How Can I Tell If My Pest Control Company Is Ineffective?

How Can I Tell If My Pest Control Company Is Ineffective?

When homeowners find pests within their houses, there is nothing that seems to be worse than that moment.  Whether it is an infestation of ants taking control of the kitchen, or termites turning the walls into lunch, in the aftermath of finding a pest problem, homeowners often reach out to the first pest control company they find which can, unfortunately, result in the hiring of a bad pest control company.  For homeowners that find themselves dealing with a pest control company not meeting their expectations, failing to eradicate the initial problem, or in need of cancelling a subscription or contract service the information here should be used as a blueprint for handling your pest control company problem.

So maybe you think you have a bad exterminator, but how do you know for sure?  Theresa Braine’s weekly column, Bedbugged, addresses the 11 signs of a bad exterminator in the Brick Underground Podcast.  While focused on bed bugs, the information is useful for identifying which companies the homeowner should try to avoid.

Before letting anyone with potentially deadly chemicals into your home, you should request, and they should furnish, certification and other paperwork that shows they are qualified to perform this work.  The following is Braine’s list of signs to avoid, with information for other pests along with bed bugs.

  1. He pronounces a bed bug infestation based on your bites and the pattern, without other evidence.

All pest control companies should seek out evidence of an infestation other than bites or marks on the skin.  Insects of all types make humans their dinner special, and bites alone are not confirmation of a bed bug infestation.  It is also possible to have a bed bug infestation and not know it because not everyone reacts to the bed bugs the same way with red inflamed marks.

2. She doesn’t ask to see a bug sample, or agrees to treat based on what you’ve told her, without evidence.

Just like you would not trust a doctor that treated you without an examination, just based on what you told him or her, you should not trust an exterminator that does not ask to see, or find, a bug sample.  Treating a bug without evidence would be like treating a stomachache without evidence for illness.

3. They rely solely on canine to alert, without verifying that the dog actually alerted to a live bed bug

It is best to avoid pest control companies that rely solely on dogs to alert to a bed bug infestation because dogs are known to make mistakes.  Treating your house just based on what a dog may indicate, without any other evidence, puts the homeowner at risk of paying for a service they may not need.

4. He or she can’t seem to distinguish bed bug myths from fact

There is a lot of misinformation available when it comes to dealing with all different types of bugs and pests.  Exterminators that perpetuate these myths only damage the industry and their own reputation.

5. They tell you that deep freezing will take care of the bugs

Deep freezing will kill all types of bugs, but only the bugs that the cold can reach.  This means that while you may kill the ants that are visible, or the bed bugs in the sofa, the bugs burrowed deep in the floors, the walls, or outside will not be affected by cryogenic freezing.

6. More is better

While it may seem like more is better would apply to pest control, overdoing it on the pesticides can be harmful to your health, and your children, and pets.  When it comes to pest control, moderation is the best way to experience the most success.

7. He or she cannot or will not produce a detailed list of the chemicals being used

If any pest control company is unwilling to tell you what they are putting into your house, it is best to steer clear.  State laws also require that exterminators share the types of chemicals they have, and anyone that refuses to be upfront should be avoided at all costs.

8.  You can’t find the person on the list of exterminators posted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Each state has a list of exterminators that have been vetted and which are certified or licensed to perform the services they provide.  Before hiring a pest control company, it is best to ensure that they meet the minimum standards set by each state.

9. They tell you to sleep elsewhere, rather than the bed

If a pest control professional tells you to sleep anywhere else in your house, do not hire them because they do not recognize the fact that bed bugs will follow humans to the living room, guest room, or anywhere else they choose to sleep while treating their bedrooms.

10.  They do not give you a detailed prep list for their visit

You should expect that before any work is done in your house, the pest control company will give you a detailed list of everything you should do prior to their visit.  If dealing with bed bugs, this would include bagging up your possessions, for ants, it would involve getting rid of food in open containers, repacking food into closed containers, and vacuuming out pantries to ensure no crumbs are left behind.  If the exterminator does not offer any detailed prep information, find someone else.

11.  They use foggers

While foggers may work for some bugs, they are ineffective in getting rid of the entire bug problem.  They only kill the bugs that the chemicals can reach, and instead of killing most of the bugs, it just forces them to escape, and if you’re living in an apartment, your neighbors will not be appreciative.

What should you do if you sign a contract with a pest control company that is not as effective as promised?  Firing a pest control company after a contract is signed can be difficult, or there may be high financial penalties. When looking to sign a subscription or contract service make sure to read all of the fine print, and to understand under what conditions a subscription or contract can be cancelled.  Discuss your expectations with the services offered by the pest control company to ensure that your expectations and their service meet.  If you want treatment every month, but they only offer quarterly treatment, they are not the service provider for you.

Stuck in a subscription service with a provider that is not meeting expectations?  The first step is to document everything and to raise your concerns with the management from the company.  If that fails to result in steps to correct the problem, the next step is to review the contract to find out how you can cancel the remaining service, what type of notice you may be required to give, and how you need to initiate the cancellation.  If there is no clause to get out of the contract due to issues with the services provided, unfortunately any action to cancel the control could result in the company taking you to court for breach of contract.  While this is rare, it could be a large financial burden and take months to handle.  In instances where there is no cancellation clause, the best course of action is to come to an agreement with the pest control company, offer to pay a token fee to cancel the service, and part ways.  For situations that cannot be rectified, the Better Business Bureau is a great resource for filing complaints and getting the situation corrected.

The Difference Between Bees, Hornets, and Wasps- And Why It Matters

The Difference Between Bees, Hornets, and Wasps- And Why It Matters

When most homeowners see a flying pest, they just guess whether it’s a bee, hornet, yellow jacket, or a wasp.  Knowing which has made a nest near your home is important, not just so that you know how to get rid of it in the best way possible, but also to know if the nest even poses a threat to you or your family.  Mike Floorwalker at Knowledge Nuts highlights the differences between bees, wasps, and hornet and why not all flying, stinging insects are created equally.

There are more than 20,000 different types of bees, but the most common ones are bumble bees. Those are the fat oval bees that are generally harmless and pollinate crops, carpenter bees that can drill through wood, honey bees that are responsible for pollinating our crops, and the Africanized killer bee, which gets its dangerous moniker from the fact they will attack in swarms, which can be deadly for those who are allergic to bees.

According to Floorwalker, it is possible to distinguish bees from wasps because bees are furry while wasps are not.  The bee also uses pollen to make honey, which they eat in the winter, while wasps are carnivores.  Bees are golden in color while hornets are black and white or black and yellow.  Unfortunately for the bee, when they sting they usually die, but wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets do not lost their stingers. Also unfortunate, yellow jackets in particular will sting unprovoked.

When it comes to attacking, bees are, generally speaking, not aggressive.  Honey bees and bumble bees in particular would much rather avoid human contact unless they are bothered.  When a honey bee stings a person or animal they leave behind the stinger, their abdomen, digestive track, muscles, and nerves which is a death sentence.  There is little benefit to the hive for bees to die attacking humans, and when humans leave honey bees alone, there is little to fear.

While bees may not be aggressive, wasps are aggressive and they do not die after stinging a person or animal.  Hornets and yellow jackets are two types of wasp, and they all will attack unprovoked and will attack in large swarms, particularly if their hives and nests are disturbed-intentionally or unintentionally.  While bees are important in the pollination of the food supply, wasps do not have the same effect on agriculture. Instead of collecting pollen, they are carnivorous, with their diet consisting of other insects.

Wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets all look alike and can range in size from 1/3 of an inch to larger than one inch.  Nests of wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets can be found in many of the same places that we enjoy outside, eaves of roofs, hanging from gutters, in the protected corners of houses, and in trees, attics, patios, and shrubs.  The government of Manitoba Canada put together a useful pamphlet that can be found here in helping to identify and remove nests of dangerous pests like wasps.

Knowing which type of flying pest has invaded your garden, back yard, or even your house, is very important in knowing how to get rid of it.  For example, if you notice a handful of yellow flying critters emerging from a hole in your yard, chances are better than not that you have yellow jackets which like to nest underground in the empty burrows of rodents.  For people who have allergies, something as innocuous as mowing the lawn could result in a deadly attack; the yellow jackets can sense the vibrations from the mower from a distance, resulting in an unprovoked attack of thousands.  Nests that are high up are more likely to be wasps and hornets. They are just as dangerous as yellow jackets, especially to small pets and those who are allergic to their venom.

Before eliminating a hive though, it is best to be sure what exactly has made your house their home.  Due to their passive nature, when a homeowner finds a bee hive, instead of killing the entire hive, they should have a professional relocate the hive.  Humans rely on bees to pollinate the food supply, and with colony collapse disorder wiping out hives across the country, it is even more important for people not to destroy hives when they are found.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture managed honey bee colonies add at least $15 billion to the value of the agriculture industry in the United States.

When coming face to face with wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets, it is important to eliminate the threat to your family as well as the potential damage they can cause your home when building nests in between walls and on support beams.  Raid, a leader in the pest removal industry helping homeowners take back their homes from bugs and insects, suggests that the best way to get rid of a wasp, hornet, or yellow jacket problem is to deal with the nest when it is small.  Raid, along with other products all available in hardware stores, can be used to kill the flying stinging critters, from a safe distance.

Am I Being Charged Too Much?

Am I Being Charged Too Much?

When confronted with a pest problem, homeowners may not have the wherewithal to shop for prices.  When facing a pest problem, or when looking for regular pest control services, the homeowner should ask around.  There is no shame in asking your neighbors what they spend to ensure their homes are safe from bugs.

Home Advisor, the leading resource to connect with the best home improvement contractors, found that nationally, costs vary greatly on insect control services.  From a low of $50 to a high of $529, the national average was $181 with most homeowners spending between $109 and $281.  Here is a regional breakdown of what costs look like across the country for one time service.

New York City, NY

The average cost in NYC is $261, with most homeowners spending between $157 and $377.  The lowest cost for insect control services was $100 and the highest was $700, likely indicating an exceptionally awful infestation.

Miami, FL

With most homeowners spending between $93 and $320 for pest control services, the average in South Florida was $190.  With a low of $49 and a high of $600, the cost of pest control in South Florida is similar to the national average.

Dallas, TX

With its’ hot summers and warm winters, Dallas is a hotbed of bugs and critters.  This does not translate to an exceptionally high cost though with the average reported cost of insect control services $183.  With a high of $695 and a low of $50, most homeowners spend between $87 and $280.

Phoenix, AZ

The Southwest has bugs that would make the rest of the country shudder, such as scorpions, that can infest trees, garages, and homes.  Homeowners in Phoenix, on average, spend $131 for insect control services. Most spend between $73 and $269 on such services.  With a low cost of $40 and a high of $583, getting rid of pests in Phoenix is not a massive financial commitment.

Chicago, IL

Pest control in the Midwest falls well below the national average.  In Chicago, the average reported cost is $166, with most homeowners spending between $128 and $228 with a low of $80 and a high of $350.  These low costs are not just found in Chicago, but also in Milwaukee, with the highest reported cost of $300, Indianapolis with a high cost of $315, and Minneapolis with an average of $167 paid by homeowners for pest control services, and a high of $400.

Portland, OR

Homeowners in Portland also are fortunate to have pest control services cost less than the national average.  Most homeowners spend between $138 and $246 for pest control services, with a low of $95 and a high of $300.

Los Angeles, CA

For homeowners in Los Angeles, they, like those in the Northeast and South, are faced with higher than average pest control service bills.  The average cost for services was $290 while the majority of homeowners spent between $129 and $454.  With a low of $90 and a high of $912, pest control services in Southern California can quickly accumulate.

For homeowners looking to commit to a service control with a pest control company, it is best to shop around to get the best price.  The Environmental Protection Agency offers useful guidelines for selecting a pest control service, including questions that homeowners should ask and things that homeowners need to be aware of in order to avoid scams.  The EPA strongly suggests both taking your time and doing your homework.

While homeowners may feel awkward asking around if others use a contracted pest control service, bugs are something that every homeowner will deal with.  Utilizing a pest control company to perform preventative pest control should be something to be proud of, not ashamed of.  Along with getting information about what friends and neighbors pay, the homeowner should get estimates from several companies prior to signing a long-term commitment.  Many companies even offer free cost estimations for your home.

Angie’s List highlights the cost of pest control services for a service contract. Those can range from $40 to $45 for a monthly treatment for an average sized house, while a semi-monthly service control could be as much as $50 or $60, more for bigger houses and less for smaller ones.

Some service providers offer an annual program that consists of three-treatments, meant to prevent pest infestations year round.  With a cost of approximately $145 for the first treatment, and then about $80 for the two remaining treatments, this works out to about $25 per month to ensure your house is totally protected.  Most reputable pest control companies will guarantee their work, coming out between services for infestations that were not eliminated or prevented.  This is just a sample pricing offered by Angie’s List; it is important to shop around and find the service provider that meets your needs and expectations in order to have a positive experience.

How Can I Protect My Home This Summer, and Beyond?

How Can I Protect My Home This Summer, and Beyond?

Protecting your home from pests over the summer is only half the battle to ensuring that your home remains bug and critter free year round.  Adam Dachis of Lifehacker offers a guide that can be used to manage a summer pest problem, but the information he offers is useful year round for keeping your home bug and pest free.

Summer pests affect the vast majority of the country, but the size and types of bugs will reflect the region of the home.  For those in the North, it may be flies or ants, while in the South, homeowners may find palmetto bugs or scorpions.  Regardless of the season, how you approach a pest or rodent problem will depend on the specific critter that is found in your home.

Flies 

Dachis suggests creating your own traps in order to catch flies, and offers many ways to catch them using products most homeowners will have around the house.

The easiest way to make a fly trap is to use a little bit of honey and spread it across a surface.  The flies love the sugar, and because they are so small, once they make contact, they cannot fly away; the sticky substance is too strong for their size.

If laying patches of honey around your house is not appetizing, there is a simple funnel fly trap that takes less than ten minutes to build and only requires a cup, such as a mason jar, one sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper, tape, and honey.  Dachis points out that you will need at least three of these traps in order for them to be effective, but with mason jars available for a few dollars a piece at a local craft supply store, they are inexpensive, organic alternatives to commercial fly traps.

To make the trap, roll the sheet of paper into a funnel, leaving a hole at the narrow end that is bigger than a fly.  Check to ensure that the funnel is wide enough to sit about half way into the jar, without touching the bottom.  Using tape, tape the edge of the cone so it does not lose it shape, and then pour honey into the bottom of the jar to cover the surface.  Any other sweet substance will work if you do not have honey on hand.  Finally, just place the cone back into the jar, and wait for the flies to find it.

Ants 

Ants are a scourge that homeowners across the country must contend with.  There are dozens of ant traps available in hardware stores that use chemicals and poisons to kill the ants, either on contact, or after they bring the poison back to their colony.  Poisons only work to eliminate all of the ants if it makes its’ way to the queen, otherwise,  your attempts to eradicate your ant problem will be in vain.

Dachis offers information on a pesticide-free ant trap, written by Alan Henry, and published on Lifehacker.  To get rid of ants in your garden, take an old jar that has a wide mouth, a short length of pipe, two screw-top plastic bottle caps, teflon plumber’s tape, water, sugar, and dish soap.  Using the teflon tape, wrap the pipe so that the ants cannot crawl up it to the sugar that will be on the top of the pipe.  Standing the pipe up in the jar, add a little water to the bottom of the jar, and a few drops of dish soap before sprinkling sugar on top of the pipe to lure the ants into the trap.

The easiest way to beat an ant invasion is to prevent an ant infestation.  First, clean your house and don’t leave crumbs and food out.  Erica Ho suggests using chalk lines around doors and windows to keep ants out of the house; while the science is not very well understood, chalk keeps ants outside.  Dachis also suggests using spices and extracts that you likely already have in the house to keep ants out.  Mint, bay leaves, cardamom, or even mint-flavored Listerine can be used to keep ants out, and your home safe from an invasion.

Garden Pests 

Garden pests are best outside the home, and outside of your garden; killing them from the garden isn’t just cruel, the chemicals and poisons used to kill garden pests could also get onto the food you are growing or the flowers you’re planting.

Jason Fitzpatrick offers advice on how to keep your yard and garden pest-free and without the need of chemicals.  Using coffee grounds in your garden not only adds nitrogen to the soil, which is great for your plants, but most creatures that will use your garden as a playground do not like the acidity of the coffee, and avoid it.  To keep slugs out of your garden, without having to kill them, is to use copper such as decorative copper tape.  To keep bigger, but cuter, pests like rabbits and deer out of your garden using Bloodmeal is a great way to keep them away.  Bloodmeal is a byproduct of the meatpacking industry and animals dislike the smell.  But, do not apply directly to plants, just around the garden; the high nitrogen of the dried blood can burn the leaves and destroy your plants.

Dachis offers an easy chemical-free pesticide courtesy of Apartment Therapy that only requires 1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid soap, one quart of water, and a few drops of orange or essential oils mixed together.  You can spray this on trouble areas around the home and garden, and directly on bugs in order to kill them.

Mosquitoes 

Perhaps there is no greater summer annoyance than the mosquito. With increased threat of the Zika virus and the continuing threat of West Nile Virus, keeping mosquitoes out of your home and yard is important for your health.

According to Dachis, the American Mosquito Control Association suggests staying away from sprays and candles.  Instead suggesting using a fan, bug lights, and wearing light-colored, long sleeves and pants that are loose-fitting.  There is no reason not to use citronella candles, as they do offer a repelling effect, but in order to be effective, many candles must be lit within an area to get rid of the threat of mosquitoes.

Baiting Stations

Baiting Stations

While preventative measures and periodic pesticide spraying is very effective for a large number of household pests, there are some types that simply require a different and more focused approach. Baiting stations are effective for a number of different pests, including mice, rats, and termites. A baiting station works by setting poison in a mostly-enclosed container so that it attracts only the kind of pest you are trying to take care of. The size varies depending on what kind of pest it’s for, and the number used depends on how large of a pest problem you have.

Mice are the most commonly targeted pests for baiting station use. Many homeowners don’t want to deal with the mess of catching mice on traditional mousetraps, or they don’t have the space to safely place mousetraps with pets or children in the home. Others want a less obtrusive and obvious solution to their rodent problem. Baiting stations are an effective solution to these problems, as they are low profile and house the rodent poison inside a closed container that only rodents can access. Bait stations can be constructed easily at home or bought ready to use for soft baits like peanut butter or cheese, or hard baits like grain or seed. Some can even be utilized for liquid bait. Some bait stations cannot be opened at all, while others are refillable and consist of a locked container that can only be opened with a key. There are 4 tier levels for ready-to-use baiting stations that vary in tamper-resistance and weather resistance. For Tier 1 baiting stations, as long as the poison used to bait the station is stored in a safe place away from pets and children, baiting stations are very safe to use.

Typically it is more effective to use multiple bait stations with small amounts of bait in them. These should be placed close to walls, relatively close together, in corners of rooms and in cabinets, anywhere you suspect the mice may be feeding or living, and at any openings around the outside of the building where mice could gain entry. Keep in mind that mice can squeeze into openings smaller than a dime, while rats can fit through openings as small as a quarter. Be sure to use a baiting station to match the pest, as rats won’t be able to fit into a mouse baiting station.

Arguments against baiting stations are that the poison does not kill the rodent instantly and causes it to suffer before death, which some see as cruel and inhumane. Baiting stations also do not allow you to control where the rodent dies, which can lead to bad odors if it dies in a place where you cannot retrieve it. For individuals with these concerns, there are many other effective rodent control options such as snap traps (although these do not always kill the rodent instantly), electronic traps, and humane traps that don’t kill the rodent so that you can release it elsewhere. For individuals who don’t have these concerns, baiting stations are often very effective because they give the rodent a place to feed where it feels secure, they keep the bait from being spilled inadvertently, and allow the bait to be placed in areas that other traps can’t reach.

Baiting has also become more prevalent in termite removal tactics. The standard used to be spraying pesticides into the ground around a building to protect the structure long-term from underground termite attacks. However, many of the longer-lasting pesticides used for this method have been banned and are no longer available due to concerns over harming the surrounding environment. Since only short-term pesticides are available for this method, pest control has largely turned to baiting in order to take care of termite problems. The strategy of baiting for termites is to kill the worker termites with the bait so that the queen and soldier termites will starve and the entire colony is taken care of.

First is the pre-baiting stage, in which termite detector stations (also called monitors or termite bait stations) are are placed for the termites to find. The stations only have wood in them at this point, so that the scout termites can find them and tag them for worker termites in the colony to begin feeding on. It can take 8 to 12 months for termites to find the bait and establish a feeding cycle, because the disturbed soil caused by installing the termite stations actually repels the termites.

The structure of the termite station is such that the wood can be checked from time to time in order to determine whether there is any termite activity yet. Once termites begin feeding on the wood, the next stage is to swap the clean wood for the toxicant-laced wood, so that the workers begin taking it back to the colony. The final stage occurs when the workers in the colony die, and the rest of the colony eventually dies off as well.

There are two types of toxicants to choose from. Chitin inhibitors take longer to work because they only affect the immature workers in the colony. Since termites can live 5 or 6 years, some estimate that it could take 8 years for Chitin inhibitors to effectively eliminate a termite colony. The general consensus in the pest control community is that slower is better, because it takes time to thoroughly work through the termite colony. Metabolic growth inhibitors, however, affect all of the termites that eat it, and kills them off in 60 to 90 days.

Termite baiting for effective elimination can be a long process. However, if you have the patience to do some experimenting and do it yourself, you can save thousands of dollars over several years compared what it will cost to have it done by a professional. You can buy baiting systems just like what professionals use and install them yourself. If you prefer the peace of mind of letting the experts do it (some have electronic monitoring systems that make it easier to measure termite activity), pricing varies per square foot but can average around $1600 for the first year and then $400 for every year after that. Since the type of toxin will greatly affect your time frame, be sure to explore your options before committing to one company.

Pest Product Comparisons

Pest Product Comparisons

Most homeowners do not think about pest products until they are facing down a pest control problem.  At this point, they have to make very important decisions regarding treating the problem, with little insight into the many products on the market, and how they will resolve the problem.  Depending on the type of pest problem, that will narrow down the types of products available. For instance, ant traps would not be useful for beetles, and mosquito traps for moths.  As if there weren’t enough products on the market for pest control, there are an equal number of products available for pest prevention that can be used inside and outside of the house.

The three most well known companies that sell pest products are Raid, Ortho, and Terro. With hundreds of products between them, as well as other lesser-known but equally great products out there, here is a quick primer on the best pest products.

Terro offers many different types of ant bait, which is great for eliminating the ant problem by poisoning the entire colony.  Many people kill ants as they see them, or utilize traps that do nothing to stop more ants from entering into your home. Raid Ant Killer 26 is another option to eliminate a colony and can be used to kill ants, crickets, roaches, silverfish, and spiders.

If looking to prevent an infestation while eliminating one, Raid Ant & Roach Barrier can be sprayed outside around the doors, windows, and foundation to keep ants, fleas, flies, gnats, roaches, ticks, silverfish, crickets, spiders, scorpions, mosquitoes, centipedes, fire bats, moths, stink bugs, sow  bugs, and beetles out of your home.  Meanwhile Ortho Home Defense  kills and prevents infestations inside and outside of the home with its’ easy to use application bottle.

Perhaps there is no scarier pest to find inside your home than bed bugs.  These hard to kill critters hide in hard-to-reach areas in furniture and fabrics.  The difficulty of getting ride of bed bugs is notable in there are limited products available on the market for them, and many of the products available, there is only a small level of success in eliminating the bed bugs from their homes.

Two products that, when used properly and with the proper cleaning of the house, are successes, are Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer and Raid Max Bed Bug & Flea Killer.  Both formulas can be used on furniture, mattresses, on carpeting, and other household surfaces without fear of damage or staining.  These sprays are more successful than bug bombs because it is possible to aim the chemicals directly into the hiding places preferred by bed bugs, but in order to be effective there needs to also be the vacuuming of all furniture and floors to eradicate eggs, scrubbing down all surfaces, and eliminating all of their hiding places.

When dealing with mosquitoes, the most important thing to do is to ensure that there are no pools of sitting water on your property.  Sitting water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Correcting any drainage issues that may exist on your property is the first step to removing these pests from around your home.  Ortho offers their Bug B Gon Insect Killer for Lawns & Gardens, while Terros Home Insect Killer targets more than 65 different types of insects, including mosquitoes.

Among household pests, after bed bugs, finding roaches would likely be the next most upsetting critter in see within the walls of your home.  Notoriously hard to kill, the best way to get rid of roaches is to never have them in the first place.  To prevent a roach infestation, store all food in air tight containers, make sure your screens do not have any tears or holes, and seal cracks and holes around the home.

To kill cockroaches, Ortho’s Ant & Roach Killer 1 kills by contact, and can be used on ants, roaches, spiders, ticks, carpet beetles, fleas, sow bugs, silverfish, and scorpions as well as stink bugs and Asian Lady Beetles.  Raid has multiple products available that all are very good at killing roaches while preventing another infestation.  Raid’s Ant & Roach Killer 26, Raid Max Spider & Scorpion Killer,  and Raid Max Ant & Roach all kill roaches, ants, spiders, and scorpions on contact.  For preventing roaches, Raid Max Bug Barrier Defense Marker is safe to use inside the home, in areas like kitchen sinks, back splashes, and bathrooms.  Raid also offers a childproof bait system, Double Control Small Roach Baits and Raid Plus Egg Stoppers that not only handle the problem of the roach, but the even bigger problem of their ability to quickly reproduce.

Flying insects, such as wasps and hornets, can make playing outside dangerous. Even deadly, if a child or adult has an allergy.  These aggressive insects need not be provoked in order to attack. They only need to feel a threat of attack before unleashing their stingers on unsuspecting humans that may have walked too close to their nest.

Getting rid of hornets and wasps can be nearly as dangerous as walking by the nest, but Terro’s Wasp & Hornet Killer uses a powerful aerosol canister that can spray up to 20 feet away, making it easier to reach hard to get to spots like eaves and trees, without having to get too close.  The foam spray coats the entire nest which ensures that everything inside dies.  Great for wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and mud daubers. The spray is safe for indoor or outdoor use.

Raid’s flying insect line of products is great for getting rid of most flying bugs, with the Flying Insect Killer 7 able to kill flies, mosquitoes, wasps, and hornets and safe to use inside and outside.  Raid’s Wasp & Hornet Killer 33 comes in a powerful canister, that doesn’t force you to get too close to the nest, putting you at risk, while killing the entire nest.  The formula has been designed to be electrically non-conducting up to 32,500 volts so if the nest is anywhere near  electrical lines there is no threat of electrocution.

Finally, if you are not suffering from a particularly bad case of pests outside, but want to make sure your backyard is bug-free for a barbecue or other backyard party, Raid’s Yard Guard Mosquito Fogger is a great product that covers a 30 by 30 feet areas, killing all flies, mosquitoes, non-biting gnats, moths, wasps, hornets, and multi-colored Asian Lady Beetles for a six hour period.

What You Need to Know About Mosquitoes and The Zika Virus

What You Need to Know About Mosquitoes and The Zika Virus

Mosquitoes have earned a reputation as one of life’s most annoying insects. They seem to be ever-present when we’re trying to enjoy a warm evening outdoors, biting us and causing us to itch, and can create a persistent, loud buzz that seems to defy their body size when they’re trapped in a room with us. In addition to being an annoyance, however, mosquitoes are increasingly becoming a health risk with the emergence of the Zika virus.

Mosquitoes belong to the order of Diptera, or True Flies. Both male and female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, but the females have a long, piercing proboscis that they use like a needle to extract blood when they bite. The blood they extract is a protein source for their eggs. Mosquitoes use temperature, body odor, movement, and exhaled carbon dioxide to locate potential victims. They become carriers of infectious disease when they bite an infected person or animal; the blood they extract enters their circulatory system through their mid-gut, and from there enters into their salivary glands. The redness and itching we experience from mosquito bites is actually an allergic reaction to their saliva.

There are over 3,000 species of mosquito in the world, but only three are responsible for the spread of human diseases. The Aedes genus is the carrier of the Zika virus, which includes the Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito. These mosquitoes are known as aggressive daytime biters, are also vectors for  yellow fever, dengue, and encephalitis, and are commonly found in the Gulf Coast region of the United States, but have been found as far north as Connecticut and Maine. The Asian tiger mosquito has been found in Hawaii as well as the mainland U.S.

While most mosquito caused human disease is limited to undeveloped countries, there have been cases that become widespread, causing alarm around the globe. This was the case with the West Nile virus previously, but in recent months the threat of Zika has become of chief concern to many. The World Health Organization even declared it an international health emergency after the spread of the virus in the last two years.

The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947, and gets its name from the Zika Forest in Uganda. Symptoms of the virus include fever, headaches, rash, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and joint or muscle pain. The symptoms may last up to a week, but typically don’t require hospitalization.

Zika is believed to have spread from Africa to mainland Asia, then to the Pacific islands, and from there to South America and now into North America. The first indications that the virus have more dire effects were discovered in French Polynesia in 2013, where 11% of the population had symptoms severe enough to require medical care. This was when Zika began to be suspected of causing neurological symptoms after 40 infected persons contracted Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The concern over Zika grew even more last year, after being linked to an explosion of microcephaly cases in South America. Microcephaly is a neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than normal and they suffer from incomplete brain development. Zika is believed to be passed from a pregnant mother to the fetus when the virus attacks fetal nerve cells through the walls of the placenta. Pregnant women should be especially careful about mosquito bite prevention, but the virus can also be spread sexually. Men who have been infected by mosquito bites can infect their partner, as viral RNA has been found in semen more than two months after initial symptoms. Women who recover from Zika virus before becoming pregnant are believed to be immune, however, which would negate any harm to the baby.

It is believed that over half of the human population on Earth live in areas where the mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus are found. During the first week of infection, the virus is in the blood of infected persons and can be passed to mosquitoes and then on to other people. There is no vaccine for Zika virus, and no known cure for either microcephaly or Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Until populations have built up a herd immunity against the virus, the best approach to dealing with it is in prevention. Pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, and their sexual partners should be especially cautious. Preventative measures include wearing clothing that covers the arms and legs, using mosquito repellent on both your exposed skin and on your clothes, using mosquito netting around bedding when necessary, or avoiding areas of greater insect activity. For men who have been infected, wearing condoms during sexual activity can prevent the virus from spreading to partners.

Since mosquitoes breed around water, laying eggs even in as small an amount as a bottle-cap full, the key to prevention is removing any standing water around your home. Be sure to check vases, potted plants, buckets, pools, and bird baths, and empty or filter this water routinely. Pesticides may also be used to kill adult mosquitoes and their larvae.

Moth Larvae: What It Is, and Why It Matters

Moth Larvae: What It Is, and Why It Matters

Moths come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, and are most commonly seen outdoors at night. They are the well known cousin of the butterfly, and are widely considered a nuisance pest. Though they have a short lifespan, they serve primarily as a food source for other animals.

While moths are not difficult to eradicate, the key to controlling their damage is in prevention. The adult moth that we see flying around is mainly concerned with reproducing and laying eggs; it is the larvae that does all the damage. So then the question is: what are moth larvae, where do we find them, and how do we prevent them from causing damage in our homes?

There are two main types of moth infestation that may occur in the home; that of the pantry moth, and the clothes moth. Pantry moths, or grain moths, will produce larvae that feed on cereal, flour, and other foods. Clothes moth larvae feed on animal based fabric – wool, hair, silk, fur, felt, and even feathers. Moths are seldom seen because they avoid light. They are commonly found in basements, attics, or closets, where they may live in corners and in the folds of fabric. Because moths tend to seek undisturbed dark spaces, it is often only after we find their damage, that we become aware of an infestation.

The most common way for moths to enter the home is through an open door or window. Grain moths may also enter in infested food items, and clothes moths may enter in infested fabric. Some ways to prevent an infestation in your home are to limit using outdoor lighting, which attracts moths, and to inspect the food and fabric you bring home for webbing or cocoons.

If you have seen signs of moths in your home already, it is important to treat the problem. They will only repopulate until they have extinguished their food sources. Pantry moths will likely be the easiest to spot, because they infest areas with stored food. You may notice small, whitish worms (up to 2/3 inches long) or clumps of webbing in your food, small brownish moths flying around the lights, and cocoons on the tops of cabinets or in the corners of drawers. To get rid of these pests, you have to dispose of all infested food, vacuum up any crumbs inside cabinets, and thoroughly scrub shelves. To prevent further infestation, you should store food in airtight, rigid containers (rather than in plastic bags) and keep pet and bird food stored in containers away from the kitchen.

Clothes moths may be more difficult to spot right away, but you will find evidence of them in fabric that has holes in it or irregular patterns of surface feeding. These pests cannot digest cellulosic fibers such as cotton, linen, and rayon, or synthetic fibers such as nylon and acrylic; they prefer wool, hair, silk, fur, and felt. Clothes moth larvae are creamy white caterpillars that reach up to 1/2 inch in length. They commonly infest wool sweaters, coats, or blankets that have been stored. However, they may also infest carpets, toys, upholstered furniture, or down pillows and comforters. Clothes moths avoid items that are in regular use. Sometimes though, they can breed in hair-based accumulations under furniture, behind base boards, or inside vents and air ducts.

To remove these infestations, it’s important to thoroughly vacuum all carpeting and upholstered furniture. While doing this pay special attention to corners and out of the way places by using vacuum attachments such as crevice tools. Clothing and bedding should also be laundered or dry-cleaned, especially before it is stored, as body oils on clothing can attract the pests. For severe infestations, it may take up to three weeks of treatment to ensure that all stages of the pest are removed.

Moth larvae are rarely seen, but can easily cause damage that can become very costly. Whether the affected items are expensive furs or sentimental items like old blankets, unless you thoroughly treat the infestation, the moths will return. It’s important to protect those irreplaceable items. When it comes to moth infestation, prevention is key. Knowing how to store items and what areas may need extra attention when cleaning is essential. This will create an environment that is not conducive to the life cycle of moths. Awareness is more than half the battle with these pests; the best way to protect your home is to identify the signs early and prevent them from repopulating.

Trapping vs. Killing Pests

Trapping vs. Killing Pests

Having pests living within your home is something that most people would prefer not to think about, but unfortunately many homeowners will be faced with this reality at some point in time.  For some pests such as insects, there is no choice but to kill them in order to remove them entirely from your home.  For others, such as mice, squirrels, and other critters that make their way inside, there are many options for either killing, or more humanely, trapping, them to prevent them from making your home, their home.

First and foremost, you must consider the people living in your home; pests carry all types of diseases and threats to your family. They can also pose the threat of chewing through electrical wires, creating an opportunity to spark a fire, putting you, your family, your pets, and all of your possessions at risk.  Once you have identified a pest problem, you must consider the many ways to eliminate it, while also protecting your family.

When identifying an infestation of bugs, a bug bomb or fogger may be a good way to kill the offending critters, allows for one large clean up, and then your family can return to their day-to-day lives.  For occasional problems, such as ants in the summer, if you are worried about your pets or children playing with ant traps, leave out the poisonous ant bait overnight.  This type of trap sees the ants remove the poison, and bring it back to their colony, and within a few days, kills all of the ants, eliminating the problem.

When it comes to larger pests such as mice or chipmunks, knowing how to eliminate the problem becomes much more complicated.  For those not squeamish, or not bothered by the thought of killing a pest, mouse traps are a way to eliminate a problem, but require the handling of the dead mouse or rat.  Mice are carriers of Hantavirus and Salmonella, so leaving them in your walls, along with the potential fire hazard, is not a viable option.

Mouse traps are effective for eliminating a single mouse at a time, they must be placed where the mice are, and they must be taken care of after they have caught a critter.  One of the best mousetraps on the market is the Kness Snap-E Mousetrap which uses smart engineering to ensure a high killing efficiency.  But, in  order to eliminate a pest infestation, regardless if they are rodents or bugs, it is important to find where it is they are making their way into your home, so that the area can be repaired.  Is there a small hole in a vent, is there a crack in the foundation, or a broken pane of glass in an attic or basement window allowing pests of any size or variety to gain entrance into your house?

Once their point of entry has been found, and fixed, next you must deal with the pests already inside the home.  Along with mousetraps, which are a quicker and more humane way to kill a rodent, there are poisons and sticky traps that can eliminate a rodent problem.  Using poison is a quick way to kill rodents, but pose serious risks.  Poison is, obviously, deadly; if one of your pets, or one of your neighbors pets, ingest the poison, it will be a very painful death, and devastating to the family.  Similarly, if using poison, if your children, or a neighborhood child were to get into the poison, it could seriously injure or kill a child.  Along with these risks, there are serious environmental risks to the environment that should be considered before utilizing poison.

Sticky traps are another alternative to poison and mousetraps.  They are a thick paper with a sticky film on top that the rodents can walk onto, but cannot get off of.  This leaves them to dehydrate, and die what is a very slow death of starvation and dehydration.  Just like using mousetraps, using sticky traps require the homeowner to handle the dead rodent, which may be too much of an “ew” factor for some.

If killing the rodent is what you are most comfortable with, the most humane, and the best way, regardless of it’s negatives, would be the old fashioned mouse trap.  Just ensure that they are kept outside of the reach of children and pets.  Or invest is a more expensive, but safer, electronic rat trap, such as the Victor Electronic Rat Trap.  A no-touch, no-see trapping experience, it utilizes batteries to offer an electric shock that kills the mouse or rat in less than three seconds, and without the potential failure of a traditional mouse trap, that may just injure the rodent, forcing you to kill it.  Once dead, the mouse is dropped into the collection drawer, resulting in easy clean up.  For households with children or pets, if the trap is tampered with in any way, it automatically shuts off the electric, ensuring only the rodents it is intended for are harmed.

For those that would rather trap, instead of kill, a rodent, you first need to find the point of entry into the house and seal it, so that no more rodents or pests can get into the house.  When choosing to live trap, it is necessary to ensure that there is food, water, and nesting material available to the rodents that are caught and the traps must be routinely checked.  One such trap is the Mouse Cube, which is sold in multi-packs, and is both inexpensive, and does not require any handling of the mice.  For larger rodents such as squirrels, humane traps need to be large enough to not close on their tails, and it is even more important to find where exactly they were entering into the house from.  Havahart offers dozens of humane traps as well as repellents and deterrents for those looking to trap, rather than kill.   With solutions for nearly every type of pest from the armadillo, and mole to the muskrat, and snake, there are humane solutions for every critter that may be making your home their home.

Finally, there is a third option, for those looking to prevent a situations that would require the trapping or killing of rodents, and for those already with rodents in their homes.  Known as Fresh Cab, it was approved by the EPA as a safe and effective plant-based rodent repellent.  Fresh Cab comes in pouches that you can place around your home, office, and garage. They are all natural and safe for children and pets.  While they need to be replaced every 90 days, they are a safer and less offensive means of preventing a rodent problem.  In homes or offices already experiencing a rodent infestation, multiple pouches should be used within each room, and replaced each month, until the rodents have vacated the property.

Questions to Ask The Door to Door Pest Control Representative

Questions to Ask The Door to Door Pest Control Representative

Thanks to the availability of various pest control products in stores, and the deluge of information posted onto the Internet, we no longer need to reach for the phone every time we find creepy crawlies in our homes. In many cases, homeowners should be able to deal with the infestation themselves, so long as they spot it early, and there are not too many of the critters running around.

Sometimes the problem is too complex or too large for an amateur exterminator to handle, in which case it’s time to get the professionals in. By hiring an expert you can rest assured knowing that your problem will soon be dealt with, but only if you select the right person for the job. While most pest control professionals do an extremely thorough job, there are one or two bad eggs out there that tarnish the reputation of everyone else by doing a poor job. So be sure to ask the following questions to ensure that the pest control professional you choose can be relied upon to get the job done right.
Question 1: How long have you been in business? 
It’s important to ask because established businesses should have a long track record of providing a quality service. Of course, less established companies can do a great job too, but many people prefer to use a company that’s earned a solid reputation that can be easily checked.
Question 2: Are you licensed? 
It might seem like a dumb question, but it’s important to make sure that your exterminator is fully licensed. A licensed contractor means that he or she is up to date with all of the latest pest control methods and training techniques, which means they know how to get rid of your infestation in the fastest, safest way. Also, if they hold a license it means they’re in compliance with local and state laws.
Question 3: Do you have insurance? 
Ideally, you will want to hire a pest control expert who is insured against damages and accidents. This insurance would cover any damages made to your property in the rare event something goes wrong. In addition, should the contractor or one of your family members be inured as a result of the exterminator’s work, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that his insurance will cover any medical expenses.
Question 4: Can you provide references?
It always helps to see the opinions of someone’s past clients when it comes to making your decision. With bigger companies that are national operations, it is easy to simply look online to see ratings and reviews, but sometimes with the smaller businesses, a reference list is more likely to turn results.
Question 5: Do you have experience in dealing with this kind of pest? 
This question probably isn’t appropriate in every case, but if you’re dealing with an infestation that’s uncommon in your area, such as honey bees or bedbugs, then you’d be better off hiring someone who is experienced in dealing with them.
Question 6: What treatment option will you use? 
This is very important, as you’ll want to know exactly how the contractor is planning to deal with the infestation. There are many methods of pest control, some of which may render parts of, or your entire home uninhabitable for a period of time. Be sure that the exterminator explains carefully whether he or she will be using pesticide baits, dusts, granules, sprays, traps or something else. He should also give you advance notice of which rooms you’ll need to vacate or clear of furniture, and other preparations you’ll need to make.
Question 7: What specific chemicals will you use? 
While most people won’t be familiar with the names of the pesticides used, the exterminator should still be willing to explain what they are, how they work, and any possible hazards that come with using them. Also, the company should provide upon request a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each pesticide it uses.
Question 8: Will you need to vacate the property? 
In most cases the family can remain at home, but if the infestation is a large one that may not be possible. Some chemicals used to control pests are unsafe for humans to be around until they settle in or dry, so you need to know ahead of time if you’re going to be spending a few nights in a hotel or with friends.
Question 9: Do you offer a guarantee? 
There’s always a danger that the pests might return, either because one treatment won’t be enough to eradicate the pests, or because the exterminator failed to do the job properly. Indeed, some exterminators may advise you to continue treating the home at regular intervals for a specified time period. However, you should shoot for a company that provides a minimum 30-day guarantee, so that if the problem arises before that period is up, the exterminator will return and finish them off at no extra cost.
Question 10: How about a money back guarantee?
Sometimes it seems that an infestation can never be fully eradicated. Asking for a money back guarantee in the event that the exterminator can’t eliminate all of the pests is a good way of ensuring that he or she is confident in his ability to do the job right.
Question 11: How much will it cost? 
You should save this question for last because, if you have any common sense, you’ll know already that the cheapest solution is not always the best one. If you have to call in a second, more expensive company to finish the job started by the cheapest company, you can wave goodbye to the small amount of savings you’d hoped for. Be sure to ask the price, but remember to factor it along with everything else in the equation before making your choice.

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