Do YOU have Bed Bugs?

22 Sep 2010 bed bugs, bugs, household pests, insects, pest control, pest management

Well do you? Don’t say no so quickly. And this is the really creepy part – you could have them and not even know it.

How’s that for upping the ewwww factor?

Bed bugs are these gnarly looking little critters who like to hide in the tiniest of spaces like in the joints of your wood furniture, the seams in your mattress, even in the joints of your wooden clothes hangers. They come out at night to feed (usually on you) but prefer to remain hidden the rest of the time.

If the insect world is a battlefield, bed bugs are the ninjas. They move swiftly, scale walls and furniture with no effort at all and are very stealthy little critters. Many people don’t even know that they have bed bugs because not everyone reacts to their bite and they are almost never seen.

I’m creeping you out, aren’t I?

The best way to know for sure if you have bed bugs is to produce an actual bed bug or egg. Easier said than done though, my friend. Adult bed bugs are just under ¼ of an inch long. That is T-I-N-Y! Their dark brownish, flat, oval shaped bodies make it easy for them to hide in the smallest of places. They don’t have wings, but they move very fast so even if you find their harborage they can evacuate before you get a good look or even see them at all.

If you have light colored sheets, you may see tiny dots, blood stains or bed bug droppings which can be an indication that bed bugs are biting you while you sleep.

Red, flat, itchy welts on your skin are another good way to tell that you have bed bugs (and a good way to learn that you are allergic to them – nice). Sometimes you will see several welts in a row as adults go from site to site. By the way, an over the counter diphenhydramine cream (like Benadryl) works quite well on the bites, at least in relieving the itching.

So now that you are completely freaked out, realizing that you may not have been sleeping alone all this time, there is some good news. Bed bugs are not known to carry or transmit any type of disease or infection. As far as the experts can tell, they are nothing more than really irritating pests.

Yeah, it isn’t cool to think about some creepy crawly little critter skittering across your bed, piercing your skin with their tiny, sharp beak and sucking up your blood like it’s a cherry snowcone but you don’t have to live with them. If you have them (or suspect you do) there are ways to eliminate them completely.

So, guess what my post tomorrow will be about? :-)

Got a burning question about pest control or household pests? Leave a comment here or send an email to stephanie_mayberry@gmx.com and it could end up a topic here!
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So far you may have dodged a bullet (or think you have) and avoided having termites chowing down on your home. Well, did you know that there are certain things existing around your home that make it more attractive to termites? Let’s take a look at some of them.

Termites are attracted to areas with constant high moisture level. Where there is constant high moisture around a structure, guess what? you have just provided termites with not only a great place to homestead, but you put it right next to a great dining area!

Avoid this by ensuring that the grade around house moves water away from your home or structure.

If you have any type of wood debris (piles of firewood are a great example) around your home, you are just begging termites to move in.

Clean up wood debris around your house and yard and store firewood away from the house. If you can store it completely off of the property, that is even better.

Framing timbers left in and around concrete after it has been poured (patios, driveways, etc.) is just inviting termites to come calling. Concrete holds moisture and the wood (food source) is right there, two very effective ways of attracting termites (which I am assuming is not your goal). Once they start dining on the framing wood, they only have to travel a short distance to find the home. It is just a matter of time.

When you pour concrete, remove ALL of the wood framing from around the slab.

Patios and other concrete structures that abut the building or home create a very habitable environment for termites. As we have said, concrete holds moisture and that is the type of environment that termites seek.

You can combat this by having a termite treatment put down on the area prior to pouring the concrete. If the concrete has already been poured, pretty much the only thing you can do is get a professional in to do some preventative maintenance on your home and yard (yes, they start in your yard, where did you think termites came from? the termite fairy?).

Heavy vegetation and/or landscaping near the actual structure itself is like hanging a “Welcome Home” sign on your home, inviting termites right on in. See, the root system keeps the moisture content up (and what did we say earlier about termites liking a consistent, high moisture environment?). this type of environment has a tendency to hold water.

So, how can you combat this? You guessed it, either enlist a pro to do some serious, aggressive, frequent termite treatment or get rid of all those plants and vegetation around the house.

Cracks in the concrete (foundation, basement walls, etc) give termites easy access to the wooden frame and other wood/cellulose features in your home. The cracks make it very easy for termites to travel through and get to the structure.

Cracks in the concrete should be plugged with a mortar type filler. Cinderblocks are very bad, they just have too many cracks and crevices to fill most of the time. Since you probably can’t fill all of the cracks it is best to go ahead and hire a pro to do some preventative maintenance.

Now, go out there and stop those termites cold!

Got a burning question about pest control or household pests? Leave a comment here or send an email to stephanie_mayberry@gmx.com and it could end up a topic here!
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Your Local Pest Control Contractor
OK, so you are probably thinking about now, “Yeah, but she’s a pest control professional’s WIFE, of course she is going to say I should hire a pest control company to get rid of my roaches/bed bugs/insert whatever critters you currently have invading your home.”
Yes, I am married to a bug man.
Yes, I guess that would seem to make me a little biased, but I can tell you that I have seen, first hand just how helpful a good pest control professional can be. Notice I said good? In a later post we will discuss what you should look for in a pest control company, but right now we are going to discuss why you would even need one in the first place.
Aside from the fact that it is the smart thing to do, I have come up with several solid facts (that don’t include my personal opinion) in response to this question.
1. So you think you can do it yourself. OK, fine, knock yourself out. But before you bomb your home or spend a small fortune on can after can of drug store insect killers, consider this: Trying to take care of your pest control problem on your own could only serve to make the matters worse. Foggers and sprays might seem to work at first, but extended use can cause the insects to become resistant to the product. This can make your pest problems worse. If you have an infestation, the best thing you can do is call a professional pest control company.

Cockroaches are a great example. Let’s say you have a German cockroach infestation in your home (ewww!) and decide that you are going to handle up on things yourself. So, you but whatever cool spray or fogger is on the market and go to town. At first you will probably break your arm patting yourself on the back because it will appear that your pest problems are history. But wait…there is more going on and what you can’t see is what should concern you. The spray or fogger will kill some of the population, but the rest of those critters will simply be driven further into the walls or wherever they are hanging out (harboring). They will stay there until the fallout has subsided and it is safe to return, all the while developing a resistance to the product – and multiplying like rabbits. So then, you have
• An infestation that returns
• MORE of the insects
• Insects that are resistant to your spray or fogger (rendering it useless)

2. Another time that you would need a pest control professional is when you are trying to sell a house or property. In these cases, you are often required by law to provide official documentation verifying that you have had to property inspected and/or treated for termites. The only way you can get this legal document is through a certified pest control professional, so you can’t just sit down at your computer and create one.

3. In the long run, pest control done by a professional is often less expensive that if you took care of the problem yourself (see number 1). Treating the situation yourself may seem to work at first, but as the problem returns again and again, you have to spend more and more money to treat it. This is a vicious cycle that will play out over and over, many times resulting in you finally breaking down and calling a pro. Just purchasing the products to do it yourself can wind up costing hundreds of dollars, even more than what a pest control pro would charge. Had you called a pro in the first place and had regularly scheduled pest control inspections, maintenance and services, you would have saved a bundle.

Professional pest control is really a very wise investment. It is important for
• Your peace of mind
• The soundness of your home
• The health of you and your family

I’m not saying you should run out there and hire a pest control pro today (in a couple of days I am going to tell you what to look for in a good pest control professional), all I’m saying is that you really should weigh the costs and benefits, then make an informed decision.

Got a burning question about pest control or household pests? Leave a comment here or send an email to stephanie_mayberry@gmx.com and it could end up a topic here!
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Ants: They’re no Picnic!

30 Jun 2010 Ants, bugs, household pests, insects, pest control, pest management, termites, Uncategorized

In many areas of the country, the warm summer months mean cookouts, picnics, lounging by the pool – and dealing with ants.

Those little critters seem to get everywhere! Then, once you have them, you HAVE them. They are the little houseguests that won’t leave. They can be quite difficult to get rid of completely (and for good).
So, let’s talk about ants a little.

Ants are social little creatures. They communicate with all of their little ant friends to warn of danger, inform of food and other important messages.

Food is the big thing and is what’s enticing the ants to invade your home. Typically, they come looking for carbohydrates (sugar,etc) or protein (meat, etc). Sometimes they want both, but usually it is one or the other.

So, when a forager (the food seeking ants in the colony) happens upon some tasty grub on your kitchen counter, living room floor, under the desk in your office or anywhere else, he begins the process of communicating to all of his ant buddies just where this food source is. This is accomplished through the release of pheromones.

In fact, when you see ants “trailing” and you think it looks as if they are walking on their own little ant superhighway, it is because they are. They are following a pheromone trail that leads from the colony to the food source (your kitchen, living room, office, etc.).

Now, the first thing you may be tempted to do is grab that can of bug spray (repellant) and zap those little pesky critters.

That is not such a wise move and I am going to tell you why.

See, when you spray repellant, you might kill a few ants and scatter the rest, BUT

• You only kill about 5% of the population that’s trailing
• You have not destroyed their pheromone trail on either side of the spray
• The ants will learn to go around the area where you sprayed, finding a different route to their food source

So the moral of the story is DON’T SPRAY REPELLANT – YOU WILL ONLY SCATTER THE ANTS.

Pharoah ants (yellow or light brown ants) are particularly interesting when they encounter repellant. They begin a process known as “budding.” When they are budding, they produce multiple queens and start multiple colonies so your ant problems can suddenly become way worse.

OK, so repellant is out of the question. What about ant traps you ask?

Well, ant traps may seem to work at first. You will see a decrease in ant activity. The problem, however, is happening where you can’t see it. See, when the queen realizes that her foragers have not returned to the colony, she is going to go into hyper-reproduction. She will produce even more foragers than she lost. Then you will have double or even triple the ant problem.

All is not lost, though. There are ways to get rid of ants. Your best bet is to put out bait. Ants will view the bait as a food source and take it back to the colony, wiping out the population (there are caveats to this, but we’ll get there in a moment).

If you have ants trailing, put the bait in their path. Don’t spray, don’t scatter the trail, just present them with a new food source. If, however, they are really bugging you, vacuum them up and put the bait near the colony where they can find it. You can destroy the pheromone trail by using a solution of bleach and water on the area. This will work for a while, but if you don’t put down bait and treat the area, they are likely to find the food source again and return.

Now for the caveat. You have to be careful of the kind of bait you use. While a bait may be accepted, if you want the ants to continue to carry the bait back to the colony it needs to work slow enough that the ants don’t make a connection between mortality and the bait. Interestingly enough, when a product works too rapidly they usually seem to figure it out and sound the alarms, ceasing consumption of the bait.

Professional pest control is the most effective way to eliminate ant problems. In the long run, it is often the most cost effective way as well. Pest control professionals have access to products that are not available to the public. They are trained and certified in safe application and they can advise you on ways to prevent future infestations.

But, if you like blowing your money on chasing bothersome little mass producing insects who wish to invade your home (and usually reproduce at a faster rate than you can kill them), at least use the information here.

Or you can just get a really big ant farm…

Got a burning question about pest control or household pests? Leave a comment here or send an email to stephanie_mayberry@gmx.com and it could end up a topic here!
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Yeah, I hate to burst your bubble, but you could have termites and not even know it. Those destructive little critters could be chowing down on your home this very moment.

This was the topic of conversation this morning over coffee with my husband.

I asked a simple question, “If you had termites in a wall and you tore down the wall then rebuilt it, what are the chances that you still have termites?”

Without missing a beat, my husband replied, “100 percent.”

Not good news, especially considering a friend of mine is asking this very question.
So, let’s take a look at this situation. My husband explained it all to me, I took notes and this is the scoop on termites.

See, when you find termites in your wall you aren’t finding the nest, only the feeding site. Many people mistakenly think that termites live in walls and other wood structures. This is a common misconception, but it can be a disastrous one.

The fact of the matter is, termites actually live underground, anywhere from 3 feet to 30 feet. Now here is the scary part, a mature next can reach the size of a football field.

Termites are blind and they are made up mostly of water which makes it difficult for them to survive in areas that are dry. This is why the soil is an ideal habitat for them. They tunnel through the soil in search of cellulose (wood). They are always looking for new food sources. Once they find a suitable food source, they return to the colony but on the return trip they release pheromones to create a Hansel and Gretel like trail for others in the colony find and follow. Then it’s on to the next.

I don’t need to tell you how destructive they can be.

So, here is the golden rule for termite eradication. Once you find termites in one area, start aggressive termite treatment throughout your home and around it.

A pest control professional can inspect your home and tell you if you have termites – this is the best way to tell. However, you can do a little detective work on your own and if you have a problem you just might be able to find it. Keep in mind, though, if you suspect you have termites, it is best to let a pro check it out.

In the meantime, look for these signs of termite infestation:

1. Look for swarmers in or around your home. Termite swarmers look like little black ants with wings. If you see them inside or outside around your home, you should call a pest control professional and have them do a termite inspection on your home – you probably got ‘em.
2. Tap on your baseboards or wood structures in your home. If the taps sound solid, then suddenly a section sounds very hollow, you probably have a termite problem.
3. Look for bulging areas in the wood or under paint. This is where termites have bored or eaten the wood beneath, causing it to bow out.
4. Look for shelter tubes in the wood close to the foundation of your home, in the crawlspace or where wood meets concrete or brick (note that this can be several feet up). A shelter tube looks like a small hole about the size of a pencil lead. They are usually hidden – termites are shy little guys and don’t like to be seen.

A little test you can do to see if you have termites is to purchase some wooden garden stakes and drive them into the ground around the perimeter of your home, about 2 feet out from the foundation. Space them about 20 feet apart and check them periodically. If you have termites, it is just a matter of time before they will find the stakes and begin their feast.

Got a burning question about pest control or household pests? Leave a comment here or send an email to stephanie_mayberry@gmx.com and it could end up a topic here!
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Choosing a pest control professional is one of the most important decisions you will ever make.

OK, not really, but it can be pretty darn important, especially if you are currently sharing your domicile with critters of the six or eight legged variety (and even some four legged ones).

Finding the right pest control pro, however, not as simple and straightforward a task as you may think.

While price may impact your final decision, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Cheaper may not necessarily be better. In fact, a price that is too low or seems too good to be true should be treated as a red flag and prompt further investigation into the company. A price that is ridiculously low could indicate a company that is in trouble. It could also mean that treatment of your pest problem could fail miserably and you could wind up worse than when you started.

What to do? What to do?

These five tips will help you choose a rodent pest control contractor that is qualified, capable and has a good reputation. In other words, he or she just might get rid of your unwanted house guests (sorry, your unemployed brother-in-law who has taken over your sofa and is eating you out of house and home is your own problem – that’s a pest of a different variety).

  1. Check out the company with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Visit the Better Business Bureau’s website and check out the business at  http://www.bbb.org/us/find-business-reviews/. This will give you some good information including how many complaints the business has received, if those complaints have been resolved and what grade the BBB gives the business.
  2. A site like Angie’s List (http://www.angieslist.com/angieslist/) can be a great source for customer referrals, complaints and other information on the company. You can read reviews from actual customers regarding the company’s performance, effectiveness and quality of service.
  3. Check for complaints on the company or technician through your state’s Department of Agriculture. Pest control certifications are managed through the Department of Agriculture of the state in which the company is operating. For instance, if the company is in Virginia and you are getting service in Maryland, you want to make sure that the technician or company is able to perform pest control services in Maryland. They will also be able to tell you of any complaints that have been made on the company.
  4. Ask the company if they guarantee their work. If so, ask what that guarantee entails. If they don’t guarantee their work, then know that you are taking a gamble. Now you (or they) may argue that the price is so low you don’t need a guarantee, but if you have to pay that same low price several times in order to achieve the desired results, well, that adds up. You could find yourself shelling out some serious dough only to wind up going with a more expensive company in order to resolve your pest problem.
  5. When the technician arrives, ask to see his or her credentials. This is to ensure that the person servicing your home or property is certified and qualified to perform the task for which you hired him or her.

So, bottom line here is that you shouldn’t just jump on the first, cheapest pest control company that you run across. If you really want the most for your money and want to actually GET RID of your pest problem, then do your homework. Investigate, ask questions and make smart choices.

Either that or start charging those critters rent.

Got a burning question about pest control or household pests? Leave a comment here or send an email to stephanie_mayberry@gmx.com and it could end up a topic here!
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The Bug Man’s Wife

8 Jun 2010 bugs, household pests, insects, pest management, Uncategorized

Hi, I am Stephanie and I am the Bug Man’s Wife. My husband (the fearsome bug slayer, killer of house pests and bounty hunter of unwanted slimy, furry or creepy crawly houseguests) and I live in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. My time in this position has afforded me quite a bit useful and interesting information regarding household pests. My husband and I have spent many an early morning discussing over coffee the behavior patterns of mice, the ways to spot a roach infestation and just how bed bugs come into a person’s home.

One thing that truly amazes me, however, is the level of ignorance that many homeowners have regarding pest control. It blows my mind. Of course, before I attained this lofty position, I was in the same boat. I couldn’t care less about pest control, didn’t know how it worked and wasn’t interested in finding out.

But now that my eyes are open, I can’t go back – and don’t want to. This “great awakening” is what prompted me to start this blog. If I can educate folks about the pest control services they are receiving, controlling pests in their own homes and managing infestations, why not do it?

Most people don’t realize that their pest infestations are usually their own fault.

So here it is; my little contribution to society.

I will post about different pest control problems. Want to know what to ask your pest control technician when he shows up at your house? If you see a mouse in your house, would it freak you out to know there are probably more and you are laying out the welcome mat? Would you like to know if brown recluse spiders are vicious, eight legged monsters or just shy little guys who don’t like to be bullied?

You can find the answers here.

What’s more, if there are things that you want to know and I haven’t addressed it yet, shoot me an email and I’ll address it in a future post.

How do you know if your apartment building is infested with roaches?

What exactly should a pest control professional do when you call them?

Do bed bugs carry diseases?

Why bother with termites if there isn’t a problem?

What do mice look for when they invade your kitchen?

So stick around, this is gonna get interesting…

*´¨)
¸.♥´¸.♥*´¨) ¸.♥*¨)
(¸.♥´ (¸.♥`ღ Stephanie Mayberry ღ

Got a burning question about pest control or household pests? Leave a comment here or send an email to stephanie_mayberry@gmx.com and it could end up a topic here!
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