Pests, Allergies and Your Health

Pests, Allergies and Your Health

Certain pests and your health won’t always mix well together.  Creepy crawly unwanted pests and rodents aren’t only annoying, they can contribute to some serious health problems. Preventative actions are important when it comes to protecting your home, business, schools, hospitals, restaurants, daycare’s and elderly rest homes.

Some examples:

Cockroaches can play a role in asthma and allergy triggers. You may be experiencing what seems to be common seasonal allergy symptoms but if you have pests inside the home, pests such as cockroaches may be adding to the severity of the symptoms.  The shedding of cockroaches’ body parts and feces can irritate and cause an increase in severity of asthmatic symptoms.

 

Mice are known to spread more than 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly through handling live or dead mice, coming in contact with mice saliva, urine feces, and by being bit by the rodent. It doesn’t stop there either, the diseases can also be spread indirectly through mites, fleas and ticks that may have fed on an infected mouse. Some of the most common diseases carried by mice are Hantavirus, Salmonella, Leptospirosis, Rat-bite fever and Plague.

 

Flies, just the buzzing of flies around you are annoying enough but are they are known as carriers of easily communicable diseases. Flies carry diseases on their legs and the tiny hairs that cover their bodies. It only takes one landing for them to transfer these pathogens to the surfaces they land on such as food and counter tops. Diseases carried by common house flies include typhoid, cholera and dysentery. They have also been known to transmit the eggs of parasitic worms.

 

Whether it’s a home, office or commercial/public building be proactive and contact your local pest management professionals.  You will have peace of mind knowing that you are on a maintenance program against the battle of the unwanted pests and your health.

The Varied Carpet Beetle

The Varied Carpet Beetle

It can be hard to think of “beetles” living in your carpet without realizing it, but it can happen. Many people have seen them but few people know what these tiny insects actually are and capable of. Carpet Beetles are a common pest and often is mistaken for “some sort of ladybug” because of their similar characteristic shape. Carpet Beetles are small (about 1/8th to 1\4th) dome shaped insects. The Varied Carpet Beetle has an irregular pattern of white, brown, and dark yellow scales on its wing covers. In older adults the scales that form this pattern wear off, so the beetles may appear solid brown or black. Mature larvae are slightly longer than adults and are covered with tufts of hair that extend upright to form a round plume if disturbed. They have alternating light and dark brown stripes and are distinguishable from other carpet beetles because they are broader in the rear and narrower in the front.

Carpet Beetles have an unusual ability to digest keratin, the chief protein component of skin and hair giving them the ability to eat clothing, carpet and upholstery. They can be a significant nuisance in the home, in storage facilities, museums, and clothing stores.

What to look for?

Seeing adult Carpet Beetles are typically the first sign of an infestation, they primarily feed on pollen and usually don’t cause too much damage. It’s the Carpet Beetle larvae that are responsible for damage to clothes, ornamental decorations, and other natural fiber house wares. The larvae are what you should be seeking to control if you are unfortunately dealing with this insect. If you do have an infestation, examine those types of items closely. You can usually find traces of their discarded molt skins in darker areas, such as closets. The discarded molt skin from the larvae has been known to cause asthmatic episodes in some individuals.

It’s wise to remember that the most damage is caused by the larvae, which are typically found in dark, secluded areas of closets, under furniture, or at the area of where carpeting meets a wall. Adult Carpet Beetles have wings and are capable of flying; the adults are typically attracted to light and sunny windows. The females tend to lay eggs in clusters of lint where the larvae can emerge and sustain themselves on a high quality source of both essential proteins and oils shed by humans and pets. The more mature larvae tend to be more mobile and can sometimes be found crawling up walls or across ceilings.

Occasionally Carpet Beetle infestations can be the result of bird or wasp nests in wall voids where the larvae are feeding on discarded feathers and debris. More commonly the infestation can be traced to a pile of forgotten/neglected clothing or old upholstered furniture left in the attic, so it’s important to not overlook materials when inspecting for these fabric loving insects. Also, if you have pets be sure check around pet areas like beds or where your pet(s) likes to lay. Carpet Beetles may be hiding under the pet bed or kennel as there would be plenty for pet hair for them to consume.

Typically, majority of Carpet Beetle infestations can usually be controlled and eliminated by the homeowner being proactive, regularly vacuuming and staying on top of good housekeeping habits. If you feel like you have a case that is beyond what you can handle, give us a call!

Beneficial Insects and Your Garden

Keeping unwanted insects and the creepy crawlies out of the house is on most people’s agenda, but what about in the garden?  Not are insects are harmful to your garden plants, in fact there are many insects that are actually beneficial.  The beneficial insects are like watch dogs for your garden; they will be your aide and rid your garden of the harmful pests.

What are some common beneficial garden insects?  Here are a few examples:

  • Lady Bugs: The lady bug is one of the most popular of the beneficial insects.  Lady bugs are the perfect opponent to have on your side when battling pesky aphids.  These helpful beetles also eat mealy bugs and other soft bodied insects.
  • Praying Mantis: The praying mantis is like the T-Rex of the garden, it can handle even the largest garden insect pest. They have the ability to camouflage with the surroundings of the garden and snatch up a great deal of pests.
  • Green Lacewings: The adult green lacewings feed on honeydew, nectar and pollen.  The green lacewing larvae are where the benefits start to kick in.  The larvae will consume crazy amounts of aphids and also feast on other soft bodied insects.
  • Spiders: Ok, so spiders aren’t every ones favorite helpful side kick, but they can sure stay on top of insect control in the garden.  The great thing is that, spiders won’t harm your plants; they’re just there to hang out and catch some dinner in their web.  Spiders will eat many insects such as aphids, caterpillars, flies and many other pests they may be trying to eat your plants.

Next time you think you may need a little extra help in the garden, don’t forget about all the beneficial garden helpers out there!  If you are working a professional pest control company, you can ask for your garden and surrounding area not to be treated.

Swarm of Bees on your Property: What To Do

Swarm of Bees on your Property? What To Do:

No doubt bees are some of the best workers on the planet, buzzing about from flower to flower, visiting different plants and vegetation working nonstop all day long. Unfortunately bees can often be feared as a nuisance and unwanted insect.  When generally bees are there to do their job and go home without causing trouble.

What do these beautiful creatures do for us besides creating amazing honey? In truth, likely much more than we can possibly realize. There are hundreds of types of bees, all with different roles, habits, nests, and hives. Pollinating is absolutely critical and a major job role for many of the bees and plants around our world. Bees don’t only make honey and help flowers grow. They do so much more and they certainly don’t get the recognition they deserve. In addition to the flowers and many plants bees’ help, there are many crops that rely a great deal on help from the bees and just wouldn’t survive if it weren’t for the bees working hard pollinating and doing what they do.

While we don’t need bees to pollinate every single crop, here is just a brief list of some of the foods we would lose if the bees weren’t around: apples, mango’s, kiwi fruit, plums, peaches, nectarines, guava, pomegranates, pears, black and red currants, alfalfa, okra, strawberries, onions, cashews, cactus, apricots, avocados, passion fruit, Lima beans, kidney beans, green beans, cherries, celery, coffee, walnuts, cotton, flax, macadamia nuts, sunflower oil, lemon, figs, limes, carrots, cucumber, hazelnut, cantaloupe, watermelon, coconut, tangerines, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, cocoa, vanilla, grapes, tomatoes.

 

So what should you do if you discover a swarm or hive of bees on your property?

  • You should call your local bee keeper to report the bees (you can call non-emergency or even your local human society to help find the proper person)
    • *The bee professional will be able to help evaluate your situation and help determine if the bees need to be removed, or if they will likely be moving on their own within a short time
  • You should avoid the area and keep children and pets away from the swarm
  • Do not attempt to control the bees yourself. Do not tease the bees by throwing rocks or spraying with water! Do not use any chemicals around the bees
  • Bee Keepers are there to help and in most cases will remove the bees for free. Remember the importance of all bees. If you come into contact with a swarm or hive please take the proper precautions and alert the proper authorities such as your local bee keeper.

If you’re still unsure of who to call we would be happy to direct you to the proper people! Give us a call 208-475-4440

When and How to Hire a Pest Professional

When and how hire a Pest Professional can be tough for some people.  There are many people that prefer to tackle the pest problem themselves and actually enjoy trying DIY solutions. Finding unwanted pests in your home is never a fun experience and sometimes you may need to rely on a professional pest control company to help handle the situation.  The “when” and “why” of hiring a pest professional have a few factors that come into play.  For example: What type of pest are you dealing with can play an important role as well as the size of the infestation.

It can be a daunting task to find the right company that you feel comfortable with and can trust. There are many pest control companies out there but they are not all created equal, so it’s important not to rush in making a decision without doing a little research of your own first.

Here are some helpful tips for choosing a professional pest control company for you.

  • Ask friends, family and neighbors about pest control companies they have used successfully and if they were satisfied with the service.
  • Look for qualified and licensed pest control professionals and companies, check to see if they are members of national, state or local pest management companies.
  • Ask to see proper licensing and credentials
  • Get quotes or bids from several companies you are considering
  • Only use someone you feel comfortable with and can trust. Don’t be let anyone pressure you into something you’re unsure of
  • Be sure to understand what the contract consist of, work necessary to solve the problem, how long the contact is for, amount of money, early terminations fees
  • Don’t just choose by price alone. Buy value or price
  • If something is guaranteed, make sure it is in writing on the contract and what you need to do to keep that guarantee valid
  • Ask about the products they use (for example is it a spray, dust or gel, granular etc.), names of the products, are they safe for children and pets? They should be able to clearly and confidently explain what the products are and how they work.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau for accreditation.
  • Social media is a great tool to check out reviews. Most companies have their own Facebook, Twitter and Google+ where customers can rate the company and leave a review, you can also look for the company on sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp.

Remember try not to go with the first company your see, follow some of our tips and they may save you a headache and money in the long run.

 

 

 

 

Pantry Pests

It’s that time of year again!  Time for spring cleaning which should include going through your pantry and cupboards tossing out the expired and forgotten food! Cleaning the pantry may not be a glamorous task, but it could save you the headache of a pest infestation starting in your pantry.

Pantry pests can be a real problem.  No one wants to think about bugs being in their food, but the reality is that it does happen and is more common than you probably care to realize.  A common pantry pest is the weevil.  There are thousands of different species of weevils, but the two most common found in the pantry are the Granary Weevil and the Rice Weevil.

These two types of weevils are actually very small beetles.  The granary weevil is described as 1/8-3/16 inch long, shiny reddish brown in color, and can’t fly.  The rice weevil on the other hand does fly, dull reddish brown, has four light colored spots on its back, and also 1/8-3/16-inch long.  Both types of these weevils are sometimes referred to as “snout weevils” because of the shape of their head.  On the end of that long snout is the mouth of the weevil, which the females use to drill holes into the casings of grains such as wheat, oats, rice, rye, corn and a variety of seeds and beans. After the female weevil drills the hole she then will deposit an egg and then create a gelatin-like substance to seal the egg in place until it is ready to hatch. The egg will be ready to hatch in just a few days, the larvae will then spend about a month eating its surrounding, growing and transitioning into an adult.  This is one of the reasons a weevil infestation may be go unnoticed at first. Once you start seeing the adults in the pantry and around the home, you have an infestation.

 

So now the fun part, how to rid your home of these unwanted pests?

To some it may seem like common sense to find where the infestation is taking place, remove the contaminated product and problem solved, right?   But that is not always the case and it can get to be a pretty tedious task!  You should absolutely start by cleaning out the pantry, cupboards and drawers.  You will need to thoroughly inspect all food that could possibly be housing these little weevils.  Every. Single. Item.  If you are unsure if the product has been contaminated it is advised to throw the item out.  You don’t want to risk a re-infestation.   All contaminated and “possibly” contaminated food should be put into a garbage bag and sealed tightly, immediately be taken to the outside trash can, and place as far away from the house as possible.  Vacuuming and wiping down all the pantry shelves, cupboards and draws with warm soapy water is a good idea.   Remember to give the spaces time to dry before adding products back.

When you are checking for contaminated products do not forget to check pet food.  Often, people will store their large bags of pet food in the garage and it’s possible for the infestation to be coming from the garage or anywhere else that may have any kind of grain stored away.

If you are following all tips and being diligent about inspecting but are still not able to resolve your weevil problem, you should call your local pest management.  Your pest management professional will be able to conduct an inspection all around your home, help you find the source and create a treatment plan to fit your needs.

 

 

 

What is IPM?

What is IPM?

When working in the professional pest control industry we are handling many different types of products and chemicals.  Knowledge and caution is important when using these types of products. Safety of humans, animals, the structure to be treated, type of pest and environment all need to be taken in to consideration.

That is where IPM comes in.  IPM (Integrated Pest Management) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

The IPM approach is not only just for pest and insects around your home, IPM can be applied toward both agricultural and non-agricultural settings. On the side of organic food production IPM concepts may be applied as well, limiting the use of pesticides product from natural sources as opposed to synthetic chemical products.

When it comes to IPM and pest control, prevention is just as important.  You can easily start “do it yourself” prevention strategies around your home.  For example, repairing window screens, weather stripping around doors, repairing leaks as soon as possible, not leaving pet food/water out all night, keeping your yard clear of clutter and leaf litter etc.

Taking IPM seriously and using this approach is in pest control management helps us be a better and more efficient pest professional to our customers and environment.

Billbugs

In Idaho one of the most common lawn pests is the Bluegrass Billbug; these pests can cause some serious damage to your lawn if not taken care of properly. Alpha Home Pest Control can help make a proper diagnosis.

Damages from billbugs can resemble drought/lack of watering, with irregular patches of dry grass. Some people may think the dry looking lawn isn’t getting enough water and will continue to water more, however, the damaged lawn will not respond to the extra watering.

Adult Bluegrass Billbugs are gray, brown, or black with a curved snout and a hard body that is about 3/16″ (5 mm) in size. They overwinter in the soil mostly as adults. In the spring when the temperatures are starting to rise, the adult billbugs can often be seen walking on patios and sidewalks around May –mid June. Lawn damage from an adult billbug usually consists of holes in blades of grass caused by chewing. Damages that are far less serve than what their young larvae can do.

The Billbug larvae are white with a brown head, legless, C-shaped and about the size of a large grain of rice. The larvae are where the real damage is done. They feed on the grass roots and can easily spread causing large patches of dry looking lawn.

If you are noticing your lawn starting to get odd dry patches, it’s a good idea to do some investigating. (Remember, you can always call a pest professional to do this for you). Try the “Tug Test” to see if you have a billbug infestation:

  • Find a spot where the dry grass meets green grass, hold the dry grass with your hand and gently tug on the dry grass
  • If the grass easily lifts up with no attached roots, and has a saw dust like material at the base of the blades and stems, billbugs are likely the cause.
  • You may also see the white larvae with their brown heads in the soil on the ground or on the piece of lawn you pulled up.

Now is the time these pesky bill bugs will start showing off the damage they have done, but don’t worry you still have time to correct the problem with a proper treatment plan.  The longer you wait, the more time they have to create lawn damage.  If you are noticing dry patches in the lawn that aren’t corrected with extra watering, follow the “tug test” and give us a call!

Why are Bed Bugs such a Feared Pest?

Bed bugs are at the top of the list for most feared pests and experiencing a bed bug infestation in your own home can take its toll on any family.  If you think about it, bed bugs are like a physiological pest, they can take over your home as well as your mind

Over the years bed bugs have advanced their immunity and have developed a high resistance to today’s current pest products, which makes it next to impossible to handle them on your own.  Store bought products just do not work.  With bed bugs you need really need to take the situation seriously and break out the big guns and hire a profession to properly eliminate the infestation.

Bed Bugs are a parasitic insect, which means they feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep.  You may think that checking your bed and sheets before you go to bed would be enough, no noticeable bed bugs, good to go right?  Not the case, bed bugs are masters when it comes to hiding. Bed bugs tend to hid in the smallest of cracks and crevices of a headboard, bed frame, dressers pretty much any furniture and they can be very hard to spot. Bed bugs will typically remain safe and hidden until it’s time to feed and consume a blood meal. Once the blood meal is consumed they return to their safe spot to digest and reproduce.

Bed bugs are attracted to warmth, blood and carbon dioxide, perfect invitation from a person sleeping in a warm bed.  Bed bugs will inject the host with its saliva which contains an anesthetic, this will help numb the area and often times the bite will go unnoticed during the feed.  Some people experience reactions to the bites and will wake up with the bite area swollen, red and itchy.

If you think you have bed bugs call your local pest professional right away.  A bed bug infestation can grow quickly, do not allow time for them to get established. It would be best to have a professional inspection and start treatment.

Give Alpha a call at 208-475-4440

 

Early Spring Cleaning Tips

As pest professionals, were here to remind you about early spring cleaning tips and to get a jump start on the “spring” cleaning around the home.  It’s safe to say we have definitely had a mild winter and some great temperatures the last few weeks.  With it being so warm out, this is the time that those pests seem to try and make up for lost time and come out of nowhere. Spiders are out making new webs, ants are marching along, mosquitoes start annoying, and bill bugs start eating away at lawns. But don’t fret, even if you don’t use a professional pest control company there are some ways you can help prepare your home to help keep it pest free this season!

Being proactive and following Alpha’s Early Spring Cleaning Tips.

Inside:

Clean out common clutter areas such as basements, attics, closets, under beds, and even bookshelves. Areas with clutter generally don’t get disturbed too much and make a nice place for pests and rodents to make a home and start a family. Keeping these areas clear of clutter and clean will minimize the hiding spots for many pests. The kitchen should also get a good deep clean. Go beyond cleaning up daily crumbs and spills. Check behind and under appliances for pest activity and give it a good wipe down while you’re there. Wipe down cupboard shelves, and inside of drawers, removing all crumbs and debris. Don’t forget the pantry. Dispose of expired foods, vacuum the floor and shelves, and wipe down all the shelves. If you keep a trashcan in the pantry give it a quick rinse, removing spills or sticky spots that may have occurred.

Outside:

You can start by raking up the yard. Getting rid of leaves, old mulch, and picking up fallen tree limbs can help keep pests away. Trim back bushes and trees away from the house. Just like clutter, overgrown trees and branches make a great home of all kinds of insects and pests. Insects and rodents can get through some of the smallest of holes. Check the outside of your home for holes and/or cracks and make sure all window screens fit properly and are in good condition. Check for any standing water and remove it to help reduce mosquitoes.

Another thing that a lot of people seem to forget is the outside trashcan. Trashcans can attract all types of pests such as ants, bees, wasps, mice, even stray cats! On the day that your trash has been picked up, use a garden hose and spray inside of the trashcan, leave the lid open and let it dry in the sunshine.

Alpha Home Pest Control encourages you to be proactive against unwanted spring pests. If you feel you need help preparing your home for spring or think you may already have a pest problem, don’t hesitate to call us!

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