Archive for the Pest Spotlight Category

Pest Spotlight: Fleas

Posted in Fleas, Pest Spotlight on June 7, 2013 by pestcontroltoronto

About Fleas

Fleas are ectoparasites, or parasites that live outside the body. Other types of ectoparasites are lice and ticks. Fleas feed off of their hosts’ blood. The chosen hosts are normally four legged mammals however in the absence of such a host or in extreme infestations a human host will be sought out.

Fleas are a very adapted insect. They have specific adaptations that distinguish them from many other insects. One of these adaptations is the ability to survive without food. Fleas also have special physical adaptations such as their complex mouthparts that allow for piercing skin and sucking blood from their host.

Fleas are tiny, flat, wingless insects. Their exterior bodies are covered with several hard plates called sclerites. The outer shell protects the flea from getting crushed or injuring themselves from a long jump. The exoskeleton has the appearance of being smooth but it is actually covered in tiny hairs. These tiny hairs point away from the flea’s head. This makes it easy for fleas to crawl through their hosts hair or fur. It also protects the flea if something tries to dislodge it. The hairs act as anchors to keep the flea on the fur or hair; similar to Velcro.

The Flea Life Cycle

The life span of the average flea is three to four months. Fleas can however live without food for up to one year in the pupae (cocoon) stage. They enter a state of hibernation or “dormancy” which allows them to lay in wait for a blood meal opportunity. When they sense body heart or vibrations they are signaled that a host is within their presence and are awakened to break from the cocoon and seek out their first blood meal.

Fleas lay eggs that look like dandruff or salt crystals. Usually these eggs are laid on the host. Flea eggs are completely smooth; this causes them to fall of the host and land within the living quarters of the host. These eggs hatch into larvae that live in cracks and crevices of many areas such as carpets and rugs, upholstery, blankets, floor boards, sand, earth etc. These larvae are relatively immobile, only able to travel less than an inch. They get their food from black specks known as “flea dirt”. These specks are dried blood flakes that fall off when grooming or scratching. Flea larvae are around 1.5 mm long and look like white worms.

Like butterflies the larvae stage of a flea goes through a cocoon stage (pupa). Generally in good conditions the cocoon will be hatched in one to two weeks and a small flea will hop onto the next potential host that walks by. Thus the cycle begins again. If a host is available the adult flea will emerge after 1 week. If food is scarce the flea can stay inside the cocoon for up to a year. This whole process can take anywhere between 2 and 20 weeks depending on a number of factors (such as temperature, availability of a host etc). Given the right conditions, available host and warm temperature the cycle can take as little as 2 weeks.

Female fleas must have a blood meal in order to reproduce. If after emerging from the cocoon she is unable to find a blood meal then she will die before she is able to lay any eggs. However once she has had that initial feeding she can lay 20 eggs a time; 500 eggs during her lifetime.

 

Flea Treatments

Some insecticides kill adult fleas but not eggs, which means a whole new set of fleas can emerge after the adults have died. That is why we use a liquid residual spray which lasts until all the eggs have hatched and the adults have crawled over the chemical.

We also offer Steam services for fleas as well. Steaming services are offered for both elimination flea treatment and preventative treatment. Steaming areas include your carpets, couches and cracks and crevices. The best time for steaming treatment is at the onset of flea season (or whenever you begin your flea-control program). Though it is somewhat more expensive than insecticide-only treatment, steam cleaning is effective in killing flea eggs. This minimizes the time and the number of treatments needed to eliminate the flea problem.

Give us a call at 416-840-4040 or 1-877-504-BUGS

Service Report: Bed Bugs In Toronto

Posted in Bed Bugs, bed bugs toronto, how to, kill bed bugs, Pest Spotlight on May 15, 2013 by pestcontroltoronto

bedbug_groupBedbugs are one of the most frequently occurring pests that we treat. Recently our services were employed by a Toronto resident in treating their 3 bedroom house. The resident was completely unaware of an infestation until an overnight guest found a live bug on their coach. The customer called Advantage Pest Control the next morning with several questions.

1.      Do I really have an infestation? I only found one bug.
Yes. Finding one bug, especially during the day (as was the case) is indicative of a moderate to severe infestation. Many customers with a mild infestation do not find any bugs.

2.      Is it possible that my guest brought the bug in with them?
Yes, that is a possibility. However it is also possibility that there is an active infestation in your home.

3.      I don’t think I am getting bitten, are you sure that I have bed bugs?
Some people do not react to the bites. Itching and red marks are indicative of an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic that are released by the bed bug just prior to biting.

4.      I have a basement apartment with a tenant, would I have to treat downstairs as well if I have an infestation?
This question required several other pieces of information. If there is communal spaces such as a laundry room or area that is used by the upstairs residents and the downstairs residents we recommend treatment. Also if the tenant spends any significant time (sitting, visiting) upstairs or brings items up there (such as laundry, bags or purses) we recommend treatment. This was the case in this situation

5.      How many treatments would I need?

We recommend two treatments at least. This is because of the life-cycle of bed bugs whose eggs hatch 14-21 days after being laid. For this reason we recommend treating after 14-21 days to ensure continuity of the residual killing power of the insecticide. That being said, it is not uncommon to have to treat three, four or even five times depending on the severity of the infestation.

The customer was very distraught and wanted to know for sure if they had bed bugs. Our specialist recommended checking the seams of the mattresses and box springs of all beds for eggs or live bugs, checking the sheets and surface of the mattress and box spring for black spots (fecal matter), behind headboards, foot boards and all bedroom furniture (such as lamp shades and side tables) for black spots (fecal matter), and the seams and surface of the furniture in the living room (where the original bugs was found). The customer thanked us, hung up and proceeded to begin inspecting their home. They called us back a few minutes later when they found another live bug.

Tiny Bed Bugs Come To You To Feed But Do Not Live There.

Tiny Bed Bugs Come To You To Feed But Do Not Live There.

We sent a bed bug specialist out to the location within 48 hours. It is important with bed bugs to treat as soon as the location can be prepared because bed bugs lay a large quantity of eggs in a very short time. To prepare for the treatment we asked the resident to bag, wash, dry (on hot for at least 20 minutes), and re-bag all clothing from the laundry, dresser drawers, and closets as well as all bedding and curtains. A safe place to store rebagged laundry is in the bathtub or kitchen, as these areas do not need to be treated. The resident was also asked to de-clutter and provide access to all beds, couches and futons stripping them down to the mattress.
When our specialist arrived they determined that an integrated pest management approach was probably the most effective option for this customer. We utilized aerosol, dust and spray to treat the different areas of the home. An insecticidal barrier was placed on all baseboards and cracks and crevices in the home including the home office. The bottoms of all end tables, bed frames, head boards and footboards were also treated. We also used the residual insecticide spray to treat all dressers, wardrobes and closets. Residual aerosols were used to treat the seams of all couches and chairs in the living rooms. We also used bed bug killing dust inside the couches, chairs and on the surfaces of the mattress and box springs.
bed-bugs-on-my-skinEvidence was noted on the couch and chair in the living room as well as in the master bedroom mattress. There was no evidence found in the other bedrooms or in the basement apartment. Due to the nature of proximity and multiple interactions between parties in the home it was advisable to treat the entire house. A follow-up visit was scheduled for 14 days later. The occupants were also advised that they may wish to purchase bed bug proof mattress and box spring encasements as well as bed bug defenders for the frames of the beds.

Upon the second visit no new evidence was discovered but the frequency of bites had increased. This is not unusual, often the treatment will ‘stir up’ the bed bugs and increase their activity as they try to run from the chemical. Also many eggs hatching at once can increase the frequency of bites because the bed bugs must feed right after hatching and before each in-star stage of their development. The residents were advised that they would probably require a third service as they were still experiencing bites. A third service was booked for 14 days later.
5013734_3(0)(0)  At the third service, it was noted that there were some new evidence of the bed bugs not seen before (there was fecal matter on the lamp shade). A full treatment of the entire house was thoroughly done again. The residents purchased mattress covers and bed bug defenders at this point and our technician aided them in putting them on the beds. Subsequent to this service no bed bugs were found in the monitors, no new evidence was found on any furniture and the biting subsided. Our customer did elect to have one more residual insecticide only treatment just in case any eggs hatched. They were elated that we were able to eliminate their problem.IMG_5129 (2)

The over night guest that had originally found the bed bug elected to have their home sprayed with insecticide during the initial treatment in case they brought them home. They also bought a mattress encasement. They did not find any evidence of bedbugs nor did they experience any bites. No evidence of bed bug activity was found in the basement apartment though the resident did get bitten upstairs during a visit before the second treatment. The quick reaction of all parties involved and the thorough and complete treatment aided in not spreading the problem between the locations. Isolating the problem and effectively treating and managing the pest is the key to bed bug elimination.

For service or advice of treatment for bed bugs please call us at 1-877-504-BUGS!

Pest Spotlight: Carpet Beetles

Posted in Pest Spotlight on May 9, 2013 by pestcontroltoronto

Carpet beetles can feed on a wide variety of animal products including hides, hair, feathers, dried meats, and even woollens. They can also munch on dead insects like attic flies and box elder bugs. Box elder bugs do not simple remain on or around their food supply, they instead crawl around, sometimes for sizeable distances. This means you can find them in places you wouldn’t normally think they are.

Adult beetles commonly lay their eggs in closets, under furniture, under baseboards and in air ducts. It is the larvae and their need to hide in dark places to feed on organic material that are the ones that do the most damage to your household. They can damage clothing, furniture, blankets, furs, and a number of other commonly found household items.

Carpet beetles can also cause allergic reactions to sensitive people. The hairs that the larvae sheds when touched to humans can cause itching, swelling, and welt like symptoms.

Infestations can be prevented by regular cleaning, laundering, vacuuming, and airing out clothing and blankets appropriately. Once you have an infestation the best course of action is to call us so we can come and treat.

Pest Spotlight: Bed Bugs

Posted in Bed Bugs, bed bugs toronto, kill bed bugs, Pest Spotlight on April 17, 2013 by pestcontroltoronto

Bed bugs are a small parasitic insect that exclusively feeds on blood. Bed bugs are mainly active at night but not completely nocturnal. The best known bed bug is the common bed bug as it prefers to feed on human blood. The need for human blood is why it can cause so many problems for people. Bed bugs can cause allergic reactions, skin rashes, and have psychological effects on their human victims. Since 1995 bed bug infestations have been on the rise as more homes are built, and more people travel or spend nights in other people’s homes.

bed-bugs-on-my-skinThe life cycle of a bed bug has 3 stages; the egg stage, the nymph stage, and the adult stage. A single female bed bug may produce 500 offspring in its lifetime. Eggs are usually in clusters of 50 and hatch after 1-2 weeks. After the eggs hatch they become nymphs. This stage can last anywhere from 3 weeks in ideal climate to months in cooler temperature. For a nymph to mature into an adult it must molt 5 times, to molt a nymph must have a blood meal.  Finally the bed bug becomes a mature adult. An adult bed bug can live approximately 10 months, although they can live longer.

Newly hatched bed bugs or nymphs, are translucent or lighter in colour. As they mature and become adult bed bugs they feed and molt becoming light brown or reddish brown. Adult bed bugs can grow to 4-5mm in length and 1.5-3mm wide and have a flattened oval shape. Bed bugs are commonly mistaken on sight for other insects like book lice, small cockroaches, and carpet beetles. However, when warm and active a bed bug’s movement appears to be more ant like in nature.

bed_bug_14So what causes bed bugs? How did they get into the home? Well bed bugs can be brought into a home many ways, some are never known for sure. For example a visiting person or pet can bring them in through clothing of luggage. Infested items like clothing or furniture, especially if purchased used is another way to bring in bed bugs. When nearby homes (for example the apartment beside you) is infested with bed bugs, they can travel through cracks and crevices to your home. Even when you yourself visit an infested area like a hotel, another person’s home, the subway or movie theatre there is a chance of bringing home bed bugs. Since there are so many ways to get bed bugs, and so many places for them to hide within your home it is best to eradicate them, all of them as soon as you can. bedbug_group

Pest Spotlight: Termites

Posted in Pest Spotlight, Termites on April 16, 2013 by pestcontroltoronto

Termites are detrivores, which means they feed on dead trees and plants, as well as the dead parts on a living tree or plants like wood. Since a human home in constructed with a considerable amount of wood and contain a lot more wood based products they can be a huge problem for people. Furniture, shelving, cupboards, books and house foundations are all possible foods for termites.  Subterranean termites have homes which are usually formed in the soil. Within their homes they build elaborate tunnel systems building themselves easy access to their above ground food sources. Dry wood termites instead of living in mounds live within wood itself. They commonly infest walls and furniture within people’s homes.Image

The beginning of a termite’s life begins with the egg. They are small ovoid shapes that are translucent in colour and cluster together. Since termites hide their eggs from predators deeps within their tunnels and homes this stage is rarely seen by homeowners.  After a few weeks when the termite eggs hatch they become larvae. While they are still the same size of the eggs they hatched from they are now a pale white colour. They are immediately tended to by worker termites, which feed them as they cannot yet go and collect from food sources themselves yet. At this stage the larvae are not directly causing the damage seen in homes, but they are the motivation for it as they need to be fed. To become and adult termite the larvae needs to typically molt at least 5 times. After they mature the termites are delegated into their caste classes and are off to perform their duty to the colony. The different colony castes are the workers, the soldiers, and the reproductive termite. Worker and soldier termites can live approximately 2 years while the queen under optimal circumstance can survive up to 50 years while being able to reproduce and lay eggs the whole time.Image

So how did termites get into your home? Well they could have gotten there many ways; an infested piece of furniture or wood, or even an infested piece of lumber during the homes construction or renovations. Another and the most common way is during mating season reproductive termites swarm and migrate (fly) to copulate. During such migration they could have just happen upon your home and decided to settle and build their colony. As soon as you suspect termites it is best to act as termites if left unattended can cause considerable damage to your home.Image

Pest Spotlight: Wasps

Posted in Bees and Wasps, Pest Spotlight on April 12, 2013 by pestcontroltoronto

Its that time of year again. Though April started off cool, this is the time of year when wasps start building their nests. These pesky flying insects will reach their height in mid-July, all the way through August.

There are two types of wasps: solitary and colonial. Solitary wasps are very beneficial to nature and usually do not interfere with human existence. The primary problem with wasps is when their nests are built too close to human occupancy. Wasps can burrow in-between cement slabs, nest inside a wall, waspevestrough or in back yard trees. When the wasps feel their home is being threatened, the soldier wasps will attempt to defend its home. Unfortunately that can mean painful and sometimes life threatening stings to the unsuspecting human. We offer wasp services for both commercial and residential locations.

Please call us today at 416-840-4040 or 1-877-504-BUGS.

We also offer products for the treatment of infestations. Please see our product page: http://www.pestservices.ca/productsByType.aspx?ca=4

Characteristics of Wasps

    Two pairs of wings

  • An ovipositor, or stinger (only present in females because it derives from the ovipositor, a female sex organ).
  • Few or no thickened hairs (in contrast to bees)
  • Almost all wasps are terrestrial; only a few specialized parasitic groups are aquatic.
  • Predators or parasitoids, mostly feeding on other terrestrial insects.

Pest Spotlight: Termites

Posted in Pest Spotlight, Termites on April 11, 2013 by pestcontroltoronto

termites   Termites have been very prominent in Toronto specifically in the East York area. We have treated many streets (and many houses on those streets) in the East York region for termites. Termites have also spiked in other areas such as Mississauga, Markham and Scarborough. East York and Scarborough are two of our densest areas for termites in Toronto. More then 70 % of our termite calls come in from these areas. We have a dedicated termite specialist for these cases.

The new development of Mississauga and its continued growth has caused the termites of the area to disperse and relocate in nearby establish residential areas. We have inspectors and technicians available to service you.

We offer suspected termite infestation inspections and real estate termite inspections. We also offer complete termite services for termite infestations, preventative treatments and termite pretreatment services.

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Checklist:

Keep your home and property termite free.

  1. Have a professional inspection done every year
  2. Keep termite habitats away from the immediate area around the building
  3. Clear or relocate buried wood such as tree stumps, firewood, scrap wood, cardboard boxes and plants
  4. Be vigilant for foundation settling or shifting that could open new paths for termite access termite2
  5. Quickly fix any roof or plumbing leaks so that moisture does not enter the building envelope
  6. Keep roof gutters in good repair and ensure they direct water away from the building
  7. Maintain the integrity of physical barriers such as sand or mesh – do not lay soil or mulch over the barrier, or let roots grow through it.
  8. Repair poorly ventilated bathrooms, leaking pipes, clothes dryers and air-conditioner condensation leaks that result in termite-attracting moisture accumulation
  9. Do not store wood, cardboard boxes or other cellulose-based material in crawl spaces

 

Termites can be one of the toughest insects to control and they can also be one of the most serious pests because they cause damage to the wood structure of your home. The most conventional treatment of subterranean termites is swarmertermitesplacing a chemical barrier between the ground (where termites live), and your home (where termites eat). Since termites can enter a structure in a space that is roughly the thickness of a piece of paper, it is critical that a complete barrier is achieved. This treatment is much more specialized than pest control treatment for other common insects. We are termite specialists with 35 years experience treating the GTA and surrounding regions. Termite treatment requires the expertise of a professional knowledgeable about termite biology and habits and the latest in termite treatment methods. Termites Toronto is Ontario’s leading Termite-control company, and a leader in the development of fast, effective and environmentally responsible pest control products and application techniques. We offer guaranteed, and prompt service. Call us today for a free inspection and quote –416-840-4040 or 1-877-504-BUGS

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