Thursday, April 7, 2011

Travel tips to avoid bed bugs!

Tips for Travelers - How to Avoid Bed Bugs

The first thing to remember – don’t stay home just to avoid bed bugs. You can get bedbugs without ever leaving home. If you live in an attached residence you can get bed bugs. In addition, your kids can bring them from college or from a friend’s house. You could also bring them home from work. Unfortunately, bed bugs have become part of our every day reality, so simply avoiding travel will no longer keep you safe from bed bugs. Find out more at
Preparation for your vacation:
Before you leave on your vacation there are a few simple steps you can take to safeguard your home from infestation upon your return. By taking the time to follow these steps prior to your departure, you will decrease your chances of bringing home bed bugs.
1.      Carefully research your hotel prior to your departure by searching on Google for your hotel’s name – include the search criteria “bedbugs” or “bed bugs”. Read any recent reviews. If they have been treated for bedbugs, you’ll most likely hear about it online. If you see one unpleasant report, please, take it with a grain of salt. However, multiple bad reviews, or reviews which repeat a particular issue, can suggest that the property is not safe from bedbugs or other pests.
2.      Call the hotel and ask questions regarding bed bugs - what is the hotel’s policy on bed bugs? Has your room had any bed bug complaints? If they fail to provide you with straight forward answers or avoid answering the questions all together, that’s a dangerous sign and you should consider changing your accommodations.
3.      If you decide to continue with your trip as planned, start by packing a small bright flashlight to inspect the room for bedbugs upon your arrival.
4.      Pack a disposable luggage encasement or large contractor trash bag to put your luggage in when you arrive at your hotel room.
5.      Bring large zip lock bags for all the belongings you will be keeping out of your luggage, such as your keys, passports, credit cards, etc.
Upon Arrival:
Upon entering your room, immediately take your luggage to the bathroom and place the luggage into the bathtub. Follow these instructions prior to settling in:
1.      In a hotel room the headboard is the only item that is not disturbed during daily housekeeping and is great harborage for bed bugs.  By using your flashlight, try to get a good look behind the head board. If possible remove the headboard from the wall to get a better look behind. Most headboards are usually held on the wall with brackets, lift up 1 – 2 inches to remove. You are looking for several things - brownish black specks or bed bug feces, bed bug shells which are the bed bug exoskeletons and lastly, live bed bugs.
2.      Your next step is to take the bed sheets off the mattress and examine it carefully. Inspect the seams and the tag, as bed bugs often shield themselves in these areas.
3.      Now open all the drawers and cabinets in the room and look carefully inside for the same signs.
4.      When you have finished checking the room, carefully check to see the luggage rack is free of pests - look at it from top to bottom, and under the straps. Now place your luggage on the stand, being careful not to put any of your things on the bed or on the floor.
5.      If you determine the room to be unsafe and request another room, be sure to follow the same steps in the next room as the problem could be property wide, and not limited to one room.
6.      Once you have determined the room to be safe, take out your disposable luggage encasement (bag) and encase the luggage, being careful to only take out those items you are going to be using.
7.      Use the large zip lock bags for all belongings you will be keeping out of your luggage.
Before You Leave:
1.      Inspect all of the items that were taken out of the encased luggage. After you have determined the items are okay, immediately place them in a separate bag in your luggage.
2.      Scan through your sheets with a flashlight before you leave. If you notice blood splotches, there is a good chance you have been bitten by bed bugs.
3.      Take the luggage out of the encasement and dispose of the encasement as you exit the room.
4.      Just prior to taking your luggage back into your home make sure you use the other encasement or trash bag and place each piece of luggage into the bag.
Arriving at Home:
Even if you follow all the steps listed above, it is still very important to take precautions when you arrive at your home to avoid bringing any unwanted infestation. The best rule of thumb is to assume you have bed bugs, that way you will be more diligent in taking precautions. Bear in mind bed bugs are great hitchhikers, so it is just as easy to catch them from another suitcase on an airplane as it is from a hotel room. Sometimes the signs are not as clear, so it is best to continue to use caution to ensure your home remains safe from bedbugs.
1.      Do not bring your luggage contents into your home right away; it is best to leave them in the garage or in the car until you are ready to unpack.
2.      When you are ready to begin unpacking and laundering your clothing, it is best to carry everything into your home using a bag. Prior to washing your clothing, place the items in the dryer and using its hottest setting, dry your clothes for 30 minutes.
3.      Other items that cannot be put in the dryer should be wiped down with isopropyl alcohol before bringing them into your home.
4.      Your empty luggage should be vacuumed and inspected carefully before bringing it in your home. It is normally best to leave the luggage in the encasements or trash bags while they are in storage.
5.      Finally, make sure you dispose of all the bags that were used in transporting your clothes and luggage, in addition, remember to dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag after vacuuming your luggage.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bed bugs in laptops, oh my!

Today I am sharing a recent customers experence with bed bugs. Jenifer (not her real name) called us about 2 months ago with  a possible bed bug issue in her home.  Jenifer travels every other week and her average stay is 2 nights.  The next day our technician inspected her home and found the signs of active bed bugs in her bed. Horrified as most people are when bed bugs are confirmed, our technicain explained the treatment process gave her all the educational material she needed for her treatment.

Fast forward 7 weeks.  No issues with bites or sightings for 6 weeks and then last week a blood spot on her sheet, a bite mark on her foot and her sweater she thinks may have bed bugs in it. Since Jenifer was well educated she knew what to do. Dry the sweater, bag her shoes for inspection and call Freedom fast. I have to admit this is not uncommon when people go back to the same hotel that was infested and pick up a fresh infestation to bring home. Even though Jenifer is extra careful about traveling she has another infestation. What made this difficult to figure out was the traps we use to stop bedbugs from climbing up bed posts were empty and the mattress and box spring were still properly encased. Yet she was bitten on the bed.  The weak link was her laptop. She had it on her lap at the hotel, feel asleep and in marched the bed bugs. Jenifer brought the lap top home, used it on the sofa and in her bed and both were re-infested.

After a quick clear plastic bag inspection with some carbon monoxide (I  inflated the bag) out came our little friends, ready to infest an office cube, customers site, or just another bed. You must be diligent in your everyday life to solve and remain bed bug  free.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Flying Squirrels

So you just found out you have a flying squirrel infestation in your attic. Sometimes confused between the noise from a mouse or a bat, the flying squirrel is active at night and is not afraid to show up in your bathroom or kitchen. To gain entrance they exploit weaknesses in your attic like the vent that runs along the roof line called a ridge vent.  The ends of the vent are left open or the caps fall out allowing these wide eyed fliers access to your attics.  Another favorite entrance is just along the dormer line where the fascia boards tie back into the roof line. 

The mating season is between February and March with the offspring arriving in about 40 days. A typical size for an infestation ranges from 5-20. They do not actually fly but glide as seen in this video:

So, how do you get rid of these unwanted visitors? The removal of the colony starts with a thorough inspection Where we look find the entrance used to gain access into your home as well as any possible future entrances they may use to return once they have been  removed from your attic. The main entrance is fitted with a one way door allowing the frisky fliers to get out but not get back in. This is why all other areas that may become an entrance have to be sealed prior to the one way door installation.

Flying squirrels are rodents. They carry a multitude of parasites, however, the main reason people call for removal of the flying squirrels is due to the fact that one has showed up in the living room causing the cat or dog to chase it around the house

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Campus bed bugs coming home!

One of the holiday events occurring this time of year is our children coming home from college. In addition to cooking the turkey, parents this year may be faced with the reality that their son or daughter may bring home some unwanted hitch hikers. That's right, bed bugs.  A college dorm is a great place for bed bugs to thrive as there is plenty of food (students), heat and clutter. As commented in the Washington Post, "Almost all campuses are dealing with bed bugs now" 

So what can you do to stop the unseen blood suckers from coming home for the holidays? Nothing. The first line of defense is the front door of your home. Bed bugs are not going to come out and shake your hand. You have to assume that your child has a high possibility of caring bed bugs home. That means any item your child is wearing or carrying in a suitcase or bag, could be infested with bedbugs. So be prepared by having a couple of large plastic bags at the front door for the arrival of your returning children. Upon arrival ALL items should go into the bags and the bags should then be tightly shut (twist tied). Bring the bags to the laundry area where all items that can be dried should go directly into the dryer on high (a minimum of 125 degrees Fahrenheit) for 40 minutes. The remaining items stay in the sealed bags, preferably outside, until departure. Washing is not necessary for bed bug control, just your attention to detail.

I wish everyone a joyful season of combating the hitchhikers and remember, don't let the bedbugs bite!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Killer Raccoons!

This is a re-post from last year. 

This has got to be the best pest control experience ever.  Not a dead raccoon, no the press won’t pick that up.  Not the Co2 detector on the second floor that was not registering any problems.  Not even the levels of Co2 on the first floor. The order less gas was high enough to kill within no time. Nope this is a great story because the couple didn’t eat dinner and then retire into the living room to watch TV. If that were the case there would be a news story involving someone’s parents that had succumbed to the Co2.  Instead the only one to die was a full grown raccoon.  It died in the exhaust vent of the furnace blocking the chimney.  The only reason they are alive today is that they smelled the dead raccoon cooking from the heat of the furnace.  Then they called the gas company who in turn called me. The levels of Co2 were deadly in the basement and were rising on the first floor. Which is where, had they not smelled the raccoon, someone would have found these folks they didn’t show up to their next day’s appointments.
 So a happy ending all around.  Point of this blog is simple enough, now that the gas guy told me, install Co2 detectors near the combustion equipment and near your bedrooms.