Keep Bed Bugs off of your Back-to-School List

Back-to-school shopping is a rite of passage for students and their parents. The depression of summer’s end is quickly offset by the excitement of new clothes, notebooks, pens and art supplies. Whether you’re preparing to send your son or daughter off to their first day of kindergarten or move them into their first dorm room, bed bug prevention should be part of your back to school preparations.

An already notorious pest in hotels, bed bug infestations are on the rise in many types of dwellings, including school and college settings. 47% of respondents to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky had treated for bed bugs in college dorms and 41% had reported bed bug infestations in schools and daycare centers.

There is no need to panic, though. Batzner recommends the following tips for students in grades K-12 to avoid bringing bed bugs home:

  • Parents should regularly inspect their children’s belongings for hitchhiking bed bugs
  • If the school has reported an infestation, consider housing all related items in a sealed plastic bin
  • Wash and dry cloth items returning from school in hot temperatures
  • Ask school administrators whether they have bed bug detection and elimination plans

College students should also take precautionary steps to protect against bed bugs, especially those living in dormitories:

  • Fully inspect suitcases prior to re-packing for a return to school, especially after any summer trips
  • Before putting sheets on the dormitory bed, inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners and box springs for telltale stains or spots
  • Thoroughly inspect the entire dorm room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in sofas and chairs
  • Inspect any secondhand furniture for bed bugs before bringing it into dorm rooms or off-campus housing

For more information on bed bugs, visit Batzner.com.

A Guide to Carpenter Ants

In the busy summer pest season, there is one pest that stands above the rest. Carpenter ants are a nuisance pest that many home and business owners have come to know all too well.  They are relatively large when compared to other ants, ranging in size from 0.3 to 1 in., and are dark in color. The most common species found in and around homes in the United States is the black carpenter ant. Carpenter ants are vital to the balance of nature because they nest in dead wood and aid in the process of decaying. Although the carpenter ants play this important role in the natural cycle, they can become pests to home and business owners when they make their home in the wood structures of buildings.

a.      What are carpenter ants?

Carpenter ants, one of the largest ant species found in the United States, reside both outdoors and indoors. They need a constant water source to survive and their habitat consists of moist areas or decaying wood. The carpenter ants can create elaborate passageways in the wood for nesting and movement throughout the colony, connecting them to different food sources. Although carpenter ants make their homes in decaying wood, they do not feed on the wood. Rather, their diet consists of dead insects, sweets, meats, and fats. Carpenter ants forage for food around their nest, carry it back to the nest, and share the meal with the rest of the colony members.

Although most carpenter ants do not have the ability to fly, there are winged male and female members of the species. In particularly warm and humid weather, these winged ants leave their nests to mate in a process called “nuptial flight.” After mating, the female seeks out a suitable place to create her nest and grow her colony. If winged ants have been located, it is possible that a new colony will be forming soon.

 b.      Signs of a Carpenter Ant Infestation

There are several signs that homeowners can look for that may signal a possible carpenter ant infestation. Areas around and under windows, roof eaves, decks, and porches are common areas of infestations. The most common method to identify an infestation is the sighting of carpenter worker or winged ants in the home. Although worker ants (ants without wings) can be seen in a home without an infestation, the identification of winged ants often indicates a mature colony that is ready to reproduce and form new colonies. Additional signs of an infestation can include the location of sawdust-like wood debris (frass) from tunnels created by ants.  A rustling sound can also be heard as the ants build tunnels throughout the wood in a home.

c.        Pest Control Tips for Carpenter Ants

There are several steps that can be taken to avoid carpenter ant infestations. Be sure to trim all trees and bushes so that they are not touching the house. Additionally make sure to correct all plumbing and flooding issues as soon as possible. These issues create moist wood that can attract ant colonies.  It is also a wise idea to store and wire wood off the ground and away from the home.

If you believe that you have an infestation, contact your local pest control expert to safely and effectively eliminate the problem.

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