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Help! I Have Bed Bugs!

You wake up on a bright, sunny morning, ready for a wonderful day-until you notice itchy red welts on your arm. You think you know why, but the cause still unnerves you: bed bugs.

Then you puzzle about how bed bugs could have multiplied in your clean, orderly home. The truth is that bed bugs aren’t a sign of a dirty house. They can come to the cleanest homes as well.

If you have bed bugs, you likely wonder what to do next. We’ll give you a step-by-step guide for getting rid of them for good.

  1. Make sure you really have bed bugs.

Besides the small red bites on your body, you should look for other signs of bed bugs. Rust-like spots on your mattress indicate signs of crushed bed bugs. You may also see egg shells, fecal spots, or shed skins, or smell a musty odor.

Now, see if you can spot the bugs themselves. Bed bugs span about ½ inch long and have flat, oval-shaped bodies. They appear brown or reddish-brown.

Bed bugs aren’t noticeable during the day because they like to hide from the light. Look in hidden places in your bed like cracks or rips in the head board, box spring, or mattress. After you check all the beds in your home, you should also look in other areas such as:

  • Inside cracks in your wall paper
  • Behind and under furniture
  • Inside furniture seams
  • Under carpet edges
  • Behind pictures and posters on the wall
  • Behind baseboards
  • In your closet, particularly on clothing
  • In electrical appliances like radios
  • In luggage and backpacks
  • Behind electrical outlets

It’s important to eradicate bed bugs right away because their population will continue to multiply. A female bed bug can lay up to 250 eggs during her life. The eggs take 6 to 10 days to hatch, but once they do, the baby bed bugs are hungry for blood.

  1. Call a pest control expert.

Once you’ve identified you bed bugs, the time has come to call in a pest control expert. They have the experience and knowledge to completely eliminate the insects.

Your certified pest control expert will probably use a method called fumigation. Fumigation fills the area with pesticides to poison and kill the bed bugs. During the fumigation process, you and your family will need to stay away from your home, since the pesticides can prove dangerous to humans. Once the bed bugs are eliminated, the pest control expert will ventilate the area and tell you when it’s safe to enter.

The pest control expert may also use other methods, such as heat and steam treatments.

  1. Examine your mattress.

Once the pest control company finishes its work, you may worry about your previously infested mattress. Is it time to throw your mattress away? That depends on how much damage the bed bugs caused. If the mattress has holes or tears, you may want to replace it.

You should vacuum your mattress thoroughly, but you can’t wash your mattress or it will develop mold. To protect it, ask your pest control expert about bedbug-certified mattress and box spring covers that will keep bed bugs out.

       4. Wash, wash, wash.

Now that the bed bugs have been eliminated, you need to get rid of anything they left behind. Wash and dry all mattress covers, sheets, pillow cases, clothing, curtains, rugs, shoes, backpacks, and stuffed animals on a hot setting. The heat will kill any remaining bed bugs.

If you still worry about bed bugs in your linens, use a steam machine to spray steam at the corners and seams.

If an item should not be washed, simply place it in the dryer on a hot setting. You can also spray it with tea tree oil or another non-toxic spray and store it in a sealed bag for several months.

  1. Clean with tea tree oil.

Bed bugs despise the smell and taste of tea tree oil. To keep them away, place a few drops of oil at the corners of your bed frame. As you wash your bedding and clothes, add a little more of this oil.

You can also create your own tea tree spray by mixing 18 oz. water with 18 drops tea tree oil. Spray it on all the beds, carpet, and furniture in your home.

Vacuuming your bed, carpet, and furniture will remove bed bugs and their eggs. Just don’t forget to empty the bag right away in an outside garbage. This may also be a good time to invest in carpet cleaning, as steam eradicates the bugs.

  1. Place bed bug interceptors.

If your recent bed bug infestation freaks you out and you worry about bed bugs returning, consider bed bug interceptors. These small plastic trays go under bed legs and prevent bed bugs from climbing to the bed. They’ll also let you know quickly if you have another infestation because you’ll see bed bugs trapped inside the tray.

 

Fortunately, bed bugs do not transmit disease to humans, but their bites-and their presence-are still unwelcome. Bed bugs can live for a year without food, so make sure you’ve eliminated all bed bugs and eggs after an infestation.

If you suspect bed bugs have invaded your home, call a pest control expert. Follow these tips to eliminate bed bugs and prevent their return.

Common Garden Pests and Tips to Keep Them Away

Whether you have a colorful flower garden, a yard full of fruit trees, or a neatly trimmed and tidy lawn, you put a lot of care and effort into your yard’s upkeep. After you invest so much time and energy into your yard, you’d hate to see it all destroyed by pests. Too often, though, bees and wasps keep you from enjoying a pleasant day on your porch, voles uproot your tulips, or birds peck away at your fruit crop. 

To get the most out of your garden, lawn, or yard, read our blog below. We’ll tell you how to recognize common New Jersey garden pests and how to keep them away for good. With a little help, you’ll soon go back to getting the most out of your pest-free yard.

Aphids

Most gardeners get used to dealing with aphids each year. In small numbers, aphids usually won’t do much damage. However, an infestation can stunt your plants’ growth, turn tree leaves yellow, and transmit plant-destroying viruses to cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, and squash.

To spot an aphid infestation, check your plants regularly beneath the leaves for aphid populations. If you have a small number of aphid-infested plants, you can rinse aphids off with water. If you don’t use chemicals, you can rely on certain natural predators to kill aphids, such as lady beetles. Otherwise, talk to your pest control company about safe chemical and organic ways to control aphids.

Bagworms

These worms are named for the “bags” they deposit on trees to host larvae. The bags resemble pine cones, and since bagworms often feast on pine trees, many homeowners mistake them as cones and fail to remove them.

Once they hatch, bagworm larvae consume leaves and pine needles. They do particular damage to evergreens; if you have an infestation, you’ll notice your pine needles turning brown and falling off. They can also infest deciduous trees, in which case you’ll see holes in your tree’s leaves.

The best way to eliminate a bagworm infestation is to find and destroy the bags before the larvae hatch in May or June. You or your pest control expert can either find the bags and snip them from trees before the larvae hatch, or use a variety of pesticides to destroy the worms.

European Starlings

Many people don’t think of birds as pests, but this non-native species can cause structural damage, spread disease, and consume your plants’ seeds or fruit. You can recognize the European starling by its black coloring, cream spots, and purple/green feather gloss.

Typically, these pests cause more problems for livestock owners than for gardeners, since they transmit disease to pigs. However, they also eat peaches, apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and other cultivated fruits.

To prevent a starling infestation, trim or prune your trees to make them less attractive nesting spots. Unclog your gutters to prevent standing water. Add repellants like wires or metal coverings to ledges and horizontal outdoor surfaces.

If you notice starlings roosting in your trees at night, alarms or other loud devices can often startle them away. After a few nights of these alarms, most starlings will avoid your home in the future.

Voles (Field Mice)

These small rodents dig tunnels across yards, destroying well-mowed lawns and consuming bulbs and plant roots. Since they live underground, they can be hard for homeowners to spot. If you start to see surface paths across your grass or notice plants like tulips dying for no reason, you likely have a vole problem.

To make your yard less attractive to voles, trim your grass short and place mesh cylinders around plants to protect them. You can occasionally trap voles with mouse traps, but since their tunnels are difficult to find, traps might not be as effective as poison. Only a licensed professional can use poison on a voles infestation, so talk to your pest control company about your options.

Wasps and Hornets

Wasps and hornets don’t usually destroy your plants. In fact, like bees, they can be beneficial-they pollinate your plants and eat other garden pests, like flies and caterpillars. However, when wasps and hornets nest in your yard, they often make the outdoors scary for you and your family. While paper wasps won’t usually sting unless they feel threatened, hornets and yellow jacket wasps tend to be aggressive.

Wasps and hornets often gather around food, so to keep them out of your yard, seal your garbage can tightly. If you notice a small hornet or wasp population, you might be able to control them with outdoor traps, though these only work on certain species (like yellow jacket wasps). If you notice a nest or a large hornet or wasp population, contact your local pest control experts. Removing a wasp or hornet nest on your own can be dangerous.

Talk to Your Pest Control Company

For more help keeping your yard pest-free, contact your pest control experts. They can help you identify pests and safely remove them. Then, you can look forward to spending time in your pest-free yard or garden this spring and summer.

Rats, Mice, Voles, Oh My: Do You Have Unwelcome Guests Living Under Your Roof?

You jump into bed, let your head hit the pillow, and start to doze off . . . until you hear a scratching noise coming from your bathroom. You sit up, put on your glasses, and make a beeline for the bathroom. You start rummaging through the cabinets, and there-right in front of you-is evidence in plain sight.

Rat droppings.

You’ve got a rat infestation. No matter how many cracks you’ve sealed and traps you’ve laid, it seems that once rats move in they intend to stay. If you have any suspicion of a rat infestation in your home, it’s important to look for any signs of a rodent infestation.

Is a Rodent Living in My House?

Unfortunately, many homes in New Jersey deal with rodent infestations every few years. Here’s how most homeowners come to suspect mice, rats, and voles have moved in:

  • Noises – If strange scratching noises keep you up at night, you might have an infestation. Fortunately, rodents aren’t quiet visitors. You can hear them scurrying up walls, scratching at food packages, and maybe even gnawing furniture. Keep your ears open and you might have an easy time locating the rodents.
  • Droppings (and urine) – Although it’s unfortunate (and smelly) evidence, droppings should be a dead giveaway that your home has an infestation. Rodent droppings are brown and small, less than 1/4 in. long. Look for droppings and urine in cupboards, in the fridge, along baseboards, on high shelves, and behind furniture.
  • Sightings – If you see a rodent, you have a rodent infestation. Don’t worry-most rodents won’t bite you when they see you. Instead, mice, rats, and voles will hide. Record the exact sighting location so you can lay traps in the proper place (and tell your local pest control so they can target a specific area).
  • Damage – Rodents find their way into everything. Watch for gnaw marks on any wood, metal, or plastic furniture in your home. If a device stops working, look for bites on any wires and cords.
  • Punctured packaging – It’s hard to keep rodents away from food. Most rodents will break into anything they can reach. Check jars with loose tops to make sure no creature is living or stuck inside, and don’t forget to throw away any contaminated food.
  • Nests – Most rodents construct nests of paper and hair to keep their babies safe. Search for nests in your walls, cabinets, ceiling, and attic.

Keep your eyes out and your ears open to any pesky business involving rodents within the walls of your home.

How Can I Solve the Problem?

If your home has a few unwelcome guests, don’t worry. You can resolve the problem in a number of ways.

  • Traps – One of the most popular objects of mouse destruction, traps will lure mice, rats, and voles into a dangerous spot with food (usually cheese or peanut butter). While traps do have a high efficacy rate, traps also pose a serious threat to young children. Keep traps high and out of reach of children.
  • Poisons – You can purchase a variety of rodent poisons, including pellet poisons and putty formulations. Place poisons around your home to rid the area of rodents. Like traps, poisons also offer a serious threat to young children. Keep all poisons high and away from children.
  • Pest control – Hiring a professional pest control is the most effective way to rid your property of pesky creatures.

Professionals will know what your property needs (baiting, rodenticide, and trapping) and will cater their services to your individual needs.

Whether you have one mouse or an entire family of voles living in your space, it’s important to resolve the problem before it becomes a disaster.

Why Should I Solve the Problem?

Although rodents are small, they pose a big threat to your safety. Many rodents carry diseases that can lead to serious injuries and infections.

  • Rat bite fever – causes serious infection
  • Salmonellosis – causes extreme bouts of diarrhea
  • Rickettsialpox – causes ulcers
  • Hantavirus – causes flu-like symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea Don’t risk it-get rid of your rodent roommates.

How Can I Prevent Future Infestations?

If you want to be proactive, take steps to prevent future infestations. Try the following:

  • Inspect and clean crawl spaces (pay attention to any holes in the wall, floor, or ceiling)
  • Check home’s exterior (look for loose vents, open holes, or other easy access points)
  • Examine the attic (put traps in the attic as a precautionary measure) Trim trees near the roof
  • Regularly take out the garbage
  • Frequently vacuum closets and cupboards
  • Repair and seal garage door

Once you’ve completed these simple steps, call and schedule a consultation to meet with your local pest control professionals. Pest control professionals have extensive knowledge and will offer terrific insight so you won’t have to worry about rodents in the future.

How to Keep Pests Out of Your Pantry

When you think of pests, you probably consider the great damage they can cause. Termites feed on wood and disrupt the structure of your home. Mice chew through your belongings and carry diseases that can affect your entire family. Bed bugs bite, and bees sting. Of course, you want to rid your home of these pests and feel safe and sanitary again.

But just as unsettling are those lesser known pests lurking in your kitchen cupboards. Although they do not pose much of a threat to your health or home, “pantry pests” can contaminate your food and leave you feeling violated. Imagine pouring out a bowl of cereal in the morning and seeing a moth fly out of the box. Gross.

However, if you adapt your kitchen with pantry pests in mind, you can easily keep them out completely.