

Ticks feed on multiple hosts throughout their life cycle. Fleas consume their blood meals within a few minutes, while ticks feed to engorgement slowly (days). The final difference to note between fleas and ticks is fleas can breed both indoors and outdoors and become a massive nuisance inside the homes they invade. However, most ticks cannot complete their life cycle indoors and are mainly a problem outside in our yards.

If you ever discover that fleas, ticks, or both have found a way onto your Virginia or North Carolina property, contact Virginia Carolina Pest Management. We will provide the services needed to eliminate the infestation.

In addition to our professional services, the following tips will help you to prevent problems with fleas and ticks:

  • Regularly vacuum the floors and upholstered furniture in your home to get rid of stray fleas or ticks.
  • Eliminate things from your property that may attract flea and tick covered rodents and other wild animals like bird feeders, open trash cans, and pet food.
  • Keep the grass cut short and prevent landscape plants from becoming overgrown to eliminate hiding and breeding spots for fleas and ticks.
  • Place any pets you own on a year-round flea and tick preventative with the help of their veterinarian.
  • Inspect yourself, kids, and pets for fleas and ticks after spending time in your yard, wooded areas, or grassy areas.

Rodents

close up of a rat

Rodents are prolific pests that damage structures, crops, electrical equipment, farm equipment, and our cars and trucks with their sharp front teeth. Their continually growing front incisors found on the top and bottom jaw provide them with a constant need to chew to stop their teeth from overgrowing. There more than 1,500 species of rodents living across the world, but the most problematic for most home and business owners in Virginia and North Carolina are the mouse and rat (Norway rat and roof rat). Over time, rodents have learned to "share our table" and live with people, much to our dismay.

Keeping rodents out of our yards and homes, no matter how badly they want to live with us, is essential. While we may be a benefit to rodents, they don't bring anything to our table. In fact, quite the opposite, rodents are dangerous and damaging pests. They spread pathogens that make people ill, contaminate food, and leave behind urine and excrement trails. Their presence in our homes triggers allergies, causes strong odors to develop, and caused damage to structural elements and our personal belongings. From entry points found at ground level (mice and Norway rats ) or aerially (mice and roof rats), rodents will find a way into your home. They will take advantage of the smallest space to move inside to escape harsh weather or to forage for food.

Maintain a rodent-free home or business with the help of our professionals and the following prevention tips:

  • Don't allow rodents to move into your home. Regularly inspect its exterior and seal any gaps you may discover, and remember, mice can enter through a space the diameter of a pencil!
  • Cut back shrubs and tree branches rodents may use to gain access to your house.
  • Take away a rodent's access to food by placing locking lids on trash cans, maintaining gardens and fruit trees, and keeping indoor and outdoor eating areas free of leftover food, spills, and crumbs.
  • Repair leaking pipes and hoses and clear out gutters to eliminate water sources that rodents may take advantage of.
  • Remove debris and clutter from your yard where rodents could nest.

Spiders

a wolf spider on gravel

Spiders live all around us, and for the most part, we are lucky they do. Spiders are incredibly beneficial as they help control populations of many insects, including garden pests and disease-spreading pests like flies, mosquitoes, fleas, and roaches. Spiders tend to co-exist with us peacefully when they live in our yards and gardens in limited numbers and don't move into our homes. Typically, it's only when spiders take over our outdoor spaces in large numbers or move into our homes that they become a problem, and we need to take steps to get rid of them.

In our area, there are many species of spiders living all around us. Some of the most common are wolf spiders, orb weaver spiders, harvestman spiders, and jumping spiders; these are all nuisance spiders that pose no danger to us. Black widow spiders and brown recluse spiders also live in our area and pose a more significant threat to us as their venom can cause health problems in people if a bite were to occur.

Spiders create their webs or burrows in various places, usually choosing an area with a lot of insect activity like trees, gardens, tall grass, bushes, shrubs, around trash cans, and exterior lights. Spiders like to live outside for the most part, but these eight-legged creatures also sometimes move into our homes and outbuildings. They move inside following their prey. When food sources become scarce in the winter, they often move inside to hunt overwintering insects. If spiders are present in large numbers in your yard or home, it is likely due to a widespread pest problem that should be addressed by a professional.

In addition to our professional services, the following prevention tips will help you prevent issues with spiders:

  • Maintain your yard and gardens. Overgrown grasses and plants are attractive to many insects and the spiders that feed on them.
  • Keep spiders out of your home by makes sure open windows and doors have screens in them, place door sweeps on exterior doors, and seal gaps in exterior walls and the foundation.
  • Eliminate standing water from your property that attracts insects and spiders. Keep gutters clear, fix leaky pipes, and don't overwater gardens.
  • Place tight-fitting lids on trash cans and keep outdoor lights off as much as possible; both will attract insects and hungry spiders.

Termites

close up of a termite

Termites are cryptobiotic; this means they maintain a hidden lifestyle; whether in their underground nests or inside the wood they are feeding on, termites remain mainly out of sight. This ability to stay hidden allows these tiny insects to create a lot of damage within our homes and businesses. It can take months or years for a property owner to discover a problem with termites, and by that time, the damage is done. Termites cause of over five billion dollars in damages each year, and preventing them from invading your home or business is vital to its structure and your bank account.

Termites are social insects that live together in a structured colony. They live and work together to maintain their large colonies. The worker termites leave their underground nest each day in search of food. As they move through the soil or mud tubes, they feed on things like fallen trees, tree stumps, and organic debris. They also find their way into wooden play structures, fences, and other wood structures.

As they move through the soil, it is common for them to enter a home through cracks in the foundation or pieces of wood on a home that make contact with the soil. As they move through your house, they are attracted to water-damaged wood usually found behind walls under, floors, and near windows and doors.

In addition to our professional termite control services, implementing the following prevention tips will help deter termites from your property:

  • Ensure your yard has good drainage to prevent water from pooling in flowerbeds and around your home's perimeter.
  • Maintain gutters and weather stripping to prevent water from seeping into your house.
  • Remove food sources like tree stumps, fallen trees, and wet mulch from your yard that could attract foraging termites.
  • Maintain your foundation to create a solid barrier, preventing termites from being able to find a way inside.

If you would like to learn more about our termite control services or protecting your property from termites, reach out to Virginia Carolina Pest Management today!

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