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Back-to-School Pest: Bed Bugs, Mosquitoes, Ticks

Aug 1, 2013

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back to school pest

TOM KRAEUTLER Welcome to this additional of the Money Paid Pest Prevention Podcast, presented by Orkin. I am Tom Kraeutler. Well just as summer begins to wind down and the kids ready themselves to go back to school, West Nile Virus and Lyme disease are peaking thanks to the busy bugs that carry these diseases: mosquitoes and ticks. While these pests are nasty enough, one other pest that really grosses people is on the uptick now as well and that is bed bugs. In fact, if you are not careful during back to school season you might unknowingly invite bed bugs back into your home or even transport these to the homes of others.

Fortunately, with a little know how and the help of a pro, mosquitoes, ticks and bed bugs can be avoided. Greg Baumann, Vice President of Training and Technical Services from Orkin is here and he knows what to do and joins me now with tips on how to protect yourself and stay safe from these pests. Welcome Greg.

GREG BAUMANN It is good to be with you Tom.

TOM KRAEUTLER Coming up on this episode of the Money Pit Pest Prevention Podcast, you are going to learn which insect feeds only three times in its life, but if it feeds on you it can make you very sick. Also, find out how to prevent bed bugs from taking residence under your covers, and you are going to learn which pesky summer insect is considered one of the most dangerous in the world.

So Greg, Let’s start by talking about mosquitoes. This is really the time of year when homeowners need to protect themselves from mosquitoes, because it is when the West Nile Virus is very prevalent, right?

GREG BAUMANN That is exactly right. West Nile Virus is a disease carried by mosquitoes and it is probably one of the most diseases that they do.

TOM KRAEUTLER Now what is the West Nile Virus? It starts as kind of like a flu?

GREG BAUMANN Yes, there are symptoms of West Nile Virus and it is hard to self-diagnose because these are symptoms of many, many other things. You know, flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, respiratory problems, and so it is really important to get to a physician if you do suspect that you may have been infected by a mosquito.

TOM KRAEUTLER Wow, now the experts say that mosquitoes are one of the world’s most dangerous pests. Is that because of the West Nile? There are other diseases as well that it can cause, right?

GREG BAUMANN There are many other diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes, we have Encephalitis, which is the swelling of the brain, which is a real serious problem especially in late summer and you might not realize it, but we are fortunate in the United States. We only have a few cases of Malaria every year but believe it or not, in other parts of the world like Africa death toll will be over 500,000 people this year due to Malaria.

TOM KRAEUTLER So we want to be careful when it comes to mosquitoes and we want to protect ourselves, eliminate the breeding sites, so that would be standing water around your house. Use repellents. What do you think the most effective repellent is?

GREG BAUMANN Probably the most effective repellent is Deet, D-E-E-T. It is available in several concentrations, always read and understand and follow the label but it is applied to the skin, with exception of you do not want to put a jacket over skin that has been covered with Deet. It is a repellent and there is no value to applying to the skin and then putting a jacket or a shirt over it. So you only want to use it for exposed skin as a repellent.

TOM KRAEUTLER Good advice. Let’s talk about another health concern. That is ticks. These are especially important because they very often go unnoticed and in fact, in our own family we had discovered a tick that had infested one of our kids. We found it completely by accident and in fact did not even recognize it, even being in the business, did not even recognize it until a really close inspection.

GREG BAUMANN Absolutely, a lot of these ticks are extremely small and they can transmit disease and this time of year, kind of getting towards the end of the summer season and we are going to notice that there is a tick population increase. So as people walk through woods it is really important to keep wearing long pants and always look at your kids and even your animals when they come back in and make sure they do not have ticks on them.

TOM KRAEUTLER Now when it comes to ticks, if you do get bitten, is it a good idea to be checked for Lyme disease?

GREG BAUMANN If you have any symptoms associated with a tick bite you want to get evaluated by a medical professional immediately. Keep it in perspective, yes Lyme disease is a problem, it is a big problem but not every tick bite is going to lead to Lyme disease and not every type of tick has Lyme disease.

TOM KRAEUTLER Part of the things that you can do to reduce tick populations around your own yard, I mean you obviously cannot control what is out in nature, but around your own yard are there things that you can do to reduce tick populations and is the problem worse when you happen to live, for example, where deer are? Because deer are very prevalent these days.

GREG BAUMANN Absolutely, deer and other wildlife can spread ticks. There is no question about it. Probably one of the best things you can do is get rid of standing vegetation. If you have tall grass cut it down and as Orkin we can create a buffer zone around your house by using special treatment process that will reduce the tick populations near your house, reducing your chances.

TOM KRAEUTLER Now is it true that ticks only feed three times in their life? Wow.

GREG BAUMANN They are only going to feed three stages in their life.

TOM KRAEUTLER So we are concerned about them but the chances are that most of the time they are not going to feed but when they do, you do not want it to be you that they are feeding on.

GREG BAUMANN Well that is exactly right and mosquitoes, only the female feeds, but with ticks, males and females will feed.

TOM KRAEUTLER We are talking to Greg Baumann, he is the Vice President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin. So Greg, with kids especially, college-aged kids going back to school, we really need to be on the lookout for another type of insect that is very prevalent this time of year, bed bugs. Now bed bugs were an insect that when kids were small you used to say, “Nighty-night, don’t let the bed bugs bite”, and that was almost a nursery rhyme.

But bed bugs are in a stage of resurgence right now, there is more and more of them popping up in all sorts of places, whether it is your house, or a fine hotel, or a college dorm, you can find bed bugs. So how do we prevent our homes from becoming a haven for bed bugs and what do we do when we are out and about to spot them before we get bit by them?

GREG BAUMANN Well it is important to understand that bed bugs are not seasonal, which is kind of scary. It would be kind of nice if they would die off in the winter but they do not. They only live inside, they live near us and so we have seen a resurgence of bed bugs in the last 15 years. We have worked very hard with regulatory agencies to try to come up with some solutions and probably the most important thing is, do not exchange furniture.

This is the time of year where people go back to school and they see a couch that is sitting out at the curb saying, “This would be great for my dorm room”.

TOM KRAEUTLER Exactly.

GREG BAUMANN It might be out there because it is invested with bed bugs and so anything that we can do to reduce the spreading of bed bugs, we are going to do. That is going to include avoiding used furniture. At least inspect it very, very carefully and if you go to a hotel always look for signs of bed bugs before you unpack your bag.

TOM KRAEUTLER Yes, that is a good point. You know, I wrote a story once about a woman who checked into a New York City hotel and true story, she flipped on the TV, she slips into the covers, flipped on the TV, only to see a segment about that very same hotel having a serious bed bug problem. Imagine that moment of sheer panic when she is in bed, having just checked into this bed bug ridden hotel?

GREG BAUMANN Yes, it is a sleepless night and it can happen anywhere though. Interesting thing about bed bugs is that they do not discriminate, it can be a one star hotel, or a five star hotel, it is just as susceptible.

TOM KRAEUTLER Now if you are travelling, how would you go about inspecting a hotel room in that situation to see if there were signs of bed bugs?

GREG BAUMANN Well, probably just a little cursory inspection would go a long ways. I mean you cannot inspect, tear the place apart. It is almost impossible to do that and seems that probably one of the best things you can do is just look for signs of spotting on the sheets, tiny blood droplets as an example, that and the headboard because bed bugs are typically going to be found within five feet of the bed. Also, you might not want to unpack your bag and you might want to just live out of your bag for the period that you are going to be inside that hotel.

TOM KRAEUTLER So do not unpack your clothes, do not put them in the dresser and on places like that because if there is a bed bug infestation it could hop into your clothes and then be transferred back to your bag and transferred back to your house.

GREG BAUMANN That is exactly right.

TOM KRAEUTLER The rest is history. [laughs]

GREG BAUMANN Yes, it is just the matter of reducing your chances. Not saying that every hotel is infested or every piece of furniture is infested, it is just that you might not want to unpack and put all of your clothing in there, because you might be carrying it on to the next hotel.

TOM KRAEUTLER We are talking to Greg Baumann, he is the Vice President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin about back to school pests, including bed bugs, mosquitoes and ticks. Greg, bedbugs can be pretty difficult to treat can’t they? If they really infest heavily in your house?

GREG BAUMANN Bed bugs are certainly a pest that the homeowner really does not want to address and many times cannot address. It just takes a tremendous amount of inspection and you literally have to look in cracks and crevices that you do not even know exist, believe it or not, to find the source.

TOM KRAEUTLER What is your take on the bed bug dogs? We have heard about those in the news that can supposedly can identify bed bugs or help sniff them out.

GREG BAUMANN Bed bug dogs can be helpful and they can identify areas where bed bugs are found. Bed bug dogs are not going to 100 percent effective, just like humans are not 100 percent effective. But we use them in several parts of the country. I think right now we have just over 15 dogs throughout the country.

TOM KRAEUTLER Interesting. Now I have also heard that heating a home up to a pretty high temperature. Companies will bring in a big industrial sized heaters, it sort of over-heats the inside of the house. Is over-heating an effective way to treat a bed bug infestation?

GREG BAUMANN Heating an area can be extremely affective. We find that bed bugs are tolerant believe it or not, well above 120 degrees for very short periods.

TOM KRAEUTLER Wow.

GREG BAUMANN It is something that has to be done extremely carefully; you cannot just turn up the heat in your house and expect it is going to control bed bugs.

TOM KRAEUTLER Because you would never get it that hot.

GREG BAUMANN In fact, if anything it is going to get them moving. But a professional coming in with a properly designed heating system can control bed bugs that way.

TOM KRAEUTLER I guess you better take your plants out before you do that. [laughs]

GREG BAUMANN Take your plants out and take your lipstick out and a couple of other things like that.

TOM KRAEUTLER Good advice, so as summer turns to fall, it is a really good time to think about those pests that are so prevalent and that also that spread disease and discomfort, including bed bugs, mosquitoes and ticks. Greg, any final advice?

GREG BAUMANN Always be vigilant, whether it be bed bugs or mosquitoes, always keep an eye out. We are going to be living in their environment. They have their life, we have our life. But, if you see signs call the professional in, no question about it.

TOM KRAEUTLER Good advice. Greg Bauman, Vice President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin. Thanks so much for joining me.

GREG BAUMANN Thank you.

TOM KRAEUTLER And if you would like to learn more about how to identify and prevent pest problems in your home, visit Orkin.com. The Orkin.com website is full of useful information to help you identify and eliminate insect problems in and around your home, including a pest library where you will be able to look up any pest you come across, as well as locate a local Orkin Pest Control pro to help eliminate those pests. It’s all online at Orkin.com. Orkin. Pest Control Down To A Science. I’m Tom Kraeutler, thanks for listening.