Those of us with furry, feathered or scaly family members know it’s important to keep pets safe as we tackle insects or rodents. After all, both pests AND the chemicals used to banish them can spell trouble for animals if not managed correctly.
But pet safety in the context of pest control is a bit more complicated than shooing Rufus out of the way while you spray pesticide on the side of the house.
“Your animal companions are naturally curious and will follow or track your scent to see where you’ve been,” cautions the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC).
Pets may even taste the substance you’ve applied to see if it’s eatable, or get chemicals on their bodies as they groom, roll around or dig in the yard, say experts at Oregon State University.
So what do you do?
In this post, we’ve compiled recommendations from unbiased sources to help ensure your pets stay safe as you take steps to eradicate pests.
Pet Safety BEFORE a Pest Control Treatment
- Consider whether using expert, integrated pest management is a more appropriate way to deal with the pest problem. If you’re using an expert, please inform us that you have pets, what they are, and where they’re located.
- If you choose to apply pesticide yourself, make sure you understand and follow all label instructions and read any manufacturer’s information on how it may impact your pets. When in doubt, call the manufacturer’s hotline.
- Don’t use a pesticide if you spot an oily or gummy film on the surface. It may have deteriorated in storage.
- If it’s windy outside, consider postponing the treatment to another day. Winds can move pesticides to water sources that your pets may frequent.
- In addition to removing pets from the area to be treated, also remove pet toys, food bowls, litter boxes, and bedding.
- Your fishies need protection too! Cover or remove fish tanks to prevent liquid and vapors from entering the tank. If using foggers (bug bombs), turn off fish tank pumps during the application. Consider similar precautions for reptiles, snakes, birds, and other small pets that are in an enclosed region.
- Don’t forget your neighbor’s pets or wildlife! Minimize their exposure too, especially near water sources.
Pet Safety DURING a Pest Control Treatment
- Ask your pest control company if your pet can be present or if they recommend removing them from the treated location. This may be a great opportunity to spoil your pet and put them up in a pet hotel!
- If the product label tells you to mix a product in another container, use all of the mixture or label the container for future use. Do not use food and beverage containers, or containers without tight-fitting lids.
- If using foggers (bug bombs), it’s helpful to turn off your HVAC so pesticide dust doesn’t circulate around your home.
- Baits used for rats, mice, gophers, slugs and snails look mighty appetizing to pets — especially dogs. If using baits, place them where your pet cannot reach or dig them up.
- Don’t exceed the recommended dosage or make repeat applications unless specified on the product label.
Pet Safety AFTER a Pest Control Treatment
- Keep pets away from treated areas until pesticides are completely dry and the area has been well ventilated. Again, ask your pest control technician for their recommendation.
- Granular lawn products take a while to dissolve. Keep pets off the treated area for at least 24 hours.
- Don’t throw away pesticide products or containers. You might need label information in case of emergency.
- Pesticides leave residue on plants, even after dried. Don’t let your pet lick, chew or eat plants treated with pesticides.
- Don’t store herbicides and insecticides together to avoid cross-contamination.
Your Safest Bet
Your best chance of keeping your pets safe and not botch pest control?
Bring in a professional, advises Charlotte Flint, senior consulting veterinarian for Pet Poison Helpline. Pest control professionals are “a great resource to help identify problems and make your home less welcoming to unwanted insects and rodents. They’re also experienced in treating homes with pets.”
On that note, be sure to always inform your pest control technician that you have pets, so he or she can take appropriate precautions.
Helpful Pesticide and Animal Poison Control Numbers
Sometimes nature really bites. Stinging insects, in particular — bees, wasps, hornets — aren’t just party-poopers that send you running for cover when you’re enjoying some fresh air. Their sting sends thousands of people to the ER (or worse, the grave) each year.
It’s such a recurring problem, U.S. federal agencies recognize stinging insects as workplace hazards, responsible for fatalities in industries like farming, construction and landscaping. And, not to be overly dramatic, but insect behavior is evolving: This summer, yellow jacket “super nests” the size of cars are popping up, housing 15,000 worker wasps, reports The New York Times.
Fingers crossed you’ll never spot a super nest in your lifetime, but stinging insects remain a massive buzz-kill and health hazard, wherever you are. In this post, we’ll share how to prevent bee, wasp or hornet stings from turning your outdoor fun into a trip to the hospital.
What’s What? Identifying Stinging Insects
Before we get into sting prevention and treatments, it’s helpful to discern the insects buzzing nearby, and what to expect from them.
- Common types: Honey bees, carpenter bees, bumble bees, Africanized (a.k.a. killer) bees
- Physical traits: While bee types differ, they’re generally small and fuzzy, with yellow and black markings.
- Behavioral traits: Range from docile to aggressive. While crucial to the health of the environment, bees will attack a perceived threat without hesitation, and are particularly problematic around small children, or people allergic to bee stings.
- Nests: Aside from domesticated bees living in man-made hives, wild bees live in colonies or “honeycombs” in hollow trees or cavities in buildings.
- More: Detailed info on bee types and behaviors.
- Common types: European hornets, paper wasps, yellow jackets, bald-faced hornets
- Physical traits: Slim, fuzz-free body and clearly defined “neck.” Smooth stingers (compared to bees’ barbed stingers) that stay attached to the body after a sting.
- Behavioral traits: Most are aggressive and do not have to be provoked before attacking. Rather, wasps will actively defend their nest if humans get too close.
- Nests: Gray, paper-like nests look like a football, and may be high or underground.
- More: Detailed info on wasp types and behaviors.
- Common types: European, bald-faced.
- Physical traits: Giant-sized wasps measuring up to 2 inches, slim body, black and yellow stripes.
- Behavioral traits: Known for tapping on windows at night as they search for light. Found near fruit trees and feed on fallen fruits. Very protective of their hive.
- Nests: Gray or brown papery nests, usuallyfound in high places like tree tops, hollows, wall voids.
- More: Detailed info on hornets and their behaviors.
How to Prevent Bee, Wasp, and Hornet Stings
- Let a pro handle that nest – Found a nest on your property? “Keep yourself and other members of the family away and do not attempt to remove it on your own,” cautions the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). “Depending on the species, a nest could contain hundreds (if not thousands) of stinging insects, which could swarm and sting en masseif they are disturbed of feel threatened.” Instead, the NPMA advises you contact a licensed professional who can identify the species and either destroy or relocate the colony without putting you at risk.
- Don’t swing or swat – It’s natural to flail our arms and swat at insects when confronted with them, but that gesture can cause them to become more aggressive and even sting repeatedly. Remain calm and distance yourself quietly. You may also blow gently on the insect as you back away.
- Don’t crush that wasp – Crushing a wasp could incite nearby wasps into a frenzied attack, writes William Lyon in a fact sheet for the Ohio State University. “The wasp venom contains a chemical ‘alarm pheromone,’” he explains: When released into the air, that chemical signals guard wasps to race to the rescue and “sting whoever and whatever gets in their way.”
- Cover food and drinks – Stinging insects are attracted to sweets, so it’s not a great idea to leave drinks or food exposed, says the NPMA. Keep food and drink covered until you’re ready to consume it, and promptly store garbage in sealed receptacles.
- Dress for safety – Dark colors, floral prints, sweet-scented perfumes and lotions are all known to attract insects, so you should avoid them, say the experts at NPMA. Loose-fitting clothes and open-toe shoes also provide more opportunities for insects to sting you, particularly in grassy areas.
- Trim vegetation – Thick vegetation means more nesting places for wasps, bees and hornets, so you’ll want to keep it trim. It’s also a good idea to keep flowering plants at a minimum if you or a family member is allergic to bee stings, warns the NPMA.
- Stay safe in a moving car – What if a bee, wasp or hornet flies into your moving car? Remain calm, writes Lyon. “The insect wants out of the vehicle as much as you want it out. They usually fly against windows in the car and almost never sting the occupants. Slowly and safely pull over off the road, open the window and allow the bee or wasp to escape.”
- Pre-treat ahead of outdoor events – Next time you host an outdoor get-together — whether a business function or intimate gathering at home — have a reputable provider pre-treat the area so your guests can enjoy themselves, safely.
How to Treat a Bee, Wasp, or Hornet Sting
Sometimes you can’t escape a sting, despite your best efforts. Reactions range from normal to severe, which Ohio State University experts describe like this:
- Normal Reaction: “Lasts a few hours. Sting site is painful, reddened, may swell and itch, but will quickly dissipate.”
- Large Local Reaction: “Lasts for days. Sting site is more painful, swelling and itching may be present both at the sting site and surrounding areas.”
- Severe Allergic Reaction: Can progress quickly and the whole body is involved. Symptoms can include dizziness, nausea, weakness, stomach cramps, diarrhea, hives, itching around the eyes, vomiting, swelling, and more. “Reactions may occur in a few minutes with most deaths within 30 minutes,” although death could also happen in under five minutes.
First-aid care to help counter the sting includes:
- Wash the sting site with soap and water. (CDC)
- Remove the stinger by wiping gauze over the sting area, or scraping a fingernail over the area. Never pinch the stinger or use tweezers, which can force more venom into the wound. (CDC, OSU)
- Apply ice to reduce swelling. (CDC)
- Apply a paste made with baking soda and water. (AAD)
- Do not scratch the affected area, which could worsen swelling, itching, and the risk of infection. (CDC)
- If the sting is on an extremity (e.g. arm, leg), it’s helpful to elevate the limb. (NPMA)
- Over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain, while an antihistamine and hydrocortisone ointment can calm the local reaction. (NPMA)
Do seek emergency medical care if the affected person experiences allergic symptoms like “tongue and throat swelling, wheezing, dizziness, shortness of breath, or a drop in blood pressure,” cautions the NPMA.
The best prevention, of course, is having no bees, wasps or hornets around. If you spot or suspect nests are nearby, it’s important you keep away and engage a licensed pest professional, as mishandling nests can provoke a dangerous reaction. When that time comes, we’ll be honored to help with an expert screening.
Wishing you a pleasurable, sting-free summer and fall!
Ask anyone who’s had a personal encounter with bed bugs and they’ll tell you they wish they’d known the risks, what to watch for, and what to do about it before things got… um… itchy.
The top three places for bed bug infestations? Apartments/condos, single-family homes and hotels/motels, according to pest professionals surveyed by the National Property Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky. Other infested locations pest pros responded to included nursing homes, college dorms, offices, daycares, schools—even hospitals and public transportation.
A List of the Top Cities for Bed Bugs:
Here are the top 20 U.S. cities for bed bug infestations, based on metro areas where the most bed bug treatments occurred in the past year. Indianapolis has moved up from #15 a few years ago to #4!
- Philadelphia, PA
- New York, NY
- Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
- Indianapolis, IN
- Cincinnati, OH
- Los Angeles, CA
- Cleveland, OH
- Washington, DC
- Chicago, IL
- Boston, MA
- Columbus, OH
- Houston, TX
- Baltimore, MD
- Atlanta, GA
- Detroit, MI
- Cincinnati, OH
- Philadelphia, PA
- San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, CA
- Richmond/Petersburg, VA
- Raleigh/Durham, NC
Many people associate bed bugs with filth. While they leave a disgusting mess, you have to remember that they’re travelers. And you’re going to see that cities with a large transient population carry bed bugs to their new location. Indianapolis isn’t just the Crossroads of America for transportation, colleges, sports, and conferences… it’s also a prime location for bed bugs to hitch a ride into!
Bed Bugs: Where are They, Factors for Fighting, and How to Inspect for Them
We’re seeing some pretty intense thunderstorms with quite a bit of rain here in central Indiana. It shouldn’t be a surprise that rain can have a huge impact on pest activity and their ability to feed and reproduce before, during, and after rainfall.
Pest Activity Before the Storm
Insects and small pests often have built-in barometers that sense the pressure drops associated with storms. Some underground pests will run for higher ground to avoid flooding, some will bury themselves in, and others may actually make it outdoors to take advantage of the humidity.
On the plus side, insects often don’t reproduce during storms and rainfall, so prolonged storms can really devastate infestations. Leading up to the storm, though, you may see a lot of movement and activity in your yard. Be sure to seal up any gaps in your foundation, openings in garage doors and doorways, and any other place around your home that insects can find their way in.
If you’re seeing quite a few insects before the storm, you’ll probably want to get your home inspected as they’ve probably found a way in and are busy building a highway for later!
Pest Activity During the Storm
Some larger pests may run for cover as their nests and dens become flooded. Keep an eye out for them and then watch for any locations in and around your house where there may be standing water. Adjust where your downspouts are pushing water and make sure it’s not getting into your foundation, cellar, or crawl space.
Pest Activity After the Storm
Standing water doesn’t attract just small animals, it’s also at the mating ground for bugs. A 2 or 3 inch deep puddle that’s hidden away in the brush of your yard can be a mating ground for a colony of mosquitoes that will breed tens of thousands. You’ll want to make sure you have good irrigation so the water is never standing. If you have a pool or fountain, you’ll want to be running your pumps periodically to keep the water moving.
After the rains have subsided and moisture has been absorbed, you may see signs of nesting in new locations in and around your home. Keep an eye out for hair and lint around the cracks outside your home… these may be where rodents are moving in and bringing some bedding with them.
Irrigation and Pest Control
Just as we’d run for cover or move our families indoors, so do pests. Ensuring that you have proper irrigation and a pest-proofed home can eliminate an infestation before, during, or after our summer storms here in central Indiana. Be sure to give us a call if you see signs of pests and we can schedule an inspection!
Roaches are nasty business! These creepy-crawlies are among the most reviled of pests, especially because once they are in, they can be tough to get rid of. Responding to the presence of roaches in your home or business is important. As Central Indiana’s top pest control company, we keep both homes and businesses roach free. We know what it takes to prevent and eliminate roaches from your home!
Here is what you need to know.
How do you know if you have roaches?
Roaches are nocturnal, so it is rare to see them active during the day. You should inspect for them at night, using a flashlight to catch them by surprise in dark spaces. They prefer darkness and moisture, so we recommend that you look in bathrooms and kitchens first.
Laundry rooms, garages, barns, and mud rooms are other places to check out. When you inspect for roaches, use your flashlight to shine underneath appliances, in and around drains, under rugs and carpets, and in any cracks, such as the small gaps underneath baseboards.
If you see a roach, you should know there are probably many more hiding elsewhere. Unfortunately, not seeing a roach does not mean that your home is roach-free. Other signs of roach infestation include a foul odor, roach droppings, and roach eggs.
What attracts roaches to a home?
Cockroaches love dirty dishes, crumbs, trash, and leaks. They sneak into your home through cracks, pipes, drains, open windows and screens, and in just about anything you might carry inside. Clutter is not a huge appeal to roaches, but if something is sticky, crumby, messy, or wet, they are going to love it.
What attracts roaches to a business?
Why do some businesses have roach problems? There are a few reasons. First, some businesses have the same attractive environmental conditions that homes do: kitchens, trash cans, messes, and moisture.
If your company produces a lot of trash, you are more susceptible to an infestation. The same is true if you have a kitchen, a garage, barn, or storage area. Companies are also more likely to have drop ceilings, which can hide roaches as they breed and take over an area.
What kind of roaches are most prevalent in Indiana?
The Purdue Extension office explains the types of cockroaches that are most common in Indiana. They describe roach varieties as follows.
- The German roach can typically be found in your kitchens; it’s one of the most common species. When these roaches achieve adulthood, they stay small (about 1/2 inch long). They are tan, and they generally travel in large numbers. Young German roaches, known as nymphs, can be identified by their dark markings that change their appearance, making them look dark brown to black.”
- The largest of the roaches, the American roach is usually reddish-brown in color and can grow to be roughly 1-1/2 inches in length when it matures. You’ll generally find these roaches in food establishments, but any dwelling near the place that serves food runs the risk of infestation.
- Another large roach, the Oriental roach grows to be about 1 inch in length. These roaches are typically shiny black or dark brown. Oriental roaches are also referred to as “water bugs” or “black beetles.” They prefer to live somewhere damp, and generally invade homes through places like the sewer opening. When it’s warm outside, Oriental roaches might take up residence outdoors; during the less temperate months, they tend to move from home to home.
- While the Brown-banded roach is usually thought of as southern species, it can be found in Indiana. It’s roughly the same size as a German roach, but the resemblance ends there. Brown-banded roaches make free with your whole house— they don’t restrict their activities to the kitchen. Any item that is shipped from one location to another can contain these less-than-desirable tagalongs.
- Woods roaches usually restrict their activities to the outdoors, generally residing under the loose bark of dead trees, logs or stumps. They might invade a home that is in a heavily wooded area, but they don’t typically thrive unless they’re outside. At nearly 1 inch long, male woods roaches are dark brown with a pale stripe on the outer edges of their wings. They fly well, so that’s often how they make their way into homes. The female woods roaches have shorter wings, closely resembling the Oriental roach; however, it’s rare to find a female inside the house.
Are roaches more common in one season?
Roaches tend to head inside buildings and homes to avoid the cold in winter, so winter infestations are pretty common. However, it is summer when the creatures thrive. They love the heat and breed in the warmest months. That is why many homeowners choose to start protecting their homes in the spring— they want to prepare for the upcoming summer months.
Why should you hire a pest control professional?
Getting rid of roaches is a serious challenge. Hiring a pest control professional like Freedom Pest Control can get your roach problem under control and prevent future infestations. Why should you hire a professional instead of trying to get the infestation under control yourself?
- Professionals know how to detect and defeat infestations faster and more effectively than home and business owners. Our years of experience allow us to do a better job in a shorter amount of time than attempts at amateur pest control.
- We can prevent infestations. Instead of having to worry about roaches and other bugs coming back after you get rid of them, we can prevent you from ever having to deal with another pest infestation again.
- We can protect homes and businesses alike in a cost-effective way.
Do you need help now for a pest problem? Do you want to make sure that your home or business is not a home for creepy-crawlies like roaches? Let’s talk today about how to keep you from ever needing to deal with roaches again!