Don’t Let Bug Bites Ruin Your Summer Fun!

Posted on July 18, 2014 by The Social Team

Ahhh, summer... sunny days, swimming pools, barbeques, campfires and – BUGS!

It’s the time of the year when all you and the kids want to do is to spend time outdoors and soak up summer fun. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when pests are the most active. You can avoid summer bug bites by familiarizing yourself with the most common threats. Keep your family protected with our guide to preventing bites.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are known to pack a powerful, itchy bite. They also pose a risk of transmitting West Nile virus and other diseases. These biters are drawn to standing water. Every 48 hours, empty items in your yard that hold water. Even the smallest amount of water held in a leaf or bottle cap can be enough for mosquitoes to breed. You can also make your yard less hospitable to mosquitoes by mowing regularly, keeping vegetation away from your home's foundation and clearing away leaves and debris. Dusk and dawn are prime insect biting hours for mosquitoes. If you are enjoying the outdoors during these times, make sure you cover up with long sleeves and pants to shield your skin. Wearing a bug repellant with DEET can also help to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Ticks

Ticks can attach themselves as you brush through tall grass and wooded areas. While a tick’s bite is not always dangerous, some can carry Lyme disease. To minimize the risk of being bit, wear closed-toe shoes, and tuck your pants into socks or boots for extra skin protection. After spending time outside, check your body – and your pets – for the eight-legged bugs. Wearing light-colored clothing can also make ticks easier to detect. If you do find a tick there is no need to panic. Removing a tick is usually easy, and only requires a pair of tweezers.

Wasps

The easiest way to avoid getting stung by wasps is to steer clear of their nests. Wasps are capable of stinging more than once. Try your best to resist the temptation to swat them away, as sudden movements can provoke them. Uncovered leftover food and unsealed garbage cans are typical gathering places for these insects. Make sure to clean up after grilling or picnicking and keep trash bins tucked away. If you think you might have a wasp nest in your yard, it’s best to call a professional to knock it down early, before it becomes too large.

Fire Ants

Fire ants live in large mounds that can be found scattered around your backyard. They have a stinger on their abdomen they use to defend themselves, and this is also how they sting humans. They will sting if they feel threatened, so be careful not to step in, or disturb their anthills. The best way to prevent a fire ant infestation is to seek professional help from a professional who can distribute effective pest control materials around your property.

 

There are effective ways to treat these pests, and HomeTeam is always happy to visit your property to give advice. For more information, please visit www.pestdefense.com, or call us at 855-855-4873855-855-4873.

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Don't Let Pests Move Into Your New Dream Home!

Posted on June 17, 2014 by The Social Team

Building a new home is a major undertaking. From picking flooring and paint, to cabinets and fixtures, there is no shortage of important decisions to make. When it comes to choosing how you will protect your family from unwanted pests, installing Taexx - the built-in bug barrier - is an easy selection.

Developed by HomeTeam Pest Defense, Taexx is the original Tubes in the Wall® system that can keep your new home free of common household pests. A network of small, perforated tubes that run through the walls of your home, Taexx creates an effective barrier that targets bugs where they live, hide and breed. With Taexx, pest control is easy and convenient.

Once Taexx is installed, HomeTeam technicians routinely inject pest control materials into the system through a service port located on an exterior wall of your home. The technicians not only service the system during their visit, but they also inspect your home’s perimeter for pest issues.

HomeTeam customers love that the Taexx system uses less pest control material than traditional pest treatments. By minimizing exposure to pest control materials inside your home, your family and pets are also protected. Pest control materials also last longer because, in the walls, they are not exposed to sunlight or rain.

The Taexx system can only be installed during new home construction, so check with your builder to see if they partner with HomeTeam to install the system. Even if you are not building a new home, you may have Taexx and not know it. Check your home’s exterior walls for a mounted port box. If you are unsure, call HomeTeam for confirmation.

The last thing you want to see are bugs scurrying across your floors. A new home is something to be proud of, and we want to help you protect your investment. Take the proactive approach, and eliminate insects at the source – all while keeping you and your family comfortable and protected. For more information on how the Taexx system can improve your home, contact HomeTeam Pest Defense today.

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How to Spot a Cockroach Infestation

Posted on May 15, 2014 by The Social Team

Think you might have a cockroach problem in your home? A national survey conducted by HomeTeam Pest Defense found that 40% of homeowners have experienced a problem with cockroaches. Cockroaches also rank among the top five pests that homeowners are concerned about.

Cockroaches are nocturnal insects that prefer to crawl around dark nooks and crannies. If you see one scamper across your kitchen floor during daylight hours, you may have an infestation. While cockroaches are year-round pests, you are more likely to see an influx in activity when weather changes occur.

Warmer temperatures and humid climates are the ideal living conditions for cockroaches. The most widespread types in the U.S. are the American and German cockroaches. The American cockroach is brown to reddish brown with a maximum size of 2.1 inches, while the German cockroach is pale brown and about ½ inch in size. Both can be found feasting on improperly bagged household trash and discarded food scraps. The best places to spot signs of an infestation are:

  • Behind kitchen appliances such as refrigerators, sinks and stoves
  • Under mats, rugs and floor drains
  • In cupboards and drawers
  • Within walls and behind wallpaper

Summer offers an ideal climate for cockroaches, so it is likely that you will encounter these pests at some point over the next couple of months. You can lessen the chance of an infestation in your home by following these guidelines to eliminate their preferred environments:

  1. Avoid leaving out dinner scraps and unwashed dishes. Keep leftover food stored in tight, covered containers whether they are on the counter or in your refrigerator.
  2. Wipe down all kitchen surfaces. Any sticky or sugary residue remaining on your counter, stove or floor after cooking is an invitation for cockroaches to snack.
  3. Fix leaky water sources. Keep moisture at a minimum by promptly repairing leaking pipes or faucets.
  4. Pick up after yourself. Make sure all of your trash makes it into the garbage bag and is securely covered to eliminate food sources.

If you see cockroaches out during the daytime, there are probably more hiding in your home. If you are worried you might have a cockroach infestation, HomeTeam would be happy to perform a thorough inspection of your home and perimeter to identify potential entry points and harborage areas.

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Harsh Winter Still Won’t Keep Bugs Away This Spring

Posted on April 24, 2014 by The Social Team

April showers bring May flowers but it also marks the beginning of high pest activity. Spring’s warmer weather and early rains are bringing out termites, scorpions, ants and mosquitoes.

Did colder conditions this winter kill off most pests?

The cold weather this winter may not have killed off as many pests as desired. Bugs have incredible mechanisms to survive cold, wintry conditions and winters with snow and ice do not guarantee that bugs will die off. While some insects migrate to warmer climates, others huddle together for warmth in trees, burrow deep into the ground for protection, or go dormant as larvae and cocoons. Blankets of snow can actually end up serving as insulation. Several pests crawl underground to the cozy confines and warmth under the snow. The weather conditions that insects dread the most are alternating freezing and thawing, with little to no snow cover to keep them warm.

How should homeowners prepare for the return of pests this spring?

Spring is an important time for homeowners to pest-proof their homes in preparation for the warmer months ahead. Help keep bugs out by following these tips from HomeTeam Pest Defense:

  • Eliminate water sources. All pests look for a source of water. Fix dripping taps and leaking pipes to remove the water and humidity that pests need to survive.
  • Seal potential entry points. Pests such as ants and spiders find their way indoors through cracks and crevices around doors, walls and windows.
  • Replace standard outdoor lights with yellow bug lights. Minimizing lighting outside your home may reduce the overall number of pests that swarm around your home.
  • Check for spider webs. Discourage web building by vacuuming or sweeping in corners around your home. Make sure to double check hard to reach nooks inside and outside your home as well!
  • Cut back tree branches and bushes to keep pests away from the side of your house and roof. There should be at least a one-foot gap between vegetation and your house.

If you suspect you have an insect or pest infestation, don’t hesitate to call our professionals to examine the interior and exterior of your home. For more information, please visit our website, pestdefense.com, or call us at 855-855-4873. We also invite you to join us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for additional tips and pest control ideas.

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Celebrate National Cleaning Week By Conquering Your Spring Cleaning Checklist

Posted on March 23, 2014 by The Social Team

It’s National Cleaning Week! Every year, the fourth week of March is reserved on our calendars as a time to put away our winter essentials and tidy up our homes in preparation for spring. HomeTeam Pest Defense is celebrating this year by sharing our favorite spring cleaning tips that help us stay organized.

Create A Schedule

Attempting to clean a dirty house can quickly become overwhelming. Make it easier on yourself by writing down what needs to be cleaned and what day it should be conquered. Breaking your to-do list down step-by-step will also help you realize which areas should be a higher priority. If you find yourself having a hard time developing a schedule, feel free to use our 30-day guide to help you stay on top of your cleaning checklist.

Tackle One Room At A Time

Once the cleaning is underway, it is easy to find yourself wanting to scrub, polish, and dust everything in sight at once. Separate your to-do list one step further by focusing your energy on cleaning one room at a time, and do not move on until you have accomplished cleaning the entire space. By designating one day for the kitchen and living spaces, another for bedrooms and bathrooms, and another for the garage, your daunting list will seem to shrink in size.

Start From The Top and Work Your Way Down

When tackling each room, start high up and work your way to the ground. Many people overlook ceiling fan blades, hanging lights, and air vents, so start by wiping down each of these fixtures. Then move on to washing the windows, blinds, doors and doorframes until you reach the floor. Once you begin wiping the baseboards, checking corners for cobwebs and vacuuming, you will collect up any extra dust and grime that might have fallen off of higher places.

Don’t Be Afraid to Move Around Furniture

When is the last time you moved your couch or peeked under your refrigerator? Junk has a way of accumulating under living room furniture, beds, and appliances, all of which are attractive places for pests to hide. Avoid missing hard-to-reach places by moving your furniture around to check for hidden dust bunnies. After washing or vacuuming the area, pick up any scraps that were previously hidden out of sight. Keeping these areas clean will help prevent future pest infestations.

Spring cleaning is a daunting task that all homeowners have to deal with, but staying organized and keeping up with your to-do list can make the chore much less intimidating. Maintaining a clean household is also the best way to prevent pests from inviting themselves into your home. If you find any traces of pest activity while cleaning your home, contact your local HomeTeam Pest Defense service professional.

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Identify Termites Before the Spring Swarm

Posted on February 18, 2014 by The Social Team

Homeowners rank termites as their most concerning pest with good reason. They are responsible for more than $5 billion in damage to homes in the U.S. every year according to the National Pest Management Association, and more than 10 percent of homeowners have a problem with them annually. Termites are difficult and expensive to treat, and their treatment is not typically covered by home insurance policies. They can affect the structure and value of your home, and spring is an important time to check for them and take action if needed.

Termites remain active all year, even during winter months. During cold, they move deeper into the ground to access the warmth they need to survive. Subterranean and drywood termites seek shelter and food in your home’s foundation and walls, which keeps them protected from the outdoor temperatures. As spring approaches and brings rising temperatures and rain, swarming or winged termites begin to emerge and set out to start new colonies.

Swarming termites may appear as early as February in warm and moist areas like Florida. One question we are often asked is how to tell the difference between a winged ant and a termite. Here is a link to our previous blog on that topic.

February is a great time to inspect your home for signs of a termite infestation. Some key things you should look for are:

Swarming Termites: Massive swarms are usually the first sign of termite infestation, and they can be very alarming with tens of thousands of termites in the swarm. Winged termites are attracted to light and will fly towards windows and light fixtures. If you find piles of small insect wings near your windows, doors, light fixtures, or in spider webs, there is a good chance that a swarm of termites is near and a termite colony may be nesting in your home.

Mud Tubes: Termites use these tunnels to travel from their homes in the soil to feed on the wood in your house. The tubes are usually brown and the width of a pencil, and are made of soil and partially digested plant material stuck together. Mud tubes run along concrete, drywall, or any other type of surface that extends upward. Even if you are have not seen evidence of a termite swarm, you should always check around your house for mud tubes, which are often the most visible sign of termite infestation.

Damaged Wood: Although it can be hard to spot, look for damaged wood around your home’s foundation. Termites feed on soft wood, like doorframes and window trim. Because termites hollow out the underlying wood, thin painted surfaces may be left intact. Termites can also feed on wood for several years before they swarm. Heavily infested wood typically has soil and mud tubes in it, causing the wood to be brittle and break apart easily.

Trained termite inspectors can inspect your home at any time of year to identify active or previous termite colonies. Should you see signs of termites yourself, we recommend you contact a trained pest professional for further inspection and treatment.

For more information on termites, visit pestworld.org.

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How To Spot and Treat Common Houseplant Pests

Posted on January 10, 2014 by The Social Team

Houseplants can help keep your home bright and festive during the gloomy winter months! While including them in your home is a great way to add color, they can lead to potential pest problems if not cared for properly. Here are a few common insects that can damage indoor plants.

Aphids

Aphids are small, oval-shaped insects that are usually green, but can be black, brown, orange or yellow. They are typically found in clusters on the underside of leaves or on flower buds and new tip growth. Aphids feed on plant sap which results in yellow, misshaped leaves. If the infestation is minor, spraying the plant with water can dislodge aphids. Insecticidal soap will also do the trick.


Mites

Mites are actually more closely related to spiders than insects. Sometimes, you can even see the white webbing they produce wrapped around stems and leaves. Since mites are so small, plant damage is typically the first sign of their presence. Look for mottled leaves or small strings of silky web hanging off your plants. Spraying both the top and bottom of the plant leaves with water should be enough to dislodge mites and break up their webs.


Scales

Scales leave sticky spots that appear as brown or white bumps near the surface and underside of leaves and stems. They feed on plant sap and leave behind a sticky secretion called “honeydew” that can lead to mold growth. An early infestation of scales can be rubbed off by scrapping the plant by hand. If the problem persists, spray the plant with insecticidal soap.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies resemble tiny moths with a powdery white appearance. Infested plant leaves turn yellow and exhibit stunted growth. If an infested plant is disturbed, whiteflies will flutter around and create a white cloud before settling again. To rid your plant of whiteflies, spray with water or insecticidal soap.

Being able to spot houseplant pests will give you a leg up on indoor insect problems. Knowing how to treat your plants correctly will also prevent future pest outbreaks. If an infestation spreads to your tabletops, carpets or walls, seek help from a pest professional.

You can find additional information on houseplant pests and how to treat them from The Office of Engagement at Colorado State University.

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Avoid Unpacking Clothes Moths This Winter By Learning How To Spot Their Damage Early

Posted on December 09, 2013 by The Social Team

Seasonal clothing sometimes falls victim to hasty and improper storing. If you are pulling out winter clothes, or digging in the attic for your prized ugly sweater party attire, look out for holes, silky webbing, or leftover cocoons – all of which are signs of clothes moths.

Because adult clothes moths hide from light sources and do not feed, you probably will not see them flying around your home. The adult moths are a quarter-inch wide and vary between dark beige and light brown in color, which can also make them hard to see or identify.

Where To Find Them

Finding holes in clothes hung in closets, or stored away in the attic or basement, is the first sign you may have a problem. Clothes moths are most commonly found on wool clothes and hats, or items containing down or fur. They tend to feed in the dark, hidden areas of clothes such as under collars and cuffs. Examine your clothes, focusing on these areas, and any places stained by food spills, perspiration or sweat. Moth problems usually start when an item of clothing is put away before it is cleaned. If clothes moths hitch a ride on one of these items, it is usually not long until the moths and larvae infect an entire closet of garments. If the infestation is severe, you may even find traces of silky webbing or discarded cocoons from larvae.

How They Damage Clothing

It is the moth’s larvae stage that causes the most damage to garments. Once the adults lay their eggs, it is only a couple weeks until the larvae emerge and start munching. Moth larvae are stationary and create holes in fabric by biting off fibers, chewing them into stumps then moving on to the next closest fiber. They remain in this damage-causing stage for a couple months.

How To Treat Infestations

When clothes moths infest, it is very important not to disturb live moths and spread the infestation.

  • Step 1: Dry clean anything made of wool or animal fibers that you have hanging in your closet. Wash the rest of your clothes that are in the immediate vicinity of the infected garment in very hot water.
  • Step 2: Vacuum the floors, shelves and corners in your closet to remove any traces of larvae or eggs.
  • Step 3: Store freshly dry-cleaned and washed articles in airtight containers to prevent clothes moths from intruding in the future.
  • For severe infestations, it is best call a professional.

If your closet has fallen victim to clothes moths, the damage is repairable if caught in time. Avoid the hassle clothes moths cause in the future by properly cleaning and storing seasonal clothing before packing it away and learning how to spot damage early.

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Dont let bed bugs hitch a ride during holiday travels

Posted on November 25, 2013 by The Social Team

Bed bugs can easily hitch a ride with unsuspecting travelers. While hotels are the most commonly reported location for infestations, all sectors of the travel industry are susceptible. As you prepare for the busiest travel time of the year, there are a few things you can do to help you sleep tight and preserve your holiday cheer. The following information will help you identify, prevent and treat bed bug infestations.

How to Identify Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are wingless, light brown to reddish-brown insects with flattened, oval-shaped bodies. Adult bed bugs are approximately one-fourth of an inch long, or about the size of an apple seed. They feed on blood and hide in cracks and crevices near their warm-blooded hosts. They can be found in furniture such as beds, couches, easy chairs, dressers and night tables, as well as electronic devices like alarm clocks and radios.

How Bed Bugs Travel

Infestations usually start when travelers bring bed bugs home in their luggage. Bed bugs are hard to get rid of because they are capable of living up to 12 months without a blood meal. Crowded transportation vehicles like trains, subways and taxies provide bed bugs with opportunities to move from place to place.

Tips to reduce the risk of bed bug problems
  • Check your sleeping room when away from home. Inspect the mattress, box springs and visible parts of the headboard, especially around the edges and seams. Look for little rust colored spots as a sign they’ve been around. Keep your suitcase off the floor (preferably on a flat hard surface or luggage rack) and avoid using the dresser drawers.

  • Once home, inspect your suitcase before bringing it indoors. Unpack and wash clothes in hot water and dry on high heat—the soap and water will help kill the bugs. One remedy for disinfecting your suitcase is to tightly enclose the suitcase in a large, black trash bag and set the bag in the hot sun for a few hours. The heat will kill the bed bugs.

  • Eliminating bed bugs requires professional help. If you think you have an infestation, a trained pest control technician will give you a list of steps to follow, including clearing the floor in the infested room, laundering bed linens and taking apart the bed. Three treatments are recommended by pest control professionals with visits spaced two weeks apart. The repeated treatments are needed because bed bugs can be resistant to some treatments and eggs can survive meaning they may hatch later.

Bed bugs can be found just about anywhere, even in the nicest resorts and well-cleaned homes. By knowing how to spot, prevent and treat them, you will be thankful to arrive back home with happy memories rather than a holiday travel nightmare.

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Before Thanksgiving, Prepare your Refrigerator for a Houseful of Guests, NOT a Houseful of Pests

Posted on November 14, 2013 by The Social Team

Homeowners often overlook household appliances when it comes to seasonal cleaning. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, now is the time to clean your refrigerator. Make room for holiday leftovers and prevent pests from enjoying your bounty! Here are some simple steps for a thorough clean inside and out:

  • Toss out anything past their prime, such as over ripened fruits, vegetables and grain-based foods. Signs of rot can attract fruit flies, gnats, mold, mites and earwigs.

  • Inspect cracks and crevices inside the refrigerator for food splashes and fallen crumbs. Grime can build up in these places because they are the hardest to reach and to keep clean.

  • Remove sticky food residue by wiping down interior walls, shelves and drawers. Use a mixture of warm water and baking soda (1 tablespoon of baking soda to 1 quart of water). If time permits, remove food from your freezer and turn it off to allow it to defrost before wiping it down with cleaner.

  • While the freezer is defrosting, pull out the entire unit and clean the floor, walls and surrounding areas. Check under and around the exterior area for any food that might have slipped out of sight. You may be surprised at how much residue can build up unnoticed. Don’t let this become a perfect buffet for pests such as cockroaches, scorpions, ants and rodents. Also, be sure to double check for dampness and leaks, as this can be an accessible water source for pest survival.

  • Try to limit the amount of time food and produce is kept out of your refrigerator. Remember that cooked foods should also always be kept in airtight containers with lids to keep pests from enjoying their own feast!

Holidays can be fun but also stressful, so try to relax and enjoy them. This easy guide will help prepare your home for a houseful of guests, not a houseful of pests.

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