Cardiff Pest Control – New Articles
Bed Bugs Bite
Let me describe what could be a real nightmare, it would certainly be mine.
You return home from being away on holiday or possibly a business trip to your nice comfy bed. We all look forward to it don’t we, pulling back the duvet cover to slip into the cool clean luxury of our own bed with that lovely familiar feeling that only your own bed can give you.
But horror of horrors a few days later you wake to find yourself with a few itchy bites.
What’s caused them? Most likely you have bed bugs.
What do we recommend? That you act quickly.
We suggest you call us to get rid of your bed bugs, so call now on 02920 553370
People react differently to bed bug bites, some hardly have any reaction at all, some react very badly, some immediately upon being bitten others for not as long as anything up to 10 days. As a result it can be very difficult to assess where the bite took place or the location of the original infestation.
The most common location to come across bed bugs is the bedroom surprisingly, but what a lot of people don’t realise is that the bed bugs also infest other pieces of furniture such as chairs, sofas, pictures, headboards, mirrors, cabinets in fact anything, you will even find them behind wall paper, in the electric sockets and switches, or your laptop, there is no where they won’t hide.
Not only do they live in the bed and furniture they will spread out, hiding in small cracks that are wider enough to allow a piece of paper to slide into.
The most common situation that most of us come across bed bugs is while we are away on a trip, be it a holiday break or a business trip. Usually these encounters take place in the hotel bedroom, but we can also run into them in the hotel foyer while sitting in that lovely comfy chair, or in bar area having a coffee or beer, we can then unwittingly take them with us.
In fact as bed bugs take hold they are being found in more and more public spaces including airports, offices, public transport and cinemas. This demonstrates just how successful they are at spreading themselves and reflects how good they are at doing it.
So when you have been away a couple of things one should think about before unpacking are;
where are you going to unpack, hopefully you are not going to throw them onto your bed and pull everything out, if you do you aren’t going to have any control over any bed bugs that may have hitched a ride,
bear in mind that modern luggage offers great opportunity for bed bugs to secrete themselves in zip closures, material folds and various other hiding places, so be observant,
look at washing what you can on the hot water cycle with a temperature of at least 55C and tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes, obviously you can’t do this with your silk ties and camel hair suites.
If you want to tackle this problem solo without our help here are some good suggestions.
If we have missed any points please call us and let us know so we can better inform others in the future on how to treat bed bug infestations.
If you find yourself with a bed bug infestation despite your care to detail then look at carry out the following;
- wash what you can on the hot water cycle with a temperature of at least 55C and tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes, this should include all your bedding, your clothing, and any furnishings within the vicinity of the affected items.
- if you see any dried up dark spots (faecal spots) clean these up, taking note of where they were, this will help in monitoring the infestation.
- if there is a lot of clutter and you have a bed bug infestation a great deal of care needs to be put into the tidying up process to prevent further spread of the bed bugs, so increasing the difficulty of treating them.
- vacuum the area thoroughly and repeatedly, this will reduce the number of bed bugs but won’t eradicate them.
- having vacuumed thoroughly it is important to dispose of the bag carefully and to keep the vacuum in a location separate to everything else.
- when transferring clothing and bedding for washing pack it into sealable bags and place anything from the bag directly into the washing machine, don’t just pile it up in an area adjacent to the washing machine, you will just spread the problem further.
- you don’t need to go throwing heavily infested furniture and items away, most things can be treated.
If you decide to attempt to treat them yourself then
- Do not use an insecticide bomb, this will create further dispersion of the bed bugs and make treating them far more difficult.
- Do vacuum thoroughly, you need to include every crack and crevice, and you will need to repeat this exercise probably daily.
- Wash everything on as hot a setting as possible and be very careful of cross contamination, washing everything at 55 degrees C and drying on the hot setting in the dryer for 30 minutes should kill all stages of bed bug from nymph to adulthood.
- If you can’t wash them at these temperatures it is still worth giving them a wash but once dry, look at placing them in a hot location with a minimum temperature of 55 centigrade for a couple of hours.
- Items with an only dry-clean label should be placed in a clothes dryer on a medium high setting for 10 to 15 minutes (70 degrees C), this should not be harmful to wool, silk, linen, cotton, nylon, rayon, or polyester. Remember to check the lint trap after doing this and to carefully place any lint in a sealable bag and dispose of securely.
- Always advise the dry cleaner that you have a possible infestation if using their services, so they can deal with your clothes appropriately and prevent any further dispersion of bed bugs.
- For any very delicate items soak them in warm water with plenty of detergent for several hours and then wash them out as necessary.
- Bed bugs can not live in temperatures below freezing for a continuous period of more than several days. So if an opportunity presents itself for you to be able to use this form of treatment you can gain real success from it.However not many people do have success with this at home, probably because most try to user their own freezer, and most home freezer temperatures fluctuate often rising above freezing level.
- Use diatamaceous earth in locations such as electrical sockets and switches, but be very careful when doing so, and only if you are sufficiently competent to do so.
- When using an insecticide ensure that the active ingredients are appropriate for bed bug control. Do not repeatedly use the same active ingredient if having limited success you will build up your own breed of bed bugs with a resistance to what ever active ingredient you are using.
- Tidying up around the bed or infected locations will help in the monitoring of the bed bug infestation once you have treated the area properly and will help in the carrying out of any additional treatments in the future.
For those of you that live in a multi occupancy building there will be further problems in treating appropriately for bed bugs. Unfortunately not only do bed bugs have the capacity to spread from room to room they can also spread from apartment to apartment, along wiring ducts, pipe runs, thru ceiling voids, between floors. In addition it is not only apartments on the same floor as yourself but those above and below.
When looking at a treatment in this situation it will very probably be necessary for further investigation and treatments to be carried out in adjoining apartments.
When hunting down a bed bug infestation look for little brown spots, these will be faecal spots from the bed bugs.
Remember bed bugs can’t fly, they can only walk, if you have a bed that stands on legs then move the bed away from the walls and you use a bed moat product, this will help stop the bed bugs crawling into the bed, though it has been known for them to actually climb the walls, travel across the ceiling and drop to the bed from above. Can you believe it.
Bed bugs are stubborn insects that you may need to take precautions against for several months to ensure that every single bed bug has been accounted for and that all eggs have been dealt with.
Bear in mind that an adult female will lay about 5 bed bug eggs a day, which dependent upon room temperature will hatch in anything from 5 to 10 days.
Once hatched these bed bugs go thru 5 nymphal stages to become mature. For them to complete a stage and move onto the next they need to feed.
Generally speaking bed bugs need to feed every 5 days, however bed bugs can also live for months with out feeding, in fact anything up to a year or more.
Bats and mice – what to do
Bats and mice are not a good combination. Most pest controllers that know something about the protection of bats believe that an attic or roof space that is also occupied by bats is somewhere that can not be disturbed or even entered. This of course is true, but not for the whole of the year; there are times of the year in which the area can be entered and these periods can be used for the control of mice.
We generally advocate the use of traps for the control of mice, but this is one instance in which we would not consider mouse traps to be suitable for. Instead we use bait stations with pasta bait in sachets. This way should any bats fall to the floor and for some reason crawl into one of our bait stations they won’t be despatched in the break-back trap.
What to do with honey bees
So far this year we have been called out to numerous wasp nests. Even though we go through a complete spiel about how to identify wasps from bees a lot of customers assure us that they have wasps. Needless to say so far this year not one has been wasps, that’s not to say there won’t be one soon.
There seems to be a general misconception in the pest control sector that bees are a protected species, they aren’t, however they are a declining species that are generally harmless unless you happen to be one of the many individuals that suffer from anaphylactic shock if stung by a bee.
The law does however form some protection to the bee, in that the statutory box of insecticides that can be used for the control of bees state that the hive must be proofed immediately after the application of the insecticide so that no bees from another hive may enter it (or words to similar effect). The reason for this is that once a bee hive has been killed any passing bees that notice it will enter the hive to rob it, stealing the honey and taking it back to their hive, tell their mates about it who in turn will head out to the hive to completely rob it out.
The problem with this is that at the same time as returning with honey they are also returning with insecticide, which will kill off this hive and possibly another as a result of further robbing by other bees.
So for any professional pest controller using insecticide on an established bee hive there is a substantial risk leaving him open to prosecution. As a result the easiest thing for a professional pest controller is to say “Sorry can’t help you there, bees are a protected species”, of course you may well get assistance in the destruction of a bee hive from a “cowboy pestie” who will be completely ignorant of the fact that it is illegal to use insecticides on someone else’s property or even at the request of that person.
Last year we were called out to collect a swarm from a local church by a neighbour. Of course we rang the local reverend who gave us permission to enter the property for the swarm. While there we spotted the fact that he had 4 or 5 different bee hives within the church. Unfortunately they were all located high up in difficult to access positions which would require a secure stage from which to proof the area properly should they be poisoned, or for any other alternative method of removal to be carried out (namely what is referred to as a trap out). All of which has a price to it.
For some reason at some point a want to be amateur bee keeper became involved, possibly for a swarm call out not sure, and was asked for his recommendations – nothing like asking those who know is there? No problemo he said, I can spray those bees with a can of insecticide, which he did. Did he proof the area so no passing bees could get in and rob? No – he didn’t.
Well we got called out to the area for another swarm this time it had landed next door. We couldn’t help but notice what a mess there was running down the side of the church wall.
the amateur had sprayed the hive with an unidentified poison, so no one knew what the active ingredient was or what the residual life of the poison was likely to be, he hadn’t proofed it, he had left all the uncapped honey stores in place, he had left all the brood in place to rot and fester, he had left all the bees in place to also rot and fester. Not only that but there were a load of other bee hives within the local proximity all of which were now at risk of being wiped out thanks to one amateurs efforts.
So what could have been done, unfortunately a cut out was a totally inpracticable solution for this, however what is known as a trap out could well have been used to good effect in this situation.
Basically for a trap-out we create a one-way tunnel from the hives main entrance, and block off any other visible exit and entry points, ensuring that there are no others created as time goes by. After creating the funnel we place a queenless nuc box (small hive with a couple of frames in it) beside this exit point. Over time the bees come out of the old hive do their foraging and return to find they can’t get back into their original hive. Come the evening they enter the nuc hive and are accepted into this, it being queenless and because they have food with them. They then become part of this hive. After a few weeks of no food coming in the queen stops laying and waits for all the brood to emerge. Once the last of the brood is ready for flight she and the small quantity of bees remaining will leave the hive together, and head off elsewhere to set up a new home. We then remove the one-way entrance allow all the bees we have collected to then enter their old hive and rob out the honey and store it in the nuc box. Once this has been completed we proof the old entrance to prevent a re-infestation and remove the nuc box.
This is a fairly time consuming exercise requiring a couple of visits per week for a minimum of 6 weeks, but you end up with all the honey removed, no mass of dead bees and brood, just some wax left in place from the robbed out honeycomb.
Which Pest Control business is best?
The perceived responsibilities of a pest controller seem to vary significantly between businesses within the industry. There are no specified methods of best practice for the various tasks that pest controllers carry out and as a result what one pest controller does as standard for a customer may not be what another would do. Most of the time the service is driven by profit and cost factors, with larger pest control companies offsetting the larger overhead and profit requirements with pressure on their employees to spend minimal time on site, use minimal product unless its chargeable, and what’s more they pay those poor hard beaten employees as little as possible. Now a lot of these employees don’t even have time to think, running from job to job, so they aren’t going to be able to offer you there full attention to your problem. Often as not they are not even given an option on the treatment but have to carry out the treatment as specified by a company surveyor who probably knows a lot less about pest control than he does selling.
Because there are no specific methods or ways of doing things laid down in a manual anywhere what one pest controller may do can be very different from the methods of another. For example if you have a squirrel in your roof space there is no legislation or best practice guidance on how it should be dealt with. Some pest control companies may come along and say “Oh Yes, your right you have a squirrel in the loft” and simply open up the attic hatch, insert a couple of trays of bait – hopefully squirrel specific bait not just any old rodenticide (its illegal to use rat and mice poison on squirrels) and for that charge you in the order of £170 or so for this very simple service. Often or not this kind of service is being carried out by some far away call centre. Rather a steep charge don’t you think for what, 20 minutes of work? Worst still is that this doesn’t even include the call back to pick up the left over bait before 35 days is up (now another legal consideration that a lot of pest controllers seem to ignore is the fact that unused rodenticides should be picked up within a 35 day period), which will be another £70 or so.
On the other hand you may have a local pest control business (such as ours) come in, that offers you two or more possible methods of getting rid of the squirrels in the roof.
They may offer a trapping service, or if its possible, may offer to shoot the squirrels dependent upon the Health and Safety implications, or they may offer to poison them. At the same time as offering these different methods they would advise on the benefits of each, both to the environment and to treating your squirrel pest infestation. Some of these benefits will be to do with the speed of squirrel eradication, the removal of bodies, the likelihood of decaying bodies being left in cavity wall spaces and possible secondary infestations of other insects, and staining as a result of decaying body fluids, not to mention the odour for several weeks, all of which is avoided if trapping.
You could easily come across another variance in treatment if you have been away on business or holiday only to find that you have brought back some rather unwelcome guests – the dreaded bed bug Cimex lectularius. Again there is no specified code of practice that we all have to work to. Certainly great strides have been taken in identifying good methodology for getting rid of bedbugs (incorrectly spelt) and here in the UK we seem to have been in the forefront of all this but even within the code of practice it doesn’t specify which insecticides should be used in preference to another. We ourselves use an insecticide with a insect growth regulator (IGR) added to it on the first treatment along with diatamaceous earth and a bendiocarb on some of the furnishing, then if a second treatment is required we tend to change the main insecticide for a second different active ingredient so as to prevent a build up in resistance. Unfortunately there are a lot of pest controllers out there that will use insecticides that are not necessarily appropriate for the task and because they don’t understand the nature of the problem do it in an ineffective manor. yet these same pest controllers will guarantee elimination on the first visit, despite the fact that heavy infestations can often take more than one visit.
To save themselves time some pest controllers will recommend disposing of good furniture despite the fact that with a decent level of treatment it can be used again with no consequences being suffered. So they effectively make a few £ in saved time while you lose a couple of hundred thru replacement of property. Not exactly in your best interest.