ants on the floor of a restroom

A Guide To Charleston, SC Pest Identification & Prevention

When you discover a pest infestation in your home or business, understanding what kinds of problems the pests can cause is important. Our pest library highlights the pests that are most often found in Charleston homes and businesses so you can learn what you need to know and how to get rid of them.

Ants

a black ant on concrete

What makes ants so difficult to control is that they are social. They live and work together like a well-oiled machine feeding, breeding, and expanding their colonies. Most species of ants create a central nesting site where the queens, some workers, and the eggs reside. This primary nest is usually outside. Then, as the colony expands, they will create satellite nests both outdoors and inside homes and other structures. The satellite nests house workers and mature larvae. In order to eliminate a problem with ants around your house, all the nesting sites need to be found and treated. Seeking professional help is the most efficient and cost-effective way to get rid of any size ant problem!

In our area of South Carolina, the following species of ants are most likely to invade properties: fire ants, pavement ants, carpenter ants, citronella ants, and odorous house ants. Most of the species you will come across, including citronella ants, pavement ants, and odorous house ants are nuisance pests. These ants can spread bacteria and contaminate food but cause no significant problems for people or property. Other species of ants do pose more of a problem and are dangerous. Take, for example, the fire ant. They nest outside and create large nesting mounds of dirt that make lawn care a nightmare. They also have a very short temper and will deliver venom-filled stings to anyone that crosses their path. Carpenter ants aren't dangerous to people, but they are to our properties. They often create satellite nests within the structural wood, causing extensive damage that is expensive to repair.

To help you avoid ants, we want to offer you some helpful prevention tips. The best way to prevent problems with ants is to eliminate their food sources. Keep tight-fitting lids on trash cans, keep outdoor and indoor eating areas free of food debris, and pick up uneaten pet food. Moisture attracts many species of ants. Reduce moisture in and around your home by keep gutters clear, fixing leaky pipes, and using dehumidifiers. Keep foraging ants out of your home by sealing cracks in the foundation, placing covers over vents and drains, and installing weatherstripping around windows and doors. Remember, ants are small, so even the tiniest opening leading into your home needs to be fixed.

Bed Bugs

a bedbug on a box spring

Bed bugs are major pests that invade homes and businesses across the country, and South Carolina is no exception. These pests are excellent at hiding, but if you know what you are looking for, you can easily spot them or signs of their presence. Adult bed bugs grow to about a quarter of an inch long, are flattened and oval-shaped, have six legs, and lack wings. The bed bug's sole source of food is blood, which they consume using a specialized mouthpart (proboscis). Before feeding, they are a reddish-brown color, after feeding their body swells and turns a deeper reddish-purple color. Signs that bed bugs are present include finding drops of blood or dark streaks of excrement on bedding, mattresses, and upholstered furniture, noticing a sweet, musty odor has developed within your home, or finding piles of their shed skins (they molt to allow for growth) under mattresses, upholstered furniture, or on the floor.

Bed bugs are indoor pests and are active year-round. Wherever there are people, there may be bed bugs because our blood is their favorite food source. There are many places where people come into contact with bed bugs and then unknowingly introduce them into their homes. Hotels, airports, libraries, movie theaters, hospitals, shopping centers, dormitories, schools, and laundry mats are places where one may encounter bed bugs. Once inside your home, they will hide in dark cracks and crevices in mattresses, walls, floors, and furniture, emerging at night to feed on your blood. Bed bugs are a very frustrating and challenging pest problem and one that, for your sanity, is best tackled by experienced professionals. Call Anchor Pest Management today if you need help getting rid of bed bugs from your South Carolina home.

To help you avoid bed bugs, we want to offer you some helpful tips. Help prevent bed bugs from hitchhiking home in the folds of your purse, coat, or other personal belongings by keeping them up off of the ground. When at work or school, keep your belongings in a designated area away from other people's belongings. In your home, reduce the clutter that bed bugs love to hide in. Keep dirty laundry up off the floor, use bed bug-proof covers on mattresses and box springs, and keep storage areas neat and organized. Regularly wash and dry (on the highest heat setting possible) all bedding. Vacuum your floors and upholstered furniture on a routine basis. If possible, avoid purchasing used furniture, mattresses, or box springs for use in your home.

Cockroaches

a german cockroach on a leaf

Most species of cockroaches worldwide live outside and away from people. However, some species have learned to rely on people for food and shelter. Their desire to be near people and to enter our homes and businesses is extremely problematic. Cockroaches are filth pests that contaminate food and surfaces with bacteria, human pathogens, and parasites that they carry on their body and legs and in their saliva and excrement. Cockroaches spread diseases like salmonella, E. coli, dysentery, and other gastric diseases that make people very ill. They also trigger allergies, and asthma attack is those susceptible, especially young children. Cockroaches bring nothing but trouble with them and are a pest that you should never ignore when they get into your home or business.

In our area, cockroaches that make themselves at home in our dwellings are German cockroaches, Oriental cockroaches, American cockroaches, and brown-banded cockroaches. All four species find their way inside while foraging for food, or after hitchhiking their way in inside of boxes, appliances, electronics, or potted plants. Once inside, German cockroaches, Oriental cockroaches, and American cockroaches have high moisture needs and seek warm, humid areas near food like kitchens, bathrooms, closets, and basements. Brown-banded cockroaches differ slightly because they prefer warm, dry locations. They invade areas that are up off the ground and away from moisture, such as the upper parts of cabinets, attics, and wall voids near ceilings.

To help you avoid cockroach problems, we want to offer you some helpful prevention tips. Remove garbage from your home each day and store it in containers with locking lids. Inside, wipe down counters and tables and vacuum or sweep to get rid of crumbs. Keep eating areas like the kitchen free of as much food debris as possible. Limit eating to kitchen and dining room areas. Seal up gaps in exterior walls, the foundation, and under or around doors and windows. Keep hitchhiking cockroaches out by inspecting boxes, packages, and potted plants for these pests before bringing them inside. Fix leaky pipes, dripping air conditioners, clogged drains, and use dehumidifiers to reduce excess mixture in your home.

Mosquitoes

a mosquito on human skin

One of the most unfortunate signs of summer are swarms of mosquitoes attacking whenever you try to spend time in any outdoor spaces — your yard, the park, wooded trails, and athletic fields. Mosquitoes are biting pests that can ruin any outdoor fun and drive people back inside. Female mosquitoes bite and feed on the blood of both people and animals in order to get the protein required to produce viable eggs and complete their life cycle. These fly-like insects use their proboscis (an elongated mouthpart) to pierce the skin of their host and feed. Female and male mosquitoes also use the proboscis to feed on plant nectar — their primary source of food!

Mosquitoes thrive in warm, humid weather making South Carolina an ideal place for large populations of mosquitoes to live. They live and breed outside, developing from egg to adult in around four to ten days. Each female can lay about 500 eggs in its lifetime; it is easy to see why these pests are so hard to control. Properties near any standing water are most prone to infestations like ponds, marshes, lakes, and drainage ditches. Mosquitoes also lay eggs on standing water that collects in containers, such as tree cavities, tree stumps, wading pools, tires, buckets, soda cans, and the tops of tarps. It is important to understand that mosquitoes are not only annoying, but they are also dangerous. In addition to delivering bites that result in itchy, raised, red bumps, they transmit diseases that make people and pets ill. West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis virus, and parasitic heartworms (affecting dogs and cats) can all be transmitted by mosquitoes.

To help you avoid mosquitoes, we want to offer some helpful tips. The best way to help limit mosquito populations on your property is to eliminate all standing water. Turn any containers like buckets, wading pools, and flower pots upside down when not in use. If you own a pool, make sure the water is circulating. Maintain gutters and downspouts to ensure that rainwater is not collecting in them. If you collect rainwater in rain barrels, make sure the barrels are covered. Do not overwater garden areas. Keep the grass cut short and remove things like brush piles, tree stumps, leaf piles, and other debris that collects water. Consider implementing out mosquito control services to eliminate these wood-destroying pests from your home or business.

Spiders

a spider inside a home

While no one wants to think about it, the truth is that spiders live all around us, including in our homes. You most likely pass many spiders each day that you never pay attention to. It is only when these spiders move into our homes that most people begin noticing their presence. Spiders living outside are wanted pests helping to control many nuisance pests that also live all around us. But when these eight-legged creatures move into our homes, they turn from helpful to unwelcome. Spiders are not only a nuisance to deal with, but some, like the black widow and the brown widow, are also dangerous. A bite from either dangerous spider species will cause health problems that need to be managed by a medical professional.

Wolf spiders, cell spiders, house spiders, banana spiders, and orb weavers are typical examples of spiders living in our area. These are all considered nuisance spiders. While nuisance spiders are not dangerous, no one wants to deal with the stress of constantly running into spiders as they move about their home. Spiders live outside in areas that are rich in insects, their favorite food. Gardens, brush piles, woodpiles, tall grasses, shrubs, or spaces under decks all house spiders and their prey. Spiders usually don't want to live inside our homes, but rather move indoors while following their food source. Many insects overwinter in our homes, and spiders will follow them inside. Entry points usually include spaces in the foundation, gaps along the roofline, areas around windows and doors, and torn screens. Large populations of spiders on your property are an indication of an overall pest problem that should be addressed by a professional.

To help you avoid spiders, we want to offer some helpful tips. Maintain your lawn and gardens. Keep the grass cut short, prune shrubbery, and remove piles of leaves and dense vegetation from your yard. Cuts bushes back away from the outside of your home. Seal cracks in the foundation, seal spaces around utilities, and place covers over vents and drains leading into your house to help keep spiders out. Spiders love to hide in clutter, so keep your home's storage areas as organized and clutter-free as possible. Regularly vacuum your home, including areas under furniture. Get rid of water sources by maintaining gutters, fixing leaking pipes, clearing clogged drains, and using dehumidifiers in basement areas.

Termites

a termite on its nest

Termites are a common and persistent problem in the southern portion of the United States. The warm, humid weather allows these pests to remain very active throughout much of the year. Any home in South Carolina can be invaded by hungry termites. Termites enter into our homes without our permission and without us noticing. They silently move behind our walls and under our floors, where they begin tunneling through structural wood to gather food to feed their vast colonies. Termites are one of the few organisms that can convert cellulose into a usable source of food, making them helpful outdoors by getting rid of decaying trees and other plant materials. But, their feeding habits turn destructive when they set their sights on our homes and businesses.

Two species of termites that live in our area are the eastern subterranean termite and Formosan termite. Eastern subterranean termites live in large underground colonies, and their presence across the country is pervasive. These termites travel through the soil or mud tubes from their nest to a food source each day. They enter into buildings at or below ground level through spaces in the foundation or through pieces of wood making contact with the ground. In contrast, Formosan termites can nest both above and below the ground. Carton nests, built by Formosan termites, allow them to maintain their moisture needs while expanding their nesting sites. They often place their carton nests on rooftops. Due to their large colony sizes, Formosan termites can damage more than subterranean termites in a shorter time period. In addition to invading the structural wood in our homes, termites invade and destroy things like porch steps, decks, wooden play sets, and wooden fences.

To help you avoid termites, we want to offer you some helpful prevention tips. Reduce excess moisture in and around your home. Place weatherstripping around windows and doors and keep gutters clear of debris to help to stop water from seeping into your home's roof and exterior walls. If any structural wood is ever damaged by water, remove it and replace it with sound wood. Rake back the mulch from your home's foundation. Remove leaf and wood debris from your yard and around your home. Keep wandering termites out of your house by sealing cracks in the foundation and repairing roof damage. Termites have high moisture needs and are very attracted to areas of high humidity. Reduce humidity levels in your home by using air conditioners, vent fans, and keeping crawlspaces ventilated. Consider implementing out termite control services to eliminate these wood-destroying pests from your home or business.

To learn more about our home pest control services in Charleston, reach out to Anchor Pest Management today!

 

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