Identifying, Treating, and Preventing Bed Bug Infestations

Identifying, Treating, and Preventing Bed Bug InfestationsBed bug infestations are an increasing problem across North America. If you fear you have an infestation or have been exposed to one, you are not alone, and there are solutions. It’s important to first identify if you indeed have bed bugs, or possibly another type of parasite such as fleas. Once you confirm you have bed bugs, you might wonder how you were exposed or if they are a health risk, but most importantly, you need to know what steps you should take to get rid of them, and how you can prevent their return. With help and the proper information, you can identify and eliminate bed bugs from your home or work environment.

What do bed bug bites look like?

Although individual reactions can vary, bed bug bites often appear as raised, inflamed bumps on exposed areas of skin such as the arms, legs, or upper body. The welts may be initially confused for mosquito bites or a rash, but bed bugs bites are often found in clusters or trails created by the insect moving between feeding intervals. Other signs of infestation include blood spotting on bedding or the bed frame and mattress — small, rusty spots caused by feeding — and shed skins from molting. Bed bugs themselves usually stay hidden during the day, but adults are small, flat, flightless insects about the size of an apple seed. They are dark brown or reddish-brown in color, and may be mistaken as ticks or immature cockroaches.

How do bed bugs travel, and where do bed bugs come from?

Adult bed bugs can travel on clothing, but they most often stow away in luggage, backpacks, bedding, or used furniture. As their name suggests, bed bugs are often found in and around beds because they prefer to stay close to a food source, but they can also squeeze into crevices in dressers, along the edges of baseboards and carpets, even behind electrical outlets, and they may be found anywhere where frequent visitor turnover is common. Hotel rooms are not the only places bed bugs may transfer hosts — theaters, buses, and grocery stores may be sources of an infestation.

What are the health risks of bed bugs in my home or workplace?

Bed bugs are not known to transmit disease, but an infestation can cause other negative effects like anxiety, sleeplessness, and chronic itching. Some individuals have had allergic reactions to bed bug bites, and scratching at bites can lead to secondary infections. The risk of infection is especially dangerous to individuals with compromised immune systems. While bed bugs have been associated with cluttered or unsanitary conditions, they can thrive anywhere. Bed bugs are drawn to body heat and carbon dioxide, not dirt, and are not necessarily a sign of an unclean environment.

What can I do if I think I’ve been exposed to bed bugs?

Wash and dry your clothes on the highest heat setting as soon as you arrive home, if not before. Find a flat, non-carpeted surface where you can unpack luggage while inspecting for signs of bed bugs, and transfer your items into sealed plastic bags. Steam clean or vacuum freeze luggage if possible, and purchase a bed bug-proof mattress cover. To prevent bed bug infestations, try to store work, school, or travel items separately, and don’t store luggage under your bed. When away from home, keep your clothing and personal items inside your luggage instead of moving them into drawers or closets, and keep your bags on a luggage rack away from the walls, never open on your bed. At home, reduce clutter that bed bugs can use to hide in, and vacuum carpets regularly.

How do I get rid of bed bugs?

If you suspect you have bed bugs, contact a pest management professional right away. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of, in part because — until recently — infestations haven’t been common in the United States since World War II, and many people never learned preventative measures or how to recognize signs of infestation. Bed bugs are also hardy insects and resistant to many common pesticides. Bed bug eggs in particular are very resilient, and an infestation will persist unless all life stages have been eliminated. While working with a pest management professional, restrict contact with the area you suspect to be the source of infestation until all bed bug treatments have been completed. Attempts to treat the area yourself may result in bed bugs spreading to other areas of the home. With cooperation and careful, proper treatment, it is possible to remove bed bugs from your home or workplace.

How Likely Am I to be Bitten by the East Asian Tick in Manassas?

east asian tick extermination
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There have recent reports about the East Asian tick in the news. This tick has just been identified as establishing itself in the United States. This tick species is considered extremely invasive and it is hard to eradicate. At this time the East Asian tick has only been found in New Jersey, so it is unlikely that you will be bitten by this tick in Manassas. However, it will likely spread and it is something that you should be aware of in the upcoming years.

Can Ticks Make Me Sick?

The East Asian tick is a known carrier of the SFTS virus which has not been found in the United States. This virus causes people to become quite ill. Since it is a virus there is not a known treatment, instead doctors will try to manage the symptoms and help you recover. There is a mortality rate of about twelve percent. There are other tick-borne illnesses in the United states including STARI, Rocky Mount spotted fever and Lyme disease. However, these can be treated with antibiotics and cured if caught early enough.

What Areas Are Prone to Ticks?

Experts have predicted a very active 2018 tick season. This means that you should be aware of any areas that may have ticks. They tend to like areas with leaf litter, areas with tall grass or bushes or the woods. You may be more likely to pick up a tick when camping or hunting, but they can be found in your backyard or at your city park too.

How Do I Check for Ticks?

It is important to check for ticks on a regular basis. You should check your clothing as soon as you leave a tick prone area. You may be able to brush the ticks off and avoid bringing them home for you. Once you arrive home, you should change your clothes and check behind your knees, under your arms and between your legs. They also like to attach themselves around your hairline or in your ears.

What Do I Do If I Find a Tick?

You should only remove the tick with tweezers by pulling straight back. Do not twist the tick to make it come loose, because it can leave its head embedded in your skin which can cause an infection. Once the tick is detached, you should dispose of it properly. You should not crush it with your hands because this increase the chances of you contracting an illness. If you start to develop signs of a tick-borne illness which usually includes a fever, you should seek medical attention and tell your doctor you were bitten by a tick.

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Bed Bugs

bed bug controlBed bugs are a growing problem throughout the United States. Since they were eradicated in the United States for nearly fifty years, many people are not sure on how to treat them and how to avoid getting them. With the increase in travel both in the country and internationally, bed bugs are spreading throughout the country. Here are five questions people ask about bed bugs.

Where Can I Catch Bed Bugs?

Many people will bring bed bugs home with them after a trip. Bed bugs will camp in a hotel room and crawl into your luggage while you are sleeping. Do not put your luggage on the floor of the hotel or on furniture. You can also bring them home from the gym, from school or anywhere where you may put your bag down and they can crawl into it. They have invaded schools and public buildings in some areas.

Do Bed Bugs Make People Sick?

While bed bugs do bite you and drink your blood, they do not transmit diseases to people. They can carry some diseases, but there are no known cases of them spreading an illness to a person. Some people can have an allergic reaction to the bed bugs. The bites can be extremely itchy.

How Do You Treat Bed Bugs?

There are a few different ways to treat bed bugs. However, bed bugs are resistant to some treatments. They also need to have the treatment applied directly on them. This can make treating bed bugs on your own tricky because they will hide in very small cracks that you may not see. You will need to wash your sheets in hot water and seal your mattress in a mattress cover designed for bed bugs.

Can I Get Rid of Bed Bugs on My Own?

While you may try to treat bed bugs on your own, it is more effective to hire a professional that has been trained in where to look for bed bugs and the best way to treat for them. They can usually treat them in just one treatment. This can give you peace of mind and the protection from these pests. The professionals have access to more effective pest control products that are safer for your family.

How Do I Find Bed Bugs?

You may notice small bites in rows as one of the signs of bed bugs. You may also see bloodstains on your sheets. You can look for the bed bugs on your mattress and box springs. They will hide in your headboard, nearby furniture and cracks in your baseboards. They are very small and can fit in areas where you do not think that they could feet.

Why Is My Home So Humid?

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Living in a humid home can be frustrating. It allows mold to grow on your walls. It can cause issues with your comfort level and make your heating or air conditioning systems to work harder. There are a few areas that you need to consider and possible solutions to address your home if it is humid.

Use Your Ventilation Fans

Turning on the fans in your bathroom and over your stove can help remove the humid air from your home. This will protect those rooms from possible mold growth. It is a simple solution for areas that are often temporarily humid from hot water running.

Examine Your Crawlspace

Your crawlspace may be contributing to your home’s humidity, especially if water is draining into it after a storm and it does not have a place to go. It is important to address this by encapsulating your crawlspace to prevent other complications like mold growth or wood rot. If you hate going into your crawlspace because it is also humid and hot, it is a sign that you need to address this.

Address Your Basement

If you have a basement instead of a crawlspace, it may also be an issue. You will need to make sure that the area is completely sealed off. The outside of your basement needs to be waterproofed. You will need to repair any cracks in your foundation. You may need to install a French drain or a sump pump to help with drainage during a bad rainstorm.

Consider a Dehumidifier

Another option to help with humidity is install a dehumidifier. This machine will take the moisture out of the air of your home. You may consider installing one that will help with your entire house. You may also consider putting one in your crawlspace if that is an area that seems to always be humid even after you have encapsulated your crawlspace.

Wrap Your Pipes

Wrapping your pipes can stop the air from condensing on colder pipes or air conditioning vents. This can make a big different in how much moisture collects in these areas which can also help prevent mold from growing in your home, as well as prevent wood rot. Wrapping your water heater can also help, and it can also help to lower your electric bill.

Run Your Air Conditioner

If you live in a naturally humid area, there may be days in the spring and fall where you do not need to run your HVAC system, but if you keep it on, it will work to draw the humidity out of the air. If you just have it cycle a few times during the day it should make a different in your home’s overall humidity level.

5 Things That Attract Termites to Your Home and Property

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If you are concerned about termites, you may be wondering what you can do to protect your home from the invasion of termites. Termites serve an important part in the ecosystem. They help to break trees and wood back into soil. Even though termites are necessary, that does not mean that you want them attacking your home or being active on your property. Here are five thing that attract termites to your property.

Old Decaying Trees

Termites like to feed on old, dead wood. If you have decaying trees on your property, even in the back corners, you are inviting termites to come to your property by offering them up a meal. It is important to clear out old decaying trees. You should also address trees that may not be well and in the process of dying because some types of termites will feed on sick trees as well. Be sure to remove any limbs or falling trees.

Mulch

Wood mulch may be a good thing to help keep the moisture around your flower beds. It can also help your yard look nicer, but wood mulch can attract termites to your property. You should never use it in the beds that directly touch your home, but you may also want to consider other materials in your flower beds including a rubber mulch or a cedar mulch. There are a number of different materials you can use.

Wooden Structures Including Your Deck

The outbuildings, deck and fencing around your yard can all attract termites to your yard. The solution is to build these structures out of wood that is specially treated to not attract termites. Treated wood can last up to forty years, but you will need to check on it periodically. If you have structures that are not built of treated wood you will need to replace them.

Moist Wood in Your Crawlspace or Basement

Termites like wood that is wet or moist. If your crawlspace is hot or humid and if you dread going in them because of the way it feels or smells, it is likely that it would naturally attract termites as the floor joists and subfloor are weakened from the moisture. The best way to address this issue is to encapsulate the crawlspace and make sure that it is sealed completely from the elements.

Firewood

Firewood naturally attracts termites. While you may want to have firewood on your property to help you save money on your heating bill, there are steps you can take to protect your home from termites, and your firewood. Be sure to store it away from your home, not against it. You should store it on a concrete slab, and you should keep it covered to prevent termites.

5 Home Maintenance Projects to Protect Yourself from Termites

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Termites can cause thousands of dollars to your home in a very short period of time. Termites will steadily eat through the wood of your home all while remaining hidden. It is important to regularly have your home inspected for termites, but there are projects you can do to your home that can help protect it from termites. These steps can help you prevent the termites from coming into your home.

Check Your Ventilation to Make Sure It Is Working

Many termites prefer damp wood and so making sure that your home stays dry and the ventilation system is working properly is important. You should take time each year to make sure that all the ventilation in your attic and other areas of your home is open and unblocked. When you check this system, you should also check to make sure that each of the vents have a grate installed that will keep swarming termites and other insects out of your home.

Fix Your Crawlspace

Your crawlspace may be the perfect place for termites to enter your home. If you dread going into your crawlspace because it is hot and humid and full of mud and puddles, then you definitely need to address this with crawlspace encapsulation. The humidity in the crawlspace can allow the wood to become damp which makes it more attractive to termites. If the ground is not covered with plastic and sealed, it makes it easier for subterranean treatments to be installed. While past practices were to allow your crawlspace to vent to the exterior, most people now recommend encapsulating it and sealing it off so that the HVAC system is safer. It also makes the home in your house cleaner and safer to breath.

Check and Repair Your Roof

Loose shingles can give termites easy access to your attic where they can set up shop without ever realizing that there is a problem. Take time each year to check out your roof and to be sure that the shingles are in good condition. If you find one or two that are loose you can repair them or you may want to hire someone to do it for you. While you are up there, be sure to check around the vents to make sure that they are sealed.

Check Pipes for Leaks Periodically

Leaky pipes allow moisture to weaken the wood in your home. The damp wood is the food that termites prefer to feed on. You should periodically check the pipes in your home to make sure that you do not have any leaks. If you do find a leak or if your home has a flood, you will need to make sure that the wood dries out completely as quickly as possible. You can set up fans throughout the room to aid with it. You should check the wood once it is dry to make sure it is still strong and that it does not need to be replaced.

Close Holes into Your Home

Take time to check around your foundation, and any areas where a pipe or wiring enters your home to be sure that they are sealed off completely. Termites can enter through any small opening and explore your home looking for a meal, making sure these areas are sealed will protect your home from termites and other insects. It can also help with the energy efficiency of your home.

How Can I Stop Rodents from Getting in My Home?

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Rodents can quickly damage your home and they spread a number of serious illnesses including hantavirus. It is very stressful to realize that you have rodents in your home leaving trails of droppings and urine as they scamper through your kitchen in search of food. They are expert climbers and can get into almost any space. It is important to take steps to prevent rodents from getting in your home.

Check for Holes Around Your Foundation

Periodically check your home for places where rodents can find their way into your home. If you see signs of holes or chewing, you should take the steps necessary to fix the holes. This could mean replacing wood or it could mean installing exclusion barriers in those spaces. If you have damage from other pests like termites, rodents will take advantage of these weaknesses to work their way into your home, so you should make those repairs correctly.

Look in Your Attic and Under Your Eaves

Another area that rodents will get into your home is through your roof or under your eaves. They can walk across electrical wires or climb on trees and drop onto your roof. You should check your roof for loose shingles or areas that the rodents can easily get in and make the necessary repairs. Check under the eaves too. Be sure that grates are installed over each the vents to keep rodents out.

Trim Back Tree Branches

Tree branches that hang over your home or brush up against the side of your home can provide another access point for rodents to get into your home. Trimming back any bushes or trees will provide the extra protection against rodents and other insects.

Check Areas Where Pipes Enter Your Home

Rodents will come in through any area where there is a space or weakened wood. The areas around the pipes can be weakened if there is a leak in the area. You can install exclusion barriers or replace wood that is weak or rotting to keep rodents out of your home.

Keep Your Home Clean

Rodents are attracted by strong smells, and they can more easily set up house in a home that is cluttered and not as clean. Cutting down on the clutter and taking out the trash each night can reduce the chances of getting rodents. Be sure to do your dishes each night and to store all your food in airtight containers. These steps can cut back on the smells in your home and make your home less attractive to rodents.

How to Get Rid of Fleas with Salt

If your house or pets are suffering from a flea infestation, you may need some help. Flea bites will not only result in terrible itching and pain, but for those with allergies, skin inflammation is inevitable. Fleas are known to be carriers of several serious diseases, such as typhus, tapeworm, and even plague. This is a cause for great concern if fleas are in your home. There are a number of ways to effectively get rid of fleas. However, natural, non-toxic methods are often preferable to chemical treatments. Salt is both a budget-friendly and effective solution to your flea problem. If you still have some doubts about salt as a flea-eradicator, keep reading!

How Salt Kills Fleas

Fleas flourish in moist places, while salt possesses the ability to eliminate moisture. When fleas come into contact with salt, the outer layer of their bodies becomes dry and vulnerable. A treatment of salt powder or a mixture of salt and borax is prescribed for killing these pesky fleas. Salt can be used both indoors and outdoors to treat fleas on pets and carpets.

Directions for Use

Grind the salt into a fine powder and sprinkle it on the flea-infested carpet. The fine salt will penetrate deeply into the carpet fibers and kill fleas. You should leave the salt on your carpet for about 24 hours before vacuuming thoroughly. Salt left out for longer than two days might make your carpet dirty. Sprinkle salt by your doorways, so that fleas cannot escape to other rooms or outside while the salt is working its magic. Flea eggs or larvae may not die instantly, but vacuuming will clear them away. Seal the vacuum bag tightly and have it disposed of as soon as you have finished vacuuming. This will prevent eggs and larvae from developing into fleas inside the bag and invading your house. With regards to pets, a warm salt bath will help to remove the parasites from their bodies. The formula should consist of 1 part of salt mixed with 10 parts of water. Before you bathe your pet in the salt water, you should ensure that the pet has no open wounds. This will prevent unnecessary discomfort. Your pet’s eyes and ears should be shielded from salt water. If your pet is heavily infested, rub salt onto its fur and wait about two hours before rinsing with clean water. You may have to repeat this salt treatment several times to remove all the fleas from your pet’s body.

To sum up

Salt can also be used to kill fleas outside, although this is a less effective method of treatment. Salt treatments certainly stood out when the various methods to kill fleas were explored. Salt is both a non-toxic and budget friendly option. The only things that you need to get the job done are a few cents and a bit of patience!

Little Known Facts about Termites

Little Known Facts about Termites

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Most homeowners don’t realize their home is infested with termites until it’s too late and there’s thousands of dollars of damage done. EcoTek can not only perform a comprehensive termite control treatment on your home or business, but they also provide expert termite damage repair services.

What Steps Can I Take to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

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Image courtesy of Gilles San Martin via flickr (CC by-SA 2.0)
Bed bugs can be difficult to deal with because the treatments for them work best when applied directly to the bugs, and they are excellent hiders. They will hide in cracks that you may barely notice. It takes a professional who has been trained in bed bug detection to be able to identify all the places that they may hide.

Call a Professional

The first step in treating for bed bugs is to call a bed bug exterminator who can complete the chemical treatment for you. This is important because you need to kill all stages of the bed bugs in order to end an infestation, and a professional will be able to do that effectively.

Wash Your Bedding

Take your bedding to a laundromat to wash. It is important to double bag the bedding. This will prevent the bed bugs from hiding in your car as you take bedding there. Throw the bag away when you get to the laundry mat, as it may now contain bed bugs. You may want to seal these bags in an airtight container to avoid passing the bed bugs onto someone else. Be sure to wash and dry the bedding on high heat.

Address Your Mattress and Box Spring

The first step is to vacuum your mattress and box spring. While you may be tempted to throw your bed away, you can take some simple steps to stop bed bugs from being a problem. Buy a cover for both your mattress and box spring that will trap any bed bugs that may be in your box-spring or mattress that the vacuum misses inside. They will not be able to survive. Additionally, it can serve as a protection to stop it from happening in the future.

Move Your Bed Away from the Wall

While you are working on clearing up the bed bugs, you do not want to worry about new bed bugs finding their way into your bed and onto you. You can move the bed frame away from the wall. You can treat the headboard with insecticide. You can also put the legs of your bed into bed bug traps that are designed to catch any bed bugs that may be trying to climb off the floor onto your bed. Since bed bugs cannot fly, these measures can help while you prepare for the extermination treatment. Image courtesy of Gilles San Martin via flickr (CC by-SA 2.0)