Archive for July, 2010

Meet the critters inside your mattress

July 30, 2010

(CNN) — It’s a wild, nasty world under the sheets.

The mattress can be a jungle of dust mites and bedbugs, milling around among dried remnants of blood, saliva, sweat and basically all the other bodily fluids you can think of.

Bedbugs have become minor celebrities this week with a report from the National Pest Management Association showing that the problem is on the rise. Bedbug calls have gone up by 81 percent since 2000, the study said, and 67 percent of surveyed pest management companies have treated bedbug infestations in hotels or motels.

These insects are about a quarter-inch long and eat at night, said Howard Russell, entomologist with diagnostic services at Michigan State University. Impressively, while humans can live only a matter of weeks without food, bedbugs can live up to one year without eating — and their meals consist of blood.

“They’re well-adapted to being a parasite,” Russell said. “It’s really hard to starve them out.”

Bedbugs, which leave behind itchy bite marks and can even lead to allergic reaction in some people, aren’t the only pests that could be lurking beneath your pillow.

About 10 percent of people are sensitive to house dust mites, said Dr. Clifford Bassett, an allergist in New York. They are even more of a problem for people with asthma.

As if the presence of microscopic eight-legged vermin weren’t gross enough, consider that it’s not the mites that cause some people to cough and sneeze. It’s their excrement.

If this is a problem, consider trying an “allergy-proof” slip cover on your mattress to keep the mites trapped in, so they can’t access your sheets and pillows, he said. Also, wash your linens in 130° F heated water frequently. Children’s toys can also serve as home to dust mites, so if they’re not machine-washable, put them in bags in the freezer for five hours at a time to kill the invisible bugs.

Good vacuuming of the mattress itself is a key line of defense against allergy-causing mites, said Dr. Sharon Horesh Bergquist, assistant professor in the department of medicine at Emory University.

“I don’t think people give a lot of thought and energy into proper mattress care.

“It really can improve not only the quality of people’s sleep but also reduce their chances of having mites and infestations of bedbugs,” she said. “It can go a long way.”

Having a mattress pad, particularly of the waterproof kind, is also good to prevent mold and mildew issues, in addition to helping control allergens, said Evan Saks, founder of create-a-mattress.com. Don’t forget to wash the pad every few months, he said.

Also, be a little cautious about letting outdoor pets on the bed, Bergquist said. Other kinds of vermin such as lice and scabies can get into the mattress as well, although they are less common than mite and bedbug problems.

This is a model of a house dust mite, a tiny creature that has eight legs.

This is a model of a house dust mite, a tiny creature that has eight legs.

All of these bugs and the traces they leave behind, along with the fluids and hair of the human body and whatever pets might hang out on the bed, add up. Companies such as Sit ‘N Sleep Mattress Superstore warn that mattresses double in weight every eight to 10 years because of that accumulation of dust mites, bodily fluids and other wear and tear.

But Saks says claims of mattresses doubling weight are probably exaggerated. That would mean that the mattress would weigh four times as much in 20 years, which is “obviously not possible,” he said. Bergquist is also skeptical about claims of mattresses doubling in weight.

Saks says you should pay attention to the warranty on your mattress — when it runs out, that’s probably a good time to get rid of the mattress. Over time, the foams and coils compress, making it less comfortable.

The warranty usually gives instructions on taking care of the mattress, and usually recommends rotating it every two weeks in the first few months to even out the impressions left by sleeping bodies. Eventually you can just rotate it every six months, he said.

If you suspect that there are bedbugs in your hotel room, don’t leave your luggage in there or cover it with plastic bags so that you don’t take them home with you, Russell said.

A mattress infested with bedbugs should be thrown out right away, Russell said, or else covered with a heavy-duty plastic bag.

Here’s how you tell if the nagging red spots on your legs came from bedbugs or mosquitoes: it’s the bedbugs that leave dark, reddish-brown spots on the sheets because they defecate as they feed, he said.

“Inspection is really a key element in identifying a bedbug problem and preventing a bedbug problem,” he said. “A magnifying glass would help you in your quest to find them.”

Via http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/07/30/mattress.bedbugs.dust.mites/?hpt=C2

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Check out the Giant Prickly Stick!

July 29, 2010

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July 27, 2010
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Florida bedbug Control Services ~ Al Hoffer’s

July 26, 2010

Bedbug infestation reports grow in Volusia County

The Volusia County Agriculture Extension Center is seeing an increase in reports of bedbugs throughout the county.

The National Pest Management Association, which represents many of the country’s pest control companies, says the number of bedbug reports has increased fivefold in four years and no one knows exactly why.

Before World War II, bedbug infestations were common in the U.S., but they were virtually eradicated through improvements in hygiene and the widespread use of DDT in the 1940s and 1950s.

Bedbugs are blood-feeding insects that feed mainly on the blood of humans, but also suck blood from other animals, such as birds, bats and rodents. Bedbugs usually feed at night when people are asleep because the host is unaware that they are being fed upon. As bedbugs feed, they inject a salivary secretion into the wound to prevent coagulation. This fluid often causes the skin to itch and become swollen. Scratching causes sores which may become infected. Bedbugs are not known to transmit any human pathogens but can cause emotional distress to those affected.

Bedbugs generally infest dwellings such as houses, hotels, dormitories and cruise ships, but have also been known to invade subways, movie theaters, nursing homes, hospitals and planes. During the day, bedbugs hide in cracks and crevices and can be found in wall outlets, behind baseboards, wallpaper and pictures, between bed joints and slats, along the seams of mattresses and in bed linens. They are difficult to detect and locate, making control difficult.

These pests “hitchhike” on clothes, suitcases, furniture and bedding. A single, pregnant female that is transferred to a different location can begin a new infestation.

LIFE CYCLE

The adult bedbug is about 1/4-inch long, ovoid in shape and has no wings. It is generally brown in color except after a blood meal. One female can produce a total of 200-500 eggs in her lifetime, laying anywhere from 10 to 50 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch in one to three weeks, reaching adulthood in 35 to 48 days.

Adults can survive for 6 to 7 months without a blood meal and have been known to live in abandoned houses for a year.

One successful method of detection is bedbug-detecting canines. They can locate early infestations, even as few as one adult bedbug, leading to cheaper and more successful control.

Monitoring devices can also be used for detection. Traps placed around beds and sofas can confirm an infestation. There are also monitoring systems that use carbon dioxide and heat as an attractant.

CONTROL

Several methods may be used to combat bedbugs. Combining many methods usually yields the best result. Steps can be taken by the homeowners to optimize the possibility for success.

Begin by vacuuming all the carpets as well as visible bedbugs from the furniture. Once finished, seal and remove the vacuum bag and place in a ziplock bag, then in a deep freezer for at least a week. The four posts of the bed can then be placed in glass dishes. Bedbugs cannot climb smooth surfaces. All bedding should be laundered with soap and a borax additive and dried at a high temperature. Clothing, pillows and drapery should be dry-cleaned. Also, contents inside dresser drawers should be emptied in order for insecticides to be sprayed under the drawers.

Insecticides are one option of control, but in order to be effective, most insecticides must be applied directly on the insect.

Most pest control companies budget about five to 10 hours to treat a typical bedroom. Because eggs are not affected by the spray, the treatment must be repeated after about two weeks to kill newly hatched nymphs.

Dust formulations are usually preferred over sprays. A number of pesticides are available for use.

Heat is a control method that has been used since the early 1900s. Bedbugs die at temperatures above 113 degrees. There are many pest control companies that offer some kind of heat treatment to kill bedbugs.

Clothes, sheets and other bedding can be placed in a clothes dryer at high heat for about 15 minutes to kill all bedbugs.

It is not recommended that homeowners build their own heat treatment chambers. Seek a licensed pest control professional.

Karen Stauderman is a Volusia County residential horticulture extension agent. Reach her at 3100 E. New York Ave., DeLand, FL 32724-6497, 386-822-5778 or e-mail: kstauderman@co.volusia.fl.us.

South Florida bedbug Control Company

Hillsborough steps up spraying in wake of encephalitis death

July 22, 2010

TAMPA – The woman who died earlier this month from Eastern equine encephalitis is the first human case of the mosquito-borne disease in Hillsborough County since 1964 and the first death in the U.S. since 2008.

In reaction to the death and positive tests for other diseases such as West Nile Virus, the county increased mosquito control efforts in northwest Hillsborough, where the woman lived, said Donny Hayes, general manager of Hillsborough County Mosquito Control.

Trucks sprayed the area Friday night, and Tuesday morning an aircraft sprayed in an attempt to kill the female mosquitoes that carry the virus.

The county plans another round of aerial spraying in northwest Hillsborough early Thursday morning.

Crews also stepped up daytime spraying of stagnant water where the mosquito larvae live and increased trapping efforts to discover the extent of the mosquito population, Hayes said.

The woman’s death from the rare but highly lethal virus comes amid signs mosquito-borne diseases are possibly more prevalent in Hillsborough County than in the past few years.

Monitoring for disease-carrying mosquitoes in Hillsborough County so far in 2010 has yielded two to three times more positive tests than in the past three or four years. This year, 15 of the sentinel chickens tested positive in Hillsborough for West Nile virus or Eastern equine encephalitis.

Normally at this time of year, five to seven of the chickens caged at different locations to provide an early warning for mosquito-borne illnesses test positive. West Nile virus appears especially prevalent.

“We’re seeing an increase across the board,” said Steve Huard, Hillsborough County Health Department spokesman.

West Nile hasn’t shown up as much in Pinellas. In May, two chickens tested positive, said Maggie Hall, spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Health Department.

The Hillsborough health department won’t identify the woman who died July 1 but tests confirmed Friday that she died from Eastern equine encephalitis, Huard said.

Mosquitoes spread the disease by biting infected birds, then biting people. Horses also can contract the virus but it cannot spread from horses to people, from person to person or human to horse.

Though rare, the virus can cause a swelling of the brain. About one-third of the people infected die. Another one-third survives but with serious neurological effects, said Danielle Stanek, medical epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health. The rest recover.

There is no treatment for the virus and no vaccine for humans. A vaccine is available for horses.

Florida usually sees up to three human cases a year. Some years, such as 2009, have none, Stanek said.

Since 1955, 74 people in Florida have contracted Eastern equine encephalitis.

Once health officials investigate the woman’s death, they will probably find she had more exposure to mosquito bites than most people, said Jonathan Day, a University of Florida medical entomologist.

“It is a numbers game. The more you’re bitten, the more chance you have of getting it,” Day said.

Equine encephalitis generally is considered a rural disease, partly because the mosquito that spreads the virus from bird to bird lives in marshes and swamps, Day said. That mosquito does not bite humans.

Other mosquitoes spread the disease to people after biting an infected bird. One, Culex nigripalpus, is everywhere during the wet summer months.

“You’ll find it from downtown Tampa to rural areas,” Day said.

It primarily feeds from dusk until about three hours after sundown and also carries West Nile virus.

Another mosquito vector for the virus breeds in ponds that have aquatic vegetation, Hayes said.

That insect, Coquillettida perturbans, feeds day and night and is an aggressive biter, he said.

Via: http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/jul/20/211604/1st-fatal-equine-encephalitis-case-2008-confirmed/news-breaking/

Mosquito Control

Bed bugs re-emerging at scary rate ~ Al Hoffer’s Pest Termite Lawn Protection

July 20, 2010

The Discovery Channel’s Jorge Ribas recently interviewed Mike Raupp of the University of Maryland Department of Entomology about the rise of bed bugs. Raupp explained that bed bugs have re-emerged due to increased global travel as well as the pest control industry’s movement away from residual pesticides. Ribas cited data from the National Pest Management Association, which reported a 71 percent increase in bed bug calls since 2001.

Click here to watch the video.

How Can I Keep My Home From Being Infested by Termites?

July 19, 2010

There are numerous ways you can reduce the chance of your home being infested by Formosan and other subterranean termites:

  • Remove any wood or cellulose-containing material (such as cardboard) that is in direct contact with bare ground.
  • Carefully inspect wooden items, especially railroad ties, for termites before buying them.
  • Do not leave wooden items such as planters, tubs, trellises, railroad ties, firewood, and stakes on top of or in bare ground.
  • Anchor wooden posts for fences, decks, porches, sheds, etc. in cement so that no wood is contacting bare ground.
  • Structural wood at or near ground level should be pressure-treated with a wood preservative. Preservatives mainly protect against wood-decaying fungi but are also effective against termites.
  • Maintain a zone of at least one foot around the outside of your home that is clear of plants and other landscaping materials. This reduces soil moisture and makes it easier to inspect for shelter tubes coming up from the ground.
  • Install rain gutters to prevent water from dripping down around the perimeter of your home.
  • Keep rain gutters clear so that water drains quickly and does not accumulate and soak the upper walls and roof of your home.
  • Fix or replace leaky outdoor faucets and water lines.
  • Gutter downspouts and air conditioner condensate lines should empty out at least one foot away from the base of the home.
  • The ground next to your home should slope away so that water does not pool next to it.
  • Keep sprinklers from wetting the walls of your home.
  • Fix leaks in the basement, roof, water heater, appliances, and other sources inside your home. These leaks moisten wood and create damp environments that Formosan and other subterranean termites like to live in.
  • Remove all wooden grade stakes, form boards, supports, and scrap wood after finishing construction or remodeling.
  • Remove dead trees and plants including the roots and stumps, if possible, from your yard.
  • Eliminate or reduce the use of mulch and wood chips around the foundation of your home. This eliminates cooler and moist soil conditions favored by Formosan and other subterranean termites.

Also, as part of the Florida Building Code, a standard Termite Protection Code for new construction requires building designs and construction practices that should reduce termite problems and make it easier to find infestations.

Al Hoffer’s Home Page

U.S. News and World Report: Dengue infection re-emerges in florida: CDC

July 16, 2010

U.S. News and World Report: Dengue infection re-emerges in florida: CDC

WEDNESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) — Health officials monitoring residents of Key West, Fla., for exposure to dengue virus were alarmed to find that more than 5 percent of the population (about 1,000 people) were exposed to the pathogen in 2009.

// Click here to find  out more!

“We’re concerned that if dengue gains a foothold in Key West, it will travel to other southern cities where the mosquito that transmits dengue is present, like Miami,” Harold Margolis, chief of the dengue branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a CDC news release.

Dengue — the most common virus transmitted by mosquitoes — causes up to 100 million infections and 25,000 deaths worldwide each year. Between 1946 and 1980, there were no reported cases of dengue acquired in the continental United States, and there hasn’t been an outbreak in Florida since 1934, the CDC said.

Dengue fever typically involves a high fever, headache, rash and pain in the muscles, bones and joints. Infection can, in rare cases, infection can lead to a more severe illness called dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can prove fatal. There is no vaccine against dengue viruses.

“These cases [in Key West] represent the re-emergence of dengue fever in Florida and elsewhere in the United States after 75 years. These people had not traveled outside of Florida, so we need to determine if these cases are an isolated occurrence or if dengue has once again become endemic in the continental United States,” Margolis said.

Since 1980, there have been a few locally acquired dengue cases in Texas along the Mexican border. These cases coincided with large outbreaks in neighboring Mexican cities, the authors of the news release noted.

Health officials started looking for dengue in Key West after a New York state resident developed a dengue infection after visiting Key West. By the end of 2009, 27 cases of dengue infection had been confirmed in Key West residents. As of the end of June 2010, an additional 12 cases of locally acquired dengue had been reported in Key West and surrounding areas.

Blood samples collected in 2009 from 240 people in randomly selected households in Key West found that 5 percent had dengue active in their systems or had dengue antibodies, suggesting that they’d experienced dengue disease within the previous three months.

As a result, officials at the CDC and the Florida Department of Health have continued monitoring for dengue cases in the Key West area.

“The mosquito that transmits dengue likes to bite in and around houses, during the day and at night when the lights are on,” Margolis said. “To protect you and your family, CDC recommends using repellant on your skin while indoors or out. And when possible, wear long sleeves and pants for additional protection.”

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about dengue fever.

Suspected dengue fever case found in Miami-Dade

July 15, 2010

BY FRED TASKER AND CAMMY CLARK

ftasker@MiamiHerald.com

The first suspected locally acquired case of dengue fever in Miami-Dade County was reported Thursday by county health officials. A viral disease that afflicts 100 million worldwide every year, it hadn’t been seen in Florida since 1934.

“Dengue is a viral disease transmitted by a breed of mosquito common to the southeastern United States and the tropics,” the Miami-Dade Health Department said in a news release. “It is not spread from person to person. More than 100 million cases of dengue occur every year worldwide.”

Symptoms include a high fever, severe headache with pain behind the eyes, a rash and pain in bones and joints, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no vaccine, and doctors treat mainly symptoms. It is seldom fatal except to the very young and elderly with other health conditions.

Health workers urged residents to protect themselves by avoiding the outdoors at dusk and dawn, wearing clothing that protects the body, applying mosquito repellent that contains DEET and draining all open containers of water from porches and patios.

The Miami-Dade announcement came as Key West health officials also found a second small outbreak in Key West.

“I don’t want people to think they have to stay indoors,” said Bob Eadie, administrator of the Monroe County Health Department, “but at the same time, I don’t want to minimize it.”

Key West had 27 cases in 2009 in an outbreak that stopped with the end of mosquito season in mid-October. But since April of this year, 16 new cases have been confirmed.

On Tuesday, a warning was issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We’re concerned that if dengue gains a foothold in Key West, it will travel to other southern cities where the mosquito that transmits dengue is present, like Miami,” Harold Margolis, chief of CDC’s dengue branch, said in the report.

Margolis characterized the new cases as representing “the reemergence of dengue fever in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. after 75 years.” He noted that those infected had not traveled outside Florida, “so we need to determine if these cases are an isolated occurrence or if dengue has once again become endemic in the continental U.S.”

Until now, Miami-Dade had had very few cases of dengue fever — and all of them had been among people who had traveled outside the United States to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Conte said.

In February, Puerto Rico declared an epidemic of the disease, with more than 200 cases reported in January alone, and three deaths by mid-June.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/07/15/1731660/suspected-dengue-fever-case-found.html#ixzz0tmyygP4K


AL Hoffer’s Pest Termite Lawn Mosquito Services

Florida Mosquito Control Services ~ AL Hoffer’s Pest Protection

July 14, 2010

Dengue Infection Re-Emerges in Florida: CDC

5 percent of Key West residents tested were exposed to mosquito-borne virus in 2009

WEDNESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) — Health officials monitoring residents of Key West, Fla., for exposure to dengue virus were alarmed to find that more than 5 percent of the population (about 1,000 people) were exposed to the pathogen in 2009.
Click here to find out more!

“We’re concerned that if dengue gains a foothold in Key West, it will travel to other southern cities where the mosquito that transmits dengue is present, like Miami,” Harold Margolis, chief of the dengue branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a CDC news release.

Dengue — the most common virus transmitted by mosquitoes — causes up to 100 million infections and 25,000 deaths worldwide each year. Between 1946 and 1980, there were no reported cases of dengue acquired in the continental United States, and there hasn’t been an outbreak in Florida since 1934, the CDC said.

Dengue fever typically involves a high fever, headache, rash and pain in the muscles, bones and joints. Infection can, in rare cases, infection can lead to a more severe illness called dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can prove fatal. There is no vaccine against dengue viruses.

“These cases [in Key West] represent the re-emergence of dengue fever in Florida and elsewhere in the United States after 75 years. These people had not traveled outside of Florida, so we need to determine if these cases are an isolated occurrence or if dengue has once again become endemic in the continental United States,” Margolis said.

Since 1980, there have been a few locally acquired dengue cases in Texas along the Mexican border. These cases coincided with large outbreaks in neighboring Mexican cities, the authors of the news release noted.

Health officials started looking for dengue in Key West after a New York state resident developed a dengue infection after visiting Key West. By the end of 2009, 27 cases of dengue infection had been confirmed in Key West residents. As of the end of June 2010, an additional 12 cases of locally acquired dengue had been reported in Key West and surrounding areas.

Blood samples collected in 2009 from 240 people in randomly selected households in Key West found that 5 percent had dengue active in their systems or had dengue antibodies, suggesting that they’d experienced dengue disease within the previous three months.

As a result, officials at the CDC and the Florida Department of Health have continued monitoring for dengue cases in the Key West area.

“The mosquito that transmits dengue likes to bite in and around houses, during the day and at night when the lights are on,” Margolis said. “To protect you and your family, CDC recommends using repellant on your skin while indoors or out. And when possible, wear long sleeves and pants for additional protection.”

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about dengue fever.

Florida Mosquito Control