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Eco-Friendly Ways To Fight Bedbugs

9 Nov

11/9/2011 Eco-Friendly Ways To Fight Bedbugs

Have you seen the reports of bedbugs invading high-end department stores, hotels, and theaters this past year? Does the thought of sleeping in a bed with hundreds of tiny parasitic creatures give you nightmares? If so, it may be time to take preemptive action to reduce the odds that your home will provide the next great dining experience for these minute blood suckers. If you are chosen as their main course, it is difficult, but not impossible, to get them to move on without using commercial strength pesticides. However, the following ideas are eco-friendly and should be tried first:

Discouraging an Infestation

Making new habits may decrease your chances of becoming a bedbug victim. The following are practical green methods of discouraging bedbugs from settling into your home:

• Put every piece of clothing or any linens brought into the home into the dryer for thirty minutes because bedbugs and their eggs can be killed with sustained heat.

• Wash and dry reusable shopping bags regularly.

• Vacuum carpets and mattresses thoroughly, especially after overnight visitors who may have unwittingly carried bedbugs into your home.

• Keep beds positioned away from the walls and place sticky pest strips around all four legs.

• Do periodic checks by inspecting the seams of upholstered furnishings, curtain hems, and mattress corners. Check out bedbug photos online so you know what signs to look out for.

• Buy a zippered mattress bag for every set of bedding in the house to protect them from becoming a bedbug habitat in the future.

Dealing with a Bed Bug Invasion

Once bedbugs have decided that the residents of your household are a tasty meal, it takes some serious action to convince them to depart. While herbal sprays, such as neem or peppermint, may send them into hiding and prevent them from biting quite as often, these only kill these voracious critters if applied directly to their outer surface. Since bedbugs are some of the best hiders in the insect world, getting a shot at every member of the horde is next to impossible. The following green methods of extermination might work much better:

• Mist mattresses and carpets with a solution of rubbing alcohol and water. The alcohol content should be at least 70% to be effective, and this may need to be done several times for successful results, and it is important to remember that alcohol is flammable.

• Use a steamer on mattresses, bedding, household linens, curtains, carpeting, and upholstered couches and chairs.

• Sprinkle a powdery, non-toxic substance called diatomaceous earth on household surfaces. When bed bugs are exposed to diatomaceous earth, they dry up and die.

Ridding a home of bed bugs using natural methods is hard work and not for the faint of heart. Persistent effort, however, will mean that your family does not have to be exposed to toxins that might later cause health problems, so it is worth the effort to try these eco-friendly measures before calling a pest control specialist.

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Bedbugs Four Other Pest Friends To Look Out For This Winter

8 Nov

11/8/2011 Bedbugs Four Other Pest Friends To Look Out For This Winter: Termites, Crazy Ants, Stinkbugs Amongst Them


Believing termites to be strictly hot-weather pests, many homeowners let their guards down during winter months. However, classes of termites are known to swarm during fall months and reproduce in homes until February. Subterranean termites are the most destructive and widespread termite in the United States.  They are social insects, living in colonies that could contain up to several million, and they cause up more than $5 billion in property damage each year


Bedbugs have become a national nuisance. They are world-class hitchhikers that travel between locations on clothing, luggage and purses. Having been found on airplanes and in hotels, those traveling this holiday season should remain vigilant to prevent bringing these pests into their homes.

Crazy Ants

Common in southern states, crazy ants infest in large numbers. One Terminix professional in Texas witnessed what seemed to be pavement moving but was actually the erratic movement of crazy ants. These ants sneak into homes from infestations in close proximity or when brought there from hay bales and winter flowers picked up at nurseries and markets. Keeping a well manicured lawn during winter months can help the homeowner or resident notice crazy ants before their numbers increase.

Overwintering Pests

Overwintering pests enter homes in the fall and prepare to nest for the winter. Beetles, ladybugs and box elders are common to see entering homes this winter. Much like humans, insects seek comfort and nutrients, which can be found in homes. Also watch for the west side of homes where the bugs sun-bathe for warmth in the afternoons.


A type of overwintering pest, stinkbugs have been seen in 32 states, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic region. They come to the region to feed on crops there but then enter local homes to survive the winter. Stinkbugs are aptly named for the odor caused by their defense mechanism. Homeowners decorating porches with pumpkins this fall should be especially mindful – stinkbugs like to snack on pumpkin juice.

Termite Tips:

  • Repair roof or plumbing leaks. The moisture from these allows termites to survive above ground.
  • Ensure gutters drain properly and direct moisture away from your foundation.
  • Eliminate all wood-to-soil contact around your foundation, keeping firewood and other wood debris from being stacked against the side of your home.
  • Keep mulch or soil away from your home’s siding. It’s best to have a barrier of a few inches.
  • Remove items like scrap lumber, boxes and even old books or newspapers from crawl spaces.
  • Maintain adequate ventilation in crawl spaces.
  • Use a mesh screen on all windows, doors and ventilation openings.
  • Have your home inspected by a trained professional at least once a year. Prompt treatment and regular inspections can save thousands of dollars in damage repair.

Bedbug Tips:

  • Check hotel headboards, mattresses and box springs for bedbugs and dark blood spots.
  • Hang all clothing. Leave nothing lying on the bed or furniture.
  • Avoid unpacking clothing and storing your clothing in the hotel’s furniture drawers.
  • Store baggage on a luggage rack as far from the bed as possible.
  • Vacuum suitcases when returning home, and immediately wash clothing in hot water.
  • If you suspect your hotel has bedbugs, ask for a change of rooms. Bedbugs should only be treated by a trained pest control professional.

Crazy Ant Tips:

  • Terminix encourages residents to be cautious about these ants. Keeping a well maintained lawn and calling a professional if crazy ants are spotted is one’s best chance of removal.
  • Other ants move in a line, but crazy ants’ erratic movement defies this notion.
  • The southern climate of states along the Gulf of Mexico is best suited for crazy ants’ existence.
  • Before treating any ant infestation, it’s important to identify what ant is currently causing the problem.
  • There are a variety of products and approaches available for treating ant infestations, but many of them are designed to target a specific species. Targeting a species with the wrong material can have a negative impact and can worsen the original problem.
  • Because ant elimination can be so specialized, it is always recommended to work with a professional pest control company when trying to resolve an ant problem.

Overwintering Pest Tips:

  • Seal all cracks in the home’s exterior, especially on the southern and western walls.
  • Ensure windows and doors seal tightly. Overwintering pests can slip through very small openings.
  • Install insect screening on foundation and attic vents. These openings can allow easy access for overwintering pests.
  • If overwintering pests appear indoors, use a vacuum to remove them (cautiously with stinkbugs). Discard the bag once complete.

Terminix recommends homeowners consult a pest control professional if they suspect an infestation, rather than attempt a do-it-yourself remedy that may make the problem worse. Terminix offers free, no-obligation home inspections for homeowners seeking a professional screening. Those interested can learn more at

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How Bedbugs Became Part Of The Housing Trend

2 Nov

11/2/2011 How Bedbugs Became Part Of The Housing Trend

The ghouls and goblins have all gone home, counted their bounty and returned to the relative normalcy of daily life. While the fantasy and fright of Halloween is behind us, some sobering  – and alarming – realities remain.  In light of this, we are kicking off a series of articles on Seriously Scary Housing Trends that impact the housing and rental markets.

Our first scary trend really has our skin crawling. We go to a lot of apartment conferences, read apartment industry publications and talk to a lot of apartment owners. While vacancy rates, occupancy rates, capital market and economic trends have always been hot topics of conversation, over the last year or two, there has been a new buzz in the biz that is keeping us up at night: Bedbugs.

More and more we see the topic of bedbugs popping up on conference agendas, and the National Apartment Association – one of the largest apartment associations in the United States- even has a Bedbug Resource Center on its website. Although the bedbug population in the U.S. dropped dramatically in the mid-20th century, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year issued a joint statement on Bed Bug Control in the United States stating that the United States is now experiencing “an alarming resurgence in the population of bed bugs.”

To make matters worse, those pesky critters have developed a resistance to many pesticides, so chemical approaches to eradicating the problem could actually make these unwanted houseguests  long-term tenants.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, it is important to understand how to detect and treat a bedbug infestation. The EPA provides resources for residents and housing managers alike, and offers these top ten bed bug tips:


  1. Make sure you really have bed bugs, not fleas or ticks or other insects: You can verify your insect on their bed bug web page or check with your local extension agent.
  2. Don’t panic: Eliminating bed bugs is difficult, but it is not impossible. Don’t throw out all of your belongings; most of them can be treated and saved. Throwing out belongings is costly, may spread the infestation, and could be unnecessarily stressful.
  3. Think through your treatment options — Don’t immediately reach for the spray can: Be comprehensive in your approach. Integrated pest management techniques may reduce bed bug populations and limit pesticide exposure to you and your family. If pesticide treatment is needed, it is best to bring in a professional
  4. Reduce the number of hiding places — Clean up the clutter: A cluttered home provides more places for bed bugs to hide and makes locating and treating for them more difficult. If bed bugs are in your mattress, using a mattress/box spring encasement makes it more difficult for them to get to you while you sleep. To be effective the encasement must be left in place for a year. Be sure to buy a product that has been tested for bed bugs and is strong enough to last for the full year without tearing.
  5. Frequently wash and heat-dry your bed linens: Wash bed spreads, and clothing that touches the floor to reduce bed bug populations. Bed bugs and their eggs can hide in laundry containers/hampers so clean them when you do the laundry.
  6. Do-it-yourself freezing is not usually reliable for bed bug control: While freezing can effectively kill bed bugs, temperatures must remain extremely low for an extended period of time. Home freezers typically are not cold enough to kill bed bugs. Freezing temperatures outside may be used to kill bed bugs, but can take several days (at 0oF) to almost a week (at 20oF).
  7. High temperatures can kill bed bugs: Raising the indoor temperature with the thermostat or space heaters won’t do the job, though. Space heaters must always be used with care, as they have the potential to cause fires and serious burns. Specialized equipment and very high temperatures are required to successfully heat treat a structure. Black plastic bags in the sun might work to kill bed bugs in luggage or small items, provided the contents become hot enough (approximately 110oF for at least 3 hours).
  8. Don’t pass your bed bugs on to others: Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers. If you throw out a piece of furniture that is harboring bed bugs, take steps to destroy the item so that no one else adopts it (along with the bugs!).
  9. Reduce populations to reduce bites: Thorough vacuuming reduces populations. Carefully vacuum rugs, floors, under beds, around bed legs, bed frames, and all cracks and crevices around the room. Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. Change the bag after each use so the bed bugs can’t escape. Place the used bag in a tightly sealed plastic bag and in an outside garbage bin.
  10. Turn to the professionals, if needed: Hiring an experienced, responsible pest control professional can increase the likelihood and the speed of success in eliminating bed bugs from your home. If you hire an expert, ensure it is a company with a reputable history and ask them to use an IPM (integrated pest management) approach.

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Bedbug Repellent Being Developed But Will It Work?

1 Nov

11/1/2011 Bedbug Repellent Being Developed By Canadian Company..But Will It Work?

A Vancouver company is working to develop a scent that could drive away bedbugs.

Michael Gilbert’s company SemiosBIO Technologies hopes to thwart bedbugs using pheromone-based biotechnology, natural scents that can can either attract or repel.

“It sends out a signal to all bedbugs to go in the other direction — just reverse and get away,” Gilbert said.

Bedbugs are small, flat insects that feed on human blood. They don’t carry any known blood-borne diseases, but leave itchy bites all over the human body. The bites can lead to infections if the bitten areas are scratched, and bedbug saliva can trigger allergic reactions.

While bedbugs are not considered dangerous, public health officials consider them a nuisance.

Natural-based repellent

Researchers at Gilbert’s Vancouver lab are testing pheromones to see which natural scents repel bed bugs.

“We have at least seven now that will repel for at least 48 hours and that’s without our technology, which will lengthen that exposure,” he said.

In recent weeks, bedbugs have turned up in libraries in at least three Metro Vancouver communities.

For decades, the best way to beat the bugs was with pesticides, but since DDT and other effective but toxic pesticides have been widely banned, it’s almost become a losing battle.

“Pheromones have been used in agriculture applications for the past 30 years,” Gilbert said. “This is the first time it’s being applied to bedbugs.”

Gilbert plans to eventually market a pellet form of the products to put in suitcases or in hotel rooms to keep bedbugs away. Currently in the advanced stages of development, Gilbert said the product should be on the market in the near future.

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Preventing Bedbugs During Holiday Travel

30 Oct

10/30/2011 Preventing Bedbugs During Holiday Travel: Tips To Stay Bedbug Free

The holidays are a time for celebration, gift-giving and visiting with family and friends. Travel wisely this winter to ensure that you do not bring any unwanted visitors, such as bed bugs, back home with you.

Once thought to be a thing of the past, bed bug populations have increased by approximately 500 percent in the United States in recent years, according to Congress’ “Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite” Act of 2009. Bed bugs spread by hitching a ride on travelers’ possessions, and with our highly mobile society, bed bugs have been able to spread quickly across the United States. This makes it important for travelers to educate themselves on bed bugs. Becoming familiar with the bug, its habits and methods of detecting, treating and preventing an infestation is an essential and effective first step.

The facts on bed bugs:

Identification: Bed bugs are easily identifiable if you know what you are looking for. They are small, but still large enough to see. These pests are flat, oval and wingless, with antennae and six legs. Adults are 5 millimeters long, about the same size and color of an apple seed. Eggs are the size of a pin head,colorless and incredibly hard to see.

What attracts bed bugs: Bed bugs are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide from people and animals. They feed at night for about five minutes every three to seven days. Bed bugs usually reside within five feet of a food source, but can travel up to 100 feet to find a meal.

Lifespan: A bed bug will live for approximately three to nine months if well fed, but can survive for six months or more without feeding. Females can lay as many as five eggs per day – or up to 200 in their lifetime.

Travel wisely:

Travel lightly and do not bring your own bedding or pillows when visiting a hotel. Take a few minutes upon arrival to inspect your surroundings. Here is a list of recommendations on the way to inspect your accommodation before settling in for the night.

When entering a hotel room:

2. Exhale gently across the top and sides of the headboard.

4. Using your flashlight, inspect the rolled seams at the top and bottom edges of the mattress at each corner, looking for bed bugs, spotting or cast skins.

6. Look at the edge of the carpet and baseboard under the corners of the bed to inspect for spotting and cast skins. Put the corners back together.

8. Using your flashlight, inspect the skirting along the bottom of the bed, looking for bed bugs, spotting and cast skins within the inside folds of the fabric.

10. Inspect the portable luggage rack looking for signs of bed bugs.

Upon return from travel, place all items that may have been exposed (including suitcase when possible) into the dryer, and place on high heat for 15 minutes.

With just a little preparation and some caution, holiday travel can be relaxing and you can rest assured that you will return home without any uninvited pests.

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How To Keep Bedbugs Out Of Luggage

29 Oct

10/29/2011 How To Keep Bedbugs Out Of Luggage: Remember These Tips For Safer Travel

If you are ever unfortunate to stay in a hotel room that is infested with bed bugs, then you will know how uncomfortable they can make you feel. If you are not careful they can get into your luggage and before you know it you have given them a free ride to your house.

Prevention is obviously better than cure, but if you suspect that you might be at risk of picking up some passengers then there are some precautions that you can take to try and minimize the risks of having some new bed bug pets at your home. Try not to put your clothes or luggage directly onto your bed, and if possible store your luggage on a metal luggage rack or in the bathtub when possible as bed bugs can’t climb metal or porcelain. Also, try to pack everything in plastic bags and pack a plastic bag large enough to hold your luggage.

If you suspect that you might have picked up some passengers, make sure you wash everything thoroughly in hot water and then dry it for a minimum of thirty minutes at the highest dryer setting. For more delicate items, soak in warm water with lots of laundry soap for several hours before rinsing. Other items can be put into a dryer for thirty minutes to eliminate bed bugs.

Your luggage itself should be vacuumed as thoroughly as possible before scrubbing with a stiff brush to dislodge any eggs that you missed. The vacuum bag should be sealed and emptied immediately. You can store the luggage in your garage to prevent any that survive from getting into your house.

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New Monitoring Device For Bedbugs Revealed

28 Oct

10/28/2011 New Monitoring Device For Bedbugs Revealed: The Bed Bug Plug Is New For Early Detection & Prevention Of Bedbugs

The Bed Bug Plug is a new device for the early and active detection of bed bugs. The goal is to quickly detect a Bed Bug problem before a new or recurring infestation occurs. When designing the Bed Bug Plug, many different ideas and studies were taken into consideration. The design is unique because it uses heat as an attractant and is desirable for the bed bug as it simulates an ideal feeding and resting environment, the manufacturer reports.

When bed bugs want to feed they sense the body heat and CO2 from a person. They instinctively use “Thermal Graphic Radar” to zone in on their meal. In addition to looking for heat, Bed Bugs seek rest in a comfortable, warm, textured hiding place, typically a crack or crevice. The Bed Bug Plug embodies all of these attributes. The Bed Bug Plug utilizes a heating element that mimics the heat radiated from a human being. The bottom portion is slightly cooler, at a temperature ideal for the Bed Bug to rest and hide until the next feeding. As they crawl curiously deeper into the specially designed cave, they push themselves against the glue adhesive on the roof of the device. This will permanently catch them, providing a perfect sample specimen for a pest control professional.

According to the manufacturer, the laboratory test results show that the device was effective in detecting bed bugs in a standard room environment. Moreover, the company reports that its results show Bed Bug Plug to be very effective on newly introduced bed bugs.

The Bed Bug Plug design allows the device to be attached to a wall socket and has a dual socket where you can plug other electronics directly into the device making it discreet and easily hidden. The Bed Bug Plug is designed to accept cartridges which contain the special glue boards. This makes it both clean and easy to check if the device has caught any bedbugs and also to replace the glue boards.

The Bed Bug Plug will be available in the first quarter of 2012.
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