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.

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.

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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.

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Indian Meal Moths: Silently Lurking in the Kitchen

Nothing makes me shudder more than the thought of indian meal moths in my food pantry. We all have our bug fears & rants. Mine happens to be this evil little time gobbler of an insect that invades our food. This particular blog is personal for me, today. If you have not heard or experienced indian meal moths before then you will want to definitely read on.

Where are all of these moths coming from???

This will be the first thing that you say. Indian meal moths seem to come from nowhere. In the beginning it’s one here or there. After a couple of days it’s three or four. The next thing you know… they’re everywhere!  Indian Meal Moth

They struck our family last summer when we were in the middle of a family emergency. We had to travel to and from Tennessee for weeks on end. It’s almost like they sensed that we had no time to find the exact source of the problem. If you can find the source of the problem quickly then you will avoid the pantry crisis. We did not have the time to look at every item in the pantry like we KNEW we should do. We opened a few items like cereal, corn starch, flour, dog food, and nuts. We found several infested foot items and considered the matter finished.

How long do indian meal moths live?

The larvae of indian meal moths can take anywhere from 2 to 14 days to hatch. An adult will live anywhere from 5 to 25 days. Of course, this is all depending on the environmental conditions. In my book, 5 minutes is too long.

The indian meal moths continued to flutter about my kitchen for days on end. The problem was becoming worse by the day. Until finally, I said enough is enough. I’m tearing apart the pantry!!   Well, I found the nasty culprit. It was a lovely tin of popcorn from Christmas (thanks Mom!) that had gotten pushed to the corner over time and forgotten about. When I opened up that tin it was like something from that scene in the movie The Green Mile where John Coffey “takes back” the bugs. There were literally hundreds of them and they swarmed out of that tin in a black cloud all around my head. To say that I invented a new dance in the kitchen of my Murfreesboro, TN home that day would be an understatement.

Indian meal moth elimination
The kitchen was a mess!

Actually, finding the source was great news! I knew that I could finally get down to solving the problem. I removed every food item AND sealed container and inspected it. Every corner and crevice. Any containers with larvae, pupae, or moth was discarded in a trash bag. Everything else was wiped down thoroughly with a soapy sponge. Every time I saw a moth I would quickly suck it up in the vacuum.

There were all stages of indian meal moths everywhere I looked: In the food, crevices of bags, crevices of boxes, the screw-on lids of herbs, cracks of wall shelving, corners of pantry, inside lip of the chip clips.   Everywhere! I even found larvae & pupae in “sealed” storage containers holding herbs and seasonings that I had blended together myself. Some things are just not as sealed as you think they are. I was very disappointed to have to throw away those blends. Herbs and seasonings can be so expensive!

Indian meal moth pupae in chip clip lip
Look closely for the cocooned pupae on inside lip of the handle of this chip clip!

The process was very time consuming, but in the end the problem was resolved. Did I mention that no pesticides were used? The solution for indian meal moths can never be accomplished with pesticides. Sometimes, the job of a professional is not in what they do but in what they know. In the work of an exterminator this is called Integrated Pest Management or IPM. Basically, it is a combination of common sense and scientific principles we use to solve a pest problem whereby we reduce the risk to the environment and people. In the case of indian meal moths, we cannot treat the food or their containers so we rely on IPM to remedy the problem.

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The Ants are Marching in Murfreesboro

It seems that almost everyone who calls us this week says that the ants are marching in a big way through Murfreesboro and the rest of middle Tennessee. Even for the professional like The Bug Man, ants can be the most challenging pest to control. But, with thorough training and know-how even the trickiest ant problems can be resolved with a little patience.  Ants marching in Murfreesboro

What Causes the Ant Invasions??

Ants are very weather sensitive insects. During periods of heavy rain or, the opposite, abnormally hot and dry weather the ant colonies will move to the indoors. Why? Because their homes have either become flooded or else they lack food and/or water. They are very much like us, those pesky ants. When we understand why they react to certain situations then we can usually solve the problem pretty quickly.  Lately, we have had a lot of rain and the temperatures have been getting nice and warm. So, the ants have been quite active!

Late spring and early summer is the time of year when you can expect to see swarming ants in the Murfreesboro and middle Tennessee area. If you see a swarm inside your home then chances are that the colony is somewhere in or under the home. You will want to get that taken care of quickly before the problem gets worse. However, they should not be a problem if you only see them outside. If they are a nuisance around porch lights then consider turning them off or else use a yellow outdoor light. Ants will find the yellow light less attractive.

So Many Ants, So Little Time…

Carpenter, Odorous, Pharaoh, Imported fire, Pavement, Yellow, Acrobat & Little black ones, too. Yes, these are all various species of ants found in Tennessee. Why is that important to know?  Identification, my friend. One of my favorite entomologists, Dr. Austin Frishman, would ask the following questions: 1. What is it? 2. Why is it here? 3. How can I solve the problem for my client NOW? and 4. What are the long-term solutions?  When we know the answers to these questions then we can solve the ant crisis. So, save some of these little creatures for your pest control technician!! Specimens are very helpful in solving the big ant puzzle.

Ants in a Potted Plant in Murfreesboro, TN

 

What can you do to help with the ant problem?

Lots! Ant colonies exist in and around homes because there is ample food and water nearby to support the ant colony. Make the ants unwelcome and they will find another place to hang their hat. Where do you start in your quest to eliminate the food and water? Try some of the following tips:

  • Fix leaky faucets, remove standing water, etc.
  • Replace any wet or rotten wood
  • Clean window sills of dead insects which can serve as food for the ants
  • Remove the food source if ants are trailing to food. Use a mild detergent to wipe ant trails and remove the trail pheromone. (Do not interfere with any ants trailing to bait that your technician has used to draw the ants out of the home.)
  • Locate entry points around the home such as around windows and doors and seal those areas to prevent ants and other insects from entering.
  • Check potted plants and firewood for ants before bringing them indoors
  • Keep vines, branches and limbs from coming in contact with your house. The ants use the branches as a mini-highway.
  • Pull mulch away from the foundation for your home about 12-18 inches.
  • Do NOT use any over-the-counter sprays! They can often aggravate your ant problem and be counter-productive. It’s best to leave actual treatment to The Bug Man!

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Don’t worry… bee happy about beneficial insects!

Children Embrace our beneficial insects. Shouldn’t you?

Children are so fun and curious about bugs!  Little Johnny often doesn’t think twice about picking up a spider by the leg and running to show his mommy. When he shows her his discovery, mom will often scream and run as far away as possible. Johnny will inevitably laugh, uncontrollably, while mom yells “Get that thing out of here!”

Beneficial insects are fun for the children to study and read about

It’s a common story that we hear over and over.  There are so many exaggerated horror stories about various insects: Brown recluse spiders will cause your leg to fall off. Termites will eat your house down to the ground. You will surely die a terrible disease if bitten by a mosquito. Who knows where these stories come from or why. But, they create a fear in some folks that are hard to shake.

The honey bee and other beneficial insects have an important role in our environment

Take the honey bee, for example.   They are the pollinators for our food crops. Their population has been in a steady decline in recent years due to a number of factors such as viruses, parasites, poor nutrition, limited access to clean water and exposure to pesticides. WHAT??? Exposure to pesticides?? Yes, it is true. We all (including us) have a huge responsibility in taking care to protect the honey bee and other beneficial insects.

In the spring you will sometimes see huge swarms of bees in the bushes and flowering trees. Sometimes they will stick around for a few minutes and then be gone. Sometimes they will stay for a few days. It’s easy to grab that jug of bug juice or call an exterminator to get rid of them. But, if they are not in an area that will harm you or your loved ones then it is usually best to leave them to collect the pollen. The additional benefit is that your plants and flowers will be even more beautiful later on.

There are a variety of other insects that are beneficial. Usually, most people first think of ladybugs or the asian lady beetle. Absolutely! Did you know that there are more than 400 species of the lady beetles in North America? There are also lacewings, parasitic wasps, spiders, tachinid flies, pirate bugs (aaaargh!) and ground beetles, just to name a few.

Honey bee gathering pollen: We must protect our beneficial insects.
Honey bee gathering pollen: We must protect our beneficial insects.

Protecting the environment and people at the same time

As a pest control professional, our goal is to protect your home from a pest invasion. If there is a pest problem in your living space then, yes, there is a cause for concern. You will want to eliminate the problem to prevent disease and illness/injury in your family. But, if we can keep your environment safe without having a negative impact on the rest of Murfreesboro, middle Tennessee, and beyond, then we are all winning.

Mosquitoes… The Bug Man to the rescue

The Spring weather brings with it the pesky mosquitoes

Mosquito Service offered by The Bug ManSpring is finally here and with the warm sun, the rain, and the flowers blooming, unfortunately, the pesky mosquitoes emerge and chase you back indoors.  How can you enjoy the beautiful outdoor living areas that have been created when the mosquitoes are on attack?  The Bug Man has the answers, but we ask for some help along the way for a successful result.

Everyone we talk to is familiar with some of the diseases that can be carried and transmitted by the mosquito, but that is not what this article is about.  While important, we feel that precautions can be taken to minimize the risk associated with these diseases. Our goal is to educate and not to frighten people.

Take precautions when enjoying the great outdoors

When it comes to mosquitoes, we recommend that each person take steps to help with the mosquito populations.  A few things that can be done is to remove and drain all standing water from the yard, including buckets, bird baths, old tires, planters, and toys.  Mosquitoes can lay eggs in just a capful of water!  And it can take as little as 5 days for the mosquito to become an adult.  While outside during mosquito season, it is recommended to use a repellent to help keep the mosquitoes from biting.  Just be sure to read the label instructions for proper use.  Another fact: mosquitoes do not actually bite, they have piercing sucking mouthparts.  So they actually suck your blood.  Pretty creepy if you think about it, but facts are facts.

The Bug Man Mosquito Management Program

The Bug Man offers the Mosquito Management Program for outdoor living areas around the home.  We have been providing our mosquito service to our customers in Rutherford County for over 11 years.  We expanded this service to the Lebanon and Mt. Juliet neighborhoods in 2011.  Our mosquito management service consists of an inspection of the property, removal or recommend the removal of breeding sites, apply a larvicide to areas of standing water, apply a residual adulticide to the bushes, shrubs, and other resting sites around the perimeter of the outdoor living areas.  Treatments are generally completed on a monthly cycle, but may be requested for a specific party or event that you have scheduled.

Robert Cunningham, the technician in the photo,  currently services the Robert servicing an accountsouthwest side of Murfreesboro, Bell Buckle, Rockvale, and Eagleville.  Robert has been part of The Bug Man team for over 8 years, and is very knowledgeable about mosquitoes and many other pest issues.

If you live in Murfreesboro, Smyrna, LaVergne, Christiana, Nolensville, Rockvale, Lascassas, Walterhill, Mt. Juliet, or Lebanon and have a pool, patio, or other outdoor living space, The Bug Man Mosquito Management Service is your answer to a peaceful outdoor space.  Contact us for more information and to schedule service.

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Knocking Out Boxelder Bugs

Winter is knocking on our door, and with the swing of climate shift comes a wave of boxelder bugs. In the last several days, we’ve received numerous calls from our customers about these bothersome bugs.

Whether congregating outside the house en masse or making a little boxelder village inside, these red and black bugs are unwelcome.

 

Boxelder bugs are often found near boxelder trees. As you can imagine–if you have a boxelder tree in your yard–you may find yourself with an infestation of boxelder bugs around this time of year.

However, boxelder bugs also feed on maple trees, and the apples, prunes, and pears that fall off of trees.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that adult boxelder beetles gather on the south sides of trees, rocks, and other buildings to sun themselves. Fall may be in season, but the boxelders are still longing for some soaking sun time.

The boxelder bugs will fly up to two miles to find a place to hide out for the winter. Which, unfortunately for many homeowners, is inside the walls. After settling in, they often make an appearance in bathtubs, sinks, and floors near their cold weather chill spot. This social event for the boxelder bugs often occurs on the south and west side of the house when it’s sunny outside.

It kind of seems like the boxelder bugs are little weather forecasters, notifying onlookers that the sun is shining. Unless you’d like to receive your weather report from black and red bugs in your bathroom, perhaps you should call The Bug Man at 615.217.7284. 🙂

Tips for Mosquito Control This Summer

The Bug Man offers tips to help reduce the mosquito populations around your home.

There are a lot of different ways to approach mosquito control. You could dance if you want to. You could leave your friends behind.

A graduate student from the University of Florida Entomology program prefers the dance method. We found a video that features a ‘skeeter slap dance.’ Check it out below:

Not only is that video amusing, it also offers a closer look at mosquitoes. Most of us slap them away too quickly to actually see what they look like.  Below we list steps you can take to help reduce the mosquito populations around your home.  While you may not achieve complete mosquito control, this will help.

Steps to help mosquito reduction and control.

  • Standing Water in Bird BathAs you saw in that video, the student was wearing long pants and a long-sleeve t-shirt. When you’re out and about with mosquitoes out, it helps if you wear clothing that covers up your arms and legs.
  • Emptying out areas of standing water is also really helpful for mosquito control. This includes kiddie pools, unused bird baths, tins in the yard, and even inside old tires.
  • Change the water in bird baths, plant pots, and drip trays at least once a week.
  • Clean the debris out of your rain gutters to allow proper drainage.
  • Use a mosquito repellent with deet when you’re outside.
  • Check around outdoor faucets and air conditioning units and repair leaks or puddles.
  • Cover trash containers to keep out rain water.
The Bug Man also offers a seasonal mosquito reduction program. Please call our office at 615.217.7284 for more information on how we can reduce the mosquito population in your yard.
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Free Termite Inspection Helps Homeowners Protect Their Homes

The best things in life are free. Protecting your home from termites is one of the best things you can do! And, in the case of our termite inspections, it’s also free!

We receive numerous calls from people in the Murfreesboro, Smyrna, La Vergne, Christiana, Rockvale and Lebanon area about termites. A lot of the people who call are surprised that we offer a free termite inspection. They ask us why we would freely provide that service.

Our technician prepares to inspect for termites.

Our answer to that oft-asked question is this: We want to help you protect your home and we want to give you the education and resources you need to protect your home.

If you have any questions about our termite options, please call us at 615-217-7284, follow us on Facebook or tweet us on Twitter.