Garden ants

Ants belong to the Hymenoptera family. They are socially living, state forming insects. An ant state usually consists of a number strongly specialized individuals, due to their work.

The workers
These are infertile female versions. Their duty is to provide the state with food. These workers cause us nuisance in their quest for food. Once a worker has found a rich food source, she alerts the other workers to it, who will then find the source via a track specified by the worker, to offer help in collecting the food found. This is how the ant rows exist. They give away the direction in which the ant nest is to be found, which is useful in ant control. In addition to providing food, the workers have to take care of the queen and the offspring.

One or multiple queens
These are fertile female individuals whose primary task it so preserver their species. They lay the eggs. In general, the queen doesn’t leave the nest once the state is formed. The queens are considerably larger than the workers.

Males and young queens.
All versions are winged. They ensure the preservation of the species and the founding of new colonies. In garden ants (Lasius-species) they are present in the nest from July until September. In favourable weather conditions, they fly out; the so-called bridal flight. During the flight, they are inseminated. Then, the males die. The fertilized females seek a suitable place and try to found a new colony in the spring.

Certain ant species also have soldiers. These are infertile female ants that distinguish themselves from the workers through their extra big jaws; their task is the defend the nest against intruders. Solders do not exist in garden ants.

Ant control should only be initiated when these insects actually cause a nuisance in the buildings. In general, this nuisance is exaggerated; a couple of ants wandering around won’t hurt anyone and won’t cause any damage. However, once these insects have made a nest from which they keep entering a house or building, ant control may be necessary from a hygienic perspective. In gardens, parks and forests, ants are useful, because they eliminate all kinds of harmful insects. Getting rid of ant nests at such places with the help of insecticides usually involves a lot of damage. It doesn’t just kill the ants, it can also poison a lot of other insects, mammals and birds. It threatens to unnecessarily disrupt the entire natural living environment.

Garden ant species (genus Lasius)
The garden ants that can settle under or near buildings usually belong to the following species:
The black garden ant (Lasius niger L.)
Black-brown to black ants.
The queen is dark brown The male versions are dark to black-brown with crystal clear wings.
The carpenter ant (Lasius fuliginosus Latr.)

These are shiny black ants The male versions have partially brown smoky wings. This ant has a strongly aromatic smell, especially when crushed between the fingers.

Rare are:
The large yellow meadow ant (Lasius umbratus Nijl.) These are yellow ants. The queen is red-brown, the male are brown to dark-brown. The wings are smokey-brown at the base.   The brown ant (Lasius brunneus Latr.)

Yellow-brown to red-brown ants, with a significantly darker coloured head and abdomen. The queen is light or dark black-brown The males are black-brown with smoky wings. In our country this species if fairly rare, except in Limburg.

To prevent attracting the ants from outside, food that is appealing to them, such as preserves, sugar etc, should be stored in properly sealed pots or canisters. Don’t leave the dirty dishes out during the night. Waste bins should be kept properly closed. The couple of ants that manage to get in can be removed using the vacuum cleaner.

Outdoor ant control: (only in the immediate vicinity of buildings)
Garden ant control can be carried out in various ways where necessary, based on the circumstances. One can use insecticides in this. We will point out a number of substances that are suitable for this goal. We stress that the insecticides mentioned hereinafter are poisonous, including for people and pets. The directions on the label of the substance to be used, must therefore be closely followed.

When detecting garden ants in buildings, one must first track down the nest. Because the nests are often outside of the buildings, outdoor ant control is preferred, rendering the use of substances indoor unnecessary.

One must treat the nest entrances with an insecticide in powder form, for instance based on propoxur, pyrethrinen, or foxim. The powdered nest entrances can best be covered to prevent children, pets or birds coming into contact with it. When this treatment had been carried out this way, the ants will take the powder into the nest with their legs and hairs, effectively eliminating the queens and the offspring. When you are unable to find the nest entrances or are unable to access them, you can apply a little powder on the ant rows. However, this leads to significantly less results and this method is ill-advised in the house.

Carpenter ant control
One should always first track down the nest. Often, these are abandoned tree trunks that are sometimes found under new construction. The nest must be removed where possible, where applicable after extermination measures carried out. In addition, the same control measures can be applied as with the other Lasius species.

Silver fish

This wingless insect, also referred to as the sugar guest, is very common, but often in small numbers. The silver fish strongly resembles the firebrat Thermobia domestica Packard. It is essential to identify the right species, since both species have completely different requirements in terms of the relative humidity of the area in which they live, due to which the control measures of both these species differs greatly.

The presence of the silver fish, often in the wet unit, is an indication that the relative humidity is too high. It often concerns leakage or an architectural problem, such as a resounding wall. Too high humidity in (poorly ventilated) crawling spaces can cause serious nuisance by silver fish above the ground floor flooring.

The silver fish can get 7 – 11.5 cm in size and has clearly plate-shaped extensions at all breast segments. Characteristic are the two ringed antennas and the three fine ringed tail wires at the abdomen. The silver fish has a pearl shine, because the body is covered with fine scales.

The eggs are often dropped in the period from April to August on a suitable substrate, but also in seams and cracks. The female always lays the eggs in small numbers together, with a total of about 150. At 25°C and 75% relative humidity, the eggs hatch after about 28 days. The silver fish that emerge from the eggs can moult up to 20 times in their 2 to 3-year lifespan.

Silver fish shun the light, during daytime they hide in all kinds of dark places. Silver fish that live in nature in certain parts of Asia and South Europe in holes, caves, under rocks etc are very common in the Netherlands, but only in buildings. In almost every building there are small numbers of silver fish, however they live in great numbers in humid areas that don’t cool down during the winter, such as the kitchen, the shower cell or the bathroom, however also in other places with high humidity. Their food consists of product rich in starch, such as starch paste used to stick wallpaper against the wall, and moist, semi deteriorated wallpaper. This diet is supplemented with protein from the consumption of small dead insects. In addition certain types of glue can be consumed used to bind books. In the humid atmosphere in which silver fish exist, there will also be fungal growth, and these fungi are also eaten by said insects. Silver fish can only cause some significant damage when they exist in great numbers.

Prevention & Control
Because silver fish hardly cause any significant damage and because they usually live in small numbers, silverfish control is hardly ever necessary. When they frequently are found in great numbers, this means that the relevant area has a high humidity. The control measures must first be to create a dry atmosphere. This can be achieved by ventilating the area during dry weather and through dry firing. In a dry atmosphere, silver fish cannot sustain themselves. Use of insecticides is not necessary in general and even ill-advised if measures to reduce the relative humidity have not been taken yet. For the first residents of a new house, it is important to know that concrete is moist for a very long time, due to which, in certain areas, an atmosphere with a high relative humidity can be created. This means that proper ventilation and dry firing (for instance with a dry air furnace) is required. It is recommended to refrain from applying permanent flooring for a while. This will inhibit the evaporation of the moisture in the concrete. In addition, the silver fish will have to be offered as little shelter as possible; meaning: clean up as much as possible. Sometimes, the cabinets under the sink can be moist, especially if they are made of wood. Often the cause lies in a somewhat leaking or improperly attached sink drain. This will have to be resolved.

Bed bug

These insects are common across the globe. They live in buildings and are parasites to warm-blooded animal, that often feed on the blood of humans. When bed bugs exist in great numbers in an area (Such as a bedroom) they excrete a characteristic scent.

The adult insect has a strongly flattened, oval shaped, almost round body. The front wings are only potentially present and there are no rear wings. The females are about 4.5 – 8.5 mm long, the males are somewhat smaller on average. Bed bugs are read-brown in colour; when they have just consumed a blood meal, they are dark read and the abdomen is swollen.

Development and lifestyle
During the day, bed bugs hide under loose carpets, in all kinds of cracks in walls, window sills, furniture, beds, mattresses, behind loose wallpapers, in curtains, and even in switches and outlets of the light, shoes and garments, however mainly in the vicinity of the headboard of a bed. The eggs are stuck in the cracks of furniture, beds, walls, garments etc with the help of a water-soluble secretion. At room temperature, the eggs hatch after 15-22 days; after about 1.5 month the insects are mature. Except on people, they also parasitize on warm-blooded pats and lab animals and birds. At15 – 18’C the animals can survive over 6 months without food. When they get hungry they can travel relatively large distances looking for hosts. At a temperature below 15°C they hibernate, in which they can survive freezing temperatures for a long period of time. A heat treatment at temperatures exceeding 45°C for half an hour kills all stages of these bed bugs.

Bed bugs spread to adjacent houses via cracks and seems in walls or via pipe ducts. However they also spread via luggage, transport of used furniture and the use of scrap wood from buildings with bed bugs. In bed bug control, these aspects must be kept in mind. The result of their lifestyle is that, when the inventory of the house to be treated, as well as clothing, bedding etc, isn’t handled carefully, bed bugs can be spread easily. After detecting bed bugs, these goods should not be removed from the house of the area to be treated, before control measures have been taken. The pesticides should not come into contact with, for instance, toys. Toys must be stowed way prior to the control measures. When treating cabinets, toys can be packed in plastic bags. The control measures for these insects can best be carried out by professionals such as the EWS.

First it must be investigated to what extent the bed bugs have spread to adjacent buildings. After this inventory, the EWS can proceed to draw up the control plan (order of the treatment, control method to be applied and permitted substances etc) and the information provision to the parties involved. All nooks and crannies of beds, walls and floors as well as bedding and mattresses located in areas where bed bugs are found, must be treated with a permitted substance that leaves a residue (active substances such as deltamethrin, permethrin or cyfluthrin) after which the treated areas cannot be entered for two hours. After the control measures, the bedding must be washed or cleaned otherwise. Residents of the cleaned areas must be alert to bed bugs and must alert the PPD as soon as they are found. It is recommended to have checked after several weeks whether the treatment has led to a complete result and, if necessary, a follow-up treatment is required.