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How To Prevent Sprinkler System Water Hammer

When you turn your sprinkler system it is important to be careful with how you go about it.  Most all systems have, or at least should have, a ball valve located somewhere between the water meter and the vacuum breaker of the system.  This is the U shaped thing that comes out of the ground and is typically made of copper or plastic. The water line should be empty and full of just air.  When you turn your system back on, if you open the valve too fast you can create what is called a “Water Hammer”. This is when the force of the air or the wall of water hits the pipes or any other connection so hard that it causes damage to the equipment.  The proper way to handle this would be to slowly turn the water on and allow the air to escape. Even after you open the system up don’t be surprised if it blows a lot of air from the lines for several minutes. On another note, I’d be careful just sticking my hand into any of these boxes without first looking and making sure there are not any critters living in there.  We have found everything from spiders to snakes and even scorpions. Hope this helps!

Termite Hole Size

 

A popular option for termites treatments has become using bait stations. They are installed all the way around your house every 10-20 feet apart. They have a bait in them that attracts termites to feed on them. As they feed they will carry the product back to the colony for others to feed on as well. This will cause the destruction of the total colony. When installing these stations, it is important how deep and wide the holes are. The stations need to fit into the ground very firmly so that the termites can travel through the soil and into the bait stations with ease. If you use something like a post hole digger you will create voids on the edges of the stations which make it difficult for the termites to reach the bait stations. They should be difficult to pull out of the ground and require you to have to pry them out. The bait stations are a great option, just make sure they are getting installed correctly so it doesn’t defeat the purpose. Let us know if you have any questions!

Home Drip Line

 

Whenever you are performing any kind of service against your house one thing to be mindful of is the drip line. The drip line is the area directly under where the roof overhangs the house. Sometimes you can even see a worn out eroded area where the water rolls off the roof and hits the ground. In this case we are performing a termite treatment and need to make sure they are far enough away to not get a constant drip of water on them. Otherwise water would eventually wash away all of the product and prevent the treatment from being effective. The same thing could be said about your landscape plants as well. Having them under the drip line could cause erosion and wash away your beds. Hope this helps!

3-23-20 Operations Update

***Update On Operations***

Quick update:  Here are a couple of highlights.  If you have any specific questions please let us know.  We are trying to keep everyone up to date on the most pertinent information. 

-To date we are operating as an essential operation.  The current order reads as such: 

“Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.”

-Our office staff is working remotely and our trucks are down to 1 or 2 man crews.  Each day everything is being sanitized and start times are staggered to limit the number of people in the same place at the same time.  We will also be checking everyone’s temperatures before work.

-We understand that some people have concerns about us being at their property.  We have taken all precautions possible to make our visit safe. All work is outside, there are no in person visits and social distancing is being practiced.

-Our staff and their ability to provide for their family is a top priority right now.  As long as we are able we are going to allow them to work.

We feel a strong conviction to help our staff through this time.  NO ONE has been laid off due to this and we hope to keep it that way.  We are prepared to run the business at a loss for as long as possible and as long as funds will allow in an effort to keep paychecks coming.  If anyone is upset by this decision please let us know and we will respect this until this entire issue is behind us.

Indian Hawthorn Leaf Spot

The fungus Leaf Spot is still not any better in our area, particularly on Indian Hawthorns. I’m sure you have noticed by now the orange, yellow, red leaves on the plants. If you look closer you will notice dark colored spots on the leaves. These spots are where it gets its name from, Leaf Spot. The fungus tends to exist in areas where there is a lot of water and not much air flow. As they stay wet the fungus starts to develop and spread. We see it a lot in the areas where the plants are packed in super tight and where there is excessive irrigation. An easy solution is to thin out the area and give the plants some growing and breathing room. Immediately though the plants will need to be treated with a fungicide. In cases where all of the leaves have fallen off, the plant may still be alive but the overall damage is just too much. You would be much better to just replace the plant and start all over. If you do use a fungicide, don’t be alarmed if 2 applications are required for complete treatment. Here is a link to one we have had good success with. The entire plant both inside and out needs to be completely covered when it is sprayed. If there are an excessive amount of leaves on the ground it is also a good idea to pick them up and remove them from the area since they can carry active fungal spores. Hope this helps!

Termite Bait Stations vs Liquid Treatments

With termite season upon us it is important to understand your most common options for getting a treatment. Typically you will have 2 different options, bait stations or liquid treatment. There are arguably pros and cons to both however we chose to go the bait station route unless there are active termite visible. Termites are what is considered a subterranean insect meaning they live and travel underground. With the bait stations you are installing an attractant bait underground every 10-20 feet. The termites will feed on the bait and carry it back to the colony where the queen and other termites live. When the food is shared it will kill the other termites and cause the entire colony to collapse. The other big advantage to the bait stations is the ability to inspect them for activity to see if there are termites in the area feeding. In the event there is a break down in the bait it is easy to see and replace. The bait also acts as an attractant to the termites. With liquid applications, you are trying to intercept the termites when they get close to the house. Until the termites come into contact with the product there will be no effect on them. The concept is that if you kill enough of the worker termites it will starve the colony out basically. The disadvantage is that if the barrier breaks down due to water or digging in the landscape you have no way of know if there is still an effective amount of product down to kill the termites. If the event there are currently active termites, we always recommend to spray the immediate area and bugs with a termiticide and then install a bait system for the others you can’t see and will be in the area. Hope this helps and let us know if you have any questions!

Termite FAQ

 

When are termites most common?  Once a colony is established, termites are a year-round problem. However, there is an increase in colony expansion activity during warm weather. 

What Do Termites Look Like?  When we talk about termites, we usually speak mostly of the subterranean termite. It is responsible for 90% of all termite damage.  If you were to find a termite infested stump on your property and split it open, you would immediately notice two distinct termites:  the worker and the swarmer. The worker will appear pale and worm-like from a distance, but up close you will see the six legs and two antennae that distinguish it as an insect. The swarmer will appear black in color and have white wings that layer on top of each other and appear as one.

Do Termites Have Wings?  In a termite colony, only the swarmer termites, also known as reproductives, have wings. Swarmer termites quickly shed their wings after mating and go on to become the queens and kings of newly established termite colonies.

When Do Termites Swarm?  Termite swarms can happen any time of the year, but often occur in spring when temperatures warm up.

What Attracts Termites?  Subterranean termites are attracted to moisture, especially moistened wood. If you have mulch, bushes, shrubs or dead stumps near your home, you will invite termites in close to your exterior walls. Termite swarmers are attracted to light, so it is important to keep lights off at night or switch white light bulbs to yellow, insect-resistant bulbs.

My Neighbor Has A Termite Problem, Should I Be Worried?  If you don’t have termite protection around your home, you should be worried. When the termite colony in your neighbor’s yard or house becomes mature, it will produce hundreds of termite swarmers. When this happens, your home is at great risk of a termite infestation.  Termites forage year-round and they spread most commonly underground. If your home is currently termite-free, it could become infested by termites that are active nearby. A preventative termite control program will help avoid termite infestation.

What are common signs of termites?  Mud tubes provide shelter for termites and have a muddy, flattened appearance approximately the width of a drinking straw. Look for mud tubes along cracks, beneath flooring, around baseboards, on pipes, piers, chimneys, behind siding, plumbing and other fixtures. Mud tubes may also extend over concrete foundations and other exposed surfaces.

How can I identify a termite?   Termite workers are pale, soft-bodied insects about one-quarter of an inch or less in length. They appear to have a head and body because their thorax is broadly joined to their abdomen. Their antennae are straight.  Termites are mistakenly called white ants, but are not ant-like in appearance. Ants are usually heavily pigmented and have three distinct body regions: head, thorax and abdomen. Ants also have a very narrow or pinched “waist,” and their antennae are “elbowed.”

Winged termites, also known as swarmers, have pigmented bodies with broad waists and two pairs of wings that are equal in size and shape. Subterranean termite swarmers have bodies about one-quarter of an inch in length. The swarmers quickly shed their wings after a brief flight. Winged ants, on the other hand, have pinched waists and two pairs of wings that differ in size and shape (front are much larger).

Can termites make their way through concrete?  Termites cannot go through solid concrete, but they can get through a crack only 1/32nd of an inch wide. Openings this size or bigger often occur where two pieces of concrete about – like when poured separately – and around plumbing penetrations through the concrete or where the concrete has cracked.

What will termites do after they swarm?  Subterranean termite swarmers attempt to pair with a swarmer of the opposite sex within their colony. They must locate a suitable habitat to establish a new colony of their own. They need moist soil, preferably in direct contact with wood, in order to survive. The termites that swarm inside a structure and cannot get out will quickly die from lack of available moisture. The termite colony that produced the swarmers will continue to be active after the swarm has taken place.

How do termites get inside my property?  Termites don’t need much room to squeeze inside your home or business. In fact, they can enter a structure through a space as small as 1/32nd of an inch.

Subterranean termites usually enter a building from the soil along its foundation or through cracks in the slab, expansion joints, weep holes, voids in brick or block and around plumbing. Decks, porches and other wood structures in direct contact with the ground are also easy access ramps for termites.

I have an old tree stump infested with termites, should I have it treated?  You don’t need to treat the stump, but you may want to give your home termite protection.  Preventative action makes good sense in any termite-prone area and you should also consider implementing a termite control program before you notice an infestation.

Remove all wood debris from around your home, especially after new construction and remodeling. This includes wood form boards along foundations, tree stumps and roots, as well as firewood stacked near the house.

My house does not have termites – should I still get a termite treatment?  Yes. Without an effective prevention program, like a barrier bait station plan, your home is open to termite damage, which could remain unnoticed until it becomes a serious problem.

How much damage do termites cause?  Termites feed 24/7/365, they never sleep, meaning damage to wood in and around a structure can happen very quickly. In fact, the NPMA estimates that termites cause $5 billion in property damage each year. The good news is that termites can be controlled and killed. 

How To Spot Tea Scale

 

Scale and your plants…how to spot it and how to treat it.

With Spring upon us now is a super important time to get out and check on your plants. This time of the year is when a lot of insects that feed on your landscape shrubs start to hatch and become active. Here is an example of Tea Scale growing on Hollies. When the bug is young and moving around they tend to be a grey, tan, brown color. As they mature, they start to form a white colored amour over themselves and that is typically where they will stay. As a general rule, the younger they are the easier they are to kill. The more developed the armored is, the harder they become to kill. There are 2 basic approaches you can take to handle this. To treat immediately you use a horticultural oil and spray the plant from top to bottom. The oil coats the scale and suffocates them. This is a more effective route to take because as they develop their amour it can become hard for other insecticides to penetrate and kill them. The other approach would be to do a root injection in the soil with a systemic insecticide. The plant will over time uptake the insecticide and as the scale feeds on the plant they will ingest it and die this way. It’s a much slower way to handle the issue and is more of an ongoing preventive application. When you are treating the plants, it is important to make sure you are treating from top to bottom but also get on the inside of the plant to make sure everything is getting fully covered. It’s also suggested to use a sprayer with pressure to take care of this. The high pressure causes the leaves to move around and allows for more product to cover all over. Here are a few links to some of the products we have had the best luck with. Hope this helps! Remember to take care of your investment and don’t overlook the care of your plants!