Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Barely Keeping His Head above Water - Literally!

Yesterday morning I went to do a carpenter ant job here in Woodbury. I checked in with the customer, told him what I was going to do, and went to the the truck to get my equipment. As I started toward the back of the house, I noticed they had an in ground swimming pool in the back yard. As I got a little closer, I noticed something in the pool. It was a young skunk, probably about 8 weeks old, who apparently had fallen in, on one of his first trips out of the nest with mom and his siblings. The poor little guy appeared to be "skunk" paddling in slow motion. He was going just fast enough to keep his head above water. I have no idea how long he had been in there, but he was obviously extremely exhausted. I went and told the customer what was going on, and asked him if he might have a 2x6 or 2x8 that I could slide into the pool, to give him something to crawl out on. He said he didn't have one, but he had a long handled net that was used to clean stuff out of the pool. So I took that to the pool, extended it almost all the way out (about 15' long), and placed it under the skunk and scooped him gently out of the pool and placed him on the lawn. He stood there for a minute, then made a half hearted attempt to shake himself off, but you could tell he decided he should just rest for a while. I kept my eye on him, and proceeded to close up the net handle. As I was putting it back, I noticed the classic strong skunk smell. I turned around and the little guy was gone, but to show his gratitude at being rescued, he had sprayed in the net while he was being lifted out of the pool. Nobody got sprayed, but the back yard was "stunk" up pretty good for a while. You're welcome, little skunk!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Carpenter Bees

      While carpenter bee (these are the huge "bumblebee" looking critters you might see flying around your roof line) season is almost over. At least as far a active drilling goes, there is only about another week to go and they will be done for the season. In the past, we have done treatments that were designed to kill them, but since over the past few years it has become evident that a lot of the good pollinators (carpenter bees, bumble bees, and honeybees) are in serious trouble and are declining, we have changed our "method of attack". Now what we do, if at all possible, is attempt to physically exclude them, rather than kill them. We make it impossible for them to access the area they want to be, so they will move to a different location where they can successfully reproduce.
       Carpenter bees don't do any serious structural damage. The damage they do is mostly cosmetic, and that is mainly due to their droppings stain on the side of the house. They are very gentle creatures and while capable of stinging, they will never do it, They are big and loud with their buzzing, but are totally harmless.
      While the "kill them" treatment can only be done during their reproductive season (about the last week of April thru the first week in June), the exclusion can be done at any time. If you had them this year, and you don't want them back next year, the exclusion (if appropriate for your house) can be done anytime before next winter sets in.

Below is the link to the Carpenter bee page on our web site.

Carpenter Ants

       Once the weather broke this spring the carpenter ants became real active. These are the big black ants that can be seen crawling around inside or outside. If you have them inside, more than likely you have a nest of them somewhere in the structure of your home. These ants do damage because while they don't eat wood for food the way termites do, they tunnel out an area for their nest. When they start tunneling out the area for their nest they throw out the wood chips they have removed. This will sometimes be thrown out right into an area where it can be seen, resulting in a big pile of sawdust similar in consistency to what you might find under a table saw. If you have a sawdust pile like that, it is a guarantee that you have carpenter ants and the nest is right above the sawdust pile.
       Depending on where the nest is they can do very little damage or a significant amount of it. They can be treated, but "over the counter" type products that put a barrier around your home can act as a repellent and if the nest is inside it can make the situation worse because if the ants are inside, now there is a barrier preventing them from getting outside where they prefer to forage. All of the ants will now have to forage inside making the problem that much worse. They also don't respond well to "over the counter" ant baits.
     Because of the damage carpenter ants are capable of, it is best to hire a professional company to get rid of them. This is one of those "don't try this at home" things.
       Below is the link to the carpenter ant page of our web site which shows some of the incredible damage they are capable of.