It’s officially summer vacation season, which means many of us will be heading off to lake houses and beach rentals – can’t wait to get there, right? Well, hold up a sec – along with fending off those late-night raccoons nosing through the garbage, you may have to gear up for other even more annoying intruders – those dreaded bed bugs. No matter how highly-rated your host is on AirBnB, or how many great stays you may have had in the past, bed bugs are always a potential threat in any vacation home. Here’s a helpful checklist to walk through when you arrive, to make sure you and your family are avoiding bed bugs:
- Know what you’re looking for. Bed bugs are small, brown, crawling insects the size of apple seeds. It’s common to have bed bugs, though, and not actually see them – so don’t settle in just yet if you don’t spy one of these critters!
- Check mattresses and bed frames. Look for anything that looks like dark smears on the top or bottom of the mattress – they could be excretions – along with tiny white eggs, about 1 mm long. Bed bugs also shed their skin five or six times, so look for discarded bug shells. These insects tend to hide in the joints of a bed frame and along the slats, so inspect those carefully with the aid of a flashlight. Look along the crevices of the headboard, and down the mattress seams.
- Next, scan the sofas and pillows. Inspect the cushion seams, inside any slipcovers, and along any zipper on a seat cushion or throw pillow.
- Check closets and floorboards. Unfortunately, bed bugs don’t just thrive in soft places; they can be found where there’s no cushioning whatsoever. Look anywhere where the floorboards or molding meet the wall; in closets, inspect corners, door seals, and joints.
- Don’t forget nightstands, bookcases, and lamps. Carefully inspect drawer seals and corners, removing books where necessary. Check the insides of lampshades, and underneath lampstands. In bedrooms especially, inspect alarm clocks, picture frames – don’t skip any bedside décor.
Want more information? Get the facts on our Bed Bugs page (http://www.callfreedompest.com/pest/bed-bugs/)
Groundhog Day may have come and gone, but those critters are just getting started in their quest to eat their way through the warm weather months – at least through October. Groundhogs, or Woodchucks, come out of hibernation with two simple goals – mating and eating. And boy, do they eat. Woodchucks are herbivores capable of eating as much as three fourths of a pound of vegetable matter a day. That’s the equivalent of an adult consuming 15 pounds of salad! They lay waste to vegetable and flower gardens, undoing months of hard excavation and planting work. Here are the basic facts about this pesky predator so familiar to many frustrated homeowners:
- Their appearance: Woodchucks are stout animals, ranging from 4-14 pounds with short stubby clawed legs. They got the name “groundhog” because of these short appendages that make them crouch so low to the ground.
- Their habitat: Woodchucks live underground, and are tunnelers who can excavate over 700 pounds of dirt digging just one den! They typically have 4 or 5 dens scattered across a territory so that they can move to where the best food source is. In residential neighborhoods, woodchucks typically burrow under homes, garages, patios, or any structure that can provide shelter.
- Their diet: Woodchucks are vegetarians, eating leaves, flowers, stems, clover, and alfalfa. They also love vegetable crops like peas, carrots, kale, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, and beans, and will climb fruit trees to snack on apples and pears!
We often get calls from homeowners hoping to prevent an infestation. If you’re hoping to forge ahead with a vegetable garden this summer, we recommend that you install a fence that’s dug in about 6-12” underground, and one that is angled in toward the middle. This will help prevent woodchucks from tunneling underneath it, and will discourage them from climbing up and over. They do climb (remember the fruit trees?), but don’t like trying to scale something that will sag underneath them.
If you want more information, or think you might have an infestation in your yard, give us a call! Our team will come out and perform a detailed assessment to help you make the right moves to protect the fruits – and vegetables – of your labor. 1-877-PESTS.
Most insects are annoying to have around; but wasps can be aggressive and downright painful, and smart homeowners don’t want them anywhere near their house or family! Unfortunately, they’re a fact of life in New England, often looking to nest on our around your home in the springtime, and moving indoors to find a cozy place to hibernate in the winter. Here are some helpful basics about these pests to help you know what to look for this spring, and how to prevent them from settling into your domicile!
Let’s start with the varieties you’re most apt to come into contact with, living in New England. The three most common in these parts are the paper wasp:
- The yellow jacket, which some people mistake for a bee.
- The bald-faced hornet (sometimes called white-faced), which has a bit of a different look
- The wasp mating season runs from March/April through October/early November, which means they’re busy now building nests and preparing to hatch their next brood. Now’s the time for you to be on the lookout for nesting activity!
Typically, wasps make umbrella-shaped nests under ledges or eaves of a house, behind shutters, and also in attics and chimneys. These nests are made of chewed up wood fragments and salivary secretions, and look like this paper wasp’s nest
It’s important to deal with any nest promptly – not only to protect your home and family today, but to also prevent these pests from hibernating in your home over the winter months, only to reappear in full force the following spring.
If you find a nest anywhere inside or on your home, we strongly recommend against attempting to remove it yourself. Turning to YouTube to learn the best way to recaulk your bathtub is one thing; but trying to deal with a wasp’s nest without the proper training could be asking for trouble. When disturbed, wasps tend to become highly aggressive, and their stings are quite painful; you may even provoke an allergic reaction. Nests that are made outdoors – in trees or shrubs, for example – and well away from your home – are also a potential threat for multiple stings.
So if you come in contact with a wasp’s nest anywhere on your property, stay off YouTube and call a professional instead. You could save yourself a lot of hassle and discomfort!
Questions or concerns? Call us anytime at 877-PESTS-55, or chat with a live customer service representative on our homepage!
Along with winter being officially over, there’s nothing better than digging into some deep spring cleaning to get rid of the winter dust and welcome those longer, warmer days. But did you know that, along with wiping down and airing out, you can also do some pest proofing at the same time? Here’s how to tackle your spring cleaning while taking steps toward protecting your home from unwanted visitors.
Let’s begin in the basement, where dark corners and unfinished spaces are the perfect places for bugs and rodents to come in and stay. Go through storage spaces, eliminating clutter where possible and replacing any cardboard boxes with covered plastic tubs. Bring along some silicon-based caulk to seal any visible cracks or crevices that are potential entry points. Mice can squeeze in through an opening as small as a dime, and bugs can by with a lot smaller than that! So go through the space with a careful eye, and take your time.
Next up are bathrooms, where dampness can attract bugs like cockroaches and silverfish. These pests can only survive one week without water, so getting rid of any extraneous water source is an essential step in avoiding infestations. Look under the sink and around the tub and toilet for evidence of any leaky pipes, shower heads, or faucets. Replace the shower liner, and do a thorough check inside the medicine cabinet.
Now on to the kitchen, where both water and food sources can create an almost irresistible attraction for all kinds of critters – in particular, ants, cockroaches, meal moths, and mice. First, take all food items out of your cabinets and pantry, and throw away any outdated or stale spices, flour, ground nuts, cereals, and grains. Wipe down all shelving and install fresh shelf paper to cover residual food traces. Pull appliances and any containers off the counters, wiping down thoroughly with a mixture of dish soap and water.
Next, pull back any floor-standing appliances away from the wall. Here’s where you may see evidence of a winter infestation – mouse droppings, for example, or carpenter ant shavings. If you do see any such signs, your next move should be a call to your exterminator. Otherwise, do a through vacuum to get rid of food crumbs and dust. Lastly, give the floors a good mopping with a mixture of dish soap and warm water.
And don’t forget the outdoor spaces, which unfortunately are full of opportunities for rodents and pests alike. Look for signs of winter deterioration and remove them, like rotting roof shingles or worn down fascia. Clean out clogged gutters and downspouts to remove clumps of rotting leaves where pests can burrow. Look for loose mortar around the foundation and windows and repair it to avoid points of entry. Last, don’t forget to trim bushes and branches away from your home to prevent pests from hitching a ride; and be sure to remove rotting stumps, and move any mulch piles far away from your house – both attract termites.
Want to learn more about how to protect your investment from unwanted pests and rodents? Our team will create a plan for you to keep your home and family protected, 12 months a year. Chat with a live customer service representative on our website, or call us toll free at 877-742-2350!
You’ve no doubt noticed a big shift in the food scene around farm-to-table eating, with an emphasis on preparing and serving as much locally sourced food as possible. This movement has caused a huge uptick in homeowners trying their hand at raising chickens in backyards, hoping to enjoy fresh eggs they can harvest themselves. Not a bad idea – except that chicken coops can be a huge draw for the kind of locals you don’t want around your home, namely rats! Unfortunately there’s lots about chicken coops that these rodents love and will seek out. If you’re thinking of trying your hand at poultry farming this spring, here’s how to create a home for your feathered friends while keeping the rats out:
- Keep all feed in a metal container. On our site visits, we see a familiar pattern with coop owners: they start out keeping everything neat and tidy, with no grain on the ground. Within a few months, they loosen up, and start tossing some feed on the ground for an extra treat – and that’s where problems start. Hungry rats’ number one mission is to find food, and it won’t take long for them to find that grain and set up shop. Never ever ground feed, and never keep food in anything but a metal container.
- Remove used hay bedding. That soft cushion you give your chickens to sleep on quickly becomes filled with urine and droppings, creating the kind of warm and moist environment that rats love. Change out that bedding daily to keep the rats away!
- Seal up your compost. If you plan on having a compost pile, keep it in a sealed container well away from the chicken coop. Don’t give rats another reason to keep coming by for a meal.
- Build the coop away from your home. No matter how clean you keep that coop, animals are living, eating, and relieving themselves in it. Keep it well away from where you live – and considering you’re always somewhat at risk for a rat infestation, the last place you want it is anywhere near your own kitchen and pantry.
Our experts are always available to inspect your property for any problem spots. If you suspect an issue, or want to prevent one, give us a call at 877-742-2350 to schedule an inspection!
This has got to be the best pest control experience ever. Not a dead raccoon, no the press won’t pick that up. Not the Co2 detector on the second floor that was not registering any problems. Not even the levels of Co2 on the first floor. The order less gas was high enough to kill within no time. Nope this is a great story because the couple didn’t eat dinner and then retire into the living room to watch TV.
So a happy ending all around. Point of this blog is simple enough, now that the gas guy told me, install Co2 detectors near the combustion equipment and near your bedrooms.
One of the holiday events occurring this time of year is our children coming home from college. In addition to cooking the turkey, parents this year may be faced with the reality that their son or daughter may bring home some unwanted hitch hikers. That’s right, bed bugs. A college dorm is a great place for bed bugs to thrive as there is plenty of food (students), heat and clutter. As commented in the Washington Post, “Almost all campuses are dealing with bed bugs now.”
So what can you do to stop the unseen blood suckers from coming home for the holidays? Nothing. The first line of defense is the front door of your home. Bed bugs are not going to come out and shake your hand. You have to assume that your child has a high possibility of caring bed bugs home. That means any item your child is wearing or carrying in a suitcase or bag, could be infested with bedbugs. So be prepared by having a couple of large plastic bags at the front door for the arrival of your returning children. Upon arrival ALL items should go into the bags and the bags should then be tightly shut (twist tied). Bring the bags to the laundry area where all items that can be dried should go directly into the dryer on high (a minimum of 125 degrees Fahrenheit) for 40 minutes. The remaining items stay in the sealed bags, preferably outside, until departure. Washing is not necessary for bed bug control, just your attention to detail.
I wish everyone a joyful season of combating the hitchhikers and remember, don’t let the bedbugs bite!
So you just found out you have a flying squirrel infestation in your attic. Sometimes confused between the noise from a mouse or a bat, the flying squirrel is active at night and is not afraid to show up in your bathroom or kitchen. To gain entrance they exploit weaknesses in your attic like the vent that runs along the roof line called a ridge vent. The ends of the vent are left open or the caps fall out allowing these wide eyed fliers access to your attics. Another favorite entrance is just along the dormer line where the fascia boards tie back into the roof line.
The mating season is between February and March with the offspring arriving in about 40 days. A typical size for an infestation ranges from 5-20. They do not actually fly but glide.
So, how do you get rid of these unwanted visitors? The removal of the colony starts with a thorough inspection Where we look find the entrance used to gain access into your home as well as any possible future entrances they may use to return once they have been removed from your attic. The main entrance is fitted with a one way door allowing the frisky fliers to get out but not get back in. This is why all other areas that may become an entrance have to be sealed prior to the one way door installation.
Flying squirrels are rodents. They carry a multitude of parasites, however, the main reason people call for removal of the flying squirrels is due to the fact that one has showed up in the living room causing the cat or dog to chase it around the house.
Fast forward 7 weeks. No issues with bites or sightings for 6 weeks and then last week a blood spot on her sheet, a bite mark on her foot and her sweater she thinks may have bed bugs in it. Since Jenifer was well educated she knew what to do. Dry the sweater, bag her shoes for inspection and call Freedom fast. I have to admit this is not uncommon when people go back to the same hotel that was infested and pick up a fresh infestation to bring home. Even though Jenifer is extra careful about traveling she has another infestation. What made this difficult to figure out was the traps we use to stop bedbugs from climbing up bed posts were empty and the mattress and box spring were still properly encased. Yet she was bitten on the bed. The weak link was her laptop. She had it on her lap at the hotel, feel asleep and in marched the bed bugs. Jenifer brought the lap top home, used it on the sofa and in her bed and both were re-infested.
After a quick clear plastic bag inspection with some carbon monoxide (I inflated the bag) out came our little friends, ready to infest an office cube, customers site, or just another bed. You must be diligent in your everyday life to solve and remain bed bug free.
Preparation for your vacation
Before you leave on your vacation there are a few simple steps you can take to safeguard your home from infestation upon your return. By taking the time to follow these steps prior to your departure, you will decrease your chances of bringing home bed bugs.
- Carefully research your hotel prior to your departure by searching on Google for your hotel’s name – include the search criteria “bedbugs” or “bed bugs”. Read any recent reviews. If they have been treated for bedbugs, you’ll most likely hear about it online. If you see one unpleasant report, please, take it with a grain of salt. However, multiple bad reviews, or reviews which repeat a particular issue, can suggest that the property is not safe from bedbugs or other pests.
- Call the hotel and ask questions regarding bed bugs – what is the hotel’s policy on bed bugs? Has your room had any bed bug complaints? If they fail to provide you with straight forward answers or avoid answering the questions all together, that’s a dangerous sign and you should consider changing your accommodations.
- If you decide to continue with your trip as planned, start by packing a small bright flashlight to inspect the room for bedbugs upon your arrival.
- Pack a disposable luggage encasement or large contractor trash bag to put your luggage in when you arrive at your hotel room.
- Bring large zip lock bags for all the belongings you will be keeping out of your luggage, such as your keys, passports, credit cards, etc.
Upon entering your room, immediately take your luggage to the bathroom and place the luggage into the bathtub. Follow these instructions prior to settling in:
- In a hotel room the headboard is the only item that is not disturbed during daily housekeeping and is great harborage for bed bugs. By using your flashlight, try to get a good look behind the head board. If possible remove the headboard from the wall to get a better look behind. Most headboards are usually held on the wall with brackets, lift up 1 – 2 inches to remove. You are looking for several things – brownish black specks or bed bug feces, bed bug shells which are the bed bug exoskeletons and lastly, live bed bugs.
- Your next step is to take the bed sheets off the mattress and examine it carefully. Inspect the seams and the tag, as bed bugs often shield themselves in these areas.
- Now open all the drawers and cabinets in the room and look carefully inside for the same signs.
- When you have finished checking the room, carefully check to see the luggage rack is free of pests – look at it from top to bottom, and under the straps. Now place your luggage on the stand, being careful not to put any of your things on the bed or on the floor.
- If you determine the room to be unsafe and request another room, be sure to follow the same steps in the next room as the problem could be property wide, and not limited to one room.
- Once you have determined the room to be safe, take out your disposable luggage encasement (bag) and encase the luggage, being careful to only take out those items you are going to be using.
- Use the large zip lock bags for all belongings you will be keeping out of your luggage.
Before You Leave
- Inspect all of the items that were taken out of the encased luggage. After you have determined the items are okay, immediately place them in a separate bag in your luggage.
- Scan through your sheets with a flashlight before you leave. If you notice blood splotches, there is a good chance you have been bitten by bed bugs.
- Take the luggage out of the encasement and dispose of the encasement as you exit the room.
- Just prior to taking your luggage back into your home make sure you use the other encasement or trash bag and place each piece of luggage into the bag.
Arriving at Home
Even if you follow all the steps listed above, it is still very important to take precautions when you arrive at your home to avoid bringing any unwanted infestation. The best rule of thumb is to assume you have bed bugs, that way you will be more diligent in taking precautions. Bear in mind bed bugs are great hitchhikers, so it is just as easy to catch them from another suitcase on an airplane as it is from a hotel room. Sometimes the signs are not as clear, so it is best to continue to use caution to ensure your home remains safe from bedbugs.
- Do not bring your luggage contents into your home right away; it is best to leave them in the garage or in the car until you are ready to unpack.
- When you are ready to begin unpacking and laundering your clothing, it is best to carry everything into your home using a bag. Prior to washing your clothing, place the items in the dryer and using its hottest setting, dry your clothes for 30 minutes.
- Other items that cannot be put in the dryer should be wiped down with isopropyl alcohol before bringing them into your home.
- Your empty luggage should be vacuumed and inspected carefully before bringing it in your home. It is normally best to leave the luggage in the encasements or trash bags while they are in storage.
- Finally, make sure you dispose of all the bags that were used in transporting your clothes and luggage, in addition, remember to dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag after vacuuming your luggage.