Category Archives: Pests In the News

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.

Wasps on the rise

Have you noticed an increase in wasps around your home? Even though it’s common to see more wasps during this time of the year, homeowners in some areas are noticing an enormous spike in the local wasp population. The pests threaten the safety of some residents who are sensitive to stinging insects.

While exterminators in some areas used to receive several calls about wasps over the course of an entire summer, they’re now getting up to five calls per day. The enormous population is most likely due to the mild winters many parts of the country experienced, combined with the drought currently sweeping through parts of the nation. The large wasp populations are expected to remain a problem until severe storms or the first frost of the season.

Recognizing a problem
If you’ve noticed an increase in the number of wasps around your home, you may have a pest control issue on your hands, so it’s a good idea to make sure there isn’t a nest or infestation nearby. Even if you don’t fear the pests, young children and pets may annoy the insects and cause them to sting. This can cause a dangerous reaction in those allergic to wasp venom.

There are several different types of wasps that can cause problems for homeowners. Yellowjackets tend to be extremely territorial and may attack when disturbed. They sometimes build their nests in the ground, so they may be hard to detect. Filling cavities and holes upon discovery can ensure the wasps do not have a place to nest in your yard.

Hornets are extremely defensive and unpredictable wasps, and their presence can be dangerous. If you’ve noticed a large ball attached to your tree or home, you may have a hornet infestation.

Even though paper wasps are not as aggressive as yellowjackets and hornets, their presence can still be unpleasant. These wasps usually build papery nests under ledges, near doors or around windows. Their close proximity to entry points means they can easily gain access to the home.

When to call a professional
It’s important to keep an eye on your wasp problem to note if it’s worsening. Because these pests tend to become more aggressive as the season continues, a growing population may mean an even bigger threat to kids and pets. Eliminating a nest yourself can be dangerous, and homeowners who want to take care of a wasp problem themselves should be aware of the potential risks. If you see an increase in size or territorial behavior, the safest and most efficient option may be to contact a pest control expert.

Hantavirus scare should ensure residents check homes for mice

Yosemite National Park visitors have been experiencing a scare recently, as more vacationers who stayed at the wilderness park are coming down with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

Although it is a rare illness, the disease can be fatal. The park has thus far learned of four cases of the disease, two of which have led to death.

Officials are contacting those who stayed in the park's Curry Village this summer, advising them to be aware of hantavirus symptoms. The park has advised that every Yosemite visitor should keep an eye out for signs of infection.

The disease is carried by mice and can spread to humans that come into contact with an infected mouse's urine, droppings or saliva. It may take weeks for signs of the disease to develop after a victim has come into contact with an infected mouse. Early symptoms of hantavirus include fever, aches and pains, chills and dizziness. Once the illness has progressed, it results in coughing, shortness of breath and fluid filling the lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Homeowners, especially those who live in rural areas, should be aware of any mouse activity near their homes to prevent coming into contact with the virus. Simple steps such as storing food in airtight containers and keeping homes clean and free of clutter and trash will give mice less of a reason to enter the home. However, as a precaution, any holes or gaps that could provide entry to the home should be closed off, no matter how small they appear. Mice need only a tiny space to enter a home, potentially bringing hantavirus with them.

Those who come across a room or structure infested with mice should take precautions to avoid picking up the disease. A building with a mouse problem should have the windows opened to air out the space, but caution should be taken so an individual does not disturb any dust. Areas covered in mouse droppings or urine should be sprayed with a disinfectant and left to sit for several minutes before cleaning. The waste should be tightly sealed and thrown out immediately.

The same process applies to those who find a dead mouse in their home. The rodents should be sprayed, bagged and tossed. If live pests are discovered, they should not be touched. A mouse infestation should be handled by pest control professionals who can ensure the rodents will no longer pose a threat to the household.

Ants heading into Southern California homes

A hot summer is causing pests to seek shelter indoors, but Southern California residents are less than thrilled when they find ants in their homes.

A local pest control expert told the Southwest Riverside News Network that during different times of the year, ants usually seek several things when they invade homes. In the summer, ants often head indoors in search of water or carbohydrates. The unusually hot and dry conditions that have lingered across the nation this summer have resulted in many homeowners finding water-seeking ants in areas water is frequently used, such as bathrooms, kitchens and pools. In the winter, the insects are on the hunt for protein sources.

There are various types of ants causing insect control issues for residents across the region.

The invasive Argentine ant has no natural predators, so it can be difficult to eliminate entire colonies. These pests also are able to cohabitate with other ant colonies, rather than competing with them. Carpenter ants use many methods to get into homes, and can get in along pipes, utility lines and tree branches, in addition to crawling in through open doors or cracks. Pharaoh ants can travel long distances for food, meaning homeowners may find ants in their home from a colony far away.

Fire ants have also been found in California in recent years. These insects are more aggressive than other species of ants, and are known to sting both humans and animals. Keeping fire ants out of the home and nowhere near a homeowner's property will prevent a large group of the pests from attacking if they are unexpectedly disturbed.

There are some steps homeowners can take to prevent these infestations. Making sure cracks, holes and crevices are closed is an important measure in keeping homes free from ants. Storing food in tightly sealed containers will help to prevent ants from entering for sustenance. If a few ants are spotted inside, homeowners should wash down the surfaces they crawled across. This will eliminate the pheromone trail that other ants may follow to get inside the home and find food.

However, sometimes it is impossible to prevent an ant infestation. In these circumstances, an exterminator should be contacted to handle the problem. A pest control professional can advise the best form of treatment for a severe ant problem in a home.

Arizona family suffered with bed bugs for entire year

An infestation of bed bugs caused some major headaches for an Arizona household.

According to Phoenix-area independent news station KTVK, when an Arizona woman and her husband first discovered the bed bugs in their home, they did not know how to properly handle the problem. They tried getting rid of the pests on their own, but the infestation only grew, spreading to every room in their house. The couple began sleeping on chairs in the living room to avoid getting bites from the bugs in their beds.

Because the couple were embarrassed to ask for assistance to eliminate their pest problem, they learned to live with the bed bugs for more than a year.

Finally, the woman's daughter decided it was time to seek treatment for the insects that continued to plague the household. She arranged for insect control professionals to take care of the problem.

Severe bed bug infestations are a challenge to get rid of and often require professional assistance.

A local pest control expert told the source that the pests are notoriously hard to treat because even leaving one tiny egg behind means the bed bug population will continue to grow.

Exterminators spent hours in the home, utilizing treatments known to be effective against bed bugs. After the treatments were finished, the crew stuck bed bug-attracting traps on the walls. The traps determine if there are still bed bugs in a residence after it is treated.

Several weeks after the bed bug treatment, the couple did not find any bed bugs in the traps, meaning their home may finally be completely free of the pests.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that while the presence of bed bugs is irritating, an infestation has nothing to do with the cleanliness of a home. The cleanest of residences can succumb to a pest invasion, which is usually noticed when itchy bites occur while sleeping. Even though these bites cannot spread disease, scratching the welts excessively has the potential to increase the chance that a secondary skin infection will develop around the area.

Bed bug control is a difficult task for homeowners to undertake on their own, and those experiencing an infestation should contact an pest control professional for advice and effective treatment before the problem spreads to other areas of the house.

Ants drive Texans crazy

The invasive Rasberry crazy ant has been frustrating homeowners in the Houston area. Besides being an annoyance to locals,  the ant has the potential to damage electrical systems and decrease home and property values, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Since the pests were discovered in Texas in 2002, they have spread to multiple counties and do not appear to be slowing down.

The crazy ants do not sting or bite, and they tend to rid areas of fire ants because the two struggle to compete for food sources. The crazy ants tend to win, and the Austin American Statesman reported that they are causing more problems than the fire ants ever did.

Roger Gold, a professor of entomology at Texas A&M University, told the paper that families are already wishing the fire ants were back, as they struggle to rid their homes of the crazy ants.

One of the problems with the crazy ants is their ability to breed extremely quickly. A single colony often is home to millions of the pests, since multiple queens lay several hundred eggs.

"Their reproductive capability is astronomical compared to what we’re normally dealing with," Wizzie Brown, program specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Office, told Austin-area NPR affiliate KUT. "And the ant population can grow really large at certain times of the year. So we want people to keep an eye out for them, know about them and manage them properly so the populations don’t get that huge."

The enormous colonies are a serious problem, as they can cause expensive issues for homeowners and businesses. According to the Austin American Statesman, Gold said the ants have a habit of making their way into air conditioning units and getting electrocuted. The shock causes the ant to produce a pheromone that prompts the rest of the huge colony to invade the systems, which become so jammed with ants that they short out. The source said a local chemical plant that dealt with this problem suffered a $1 million loss.

Thousands of ants also invade homes in search of food. Homes are often easily accessible to them, since they tend to live under mulch, wood and other landscaping products in yards.

Because so many ants invade buildings at once, it is necessary to have pest control experts handle the situation. Exterminators can determine the best form of treatment depending on the severity of the crazy ant infestation.

Roaches found infesting Texas family’s home

A home outside the Houston area was recently found to be crawling with cockroaches and other pests.

Officials found the home in “filthy” condition, local news outlet NBC-2 reported. Investigators needed to wear masks to enter the infested property. A child was found in the home, covered in roaches, flea bites and tick bites. Several animals were also discovered with insects crawling on them. The child has since been taken into protective custody and the animals have been removed from the property.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the mostly nocturnal roaches typically prefer living in warm environments, like Texas, as most types of cockroaches originated in tropical areas.

It may be very difficult to rid the property of the insects. According to the CDC, ridding a home of roaches can be an extremely tough task for homeowners. This is part of what makes roach prevention so important.

Homeowners should ensure that there are no cracks from which cockroaches can enter the home, even though it is also possible for them to enter a house by hiding in boxes or grocery bags. While checking for possible roach entry points, residents should also make sure there are no leaking pipes from which the pests can access water. The scavenging roaches will often find nourishment on food that has been left out, or even unwashed dishes. Keeping a house clean and sanitized will also assist in insect prevention, as if the roaches will have no access to food, water or shelter, they cannot survive for long.

Aside from the cleanliness worries that may arise when a cockroach invasion is discovered in a home, medical issues can also pop up. The CDC reports that the pests are a known allergen source and can increase asthma attacks in those living with the bugs. They also have the potential to carry several dangerous viruses and bacteria, including Salmonella typhimurium, Entamoeba histolytica and the poliomyelitis virus.

Enlisting the help of pest control professionals is the easiest, fastest and least stressful way to eliminate cockroaches in a home. Exterminators can inspect a home with a roach infestation and recommend the best form of treatment based on the severity of the insect problem.

Scorpions, Spiders Heading into Homes

Texas homeowners are dealing with some unpleasant guests, as they feel the effects of a blistering, dry summer.

The number of scorpions and spiders has drastically increased in Texas this summer. Because they are cold-blooded creatures, they develop quickly in hot, arid conditions. That makes the state’s weather this summer the perfect environment for the pests to breed rapidly.

In order to cool off from the extreme heat, many of them are making their way into local homes, frightening residents.

Scorpions often like to hide in cluttered areas or bushes. One Texan told east Texas-area NBC affiliate KTEK that he found a severe infestation of scorpions in a pile of boxes and in his garbage can. He needed to seek medical treatment after being stung by one of the pests.

Scorpions are nocturnal, and like to hide in small spaces. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that residents shake out clothing and shoes before putting them on to reduce the risk of a potentially dangerous scorpion sting. If stung, victims should remain calm and seek medical attention to ensure the venom will not cause a deadly reaction.

Besides scorpions, the heat is also driving more dangerous brown recluse spiders indoors. The brown recluse can have a deadly bite, but it is often mistaken for a common house spider, CNN reported.

These small pests are about the size of a quarter and have a dark spot on their otherwise tan bodies. They can be difficult to spot in homes, as they like to hide. Like scorpions, these spiders like to take shelter in cluttered areas, boxes, closets and dark corners.

Brown recluse spider bites initially do not cause any pain. Typically, within several hours the bite swells, becomes red and is extremely sensitive. Most bites heal on their own from this point, but in some instances, the bite can be much more dangerous.

In some victims, the venom will break down skin cells near the site of the bite. This eventually progresses into a lesion that requires immediate attention from a medical professional, according to CNN. Death from a brown recluse spider bite is rare, but can occur in anyone allergic to the spider’s venom. Jim Fredericks, an entomologist with the National Pest Management Association, told CNN it’s best to get a brown recluse bite checked out to make sure an allergic reaction will not occur.

Since brown recluse spiders are small, it can be difficult to implement pest control measures to keep them out of a home. Making sure screens are intact and eliminating clutter are some ways of preventing a spider or scorpion invasion.

A local pest control expert told KTEK that pest problems can also be avoided by making sure the spiders don’t have easy access to a home. Therefore, firewood should be stored away from the house, and bushes and shrubs should not be too close to windows.

A spider or scorpion infestation can be dangerous and calls for help from professional exterminators who can evaluate the situation and recommend the best form of treatment.

Bees damage Florida home

When a Miami woman noticed humming in the walls of her rental home six months ago, she knew something wasn’t right. Recently, the noise increased and began to sound like a motor was running behind the drywall, California-based NBC affiliate KSBY reported.

Thousands of honey bees were the source of all the noise. The property’s landlord, who lives nearby, attempted to assist the woman in ridding the home of the insects by spraying them. They discovered the problem was too big for them to handle when they learned the bees were living in the ceilings over two different bedrooms.

Insect control professionals were brought in to handle the situation. After removing the drywall from the affected areas, bees swarmed inside the house and outside. One expert told the renter that she had at least 60,000 bees living in the home.

The source reports that when the pest control professionals cut through the ceiling in one of the bedrooms, honey flowed from the cracks. The pests built honeycomb around the drywall and even in the cinderblocks. The drywall will need to be replaced, and the cinder blocks will need to be removed. The landlord fears a new infestation of rats or cockroaches if the bee infestation is not cleaned up properly.

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.