Treatment for bed bugs comes in several varieties. Some methods can be used at home by amateurs, while others are more effective with the supervision of a pest control professional. Many DIY procedures will not fully eliminate bed bugs, but the treatments can lessen their numbers and help alleviate some of the suffering property owners and residents undergo when faced with an infestation. In order, the methods are vacuuming, freezing, laundering, pesticides, and heat treatment.
The first three treatments are ones amateurs can do at home when dealing with bed bugs. Vacuuming is a simple procedure which can pick up bed bug eggs and larvae from the floors. This can also help eliminate fecal matter and improve the overall cleanliness of the room. Freezing involves wrapping up smaller items from the infected area and storing them in a freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit in order to kill any bed bugs lurking in the materials. This works for little furnishings that will fit in a freezer, but is ineffective for large rooms. Finally, people can wash their clothes, sheets, and curtains in hot water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit to kill and drown bed bugs and larvae hiding in the fabrics.
Pesticides can be purchased at general and hardware stores, but should be left to the professionals. Although there are seven different categories of bed bug chemicals, the main ones used are pyrethrins, pyrethroids, and desiccants. Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are toxic compounds which can kill and repel bed bugs for a short period of time. They are effective, but some bed bugs will be able to smell the chemicals and will relocate for a short period of time. Once the pesticide is no longer a threat, they will return to their original home. Desiccants are a more effective treatment. These products cause the waxy outer shell of bed bugs to disintegrate, eventually weakening and killing them. Unlike pyrethrins and pyrethroids, bed bugs cannot detect these pesticides as easily and are less likely to move to another section of the house.
The final treatment for bed bugs is the application of heat throughout an entire property. A professional pest control operative will heat an entire property up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and will leave it at this temperature for 3-4 hours. The efficiency of heat treatment for bed bugs comes from the fact that bed bugs cannot survive at these temperatures and will die out in the uninhabitable conditions. Heat treatment is the most effective treatment available because it spreads throughout an entire home and business evenly and stops bed bugs from hiding in another location. The heat additionally works on bed bug larvae and eggs, eliminating the future generations of pests.
When choosing a treatment for bed bugs, people should weigh the pros and cons. In many cases, people will need to use techniques from Integrated Pest Management, which is a process where an individual combines different methods to control pests. Calling a professional will help property owners completely exterminate pests from a property, while using DIY methods and cleaning techniques can help clean rooms and prevent future infestations of bed bugs before they begin.
Rats are common throughout the world and have a nasty reputation. Many of the rodents are believed to be carriers of disease, bacteria, and even other pests like fleas. Many of these assumptions aren’t wrong, and rats can be a troublesome and dangerous pest to have around a home or business. In California, there are two chief categories of rats: the roof rat and the Norway rat. Both species were introduced to the environment a long time ago by immigrants and settlers who accidentally carried them aboard their ships and wagons. As with many other pests, it can take a long time for a person to notice when they have a rat infestation.
Roof rats are also known as ship rats or black rats, and are one of the most common types around the globe. A roof rat tends to be a nondescript brown with bits of black, white, and grey on their bellies. They range between 12-16 inches long, with half of their size coming from their body and the other half from their scaly tails. Roof rats are nocturnal and search for food in groups. If they are in a building, people might encounter food packages which have been nibbled through, crumbs in the kitchen, or their feces. They will return to the same food source for as long as they are allowed, and open containers or weak packages are usually the primary targets. People should be careful not to handle roof rats as they are carriers of multiple diseases, including salmonellosis, rat bite fever, and typhus. They can also transfer fleas.
The Norway rat is a separate breed. It is known by many other names such as the brown rat, the street rat, and the common rat. These names are indicative of their commonality. The Norway rat possesses brown or dark grey fur with a lighter belly. Their bodies are 8-10 inches long, and their tails range between 7-10 inches. As with many other breeds, Norway rats will eat almost anything they can get their paws on, but they prefer a surprisingly balanced diet which includes fresh foods. However, cereals make up a large portion of their diet, as do other grains. Like with the roof rat, Norway rats invade homes and businesses in search of food and will often choose open or weak packages. They are nocturnal, possess strong senses of smell and hearing, and have been known to eat through walls and piping to find their food source. People should not handle Norway rats because they can transfer rat bite fever, salmonellosis, jaundice, cowpox virus, and other pests like fleas.
Once a rat infestation has been identified, what can be done? One of the first steps would be to identify what the rats have been eating and to cut off their food supply. People should not eat the food that has been contaminated by rats as it could now be a carrier of bacteria or other pests. People should also locate where the rats have been living, but should not try to eradicate the rodents. Rats have large teeth and will bite when threatened. Even healthy rats are carriers for bacteria and can transmit diseases like leptospirosis. It’s also possible for a human to develop a tetanus infection from a bite.
Instead, a professional pest control service should be called. Experts can identify all of the rats’ hiding places and eliminate them all safely and effectively. Professionals can also help home or business owners identify the conditions that made their building desirable to rodents. Sometimes, even having a sufficient amount of standing moisture, crumbs on the floor, and a crack leading inside is enough to attract a large rat population. Even one of these factors can be enough to invite a rat in. Once these items have been identified, pest controllers can explain methods to help keep rats out and home and business owners safe from future pest problems.
California harbors many different pests because of its location and warm, often moist environment. Commercial and residential properties often need to use preventative methods to prevent infestations by common, destructive organisms. In many cases, one of the most damaging is also one that is frequently found throughout the state: a termite. Usually, people won’t see a termite by itself. Instead, they travel in swarms and establish colonies in varying types of wood based on their species. Unfortunately, termites like to inhabit much of the wood used to construct residences, businesses, and other types of buildings. In California, if someone encounters a termite, it will be one of three types. The least common type is the dampwood termite, followed by the drywood termite and then the subterranean termite.
California remains part of Termite Infestation Probability Zones 1 and 2. Each one indicates that the chances of a building developing a termite infestation is moderate to severe, so home and business owners need to be careful throughout the state. The chances of discovering termites are higher in the south of the state, but this doesn’t mean the north is safe. After it rains, each type of termite swarms and finds a new location to create a colony during the summer and fall months. One of the best ways to avoid dealing with a termite infestation is to contact a pest control company to spray a preventative treatment around the exterior of a property.
Professional exterminators can tell the type of a termite by examining the appearance of their soldiers and swarmers. One notable feature about dampwood termites are that they don’t have any workers. Their termite colonies can be found in wood which is damp or decaying, and are usually located near the ground. Around buildings, this means that termites like to build their homes around the structure’s foundation, where there is a greater chance of water or rot. Dampwood termite soldiers and swarmers are larger than their equivalents in other types and are roughly 20-25mm long. The soldiers have large jaws and mandibles and their heads are greater in proportion to their body than in other termite categories. A drywood termite eats against the grain of wood and leaves behind sticky fecal pellets that stick to the entrances of their tunnels.
The next type of termite is the drywood termite. Like their name indicates, they prefer to form their colonies in and around wood which is not affected by moisture. Many of their colonies can be found on the upper levels of structures or in attics near the insulated roof. Their swarmers have two pairs of wings which usually break off before they die. These termite corpses are easy to identify by professionals and nonprofessionals alike. Their soldiers have the same large mandibles of the soldiers from other termite types. Unlike dampwood termites, a drywood termite absorbs most of the liquid from its fecal matter and leaves behind pellets which are dry and often fall away from their tunnels.
Finally, people around California are most likely going to encounter a colony of subterranean termites. This type of termite builds its colony underneath the ground. A subterranean termite eats with the grain and will often leave dirt near the entrances to its tunnels because they crawl out of the ground to eat. Their swarmers have wings but the workers and soldiers do not. Their soldiers have large mandibles, dark brown heads, and white bodies which make them more distinctive than other types of termite.
Despite this information, a termite colony is not easy to find. Although they eat wood, termites often carve their tunnels inside of wood where there aren’t visible. People might see the swarmers leave the colony when they reproduce, but most people will not be able to tell they have a termite infestation until significant damage is already present. If even one termite is found, it is often better to contact a team of trained professionals to ensure each termite is eradicated before the property suffers from severe structural damage.
Bed bugs are small, brown, flat insects that are roughly 5-7mm in length, and they leave bite marks which resemble the same markings left by mosquitos when they puncture the skin. Like mosquitos, bed bugs leave bites because they are parasitic and seek out humans or animals to take their blood. Also like mosquitos, a bed bug’s bite leaves a red, itchy bump raised above the skin. The main way to tell the difference between the bites from a mosquito and bed bugs bites would be to look at their frequency and bite pattern. Mosquitos do not move in groups and will usually leave singular bites in erratic locations. For example, even if there is more than one mosquito around, they would bite someone in erratic places like one on the arm, one on the leg, and one on the ear. When bed bugs leave bites, they will often appear in a central grouping or line.
Bed bugs bites can also be mistaken for the similar spots left by fleas. The main difference is that flea bites are much smaller and will not be as swollen. Fleas also typically bite people on their feet, ankles, and lower legs rather than on the arms, legs, and hands. Because bed bugs leave bites at night when they exit their hiding places, they will choose areas that are exposed while someone is sleeping. Bed bugs will travel a fair distance in order to find food, with some being recorded as having moved ten feet in order to reach a person. However, if the bites disappear, this does not mean that the pests are gone. Bed bugs eat once every few days and can return after the original bites have vanished, leaving even more bites in their place.
So, what can be done about bites? Thankfully, the bites of bed bugs do not typically require medical attention. Usually, the bites will cause an itching or burning sensation, and people might be tempted to scratch them. People should avoid scratching the bites whenever possible because doing so can cause further irritation and even skin infections. Some people might also experience blisters and hives caused by an allergic reaction to the bite. In many cases, applying a soothing antiseptic cream is all that would be necessary to alleviate the reaction and subsequent itching. Allergic reactions can be lessened through the use of antihistamines. However, if someone shows signs of a severe reaction, they should go to the hospital or see a doctor immediately to stop the reaction from worsening.
Bed bugs bites are one of the telltale warning signs that there are bed bugs in a residence or business. Because they reproduce quickly and are small enough to hide in tiny cracks, they can be difficult to eliminate. Although many websites advertise DIY pest control methods, they are often ineffective. Bed bug populations have been on the rise all around the world, and the pest is one of the most prolific and difficult to exterminate completely. Professional exterminators have access to the products and tools capable of removing the pests in their entirety, including any eggs or young nymphs which might be hiding in furniture or cracks around the room. As the industry advances, some methods of bed bug removal include environmentally friendly, non-chemical products and treatments. People interested in safe yet effective methods can discuss benign bed bug removal and stop the bites from continuing.
Pest Control is one of the largest industries in the United States and is expected to have an annual growth rate of 2.9%. One of the reasons why it has become a profitable, ever-growing industries is the rise of bed bugs across the United States and the world. As society becomes more global, goods and people are able to travel greater distances on a more regular basis. Tourists, in particular, can end up becoming carriers for bed bugs and their eggs by staying in hotels or locations where there are many people. Bed bugs do not mean a place is dirty, but they often appear in areas where humans congregate. The more people that visit a place, the more likely bed bugs are to become a problem, which is why the hospitality industry is one of the biggest carriers of pests. Vacationers can accidentally bring pest eggs home and create a new infestation. Pests like bed bugs are frequently discovered in nursing homes, motels, hospitals, and apartment buildings where many individuals come together.
Another rising trend in pest control is the presence of mosquitos. The past 15 years have been some of the hottest in living record. These temperatures, combined with humidity and the presence of standing water, leads to thriving mosquito populations that spread disease and bite humans. Pest controllers are frequently called to action to limit the spread of diseases like malaria and the West Nile virus, especially in the South and West of the United States. Unlike bed bugs, mosquitoes are an exterior problem that requires spraying pesticides over a large area or eliminating eggs at their outdoor sources in ponds, lakes, or swamps. As time goes on, commercial, residential, and industrial properties find themselves needing more effective pest control measures as interior and exterior pests become more common.
So, where can people find more effective pest control methods? After effective and toxic pesticides were banned in 1972, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposes stricter regulations on new products, the pest control industry has turned to new methodologies. One of the most popular developments has been the increased use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which combines state of the art technology with common sense pest prevention. Some examples of IPM in practice would be:
Other elements of IPM were developed to limit the use of toxic materials that are potentially harmful to humans, pets, and natural plant life. Exterminators and others will use chemicals and products in an increasing order of toxicity. Safer products will be used first, followed by materials that use increasingly harsh ingredients until the pests are removed. The goal of IPM is to use environmentally friendly, benign materials to prevent injuries, hospitalization, or death. Pest control has become more effective, safer for living creatures, and a growing industry with many new job opportunities for interested individuals.
Pest control is an attractive field because it is one that is always needed and constantly growing. Professional exterminators do not need to have higher education and instead receive on the job training which usually lasts three months. Employees need a professional certification, and can often choose a specialty like rodent control. As said before, as the world has become more global, pests have found it easier to move across the globe. New, invasive species means people need trained professionals capable of handling all sorts of new pest problems, meaning the field has room for growth and expansion.
A tiny, brown insect skulking around someone’s resting place at night is most likely one thing: A bed bug. This pest gets its name from one of its most popular hiding places. Bed bugs can be found lurking in the furniture of a property, but not just in beds. Because of its small size, it can often be found hiding in other locations like the cracks between door frames and the wall, behind the panel of an electrical outlet, in bookshelves, or in couches and box springs. A bed bug is difficult to see because it is only 5-7 mm in size and often nearly invisible when it hasn’t eat recently. Its body is long, brown, and shaped like an oval, although it looks more bloated and red when it has fed. It often travels with other bed bugs and feeds on animals and humans who live on the property where it has taken roost.
Blood is the preferred diet for a bed bug. A bed bug emerges at night, usually when everyone is asleep, and searches for a host that will provide it will food for several days. Because it needs to get sustenance from another living thing to survive, a bed bug would be considered parasitic. There are several warning signs that can alert a person to its presence. The first and most common is a sickly sweet, musty odor emitted by bed bugs. The smell is strongest near its living space but is often not overpowering. Another sign to look out for is the presence of bites on a person’s body. These bites will be red, itchy, and resemble mosquito bites. However, they will be organized in a line or grouped together on a certain part of the body because bed bugs do not live or move around alone.
Other signs to watch out for are stains on fabrics like sheets and pillowcases. If red spots start to appear, it can mean that someone is rolling over in their sleep and accidentally crushing bed bugs that try to eat at night. Another distinct mark is small, dark spots which are the droppings of a bed bug. Many people hear about these signs and worry that a bed bug can pose a biological threat. Although having bed bugs in a home or business is almost never a good thing, scientists have discovered that people do not get diseases from a bed bug. Having an allergic reaction to the bite of one is a greater concern than contracting a disease, making a bed bug a ‘safer’ pest to have infesting a property than rats or cockroaches.
Once one bed bug has been found, chances are that there are more lurking. Although some websites advertise DIY, homemade methods to eliminate them, it’s safer to call a professional pest control company. They have access to tools and materials that can exterminate entire groups of pests down to the last bed bug. Many of them can also apply treatments to stop bed bugs from returning. People who are concerned about the environment or who dislike the idea of using chemicals around their family or employees can contact a pest control company who uses heat treatments. The heat treatment can kill a bed bug by exposing it to unlivable conditions, therefore eliminating it without using toxic methods.
Termites are one of the most common and yet damaging pests that commercial and residential properties might encounter. Termites are small, wood-eating pests which are descended from the same ancestor as cockroaches. They are sometimes called white ants, but the term is a misnomer. Although there are many different roles for termites in the colony, exterminators look at the swarmers, the workers, and the soldiers to determine what type they are and where they live. It’s important to identify and remove them as soon as possible because termites cause more than $5 billion in damages each year in the United States through their ability to weaken and destroy entire structures.
Three types of termites are common in California: subterranean, drywood, and dampwood. Termite swarms are typical the day after it rains and are seen during the summer and winter months. Each region of California is considered to be part of Termite Infestation Probability Zones 1 and 2, meaning that the chance of termites roosting in commercial and residential properties are heavy to moderate or moderate to heavy. One of the best ways to avoid the trouble that comes with termites is to call a pest control professional to apply preventative treatments on and around a structure. Many preventative treatments last all year or several years and are always cheaper than trying to cover the costs of termite damages on a property.
Subterranean termites are the most prolific type of termites in California. Their main distinctive characteristic is their tendency to build underground nests. Any damage they cause to wood therefore has dirt in the tunnels and around the openings, which is caused by the termites leaving their nests to eat the wood. Subterranean termites will also eat with the grain rather than against it. This can be hard for people without carpentry experience to notice, but is almost always present. Subterranean termites have swarmers with wings and workers and soldiers that are wingless. The soldiers are the most unique-looking and possess large jaws, dark brown heads, and white bodies.
Drywood termites are the second most common type in the state. The swarmers of this kind have two pairs of wings which are typically shed shortly before death. If there are many dead termites which lack wings, they are most likely drywood termites. Their soldiers also have large mandibles and are much larger than subterranean termites. These termites often do not need to be connected to the ground or the outdoors. Their diet is almost entirely wood, and their colonies can be found away from the ground, on the upper floors of buildings or in attics. Another characteristic is their feces, which are hexagonal and roughly 1mm long. Drywood termites remove most of their water from fecal matter before expelling it, and thus leaves distinctive pellets that can be identified by a professional or someone familiar with their habits.
The last category of termites in California are dampwood termites. Unlike other types, dampwood termites do not have any workers. Instead, they have swarmers and soldiers which are much larger than other groups of termites, ranging from 20-25mm in length. The soldiers have heads which are large in relation to their bodies and also possess massive mandibles to defend the nest. Like their name indicates, dampwood termites live near the ground in moist wood that is often decaying. They can often be found near the foundations of structures or in areas where water damage is present. They eat across the wood grain and leave behind sticky fecal pellets which often stick to the entrances of their tunnels.
So, how can someone tell whether they have termites or not? Honestly, most people will not realize they have an infestation until severe destruction has already been wrought within a structure. Termites often eat and build their nests inside of wood and are not noticeable on the exterior until they have constructed many tunnels and drastically weakened their environment. Sometimes, people might see their tunnels. It is also possible for people to glimpse the swarmers as they leave the nest to reproduce in new areas. However, the easiest way to tell if there are termites is to call a team of professional exterminators who can catch termites before they cause drastic levels of damage to a home or business.
Jose D. has been providing pest control solutions to North County San Diego residents since 2000!