With the holidays approaching, the air is filled with songs of the season. Although mice, squirrels, cockroaches and beetles may only really sing in cartoons, don't be surprised if it seems as if you are hearing some tiny voices humming along to Let It Snow ... "Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since we've no place to go - Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow." Those tiny voices may just be the rodents, wildlife, ants, cockroaches, moths, and bed bugs that have found your home to be quite a delightful way to get away from the frightful weather outside.
As you'll see in reading the three-part series on Winter Pest Control - Part 1 and Part 2 (Part 3 to follow next week), pests don't disappear in the winter. In fact, they often reappear in your home at the strangest of times, in absolutely no hurry to have anyplace else to go. If they could, you'd probably even see them warming them hands by that delightful fire.
But whimsy and jest aside, pests don't disappear in the winter and neither does the need for preventive, proactive and, yes, even reactive pest control practices in and around your home to keep those warmth-seeking pests out.
Whether you are celebrating the holidays in your home, vacationing, or visiting friends or relatives, coming home with insects hiding in your luggage can take all the joy out of the season.
If I were writing this a couple decades ago, it would have focused on cockroaches. The tiny German cockroach was one of the most incessant of insects and most commonly transferred in people's luggage, backpacks, and other personal items.
Then bed bugs made their resurgence in the U.S. and across the globe to become one of the most dreaded pests, most common of "hitchhiking" insects, most feared of biting insects - and one of the most difficult of all pests to control.
As with so many of the insect pests, the best way to control bed bugs is to prevent their entry in the first place. You may not always know if your guests had bed bugs in your home, but you can take precautions to prevent them from coming into yours by following the tips in:
And other pests:
Whether it is about the food or giving thanks, Thanksgiving in America is generally a time for a gathering together of family and friends, with everyone bringing something to share.
While that "something" is usually a food, drink, or house gift, the last few decades have increased the possibility that an unexpected, unintended, and unwelcome "something" could end up being bed bugs.
Whether you are traveling to visit relatives for Thanksgiving, having friends over to your home, or have a son or daughter coming home from college, bed bugs are one thing you definitely don't want to be sharing and carrying into your home for the holidays.
As is true for so many aspects of pest control, the best defense against bed bugs is a good offense:
- If you are stopping at a hotel during your travels, or staying over at a friend's or relative's home, check the bed mattress and frame for evidence of bed bugs (eggs, adults, blood spots) before setting your belongings nearby. While it may seem rude to go to such lengths at a friend's or relative's home, you will quickly regret your "politeness" if you end up bringing bed bugs home with you afterward. Be discrete, but thorough.
- If the gathering is at your home, do not place coats on unprotected beds as is so often done. Instead, clean out a coat closet to provide space, as this area can be cleaned afterward if you suspect bed bugs have been brought in. Another option is to spread plastic sheeting over the bed, then discard the sheet afterward.
Photo Courtesy of NYSIPM/Cornell
It began in the 1990s, and in the decade since, the resurgence and spread of bed bugs has only continued to get worse. Every time you visit a hotel, stay the night at a friends' house, or have someone else's belongings brought through your door, there is the potential of carrying bed bugs into your home. And with the holidays approaching, that potential increases ... as students return home for the winter break bringing backpacks and suitcases (and presents) galore, friends and relatives visit and invite you to their homes, and your own travel possibly increasing with a stopover at a hotel along the way.
While the possibility of a bed bug infestation is not something that should cause excessive stress or worry, it is valuable to understand bed bugs, what - and why they do what they do, how you "get" them, what to do about it if you do, but most importantly, what you can do to help prevent a problem from starting in the first place.
Despite their name, bed bugs are not at all picky about where they bed down - be it on a mattress, a futon, a sofa, an armchair, or even behind the headboard or a picture on the wall. It is a fact that New York City Department of Health employees found out the hard way earlier this fall when they were told to "bag up their belongings" because a bed bug infestation was discovered in the Long Island office, according to a New York Daily News report.
The New York health employees aren't the only ones dealing with bed bug fears. Complaints in the city have risen this year by more than 33% over 2012, the article said, with infestations found throughout stores, offices, apartments, and a hospital.
What do you do when you find out you have been working or visiting a place with bed bugs? What would you do if you found out a friend had them? Find out what About Pest Control readers said, and what you should do if you have.
Earlier this year, entomologists across the country predicted that stink bugs would invade in record numbers this fall. According to the following reports from the east coast to the west, it seems that they are right ...
- So far this fall, the brown marmorated stink bug has been spotted in 40 states across the country. (circa)
- In Maryland, Mike Raupp, an entomology professor, and colleagues collected more than 4,000 bugs off the side of a building in just 20 minutes. (The Grower)
- A large number of stink bugs were reported this summer infesting farms in South Jersey. (NorthJersey.com)
- Populations are ballooning in Oregon -- where they threaten crops like raspberries and apples -- and Sacramento is home to California's first reproducing population outside of those found in Los Angeles County. (International Business Times)
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is of such concern, it has been named as the "top invasive insect of interest" by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which staged a "Great Stink Bug Count" this fall. The purpose is to find out how many stink bugs there are, and how they behave, and involves a consortium of researchers from USDA, the University of Maryland, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, Virginia Tech, the Northeastern IPM Center, Oregon State University, North Carolina State University, Cornell University, the University of Delaware and Washington State University. Although the project had to be put on hold by the USDA during the government shutdown, more than 300 people across the U.S. were already tracking the bugs, and the university partners took over collection of the data to keep the project from being a loss.
Photo by Lisa Jo Lupo
Google fruit fly trap and you will get more than 2,000,000 (yep - that's 2 million) results. They will claim - The Most Effective Fruit Fly Trap!; World's Greatest Fruit Fly Trap!; Get Rid of Fruit Flies - the Easy Way! But it seems that what is most effective/greatest/easiest for one is simply a bowl of smelly vinegar for another - that sits on the counter while you continue to try to swat away the tiny flies.
I know, because I did the same thing. Until I found a solution that worked! To find out what worked for me, check out What REALLY Works to Get Rid of Fruit Flies: Getting Rid of the Fruit Flies that Fly In Your Home, then let me know what works for you:
Caution - If the flies or "gnats" are feeding and breeding inside your home, you need to find and get rid of that source, or no trap will get rid of the flies for long.
It's that time of year again - the weather is cooling and people and animals are beginning to prepare their homes for winter. Those "animals" include little tiny creatures who like to slip between the cracks to make their homes within the warmth of ours. You can try spraying a pesticide to waylay insects or putting out bait or traps for rodents, but the best and only truly effective method of keeping pests out is exclusion: sealing and building pests out. Mice can get into your home through openings as small as ¼ inch, and insects can get through tiny cracks you can barely see. And these openings are often in places you just don't think to look - around pipes and wires coming into your home, through torn screens, around doors and windows that aren't tightly sealed.
One trick that the pest control industry uses to find such cracks and gaps is the light method: When it gets completely dark outside, turn on lights in all rooms of the home that have exterior walls - including the basement. Walk around the outside of the building looking for light leaks - If you can see any crack of light, a pest can get in.
Photo by George Shuklin
Luna Moths. Gypsy Moths.
If you don't know a lot about moths, neither seems particularly good or evil. But the two are actually at completely opposite ends of the spectrum.
Luna moths are beautiful, unique creatures that are rare to see. But the Luna Moth pictured here is a regular visitor at the home of a friend in Arkansas. There are no control measures for Luna Moths, because there is no reason to control them, and they are actually becoming an endangered species in some areas.
Though only a tiny fraction of the size of the large Luna moth, Gypsy moths, on the other hand, are one of the most destructive of plant pests. These tiny insects have destroyed forests of oak and aspen since their introduction to the eastern U.S. more than 1oo years ago, and are gradually making their way across the U.S. They do need to be controlled and efforts are made by federal and state governments as well as pest control professionals and individuals around the country.
Photo by Jennifer Nordquest
If you overheard friends talking about a bed bug problem they'd just discovered in their home, would it scare you? Disgust you? Interest you?
What would you do? Take the poll and let us know ...