Beware of Winter Rodents

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – The rodents that dash indoors as uninvited winter guests aren’t nearly as lovable as any of the furry friends in popular cartoons, but their sinister plots to take over your home are comparable to the likes of Pinky and the Brain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rodents spread over 35 diseases worldwide, some of which are fatal or have lasting side-effects. Allergens from mice and rats also present health threats in the form of allergies and asthma attacks.
“Mice disperse hundreds of urine micro-droplets as they peruse your pantry and scurry throughout your home, polluting every inch they cross,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). “And if that’s not off-putting enough, think about the allergic reaction that can be caused by the odor of a decaying mouse that died stuck between the walls or in the attic,”
The commonly seen deer mouse is known for transmitting hantavirus, a rare but potentially fatal virus found in North America. Other rodent-related diseases are salmonellosis, tularemia and rat-bite fever — many of which are transferred from ticks or mites living on the rodents. But that isn’t the only kind of baggage mice and rats bring with them — their damage can be twofold.
Rodents don’t just target your health and food, they frequently cause structural damage to your home. Aside from leaving the telltale dark brown droppings, a common sign of an infestation, mice and rats are capable of chewing through wood, pipes, aluminum, cement and sheet rock. Plus, wires-turned-chew toys can lead to electrical shortages and fires.
As colder temperatures spur a rodent migration, seal up any holes or cracks around walls, doors and windows. Deer mice and house mice are able to squeeze through spaces the size of a nickel, such as those found next to pipes and weather stripping. If you notice holes and rips in cereal boxes and other pantry food items along with a trail of droppings, it’s time to call your pest professional.
Learn more about rodent prevention at www.pestworld.org, including how to find a pest management professional near you.

Don’t Let Pests Chew Away Your Holidays

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – For those who look forward to dusting off their Christmas decorations and unpacking strand after strand of twinkling lights, discovering a nest of mice or other creatures can be alarming.
“Rodents, spiders and other pests can find their way into homes and nest in boxes of holiday decorations that have been stored in attics, basements and garages since last season,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).
Holiday decorations that sit in boxes, undisturbed for long periods of time in the attic, basement or closet, provide the perfect hiding spots for pests. The usual culprits are beetles, mice, spiders and weevils. Mice will make nests out of cozy stockings, spiders will spin webs into your wreaths and weevils will burrow into your potpourri.
In order to keep your decorations free of pests and prevent nasty surprises this December, NPMA recommends these prevention tips:
* Avoid storing decorations in cardboard boxes. Cardboard boxes can barely keep out dust, let alone hungry pests. Instead, keep wrapping paper and ornaments in large plastic totes and containers. The containers should have tightly sealed lids to keep the contents dry and secure.
* Keep cloth or wool items in sealed plastic bags. All stockings, tree skirts and other cloth decorations should be washed and sealed in plastic bags. Damp or dirty table linens can be a pest haven and also harbor germs and bacteria. Plastic bags will help keep items fresh and safe from insects.
* Inspect decorations each year for mold or damage. Not all decorations are meant to last forever, and some should be thrown out after one season. Remember to go through your collection and check for moldy or damaged articles. Since mold and moisture can attract more pests, it’s best to discard those items.
If you’re faced with a real infestation, consult a pest management professional to figure out the best course of action. To find more preventive tips or locate a pest expert in your area, go to www.pestworld.org.

Pests Moving In? Evict Unwanted Winter Tenants

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Are you hearing a quartet of scampering and scratching during these long winter nights? Are you noticing droppings in your basement or cupboards or holes in boxes of cereal or pasta? If so, you might have a winter pest problem.
Winter pests aren’t just unpleasant. They pose severe risks to your health and property. Mice, for example, can chew through walls, electrical wires and baseboards, not to mention produce 12 babies every three weeks. Rodent droppings can trigger allergies and spread disease — causing headaches, fever, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Although most common, mice and rats aren’t the only pest threat this winter. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) estimates that a whopping 21 million rodents retreat indoors each winter. In addition to rodents, squirrels, carpenter ants, spiders, and cockroaches prefer to spend cold winter months indoors with us.
The pest experts at the NPMA suggest the following preventive tips for avoiding pest infestations during cold weather.
* Inspect firewood before bringing it inside, as several ant and cockroach species prefer to nest in firewood. Firewood piles should also be positioned on a raised platform away from the house. Arranging piles into neat stacks of wood makes pest infestations more noticeable.
* Clean kitchens thoroughly. Some homeowners wipe down countertops after every meal, but only vacuum the floor once every few weeks. Crumbs and leftover messes will attract ants, mice and rats — especially if left on the floor for days on end. Don’t leave dirty dishes spilling over the sink either. Standing water attracts ants and cockroaches, too.
* Don’t store birdseed or dog food in bags. Some pest professionals advise against feeding birds altogether because it will inevitably attract rodent activity. However, if you do have a bird house, make sure it’s at least 20 feet away from your home. Also, be sure to store your birdseed or pet food in sealed storage containers, not bags. This is especially important if you’re keeping the dry food inside your home.
For more preventive tips, or to find a pest professional near you, visit www.pestworld.org.

Tips to Keep Wildlife Outdoors This Season

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – As colder weather settles in, many creatures are looking for a warm place to spend the winter. Rodents, birds, raccoons and other wildlife are seeking refuge from the cold — in your home.
Birds will take shelter in warm attics, mice will snack on holiday foods, and raccoons will paw through garbage. These over-eager guests can spread disease by leaving droppings and urine around your home and wreak havoc on wires and insulation, increasing the risk of an electrical fire. Plus, mice can bring fleas, mites, ticks and lice into the home.
However, if homeowners are prepared, they can prevent a wildlife problem before damage ensues. Check out these tips from the National Pest Management Association to help keep wildlife from becoming a nuisance this winter:
* Seal all cracks, holes and voids. Mice can squeeze into spaces as small as a nickel. The best way to keep mice and other rodents outside is to eliminate all holes and entry points. Look for them in attics, basements and other storage areas that aren’t often frequented.
* Keep firewood and debris piles away from the house. Some rodents, like rats, take cover in brush, logs or whatever shelter is around. Remove anything that could harbor rodents, including sources of moisture or dampness. Look for mice and rats in pantries, cupboards or any other space where dry foods are stored.
* Keep pet food and trash covered and out of birds’ reach. Nothing is more inviting than a smorgasbord of scraps for birds to snack on. Also avoid letting pools of water collect in gutters or other spots. Standing water provides birds with a much-needed water source, which encourages them to nest.
* Clean out attics early. All kinds of insects and critters will nest in the eaves of a house, especially once it gets cold. Cleaning and sealing any openings early on prevents future nesting and infestations.
To learn more tips about pest prevention, check out www.pestworld.org.

Lurking in Tall Grass, a Hidden Danger Awaits

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Hiking in the woods is a fun activity for many people, and it increases in popularity when the seasons begin to beautifully change. But being outdoors brings with it an increased risk of tick-borne illnesses. Different species in different regions of the country are responsible for a variety of extremely serious diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and tick paralysis.
Lyme disease is typically the most worrisome as nearly 20,000 Americans are diagnosed every year, according to the Infectious Disease Society of America. Most cases of Lyme disease occur in late summer and fall months when people are more active outdoors. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a non-profit committed to the protection of public health, food and property, urges families to take extra measures to protect themselves and their pets from tick bites. Blacklegged ticks, often called “deer ticks,” can carry the Lyme disease bacteria.
As people take part in outdoor activities, the risk of being bitten by a tick increases. Avoid tick bites by following these preventive guidelines from the NPMA.
* When in an area where ticks are common, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, preferably light-colored so ticks will be easy to detect.
* Tuck pants into socks.
* Use a tick repellent.
* Upon returning indoors, inspect clothing and your entire body, including your head, for ticks. Don’t forget to check your family members who may have been out with you and/or your dog as well.
* After spending time in a tick habitat, it’s a good idea to take a shower because it will afford you the opportunity to thoroughly inspect your entire body.
* Wash clothes immediately.
* Keep grass cut low, including around fence lines, sheds, trees, shrubs, swing sets and other difficult-to-cut locations and remove weeds, woodpiles and other debris from the yard.
* Inquire about lawn tick treatments; especially those that focus on the edges of the lawn where it interfaces with natural areas. This method has the greatest chance of preventing ticks from establishing themselves in your back yard.
* Pet owners should speak to their veterinarians about preventative flea and tick treatments, as these can help to deter pet pests and kill ticks on contact/upon being bitten.
For more pest control and management tips, visit www.pestworld.org.

Integrated Pest Management: Pest Control Made Easy

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Small household pests are no small problem. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) warns families that cockroaches are a leading trigger of allergies and asthma attacks. The pests’ saliva, droppings and decomposing bodies contain allergen proteins known to trigger allergies and increase the severity of asthma symptoms, especially in children. Small rodents can chew through electrical wiring, increasing the potential risk of fire. And ants, which are not only unsightly, can contaminate food.
One of the best ways homeowners and pest professionals can work together to prevent and control pest infestations is to employ a method called Integrated Pest Management, also referred to as IPM.
IPM is a process involving common sense and sound solutions for controlling pests. The focus is upon finding the best strategy for a pest problem, and not merely the simplest. Pest professionals never employ a “one-size-fits-all” method in IPM but rather utilize a three-part practice: inspection, identification and treatment by a pest professional. Treatment options in IPM can vary from proactive measures like sealing cracks and removing food and water sources to reactive measures, such as utilizing pest products, when necessary.
The “integrated” in Integrated Pest Management does not merely describe the three-part practice of inspection, identification and treatment. It reflects the joint commitment between homeowners and pest professionals to stop pests before they invade. The two parties work together to identify the causes and risks of invasions and to devise treatments for when they do.
When it comes to IPM, prevention can be as important to pest control as treatment. It’s important to find a qualified professional that can identify and point out a home’s vulnerabilities and offer prevention tips for homeowners. Here are a few pest prevention techniques in an IPM program:
* Repair any leaky pipes, especially in areas under sinks where pests can often go unnoticed.
* Seal up cracks and holes around pipes and wiring.
* Keep all foods in sealed containers, including pet food.
* Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house.
* Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water.
* Wipe counters, floors and other surfaces frequently.
* Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
* Vacuum often.
To find a pest professional, or to learn more about IPM, visit www.pestworld.com.

Tips to Protect Yourself Against Mosquitos and West Nile Disease

Although national consumer confidence has risen in recent months, the recession is still significantly affecting homeowners. While foreclosure figures underscore the current economic conditions, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds homeowners that vacated homes are prone to mosquito infestations, especially in or around foreclosed properties with clogged gutters and neglected pools.

Carried by mosquitoes, the West Nile Virus can cause deadly inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the brain (meningitis) in humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. saw 1,358 cases of West Nile Virus in humans in 2008, resulting in 44 deaths.

Keep Pests Out of Your Home this Winter

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Pests are most commonly associated with summer weather, but cold temperatures drive rodents and insects indoors and into homes. Even innocent-looking items, like firewood, wreaths, holiday decor or recently delivered parcels, can contain damaging pests.

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a 75-year-old non-profit organization that works to protect public health, food and property from destructive pests, offers these tips to keep unwanted creatures from your home:

– Check your pantry. Insects, such as the Indian meal moth consume flour, cereal, nuts, spices, candies and chocolate. To prevent contamination, store food in tightly sealed plastic or glass containers, and discard food that has passed its expiration date. Pay special attention to pet food and keep your kitchen clean to avoid attracting pests.

– Keep pests out. Mice can squeeze through holes the size of a nickel and reproduce quickly, so an infestation can quickly become a big problem. The NPMA estimates that 21 million pests, including mice as well as insects, invade homes every winter. Once indoors, mice can chew through wires and spread disease like Hantavirus and Salmonella. Signs of an infestation include scampering sounds in walls and ceilings, droppings and damaged or partially eaten food. To prevent pests from entering your home, seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, screen vents and openings to chimneys and replace loose mortar and weather-stripping around the basement foundation and windows.

– Consider your firewood. Yes, firewood keeps you warm, but cut-up wood also provides an ideal home for pests, especially spiders. Keep firewood piles at least five inches off the ground and 20 feet away from your home. Before carrying any firewood inside, inspect the logs for pests.

– Ask a local pest professional. If you suspect an infestation in your home, contact a local pest professional to help you properly identify, treat and remediate the problem. They can also work with you to find entry points into your home and offer advice on other pest prevention methods.

To learn more about pest prevention or to find a professional near you, visit www.pestworld.org.

Safeguard Yourself Against Mosquitoes, West Nile Virus

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Although national consumer confidence has risen in recent months, the recession is still significantly affecting homeowners. While foreclosure figures underscore the current economic conditions, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds homeowners to remain vigilant of an ancillary issue stemming from continued increases in vacated homes — potential mosquito infestations, especially in or around foreclosed properties with clogged gutters and neglected pools.

Carried by mosquitoes, the West Nile Virus can cause deadly inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the brain (meningitis) in humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. saw 1,358 cases of West Nile Virus in humans in 2008, resulting in 44 deaths.

Although no specific therapy or vaccine exist for the West Nile Virus, the NPMA recommends the following preventive measures:

– Avoid mosquito nesting and breeding sites. Try to eliminate standing water and other sources of moisture in or around the home in flowerpots, water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, barrels and other objects that can collect water.

– Keep windows and doors properly screened to keep mosquitoes outside.

– Be alert when outdoors during dawn, dusk and early evening hours, when mosquito-biting activity can peak. Also, avoid areas near water where mosquitoes gather, especially during peak activity.

– Avoid wearing bright colors, open-toe shoes and sweet-smelling perfumes or colognes.

– Plan ahead for spending time outdoors. Wear mosquito repellent with DEET as well as appropriate apparel such as long pants and long-sleeve shirts.

To learn more about mosquito-control options or to find a pest-control professional in your area, visit www.pestworld.org.

Bed Bugs: Avoiding Unwanted Vacation Souvenirs

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – As the season turns and vacation travel picks up, people should take care not to bring home unwanted souvenirs, like bed bugs.

Most of us know the phrase “Don’t let the bed bugs bite,” but doing so is more easily said than done. “Bed bugs are elusive, nocturnal pests that thrive on blood,” says Greg Baumann, senior scientist for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). “Vigilance is critical, especially as we know that a five-star resort can be as susceptible to bed bugs as a hostel.”

While they do not transmit disease, their saliva does contain an anesthetic-like substance that numbs the skin — until human victims wake up to itchy, red welts. Most welts can be treated at home, but people experiencing allergic reactions might have to seek out medical treatment.

As more people travel for vacations, bed bugs become a larger problem. Accomplished hitchhikers, bed bugs move from beds to suitcases, from room to room and into new homes. Dogs and cats can also help spread bed bugs. Once bed bugs infest a new area, they become difficult to remove and can only be remediated or treated through the services of a pest control professional. Homeowners cannot control the problem on their own.

There are steps travelers can take to avoid bed bug infestation. The NPMA offers these tips for travelers hoping to enjoy their vacations without bringing home unwanted souvenirs:

– At hotels, pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for telltale stains or spots. If you see anything suspect, change rooms or establishments immediately.

– Thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in sofas and chairs. If you spot pests, change rooms or go to another hotel.

– After traveling, inspect your suitcases before bringing them into the house.Vacuum them thoroughly and wash all of your clothes in hot water before unpacking.

For more information on bed bugs, visit www.pestworld.org.