Hearts Pest Management - Blog

Ant Control in the Summer

Thursday June 10, 2021
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Ants in Summer

Ant Control in the Summer

“The ants go marching one by one, hurrah! hurrah!…”

Summer is here and the ants are beginning to march indoors at full force! They really don’t need a season to invade your home, not in southern California. However, it is true that ants are more prevalent during the warmer months like July and August.

Remember when you thought ants were cool?!

At Hearts Pest Management we provide both traditional and Green / Organic Pest Control for treating ants and other pests.

Last summer, I had ants along the tub and surrounding my soap dish. Couldn’t figure out why until one of our technicians said they were “Thief” ants and that they were going after the fat in my soap – as in “animal fat!”

You can well imagine, I no longer use soap made from animal fat! Its homemade soaps, picked up at the local market and fairs, after that incident.

The thief ant, also known as grease ant (Solenopsis molesta) will steal any foods that have grease or fat such as cheese, peanuts, bits of the ham that fell unnoticed on the kitchen floor, etc.

Thief ants even steal from other ant species! They nest near and sometimes inside other ant colonies to still their food, even eat their larvae!

Thief ants, a.k.a. grease ants, going after animal fat in soap.

Thief ants are extremely tiny, less than a 1/8th of an inch with two nodes, yellow or brown in color, and stubborn. Once established, they stick to their trail.

After I had removed the soap dish and wiped everything down, by evening they were back, same trail leading straight to the soap dish. …

When it comes to ants, the mistake most people make is to spray them with whatever cleaner or home remedy they’ve found online. This basically just drowns the ones you see but as you’ve probably experienced, more ants soon follow. Spraying them interrupts their important ant duties for the colony.

The drowned ants don’t return as expected. Like Argentine ants, thief ants have multiple queens, as many as eight per nest. The queens then send out a “code red” to the rest of the colony and the survival of the colony becomes the both ant species’ number one priority.

One or more of the queens will leave the existing colony and start a new one elsewhere on your property! Sometimes it may be in a different room or wall but the trail will return!

Argentine ants are tiny dark brown or black with one node.

Argentine ants, invaders from South America, are the reason you feel you live on a giant anthill. Why does southern California have such a problem with Argentine ants?

Historically, Argentine ants came to the United States in the 1890’s, aboard coffee ships. They migrated to California, loved the weather here just like people from afar, and started 1 of 3 worldwide super colonies! The others are in Europe and Asia.

Unlike thief ants, Argentine ants are both indoor and outdoor pests. Ever noticed ants on your plants?

Take a look under one of the leaves and you’ll find more ants corralling aphids away from the eyes of predators. They do this in exchange for the sweet honeydew aphids emit from their rears. The honeydew causes leaves to discolor and drop.

Ant Farmer Argentine milking honeydew from an aphid.

The best way to eliminate ants, with multiple queens, like thief and Argentine ants, is to find and treat the colony. These ants respond better to ant baits that contain a food attractant, combined with a slow-acting pesticide, rather than a spray treatment.

Placing a few drops of bait in line with marching ants provides them with “food” to take back to the colony where they will share it with their queens and comrades. The result? No more ants!

Often, over-the-counter ant baits don’t work, especially if you really have a bad ant infestation or really do live on an anthill. Then it’s time to bring in the big guns. ...

In the meantime, here are some Do-it-Yourself tips for ant control but remember, these tips are just a temporary fix; you’ll need professional pest control to really take care of the problem:

Caulking cracks and crevices

Caulking cracks and crevices helps keep ants from coming indoors.

    • a. Use a combination of vinegar and water to spray and wipe them up; this helps remove the pheromones they leave behind.
    • b. Check for tiny holes and cracks in areas where you find ants i.e. baseboards, along grout by sinks or tubs and do some
      caulking.
    • b. Place your pet’s food bowl in a shallow baking pan filled with water, the ants won't cross over to the food.

Please visit our main page: Ant Control for more information on our ant treatments. I hope your summer picnics and BBQs will be free of uninvited guests!

Article by Donna Walker

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Farming Aphids – Herder Ants A.K.A. Farmer Ants

Saturday April 6, 2019
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Farming Aphids - Herder Ants

Drawing of a Farmer ant accepting honeydew from an aphid.

If you have ants on your plants, you’re sure to find aphids doing their ‘sugar-bum’ dance. …

It’s spring!  Flowering plants, green grass, farmer ants, and dancing aphids. …

Have you ever noticed areas on your plants and shrubs where the leaves are starting to curl and turn odd colors?

If so, did you also see some ants crawling over and under the leaves?

Read More

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Insects and Wildflowers of California Chaparral

– California’s Wildland-Urban Interface

by Donna M. Walker

Golden yarrow, Monkeyflower, Bush –mallow, California sagebrush, and many more make up a “Bouquet of Wildflowers” – Lake Hodges, San Diego, CA

Growing up in San Diego’s South Bay, I found being outdoors very healing and soothing to my sensitive nature, especially as a teenager.

I was one of those kids who could easily entertain themselves.

I’d get especially excited when I spotted a horny toad lizard (I learned much later that it’s called a ‘Coast Horned Lizard’ Phrynosoma coronatum).

Read more

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Stinking Stink Bugs

Wednesday December 12, 2018
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Stinking Stinkbugs

brown marmorated stinkbug

The brown marmorated stinkbug has ruined many an apple.

The Brown Marmorated Stinkbug

Invasive Stinkbugs

Here in America, we have our own native stinkbugs: of which, as kids, I'm sure there isn't a one of us that hasn't harassed a stink bug long enough into rearing its hindquarters – just for the fun of watching it do so. But, there’s a new bug in town – the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug.

This particular stinkbug is believed to have arrived in the country by accident via cargo ships from Asia. The Asian stink bug originated in China, Japan, and Korea; it was first discovered in Pennsylvania and is now established in 41 states (including California).

Map of origins of the brown marmolated stink bug

The Brown Marmolated Stink Bug´s Native Land is Asia.

The brown marmorated stinkbug is only about the size of a dime but it sure has cost a “boatload” of money in crop damage since it “sailed” into our ports.

Stinking Stinkbug Invasion

According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Department, the brown marmorated stinkbug is a “winged invader from Asia that is eating our crops and infesting U.S. homes . . .”

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Bees in Spring

Tuesday March 20, 2018
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Bees in Spring

Honey Bee on leaf

Spring is here and the bees are gearing up their pollen baskets ready for the spring flower harvest. Springtime is the buzziest time for honeybees; all the flowers, including wildflowers, are in full bloom.

Are Honeybees Ever Pests?

Honeybees only become a pest issue if they start making a hive in your attic or within 150 ft. of your home. Then they become a threat to the health of your family, especially if anyone is allergic to bee stings.

Hearts Pest Management understands the essential role bees play in nature. Read more

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Asian Lady Beetles vs. Native Ladybugs

Monday July 24, 2017
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Invasive Asian Lady Beetles

Asian Lady Beetle

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis)

Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away . . .”

Invasive or Invited? The Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle looks like our North American ladybug but it’s really an invasive species.

The Asian Lady beetle, however, could make an argument that rather than have invaded the country, it was invited – by our government.

It seems we didn’t have enough ladybugs so the Asian Lady Beetle was introduced into the states during the 1970´s to perform chemical-free pest control, for both our agricultural crops and our national forests.

Nine-spotted ladybug

The native Nine-Spotted ladybug is a threatened and endangered species. It has four spots on each wing and one spot that is split in the middle.

Native Ladybugs

Today, there are very few native ladybugs; so much so, that there´s an actual website dedicated to “lost” ladybugs!

Hearts Pest Management is concerned about ladybugs and other beneficial insects…that’s why we practice Organic Pest Control!

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Packrats and Traders

Friday December 2, 2016
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Packrats and Traders

What do human packrats, traders, and woodrats have in common?

Big-eared Woodrat – aka Packrat

Big-eared Woodrat – aka Packrat

Big-eared Woodrats AKA Packrats and Traderats

You’ve heard the term “packrat” used to describe a neighbor, a family member, maybe even yourself … yep, I see you raising your hand, albeit slowly. …

It’s ok, no one is judging, I’m raising mine too. I admit, I’m a bit of a packrat myself. You just never know when that piece of shiny ribbon will come in handy.

I bet you have special places for such things, a drawer, a box; this way you know exactly where they are when it comes time to use them.

You argue, “I might need it someday, or ‘member the time I threw such-and-such out just to find I needed it two weeks later?”

As a nature guide, when I come upon a mound of sticks, I’ll stop and ask if anyone knows where the term “packrat” came from and most people will say they don’t.

I then tell them about California’s Big-eared Woodrat, formally known as the Dusky-footed Woodrat, aka “packrat” or “trader” and why some of us share her name. Read more

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Rat Lungworm and Snails

Monday October 24, 2016
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Rat Lungworm Disease Transmitted via Snails

by Donna M. Walker

Here’s a very good reason not to eat snails … just in case you were thinking of picking one up and popping it into your mouth, yuck, right?!

Who would have thought the little slimes, with long beady eyes, could be such a health hazard?

You think you’re safe because you’d never eat a snail? Not so. …

Why? – Rats! They carry a parasite called “rat lungworm,” Angiostrongylus cantonensis.

The larvae of lungworm pass through a rat’s feces, a.k.a. rat droppings, snails then come in contact with the droppings, leaving trails of infected slime behind (grounds for washing lettuce, not once but thrice!).

The result, if infected, is meningitis. In humans, juvenile worms migrate to the brain; as adults, they live in the arterioles of the ileocecal area (blood vessels around a valve between the small and large intestines). Lovely.

Read more

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Native Bees and Other Pollinating Insects

Wednesday April 13, 2016
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Native Bees, Honeybees, and Mimics

by Donna M. Walker

“Auntie, auntie, the biting flies are chasing me! You know – the ones with the little yellow shorts!” exclaimed Calvatina’s niece as she ran inside the house. …

Springtime Pollinators

It’s spring and all that buzzing you hear isn’t just coming from honeybees! . . .

The Honeybee arrived in North America during the 17th century via European settlers but did you know that we already had an abundance of native bees? – 4,000 different species, to be precise.

These resourceful native insects, unlike honeybees, have managed to escape domestication.

Native bees, including bumblebees and mimics, have been pollinating the continent’s flowers for eons.

The wind was blowing the petals of this poppy making it difficult for a honey bee to gather her pollen. Beeing the bee-lover that I am, I held the petals firm so she could keep pollinating the poppy. I think I saw her wave an antennae in thanks. …

Honeybee on red poppy.

Most people don’t realize that native bees are still around and play an important role in pollination. It’s not all about the honeybee; we need to protect our native bees as well.

For instance, the European honeybee doesn’t know how to pollinate tomatoes or eggplants (What would salad be without tomatoes, or Eggplant Parmesan without the eggplant?). Read more

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Crazy Ant Invasion

Thursday February 11, 2016
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California’s Crazy Ant Invasion

by Donna M. Walker

There’s a new invasive species of ants making their way to California from the eastern and southern states.

Actually, they’ve already arrived but not in large numbers like in Florida and Texas.

How do they travel across country?

Map of both the Crazy and Argentine ant invasion into the U.S. By way of human transportation – potted plants, cargo, trash, boxes, etc.

The Tawny (AKA Rasberry) Crazy Ant has made its way from Argentina and Brazil into the U.S. causing millions of dollars in damage.

If these Crazy ants are anything like their cousins from Argentina, the invasive Argentine Ants, then we could be in for another supercolony of ants crawling all over the state.

Read more

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