It seems some of the normal household insects seen during the spring in Howard County have gotten off to a late start.  Odorous house ants and carpenter ants have been fairly active but carpenter bees and paper wasps have been slow to develop and are now just becoming a problem.  Carpenter bees will drill into the bottom and sides of wood (facia boards, decks, fence rails, play sets, etc.).  The most noticeable damage is done when woodpeckers rip the wood open to pluck the larvae from the galleries.  Female carpenter bees can sting but rarely do.  Control is achieved by applying appropriate materials to the galleries directly and the outside surface of wood that is at risk.
We have seen an unusually high population of solitary ground bees so far this spring.  They resemble small honey bees and drill holes in the soil (especially in bare or sparse turf) about the width of a pencil.  They are unsettling to homeowners since there can be hundreds in a small area.  The good news is they are not aggressive like yellow jackets and are finished up in 3-4 weeks.  They can be treated if necessary.

Spring is here and with it are the stirrings of a number of pest species.  One of the most invasive pests by far is the odorous house ant.  It is a small brown to blackish ant, only 1/8 inch in length, and has a noticeable odor when crushed.  Although they don’t cause damage like carpenter ants and termites, their nesting and foraging behavior into homes for food, moisture, and shelter can be extremely irritating.  The foragers can be seen crawling around on floors, walls, and cabinets especially in kitchens and baths.  Control can be difficult to achieve for homeowners due to the sheer numbers in a colony (500,000-1 million), the dispersal nature of the nests, and their general avoidance of baits.  Removing leaf debris from around the foundation of the home, trimming back branches and shrubs from touching the house, and not over mulching can help reduce nesting sites.

Eco-Care is a family owned and locally operated pest management firm serving Howard County and surrounding areas.  The owners are two brothers, Erich and Jon, who started the company in 1996.  Both grew up in Ellicott City (remember Leidigs Bakery, Tropical Storm Agnes, the Enchanted Forest, or Route 29 with traffic lights?) and still reside in Howard County.  Their long association with Howard County, coupled with their extensive knowledge of pests in and around the home (53 years combined experience), makes them an invaluable resource.  Additionally, Erich is a Board Certified Entomologist so observing insects comes naturally.