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2020 Gene Higginbotham Memorial Scholarship

Gene Higginbotham founded American Pest Control in 1971. He passed away on August 30th, 2015, and the memorial scholarship was created in his honor by family and employees to continue his legacy. “American Pest Control is a local family-owned pest management company founded by my grandfather, Gene Higginbotham, in 1971. He built his company on the core values of honesty, integrity, family, community, and quality service. I am honored to receive this scholarship.”, said Gabriella Rice, 2020 scholarship recipient and daughter of Laurie Higginbotham, the company’s current president, and CEO. Since the first year that the scholarship began, American Pest Control has awarded $124,000 in total scholarship funds to 94 students.

This Spring, for the fourth year, the scholarship was offered to all local students. Throughout Georgia and South Carolina, 28 total scholarships in the total amount of $31,000 were awarded this year. 2020 Recipients included:  

  • Maggie DeMaria – Clarke Central High School graduate attending University of Georgia  
  • Caleb McArthur – North Oconee High School attending University of Michigan   
  • Anneston Curles – North Oconee High School graduate attending University of Georgia   
  • Woody Barks – North Oconee High School graduate attending Louisiana State University
  • Gabriella Rice – North Oconee High School graduate attending Augusta University   
  • Emma Sutton – North Oconee High School graduate attending Georgia Southern University  
  • Cadence Hadden – Oconee County High School graduate attending University of Georgia  
  • Taylor Bond – Prince Avenue Christian School graduate attending University of Georgia  
  • Angelia Thomas – Apalachee High School attending University of North Georgia   
  • Katelyn Darnell – 2020 Monroe Area High School graduate attending University of Georgia
  • Jonathan Howell – Hebron Christian Academy graduate attending University of North Georgia   
  • Morgan Roberts – Banks County High School graduate attending Brenau University   
  • Jacob Myler – East Jackson Comprehensive High School graduate attending University of Georgia  
  • Connor Gillespie – Cherokee Bluff High School graduate attending Point University  
  • Samuel Garland – Gatewood School graduate attending University of Alabama  
  • Michael Peters- Morgan County High School graduate attending Stanford University  
  • Madison Gunter – Washington Wilkes Comprehensive High School graduate attending University of Georgia  


  • Jerry Worthy – Grovetown High School graduate attending Duke University   
  • Mary Shaw – East Paulding High School graduate attending Louisiana State University  
  • Daijah Buggs – Rockdale County High School graduate attending Howard University  
  • Gracie Patterson – White County High School graduate attending Augusta University  
  • Mackenzie Batson – Stephens County High School Graduate attending Ogeechee Technical College   
  • Savannah Gary – Habersham Central High School graduate attending University of North Georgia
  • Delta Cartwright – Stephens County High School graduate attending North Georgia Technical College   
  • Carlie Owens – Rabun County High School graduate attending Georgia State University   
  • Jamison Wood – Towns County High School graduate attending University of Georgia   
  • Emilee Williams – Hart County High School graduate attending University of Georgia   Mackenzie Richey – Crescent High School graduate attending Anderson University   


All of these recipients boasted academic, athletic, fine arts, or community service-oriented accomplishments throughout their high school careers and reflected the values held by the Higginbotham family. The company is proud to support them as they begin their college careers and further their education. American Pest Control will continue to offer this scholarship to high school seniors throughout their wide service area across Northeast Georgia and parts of South Carolina. The family-owned and operated business looks forward to continuing their support of local communities and education.
 

Protecting Your Pets 🐾

Often times when speaking with new customers, one of their main concerns are how the services may effect their pets. The APC team is made up of pet lovers, so we know that fur-babies are members of the family. Meet a few of our crew:

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Marissa’s pug-chihuahua mix, Mike
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Kasie’s golden doodle, Lucy, with her son
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Mike’s cat, Foxy
James’ Dawg fan, Sassy

Ok, enough pet pictures. (For now 😆) Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty:  pests that can be a menace to your four-legged friends. 

Fleas
The dreaded flea…every pet’s worst enemy. The first sign of a flea infestation is usually your pet scratching more than normal. The first place to look is at the base of the tail or behind the ears. Fleas tend to congregate in these areas because it is where the blood is closest to the skin. If you suspect a flea infestation, the best course of action is to talk to your vet about treatment and preventative medication and contact a pest professional to eradicate the issue.
In order to understand the flea treatment, it’s important to know the basics of the flea life cycle. Female fleas lay eggs on the host, then the eggs drop off into carpet or upholstery. Vibrations from walking or vacuuming will stimulate the eggs and cause them to hatch, which is why we always ask our customers to vacuum before a flea treatment. This also explains why you may see a resurgence of adult fleas about 2 weeks after your first treatment. This is when the eggs that were hiding in the carpet hatch and seek out a host. Typically, the most successful plan includes two treatments but as always, this depends on the inspection and severity of the infestation.

Ticks
These pests are a nuisance to people and pets. Ticks are usually introduced to yards and outdoor areas by other wildlife like rats or deer. Vet-prescribed medications can reduce the likelihood of your pet getting a tick bite. Yard treatments can help reduce the tick populations. These can be especially helpful if you have pets that frequent wooded areas of your yard. For people, the best protective measure is to use a protective spray and wear long sleeves and pants when walking outdoors. You should always check yourself for ticks after visiting wooded areas. Ticks can transmit some pretty scary diseases like Lyme Disease and Alpha-gal syndrome (which causes an allergy to red meat) so taking extra measures to avoid them is the best bet to ensure yours and your pets’ safety.

Mosquitoes
These flying pests are known for the diseases they can transmit to humans: West Nile, Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue Fever, and more. Many may not realize, however, that mosquitoes are also the carriers of heart worm disease. Heart worms can cause devastating health problems for dogs and can be very costly to treat. The first step in protecting yourself and your pets is reducing the mosquito population in your yard. You can do this by eliminating all standing water sources and scheduling a regular mosquito service with a pest professional. When choosing your pest company, be sure to ask about their licensing and registration as well as their training requirements. In addition to these preventative steps, dogs should be on regular heart worm preventative medication.

Ok, one more cute puppy picture for good measure. 🥰

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Lisa’s pup, Polly, hiding in the garden

Our team loves their pets (and yours!). Whether it’s participating in National Bring Your Dog to Work Day, volunteering with local shelters and humane societies, bringing along treats for our customers’ fur-babies, or sinply being there for each other when anyone loses a beloved family pet, we’re dedicated to keeping mans’ best friend safe and sound. Call or text us any time for pest identification or to schedule a free inspection.

A Friend to Pollinators

We’re celebrating National Pollinator Week by sharing information about  how our communities can support pollinator health. One way that you can be a friend to pollinators and spruce up your landscape is by planting a pollinator garden! Gardeners.com shared this bee-friendly setup which will attract honey bees and other species: bee pollinator garden

Here are some tips for crafting your very own pollinator-friendly garden:

  • Choose a sunny location
  • Obviously, you’ll need to use plants that provide pollen and nectar sources.
  • Choosing plants that bloom early or late in the season will provide a resource for local bees at a time when their choices for pollination will be more limited.
  • Look for plants that don’t require a lot of maintenance. The less you will need to disturb the garden, the better.
  • Use a broad mixture of bee-friendly plants for your garden instead of focusing on one or two varieties.
  • Consult your local nursery when you’re ready to purchase your seeds. This is a great opportunity to #shoplocal and support your community businesses who have a wealth of knowledge to share on the best plants for your garden.
  • After planting, you can register your garden with Million Pollinator Gardens to be added to their national registry of pollinator friendly gardens.

Sources:
https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/pollinator-garden-design-for-bees/9144.html

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https://savvygardening.com/best-bee-plants-for-pollinator-garden/

Introducing: The Hives at High Shoals

American Pest Control has long been concerned with pollinator health and doing our part to preserve the pollinator population. We’ve been offering green solutions since before “going green” was a thing. As pest management professionals, we take our role in protecting public health by reducing populations of insects that carry infectious or deadly diseases very seriously. We also understand, however, that there are insects which are vital to our world’s ecosystems and it’s our duty to help protect those populations. This year, in honor of Pollinator Partnership’s National Pollinator Week, we are proud to introduce The Hives at High Shoals!

Caleb Bales caring for the bees

What is The Hives at High Shoals? It is a small apiary located at The Farm at High Shoals and maintained by American Pest Control in order to learn more about pollinators and educate our communities about their importance. We created this project in order to do our part in giving back to the environment by protecting pollinator populations.

Why are pollinators so important? Almost all of the flowering plants on earth need pollinators in order to thrive. When we apply products for treatments outside, we never apply them to flowering plants so that we do not disrupt the pollinators food source. The significance of this goes far beyond just flowers, though. More than 180,000 plant species and over 1,200 crops need pollination as well. According to Pollinator Partnership, “that means that 1 out of every 3 bites of food you eat is there because of pollinators.” In terms of how this impacts our economy, we’re talking about billions of dollars globally.

The first drop of honey from the Hives at High Shoals

Why are people so worried about bee populations? You have probably heard in recent news that pollinator populations are in decline. While the scientific community still has much to learn about bee populations and the specific causes for this decline, some include disease, use of certain agricultural/crop pesticides, other parasitic insects and lack of resources due to urbanization.

As we care for our bees and learn more about their habits and biology, we will continue to share what we learn with you. In the future, our hope is to expand this project to share information with schools and other community groups as well. We hope you’ll all follow along as we share more information this week in celebration of National Pollinator Week.

 

Sources:
https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week

Bed Bug Awareness Week 2020: Hotel Room Hotspots

In our last post, you learned the truth about some of the most common bed bug myths. So now the question is: how can you avoid a bed bug infestation? One of the most common ways that people encounter bed bugs is through travel. Read on to learn some quick tips to protect yourself during hotel room stays.

  1. When you first get to your hotel room, leave your luggage and personal items in the bathroom until you have done an inspection. This is the least likely place for bed bugs to hide, so it reduces the chance of a bug finding its way into your things before you’ve had a chance to check out the room.
  2. We would recommend using a flashlight while inspecting. (Most cell phones are now equipped with a light you could use.) This will help you get a better look at targeted areas.
  3. Bed bugs are most likely to be found on…you guessed it: the bed. They typically will gather around the seams of the mattress so you can start by checking those areas around the bed, focusing on the corners. Another red flag would be brown or black spots on the sheets or mattress caused by the bugs’ fecal matter.
  4. Now for the less obvious hideouts, check behind framed photos, headboards, and nightstands. While these aren’t the bugs’ number one destination, they could certainly be found in these areas. We would recommend checking these locations out before making yourself at home in the hotel room.
  5. After you get home, inspect your suitcase and its contents before bringing it inside. Wash and dry anything that was in your luggage and vacuum the suitcase as an added precaution.

If you do see any sign of infestation after a trip, schedule a free inspection with one of our experts. If an infestation is caught early on it will be easier to eradicate and control.

Bedbug Awareness Week 2020: Busting Bedbug Myths

Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite! Raise your hand if you thought bed bugs were a mythical creature that only existed in bedtime stories…🙋‍♀️ Unfortunately, they’re as real as it gets in the pest world. These gross little hitchhikers bring with them not only physical harm, but also mental distress for many of their victims. Bed bugs are one of the most speculated and misunderstood insects, so let’s take a look at some of the more common bed bug myths.

#1. Bedbugs are microscopic. 

Nope. We don’t know where this myth came from, but it is far from the truth. While bed bugs nymphs can be small enough to hide in the head of a screw, adult bed bugs are closer to 1/4 inch long. In this photo you can tell that while they are small, they’re definitely big enough to see with the naked eye.

#2. If you see a bedbug, immediately throw away your mattress. 

This is a really common response to seeing a bed bug, and we get it! The thought of something infesting your bed and feeding on you while you sleep is tough to stomach so our natural instinct is to get rid of it ASAP. What needs to be considered, though, is that bed bugs are great hitchhikers. So if you take their primary habitat and drag it through your home to ditch it outside, chances are, you’re spreading the infestation in the process. The same goes for switching beds. If you move from one bed to another bed or couch, the bugs are likely coming along for the ride on your bedding. Your best bet is to leave furniture where it is and call a professional for help. With a bedbug treatment, you should also invest in a mattress cover to protect your mattress. Smaller things like clothing or bedding can be bagged up and transported to a washing machine with less threat of spreading the bugs.

#3. Bed bugs only infest dirty homes. 

Bed bugs are most often associated with uncleanliness, but they don’t actually care whether your home is clean or dirty. They’re found more frequently in areas where there a lot of people or for them, meals. How clean or dirty the home is doesn’t impact the likelihood of an infestation at all. With that being said, clutter can affect the process of inspecting and eradicating an infestation.

4. Bed bugs only bite at night. 

Bed bugs instinctively prefer to feed during the night.  Their main goal, however, is to feed on the host so they will adapt to that person’s sleeping schedule. If the host sleeps during the day, that’s when the bed bugs will most likely be found biting. The other reason they may feed at an uncommon time is if they have gone a while without a blood meal. They can go weeks or even months without feeding, but when they have access to a host after that type of stretch, they’ll likely feed as soon as possible no matter what time of day.

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5. Bedbugs transmit diseases. 

Other insects that feed on blood, like mosquitoes or ticks, are known for their potential to transmit serious diseases to humans and animals. Bedbugs, while they do harbor pathogens, have not been found to transmit any human diseases. They do have several other harmful effects on people who are unlucky enough to experience an infestation, like anxiety, sleeplessness, or even infections.

Check out our next post to learn more about protecting your home from a bed bug infestation during summer travel.

Sources:
https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/bed-bugs/bed-bugs/

Mini-Moms: Bugs & their Babies

To celebrate mother’s day, let’s take a look at the interesting world of bug moms. If you caught our virtual field trip video, you met our Golden Girls aka Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. What we didn’t tell you yet though, is that these roaches are one of the few insects who give live birth to their young and we have at least 50 young roaches!

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Madagascar Hissing Roach Live Birth

Most roach species carry eggs in a sac called an ootheca, then drop the ootheca off before the eggs hatch. The Madagascar roach, however, carries her ootheca internally and the newborns emerge after they have already hatched. Earth Touch News Network shared a fascinating video of a live birth caught on film, so you can watch it here. All the roaches in our brood are females so they came to us already carrying their young, which they typically carry for around 2 months. Our little guys are already about 2 months old, so will not reach maturity for another 5 months. Stay tuned on our social media for more updates as they continue to develop.

Wolf Spider Carrying Babies

Another bug-mom with some interesting habits is the wolf spider. These arachnids lay a few dozen eggs at a time and wrap them in silk to create an egg sac. Where their maternal behavior really gets interesting though, is after the mother chews into the sac to help the babies emerge, when they crawl onto her back to be carried for several days. This is definitely not what you want to see after trying to kill a spider, but you may get more than you bargained for if your unwanted house guest is a spider carrying her young.

Spider GIF | Gfycat

We saved the best (or at least the most bizarre) for last in this bug-mom biography. The jewel wasp is best known for its parasitic nature. The flying predator finds an unsuspecting roach and injects a venom with incredible precision into its brain. After the injection, the zombified roach is basically used as an egg sac for the wasp. The wasp will lay one single egg and as the larva develops, it feeds on the roach’s organs before killing it to emerge.

Jewel wasp emerging from its roach host
Jewel wasp emerging from its roach host

Sources:
https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef014
https://www.earthtouchnews.com/natural-world/reproduction/special-delivery-madagascar-hissing-cockroach-gives-birth/
https://www.livescience.com/41467-wolf-spider.html

 

Pests & COVID-19: What do you need to know?

There have been lots of questions surrounding COVID-19 as we all work to understand and navigate this uncertain time. A common worry over the past few weeks has been, “Can mosquitoes spread Coronavirus?” In short, the answer is no. Mosquitoes are not able to spread the virus. They do spread other diseases like Zika virus, Chikungunya, West Nile, and Dengue Fever, but as of right now there are no reports of Coronavirus being spread to humans by the summer’s most annoying pest. Infectious disease and internal medicine specialist, Dr. Mary Schmidt, said “In order for this to happen in real life, the mosquitoes would have to acquire the virus during feeding, the virus then undergoes replication in the gut tissue, disseminates to the secondary sites of replication, including the salivary glands, and is ultimately released into the arthropod’s salivary secretions, where it may be inoculated into the skin and cutaneous vasculature of the host (human) during subsequent feeding”. Basically this means there would have to be some really tricky business going on inside the mosquito in order for it to transmit the virus and ultimately, experts don’t expect this to happen.

A mosquito larva found by an APC techn in just inches of water

So for now, try to steer clear of mosquitoes as you normally would, but don’t panic about a threat of COVID-19 transmission. To cut down on populations in your yard eliminate any areas of standing water (even something as small as a bottle cap can hold hundreds of larvae!) and look into a mosquito reduction service. There are a few other trends in the pest world that have shown surprising relation to the pandemic:

Ticks
Like mosquitoes, there’s no evidence that ticks can transmit Coronavirus. They do, however, transmit Lyme disease, which can cause flu-like symptoms and weaken the immune system. Lone star tick bites can also trigger a rare allergy to galactose. For those unlucky folks who have encountered these infected pests, that means no burgers, no steaks, no red meat at all. For meat-lovers, it would definitely put a damper on summer grilling season.

The white marking is a distinguishing feature of female Lone Star ticks.

Now that socializing and outings are limited, a lot of people are spending more time outdoors in their yards, parks, and other places where they can enjoy nature. While this is a great escape from the stresses of our world right now, it brings with it a greater risk for tick bites. When hiking or spending time in grassy areas, you should wear long-sleeved, light colored clothing and closed-toe shoes to lessen your risk. Pets are also susceptible to tick bites so we recommend a flea and tick preventative. Pet owners should also comb through the pets’ fur after spending time outside to check for any unwanted pest guests.

Rodents
This global pandemic has caused quite a few shortages. Toilet paper, Lysol, hand sanitizer, and even certain foods have been hard to come by lately. Believe it or not, rodents are also feeling the pressure of this temporary normal. With restaurants and businesses being closed, urban areas which were once bustling with people (and food, and trash, and plenty of crumbs) are now basically empty. So the rats and mice that were used to dining out in the dumpsters of these happening spots are left wondering where their next meal is coming from. Bobby Corrigan, the nation’s top rodentologist, was quoted saying “We don’t want those animals in our apartments, houses, restaurants or grocery stores because you end up playing disease lottery if that happens. You don’t want any one of those 55 diseases.”

A rat in the streets of New Orleans searching for food.

Take the French Quarter for example. New Orleans has been a hot spot for rodent activity since the city has been on lock down. Rats only need about a half-inch opening to enter a structure so your best defense is sealing up any cracks or openings that could allow them to enter your home or business. For restaurants and other businesses that serve food, it might seem like the time to cancel pest prevention services, but it’s actually the ideal time battle these rodents with a more aggressive treatment plan.

Pest Management services have been deemed essential across the U.S. so most pest control companies will continue offering services during this time. At American Pest Control, some of the measures we’re taking to keep our customers and employees safe include encouraging perimeter-only services, pest identification via text, zero contact billing options, restricting office visitors, and personal protective equipment. We’re still here to serve our communities with the same level of customer service you’ve come to expect from us!

Sources:
https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/04/first-coronavirus-now-rats-why-hungry-rodents-are-heading-for-homes.html
https://www.pressherald.com/2020/04/17/ten-tick-prevention-tips/
https://www.kiro7.com/news/trending/coronavirus-rats-swarming-through-new-orleans-now-empty-streets/TLSMLQHBPFF5NI4GK5ZKVWBP5A/

For Kids, Parents, & Teachers: Learning About Bugs!

Student learning looks a lot different during these unprecedented times. American Pest Control is a partner in education with schools across our service area and we feel strongly about the importance of education in our communities. We have compiled some great resources from pestworldforkids.org which can be used while learning from home!

Students in Pre-K and younger will enjoy these fun activities while expanding their knowledge about bugs! These coloring pages feature a paint-by-numbers style lady bug and butterfly. For a bug-themed alphabet lesson, use these coloring pages to identify insects for each letter of the alphabet.

For elementary age students who love reading, check out The Uninvited Houseguests E-book by Jo-Lynne Shane. The book is narrated by 9-year old Nate, who loves basketball almost as much as he loves his dog, Peaches. Your student can join Nate as he and his classmate, Millie, become pest detectives. Then, dive into The Pest Detectives by Susan Carraretto. In this book, Millie shows off her bug journal and shares her knowledge about the world of bugs! If your student is inspired to become a pest detective, they can use this report writing guide as a step-by-step instruction for researching and writing about a new topic.

Art-loving students will enjoy these craft projects which can be made using materials you likely already have around the house. Using paper plates and a few basic craft supplies, your student can make a movable crawling caterpillar.  Encourage your student to get creative, adding patterns and colors to the caterpillar. You can even use it as a puppet and create a story to go along with it! These bumblebee bookmarks would be a great activity to accompany a lesson about bees. Honey bees pollinate more than 100 crops in the United States, produce honey, and are essential to our environment. Using facts from the honeybee page on pestworldforkids.org, your child can learn about these important pollinators. Ants are fascinating creatures as well. Your student may be interested to know that an ant can lift 20 times its own body weight. If a second grader was as strong as an ant, they would be able to pick up a car! After checking out some ant facts, your student can create their very own ant craft using an egg carton!

Crawling Caterpillar - Critter Crafts: Insect Craft Activities for Elementary Students

When schoolroom classes resume, these lesson plans can be used by teachers in science curriculum. For students in grades K-2, this lesson plan introduces a wide variety of common pests. Students will learn about pest needs, damage, and self-protection through creating, reading, and playing. This lesson is created for students in grades 3-5 to explore native habitats and behaviors of common pests. With several visual aids and handouts, students will enjoy this deep dive into understanding the relationship between humans and pests and the limited habitat and resources shared by both. For students grades 5-8, this lesson which is broken down into two sessions focuses on classical taxonomy and how it helps scientists organize the natural world.

We hope you and your students will enjoy these learning resources. If you create any of the projects listed here, we’d love to see them! You can tag us on social media (@american_pest) or email your students’ creations to thebuzz@ampest.com

Termite Awareness Week 2020

This year, American Pest Control and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) are working to spread public awareness about termites during Termite Awareness Week, March 8-14, 2020With spring on the horizon, termites will begin swarming and could seek out your home for their new nesting space. Because the damage from a termite infestation can easily go unnoticed, American Pest Control is educating homeowners on the top five signs that their home is infested 

 

Termites cause more damage per year than fires, floods, and hurricanes combined,” said John MillerDirector of Sales and Service. “The damage could result in costly repairs for homeowners. Many homeowners are not aware that termite damage will not be covered under a homeowners insurance policy. 

While pest professionals don’t recommend homeowner inspect their home on their own, there are a few red flags that they should look out for that could signal the presence of an infestation.  With the help from experts at NPMA, American Pest Control is sharing the top five signs that a home has termites: 

 

  1. Swarmer or Discarded Wings: Swarmers, also known as reproductives, are young female and male winged termites. In the springtime, after the last freeze, termite swarmers will emerge from their nest to mate and search for a new location to start a colony, which typically includes our homes. Termite swarmers, or their discarded wings near windowsills and doors, are often the first (and only visible) sign of a termite problem. 
  1. Mud Tubes: Subterranean termites, the most destructive termite species, build mud tubes to provide moisture while they travel between their colony and food source. Mud tubes are most often found near the home’s foundation and look like encrusted, dry dirt similar to the size of a drinking straw.  
  1. Wood Damage: Termites tend to eat wood from the inside out, so wood that sounds hollow when tapped often signifies a termite infestation. Additionally, homeowners should also look for blistering pieces of wood. 
  1. Uneven or Bubbling Paint: Uneven or bubbling paint is often a sign of moisture buildup, which could mean one of two things – water damage or termites. 
  1. Frass: Drywood termites produce wood-colored droppings as they eat through infested wood. If a homeowner finds a small pile of what looks like pellets inside or outside the home, it could be a sign of a drywood termite infestation. 

 

The best termite protection is prevention,” added Miller.  In our region, the saying goes ‘it’s not if you’ll get termites, it’s when.” 

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Protect the Ones you Love!