Pests happen. The occasional mouse will get into your home. You’ll have ants, wasps, or boxelder bugs. Your plants will get mites and your dog will get fleas. It’s just a part of sharing this planet with them.
The good news is that there are many pest control products that you can use to both prevent and eliminate bugs and pests. The problem is that some of them may be considered unsafe for some populations, including infants and the elderly. Let’s take a quick look at some of the products to be wary of as well as a list of safe pest control solutions.
You can use live traps to capture mice and other critters. Since there is no poison involved, they are safe to use. You then have to relocate the rodent, but that’s a small problem.
Audio deterrents have mixed results. Some people find that the devices which emit sound waves or electromagnetic waves work quite well to drive away rodents and pests. However, other people have a different opinion. If you have a pest problem, the first step should be to identify and eliminate their point of entry. Then, as a second step, you can try an audio or electromagnetic deterrent.
Even natural pesticides like insecticidal soap can be hazardous to young children. If you need to use a pesticide, make sure that it’s designed specifically for indoor use. Only use it in a small area and keep it out of areas where small children and pets reside.
The best and safest practice is prevention. If you regularly inspect your home and seal cracks and holes, mice and rodents will have difficulty entering your home. Vacuuming and keeping garbage and clutter off of the floor will also make your home unattractive to rodents and insects.
If you do find that you have a pest problem, the safest and easiest option may be to call a pest control company. They can quickly identify how the pests are getting inside your home and provide you with a few options to eliminate them. Before you choose an option, ask your technician about the safety of the products that will be used and how they will impact your family. A good pest control business will have multiple options so that you can make the right decision for you and your home.
A carpenter ant infestation can be very damaging. They build nests in wood, which degrades the structural integrity of your house. One small colony can quickly spread to other areas, causing both cosmetic and structural damage. It is important to keep an eye out for carpenter ants and to be able to identify an infestation.
The Presence of Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants are nocturnal and are most active in the springtime. However, you should always be on the lookout for potential signs of an infestation. Swarmer carpenter ants will shed their wings, which you can often find near windowsills and baseboards. You may also observe flying carpenter ants emerging from vents or hanging around doors and windows.
Trails of sawdust or small piles of wood shavings could both be signs that carpenter ants are building nests in the wooden elements of your house. You should perform a close inspection if you observe either of these signs. You may also consider calling a professional exterminator to come and investigate.
Rustling in the Walls
Carpenter ants make audible sounds when they are moving around and building nests. If you hear a soft rustling sound in your walls, you could have a problem with carpenter ants.
If you knock on your wall, you will hear a solid sound when you knock on a stud and a hollow sound when knocking in between studs. A stud that is infested with termites will sound hollow compared to a solid stud. If it is supporting a large nest, you may also hear a slight rustling sound.
Carpenter ants like wet wood, and are often found in woodwork near bathrooms and kitchens. Also, keep an eye on areas that have suffered a leak or are often damp, as they will be more appealing to carpenter ants.
Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not actually eat your wood. However, they can still be very destructive. Pay close attention to any ants that you see in your house. If you hear noises inside your walls or find signs of an infestation, be sure to call a professional pest control expert or exterminator to come and investigate the source. The sooner you can identify a carpenter ant infestation, the better.
Bugs outnumber us. Although there are more of them, that doesn’t mean that you have to give them food and shelter. There are steps that you can take to bug proof your home. However, before you can take these measures, you have to know what you’re dealing with. Let’s take a look at some common indoor bugs so you can know what to look for.
Ants – The Most Abundant of the Indoor Bugs
Did you know that experts estimate there are more than upwards of 10,000,000,000,000,000 ants alive on the planet at any given time? There are also dozens of different ant species. Some, like the carpenter ant, are destructive; while others are merely pests. You know you have ants when you see them, and if you see one, there’s a chance there are more. Wood shavings are a sign of carpenter ant infestation and, believe it or not, you can often hear them in the walls. If you hear rustling in your walls when the house is quiet, it’s time to start looking for ants.
Cockroaches – The Dreaded Indoor Bug
Cockroaches are a problem because they carry germs and can cause asthma in children. They come out at night, so it can be difficult to know you have a problem. If you find a dead cockroach, you can bet there are more somewhere. The best evidence of a cockroach problem are their droppings, which resemble coffee grounds. If you suspect you have cockroaches, you will need professional help to get rid of them.
Termites – Indoor Bugs that Destroy Homes
Termites are among the most destructive of all house dwelling bugs. The adult “swarmers” are termites with wings, flying around to find a place for a new colony. Sometimes, they are mistaken for flying ants. The “worker” termites are those ugly things you see eating on the wood. If you see swarmers, there’s a good chance that a new colony is in or around your home, and you should call a pest control specialist right away. If you see termite tubes or termite cement, this is evidence of the termite workers already doing damage and protecting themselves within your home while they move around.If you suspect you have a termite problem, call a specialist immediately.
Bugs are a part of life and there are many hundreds of other types of insects that you may find in and around your home. The three indoor bugs listed are the most common and often the most problematic. Keep an eye out for them and call a professional if you suspect you have them in your home.
It’s always a good idea to pay attention to the chemicals in and around your home. The truth is that most often the air inside a home is more polluted than the air outside. Indoor pest control sprays cause concern for many. Here’s what you should know.
The Safety of Indoor Pest Control Sprays
The safety of any particular insecticide depends largely on the type of insecticide and the application. For example, insecticide dusts and aerosols are generally applied in cracks and crevices. Baits for ants or roaches can be injected into cracks, or set in a known traffic pattern that they’ve established. Residue from these insecticides can be attractive to pets, and can be seen by people, so use with extreme caution around pets and children.
Any treatment that leaves a residue usually comes with specific instructions. These indoor spray instructions generally recommend staying out of the home until the material has dried. And it’s usually recommended to not come into contact with the residue for several hours.
While most insecticide poisonings occur from swallowing the chemical, the ingredients can be absorbed through your skin or by breathing airborne particles. Once the material has dried, this risk is greatly diminished. A qualified pest control specialist knows the safest way to apply insecticides, especially indoors, so call them to do the job for you.
Ingredients in Indoor Pest Control Sprays
If you’re concerned about toxicity and indoor insecticides, check the label or ask your pest control representative. If you are concerned about toxicity, avoid products containing: phosmet, naled, tetrachlorvinphos, diazinon, malathion, chlorpyrifos, and dichlorvos.
Take Precautions to Limit Exposure to Indoor Pest Control Sprays
You can minimize your risk of inhalation and exposure by taking a few simple steps. The first is to talk to your pest control company and learn what they’re using. After a product is applied inside your home, try to stay out of the home for several hours. This allows materials to settle and dry. If you’re in contact with the chemicals – if you’re applying it yourself, for example – make sure to wear gloves and long sleeves. You may also want to wear a mask to avoid inhalation.
Finally, one of the best ways to improve the air quality inside your home is to open the windows and let in some fresh air. Household plants are also great at cleaning the air inside your home. Indoor pest control sprays are sometimes necessary to get rid of pests; a few simple precautions can keep you safe.
It used to be that when there were bugs or pests in a home, you’d get rid of them by spraying chemicals. While this is still sometimes necessary, more and more people are looking for alternatives. The theory is that if the pesticide is bad for the pests, it may also be bad for people and pets. And there’s also the environmental consideration. Integrated pest management is a safer and more environmentally sound approach. It is designed to minimize exposure to chemical pesticides.
What is Integrated Pest Management?
Integrated pest management (IPM) works with the life cycle of pests to create an approach that prevents and controls pests. There are three phases to IPM. The first phase is to monitor and identify pests. The second phase is to focus on prevention. For example, if a home is having trouble with mice, then preventative methods may include blocking entrances as well as eliminating items that attract mice.
The Control Phase
The third phase is to create a control process that balances risk and effectiveness. Lower risk pest control methods are usually chosen first. These may include chemicals but may focus on more natural chemicals such as pheromones.
If initial control methods don’t work then new steps are taken and might include baits or pesticides. The IPM process begins with monitoring the situation. In some cases little or no additional steps need to be taken.
If there is a pest problem the next step is to explore opportunities to prevent pests and to evaluate their life cycle appropriate action. Finally, if more action is necessary, then the control phase is implemented and steps are gradually taken starting with the safest and most effective option first.
Integrated Pest Management for Any Situation
Integrated pest management is appropriate for both large scale and small scale applications. From agriculture to your home, it’s a method that has been embraced by the Environmental Protection Agency. Schools, farmers, business offices, and homes all benefit when IPM is used. Chemicals are reduced, exposure is minimized and health risks are minimized. The environment benefits as well.
IPM is a growing trend. It is widely becoming a popular approach to dealing with pests. If you are in need of an exterminator or you have a pest problem, look for a business like Pest Patrol that offers integrated pest management.
Bedbugs have been in the news a lot over the past year or so. Infestations have taken over entire cities, including hotel rooms. They don’t spread disease or cause destruction. However, they do bite and can cause skin irritation. Not to mention the fact that no one really wants to sleep in a bed full of bugs. So how do you know if you have them?
Inspect Your Home for Bedbugs, Their Skin and Their Feces
Bedbugs are so small you may not know you have them unless you actually look for them. Inspect your sheets, mattress, furniture upholstery and curtains and look for live bedbugs or the skin that they shed. They are small, but not so small that you can’t see them. The average bedbug is about a ¼ inch long. Also look for their feces, which resemble coffee grounds. If you see bugs, their skin, or feces then call a professional to help you get rid of them.
Check Your Body for Signs of Bedbugs
Bedbugs bite and feed off of you. If you wake up with red or itchy skin then you may have been bitten during the night. It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone has a reaction to bedbug bites. You could have been bitten and never know it, or you could also be quite sensitive to bites. Pay attention to your skin and the skin of your loved ones.
Look for Signs of Live and Hatched Bedbug Eggs
Finally, inspect your home for signs of eggs. Bedbugs lay eggs and deposit fecal matter in and around your home. Look in your mattress and furniture, behind your headboard, and in screw holes and cracks and joints in the wood of your bed frame. Also look behind chipped paint or wallpaper or in and around your closet or baseboards.
If you do find or suspect that you have bedbugs, the treatment to get rid of them is relatively simple. They don’t like heat. Clothing and bedding can be washed in soap and hot water, then dried thoroughly, and a bedbug control specialist can help you get rid of them. Look for signs you have bedbugs and be vigilant when you travel.
When you have pests in your home, whether insects or animals, you want them gone quickly. No one wants to live with bugs, mice, or other pests. It’s tempting to call the first exterminator that you come across. That’s not a good idea. Like any professional service provider, some exterminators are better than others. When your safety and the comfort of your home depend on it, it’s important to take the time to find a good exterminator.
Make Sure the Exterminator is Licensed, Bonded, and Insured
In most states, exterminators need to be licensed. Make sure that anyone you are considering has a recent license and is bonded. Bonding means that the company has to reimburse you for any loss or damage they cause. In most states, insurance isn’t required. However, it can be a good thing for them to have, and most exterminators will have a general liability insurance policy.
A good exterminator will have a strong reputation. Do a little digging online to review their history and record. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see what their rating is. Look for online reviews too. How long has the company been around? Consider asking friends for recommendations. If you have a few exterminators in mind, and you’re not sure which one is going to be the best fit, consider asking for references.
Policies and Plans
Finally, ask about what their treatment plan entails. What pests do they treat and how do they treat them? What chemicals do they use? How will the pesticides be applied? Are alternatives available and what is their cost? Do they offer integrated pest management? This is a type of pest management that strives to minimize the use of pesticides.
If pesticides are required, do they offer instructions or recommendations to reduce your exposure? And do they offer a plan to protect your home against future pest problems? Do they use a multidisciplinary approach where they use a variety of methods to clear your home of pests?
Finally, you’ll also want to ask if there is a guarantee. Most exterminators do guarantee their work. However, some will have exceptions and exclusions. Find out what those exceptions and exclusions are.
When you are eliminating pests from your home it pays to do your homework. Compare exterminators based on their reputation, policies, and of course by their price. It is possible to find a good exterminator, one that you can trust with your home and your health.
You would think that your indoor plants are safe from bugs. However, even houseplants can become infested with insects. These tiny critters can spread from one plant to the next and slowly kill your entire collection. When you are able to identify common insects found on your household plants, you can take preventative action.
Aphids live off of the sap of both indoor and outdoor plants. Aphids reproduce quickly, so if you see one or two it’s important to take quick action. The good news is that they’re relatively easy to control. One or two ladybugs will quickly, and naturally, take care of your aphid problem. Or you can apply a houseplant-safe insecticide.
Unfortunately, spider mites are quite small and difficult to see. They also reproduce quickly and can take over a houseplant in just a few days. Mites usually thrive on new leaves and buds. You can tell you have a plant that’s infested with mites because the leaves will lose their color.
If the problem is severe, you will see a white webbing on the underside of the leaves. If you suspect one of your plants has mites, it is imperative that you remove the plant from your home. Isolate it and treat it weekly with insecticidal soap. Simple insecticides won’t kill mites, and you will have to be persistent to save your plant.
These tiny bugs look like small cotton fluffs and they are easily mistaken for disease. You will find mealybugs on the underside of your plant’s leaves and in the apex of the leaf joints. They suck the sap from your plant and can kill it quickly.
Mealybugs are difficult to kill because they have a waxy coating on their skin. To finish them off, either soak them in alcohol or get them wet and then spray them carefully with Diazinon. Vigilance is required. If you miss one or two bugs, they will reproduce quickly.
Other common houseplant insects include scale, whitefly, and thrips. Ants can cause problems for your plants as well, but they are not as common. Getting rid of common insects found on your household plants depends on the level of infestation and the type of bug.
Spiders have a bad reputation, but the truth is that not only are many spiders completely harmless, they can actually help the environment. That being said, most people don’t want spiders inside their homes. Knowledge of the most common indoor spiders can help you know how to respond.
Cellar spiders, as you might suspect, live in dark locations such as crawl spaces, basements, and cellars. They do build webs and are generally quite small. The body of a cellar spider is about ¼ inch long and they are usually gray or tan. They have long thin legs, like a daddy long legs spider. They eat bugs in your basement, catching them in their web. They are harmless to humans and relatively easy to get rid of. Use a broom to sweep up the web and keep your home free from other insects. Spiders build webs where they think they can catch food.
Jumping spiders are medium sized spiders and they are quite capable of jumping. They do so when they are hunting prey. They are active spiders and you will often find them up high on windows, ceilings, or walls that receive direct sunlight. They are attracted to the sun. Jumping spiders can be up to a ½ inch long and are usually dark with white or light markings. Although they can bite humans, they usually would rather run than stay and fight.
Common House Spider
House spiders like to live in basements, and spin loose collections of webs that result in cobwebs. This spider is also unlikely to bite humans, but will if threatened. The body is about ¼ inch long and is usually gray or tan with chevron markings. The legs are generally longer than the body, and are often striped.
Most spiders that you find in your home prefer to live in quiet areas where they won’t be disturbed. A few spiders are usually not anything to worry about. Get rid of the web, sweep up the nearby dead bugs and keep your eyes open for new webs. However, if you notice that you have a chronic spider problem or that you have more than a few, it makes sense to call in an expert familiar with common indoor spiders.
Bed Bugs love the holidays. All the traveling. All those family get-togethers. All the sharing.
Bed Bugs are shared through social contact, travel and the giving and receiving of items. Here are some things to consider.
There is a social stigma attached to having bed bugs. In the main, society believes that people who have bed bugs are dirty, and so people with bed bugs generally do not tell. The truth is anyone can get them. But if no one is reporting that they have bed bugs, then they are acting as if they don’t have them. Which mean they may be actively sharing their bed bugs with you.
Common bed bug travel methods. We find bed bugs on beds, bed frames and bedclothes. We also find bed bugs on couches, under tables and chairs, in dressers, on toilets, in blankets and throws, in carpets, coats and in backpacks and purses. (In cracks and electrical outlets too… but that’s a story for another time.)
What can you do? Travel light. If you are staying in a hotel, leave what you can in your car. Take in only what you need. Keeping your suitcase in the bathtub is not a bad idea as bed bugs have very little use for bathtubs.
Look before you sleep! Motels change the sheets after each guest. So the likelihood of finding bedbugs there is pretty slim. However, they very seldom clean behind the headboard. That makes headboards a great place to look. Most headboards are not attached to the bed. Instead, they are lowered into a headboard Cleat or bracket. Two people can easily to lift the headboard up and out of the cleat. Set the headboard face down on the bed. Look for bed bugs and bed bug eggs. Eggs look like sand. The “sand” is sticky and attached where sand would not ordinarily be, like on the underside of a frame cross member. Baby bed bugs (called buglings ….not really) are clear to translucent and are a challenge to see.
“Just put your coat in on the bed.” NO…. leave your coat at home or in the car. Remember, holiday bed bugs travel on coats and live in beds. You may wish to leave your purse out there too.
Keep moving. Bed bugs climb on you when you are still. Move around. Tell animated stories. Wiggle on the toilet. You get the idea.
“Let me put that in the wash for you” If your kids are having a sleepover, grab the guests backpack and inspect it. You might also wash it just in case. The soap in the washer will remove the bug’s waxy coat then the dryer will be able to dry them out and they will die. Eggs will be killed too. But you must wash and dry.
That’s the Basics. Avoiding holiday bed bugs is way easier than treating for them. Call us if you need us!
Happy Holidays From all of us at Pest Patrol