The holiday season is upon us with decorations, food, and traveling to see family and friends. While most of us are focused on our holiday preparations, we often lose focus on another important aspect of this time of year – pest prevention. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean pests aren’t a problem. The holidays provide many opportunities for spiders, ticks, ants, mice, bed bugs, and other pests to make their way indoors and take over your home.
One of the most common ways pests can get into your home during the holidays is on live Christmas trees, wreaths, and firewood. Ants, spiders, ticks, and other pests can hide deep in the branches of trees and in the crevices of wood. They can even lay their eggs in trees or garland which can hatch once you put them out in your home, potentially causing a major infestation.
Pests can also access your home in those boxes of decorations you drag out from the attic, basement, garage, or crawlspace. Mice and other pests love to get into those cardboard boxes during the off season. You may be in for a surprise when you open your decorations by finding a live pest, droppings, or even damage to your lights and ornaments. It is especially important to check the wiring of your lights to make sure pests haven’t chewed through them.
The holidays are also one of the busiest travel times of the year. Most of us will either travel to visit loved ones or have loved ones travel to visit us. While we’re usually excited to see everyone, we’re not so excited to deal with bed bugs which often hitch rides on the luggage of these travelers. We often see a spike in bed bug cases during the holiday season.
So what can you do to pest proof your home and make sure you don’t get any unwanted guests for the holidays?
- Carefully inspect all items before bringing them into your home including trees wreaths, garland, and other decorations. Make sure to check for insects, eggs, and nests and shake them to rouse any pests that might be hidden deep within.
- Unpack your decorations outside instead of in your living room. Inspect them thoroughly for any signs of pests, droppings, gnaw marks, or any other damage before bringing them inside.
- Store your holiday decorations in plastic containers with lids that seal tightly instead of cardboard containers or bags.
- Don’t put discarded trees or cut firewood near your home. Firewood should be stored at least 20 feet away from your home and elevate it if possible.
- Thoroughly check your luggage before you enter the place you are staying and ask your guests to do the same before they enter your home.
- Put your clothing in the dryer, if possible, for at least 20 minutes.
- Keep your bags closed when not in use and store them off the floor.
- If you suspect you have a pest problem this holiday season, contact a pest control professional who can provide you with an evaluation and treatment plan.
For many of us, the holiday season is a time of joy. It is also a time for travel as we look forward to spending time with family and friends. One thing that can damper our holiday season is dealing with unwanted visitors – no, not that cranky Scrooge of a relative – but bed bugs! Bed bugs are notorious hitchhikers, tagging along with unsuspecting travelers on their clothes and luggage. As we enter the biggest travel season of the year, check out these tips for preventing bed bugs and preserving your holiday cheer.
1. Prepare For Your Guests
When you have guests staying with you, make sure you are prepared for the possibility of bed bugs being brought in with them. Don’t put your guests’ coats and bags on the bed. Instead, clean out a closet and use it to store their belongings. If you have to put their items on the bed, lay a sheet down first. It can be cleaned later. Place a plastic mat by the door for them to place their shoes on. If possible, provide luggage racks for them to use to store their belongings on. Use a bed bug mattress cover on any beds your guests will be using. If your guests will be sleeping on the couch, lay a sheet down over it first.
2. Clean Up After They Leave
Once your guests leave, make sure to go behind anywhere they kept coats or luggage and clean. Vacuum closets where luggage and coats were kept. Vacuum the beds and couches where they slept. Seal the vacuum bags immediately and dispose of them outside. If you used sheets under luggage or on your couches, wash them in hot water and dry them on high heat. Wash the plastic mat you used for their shoes with hot, soapy water.
3. Be On The Lookout
Whether you have guests who just left or you are the guest yourself, check your surroundings for signs of bed bugs. Inspect the mattress, box springs, and headboard, especially around edges and seams. Make sure to check couch cushions and chairs, as well. The most common sign of bed bugs is small, rust colored spots. Avoid using dresser drawers if possible. When you arrive at your destination, especially if you have been in a heavily populated area (subway, bus, airport, etc) check your shoes, jackets, hats, and luggage immediately. Be sure to check around zippers and seams. If you spot bed bugs, remove the clothing immediately and wash in hot water and dry on high heat. Vacuum luggage and seal and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately. If you are going to be a guest at a hotel or other lodging accommodation, you can also check the Bed Bug Registry, which is a free user-submitted database of bed bug reports across the US and Canada.
4. Don’t Wait Around
Once you arrive home from your travels, unpack your luggage and change your clothes immediately. Wash everything in hot water and dry on high heat. The heat of the water and air from the dryer will kill any bed bugs that may be lingering around. Once unpacked, vacuum or steam your luggage and seal it in plastic bags or containers. Store your luggage outside the home (in a garage, shed, etc) until you need to use them again.
5. Call The Pros
Bed bugs are resilient and can be extremely difficult to get rid of. If you suspect you have a bed bug problem, call a pest control professional who can come in and provide you with a thorough evaluation and comprehensive treatment plan.
It’s the holiday season and while many plants are losing leaves and color in the cold, poinsettia plants thrive. These winter plants are native to the area around Taxco, Mexico. Their name comes from that of the first United States ambassador to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett. Though the most popular color for this plant is red, poinsettias also come in pink, white, yellow, speckled or marbled.
A common myth is that these lovely flowered plants are poisonous. In actuality, it is merely recommended not to consume the plant and the sap may cause mild skin irritation to those who are sensitive to it. Still, though this plant may not be recommended for humans, plenty of pests delight in the lovely plant for more than just its beauty.
Pests that may be attracted to poinsettias include white flies, fungus gnats, mealybugs and spider mites. These pests tend to attack either the plant itself or the social surface. Mealybugs, in particular,
will feed on the leaves of the poinsettia plants. If caught early, be sure to gently clean the leaves of your plant with alcohol on a swab.
Northwest Exterminating looks to handle all your pest issues. Even though it’s the holiday season, we are dedicated to keeping your home and work environment pest free. Schedule an appointment today!
The holiday season is a busy time for travel. People visiting family or taking holiday trips…it is a fun and exciting time. But there are precautions to take when traveling. Bed bugs have made a comeback in recent years and are a real concern for travelers. Not only are they a concern for while on a trip but bringing them home can cause thousands of dollars and loss of sleep.
But this shouldn’t discourage people from traveling. With knowledge and diligence, you can protect yourself and your home from bed bugs.
Tips for Avoiding Bed Bugs While Traveling:
- Research the hotel. If staying in a hotel do your research by reading reviews on the website and visiting The Bed Bug Registry. The Bed Bug Registry is a free, public database where people report bed bug infestations across the US and Canada.
- Keep luggage off of bed and floor. Place your luggage on a luggage rack, bathroom floor, or balcony when you enter the room. Placing it on the bed or carpet could give present bed bugs easy access to your luggage.
- Inspect your bed. Check the headboard, foot board, mattress, sheets, pillows, and comforter for little bugs or dark red or brown spots that mark a trail. Check seams and corners closely and the box springs. If you see scurrying, dead bugs, or dark colored trails, notify the hotel management immediately.
- Inspect your room. Check sofas and chairs, or other places that bed bugs could be found.
- If you find bed bugs after you’ve slept in the room, notify hotel management right away. They should launder all of your clothing and give you a new room immediately.
Preventing bed bugs from making their way home with you:
- Unpack your bag in the garage or on a hard, light colored surface. Do not unpack on the bed or carpet. This will allow you to see any bed bugs if they scurry out of your bag.
- Wash and dry all clothes as soon as possible on hot.
- Vacuum your suitcase.
- Although it’s unusual for bed bugs to travel on a person, shower before you sleep in your own bed.
If you suspect that bed bugs have made their way into your home, there is a solution. Northwest Exterminating has a dedicated team of experts that specialize in the treatment of bed bugs. Call the Mouse to get rid of bed bugs in your house.