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Bed Bugs Disappeared for 40 years, Now They're Back with a Vengeance

22 Jun 2017

Posted by John D. Stellberger

They're small, blood-sucking parasites perhaps living in the corners and crevices of our beds, feeding off us while we sleep.

Bed bugs, for decades, existed as myths, part of a rhyme our parents told us before bed. Now they've made an unwelcome return and those who know the buggers best say it's high time we start taking them seriously.

After all, getting a bed bug infestation "is a bit of a crap shoot," conceded University of Kentucky entomologist Michael Potter, meaning all of us are at risk.

Bed bugs used to be "incredibly common" in the early 20th century, Potter said. Back then, people routinely checked for them and carried insecticide while traveling.

But the introduction of potent insecticides killed most of our bed bugs, banishing them from our homes and consciousnesses. The bugs, Potter said, disappeared from about the mid-1950s to the late 1990s. They became so rare people could no longer identify them and a new generation of pest control professionals weren't equipped to fight them, noted University of Florida research scientist Roberto Pereira. But then they came "roaring back in the last five to seven years," Potter said, creeping into our couches, our apartments and even into the hotel rooms of our NBA stars. The reason why is a mystery, although Pereira and Potter suggest it's because the once potent insecticide is now banned, people travel more and the bugs have grown resistant to modern insecticides.

Now we're left avoiding them. But there are ways. Here's what you need to know:

They're small and flat

If you've never seen one, bed bugs are small, flat, reddish-brown bugs about the size of Abraham Lincoln's head on a penny.

They have an oblong shell and a tiny head. They typically live in areas where people sleep because at night they feed on our blood.

Unlike ticks or fleas, bed bugs don't latch on when they feed. They bite then scurry away to digest. "It's a creepy parasite," described Potter. "It's a little bit like Dracula."

They live off our blood

Bed bugs have to feed on human blood about once a week, Potter said. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims they can live several months without a "blood meal."

Potter said bed bugs will adapt to your schedule. For instance, if you work the overnight shift, they'll learn to feed on you during the day.

They huddle on your mattress

Bed bugs don't form colonies or nest, but they do aggregate, usually within about eight feet of where a person sleeps.

It's popular to find clusters of them on beds and recliners. Very skittish, bed bugs don't like movement, which is why they feed on us while we sleep.

Popular places for them to congregate are in the seams of mattresses, in bed frames, headboards, dressers and behind wallpaper or clutter. A bed bug, notes the CDC, can travel more than 100 feet in a single night.

A third of us get bit, but don't notice

Bed bug bites look like raised welts and can cause serious allergic reactions in some people.

But a third of people don't experience any reaction. This only helps the infestation spread because people don't know they have the bugs.

Cleanliness has nothing to do with it

The stigma that a filthy home is more at risk of getting bed bugs just isn't true, Potter claims.

Unlike cockroaches, rats or flies, who feed on filth, bed bugs feed on blood. They only need a body. Bed bugs, the CDC said, have been found in five-star hotels and resorts.

So, where do they live?

Bed bugs are most often found in major metropolitan areas. However, over time, the pests have found their way to rural areas.

Anywhere there are close quarters, Potter said, the odds are better. It's a numbers game, he said, because the more people coming and going from a building increases the odds the bugs will find their way there.

Low-income housing also is a target because many people use old bedding and building staff may not take the steps to address the problem.

They don't carry disease

Bed bugs do not carry disease. At most, they're annoyances which cause itching and a lack of sleep.

How do we avoid them?

Experts say people bring an infestation into a home after they've gone to a place with bed bugs and somehow brought them back to their house.

This can happen just about anywhere: At hotels, while riding busses and trains, vacationing on cruise ships and bunking in dorm rooms. They attach to stuff, Potter said, not people. He's seen them on the bottoms of shoes, baseball caps and even Beanie Babies.

But it's unlikely you'll get them from places where people don't sleep. The places where people get some shut-eye are most at risk.

Potter advises people check around hotel beds when first checking in. Pull back the sheets, check the seam and corners of the mattress near the pillows and the headboard. Look for black spots, the bugs themselves or yellowish skins that bed bugs shed.

Try not to spread out in your hotel room. Don't place your open suitcase against a wall. Try to keep it closed and set it on a hard surface. Don't spread clothes across the hotel room.

Potter said each of us needs to strike a balance as to how paranoid we'll be in avoiding bed bugs.

"You got to be careful because you take all the joy out life," he said. "People just have to decide how apprehensive do they want to be."

To learn more about Bed Bugs and how to prevent them from infesting your home, call EHS Pest.

Source: usatoday.com

Tick Identification & Removal

21 Jun 2017

Posted by John D. Stellberger

Ticks are often mistaken for insects, but they are actually arachnids. Regarding tick identification, they are classified into two categories: soft ticks and hard ticks. Soft ticks often feed on bats and birds, while hard ticks feed on humans, pets and nuisance wildlife. Regardless, if you are dealing with an infestation, the removal of ticks from your property should be handled by a professional exterminator. A professional can help you in identifying the type of ticks you are dealing with and the safest and most efficient process for removal.

If you are concerned about ticks on your property and have questions about tick removal, contact a pest professional. They will be able to inspect your home, confirm the type of tick and recommend a course of tick removal.

Source: pestworld.org

Rodent Model Behavior

19 Jun 2017

Posted by John D. Stellberger

Mice prefer warm areas in nooks and crannies, furniture and equipment voids, and overlooked boxes near food.

EHS Pest Rodent Expert

“It’s important to be aware of these facts: The house mouse, Norway rat and roof rat are rodent species that mature quickly and if infestations aren’t dealt with promptly and professionally, they can reproduce quickly and disperse significantly,” said rodent expert Robert “Bobby” Corrigan. “That makes for unhappy customers and frustrated PMPs. Professionals must understand the key rodent behaviors and how to use those behaviors against them. You can use as many chemicals as allowed, but unless you understand rodent behavior, you stand a good chance of not achieving optimum control."

Corrigan made these observations in his presentation, “Essential Rodent Biology & Behavior for Control,” which was part of PCT’s Second Annual Rodent Control Virtual Conference sponsored by Bell Laboratories. Corrigan knows what he’s talking about; he first worked as a pest control technician in New York City, then earned his Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in rodent management from Purdue University. Now he runs his own consulting business, RMC Pest Management Consulting in Richmond, Ind. As such, Corrigan has been a force in the industry for more than 30 years. SMALL BUT INCREDIBLE. “The house mouse is a small, but incredible mammal that generates a tremendous amount of rodent control revenue,” Corrigan told webinar participants. “It causes much damage, carries pathogens and attacks food supplies. Inadequate control of these creatures can drive pest controllers crazy.”

According to Corrigan, customers often expect mouse control to be done cheaply because it’s such a common pest, and there are so many companies offering mouse control. “But if PCOs charge less, they’re making a big mistake because they aren’t anticipating those inevitable callbacks,” he said.

Corrigan said rodents also are opportunistic in their foraging behavior. “They establish home ranges where they hunt for food repeatedly, and, within these ranges, they also set up territories which they will defend strongly.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT. Compared to rats, mice don’t eat a lot, he said. A mouse will eat about one tenth of an ounce of food per day. Based on this knowledge, you should set out many traps or many placements of bait in small amounts.

“Rats, on the other hand, eat 1 to 3 ounces of food daily. They are also particular, striving for nutritional balance if they can find it. To attract a rat to a rat trap, use a variety of foods such as sardines, peanut butter, apples, etc.,” Corrigan said. “When using rodenticide bait, fewer placements with larger amounts of bait can be used. In general, try to identify ‘eating spots’ as well. Rodents may cache food in these safe spots and can use pheromones to help mark their locations.”

The home range of a mouse can stretch 10 to 30 feet or more. That of a rat in city streets can stretch 90 to 450 feet, he said, explaining that the reason there is such a wide diversity in distance is simply because when food is abundant, the rodent will stay closer to that source. When it is scarce, home ranges can increa

If you learn where those home ranges are, he said, that will enhance your monitoring activity and generate correct use of bait stations, traps and inspections.

NESTING AND FORAGING AREAS. There are some “typical” nesting and foraging areas of mice and rats — as well as some “non-typical” areas that pest control professionals must look for, Corrigan said. First, understand where the rodent likes to nest. Mice prefer warm areas in structural nooks and crannies, furniture and equipment voids, and overlooked boxes near food.

“Rats need bigger spaces, and indoors, concrete hollow block walls can become virtual rodent condos,” he said. Rats that live outside prefer available earthen spaces. That is, they prefer to live in and around healthy dirt. If you’re investigating an outdoor rat problem, look for healthy plants and shrubs that are cavernous in shape — this is where you are likely to encounter a rat burrow. A burrow is typically about 4 to 6 feet in length with up to three holes, he said. “This knowledge reduces the need to treat each hole. Just one application at the main entrance of each burrow system should suffice.”

TRAVEL-WAYS. What about rodent travel-ways? Rodents often travel along linear paths, such as shadowy lines along walls, pipes and landscape edges, and they mark these paths with pheromones. “When identifying potential pathways, be aware of sight, smell and kinesthetics [the sensation of movement or strain in muscles],” he said. “The latter is so important because, if we can determine their memorized path, we can then target these areas accordingly.”

Although some rodents travel along walls, rodents in some colonies may not, or they may not for various lengths of time for a variety of reasons. “A common misconception, or half-truth, is that they always travel along walls because they can’t see well,” Corrigan said, explaining that there are environmental/structural aspects that trigger rodent foraging behavior and offer clues for their control, including corners, quiet areas, structural voids and squeeze holes. “Awareness of these triggers is more effective in finding rodents much faster than just looking for tell-tale droppings,” he said. “Does finding droppings mean there are rodents always close by? Not necessarily.” So it is important to be aware of the active signs rodents leave in combination with the environmental and structural triggers present in any rodent-infested building or area.

AWARENESS OF ENTRY POINTS. Corrigan suggested that technicians be aware of entry points. “Once rodents get into a building, others can follow by sensing rodent pheromones, which are a critical part of the science of rodent behavior,” he said. “Pheromones are always in play, for example, in marking favorite spots. It’s our job as pest experts to know how to find these spots and deal with them quickly.”

According to Corrigan, rodent behaviors are complex. “Their actions, of course, vary — sometimes in the same building or in the same block. It all depends on the particular colony, or it can depend on such factors as what’s in a rodent mother’s milk, or what’s found in junk piles, or emulating their mother’s or colony members’ actions.

“You can go from one area to another and see signs of different sets of complex rodent activities. These observations should help you determine what rodent control actions you can take — that’s what distinguishes us as professionals,” Corrigan said. “The take-home message is, if you’re simply placing traps or baits only along walls in every account, that’s not always going to work, or it may not work as quickly as it could, had better attention to detail been considered. That’s key to remember.”

Never assume that there is a single standard rodent behavior, or that you can perform rodent control the same way in every situation.

EHS Pest Rodent Expert

You should never assume there is a single standard rodent behavior, and that you can, therefore, perform rodent control the same way in every situation, he said. Not only is that not professional behavior, but it won’t always solve the problem in a timely manner. “As pest professionals,” Corrigan said, “it’s our responsibility to be aware of the complexities involved in correcting a rodent problem as fast as possible.” FAST-GROWING POPULATIONS. As Corrigan explained, “From a rodent’s standpoint, the availability of tasty food, a good supply of that food and conducive surroundings encourage fast-growing rodent populations. Healthy rodent offspring means a rapidly increasing population — and before you know it, your phone is ringing and the person at the other end of the line is complaining about a major infestation.”

He also stressed that understanding the sexual maturity of rodents is important. If you’re not thorough in early control procedures, you run the risk of additional young being produced; they, in turn, can quickly reach their own sexual maturity causing future callbacks.

“During sales calls, initial customer visits and cleanouts, you want to be knowledgeable and able to truly determine the scope of the infestation. Is it minor, moderate or severe?” he said. “Sometimes a customer will want to know the exact number of rodents that comprise the infestation. There’s no way of knowing this, but most professionals can usually gauge minor or severe infestations.” If the infestation is major, the reproductive cycle is already rolling by the time you make your first visit. “So you’ve got to be very thorough to shut down that particular component.” CAUSE OF CALLBACKS. It is important that the pest control professional realize that a house mouse can reach sexual maturity at six to eight weeks of age, and then begin producing its own pups in about a month. “It’s not surprising then, that the house mouse is one of the leading causes of callbacks,” Corrigan said.

In the same way, knowledge of the sexual maturity characteristics of roof and Norway rats is important. For rats, maturity arrives about three months after birth. As a result, he said, “depending on the size of a particular infestation, rodent numbers can get away from you if you’re not careful or thorough enough in control efforts.”

High populations of offspring bring about big consequences, the most damaging of which is dispersal, he said. When large numbers of rodents increase quickly in small areas, things can get crowded, and the young will be forced out to seek new spaces — causing new infestations in previously uninfested areas.

Another key consequence is the massive amount of pheromones they’ll deposit, Corrigan said, which may attract even more invading rodents to explore around the building. Finally, the larger the size of the infestation, the more rodents there may be that are trap shy, or bait station shy, which increases the chances of more callbacks.

“And therein lies the important financial aspect to this. Of course, you want to make as high a profit as possible in your rodent control business.” But, he said, “A common portion of the pest business that threatens high profits are unexpected callbacks. And these often occur when PMPs aren’t thorough enough on the initial end of the job, or not knowledgeable enough about the behavior of these wily mammals.” As such, Corrigan said he hopes a word to the wise about the biology and behavior of rodents will result in better, more accurate and more profitable rodent control.

For more information about rodents and mice, call EHS Pest.

Survey: Bed Bugs Are the Last Thing Travelers Want to See in a Hotel Room

15 Jun 2017

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EHS - Bed bug in Upholstery

Most business and leisure travelers in the United States can’t identify a bed bug, and yet the tiny pest evokes a stronger response in hotel guests than any other potential room deficiency—putting the hospitality industry in a difficult spot.

In a survey of U.S. travelers conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky, 60 percent said they would switch hotels if they found evidence of bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) in a guest room. Meanwhile, no more than a quarter said they would switch hotels for factors such as signs of smoking or dirty towels or linens. In the same survey, however, just 35 percent of business travelers and 28 percent of leisure travelers correctly identified a bed bug in a lineup of other common insects. The results of the research are published today in American Entomologist, the quarterly magazine of the Entomological Society of America.

“Considering all the media attention paid to bed bugs in recent years, the fact that most travelers still have a poor understanding of them is troubling,” says Michael Potter, Ph.D., extension professor in UK’s Department of Entomology and co-author of the study.

It is particularly problematic given the central role that online reviews play in travelers’ selection of where to stay. More than half of survey respondents said they would be very unlikely to choose a hotel with a single online report of bed bugs.

“From a hotel industry perspective, it’s worrisome that a single online report of bed bugs would cause the majority of travelers to book different accommodations, irrespective of whether the report is accurate. Furthermore, the incident could have involved only one or a few rooms, which the hotel previously eradicated,” says Jerrod M. Penn, Ph.D., postdoctoral scholar in UK’s Department of Agricultural Economics and lead author of the study.

Other findings in the survey include:

  • Despite a highly negative impression of bed bugs, more than half (56 percent) of respondents said they either never considered the threat of bed bugs while traveling or considered it but were not worried.
  • If a hotel were to proactively provide information on the steps it takes to prevent bed bug infestations, 46 percent of respondents said they would stay at the hotel and would appreciate knowing about those measures. The second most common response, however, was “do it, but don’t tell me” (24 percent).
  • An overwhelming majority (80 percent) of respondents said hotels should be required to tell guests if their room has had a prior problem with bed bugs. Among those who wanted such a disclosure, 38 percent of business travelers and 51 percent of leisure travelers said they would want to know of prior infestations going back a least one year or more.
  • Responses to bed bug concerns were generally consistent across various demographic cross-sections in the survey.

Potter notes that the public’s lack of understanding of bed bugs “contributes to their spread throughout society as a whole.” But the hospitality industry must deal with both the pest itself and consumers’ strong, if ill-informed, attitudes about bed bugs.

“Hotels and others in the hospitality sector should develop a reputation management plan to prudently respond to online reports of bed bugs in their facility. Hotels should also train their housekeeping and engineering staffs to recognize and report bed bugs in the earliest possible stages, when infestations are more manageable. Similarly important is training front desk and customer service employees to respond promptly and empathetically when incidents arise within the hotel,” says Wuyang Hu, Ph.D., professor in UK’s Department of Agricultural Economics and senior author of the study.

To learn more about bedbugs and how to get rid of them safely, call EHS Pest.

Source: Entomologytoday.org

Protect Your Family from Bedbugs

12 Jun 2017

Posted by John D. Stellberger

Please don't let Bedbugs breed to this level of infestation. This families poor child was riddled with bites. His stuffed animals had many dozens of eggs attached to them.

EHS Pest - Bedbug Infestation

EHS volunteers help for qualifying families with children and elderly people in need.

Contact John Stellberger at 888.PEST.MGMT for help.


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