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Vampires Aren’t the Only Blood Suckers to Worry About this Halloween

It’s that time of year that we celebrate all things scary!  We love becoming a creepy spider or a blood sucking vampire for a night, but waking to a bed bug feasting on you or your children is a nightmare that many families face everyday.  Bed Bugs have been making a comeback for several years now and can be found just about anywhere. Over the years we have found bed bugs in a variety of places, from warming shelters to five-star hotels and everywhere in between.  Although bed bugs are tiny, they will make you feel like you are living in a house of horrors because they’re so difficult to find and eliminate.  Use the tips below to prevent and remove bed bugs so they don’t suck your blood this Halloween!

Tips to Prevent a Bed Bug Infestation:

  • Get Rid of Clutter – Bed Bugs love small places and narrow crevices.  Removing clutter, especially around and under the bed, will minimize potential hiding places.
  • Don’t Bring Home Used Furniture – Furniture that has been disposed of could potentially be infested.  The couch may be free, but the cost of getting rid of a bed bug infestation will have you wishing you had purchased new rather than used.  
  • Make Your Bed – Bed Bugs prefer a messy bed, and when bed coverings touch the floor it is an immediate access point for bed bugs to climb into bed with you.
  • Move Furniture Away From Walls – This will discourage bed bugs from hiding in narrow spaces between your furniture and the walls.
  • Protect Your Mattress – Use a zippered mattress protector on your box springs and on your mattress under your mattress pad.
  • Use Light Colored Sheets – Using sheets that are white, or lighter in color, will discourage bed bugs from infesting your bed and make it easier to spot bed bugs, blood marks from feeding, their feces marks or shed skins.
  • Home Repair – Seal cracks in floors, walls, and ceilings.  Also repair peeling wallpaper. These areas make excellent hiding places for bed bugs.

Already suspect a bed bug problem?

While there isn’t fool-proof method for preventing bed bugs these techniques will make your home less susceptible to bed bugs and make an infestation much easier to diagnose.  Bed Bugs can easily hitch a ride in suitcases, on clothing and in other human belongings, allowing them to spread quickly and infest homes, transportation systems, offices and any other place where people gather. If bed bugs do find their way into your home, do not attempt to deal with the infestation on your own.  We’ve seen too many people put themselves in dangerous situations while trying to eliminate a bed bug problem. For peace of mind, it’s best to call us for a professional assessment and treatment options.  

For more information on bed bugs click here!

To schedule your FREE Bed Bug Inspection click here!

 

 

Keeping Mice Out This Fall



Mice and Rats may be lurking in the hidden areas of your home this fall.

This is the time of year when the temperature drops pushing mice and rats indoors for a warmer place to live.  Your warm home, office or even car can provide an excellent habitat for them to thrive. With a constant supply of food and water, plenty of places to build a nest and a controlled temperature they will make themselves right at home.  

In honor of National Pest Management’s Rodent Awareness Week we wanted to share the best ways to prevent mice and rats from seeking shelter in your home or workplace.  Want to know how to get rid of mice once they are inside? If so, read below for our best advice to the most common questions we get asked about rodents. 

How do I prevent mice from getting inside?  

It can be difficult to prevent mice from getting inside since they are able to squeeze themselves through an opening as small as ¼ inch in diameter.  That is a crack or gap about the size of a pinky finger! They often will find their way in through gaps around windows and doors, cracks and openings around the outside of the property or sewer lines. Take a walk around your property and look for the signs below to determine if you are making it easy for mice or rats to make their way into your home.

  • Remove debris such as weeds, wood piles, leaves and other debris away from the exterior of the property
  • Seal cracks ¼ inch or larger in foundation and walls with Rodent Stop®.  Also check around utility hookups for gaps around pipes and wiring.
  • Cover larger cracks, holes and openings with hardware cloth 
  • Seal opening around the roofline and gutters with metal flashing
  • Replace door sweeps and weatherstripping for a tight seal, especially around garage doors.
  • Ensure your windows close properly and the frame has a tight seal against the interior and exterior walls
  • Trim trees and landscaping back so nothing is coming into contact with any portion of the exterior
  • Dispose of food waste immediately. 
  • Keep outdoor trash cans and dumpsters located away from the exterior of the structure and have a trash service scheduled for regular pickups.
  • Store food, including pet food, in glass or metal containers.  While plastic containers will protect your food from mice, they will not stop a rat.
  • Adopt a cat or dog from your local shelter.  The scent of a dog or cat will be a deterrent.  Plus, they are excellent at tracking and even killing mice if they get into your home or building.

How do I know if a mouse has gotten inside?

If you are worried your home may already have a mouse or rat problem take a look at the list below. Here are some tale tale signs to search for:

  • Droppings – Mice and rats both leave dropping everywhere they go.  A mouse’s droppings are dark brown or black pellets with pointed ends.  They are similar in size to a grain of rice. The droppings from a rat are quite a bit bigger, ½ to ¾ of an inch long”, and are shiny black in color.
  • Strange Noises – rodents will often get in wall voids or above the ceiling.  When this happens you will hear scratching or rubbing noises coming from behind the wall, under a floor or above the ceiling.
  • Gnawed Holes – Mice and rats will chew through plastic, paper and cardboard.  Rats will also chew holes through wood, aluminum, improperly cured concrete, vinyl, plastic, mortar and even bricks!
  • Runways – Rodents will create pathways as they learn to navigate around undetected.  Look for a narrow cleared path along walls where debris has been slightly pushed aside.  
  • Grease Marks – When mice and rats are trying to find their way around they will rub up against walls, doors, baseboards, pipes, etc.  They will leave behind a greasy smudge in the areas they are coming in contact with.
  • Nests – Rodents will create a nest once they are inside.  They gather materials such as paper, insulation, and other soft items to shred and pile.  Look in corners of closets, under furniture, behind stored items and any other area that goes mostly undisturbed.
  • Pet Behavior – Both cats and dogs have sensitive enough hearing that they are able to hear a mouse moving behind a wall before you can.  If your dog or cat begins to pace near or scratch at the wall it may indicate they hear something stirring. Barking, whining and spinning in circles near the wall are also signs to pay attention to. Dogs and cats are also able to pick up on the scent of rodents. 
  • The smell of ammonia from rodent urine trails and nesting sites. 

 

What do rodents eat?

Mice will eat almost anything that you will eat, plus rotting produce, and insects.  Most commonly they will get into your stored food items. Keep your cereal, pancake mixes, nuts and grains in sealed containers to prevent them from chewing through the packaging.  They will even eat your pet’s food! Be sure to discard any food items that have already been compromised. Rodents carry loads of bacteria and can make your family and pets sick if they consume contaminated foods.

How fast can mice breed?

Baby mice are born in litters of 5 to 6 pups at a time.  It takes about 3 weeks for those pups to leave the nest on their own and begin hunting for food themselves.  Once they are about 6 weeks old they are able to reproduce. Their gestation period is 18 to 21 days making a new litter almost every other month.  With a life span of 2 to 3 years, a single mouse can produce a significant infestation quickly.  

How do I get rid of mice once they are inside?

If you have found evidence of mice in your home, office, barn, car or farm equipment swift action is necessary.  Putting it off for another day could expose you and your family to a variety of diseases that rodents carry. Below are 5 steps you can take to get mice out of your home:

1. Declutter – removing as many items from an area as possible will help eliminate their hiding and nesting sites

2. Clean– Mice can find the smallest of crumbs to feed on.  Vacuuming small pieces of food out of nooks and crannies and wiping spills and stickiness away will keep them from grabbing a quick meal. 

3. Seal food in air tight containers – This is important even for pet food.  While plastic storage options are great for keeping mice out of your food, it will not keep a rat out.  We recommend glass or metal air tight containers for the most protections against contaminated food.

4. Traps – There are a couple of different types of traps available.  Snap traps are an immediate kill when a mouse or rat triggers it.  However, it will leave you a rodent to dispose of exposing you to the diseases they carry.  Another option is glue traps which have an adhesive that sticks to the mouse as it walks across it.  This can be a cruel method since the adhesive won’t kill them and they will stay there until they starve to death.

5. Bait – There are a wide variety of rodent baits on the market.  All of them require taking proper precautions to avoid accidentally poisoning a pet, child, or other small animals.  Baits are designed to be placed in tamper proof bait boxes to prevent accidentally poisoning a child, pet or other small animal.  We strongly advise you to use an knowledgeable exterminator if baits are required. Not only is using an experienced exterminator safer, but their professional grade products will eliminate the infestation quicker and without having to suffer through the dead mouse smell that over the counter baits cause.

Where is the best place to put mouse traps and bait boxes?  

Trap and bait box placement will depend on if you are addressing a mouse or rat infestation.  Mice are curious and will gladly nibble on the bait right away. Rats are much more cautious. They know when something new is placed in their area and will avoid it.  Use these tips for success:

Tips for Bait Box Placement

  • Place on the floor along the wall or in a corner between potential nesting sites & food sources.
  • Make sure the opening is facing away from the wall or corner
  • Handle with gloves to avoid scent transfer & coming in contact with diseases.
  • Place mouse boxes every 8-12 feet, 15-30 for rats.
  • Open boxes to check activity frequently.  If no activity is occuring try moving that bait box to a new location.

There are plenty of reasons to dislike mice and rats, especially when it comes to sharing your home of office with them.  They are dirty and carry diseases. They ruin your food and can even cause structural damage. Now is the time to rodent proof your home so that you don’t find yourself spending time and money to clean your home and replace your groceries later on.  
Contact us at 816-279-2000 or dawn@toughonpests.com if you have additional questions about mice or rats!

 

 

Tips for Keeping Spiders Out

How to keep spiders out of your home this fall.

As Autumn begins to change and fall decorations begin to pop up, Preferred Pest Control reminds homeowners that a little pest-proofing goes a long way towards protecting your home and your health through the colder months ahead.  Spiders this time of year come in all shapes and sizes they are spinning their webs around in the most unsuspecting places.  It is very common to see spiders accumulating around your doors and windows, along your eaves and overhangs, on the kids’ swing set and other outdoor structures. As the temperatures begin to drop and we get further into fall spiders will want to move from those outdoor locations and into someplace warmer such as your basement, garage, storage area or even in the living spaces.  No place is off limits when it comes to a spider setting up its home for the winter.  

Although unsettling, spiders aren’t all bad.  They hunt other common household insects such as moths, beetles, and insects attracted to houseplants.  Spiders can also help control flies, earwigs and even cockroaches. Most spiders are harmless to people so they can easily be scooped up into a container and relocated outdoors. However, there are two types of spiders found in our area to be aware of.  The Brown Recluse and Black Widow spiders will bite if they are startled.  Be cautious when disturbing an area that has been left untouched for a while.  Boxed up holiday decorations, in the winter boots that were left in the garage all year, or under the leaves that get blown up against your foundation.  

When working in these spaces be sure to follow these tips and tricks to prevent bites and keep spiders out of your home:

  1.  Wear gloves and keep as much of your body covered as possible when working in landscaping or when moving stored items around.
  2. Leave outside lights off as much as possible to prevent drawing flying insects like moths to the exterior of your home.  Insects gathering around lights is like an all you can eat buffet for spiders.
  3. Seal cracks in your foundation and fill gaps around utility opening to keep insects and spiders from finding their way in.
  4. Clean regularly, especially vacuuming.  The power of most vacuums with be able to kill a spider and destroy any egg sacs that you come across.
  5. Add spider repelling plants around the outside of your home.  
  6. Place sticky traps in hidden areas.  This will not only stop spiders in their tracks, but it will also help you determine which parts of your home is seeing the most activity.  
  7. Reduce their food source.  Spiders feed on other small insects.  If you eliminate the other insects they are feeding you will get rid of spiders as well.  

This is a busy time of year for insects and spiders.  As seasonal pest invaders such as stink bugs and asian beetles arrive they will provide a bountiful feast for spiders.  Take precautions now to keep your home or office spider free this fall. Contact us today for additional help with spider prevention and control.

 

5 Steps to a Pest Free Facility This Fall

The cooler temperature this morning arrived right on time for the first day of Fall!  The crisp cool air and lingering fog put everyone in the mood for a warm cup of coffee and a comfy cardigan, but we aren’t the only ones getting cozy this time of year.  As the nights begin to get cool fall insects and rodents will begin to look for a shelter to winter over in and if you aren’t careful, your business may fit the bill.  It’s warm, there is plenty of water and food available – could there be a better place for mice or wasps to nest during the winter? 

Fall brings plenty of threats to NW Missouri businesses, as insects and rodents that are living happily outside will begin to look for shelter.  Common pests this time of year are fall invaders such as stink bugs and lady beetles as well as spiders and flies.  While most of these aren’t harmful to your staff or your customers, they tend to gather in large numbers both outside and inside of buildings causing a mess and anxiety for some. 

Rodent populations have been growing over the years and will continue to be a nuisance this winter.  However, mice and rats are not just an annoyance they bring diseases and health threats putting your team and customers at risk.  Rodents are always attracted to business due to the ease of entry, continuous food and water supply and the cozy warmth we all find so comforting.

  1. Take a walk around the exterior of your business.  The weather is beautiful so it’s a great time to inspect the exterior for overgrown landscaping.  Are the bushes and shrubs touching the side of the structure?  Are tree branches touching or hanging over the building?  Has trash, leaves and other debris blown up against the foundation?  If so, have these areas trimmed and cleaned up.  Bushes, shrubs and overgrown ground foliage can create a safe area for rodents, spiders and small insects to search for entry into your building. 
  2. Look at the foundation once the clean up is complete.  Look for small cracks, gaps and loose mortar.  These are the most common entry points for pests, especially ants.  These can be found anywhere from the bottom of the foundation to the roof line.  They can also be found around utility openings.  Fill the thin cracks, missing mortar, and small gaps by applying a weatherproof silicon caulking.  
  3. Inspect windows and doors, especially garage doors and loading docks.  Check the seal around all windows and repair any torn screens.  Look for gaps between the ground and the bottom of the door or around the edges.  Adding weather-stripping and installing door sweeps will minimize the chance of pests entering.  Install closing hinges to ensure doors close behind people automatically.  Think about how your facility is used.  Do you have a receiving or storage area that typically has a door left open for extended times?  Does a door get propped open during staff breaks?  Sometime these situations can be avoided during cooler months, but often times they cannot.  In this case you will want to have a prevention plan in place with a professional pest control company.
  4. Relocate the dumpster 15-20 feet away from your building.  Trash always attracts insects like roaches and flies as well as rodents and other wildlife.  Having the dumpster close to the building may be convenient, but having it located further away will help keep pests from slipping in unnoticed.  Keep your parking lot clear of trash to prevent attracting pests from neighboring structures. Put lids on all trash cans.  Having trash in sealed containers will also prevents pests from getting into them and knocking them over.
  5. Use Dusk to Dawn Bug Light Bulbs in light fixtures located near doors and windows.  The amber light will provide plenty of light without attracting insects, which in turn helps control spiders by eliminating their food source.

Now is the time to prevent fall pests from invading your business.  Many of these tips will not only help with pest prevention, but will save you money in the long run by being more energy efficient.    Putting it off could lead to a greater loss of time, money and reputation later.

For help with fall pest prevention and control in your business contact us today.  Our experienced pest professionals can provide you with a structure assessment and work with you to keep pests out this fall.

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