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Fleas On Pets – Pets With Fleas

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

Fleas feed on blood and love to live on the bodies of your pets. The furry exterior of pets makes an ideal living place for the fleas without them being detected. Fleas not only suck blood from the pets which can ultimately lead to anemia but fleas can also transmit diseases that can be very serious or even fatal. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to get rid of fleas from your pets before they infest your home or apartment, and your

lawn.

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Fire Ants – General Information & Pest Control

Last Updated: January 18, 2018

 ‘Fire Ant’ is a general term for nearly three hundred species of stinging red ants in the Solenopsis genus that are common around the world. Fire ants range from one eighth of an inch to one quarter of an inch and should not be confused with the significantly larger velvet ants (one to two inches). The winged ants in the colony are the ants able to reproduce. The ants are known for being significantly more aggressive than other ant species and for having a strong painful sting that leaves a white pustule due to the venom in the ants’ sting. Fire ants are considered pests both because of their sting and because of their ability to harm plants, crops, and small animals. Fire ants are omnivores and feed on a wide range of plants animals. They have strong mandibles and along with their stings are capable of killing animals much larger than they are and carrying them back to their colony. As a group, fire ants can kill animals as large as small mammals.

Fire ants are the most dangerous when an animal, including a human, steps on their mound. Pheromones from the crushed ants cause nearby ants to go into a frenzied ‘attack mode’ in which hundreds of ants crawl up the invader’s leg and simultaneously bite them. This concerted attack leaves behind enough venom to kill small animals. Human deaths from fire ant bites are exceedingly rare.

Fire ants are known for their ability to invade a new area extremely quickly. People have been known to see mounds appear in their yards seemingly overnight. The ants are extremely resilient and can survive temperatures well below freezing. While workers tend to live for only four to six weeks, a queen fire ant can live as long as seven years. In addition, fire ants have evolved truly unique survival techniques. For instance, if the ants detect a flood by feeling water in their mound, the colony will swarm together and create a ‘ball’ of ants that is able to float. The queen and other important members are placed in the middle of the ball which then floats over the water until it hits a tall stationary object. Once it does, the ants swarm onto it and wait for the water to recede.

Fire ants can be extreme nuisances. In the United States alone, billions of dollars are spent each year on eradicating fire ants, damage control, and medically related issues caused by the ants. In addition, fire ants case hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to agricultural crops every year. Fire ants are very sensitive to dangers to their colonies. Many methods for getting rid of fire ants, especially ‘home remedies,’ will kill a number of the ants but not the queen and will simply result in the relocation of the colony.

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Home Flea Remedies – Natural Flea Remedies – Stop Fleas From Biting

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

    1. Plant the herb, ‘ Pennyroyal ‘, around your home or kennel, it repels fleas. You may also wish to grow and keep the inside your home or apartment.
    2. Bathe pets in a mixture of warm water and ‘ DAWN Lemon Scented Liquid Soap ‘. ‘ DAWN Lemon Scented Liquid soap ‘ is a great flea killer and repellent.
    1. If you have fleas coming inside, or notice them just outside your door, sprinkle a little ‘ Twenty Mule Team Borax Soap ‘, on the grass and lawn in this area.
    2. Pieces of Cedar Wood (chips) placed in the corners of rooms, under furniture and under a pets bedding keeps fleas away. The Cedar Chips placed next to a home or apartments, the doors, etc, also acts as a barrier to keep fleas out.
  1. Spray the kids and any family members legs and feet with original ‘ Avon SKIN SO SOFT Bath Oil Spray ‘, it has proven that this is a great product to keep fleas away and to stop them from biting.
  2. Instead of using strong chemicals and sprays on pets, some folks have great luck using ‘ Essential oils ‘, such as Lavender and Citronella to keep fleas away. The oils also have a healing and soothing effect on the pets skin, they help the skin and hair to detoxify and regenerate.
  3. Eucalyptus Leaves work very well for keeping fleas away, and they can be purchased online or at many health-food stores and even at some of the larger craft stores.
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Termites vs Ants

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

Despite the fact that termites – particularly termites with wings – look an awful lot like ants, the two insect families are not closely related. Termites are actually cousins to cockroaches. This might surprise you, particularly since termite behavior and ant behavior in a colonial setting can be similar; both insect families participate in cooperative care of young insects, all have workers, all have soldiers, and all have reproductive. In truth, it really is a question of ants vs termites – these insects are sworn enemies and it’s up to soldier caste termites to prevent ants from invading. Let’s take a closer look at what separates termites from ants.

Ants vs termites

In Australia and some other places, worker termites are often referred to as white ants, because they do look quite a lot like ants when swarmed together. Worker termites typically have soft bodies with only two segments – a head and an abdomen – and like flying termites, their antenna extend in an unbroken line from the forehead, creating a “V” shape.

When it comes to soldier termites vs ants, the main differences are quite easy to spot. Soldier termites typically have light colored abdomens and dark colored heads with strong jaws and long, V-shaped antenna. Ants, on the other hand, are normally brown, black, red, or some combination of colors, and they possess triple-segmented bodies and less pronounced jaws.

Another way you can tell the difference between termites vs ants is in the way they travel. If you happen to see ants moving along as they go about their business, they typically travel in straight lines. They’re extremely orderly. Termites are the opposite; they move with no real rhyme or reason, and you just won’t see a line of soldier termites emerging from a colony to conduct tasks of any type. In fact, the only time termites intentionally leave the safety of their colonies is when they swarm in order to develop new colonies.

Flying ants vs termites

Flying ants vs termites – the two insects look quite a bit alike at a glance, but spend a couple of moments looking more closely, and you’ll see that these insects have many differences.

Flying termites have:

  • A pair of straight antennae that make a “V” shape from the front of the head
  • Two pairs of wings, each pair being of equal length
  • Straight bodies with no delineated “waist”
  • Two body segments instead of three

Flying ants have

  • A pair of bent antenna that form a rough “U” shape from the front of the head
  • Two pairs of wings, with the front pair being longer than the back
  • Nipped waists with large abdomens to the rear
  • Three body segments instead of two

It’s fairly common to encounter flying ants at any time, as long as the weather is warm enough for them to emerge from their nests. There are many different flying ant species and all look different in terms of size and color, but they all share these same characteristics.

The only time you’re going to encounter flying termites is during mating season, which varies from one termite species to the next. To learn more about this behavior, be sure to spend a moment reading our articles on drywood termites, Formosan termites, and subterranean termites. Armed with the information you receive, you’ll be able to tell the difference between flying termites vs ants with ease, plus you will be able to determine what to do next if you think you may be dealing with a termite infestation.

Notice the distinct body shape differences between the termite (left) and ant (right).

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Termite Control

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

Termite control is easiest when that control is based on prevention rather than on working to get rid of termites. The first step in preventing these destructive pests is to be aware of what their habits are and to know how to identify them in the event they do show up.

Once they have taken up residence, termites do not like to emerge from their colonies. Periodically checking for termite activity will prevent you from coming across huge areas of damage by accident while working on a remodeling project or making a simple home repair; unfortunately, this is exactly how many people find out that their property is infested!

Some of the most common ways to determine whether you have termite activity include the following:

  • Probe exposed wood with a flathead screwdriver or dull knife to see whether there are hollow spots inside.
  • Inspect the foundation area, keeping an eye out for mud tubes containing small, cream-colored insects.
  • Look for swarming activity, usually during the spring months.
  • Inspect window sashes and other areas where exposed wood is present to see whether there are termite wings or termite bodies present.
  • If an area is damaged, inspect it closely to see whether the damage was caused by water, or if it was caused by termites. Tunneling, particularly if there are bits of dirt inside the tunnels, is an almost certain sign that you have a termite infestation.

Prevention is the Best Termite Control

Whether you’ve had to get rid of termites in the past, or if you are simply looking for methods for preventing a termite infestation, you’ll benefit from these prevention tips.

First, you should think just like a bug. Termites are small – they don’t need direct access to exposed wood. Instead, they often enter via cracks in foundations, plumbing penetrations, and around areas where exterior doors lead into crawlspaces or basements. Apply caulk to any cracks you find, including those around electrical wiring or pipes, and those around window and door sashing.

Second, look for areas where moisture is present. While drywood termites don’t need much water, others do; water attracts termites like nothing else. Look for areas where moisture collects around and under your home. Leaky pipes in crawlspaces, areas near leaky faucets including outdoor spigots, and areas near air conditioning units with drains are prime termite territory.

Third, keep the area around your foundation clear of debris, particularly if that debris contains wood or other sources of cellulose, which termites eat exclusively. Do not stack firewood right next to your house, as termites love to dine on it.

Fourth, keep mulch and other plant-based materials at least a foot from your home’s foundation, and be sure to keep gutters dry and clear of debris. Any food or moisture source near your home could draw termites.

If your home is still under construction, have your contractor install a concrete foundation. Be sure exposed wood surfaces are covered with metal barriers or with sealant.

How to Get Rid of Termites

If you discover an infestation, treatment needs to be a top priority. These insects multiply rapidly and cause damage with amazing speed. If you do not have time to handle an infestation thoroughly on your own, or if you have an extensive infestation, consider hiring a competent exterminator. Termites are one of the few bugs for which licensed exterminators actually do have methods of extermination that are not available to the general public. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when determining which route to take in order to get rid of termites. If the infestation is not extensive, or is in an area not connected to the home (a shed for instance) consider trying some of the following DIY methods for getting rid of termites before calling an exterminator. Try using several methods at once to maximize effectiveness.

  • DIY Termite Baits – DIY termite baits cost much less than professional treatment and can be highly effective. As they work slowly, they are best for small infestations. Ask your local garden store or look online for ‘termite stakes.’ These systems consist of stakes that you drive into the ground around your house and leave there for termites. The bait stakes have easy-access holes for the termites to enter and exit. Instead of being killed or repelled immediately, the termites consume the bait inside of the stake and take it back to the colony, killing the queen and the rest of the colony along with her. The bait takes anywhere from 3 to 14 days to kill the termite that consumed it, and during that period of time, the toxins are spread to other termites. The main problem with this solution is that termites basically have to stumble upon the baits while foraging. To make this type of termite treatment as effective as possible, place stakes at 10-foot intervals around the foundation’s perimeter. Additional stakes should be added near those that show signs of termite activity.
  • DIY Spot Traps – Using DIY Spot traps, you can get rid of termites by the hundreds. While this method will not eliminate an entire colony, it can help cut back on the termite population while you decide which other methods to use. To make these traps, simply dampen several large strips of cardboard and stack them in an area where termite activity is occurring. The termites will find the combination of dampness and cardboard irresistible, and will get to work. Once you’ve got a termite-infested spot trap, you can simply bag it up, take it out into a safe area, and burn it.
  • Boric Acid Baits – Boric acid is used in many commercial termites treatments. It causes dehydration while completely shutting down the termite’s nervous system. You can make your own baits by coating wood or stacked cardboard with an even layer of boric acid. You’ll know your bait is working if you see termite bodies nearby. You can find Boric acid at garden centers as it is used to remedy many types of insect infestations.
  • Non-Chemical Termites Treatments – Physical barriers including certain types of sand and steel mesh can help to prevent an infestation. There is limited evidence that Nematodes and fungi-based biological control agents may be effective as well. Nematodes are worms that feed by injecting insects with bacteria, and then eating the insects once the bacteria kills them. Nematodes are usually available for purchase at garden stores or online, and are most effective when soil temperatures reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If you cannot use them immediately, simply store them in the refrigerator. When you apply them, follow instructions carefully and keep them away from sunlight since UV rays will harm them. For a more in depth explanation of nematodes, click here.

How to Choose an Exterminator

Professional termite extermination is often required for eliminating problematic termite infestations, and is recommended for infestations you have determined are too large, advanced, or damaging for you to handle on your own after trying some of the methods we’ve mentioned here. There are a number of methods professional exterminators will use when dealing with a termite infestation. The primary method is by injecting heavy-duty toxic insecticides (termiticides specifically) into the soil around the house. They may even drill holes in the home or surrounding patios and inject the termiticides there as well. These insecticides are toxic to people as well and, for that reason, only licensed exterminators may administer the treatments. In addition to this, an exterminator may use monitored termite baits designed to rapidly kill termites that feed on them. In extreme scenarios, an exterminator may fumigate the entire building with poisonous gasses.

If you decide to get rid of termites with help from an exterminator, be sure to select the company carefully and pay close attention to all instructions provided. Pesticides can contaminate drinking water, and they often have an adverse effect on children, pets, and others who come into contact with them.

Seek quotes from at least three different exterminators in your area if possible to find the best price. Before making a final decision, check the company’s service record. Finally, look for a guarantee that includes return trips to check for and clear any new infestations that occur with a certain time span. The best companies often offer extended warranties at a fraction of the original termite extermination cost.

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How to Get Rid of Flies

Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Luckily for anybody with a fly problem, the truth is, excepting in cases such as agriculture or large hotel / restaurant kitchens, getting rid of flies is actually pretty easy. The only times where we would advise the use of professional help in eliminating a fly infestation is when livelihood or health is at great stake. In areas such as hospitals where diseases are both more dangerous and more common and in restaurants and other services where the number of people present is large, getting rid of a fly infestation as fast as possible is of paramount importance. In addition, getting rid of flies in agricultural settings can be a more difficult challenge. While this can still be achieved without hiring help, acting quickly and decisively in these situations is a must.

There are dozens of methods and ‘tricks’ used to get rid of flies. As in all other cases, we suggest an integrated pest management approach, which involves a mixture of natural and chemical treatments as well as preventative measures to treat the problem on all fronts. Eliminating fly infestations varies slightly across species but, for the most part, no matter what the type of fly, there are a few basic principles of treatment.

  • Eliminate the breeding grounds / food source
    • With the exception of blood-sucking flies (e.g. Horse Flies), flies lay their eggs in or next to abundant food sources. Depending on the type of fly, this can range from garbage to rotting animal corpses but, regardless of what it is, as soon as you eliminate it, the flies will cease to breed in that area and the infestation will quickly move elsewhere.
    • Most people think that when they want to get rid of a fly infestation, they need to kill as many of the adult flies that they can. While killing adult flies may offer temporary relief and may seem to lower the number of flies in the house, this will not actually help get rid of the infestation in the long run. Eliminating larvae and eggs by eliminating the flies’ food source is the only way to truly deal with an infestation.
  • Sanitation
    • Sanitation overlaps with the previous principle. Again, with the exception of blood-sucking flies, flies feast on rotting foods, waste, and flesh. Keeping a residence meticulously clean, dry (flies love humidity), and air-conditioned will eliminate food sources and the conditions that flies love.
  • Prevention
    • Preventative measures keep flies out of the house and include screens for doors and windows and other ‘DIY’ solutions for keeping flies out of the home. Make sure to keep doors and vents closed as much as possible, particularly during the day and in the summer. Many have suggested hanging Ziploc bags filled with water outside doorways as the fragmentation of light may scare flies away.
  • Adult Elimination
    • In addition to the methods above, adult flies can be targeted to make an infested area more ‘livable’ while you are dealing with the infestation. Mechanical means such as fly swatters, bug zappers (a UV light which attracts flies and other bugs is surrounded by an electrified cage that zaps flies when they pass through it), fly traps, and sticky fly paper can be used in conjunction with chemical control methods (foggers in closed unoccupied rooms, slow release pesticide strips, and non-residual pesticides) to reduce the adult population.

Following the above principles will help you deal with most fly infestations. There are hundreds of thousands of species of flies. For the purposes of eliminating infestations, it is highly useful to know what type of fly you are dealing with, and what its food source is. In addition, each fly has a number of tricks that can be used to deal with it.

Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Fruit flies, also known as vinegar flies, are small tan or beige gnat-sized flies with red eyes that eat sweet and fermented liquids. Syrups, sodas, and vinegars as well as old rotting fruits attract fruit flies. The female flies lay their eggs inside these materials as well as around them. The most important step in getting rid of fruit flies is eliminating these materials from the residence either by cleaning anywhere they may have spilled, throwing them out in a dumpster far from the house, or cleaning and sealing them and placing them in a refrigerator. Cover all fruit with saran wrap or place it in closed containers. Any infested items will need to be thrown out.

Fruit flies are often found outside around fruit trees. When fruit ripens and falls off the tree, it ferments and attracts flies. In addition, people often keep these rotting fruits in composts. Throwing the fruits out far from the house or keeping the compost far from the house will help keep fruit flies away.

An easy trick for trapping adult fruit flies is creating a sugar or dish soap trap. It is important to note that these will work only on fruit flies and other filth flies will fly by them with no notice. Take a big plastic soda, water, or other drink bottle, and cut it in half along the top. Fill the bottom half of the bottle with liquids fruit flies eat, such as syrup concentrates and vinegar. Alternatively, you can use fruit scented dish soap and a little bit of water. Sugar-water generally will not work, as it is not fragrant enough. Invert the top half of the bottle and place it inside the bottom half (see the picture). Seal the bottom and top half along the rim with tape so flies will not be able to escape out of the sides. Fruit flies will fly into the bottle trying to get the food inside of it. Once in, they attempt to fly out by going straight up and are not able to fly out through the opening.

Get Rid of House Flies

The common house fly generally eats a mix of rotting garbage and animal feces. Like fruit flies, house flies lay their eggs in and around these food sources. The most important step in getting rid of house flies is eliminating these materials. Trashes must be emptied in dumpsters far from the home. Trashcans inside the house should be cleaned on the inside and outside. After this, any new trash placed inside them should be in a trash bag, and the trash itself should seal well. Any open sewage drains must be treated with repellant or chemical pesticides.

Get Rid of Drain Flies

Drain flies get their names from their preferred habitat. They are large ‘hairy’ flies that eat and infest sewage. They are often found in bathrooms. Drain flies lay their eggs in the material that accumulates on sinks, toilets, showers, and floors in bathrooms. Additionally they make their way into drains. As with all other flies, getting rid of drain flies requires eliminating their food source. Clean and scrub the bathroom thoroughly. Spray showers, baths, sinks, and toilets with strong chemical cleaners. Drains and pipes should be dismantled and thoroughly cleaned.

Get Rid of Horse Flies & Other Blood-Sucking Flies

Blood-sucking flies are the most difficult types of fly to get rid of. Getting rid of horse flies is easier than getting rid of stable flies. This is because both male and female stable flies feed on blood, while only female horse flies feed on blood – the males instead consuming pollen and sap. The difficulty with these sorts of flies is that it is not possible to eliminate their food source (you!). Blood sucking flies often lay their eggs in stagnant water. Therefore, if there is a water source near the infestation (e.g. water for livestock), invest in a system to ensure the water is refreshed often.

There are several pesticides that can be used on livestock but are not recommended for use on people such as CB 80 Pyrethrum Aerosol which can fend off horse flies, stable flies, and deer flies. Gentrol Aerosol IGR (Insect Growth Regulator) is an aerosol, which prevents young flies from maturing into adult flies and thereby stops their ability to reproduce. This can be useful in eliminating infestations in the long run and preventing re-infestations. In addition, placing several horse fly traps on the premises can help control the population (these traps are designed specially for ‘visual hunters’ such as horse flies).

Flies in Agricultural Settings (Farms, Stables, Livestock, etc.)

Fly control on farms is far more challenging than in the home. Though treatment is more complex, the basic principles are exactly the same. Cleaning feed spills, dairy leaks, and never allowing manure to accumulate close to livestock are important places to start. An excellent resource for anybody looking to control flies in an agricultural setting is this farmer’s bulletin, published by the USDA nearly a hundred years ago. Though old, this resource is still relevant and a great place to learn how to deal with fly infestations on a farm on your own.

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Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

This page explains in detail the full process of getting rid of bed bugs. Before you get started though, you need to ask yourself if you’re equipped and prepared for the task. Read here to find out if you need an exterminator or not.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

This section breaks down getting rid of bed bugs into four parts. First, you will need to pretreat your apartment. This involves finding the bed bugs, isolating them, and preparing the rooms and furniture for the use of pesticides and heat. The second phase is the extermination of the bed bugs through various methods. The third phase details how to check whether you are actually bed bug free, and how to prevent a future infestation. Finally, we have included a list of things you must be sure not to do when dealing with an infestation.

Pretreatment

The first phase of exterminating a bed bug infestation is pretreatment. This begins with a general cleaning of your house including tidying and vacuuming, throwing out of items that are beyond saving, and finding all of the areas where bed bugs are hiding. If you live in an apartment, before anything else, notify your landlord and neighbors. Start the pretreatment with a widespread extremely thorough cleaning of the residence:

  • Tidy your home. Put all of the items you think may have been affected in one place away from everything else. Clear any clutter from around your bed and couches.
  • Clean all of your bedding and sheets, mattress covers, couch covers, linens, and curtains. Clothing and bed linen is generally not safe to treat with pesticide.
    • Wash everything on your washing machine’s highest heat setting and then run it through your dryer on the hottest setting (at least 140 degrees) for a minimum of thirty minutes.
    • Items that cannot be washed (shoes, stuffed animals, coats, etc.) should be run through the dryer on its highest heat setting for at least half an hour.
    • Once you have washed and dried everything, place it all together and wrap it securely in thick plastic bags (preferably thick trash bags) and isolate it. Place it either, outside in the sun where it will continue to be exposed to high temperature, or in a place where the infestation has not reached (e.g. a garage or storage) until the treatment is finished. You can place a ‘Nuvan ProStrip,’ which can be bought online inside these bags to kill any remaining bed bugs. Check all items thoroughly for bed bugs before returning them.
  • Once you have done all of the above, thoroughly vacuum your home.
    • Use a stiff brush to remove any bed bugs or eggs you have identified from walls, mattress seams, and carpets. Flip over your furniture and carpeting to inspect underneath them as well.
    • Vacuum your bed, couches, carpets and the surrounding area thoroughly. Vacuum near furniture and along baseboards as well. Use a vacuum attachment and scrape the areas you are vacuuming as bed bugs can hold on tightly. Do so frequently. As soon as you have finished vacuuming, remove the vacuum bag, seal it in a plastic bag, and place it in a trashcan outdoors far from your house.

Once you have finished the initial cleaning, you will need to inspect every nook and cranny of your residence and identify where the infestation is, so you will know where to focus your treatment. It may be helpful to read our page on identifying an infestation first. Keep note of any bed bugs or signs of bed bugs from your general cleaning and begin your inspection:

  • Pull all of your furniture away from the walls to allow you to inspect the walls and the furniture more thoroughly.
  • Inspect your furniture. Remove cushions from couches and chairs; Turn them over and inspect underneath them as well; Remove drawers from desks; Place everything that has signs of bed bugs in the same area.
  • Check your mattress. The mattress is generally the focal point of a bed bug infestation, and an explanation of what to do with your mattress is in the treatment section of this page. When inspecting for bed bugs in your mattress, look at the top, bottom, and sides, as well as in the mattress seams. If there are rips in the fabric of the mattress, check in those as well. Holding a strong light against a box spring mattress can help to see bed bugs inside of the mattress. In addition, check for fecal spots and red stains from crushed bed bugs.
  • Check carpeting, wood paneling, pictures frames, and the insides of closets. Check behind cracks in the wall or peeling wallpaper, inside lamps, and in any furniture or appliances bed bugs could possibly get into. Keep in mind that without feeding the bugs are extremely flat and can get into spaces as small as behind outlet covers and even in smoke detectors. Check in electrical appliances and all small hiding places.
  • Dismantle your bed frame and check for bed bugs in the wood, the paneling, the foot and head boards, side railings, and all of the connections between parts.
  • Check in cracks in the wall, areas where pipes or wires run through the wall, and behind peeling wallpaper. After you have treated these areas (following section), make sure to seal the area with plaster or reapply the wallpaper so that bed bugs cannot get into or out of the walls.
  • There are many products you can buy to detect an infestation to better help you identify affected areas. Some examples are the ‘Catchmaster BDS’ or ‘Verifi Bed Bug Detector.’ These products will not eliminate an infestation, they will simply help you identify and monitor it.
  • Look in dark and isolated areas. Thoroughly check adjoining rooms to the room where you suspect the infestation. Infestations generally start at the bed, but often branch out from there.
  • Bed Bugs can be difficult to see, especially young ones or eggs. It may be useful to use a high power flashlight, a magnifying glass, and a small hand-held mirror.
  • Spraying an aerosol such as V-One (or any aerosol that has Pyrethrin as an active ingredient) will flush bed bugs out of their hiding spots and allow you to identify if they are there. The aerosol will kill the bugs as well. A blow dryer on its hottest setting will accomplish the same thing.

Treatment

Now that you have identified an infestation, cleaned your house, and identified sensitive areas, you are ready to begin treatment. There are dozens of different options for getting rid of a bed bug infestation and we will cover several of them. What we recommend for anybody trying to solve this problem is what is known as an ‘Integrated Pest Management’ (IPM) solution. An IPM solution combines multiple techniques including pesticides, natural solutions (heat), sanitation, and prevention and emphasizes using harmful products only up to an environmentally justifiable level. Before starting any of these treatments, make sure you have completed all the steps in the pretreatment section. Otherwise, the treatment is far less likely to be successful. The use of several of the suggested methods in conjunction will give the best results. You should treat your residence at least three times, allowing for a week to two weeks between each treatment.

Identified Bed Bug Infestations

The following methods can be used to eliminate bed bugs in areas in which you have identified bugs and / or congregations of bugs.

  • Steam heat is an excellent method for getting rid of the bugs in almost any part of the house. You can find a dry steamer at most local hardware stores. If you cannot find one or do not want to spend the money, then you can attach a plastic tube to the end of an electric kettle. You can substitute this with a blow dryer, but they are not as effective and may only serve to scatter the bugs. A good dry steamer will reach two hundred degrees Fahrenheit and may be your most powerful tool in dealing with an infestation.
  • Insecticides designed specifically for bed bug infestations are a crucial tool if you are seriously considering getting rid of bed bugs on your own. These insecticides are split into ‘sprays’ and ‘dusts.’ These treatments should be applied several times, about a week apart each time. During this time you will need to stay in other rooms or, preferably, in another residence. Bed bugs come out to feed every few weeks so multiple treatments are a must.
    • Sprays should be applied in every place you have identified or suspect an infestation. In addition, spray around and under the bed and bed frame, on the interior panels of cabinets, drawers, closets (remove all clothing an other items first), doorframes, windows, and furniture. Make sure to read the instructions on the label before use to see where the spray can and cannot be used. Some good sprays are Cyzmic CS (cannot be used on mattresses), Temprol SC, Alpine PT Aerosol, and Bedlam Insecticide Aerosol, and Phantom Aerosol.
    • Dusts are applied using a duster or a puffer. Do not apply dusts on top of sprays, but use them as a supplement in harder to reach areas or areas where liquids should not be used. Remove electrical outlet covers and light switch covers and dust in the openings. Use dust in electrical appliances, lamps, in desks, and in bed frames. Make sure to read the instructions on the label before use to see where the spray can and cannot be used. One of the best insecticide grade dusts is Cimexa Dust.
  • Rubbing alcohol sprayed on bed bugs will kill them on the spot. Buy a spray bottle and rubbing alcohol at any local convenience store. In addition, dipping a brush in rubbing alcohol and brushing over visible eggs will kill the eggs.
  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a naturally occurring rock that is easily crumbled into a white powder. When bed bugs come in contact with this powder, it dehydrates them and kills them over the course of a few days. The powder remains effective as long as it remains on your floor and is useful to use at the end of a treatment as it can help prevent a re-infestation. Because of this, DE does not require reapplication. DE (and all other dusts) can be distributed using a special ‘puffer’ which can be found online. Breathing in DE is dangerous and can cause a respiratory disease called silicosis and you should wear a breathing mask while applying. Despite this, DE is a relatively safe solution, especially if you get ‘food-grade’ DE. Ground up Silica Gel achieves the same effect.
  • Gentrol IGR (Insect Growth Regulator) is a spray that prevents young bed bugs from maturing into adults and, thus, prevents them from reproducing. This is useful for long-term control and prevention of re-infestation.
  • Climb Up Insect Interceptors kill bed bugs that are trying to climb onto your bed. There are products you can buy online or you can make one yourself by filling bowls with soapy water and placing your bedposts in the bowl. Bed bugs will attempt to climb up to your bed and will slip in the bowl and drown.
  • Clean up any dead bed bugs, eggs, molding, fecal spots, or bloodstains with water and soap.

The Mattress

Mattresses are a key area of infestation and where people are generally bitten, so the topic deserves some notes of its own. Once you have identified an infestation in your mattress (small dark fecal spots, blood stains, eggs, holes in the mattress or paneling of the bed, bed bugs) you can either treat the mattress, encase it in a special cover, or throw the mattress out.

  • Encasing your mattress: Covering your mattress and pillows with specially designed mattress covers is an excellent method for dealing with your bed. These covers make sure bed bugs can not get into your bed or pillows, and that any that are inside already cannot get out and get to you. A cover placed over an infested mattress must be left on for at least a year as bed bugs can survive up to a year without feeding. Once you have covered your mattress with such a cover, there is no need to treat it using pesticides or any form of spray. Another benefit of these covers is, once they are on, they also prevent any future infestation. Make sure the cover specifies it can be used for bed bugs. Hypoallergenic covers help treat against dust mites as well. Though these covers can be moderately expensive, they are the most effective solution.
  • Treating your mattress: Treating your bedroom with pesticides can be harmful, so make sure to follow the instructions on any label carefully and to make sure they specifically say they are safe for use on mattresses and bedding. There are insecticides created specially for beds such as Temprid SC, Bedlam Aerosol, Steri-Fab, and many others that can be found online. To treat a mattress, first brush along the entire mattress and all the seams with a stiff brush. After this, vacuum all over the mattress. Once you have done this, treat with the insecticide according to the instructions on the label. Insecticides for mattresses are split into dusts and sprays. Dusts work for a longer period of time, but sprays are easier to apply to hard to reach areas. Both can be used for better results. These can additionally be used on most other furniture.
  • Throwing your mattress out: Throwing your mattress out and replacing it is the final way to deal with the ‘mattress issue.’ We recommend doing so only if your mattress is truly in a bad shape. If the mattress has lots of holes and tears in the fabric and / or is covered with bed bugs, eggs, fecal spots, blood stains, and other such unsightly side effects, then getting rid of it may be more useful than the headache of treating the mattress. It is important to note, however, that any new mattress you bring has the possibility to become infested so it may be a good idea to treat or encase the new one as well.

The Walls

Get bed bugs out of cracks in the wall or from behind loose wallpaper with a flat knife, a playing card, or using hot air from a blow dryer on its highest setting. When the bugs come out, catch them with paper towels, packing tape, or special bug ‘sticky traps.’ Half a minute to a minute of continuous air from a blow dryer on its highest setting should kill the bed bugs. After doing this, we recommend applying one of the special dusts as mentioned above inside the opening to both kill any remaining bed bugs and to ensure no bed bugs return. Once you have cleared the bugs out of the area, caulk, seal, or repair the crack (or hole or loos wallpaper, etc.) so that the bugs will not be able to get in again and so that any bugs inside will not be able to get out.

Affected Items

As mentioned in the pretreatment area, by this point, all removable or washable affected items should have been discarded, laundered, or bagged with a Nuvan strip and left in the sun.

Prevention

Once you have eliminated the infestation (or if you don’t have an infestation but are worried about getting one), it is important to put in place measures to ensure you don’t get a re-infestation. Start by sealing any bed bug hiding spots that you can. Mattress covers (as described in the previous section) will keep bed bugs out of your mattress permanently. Repair cracks in walls, repair or remove loose wallpaper, and tighten light switch and electrical outlet covers. Apply caulk to close openings in cabinets or where the walls meet the ceiling.

The most important thing to do in order to prevent a re-infestation or a separate future infestation is to increase your awareness. Be sure to carefully inspect any used furniture you bring into your home. Dry your bedding often on the hottest dryer setting. After you have gone travelling, immediately wash all of your clothing in hot water and thoroughly inspect and vacuum your suitcases. When you check into a hotel room, inspect the bed area for signs of bed bugs. Place your luggage on a rack that is far from the bed and the walls so that no bugs travel home with you. You can periodically place bed bug detection systems (for example the ‘Catchmaster BDS’ or ‘Verifi Bed Bug Detector’) around your bed and see if they catch any bed bugs to alert you of an infestation early. This is a good thing to do after a trip, after a worker comes to your house, or after guests stay over. This is also a good idea after eliminating an infestation in order to see if any bugs are left over.

Do Not’s

There are a few methods that it is important not to use when dealing with a bed bug infestation. ‘Bug Foggers’ and ‘Bug Bombs’ will not kill bed bugs. They will only serve to scatter a congregation of them, thereby taking what may have been a local infestation and spreading it all over the room or the residence. High temperatures are very effective at killing bed bugs. They can also die in very low temperatures, but this will only happen if the temperature remains significantly below freezing for several weeks and is thus not a recommended solution. In addition, concentrated heat such as that from a washing machine or dryer on their highest setting, a steamer, or continuous contact from a very hot blow dryer will work to kill bed bugs but raising your thermostat, for instance, will do nothing except cost you more money.

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Pavement Ants

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

Pavement ants, also known as Tetramoriam Caespitum, are common pests. These aggressive ants are found in all fifty states, though they are more prevalent throughout the eastern half of the U.S. and throughout the upper Midwest.  They are native to Europe, and have been present in the United States since being introduced sometime during the 18th century.

Identifying Pavement Ants

Identifying pavement ants is not at all difficult. The worker ants that can often be seen foraging are approximately 1/8th inch long, with dark brown to black coloration. Inside their colonies, winged queen pavement ants which are approximately two times the size of the workers spend their time laying eggs, which are then tended by younger worker ants. Drone pavement ants are about the same size as queens; they are winged also and typically take nuptial flights during the spring and summer months, during which they mate with flying queens.

These ants come by their name honestly – they create massive colonies in pavement, particularly under sidewalks and driveways, and around building foundations. One of the best ways to tell if you’ve got a pavement ant infestation is to watch for little heaps of dirt and debris on paved surfaces. If there are boards, logs, large rocks, or other items sitting on top of the ground on your property, it’s likely that you may find pavement ants beneath them as this ant species will nest in all kinds of places – even those that seem to be fairly impenetrable.

Pavement ants are not picky eaters. They will consume almost anything, including seeds, nuts, insects, and all kinds of human food including sweets and greasy items. From fruit to meat, nothing is off the pavement ant’s menu! Foraging pavement ants will travel as far as 30 feet from their colonies in search of food; they are well-known for setting up permanent trails to and from sources of abundant food.  Often, the first sign of an infestation is a trail of ants marching through your home or another building where food is present.

Controlling Pavement Ants

The first step in controlling pavement ants is to locate the colony. To do this, watch where the ants are coming from, and once you reach a wall, go to the other side of it to see if you can determine how the ants are getting into your living or work space. Often, minuscule cracks allow these tiny invaders to enter unchecked, so once you’ve discovered how the ants are getting in, use silicone sealer or a similar substance to eliminate the gaps.

Next, look for any other gaps or cracks in exterior walls where pavement ants might be able to enter. Seal any cracks that look like potential entry points, and look for any areas where drainage problems or leaks might exist since these problems can lead to more cracks by undermining the foundation’s supportive structure.

If you find anthills you’d like to eliminate, you can use an insecticide labeled for use against outdoor ants all around the anthills. You can also lay down a barrier of this same insecticide outside your home. If you discover that colonies of pavement ants are living beneath sidewalks or driveways, you can use a granulated insecticide to treat the area. Sprinkle it on; then, use a broom to push the granulated insecticide down into the cracks and crevices where ants are present. You can also flood the area with liquid insecticide.

In the event you discover a colony of pavement ants living inside a floor void or wall, use household insecticide to eliminate them. Get as close to the nest area as you can, and either push granulated insecticide into the general area or inject liquid insecticide directly into the nest area. Be sure to keep pets and curious children away.

If you have a pavement ant infestation and cannot find the colony, you can use insecticide sprays on ants you find, or you can use ant baits to begin controlling the colony’s population from a distance. Again, keep kids and pets away from ant baits as they are poisonous.

Pavement ants are fairly easy to eliminate on your own. Be tenacious in your efforts and soon enough, you’ll discover that ants are no longer making their way into your home.

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Swarming Termites

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

Why Do Termites Swarm?            

Springtime usually brings chirping birds and warm fragrant air with it, but for many unlucky property owners, this time of year brings swarming termites, too. Just like other members of the animal family, nature calls termites to mate. Some animals are happy to stay where they’re at and simply rear their young in a comfortable place they’ve occupied for a long time; termites, though, are different. These destructive insects swarm out of a need to expand their territory.

Once a termite colony achieves maturity, aletes begin to grow. These aletes are in a caste by themselves. Unlike workers and soldiers, their lives are all about mating and expanding the termite gene pool. Once they grow to maturity and develop wings, they wait for outside conditions to be right, then they swarm out in search of a new place to call home.

Different termite species swarm at different times; but in all cases, three distinct factors need to be present:

  • The originating colony must be mature. This typically takes between 3 to 4 years to occur.
  • Termite aletes must be fully mature and ready to leave the colony.
  • Outside conditions must be ideal. Most termites like to swarm on warm, humid evenings, though this is not a hard and fast rule. As long as it’s warm enough for flight to occur, swarming termites may leave their originating colony.

What Does it Mean if You See Swarming Termites?

If you see swarming termites, there’s definitely a potential problem. First, if you see swarming termites leaving your home, it’s a certain sign that there is a mature colony inside, chewing away at inner structures and potentially causing significant damage. If this is the case, it’s vital that you inspect your home immediately, determine the extent of damage, and then create a plan for combating the colony inside.

Second, if you see swarming termites approaching your home, it’s a sign that these invasive insects are eyeing up your property as a potential nesting site. Your best line of defense is to be prepared before you notice the termites; keep firewood, mulch, and other food sources away from foundations, and ensure cracks and other entry points are sealed as soon as you notice them. Termite control is not difficult so long as it’s based on prevention. Learn more with our useful guide to controlling termites. With the right measures in place, you may never need to call an exterminator.

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Pubic Lice

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

Pthirus Pubis is a type of louse more commonly known as pubic lice, crab lice, or colloquially, crabs, which inhabits pubic hair though it can also live on eyelashes. Like all other lice that affect humans, pubic lice live on and between hairs on their hosts and feed by sucking blood. Crab lice are spread almost exclusively through intimate sexual contact though it is possible to contract an infestation through shared use of towels, bedding, or clothing.

Pthirus Pubis are known as crab lice because their appearance is similar to that of a very small crab. Crab lice are between one to two millimeters long, flat, and have six legs. The lice’s back legs are clawed and longer than their other legs and the lice are nearly round in shape. Pubic lice live and lay their eggs (nits) on the relatively tough and coarse hairs found in the pubic region. They are also able to live in areas with similar hairs such as in moustaches, beards, armpits, or eyelashes, but this is significantly less common.

Having pubic lice is a disease that is known as Pediculosis pubis or ‘crabs.’ The primary symptom of crabs is severe itching, which is caused by hypersensitivity of the body to the crab louse’s saliva. The skin around bites may or may not become gray-blue, but this passes within a few days of treatment. Repeated scratching can cause open sores. Though crab lice are small, they and their eggs may be visible to the naked eye.

Pubic Lice Treatment

Getting rid of pubic lice is a simple process. The first step is diagnosis. Hair should be combed through with a nit comb to look for nits and live lice. If live lice are found they can be removed with tweezers and examined under a magnifying glass. Once a live infestation is identified, every other member in the household needs to be examined for an infestation. In addition, as crabs is a sexually transmitted disease, every person with whom the infested person has had sexual contact with over the past month should be notified and examined as well.

Getting rid of crabs is much the same process as getting rid of head lice. You will need to purchase a specialized pediculicide (lice insecticide) and a nit comb at your local pharmacy. Follow the instructions on the package carefully. Wash the area with water but without shampoo or conditioner. Using shampoo or conditioner will make it harder for the medicine to stick and thus less effective. Apply the treatment and rinse according to instructions. Do not wash the area with shampoo or conditioner for at least two days as it may wash out the medicine. Retreatment is not always needed but is recommended after three to seven days to prevent reinfestation. After treating, comb through the hair with a nit comb once a day and remove live and dead lice and nits. Do not use home remedies concurrently as they may wash out the treatment rendering it less effective.

Most over-the-counter creams for pubic lice use permethrin as the active ingredient. If after treatment you are seeing no improvement, you may have drug-resistant lice. See a doctor and ask for a prescription medication. Prescription medications are not necessarily more powerful but use different ingredients which the lice may not be resistant to. During the treatment you must avoid sexual contact. In addition, do not share towels, clothing or bedding with other people. Wash and dry clothing you have worn and items you have come in contact with in a machine on the hottest setting.