Category Archives: Mosquitoes

Back to School Pesky Critters

By Scott Svenheim, ACE
Spokesperson and Associate Certified Entomologist, Truly Nolen of America 

With the back-to-school season nearing, parents have already started to think about preparing their kids – and how can anyone forget that the start of school is looming with commercials already airing!

With pesky critters like bed bugs, head lice and mosquitoes becoming more prevalent in our communities, parents need to take the necessary precautions to avoid infecting their homes.

back-to-school

Bed bugs are nocturnal and have the capabilities to climb softer surfaces such as that duffle bag you sent your children to camp with. Here are some tips to avoid allowing a possible bed bug infestation in your home:

  • Leave luggage outside, in a garage or a secluded area away from other soft materials where they can’t find a way to transfer to another item in your home.
  • Wash and/or Dry possibly infected clothing separately and with hot water, or medium temperature at least 20 minutes.

Head lice is one itchy problem and another pest that can easily hop from one head of hair to another. When your child arrives back from camp, make sure to conduct a thorough screening of his/her scalp with a fine-tooth comb. Many convenience stores will have specialty combs available for purchase. Signs your child may have head lice include:

  • Scratching
  • Small red bumps or sores from scratching
  • Adult lice or eggs on hair strands

Mosquito bites are one of the most common and with viruses like Chikungunya spreading quickly through the United States every bump and bite is worth inspecting. Check any suspicious bumps and circle them with a marker – this will allow you to monitor the bite to ensure it doesn’t get any larger, red or swollen.

If bed bugs or other pests become a bigger issue in your home, call your local pest control company who will be able to assess the level of infestation and recommend necessary courses of treatment.


About Scott Svenheim and Truly Nolen
Scott Svenheim, an expert for Truly Nolen of America and Associate Certified Entomologist, has 27 years of experience in the pest control industry.  Scott brings an informative as well as unique and entertaining perspective to consumers’ pest problems in the 21st century. Founded in 1938, Tucson, Arizona-based Truly Nolen of America is the largest family owned pest control company in the United States. Truly Nolen has over 80 branch offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The company also has independently owned and operated franchises in an ever-growing number of territories including Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, Canada, Puerto Rico and 60 countries. For more information, please visit www.trulynolen.com.

Florida Pest Alert: Outbreak Mosquito-borne Virus Chikungunya

Florida Mosquito Alert

Part of Truly Nolen’s commitment to the homes and businesses of the areas we serve is to inform residents of potential threats to health caused by insects and rodents. Florida residents can expect to see a dramatic increase in mosquito activity. There has been a recent outbreak of Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease prevalent in India and Southeastern Asia. Recently however, the disease has infected tens of thousands of people in the Caribbean and a handful of southern states in the US, prompting the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and public health officials to issue warnings about the disease.

Although Chikungunya is rarely fatal, symptoms of the illness include high fevers in excess of 102 °F, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, conjunctivitis, and severe joint pain that typically lasting for about two weeks.

Cases of Chikungunya infection in the US are believed to be transmitted from the Yellow Fever Mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which is common in warmer states like Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Although Chikungunya may be relatively new to the United States, the mosquito that transmits the disease is not. Mosquito bites may seem minor, as they usually only cause a slight rash or bump. However, mosquitoes are known to carry and transmit various viruses such as the deadly West Nile Virus, which has claimed the lives of 66 people since it was first discovered in the United States.

As a Florida resident special attention should be paid to removing conditions conducive to breeding of mosquitoes around the home and take precautions to prevent being bitten. Truly Nolen has compiled some tips to help keep you and your home protected from mosquitoes.

Mosquito Control Tips:

  • Remove anything from your yard or around your home that can hold standing water such as buckets, tires, tins etc.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of garbage cans and or recycling bins so they don’t accumulate water
  • Keep pools clean and well chlorinated
  • Remove leaves and debris from gutters so they drain properly
  • Ensure all windows and doors are covered by screen enclosures
  • Wear long sleeve clothing and insect repellent when outdoors
  • Utilize outdoor spray and devices as needed
  • Contact a pest professional if infestations persist

For more on mosquitoes and treating mosquito bites visit our Pest Guide or feel free to contact our resident Pest Expert with your questions.

Keeping Mosquitoes in Check

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They say April showers bring May flowers, but there’s something else all of that water brings — mosquitoes. These bloodsucking insects are known for an annoying bite that itches and causes a small rash. Mosquitoes are disease-carrying insects that can spread the potentially deadly West Nile Virus and other illnesses.

Residents in most states should expect to see a large surge in mosquito activity in the coming months. Truly Nolen is already experiencing increased calls from around the country from residents, offices, and restaurants experiencing problems with mosquitoes.

Mosquito Repellants Are Not the Answer

For people who are frequently plagued by mosquito bites, bug sprays and candles containing chemical repellants may seem like the perfect solution to keep these insects in check. Unfortunately the chemical in these repellants — DEET — does not actually make mosquitoes leave the area. Instead the chemical is designed to block the mosquito’s ability to smell humans and therefore prevent them from landing on someone to bite and feed. While chemical repellants may save you from the occasional mosquito bite, they do nothing to address where the mosquitoes are coming from, causing you to spend more money in mosquito repellant products without really addressing the source of the problem.

Preventing an Invasion

A mosquito will spend most of its weeklong life near a favorable water source, which provides it food and favorable conditions to mature. Fountains, troughs, buckets, birdbaths, and ponds with standing water all provide female mosquitoes the perfect place for their eggs to grow. Removing these sources of standing water removes the potential for more mosquitoes to breed.

Once you’ve emptied some of these mosquito-spawning areas, it’s up to you to ensure standing water does not accumulate around your home. An effective mosquito prevention regimen also requires consistent landscaping, as mosquitoes enjoy hiding in tall grass, weeds, and other vegetation.

Keeping mosquitoes away from your home is extremely difficult and time-consuming and can keep you from enjoying all of the benefits of summertime. Instead a mosquito control program, like Truly Nolen’s Four Seasons pest control approach, can protect all areas of your home from all kinds of pests, especially the extremely annoying mosquito.

If your summer calendar is beginning to fill up fast, it’s important to ensure your home is protected from these voracious pests and the illnesses they can cause. A free pest inspection provided by a Truly Nolen technician can identify areas where female mosquitoes are likely to lay eggs.

If you’ve had to smack a few mosquitoes off in the past few weeks or are looking to avoid a potential infestation around your home, calling Truly Nolen can help you spend less time worrying about unwanted pests and more time enjoying the outdoors.

More Bugs: The Unwelcome Impact of Climate Change

What does the ever-changing weather patterns have to do with pest control? Quite a bit, actually. As northern parts of the country are experiencing extremely low temperatures, and other areas are oddly warmer than usual, the change in our typical seasonal patterns raises a red flag for changes in pest activity.

Irregular changes in the weather, such as spikes in cold temperatures, have the potential to significantly diminish a pest predator’s population, affecting the balance of the ecosystem and allowing pests to thrive and flourish as they take advantage and adapt without anyone to threaten their livelihood. As the populations of predators decrease, pests are able to recuperate from the weather change significantly quicker.

The impact of climate change on insects and humans is far reaching – forest and food crops could be affected and diseases spread by insects could have a wider range. Nature has a delicate balance and it doesn’t take much – a slight temperature variation, or even a movement in the course of a river – to cause changes that move throughout an ecosystem.

Since mosquitoes are the most common carriers of malaria and yellow fever, dramatic increases in these diseases would be likely. Moreover, both the National Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization report that current treatments for malaria and yellow fever are becoming less effective, leading to the potential for plague-like levels of these diseases, unlike anything seen since the U.S. Civil War.

Pests like the cockroach, bed bug, scorpion and mosquito are among the most adaptable and successful life forms on earth. For example, cockroaches are among the oldest living creatures. They survived the Ice Age, and are believed to have persisted for more than 350 million years. With that record of success, we can be sure they will adapt and thrive in changing climate patterns.

Bed bugs have been around since the 11th century and have learned to live and adapt as humans do while acclimating and adjusting to the warmer and milder climates, creating a new page in their pest evolution. In the southern part of the country, these nomadic pests have caused infestations to rise exponentially, threatening vacationers’ favorite sunny spots and bringing home with them unwanted house guests.

We know that there is a strong, direct relationship between the level of insect populations and fluctuating temperatures. As variations in the seasons become more evident, predictions for pest activity in 2013 reflect similarly to what we’ve seen in 2012. And since 2012 was one of the hottest years on record, what we can expect in 2013 is a continuation of abnormal pest activity.

Excluding mosquitoes from your outdoor event

Mosquito populations are known to increase with warmer temperatures. Outdoor events are frequently crashed by the pesky pests, who are attracted to the congregation of people. Take the following pest control precautions to avoid unhappy bitten guests. 

Eliminate standing water
Mosquitoes breed in still waters: Females lay their eggs under water, so man-made ponds, bird baths, old tires, gutters and pools should either be emptied, cleaned or equipped with devices to keep the water moving. Extra attention should be paid in locations that are near a pond or swamp, or in places that have just experienced heavy precipitation. This will help to prevent a mosquito infestation from occurring in the first place.

Use screens or netting
The most foolproof way to keep mosquitoes out of a gathering is to close in a porch or tent with netting or screens, which can be purchased at a local hardware store. Check the material to be sure it’s in good shape and patch up any holes that may be present with wire.

Clothing 
Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, and exposed skin gives them an open invitation to bite. Recommend that guests wear lights colors, long sleeves and pants with thick fabric. The pests are a
lso known to be attracted to pregnant women, who may want to avoid insect repellent chemicals, so these guests may enjoy a screened area as mentioned above.

Repellents
Aside from insect repellent, which can get on food and emits a nasty smell, look into other ways to discourage mosquitoes from coming near the event. Tiki torches are available that burn an oil that may help repel the insect. They also provide a unique visual to a party. Similarly, candles and oil lamps are sold that provide the same effect with less of the hassle of torches.

Bug zappers (the hanging blue lights that attract, then kill flying bugs), while unpleasant to look at and hear, can also help reduce the mosquito population near your house. Mosquito coil is another option and produces no smell. The different types of coils burn Citronella oil to disguise the CO2 that humans emit (which attracts mosquitos). However, they make less of an impact than sprays and zappers. 

The pests aren’t just an annoyance: getting bitten also puts the victim at risk for diseases. Those over 50 are more likely to get malaria or the West Nile virus from a bite, so making an appointment with an exterminator such as Truly Nolen each spring may be the surest way to provide a safe, bug-free environment.

Survey finds West Nile concern among Americans, pest control companies affected

West Nile virus has come on strong this year, leading to an uptick in business for pest control companies.

A recent survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association revealed that 54 percent of Americans are worried about the West Nile virus, a potentially deadly disease that can be transmitted by infected mosquitoes.

In addition, the survey found that 22 percent of respondents took more steps to protect themselves from mosquitoes than in previous years.

“This year’s unprecedented West Nile Virus epidemic and the alarming amount of fatalities are worrisome for health and pest experts alike," said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs at the NPMA. "Our members have received increased calls from homeowners to assist them with mosquito elimination in their back yards and this survey clearly shows the elevated concern experienced by much of the American population. The good news is that mosquito activity will naturally decrease over the next few weeks as the weather cools in much of the country and adult mosquitoes die off.”

The NPMA is currently in transition mode as its executive vice president, Rob Lederer, announced his resignation after 17 years of leading the organization. The resignation is effective immediately and was announced by NPMA President Laura Simpson during a conference call with the association's board of directors.

Mike Rottler, president of a pest control company, told PCT that news of Lederer's resignation came as a shock.

Ensure West Nile-carrying mosquitoes aren’t around your home

As the summer continues, so do stories about the potentially deadly West Nile Virus. The illness has plagued almost every state so far this year, but no state has seen more cases of the virus than Texas. The mayor of Dallas declared a state of emergency, and many other communities are worried that a bite will infect them with the sickness.

Many people think those who get sick catch West Nile from venturing out into the wilderness, or lingering near areas with standing water, such as lakes or ponds. This is not the case – most people catch West Nile in their own backyards. If you don't take proper pest control precautions in and around your home, it could result in a serious condition for a member of the family.

The danger in your backyard
Take a walk through your yard, and you'll be amazed at the amount of breeding grounds available to mosquitoes. Wet flower pots, pools, bird baths, clogged gutters and a bowl of water for the family dog provide ample opportunities for the blood-sucking pests to reproduce. Just a tiny amount of water is enough to produce a new generation of mosquitoes that could potentially carry West Nile Virus.

What's worse is the mosquitoes will not travel far from their homes, meaning all the pests in your backyard at dusk are likely hiding out there all day. They are likely taking refuge in shady places or plants, just waiting for the opportunity to bite.

Preventative measures in and around the home
Don't rely on luck alone to spare your family from West Nile. The life threatening disease can be prevented by taking simple steps to make your home unfriendly to the pests. Take the first step and examine your home for areas bugs may be able to enter through. Because some mosquitoes like to invade homes, it is important to make sure window and door screens are well-fitted and free from tears. Keep the buzzing pests out of the house by making sure doors and windows are kept closed if screens are unavailable or defective.

Your yard should be your next stop when trying to eliminate the risk of West Nile. Carefully check your yard for standing water and drain as much as possible. Getting rid of something as small as a puddle in a flowerpot may save a family member from the severe disease.

If these steps have been taken and mosquitoes are still increasing around your home, it may be time to call in a pest control expert to get rid of the insects in and around your house.

Massachusetts sprays for diseased mosquitoes

State health officials have announced that six communities in Massachusetts will undergo pest control efforts in an attempt to eliminate disease-carrying insects.

Mosquitoes carrying eastern equine encephalitis are not unheard of in the area, but they are being found much earlier than in the past. The infected mosquitoes are usually first discovered in late July or early August, but this year were found in June. The state has found more of the pests with EEE so far this summer than all of the previous year.

EEE can be spread to humans through a mosquito bite, and is often fatal. No human cases have been reported yet this year.

Multiple communities have already been sprayed recently, but some will see more aerial spraying to eliminate more EEE-infected mosquitoes. Residents are advised to keep an eye on local media, which will announce the dates of the sprays once they are determined.

"It's extremely important that residents in these communities take immediate steps to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites," said state Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach.

Homeowners can take precautions to prevent contracting EEE through simple insect control measures. Avoiding being outdoors between dusk and dawn can help prevent potentially deadly bites. Wearing insect repellent or wearing long pants and sleeves when outdoors can also assist residents in avoiding bites.