Eliminating Fleas from your Home

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Surprised you have fleas?

Any pet can get fleas. This can happen not only when you bring your pet outside, but when it is exposed to other animals. This can happen at the kennel, doggie day care, or even at the groomers.

While fleas are a common problem in households with dogs, it is possible to get fleas in your home even if you don’t have pets.

Any rodent can carry fleas. If you don’t have a pet, that could mean there is something else lurking in your walls. Mice, rats, and other small mammals can bring these pests into you home.

Once fleas are in your home, they will start breeding and infest your entire home.

Getting rid of fleas

Effective flea treatments must eliminate all sources of infestation. Only treating your pet won’t solve your flea problem. Fleas can be lurking anywhere your pet has visited throughout your home. This means if your pet has been on a surface, (carpet, upholstery, bedding) then these must be treated as well, and at the same time your pet is treated. If you stagger treatments, even by a few days, your pet and your home will continue to re-infest each other.

Treatment options

Pinterest is full of home remedies for fleas. Many of them are little better than old wives tales, and those that do trap fleas will not eliminate the entire population from your house. The only effective solution is to treat both your pet (or eliminate the rodent infestation) and household surfaces aggressively and simultaneously.

For your pet, ask your vet for recommendations for removing these pests from their coats. Different pets will require different treatments, so your vet is the best resource for this information.

For your home, talk to your pest control professional. He or she will be able to identify areas that need treatment and have the expertise to eliminate the problem without over treating, keeping you and your pets safe.

After your initial treatment, vacuum your home at least every other day for the first week, and twice a week for a month. Do a thorough job, making sure to get along baseboards, and in the hidden nooks and crannies where flea larva hide. This will eliminate any remaining fleas that may have developed resistance to conventional treatments before they have a chance to complete their life cycle.

Bringing home fleas doesn’t have to become a nightmare. If you find your pet has been exposed, don’t wait until the problem spreads through your entire home. Call your pest control professional right away.

MicheleEliminating Fleas from your Home
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6 Mosquito repellents that don’t work

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Think twice before picking up these products

Mosquitoes can quickly ruin any summer evening. These tiny menaces can start biting within minutes of leaving your house. For years, the only option was mosquito repellent sprays containing DEET. But covering your skin in a sticky chemical spray doesn’t sound appealing either. As a result, companies have been innovating new products to control these tiny insects, but many of them don’t work. Here’s a list of ones to avoid.

Sound repellents

Whether it’s a dedicated device or a smart app on your phone, ultrasonic devices claim that by emitting certain frequencies mosquitos are sensitive to, they can drive them from an area. The theory is by mimicking the sound of the mosquito’s predator, the dragonfly, mosquitos will naturally want to stay away. The theory makes sense on the surface, but these devices do not work. If they did, you would never see mosquitos in the same vicinity as dragonflies.

Repellent plants

The myth of the mosquito repellent plant pervades the whole world. Lavender, catnip, eucalyptus, lemongrass citronella, mints (peppermint, horsemint, mint), lemon balm, marigolds, petunias, basil, and dozens of others fill this list. While it’s tempting to believe that by adding a few to your landscape, you are guaranteed a reduction of mosquitos, they are not effective at repelling mosquitos over a large area. Unfortunately, the plants do not generate enough fragrance. It isn’t the plant, but the extracts from them plant that can be used to repel mosquitos.

Natural repellents

Natural mosquito repellents are a tempting alternative to slathering our children with a known neurotoxin. However, most natural repellents are not effective. Since these products do not use potentially harmful chemicals, they are regulated differently and do not have to prove their efficacy before being released. The most effective natural repellent is lemon-eucalyptus oil (sold as Repel®) However it is not as effective as DEET and is not recommended for heavily infested areas. It also needs to be reapplied to maintain effectiveness.

Citronella and other scented candles

Completely useless. I have personally seen dead mosquitos in my citronella candles, and in 2018 the FTC shut down a company’s claims of a mosquito repellent candle. They don’t work.

Wristbands

Another ineffective product shut down by the FTC. In 2016 a company was ordered to pay $300,000 when their mosquito control wristbands were found to be ineffective. Current products are not much better according to Consumer Reports testing.

Clip on fans

Rather than apply chemicals to your skin, this product surrounds you in a toxic fog which you can breath in. They also don’t provide effective protection since the repellent will blow away with even a small breeze and won’t follow you as you move.

Effective Mosquito Protection

While most mosquito repellent systems are not effective, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. DEET is the most effective repellent on the market. It is safe for most people, including children aged 3 years and up if used as directed. Picaridin (sold as Cutter) is another strong alternative. If you must use a natural product, choose a lemon-eucalyptus oil (such as Repel®) but keep in mind it isn’t as effective as chemical products.
Take steps to make you yard less appealing to mosquitos. Remove any sources of standing water. Mosquitoes can breed in the smallest pools of water. By carefully controlling water in your yard, you can help reduce you local population.
Consider a mosquito control system, either propane or electric based. These systems run continually removing large number of insects from your yard. While there haven’t been any definitive studies on whether this will impact the population in your yard, fewer mosquitoes breeding should mean fewer mosquitoes.

Summer fun doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down. Knowing which mosquito repellents work and which ones to avoid will mean you and your family can focus on making memories, not scratching bites.

Michele6 Mosquito repellents that don’t work
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Five ways you are attracting pests to your home

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Don’t invite pests into your home

A big part of maintaining a pest-free home is not encouraging an infestation in the first place. But simple things we do every day can make our homes more attractive to pests. By avoiding these pitfalls, you can help maintain a safer home for you and your family.

Feeding wildlife

Bird feeders attract more than feathered friends. Many animals love birdseed. Mice, rats, squirrels, and chipmunks will all invade outdoor feeders. Improperly stored bags of seed will encourage infestations inside your home. Store all seed outside in a tightly closed metal container. Mice can chew through plastic, and once rodents have learned where you store seed, they will continue to return until the source of food is removed. If you do need to store seed indoors, treat it as you would treat your own food: tightly sealed and in an area where rodents will not get to it.

Pet food

Leaving pet food outside or bowls of water can encourage other animals with a free meal. Large rodents like rats and raccoons will eat pet food, and once an animal has discovered an unattended source of food, it will continue to return to the same area. Do not leave food outdoors for long periods of time and never over night. Make sure you store pet food in tightly sealed, pest-proof sturdy containers. Rodents can easily chew through paper bags and light-duty plastic. Raccoons are capable of working latches and other simple closing mechanisms, so if you must store pet food outdoors or in a shed, make sure the containers are impossible for them to open.
While you are likely filling water bowls with fresh water when your puppers needs a drink, you should empty it when he’s finished. Otherwise, pests will identify it as a source of fresh water and continue to return to your living spaces.

Trash

Raccoons, rats, and other rodents can thrive from your rubbish. While it might be tempting to store garbage outside during the summer months, rodents can access your garbage and learn to identify it as a food source. Consider storing garbage indoors. If that is not an option, take steps to minimize food waste. Rinse food containers before placing them in the trash/recycling. Consider vermicomposting kitchen scraps or using a sink disposal unit to keep food out of the trash. If your city has community composting, follow their recommendations carefully to prevent vermin from invading you compost bins.

Deferred maintenance

Small projects around the house can make a big difference in deterring insects and other pests from establishing a presence in your home. Sealing cracks, repairing caulk around windows and doors and other small projects can keep insects out. Repairing leaky faucets and other drips will remove sources of water in kitchens. Repairing leaky roofs and flashing will keep your attic dry and clear of pests.
Keeping your lawn and garden free for debris, stagnant water and diseased plants will help deter pests by removing conditions that help them thrive.

Cleaning up

While keeping your home clean can seem like and endless task, making the effort will help deter pests from making a home in your house. Clutter provides dark places for insects to hide and breed. Those potato chip crumbs under the couch and a pan of leftovers on the stove are perfect food sources for a range of pests. Make the effort to clean up food before it has a chance to attract pests. Wipe up spills and sweep up crumbs daily. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink as this will encourage flies and gnats to breed. Also, consider storing fruit in the refrigerator or sealed containers to discourage fruit flies.

Your house does not need to become a haven for pests. By controlling food and water sources and keeping your home and lawn free from the clutter, you can remove the conditions that encourage them and create an environment that is better for you and your family.

MicheleFive ways you are attracting pests to your home
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Why You Shouldn’t DIY Pest Control

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While you might be tempted to try to save a few dollars by treating your pest problem yourself, DIY pest solutions aren’t always a good idea. Learn more about why doing your own pest control isn’t always a good plan.

Effective Pest Control Requires expertise

Pest control experts spend years learning their trade. This experience pays off in their ability to analyze and tailor individual solutions to the endless variety of pest problems, making a professional solution the smart choice for many reasons.

Identifying the Pest

There are no one-size-fits-all pest control solutions. Effect treatment depends on correctly identifying the pest, and knowing the right solution. In Northeast Ohio carpenter ants *Camponotus pennsylvanicus* are easily mistaken for field ants *formica*, but these ants require very different strategies for effective management.

Knowing the right solution

Dumping a box of generic insecticide on an area could accomplish nothing except to expose your family to unsafe levels of chemicals and have negative impacts on beneficial insect populations. Researching the correct solution takes time.

Long-term Solutions

Your pest control expert will not only know the best solution for your current problem, but will also be able to identify potential problems in the future. These could be identifying sources of infestation, entry points on your home, or tips for eliminating high-risk elements in and around your yard. Preventing new infestations will save you money and time in the long-run.

DIY Chemicals are not as Powerful

DIY pest control chemicals purchased in big box retail stores, are not as powerful as those used by professionals. In Ohio, pest control professionals must renew their license a minimum of every three years. They also must complete at least five hours of continued training to qualify for renewal.
This does not mean that DIY chemicals are safer. In fact, you will need to use *more* to get a decent result meaning more exposure for you and your family.

Risk of Re-infestations

DIY pest control has a high risk of re-infestation. Lack of knowledge coupled with less powerful treatments often mean that a pest problem will be under treated. The problem may decrease in the short term, but insect populations can quickly rebound leading the DIY’er to retreat the area again with the same technique. This repeated under treatment will lead to chemical-resistant breeds of the insect making the problem progressively more difficult to treat.

Pest Control can be a Messy Business

Effective pest control means accessing parts of your home that you may not be comfortable crawling through. Attics and crawl spaces are prime locations for pests to nest. Do you really want to be checking traps in and removing dead rodents from these areas?

Effective pest control takes expertise, and gaining that takes time. You have better things to be doing with your Saturdays. Let us do what we do best: deliver pest control that faster, more effective, and safer for you and your family.

MicheleWhy You Shouldn’t DIY Pest Control
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Carpenter Ant Prevention

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Preventing Carpenter Ants: Northeast Ohio’s most Destructive Pest

Carpenter Ants are one of Northeast Ohio’s most destructive pests. These small creatures are responsible for millions of dollars in damage every year, but with a few simple precautions, your house doesn’t have to be part of that statistic.

Identifying Carpenter Ants

In Ohio, the black carpenter ant, *Camponotus pennsylvanicus*, is the most common species. This ant is black, with very fine whitish or yellowish hairs on the abdomen. Minor workers of the black carpenter ant generally are about ¼ inch long and major workers are approximately ½ inch.
Carpenter ants create their nests in soft, damp wood, or wood that’s been damaged by fungus. They do not nest in mounds in open fields. This is the *formica* or field ant. These are common in Ohio and easily confused with carpenter ants since they are also large and black.

Why are Carpenter so Destructive?

Carpenter ants like to nest in soft, damp wood which makes Cleveland’s aging housing stock particularly vulnerable. Unfortunately, once established, the colony will move to undamaged adjacent wood to increase the colony’s size. While they do no eat the wood, as termites do, they tunnel through it creating small channels that weaken the wood, compromising the structure. Carpenter ants can be difficult to detect because the colony can take years before it begins satellite colonies. By this time the nest can have 2000-4000 individuals.

Detecting Carpenter Ants

These large black ants are usually discovered by the sawdust-like shavings they leave behind. Carpenter ants don’t eat the wood. They tunnel through it, and those shavings must go somewhere. Inspect baseboards, toe kicks, and basement rim joists for unexplained sawdust. If you spot sawdust near a hole anywhere around your house, it’s a good indication there are carpenter ants. If you see sawdust around the base of a tree around your property, have it treated as well since carpenter ants can quickly spread into your house. Buying a home? Consider having a pest inspection so you are not buying someone else’s pest problem.
Carpenter ants are most active at night, making this a good time to look for signs of activity. Leaky plumbing, kitchen sinks and any sources of water or food are good places to check. Carpenter ants also make noise as they chew through wood. This noise is described as cellophane crinkling. If you hear this coming from your walls at night, it’s a good chance there could be carpenter ant activity inside.

Preventing Infestations

Keep your house maintained. Carpenter ants prefer old, damp wood, so making sure your home is free from leaks and repairing any rotting wood immediately will help discourage a colony from establishing.
Avoid placing mulch against the foundation of your house. Leave a barrier of stone at least 9 inches to prevent insects from entering.
Seal any cracks in your foundation and around basement windows.
Stack firewood away from structures, and keep it dry with a tarp to prevent ants from nesting.
Eliminate any sources of water in and around your home as carpenter ants will need it to survive.
Trim back branches and shrubbery from contact with your home.
Keep tall grasses and weeds trimmed.
Remove debris and rotting logs from your property.
Inspect any trees on your property for damage and treat any that have signs of carpenter ant infestation.

Carpenter ants don’t have to become a destructive force on your property. With these simple precautions, you can minimize your risk, potentially saving yourself from thousands of dollars in costs down the road.

If you find signs of carpenter ant activity, don’t wait. Call us today. (440)528-1234

MicheleCarpenter Ant Prevention
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Don’t Bring Bed Bugs Home from Vacation

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With travel this summer limited to domestic locations, you may think you don’t need to worry about bed bugs. But bed bugs are no longer an international problem. Right here in the US, bed bugs can be found in all fifty states and the primary place people pick up infestations is from hotels and motels. If you’re thinking about a road trip this summer, make sure you aren’t bringing along unwelcome guests.

After a long day on the road the first thing you will likely want to do is stretch out on a bed and click on the television, but preventing bed bugs is worth the extra effort. These tiny little pests not only will ruin your good night’s sleep, but will leave you with an itchy rash that will plague you throughout the day.

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny parasitic insects about the size of an apple seed. They feed on human blood, usually at night. During the day, they prefer hiding in dark crevices in fabric and upholstery, usually around seams or piping in furniture. Bed bugs will also travel up to 20 feet from their hiding places looking for a meal.

Why are Bed Bugs Back?

For decades, bed bugs seemed to have vanished from popular culture except as a children’s story, but the reemergence of the bed bug is likely due to the increase in foreign travel and the emergence of chemical resistant strains due to incomplete or ineffective treatments by amateur and unqualified pest professionals.

Avoiding Bed Bugs During Travel

Upon arrival at your hotel, place luggage on the bathroom floor or another hard surface while you check the rest of the room.
Start with the bed. You can perform this check with the naked eye, but a flashlight may also be helpful. The Flashlight app on your phone should be sufficient. Check the headboard, paying special attention to the crevices of tufting or where the headboard joins the wall. Inspect the mattress. Pull the sheet off at the corner and check around the piping and between the top and bottom mattresses. Finally, check the curtains and the luggage rack.

If you find any signs of a bed bug infestation, inform the hotel staff immediately, and ask for a new room.

What to Check for (from EPA website)

  • Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses.
  • Dark spots (about the size of a period.), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.
  • Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
  • Live bed bugs.

Print and carry the EPA’s bed bug prevention tips card 

While Staying in the Hotel

  • Use the luggage rack to keep your suitcase off the floor.
  • Store dirty clothing in a travel laundry bag off the floor.
  • Do not place your clothing in the hotel furniture.

Arriving Home

  • Unpack your suitcase directly into the washing machine.
  • Wash all clothing, even clothing you didn’t wear.
  • Dry all clothing on high heat to kill bed bugs. Washing only will not kill bed bugs.
  • Store suitcases away from your bedroom if possible.
  • Never store suitcases under your bed.

By taking these precautions, you can limit your risk of bringing these pests home with you from your travels. However, no method is foolproof. If you find evidence of bed bug activity in your home, give us a call right away (440)528-1234. We can take care of the problem before it has a chance to spread.

MicheleDon’t Bring Bed Bugs Home from Vacation
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