What Are Bed Bugs?

If you have ever been itchy in your bed at night, feeling as though something is crawling over you and biting you, keeping you from sleeping, you may be wondering if you are losing your mind or if you have an infestation. The good news is that you are probably sane, but the bad news is that you could be infested with bed bugs.

What are bed bugs? Bed bugs are a small parasites that infest human habitats, but their most frequently infested area is the bed. They enjoy the quiet dark corners of mattresses and come out to feed at night, since they require blood to live. Bed bugs usually feed every five to ten days, but they can go up to a year without feeding in a state of hibernation with the right conditions. This is why it is so important to properly treat infestations, as dormant infestations can become active again if not treated properly.

What are Bed BugsChemical treatment of the affected area is recommended as a way to get rid of the infestation, as chemicals kill both active and dormant bedbugs. In the past, DDT was used as a pesticide to control the bedbug population, but with the discovery of health and environmental problems relating to DDT, the chemical has been discontinued. Modern methods include spot treatment with steam, which is an effective method for getting rid of known infections, however it requires several different treatments to ensure the entire infestation is removed.

If a bed bug infestation is discovered in your home, usually in a child’s bed, you need to treat all clothing, sheets, and pillows that have come into contact with the bed with several steam treatments. In addition, even if you have searched your bed and have not seen any of the mites, you should wash and treat your clothing and sheets as well in order to negate any chance of the mites migrating.

Termites 101 – Know Your Enemy

Recyclers of the forests and jungles, termites provide a service to mankind and the rest of the living world. Termites eat wood, dead wood, not living trees. Microorganisms in their digestive systems break down wood-cellulose into the component glucose which can be used as fuel in termites muscles. Termites are part of the cycle of nature that make this world such a miraculous place.

Termites and Ants

Despite numerous similarities, there are distinctions between termites and ants. Ants have a “wasp waist” between their thorax and their abdomen; termites do not. In termites, the head, the thorax and the abdomen appears as a continuous, but increasing width from front to back. Ants do not specialize in wood consumption as termites do.

Termite Societies

Each colony of termites has a large queen termite who lays the eggs and thus provides for a continuation of the colony. One or more males hang around to provide fertilization of the eggs produced by the queen. They have little else to do, but they are necessary.

Most of the colony are female workers who scurry around to maintain the nest and eat the wood that provides the nourishment for the rest of the colony. In addition to getting food for themselves, they feed the queen, the males, the soldiers, for the vast population of larvae from which the future generations of queens, males, workers, and soldiers will come. Yes, there is a professional military in many termite colonies, soldier termites with large sharp mandibles and strong head structures necessary for their military duties.

The Different Kinds of North American Termites

In America there are four kinds of termites, drywood, dampwood, subterranean, and Formosan. Most widespread are the subterranean termites which live in the ground near a wooden structure and develop enclosed passageways into the structure. There these termites work under the surface of wooden components which are weakened as the wood is invisibly devoured. Less than a hundred years ago some foreign invaders, Formosan termites came to Texas and spread throughout the Southern States. These Formosan termites are much more diligent than our home grown subterranean termites, and they are therefore more damaging to wooden structures in the United States.

Drywood termites are the kind that live within a piece of furniture. They somehow get enough water from the wood itself to support their life. You might buy an antique and unknown to you it is infested with drywood termites. Once in your home, these can spread to other items of furniture, or the structural wood of your home.

Dampwood termites are the kind of big termites that inhabit the fallen logs in the forests of northern California and the Pacific Northwest. They recycle the fallen wood and provide for nourishment for the next generation of forest growth.

These American termites are a minor representation of the world-wide termite population. Jungle areas produce more wood and they have produced many varieties of termites. Many of these jungle termites have much more complex habitations than the termites in the temperate United States.

The Termite Life Cycle

The queen lays the eggs. Queens are much larger than the mature worker termites in the next. The extended abdomen of the queen termite is an egg factory that keeps going and going. The eggs are carried away by the worker termites to hatching chambers in the termite nest and they are cared for as they are maturing. The males fertilize the female, injecting the sperm into the ovaries, so that the eggs are ejected from the queen already fertilized and developing.

When the eggs hatch they become larvae which need nourishment and tending. In the earliest stages of a colony the queen might feed the larvae, but as the colony gets larger, the workers perform to these functions. After some period of growth the larvae go into the pupae stage where they are transformed into adult termites.

A few of the pupae will emerge as female future queens and fertile males. These will mature with wings and will swarm off to become new couples founding a new colony of termites in another location.

Most of the pupae will emerge as workers to increase the viability of their mother and her mate. These workers adapt to a host of assignments in or near the nest. They scurry around appearing to have some task or another at all times. Still other pupae will emerge as soldiers fully equipped and designed to defend the colony.

Termite Nests and Colonies

As indicated above, there are many kinds of termites world-wide and they have different kinds of dwellings. All termites need wood and water. Take away their supply of either of these and the termites will disappear. All termites prefer isolation from the rest of the world. They like enclosed space and protected passageways.

Many species termites will dwell in the ground, establishing elaborate chambers in loose earth for housing the larvae and eggs. These underground termite nests will have to be close to a supply of wood and they will often have covered passageways between the wood and the living quarters. If subterranean termites find enclosed empty space, they might extend their nest outside the ground area, constructing nests of soil mixed with wood they have processed into a paper like substance.

In Central America and elsewhere large termite nests will be mounted in trees. The termites in the nest will be protected from their predators on the ground, but they have to go down the tree trunk to the food supply on the forest floor.

In Africa, Australia, and other tropical places termites might erect substantial structures, some of them of cement-like materials which the worker termites have processed. Here, numerous queens give rise to millions upon millions of termites in a single colony. These termite nests are substantial structures several meters high and several meters in circumference. In Southeast Asia one such structure had a resemblance to Buddha, and was venerated by the local human worshippers.

The Size of Termites

The newly hatched larvae and even freshly emerging adults are often quite small. As these adult, workers and soldiers, will increase in size. When fully grown such adult workers and soldiers may be Ľ inch in length up to ľ inch. For example, the dampwood termites in Northwest United States might be of the larger type, while the subterranean termites might be in the smaller range. The mature queens in almost all species may be two or three inches in length, most of that being the egg producing abdomen. The males will be larger than the workers, but definitely smaller than the queens.

Swarms of Termites

Many species of termites will go through a mating ritual which becomes visible. Newly matured queens and males will have wings and they will swarm together, the females anxious to find a suitable male with which to mate. When such a match is made, the two will fly off together and establish a new home, maybe in the soil, maybe in fallen log, depending the species and type of termite. This swarming behavior may be the most visible to humans that termites become. Generally, termites want to be invisible, since there are many other insects, birds, bats and other creatures which would like to dine on a termite meal.

Detection

Humans will do well to watch for the signs of termite infestation. This may take the form of a strange line appearing on a stone or concrete foundation of a human habitation. When such a line appears, the owners of the house should not ignore it. They should follow the line to where it enters the house. Some of the wood in a dwelling might be more tasty than other types of wood. The writer remembers following such a line in a home in New Jersey. Sure enough it led to a piece of pine wood which was infested by termites.

Termite Prevention

Termite baiting and staking are common methods of control. This involves providing some attractant materials that will lure the worker termites into a place where they will pick up some slow-acting poison. The workers carrying poison will carry it back to the colony and infect the entire group, including the queen, the males, and the soldiers.

To make this procedure work, it might be advisable to plant several stakes around your dwelling in order to find where the termites are and where they are not.. Professional termite control workers can help a lot in planning such a campaign for the protection of your house and other buildings.

Other methods of termite control involving fumigating the soil all around the the buildings in order thoroughly prevent subterranean and Formosan termites from invading any of your buildings.

Termite Tenting and Fumigation

Suppose your house and furniture are completely infested with drywood termites. You may want to fight back with tenting. It is called tenting because your entire house will be covered with a huge plastic tarp. A poison gas is going to be released inside this enclosure. The gas will penetrate every nook and cranny. When the house has thus been fumigated for a couple of days, all the termites will be dead, dead, dead. You will want to remove the fish in the aquarium and any other living things in the house, including you and the kids.

How to Get Rid of Roaches

The cockroach or roach seems to be one of the most tenacious insects on this planet earth. They are found in just about every part of the world, from the palaces of kings to the huts in the desert of the most remote place. In places that there have been major fires, roaches have survived. With each type of new product to kill them, they have built up a resistance. They can live in the walls of the cleanest homes.

How to Kill Roaches

How to Get Rid of RoachesNumerous products that are on the market claim to kill them. Even when using the most powerful methods, a roach or two will still survive. Billions of dollars are spent trying to annihilate these powerful creatures. The famous roach trap has been for years. The only problem with the trap is that numerous ones must be placed throughout the home to be effective.

To understand how to kill them, it is advisable to find out some facts about them. Since they can go without eating for a month, but they cannot go without water for long periods of time. Make sure all faucets throughout the house do not leak once they are turned off. Since roaches need water to survive, they will gravitate toward available water sources.

One of the main water sources is the family commode. If the roaches cannot drink water, they will die. Place some type of cleaning product into the toilet water so that the roaches will not be able to drink the water. Water can also be used to kill the bugs. If a large container is filled about half way with water and placed near a base board in the home, the insects will crawl in but will not be able to climb out.

Boric acid is also used to eradicate the pesky pests. The non-toxic kind is the best to use. For years, the famous bug bomb and foggers have been used with minimal effect. People seem to think that the bug fogger has the potential to do a great job because of the chemicals traveling in the air. The fogger will be able to kill some roaches but thousands will survive.

There are at least over 3000 species so it is not one particular method that will work for all bugs when it comes to killing them. Once they invade the home, thousands of dollars will be spent trying to kill them without any long term success. It is important to keep the house clean at all times. Sweeping up food particles from the floors, cleaning the kitchen counters and making sure all trash cans have secure fitting lids will cut down the population.

Professional Roach Treatment

Most people will give up the fight and hire a professional exterminator to do the job for them. This may be the best way to go. Since the roach has survived for thousands of years, it is not expected to go away any time soon. It is okay to use home remedies for a small problem. Let the professional handle the larger ones.

Black Widow Bites: Symptoms And Treatment

The males black widow spiders do not bite. But female black widows do when their webs are disturbed by people. This usually happens when people are moving items or debris and unknowingly disturb the spider. Areas like sheds, utility boxes and other often undisturbed areas are prime habit for these spiders, so people need to be alert when reaching into these types of areas.

Black Widow Bite Symptoms

Any person who is bitten by a black widow will only feel a pin prick at first. The pain sets in a few minutes later. The pain spreads with varying speeds to arms, legs, chest, abdomen and back, depending on how much venom was injected and the persons natural reaction to the venom. As time goes by the human bitten by a black widow might experience chills, vomiting, violent abdominal cramps, perspiration, delirium, and/or partial paralysis. Any or all of these symptoms may appear within a few hours after the bite.

Black Widow Bite Treatment

Mild symptoms at first may lead to unwarranted complacency, so the bite victim needs to be careful of that. For severe bites professional medical attention should be sought. In mild cases a hot or cold compress can help ease the swelling, and over the counter pain relievers can help with the pain.

Black Widow Venom Effects

Black widow venom is 15 times more poisonous than that of a prairie rattle snake. Of course, a spider will inject much less venom than a snake.  Most black widow spider bites are non-fatal.

Black widow venom contains a number of neurotoxin proteins that have effects on insects. Only alpha-latrotoxin is specific for vertebrates. This compound binds to high-affinity receptors in nerve terminals and causes massive stimulation of neurotransmitter releases. Hence, this material will cause multiple responses in organs and muscles throughout the body. It takes some time for the alpha-latrotoxin in the venom to circulate in the blood steam and make its way to those specific nerve receptors. That is why the effects of a black widow bite may seem trivial at first and then keep on increasing in severity.

What are Flying Termites?

Flying termites, similar to ants, are often visible during fall and spring seasons. These swarming termites are usually mistaken for flying insects. Reproductive winged termites are also known as alates. They are known to reproduce in warm temperature and it takes only a male and female to begin a new colony. As they mate, these creatures are known to cast off their wings. Flying winged termites are attracted towards light and can enter into homes through visible cracks or holes.

How Big Are Termite SwarmersFlying termites can be differentiated from winged ants on the basis of wings and antennae. Swarming termites have all four wings of same size and straight antennae. The flying ants have arched antennae and different sized wings. Damp wood termites are common in Arizona, California and coastal pacific regions. They breed in damp coastal places and high altitudes and have large brown wings for swarming.

Another common type in America is the subterranean termites. They breed near decayed damp wood, muddy pipes and live in colony beneath the ground. Chemical soil treatment and preventing water leaks can help to control these termites. The dry wood flying termites are visible in the southeast, southwest and parts of California states. Swarming termites in southwest are little larger than those in southeast and have big dark wings. They harm dry wooden furniture, books, floors and shelves. It is ideal to use treated lumber as a cure. Exterminator for this breed includes fumigation and poison injections.

Even though the name suggests that these termites fly, they cannot travel long distances. Hence, if you spot them flying near your home, it could mean that any part of the house or surrounding area is infested with these flying termites. Flying termites are natural agents to recycle decayed and rotten wood back to the nature. This is an impressive task but they could also harm the belongings at home. Hence, it is important to exterminate these pests from homes at the earliest.

Pictures of Flying Termites

Flying Termites subterranean-termite-swarmer

Different Ways to Get Rid of Termites

Getting rid of termites can take a lot of time and effort but ignoring the problem will just lead to more extensive damage to your home. There are many things you can try to do before having to call a professional. Below is a simple list of termite control techniques you can do on your own.

Liquid Treatments

Liquid termite treatments can be sprayed around your home to kill any existing termites as well as kill termites that come into contact with the ones that were sprayed. Termite baits are great for slowly killing off a colony of termites that may be infesting your home.  There are also liquids that mix in with water and kill off termites in and around your home.

Some termite control treatments you can do on your own, while more agressive chemicals require a licensed professional.

Termite Baits

Baits actually leave small amounts of pesticides so that the termites who come in contact with it actually bring it back to their colony and kill off other termites.

Borate termite treatments are more like a coat of paint that is put around the wood in your home usually done while the house is being built.

Termite Stakes

Termite bait stakes are also a great way to both detect and rid your home of termites. You simply stick the stake into the ground around your home and there is an indicator that tells you if termites are in fact surrounding your home. The bait kills any termites that are detected.

Where to Find Termite Control Supplies

All of these products are available online as well as in select retail locations and they are considerably cheaper than having to call a professional in to control your termite issue.

Termite Fumigation

Fumigation is what is done when you call a professional but it is not always able to kill termites there are some species of the that it does not work on.

Steps to Prevent Termite Problems

Some tips to keep them away or keep them from coming include covering any places where stuco, drywall or paint may be chipped, cracked or peeling. All a termite needs is a very small point of entry, it really doesn’t take much. Cover cracks near vents, windows, and roof siding.

Keep your gutters and crawl spaces free of dirt and debris because termites use this as food which in search of new places to eat. If you have to store mulch, firewood, or even wood chips be sure to always store them away from your home to avoid creating a moisture filled environment in which termites will continue to live and just reproduce.

Be sure to watch out for wet wood. Wet wood is easy for termites to chew through. Termites favor easy food sources and constantly wet wood is just an invitation for them to infest that area.

Know When to Call a Professional Exterminator

If you have tried all the do-it-yourself pest control methods and you still have termite problems than it is best to try to have a professional solve your problem.

The Brown Recluse Spider Bite and Effects

The brown recluse spider doesn’t go around looking for people to bite.  They aren’t aggressive spiders and try to avoid human contact.  Most bites occur when the spider is caught between clothing and the skin of a human or other situations where the spider feels threatened.

How Frequent are Brown Recluse Bites?

There are an average of 2,500 cases of brown recluse spider bites reported to the U.S. Poison Control centers each year.  Most cases are mild to moderate, with only around 30 being severe cases.

There are usually no deaths for brown recluse bites.  However, brown recluse spider bites can be quite serious and you should seek immediate medical attention.

Brown Recluse Spider Bite

When you receive a bite from a brown recluse, there is usually no initial pain.  It can take up to 8 hours till the bite starts hurting.  One of the first signs of a brown recluse spider bite will be an expanding area of irritation.

This will be followed by a skin-killing, necrotic action that occurs a few hours after the bite and continues for days after.

The toxins from the bite spread out from the site of the bite and kill the skin and underlying tissue to form a substantial lesion. The specific toxin involved destroys the membranes that surround the cell of skin and tissue. This skin killing action of proteins in the toxin of brown recluse spider can be especially painful for small children or the elderly.

Brown Recluse Spider Bite Symptoms

Other symptoms might include nausea, vomiting, fever, rashes, muscle and joint pain. While such symptoms are rare among healthy adults, they can be quite pronounced in people with some sorts of weakened conditions.

Brown Recluse Spider Bite Treatment

There is not a set of established treatments for the lesions caused by a brown recluse bite. Many have been tried with varied success.

Ice packs and pain killers often give some of the relief required.

How to Reduce Your Chances of Being Bitten

How to Get Rid of Ants

How to Get Rid of AntsAnts are little pests, extremely little pests, which is one of the reasons it is so hard to get ride of them. They can invade your home through the smallest of cracks and quickly organize themselves into colonies that always seem to find ways to steal your food, no matter how well you protect them. Ants can find their way into jars, Tupperware, cereal boxes, etc. and compromise your food which, in addition to being entirely maddening, is very costly. Ants in your house can also interrupt your peace of mind. It seems as though they can appear out of solid walls, running trails that lead into your electrical fixtures or baseboards, adding to their colony.

Below are some ways that can show how to get rid of ants, for good!

AntsClean Up

The first thing one can try to do is simply clean up the house. This might seem obvious, but if the house is clean, then there is no food for the ants to feast on. This might be more difficult than one thinks. Ants will pick up on the smallest sent, the smallest morsel of food. It is good to properly seal all of your containers, wipe down your counter tops and clean your dishes so that they do not stack up and remain long enough for the ants to take notice. It is also good to keep your floors swept and mopped.

Seal the Cracks

Another option is to properly seal any seams you have in your house. It helps to caulk your window seams and door jams. This will prevent ants from finding any open conduits to travel through. An additional benefit to using caulk is that it can also help reign in energy costs by providing better temperature control.

There are certain substances you can put at suspected entryways that deter ants from passing. Talc powder or salt can be used for this method. There is also a substance called diatomaceous earth that will dehydrate the ants to death, although, this substance can be harmful to household pets, so use with caution. In addition, cornmeal can be a tool to kill ants. If ants eat the cornmeal and then consume water, the cornmeal expands and kills the ant.

Baits and Poisons

Raid Ant BaitOne could simply poison the ants as well. A lot of poisons can be concocted with items in your own home, such as maple syrup combined with borax. A small amount of research on the Internet can reveal a number of homemade ant killers. Of course, there are also certain substances that can be purchased from certain retail stores, but be sure to read the directions carefully.

Professional Treatment

Last but not least, there is always the option of fogging these pesky ants. A quick call to the exterminator is a sure way to get rid of ants. The only drawback to this method is the cost, but sometimes it is the only suitable option. Ants that continue to appear in your house, even after all previous attempts to get rid of them, may require more direct action.

Natural Termite Control with Orange Oil

For those homeowners faced with a termite infestation, Orange Oil offers an eco-friendly solution for termite treatment. Biologically friendly, Orange Oil is free of the potential risks associated with many of the products used to exterminate termites.

Orange Oil - A Natural Way to Kill TermitesOrange Oil is a completely natural substance made from the rinds of oranges. The active ingredient in Orange Oil is D-Limonene, a naturally occurring chemical found in the rinds of oranges and made available through an extraction process. This same chemical can be found in many common household cleaning products. D-Limonene contains an extremely low toxicity and has gained preference as an alternative termite control treatment for many homeowners and businesses.

Orange Oil, when used for termite control, is applied as a localized spot treatment. This treatment process kills only those termites living in the treated areas. This method of termite control is achieved by drilling holes into the infested wood and injecting the Orange Oil into the termite galleries. Once injected, the chemical will kill both termites and their eggs. Those termites which do not come into direct contact with the chemical will die if they eat wood that has been treated. It is an effective and capable treatment for dry wood termites only. Orange Oil will not kill subterranean species of termites.

There are advantages of using Orange Oil for the homeowner. It does not require that the homeowner leave the home overnight, and there is no risk to plants or animals, and no need to remove them. Foodstuffs and medicines need not be removed or covered. It is not necessary for the exterminator to walk on the roof of the home to treat the premises. The use of Orange Oil is significantly less disruptive to the homeowner than the use of other high toxicity treatments.

There are also disadvantages to the use of Orange Oil as a termite control method. Due to its bio-degradable nature, Orange Oil does not have a long lasting residual effect. This can result in having to treat the premises more often. Some pest control experts recommend the use of a low toxicity residual such as Bora-Care for longer lasting results. At the present time, there exist no definitive studies to determine the kill-rate of Orange Oil on termites. Some experts do claim that D-Limonene has a significantly lower kill-rate than traditional chemicals used in termite control.

Homeowners should consult with an expert on termite control in order to make an informed decision on what products to use. The expert can determine what type of termites are infesting the home, and suggest what treatments would be most effective on the rate of infestation and type of infestation.

The Brown Recluse Spider

The brown recluse spider (scientific name: loxosceles reclusa, also commonly called the brown fiddleback spider) can look formidable, especially one that has full grown to having a body ¾ inch long. The it’s long legs make it look imposing. But they get the name ‘recluse’ due to their natural tendency to avoid contact, especially with people.  The brown recluse is a non-aggressive spider, that only bites out of defense.

Identifying the Brown Recluse

Unlike most spiders which have eight eyes, the brown recluse spider has only six, two in front, two on the sides and two in the back. Since it lives in dark secluded places and prowls around at night, it doesn’t need to see very much. Its other senses suffice.

As you might expect, the brown recluse is brown. Some say it resembles a violin, Maybe you will join me in thinking that likeness takes a little imagination. You might live a long time near some brown recluse spiders without seeing one, but because of the size of a fully mature brown recluse, when you see one you will be impressed.

(click on an image to enlarge)

A Brown Recluse Brown Recluse Spider A Brown Recluse Spider (closeup)

Brown Recluse Spider Habitat

Brown Recluse Habitat in the U.S.The brown recluse likes some human habitations and they can be found in wood piles, sheds, cellars, garages, dark closets, under beds, and other places where it is dry and not often disturbed. They like cardboard, some humans say, because it resembles tree bark. They might be found in shoes that haven’t been worn recently, behind baseboards, behind pictures, near to furnaces.

As their name suggests, the brown recluse spiders are reclusive and they prefer to stay out of the way and out of sight. The brown recluse builds a web, mostly as a hiding place, not as an insect trap. This web will be in some dark corner and it will not be very fancy.

Almost all the American brown recluse spiders are to be found in the southern part of the middle of the United States. Not many are ever found along the Atlantic or Pacific Coasts. Not many are ever seen in the Rocky Mountains or the Northern Appalachians.

Brown Recluse Spider Food

At night this spider goes roaming around for food. Unlike most other spiders, the brown recluse spider is not picky about eating insects that have died somewhere along their way. They don’t have to be the killer of their food.

In addition to looking for food, the male brown recluse spider will go looking for females to mate with at night. The female will lay 40 to 50 eggs inside a coat of gray silk about 2/3 inch long. Each female brown recluse spider may produce several coats with eggs in a month. As you can see, given enough other dead bugs to eat and plenty of dark nooks and crannies, a rambling house with few human inhabitants can gain a substantial spider population.