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Bed Bugs - National Geographic
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Bed Bug - Facts & Prevention
Bed Bug Facts
• Bed bugs are found worldwide and are thought to have come to the U.S. from Europe in the 17th century.
• Bed bugs primarily feed on humans, but they can also feed on warm-blooded animals including birds, mice and family pets.
• Adults are just under 1/4" long, relatively flat and oval in shape compared to most other insects.
• Bed bugs can lay one to five eggs per day and more than 500 in a lifetime.
• Bed bugs can survive for several months without eating.
• Bed bugs can withstand a wide range of temperatures, from nearly freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Bed bugs draw blood for about five minutes before retreating to digest.
• Bed bug hatchlings are so small they can pass through a stitch-hole in a mattress.
• Bed bugs can ingest seven-times their own weight in blood, which would be the equivalent of an average-sized male drinking 120 gallons of liquid.
Bed Bug Prevention Tips
There are several steps you can take to help prevent bed bugs in your everyday life. Regular bed bug inspections are the best line of defense to help you avoid a bed bug infestation. Here are some other prevention tips to keep in mind:
• Regularly inspect areas where pets sleep for signs of bed bugs such as pepper-like stains, molted bed bug skins and white, sticky eggs.
• Never bring second-hand furniture, especially mattresses and box springs, into a home or college dorm without thoroughly examining it for signs of a bed bug infestation.
• At hotels, thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in furniture. Pull back the bed sheets and check the mattress seams for pepper-like stains that may be evidence of bed bug activity.
• If you suspect an infestation or problem, notify management and change rooms immediately. Be sure the new room is not adjacent to or directly below or above the possibly infested room.
• Keep suitcases in plastic trash bags or protective covers during a hotel stay to prevent bed bugs from nesting there. Do not put them on the beds.
• Upon returning home from a trip, inspect all suitcases and other belongings before bringing them into the house.
• Wash all clothes - even those that have not been worn - in hot water and dry them using an extra-hot dryer setting.
Bed Bugs Q & A
What do bed bugs look like?
Adult bed bugs are brown, about a quarter of an inch in diameter and resemble a flat apple seed or lentil.
How pervasive is the bed bug problem in the United States?
There has been a significant increase bed bug infestations in recent years. According to 2013 research conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky, almost 100 percent of pest control companies have treated for bed bugs in the past year, compared to just 25 percent in 2000.
In addition, an earlier NPMA survey conducted in January of 2011 found that one in five Americans has encountered bed bugs in their home or knows someone who has.
Why are bed bugs such a problem now?
While there is not one clear answer for the resurgence in bed bugs in recent years, the majority of pest professionals point to increased travel, lack of public awareness, and changing pest control products and methods.
What states have been affected?
Pest control companies have reported bed bug activity on a national scale. Today, bed bugs can be found throughout almost every region of the world and in all 50 United States.
Where are bed bugs found?
Bed bugs are not limited to any one specific type of dwelling. Pest control companies have been reporting infestations everywhere including single family homes, multi-family housing, apartments, hotels and motels, hospitals, schools and college campuses, office buildings, retail stores, movie theaters, libraries and even public transportation.
What can a consumer do to protect themselves from bedbug infestations?
To prevent bedbug infestations, consumers need to be vigilant in assessing their surroundings. When returning from a trip, check your luggage and clothing. If you think you may have a bedbug infestation, contact a pest control professional. This is not a pest that can be controlled with do-it-yourself measures.
Why are bedbugs an issue for hotels, visitors, and homeowners?
Bedbugs leave itchy, bloody welts on human skin. Adult bedbugs can live for a year without eating, making them especially hard to control. Once inside a hotel or home, bedbugs spread rapidly from room to room - through pipes, in vacuum cleaners, on clothing and luggage. In a hotel, bedbugs can even spread to neighboring rooms, since guests are may end up moving to another room.
Are bed bugs just in beds?
While bed bugs are most often found in bed parts, such as mattresses, box springs and folded areas, they can also survive in alternative habitats. Bed bugs often conceal themselves behind baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, picture frames, electrical switch plates and in furniture crevices.
What are some common signs of a bed bug infestation?
Telltale signs of a bed bug infestation include:
• Small red to reddish brown fecal spots on mattresses, upholstery or walls
• Molted bed bug skins, white, sticky eggs or empty eggshells
• Very heavily infested areas may have a characteristically sweet odor
• Red, itchy bite marks, especially on the legs, arms and other body parts which may be exposed while sleeping
Why are bed bugs so hard to treat?
Bed bugs are elusive, hardy pests that are easily transported from one place to another. They can live for several months without eating and can withstand a wide range of temperatures from nearly freezing to almost 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
How does someone control bed bugs?
Any effective bed bug control strategy should start with a careful, thorough inspection by a licensed pest professional of all known and suspected spots where the bugs may be hiding. This is not a pest that can be controlled effectively with do-it-yourself measures.
Once bed bugs are discovered, a pest professional will develop a treatment and control strategy with their customer depending on the extent of the infestation. It is imperative for the customer to fully follow the advice, including removing infested items and laundering clothing.
Healthcare Facilities Q & A
What are the most common pests that healthcare facilities encounter and what health threats do they pose to patients and staff?
Healthcare facilities are susceptible to most of the pests common in most houses and businesses. Ants, fire ants, bedbugs, cockroaches, ticks, fleas, mice, mosquitoes, rats and spiders, among others, can all slip into buildings as people and deliveries come in and out. Pests can gain access in backpacks, boxes, delivery vehicles and on people and their belongings.
Pests can transmit a host of diseases to humans and animals with effects ranging from minor discomfort to death. Some diseases spread by pests include:
• Bubonic plague
• Rocky Mountain spotted fever
• Typhoid fever
• West Nile virus
• Murine typhus
• Lyme disease
A study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a report in the New England Journal of Medicine show that even among many common asthmatic triggers, cockroach allergens cause the most health problems for asthmatic children. These allergens build up in deposits of droppings, secretions, cast skins, and dead bodies of roaches.
Pest-transmitted diseases can be controlled through proper pest management techniques. Identification of species, habitat, and behavior can help a pest management professional control infestations and subsequently suppress outbreaks of pest-transmitted diseases.
Is it feasible for a facility to employ its own staff members to sustain a pest-free environment?
Just as a facility wouldn't employ an unlicensed nurse or doctor, the National Pest Management Association recommends that they not take a chance with an untrained and unlicensed pest control professional. If in-house pest management is required, make sure that the individuals are qualified. Arming untrained personnel with pest management tools can be dangerous and most facilities depend on outside pest management firms.
Can pests be managed without the use of insecticides?
While it's true that insecticides are used in pest control, the pest management industry is in the forefront of widespread efforts to make insecticides part of the program, not the only means to pest control.
The result is called Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a process that goes beyond traditional pest management techniques. Though centuries old, the latest IPM techniques have found broad-based support from the scientific community, government, and the pest management industry.
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a broad approach to pest management that focuses on addressing the reason that the pest problem exists rather than on just the pest itself. IPM accomplishes this by eliminating the three things pests need to survive: food, water, and shelter. There are three common steps involved in practicing IPM. They include inspection, pest identification, the establishment of control measures(such as caulking cracks in sidewalks or walls, moving dumpsters away from buildings and appropriate pesticide applications),. To be acceptable, the pest management measures must be both environmentally compatible and economically feasible.
Commercial Food Facilities Q & A
What are the most common pests that commercial food facilities encounter?
Pests are attracted to sources of food, water, and shelter - three things that restaurants and commercial food facilities provide in spades. Without taking proper preventative steps, restaurants and food service facilities could see populations of rodents, flies, cockroaches, ants and more.
Is it common for restaurants and food service facilities to have severe infestations?
Many restaurants and food service facilities have already contracted with pest professionals to prevent infestations from occurring. A working partnership between facility managers and licensed, trained pest professionals is critical in controlling pest populations.
Is it feasible for a facility to employ its own staff members to sustain a pest-free environment?
Licensed and professionally trained pest professionals are best suited to keep health and property-threatening pests in check. Today's pest professionals have the training necessary to identify pest problems and recommend the most responsible and effective pest management methods available. However, restaurants and commercial food facilities should train their internal staff to work as partners with pest professionals. While these locations may receive regular service from their contracted pest management firm, internal employees can take steps every day to help reduce pest populations.
Are there steps a restaurant or food service facility can take on their own to prevent/control pest populations?
• Seal up any cracks and holes on the outside of the facility including areas where utilities and pipes enter.
• Make sure vents are screened and gaps around windows and doors are sealed.
• Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed.
• Inspect boxes, bags and other packaging thoroughly to curb hitchhiking pests.
• Don't allow food to sit on counters or shelves in open containers. All food and water sources should be kept sealed unless currently in use.
• Clean all food spills regularly.
• Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
• Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the basement foundation and windows.
• Never store food on the floor. Always lift it up on shelves so that rodents and insects do not have easy access.
• Comply will all regulations regarding pests in food service facilities.
Does effective pest management in restaurants and food service facilities require the use of pesticides?
The National Pest Management Association recommends that restaurants and food service facilities implement an integrated pest management (IPM) program. IPM is a process involving common sense and sound solutions for treating and controlling pests. These solutions incorporate three basic steps: 1) inspection, 2) identification and 3) treatment. Treatment options vary from sealing cracks and removing food and water sources to pesticide treatments when necessary.
Rodents Q & A
Should rodents be a concern for homeowners and businesses in the U.S.?
Every year, rodents gain access to homes, causing property damage, contaminating food sources, triggering allergies and, in some cases, causing illness/disease. It is estimated that rodents infest approximately 21 million homes in the United States, each year, when the cold weather forces these pests to seek refuge indoors.
Are there any clear indications of a rodent infestation?
There are several signs a rodent may have taken up residence in a building, including chewed door frames or furniture legs; small, dark-colored droppings; gnawed food boxes that are stored in pantries or cupboards; oily marks along walls, which are caused by rodents' habitual use of the same paths; and sounds of movement in pantries, ceilings and behind walls.
What are the most common types of rodents in New York?
The most common type of rodent across the world is the house mouse. A nocturnal animal, the house mouse can gain entry to buildings and homes through openings as small as one-quarter inch. Another common rodent is the Norway rat. Also known as, the sewer rat, this rodent is found throughout the United States and can measure up to 16 inches in length, including the tail, and weigh just under a pound.
What are some precautions that homeowners and businesses can take to help prevent rodents from coming indoors?
NPMA recommends the following pest-proofing measures:
• Store boxes and containers off the floor and organize items often to prevent rodents from residing in undisturbed areas
• Seal cracks and holes, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the building
• Store food in thick metal or plastic containers with tight lids
• Clean up spilled food right away immediately and wash dishes and cooking utensils soon after use
• Keep outside cooking areas and grills clean
• Do not leave pet food or water bowls out overnight
• Keep bird feeders away from the house and use squirrel guards to limit access to the feeder by squirrels and other rodents
• Use a thick plastic or metal garbage can with a tight lid and keep sealed at all times
• Keep grains and animal feed in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids. In the evening, return uneaten animal feed to containers with lids.
• If you find rodent feces, hear sounds of scurrying in the walls or observe other signs of a rodent infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem
How should homeowners and businesses treat a rodent infestation?
Licensed and professionally trained pest professionals are best suited to treat a rodent infestation. Today's pest professionals have the training necessary to identify pest problems and recommend the most responsible and effective pest management methods available. As rodents can pose certain health risks to humans, it is vital that these types of pest problems are managed efficiently and responsibly.
What types of health risks do rodents pose?
Rodent droppings most often cause allergic reactions in human beings. However, rats and mice spread over 35 diseases, worldwide, including the Plague, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Leptospirosis, Salmonellosis and Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM).
How do rodents spread disease?
Rodent-borne diseases can be spread both directly and indirectly to humans in various manners. Directly, rodents can spread disease through bite wounds; by contaminating a human food or water source with feces; by contaminating surface water with urine that a human consequently comes in contact with; and through a process known as aerosolization, where humans breathe in germs that may be present from rodent urine or droppings. Diseases from rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly through ticks, mites, and fleas that transmit infection to humans after feeding on infected rodents.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs
• Color: Mottled grayish-brown
• Legs: 6
• Shape: Triangular or shield
• Size: 3/4 inch long
• Region: Found in the eastern half of the United States, as well as California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas
What are stink bugs?
Brown marmorated stink bugs are an invasive species from Asia that arrived in Pennsylvania in 1996 and can now be found from South Carolina to New Hampshire and west to Indiana, as well as in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Why are they called stink bugs?
Stink bugs get their name from the odor they emit as a defense against predators, including birds, spiders and assassin bugs. When handled or disturbed, stink bugs are able to secrete a bad-smelling fluid from pores on the sides of their bodies.
Are stink bugs more prevalent during a specific season?
Adult stink bugs enter homes and other structures in the late fall to seek shelter from the winter weather, often from mid-September through mid-October. They reemerge from overwintering sites in early spring and try to exit, but sometimes enter living spaces instead.
Why are stink bugs problematic?
Stink bugs have the potential to spread throughout the country, which could be increasingly harmful to the agricultural industry, as they destroy crops.
Do stink bugs pose a threat to human health?
Stink bugs are not known to bite humans, but their tendency to invade homes in high numbers makes them a difficult pest to control once inside.
What can homeowners do to prevent an infestation?
• Seal cracks around windows, doors, electrical outlets, ceiling fans and light switches with a good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk.
• Keep outdoor lighting to a minimum because stink bugs are drawn to light. Replace outdoor lighting with yellow bulbs, which are less attractive to stink bugs.
• Repair damaged window screens. Check for torn weather-stripping and loose mortar.
• Properly ventilate basements, attics, garages, and crawl spaces to eliminate harborage points. Install screens over chimney and crawlspace vents.
• National Pest Experts pre-treats homes for stink bugs in the late summer and/or early fall just prior to their full maturation and congregation.
How can a homeowner get rid of stink bugs once they are inside their home?
• If stink bugs have already entered a home or building, use a vacuum cleaner to aid in their removal
• Remove the vacuum bag immediately to prevent odor from permeating the area, as dead stink bugs leave a residue inside the bag that can stink up your home.
• Seal contents from the vacuum bag in a plastic bag and dispose of it with your normal garbage.
• If an infestation has developed inside the home or building, contact National Pest Experts to evaluate and assess the severity of the problem and help to identify access points for these invasive species.
Summer Pests Q & A
What are some examples of summer pests?
There are many different types of summer pests although some of the most prominent home invaders include ants, cockroaches, and termites. Of course, outdoors will bring us a different set of pests - mosquitoes, ticks, and flies are some of the most prevalent.
Are these pests dangerous?
Summer pests are much more than a nuisance – consider these statistics:
• Termites destroy more homes each year than fires and floods combined; they cause over 5 BILLION dollars of damage.
• Stinging insects send 500,000 people to the emergency room each year.
• Recent medical studies show that cockroach allergens trigger asthma attacks in children.
How can a homeowner get rid of summer pests once they are inside their home?
The best way to eliminate summer pests once they ALREADY infest your home is to call a pest professional.
What steps can homeowners take to reduce the likelihood of summer pests inside their homes?
• Keep all kitchen areas clean (including floors). Kitchen appliances should be kept free of spills and crumbs. Clean shelves regularly and store foods such as cereal, flour, and dog food in resalable containers.
• Periodically sweep and vacuum floor areas in the kitchen, under furniture, and around dining areas. Pay particular attention to pet food and water dishes.
• Keep garbage areas clean. Garbage should be stored in sealed containers and disposed of regularly.
• Seal cracks, crevices, and other gaps around doors and windows. Doors and windows should always be kept closed or well screened.
• Check pipes and pipe areas around the house for leaks, cracks and gaps and seal and patch any problems if necessary. Leaky faucets should also be fixed.
• Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces dry. If you have mold and mildew in your home or office crawlspace, it’s a symptom of an excess moisture problem.
• Inspect boxes, grocery bags and other packaging thoroughly. Insects have also been known to come in on potted plants and in luggage.
Do you have any good rules of thumb for dealing with summer pests?
• When it comes to your home - the cleaner the better. Many summer pests are attracted to food and water sources left out around your home.
• Standing water attracts thirsty pests. Try to remove all stagnant water sources in and around your home.
• A safe bet about pests - there is usually more than one. Pests breed extremely quickly. If you notice cockroaches or termites in or around your home, chances are great that there are many more where they came from.
Tell me a little bit about ants...
There are as many ways to control ants, as there are species of ants! Different species eat different things - making it almost impossible to inspect a single area and control the ant population. The best strategy homeowners can employ when attempting to control ants is to clean, clean, clean. Kids are home more in the warm weather so wipe down counters, regularly remove garbage, clean up grease spills, remove empty soda cans, and mop the floors.
Tell me a little bit about cockroaches...
Cockroaches enjoy damp, dark places with a plentiful food supply; they like to hide during the day, often behind kitchen appliances or in cupboards. Inspect these areas vigilantly and clean regularly.
Tell me a little bit about mosquitoes...
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water that collects in ditches, birdbaths, flowerpots, and old tires. Check those areas and remove the standing water to help eliminate the threat.
Tell me a little bit about termites...
Termites build mud tunnels on the foundation of a home for covert access to wood. Look for broken-off wings.
Termite Facts & Prevention Tips
• Termites are wood-destroying insects whose presence dates back to the dinosaurs.
• Termites are known as "silent destroyers" because of their ability to chew through wood, flooring and even wallpaper undetected.
• There are about 2,000 known species of termites in the world.
• The most common termite species found in the United States are subterranean termites, Formosan termites, dampwood termites, drywood termites.
• Subterranean termites are by far the most destructive species of termite as they eat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
• Each year, termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage.
• Termite colonies can have upwards of 2 million members.
• Termites are present in 70 percent of countries across the world and their population outnumbers human beings on a ratio of ten to one.
• The queen termite can lay up to 40,000 eggs per day.
Termite Prevention Tips
There are many steps you can take to help prevent termites from infesting their property. Most importantly, you should eliminate or reduce moisture in and around you structure, which termites need to thrive. Here are some other tips:
• Divert water away from the foundation by installing properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
• Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.
• Trim vines, hedges and other vegetation to prevent them from blocking vents.
• Remove old form boards, grade stakes, tree trunks, and roots near a building, as they may attract termites.
• Maintain an 18-inch gap between soil and any wood portions of your building.
• Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the b and and 5 inches off the ground. Check it for pests before bringing it indoors.
• Routinely inspect the foundation of your building for signs of termite damage.