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8 Things Your Need To Know About Bed Bug Prevention

They’re small and elusive. They creep into dark corners and hide, waiting for you to finally call it a night and climb in bed. Knowing that you've locked your doors, you snuggle and drift off to sleep with a sense of security. Little do you know that things that go bump in the night are the least of your worries. Once the sun goes down, it’s the ones who bite in the night who should worry you. 

Ok, so maybe they're not THAT scary, but they certainly aren't something you should ignore. And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t get bed bugs simply because you’re dirty or live in a cardboard box. These guys are famous for hitching a ride on whatever they can grip onto, and they don't discriminate. Going to the movies, using a dressing room at the mall and staying in a hotel room all hold high risks for for picking up a bed bug hitchhiker. Knowing not only how to look for bedbugs, but also how to prevent them from entering your home, can help to ward off your fears of these tiny little vampires. 

Below are some tips on keeping your home bed bug free. 

1)  Give secondhand furniture a good inspection

 Thrifting is a great option for saving money. Who doesn't love to peruse Facebook marketplace for a new bargain find? While buying used is economical and eco-friendly, keep in mind that you may be bringing in some unwanted guests. Don’t panic. We’re not telling you to delete your craigslist app. The key is to be conscientious of what comes into your home. Before bringing a thrift find inside, give it a good once over. Even if it looks clean, vacuum it thoroughly and wash it well with some hot soap and water. Once it’s clean, look it over again and then enjoy your newly purchased treasure. 

2)   Be aware when you travel

When staying in hotels, the first thing you should do before bringing in your luggage is inspect the room. Look over specifically the beds, bedding, curtains, carpet and upholstery. If you find any bed bugs alert the staff and find a new room. If the coast is clear then keeping your luggage off the ground as an extra precaution is also recommended. Once you get home, wash your clothes immediately and check your luggage for any bed bug activity. Giving your luggage a good wash down  with soap and hot water helps to insure that everything that you bring into your home is clean. Even if you haven't stayed in a hotel, this is good practice in prevention when traveling. Keep in mind that airplanes, buses, trains and rental cars can all harbor bed bugs.

3)   Inspect your bedding

Inspecting your bedding isn’t something you need to do on a daily basis. However, giving your mattress and bedding a good once over when you wash your sheets is the best way to make sure you have’t been missing anything when you hop in bed at night. If you happen to find something that concerns you, take all bedding, including pillows, shams, throws, rugs and curtains and wash them in on the hottest setting. Take your mattress outside and brush it off well. Follow this up with a good vacuuming. Remember, anytime you are vacuuming for bed bug activity, take your vacuum bag and double bag it in another plastic bag before throwing it away. If you have a canister make sure you wash it throughly with hot soap and water. 

4)   Don’t ignore the signs

If you’re waking up with itchy rows of small, red marks on your body, inspect your bedding and mattress. If you see anything suspicious, refer to tip 2 and cleanse your bedroom thoroughly. Attacking the problem right when you see it is key to preventing the infestation from spreading.

The elusive bed pug

5)   Check your pets

Those might not be fleas on Fido. As with your own bedding, your pet’s bed is a great hiding spot for bed bugs. Keep an eye on your pet’s bed and the area surrounding it, and wash the bed on a regular basis. 

6)   Don’t be a clutter bug

We’re not saying you have to go into full Marie Kondo mode (although her house has got to be a pest control professional’s dream),  but the less clutter you have, the better. Bed bugs love when you pile things in the corner. It gives them so many great little crevices to choose from. Instead, go through your rooms and closets frequently. Donate or throw away what you don’t want and organize those things you don’t use regularly in sealed bags or plastic containers. 

7)   If you’re worried, use monitors

Bed bug monitors are devices that are placed under the feet of your bed. This helps to prevent bedbugs from getting into your bed from the floor. Regularly inspect and clean these monitors, and if you happen to see bed bug activity, quickly identify the source. 

8)   Don’t freak out

While bed bugs are scary, and not something you should ignore, they can be treated. In more cases than not, your furniture can be cleaned and treated, so don’t start throwing out your belongings just yet. A knee-jerk reaction like taking your mattress to the curb for the garbage man to deal with could only result in the spread of more bed bugs. In some cases, you may need to dispose of your mattress, however if you do this make sure it is slashed through to a point that no one would be tempted to dumpster dive for it. No matter how big the infestation, these little guys multiply quickly, and it’s always safest to call your pest control provider for help.

Get To Know The Spiders In Your Backyard

Get To Know The Spiders In Your Backyard

What has eight legs, can have as many as twelve eyes are likes to hide in corners? 

This guy, that’s who.

But don’t freak out. We’ve compiled a little meet and greet for some of the spiders you should be aware of in your backyard, and (spoiler alert) most are actually not as scary as they seem. 

Allow me to introduce you to...

Black Widow:

The Black Widow is one of the most well known venomous spiders. With its plump black body and menacing red hour glass marking, it’s hard to confuse this spider with any of its eight-legged friends. This well-known coloring is specific to females, while the males are lighter colored with red or pink spots on their backs. Females are also much bigger than males and are typically about 1.5 inches long, while males are only about half that size. These spiders are notorious hermits who only seek companionship during mating season in early spring. This courtship is typically short lived, as the mature females tend to eat the males during mating. It’s no surprise, then, that the males have a much shorter lifespan than the females (up to 3 years for females and 1-2 months for males). This spider isn’t just known for its poor relationship skills, but also for being one of the most poisonous spiders in North America. The venom in a black widow is reportedly 15 times stronger than that of rattlesnake venom. While this sounds scary, these spiders only bite when disturbed, and most bites are not actually considered serious. 

Wolf Spider:

Wolf spiders tend to plague the nightmares of many Idahoans. These spiders can thrive just about anywhere, including deserts, rainforests and fields. Wolf spiders can be a very beneficial garden spider as they have been know to live in wheat fields and eat aphids. However, you won’t find these guys catching their dinner in a web. Instead of using the net catching technique in a web, wolf spiders do just what their name implies: they chase and then pounce onto their prey in much the same way a wolf would. They then either crush their meal into a ball, or inject it with venom to liquify its organs. Bon appetite! A nutritious spider smoothie.  Another trait that sets these spiders apart is their mothering style. Instead of leaving her young in a web, a wolf spider mother spins a sac for her eggs and then attaches the sac to her abdomen. The young spiders then hatch inside the sac. Once these young spiders come out of the sac they then climb up to their mother’s back. In the event that the mother’s fate includes the underside of your shoe, you may want to consider the fact that this spider could have dozens of babies on her back that will flee. Squishing a wolf spider could mean a wave of tiny baby wolf spiders will be headed your way. While this spider is no slouch in the creepy department, she isn't one to fear. Bites from a wolf spider can cause redness and swelling, but no serious health threats have ever been reported. 

Jumping Spider:

The jumping spider is by far the largest family of spiders in the world. With 5,800 species of jumping spiders, these little guys have quite the family tree. Jumping spiders can come in many colors, shapes and sizes, and live almost everywhere. Like the wolf spider, jumping spiders don’t use webs to catch their prey. They use the skill they're most known for to get dinner: jumping. When jumping spiders see their target prey they simply launch themselves up and hop on their meal. They typically eat small insects, but some species even eat plant matter and nectar. Other (more daring)  jumping spiders will actually go after larger predators (turned prey) such as lizards and frogs. Though these spiders jump suddenly, which can be startling, they aren’t looking to catch you for dinner. Typically, jumping spiders just want to run away from humans instead of bite. Even when bitten, there’s nothing to fear. These furry little guys can’t produce enough venom to be harmful to people. If you can get passed their fat, furry bodies and their sudden launches into the air, jumping spiders are incredibly interesting. The jumping spiders are great romantics and will sing and dance to attract their mates. Researchers at the University of Manchester have even trained a spider, named Kim, to jump on command, making him a key tool in learning how to improve jumping motions in robotics. 

Grass Spider:

Often referred to as a “common lawn spider,” these spiders are identified by their sheet-like, funneled webs and unique shape. These spiders catch their prey by building a web tunnel in lawns or other low ground coverage. The web of the grass spider is not sticky, therefore the spider catches its prey by using threads to tangle and prevent the insect from flying. The grass spider then quickly runs to catch its prey. The grass spiders are incredibly fast and have quick, darting movements. These spiders are commonly mistaken for wolf spiders and hobo spiders. However, the spiders can be identified by not only their webs, but by the markings on their abdomen as well. While wolf spiders have a similar head with a dark line extending down the middle, grass spiders have a chevron pattern as well. Wolf spiders do not have this pattern, but rather the line simply comes to a point. Grass spiders are not dangerous to people, as their venom does not have any adverse effect on humans. These timid spiders are also much more likely to run away from you than become aggressive.

Hobo Spider

Hobo spiders are one of the more feared spiders in this region. Often, however, the “sightings” and bites of these spiders are unfounded. Wolf spiders can be mistaken for hobo spiders and are much more prevalent. Funnel web spiders, such as the grass spider, are also commonly mistaken for hobo spiders because they both build funnel-like webs. Hobo spiders tend to keep to themselves and like to build their webs in gardens, planters or near the foundation of a house. If you see a hobo in your home it is most likely a male spider looking for a mate. It is true that these spiders can pack a punch, but usually only bite when accidentally crushed. Unlike most of the spiders on this list, the hobo spider’s venom can cause considerable pain and in, some cases, necrosis (similar to that of brown recluse spiders, which are not native to Idaho). Considerable pain and tissue death are logical reasons to keep your distance from these spiders, but there have been no reported deaths due to hobo spider bites. Hobos are generally more aggressive compared with other spiders, which could be largely due to their poor eyesight. If you were to reach into this spider's space, it could see your hand as a meal and decide to bite. At the same time they are also very protective and in many cases will bite to protect themselves without injecting any venom. If you do see what may be a hobo spider and are concerned, calling your pest professional is a great way to properly identify and, if need be, control the spiders around your home. 

Spiders aren't what the majority of people would consider cute and cuddly, but for the most part, they actually aren't as scary as they seem. Knowing a little about the creatures in your plants, trees and yard can help to combat the fears you may have about the health of your family. This type of knowledge is what aids pest control professionals in protecting your home in a responsible, effective way. 

If you have experienced a spider bite and are having adverse reaction, call your physician immediately and seek medical attention.

Get Rid Of Ants Effectively

After days of rain and slushy snow, the sun is finally coming out in the Treasure Valley. That means more walks, hikes, park dates and outdoor activities. However, we aren’t the only ones who are enjoying this weather. Ants love when moisture is followed by lots of sunshine. It’s no surprise then, that we are beginning to see an uptick in ant activity in homes around the valley.

Are you ready for ants?

 How To Prepare Your Home:

  • Ants love to frequent kitchens, so making sure that counters are kept clean and floors are swept daily is a great way to keep these little pests away.
  • Keep your trash cans clean as to not provide a food source for ants. 
  • Moisture is another attractant when it comes to ants. Having a water source around your home, or a leaking pipe under your sink, could attract these pests. Periodically check to ensure that you have no leaks or moisture problems in your house to avoid infestations.
  • If you have pets, be sure to keep their bowls clean and all food and water wiped away immediately after spilling. 
  • Make sure that all cracks and crevices are sealed up so that ants can’t get in your home in the first place. Excluding pests in ways such as replacing weather stripping will help to keep unwelcome guests from finding their way into your living space. 
  • Wood piles, mulch and pine straw are perfect environments for ants to flourish. Consider using other materials, such as rock in your flower beds, and keep wood piles away from the structure of your home. 
  • Similar to other organic materials such as mulch and woodpiles, bushes and shrubs can attract ants as well. Keeping your plants trimmed back will help considerably in keep pests away from your home. 

In many cases, these tactics alone will not completely get rid of an ant issue if it has become an infestation. Though the above suggestions will certainly help to keep ants from entering your home, what happens if you already have an existing ant problem?

If you are already dealing with an ant problem, the first thing you should do is clean the area the ants are frequenting with a household cleaning product or soap and water. Ants are incredibly complex and sophisticated pests when it comes to the way they interact with their colonies. Many ants leave a trail of pheromones as they travel, which helps other ants follow their scents to food sources. By washing down the areas in your home that have ants, you are essentially erasing away those trails, which can often keep other ants away. 

Many DIY remedies also exist such as coffee grounds, essential oils, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. While these remedies can sometimes work, their effectiveness could depend on how bad the problem is or which treatment is applied. For some people, a few ants here and there is not a problem, but for many, it can be more worrisome, and even be a sign that a much bigger population of ants exists in your walls. It’s also important to understand that if the ants are not controlled properly, you could simply be driving them around to other areas in your home. While you may see a decrease in ant activity in the treated area of your home, the colony may not be eliminated which leaves your home vulnerable in the future. Depending on the species of ant, they can also spread out and form more colonies. Keep in mind that ants procreate quickly, so these colonies can grow at rapid rates.

If you are having a perpetual ant problem, it may be time to call in the professionals. Pest professionals can help you find the source of the problem and also provide the proper treatment specific to the ant species invading your home

Though ants are not typically a dangerous pest, some can bite, sting and even cause structural damage to your home (carpenter ants). They are also a nuisance and can spread bacteria in areas where food is prepared. Controlling an ant problem is important and should be done quickly before the problem gets worse. This is a process that takes patience and knowledge as ants are notorious for being one of the hardest pests to control. Don’t get fooled into thinking that one treatment is all your home needs. More often than not, a home with ants needs follow up treatments to fully control the problem.

If you’re having issues with ants, don’t hesitate to call a pest control specialist. Ants may look small, but they can become a big problem if not properly treated.