Check out this info on bed bugs

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Good Bug…Bad Bug…

February 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

I am an optimistic “glass half full” person, but good bugs?

A long time ago, I was told a very simple fact about pest management “A rose bush in a corn field is a weed”. The reality being that everything on this earth has a place and a purpose.

Termites for example are beneficial in the forest.  This is because they consume dead trees thereby preventing them from piling up as well as returning the tree’s nutrients to the environment by speeding decomposition.  The opposite is true when the termites show up in your home, then they do costly damage, which can lead to structural failure and need to be eliminated.  Every year, termites cause more damage, to man made structures than fire, floods and storms combined.

Spiders and cockroaches are typically cause for alarm with most people.  Spiders are nature’s pest control specialist.  They eat many times their weight in insects every day. Cockroaches also have their place.  Cockroaches help speed decay so that the world is not overrun with garbage.  But we do not tolerate either in our homes.

Insects like lady bugs are actually purchased by farmers and released in their fields to eliminate aphids.  Parasitic wasps are used to attack ornamental pests that are resistant to pesticides.  These are examples of biological pest management and are the ultimate in “earth friendly” services because when the target pest is eliminated the ladybugs and wasps move on.

Rats and mice, of what benefit could they possibly be?  Well they are low on the food chain.  They are food for birds of prey, carnivorous mammals and snakes.  They also feed on excess grain and our garbage, helping to recycle it back into the environment.

Ok, honey bees?  Good or Bad?  Well let’s see, it is true that honey bees are critical to the pollination of food crops and flowers.  It is also true they produce several things which have been touted as miracles of nature (i.e. honey, bees wax and royal jelly).  Good then?

They can also swarm into homes and businesses causing damage to wall board by leaking honey and attract other pests like hive beetles and cockroaches.  They can also sting causing a public health hazard.  Not to mention the danger from Africanized or Hybrid bees that can attack with very little provocation.  This would be an example of BAD.

The earth is a self sustaining system.  Still man tries to put impose his will on nature.  Humans build structures out of wood virtually daring the termites to eat them, and then curse them when they do.  We stockpile food for later consumption daring smaller creatures to defile our hoards.  We constantly plant more crops to feed the ever growing masses and then condemn insects and animals for what it is in their very nature to do.  The creatures of this earth have evolved to survive.  They have learned, through association, that they can find food where there are humans.  They are not calculating villains intent upon stealing from us or destroying our property; they are simply opportunistic and exploit our excesses.

Sleep Tight! Don’t let the bed bugs bite…

February 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

As children we may remember having heard this before bedtime, but I’d bet you never took it seriously, did you?

I can remember my great grandmother telling me stories about being bitten by bed bugs when she was young.  She described to me how they burned like fire on the back of her legs as she sat in an old chair.  But bed bugs are a thing of the past…?

The reality is bed bugs are on the rise.  This is due in part to the fact that the world has become a much smaller place.  Travel to even remote parts of our world has become common place, as easy as calling your travel agent or going online and booking a trip.  Bed bugs were all but eradicated in the U.S. during the 1940’s & 50’s with the advent of DDT, where as in other parts of the world bed bugs were still going strong.  Travelers abroad unknowingly transported bed bugs on luggage or other personal effects.

The focus on “going green” has also inadvertently contributed to the spread of bed bugs.  Bed bugs breed very quickly, so they develop resistance to pesticides much the same as cockroaches do.  Pesticides have become less toxic to be less harmful to the environment which intern allows pests do develop resistance easier.  When considering that most of the chemicals we use in pest management are very similar in chemical composition to each other, it is surprising that there aren’t more resistance problems.

The bed bug’s anatomy also makes them difficult to control.  Bed bugs lack the sticky pads on their feet that other insects have that pick up the pesticides and which means you almost have to spray each individual insect to kill it.  Bed bugs tend to hide in locations where pest control professionals are not permitted to treat with the typical product used for general household pest management, so specialty products need to be used.

Adult bed bugs are small (about 3/16-inch long) reddish brown, with oval, flattened bodies that feed solely on the blood of animals.  They are sometimes mistaken for ticks or cockroaches. The young bed bugs resemble the adults, but are smaller and lighter in color.  . The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, is the species most adapted to living with humans. It has done so since ancient times. Bed bugs are mentioned in medieval European texts as well as in classical Greek writings back to the time of Aristotle.

Bed bugs do not fly, but can move rapidly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces.  Bed bugs are resilient.  Nymphs can survive months without feeding and the adults for more than a year.  The common bed bug prefers to feed on humans but will feed on any warm blooded animal including dogs and cats.  They are active mainly at night preferring to hide in the daytime near where people sleep.  They hide in small cracks in furniture, especially those associated with mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards and seams.  Bed bugs leave distinctive dark greasy-appearing markings or stains. These result from their droppings and make them fairly obvious… if you know what to look for.

Bed bugs normally do not reside on people like head or body lice.  Immediately after feeding they crawl off and reside elsewhere to digest their meal. Symptoms appearing after being bitten vary with the individual. Many people develop an itchy red welt or localized swelling within a day or so of the bite. Others have little to no reaction or the reaction is may be delayed. Bed bugs feed on any skin exposed while sleeping (face, neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs, etc.). The welts and itching are often wrongly attributed to other causes, such as mosquitoes or no-see-ums.  Bed bug bites can be confused with flea bites however, flea bites occur mainly around the ankles.  (Flea activity can be determined by placing a white towel or piece of paper in the area suspected of flea activity and then observed for small moving or jumping specks.)

A common concern with bed bugs is whether they transmit diseases. Although bed bugs can harbor pathogens in and on their bodies, transmission to humans is considered unlikely. Their medical significance is chiefly limited to the itching and inflammation from their bites.

Bed bugs are a growing problem and they are unlikely to go away.  Arming yourself with precautionary knowledge will help you to insure that you don’t bring them home with you from your next trip either at domestically or abroad.  Here are some things to look for when you check into the next hotel;

  1. 1. Before you bring your luggage into the room, pull back the sheets on the bed to reveal the mattress surface.
  2. 2. Check the seams of the mattress for small dark stains or even little reddish insects.
  3. 3. Some mattresses will have covers on them check around zippers or seams.
  4. 4. Now check the luggage stand and or dresser open the drawers look for the bed bug signs.
  5. 5. Check around the headboard and nightstand open the drawers.
  6. 6. Check the sofa and chairs
  7. 7. If you see any signs of bed bugs let the manager know and have them move you to another room.

Please keep in mind that in most cases the hotel has no idea that there is a problem until you alert them.  Hotels have their rooms treated for pests on a regular basis, but typical pest management services do not address bed bugs unless they are specifically asked to do so.  The inspection and treatment process is too labor intensive to be done as part of a regular service agreement.  Even the best hotel can develop a bed bug problem.

The precautionary measures listed earlier may initially sound like a bit of work on your part, but following this advice may help you avoid trouble later at home. Despite the fact that the occurrence of bed bugs are on the rise, if you follow these simple steps you will avoid any unwanted souvenirs on your next trip


The Nature of Pest Management…”Pest Control 101″

February 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Pest Control by definition is; The use of any method or device or the application of any substance to prevent, destroy, repel, mitigate, curb, control, or eradicate any pest in, on, or under a structure, lawn, or ornamental (from the Florida Dept of Agriculture laws chapter 482.021). Pest Control is also known as pest management.

We live in an age where it is politically correct to become “green” and thereby reduce our carbon footprint. We are urged on multiple fronts to save our planet. We conventionally view chemicals with distrust and disdain. They are often perceived to be the enemy of good health and safety.  For the most part, quite the opposite is true.  Chemicals themselves are often beneficial to maintaining and protecting health. It’s their uninformed or deliberate misuse that is harmful. For example, human nature is such that “more is better” (i.e. if ½ oz of pesticide is properly called for in the insecticide sprayer then 1 oz or even 2 oz will kill them quicker, right?). Wrong. This would actually be a misuse of pesticide and is not only illegal, but also possibly dangerous.

We look for the words “organic” or “natural” when we shop for goods or services, not realizing that some of the most toxic substances are “organic” like nicotine.  Nicotine was used for many years to control several types of pests, but has fallen out of use due to its high toxicity.  The new buzz-words are “natural” and “biological” the truth about these products is they tend to be more expensive and there are questions about their effectiveness. We are a society that wants everything fast but we want everything safe. We want low prices at the grocery store but we want farmers to stop using pesticides and fertilizer. We live in an age of contradiction.

Ask yourself this question: “Would you eat in a restaurant if you see active roaches running around on the table? Most of us would emphatically say “no”.  Some would say “I don’t care…they have the right to be here too”. I agree with their right to exist, but not in a location where they are going to cause people to become sick. The fact remains that roaches, rats and other pests carry diseases. If they are not controlled we chance severe sickness. We are taught to keep raw meats from cross-contaminating other foods when cooking, or we’ll get sick.  Insects carry some of the same germs that you would be exposed to from raw meat.

The nature of the pest management industry is that of environmental consciousness. The well-trained licensed pest management professional uses integrated pest management techniques to gain control of the pest problem.

“Integrated pest management” means the selection, integration, and implementation of multiple pest control techniques based on predictable economic, ecological, and sociological consequences. It makes maximum use of naturally occurring pest controls, such as weather, disease agents, and parasitoids (insects such as some wasps that use other living insects as hosts for their larvae). It makes use of various biological, physical, chemical, and habitat modification methods of control. Artificial controls are used only as they are required to keep particular pests from surpassing intolerable population levels. These levels are predetermined from an accurate assessment of the pest damage potential and the ecological, sociological, and economic cost of other control measures.”

Here is an interesting piece of information I was taught early on in my training; The average homeowner who uses over-the-counter pest control products has more pesticides in their system than the average pest management professional. This is due to the training we receive prior to ever applying the first drop of chemical. “Wash your hands” is drilled into our heads from day one. “Do not apply chemicals in any way that is not consistent with the labeling of the product.” It is in fact a violation of federal law to apply pesticides in any way that is not listed on the label of that pesticide.

The formulations that we professionals use in and around your home are in most cases, the least hazardous products that we can buy.  Some of these products are not much more toxic than table salt. Modern pesticides are designed to work on insect biology and are very low in mammalian toxicity. The reality is that the cologne you wear the hairspray you use and the cleaning products that you wipe your kitchen counter with pose greater hazards to your health than most of what is used to manage the pests that invade your home.

It is also important to note that most of the products that are used by pest management professionals contain exactly the same active ingredient and in the exact same concentration as what a homeowner can buy at the hardware store. So now you may ask “Then what do I need a bug man for?”  Well, you can buy a hammer, nails and lumber at the hardware store, but can you build a house with it?  You pay a pest management professional for his or her knowledge and expertise, and therein lies the value.  We know what to use depending upon the specific problem, as well as where, when and how much to use for the optimal results.

In summary, fear of pest management chemicals is often unfounded. The vast majority of reputable pest management companies invest in continuous training and diligent research to provide the least hazardous methods to protect your family and property from the pests that can cause them harm…

Interesting Ant Facts

January 19, 2010 by · 4 Comments 

Some researchers say that fire ants have an internal “compass” created by eating tiny bits of mineral called magnetite, allowing them to navigate in the darkness.

The “bullet” ants of Central and South America are given that name due to the intense burning pain caused by their sting.

*The pain caused by this insect’s sting is purported to be greater than that of any other Hymenopteran, and is ranked as the most painful according to the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. It is described as causing “waves of burning, throbbing, all-consuming pain that continues unabated for up to 24 hours”. It is thought that the ant has evolved this way to ward off any predators who would normally unearth them. In some indigenous communities, to enter manhood, a boy has to endure being stung by the ant 20 times without screaming. A paralyzing neurotoxic peptide isolated from the venom is poneratoxin.

*encyclopedic information found at Wikipedia.org

Oh No! You Have Termites!

January 19, 2010 by · 4 Comments 

The worst thing that could have happened has happened. Your house has termites! Don’t panic. A Better Bugman can help.

There are two types of structures. Those that have termites, and those that are going to get termites. Termites do more damage to property each year than fires, floods, and weather combined.

There are two major types of termites:

  • Drywood termites
  • Subterranean termites

Drywood termites infest wood by flying on to it and burrowing into the wood to infest. Drywood termites usually require a tent fumigation for control.

Subterranean termites tunnel up into your home from the soil and require frequent trips back to the soil to survive. The key to controlling these termites is baiting to eliminate the colony. A chemical barrier treatment is also possible for controlling subterranean termites.

If you thing you may have a termite problem, please give us a call here at A Better Bugman. The sooner it is under control, the better!

Building A Better Mousetrap

January 19, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Do you hear noises in your attic at night? Scratching, chewing, or the pittar patter of little feet over your head? Don’t worry, your house isn’t haunted. You probably just have rats!

Okay, now that you are ready to move, all is not lost. Hang up the phone with the realtor. A rodent infestation is a serious problem but it CAN be solved.

A successful rodent control program is more than just setting a few traps and watching the ensuing carnage. A rodent program should be handled by a pest control professional, but here are some key features of a good rodent control program.

  • A thorough inspection. Where are they getting in? What conditions are conducive for the infestation to continue or get worse.
  • Set up a baiting program to reduce the population and keep them in check.
  • Trap the little vermin! Eliminate as many individuals as possible via snap traps, glue boards, or multi-catch traps.
  • Exclusion is the most crucial step in preventing re-infestation. Prevent them from re-entering the structure.
  • Trees, bushes, or heavy foliage should be trimmed or removed around the structure. These provide safe harbor and/or access to the structure.
  • Continue trapping and baiting to monitor the current infestation and prevent future infestations from occuring.

Adhering to the steps will make for a successful rodent control program.

Pest Control Is Not A Luxury

January 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Effective pest management is a thankless job. When homeowners have a pest problem the pest management professional is a welcome sight but when there aren’t any pests they start to question the necessity for such a luxury.

Keep in mind that it is easier and less expensive to maintain a pest free environment than it is to eliminate an infestation when it occurs. Another misconception is that pests are less of a problem in the colder northern climates, this is just not true. Insects are survivors. Insects like roaches and ants are as much, if not more of a problem when the cold weather drives them inside.

The first step in pest management in and around your home is to prevent them from getting in, in the first place.
Perimeter applications to the foundation and points of entry with residual products are the first line of defense.
Sweeping around the eaves is an effective way to control spiders when followed with a residual application.

When ants become a problem inside the home, baiting is often necessary to kill the nest and completely eliminate the infestation. Roach infestations can be particularly difficult to control. Roaches have been around for millions of years and there are no signs of them going anywhere anytime soon. Serious infestations will often require changes in sanitation as well as bait and chemical applications to provide control.

It is plain to see the importance of the pest management professional in protecting your health and property.