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Flea Products

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

How To Protect Your Pet From Fleas

Fleas are more than just a nuisance – they make your dogs and cats miserable, they bite you and your children. How to Protect Your Pet From Fleas can show you how to get those fleas off your pets, and out of your life

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Heal Your Dog Naturally

Reveal The Underlying Causes Of Your Dog’s Health Problems That Your Vet Doesn’t Even Know About So That Your Pet Can Live A Longer, Healthier and Happier Life

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Flea Traps

Flea Combs

Flea Collars

Natural – Organic Flea Sprays

Flea Sprays for Bedding

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Start your Own Successful Dog Grooming Business

Online Course Reveals the Secrets That Will Allow You to Become an In-Demand Dog Groomer
in Your City

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How to Get Rid of Fire Ants

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

All stinging red ants are generally referred to as fire ants, and all are much more aggressive than other red ant species. Not only do they sting and bite, they are capable of killing small animals, which they carry back to their nests for later consumption; in addition, they harm plants. Though human deaths from fire ant bites are rare, they have occurred in the past; never step on a fire ant nest, since this will put them into a frenzied attack mode and leave you covered in painful bites.

Fire ants are terribly resilient, and they move into new habitats quickly. They are capable of surviving in below-zero weather as well as in very hot weather, and queens are capable of living for as long as seven years. Some methods for getting rid of ants, such as pouring boiling liquid into the colony entrance, do not work on fire ants; some methods will kill workers, but won’t completely eradicate the colony – the queen and any remaining workers will simply move to a new location.

Fire ants tunnel underground and create several interconnected mounds, so it’s vital that you locate all mounds before waging war against the ants.

There are several ways to eradicate fire ants. While some take just a few hours, others can take as long as a few months, depending on how many fire ant mounds have sprung up around your property. Ask your neighbors to look for fire ants on their property as well, and get as many people involved in the eradication effort as possible; this will greatly increase your chances of getting to the queen and stopping the infestation once and for all.

The first and most important step in getting rid of fire ants is to choose a product that is designed to kill only fire ants and to leave the remainder of the indigenous ants alive. Though this may seem counterintuitive, indigenous ant populations are pollinators, they often aid in controlling garden pests, and they slow the spread of fire ants. Perhaps worst of all, if you kill the indigenous ants along with some of the fire ants, the remaining fire ants will be able to feast on the carcasses of their enemies, ultimately adding strength to their own colonies. Commercial baits should only be used as a last resort unless they are specifically labeled for use against fire ants only.

The second step in eliminating fire ants is to begin targeting them directly, using care to treat each mound. You can mark mounds with small landscaping flag-type markers from a DIY store to ensure you are methodical in your approach, and to ensure that you don’t miss any of the ants. Wearing rubber boots that have been lightly coated in Vaseline or other grease will help keep the ants from crawling up your legs and biting you while you are working. The following baits have been proven effective against fire ants:

  • Splenda – Splenda has a similar molecular structure to that of DDT, and fire ants love to eat it. Sprinkle the Splenda around the entrance to the mound, and as the ants consume it, they will die rapidly. Keep re-applying until there is no more ant activity. As Splenda is lightweight, apply it when no wind is present.
  • Borax and sweetener – Borax (boric acid) can be mixed with corn syrup, granulated sugar, peanut butter, or another sweet, sticky substance. Dab small amounts of the mixture inside several jar lids, and place the lids around the mounds, leaving plenty of space between each lid. If you pack these non-toxic homemade baits too closely together, the fire ants will be repelled rather than attracted.
  • Fire ant dust, Orthene fire ant killer, and other commercial fire ant preparations designed for fire ants only are also effective. If you decide to apply these poisons, be sure to keep children and pets away from the area until the ants are eradicated and until the area has been watered with a sprinkler or rain has dissipated the poison. To prevent the ants from attacking you while using a commercial spray product, grease the wand to keep them from crawling up it and biting your hand.
  • To kill fire ants inside your home without exposing yourself and others to toxins, make a thick mixture of dish soap or liquid laundry detergent and a little water. Spray it directly on the ants. If you can see where they entered, apply a line of straight laundry or dish soap to the area, sealing it off so others will not be able to enter. Re-apply periodically until the fire ants no longer attempt to enter.

Now that you know how to get rid of fire ants, you can also take action to prevent them from entering your home in the future. An easy but effective way to do this is to place laundry detergent or dish soap into a bucket and add a little water so that it will be easy to pour, but not completely diluted. Pour this mixture around the outside of the house, around the foundation. Pay special attention to any cracks.

In cases of severe fire ant infestation, it may be best to contact an exterminator, particularly if the ants are aggressively attacking you, your family, pets, or livestock. If you do decide to work with an exterminator, get bids from a few companies before deciding which to choose.

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Ants

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

Ants are ‘social insects’ making up any of nearly 22,000 species within the family ‘Formicidae.’ Ants are both pesky and hard to get rid of in the house and, at the same time are truly amazing creatures. This page will give only the briefest of overviews of Formicidae, mainly touching on points that are important to know when dealing with an ant infestation. For anyone interested in learning about a truly unique creature, we highly suggest a reading of ‘The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies’.

With an estimated 1,000 to 10,000 trillion (one to ten quadrillion) of them around the world, ants are by far the most common species on the planet. Most ants are not able to survive on their own, but in a colony, they become a very strong, capable, adaptable, and hard to get rid of unit. Ants thrive in colonies in which every member in the colony has a role. A handful of ants are tasked with reproducing while others are tasked with, depending on the species, everything from construction, to raising larvae, hunting, building, and even farming other insects. Ants’ methods of survival and gathering food are extremely diverse.

Ants are widely different in appearance, ranging in size from less than three hundredths of an inch to two and a half inches and in color from red and black to brown, grey, and even green. All ants, however, have a number of defining features. All ants have a head with two antennae and compound eyes (though some ants are nearly blind) and six legs attached to their thorax. Most queens in a colony have wings. Even within a colony, the difference between ants can be significant. The ant life cycle has four stages – egg, larvae, pupae, and adult.

Ants communicate through many methods, the primary being through the release of pheromones. For instance, a crushed ant releases a pheromone that causes nearby ants to go into a frenzied ‘attack mode.’ An ant that finds food releases a trail of pheromones on its way back to the colony. This signals to other ants that there is a food source and signals to them to follow the pheromone trail to the food source.

Most people will never see the vast majority of ant species that exist around the world and, indeed, over half the estimated existing species of ants have not yet even been discovered. The species of ants that are most widely seen by people are, not coincidentally, the ones considered to be pests. These ants include, but are not limited to, the pavement ant (the most common household pest ant), sugar ants, fire ants, and carpenter ants. Due to the resilience and adaptability of ants, getting rid of colonies can be extremely difficult.

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Termite Extermination

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

Although there are methods for eliminating termites on your own, a large, out of control termite population is best handled by a professional termite exterminator. Though there may be many pest control companies in your area, selecting the right one can be a somewhat daunting task. Here, we share some tips for selecting a competent exterminator who can eliminate your termite infestation once and for all.

Reputation

As you begin your search for a qualified termite exterminator, look beyond fancy vehicles and catchy advertisements. While these are nice and while they are often indicators that an extermination business is successful, they are not true indicators of reputation.

Begin by checking to ensure that the extermination company you’re considering is licensed, and be sure that employees are properly trained and certified in accordance with your state’s regulations. These qualifications are not just business licenses! They are typically specific licenses that allow companies to perform extermination services, and they’re normally issued by state or local pest control agencies or by state or local agriculture departments. In Canada, licensure is provided by provincial pest control regulatory authorities.

Do not hesitate to ask potential candidates for proof of licensure or certification. In addition, ensure the company you’re considering carries liability insurance – most states require it. Ask to see the declarations portion of the company’s policy and if a large company is self-insured, find out about their financial responsibility policies.

While you’re in the process of vetting pest control companies, find out how long the companies you are considering have been in business. Stability does matter!

Once you have narrowed your list of candidates down to a manageable size, go check reputation sites like Angie’s list, Home Advisor, or another similar site where people have left details about their personal experience with the termite extermination companies you’re considering.

In addition, consider working with a member of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). To verify that a company is a member, go to www.pestworld.org. There are also state and local pest control organizations; if the company you’re considering is a member of one of these, they may or may not have chosen to be an NPMA member. Membership in pest management associations boosts credibility. It’s up to you to decide whether that is important or not.

Price

Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential termite exterminators down further, it’s time to conduct price checks if you have not done so already. Avoid working with a company that won’t give you a menu of services or provide you with a quality estimate up-front. At the same time, recognize that exterminators can’t provide exact prices until they have determined the extent of your problem. Some companies do provide free termite evaluations and cost-free inspections. Consider having a few of these companies look into your termite problem and then compare the detailed estimates these companies provide. If you have questions about procedures or what is included, now is the time to ask.

Warranty

Some extermination companies offer guarantees or warranties, while others do not. Termite re-infestation is a real problem, and getting a warranty is one of the best ways to ensure that your property remains termite-free in the future. While you’re looking into guarantees, see if the warranties offered by the companies you’re considering are renewable or not. With a renewable warranty, you can choose to update the warranty at a much lower rate than you’d pay to start the termite extermination process all over again in the event termites do return.

By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to find a qualified, reputable termite exterminator you can trust – and in a short time, your property will be termite free.

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Termites

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

While termites are commonly referred to as “white ants,” particularly throughout Australia, they are not related to ants – instead, they are part of the cockroach family Blattodea. Termites prefer to feed on dead plant material known as cellulose, usually in the form of leaf litter, soil, or wood. There are 2,600 taxonomically known termite species, but scientists estimate that the actual number of species is closer to 4,000. As pests, termites are of great economic significance since they harm crops and forests, and as they are capable of causing serious structural damage to wooden buildings.

Like ants and bees, termites are eusocial insects. They participate in cooperative care of their young, they employ division of labor tactics, and one generation overlaps with the next. These are very busy insects – the problem is that rather than making honey like bees do, they’re often busy damaging valuable property.

The Termite Life Cycle

Almost all termites have similar life cycles. Each colony has only two active reproductive members; the king and queen. King and queen termites are fed by other members of the colony, and some have been known to live for more than 20 years. In laboratory conditions, queens have been shown to live up to 50 years, making them one of the longest-living known insects. Their sole purpose is to breed new termites, which they do at a rapid rate. A single mature queen is capable of laying thousands of eggs annually.

Termite eggs have a two-week incubation period. During this time, worker termites tend the eggs carefully until nymphs emerge. The termite nymphs are then fed by attendants, which regurgitate food for them for a period of two weeks. After molting, the nymphs are transformed to workers, soldiers, or supplementary reproductives, or primary reproductive destined to become queens and kings.

  • Reproductive termites are most physically advanced. They possess functional eyes, wings twice the length of their bodies, and either male or female reproductive organs. These termites remain within the colony for a time, eventually swarming out en masse. Termite swarms normally occur during the spring months, though they do sometimes swarm out in the autumn.
  • Soldier termites are tasked with protecting the colony from ants and other enemies. They are easily identified by their stout armored heads and their menacing jaws. Some soldier termites have eyes; others are eyeless. Soldier termites are not capable of reproduction.
  • Worker termites have the simplest body design. They are wingless, with a round yellowish-brown head and a white to greyish body. Worker termites have no eyes and like soldier termites, are sterile.

How to Identify Termites

How can you tell if you have a termite problem? One of the first methods for determining whether a termite infestation is present is to simply watch for termites. These insects are easy to identify, but it can be difficult to actually lay eyes on them since they rarely emerge from a food source once they begin tunneling through it.

  • Subterranean Termites – There are three different castes within a Subterranean Termite colony. The workers are approximately six millimeters long. They have no wings and are light colored. The soldiers have long dark-colored heads equipped with sharp pincers, and like the workers, they have light colored abdomens. Reproductive Subterranean Termites have dark-colored bodies and are equipped with two pairs of wings.
  • Drywood Termites – Drywood Termites are among the most destructive, usually causing serious damage before being detected, since established colonies can contain thousands of members. These termites are almost all two-toned, with white abdomens and dark colored heads with pincer-like mandibles. In their reproductive form, Drywood Termites have dark colored bodies and long wings that extend beyond the end of the abdomen. These termites live up to their name – they need very little moisture to thrive, and are most often found in areas where wood does not come into contact with the ground or receive moisture. Attic spaces are common Drywood Termite targets.
  • Flying Termites – Flying Termites have a close resemblance to Flying Ants, however you can identify them by their waists, which are thicker and straighter than an ants’ waists are. You can also identify them by looking for two pairs of large, translucent, equal-sized wings. While ants have bent antennae, termites hold their antennae straight out from their heads. Flying termites are normally on the lookout for a new place to build a colony; once their mating flights have ended and they’ve settled into a new home, they shed their wings and start working to rear the next generation.

There are many different signs of termites, and there are also a number of methods for preventing them and exterminating them. Termites cause billions of dollars-worth of damage in the United States every year. These insects are capable of destroying buildings at a surprisingly rapid rate – in fact, a colony with about 50,000 workers is capable of consuming a twelve-inch long two-by-four in the span of eight to nine weeks. In homes that are left untreated, total destruction occurs in an average of ten to fifteen years. If you believe you have a termite infestation, be sure to take it seriously.

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Types of Mice

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

There are a few dozen known species within the Mus genus. The following are some of the more common types of mice.

House Mouse

The House Mouse (Mus Musculus) is the most common mouse in the world and is generally found where there are humans. House mice are pests and can cause significant damage to food and crops. The species have been domesticated and bred as a very related but separate species known as the ‘Fancy Mouse.’ House mice are seven to ten centimeters long and their tails are roughly the same length. They come in many colors varying from white and gray to brown and black. House Mice’s ears have almost no hair on their ears or tails. The mice are omnivores and generally survive by scavenging food found near human populations.

Field Mouse

Field Mouse is a catchall name that may refer to any of several species of mice in the genus Apodemus. As suggested by the name field mice like to live in fields, though different species of field mouse can be found in several other environments as well. Field mice vary greatly in appearance depending on the species. They are generally adapted to their specific environment, using their appearance to camouflage themselves with their surroundings. Field mice are curious creatures and adept scavengers that can cause serious damage to agricultural fields. In addition, they are known to carry various diseases. Due to a very large number of predators, field mice do not often survive more than a year.

Deer Mouse

The deer mouse is a species in the Peromyscus genus. Deer mice are small, fast, and agile mice. This speed and agility are what got them the name ‘deer mouse.’ Deer mice are seven to ten centimeters in length (eighteen centimeters on average including the tail), have soft grey fur, white feet, and tails that are white underneath and gray on the top. Deer mice have sharp teeth and use them to eat anything from seeds to beetles and snails. Deer mice are skittish and will generally run from humans but are considered pests, as they are known carriers of multiple diseases including Hantavirus, Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis.

White-Footed Mouse

The white-footed mouse is another species in the Peromyscus genus. It is tremendously similar to the deer mouse in appearance. It differs in that its fur can be brown or reddish as opposed to the gray of the deer mouse. White-footed mice generally live next to woods and marches. They are agile creatures, adept at climbing and swimming. White-footed mice eat a tremendous variety of foods including plants, nuts, fruits, seeds, caterpillars, beetles, snails, and grasshoppers. The may occasionally eat small mammals. Like the deer mouse, the white-footed mouse may carry Hantavirus or Lyme disease.

Fancy Mouse

The ‘Fancy Mouse’ is a term for a domesticated House Mouse (see above). The fancy mouse was bred over many years to be a pet. They are bred and sold as pets or as food for other pets (mostly snakes). Fancy mice have been bred for exhibition as well. Since the fancy mouse is bred, it varies greatly in size and appearance. It is estimated that mice have been kept as pets since as early as the 12th century C.E. They are small, inexpensive, and very low-maintenance pets. Females are much more popular than males as they cohabitate well.

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Dog Fleas

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

Dog fleas (also known as ‘the troll’) are a species of flea that feed primarily on the blood of dogs, though they will also feed on cats and occasionally humans. One of the main worries with dog fleas is that they can spread a parasitic tapeworm called ‘Dipylidium Caninum.’ Dogs with fleas easily transfer their fleas to other pets or can cause infestations in homes. Dog fleas are found mostly in Europe. It is important to note that, if your dog has fleas, they are very likely to be cat fleas. Cat fleas are not picky about their hosts and are found around the world. Both dog and cat fleas are agile creatures and can easily spread between dogs.

If your dog has fleas, one of the easiest ways to tell is by looking for flea feces. These small dark brown spots that look much like dirt will often be found on your dog’s skin (particularly in the stomach area). If you mix one of these spots with water and crush it and it becomes red (make sure to do this with protective gloves), then you can be mostly sure that your dog has fleas. This occurs because flea feces contains dried blood inside of it. In addition, you can use a flea comb to search your dog’s skin and hair for fleas and flea dirt. If your dog is showing symptoms of flea bites, but you cannot find fleas, one of the simplest methods of diagnosis is simply to treat for fleas and see if the symptoms stop. One method that has been suggested to find out if your dog has fleas is to place it over a white sheet or piece of paper and comb it with a very fine comb. If fleas or little black (flea feces) or white (flea eggs) specks fall onto the paper, then your dog likely has fleas.

Dog Flea Bites

If your dog has fleas, they will feed on him, and your dog will likely become symptomatic. Fleas can be uncomfortable and dangerous for dogs by causing serious itching, inflammation, and skin infection. Dog Flea bites leave small red bumps that can cause multiple forms of irritation. These bumps are often raw and bloody. They can also have puss oozing out of them. Your dog will most likely begin chewing and scratching non-stop. Dogs have very sensitive skin and can feel fleas on them. The fleas feed extremely often, and your dog may become obsessed with cleaning itself. This can lead to allergies and hair loss. This behavior can in turn lead to rashes and infections. It is therefore important to treat dog fleas as soon as you have identified them.

In serious cases, due to frequent feeding, dog flea bites can cause anemia; particularly in puppies and small dogs. In addition, as previously mentioned, fleas can pass tapeworm to dogs and their owners. Dog fleas tend to bite around the tail, neck, and head. Dogs that are allergic to the fleas’ saliva (flea allergic dermatitis) will have more exaggerated effects.

Dog Flea Treatment

There are several methods of treatment for dog flea bites. It should be noted though that, no matter the form of treatment for the bites, the most important thing to do is to get rid of the dog fleas. So long as the fleas are there, they will continue to bite the dog. It is important to treat a dog with fleas not only when he has them, but also when they do not have fleas as part of a prevention methodology. In addition, if the dog has spent much time in the house or, if you or other members of the household have noticed flea bites, it may well be necessary to get rid of fleas in your house as well. With that being said, the following are methods for treating dog flea bites and getting rid of dog fleas:

  • Flea Collars are available in most pet stores and, though not fail-proof, are fairly effective at keeping fleas off of your dog’s coat. These collars release chemicals that deter fleas. Be sure to consult both the packaging and a veterinarian, as the wrong flea collar can be dangerous for your dog.
  • There are many topical treatments than can be applied to your dog and are available from most local pet stores or from your veterinarian. Frontline and Advantage are two of the primary brands of topical flea treatment. The treatment should be placed according to the instructions on the packet in between your dog’s shoulder blades. This is done to keep the dog from licking the medication. Powders are also available and work in much the same way however can cause skin irritation in many dogs. Topical ointments are preferred.
  • Your veterinarian can also offer you oral medications for your dog. These are useful in situations that have are more developed. Oral medications stop flea larvae from being able to grow and stop the fleas’ life cycle.
  • A good method both for treating your dogs’ fleas and for easing his symptoms is bathing him with a specialized flea shampoo. Make sure when you get the shampoo that it is designed to kill fleas, not just help remove them. Scrub your dog in the shower with the shampoo. Make sure to remove all fleas that you see. Make sure to kill any fleas that drop into the water as they can easily make it back onto your dog. Work systematically along your dogs’ body as well as a flea comb and make sure to be thorough.
  • Flea Combs are good at removing fleas but will by no means constitute a complete treatment. They should be used along with other treatments such as those meant before.
  • A cool bath will not get rid of all of the fleas, but will offer your dog relief from the itching and can reduce swelling. Hot baths can cause more inflammation and itching. Adding cornstarch to the bath can further help relieve itching. In addition, it has been suggested that sprinkling baking soda directly onto flea bites, or applying a paste of water and baking soda to the bites can help relieve itching as well.
  • Dogs who develop hypersensitivity to flea bites may need to be taken to the veterinarian and prescribed antihistamines or steroids to treat their symptoms. The same goes for dogs that have developed infections from open wounds after too much scratching or biting.
  • Keeping a dog’s environment clean and flea-free is important in preventing infestations. If your dog has fleas and spends time inside the house or, if you or other members of the house have fleas, it may well be necessary to get rid of the fleas in your house. The most basic method to keep a dog’s living area clean is to regularly thoroughly vacuum their sleeping area (cage, pen, dog bed, etc.).
  • Regular grooming and inspection of your dog’s skin for small white (eggs) or black (feces) spots as well as bites can help detect fleas early on.
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Fleas On Pets

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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Identifying a Bed Bug Infestation

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

So you think you might have Bed Bugs but you aren’t sure? How can you be sure that you have bed bugs and not fleas, mosquitos, or any of the other million bugs that might be plaguing your home? Well, for starters, you can’t just get bed bugs out of the blue. A bed bug infestation can only be started when the bugs are brought into your home on you or a friend’s clothing, luggage, used furniture, etc. In addition, due to the varying reactions people have to bed bug bites (read below), and due to the fact that often reactions to the bites aren’t noticed for up to several days (some people even have no reaction to the bites whatsoever!), waking up with some red marks may not necessarily mean you have an infestation. Because bite marks are a good first indication, but do not necessarily mean you have bed bugs, you must look for several other indicators before reaching this conclusion. Identifying an infestation early, however, is crucial as a large infestation is much more difficult to deal with than a small one.

The first, and most important, thing to know when trying to spot an infestation is what exactly bed bugs look like. The bugs are easy to spot as adults can reach the size of about half a fingernail and are a reddish-brown color. Younger bed bugs are smaller and a clear white-yellow color and baby bed bugs (nymphs) are so small that they are barely visible. Bed bugs are flat if they have not fed for a while but once fed, their bodies blow up like a balloon and they become bright red. Bed Bugs cannot fly, however they can move very rapidly over walls, floors, and other surfaces in the home. In addition, they tend to gather in large groups and live together, however they don’t have nests.

Bed bugs go through several stages in their lifecycle. Between each stage, they take a large meal and then undergo a process of molting their exoskeleton. During this process the bed bug essentially ‘sheds’ its ‘skin,’ leaving behind a molted skin that looks like a clear bed bug ‘shell.’ In a large infestation there may be thousands of these lying around.

If it is able to, a bed bug will feed about once a week. When digesting their meals, the bugs excrete excess liquid and waste. This fecal matter comes out as a black liquid and leaves spots that can be seen easily on mattresses, wooden frames of beds, curtain seems, and wherever else the bugs may have passed through. In a sizeable infestation these spots will be seen in clusters of generally at least a dozen, though single spots are a possibility.

If you have seen molted bed bug skins, spots of excrement, and/or of course, the bed bugs themselves, then it is quite likely you have an infestation and you may be able to find the actual colony of bed bugs. The bugs, their skins, and the spots of waste can be tricky to find, but will generally be found where bed bugs like to gather:

  • Mattresses
  • Beds
    • Behind the headboards and baseboards
    • In drawers built into the bed
    • In holes and cracks in the wood
    • In the bed frame
    • Box Springs
  • Walls
    • In openings between walls and the ceiling or floor
    • Behind chipped paint or wallpaper
  • Closets
    • Interior Frames
    • Near the hinges of the door
    • Where hanger rods connect to the sides
    • On clothing
  • Heaters
  • Curtains
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Head Lice

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

Head Lice (Pediculus Humanus Capitis) are a subspecies of the Phthiraptera order. They are wingless parasites that spend their whole lives exclusively on human scalps and feed by biting the skin and sucking blood. Head lice feed only on humans and cannot be transferred to or from animals. The lice are related to body lice and distantly related to pubic lice, but will not generally reproduce with either species. Unlike body lice, which can carry dangerous diseases, head lice, though a nuisance, are generally harmless. A head lice infestation (known as Pediculosis Capitis) causes itching and, if the bites are scratched frequently, can lead to open sores that can become infected. Head lice can be treated and eradicated effectively without too much difficulty.

Head lice are between one to three millimeters long (roughly the size of a sesame seed) and light gray in color. After feeding, they become darker and can take on a reddish tint. Females are larger than males. Head lice are visible to the naked eye but can be difficult to spot on a head full of hair. The insects are flat and are made up of three fused but visibly separate parts, a head, thorax, and abdomen. After feeding, they excrete a small dark red dirt-like spot known as frass. A female head louse can lay around five eggs per day. Head louse eggs, known as nits, at slightly less than a millimeter long and are a light brown color. After the egg hatches, it becomes white. Nits are laid near the base of the hair. In warm temperatures the may be laid as far as a few inches down the length of the hair as the lice will feel more comfortable leaving the heat of the body. The female sticks eggs to the hairs using a sticky substance produced in her reproductive organ.

Head lice in every stage of the lice lifecycle are bloodsuckers and will feed four to five times daily. To feed, a louse pierces the skin, injects an anti-coagulant, which prevents the blood from drying and makes feeding easier, and then sucks in the blood. Though head lice can live on any part of the scalp, they prefer darker areas and avoid light. For this reason they are often found behind ears and on the back of the neck. Lice’s legs are specially adapted to holding onto hairs and they are unable to fly or jump. The most common way in which head lice are transferred between people is with direct head to head contact. It is also possible for lice to travel in hats, combs, towels, etc., but this is much less likely as lice die quickly when not on a host.

Pediculosis Capitis is the scientific term for a head lice infestation. Lice bites cause a very mild reaction and the bites themselves can be seen only with difficulty between hairs. People with longer hair are more likely to have visible bites as they may have bites on the back of their necks where the hair drapes down. When the hair is moved aside, bites are visible. Head lice infestations, unlike body lice infestations, are generally harmless. Excessive scratching can lead to open sores and infection but, especially when the condition is treated, this is rarely a problem. Click here for information on how to diagnose and treat head lice.