Beware of Creepy Crawlers – How to Prevent & Control

While you may be ready to pull out your bags of candy and chocolate for those neighborhood trick-or-treaters, there is something else that you should be ready to deal with in this month of more than just friendly ghouls and goblins.

October brings with it not just a fun holiday, but also some unpleasant bugs that may invade your home. The pests we will focus on this month all have in common their tendency to bite humans and even draw blood. The four pests of October to look out for include: bed bugs, mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs feed on mostly human blood, by puncturing the skin with their elongated beaks. While their bites can be a rude awakening in the middle of the night, it has never been proven that bed bugs actually carry disease-causing pathogens, at least in the United States.

Bed bugs spread through clothing and baggage of travelers and through secondhand beds, bedding, furniture and laundry. Experts believe that the cause for the rise in bed bugs are due to an increase in global travel and mobility, the banning of DDT along with reduced use of urban pesticides. In fact, about a year ago, a wide-scale bedbug epidemic enveloped New York City. While the bed bug threat is not a red flag in Texas, homeowners should employ control methods to keep them from hiding in mattresses, clothing, and/or other bedding.

Control Bed Bugs

First, you must know where the bed bugs are hiding in order to remove them. Once you know where they are, improve sanitation by vacuuming or removing the bugs by hand. Depending on your situation, you may need to treat the infested area with an insecticide approved for this use and specifically for bed bug control. Spray or dust bed slats, springs, frame, and other hiding places in the room. Do not use any insecticide on a mattress unless the product label specifically gives directions for this use.

It is impossible to cover all bed bug hiding places, so control is not immediate. You may see living bugs for a week to ten days after application. After this timeframe, you can apply a second treatment to kill the newly hatching bugs. The pesticides used for bed bug control have a short residual life, and so this second application is always needed.

Some additional prevention/control methods include:

  • Store all your accessible food in rodent-proof containers such as glass or metal
  • Bag up all clothing in plastic garbage bags, which must be sealed airtight.
  • Dry-clean garments. Chemicals in dry-cleaning can kill bedbugs; washers and dryers will kill them only at temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Bag books, papers, pictures, most loose objects and contents of closets to exterminators have access to all cracks and crevices in the home.

If your bed bug situation is serious and will not be solved by do-it-yourself methods, please contact a professional to assist you.

Mosquitoes

While bed bugs do not carry diseases, mosquitos are a whole other story. Besides the annoyance factor, mosquitoes can also transmit many disease-causing organisms to humans and animals. They spread such diseases as West Nile virus, encephalitis, dengue, yellow fever, malaria and filariasis. Mosquitoes are also responsible for transmitting heartworm in dogs.

Mosquito Control

The TX Cooperative Extension provides many ways to prevent mosquitos from invading your home and biting you and your family:

Eliminate breeding sites for larvae

  • Reduce standing water that provides breeding sites. Eliminate containers such as old tires, buckets, cans and bottles that collect and hold rainwater and become good breeding sites for mosquitoes. Drain water from flower pots, bird baths, rain gutters, rain barrels, birdbaths, pet dishes, livestock watering troughs, etc. at least once a week.
  • Empty your plastic wading pool weekly and store it indoors when not in use.
  • Fill holes or depressions in trees with sand or mortar, or drain them after each rain by drilling holes into the tree.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets.

Reduce adult mosquito populations

  • Mow tall grass or reduce the amount of brush and other foliage in your area to reduce the resting sites for adult mosquitoes.
  • For temporary relief in yards or high traffic areas, use fog treatments or surface treatments of insecticides that are labeled for that use and apply them following directions on the product label. Avoid contact with mosquitoes.
  • Use screening in your homes and pet kennels. Keep the screens in good repair and be sure that they seal around the frames of the door or window.
  • Schedule outdoor activities during times when mosquitoes are not active. Mosquito species that are active at dusk and dawn can often be avoided. Species that bite throughout the day are more difficult to avoid.
  • Wear long, loose-fitting clothing to avoid mosquito bites. Use head nets when mosquitoes are abundant.
  • Use repellents whenever in a mosquito infested location.
  • For short-term relief in outdoor areas such as patios and picnic areas, use a fogger and citronella candles or punks as a deterrent.
  • Protect your pets with heart-worm treatments, which can be purchased from grocery stores or pet specialty stores.

Ticks

Ticks can be found on both humans and dogs. In urban areas, the most common tick is the brown dog tick. Dogs can become seriously infested with ticks to the point where it can be fatal, due to heavy blood loss. Ticks usually feed on more than one host during their lives, thus, they are able to transmit diseases to both humans and animals. Some transmitted diseases can be similar to the flu while others result in rashes, fever, or joint stiffness. If you experience any abnormal rash or illness after being bitten by a tick, the best thing to do would be to seek a doctor for treatment.

Ticks can cause many ailments. Some of them include: itching and inflammation of the skin, swelling around the bite, infections, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia (a disease that affects the lymph nodes and causes fever), and lyme disease-a disease that can cause arthritis and nervous disorders.

Cattle pastures, brushy areas and the edges of forests and fields are the best places for ticks. Ticks stick themselves to your skin when they bite. Using hot matches or grease will not remove ticks from your skin and can even increase the risk of infection. Instead, to remove ticks, grasp the tick as close to the head as possible with tweezers. Remove it with a firm, slow pull without twisting. Do not touch it or crush it with your bare hands because you may pick up germs or be at risk for infection. Apply an antiseptic to the skin after removing the tick. You can follow the same steps to remove ticks from a pet.

Tick Control

Protect yourself and your pets from tick bites by following some of the control methods the Cooperative suggests:

  • Make it harder for ticks to enter clothing by tucking shirttails inside pants and wearing long pants and shirts.
  • Use duct tape or wide masking tape to seal pants cuffs to boots. Tucking your pants legs inside your socks is also effective.
  • Avoid sitting on the ground or on logs in brushy, tick-infested areas. Ticks often crawl around on a host for hours before biting. When in tick-infested areas, have a friend check you frequently for ticks before they attach.
  • Around the home, keep tall grass and weeds cut short. Ticks like to climb vertical surfaces to rest after feeding. When treating yards for brown dog ticks, spray the siding of the house, fences, trees and other hiding places as well as the lawn.
  • When using insecticides, follow label directions carefully and do not apply more than is recommended. Tick insecticides can be dangerous to pets and children if misapplied.

Fleas

The last of the four blood suckers is the tiny and wingless flea. While small and almost microscopic, fleas ironically cost Americans almost $9 billion a year to control them. In Texas, the most common flea problems are caused by the cat flea, which feeds on cats, dogs, and wildlife. This particular type of flea does not normally live on humans, but do bite people who come in close contact with infested animals.

Flea bites cause small, red, itchy bumps, usually on the ankles and lower legs. People with allergies to flea bites suffer from hives, rashes or generalized itching. Allergic reactions usually appear 12 to 24 hours after a bite, and may last a week or more.

Fleas that have fed on rodents may transmit diseases, including plague and murine typhus. Protect yourself from these diseases by avoiding close contact with wild rodents such as squirrels, rats, and prairie dogs. On the other hand, cat fleas do not carry plague.

Flea Control

The Cooperative suggests keying in to an integrated flea control program to prevent and eliminate fleas from the home.

Sanitation: Change pet bedding regularly and vacuum thoroughly. Vacuuming removes up to 30 percent of the larvae and up to 60 percent of flea eggs from a carpet, as well as the larvae’s food supply of dried blood. Vacuum under furniture, cushions, chairs, beds, and along walls. Discard vacuum cleaner bags at least once a week. Fleas can continue to develop inside vacuum cleaner bags and re-infest the house.

Treating Pets: Your pet’s first line of defense against fleas is a flea comb and a good bath. Soap acts as a gentle insecticide and helps control light infestations on your pet. Though time consuming, combing helps reduce the need for insecticides. Flea combs have fine teeth that remove adult fleas from fur. Most dogs and cats seem to enjoy this treatment – pay special attention to the face and neck, and the area in front of the tail. Dip the comb frequently in soapy water or an alcohol solution to kill fleas removed from the pet. Insect growth regulators, or IGRs, are a safe preventative treatment for fleas. Spot-on treatments (pesticides applied to one or more spots on the animal’s back) control adult fleas effectively. Natural oils on the fur also help transfer the pesticide to all parts of the pet’s body.

Got Fleas, but No Pets?

Just because your home doesn’t have pets does not mean that you are 100% safe from fleas. Homes can become infested with fleas when no pets are present. Wild animals such as bats, roof rats, squirrels, raccoons, and wild dogs and cats around the home, especially if you live in a highly wooded and forested area, may be the source of an infestation.

Call a pest control professional to seal off any openings that wildlife and rodents may use to enter your home.

While October may be a month of Halloween and fun festivities, make sure you know how to control bed bugs, mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas, before they control your home, family, and pets!

Preparing the Family Pet to Welcome The Newborn

Is your dog intensely jealous of your affections? Does she always try to come between you and your spouse when you get close? Then naturally her reaction towards the new addition in the family who will certainly grab all the attention may not be pleasant. You need to prepare her for the change to be followed so as to make her interactions with the new baby safe. It’s hard for a dog who’s always been treated like a baby to roll over and play dog when a real baby appears on the scene. But that’s exactly what she’ll have to do when her place in your heart has to be shared by that tiny but threatening new addition you’ll soon be bringing home from the hospital. Though a little initial moping around may be unavoidable, you’ll want to do whatever you can to prevent excessive jealousy and, of course, any aggressive reactions. Start now,

    Invest in an obedience training programme for your dog if she isn’t trained already – and even if you’ve never felt there was the need for it before. Friskiness and puppy-like exuberance aren’t usually a problem in a childless home, but they could be in one with a new baby. Particularly because the baby’s behaviour won’t be controllable or predictable, your dog’s must be. Obedience training won’t take the spirit out of your pet, but it will make her more stable, and thus less likely to harm your baby.
    Get your dog used to babies now, if you can. Invite friends with babies over to the house, or let her (under careful supervision, and if the parent is willing) sniff near a baby in the park or be petted by a toddler, so that she can become familiar with their smells and their moves. Alternatively you can apply baby powder or baby oil on yourself to make your pet familiar with the smell.
    Get your dog used to the life with a baby in the house. Use a baby-size dolls as a prop in her training. Put a nappy on the doll; carry, sing to, and rock it; nurse it; put it to bed in the cot; take it for a walk in the pram (if you don’t mind the neighbours staring). Now and then play a tape of a baby crying.
    Take your dog for a complete medical checkup. Be sure that your dog is flea and tick-free (ask your vet about using a pill or another method that’s effective against these pests yet safe to use around your baby). Also be sure to have your dog checked for worms of any kind.
    If your dog’s feeding station is one your baby will later be able to get to easily, move it to the cellar, garage or some other area that doesn’t invite a curious crawler, since even an easy going dog can become vicious when her food is threatened. If you live in a small apartment, get your dog on an evening feeding schedule and remove her food dish during the day. Don’t even leave her food around when the dog is safely outside, because they may pose a choking hazard if your baby manages to swallow it.
    After delivery, but while you’re still in the hospital or birthing centre, have your spouse bring home an unwashed piece of clothing your newborn has worn so that your pet can become familiar with the baby’s scent. When you arrive home, let your spouse hold the baby while you greet your pet. Then to satisfy her curiosity, let the dog sniff the baby who should be well swaddled, with head and face protected by your arms. Once the baby’s snug in the cot, break out a special treat for the dog and spend a little time alone with her.
    Be attentive to your new baby, of course, but don’t act overprotective around your dog. This will only make the animal more jealous and insecure. Instead, as you would with a human sibling (though on a different level, naturally), try to get your pet involved with the new addition and let her know she’s still a loved member of the family. Pet her while you nurse, walk her while you take the baby out in the pram, allow her into the baby’s room while you’re there. Try to make a point of spending at least five minutes every day alone with her. But should she show even the slightest aggressiveness towards your baby, reprimand her immediately.
    If, despite your efforts to prepare and reassure her, your dog seems hostile towards the new arrival, keep her tied up and away from the baby until you re sure she’s worked out her feelings. Just because a dog has never bitten before doesn’t mean she’s not capable of it under duress. If tying up the dog only adds to her hostility you may have to consider finding another home for her.

African Clawed Frogs As Pets

Over the last few years, there has been an increasing popularity of keeping frogs as pets. The African Clawed Frog is no exception. Although a little less interactive than non-aquatic frogs, they are a joy to have if you truly want a frog for a pet. Unlike tree frogs or toads, African clawed frogs are aquatic. That means that stay in the water all the time, and come to the surfaced to breathe.

Widely used for in scientific experiments, Xenopus have bread domestically for years. They were used for human pregnancy tests, before more modern methods came into play. The female Xenopus was exposed to the urine of a woman, and if the frog laid eggs the woman was pregnant.

Today you can find African Clawed Frogs in many pet and discount stores including Wal-Mart. They are usually small when purchased, but can grow to be five inches in length. Some females have been reported to grow up to eight inches.

These frogs have healthy appetites, and will consume almost anything in the tank. If they can get it in their mouths, they will eat it, including fish or other animals. They will even eat live aquarium plants. You can purchase specially formulated frog food at many pet stores or online. If you do not have access to frog food, they will eat floating goldfish pellets, or shrimp pellets. An occasional treat of ghost shrimp or small fish is nice, but should not be considered a staple. They will also eat worms. A big juicy night crawler cut into a couple of pieces is always welcome.

Since these frogs grow at a rapid rate, an aquarium of at least ten gallons is necessary. You may want to choose large rocks instead of gravel for you aquarium. There is a chance that gravel could be ingested and cause an impaction problem.

A filter is not mandatory for frog tanks, but may help to keep the water cleaner. You may also want to do partial water once a week to insure water quality. Always keep a cover on your frog tank, because these frogs are great jumpers. If your frog were to jump out, and be left unattended for an extended period of time, it would die. There skin will dry out relatively quickly.

With the right equipment and some tender loving care you frog will make an excellent pet for years to come. There are some reports of these frogs living for 20 to 25 years!

Dealing With Pets and Flea Bombs Cost and Efficiency

Taking Care of Your Pets

To have the maximum effect, you will need to procure an adequate amount of flea bombs to envelop your entire home. A number of pesticides are premeditated from a bomb to cover a single room so with multiple rooms, you will of course need multiple devices.

Go for a flea bombs that include the element called Insect Growth Regulator or the IGR. This puts off parasites from reaching their mating period. Before employing the bombs you will want to remove large furniture or stack them so that as much carpeting is showing as possible so the chemicals can penetrate it. The bomb cannot deliver the maximum effectiveness to mattresses and/or other furniture and fixtures that are covered and this is where the pests like to hide so make sure when using flea bombs these areas are uncovered.

Taking Care of Pets is the Responsibility of Pet Owners

Another reality of owning pets is the small creatures that they can bring into your home. Both dogs and cats can, while outdoors, be infested by ticks and fleas and bring them into your house where they will then, in turn, bother family members.

Fleas begin as a small predicament but often develop into much more bigger problems if not taken care of. There are many ways to take care of this problem and proper research should be done to see what is in your budget and practical for your situation. A number of these options are pricey while others, considering the alternative of vet bills as well as potential health hazards to the family, are quite economical.

The Facts about These Itchy Creatures

Fleas are annoying little insects that nibble your household pets and even their owners as soon as they swarm their homes. These bites irritate and can even make an individual sick from infected bites. It is better to do away of them using pesticides and devices such as a flea bomb often.

If homeowners or pet owners do not have a budget to spend using a specialist, they can use a number of home-grown pesticides. Home-produced anti-flea products will not cost a lot of money and a number of these insecticides may already be in your home. Check the Internet for these home remedies for more information.

The Reality of These Scratchy Crawlers

Fleas and other insects can be a real nuisance and preventative measures such as a flea bomb used regularly can ensure that your pets, as well as family members, are not bothered by these little pests. Just ensure that all safety precautions and instructions on the use of these items are followed. For example, you will not want to be in your home for a few hours while you use these, take the opportunity to take your pet out for a walk to the park or something.