Back to School Basics: Bed Bug Avoidance 101

School will be back in session soon, and you can almost hear the ringing bells that signal you get to take a break from constant parenting. While it's nice to soak up some peace and quiet while the little ones are off learning, the tantalizing break isn't a sure thing. If your kids get bed bugs, then all hope of actually appreciating the school year will vanish.

How can kids avoid picking up bed bugs along with their homework? Here's what you should know.

A Bed Bug Infestation Primer

Bed bugs feed solely on blood, but that doesn't mean they only live on humans. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, notes, they routinely hitchhike from one hunting ground to the next. For instance, your kids might carry these parasites home on their clothing, backpacks, textbooks or bodies. From there, it's just a matter of time before it spreads to the whole house.

Keeping Your Home Clean

Bed bugs are extremely good at surviving in harsh conditions. This versatility makes it harder to fight back against suspected infestations. Furthermore, the EPA says that merely applying pesticides usually doesn't cut it. Proper control is a matter of establishing an effective, comprehensive strategy.

Did you receive a letter telling you that your child's school has bed bugs? It's up to you to take precautions that help minimize the problem's spread. Smart ideas might include

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Pests to Look Out for in Your Dorm

College dorms are meant to be places where students can hang out with friends, study, and rest. None of this is likely to be accomplished when your assigned dormitory has a pest problem. Though you should always expect to have access to a clean dorm room, here are a few pests that might nevertheless pop up from time to time while you are pursuing your degree.

Ants

Dorms are often rowdy places with a lot of different things happening at once. Ants are attracted to sugar, and they will likely sniff out any morsels that have been left in the study room down the hall. Ants release chemical trails that guide other ants to a food source, and you should be especially careful of starting infestations during the spring and summer.

Roaches

Roaches, like ants, can be hard to eradicate once a colony gets started in an indoor area. In dormitories, roaches are most likely to be found near sinks and toilets. They are known to feast on garbage, and dirty bedrooms or living areas are likely to attract the creatures. German cockroaches are fairly common across the country, and infestations are often first discovered by the droppings that the insects leave behind. Study areas that have been overtaken by loose papers and food scraps will be prime areas for roaches, and you will want to keep things as neat as possible to avoid a breeding colony, which will then be difficult to get rid of without professional intervention.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs, unlike ants and roaches, do not generally invade dormitories without being brought in on sheets, blankets, or some other soft material. They are brown or black and are almost microscopic in size. Bed bug infestations are most likely to occur when one student brings sheets that are already infested into the dorm. Bed bugs require blood in order to reproduce, and students are likely to first notice infestations by observing straight lines of small, red bite marks on their wrists, arms, legs, or ankles. Bed bugs require either a heat treatment or a chemical treatment to completely eradicate them.

Flies and Bees

Flies are classic summer-time burdens in dorms. They come in through open windows, propped doors, and other weaknesses in the building. Dead flies are often found on window ledges, but because the insects breed so quickly, there will always be a few buzzing around the dormitory. Wasps and hornets, on the other hand, can build nests near the entrances of buildings and will have to be dealt with quickly for the safety of the dorm residents.

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Common Mosquito Breeding Areas in Savannah

Mosquitoes thrive in hot, humid areas like the Southeast, especially in Savannah where there's plenty of rainfall and aquatic sites. The females lay their eggs in water, so it's important for them to have access to standing water in order to breed and to increase their population. These insects transmit diseases to people, making them a threat during the summer months. Ideal Pest Control has a few areas to look for if you're trying to reduce mosquito infestations on your property this year.

3 Common Mosquito Breeding Areas

Concave Surfaces

Concave surfaces are the perfect places for standing water to form, such as old tires, wheelbarrows, potholes and tree hollows. Dips in your driveway and cracks in your sidewalk can also collect standing water after it rains. These areas and more give mosquitoes a few places in which to lay their eggs. If you can reduce the concave surfaces in your yard, you'll prevent unnecessary mosquito infestations in the summer.

Pet Dishes

Your dog's or cat's water bowl also makes the perfect spot for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Mosquitoes only need about an inch of water for breeding, and a water bowl provides a constant breeding site for these insects. You can reduce the risk by bringing your pet's dishes inside at night. If that's not an option, dump out the old water each day, and refill the bowls with fresh water to reduce the mosquito threat.

Clogged Gutters

Clogged gutters trap water in the channels and become a breeding ground for pest insects. Weeds will also grow in the gutters and give insects a hiding place in which to breed in safety. It's important to clean out your gutters at least once a year to prevent clogs. You'll reduce the risk of water damage to your home's facade and erosion along the foundation, as well as stop mosquito and other pest infestations on your property.

Professional Mosquito Control in Savannah

Don't avoid going outside during the height of mosquito season. Contact Ideal Pest Control to learn more about our mosquito control services and to schedule an inspection in your yard. Mosquitoes won't go away during the summer without professional assistance. In fact, they first appear in the spring and oftentimes thrive until November. Our certified technicians will treat your property for mosquitoes and help to prevent recurring infestations for several months.

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Surprising Places You Can Encounter Bed Bugs

Bed bugs have made a huge resurgence in the Savannah, Georgia, area during the past decade. Naturally, many homeowners are concerned about keeping these pests out of their beds, but did you know that the name bed bugs is a misnomer? Although they like to hang out in bedding because it makes it easier for them to feed on human blood, bed bugs can actually be found in a wide variety of surprising places, including your bedside alarm clock.

1. The Library

Bed bugs have been found in many public libraries nationwide. In some cases, the library staff even kept this news to themselves and allowed the general public to continue being potentially exposed to these pests. When that happens, it only takes a single bed bug hitchhiking in a book or on your clothes to start an infestation in your house.

2. The Movie Theater

The next time you're sitting in a darkened theater, you might want to consider the fact that bed bugs could easily be living within your upholstered seat. This is especially important for people who have a coat, bag or purse with them, as these items tend to get sat down in an empty seat where bed bugs can hop inside them. 

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Why Do Roaches Infest Homes?

Cockroaches are a hardy group with approximately 4,600 separate species distributed around the world. About 50 different species are found in North America, but most types of roaches are content to make their homes outdoors. However, four species are considered major household pests in the Savannah area, finding human dwellings to be much more attractive than the great outdoors. 

Why Cockroaches Infest Homes

Cockroaches find human homes inviting for several reasons. A home provides shelter from the elements and protection against predators. There is an abundant source of easily obtained water and food, allowing the roach population to increase rapidly. 

However, while most humans prefer to spend their time in open areas, roaches prefer tight spaces where they can conceal themselves when they are not foraging. A typical home has baseboards, crown molding, wall art, furniture, large and small appliances, cabinets, boxes, kitchen drawers and closets that are ideal hiding places.

Damages Caused by Cockroaches

Cockroaches rate high on many lists of the most disgusting, most hated and most psychologically disturbing insects potentially found in a home. However, the damage that roaches can cause goes far beyond emotional unease.

Cockroaches are known to carry bacteria and viruses on their feet. When a roach contaminates food, dishes or eating utensils with these organisms, it can lead to a variety of diseases in humans, including dysentery and salmonella. There is also some evidence that roaches could be vectors for cholera, plague, E. coli, listeriosis, staph and strep.

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What You Need to Know About Mosquitoes This Spring

Every spring, Savannah residents look forward to warmer weather. When people come out to play, mosquitoes are ready to ruin the fun. During April and May, I receive many calls from customers asking what they can do to keep mosquitoes off their properties and away from their families. In most cases, a strong defense is the best way to minimize infestations. There's always a chance that pests will arrive from other areas, but you can make your yard less hospitable to adult mosquitoes as well as the eggs and larvae.

Warning Signs of Mosquito Infestations

Mosquito populations ramp up in May and hit their full stride in June when nighttime temperatures stay above 60 degrees and daytime highs exceed 80 degrees. High humidity, increasing rainfall and warmer temperatures all contribute to surging mosquito infestations in the spring and summer.

Depending on the species, adults may awaken from hibernation, or eggs that were deposited the previous fall will hatch. Antifreeze compounds allow some mosquitoes to survive the winter chill. Dormant eggs can withstand frigid temperatures and prolonged droughts. Once the weather warms up and there's enough moisture, they spring to life.

Mosquito Breeding Grounds

Preferred habitats vary depending on the species. There are also substantial differences in their behavior. For example, Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito, lives near people. It deposits eggs in man-made containers, and it seldom travels more than 300 feet from its home, which may also be your house. Other mosquitoes will fly several miles to find food and mates.

The one thing that all mosquitoes have in common is that their eggs, larvae and pupae need moisture to hatch and molt. When conditions are right, mosquitoes can reach adulthood in just 12 days. Most female mosquitoes lay several hundred eggs at once, so the populations swell quickly.

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What Climates Do Termites Thrive In?

Termites are found in all states except Alaska. Termites can do significant damage to a building before anyone knows they are there. The climate of Georgia and other subtropical southern states is ideal for termites, with high humidity, ample rainfall and abundant food sources. Georgian homeowners spend between $200 million and $300 million every year on repairs to damage caused by termites.

The good news for Savannah homeowners is that the highly destructive Formosan termite is not common in the area. However, two other types of termites, the subterranean termite and the drywood termite, are active in Savannah and other areas of Georgia. Eliminating the conditions termites require to thrive is the first, and most important, step in effective termite control.

How Termites Thrive

Termites require moisture and food to survive. They seek out wood, objects that contain cellulose and moist areas. They eat wood as well as plastic, paper, books and other plant-based materials. They require moisture to keep their bodies from drying out. 

Savannah's moist, warm climate is ideal for termites. In addition, areas within a home in any climate can provide optimum conditions for termites to live. Wet or decayed wood, contact of wood with soil and pooled moisture around foundations are favorable conditions for termites. 

Termites are social insects, forming nests with thousands of individuals. Subterranean termites build mud tubes that connect nests in the ground to food sources up to several hundred feet away, giving 24-hour access to your home. When conditions are right, they swarm and create new nests. Warning signs of termites include mud tubes with the insects inside, damaged wood and clusters of wings near wooden windows, doors or furniture. 

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Bed Bug Myths

A worldwide source of frustration, bedbugs infest dwellings ranging from hotels to apartments and single-family homes. While it is true that the bugs do bite, there is a lot of confusion about these parasites. Keep reading as we dispel some of the more popular myths.

Myth #1 - Bedbugs prefer unsanitary conditions

While bedbugs can thrive in dirty locations, cleanliness is not a deterrent. These parasites are attracted to carbon dioxide, warmth and a source of blood. The condition of your home does not matter.

Myth #2 - Bedbugs are only found in bedding materials

Although most often found in bedding material, the insects also may hide in carpeting, draperies and upholstery as well as the crevices of furniture and molding. Bedbugs will hide in any place situated close to people. 

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2018 Pest Control Tips

The world of pests and extermination continues to change every year. Invasive species reach new areas, insects evolve rapidly and humans find innovative ways to combat them. It's vital for Georgia residents to learn about these developments so that pests don't gain the upper hand. To reduce the likelihood of an infestation and eliminate any problems as quickly as possible, please follow these tips:

1. Handy mobile apps may help you banish pests. For instance, the free PestPro software makes it easier to recognize specific bug species. If you find a plant with a disease or parasites, you can identify the problem with a program called OpenPD. On the other hand, we don't recommend using smartphone apps to repel mosquitoes with ultrasonic sounds. Studies have found that this technique doesn't really work.

2. The popularity of desktop computers continued to fade in 2017. Notebook PCs save space and offer greater versatility, but they also increase the risk that you'll transport pests from one place to another. Unfortunately, bedbugs and various mites have been known to take up residence in laptop computers. Ventilation grates and keyboards provide them with convenient hiding places. Remember to carefully inspect unfamiliar surfaces, and think twice before putting this equipment on motel furniture!

3. Recent weather trends have exacerbated pest problems in Georgia and numerous other parts of the world. Meanwhile, it has become increasingly hard to kill parasites like fleas, lice and bedbugs. It's crucial to remain vigilant and take preventive action against a wide range of pests. Set aside a few hours to seal cracks, replace rotten wood and fix window screens. Before you buy a house, pay an exterminator to fully inspect it. Remember that any secondhand or rented furnishings could harbor vermin.

4. More and more pest control companies offer eco-friendly options. Be sure to learn more about these solutions and consider using them. Chemical-free treatments may involve botanical ingredients, traps or extreme heat. They reliably eliminate pests while safeguarding the health of people and pets. Pest control firms are also using the latest technology to upgrade their services. Don't be surprised when an exterminator arrives with a tablet computer or even uses a drone to inspect wasp nests!

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