Category Archives: Pests In the News

Hurricane displaces rats

A massive hurricane has rocked communities along the East Coast and it may be bad news for those fearful of pest problems. Rodents may be a big issue for residents heading back to New York City once the streets are free from water and debris. The need for rodent control may grow in the coming weeks as rats move into new homes and stir up trouble for residents.

Chased out of their habitats
The majority of the rats that call the New York subway home have likely been displaced, since the subway system flooded and forced them to move to drier areas to survive. While some residents may have hopes that many of the pests drowned and won't be a nuisance any longer, this likely isn't the case. Rats are able to swim and climb, making it probable that most escaped the rising water in the subway tunnels.

Moving and spreading disease
Because the rodents were pushed out of their homes underground, they'll be seeking new homes once the flooding lets up. A local pest control expert told the Huffington Post that if the storm disrupted the rats to a great extent, they may begin to invade areas they never previously lived in, meaning more people throughout the city may soon be having problems with rodent infestations. Rats driven out of their homes by water may be sneaking into apartment buildings, offices and homes causing trouble for residents.

Rat movement isn't a mere annoyance – it can also be a potential health hazard. Rodents are notorious for carrying serious illnesses that can be fatal in humans, and the first sign of a home infestation should be taken very seriously. Humans that come into contact with rodents, their droppings or their urine could become infected with a variety of diseases such as the plague, salmonella, hantavirus and typhus. The threat of these illnesses should be taken seriously and always handled by a medical professional.

Handling the problem
As residents begin to make their way home once the storm clears, they'll need to keep a close watch to ensure their homes and offices aren't infested with disease-carrying rodents. As soon as a problem is discovered, it needs to be reported to pest control professionals who are experienced in handling rodent infestations. Once an exterminator removes the problem, residents can breathe easily once again.

Plague worries residents

Some California residents are worried about rodent control near their homes. Several critters in the state have tested positive for the bubonic plague, a disease that wiped out entire communities hundreds of years ago. Many are concerned about becoming infected with the disease, or putting their families and pets at risk, but with basic knowledge, most should be able to avoid coming down with the illness.

What is the plague and how does it spread?
The plague has been around for hundreds of years and can be carried by mice, rats, chipmunks and squirrels. The disease can be transmitted by fleas or rodents, and even though it's typically treatable, it can sometimes be fatal. For this reason, it's essential to take steps to prevent becoming infected with the plague.

Symptoms of the plague include fever, swollen lymph nodes and weakness. Those suffering from such symptoms should see a physician to ensure their illness isn't the plague.

Preventing disease
One of the most important steps in staying plague-free is keeping homes free of rodents. Rats and mice can easily find their way into homes, and frequently do so to find shelter as the temperature drops throughout the autumn and winter. Cracks and holes should be sealed up as soon as they are noticed to prevent rodents from entering residences and potentially bringing disease with them. Food should be sealed to keep pests from sneaking inside for a meal.

Even if a home is free from pests, that doesn't necessarily mean its residents have no cause for concern. Precautions should still be taken to ensure no family member contracts this serious illness. Children should be warned to stay away from rodents while playing outside, and they should be instructed to never pick up or touch any wild animals – even rodents that look healthy could be carrying the plague. Burrows in backyards should be fenced off so pets can't start digging in them and chasing rodents, and family pets should visit the vet consistently to ensure they will always be protected against fleas that can spread the illness.

Once a rodent problem is noticed, it's important to immediately contact pest control professionals to handle the problem. Whether a homeowner has discovered droppings, nibbled food or a live rat, it's essential to have the situation taken care of as soon as possible. A rodent problem can get worse quickly, and having an exterminator take care of the issue right away will help to prevent the spread of disease and the other problems that come with a rodent infestation.

Hurricanes could bring pest problems

Hurricanes have the potential to seriously disrupt everyday life. When a storm hits an area, its strong winds, rain and resulting flooding can cause major damage to a community. However, there's another way hurricanes can damage an area – by bringing in an influx of pests. With Hurricane Sandy threatening part of the country, these storm-related issues are a concern for many on the East Coast.

After a storm, many return to their homes to find damage from water or wind, but they may not be expecting to discover a problem with insects, as well. Because hurricanes and other storms can displace or disorient wildlife, the potential of bug problems goes up drastically. The South Carolina Department of Public Health and Environmental Control reported that the frequency of insect bites can increase by up to 50 percent after a storm.

Insect issues
Once homeowners are sure it's safe to return to their residences, there are several things they can do to reduce the risk of unwelcome pests invading their houses. Downpours can increase the number of mosquitoes in an area, so it's essential to drain any standing water to eliminate breeding areas. Even if there are no puddles around, it's still important to take precautions, as mosquitoes can carry diseases. Making sure screens are free from rips is key to prevent the pests from entering a home, and when going outside residents should always wear bug repellent to keep the mosquitoes from biting.

Rodent invasions
Rodents can also be a concern for communities after a hurricane hits. While winds are high, trash may be blown about, which attracts rats to an area. Upon returning to their residence, homeowners should make sure there is no trash or food outside their homes to keep the critters at bay. Any holes or cracks caused by storm damage should be sealed as soon as possible – it's not hard for a rodent to sneak into a residence through a small crevice.

If homeowners return to their communities after a hurricane to find that insects and rodents have taken over, it's essential to bring in a professional exterminator. Because many pests can carry disease, they need to be removed from homes as quickly as possible. Without taking care of the issue in a timely fashion, residents may only find that the problem will get worse over the coming days and weeks. A pest control professional can help to ensure unwelcome critters are eliminated from a household, and that it is habitable once more.

Rodents abound on East Coast

Residents on the East Coast appear to be dealing with large numbers of rodents these days. From college students to working professionals, it seems that many are unable to escape the pests that are plaguing urban areas, and plenty of people are fed up with the mice or rats they're discovering in their homes.

Rodents on the rise
People living in the Boston area are becoming concerned with the number of rats invading their neighborhoods, while the critters are also making their way into homes and businesses. Aside from coming indoors, they're also making nests, holes and burrows in backyards and open spaces.

Busy neighborhoods around Boston aren't the only areas seeing large rodent populations. The Harvard Crimson reported that students around Cambridge are also finding more rodent infestations than usual. Students claim to have found rodents all over campus, both inside and out. They've also been spreading to the local train station.

The Harvard Crimson referenced local pest control expert George Williams who said the large rodent population is because the Greater Boston is a very old urban area.

"There are tunnels that lead to tunnels that lead to even more tunnels that we don't even know about," he said to the paper.

New York City is also having a problem with rodents, and one resident is taking advantage of the issue to exercise his terriers, some of whom were bred for ratting in the past. He has the dogs chase down the rodents, even if they don't catch many, New York NBC affiliate WNBC reported.

People in the Boston area are dealing with the pests in more traditional ways – by setting traps, keeping their homes and gardens free from resources rodents need and by calling exterminators if the problem gets out of hand.

Keeping rodents at bay
There's nothing more startling for a homeowner than finding a rodent lurking in a corner of their home. While mice and rats typically aren't very aggressive, their presence can still be dangerous. They can carry diseases, contaminate food and reproduce quickly, making it essential to get rid of the critters before the problem gets out of control or a family member falls ill. Residents who notice signs of an infestation shouldn't hesitate to contact pest control professionals who can handle the situation and rid a home of rodents.

Crickets causing problems in Southwest

While seemingly harmless, crickets are causing plenty of problems for residents in the Southwest, especially homeowners in Texas who are fed up with the situation. Hordes of the pests have taken over towns, while homes and businesses are swarmed with the hopping insects. Some areas have been experiencing problems with the huge numbers of crickets since this spring, and the warm winter followed by particularly hot weather this summer and fall has only made the problem worse. The crickets have been breeding more than usual, and it's starting to bug people who have homes and offices that are covered in the pests.

Bugs invading towns
The pests are a huge nuisance for homeowners and businesses alike. They tend to gather outside homes and storefronts, and when doors open, the bugs  find a way inside. Once they're indoors, they can cause residents to panic, even though they don't pose a health threat. When many find their way inside, some people are swarmed with so many that they're forced to sweep them back outside with brooms. Some structures are so infested with the pests, people are using leaf blowers to get them off of doors, windows and siding.

It's not just the sheer amount of crickets that's getting to residents – it's also what happens when they die. Although most are pleased when the insect population begins to diminish, this year it's just another annoyance. Particularly rainy weather has made dealing with the dead crickets as bad as dealing with the ones that are alive.

During dry weather, the dead bugs simply blow away and don't cause any trouble. But because of the increased amount of rain, many Texans are finding that the wet, decaying carcasses produce an unpleasant smell that's tough to deal with. Some residents aren't sure which is worse – live crickets covering their homes and trying to get indoors, or dead crickets laying around outside causing a discernable stench.

Keeping crickets away
Live crickets can cause plenty of irritation, especially if they're covering a home and penetrating opened doors and windows. However, homeowners don't have deal with crickets, there are several ways people can keep them off their properties. The Dallas Morning News reported crickets are attracted to bright lights at night, so simply turning them off can keep crickets away from a home. If the lights have to be left on, using yellow bug lights or sodium vapor lamps instead of regular bulbs may also discourage the pests from dropping by and covering a home.

Residents who have found unusually large numbers of crickets indoors may want to consider calling pest control experts to assess the situation. Even though the bugs aren't dangerous, they can be a nuisance, frightening children or even distracting family pets. A professional exterminator can determine what can be done to get rid of the crickets inside a home, and how to prevent problems in the future.

Pest control an issue in schools

While bed bugs have been invading colleges across the country, other pests have been making their way into high schools and middle schools. Unwelcome critters have been sneaking into these educational institutions, tempted by the food in cafeterias where students eat lunch on a daily basis.

A Chicago high school recently revealed that several of its students were sickened and hospitalized after eating hot lunches prepared in the school cafeteria. It was discovered that the lunches were contaminated with mouse or rat droppings, a source of serious concern to students, parents and administrators.

"When the problem was brought to our attention, we took immediate steps to close the kitchen and provide the students with cold lunches," a Chicago Public Schools spokesperson said. "At the close of school tomorrow, pest control will be onsite at the facility to alleviate any remaining issues."

Chicago isn't the only city dealing with pest infestations in its public schools. Several schools in Lawrence, Kansas, are under fire due to recent citations that indicate the district's pest control policies aren't being followed. The Kansas Department of Agriculture discovered mouse droppings and roaches in two different area schools. Even though the district is working to eliminate the problem, having pests near food prep areas can be a serious health hazard, and students who eat cafeteria-prepared food risk ingesting a contaminated dish and falling ill.

Keeping pests out of food-filled areas
Unwelcome critters such as rodents and roaches are drawn to areas where they can easily access food, making kitchens a hotspot for potential infestations. Preventing an invasion is key – pests can be difficult and stressful to eliminate, but it's not hard to take basic precautions to keep them from entering a home.

Homeowners who leave food out in the kitchen are putting themselves at risk for a rodent or insect infestation. Leftover food should be thrown away or immediately stored in airtight containers so it doesn't attract critters searching for their next meal. Dry goods in pantries shouldn't be left open or kept in ripped packaging. Airtight containers are the best way to keep unwanted pests away from food sources and prevent contamination.

Residents who fear an infestation in their kitchen should keep an eye out for warning signs such as gnawed boxes, nests, pest droppings or urine stains. If evidence of pests is discovered, homeowners should immediately contact an exterminator to handle the situation.

Stink bugs invade homes

Homeowners across the country have been fighting off an extremely unwelcome pest – the stink bug. The insect gets its name due to an offensive odor they emit when crushed or frightened. This makes dealing with an infestation extremely difficult and unpleasant for residents.

Stink bugs aren't just bothering homeowners in one part of the country – USA Today reported the pests have been spotted in 38 states so far. The area hit the hardest is the Mid-Atlantic region – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Washington, D.C. have experienced the most problems. The source reported that 59 percent of D.C. residents have already experienced an issue with the bugs this year.

The invasive insect has been spreading quickly, and the hot weather this summer didn't do homeowners any favors. USA Today referenced  U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist Tracy Leskey who said the long, hot summer increased stink bug populations by allowing two separate generations to breed.

These pests are causing concern among the agricultural community. Homeowners with gardens, organic farmers and commercial growers have all seen stink bugs destroy their crops, and the insects aren't picky eaters – they'll snack on virtually any crop they can find. Even more frustrating for some is when they get indoors and begin to cause problems in a home. 

Heading indoors
Even though the pests aren't dangerous and don't spread disease, they're still frustrating to deal with. The strong scent they give off can be unbearable, especially if there's a large infestation in a residence. Unfortunately, the bugs are invading homes at a rapid pace. To escape the increasingly chilly weather, they're seeking shelter in houses across the country, where they hibernate and then emerge in the spring.

An infestation can be hard to get rid of, especially once the insects start hiding in walls and attics to hibernate. A few preventative measures can help homeowners keep the bugs at bay. Sealing all cracks around a home can prevent the pests from sneaking in, but they can slip through tiny crevices near doors and windows, which homeowners can easily miss when sealing up their homes.

For homeowners dealing with smaller numbers of the bugs, pest control professionals advise not crushing the pests, but instead vacuuming them and immediately getting rid of the bag. Those dealing with more severe infestations should contact professional exterminators to handle the situation to help ensure the infestation doesn't continue to spread.

Box elder bug invasion worse than expected

Many communities are accustomed to an annual invasion of box elder bugs, but the number of pests showing up this year has been extreme in many areas. Residents and pest control professionals are saying they haven't seen such large populations of the insects in years, and the unusual weather that has been hitting much of the country may be to blame.

The worst invasion in decades
Even though box elder bugs don't carry disease, they're a huge nuisance to homeowners, especially when the pests' numbers are so extreme.

"Speaking with other technicians, it's about the worst they've seen in 20 to 25 years," local pest control expert Adam Peterson told Waterloo, Iowa, area ABC affiliate KWWL.

The source also reported some homes in the area were completely covered in the insects, and it was impossible to tell what color the houses were under the thick layer of black bugs.

Experts speculate that the bizarre weather that has swept the nation is likely the cause of the huge box elder bug population this summer and autumn. Last winter was mild enough for many of the pests to survive, and the hot dry summer created ideal conditions for the bugs to thrive.

Many homeowners are hoping the first hard frost will come soon and kill off the bugs that are swarming their homes. But while some wait for nature to handle the invasion, others are taking matters into their own hands.

Controlling box elder bugs
While the first hard frost will effectively eliminate many of these insects, some homeowners are so bothered by the pests they're taking care of the problem early on and calling insect control experts. Exterminators in many regions are seeing an increase in the number of calls regarding box elder bugs as they continue to take over homes.

And the pests aren't just clinging to windows and siding outdoors. Because of the massive populations, the bugs are sneaking into homes, prompting homeowners to call for even more pest control services. They can sneak into small cracks, ripped screens or even gain access to a home by clinging to a resident's clothing.

Even though the pests may be annoying, they're not dangerous and they won't cause damage to property or spread disease. But despite their harmless nature, many homeowners are irritated by the insects taking over their homes. Those experiencing a severe box elder bug problem may want to consult local pest control experts to assess the situation and perform any necessary services.

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.

Professional pest control companies the best at handling bed bugs

The Federal Trade Commission recently charged several companies with deceptive advertising. These companies marketed products that supposedly prevent and clear up bed bug infestations with natural ingredients, like cedar oil, lemongrass and cinnamon. The pest-killing claims were not supported with any evidence.

The FTC sued the companies in federal court, and one of them has agreed to cease marketing their product as a way to prevent bed bug infestations.

Bed bugs affect areas throughout the country and can be extremely difficult to eradicate. They can access the tiniest of spaces, where they are often not spotted until an infestation becomes severe. Mattress seams, behind headboards and behind wallpaper are common places for the pests to hide. Although their tiny size makes them hard to eliminate, their ability to live up to a year without eating also contributes to their resilience.

Homeowners facing bed bug problems are often embarrassed about the issue and try to treat the problem themselves instead of turning to insect control professionals. However, a bed bug infestation is nothing to be embarrassed about, as it has little to do with cleanliness. They can be picked up while traveling, visiting friends or even by bringing used clothing or furniture into your house. It's easy for these unwelcome creatures to sneak into your home undetected.

To prevent inadvertently bringing home the bugs, it's important to take caution when traveling. Check beds in hotels for signs of an infestation, and set suitcases on a luggage rack rather than letting them sit on the bed or carpet. Upon returning home, inspect all clothing and luggage, and wash everything, even items that weren't worn during your trip. Traveling isn't the only time you may encounter bed bugs – buying used clothing and furniture can also contribute to an unexpected infestation. Examine all purchases to ensure there aren't any bugs hiding in the items, and wash used clothing before stowing it in your closet.

Because these pests are difficult to get rid of, professional assistance is usually necessary. Don't risk using products that won't eliminate an infestation. If you've discovered signs of these insects, it's important to act quickly before the problem worsens. Calling a pest control company immediately is the first step to take in your battle against bed bugs. Professionals can confirm that the insects really are bed bugs, and they can recommend the best form of treatment based on your situation.