Bed bugs are small, nearly wingless, flattened bugs that are external parasites of humans. There are closely related species that feed on bats, cliff swallows, woodpeckers, raptors, chickens and other types of birds. Bed bugs do not transmit any diseases, but they are probably the most profitable bug in the pest control industry. If you made a list of the 100 most dangerous bugs on the planet, bed bugs wouldn't make the list. If you made a list of the top ten most profitable bugs, they would be at the top of the list. You can control bed bugs yourself in your home or business and you don't need toxic pesticides to do so.
The first step in controlling bed bugs is to completely inspect the room to determine the extent of the infestation. Pay close attention to the sleeping areas. They can be hiding anywhere but they will stay as close to the food source as they can. Small crevices in solid structures, such as the joints in the bed's headboard or between the wall and the baseboard are the bed bugs' refuge of choice. Strip the bed so you can inspect the mattress and box spring. Examine the seams and buttons on the mattress as well as any labels. Bed bugs will hide in all of these areas. Stand the mattress on end if you have to. Examine the box spring if there is one. Stand it up and look at the underside, especially along the edges. Also look behind pictures hanging on the wall, between and behind any books or magazines in close proximity to the bed and in any furniture nearby. You may have to turn some of the furniture over and examine the underside. Carefully check anything that is under the bed including storage boxes. If there is any litter under the bed, it should be removed. Also check for dried cast skins (exuviae) from the molting process and fecal matter.
Before you start the treatment, there are a few preparations you should do. Wash all the bedding in hot water (120 + degrees). This will kill any bed bugs in the bedding. Personal items such as stuffed animals, blankets, etc. should be vacuumed and placed in plastic bags for a couple of weeks. If you have a clock, phone, radio or other appliance near the bed, they should be opened and inspected as bed bugs will hide in those places as well. Thoroughly vacuum the entire room including inside closets and dresser drawers. If the infestation is severe, you will have to use a crack and crevice vacuum tool to suck the bugs out from along the edge of the carpet, from behind switch plates which you will have to remove, from all around the bed frame, inside the box spring and inside any furniture in the room. If you see any eggs on the mattress along the seams, you can remove these by picking them up with duct tape and discarding them or brushing them off with a stiff brush. After vacuuming the room or rooms, remove the bag from the vacuum and discard it right away.
Next, use a hair dryer to blow hot air in all the cracks and crevices and along the edge of the carpet and on the furniture to get any bed bugs the vacuuming missed. You want to get as many bed bugs as you can before the final treatment.
Now it is time to treat the bed. Use a flashlight and carefully examine the seams, buttons and any folds in the mattress along with the headboard and footboard if they are present. Check the box spring and frame as well. If you missed any bed bugs with the vacuum or hair dryer, they will be visible. Spray any bed bugs you see with an EcoSmart spray as well as all cracks and crevices in the bed. Spray the underside of the box spring as well. If you don’t see any bed bugs, then spray along the seams and around the folds and all the other areas mentioned. Make sure to use plenty of solution so the sprayed surface is wet. Then put some diatomaceous earth (DE) in a duster and puff it on all the sprayed areas, including under the box spring. The EcoSmart will kill any bed bugs in several hours and the DE will prevent any from hiding in these areas in the near future. You can also sprinkle fine body/bath powder on the mattress and rub it into the fabric.
Now you have to treat all the furniture in the room including night stands, chairs, couches, dressers, etc. Make sure you carefully inspect all the wooden furniture and treat them as you treated the mattress, box spring and bed frame. If any of the furniture, such as bunk beds, have metal framing, treat inside the metal tubing with EcoSmart and DE.
Finally, you need to make your bed difficult for bed bugs to access. Tape up any tears in the box spring or mattress with duct tape or, better yet, enclose them in a zippered mattress cover used for dust mites. Put the legs of the bed in plastic food bowls or metal cans and coat the inside with Vaseline. Don’t let the bed touch any walls or let the bed covers touch the floor.
If you have any pest questions, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 505-385-2820. My book is available on my website at askthebugman.com.
There are a couple of bugs that don’t get much attention and are not very well understood. First is the velvet ant. Velvet ants are not real ants. They are wingless female wasps that resemble large, hairy ants. There are several species so they come in different colors. One species is red and black. Another is yellow and black and there are others. The male velvet ants do have wings. Velvet ants are also known as cow killers, because they have a very painful sting that is said to be able to kill a cow. That may be a slight exaggeration. They are solitary wasps and do not live in colonies. They spend their time wandering around yards, digging in the soil and occasionally entering a garage or home by accident. They are not at all aggressive, but will sting to defend themselves and the sting is very painful as I said. Apparently they make a squeaking sound when stepped on. I stepped on one in my yard in Rio Rancho many years ago and I didn’t hear the squeak, but the sting was so painful I was screaming pretty loud.
They have an unusual way of making a living. The adult females feed on nectar and drink water. They go into the holes made by cicada killer wasps and lay eggs in the cicada killer’s cocoon. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the cicada killer larvae. Then the velvet ant larvae pupate and eventually emerge as an adult. Then the female adults will eventually mate with winged male velvet ants and start the process over.
Velvet ants do no damage at all, and as I said, are not aggressive. Pesticides are not necessary to control them. It would be a good idea not to walk barefoot in your yard.
The other “bug” I will mention is the sun spider. The sun spider is not really a spider, but they are arachnids as are spiders. They are also called camel spiders and wind scorpions but they are not scorpions either. They are not venomous and not at all dangerous. They are tan in color, have eight legs, a pair of long pedipalps and have large, muscular jaws. They can bite if picked up. Sun spiders are very fast and very good at catching prey to eat. They will eat cockroaches or any large insects, spiders, scorpions and occasionally small lizards.
They occasionally enter homes under doors or through any void, but will not infest your home. The females dig burrows outside and deposit about a 100 eggs or so. They will not breed in your house. The best method of control is to sweep them into a jar or can and put them outside, where they can continue to help you control pests outside. Pesticides are not necessary to control sun spiders.
If you have any pest questions, you can contact me at email@example.com or by phone at 505-385-2820. I want everyone to enjoy a pesticide free summer.
The first time I met a crane fly, it was scary. I was in Viet Nam sitting in back of a truck. What I thought was a large Asian mosquito started flying around me. I was terrified by its size and swung at it. I lost my balance and fell off the truck and landed on my head in a mud pile. If I had landed on a solid road I probably would have broken my neck and would have been the only soldier in the army that was killed by a crane fly.
What are crane flies? These are large insects that closely resemble mosquitoes. They can be very scary looking, particularly if they find their way into your home and start flying around terrorizing everyone. Are they dangerous? No, crane flies are completely harmless. They have a variety of names including “Mosquito Killer”, “Mosquito Hawk”, “Mosquito Eater”, “Gallinipper” and others. They do not eat mosquitoes or any bugs. The adult crane flies eat very little and mostly just nectar.
Crane flies are primitive flies belonging to the Order Diptera and the Family Tipulidae. There are many different species, some are large and others are quite small. The ones that commonly scare people are about an inch long, with a narrow body and very long legs that can exceed an inch in length. The wings are long and narrow.
The larvae are grayish brown in color and are cylindrical shaped. They are often called “Leatherjackets”. The larvae commonly are found in moist areas such as woodlands and around streams. They are found under layers of decomposing leaves and in compost piles. Some species occur in open fields, dry areas including desert environments. A few species can feed on the roots of forage crops and turf grasses. Most species feed on decaying organic matter. They can be important in the soil ecosystem as they process organic material. They are, both in the larval stage and as adults, valuable food for many animals including insects, spiders, fish, frogs, toads, birds and some mammals.
Adult female crane flies usually contain eggs when she emerges from the pupa and often immediately mates with a male if one is available. They often mate while flying. Once the eggs are laid, the adult males and females have a life span of up to two weeks. The eggs are laid in water, in dry soil and occasionally dropped from the air. The eggs are black in color.
Because of their size they can cause panic attacks if they come in your house. They are attracted to light as many insects are and they will fly in an open window or door and start running into walls and furniture. As mentioned, they are medically harmless, but can by psychologically scary.
They usually start showing up in mid-February and hang around until April, depending on the weather. Large numbers may show up and rest on plants and the sides of your house if you live near an area where they may breed.
Make sure all of your windows and doors are closed and that all window and door screens are in good repair. Leave outside lights off during the evening. This won’t guarantee you will never see a crane fly in your house, but it certainly reduces the odds.
They should be considered beneficial insects as the adult flies are harmless and that their biology is such that they contribute to the ecosystem because the larvae (leatherjackets) feed on decaying organic material and help in the decomposition process.
If you have any pest questions, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 505-385-2820. My website is askthebugman.com.
Ticks are not insects. They are arachnids belonging to the group – mites. They are bigger than all other mites and they are very important. There are hundreds of species of ticks in the world and they are capable of spreading more than 65 diseases, many of them serious. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and tularemia are a few. If someone made a list of the top ten most dangerous pests, ticks would be close to the top of the list. For some reason, they receive almost no attention compared to bed bugs which are absolutely harmless. Ticks mostly feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, but some species feed on reptiles. They can be found in lawns, yards with trees and shrubs and, occasionally, inside homes. They prefer the shaded areas of your yard.
When you have ticks in your yard, here is one way control of them. Get a large piece of flannel cloth and tie it to a stick. Drag it through the entire yard slowly and pay particular attention to shady areas. Any ticks he drags the cloth over will get snagged. When you are done, put the cloth in a burn barrel and burn it or in a trash bag and seal it shut and take it to the dump. Then get some food grade diatomaceous earth and spread it all over the shady areas including along the sides of the house. Get some all along the foundation where there is dirt abutting the house. Then get some Vaseline and put some on all the outside window sills. If Vaseline is too messy you can use duct tape sticky side up. It takes 30 to 40 days for tick eggs to hatch, so you should repeat this entire process in a month and then again one month later. If ticks are in your house, you need to treat all the areas where they can hide. This would be behind baseboards, moldings, in furniture and carpets as well as around window sills. You can treat these areas with food-grade diatomaceous earth, baking soda, talcum powder or spray them with Greenbug for Indoors. All of these products will be safe for you and your family and pets but will kill the ticks. Greenbug is available online.
Most of the ticks listed below are only found in the woods and remote areas and won't infest your homes. I am listing them because they can be serious vectors of disease if you should encounter them.
Talaje soft ticks (Ornithodoros talaje)
Man, rodents, pigs, cattle, horses. Very painful bite. Found in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada. It can transmit tickborne relapsing fever in some areas
Relapsing fever ticks (Argasidae - Ornithodoros turicata)
It feeds on kangaroo rats, rabbits, sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, humans, rattlesnakes and turtles. It is found in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and California. May produce intense irritation and swelling at bite site in humans. Also produces relapsing fever spirochetes.
Rocky Mountain wood ticks (Ixodidae - Dermacentor andersoni)
Rocky Mountain wood tick immatures feed on rodents and rabbits. Adults feed on cattles, sheep, deer, humans and other large mammals. They are found from the western counties of Nebraska and the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains, and from northern Arizona and northern New Mexico in the United States to British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan in Canada. May transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis and tularemia.
Brown dog ticks (Ixodidae - Rhipicephalus sanguineus)
Brown dog ticks are found worldwide, mostly in warmer areas. They are small and reddish-brown in color. Females can lay up to 5000 eggs, depending on the amount of blood consumed. Immature brown dog ticks feed on a variety of animals. Adults feed on domestic dogs and occasionally bite humans. In dogs, Brown dog ticks can transmit canine erhlichiosis and canine babesia. It has recently been identified as a reservoir for Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the southwest.
If you have any pest questions, you can contact me at email@example.com or call me at 505-385-2820. If you like you can join my Bug Club. Go to my website at askthebugman.com to join. You will get a copy of my book on safe and effective pest management and I will help you with any pest issues you have.
I have been getting a lot of calls about ants coming into homes. We will discuss some treatment methods that don’t involve spraying pesticides. There are several things you can do to prevent ants from entering your home. The first step is exclusion. Go around the outside of your home and inspect it very carefully from an ant's point of view. Ants can sense cool air and aromatic odors emanating from your home and will try to gain access. Check around the house at ground level and look for cracks in the foundation, voids around pipes, areas under stucco, peepholes in bricks and similar areas that ants can use to gain entrance. All these areas need to be sealed, caulked, screened or otherwise altered to prevent ants from using them to get into your home. Check around your windows and doors to make sure they close tightly. If the doors aren't tight, you may have to install door sweeps on them. Check your bushes, shrubs and trees to make sure you don't have any branches touching the roof. Don't stack firewood, bricks or anything else next to your house or ants and other insects may find it a good place to nest. If you have bushes or shrubs next to your house, periodically inspect them for aphids, scales and similar bugs as ants are attracted to the honeydew they produce. The ants will get on the plants and eventually find their way into your home. Don't put flagstone or flat boards on the ground too close to your home or some species of ants will nest under them. On the other hand, mound-making ants will generally stay outside. They rarely leave their complicated and efficient homelike in the mound to enter homes. If you don't want the ants making mounds in your yard, you can flood the nests with club soda or with white vinegar or food-grade DE. If you use the DE, mix 4 tablespoons per gallon of water. You can also use 1 gallon of orange juice diluted with 2 gallons of water and a dash of soap. If you prefer, you can also spread dry instant grits on the mound. The ants will eat it and not be able to digest it and die.
You can repel ants with a wide variety of products, including cinnamon, baking soda, Comet Cleanser, cedar oil, medicated baby powder, Tide, talcum powder, chalk, coffee grounds, borax, garlic, broken egg shells, bone meal, black or red pepper, peppermint, paprika, chili powder and mint leaves. If you have ants going into your hummingbird feeder, you can put duct tape, sticky side out, on the wire holding the feeder, to deter them.
The best way to control them when they get in your home is with baits. Different species have different food preferences. Some species will take a wide variety of baits, while others are more particular. Here is a recipe for effective, homemade ant baits that use borax. It attracts ants looking for either moisture or food. You will need: 3 c. water, 1 c. sugar, 1 tsp. borax or 2 tsp. food-grade DE, 6 small screw-top jars with lids, such as jelly jars covered with masking tape, which will enable the ants to climb up the side. Mix the sugar, water and borax (or food-grade DE) in a bowl. Loosely half-fill the jars with cotton balls or pieces of sponge or wadded paper towels. Pour up to ½ cup of the sugary mixture over the cotton balls, saturating them. Make several small holes in the lid. Screw the lids on the jars tightly.
If you smoke, always wear plastic gloves when making ant baits or they will sense the tobacco smoke on the baits and not go to it. Ants do not like cigarette or cigar smoke.
A very good commercial bait is Terro Bait, which is made from boric acid and is sold in some stores. Many common household ants will love it. Just place the bait stations where you see the ants foraging.
With any bait you use, homemade or commercial, always put them in areas where children and pets can’t disturb them.
If you have large carpenter ants, you can use Advanced Carpenter Ant Bait, which is available online. Again, no pesticides need to be sprayed inside or outside. If you have any ants that aren’t taking the bait for some reason, you can contact me and I will help you identify them and recommend a treatment. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-385-2820. There is also a lot of non-toxic pest information on my website at www.askthebugman.com.
Bugs are cool. If you agree (and you should), check out Arachnophilia. This spider-simulating game has you spinning webs in a tree in order to catch some tasty insects. You've got to eat bugs in order to keep your web fluid flowing. But watch out for the dangerous pests like bees and stage beetles, which can damage your web and even hurt you. Click on "facts" along the way to learn stuff about various insects. Entertaining and educational.
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