Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Insect Health Risks

Servall Termite & Pest Control bringing you some summer pest information. Make sure to stay protected against these!

Hurray - summer is finally here! This is a glorious time of long hours of sun and warmth, walks and hikes, swimming, camping and barbecues. There’s something for everyone in the great outdoors.

But sometimes, don’t you just wish the mosquitoes, bees and other pests would get the memo about being on vacation and just leave you alone? Unfortunately, we all know there are downsides to communing with nature and enjoying our summer fun.

So, let’s go over some of the more common summer insects, why we should be concerned about them and what we can do to mitigate the problem. Remember —especially when it comes to summer insects — an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Bees, Hornets, Wasps and Yellowjackets
The upside: They pollinate plants and flowers and help give us fruits and vegetables. They also eat other harmful pests such as grubs and flies.
The downside: They dole out painful stings and give us anxiety about being stung. Unfortunately, millions of Americans are at risk for suffering severe allergic reactions.

Although typically a source of great anxiety for fear that they might sting you, in fact, bees and yellowjackets rarely do sting unless provoked. So, the number one rule is not to panic and swat at a bee when it comes for a visit. If it lands on your skin, just blow gently rather than smack at it. There are more aggressive species, particularly wasps that can sting in painful attacks if they feel threatened or you wander too close to their nest. While painful, most insect stings usually result in a limited local reaction, with pain and swelling. Unfortunately, about 3 percent of people have more widespread allergic reactions, with rash and hives. The most extreme cases of allergic reactions are called anaphylaxis and symptoms include tongue and throat swelling, wheezing, dizziness or even life threatening shortness of breath and drop in blood pressure. If these symptoms arise, call 911. If you are allergic to stinging insects you should know how to use an epinephrine kit and carry it with you at all times.

If stung and the stinger is still in place, first remove the stinger. Then clean the area with soap and cold water and apply ice. Benadryl and over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone ointment may help calm the reaction. Consider taking a pain reliever as needed.

The upside: Is there one?
The downside: Mosquito bites are a common, insect-related reason parents seek medical help for their children. The local reactions and itchy lesions that are results of mosquito bites are no fun, but luckily, severe reactions are extremely uncommon.

Mosquitoes bite most intensely around dawn and dusk. If you must or want to be outside during those times, it’s best to be inside a screened-in porch or dressed in clothing that leaves very little exposed skin. Your best protection will be insect repellant, such as DEET or picaridin.

A mosquito bite typically results in a pink bump that itches. As tempting as it may be, don’t scratch it! Scratching only agitates the venom and increases your itching. In addition, over-scratching might cause breaks in the skin that can serve as a port of entry for bacterial superinfections. Although less common, some people can be more sensitive to mosquito bites and have more severe reactions, such as welts or hives. All bites should be washed with soap and cold water. Benadryl and over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone cream may be indicated for intense itching and the larger reactions. If there are signs and symptoms of infection you may need to see your doctor for antibiotics.

Unfortunately, mosquitoes can leave more than a local reaction. Sometimes they may transmit infections like malaria, dengue, or West Nile Virus (WNV). Luckily, in the United States we rarely encounter malaria or dengue, but WNV has become widespread. The good news is that in most cases WNV is a mild and self-limited infection. Symptoms may be so light as to go unnoticed, or present as a “summer flu,” with mild body and headaches and low-grade fever. In rare and extreme cases WNV is a potentially life threatening infection. Symptoms include higher fever, head and body aches, confusion and worsening weakness and such symptoms should prompt you to seek medical attention.

The upside: None.
The downside: The serious illness that ticks can transmit, such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesia (“tick malaria”), amongst others.

Obviously, the best way to avoid ticks and their associated problems is to not pick them up in the first place, but that can be easier said than done. It’s a good idea to wear clothing that leaves less skin exposed that can act as a barrier to the ticks. So flip-flops, sandals, shorts and T-shirts are out when planning a hike to areas that are likely to have ticks. Wear boots and long socks, and remember to tuck your long pants into your socks when hiking. The best protection against ticks consists of permethrin-treated clothing and gear, combined with DEET applied to exposed skin.

Keep in mind that most ticks need to feed for hours before they can successfully transmit infections. So, it is very important that after hikes you do a full body check (including in the hair) to look for ticks. If removed promptly, the risk of infection decreases significantly.

If you do find a tick on your body or that of a family member or pet, it’s important to carefully remove the tick right away. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. Avoid squashing the tick because spreading tick blood in the bite wound might increase the risk of infection. Once the tick is removed, clean the area with soap and water and perhaps an antiseptic. If you develop a rash, headaches, pains or fever, call your doctor immediately.

The lowdown on bug repellant
The good news is bug repellants really do work in deterring mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, chiggers and other insects. The bad news is that they are ineffective against spiders and stinging insects, such as yellowjackets, wasps, bees or hornets.

The gold standard of insect repellant is DEET. It has been in use for more than 50 years and is recommended for use in persons above 2 months of age. The alternative repellant of choice is picaridin is also effective against mosquitoes, ticks, and sand flies.

As always Servall Termite & Pest Control is here for all of your pest control and home repair needs. Contact us today at one of our four convenient locations or visit http://www.servallpestcontrol.com

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Mosquito Squad 5 T's

Servall Pest Control bringing you the 5 T's of controlling mosquitoes from The Mosquito Squad!

The experts at Mosquito Squad offer solutions for homeowners who want to enjoy their outdoor living spaces and not worry about mosquitoes biting them, their children or guests. Here are their Five T's that homeowners can follow to prevent mosquitoes from taking over their treasured outdoor living space.

1. TIP. Reduce standing water to eliminate mosquito threats, including those in children's sandboxes, wagons or plastic toys; underneath and around downspouts, in plant saucers and dog bowls. Other hot spots include tarps, gutters and flat roofs.

2. TOSS. Remove excess grass, leaves firewood and clippings from yards.

3. TURN. Turn over larger yard items that could hold water like children's portable sandboxes or plastic toys.

4. REMOVE TARPS. If tarps stretched over firewood piles, boats or sports equipment aren't taut, they're holding water.

5. TREAT. Have a mosquito elimination barrier treatment done around your home and yard. Using a barrier treatment at home reduces the need for using DEET-containing bug spray on the body. Mosquito Squad's treatment eliminates up to 90 percent of the mosquitoes and ticks on a property.
While generally a nuisance, mosquitoes and ticks can carry dangerous diseases such as West Nile Virus and Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 300,000 Americans have been sickened with West Nile Virus since it arrived in the United States 11 years ago.

Servall Termite & Pest Control can help you deal with mosquitoes and ticks on your property. Controlling them is vital to enjoying your summer! Give us a call at one of our four convenient locations or visit www.servallpestcontrol.com today!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ticks and Fleas Pose a Threat to Family Pets

Servall Termite & Pest Control bringing you a reminder from The National Pest Management Association, remember to protect your animals from fleas and ticks!

As the weather warms everyone is spending more time outdoors, including dogs and cats. Just like us, pets are at risk for attracting ticks and fleas when outside, which can pose serious health risks. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds pet owners to take precautions to protect their pets from pests when outside this season.

“The NPMA predicted an especially heavy tick season, making it all the more important that pet owners understand the dangers posed by pests and learn how to get rid of ticks and fleas says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA.

Ticks are one of the most common pet pests. Blacklegged deer ticks can spread Lyme disease to pets, which causes fever, decreased appetite, painful joints, limping and lethargy. In serious cases, kidney disease can also occur.

American dog ticks, which are larger than deer ticks, can spread Rock Mountain Spotted Fever and cause tick paralysis, which occurs when a female tick attaches near a pet's spinal cord. Tick paralysis can lead to muscle weakness, loss of coordination and in some cases, death from respiratory failure as chest muscles become paralyzed.

Fleas are another common pet pest. They cause itchy, red bumps that lead to excessive scratching, anemia, dermatitis and tapeworms. Fleas can also infest a pet owner’s home when they fall off a pet onto bedding, carpets or furniture and reproduce.

The NPMA recommends these tips control ticks and fleas:
  • Check pets frequently for ticks and fleas. Be aware of excessive scratching and licking.
  • Avoid walking dogs in tall grass, where fleas and ticks often hide.
  • Bathe pets after walks or playtime with other animals.
  • Frequently wash pet bedding, collars and plush toys.
  • Wash bed linens and vacuum carpets, floors and furniture frequently.
  • If you suspect a pest problem, contact a licensed pest professional immediately.
If you find you have a pest problem with fleas or ticks contact Servall Pest Control today at one of our four convenient locations or visit us here http://www.servallpestcontrol.com.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The "Vampire" Spider!

Servall Pest Control bringing you a little arachnid research to brighten your day! This article was written by Jennifer Welsh,  a LiveScience Staff Writer.

Jumping spiders, also known as vampire spiders, have a very specific diet: female mosquitoes that have just fed on blood. A new study using "Franken-mosquitoes"— glued-together parts of different mosquitoes — finds that the spiders check for not only a blood-red belly but also for girly antennae while choosing where to pounce.

"In the past it was thought that jumping spiders responded to very basic stimuli that triggered predatory behavior. Something along the lines of, 'It is small and it moves, therefore it is prey,'" study researcher Ximena Nelson, of the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, told LiveScience.

The new study indicates they are much pickier eaters than that, Nelson said: "It is clear from these results that this type of 'algorithm' is not used by E. culicivora [the jumping spider]. At the very least, it is much more sophisticated."

Picky eater

The spider's favorite food by far is freshly blood-filled mosquitoes, and this arachnid species seems to need the blood to survive, the researchers said, hence the "vampire" moniker.

"Other 'bugs' in general are not as tempting, possibly because of the absence of vertebrate blood," Nelson said. This blood "does seem to be integral to the diet of this spider, although we are not entirely sure why this is."

On the shores of Lake Victoria in Sub-Saharan Africa, the spiders stalk sitting mosquitoes until they are about an inch (2 to 3 centimeters) away, then jump on them. The youngest of the spiders actually jump onto the stomachs of mosquitoes and bite them in mid flight. They hold on as the insects drop to the ground, then devour them.

Finding females

Since the spiders need the blood the female mosquitoes have ingested, it's important for them to choose the right prey. Female mosquitoes look slightly different from the males.

"A trained human with decent eyesight can detect the difference without much difficulty, but it is solely on the basis of how 'fluffy' the antennae look," Nelson said. "Males have more 'setae' on their antennae," which make their headgear fuzzier than the females'.

The spiders are also on the lookout for the swollen red belly of a recently blood-fed female.

To find out what features the spiders use to choose their target, the researchers created "Franken-mosquitoes" by gluing together body parts of starved and blood-fed male and female mosquitoes (the head and thorax of one, the abdomen of another).

They dangled these mix-and-match mosquitoes in front of the spider to see what it would go for. The researchers found that two body parts played an important role in the spider's food choice: the big red belly and the antennae. The spiders were less likely to attack mosquitoes with fuzzy antennae than those with bare headgear, even if both had a full red belly, the researchers found.

"Any 'Franken-mosquito' that had blood and had female antennae was evidently considered 'good food,'" Nelson told LiveScience in an email.

The study is detailed today (June 7) in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Luckily the 'Vampire' Spider isn't really a common sight in the United States. But if you notice you have any other spiders roaming your home contact us today at one of our four convenient locations or visit us at http://www.servallpestcontrol.com.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Top 5 Bed Bug Myths Dispelled

Servall Pest Control wants you to understand how bed bugs operate in hopes that we will be more effective in controlling them!

Bed bugs are a growing menace and lately have come back with a vengeance, making their presence felt in large numbers. The mere mention of these irksome creatures makes your skin crawl and instills paranoia into the hearts of many. Quite often the knowledge most people have of these bloodsuckers is often fraught with myths and misconceptions and as a consequence are at their wits end in tackling this problem. This is due to the elusive nature of these insects that often thrive undetected in people’s homes. It is important to develop a better understanding of these creatures and dispel some of the myths and speculation that surround them.

1. Bed bugs only dwell in bedrooms – Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs can live anywhere. They subsist mostly on human blood and hence require a host. Bed bugs are nocturnal creatures and tend to inhabit bedrooms and sleeping rooms where they can feed on a slumbering host. They usually seek refuge in the most unlikely places including furniture and electronic devices and tiny cracks and crevices where they can hide.

2. Bed bugs only thrive in unsanitary homes – Unsanitary living conditions have little or nothing to do with bed bugs. In fact they are more unlikely to live in a squalid environment. These parasites are known to infest every type of human dwelling from apartments to five star hotels and everything in between. They are attracted to hosts and not filth.

3. Bed bugs transmit disease – Despite a prolonged research into the subject carried out by scientists, no documentation to suggest that bed bugs transmit diseases to people have been established yet. However bites can lead to severe rashes that resemble impetigo and if left untreated can at times get infected.

4. International travel increases your chances of bed bugs – Bed bugs are a global menace and are not just restricted to certain countries. Although international travel could increase the possibility, frequenting public places such as hotels and resorts could double your chances.

5. Bed bugs are microscopic – Bed bugs are tiny but conspicuous enough to the naked eye. They measure less than 1/4″ in size and have flat oval shaped bodies. They are very elusive creatures however, which makes it harder to identify the infestation. Contact pest control immediately if you find the tell tale signs of their presence in your home.

Bed bugs are nocturnal parasites, which means they only emerge and feed at night. This makes it harder to flush them out and most bed bug treatment products prove ineffective in tackling this nuisance. Employing the services of Servall Termite Pest Control company is the best way to exterminate a bed bug infestation. Act now and protect your home from the onslaught of these loathsome parasites.