Remember years ago when every summer was a battle with fleas? If you’ve been a pet owner in the past you know that you had the pest guy come out and spray everywhere and then come back again two weeks later to re-do the entire job. And you had to take your pet to the vet to be “dipped”. Even then you might have to have a third round to really kill all of the parasites.
About twenty years ago growth regulators started to appear. They were first used in mosquito control and then fanned out to other insect populations. When mixed in the tank with the regular pesticide, these growth regulators could break the flea life-cycle by causing the flea eggs to not hatch. One treatment and you were DONE! And it lasted for up to seven months – the entire flea season.
And then they came out with the topical stuff you put on the dog or cat once a month and you didn’t even NEED to get your house treated because the flea population couldn’t get established. Hoo-ray!!
So, why all of a sudden, are they back in full force? Because you quit using the flea stuff on your pets (or the fleas have become immune to that particular active ingredient) and you quit treating your home as a preventive measure. You…and everyone else. And the fleas are BACK with a vengeance.
It is the beginning of June. If you have pets, please consider having your home treated for flea prevention. And get your animals on a different or newer flea preventive. Treatments today are very effective and long lasting, as well as low impact to the environment, your children and your pets. It has never been less risky than now. And the new flea meds are getting great reviews. Please talk to your veterinarian about the best choice for your pet. Be careful of the over the counter stuff – some of it is fake and can cause real harm to your animals.
If you take steps now, you can have a flea free summer and save yourself a lot of money and aggravation with just a little expense upfront.
As temperatures rise and kids and pets across the U.S. return to playing outdoors, they’re more likely than ever to come in contact with ticks — and in some cases, experts warn, the dangers could be fatal.
Last week in Oregon, Amanda Lewis posted a video on Facebook showing her 4-year-old daughter Evelyn struggling to walk. The video, which has been viewed more than 12 million times, captured the unsettling moment as Evelyn tries to stand but her legs go limp.
By the next morning, the little girl couldn’t use her legs at all, and could barely move her arms. Evelyn was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors realized the cause — a tiny American dog tick in her hair, her parents said.
“They just went straight into grooming her hair and found it,” her father Lantz Lewis said in an interview with ABC News’ “Good Morning America.”
Once doctors removed the insect, Evelyn’s condition began to improve.
“It took her until pretty much the next morning before she was able to walk normally again,” her mother told “GMA.”
Evelyn was diagnosed with tick paralysis, a disease that can occur when a tick remains attached to a host for a prolonged period of time. Human cases are rare, and the symptoms, which start with weakness, typically diminish quickly once the tick is removed. But, in some cases, full paralysis can develop and may lead to respiratory failure and even death.
Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne ailment, is another concern during tick season. Approximately 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. However, an underreporting of cases suggests the actual count could be as high as 300,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The tickiest month across America is May, but April through June is really the highest tick activity season,” Thomas Mather, director of the University of Rhode Island Center for Vector Borne-Disease, said in an interview with “GMA.”
“In most cases, people have a day to find the tick and remove it before the tick has the chance to transmit germs that will make them sick,” Mather added.
Ticks are often found in areas with tall grasses, piles of leaves or even in the shrubs around your home.
To keep you and your family safe, experts advise people to always check for ticks upon coming in from the outdoors, wear clothing with built-in tick repellent, use tick repellent sprays and shower within two hours of leaving the outdoors to help wash away any unattached ticks.
If you’re trying to remove a tick, experts say to first protect your fingers with a tissue or latex gloves, and then gently remove the insect with a pair of tweezers.
“The best way to remove a tick if you find one attached is to use a pointy tweezer and pull it straight off. By using a tweezer, then you have the tick and you can take a picture of it, save it, identify it and then you’ll know better what risk you’re at,” Mather said.
Experts also advise not to squeeze the tick’s body when removing it, which could cause the insect to release its contents into the bite area and infect the host. Upon removal, drop the tick in rubbing alcohol to kill it and immediately disinfect the bite area, experts say.
Can you feel it? People are getting excited about spring! They are working in the yard, putting down grass seed and fertilizer and weed eliminator. They’re at the garden store selecting new plants and trees. The weather is warmer and you can actually open the windows – who doesn’t love that?!
But as tempting as it is to leave the doors open, and let the fresh air come in the windows, you can save yourself a lot of trouble with insects later if you check (or install) screens now. Just like taking the right steps for your lawn and garden will pay off this summer, so will excluding the bugs before they get in the house.
Tight fitting, intact screens will keep out flies and mosquitoes as well as ants, wasps and moths. We don’t think about moths that often, but once they fly in they can lay eggs in your pantry food or on your natural fiber clothing. Next thing you know, you have weevils in your cereal and holes in your favorite coat. And once you have them they are a pain to get rid of … so a little prevention is worth the effort.
And while you’re at it, check around your home for cracks in the foundation, around windows and doors, and anywhere they shouldn’t be. This is a great time to caulk – before a pest family moves in. Every year I am called to the same accounts to remove wasps or other pests because the hole they were in wasn’t sealed up. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the money, but it is easy to prevent these problems!
Check for faucet leaks because ants and other insects need the moisture and move firewood away from your foundation. Firewood is a great please for termites to hang out and then move into your house. Again, money you don’t really want to spend.
If you get a jump on this now you will reduce the pest opportunities for the upcoming summer. Then you can enjoy that beautiful lawn and pretty flowers.
I read an article recently that said 7 different species of bees are now on the endangered species list. It went on to say that crops are endangered too because there won’t be any bees to pollinate the plants and we are all going to starve!!!!
Let’s just calm down. I like bees, BTW. They are the non-violent, mind your own business insect of the insect world. They go about their routine and pretty much ignore you as long as you ignore them. If you haven’t watched Fried Green Tomatoes lately go check it out. There is a scene where the character walks right up to the hive and puts her hand in to scoop out the honey. I don’t recommend you try that, but the fact is bees are pretty tame.
So, why are the bees dying off? The main reason is a type of mite that has caused havoc in the bee world. Scientists are trying to get a handle on that but it is proving difficult.
Then there are the travelling bee hives. Did you know it is big business to transport bees all over the country at different times of year in order to pollinate whatever crops need it at the time? That is pretty stressful on the bee population and many of them die off.
Finally, there are neo-nicotinoid insecticides that are getting a lot of the blame and many people want to BAN them. But the reality is these pesticides control many pests that are destructive to crops. If you ban the pesticide to save the bees you will have other insects that destroy the crops.
It turns out that these pesticides can be used safely by following the manufactures instructions which are printed on the label. Studies show them to be effective and safe if they aren’t applied to crops in the flowering stage. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Instead of going off on a tangent because of poorly researched articles, we the public, need to be better informed.
That’s my soapbox minute for February. If you need some pest advice, please get in touch. I’m always happy to help.
Finally, spring is just about here! And you know that means ants. This is the time of year when they start to wake up. A lot of people have asked me where ants go in the winter – and while there are plenty of good guesses, we finally have an answer. Just like we thought, they kind of hibernate.
It turns out that many types of ants “fatten up” in the fall and then their bodies produce a type of alcohol that acts as an anti-freeze. They burrow in wall voids, under rocks or other protected spaces, and wrap themselves around the queen in order to protect her from the cold. When it starts to warm up the ants on the inside of this protective ball move to the outer layer to clean away the ants that didn’t survive. These dead ants will be the first source of a protein meal for the others. Kind of like the Donner Party. (Google it if you missed that day in history class.) And next thing you know, YOU have ant trails in your kitchen.
If you want to avoid ants this season start looking around your home for ant activity. Check the posts on your porch, or cracks in your foundation or under rocks in your flowerbeds. I bet you will find some trails, especially on a sunny afternoon. This is the best time to prevent problems inside. If we can get to them before the babies are hatched, we can cut down dramatically on infestations in your home.
If you’d like more information or an assessment for control, I’m always happy to talk to you. So get in touch!
I don’t know anyone who likes cockroaches. They are prehistoric and creepy looking. That’s good enough for me but there is more to dislike.
German cockroaches (the kind that live indoors in your kitchen) are the number one cause of asthma in children. In order to grow, most insects including roaches have to molt in order to get bigger. That means they have to shed their old skin and grow a new one. I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me they saw an albino cockroach. What they actually saw is that few hours between losing the old shell and the new one hardening up.
You know roaches don’t clean up after themselves so they just leave the old skin behind which becomes an allergen that makes your child sick. When you consider that each egg laid by the momma roach contains 21-28 babies, it doesn’t take long to have a LOT of allergens floating around.
Then there is the disease factor. Roaches crawl around in drains, eat fecal matter (sorry) and other bacteria infested stuff. As they walk on your counters, over your dishes and your kid’s toys, they leave behind lots of nasty germs you don’t want in your mouth or on your hands. It’s no wonder we have such a problem with food-borne illness. Because cockroaches are everywhere.
If you have seen a few, you will soon be seeing plenty more since roaches reproduce at a rapid rate. Professional pest managers have new baits and other treatments that aren’t like the old “spray and pray” methods of years past. If this is a problem you’re having please call me to get help. Roach infestations just get worse without intervention.
Happy New Year!
Now that the hustle and bustle are over for the next 11 months it’s time for the cleanup. Here are a few tips to consider as you put your house back together:
Over the holidays did you bring in any live plants like a Christmas tree or wreaths or Poinsettias? As beautiful as these holiday decorations are they can also harbor live insects. After all, where do trees and plants live? Outside. And where do insects make their homes? In trees and plants.
When these plants are brought into your nice warm home the insects can become active. It’s like spring has come early for them! So they crawl out of the pots and trees and take up residence in your home – often without you noticing. This is where your vacuum becomes your best pest control tool.
After you take the tree out and toss the other greenery, vacuum thoroughly. You want to be sure to get up all the needles, pine cone pieces and dust – anywhere tiny insects or eggs could be hiding. Then be sure to hit the crevices under your baseboards. Look up. Do you see spider webs? Get them while you are vacuuming and then run the wand around the windows and back side of your drapes. If you want to catch an insect you have THINK like an insect.
But we aren’t quite through. Did anyone bring you a dried flower arrangement? What about potpourri? Did you pull that Indian corn display down from the attic? You need to check all of these places for stored products pests. These are bugs that infest dried goods and are often the most overlooked source of certain insect infestations. When you check them, if you find little tooth marks or tiny “worms” or cocoons, you might have a problem that will only get worse if you don’t address it NOW. My suggestion is to put it in a plastic bag and then into the trash. But if you just can’t part with it, you can freeze or bake the item. Clear a space in your freezer and put your item in a bag and then into the freezer. I would keep it there for 2 weeks. You want to be sure to kill all stages – egg through adult – before removing. If you don’t have that kind of space, you can “bake” the item at about 200 degrees for 30-60 minutes. But be careful. NOT everything is safe to put in your oven.