How to Kill Bedbugs

Types of Bedbug Insecticides

Bedbug infestations are extremely hard to get rid of and usually require treatment by a professional pest controller. There are a few insecticides that can be used to exterminate these pests, including sprays, dusts, and aerosols.

Deltamethrin is one of the most popular contact insecticides; it is odorless and leaves no visible residue. This insecticide is relatively safe and it will break down once is has been exposed to sunlight for a few days. Deltamethrin is safe for most people and mammals, although it should not be exposed to any fish or aquatic animals. The insecticide paralyzes the bedbugs and when combined with another compound prevents recovery, killing the insect. This type of insecticide is available in liquid, powder and aerosol form.

Hydroprene is a slow acting insecticide; it stops bedbugs from reaching maturity and thus prevents breeding so the bedbugs die out more slowly. It can only be used indoors as it breaks down in sunlight. It is generally considered safe.

Terminix offers a treatment called RapidFreeze which uses dry ice to freeze the insects and their eggs. It is fast and non-toxic. Be careful that you are eradicating the insects and not just herding them into a different room.

At-Home Methods of Killing Bedbugs

In some cases mattresses must be discarded. If there are holes or tears in the fabric that means that bedbugs could have gotten inside and the mattresses must be thrown away. Washing mattress covers, pillows, and comforters in the hottest water setting will kill the bedbugs. If the comforter cannot be washed, putting the comforter in a dryer at the highest heat possible should kill any bedbugs on the comforter. Sealing the mattress inside a zippered bug proof encasement will trap the pests in and eventually kill them.

Keep in mind, though, that bed bugs can live for up to a year or longer without eating. Bed bugs do not just live in the bed; they have homes in cracks in the walls, crevices in furniture, and in hollow pockets behind pictures and electrical outlets. These at-home methods usually will not eradicate the infestation so it is recommended that you contact a professional pest controller, especially when using chemicals.

As Always, Prevention is the Best Medicine

In order to prevent the spread of beg bugs make sure that you are not staying in a hotel room infested by bedbugs. If possible, bring a flashlight and carefully insect the bed and furniture around the room for bedbugs or signs of bedbugs, such as dark brown feces stains and blood stains from squashed bugs. Be cautious when buying used furniture as they may be harboring bedbugs and bedbug eggs. Mattresses especially carry a high risk of being infested. When returning home from a trip, check your suitcase for any stowaways.

Bedbug Bites Look as Nasty as They Feel

Currently dealing with bedbugs, I can attest firsthand these pesky creatures have one goal in mind, and that is to turn you into a late night wine and dine. While it is true that bedbugs are not dangerous in the sense of causing disease, they can be a nuisance, and the bites they leave behind quiet frankly, annoying and frustrating.

Looking at Bedbug Bites Up Close

Knowing if you have a bedbug bite can help you properly handle the situation and rid your home of bedbugs. Bedbug bites affect each person differently. In some people, such as in my case, people can have an allergic reaction to these bites, causing swelling. In all cases, bedbug bites are extremely itchy, but scratching will only make it worse.

The Physical Effects of a Bedbug Bite

At first bite, you may notice a large, raised white welt looking area.The bites initially look like a mosquito bite,and you may even think you have been bitten by a mosquito until the itching sets in. The welts disappear after a few minutes, where in its place you will notice a small red bump, most often with a spot in the middle of it where the bedbug used its fangs to suck.

These bites can appear anywhere on the body, and occur at night once you have fallen fast asleep. Bedbugs love the upper part of the body, so you may find the bites above the waist, including on the head, face, arms, hands, and even chest area. They are easy to distinguish from other bites due to the painful itching that they cause.

How Long Do Bedbug Bites Last?

The spot where the bedbug has bitten you can last anywhere from 3 to 4 days up to 14 days and possibly longer. Even after several days the area may still have an intense itch. Bedbug bites look similar in almost every person. Along with the itching, you should be able to easily identify a problem with bedbugs.

Pictures of Bedbug Bites

Bedbug bites may cause skin rashes and allergic symptoms, as well as psychological effects. Bedbug bites have a wide range of manifestations on the skin of the host: from no visible effects to big raised blisters. The bite area is commonly accompanied by redness, itching and swelling. There is no treatment for bedbug bites, but steroid cream can be used if itching is severe, as itching may lead to infection.

Bedbugs can be carriers of human diseases such as HIV, but it is unlikely that they can transmit the disease to other humans. There has never been a case of any disease being transmitted via bed bug.

Formosan Subterranean Termites

Formosan Termite Origins and Expansion

The Formosan subterranean termite, (Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki), is an invasive species of termite. Its native habitat ranged from Southern China to Japan to Taiwan. The Formosan termites get their name from Taiwan’s former Portuguese name, Formosa, meaning “beautiful.”

United States Formosan Termite Infestations

Within the last hundred years the habitat of the Formosan termites has expanded to South Africa, Hawaii, and the continental United States. The first recorded appearance of these invasive termites in the continental United Sates was in Charleston, South Carolina in 1957.

Since that first appearance, they have been found in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. An isolated colony of the Formosan termites has even been found in San Diego, California in 1992.

Formosan termites are rarely found north of 35° north latitude because their eggs will not hatch if the temperature is below 20°C (68°F). It is believed that this insect population was introduced to many port cities at the end of WWII by ships returning from the Pacific Ocean Theatre.

Eating Machines

Formosan termites have earned the nickname the “super-termite” because of their destructive eating habits.

There are four main reasons these insects are so destructive:

  • The large colony size. One colony can contain several million individuals, as compared to most other subterranean termite colonies which only contain several hundred thousand.
  • A single colony can have a territory up to 300 feet.
  • A colony can infect a variety of structures, such as boats and high rise buildings.
  • They can eat wood very rapidly. One colony can eat as much as 13 ounces of wood a day, and severely damage a structure in as little as three months.

The Formosan subterranean termites are among the most destructive termites in the world today. These termites don’t just eat wood, they have been known to chew through foam insulation boards, lead and copper sheeting, some plastics, and even asphalt. Once these vicious termites a colony it has not been possible to eradicate them.

Formosan Termite Colony

Formosan termites can build colonies both below and above ground, although they generally live below ground. Underneath the ground the termites build an extensive series of tunnels that they use for foraging. Formosan termites build large nests that are made of carton. Carton is fecal matter that the termites use to build the wall structure of the nest. The colony can live of the moisture from the carton for months. The nests can be both in soil and above ground hidden away in the walls of buildings. These nests can be as large as several cubic feet.

Formosan Termite Castes

A Bug’s Life

Formosan termites have a caste system composed of a king, queen, workers, soldiers, and alates (reproductive winged termites). The king and queen are the primary reproductives in a colony. The queen has a life span of about 15 years, and can lay up to 1,000 eggs per day.

Worker termites provide the food for the colony, tend the eggs, build and maintain the nest, and generally care for the soldiers, larvae, and alates.

Soldier termites defend the colony. Soldier termites can produce a protective poison called naphthalene, which repels ants, poisonous fungi, and nematode worms. Soldier termites are very aggressive and will attack fingers and tools if they are provoked, fortunately their poison is harmless to humans.

Formosan Termite SoldierThey have orange-brown oval shaped heads, and black sickle shaped mandibles. Their bodies are yellow-white and are about 1/5 to 1/4 inches long. Worker and solider termites only live for 3-5 years. Alates breed the colony; they can lay approximately 15 to 30 eggs. Alates are also called swarmmers, and have a tendency to congregate around light from windows, light fixtures, and window sills. Alates are yellowish-brown with golden brown heads, black eyes and two pairs of wings. They are about 1/2 to 3/5 inch long from head to wing tip. Alates that successfully breed will go out to form their own colony and become the king and queen of that colony. Few alates survive the quest.

Fight Infestation

Signs of infestation of Formosan termites are swarmmers at night that are attracted to light, shelter tubes made of soil that are filled with termites when broken open, damaged wood that sounds dull when tapped with a hard object, or nests made of carton. Several ways to fight infestation are to create barriers, fumigate the infected area, and set baits. Prevention is the best tool against termites. A liquid insecticide should be administered to the soil beneath and around the foundation before building begins. Siding and insulation should not touch the ground during construction. Pressured-treated lumber in critical building areas will lessen the risk of termite infestation.

Humane Trapping Using Squirrel Traps

Squirrels are cute when they are out in nature, but less so when they are damaging your attic or garden. With suburbs pushing farther and farther out into the country, animal habitats are getting smaller and smaller. Squirrels have come up with a solution to this problem, they are moving into homes. These animals can cause damage to your home and their noise in an attic can be a bother.

SquirrelInside attics, squirrels can eat though electrical wire, which may in extreme cases case a fire. They also soil and tear insolation. Squirrels can also be pests in gardens and lawns by tearing up flower bulbs and plants and pillaging bird feeders. The best way to deal with squirrels in and around your home is to use traps to catch them.

Squirrel Traps

Squirrels often make homes in attics in the fall and winter for the warmth that it provides. If possible, wait until the summer, when it is too hot for squirrels to live there, to block off entrances to your attic. If you need a more immediate solution, squirrel traps are your best bet. Squirrel traps work by using bait, such as crackers, peanut butter, pecans, or sunflower seeds to attract the squirrel to the trap. The trap should be 18 to 24 inches long with an entrance that is about five by five inches. The trap should be placed outside, as near to the entrance to the attic as possible.

Once the squirrel gets inside a mechanism is activated and the opening snaps shut, trapping the squirrel. You should check the trap twice a day for any captured prey. Havaheart makes traps specifically designed for squirrels, and Human Way makes a repeating squirrel trap that can catch multiple squirrels at one time.

Squirrel Trap

Relocating Trapped Squirrels

When dealing with trapped squirrels always wear gloves, as squirrels may be defensive when caught and can host a variety of parasites. Although rabies is extremely rare in squirrels, if the squirrel acts extremely aggressive or convulsive you should contact the authorities. The best way to deal with relocating squirrels is to go at least 4-5 miles away from your home, in a remote wooded area before setting them loose so they are less likely to make their way back to your home or move into somebody else’s home. After you have relocated the squirrels make sure that you block off entrances to your attic before it becomes home for another squirrel.

Keeping Squirrels Out

In order to prevent squirrels access to your roof tree limbs should be cut back at least eight feet from you home, and wood piles should be moved away from the walls of your home. To avoid attracting squirrels to your yard, get rid of bird feeders which squirrels enjoy eating from. If you don’t want to get rid of your bird feeder you can lube up the bird feeding poll with Vaseline so they can’t eat all the bird seed. Spraying Ropel or Hot Pepper Wax on seeds, bulbs, and flowers can be used as a squirrel repellant.

Treating Ant Infestations with Ant Baits

The best way to both prevent ants and to get rid of them is to clean your house regularly and make sure that there is no food lying around that can attract the ants in the first place. Food should be kept in air tight containers, dirty dishes should not be left around, and surfaces should be wiped down in case there is any leftover food residue. Seeing one ant might not cause you any alarm, but nests of ants will send out scouts to seek out food and then they will go back to their nests and bring back the cavalry. It is best to squish that lone scout ant.

An Ant Up CloseThere are thousands of tiny holes and cracks in your house in which ants can find routes in, so do your best to barricade your home by sealing up the cracks with caulk. Sometimes the only way you will be able to find the entry way for which ants get into your home is following the line of ants to their origin. If you can’t seal some areas, such as doors, you can line the area with substances that deter the ants, such as Raid for ants, diatomaceous earth, talcum powder, whole cloves, cinnamon, and pepper. Keep in mind that these substances only work for a short time; they do not fix the problem.

Eradicating Ant Baits

In order to know the proper way to get rid of ants you need to know which type of ants you are dealing with. One of the most common types of house ants in the US are brown pavement ants, which are sometimes mistakenly called sugar ants. These types of ants commonly build small sand mounds near sidewalks and driveways. The best way to get rid of this type of ant is to use a mixture of 5% boric acid and 95% karo syrup, mint jelly, or mint apple jelly. Keep in mind that if too much boric acid is used you stand the risk of killing the immediate ants, but not the colony, while using too little boric acid will only temporarily weaken the colony. Put the boric acid mixture on masking tape in various areas where you have seen ants. If the sugar based bait doesn’t work well, consider adding peanut butter to attract ants that eat protein.

Liquid Ant Bait Treatment

The brand Terro makes a sweetened boric acid bait that works well on pavement ants. When fighting a fire ant infestation make sure to use bait that contains Hydramethylnon. Some insecticides that contain Hydramethylnon include MaxForce, Raid Fire Ant Killer, Amdro, and Precise.

This type of bait works well on pharaoh ants as well. Argentine ants are very hearty little creatures, so to fight an infestation of these little pests you may need to use two different types of baits since these ants eat both sugar and protein. Using a sugar based bait, like Terro, and a protein based bait, like MaxForce, should work.

Tips When Using Ant Bait

There are a few tips to remember when fighting ant infestations. Do not put bait right in a line of ants, it will disrupt them and may make the ants less likely to take the bait, instead put the bait next to a line of ants and they will be attracted to it. Try to put the baits as close to the nest as possible.

When using baits, do not kill the ants on their way back to the colony as the bait works because the scavenger ants bring the bait back to the colony and spread it to all the other ants. Using repellants on the ant mound will only make the ants create a new nest, most likely only a few feet away from their current mound. There are numerous ant baits out there, so make sure you are getting the proper one for your needs, and always make sure that no children or other animals can get into the bait.

Using Rat Traps

Lethal Rat Traps

Some lethal rat traps include snap traps, glue boards, and zapper traps.

Snap traps are both effective and cheap, although they have the possibility of harming unintended victims if they are accidentally set off by fingers, toes, or paws.

Glue traps work by trapping the rats to the board with non-toxic glue. These types of traps are cheap but they are considered inhuman because it leaves the rats to die a slow death of starvation or stress. One downside of these two previously mentioned types of traps is that they may not kill right away and you will have to finish the unfortunate task yourself.

Zapper traps are much more expensive but they are considered humane in that they lure rats into a small structure then deal a lethal electric shock. These types of traps are great for the squeamish who don’t want to see the body. The downside is that they eat through batteries very quickly.

Non-lethal Catch Traps

Nonlethal rat traps are generally more expensive. These traps are known as catch traps and they work by luring the rats into a trap that then triggers a mechanism that snaps shut the opening behind them. Make sure that you are using the correct size of trap for your mouse problem, if the trap is too big they may easily escape. If you are using live catch traps and intend to release the rats, check with local authorities before releasing them because rats are considered a health hazard and freeing them may be considered illegal in your area. When releasing the rats make sure you do it miles from your home so they can’t return to their nest later.

Tips for Traps

Rat traps should be placed in paths where rats frequently travel. In order for these traps to be most effective, they should be pre-baited without setting the traps so that the rats become accustomed to the traps. Once the rats become used to the traps you can set them. If you face a large infestation, use many traps so you can catch a lot of rats at one time before they become trap-shy and avoid the traps. Always make sure that you are using the correct type of traps for your pests, as smaller mice traps will only annoy rats. If you have pets and children in your home be cautious about which types of traps you use so as not to injure any inadvertent targets.

Rat Poison

It is not recommended that you use rat poison in your home because rat poison is slow acting and rats have the opportunity to go hide in any numerous hard to get to areas in your home, leaving you to find the rotting rat carcasses using only your nose. The rotting bodies may also attract many other pests into your home. If you do use rat poison, make sure it is in areas where children and house pets cannot reach.

Keeping Your Home Pest Free

Using traps to kill rats will only work if you are also protecting your home from these invaders. Make sure that you are getting rid of their food and water supplies. You will also need to block any entry ways into your home that the rats may be using, or else you may be killing the rats as fast as they are entering your home. Using expanding foam caulk and steel wool in cracks and gaps in the outside of your home are a few steps that you can take to help protect your home from these pests.

How to Get Rid of Mice

Signs of a Mouse Infestation

How to Get Rid of Mice

The first step to getting rid of an infestation of mice is to confirm that you have an infestation of mice. Some of the signs that you have an infestation include unexplained holes in walls, boxes, and food containers, round droppings up 1’4” long, rustling sounds in the walls or ceilings, and urine trails along the base of walls. Getting rid of mice is important because mice carry parasites which can transmit to humans.

Preparing Your Home

The first step to getting rid of mice is to get rid of their food source. Get rid of any unprotected food; if you suspect it has even been touched by mice, throw it away for your safety. Metal and glass containers work best to keep mice from getting to the food. Keep human and pet food elevated, or store pet food in metal trashcans. Make sure all your trashcans have tight fitting lids to keep mice from getting in. Check outside your home for food sources as well.

The second step is to clean up any clutter in which mice might live, this incudes kitchens, closets, garages, and basements. Clean the yard. High grass, weeds, and wood piles all provide cover for mice on the hunt for a new house.

The third step to block off all possible entry points to your house. Mice can squeeze through incredibly small spaces, so make sure you seal up any cracks with cement or another type of material that is gnaw-proof. Some spaces in your home are there for a reason and should not be sealed up. In cases like that, steel wool can be shoved into larger cracks and holes to keep mice out. Once you have gotten rid of all outside entry points, go inside your home and check for access points inside your basement or bottom floor and seal them up.

Lethal Traps

After have done all these things, the mice inside your home should not be able to get out and no new mice will be able to get in, allowing you to focus on eradicating the mouse population currently in your home. There are numerous types of lethal mouse traps including snap traps, glue boards, and zapper traps. Snap traps have been used for a long time because they are effective and cheap. The down side to snap trap are that they are messy and might not kill the mouse right away, leaving the unfortunate task to you. Glue traps are good because they are cheap can kill numerous pests at one time. Glue traps are not particularly humane and it may take a long time for the mouse to die or starvation or stress. These two traps should not be used around children and pets as they may cause harm to unintended victims.

Mouse Trap

Zapper traps are enclosed structures that deliver a lethal electric shock to the mouse. Zapper traps are more expensive and requires lots of batteries. There is also a homemade bucket trap which lures the mouse onto a small plank over a bucket filled with water, the plank then tips because of their weight, causing them to fall in the water and drown. The use of poison to kill mice is generally not a good idea because they may die in cracks and crevices you may not be able to find, meaning you will have rotting mouse corpses, creating bad smells and attracting other pests.

Non-Lethal Traps

Lethal traps are not for everyone, if you want to get rid of mice but don’t want to kill them, there are other options, including bowl traps and catch traps. Bowl traps are similar to the bucket trap; grease the side of a large metal bowl and place a treat in the bottom of the bowl. Make a ramp to let the mice in the bowl. Once in, the grease will trap them. Catch traps lure the mice into a container then snap shut behind them. Unfortunately, mice quickly learn to get the bait without triggering the trap. Always make sure that you release the mice a mile or more from your home so they cannot return to their nest, and never touch the mice to avoid the parasites they carry.

Types of Bait

There are many different types of bait that can be used if for traps including peanut butter, bread, and uncooked bacon. Be prepared to try a few different types of bait as some types of baits attract different mice. Use sticky bait or tie the bait to the trap with string or dental floss so the mice can’t wander off with the bait and stand a better chance of being caught.

Problems Catching Mice?

If your trap has been sprung and there is no mouse there, you can lightly dust the trap with flour to catch the footprints so you can see what type of animal you are dealing with. The mouse bait may be being carried off by cockroaches. It is also necessary to use the correct traps, using rat traps to catch mice rarely works.

Court of Last Resort

If these traps do not work, consider getting professional help from an exterminator.

The Bedbug Life Cycle

Bedbug Reproduction

Bedbug breeding is not a pretty thing. Female bedbugs do not have exterior genital opening so in order to mate the male bedbug pierces the abdominal body cavity of the female with his hypodermic-like reproductive organ and ejaculates into the body cavity. The female bedbugs lay between five and 12 eggs each day. During their lifetime one bedbug can lay up to 500 eggs. The female bedbug deposits the eggs into small crevices and cracks for them to hatch later on. The eggs are approximately one millimeter in length. It takes up to two weeks for the eggs to hatch. Once they hatch they immediately begin to feed. Bedbugs are the size of a poppy seed when they are first hatched.

Bedbug Life Cycle

Bedbug Nymphs

Juvenile bedbugs are called nymphs. Nymphs are yellow white colored but when they consume blood they turn bright red. They are similar in shape to mature bedbugs. Nymphs pass through five molts before they reach maturity, each time leaving behind a clear exoskeleton. Every time the bedbug sheds its exoskeleton they get a little darker. In order for the nymph to pass through each molt they must consume one meal. When at room temperature it takes less than five weeks for the nymph to complete the five molting stages to reach maturity.

Mature Bedbugs

When bedbugs reach maturity they become fertile and can breed. Bedbugs have six legs, and a three part segmented body consisting of the head, thorax, and abdomen. Mature bedbugs reach 4-5 millimeters in length and 1.5 to 3 millimeters in length. Their oval shaped bodies are comparable to an apple seed. When bedbugs reach maturity their color ranges from dark brown to burnt orange. After they have consumed a meal of blood their bodies turn redder. Bedbugs have a life span that commonly ranges from four to six months, although in ideal conditions some bedbugs can live for years.

New York’s Bed Bug Epidemic

The bedbug epidemic has hit many big cities in the U.S., such as Los Angeles, Denver, Cincinnati, and Phoenix, but nowhere near as hard as New York has been pummeled by these tiny pests. Complaints about bedbugs in New York City have skyrocketed in the last few years. The number of inquiries about bedbugs to 311 escalated from 21,922 in 2008 to 33,772 in 2009, an increase of 54%. In 2004 there were only 537 bedbug complaints; in 2009 that number jumped over twenty times that amount to a staggering 10,985 complaints, according to the New York City Bed Bug Advisory Board Report to the Mayor and City Council from April 2010.

Where Bedbugs Have Been Found

Not only have bedbugs made homes in numerous hotels and homes, they are also showing up in public buildings as well. The AMC movie theater in Times Square was recently discovered to have bedbugs in a few of their seats, the bodies of moviegoers a good target for these blood suckers. Victoria’s Secret in Lexington, Elle Magazine offices, an Abercrombie and Fitch store, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, and many other businesses were also found to have bedbugs. Most disturbingly, there were 426 bedbug cases of bedbugs in 243 public schools in New York City in 2009 alone. Bedbugs are very easy to be transported around the city; all it takes is one person with bedbugs on their clothes, and their work place or shopping place can become infected.

New Yorker’s Reactions

It seems that no one in New York City is immune to these pests. According to a New York City community health survey from 2009, 1 in 15 residents of New York City have bedbugs in their homes. It is estimated that since these pests travel so well that that number is higher now. With the rising number of bedbug cases there has been a corresponding rise in fear of these pests being transmitted. Friends keep their distance, people have stopped going to the movies, and some cross the street when they see mattresses lying in the street. Tutors and music teachers that go home to home are worried that they may soon be losing their clients because of this epidemic. Those who homes have been infested have to live with the stigmata of it. The shame and fear of what other people might think and how they will react has even made some wear turtle neck sweaters in the stifling heart of summer to hide the telltale red welts.

The War on Bed Bugs

The main reason that these bugs are running rampant across the county is because the US has largely banded the use of DDT, a pesticide that, when it was used back in the 1940’s and 1950’s, stopped bedbugs in their tracks. New York has now declared battle in other ways, by sealing cracks and getting rid of clutter in which bed bugs may hide, inspecting mattresses and pillows for signs of bedbugs, and, if necessary, recruiting professional exterminators. There is now a New York City Bedbug Advisory Board report with a three part recommendation for the management of bedbugs, including education, awareness and early detection, treatment and remediation, and monitoring and policy. The New York City Bedbug Advisory Board Report to the Mayor and City Council is available online for the public.

For more information, the city has setup a website ( here ) where you can learn more about how to combat the bedbug problem.