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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.

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!

Weevils in your Pantry

Pesky weevils in your pantry, more like in your food.  Mo 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 times people will store their large bags of pet food in the garage and its 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.

 

 

Cockroaches and How to Spot Them

Cockroaches and how to spot them

If you think you have cockroaches sneaking around your home, office or business detecting them as early as possible is critical to winning a major war against these nasty home invaders. The longer they are there the more time they have to get established, get comfy and multiply, which makes them harder to get rid of and often times more expensive. The faster a pest management professional can evaluate and begin attacking the problem the faster you can take back and reclaim your home.

Alpha’s top signs of cockroaches and how to spot them:

  • ACTUALLY SEEING A COCKROACH. This of course is the most obvious sign you have a roach problem. Cockroaches are nocturnal insects, so the best time to spot them is during the night. You can typically see them scatter after entering a room and turning on the light. If you spot cockroaches during the daytime, this can mean the infestation has been going on for quite a while. Contact a professional pest management company immediately.
  • FINDING COCKROACH FECES/DROPPINGS. Finding their feces is a sure sign you have a problem. The size of the feces depends on what type of cockroach you’re dealing with (the German cockroach is one of the most common). Feces can look like small specks of pepper or coffee grounds. The more droppings you discover the higher the number of roaches you are dealing with. Be sure to take note of where the droppings are found as they will be important areas to target when treatment begins.
  • FINDING EGG CASES. Roaches produce egg casings called oothecae. Oothecae are oblong, brown casings that hold many eggs. The German cockroach as mentioned before can produce an oothecae with up to 50 eggs inside. After the eggs hatch the oothecae is left behind, leaving firm evidence of an infestation. Look for oothecae behind furniture, inside pantries, in books, between cracks in the wall and other tight protected areas.

Cockroaches can produce a strong, musty odor that gets stronger the longer they are there. This pungent oily smell can come from a large amount of roaches but just one German cockroach can create this smell on its own. You can also get an odor from dead cockroaches decomposing, as they produce oleic acid while decomposing, which can get quite strong.

If you think you may have roaches and have come across any of these signs on the list call your local pest management professional asap.

 

Alpha Home Pest Control (208)475-4440 or visit us at http://www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Ants a Common Winter Pest

Ants, a common winter pest.  Here in the Treasure Valley the snow has been melting away and we have already answered a handful of calls for ants.   We have mentioned before, pests do not just “go away” and/ or die when winter hits.  Ants will find a safe place to try to escape from the cold just like rodents and spiders do. Depending on the type of ant, their safe place may be rooming with you, underneath the house, in the kitchen and even up in the attic.

It’s not definitely not unheard of to spot ants in the kitchen during the middle of winter with frozen grounds outside.  However, once the temperature start to rise, snow is melting, that means the ground is warming up and ants will be on the move.

The most common types of ants that we deal with in our area are Carpenter Ants, Odorous House Ants (also known as Sugar Ants) and Pavement Ants.

Carpenter ants can be found residing both outdoors and indoors. Usually in moist/damp decaying or hollow wood. Carpenter ants cut galleries into the wood grain to make their nests and to provide passageways for movement from section to section of the nest. When they do this activity you will commonly see bits of wood shavings mixed with parts of dead ants.

Odorous house or sometimes referred to as “sugar ants” are small, measuring 2.4 to 3.3 mm in length. They have dark brown or black bodies with one node on their petiole, which is hidden by their abdomens. The thoraxes of odorous house ants are unevenly shaped when viewed from the side. The most noticeable characteristic of these tiny ants is the strong, rotten coconut-like smell they give off when crushed.

Pavement Ants, which usually make their homes in pavements, are small about 2.5 to 3mm long. They are black-brown ants, with lighter legs and antennae. They can be identified by two spines on the back, two nodes on the petiole, with parallel lines on head and thorax. The colonies can be moderately large.

If you find ants or other pests inside your home or office, give Alpha a call 208-475-4440

Bed Bugs and What to Watch For

Bed bugs and what to watch for can be difficult to detect in the beginning. Bed bugs are a gross and extremely uncomfortable problem to have. You don’t have to be a “dirty and unkempt” person to get bed bugs either, anyone can get them. Bed bugs are not picky and love to travel.  To them, the more the merrier. If you have an infestation, it’s best to find it early, before the infestation spreads or becomes established. Treating a minor (beginning stage) infestation is far less costly and easier than treating after it has grown and becomes more widespread.

To the average person, bed bug bites can be confused those of other biting insects such as mosquitoes or fleas, so it’s important to pay attention to where and when the bites are occurring. Did the bites show up after camping all weekend, have you traveled anywhere/stayed in a hotel, or just woke up with irritation that was not there the night before?

We have compiled an easy to read list of signs to look for, to help you know if you have a bed bug problem.

  • Itchy red bites: the appearance of flat, red welts in small clusters, zigzag lines or straight rows is a key sign of bed bugs. Their bites are irritating and scratching them can lead to bleeding and infection.
  • Unpleasant or uncomfortable nights of sleeping: It may seem obvious that the bed is where bed bugs are most often found. Of course they would be most active at night when you are in bed with them. If you find yourself with those itchy welts after sleeping in your bed (or trying to sleep), its likely bed bugs are the problem.

*Bed bugs tend to feed on exposed skin rather (than crawling their way up your pant leg) such as arms and shoulders, which some may leave uncovered while sleeping.

  • Rust color stains on sheets or mattress: After the bed bug feeds on a human they will leave behind blood stains which will usually be found around the corners and edges of the bed and have a rusty color.
  • Unpleasant musty odor. Bed bugs release pheromones and when there are a lot of them, the smell can be quite strong. The musty odor has been described as that of a wet towel.

Yes, the name is bed bug but the bed isn’t the only place you can find them.  Bed bugs can successfully travel across the country and even internationally to new countries. If the can do all that, they can certainly travel around the apartment, home or office.  Bed bugs can be found in couches, furniture such as desks, and dressers. Depending on the size of the infestation they can hid behind décor on the walls.  It’s important to just be aware of where and when the suspicious bits are occurring.

If you experience any of these signs we urge you to call a professional immediately.  Don’t just automatically sign up for a bed bug service.  A true professional will take the time to inspect and properly identify the pest in question.

 

Crawl Space Restoration

Alpha Home Pest Control now offers crawl space inspections.

The need of a Crawl Space Restoration has many different reasons, including infestations from rodents, termites, snakes etc and mold issues.  Crawl space areas need to be able to have enough air flow to stay cool and dry.  If they are allowed to build up excess moisture that’s when problems start.  Most rodents and insects will need access to water/moisture to be able to survive in the crawl space, if you eliminate their sources you may likely eliminate the problem be for it has a chance to start. Eliminating the moisture will also decrease the risk of mold issues.

There is a wide range of unwanted pests that could be hanging out in your crawl space.  Most common crawl space pests are rodents, ants and wood destroying insects such as termites. These types of pests if left untreated can cause some serious damage in the crawl space which can lead to costly repairs.  Pests will likely keep themselves busy by:

  • Chewing through electrical wires
  • Destroying insulation, perhaps using it for nesting
  • Leaving excrement all over
  • Carrying in filth on themselves, such as fleas and diseases
  • Damaging air ducts by gnawing holes
  • Damage to the wooden structure
  • Create a large colony

There is no need to wait until there is a pest problem to have a crawl space inspection.  If you are buying a home it’s a good idea to have the home inspected for pests especially wood destroying pests like termites that can eat away at your home.  If you are buying an older home make sure the crawl space has been updated with a vapor barrier.

It’s a good idea to have your crawl space inspected yearly by a pest professional.  Being proactive about pests can save you a lot of headache in the future.  Our certified technicians will ensure your crawl space stays pest free.  They will be looking for cracks, crevices and holes that may be being used as an entry point into the crawl space. If any are found they will be properly repaired.  Foundation vents are another common way pests find their way into crawl spaces. Be sure that you have secure screens with no rips or tears.

If you are fighting with pests in the crawl space, buying a new home, or just wanting a yearly inspection, give Alpha a call today for more information or to schedule an appointment.

(208)475-4440

www.alphahomepestcontrol.com

Staying Pest Free During the Holidays

It’s that time of year again, busy holidays and a new year about to begin. The holidays can be a hectic time with friends and family coming and going for visits, it’s easy to get distracted from the little things that help keep your home tidy and pest free. Here at Alpha Home Pest Control we understand and are ready to help you take action. You don’t want to wait until spring time to tackle an issue, being aware and proactive plays a key role to staying pest free.

Check out our holiday tip’s to keep those unwanted guests out!

  • It may sound obvious, but check for pieces of food/crumbs that the vacuum couldn’t reach (under and behind the stove and fridge), that may have gone unnoticed during those busy family visits. Be sure to check under cabinets, tables, sofas and other furniture as well.
  • Check out spare rooms that may not normally be used as much, look for the crumbs, rodent droppings and chewed paper.  Spare rooms that aren’t used often can easily become a sanctuary for rodents and spiders, they like hiding spots that won’t be disturbed so be sure to routinely check and clean spare rooms.
  • Always clean up crumbs and food leftovers right away, leaving no invitation to attract pests
  • With holidays comes food and baking sweet treats. Don’t leave food sitting out overnight; be sure to keep it stored properly in sealed containers. *This tip also applies to pet food!*
  • Check around doors and windows for gaps. Caulk and seal where needed and be sure to check weather stripping and screens for tears.
  • Check your crawlspace for rodent activity, look for rodent droppings, chewed wires, papers and any area the rodent may use for nesting. Inspect foundation vents, make sure they have a tight fit and screens free of rips and tears.
  • If you did any traveling check your luggage and clothes for possible bed bugs.  It’s more common than you’d like to believe how common it is to pick up bedbugs while traveling.  Bedbugs love to travel and are always ready to hitch a free ride. No one wants to think about it but it’s a lot better to catch it before it becomes an infestation.
  • And lastly, Stay Proactive!

Call us with any questions/concerns or to learn more about a preventative maintenance program with us (208) 475-4440

Common Winter Household Pests

Common winter household pests, when the outside temperature starts to cool many types of pests will start to seek warm shelter within your home or garage.  When pests are successful at keeping this new shelter throughout winter it can create problems in the spring, such as allowing time for a large infestation to build or even damage to your property (personal belongings and/or structural damage).

Common winter house hold pests and where might you find them in your home

  • Attics– The attic is a common place for pesky rodents such as mice and squirrels. Both types of rodents can cause some serious and costly damage as well.  Mice love to chew, they like to chew on electrical wires which can cause a major fire risk to your home.  If you have items stored up in the attic, be sure to store them in sealed plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes, mice will chew on and nest inside cardboard.  Mice can also cause a lot of damage to insulation as it is another place they like to nest inside of.  Plus all the urine and feces. It would need completely replaced.
  • Bathrooms– the bathroom is a nice place to a cockroach to hang around during winter. They love water and need it for survival.  Be sure to repair leaky pipes and that drains are draining properly.   Regularly check under the sink, around the tub and toilet for water leaks.  If you store items under the sink or have a bathroom closet, use sealed plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes.
  • Kitchen– the kitchen is a common place for many different pests, but ants are definitely at the top of the list. Ants can easily invade homes by the thousand and with so many possible food and water resources it can seem to happen overnight.  To help avoid finding an army of ants in your kitchen be sure to seal cracks and crevices, repair any water leaks from sinks, dishwashers or refrigerator water dispensers.  Wash dishes after every meal, wipe down counter tops and sweep and mop the floor, do not leave pet food out overnight.
  • Pantry– the pantry can host home to different pests but specially beetles, Indian meal moths and weevils. These pests can hitch rides home from the grocery store and invade into other products in the pantry. To help keep your pantry pest free do not buy products that have any type of damage to the package, store food items in sealed plastic containers, take time at least twice a year to clean out your pantry by removing everything, wiping down the shelves, and tossing out any expired and stale foods, paying extra attention to spices, flours and nuts.
  • Bedroom– the bedroom can be a place where you first notice bedbugs as for many people the first sign of bedbugs is irritated bite marks, but be aware that bedbugs are excellent travelers and do not just stay in the bedroom. Bedbugs typically enter the home through secondhand furniture (especially mattresses, box springs and couches) or brought home on luggage from hotels during traveling. If you do buy secondhand furniture be sure to carefully inspect for signs of bedbugs, look for dark spots which could be dried blood or feces from the bedbug, wash clothes and blankets as soon as you get home in hot water and dry on high heat.  Do the same with luggage and items brought home from traveling, all clothes and fabric material should be washed immediately.  If you do find signs of bed bugs or actual bedbugs themselves call your local pest professional as soon as possible.  The longer you wait, the longer they have time to spread and get established in your home.
  • Basements– Basements tend to be place for storage. Basements can provide the perfect environment for rodents and a plethora of spiders and insects, especially of the basement is on the cluttered side.  Clutter provides many hiding spots or all these pests and material to chew on.  What you need to is keep your basement as clean as possible, repair any leaks to eliminate access to water, store items neatly in plastic containers that seal tightly.  Seal up cracks and crevices with a silicone based caulk.