Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer Insect Issues Fort Worth

DFW has five straight record highs, but at least bugs are gone!

Those searching for a silver lining to the nonstop burning heat need look no farther than the sky above or the ground below.

Mosquitoes are missing. Fire ants are hiding.

"There are no mosquitoes to speak of, and the fire ants are so deep underground they're not evident," said Rodney Beaman of Fort Worth Pest Control in Arlington.

Brent Russell, owner of Tarrant County Pest Control in Fort Worth, said he isn't getting any calls on webworms, either. That bug, a bane to pecan and hackberry tree owners, prefers wet weather.

"The year we had all the flooding on the Brazos was when the webworms were bad," Russell said.
Flooding, we don't have to worry about.

North Texas remains in a drought as temperatures hit triple digits for the 35th consecutive day. The high at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport was 107 on Friday, the fifth straight day of record highs.

Joe Harris, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said it could be mid-August before the highs dip below 100.

"It's just going to stay hot and dry for a while," he said.

And that's just no good for fire ants.

Mike Merchant, a professor and urban entomologist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, said fire ants build mounds for two reasons: to get out of wet soil and to collect heat during cool weather.

"They don't have either of those reasons right now," he said. "They're foraging after midnight, then they go back underground."

Merchant agreed that mosquitoes aren't bad now but warned that they're still around -- especially the ones carrying the West Nile virus.

"They're stealthy biters," Merchant said.

Dry weather will bring out some bugs and not others. For instance, termites aren't swarming this summer, but ant swarms are fooling people, Russell said.

"They'll see the wings on the swarmers and think they're termites," he said. "My advice for anyone who thinks they're seeing termites is to call a professional."

Roaches also are a perennial problem. But their presence doesn't necessarily indicate a poorly kept home.

Large random roaches may appear in anyone's home as they search for moisture, Beaman said.
"I saw one in my house," he said, "and that's like a dentist having a cavity."

But roaches aren't the only problems; rodents, too, come into people's homes looking for water.
"All of the water that's usually around in creeks and other areas is dried up," Russell said.

Russell said that rodent calls have increased about 50 percent above normal, and most are about rats.
"Roof rats and Norwegian sewer rats are the most common in North Texas," he said.

Rats can exploit the tiniest gaps in a home's integrity with teeth that can gnaw through just about anything, Russell said.

"They chew on wood, pipes, wires," he said. "I've seen them chew through water pipes, even the hose from the washing machine to a wall, flooding the washroom."

Rocky Wien, with Orkin in North Richland Hills, said that most customers call because they've seen something around the house that worries them.

"Most insects are just like people, looking for food, water and shelter," Wien said.

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