Stink Bugs: There is a New Kid on the Block

Stink Bugs: There is a New Kid on the Block

We’ve always had stink bugs around, and bugs that look like stink bugs. But there is a new type making its presence known. It’s the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. But before we go too far into investigating the new guy, let us look at our native stink bug first.

Stink bugs belong to the group of insects known as “true bugs”. Yup, “bug” is a scientific term!

A true bug is of the order Hemiptera and suborder Heteroptera. These insects have sucking mouthparts (among other identifying features) and are commonly economic pests. Other true bugs in our area are harlequin bugs, assassin bugs, wheel bugs, squash bugs, leaf looted bugs, seed bugs, boxelder bugs, and bed bugs. Most of these guys have a similar shield-like body shape and the same wing attachment configuration.

Michigan and Ohio have been home to our own stink bugs for thousands of years. And fortunately, our native stink bugs have been pretty well behaved; becoming pests only rarely. But this new one, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, is a true pest.

Originally from East Asia (and part of a North Korean plot, no doubt), the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug found its way to Allentown Pennsylvania in 1998. By 2010 they could be found throughout most of the USA.

According to Wikipedia, The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug damages or destroys essentially every fruit and vegetable we eat. They attack peaches, apples, green beans, soybeans, cherries, raspberries, black berries, pears, tomatoes, eggplant, corn, soy beans, grapes, lima beans, peppers, etc. And they are involved in the transmission of plant diseases.

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug also invades homes in the fall, and survives the entire winter. The record number of stink bugs in one home so far is 26,000! Their population is very mobile, moving around constantly, and they can be difficult to control. There is even evidence that these bugs have developed resistance to many insecticides. Our local populations of The Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are increasing, and we are getting calls to control them.

Do stink bugs really stink?

You bet ‘cha! Stink bugs are aptly named because of the stink they produce when they feel threatened. They make the smelly stuff in a gland on their behinds. Some can even spray their stink.

Do they bite or sting humans?

Well…. Yes and no. Yes, they do sometimes bite, and the bite itches. But they don’t actually sting. Rather the stinky secretions sting when you get them on your skin or if you inadvertently rub them in your eye. Eyes can REALLY sting!

So, what can you do about stink bugs?

  • Call Pest Patrol. Two or three treatments to the exterior of your home will protect you year-round.
  • Caulk any gaps in your siding, soffits, and around windows.
  • Caulk any gaps in your door frames, around chimneys, or any openings.
  • Once inside the house, catch them carefully. If you vacuum them or squish them they will stink.
  • Stink bugs will often fly to lights and windows, so sticky traps may work here.
  • Fruit trees near your home may attract them to your home in the fall.
  • Two trees – Tree of Heaven and Princess Tree – are real favorites of stink bugs. Plant them in your unpleasant neighbor’s yard as a peace offering.
  • Don’t stick the stink in your eye!
Mouse Infestation Inside Your Home

Mouse Infestation Inside Your Home

“Mouse Emergency,” the customer said.

“Mouse emergency,” I replied, “could be interesting….”

Mouse emergencies are pretty rare events, even in our line of work. Rodents of all kinds will invade homes at any time of the year, but spring and fall are the mousiest activity times. In the spring, momma mice are looking for a place to produce their prodigy. In the fall, all the mice in the world are looking for somewhere warm to spend the winter. A mouse infestation may not be evident until you see some of the telltale signs at certain areas of your home.

Not all mice are mice. There are mice of course. We have deer mice and house mice locally. But we also have voles and shrews and chipmunks and red squirrels and ground squirrels. And rats too. American rats, roof rats, Norway rats and the ubiquitous sewer rat. All of these invade homes.

These rodents all do three things. They eat, poop and make nests, which are very different, depending on the rodent.

  • Mice chew up paper and fabrics and make loose piles to rest in.
  • Shrews are happy with a mouse type nest but add in bits of wood and pokier things.
  • Voles make nests that are very bird-nest-like in appearance and materials.
  • Chipmunks and squirrels leave a pile of nut and seed shells near the nest.
  • And rats make big nests of everything from fabrics to plastics to cardboard and wood. Some rats even fancy shiny things like tin foil, coins and jewelry. I once found a nest with a couple of old spoons in it.

As far as pooping and diets go, that all varies a bit too. The poops are all essentially the same shape but of different sizes and consistency. Bigger poop usually equals a bigger creature, while consistency and color tell of diet. And while all the above animals will eat the same things in a pinch…. each type of rodent has its own preferred foods, which only makes sense. After all, if they all preferred the same food, they would compete too much with each other, and that would limit their opportunity to live in harmony in your home.

Eliminating vermin from your home begins with a interior pest inspection to determine what kind of invader you have and where they are feeding, resting, traveling and reproducing. Next, we select the best treatment method for what we find. Sometimes that method is baiting. Sometimes it’s trapping. Sometimes it’s exclusion. Usually it is some combination of the three.  Often it’s a one-time treatment. Sometimes a follow up treatment is advised. Each situation is a bit unique…. and that’s what makes it interesting!

How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Home

Get rid of Ants in your homeAs soon as you see them, you want to get rid of ants that show up in your home. Even if it is one lone scout, that one ant will return to the nest and bring an entire army to invade your space. Identifying the ants and the likely reason for the invasion can be the two vital keys to getting rid of ants in your home. Ants may be beneficial to the environment, but they do not make good roommates. Take these three steps to get rid of ants indoors.

Step One: Identify the Ant

Different ants have different habits and different needs. You may be able to identify the ants in question with the help of your favorite Internet search engine. Identifying the invaders may require the experience of a professional pest control expert. Once you know what kind of ant you are dealing with, then you can prepare a plan to take back your home.

Step Two: Why are They Here

Depending on the ants, your home may offer the invaders a source of food, water or their own secure domicile. You will want to eliminate whatever resources the ants are finding in your home. Make sure that all food is stored in sealed containers. Check for moisture issues around the house or under the house since some ants prefer damp locations for building their homes. Clean around the inside and outside of the house to eliminate any traces of food or other ant-friendly items.

Step Three: Kick the Ants Out

You can get rid of most ants by eliminating their resources, but some will be inclined to hang around no matter how much your prepare or clean. You need to locate the nests of these determined invaders first. After you have located the nests, they need to be removed. Use a vacuum to suck up the ants and then dispose of them in a location far away from the house. Keep in mind that even if you poison the ants, you will still want to remove the mess that is left afterwards.

Additional Tips to Help Get Rid of Ants

Keep debris, wood, and other items away from the foundation of the home. You should clear leaves and other debris from around the eaves, the window edges, and the doors. Keep garbage cans and other disposable items away from the house. Put all foods in containers that are airtight – for added measure while you get rid of the ants, consider keeping all food items in the refrigerator or freezer.

The ants may be coming one by one – but you are just three steps away from sending them back out the door. Knowing what kind of ant is invading will be the first step in determining your actions. Once you identify the culprit, you can take the steps you need to get rid of them. A pest control expert can quickly identify the ants and apply the right methods to get rid of ants in your home.

Before You Check In – Check for Hotel Bedbugs

Look Out for Hotel BedbugsIf you are planning a vacation this summer, remember to be prepared for the tiny things that might affect your comfort, specifically the hotel bedbugs that you might not notice, but will ruin your trip, and may even decide to follow you home. The star rating of the hotel or the cleanliness of the location will not determine if the bedbugs have taken up a home in your hotel. You need to look for additional signs to help insure that your hotel room is bedbug free.

Recognizing the Signs of Hotel Bedbugs

– Start with reviews. Check out what others have to say about their stays in the hotel of your choosing. If you know someone that has stayed recently, consider asking them about any bites or rashes that they may have received during the stay. Bedbug bites do not always hurt, but they will leave marks. Some websites such as have been set up specifically to help you do a check for hotel bedbug reports.

– Keep your luggage away from the room until you have had time to inspect the space. Bedbugs love to crawl around and get into luggage to travel home with visitors. Before you settle into the room, make sure you will be traveling home alone.

– Look for bedbug signs. The excrements of the bedbugs look similar to clotted blood. Check for brown discoloration around the headboard and along the base of the bed. Remember that bedbugs are flat and items attached to the wall can offer perfect hiding places for these insects.

– Strip the bed down to the mattress and the box springs. It may cause you a little extra work to remake the bed, but you need to see what might be hiding beneath the clean sheets. Again, you are looking for any signs that the bedbugs have been hanging out. You might see some of the bugs, but they are fast and do not like to be exposed. Looking for the signs they have been there is your best option.

– Check any locations that might offer potential cover for the bedbugs. Look at pictures attached to the walls. Inspect furniture in the room. Even look around the dressers and in drawers or closets.

– Remember that if your room shows no signs of infestation, that does not mean that there are no hotel bedbugs. Other rooms could be infested and the bedbugs will crawl from room to room. Keep your luggage up off the floor to help protect it from what might be lurking in the other rooms.

– Speak up. If you do find any issues, then take your concerns to the hotel staff immediately. You may choose to change hotels, but you could also consider changing rooms. Remember that just because one room has issues does not mean they all have issues. Do ask for a room at least several floors from the one where you saw the hotel bedbug signs.

It sounds scary that you need to take such precautions when traveling. The good news is that bedbugs are a nuisance and not a danger. They do not carry disease, although some people do have allergic reactions to the bites.

Take a little time to check out your hotel before you settle into the space. A little research can keep you from letting hotel bedbugs ruin your stay.

5 Tips for Safer Pest Control

safe pest controlHousehold pests are a part of life. Everyone will likely have to deal with them in their home at some point. In the past, the natural tendency was to eliminate pests using chemicals. However, we now know that many of the pest control chemicals of the past were both toxic and too broad in their usage. While it is sometimes still recommended to use chemicals to eliminate pests, the chemicals used today are much safer. Let’s take a look at some useful tips for your own safer pest control.

  1. Prevention is the Key

You don’t have to worry about pest control if you prevent them from getting into your home in the first place. Inspect your home for holes and cracks as the seasons change. They can be in your screens, around your doors and windows or even in your foundation. If there is a way in, insects and rodents will find it. The other component of prevention is to make the interior of your home undesirable for pests. This means keeping your home clean and free from clutter. Don’t leave food or wrappers lying around, and make sure that your plants are well cared for and routinely inspected.

  1. Try Natural First

In many cases, if you have a pest in your home, then a natural remedy may work. For example, if you have a mouse in your home you may be able to get rid of it with a live bait trap rather than poison. If you have insects on your household plants, then spraying them with neem oil or rosemary oil may get rid of them.

  1. Small Applications

Treat the specific area where you’re having a pest problem rather than treating the entire home. This may not be possible in all scenarios; however, it’s often the best first step. For example, if you have ants, then a bait trap may work better than sprinkling poison over your entire kitchen.

  1. Specific Applications

When you’re choosing a pesticide, make sure that you’re choosing one that is safe for indoor use. It should also be designed for the specific pest problem that you are treating. Whenever using a chemical inside your home, follow the label recommendations very carefully. If you’re not sure what type of insect or pest you’re dealing with, call an exterminator to help you identify the problem and the potential solution.

  1. Open Windows

Good ventilation is always important when using chemicals in your home. Protect yourself during application by covering all of your exposed skin. Then open windows and get air flowing through your home to clear out the toxins in the air.

Getting expert help may be the fastest and safest solution. Consider contacting a pest control company that offers natural organic-based solutions. They may be able to quickly identify the problem and remedy it with the safest pest control options available.

How to Identify Indoor Insects

identify indoor insectsYour home is your refuge, protected from the elements. Free from rain, wind, animals and bugs, you can sleep easy at night, right? Well the truth is that insects live everywhere. They are inside your home and your car, and they vastly outnumber humans.

In fact, entomologists estimate that there are approximately 5 million different species of insects, and that there are about 10 quintillion insects currently hopping, crawling or flying on the planet at any given time. This means that you are undoubtedly going to find insects in your home. However, not all insects are harmful. Let’s take a look at how to identify the insects you find.

Where Did You Find It?

Bugs hang out in different locations in your home. For example, you are likely to find damp-seeking insects in your basement, bathroom, and occasionally in your kitchen. While carpenter ants seek damp wood, you can also find them near your vents, windows and doors. Centipedes, millipedes, and silverfish are often found in the basement.

How Many Legs Does it Have? What About Wings?

Spiders have eight legs, insects have six legs, and millipedes have anywhere from 60 to 180 legs. Take a look at the insect and do a quick leg count. It will help you with identification because it is important to know what you are dealing with. Also, does it have wings? Some ants have wings, as do beetles and stinging insects such as bees and wasps.

Take a Photo

If you have a smartphone you can snap a quick photo of the bug before you dispose of it. Taking a closer look at the photo will make it easier to count the legs and take initial steps to identify the insect. Once you have the basic species, you can do an Internet search to look for photos.

Online Search Tips

When searching online, start with the basic species and any unique identifying markings. For example, if you were looking up a ladybug you might search for images of red beetles with spots. You can also narrow your search depending on where you found the insect. For example, if you found a small spider on your plant you might search for “tiny black spider on plants.” Compare your photo with the photos available online and you will likely find a match.

Once you have identified the insect, do a little more research. Is it an insect that bites? Can it multiply and cause damage to your home? If you find many insects in your home, a pest control expert can help you quickly solve the problem.

How to Get Rid Of Spider Mites

get rid of spider mitesSpider mites are tiny arachnids that usually live on plants. Because they are so small, they can infest a plant and cause problems before you even notice them. They spin small webs and suck the chlorophyll out of the plant. They can be found on both indoor and outdoor plants, and while spider mites don’t often bite humans, they could cause a reaction if the person is allergic. So what do you do when you notice spider mites on your household plants?

Step 1: Check Other Plants

If you find spider mites on one plant in your home, check the other plants in your home. You may need a magnifying glass as some spider mites are quite tiny. Isolate the plants that are infested with spider mites and move on to step two.

Step 2: Clean the Plants

Once you have identified the spider mites, you should gently clean the plant. Using a sponge and warm soapy water (dish detergent is fine), wipe down both sides of each leaf on the plant. Repeat this process once a week for a few weeks. Remove any portions of the plant that are damaged.

Step 3: Hose them down

If your plants are still infested with spider mites after a few weeks, it is time to get more aggressive. Take your plants outdoors and rinse them thoroughly with your garden hose. If it’s too cold outside, then use your shower to rinse off the plants. The high pressure from your hose or shower head should blast the mites off of the plants.

Step 4: Add More Bugs

Ladybugs eat mites and can get rid of the mites on your household plants. You can place the plants outside, buy a bag of ladybugs, and disperse them on the plants.

Step 5: Chemicals and Natural Insecticides

If nothing else has worked, or if your infestation is particularly bad, you may need to use chemicals. You can use a variety of solutions including:

  • Rubbing Alcohol – Wipe each leaf with rubbing alcohol.
  • Neem Oil – Spray both sides of the leaves with neem oil.
  • Rosemary Oil – Mix a combination of rosemary oil and water and spray both sides of the leaves.
  • Insecticidal Soap – Spray with insecticidal soap and wipe off the leaves.

Some spider mites are incredibly difficult to kill, so many people give up and throw away their houseplants. Such drastic measures are unnecessary; a trained pest control expert can help you get rid of spider mites quickly and easily.

How to Know it’s Time for a Flea Exterminator

flea exterminator for petsFleas are tiny jumping insects that feed off of the blood of mammals and birds. They are wingless and considered external parasites, because they cannot survive for long without a host. There are more than 2,000 different types of fleas, and many of them are specific to certain host animals.

Of course, none of these varieties are welcome in your home. In addition to biting and leaving painful marks on both humans and animals, fleas can spread disease.

Fleas Multiply Quickly

The average female flea lives for 30-90 days and can lay 5,000 or more eggs over her lifetime. A few fleas picked up at the park can quickly multiply into thousands if their growth is not checked. If you notice a flea in your home or on your pet, there are probably more lurking in the shadows. The first step that you want to take is to thoroughly clean all carpeting, linens, and pets. Use a flea shampoo on your pets and be vigilant with the vacuuming and laundering. If you have spotted the fleas early you may still be able to get rid of them on your own.

Fleas Jump and Hide

Unfortunately, these little pests multiply rapidly and hide very well. They can jump three feet high and will hide in your curtains, furniture, pillows, and carpeting, as well as on people and pets. Remember that you can have a flea problem even if you don’t have any pets.

Because fleas are so difficult to get rid of, you should call an exterminator if your first attempts fail. While there are carpet powders and DIY home treatments you can try, the fleas in your home are multiplying with each passing day. Additionally, many DIY treatments are not as safe as the methods used by professional exterminators.

The best defense is early detection and prevention. However, once you know you have fleas, acting quickly can prevent them from becoming a terrible problem. Even exterminators can be challenged by major flea infestations. If you have fleas in your home act fast and find a qualified flea exterminator to take care of the problem for you.

Best Practices for Indoor Plant Pest Control

indoor plant pest controlPlants are a great, natural way to bring beauty and color to the interior of your home. Unfortunately, insects enjoy plants as much as people do. Your indoor plants can easily become infested with bugs. Creating an indoor plant pest control program will help you make sure that your home stays pest-free.

Keep Indoor Plants Indoors

It’s tempting to place your plants outside during the warmer months. In fact, some people believe that their plants thrive with a little extra fresh air and sunshine. However placing your plants outside for any period of time invites insects. When you bring your plants back inside, the insects can multiply and spread to your other plants. Keep indoor plants indoors.

Isolate New Plants

One of the main ways that plants become infested with bugs is by contact with other infested plants. When you obtain a new plant, keep it isolated for a week or so. Separate it from your other plants. Inspect it regularly. Once you are sure that it is free of insects, you can place it with your other plants.

Inspect Often

When you water your plants, take a few minutes to inspect them also. Look at the soil and both sides of the leaves. If you do see any bugs (including mites) immediately isolate that plant. Remove it from your other plants and begin treatment right away. Treatment often means washing the leaves or spraying the plant with insecticidal soap.

Keep Plants Healthy

Know what your plants need to stay healthy. Healthy plants are able to fight off disease and survive insect damage, and insects are often attracted to damaged or vulnerable plants. Keep your plants healthy by watering them as needed. Also explore appropriate sunlight levels and soil conditions for your particular houseplants. Some plants thrive with an occasional trim and others need plant food to stay strong and vibrant.

Plants are part of our world. When you take plants indoors, they bring with them natural elements such as bugs. While the occasional insect on your houseplant is not usually anything to worry about, some insects can turn into large pest problems. Inspect your plants regularly, and know which insects will put them at risk. Even if you keep your plants healthy, insects can wreak havoc and destroy your household plants. A good indoor plant pest control program is the best preventative.

How to Get Rid Of Bed Bugs in a Mattress

bed bugs in your mattressEven though bed bugs have been a problem for many years, most of us have been able to keep them out of our homes. However, there is a growing concern in recent years over the increasing number of bed bug infestations in hotels and houses from coast to coast.

You know you have a bedbug problem if you:

  • See them in your linens.
  • Notice a slight musty smell, which comes from the bug’s glands.
  • Find droppings or small specks on your bedding or if you find skins or shells that have been shed.
  • Wake up with small, itching red marks on your skin.

If you find that you have a bedbug problem you may be tempted to throw out your bedding, including your mattress. These extreme measures are unnecessary, and will not solve the problem if the bedbugs are also in your carpet or elsewhere in your home. Let’s look at some of the steps that you can take to get rid of bed bugs in your mattress.

Remove and wash all bedding in hot water, then dry it on the highest dryer setting. Any stuffed animals in the bed should also be dried on high heat for at least thirty minutes. Nearby fabrics and upholstery, such as curtains, will also need to be washed and dried. Clear away all clutter from around your bed and wash anything that may have bed bugs in it. They like to hide in dark crevices.

Scrub your mattress with a stiff brush to loosen bed bug eggs, especially around the seams. Vacuum thoroughly around the bed, and then throw away the the stiff brush and vacuumed materials.

Dismantle your bed frame and scrub and vacuum it as well. Purchase a zippered cover for your mattress and box springs. After vacuuming, enclose your mattress and box springs with the protective cover. Keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year. Bed bugs can live that long without feeding.

You may now be safe from bed bugs if you have done a thorough job of cleaning your mattress and the surrounding area. However, if they have spread into other areas of your home then your bed bug problem could resurface.

To ensure that that the bed bugs are completely gone once and for all, you can hire an exterminator to get rid of them. Pest control technicians can inspect and treat your home to kill bed bugs. In some situations, a few treatments may be needed, and they will likely recommend some conventional measures to make sure that all of the bed bugs are eliminated.