Beware of Summer Pests

What are some examples of summer pests?

There are many different types of summer pests although some of the most prominent home invaders include ants, cockroaches, and termites.  Of course outdoors will bring us a different set of pests – mosquitoes, ticks, and flies are some of the most prevalent.

Are these pests dangerous?

Summer pests are much more than a nuisance – consider these statistics:

  • Termites destroy more homes each year than fires and floods combined; they cause over 5 BILLION dollars of damage.
  • Stinging insects send 500,000 people to the emergency room each year.
  • Recent medical studies show that cockroach allergens trigger asthma attacks in children.

Should we expect more summer pests than usual in our area this year?

We should expect an average amount of pests – comparable to last year – this summer.  A good indicator of pest pressure is winter moisture.  We didn’t have a terribly wet winter this year, so we should have an average summer for pests.

How can a homeowner get rid of summer pests once they are inside their home?

The best way to eliminate summer pests once they ALREADY infest your home is to call a pest professional.

What steps can homeowners take to reduce the likelihood of summer pests inside their homes?

There are many steps homeowners can take to reduce the likelihood of occasional invaders:

  • Keep all kitchen areas clean (including floors). Kitchen appliances should be kept free of spills and crumbs. Clean shelves regularly and store foods such as cereal, flour, and dog food in resealable containers.
  • Periodically sweep and vacuum floor areas in the kitchen, under furniture, and around dining areas. Pay particular attention to pet food and water dishes.
  • Keep garbage areas clean. Garbage should be stored in sealed containers and disposed of regularly.
  • Seal cracks, crevices, and other gaps around doors and windows. Doors and windows should always be kept closed or well screened.
  • Check pipes and pipe areas around the house for leaks, cracks and gaps and seal and patch any problems if necessary. Leaky faucets should also be fixed.
  • Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces dry. If you have mold and mildew in your home or office crawlspace, it’s a symptom of an excess moisture problem.
  • Inspect boxes, grocery bags and other packaging thoroughly. Insects have also been known to come in on potted plants and in luggage.

Do you have any good rules of thumb for dealing with summer pests?

  • When it comes to your home – the cleaner the better.  Many summer pests are attracted to food and water sources left out around your home.
  • Standing water attracts thirsty pests.  Try to remove all stagnant water sources in and around your home.
  • A safe bet about pests – there is almost always more than one.  Pests breed extremely quickly. If you notice cockroaches or termites in or around your home, chances are great that there are many more where they came from.

Tell me a little bit about ants…

There are as many ways to control ants as there are species of ants! Different species eat different things – making it almost impossible to inspect a single area and control the ant population.  The best strategy homeowners can employ when attempting to control ants is to clean, clean, clean. Kids are home more in the warm weather so wipe down counters, regularly remove garbage, clean up grease spills, remove empty soda cans and mop the floors.

Tell me a little bit about cockroaches…

Cockroaches enjoy damp, dark places with a plentiful food supply, They like to hide during the day, often behind kitchen appliances or in cupboards. Inspect these areas vigilantly and clean regularly.

Tell me a little bit about mosquitoes…

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water that collects in ditches, birdbaths,  flowerpots and old tires.  Check those areas and remove the standing water to help eliminate the threat.

Tell me a little bit about termites…

Termites build mud tunnels on the foundation of a home for covert access to wood. They can also be found by looking for broken-off wings .

HuffingtonPost.com: Man’s Best Friend has Become a Bed Bug’s Worst Enemy

HuffingtonPost.com: Man’s Best Friend has Become a Bed Bug’s Worst Enemy

Since the pesky little critters known as bedbugs are infesting homes, offices, and hotels from New York to California, detection has become more and more difficult. However, there are alternative solutions to bedbug detection, including using man’s best friend.

Anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of bedbugs understands the stress associated with waking up with mysterious bites. One type of detection technique that more and more pest control professionals are offering is scent detection by canines. Relying on a canine’s expert sense of smell has proven to be the most expedient and accurate way of pinpointing where bedbugs are living.

“There is no questioning a dog’s capability to smell and detect odors that are very minimal. A dog possesses 250 million scent receptors compared to a human, who has only 5 million. A properly-trained dog and handler has proved to be well over 90 percent proficient,” says Matt Skogen, leading scent detection expert at IronHeart High Performance Working Dogs.

Let’s take a look at the bedbug detection process. If you think you have bedbugs, the first step is to contact a pest control professional. It is vital for pest control professionals to know the type of insect they are treating before they outline a course of action. Once it is determined you have bedbugs, consider asking your pest control professional about using a bedbug canine to be sure all bedbug infestations in your home or office are properly detected.

Then follow these tips for a successful bedbug canine inspection:

1. Make sure you have not used any over-the-counter pesticides in your home prior to the inspection.

2. Try not to cook for up to two hours prior to the canine inspection.

3. If possible, make arrangements for any pets you have to be out of your home while a canine is doing its job.

3. Pick up any pet food or toys so that the canine can focus on his or her work.

4. Leave your sheets, pillows, and blankets on your bed. There is no need to clean prior to an inspection.

5. Be aware that a well-trained canine inspection is accurate up to 95 percent of the time, and ask if the company supplies a guarantee.

6. All canine inspections should include a technician inspection as well.

The two most common types of canines used in bedbug detection are beagles and Jack Russell terriers. When compared to a human’s sense of smell, there is no comparison.

“Technology has a long way to go before there is anything as accurate as a dog’s nose. Experts have tried handheld electronic devices that have proven to be completely useless. A dog has the benefit of portability and migrating to the source of an odor, where a handheld device does not,” says Skogen.

Once your home is cleared by a bedbug canine inspector, invest in an over-the-counter bedbug spray to minimize your risk of an infestation. I recommend Pronto Plus, a bedbug spray that effectively kills bedbugs and their eggs on contact. This spray can be used in your automobile, office, or home. Remember to always follow the instructions on the label.

While bedbugs seem to be here for the foreseeable future, rest assured that man’s best friend is here to help! And as always, remember the key to staying bedbug free is to stay educated.

Everyday Bed Bug Prevention Tips

Everyday Bed Bug Prevention Tips

It is important to be aware of ways to prevent bed bugs in your everyday life. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Vacuum suitcases after returning from a vacation.
  • Check your sheets for tell-tale blood spots.
  • Consider bringing a large plastic trashbag to keep your suitcase in during hotel stays.
  • Carry a small flashlight to assist you with quick visual inspections.
  • Never bring second-hand furniture, especially mattresses and box springs, into a home without thoroughly examining for signs of a bed bug infestation. You might consider having a pest control professional inspect the furniture as it is difficult to detect an infestation without training.
  • Regularly inspect areas where pets sleep for signs of bed bugs.
  • Bed bugs are elusive creatures, so it is imperative to seek professional pest control assistance to address an infestation.

Prevent fleas and ticks

The National Pest Management Association, a nonprofit organization committed to the protection of public health, food and property from household pests, offers these tips to help prevent fleas and ticks:

  • Check pets frequently for fleas and flea dirt. Be aware of excessive scratching, licking and nibbling grooming behavior in pets Avoid walking in tall grass where there is a greater chance of encountering fleas and ticks
  • Avoid tick habitats such as low-growing brushy vegetation along the edge of the woods or a trail
  • Bathe pets after walks or playtime with other animals
  • Wash pet bedding, collars and plush toys frequently
  • Wash bed linens and vacuum carpets, floors and furniture frequently
  • Empty vacuum bags in an outside receptacle
  • Speak to a veterinarian about flea and tick prevention treatments
  • If you suspect an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional immediately to treat the problem.

For more information or to speak with a pest a professional about your flea or tick issues, visit/call WWW.BUGS.COM

Bed Bug Education for School Maintenance

American School & University: Bed Bug Education for School Maintenance

Tips for preventing and treating bed bugs in school and university settings.

By Missy Henriksen, NPMA

Bed bugs are a growing problem, not only in homes and hotels, but also in schools and colleges. Facility administrators and staff need to understand the bed bug resurgence and develop best practices to deal with an infestation.

The 2011 “Bugs Without Borders” survey of U.S. pest professionals, conducted by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky, found that bed bug encounters in non-residential settings had increased significantly from the previous year. A majority of pest professionals 54 percent said they encountered bed bugs in college residence halls in 2011 compared with 35 percent in 2010. Similarly, 36 percent said they encountered bed bugs in schools and daycare centers in 2011, compared with 10 percent the previous year.

Bed bugs, although no longer front-page news, still are a prevalent problem in America. Because of the bugs hitchhiking nature, schools and universities easily may become infested perhaps students or staff have an infestation at home and unknowingly bring the pests to school; in the case of college students, they may bring them back to school after traveling. In schools and universities, the locations of bed bugs can be unpredictable from residence halls, to classrooms, to cafeterias and even offices and can be difficult to control.

Adult bed bugs resemble a flat apple seed, while hatchlings are so small they can pass through a stitch-hole in a mattress. These pests feed on human blood and are found wherever people are, often hiding in spots humans can’t see and coming out to feed only when an opportunity arises. What makes these pests especially problematic is that they are elusive and breed quickly. A female bed bug can lay one to five eggs in a day and more than 500 in a lifetime.

Bed bugs are transported easily from one place to another. They hide in suitcases, boxes and shoes to be near a food supply. They like to hide in small cracks and crevices close to a human environment. Bed bugs most often are found in bed parts, such as mattresses, box springs and headboards.

They also can conceal themselves behind baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, picture frames, electrical switchplates and in furniture crevices.

Because the presence of bed bugs may generate anxiety among students, parents and staff, administrators should develop a protocol to effectively deal with an infestation.

Responding to an infestation

Recently a large university in the Midwest experienced a bed bug infestation and the consequences of not handling the problem properly. According to the university newspaper, reports of bed bug problems spread across campus through word of mouth and through articles in the publication. A resident adviser even told the media that she informed the university’s housing administration that she had bed bugs and alleged that she was told not to inform her floor about the problem.

The university eventually used bed bug-sniffing dogs to search all the rooms and treated nearly 200 for bed bugs. Additionally, the school established a website providing bed bug information, prevention and detection tips and daily updates about the bed bug issue on campus.

This case illustrates how a bed bug situation may get out of hand quickly and cause an image problem for a school. Although the university took the right steps in the end, they would have benefitted from a proactive plan and open communication.

Dealing with an outbreak

One of the best ways to begin dealing with a suspected bed bug infestation is to encourage staff and students to report bed bug sightings or bed bug infestations as soon as possible. By sounding the alarm early, a school can bring in pest-management professionals to assess the situation and recommend the next steps.

Because of the prevalence of bed bugs in school and university environments, administrators are encouraged to develop a written bed bug action plan so they are prepared to respond to problems as they arise. The plan should educate staff, teachers and students on the following: basic bed bug biology and habits, especially their hitchhiking nature, which enables them to easily go from home or hotel to school and residence halls; how to recognize bed bugs, their evidence and their bites; the responsibility and roles regarding bed bugs and school response; and actions to reduce the risk of future infestations or incidents.

Guidelines for response

The National Pest Management Association has developed guidelines for responding to a possible bed bug incident:

•If the bugs are discovered in a residence hall, do not try to hide the problem from residents. In a close living environment, the infestation may have gone beyond one room, and transparency is best.

•If bed bugs are found in one residence hall room, adjacent rooms and those below and above the infested rooms should be inspected immediately.

•If bed bugs are found, do not overreact. Typically, one or a few bed bugs can hitchhike into the school on clothing, book bags and other possessions, then look for a host or another hiding place. A breeding infestation of bed bugs in a classroom is rare.

•Avoid blaming or stigmatizing the students whom you suspect brought the bed bugs to school or in whose room they first were discovered. Discreetly remove those students from the classroom or hall, and perform further checks for bed bugs in their clothes or possessions.

•If possible, get a specimen so a pest-management professional can verify whether it is a bed bug.

•Arrange for an inspection by a pest professional experienced in bed bug control (if not already under contract). Document exactly where the problem was discovered. The pest professional may use a certified bed bug scent-detection canine team to aid in their inspection.

•If a bed bug infestation is confirmed, disclose it to parents, students, staff and others who may have been near the affected area or may be affected.

•Talk with the pest-management professional about the variety of treatments available to be consistent with school IPM guidelines and regulations.

•Prepare staff and students for the possibility of several courses of treatment over a period of several months, as bed bug infestations often take several treatments and periodic checks to ensure the problem has been eliminated.

Preventing Future Infestations

Preventing bed bug infestations from occurring again in a school or university setting may be difficult, but education and vigilance on part of administrators, staff, students and parents can go a long way in minimizing problems:

•Recognize that staff and students may live in infested homes or that students returning to school from travel may unknowingly bring pests in their luggage. Establish a permanent inspection and monitoring program to identify new bed bug introductions before they spread; this includes but is not limited to common living/gathering areas, regular residence hall rooms, classrooms, lockers and even school bus checks.

•Consider arranging periodic inspections by a pest-management professional to check areas where bed bugs previously have been found, as well as others that may harbor the pests.

•Provide bed bug information to all parents, including the importance of eliminating bed bugs at home, and guidance on how to avoid bringing the bugs to school.

•Encourage students who live in residence halls to reduce clutter in their rooms. Also, encourage students who come back from trips to inspect luggage outside prior to bringing it inside the hall.

•Inspect halls thoroughly after students have left for the summer and rooms and beds are empty and bare.

•Discourage students from bringing secondhand furniture into residence halls; bed bugs often have been found in old couches and chairs. If students bring in old furniture, educate them about the importance of thoroughly checking the furniture before bringing it inside.

Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to control, but it is possible to stem infestations with proper education, vigilance and understanding on behalf of school and university administrators, staff and students as well as in partnership with an experienced and licensed pest-management professional.

 

Henriksen is vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), Fairfax, Va., a non-profit organization established to support the pest-management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.

Pest World Contest

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Mitigating the Downside to Summer Fun

Mitigating the Downside to Summer Fun

Slide1Hurray – summer is finally here! This is a glorious time of long hours of sun and warmth, walks and hikes, swimming, camping and barbecues. There’s something for everyone in the great outdoors.

But sometimes, don’t you just wish the mosquitoes, bees and other pests would get the memo about being on vacation and just leave you alone? Unfortunately, we all know there are downsides to communing with nature and enjoying our summer fun.

So, let’s go over some of the more common summer insects, why we should be concerned about them and what we can do to mitigate the problem. Remember —especially when it comes to summer insects — an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Bees, Hornets, Wasps and Yellowjackets

  • The upside: They pollinate plants and flowers and help give us fruits and vegetables. They also eat other harmful pests such as grubs and flies.
  • The downside: They dole out painful stings and give us anxiety about being stung. Unfortunately, millions of Americans are at risk for suffering severe allergic reactions.

Although typically a source of great anxiety for fear that they might sting you, in fact, bees and yellowjackets rarely do sting unless provoked. So, the number one rule is not to panic and swat at a bee when it comes for a visit. If it lands on your skin, just blow gently rather than smack at it. There are more aggressive species, particularly wasps that can sting in painful attacks if they feel threatened or you wander too close to their nest. While painful, most insect stings usually result in a limited local reaction, with pain and swelling. Unfortunately, about 3 percent of people have more widespread allergic reactions, with rash and hives. The most extreme cases of allergic reactions are called anaphylaxis and symptoms include tongue and throat swelling, wheezing, dizziness or even life threatening shortness of breath and drop in blood pressure. If these symptoms arise, call 911. If you are allergic to stinging insects you should know how to use an epinephrine kit and carry it with you at all times.

If stung and the stinger is still in place, first remove the stinger. Then clean the area with soap and cold water and apply ice. Benadryl and over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone ointment may help calm the reaction. Consider taking a pain reliever as needed.

Mosquitoes

  • The upside: Is there one?
  • The downside: Mosquito bites are a common, insect-related reason parents seek medical help for their children. The local reactions and itchy lesions that are results of mosquito bites are no fun, but luckily, severe reactions are extremely uncommon.

Mosquitoes bite most intensely around dawn and dusk. If you must or want to be outside during those times, it’s best to be inside a screened-in porch or dressed in clothing that leaves very little exposed skin. Your best protection will be insect repellant, such as DEET or picaridin.

A mosquito bite typically results in a pink bump that itches. As tempting as it may be, don’t scratch it! Scratching only agitates the venom and increases your itching. In addition, over-scratching might cause breaks in the skin that can serve as a port of entry for bacterial superinfections. Although less common, some people can be more sensitive to mosquito bites and have more severe reactions, such as welts or hives. All bites should be washed with soap and cold water. Benadryl and over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone cream may be indicated for intense itching and the larger reactions. If there are signs and symptoms of infection you may need to see your doctor for antibiotics.

Unfortunately, mosquitoes can leave more than a local reaction. Sometimes they may transmit infections like malaria, dengue, or West Nile Virus (WNV). Luckily, in the United States we rarely encounter malaria or dengue, but WNV has become widespread. The good news is that in most cases WNV is a mild and self-limited infection. Symptoms may be so light as to go unnoticed, or present as a “summer flu,” with mild body and headaches and low-grade fever. In rare and extreme cases WNV is a potentially life threatening infection. Symptoms include higher fever, head and body aches, confusion and worsening weakness and such symptoms should prompt you to seek medical attention.

Ticks

  • The upside: None.
  • The downside: The serious illness that ticks can transmit, such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesia (“tick malaria”), amongst others.

Obviously, the best way to avoid ticks and their associated problems is to not pick them up in the first place, but that can be easier said than done. It’s a good idea to wear clothing that leaves less skin exposed that can act as a barrier to the ticks. So flip-flops, sandals, shorts and T-shirts are out when planning a hike to areas that are likely to have ticks. Wear boots and long socks, and remember to tuck your long pants into your socks when hiking. The best protection against ticks consists ofpermethrin-treated clothing and gear, combined with DEET applied to exposed skin.

Keep in mind that most ticks need to feed for hours before they can successfully transmit infections. So, it is very important that after hikes you do a full body check (including in the hair) to look for ticks. If removed promptly, the risk of infection decreases significantly.

If you do find a tick on your body or that of a family member or pet, it’s important to carefully remove the tick right away. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. Avoid squashing the tick because spreading tick blood in the bite wound might increase the risk of infection. Once the tick is removed, clean the area with soap and water and perhaps an antiseptic. If you develop a rash, headaches, pains or fever, call your doctor immediately.

The lowdown on bug repellant

The good news is bug repellants really do work in deterring mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, chiggers and other insects. The bad news is that they are ineffective against spiders and stinging insects, such as yellowjackets, wasps, bees or hornets.

The gold standard of insect repellant is DEET. It has been in use for more than 50 years and is recommended for use in persons above 2 months of age. The alternative repellant of choice is picaridin is also effective against mosquitoes, ticks, and sand flies.

Mosquito Season Is Here — How Bad Will it Get?

Mosquito Season Is Here — How Bad Will it Get?

FAIRFAX, Va., Jun 18, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Summer has barely begun but it’s likely many people have already encountered one of the season’s most ubiquitous pests — the mosquito. As is the case with many other insects, mosquitoes have made an early emergence after a mild winter and rainy spring. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) warns that this might be one of the worst seasons yet, so break out the repellant.

“Mosquito season is highly dependent on rain events, and states are monitoring rainfall and pest management companies are applying treatments accordingly,” noted Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “This summer, mosquito numbers have the potential to grow significantly and it’s important for people to take precautions to avoid exposure.”

Although mosquitoes are known to carry a variety of diseases, West Nile virus (WNV) is of most concern in the United States.

“In most cases West Nile Virus is a mild infection with symptoms so slight they can go unnoticed, or feel like a summer flu. In extreme cases, it can be a potentially life threatening infection with higher fever, head and body aches, worsening weakness, confusion and even coma. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention,” advised Dr. Jorge Parada, medical spokesperson for the NPMA.

The NPMA offers the following tips to avoid becoming a mosquito meal:

– Eliminate areas of standing water around the home such as flowerpots, birdbaths, baby pools, grill covers and other objects where water collects. Mosquitoes need only about 1/2 inch of water to breed.

– Screen all windows and doors. Repair even the smallest tear or hole.

– Minimize outside activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

– If you must spend time outdoors during peak mosquito times, wear long pants and sleeves and use an insect repellant containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon-eucalyptus.

– If you are concerned about mosquito activity on your property, contact a pest management company or your local mosquito abatement district.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.

SOURCE: National Pest Management Association

Bee Swarm Unleashed in Pasco Garage

MyFOXTampaBay.com: Bee Swarm Unleashed in Pasco Garage


PORT RICHEY – A swarm of bees has been causing some big problems for a family in Port Richey. They made the discovery while cleaning out the garage and they’re having a devil of a time getting rid of them.

The Pizzuto’s certainly had a crazy start to their Thursday morning.  They were doing some spring cleaning in the garage, when suddenly, within minutes it was filled with hundreds of angry bees.

“They’re like swarming, there are millions of them,” said Selena Pizzuto, a 14-year-old, who caught the swarm in-motion on her cell phone camera.

The bees filled the garage, and covered the side door. Rose Pizzuto got a frantic call from her mother Mildred.

“And she said there were some bees moving around in the garage and she had been cleaning, and I came home and I thought, okay, we’ll just buy some spray,” Rose said.

She quickly found out she would need a lot more spray to fix the mess.

“We have bees, like everywhere!,” said her daughter in their home video.

It was a buzzing black cloud of bees, irritated because their nest had been disturbed by her mother’s cleaning.

“I couldn’t believe it, there were bees just swarming everywhere!,” Pizzuto said.

Worried for her kids, she called 911, who then put her in touch with an exterminator. But she didn’t have the extra $150 to pay for it.

“Were you freaking out?,” we asked.  “Yes, I was freaking out majorly!,” she said.  “It was very scary, I’ve never seen such a large swarm before.”

The nest was two shelves up from where she keeps frying pans they use every day. She never noticed the bees until now.  The good news is no one got stung. The bad news is, no matter how much they sprayed, more new bees kept showing up!

“Your neighbor sprayed a few, right?,” we asked. “Yes, my neighbor Michael sprayed the bees the first time,” said Pizzuto.  “And what happened after that?,” we asked. “After that he ran for it and then they all came out of the bees nest!,” said Pizzuto.

“I just saw like hundreds of bees everywhere,” said Selena Pizzuto. “Had you seen something like that before?,” we asked. “Never,” she said. “Like only on TV.”

“Then her looked out the window and her said, Mom, there’s a huge lot of bees out there,” said 5-year-old Ryan, who told us he was not scared of the swarm.

Ryan Willingham with the County Extension Office, who is a bee specialist, explained that we’re in bee season right now. And when hives get full, part of the worker bees branch out with a new queen to find a home.

“Half the workforce takes off and finds another place,” said Willingham.

We asked him if the family was in any danger?

“I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as dangerous, but yet, you don’t know where the bees are from,” said Willingham. “They need to be handled by a professional.”

And the Pizzutos still have lot of work to do. At the top of their downspout near the garage, we found another cluster of bees.  Willingham said that it could take several days to get rid of all the bees, from the garage, to the gutter, to another cluster we saw in the yard.