Fleas and Ticks driving you Wild?

Are Fleas and Ticks driving you wild this summer?

Calls for flea and tick control have been on the rise over the past few weeks here at The Bug Man office.  It is the prime season for the fleas and ticks to be on the hunt for a food source.  And with the pets outside, the camping trips planned, and the barbecue grills on overdrive, we are providing the fleas and ticks with an opportunity to attack.  Fleas and ticks share many of the same habitats and when we enter these areas unprotected, they will attack.

Where do fleas and ticks live, breed, and hide?

This is a great question, and with this knowledge, you can be better prepared to protect yourself and your family.  Fleas and ticks prefer shady areas, and are unable to complete their life cycles in direct sunlight.  They will be found in high brush, grasses, mulch areas, around bushes and trees, and can even be found under decks.  Unfortunately, these are the same places that most pets like to rest, to stay out of the sun.  We recommend keeping the grass trimmed, brush cut back, and the pet out from under the deck.  These steps will also help eliminate the harborage areas for the fleas and ticks.

Steps you can take to protect from fleas and ticks.

We do recommend when you venture outside to use an insect repellant (according to label directions), wear long sleeve shirts and pants, and tuck your pant legs into your socks.  These steps will help keep many of the fleas and ticks off of you.  When you return from your outdoor adventures, be sure to inspect for ticks that may have attached to you.  They like to find all the nooks and crannies, so inspect well.

What can The Bug Man do to help prevent Fleas and Ticks?

The Bug Man now offers a preventative flea and tick add-on service that can be combined with our 4 Seasons Pest Service.  This has been a very popular service and offers peace of mind and is just pennies per day.  Our trained service technicians inspect and apply flea and tick treatments to key locations around the structure where the pests habitats are found.

Bed Bugs! What You Need to Know

Bed bugs are being discovered on a daily basis here in the Middle Tennessee region. In houses, apartments, hotels and even retail outlets, it appears that everyone is a target. Bed bugs have been feeding on humans since the beginning of recorded history. The bed bugs were nearly eliminated from the United States until the past ten years. Now we hear reports of them on a daily basis. I am going to discuss how you may transport the bed bugs, ways you can identify the bed bugs, and steps you can take to help prevent an infestation.

bed bugs
Adult Bed Bugs

First, we need to be able to identify a bed bug. The bed bug is nocturnal, or active at night. They hide in cracks and crevices until the lights go out, then they come out and hunt for a blood meal. The bed bugs do leave behind signs that they are present. If you pull back the bedding on a mattress or bedspring, you want to look for rust colored staining on the mattress, usually along the seams and edges, or between the mattress and boxspring. You also may see live, active bed bugs when you are searching! Also, look at the cracks and crevices around the headboard. You may end up staring one in the eyes! If you find bed bugs at a hotel, I would request a different room immediately. If bed bugs are discovered at your home, it is time to call in the professionals.

A few tips on traveling to a hotel: A. Don’t place your luggage on the bed, keep it on the opposite wall away from the bed. B. Check the mattress and headboard as described above as soon as you arrive at the room. C. Leave, with your bags, as soon as you find evidence of bedbugs. You might even take a few photos with your phone to document what you find as management may need to see proof.

Bed bugs, spent skins, eggs and carcasses
Bed bugs, spent skins, eggs and carcasses

Now, let us talk transportation. How are you going to move these bed bugs into your home? Unfortunately, the bed bug is a master at hitching a ride. The bed bug can be transported in a purse, on electronics, in clothing, bedding, personal belongings, and even in your car. We have had reports of bed bugs joining the party by traveling to a sleepover in a sleeping bag or backpack of young children.  I suggest that you are very careful about buying used furniture, clothing, and appliances from thrift stores, yard sales, or as a gift from a friend. Unless you know the place is bed bug free, you are taking a huge risk. We have heard from many customers stories of a friend or relative moving in and bringing an infestation of bed bugs with them. Or, they say how they got a great deal on a bedroom set, just to find out they now have a bed bug infestation. Saving a few dollars on the front end may cost you thousands later. Be careful and fully inspect the items before you take possession of them.

I receive questions about how to rid a home or room of bed bugs. While it can be done, it is tough to do it as a homeowner. A professional will have the proper tools, training, and products on hand to have the best success eliminating the bed bug infestation. It is always easiest to solve a bed bug problem when it first presents itself, so don’t wait a few weeks or months to see if they just “go away.” The Bug Man has trained technicians ready to protect your home from bed bugs. Contact us for more information.

Honey Bee Swarms – HELP is here!

How can we help the honey bee?

honeybee pollinated of flower
honeybee pollinated of flower

We have asked ourselves this question here at The Bug Man for many years.  We practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in our business, this basically means to be successful at our jobs while making the smallest impact on our environment possible.  Each year, we receive calls reporting honey bee swarms hanging from trees and the sides of houses.  We attempt to seek out a beekeeper to catch and relocate these bees safely.  Most of the time, the beekeepers are unable to respond in a timely manner because most of them have regular jobs and can’t get away.  This year, we have solved this problem!  Dan and Vicky Cassidy, owners of The Bug Man, have become the beekeepers!

Endor Farms – Honey Bee Apiary

Endor Farms - Apiary
Endor Farms – Apiary

Dan and Vicky Cassidy have started a small honey bee farm out in Rockvale to relocate and raise honey bees.  They will be available to catch and relocate honey bee swarms to this property and to care for them.  Dan and Vicky also have contacts (other beekeepers) in the local association that would be happy to take any hives that they are unable to keep.   Dan and Vicky are members of the Rutherford County Beekeepers Association (since July 2014), and constantly seeking out additional training in this new field.  Eventually, our customers will be able to purchase the local honey at The Bug Man office.  We will keep everyone posted when it becomes available.

What to do if you see a honey bee swarm

Honeybee swarm hanging from tree.
Honeybee swarm hanging from tree.

Most people become worried and even scared when they see a honey bee swarm.  While this is a normal reaction, the honey bees are not usually dangerous during a swarm.  Their goal is to seek out a new home quickly before they run low on energy stores.  The queen will land on a branch or wall and all the bees will gather around the queen bee and form a large ball-like mound.  This is often referred to as a basketball of bees.  This is the best time to contact a beekeeper.  They may stay here for 30 minutes or 2 hours.  Eventually, they will move on to another area until they find a suitable home.

When you see this cluster of bees, call our office and we will dispatch Dan & Vicky, with the bee response equipment.  If successful, the honey bee cluster will be captured and relocated safely to Endor Farms and the bee will be able to pollinate the crops out in the country.

If you find a swarm of honey bees, call us at 615-217-7284 and we will dispatch our beekeepers!

When mice and rats come knocking

Are the mice and rats knocking at your door?

family of miceAs the cold weather approaches, we all head inside where it is warm, sit by the fire and relax.  The same happens to all the pesky rodents this time of year.  The rodents are also looking for a nice warm place to nest for the winter time.  Here at The Bug Man, we receive an increasing number of calls about rodent activity after the first frost, and it continues until Spring.  Our trained technicians are well equipped to handle the pesky mice and rat calls as they occur.

The Bug Man recommends that business and homeowners proactively take steps to help keep these rodents away form the structures.  Sealing all entry points on the exterior larger than 1/4″ will help to keep them out.  Mice are able to enter through the smallest of holes while rats require a slightly larger opening for entry.  Many times rodents are able to enter into the crawl space of a home from utility lines or near the HVAC system.  It is best to seal these holes and openings with hardware cloth (metal screening) or mortar.  We find that the expanding foam can be chewed through by the mice and rats sharp teeth.

Removing alternate food sources that may attract the mice and rats

The Bug Man recommends storing all pet food, bird and grass seed in metal containers.  This will help to remove alternate food sources that the rodents are searching for.  It is recommended that you not leave pet food outdoors, as this will attract the rodents to your house.  Inside, it is best to remove all foods from tables, counter tops, and floors.  The mice and rats can climb and jump over 3 feet!

What do you do when you have a rat or mice infestation?

The Bug Man recommends that you trap indoors and bait outdoors when necessary.  Baiting in living areas is not recommended.  This can cause two main issues, it will attract the mice and rats into your house and they will die in your house.  Neither of these two results are what we are trying to accomplish.  The Bug Man will place bait in tamper resistant stations outside, in the crawl space, and possibly in the garage depending on the situation.  Your trained technician may place traps inside the house.  By placing the bait (think food source) outside, we are luring the rodents out of your living space!  This is our goal.

If a mouse or rat dies inside your home, it could smell for a few days.  Unfortunately, they will occasionally die in places that they are not accessible.  This could be in the attic or inside the walls.  When this occurs, it is usually impossible to locate the exact location for removal and you must resort to an odor neutralizer!

When it comes to rodent control, it is best to seal them out before the arrive.  A little preventative maintenance goes a long way.  But if you are faced with a rodent situation, feel free to contact The Bug Man, and our trained service technicians will be out to help.

[subscribe2]

Fleas and Flea Control in Tennessee

Flea 101

adult fleaSummer time is prime time for flea infestations in middle Tennessee.  It all starts in May when the weather warms and animals and pets are beginning to move around outside.  The flea pupa have been laying dormant and are awaiting the proper conditions to emerge and become biting adults.  Did you know that the adult flea can remain in the protective cocoon (pupa phase) for up to 5 months waiting for the proper conditions before if emerges?  Heat, carbon dioxide, and vibrations are all triggers that tell the adult when to emerge.  The adult female is the only flea stage that requires a blood meal and will bite a host.  The adult flea generally makes up less than 5% of the total population inside a household.  The other 95% are the ones you don’t see: the eggs, larva, and pupa.  This is why it can be difficult to to control fleas.  But, more on this later.

What can the homeowner do to prevent flea infestations?

Lincoln is a tick free dogThere are steps that a homeowner can take to help prevent a flea infestation.  We highly recommend talking with your pet’s veterinarian about flea control for your four-legged family member.  They will usually recommend a product that can be used on the pet to help keep the pet from bringing outdoor fleas inside the home.  Outdoors, it is a good idea to keep the grass trimmed on a regular basis and all shaded areas free from overgrown bushes, shrubs, and debris.  Fleas can not survive for long in direct sunlight.  Also keep the crawl space access properly sealed to keep pets, feral animals, and rodents from entering and leaving behind a flea infestation.  Wash pet bedding on a regular basis to help remove any flea eggs, larva, and pupa that may have been left behind.

I have fleas!! Now what??

If you have a flea infestation, the first thing that needs to be done is to ensure your pet has been properly treated. Please discuss this with your pet’s veterinarian.  Next, wash all of the pet bedding and vacuum all of the floors in the house.  This includes hard surfaces and carpets.  Use the crack and crevice tool along the baseboards to help remove any pet hair and flea dirt.  Vacuum under beds and furniture, and pick up clutter.  Fleas love the cracks and crevices.  The vacuum can pick up to 60% of the eggs, larva, pupa and adult fleas in the home.  Vacuum every day for the quickest relief.  And don’t forget, empty the canister or dispose of the bag from the vacuum after each cleaning or the fleas will emerge out of the vacuum!

Once the cleaning is done, now you can consider a flea treatment.  At this time, you can find a do-it-yourself product or call The Bug Man.  If you do it yourself, please read the label and follow the directions carefully.  Flea treatments take time to work. Once the flea treatment is applied, the adult fleas will continue to emerge from the pupa cases (cocoons) and continue to bite before the flea treatment has time to kill them.  This is normal and the cycle can last a few days to a few weeks, depending on the level of infestation and how often you vacuum!  Please refrain from repeated applications of flea sprays, as most products will have limits on how often they should be re-applied.  Safety first!

Aside from the cleaning benefits of the vacuum there is another major reason why you vacuum. Vibrations!! Remember that I mentioned that flea pupa can lie dormant for months? Well, they will emerge from the pupa phase if they detect that a blood meal may be nearby. The vibrations from the vacuum on a daily basis sends a signal to them that there is activity in the area. The faster you get them to emerge from the pupa phase and start moving around, the faster they will come in contact with the treated surfaces and begin the cycle of elimination.

What can I do to prevent fleas?

Our customers have asked, so The Bug Man has begun an exterior flea prevention add-on service for our 4 Season Pest Service.  During each quarterly seasonal service, our certified technician will provide an inspection and exterior treatment for the prevention of fleas.  We target the areas that fleas are likely to nest.  With this protection, in the unlikely chance that you have an interior flea infestation, The Bug Man will provide interior flea treatment as necessary at no extra cost.  The Bug Man also offers flea infestation service if you are not currently a 4 Seasons Pest Service customer.  If you are interested in more information on this protection, please contact us.

 

[subscribe2]

When is termite season?

When are termites active?  When is termite season?

Termite WorkersTermites are reason for concern, and two of the most commonly asked questions we receive at The Bug Man office are: “When are termites active?” and “When is termite season?”.  In Tennessee, termites are actually active year-round.  We have found active termites in crawl spaces in the winter time when there has been snow on the ground.  Yeah, pretty funny… snow on the ground in middle Tennessee? Ha! That hardly ever happens.  The termites may not be as active, or active outside in the mulch when the ground turns cold but, with our heated homes, the crawl spaces stay warm enough to sustain termite activity year round.

Termite Shelter TunnelsMost people become aware of termite activity during termite swarm season.  In middle Tennessee, this generally occurs in the spring time, between March and May.  This is the time of year when you see the alate termites (the winged termites) emerging from the walls, floors, and ceilings of homes.  Swarm season is The Bug Man’s busiest time for termite work because most homeowners are calling in with sightings of the termite swarmers.  Most swarming termites will die after swarming, as they become a food source for birds, lizards, and other insects and spiders.  And the termites that swarm indoors all die if they are unable to return to the soil in short order after locating a suitable mate.

Termite swarmers are not the termites that homeowners need to fear, but they are a great indicator that you have an infestation.  The termite colony consists of termite workers that consume the cellulose in wood and feed the rest of the colony.  These are the termites that cause the damage to structures.  Our treatments are designed to target and eliminate the colony of termites and protect the structure from future attacks.  The Bug Man treatment of choice is Termidor HE.  Termidor has been proven to last for over 15 years in studies, and we are able to offer a 20 year renewable warranty with our treatments.

When should I have my home inspected?

Termidor HEThe Bug Man recommends having a termite inspection every 12-18 months.  Termite inspections can be completed year round in Tennessee.  During this inspection our certified technicians will inspect all accessible areas for evidence of termites.  We inspect for termite shelter tubes, tunnels, exit holes, wood debris in crawl spaces, and other conducive conditions that can lead to a future termite infestation.  Even with a complete inspection, it is still possible that a structure can have a termite infestation that goes undetected.  Termites can gain entry behind brick, through block, travel behind walls and under floors.  Many of these spaces are not accessible during a visual inspection.  Many times, even the professional must wait until there are visible signs of damage before we are able to locate an active termite infestation.  This is the reason that we recommend treatments on homes even when there is not a current visible sign of termites.  Termite treatment is one of the maintenance requirements of home ownership.  Once a home is under a termite protection treatment and warranty, we continue to perform yearly inspections to ensure the home remains termite free.

The Bug Man offers a free termite inspection and quote for Termidor HE Termite Protection.  Our certified technicians will provide a detailed written report of findings and quote for Termidor HE Termite Protection Protection.  Our goal at The Bug Man is to educate and provide the findings of our inspection so you have all the tools necessary to make a decision on how best to protect your home.

[subscribe2]

 

Attack of the Spiders

Spiders on attack in middle Tennessee

Brown Recluse SpiderWhy do we have so many spiders, one may ask?  The answer to this question is a simple one.  Spiders feed on insects, and the hot summer days cause many insects to procreate, and this provides an ample food source for the spiders.  When you see spiders and spider webs, there are other insects in the vicinity.  The spiders are natural pest control.  Go green, grow spiders!  The problem is, most people prefer not to have spiders as pets.  So, we are tasked with controlling the spider population, and to do this we must control the other pests, too.

Brown Recluse and Black Widow Spiders, Oh My

Most spiders in middle Tennessee are pretty harmless.  The two spiders that have a health importance in our area are the brown recluse spider and the black widow spider.  These two spiders can cause harm when they bite humans.  Most of the others are either unable to bite through human skin or the bite does not cause a major reaction.

Spiders are beneficial in nature and we believe that they serve an important role.  They help to reduce insect population and also provide a food source for larger predators, such as birds, lizards, and frogs.  They only become a pest when they enter into an area that the spider is unwanted, undesired, or can cause harm or damage.  This is when pest control is necessary and you call The Bug Man.  Our trained technicians have the knowledge and training to identify the problem and provide the solution.

Treatments for Spiders

Treatment strategies for spider control can differ depending on the type of spider, level of infestation, and treatment locations.  With all pest services, we always recommend removal of clutter, as this gives the pests areas to hide and these areas are very difficult to treat effectively.   One of the most successful treatment strategies for spider control is the use of insect monitors, also known as glue traps.  The monitors capture the spiders and other insects, help identify the level of infestation, what parts of the structure are infested, and remove every insect that is caught from the house.   When used as part of a full treatment plan, the insect monitors play an important role in keeping a home pest free.  The Bug Man’s certified technician will design a treatment stately for each situation after an inspection is complete.

[subscribe2]

Fire Ants found in middle Tennessee

Are there fire ants in middle Tennessee and Murfreesboro?

Fire AntsI am asked frequently if fire ants are found in middle Tennessee.  The short answer to that question is Yes!  The first documented case of imported fire ants in Tennessee was back in 1987 in Hardin County.  Since then, the fire ants have been spreading across the state at a rapid pace.  Each year since 2001 when we started The Bug Man, we have seen increased activity and had increased customer calls requesting fire ant control.

Fire ants have been found in the Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Christiana this past week and they are active!  We have sited them at local parks and sports complexes, in the median strips in parking lots, and even while out camping this past weekend in Oliver Spings, Tn.  The imported fire ants are taking over at a rapid pace.

Fire ants are easy to locate, look for the mounds

Imported fire ant nests are easy to locate once they are built.  The ants build large mounds in the soil that can be over a foot tall and two feet wide.  The nests can extend into the ground up to 3 feet and spread out a few feet past the width of the visible nest.  Please, Do NOT disturb these nests.  A typical nest can have between 80,000 and 250,000 stinging ants in the colony!  Keep children and pets away, as the fire ants are dangerous when defending their nest.  When a fire ant nest is disturbed, all of the ants surface and begin to attack and sting any intruder.  They will climb up a stick or other device that was used to disturb the nest and sting the one holding it.  They will also swarm your feet and climb your legs, and sting!  The resulting stings will cause puss-filled blisters and will last few days to weeks.  This is not fun.  Growing up in Florida, I know personally what it feels like to be stung repetitively by fire ants.

If you find imported fire ant mounds when out around town, please leave them be.  If you locate them on you property, it is best to have them eliminated for the safety of your children and pets.  This can be done professionally by The Bug Man or you can visit a local store and purchase products to do-it-yourself.  If you choose the do-it-yourself option, please be sure to read and follow all label directions and be sure to wear your personal protective equipment.  Be safe!  I am including a link here to the University of Georgia that discusses in more detail the fire ants and the how to control them.

The video below shows what a typical fire ant nest looks like and how active they become once the nest is disturbed.  We do not recommend disturbing a fire ant nest.

[subscribe2]

 

Ticks in Tennessee will be active this year

Ticks in Tennessee during the summer can be very frustrating. Actually, as I wrote this Ticks in Tennesseeblog there were several words describing ticks that floated to the surface: creepy, gross, worrisome, concerning… just to name a few. Mostly, people are very fearful. Not really about the tick, itself, but more about the diseases caused by the bite of a tick.

The best cure for tickborne dieases such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is to avoid getting bitten by ticks.

This is another one of those situations where pest-related problems concern our health. Since we are in the business of pest control and are not health professionals, we generally prefer not to comment on the medical conditions caused by the pest. We do recommend  information on the CDC site titled Symptoms of Tickborne Illness. If you have health symptoms that you suspect may be caused by a tick or other pest then we suggest that you contact your physician. What we can do is educate you on tick control in order to reduce the chance that you may be bitten by a tick.

Ticks are arachnids, not insects, and classified as an external parasite.

A lot of people are surprised to learn that ticks are actually in the same family (arachnid) as spiders, mites, and scorpions. They have 8 jointed legs and no antennae. They require  a blood meal from a host in order to survive. A tick will attach firmly while they slowly feed on the blood of their host. They will feed, unnoticed, for several days before they release their grasp. They will feed on mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

There have been many species of ticks found in Tennessee. The three most common species are the American dog tick, lone star tick, and brown dog tick. All of these common ticks have four life stages- egg, larva, nymph, and adult. According to Dr. Karen Vail in her article titled Common Ticks of Tennessee and Their Control, each of the stages, other than the egg, requires a separate animal host to complete its development, which all together may be two or three years long. Each blood-engorged female leaves her host animal and lays a single mass of 3,000 to 6,000 eggs.

Ticks in Tennessee are most active from April through September. Though, it is not uncommon to see some tick activity through the winter months. During periods of high activity we recommend that you remain extra vigilant. Avoid areas known to be infested with ticks such as wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. If you have to walk though these types of areas we recommend that you apply a repellent according label directions. Also, walk in the center of trails to avoid brushing up against vegetation.

Wear long sleeve shirts and pants. Tuck your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from climbing up the inside of the pant legs. Also, wear light-colored clothing so that you can detect ticks more easily. Upon returning from tick infested areas make sure to thoroughly check your body for ticks. You will want to quickly remove all ticks that are found.

Modify your environment to make it less desirable to ticks

Maybe you’re not going on a hike in the woods but you want to reduce or prevent a tick infestation around your home. There are several non-chemical things that you can do:

Make your surroundings less inviting to rodents and wildlife. They are often carriers of ticks. Reduce the rodents and you will reduce the ticks. It’s a win-win situation.

  • Repair areas where rodents can enter the home.
  • Remove wood piles and debris that make a good nesting area for rodents.
  • Keep pet food stored in sealed containers
  • Keep the lawn mowed and weeds to a minimum

    Lincoln is a tick free dog
    Lincoln is our precious golden doodle

Don’t forget about your four-legged babies, too. Please discuss tick treatment for your pets with a veterinarian.  There are many treatment methods available and something that works well for one pet may not be best for the other. Cats and some breeds of dogs can be sensitive to some products. So, it is always best to check with your vet, first. Also, you will want to inspect your pets and their bedding frequently for ticks.

The final measure for tick management is to hire a professional such as The Bug Man in Murfreesboro to treat the exterior of your home. Our technicians are very knowledgeable about areas that make a great tick habitat and areas that don’t. Most people are surprised to learn that ticks will avoid direct sunlight. So, treating the entire lawn is rarely necessary. We have noticed that customers on our mosquito program usually do not have a problem with ticks. This is probably due to the fact that mosquitoes and ticks have similar habitats such as the trees, shrubs, and shaded areas. Check out our blog, Mosquitoes… The Bug Man to the rescue and contact our office at 615-217-7284 if we can answer any questions for you.

[subscribe2]