Bugging Out – Chocolate Allergy Like To Roaches

ABCNews.com: Bugging Out – Chocolate Allergy Like To Roaches

Allergy sufferers who react to chocolate might be shocked to learn their allergy could be linked to something other than the cocoa bean: an allergy to cockroaches.

An average of 8 insect parts are found in a chocolate bar and deemed safe, according to the FDA’s guidelines.

“Most foods have natural contaminants in them, but there are levels which the FDA deems safe,” said allergist Dr. Morton M. Teich.  “Anything more than 60 insect pieces per 100 grams of chocolate is rejected by the FDA. ”

Trace amounts of insect parts that are ground into the food and can affect people with allergies and asthma.  Some side effects include migraines, cramps, itching or hives.

Chocolate isn’t the only food product to blame for contamination, other foods like peanut butter,  macaroni, fruit, cheese, popcorn, wheat and some cheese also contain this material.

Allergists can help patients with cockroach allergies by giving them allergy shots with small amounts of the insect as well as removing chocolate from their diet.

First reported in 1943, allergists began skin testing for cockroaches in 1959.  “Allergists are testing now because they’re finding that asthma can be caused by cockroaches,” said Teich, “I have patients whom we’ve tested for cockroach who really get reactions.”

Teich says most of his patients are shocked at this information and swear off chocolate after discovering its contaminants. “Most of them say, ‘I’m not going to eat that anymore!'”

However if you think a simple switch of brands will keep you from safe from roaches, you’re wrong-cockroaches and their droppings seem to be indigenous to the cocoa bean.

“To avoid [insects in your food], it’s almost impossible,” said Teich.  “You probably would have to stop eating completely.”

To consume foods without traces of insects, producers would have to use more pesticides, which Teich believes are much worse than eating a few insects.  Some argue that the pricier chocolate brands take extra precautions in separating the bugs from the beans but there is no evidence that proves it.

Is It a Termite or An Ant?

Your source for termite information

What is the difference between a termite and a flying ant?

There are 3 ways to tell termites and flying ants apart:

Wing size

Termite wings are all equal in length and extend well past the abdomen. However, ants have wings which are unequal in length and generally end at the tip of the abdomen.

Antennae shape

Antennae on termites are straight and beadlike, but on ants they are elbowed.

Waist size

Ants have a pinched waist (abdomen), but termites have no constriction in the body and are more streamlined.

Termite and Ant Control:

Whether you found a termite or a flying ant, you could have an infestation problem. Hulett Environmental Services offers specialty termite control treatments designed to control and eliminate these pests!

Gambian Pouch Rats Population Rises Again In Florida Keys

HuffingtonPost.com: Gambian Pouch Rats Population Rises Again In Florida Keys

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials are battling an invasive species in the Keys they thought they got rid of years ago: Gambian rats — giant rodents the size of cats.

The outbreak started around 2000, when a Keys resident who breed the 9-pound rats released 6 or 7, according to FWC. Ten years ago, they were often imported from their native Africa as pets until they were banned after a Monkey Pox outbreak in 2003.

The half dozen loose multiplied quickly. The FWS says they can have 5 litters in 9 months with an average of 4 young per litter.

Animal Planet says female Gambian rats average 30 newborn rats every year. Watch the Animals Planet video on the rats below.

“We thought we had them whipped as of 2009,” Scott Hardin, FWC’s exotic-species coordinator, told KeysNet. “In the early part of 2011, a resident e-mailed me and said he saw one of the rats. We were skeptical but went back and talked to people and [saw] there were rats that we missed.”

Hardin says they’ve caught 20 since then through peanut butter and cantaloupe-laced traps in Grassy Key residents’ backyards, reports KeyNet.

When officials began a targeted campaign to kill rampant Gambian rats in the Keys in 2007, their bodies and fecal matter were tested for any trace of Monkey Pox.

When none tested positive, Gary Witmer, a biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center, told Reuters, “We’re lucky that’s the case. They sure can bite.”

Although this particularly dense population of Gambian rats is regulated to Grassy Key, about 60 miles north of Key West, the rodents have made plenty of headlines around the world.

Last year, Gambian rats killed and ate two infants in a horrendous incident in South Africa, where they are breed as food.

Also last year, a public works employee speared a giant Gambian rat with his pitchfork in public housing in the Bronx. The gruesome picture quickly went viral on the web.

A few months later, another was spotted in a Bronx Foot Locker.

Avoid Bed Bugs While Traveling

Here are a few tips to help you stay away from the dreaded bed bug while traveling!

  • At hotels, pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for telltale stains or spots. If you see anything suspect, notify management and change rooms/establishments immediately.
  • Thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in sofas/chairs.  If any pests are spotted, change rooms/establishments immediately.
  • If you do need to change rooms, be sure that you do not move to a room adjacent and/or directly above/below the suspected infestation.  Bed bugs can easily hitchhike via housekeeping carts, luggage and even through wall sockets. If an infestation is spreading, it typically does so in the rooms closest to the origin.
  • Consider placing your suitcase in a plastic trash bag or protective cover during the duration of your trip to ensure that bed bugs cannot take up residence there prior to departure.
  • After traveling, inspect your suitcases before bringing them into the house. Vacuum your suitcase thoroughly before storing away. Consider using a garment hand steamer to steam your luggage, which will kill any bed bugs or eggs that may have hitched a ride home.

Ants Top List of Concern for Homeowners

Ants Top List of Concern for Homeowners

Homeowner Advice on Keeping Ants Away

As of 2006 there are 9,000 to 10,000 known ant species and researchers believe that there may be more than 20,000 species worldwide. With this fact in mind it is no surprise that 25% of homeowners listed ants as their main pest concern according to research conducted in 2005 by the National Pest Management Association.  This same study revealed that more than half of all homeowners have had problems with ants – making them the most prevalent pest nationwide.

Ants are social insects and form highly organized colonies with up to millions of members each having a role. Spotting one ant unfortunately signifies that the troops are somewhere close by.

Homeowners should particularly watch out for fire and carpenter ants. Fire ants, found mainly in the south, are vicious and can sting repeatedly if disturbed. Carpenter ants attack wood that is or has been wet or damaged by mold and can build tunnels through dry, undamaged wood causing costly property damage.

Hulett Environmental Services offers the following tips for minimizing invasion by ants:

  • Keep wood and debris away from exterior siding
  • Keep kitchen clean: seal containers, wipe counters frequently, empty the garbage religiously, and avoid leaving pet food dishes out for long periods of time.
  • Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house.
  • Seal up cracks and small openings along bottom of the house.
  • Store sugar, syrup, honey, baked goods, and other sweets in closed containers that have been washed to remove residues from their exterior surfaces.

For more information on other ant species and preventative tips visit

www.pestworld.org and www.bugs.com

TRAVEL PESTS Q & A

SUBJECT: TRAVEL PESTS

Why do we need tips for a pest-free vacation?

Pest-transmitted diseases are on the rise.  West Nile Virus is a great case in point – case numbers are doubling year to year.   However, this is by far just a microcosm of the big picture.  The truth is travelers are much more at risk of encountering pests than locals.  Locals have the experience with the native pests, are used to avoiding them and have had the help of pest management professionals to control them in and around their homes.

Won’t we see the same pests that we see around our homes?

Absolutely not.  There are billions of different species of pests throughout the world and they vary by region.  Ants are a great example – with over 12,000 species, chances are the ones at your home will not be the ones waiting for you on vacation!

What should vacationers do to protect themselves from these pests?

Knowledge is the best protection for vacationers.  Locals have the benefit of help from pest management professionals.  Vacationers can arm themselves with knowledge of what pests to look for, how to avoid them and what to do if they have a close encounter.

Where can people go for more information on travel destinations and pest health threats?

The National Pest Management Association has developed an interactive map on their website, www.pestworld.org, that vacationers can visit before leaving home.  By clicking on each region, travelers can access a list of the native pests, tips to avoid them and what to do if you get a little too close for comfort.

What are regional pest health threats that people should be aware of when traveling this summer?

It really depends on what region you’ll be visiting.  In the Northeast, vacationers should be aware of deer ticks that spread Lyme disease.  In the South and Southwest, vacationers should keep their eyes peeled for fire ants. The West is expecting a particularly bad season of mosquitoes and West Nile Virus.

What are some other pest problems vacationers might encounter this summer when traveling?

There are a few other pests that travelers may recognize from home but still should be watchful of during a vacation.  Mosquitoes and bedbugs are great examples of pests that live almost everywhere in the country but can be particularly dangerous during vacation.  Awareness and vigilance will play a role in avoiding these pests.

REGION-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

What pests should I be prepared to see in the Northeast?

Although there are several species of pests that travelers should be aware of before traveling to the Northeast, one of the most prevalent and dangerous is the tick.  Black legged, also sometimes called deer ticks living in the Northeast can transmit Lyme disease.

To avoid ticks and tick-transmitted diseases when in potential tick-prone areas:

–        Avoid vegetation, especially long grass; this will go a long way to preventing tick bites.  Many species of ticks attach themselves to humans and animals as they pass through long grasses.

–        Wear long pants and socks of a light color, with the pants legs tucked into white socks.

–        Normally, ticks will not immediately attach themselves; frequently inspect your clothing, body, and head/hair

What pests should I be prepared to see in the Southeast?

Locals living in the Southeast have long been aware of the danger of fire ants.  Fire ants look remarkably like other species of ants but are usually a distinct color of red.  Unlike many other species, fire ants are ferocious stingers. Stinging insects, including the fire ant, send over half a million people to the emergency room each year; they are important pests to avoid!

Fire ants are known for the large mounds of dirt they create above their underground colonies. If these mounds are disturbed, fire ants will race to the top and sting whatever is disturbing their nest.  To avoid fire ants –avoid these mounds.

What pests should I be prepared to see in the Southwest?

Scorpions are a great example of a pest to avoid while traveling through the Southwest. With large stingers on the ends of their tails, these pests can deliver a nasty shock to an unsuspecting tourist.

Keep in mind that scorpions may hide in clothing, hats, shoes or any other items left on the ground, especially overnight.  When these are put on, the scorpion stings in defense.  Travelers should carefully inspect anything they are about to put on if it has spent the night in a location where a scorpion could have crawled into it.

What pests should I be prepared to see in the West?

Western states are home to a dangerous spider that many vacationers have probably heard of but perhaps can’t identify.

Luckily, it is easily identified by its black body and the red hourglass shaped mark on its abdomen.

What pests should I be prepared to see in the Mid-West?

Brown recluse spiders live throughout the Mid-West and are typically unknown or misidentified by people not from the region.  These spiders can deliver a nasty bite that could go undetected for days until a reaction begins at the site of the bite.

To avoid these spiders, steer clear of any spider that has a violin-shaped marking over its body.

Are there any other pests that travelers should look out for?

There are lots of pests that travelers should avoid but is difficult to generalize because they are all destination-specific.  Anyone planning a trip can visit www.pestworld.org and find out what pests reside at their vacation destination.  The site also offers helpful tips for avoiding the pests and advice on what to do if you come into contact with any of them.

PEST-SPECIFIC BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Ticks

In North America, blacklegged (also called deer ticks) can cause Lyme Disease, a threatening illness that affects the central nervous system.  Although the symptoms of the disease are fairly inconsistent, generally the first indication of the disease is the onset of flu-like symptoms and a “bulls-eye” rash, named for its appearance as an expanding ring.  Severe cases of Lyme disease can last for long periods of time and can include symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, severe joint pain, facial paralysis and a weakened heart.

To avoid ticks and tick-transmitted disease when in potential tick-prone areas:

  • Avoid vegetation, especially long grass; this will go a long way to preventing tick bites.  Many species of ticks attach themselves to humans and animals as they pass through long grasses.
  • Wear long pants and socks of a light color, with the pants legs tucked into your socks.
  • Normally, ticks will not immediately attach themselves; frequently inspect your clothing, body, and head/hair

Mosquitoes

Previously thought by most Americans to be merely a nuisance, these pests have been at the center of a recent rapidly spreading public health threat – West Nile Virus.  Although currently the most famous, West Nile Virus is just one of many illnesses spread by mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are most likely to be found around and breed in stagnant water. Travelers that are planning to spend time in marshy areas, around standing ponds, or other areas close to unmoving water should come prepared to battle with these pests.

The best defense against mosquitoes is an active offense:

  • Travelers should avoid going outdoors when and where mosquitoes are typically most active. Some mosquitoes are active during the day and others are active at night depending on the area.
  • Insect repellent should be applied on clothing near exposed skin whenever and wherever mosquitoes are most likely to bite.
  • The most effective repellents currently available contain the active ingredient, N, N-diethylbenzamide (DEET), in concentrations up to about 35% (greater concentrations don’t offer better protection).
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long-legged pants, preferably treated with a repellent as well.

Bed bugs

Best known as the catchy ending of a bedtime rhyme, bed bugs have recently made a comeback in American homes, apartment complexes, residence halls, hospitals, hotels, college dorms, mass transit and cruise ships.  Although they are not disease-spreading pests, bed bugs feed on human blood and can leave itchy, red welts on human skin.

Bed bug infestations are not a sign of unsanitary or unclean living areas and are just as likely to be found in a five-star hotel as a two-star hotel.  Travelers that come into contact with bed bugs away from their homes should be just as concerned about bringing them home as they are about their itchy bites.  Renowned hitchhikers, bed bugs will catch rides in luggage, shoes, pants hems and any other mobile material and travel back to infest your home.

To avoid bed bugs while traveling:

  • At hotels, pull down the bed covers at night. If you see something moving, or if you see spots on the sheets, let management know immediately and then ask to be moved to another room.
  • After traveling, inspect your suitcases before bringing them into the house.

Mice

Mice can transmit Hantavirus, which can cause Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, a potentially deadly disease.  The vast majority of cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome occur west of the Mississippi River.

These viruses are transmitted to humans through the inhalation of “aerosolized” dust or droplets (delete) containing rodent feces or urine infected with the virus.  The rodent excretes the virus with its waste materials and as the surfaces dry, the virus remains in the dust on the surface.  Once it becomes airborne, it is possible to inhale the pathogens.  Humans can also become infected if they come into direct contact with infected rodents.

Although it is difficult to take specific steps to avoid Hantavirus, travelers should be wary of unsanitary conditions.  Clean areas are much less likely to contain the pathogens. Do not remove mice or their droppings on your own. A professional will use proper techniques to avoid allowing particulates to get into the air.

Scorpions

Scorpions can be found throughout the Southwestern United States.  With large stingers on the end of their tails, these pests can deliver a nasty shock to an unsuspecting tourist.  With over 50 species of scorpions in the United States, only one is thought to pose a significant health risk to humans – the sculptured bark scorpion.

Scorpions are nocturnal pests that tend to hide in the daytime; this is the main reason so many people get stung.

  • Scorpions may hide in clothing, hats, shoes or any other items left on the ground.  When these are put on, the scorpion stings in defense.
  • Travelers should carefully inspect anything they are about to put on if it has spent the night in a location where a scorpion could have crawled into it.

If a scorpion stings you, apply ice to the sting site immediately to reduce swelling.  These stings, unless from the sculptured bark scorpion, are about as dangerous as a bee sting.

Brown Recluse Spider

The Brown Recluse is one of the most dangerous spiders in the United States.  Commonly found in states throughout the southwest and Midwest the Brown Recluse will occasionally hitchhike a ride into other states.

The brown recluse spider is a member of a group of spiders commonly known as the “fiddle-back” spiders due to the violin-shaped marking over its body.  Another identifying characteristic is the number of eyes – most spiders have four pairs of eyes while the brown recluse has three pairs arranged in a semicircle.

A Brown Recluse bite can go undetected for hours or days until a reaction at the site of the bite begins to develop.  Others that have been bitten describe a pinprick feeling followed by severe burning and pain.  Other symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, weakness, swelling and the formation of a lesion at the site of the bite.  The healing process can take more than eight weeks.

Fire ants

There are a half dozen different species of fire ants in the Southern United States, some of which are native and others imported.  Although all can sting and hurt humans, the red imported fire ant is the most threatening.

Fire ants are known for the large mounds of dirt they create above their underground colonies. These mounds can even be found in garages or in crawlspaces.  If these mounds are disturbed, fire ants will race to the top and surround and sting whatever is disturbing their nest.  To avoid fire ants – avoid these mounds.

Fire ants are sensitive for vibration or movement.  They race up a person’s leg and when one ant stings, that person jerks or moves.  This movement triggers the other ants to sting in response.  Fire ant venom causes small blisters to form within a day of being stung.  These little pustules usually cover the skin of the person who was stung and can easily become infected.

If a fire ant stings you, take the following steps:

  • It is recommended that the blisters not be broken.
  • Wash the area carefully with soap and water.
  • Apply cold compresses to reduce swelling
  • Elevate the affected area
  • If necessary, go to a physician.

Black Widow Spider

While the Black Widow Spider has a reputation of being Black widow spider venom affects a human’s neurological system causing severe pain, nausea, vomiting, chills, sweats and muscle cramps.

The Black Widow is easily identified by its black body and the red hourglass shaped mark on its abdomen.

Africanized Honey Bees

Introduced into the United States in the early 1990s, these bees look like traditional honey bees but exhibit much more aggressive behavior.

Also known as “killer bees,” when they sting many more bees participate so the recipient receives many more stings – sometimes creating a life-threatening situation.  Once disturbed, these bees will pursue their target for a long distance.

If you are stung:

  • Quickly remove yourself from the area and seek shelter in a car or building.
  • Once safely away from the bees, remove the stingers from your skin as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of venom they inject.
  • Immediately seek medical assistance if you exhibit any signs of breathing difficulty

“Rate My Rat” Photo Contest

When you hear of a photo contest you generally think of the usual. City skylines, pets, families, insects would all fall into the category of “usual”. This particular photo contest does not fall into that “usual” category.  New York Subway Workers are Running a “Rate My Rat” Photo Contest in which they urge commuters to capture and upload the biggest, fattest vermin. The grand prize you ask? A month free transit pass. If you don’t believe me just visit www.ratfreesubway.com and take a look around for yourself. If you encounter rats I suggest you just call Hulett Environmental Services for all your rat control needs.

Pest Management in Commercial Facilities

Pest Management in Commercial Facilities

What are the most common pests that commercial food facilities encounter?

Pests are attracted to sources of food, water and shelter – three things that restaurants and commercial food facilities provide in spades. Without taking proper preventative steps, restaurants and food service facilities could see populations of rodents, flies, cockroaches, ants and more.

Is it common for restaurants and food service facilities to have severe infestations?

Many restaurants and food service facilities have already contracted with pest professionals to prevent infestations from occurring. A working partnership between facility managers and licensed, trained pest professionals is critical in controlling pest populations.

Is it feasible for a facility to employ its own staff members to sustain a pest-free environment?

Licensed and professionally trained pest professionals are best suited to keep health and property-threatening pests in check. Today’s pest professionals have the training necessary to identify pest problems and recommend the most responsible and effective pest management methods available. But, restaurants and commercial food facilities should train their internal staff to work as partners with pest professionals.  While these locations may receive regular service from their contracted pest management firm, internal employees can take steps every day to help reduce pest populations.

Are there steps a restaurant or food service facility can take on their own to prevent/control pest populations?

  1. Seal up any cracks and holes on the outside of the facility including areas where utilities and pipes enter.
  2. Make sure vents are screened and gaps around windows and doors are sealed.
  3. Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed.
  4. Inspect boxes, bags and other packaging thoroughly to curb hitchhiking pests.
  5. Don’t allow food to sit on counters or shelves in open containers.  All food and water sources should be kept sealed unless currently in use.
  6. Clean all food spills regularly.
  7. Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
  8. Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the basement foundation and windows.
  9. Never store food on the floor.  Always lift it up on shelves so that rodents and insects do not have easy access.
  10. Comply will all regulations regarding pests in food service facilities.
  11. A licensed and qualified pest professional is your best resource to ensure these steps are completed properly.

Does effective pest management in restaurants and food service facilities require the use of pesticides?

The National Pest Management Association recommends that restaurants and food service facilities implement an integrated pest management (IPM) program.  IPM is a process involving common sense and sound solutions for treating and controlling pests. These solutions incorporate three basic steps: 1) inspection, 2) identification and 3) treatment. Treatment options vary from sealing cracks and removing food and water sources to pesticide treatments when necessary.

What should a restaurant, food service facility or homeowner look for when hiring a pest professional?

  • Ask friends, neighbors and other reputable businesses to recommend pest control companies they have used successfully and how satisfied they were with the service.
  • If a sizable amount of money is involved, get bids from several pest control companies.
  • Don’t rush a decision. Since you are paying for professional knowledge, look for someone whose judgment you can trust.
  • Before signing a contract, be sure to fully understand the nature of the pest, the extent of the infestation, and the work necessary to solve the problem.
  • Find out if the pest control company has liability insurance to cover any damages to your house or furnishings during treatment.
  • If a guarantee is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing control, prevention and management are necessary.
  • Buy value, not price. Beware of bargains that sound too good to be true.

Bed Bug Control

NATIONAL PEST MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION REPORTS RESURGENCE IN BEDBUG INFESTATIONS

Bedbugs Infesting Residential and Multifamily Homes, Apartment Complexes, Residence Halls, Hospitals and Hotels

According to the National Pest Management Association, pest control companies are reporting a significant increase in the number of calls regarding bedbug infestations. Renowned hitchhikers, bedbugs catch rides in luggage, shoes, pant hems and any other mobile material.  Although there is no way to determine the actual cause of the resurgence, experts are attributing the increase to several things, which include global travel and the mobility of the pest.

These infestations can be difficult to detect due to the elusive, nocturnal and transient nature of the pest. Although their name suggests otherwise, bedbugs can be found in carpets, peeling wallpaper, light fixtures, and any crack small enough for a thin insect to hide. Bedbug infestations are not a sign of unsanitary or unclean living areas.

Adult bedbugs are about the size and shape of a lentil.  Their color depends on how recently they have eaten.  They turn red after consuming a blood meal and then begin to gradually turn a brownish color. Capable of living up to ten months without a meal, a single bedbug can lay up to 500 eggs in its lifetime.

As bedbugs bite human skin, they inject an anesthetic-like liquid that numbs the skin and allows the pest to bite undisturbed.  In fact, humans don’t usually wake up when they are being bitten; however, they do find themselves scratching circular, red, itchy welts in the morning.

Bedbug infestations should only be treated by trained, licensed professional pest management companies. This is not an infestation that can be treated by do-it-yourself measures.  Professionals know where to look and can offer the most up to date methods of bedbug control.

For more information on other ant species and preventative tips visit

www.pestworld.org and www.bugs.com