Facts and myths about bed bugs

Some major cities have recently had to contend with bed bug infestations but many people are not able to separate truth from fact when it comes to extermination. 

Household products
Bed bugs do live in beds, as well as most upholstered furniture and in clothing. Once they have infested an area, only professional exterminators can effectively eliminate bed bug populations. Many products claim that they can kill bed bugs, but they are not nearly as effective as professional grade products that are typically not available to consumers. Products like insect foggers available from hardware stores are not only often ineffective, they can cause the bugs to disperse and spread out within a room or home. Foggers can also cause allergic reactions that are on par with the irritation caused by bed bugs in some cases.

While many believe wrapping their mattress and box spring in plastic can kill bed bugs, this is simply not true: It may help prevent them from settling in the mattress, but they will find somewhere else to live according to the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. New York City was one of the cities hit worst by bed bugs in recent years.

Bed bug bites
Bed bugs affect people differently. While some will develop itchy rashes similar to mosquito bites, others show no signs of bites according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with no visible reaction to bed bugs often do not know that they are dealing with an infestation until they see the bugs, which are slightly smaller than an apple seed and reddish-brown in color. 

Fortunately, bed bugs have not been shown to transmit disease like other pests. However, they are still considered a public health threat by the CDC. Certain people may become more prone to skin infections due to allergic reactions to the bites, and an infestation can severely and adversely affect a person’s mental well-being.

Bed bug removal 
Bed bugs can be laundered out of clothing. Furniture can often be treated and used again. However, the pests lay thousands of eggs and it is virtually impossible to eliminate them all with simple washing alone. This is where it becomes necessary to contact a pest control professional rather than relying on over-the-counter products that may not be entirely effective.

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Rodent droppings a serious health hazard

A daycare owner in Texas recently came under fire for having rodent droppings scattered on the floor of the business, something that health officials consider to be a serious health risk, according to Valleycentral.com. The owner and operator of the daycare declined to comment on the situation, saying that it was taken care of but was mandated to bring in professional pest control to fumigate. 

If left unchecked, rodents and their droppings can constitute a serious health risk to humans, especially children. Ever since plague-infected rats infested ships in the Middle Ages, rats and other rodents have been notorious for the spread of disease, and for good reason. According the CDC, rodent droppings can be responsible for the spread of dozens of diseasesincluding a variety of contagious viruses that are serious risks to health, some potentially fatal if left untreated.

Prevention
Always wash hands thoroughly after any contact with a rodent, wild or domestic. Since humans and rodents share such a wide variety of diseases, it is wise to avoid contact altogether and always wear heavy-duty gloves when coming in contact with rodents and their droppings, says the CDC. It is equally important to avoid allowing any dried droppings to become dust, which can contaminate the air and lungs potentially spreading disease. Spray down any areas that have come in contact with rodents with a mixture of one part bleach per 10 parts water and allow it soak so that any viruses or bacteria will die. Items that cannot be treated with cleansers can be left in the sun for several hours to kill any germs or bacteria. 

The best way to avoid contact with rodent dropping is to remove the pests from the home. Put all foods in glass or plastic containers inside cabinets to hide the scent from rodents. Plug any holes or cracks that are big enough for a rodent to slip through, especially during the winter when they are more likely to enter homes in search of food and warmth.

If the problem is too severe for these measures, it is time to call a commercial exterminator like Truly Nolen. Extermination of rats and other rodents is best left the professionals in extreme cases and, considering the risks, is well worth the phone call.

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Fish market in Ontario closed due to rat problem

A popular fish market in Toronto, Ontario, was recently closed because of health code violations, including a rat infestation.

The store, which is located near downtown and typically sells squid, salmon, scallops and other seafood, is rated four out of five stars on Yelp, though the last review was written this time last year. 

Global Toronto reports that a food safety website revealed that the market previously had two conditional passes, but was closed on January 28 for five different infractions, the most revealing of which was a sighting of roughly 15 rats. In an interview​ with the news source, the woman who spotted the rats stated that “you could see them crawling on the sinks on the windows through the back area …” She snapped a photo then posted it online to warn others of the violation. The conditional passes occurred in November of 2012 and in October of 2011. This is the first time that the market has been closed due to a rat problem. 

Rats pose the threat of spreading disease through direct contact, and occasionally cause breathing problems in the areas that they’ve inhabited. They transmit diseases such as the bubonic plague, salmonella, rat-bite fever, leptospirosis, tapeworms and murine typhus.

The market has been open for 50 years, and the owner has expressed concerns about whether or not the business will be able to bounce back. Customers have already begun to cancel their orders, but the Global reports that the market should be able to reopen soon.

Many restaurants and stores close due to infestations of rodents and other pests. Though the shut downs are often temporary (until the shop is cleaned up), many businesses have trouble regaining their reputation. At the first signs of an infestation, a pest control professional should be called to exterminate the critter population.

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Avoid luring pests into your bedroom

Having pests in the home can pose various dangers to the family. Mice gnaw on wires and increase the risk of electrical fires, cockroaches can increase the likelihood of asthma and silverfish can destroy valuable documents. To avoid any of these occurring in their bedroom, homeowners should be sure to take the following precautions.

Avoid food in the bedroom 
Allowing food in the bedroom may invite pests, whether or not falling bits of food are clearly visible. When eating at a desk or in bed, crumbs are inevitable. It’s important to clean the areas that are utilized for meals frequently and thoroughly. If you do keep food in the bedroom, keeping it in air tight containers limits the risk of uninvited guests, though always eating in the kitchen cuts down on the amount of cleaning that is necessary. If there’s nothing to eat, mice and other pests are less likely to make that area their habitat.

Reduce nooks & crannies 
Seal the perimeter. If pests can’t get in, they can’t make themselves at home. This Old House warns that most critters need less than a quarter-inch diameter space to get into a room, so plugging up potential entrances, especially in older homes, is essential. Make sure that all windows have screens, and that the screens don’t have any holes in them. Cracks in walls can be filled with expanding foam or steel wool. Use a flashlight to check the corners and floorboards in the rooms of the house to prevent the potential for pest entry. If your bedroom has hardwood floors, be sure to check for gaps and cracks wider than a quarter-inch. 

Keep It Neat
TLC notes that it’s vital to keep all spaces in any house neat and free of clutter, since piles of clothes or boxes make ideal hiding spaces for unwanted guests. Most everyone would hate to find a mouse or spider in their shoe when getting ready for the day. This can also be used as an incentive for keeping bedrooms tidy. Keeping a doormat by the front and back entryways can help to reduce dirt, which in turn reduces the risk of tracking pests into the bedroom.

Keep pets clean
Pets are also a great way for creatures to hitch a ride through the front door and then into the bedroom. Cleaning and drying pet’s paws and fur before allowing them into the house, especially before they get into the bedrooms, can cut down on pesky passengers. Luckily it’s not necessary to give cats and dogs a bath every time they come in from the yard. Special cloths are available at most pet stores that make maintaining the cleanliness of a household animal significantly easier. 

If pests do make it into the bedroom, many pest control services such as Truly Nolen offer a free inspection. 

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Cold Draws Cockroaches Inside, Increases Health Risk

Children More Susceptible to Allergic, Asthmatic Reactions

They’re creepy crawlers that make most of us go “eeww!” However, cockroaches pose a much greater risk to our health than simple disgust at a sighting, in particular for those who suffer from allergies and asthma. In fact, cockroaches are known to spread 33 kinds of bacteria and more than a dozen other disease-causing organisms, including E. coli and salmonella. And now, as the height of the cold-weather season sets in and we (and cockroaches) spend more times indoors, the risk increases.

“Cockroaches are one of the most common indoor pests and many people are sensitive to the allergens that come with them,” said Scott Svenheim, an Associate Certified Entomologist at Truly Nolen. “They’re found in the cleanest of homes in all types of neighborhoods, particularly in crowded cities with a lot of older buildings.”

For those who are sensitive to cockroach allergens, the proteins found in their saliva increases the likelihood of an allergic reaction. The body and droppings of cockroaches also contain allergenic proteins. Recent studies suggest that exposure to cockroach allergen can increase the severity of asthma symptoms, and one in five children in the U.S. have severe sensitivities to cockroach allergens, according to The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Truly Nolen encourages everyone to take proactive steps to prevent cockroach infestations during the winter to help keep families healthy and safe:

Preventive Strategies

  • Keep food and garbage in closed, tight-lidded containers.
  • Never leave food out in the kitchen.
  • Eliminate water sources that attract pests, such as leaky faucets and drain pipes.
  • Do not leave out pet food or dirty food bowls.
  • Pay extra attention to kitchens and bathrooms – especially under appliances and sinks due to food and moisture found in and around plumbing fixtures.
  • Mop the kitchen floor and wash countertops at least once a week.
  • Plug up crevices around the house through which cockroaches can enter.

Limit the spread of food around the house and especially keep it out of bedrooms.

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Termites terrorize Texas

Swarming termites were a disconcerting sight for many San Antonio residents this holiday season, states amateur scientist Forrest Mims in an article for San Antonio Express-News.

Several days before Christmas, Mims noticed flying insects on his property. Upon approaching the swarm, he noticed a patch of ground below it covered in a rippling, shimmering white film, he writes. What he was looking at was actually a thousand winged termites, which then suddenly  took off into the air.

While termites serve an important purpose in nature eating up dead tree particles, they’re a major nuisance for residents. There are a variety of termite species and most share the commonality of destroying wood and causing severe damage for homeowners.

Subterranean termites live in underground colonies that can contain up to 2 million members, according to the National Pest Management Association. They build mud or soil tubes in the ground around exposed concrete foundation, which homeowners should be aware of when expecting their property for signs of an infestation.

Meanwhile, drywood termites rarely come into contact with the soil and live in dry wood, as their name implies. They can also cause serious structural damage.

If residents suspects termites on their property, they should contact a pest management professional promptly.

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Bed bugs wreak havoc in Indiana and Kentucky

Residents of the Asheville Housing Authority complex in Aston Park, Indiana, are troubled by a lingering bed bug problem, reports local ABC affiliate WLOS. After dealing with a large bed bug infestation in 2011, authority officials have told the station the problem hasn't worsened and is under control and that they've only received one complaint recently. However, bed bugs remain an ongoing concern for residents.

Occupants of public housing complexes in New Albany, Kentucky, are facing the the same problem, states local news station WHAS 11. The housing authority has recently brought in pest management professionals to search more than 1,000 homes.

Bed bugs have become a  major issue for homeowners and communities across the country, notably in the Midwest and the South. City officials in a Louisville, Kentucky suburb met earlier this week to discuss recent infestation reports, according to WDRB, which covers news for areas of Kentucky and Indiana.

The suburb of Shelbyville code enforcement officer Darryl Williams said bed bug cases in the area are mostly sporadic and occur in apartment complexes. He conducts building inspections weekly.

"We started having problems with mattresses sitting on the side of the roads. We had couches, chairs sitting on the side of the road," Williams told the news service.

Bed bugs are particularly troublesome because they bite and they populate quickly. Many Shelbyville residents are realizing how difficult getting rid of them is without professional help.

"It has to be a professional pesticide company that comes in and does it," said Williams. "It just can't be an individual."

City officials are holding a meeting on Thursday night to discuss pest management and property owner education initiatives.

Because bed bugs infestations are among the most troublesome pest problems, homeowners and landlords should take precautionary measures to catch them early on. It's important to call a pest management professional promptly upon seeing bed bugs, bites or pepper-like flakes of shedded skin on furniture and in fabric or carpeting.

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Roof rats cause trouble for Washington residents

While roof rats are usually only found along the coast of Washington, exterminators are seeing an increase of reported sightings in other parts of the state, local news source Yakima Herald reports.

Officials have yet to determine whether the increase in roof rat calls pest management professionals are receiving is caused by a species population growth or migration. Despite the cause, the rodents are resulting in problems for homeowners throughout the area and an increase in calls to pest control professionals.

Roof rats are named after their tendency to dwell in structure attics, trees and vine-covered fences, the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management (ICWDM) states. These pests often enter buildings through roof openings and from overhead utility lines and nearby trees. Roof rats can be extremely troublesome for homeowners as they can gnaw through insulation and wiring, which can result in costly damage and potential health hazards for a family experiencing an invasion.

Preventing an infestation
To avoid luring roof rats into a home, residents can take precautionary measures to pest-proof their property. Because roof rats often eat the pulp of oranges, it's a good idea to clean up any fruit that may have fallen from yard trees. Residents should also trim branches near structures and eliminate brush on their property to eliminate hiding places and routes into the home.

These rats are attracted by water and materials that can be used to build nests. It's therefore a good idea to eliminate moisture and potential harborage throughout the home. Those homeowners who suspect the pests may have gotten into their homes are advised to contact rodent control specialists who can ensure the problem is taken care of promptly. 

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USDA shares preventative advice on Asian longhorned beetles

Faced with Asian longhorned beetle infestations throughout parts of Ohio, local municipal leaders met with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officer Philip Holmes last month to discuss containing current bug populations and preventing further infestation.

While these beetles have been spotted in surrounding towns, the city of Milford hasn't seen any reported cases yet. City officials are taking preventative measures nonetheless, local news source Community Press reports.

"We are so close to an infested area that there is absolutely a possibility of it becoming a problem here as well," Milford Mayor Geoff Pittman said, according to the newspaper.

Spotting an infestation
The Asian longhorned beetle is a destructive wood-boring pest that was first discovered in the U.S. in the 1990s, according to the University of Vermont Entomology Research Laboratory. These bugs are glossy black with white spots and can be up to 1.5 inches in length.

Holmes warned officials and homeowners should not confuse Asian longhorned beetles with emerald ash borers, which are also currently causing problems for property owners in the Midwest. While ash borers only attack ash trees, Asian longhorned beetles infest 13 types of hardwood trees, including ash, birch, buckeye, maple and goldenrain.

After Asian longhorned beetles lay eggs under the bark of trees, larvae hatch and eat the soft wood near the outer parts of trees. These young bugs will move into the heartwood and stay there for two-and-a-half years before fully maturing. Once they hit the pupal stage, adult beetles emerge from the trees.

While these bugs do not attack finished wood, their presence can be extremely troublesome for residents because they can destroy yard trees and infest firewood.

Know the signs
One sign of an infestation is a random pattern of holes in trees. When these bugs emerge from wood, they make a dime-sized exit hole with smooth edges, according to Community Press.

In addition, beetles create excretions called frass that look similar to sawdust. Egg sites may also be noticeable and are the size of a deer eye.

It's a good idea to look for these signs early, as an infestation can ravage a plant quickly.

When homeowners take proactive measures to protect their property, they limit the chances of having to deal with costly tree removal services. If residents suspect their home or yard is being frequented by unwelcome critters, they should notify a pest management professional promptly.

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Emerald ash borers cause expensive problems

The emerald ash borer is spreading across much of the country, most recently the state of Ohio, and causing costly damages for local governments and residents, The Associated Press reports.

Much like other wood-damaging pests, the species can multiply quickly and destroy trees and hardwood. Native to China and Eastern Asia, emerald ash borers are believed to have arrived in North America in wood packing used to ship goods, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

"Just as a wild fire often spreads by sparks from the main fire, so the emerald ash borer is spreading through the state," Joe Boggs, an Ohio State University extension services educator told The AP. "Once these little, crackling fires are established, the population starts building until it explodes into full conflagration."

These bugs are named after their iridescent green color. Roughly â…› to ½ inches, the average emerald ash borer can easily fit on a penny, the USDA states. The small but mighty bugs are responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of trees in 13 states in the Midwest, along the East Coast and in parts of Canada.

While the city of Dayton has spent roughly $40,000 this year to remove and replace diseased ash trees, Ohio residents are confronted with the hefty costs of damage to trees and hardwood located on their property.

"Every community, every homeowner, should be thinking about the effect the emerald ash borer is having," said Wendy Van Buren, urban forester with the state's Department of Natural Resources, according to The AP,
Meanwhile, Northland, Missouri confirmed the presence of these beetles earlier in December, reports The Smithville Herald. As a result, Platte and Clay counties have been under a federal quarantine that prohibits the transportation of firewood from these areas to prevent the spreading of potential infestations.

While emerald ash borers can fly as far as two miles, they most often get a ride from people unknowingly transporting infested firewood, Kevin LaPointe, a city forester for the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, told the newspaper.

Keeping the home pest-free
Luckily, these beetles do not attack finished wood, unlike termites and other wood-demolishing critters. However, few homeowners want to see these green bugs flying around their property because they destroy the trunk and major branches of ashes and tree removal can be very costly.

Dead branches near the top of a tree and leafy shoots growing out of the lower portion of a trunk may be signs of an emerald tree borer infestation. In addition, these bugs make S-shaped tunnels and D-shaped exit holes in wood. If a tree displays signs of a pest problem, it's a good idea to call a pest management professional.

In addition, because firewood is a popular dwelling choice among these bugs, homeowners should inspect wood thoroughly before bringing it into a home. It's best to keep firewood outdoors on an elevated platform at least 20 feet from any structure. This prevent beetles and other more destructive critters from coming into contact with a building's foundation and walls.

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