Prepare Your Yard for Springtime With These Projects

Written by Wasatch Bug Busters on . Posted in Tips

Spring is just around the corner, and it is time to start thinking about your yard again. Landscaping each spring is important-after all, taking care of your yard improves your home’s value, eliminates the risk of pests, and keeps relationships between neighbors friendly.

The grass will turn green and grow quickly again as the weather gets warmer. The soil will loosen as the frost disappears. And your trees will be ready for some much-needed TLC. Are you ready for springtime landscaping?

Develop your landscaping strategy with our tips on tree care, flower bed and garden maintenance, and lawn care.

Tree Care

Your home’s trees provide shade in the summer and look beautiful during every season. Many homeowners don’t realize how fragile trees can be, but they need care if you want them to last for years.

The first thing you should do this spring is schedule your tree spraying service. A specialist can spray your trees with pet- and human-safe pesticides and nutrients that protect your tree from the elements. A tree spray keeps your trees insect free, kills fungus, and destroys tree diseases. It’s a good idea to get your trees sprayed at least once a year.

You should also mulch your trees each spring. When you mulch and fertilize the roots, you give your trees the oxygen and nutrients they need to quickly grow strong. Trees along the Wasatch Front need durable roots to withstand the strong winds that rush into the valley from the canyons. If you don’t know how to mulch and fertilize your home’s trees, hire a professional.

You may need to prune your trees as well. Springtime mountain storms tear branches easily, and top-heavy trees or ungainly, thick branches can topple and fall, destroying homes and endangering family members. After the winter snows have melted and the weather begins to warm, take a look at your tree and cut away any branches that pose a danger to your home.

Flower Bed and Garden Maintenance

Healthy, colorful flower beds are the perfect way to welcome in the warm weather. And you and your family love planting the garden so you can enjoy fresh fruits and veggies in the summer and autumn. But after months of snow, hard frost, and dry air, your flower beds and garden need a little care before you begin planting.

Nutrient-rich soil is weed-free, so one of the most important things you can do for your flower beds and garden is to spray and sterilize weeds. The company who sprays your trees can also spray your soil, killing weeds and preparing it for planting a few weeks later. Killing weeds will help your flowers and vegetables grow faster and healthier, but it also eliminates other pests, like insects and rodents.

You should also prepare the soil for planting in other ways. Prepare the flower beds and garden plot by removing winter mulch, working compost into the top layer of the soil, and oxidizing the soil by loosening the top layer with a hoe or rake.

Like your trees, the foliage you plant will need lots of nutrients. Organic matter-like compost, manure, or mulch-helps balance the air supply. While you’re preparing the soil, avoid stepping on the soil or using heavy equipment, as the weight compacts the soil and makes it more difficult for oxygen and light to reach the plants.

Lawn Care

Your lawn is one of the most important parts of your home’s exterior. In fact, many people in your neighborhood notice it first when they look at your home. Lawns tend to take care of themselves during the winter, but when spring arrives, you need to take charge.

Taking care of your home’s grass each spring is a necessary, but tricky, process. You’ll need to keep most of the work on your lawn light until the warm springtime air dries out the soil. Your first step should be to remove leaves, dirt, and debris from the grass so that it can dry out and begin to grow.

A little later in the season (around late April, if you live along the Wasatch Front), you should do the following:

  • Plant to fill in bare spots.
  • Fertilize the area (the type of fertilizer you use-and when you use it-will depend on the type of grass you have).
  • Aerate and dethatch the lawn. Mow and water the grass.

You should also have your lawn sprayed with a pesticide. Insects, rodents, spiders, and even larger pests will take more interest in your home during the springtime thaw, so it’s important to have your lawn sprayed to discourage pests.

 

Preparing your yard for springtime can be a fun, worthwhile activity for the entire family. As you care for your trees, flower beds, garden, and lawn, you’ll ensure that they look nice and stay healthy throughout the next year.

Call your local pest control specialists to schedule your first spraying and weeding service to get started.

Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite: 5 Signs of a Bedbug Infestation

Written by Wasatch Bug Busters on . Posted in Tips

As a homeowner, you have probably heard horror stories about bedbugs. These pests can come from anywhere, and they often prove particularly difficult to exterminate. In a previous blog, we discussed how to avoid bringing bedbugs into your home.

But vigilance isn’t a surefire guarantee you won’t ever have to deal with bedbugs, especially if you have pets or children who might bring the bugs in. So how do you know if this pest has infiltrated your home?

In this blog, we list five signs of a serious bedbug infestation that will likely require professional removal.

1. Blood Smears on Upholstered Furniture

Bedbugs often come in large family groups. Because you’ll rarely have a single bug crawling on any given surface and the bugs feed during the night, bedbugs often get squished by sleepers. If the bug fed recently, it will leave a little blood smear behind.

Usually by the time you begin to see blood smears, you will also already observe some of the other signs on this list.

2. Dark Spots on Beds or Couches

Bedbugs make their homes in small spaces, but they don’t spend all of their time in cracks and crevices. When bedbugs travel over your furniture, they leave small fecal droppings. To the naked eye, these droppings usually just look like a series of black spots which usually appear on the edges of upholstered furniture.

If the droppings appear over a spread out area, you may need a magnifying glass to see the spots properly and rule out other causes. Droppings may appear in the following locations:

  • Creases in bedding or upholstery
  • Cushion edges and seams
  • Headboard, especially in cracks
  • Mattress edges and seams
  • Space beneath accent pillows

Droppings can also appear in the clutter around an affected piece of furniture.

3. Egg Shells or Skins in Small Spaces

Like other bugs, bedbugs reproduce by laying eggs and grow by shedding their skin. Reproduction and growth usually leave visible residue, especially when you have a large infestation.

If bedbug offspring are grouped particularly close together, you may see what appears to be white clumps in infested areas. You likely will not see any bedbug offspring since the larvae and young bugs are too small for the naked eye to discern easily. Instead, you may notice dark brown, tan, or transparent shed skin and whitish egg shells.

These signs may appear in the same place as bedbug droppings or where the bedbugs have started living. Check any small spaces, especially cracks in wooden furniture.

4. Itchy Bites in Linear Patterns

Bedbugs can survive by solely eating human blood. When a bedbug feeds, it leaves an itchy, red bite mark. You will likely notice more than one bite at a time.

Usually, bedbug bites appear in a triangular pattern on the skin. However, they can also appear in any of the following ways:

  • Circular but asymmetrical raised welts
  • Clusters of bites that may resemble mosquito bites
  • Rashes surrounding smaller bite marks
  • Small, irritated dots
  • Welts with a spot of blood at the center

These bites can be confused with other skin conditions and insect bites, so if you aren’t sure whether or not a patch of skin irritation comes from bedbugs, see a doctor.

Keep in mind that bedbugs only feed from exposed skin, so you’re unlikely to see bites on your legs or torso. Bites most often appear on the ankles and feet, hands and wrists, and neck.

5. Visible Bedbugs in Seams and on Sheets

Unlike their offspring, you can see adult bedbugs with the naked eye. You just may need to do some searching to find them. You’ll see several small bugs with an oval shape.

Try looking for bedbugs during the night using a flashlight or checking crevices where the bugs hide during the day. Don’t forget that bedbugs also hide in electrical outlets, books, and cupboards around the main infestation. Look for bugs in localized clutter as well.

Remember, even if you get rid of all the bugs you can see, bedbugs can become dormant and their young are practically invisible. If you find adult bedbugs, you’ll need professional help to get rid of the problem.

If you notice any combination of the signs on this list, call an exterminator with experience working with bedbugs specifically. Don’t put off getting professional help as bedbug bites can have a range of negative effects, including allergic reactions, rashes, and psychological effects.

As you work with a professional or wait for your scheduled inspection, use the strategies found in our Bedbug Flyer to begin dealing with the problem. Remember to stay patient while eliminating a bedbug infestation since the process takes a minimum of two weeks in almost every case.

For more information about protecting your home and family from bedbugs and other pests, read our other blog posts.

How to Winterize Your Home Against Insects

Written by Wasatch Bug Busters on . Posted in Tips

In a previous blog, we provided you with tips to mouse-proof your home during the summer. But as the days and nights get colder, it’s more important than ever to protect your home against pests.

You can use many of the tips in our mouse-proofing blog to winterize your home against mice and rats, but what about bugs?

Below, we’ve listed a few tips to help you winterize your home against insects. As you implement a few of these methods, you can keep creepy crawlies out of your home and avoid a potential winter infestation.

Clear Away Outside Debris

The best way to prevent pests from getting inside your home is to make sure that they don’t live near it. Many bugs take shelter in gardens, trees, bushes, and other forms of vegetation. Some even like to live in damp, dark piles of leaves on the ground or in the leaves in your gutters.

Make sure to clear away any debris outside your home. This step reduces the amount of bugs living near your home during the winter.

Take the following steps to ensure your yard is clear of debris:

  • Clean out your gutters as thoroughly as possible, especially before it starts to snow. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this job yourself, hire a cleaning specialist to do it for you.
  • Hire a tree trimming expert to remove hanging branches from your trees. These professionals can also cut back overhanging branches correctly and safely to keep them away from your home.
  • Many bugs use thick layers of dirt and plant life to hide as they scurry towards your house. If you have a garden, make sure the soil, mulch, and decaying plants don’t sit too close to your home.
  • You should also trim or remove any bushes near your home. Again, if you aren’t sure how to trim or remove these plants correctly, ask a tree trimming company to take care of the job for you.

Seal Any Cracks or Holes

Your home contains many entry points that bugs like to use. They can fly in through open windows and doors or crawl in through the chimney and fireplace. Your walls might even have cracks that welcome bugs inside. Whatever the case, insects will use these small crevices to get inside your home and stay warm in the winter.

Try the following steps to seal possible entrances:

  • Patch any holes in your window screens.
  • Close your chimney flue when you aren’t using your fireplace.
  • Replace the weatherstripping under your garage door. You can also add weatherstripping to your front door, back door, and windows. Add new caulking around cracked window ledges.
  • Repair any holes or cracks in your walls and doors.
  • Check inside and outside your home for water damage or wood rot.

Remember to inspect your home’s foundation as well. Not sure if your foundation has cracks or holes? Call a contractor and have him or her inspect this base structure for you. Professional contractors can easily pinpoint problem areas in your foundation and repair the issue quickly.

Organize Your Pantry

Open food sources attract dozens of different bugs into your home. As you work to winterize your home, take some time to organize your pantry or kitchen cupboards. If you have any open food packages in your kitchen, bugs will actively seek them out.

To avoid seeing bugs in your pasta, rice, or other dried foods, seal all open packages inside airtight containers. Many insects (such as drug store beetles and Indian meal moths) enjoy the same foods your pets do, so remember to store the following pet foods in airtight containers as well:

  • Bird seed
  • Cat food
  • Dog food
  • Dried treats Fish food

You can also call your local pest control company to learn more about which pantry items bugs like to munch on.

Fix Any Leaks

Just as insects need a reliable food source to survive through the winter, they also require a water source. And if you have any leaks in your home, these bugs will take advantage of the abundance of water.

Inspect the following areas of your home for leaks:

  • Pipes
  • Showers and tubs
  • Sinks
  • Toilets
  • Water heaters
  • Water lines to your fridge

If you find a small leak in your home, you can patch it on your own. However, the most effective solution is to call an HVAC specialist or plumber to repair the leaks instead. These professionals can seal leaks properly to prevent future issues. Additionally, they can inspect your home for leaks behind walls and under floors and repair the damage.

Talk to a Pest Control Specialist

Use the tips above to safeguard your home against insects this winter. Should you find any pests in your home, get in touch with your local pest control specialist. These professionals can remove any bugs from your home so it can stay pest-free throughout the season.

For more information about keeping your home pest-free, check out the rest of our blog!

How to Keep Bedbugs out of Your Home

Written by Wasatch Bug Busters on . Posted in Tips

You do all you can to keep strangers from finding a way into your home. Locks on your doors, automatic lighting on your porch, and other security tactics help you feel safe. But have you considered nonhuman intruders? While no one intentionally welcomes bed bugs, people might not realize how their actions brings these pests into their homes.

Two of the most common ways you may open your doors to bed bugs include during a trip or move. Below, learn what to look for, where to look, and how to handle these situations.

What to Look For

To prevent bed bugs from coming inside your home, you need to detect them. These pests usually reside in or near beds in some hotels and other areas.

Look for bugs with small, oval shaped bodies. They vary in size depending on their age and if they’ve had a recent blood feed. Their color ranges from nearly white to tan to burnt orange, but they generally have a red-brown hue. You can also look for brown or reddish spots on fabric and black pepper-like fecal matter may also be present. One or more of these signs indicate the presence of bed bugs.

How to Avoid Bed Bugs When You Travel

Research

Bed bugs often find new homes when travelers bring them back from a trip. Before you book a hotel or hostel, look for any reviews or comments about bed bugs. A cheap night’s stay backfires if you have to pay for a bed bug fumigation.

Inspect

Even if you don’t find any reviews that mention bed bugs, don’t place luggage or other items on the bed until you have inspected your hotel room. Instead, use a bathtub or a luggage rack that’s away from the wall.

Check the mattress and furniture. Look at the mattress and box spring along the edges, corners, seams, and ribbing. Pull back the sheets and check under the box spring as well. Then move on to the headboard and furniture. Look in cracks and crevices-anywhere a tiny insect would hide.

If you suspect bed bugs, change rooms immediately. Or, if you wake up with bites, call management.

Remove

You want to take some precautionary steps to ensure the bugs don’t go home with you if you do find them. Remove any clothing while standing on a hard surface, and place the clothes in plastic bags with seals.

If you fear bed bugs have made their way to your luggage, move items in the suitcase to plastic bags as well. When you get home, unpack your bag somewhere out of the house like the garage or driveway. Vacuum any luggage you can’t throw in the wash, and empty the vacuum outside right away.

Afterward, launder clothing at a high heat or take it to a dry cleaner. If you prefer to hand wash an item, wash it at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Take special care to scrub at seams and folds where bed bugs can hide.

How to Avoid Bed Bugs When You Move

Prepare

Bed bugs can hitch a ride when you move, especially if you come from an apartment or home with a bed bug problem. Wash all clothing, sheets, blankets, and other fabrics, and place them in sealable bags outside of the infested residence. If you have infested clothes, a hot dry cycle kills the insects as well.

Wash any pets on moving day as well. While bed bugs prefer human blood, they may hitchhike on pets as well, especially if the bugs made their way into pet bedding due to overcrowding. Once you’ve cleaned your pets, keep them out of the house to avoid recontamination.

Prevent

Change clothing and shower when you get to the new house. It’s best to change outside of the house if possible, but you can also change over a hard floor. Place dirty clothing in a labeled, sealed plastic bag to wash later.

Before you get too settled, empty boxes outside and throw away the containers. Inspect items as necessary. While you move in, avoid clutter. A mess offers a place for bed bugs to hide and makes it more difficult for you to realize you have a problem.

If you choose to buy used or vintage furniture, inspect it before handing over the money as well. Again, check along seams, folds, and crevices. Even a one-of-a-kind piece you love or a killer deal isn’t worth a bed bug infestation.

You can take a few extra steps if you still worry your move will bring bed bugs inside. Invest in a mattress and box spring encasements. Or look for a bed bug interceptor, which keeps the insects from moving up your mattress. And if you don’t like the look of these devices, use a bed skirt that doesn’t touch the floor.

If you do inadvertently bring bed bugs home, work with a professional early on. The sooner you treat the issue, the less work-and money-it takes to solve the problem.

Check out our Bed Bug Flyer here on the steps to take to get rid of your unwanted guests!