Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Certain crickets occasionally invade homes and become a pest by their presence. Homeowners complain of their monotonous chirping, which can be annoying especially at night when trying to get some sleep. Indoors, some crickets can feed on a wide variety of fabrics, foods and paper products. Cotton, linen, wool, rayon, nylon, silk and furs are susceptible, along with soiled fabrics, sizing from wallpaper, glue from bookbindings, fruit, vegetables, meat and even other crickets. An occasional cricket or two in the home usually presents no serious problem. However, large populations may congregate around lights at night, making places unattractive.

Crickets get their name from the high-pitched sound or "chirp" produced when the male rubs his front wings together to attract a female. Listening to their song can identify different kinds of crickets.

The "True Crickets" (House, Field, Ground, Tree) resemble long horned grasshoppers in having long tapering antennae, striculating (singing) organs on the front wings of the male and auditory (hearing) organs on the front tibiae (4th leg segment).

House Cricket
Adults are about 3/4 to 7/8 inch long, light yellowish-brown (straw-colored), with three dark bands on the head and have long, slender antennae much longer than the body. Wings lay flat on the back but are bent down abruptly on the sides. Females have a long, slender, tube like structure (ovipositor) projecting from their abdomen (spearhead at the tip) for egg-laying. Both males and females have two antenna-like (cerci) attached to the sides at the end of the abdomen.

Field Cricket
Adults range in size from 1/2 to 1-1/4 inches long depending on the species, are usually black-colored (sometimes brown), have long, slender antennae and a typical stout body (more robust than the house cricket) with large "jumping" hind legs. The ovipositor may be up to 3/4 inch long. Females have three easily seen appendages coming out of the tip of the abdomen, whereas males have only two. Most chirp and may sing both day and night.

Camel (Humpback) Cricket
Adults, sometimes called cave or cellar crickets, are a little over 3/4 inch long, light tan to dark brown (darker bands on some segments), wingless, with head bent downward, back arched (humpbacked appearance), large hind legs and long antennae. This is the most common cricket encountered by our technicians in the field.

Life Cycle and Habits
House Crickets normally live outdoors especially in garbage dumps, preferring warm weather, but will move indoors when it gets colder usually in late summer. Overwintering occurs outdoors in the egg stage. Each female can lay an average of 728 eggs with the immatures (nymphs) resembling the adults except being wingless. Nymphs molt seven to eight times and reach adulthood in about 60 days. Also, these crickets can live indoors, completing their life cycle with eggs laid in cracks, crevices and other dark areas such as behind baseboards.

Adults are very attracted to lights, and become active at night (hide during the day) to crawl, jump or fly sometimes in countless numbers up the sides of houses, entering openings of even second and third story windows and roof skylights. The continued, monotonous "chirp" is loud and distracting, resulting in lost sleep. They will feed on silk, woolens, nylon, rayon and wood. They can bite when handled carelessly. They are found in fields, pastures, lawns, roadsides, and in woods.

Field Crickets over winter as eggs or nymphs in moist, firm soil. Each female lays between 150 to 400 eggs, which hatch in the spring. Nymphs resemble adults except are smaller and wingless, molt eight to nine times and reach adulthood in about 90 days. They are serious agricultural pests feeding on many crop plants. They become household pests in late summer and early fall when they move out of fields and into buildings. They can damage furniture, rugs and clothing and the "chirping" of adult males can be irritating. They are readily attracted to lights, can fly and are often found around dumpsters. Large swarms may invade well-lighted areas covering streets and the sides of buildings black with crickets. They feed on nylon, wood, plastic fabrics, thin rubber goods and leather. Outbreaks occur when rainfall follows a period of drought.

There are many different kinds and sizes of field crickets, none of which are able to survive and reproduce in buildings. They are found outdoors in similar places as are house crickets, especially under stones or boards, entering cool, moist basements in hot summers.

Camel Crickets are active at night in cool, damp, dark areas and occasionally invading damp basements or crawlspaces. They are not attracted to lights nor produce songs. Overwintering occurs as nymphs or adults in protected places. They may be found living in large numbers, causing alarm. Some textiles may be damaged. Some hide under hay bales, feeding on other insects seeking shelter there. Most are found in caves, hollow trees, under logs and stones and in other dark, moist places. They can live and reproduce indoors.
Control Measures
Crickets are usually active at night (nocturnal), prefer shelter in cracks and crevices and invade homes seeking moisture. An occasional cricket or two in the home usually presents no serious problem. They are seldom-serious pests in the home.

Sanitation is the most important means of eliminating nuisance crickets. Keep all areas in and around buildings free of moisture, dense vegetation and weeds (1 foot band next to foundation). Mow lawns, cut weeds, and clean up garbage collection areas. Remove harborage sites such as piles of bricks, stones, rotting wood and other debris. Caulk and seal all cracks and crevices, especially near the ground level at basement windows and doorways.

Make sure that all windows and doors are tight-fitting with proper screening in place. Exclusion is an important factor as well as light discipline. Avoid bright mercury vapor lights in entryways and along structure perimeters since crickets will be attracted from far distances. Convert to sodium vapor yellow lights (less attractive to insects) instead of white, neon or mercury vapor lights.
Never store firewood next to the house foundation. Raise garbage cans off the ground if practical. Trash and dumpsters should be placed as far from the building as possible. Crickets are attracted to food in these areas. Crickets may be troublesome at trash dumps, grassy roadsides, pasture fields and wooded areas (breeding sites) before entering structures. They may be found under decks and plastic storage bins. Crickets can be killed with a fly swatter, collected by vacuum cleaner or broom and dustpan and discarded, if a few are present. Sometimes pet owners, who keep cricket-eating animals, accidently allow crickets to escape. These individuals establish an indoor population.

Heavy cricket migrations are hard to control. It may be necessary to use insecticides both inside and outside the home. Indoors, apply to cracks and crevices, baseboards, in closets, under stairways, around fireplaces, in basements and other hiding places. Use cyfluthrin (Tempo), Acetamiprid & Bifenthrin (Transport GHP), diatomaceous earth, propoxur (Baygon), pyrethrins. A can of aerosol household insecticide spray can kill occasional invaders.

Outdoors, when populations are large, treat a swath around the house foundation with, Intice Granules or propoxur (Larva-Lur, Baygon) bait. It is best to perform this treatment in the late summer moths or early fall to reduce or prevent the migration indoors.

Only the licensed pest control operator or applicator can use cyfluthrin (Tempo), Acetamiprid & Bifenthrin (Transport GHP). Outdoors in moist habitats, wettable powder or microencapsulated insecticides work well. Before using any insecticide, always read the label and follow directions and safety precautions.

Pest of the Month is brought to you by Magic Pest Management, a pest control company based in New York City and Long Island.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bed Bugs

Mature Bed Bug Cimex lectularius

New York City Bed bugs are parasites that preferentially feed on humans. If people aren't available, they instead will feed on other warm-blooded animals, including birds, rodents, bats, and pets.

Bed bugs have been documented as pests since the 17th century. They were introduced into our country by the early colonists. Bed bugs were common in the New York City prior to World War II, after which time widespread use of synthetic insecticides such as DDT greatly reduced their numbers. Improvements in household and personal cleanliness as well as increased regulation of the used furniture market also likely contributed to their reduced pest status. Now the bed bug, Cimex lectularius, has resurged to quickly become a very important pest of the 21st century, as they invade numerous urban areas including hostels, hotels and residences. Our society has had a “30+ year vacation” from this pest, when bed bugs were almost removed from North America as a result of mass treatments with older types of insecticides (DDT, Chlordane, Lindane). Recently though, bed bugs have found ample opportunity to increase in number and spread through society. Their success is a result of: increased travel of people; improved treatment methods that specifically target other insect pests; and the lack of public awareness.

In the past decade, bed bugs across the Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Nassau County, now are being considered to be a major pest. The widespread use of baits rather than insecticide sprays for ant and cockroach control is a factor that has been implicated in their return. Bed bugs are blood feeders that do not feed on ant and cockroach baits. International travel and commerce are thought to facilitate the spread of these insect hitchhikers, because eggs, young, and adult bed bugs are readily transported in luggage, clothing, bedding, and furniture. Bed bugs can infest airplanes, ships, trains, and buses. Bed bugs are most frequently found in dwellings with a high rate of occupant turnover, such as hotels, motels, hostels, dormitories, shelters, apartment complexes, tenements, and prisons. Such infestations usually are not a reflection of poor hygiene or bad housekeeping.

Bed bugs are fairly cosmopolitan. Cimex lectularius is most frequently found in the northern temperate climates of North America, Europe, and Central Asia, although it occurs sporadically in southern temperate regions. The tropical bed bug, C. hemipterus, is adapted for semitropical to tropical climates and is widespread in the warmer areas of Africa, Asia, and the tropics of North America and South America. In the United States, C. hemipterus occurs in Florida.

Adult bed bugs are brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped, flattened, and about 3/16 to 1/5 inch long. Their flat shape enables them to readily hide in cracks and crevices. The body becomes more elongate, swollen, and dark red after a blood meal. Bed bugs have a beaklike piercing-sucking mouthpart system. The adults have small, stubby, nonfunctional wing pads. Newly hatched nymphs are nearly colorless, becoming brownish as they mature. Nymphs have the general appearance of adults. Eggs are white and about 1/32 inch long.
Bed bugs superficially resemble a number of closely related insects (family Cimicidae), such as bat bugs (Cimex adjunctus), chimney swift bugs (Cimexopsis spp.), and swallow bugs (Oeciacus spp.). A microscope is needed to examine the insect for distinguishing characteristics, which often requires the skills of an entomologist. In New York, bat bugs were far more common than bed bugs until recently.

Life Cycle
Female bed bugs lay from one to twelve eggs per day, and the eggs are deposited on rough surfaces or in crack and crevices. The eggs are coated with a sticky substance so they adhere to the substrate. Eggs hatch in 6 to 17 days, and nymphs can immediately begin to feed. They require a blood meal in order to molt. Bed bugs reach maturity after five molts. Developmental time (egg to adult) is affected by temperature and takes about 21 days at 86° F to 120 days at 65° F. The nymphal period is greatly prolonged when food is scarce. Nymphs and adults can live for several months without food. The adult's lifespan may encompass 12-18 months. Three or more generations can occur each year.

bed bugs in new york city Queens Bedbugs Exterminating

exterminator of bed bugs in manhattan

Bed bugs are fast moving insects that are nocturnal blood-feeders. Bed bugs typically cluster together in favorable harborage areas. However, some bed bugs will live by themselves, away from the majority of the infestation. They feed mostly at night when their host is asleep. After using their sharp beak to pierce the skin of a host, they inject a salivary fluid containing an anticoagulant that helps them obtain blood. Nymphs may become engorged with blood within three minutes, whereas a full-grown bed bug usually feeds for ten to fifteen minutes. They then crawl away to a hiding place to digest the meal. When hungry, bed bugs again search for a host.

Bed bugs hide during the day in dark, protected sites. They seem to prefer fabric, wood, and paper surfaces. They usually occur in fairly close proximity to the host, although they can travel far distances. Bed bugs initially can be found about tufts, seams, and folds of mattresses, later spreading to crevices in the bedstead. In heavier infestations, they also may occupy hiding places farther from the bed. They may hide in window and door frames, electrical boxes, floor cracks, baseboards, furniture, and under the tack board of wall-to-wall carpeting. Bed bugs often crawl upward to hide in pictures, wall hangings, drapery pleats, loosened wallpaper, cracks in plaster, and ceiling moldings.

The bite is painless. The salivary fluid injected by bed bugs typically causes the skin to become irritated and inflamed, although individuals can differ in their sensitivity. A small, hard, swollen, white welt may develop at the site of each bite. This is accompanied by severe itching that lasts for several hours to days. Scratching may cause the welts to become infected. The amount of blood loss due to bed bug feeding typically does not adversely affect the host.

All people are not equally sensitive to bed bug bites, so while some victims break out in rashes from the bites, other people may not display symptoms. When a reaction does occur, the results of feeding can be mild (a simple red spot) to severe (rash or even hives). Rows of three or so welts on exposed skin are characteristic signs of bed bugs. Welts do not have a red spot in the center such as is characteristic of flea bites. The reaction caused by feeding might be mistaken for other problems. Fleas, mosquitoes and other biting insects, sensitization to detergents and soaps, and irritants (e.g., poison ivy) are some of the conditions victims of bed bugs thought they were dealing with. Bed bugs have been discovered to harbor 28 different human pathogens, but fortunately, the transmission of these diseases to people has not been demonstrated.

Some individuals respond to bed bug infestations with anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

Tell-tale Signs
A bed bug infestation can be recognized by blood stains from crushed bugs or by rusty (sometimes dark) spots of excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls. Fecal spots, eggshells, and shed skins may be found in the vicinity of their hiding places. An offensive, sweet, musty odor from their scent glands may be detected when bed bug infestations are severe.

Control Measures

nyc bedbugs

We highly recommend that you seek assistance from a professional pest control company.

Controlling an infestation requires very detailed work and much moving (and disassembly) of furniture. Careful inspections must be completed in conjunction with non-chemical controls (such as vacuuming, and steam treatments) and insecticide treatments. The insecticides available are commercial products requiring special equipment and training, which is not readily available in “over-the-counter” products.

A critical first step is to correctly identify the blood-feeding pest, as this determines which management tactics to adopt that take into account specific bug biology and habits. For example, if the blood-feeder is a bat bug rather than a bed bug, a different management approach is needed.
Control of bed bugs is best achieved by following an integrated pest management (IPM) approach that involves multiple tactics, such as preventive measures, sanitation, and chemicals applied to targeted sites. Severe infestations usually are best handled by a licensed pest management professional.

The Green exterminating approach is not recommended for bed bug treatments, since a cocktail or mixture of various products are needed for complete control. The general accepted method includes an adulticide residual along with an IGR (insect growth regulator) and a quick knockdown product like Kicker® or Exciter®. It is now common to dust in the wall voids to help prevent spreading bed bugs to adjoining rooms. Several dusts have shown to give quick (within 24 hours) results and long lasting results (active for months).

The only Green methods available would be steaming, heat, or cryonite. Of these, heat at 110-120ยบ F held for 4-6 hour appears to work. Temporary heat chambers may be built in the room that is infested. Steaming works as well, but it is time consuming. Steaming is best used on furniture that should not be treated with traditional pesticides. This includes treating cribs and other sensitive area. Cryonite works best if it directly contacts the bed bugs. None of these methods leave a residual; therefore bed bugs may re-infest within minutes after treatment.

It is highly recommended that a mattress cover and box spring cover be purchased and install on all mattresses within the premises, regardless if the room is being treated or not. The only mattress cover I recommend at this time is the Protect-A-Bed® brand. It is easy to install and is designed specifically to protect the mattress against bed bug infestations.
Sticky traps or glueboards may be used to capture bed bugs that wander about. However, the effectiveness of these traps is not well documented.

The greatest risk for encountering bed bugs appears to be while people are traveling. Regardless of the type of accommodations you stay at, it is a good precaution to check your room. Check around the headboard and adjacent area of the bed. Also inspect luggage stands or other areas where suitcases are typically set down. Be aware of any unexplained bites you may find in the morning; that could be the result of bed bugs. Also watch for fecal spots, which could occur on bed sheets or nearby areas. Inspect your luggage when you get home after a trip for any bed bugs that may have escaped your earlier attention. Other sources may be associated with the scavenging of used furniture. Residents and Tenants are strongly cautioned against “scavenging” beds and furniture that have seemingly been discarded and left by the curb for disposal, or behind places of business.

After the mattress is vacuumed or scrubbed, it can be enclosed in a zippered mattress cover such as that used for house dust mites. Any bed bugs remaining on the mattress will be trapped inside the cover. Leave the cover in place since bed bugs can live for a long time without a blood meal.
Bed bug infestations are not limited to beds and mattresses, and they can be found on tables, drawers, and even electronics if these items were located in a bedroom or other place that could support an infestation.

Caulk cracks and crevices in the building exterior and also repair or screen openings to exclude birds, bats, and rodents that can serve as alternate hosts for bed bugs.

A thorough inspection of the premises to locate bed bugs and their harborage sites is necessary so that cleaning efforts and insecticide treatments can be focused. The best way to determine if you have an infestation is to look for bed bugs where you sleep (or rest) and where you typically set down luggage (or bags) when you enter the residence. Your luggage and places where your luggage may be stored are also some of the first areas to look. In bedrooms, look particularly around box springs, mattresses, bed frames, tufts, folds, and buttons on mattresses, furniture, such as desks and chairs, behind wall paper, clocks and pictures, cracks in wood floors, and under the edge of carpet. While bed bugs are most commonly found in bedrooms, infestations can also occur in other rooms, including: bathrooms; living rooms; and laundry rooms. Dark blood spots on sheets and bedding may indicate bed bug feeding. Bed bugs will sometimes excrete while they are feeding. This results in darker (reddish or brownish) spots or smears placed on bed sheets, pillowcases and mattresses, or in nearby areas. The latter sites include window and door frames, floor cracks, carpet tack boards, baseboards, electrical boxes, furniture, pictures, wall hangings, drapery pleats, loosened wallpaper, cracks in plaster, and ceiling moldings. Determine whether birds or rodents are nesting on or near the house.

Be prepared to do some close inspection and when in doubt, consider having the inspection done by a pest control service. In severe infestations, bed bugs may be more noticeable. The accumulation of bugs, cast skins and fecal spots will be very apparent upon close inspection.

In light infestations, a bed bug dog may be used to detect the source.
In hotels, apartments, and other multiple-type dwellings, it is advisable to also inspect adjoining units since bed bugs can travel long distances.
If at any time a bed bug is found: discontinue inspection and initiate control activity! Do not continue with the inspection alone, as bed bugs will move from their hiding places once disturbed. Further inspections must be accompanied by control measures.

Sanitation measures include frequently vacuuming the mattress and premises, laundering bedding and clothing in hot water, and cleaning and sanitizing dwellings. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag, seal tightly, and discard in a container outdoors-this prevents captured bed bugs from escaping into the home. A stiff brush can be used to scrub the mattress seams to dislodge bed bugs and eggs. Discarding the mattress is another option, although a new mattress can quickly become infested if bed bugs are still on the premises. Steam cleaning of mattresses generally is not recommended because it is difficult to get rid of excess moisture, which can lead to problems with mold, mildew, house dust mites, etc.

Repair cracks in plaster and glue down loosened wallpaper to eliminate bed bug harborage sites. Remove and destroy wild animal roosts and nests when possible.

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet
Susan C. Jones, Ph.D.,

Assistant Professor of Entomology

For more information on bed bugs, or to help identify pests and rodents that may be causing problems in your business or residence in New York City, visit Magic's Pest Identification Guide.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Common & Scientific Name

Cat Flea - Ctenocephalides felis (Bouche)
Dog Flea - Ctenocephalides canis (Curtis)
Northern Rat Flea - Nosopsyllus fasciatus (Bosc)
Oriental Rat Flea - Xenopsylla cheopis (Rothschild)
Rabbit Flea - Cediopsylla simplex (Baker)

Fleas are very important pests in New York City, especially during the months of July through October, but sometimes persist all year when indoors. It is estimated pet owners alone spend over $1 billion each year controlling fleas. Most of Magic’s flea work takes place when homeowners return from vacation and find out they have fleas. It is at this time that the fleas, starving attach both humans and their companion animals. It doesn’t matter if it is an urban environment within Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, or a suburban area within Nassau, fleas are everywhere.

Adult fleas are not only a nuisance to humans and their pets, but can cause medical problems including flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), tapeworms, secondary skin irritations and, in extreme cases, anemia. Although bites are rarely felt, it is the resulting irritation caused by the flea salivary secretions that varies among individuals. Some may witness a severe reaction (general rash or inflammation) resulting in secondary infections caused by scratching the irritated skin area. Others may show no reaction or irritation acquired after repeated bites over several weeks or months. Most bites usually found on the ankles and legs may cause pain lasting a few minutes, hours or days depending on one's sensitivity. The typical reaction to the bite is the formation of a small, hard, red, slightly-raised (swollen) itching spot. There is a single puncture point in the center of each spot. (Ants and spiders leave two marks when they bite. Mosquitoes, bees, wasps and bedbugs cause a large swelling or welt). Also, fleas may transmit bubonic plague from rodent to rodent and from rodent to humans. Oriental rat fleas can transmit murine typhus (endemic typhus) fever among rats and from rats to humans. Tapeworms normally infest dogs and cats but may appear in children if parts of infested fleas are accidentally consumed.

Identification - Adult fleas are about 1/16 to 1/8-inch long, dark reddish-brown, wingless, hard-bodied (difficult to crush between fingers), have three pairs of legs (hind legs enlarged enabling jumping) and are flattened vertically or side to side (bluegill or sunfish-like) allowing easy movement between the hair, fur or feathers of the host. Fleas are excellent jumpers, leaping vertically up to seven inches and horizontally thirteen inches. (An equivalent hop for a human would be 250 feet vertically and 450 feet horizontally.) They have piercing-sucking mouthparts and spines on the body projecting backward. Also, there is a row of spines on the face known as a genal comb. Spine I (first outer spine) is shorter than Spine II (next inner spine) in dog fleas. Both spines are about the same length in the cat flea. The rabbit flea has a vertical genal comb with blunt spines. The genal comb is absent in both rat fleas. Eggs are smooth, oval and white. Larvae are 1/4-inch long, slender, straw-colored, brown headed, wormlike, bristly-haired creatures (13 body segments), that are legless, have chewing mouthparts, are active, and avoid light. Pupae are enclosed in silken cocoons covered with particles of debris.

Life Cycle and Habits - Fleas pass through a complete life cycle consisting of egg, larva, pupa and adult. A typical flea population consists of 50 percent eggs, 35 percent larvae, 10 percent pupae and 5 percent adults. Completion of the life cycle from egg to adult varies from two weeks to eight months depending on the temperature, humidity, food, and species. Normally after a blood meal, the female flea lays about 15 to 20 eggs per day up to 600 in a lifetime usually on the host (dogs, cats, rats, rabbits, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossums, foxes, chickens, humans, etc.). Eggs loosely laid in the hair coat, drop out most anywhere especially where the host rests, sleeps or nests (rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, cat or dog boxes, kennels, sand boxes, etc.). Eggs hatch in two days to two weeks into larvae found indoors in floor cracks & crevices, along baseboards, under rug edges and in furniture or beds. Outdoor development occurs in sandy gravel soils (moist sand boxes, dirt crawlspace under the house, under shrubs, etc.) where the pet may rest or sleep. Sand and gravel are very suitable for larval development which is the reason fleas are erroneously called "sand fleas."

Larvae are blind, avoid light, pass through three larval instars and take a week to several months to develop. Their food consists of digested blood from adult flea feces, dead skin, hair, feathers, and other organic debris. (Larvae do not suck blood.) Pupa mature to adulthood within a silken cocoon woven by the larva to which pet hair, carpet fiber, dust, grass cuttings, and other debris adheres. In about five to fourteen days, adult fleas emerge or may remain resting in the cocoon until the detection of vibration (pet and people movement), pressure (host animal lying down on them), heat, noise, or carbon dioxide (meaning a potential blood source is near). Most fleas overwinter in the larval or pupal stage with survival and growth best during warm, moist winters and spring.

Adult fleas cannot survive or lay eggs without a blood meal, but may live from two months to one year without feeding. There is often a desperate need for flea control after a family has returned from a long vacation. The house has been empty with no cat or dog around for fleas to feed on. When the family and pets are gone, flea eggs hatch and larvae pupate. The adult fleas fully developed inside the pupal cocoon remains in a kind of "limbo" for a long time until a blood source is near. The family returning from vacation is immediately attacked by waiting hungry hordes of fleas. (In just 30 days, 10 female fleas under ideal conditions can multiply to over a quarter million different life stages.)

Newly emerged adult fleas live only about one week if a blood meal is not obtained. However, completely developed adult fleas can live for several months without eating, so long as they do not emerge from their puparia. Optimum temperatures for the flea's life cycle are 70°F to 85°F and optimum humidity is 70 percent. The cat flea is the most common flea in Ohio which feeds on a wide range of hosts.

Medication - Relief from itching can be obtained by applying carbolated vaseline, menthol, camphor, calamine lotion or ice. Highly sensitive persons should consult their physician for advise.

Repellents - Apply on the outer clothing and to exposed skin. Do not use under clothing. N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) is very effective, but should not be used carelessly as severe allergies can develop. Do not apply repellents over cuts, wounds, irritated skin, around eyes or mouth or to the hands of young children.

Control Measures - Flea control is best achieved with a simultaneous, coordinated effort involving strict sanitation, pet treatment and premise treatment (both indoors & outdoors). Magic Pest Management’s Flea treatment program is prepared to help the homeowner get rid of the problem within two visits. In many cases only one visit solves the infestation.

Inspection - Before treatment, discuss the pet's habits with family members to determine where resting and sleeping occurs most frequently. Flea activity "hot spots" can be detected by placing white socks over shoes and walking through the residence into suspected areas. Research has demonstrated that these areas will contain the highest amount of eggs, larvae and pupae even after vacuuming. Hot spots for homes with dogs are usually areas where the pet goes in and out of the house, eats, sleeps and spends time with the family at the base of furniture. For cats, check the tops of refrigerators, cabinets, book cases and higher locations.

One can monitor flea populations by placing a shallow pan of water with a little dish detergent (acts as a wetting agent which breaks water surface tension) on the floor. Position a gooseneck lamp with the light on about five to six inches above the liquid surface. Adult fleas will leap toward the light at night, fall into the detergent solution and drown. The Happy Jack and pulvex (Zema) flea trap is a commercial apparatus based on the same principle. Also, an ultralight flea trap with a green light attracts fleas into a sticky tray.

Sanitation - Before vacuuming, collect all items (toys, shoes, clothes, etc.) off the floor, under beds, furniture, in closets, etc., to ensure best access for treatment. Also cover fish tanks, remove bird cages, pet food and water dishes and wash or dry clean any pet bedding. Vacuuming carpet with a beater-bar type vacuum where the pet rests and sleeps will help control flea larvae by removing eggs and dried blood feces (larval food) plus opening up the carpet's nap for more effective insecticide treatment. Vacuuming must be performed on a regular basis every other day to be effective. Flea larvae do not move far from the site of hatching when there is adequate food (dried blood feces from adults). Research indicates larvae spend 83 percent of the time deep in the carpet at the base of fibers frequently becoming entwined within the carpet. At pupation, the larva move up the carpet fiber spinning a camouflaging cocoon around itself. Vacuum especially where lint and pet hairs accumulate along baseboards, around carpet edges, on ventilators, around heat registers, in floor cracks, and under and in furniture where the pet sleeps.

After vacuuming, place the vacuum bag in a large plastic garbage bag and discard in an outdoor trash container. If the cleaner uses a liquid water medium in a plastic pan (rather than a dust bag) discard dirty water far away from the house.

Biological - Use an insect growth regulator (IGR), which is a hormone to prevent eggs from hatching and larvae from pupating into biting adults. The IGRs methoprene (Precor) and pyriproxyfen (Ultracide) are odorless and nonstaining on carpets or fabrics. Methoprene usually will reduce flea populations up to 95 percent in just 14 days while pyriproxyfen, due to its photostability, lasts in carpets for many months controlling fleas. IGRs do not kill pupa or adults and are more effective when mixed with an adulticide. Recent research shows the new IGR pyriproxyfen mixed with permethrin will often give 90 day control. IGRs are considered biodegradable and are not known to accumulate in the food chain. Methoprene, approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), is used in drinking water in some countries for mosquito larva control. IGRs are of negligible hazard to humans, pets, and the environment.

Parasitic nematodes, Steinernema carpocapsae (Biosafe, Exhibit, Vector TL) are labelled against flea larvae and pupae in the yard and garden habitats.

Botanicals - Pyrethrins, derived from the flowers of chrysanthemum, and rotenone from the roots of derris, cube and cracca plants, are good contact insecticides. Linalool (Demize), a citrus peel extract, is a natural, fast-acting flea killer, giving short residual control. Other botanicals include d-Limonene (Flea-Stop), citronella oil, eucalyptus oil, pennyroyal oil, balsam, lavender oil, calendula, comfrey, rosemary, tea tree oil and yucca.

Feeding pets garlic, brewer's yeast or B vitamins has not been shown to be effective against fleas. Also, pennyroyal, eucalyptus, rosemary, tea leaves and citronella have not provided effective control. In fact, overdosing of garlic or onion can be irritating or toxic to pets.
Prevention - Trim lawns and weeds to create a drier, less-ideal environment for flea larvae. Avoid piles of sand and gravel around the home for long periods of time. Fence yards to prevent dogs from roaming freely in heavily infested areas or contacting other infested animals.
Discourage nesting or roosting of rodents and birds on or near the premises. Screen or seal vents, chimneys, crevices, etc. where rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, etc. may use to enter crawlspaces and buildings. Wash or destroy pet bedding, regularly groom pets and vacuum frequently to remove up to 95 percent of the flea eggs, some larvae and adults. Only about 20 percent of the larvae might be removed when vacuuming since they wrap themselves around the bottom strands of carpeting.

Mechanical Control - An ultra flea comb, a product of Four Paws Product, Ltd. available through your licensed veterinarian, works well to remove fleas from the pet's haircoat.

Chemical Control - There are literally hundreds of products on the market for flea control on pets and the premises. For successful flea control, infested pets and the premises need to be treated at the same time.

Before application, read and follow the insecticide label and safety precautions. People and pets should be out of the house when treatments are made, and not return until the treated spray surfaces have dried. Depending on the carpet and type of treatment, it may take several hours (usually three to four hours to give the insecticide a better chance to work). To assist in drying, open windows and use a fan or air conditioner.

Usually, the licensed professional pest control operator has the experience, training, equipment and most effective insecticides for overall flea control.

Pets - There are many formulations as shampoos, aerosols, dips, sprays, dusts (powders), collars, dab-ons, spot-ons and monthly tablet or oral liquid treatments. Usually, the most effective pet treatments are available through licensed veterinarians.
Veterinary-Prescribed Products

1. Lufenuron (Program), a non-pesticide, is a product of Novartis Corporation that controls fleas on dogs and cats of any size, weight or breed. Program is safe for pregnant dogs and puppies, and cats and kittens as young as six weeks. A dog is given one tablet once a month with a normal meal. Cats are given a tablet or a liquid dose once a month with a liquid meal. Lufenuron is a Chitin Synthesis Inhibitor (CSI) or Insect Development Inhibitor (IDI) that breaks the flea's life cycle by preventing eggs and larvae from developing. Nearly 100 percent of eggs laid by treated fleas do not develop. There is no effect on the adult flea. Tiny immature flea eggs, larvae and pupae may be hidden in carpets and upholstery or yard and dog houses, so it may take a few weeks to see how effective lufenuron works. Help by vacuuming your carpet and bathing your pet. Prevent fleas by giving lufenuron tablets once a month, year-round without interruption. Lufenuron is very safe to humans, pets and the environment. (Fleas have to bite pet.)

2. Fipronil (Frontline Top Spot), a pesticide, is a product of Rhone Merieux, Inc. that kills adult fleas up to three months on dogs and a month or more on cats. Ticks are killed for a month or more on dogs and cats. Frontline Top Spot can be used on 10-week old puppies, 12-week old kittens and pets receiving other medications. A pre-measured dosage in a plastic pipette is applied in a spot between the pet's shoulder blades. Be sure to part the fur and squeeze the tube to apply entire contents to the skin surface. For best results, do not bathe the pet two days before or after treatment. It remains effective after bathing or swimming. Fipronil dissolves in oils on the skin and, within 24 hours after application, spreads over the entire pet (translocation). Fipronil collects in the hair follicles and oil-producing glands of the skin where it slowly wicks out of the follicles covering the skin and fur for up to three months. Topline is also available for application in a metered spray pump. (Fleas do not have to bite pet.)

3. Cythioate (Proban), a pesticide, is a product of Bayer in the tablet or oral liquid formulation, that controls fleas on dogs of all ages (do not use in greyhounds or animals that are pregnant, sick, under stress, or recovering from surgery). It is not registered for cats. This organophosphate is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and distributed throughout the body. It causes the animal's blood to be lethal to the fleas that consume it. Fleas are killed (90 to 100 percent) by ingesting the drug from the body fluids during the first week. Additional treatments for several weeks are needed. (Fleas have to bite pet.)

4. Fenthion (Pro-Spot), a pesticide, is a product of Bayer, that controls fleas on dogs at the time of treatment and has good residual activity against many of the fleas that may reinfest the dog after treatment. Treatments should not be repeated more often than once every two weeks. Do not use with flea or tick collars. This topically applied organophosphate, with good systemic activity, is available in multiple sizes, each for a different weight range of dogs. Apply the applicator tube contents on the dog's back on the skin (part the hair) between the shoulder blades. Do not use on puppies under 10 weeks of age. Use with a control program reducing flea populations and flea breeding areas in the dog's environment - bedding, carpets, yard, etc. (Fleas have to bite pet.)

5. Imidacloprid (Advantage), a pesticide, is a product of Bayer, kills adult fleas on contact on cats and dogs before they can lay eggs and the flea life cycle is broken. About 98 to 100 percent of adult fleas are killed on the pet within 24 hours by a topical spot application on the back of the neck on cats and between the shoulder blades on dogs. A single dose works for at least four weeks on dogs and up to four weeks on cats. Imidacloprid (a pesticide) has been used on pregnant and lactating dogs and one-month-old puppies with no clinical abnormalities (Apply once a month). There is no waiting period to handle pets after application. Also, treated dogs immersed in water weekly for 30 days still experience nearly 90 percent flea control efficacy. (Fleas do not have to bite pet.)

6. Pyriproxyfen (Nylor, Archer), a non-pesticide, is a product of Virbac that is a new 3rd generation Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) - Juvenile hormone mimic. Pyriproxyfen (a non-pesticide) + permethrin kills adult fleas and ticks plus kills flea eggs for dogs.
If the homeowner treats the pet, powders or dusts are preferred over sprays. Put on rubber gloves and apply the dust thoroughly into the hair coat according to label directions. Cats are more susceptible than dogs to toxic effects of many insecticides since they groom themselves. Flea collars cannot always be relied upon to bring existing infestations under control. Collars do not kill existing premise infestations. Some animals are sensitive to collars. Watch for signs of dermatitis on the neck under the collar. After 24 hours, 95 percent of attached ticks become detached.

Indoors - Automatic aerosol foggers, available in a canister, will give good knockdown and kill many biting adult fleas. Insecticides include methoprene + permethrin, pyriproxyfen + permethrin and pyrethrin.

Magic Pest Management’s program consists of an liquid adulticide, insect growth regulator, dusts, and aerosols. Some of the products that may be used are as follows; a coarse spray (40 psi) of an approved adulticide applied to cracks and crevices of floors, moldings and baseboards up to a height of one foot usually gives good results. Other flea killers include tetramethrin (Bio Flea Halt), amorphus silica gel (Drione, Tri-Die), diatomaceous earth (Answer, Organic Plus), esfenvalerate (Conquer), linalool (Demize) and d-limonene (Flea-Stop).
Additional highly effective insecticides available to the licensed commercial and pest control operator include cyfluthrin (Tempo), cypermethrin (Cynoff), and deltamethrin (Delta Gard, Suspend). Water-based sprays are generally used for treating all carpeting and upholstered furniture.

Since there is no flea resistance to borates, many homeowners try switching to boric acid and disodium octaborate tetrahydrate. Boric Acid (Fleabuster, Flea Halt) is a stomach poison killing fleas in the larva stage. Apply directly on vacuumed, cleaned carpets where pets frequently travel or sleep. Work powder deeply into fibers with a broom or rug rake. For upholstery, remove loose cushions, apply along creases and into corner not to exposed fabric. Any powder visible after application must be brushed in cracks or removed. Borates are environmentally safe, odorless and used in homes with children and pets.

Outdoors - If the cat or dog regularly goes outside, treatment will be useful. Cats generally roam over greater areas than dogs and will pick up fleas seeding the home grounds with their infestations. Cats using sand boxes and dogs sleeping under shrubs and crawlspaces provide a reservoir of fleas. Treat outdoor areas frequented by pets during the summer months with deltamethrin (Delta Gard), or pyrethrins. Animal pens, kennels, doghouses, crawlspaces and sandy soil or gravel driveways are important to spot treat with a hand sprayer. Clean and sweep porches, mow the grass and soak the dry soil with water before treating to bring the flea larvae up to the surface. Additional treatments at intervals, according to label directions, may be needed.

Here at Magic our program changes as new innovative products enter the market and new treatment methods improve our ability to reduce the amount of pesticides used. We do have a new Green program for fleas, but this type of treatment may take several more applications and time.

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet HYG-2081-97 by William F. Lyon
Image Copyright © 2007 Jay Barnes

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pest of the Month– Yellowjacket by Ralph H. Maestre BCE

YellowJackets and Wasps
Yellowjacket wasps often become a nuisance in New York, especially from August through October, as they build up in large populations and scavenge for human food (carbonated bever-ages, cider, juices, ripe fruits and vegetables, candy, ice cream, fish, ham, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.) at picnics, cookouts, outside restaurants, bakeries, campsites, fairs, sports events and other outdoor get-togethers. Many are attracted in large numbers to garbage cans and other trash receptacles. Others fly in and out of nests built around homes, buildings and areas where people live, work and play, causing fear and alarm. Although yellowjackets are considered quite beneficial to agricul-ture since they feed abundantly on harmful flies and caterpillars, it is their boldness (sometimes aggressiveness) and painful stinging ability that cause most concern.

Nevertheless, unless the threat of stings and nest location pre-sent a hazard, it is often best to wait for Mother Nature, with freezing temperatures in late November and December, to kill off these annual colonies. Stinging workers do not survive the winter and the same nest is not reused.

A typical yellowjacket worker is about 1/2-inch long, short and blocky, with alternating black and yellow bands on the abdomen while the queen is larger, about 3/4-inch long. (The different black and yellow patterns on the abdo-men help separate various species.) Workers are sometimes confused with honey bees, especially when flying in and out of their nests.

Yellowjackets, in contrast to honey bees, are not covered with tan-brown dense hair on their bodies and lack the flattened hairy hind legs used to carry pollen. Yellowjackets have a lance-like stinger without barbs.

Life Cycle and Habits
Yellowjackets are social wasps living in colonies containing workers, queens and males. Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Fertilized queens occur in pro-tected places as hollow logs, in stumps, under bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities and human-made structures. Queens emerge during the warm days of late April or early May, select a nest site and build a small paper nest in which eggs are laid. After eggs hatch from the 30 to 50 brood cells, the queen feeds the young larvae for about 18 to 20 days. Larvae pupate, emerging later as small, infertile females called workers. By mid-June, the first adult workers emerge and assume the tasks of nest expansion, foraging for food, care of the queen and larvae, and colony defense. From this time until her death in the autumn, the queen remains inside the nest laying eggs. The colony then expands rapidly reaching a maximum size of 4,000 to 5,000 workers and a nest of 10,000 to 15,000 cells in August and late September. At peak size, reproductive cells are built with new males and queens produced. Adult reproductives remain in the nest fed by the workers. New queens build up fat reserves to overwinter. Adult repro-ductives leave the parent colony to mate. After mating, males quickly die while fertilized queens seek protected places to overwinter. Parent colony workers dwindle, usually leaving the nest and die, as does the foundress queen. Abandoned nests rapidly de-compose and disintegrate during the winter. Nests inside structures will persist as long as they are dry. Nests are not used again. In the spring, the cycle is repeated. (Weather in the spring is the most important factor in colony establishment.) Although adults feed primarily on items rich in sugars and carbohydrates (fruits, flower nectar and tree sap), the larvae feed on pro-teins (insects, meats, fish, etc.). Adult workers chew and condition the meat fed to the larvae. Larvae in return secrete a sugar material relished by the adults. (This exchange of material is known as trophallaxis.) In late autumn, foraging workers (nuisance scavengers) change their food preference from meats to ripe, decaying fruits since larvae in the nest fail to meet require-ments as a source of sugar.

In 1970s, the German yellowjacket first appeared in New York and has now become the dominant species over the Eastern yellowjacket. It is bold, aggres-sive and, if provoked, can sting repeatedly and painfully. The German yellowjacket builds a grey, brittle, papery soccer or football shaped nest in struc-tures with the peak worker population between 1,000 to 3,000 individuals between May to November. The Eastern yellowjacket builds a tan, fragile papery soccer or football shaped nest underground with the peak worker population between 1,000 to 3,000 individuals between May to November similar to the Common yellowjacket. Nests are built entirely of wood fiber (usually weathered or dead) and are completely enclosed (football or soccer shaped) except for a small opening (entrance) at the bottom. The nest may be located below the soil or aerial with the paper envelope covering contain-ing multiple, horizontal tiers of combs (10 or more) within. Larvae hang down in combs.

Sting Prevention
It is always best to avoid unnecessary stings. Should a yellowjacket wasp fly near you or land on your body, never swing or strike at it or run rapidly away since quick movements often provoke attack and painful stings. When a wasp is near you, slowly raise your hands to protect your face remaining calm and stationary for a while and then move very slowly (avoid stepping on the ground nest), backing out through bushes or moving indoors to escape. Wasps and bees can fly about six to seven miles per hour so humans can outrun them. However, by the time one starts running, there could quickly be a dozen or so painful stings caused by the rapid movement. There is an old saying that "one who stands still and shoots an aerial nest with a shotgun need not fear, instead it is the person that rapidly runs away who gets all the stings." Never strike, swing or crush a wasp or bee against your body since it could incite nearby yellowjack-ets into a frenzied attack. Wasp venom contains a chemical "alarm pheromone," released into the air, signaling guard wasps to come and sting whom-ever and whatever gets in their way.

Unfortunately, many serious accidents have resulted when one runs away from attacking wasps and into the path of automobiles. When a bee or wasp gets into a moving car, remain calm. They almost never sting when in en-closed spaces as a car or house. Instead, they fly against windows. Slowly and safely pull over off the road, open the windows and allow the escape.

For more information on yellowjackets, or other pests, please visit Magic Exterminating's Pest Identification site.