Jay Lee of Pest Patrol Part Three: Palmetto Bugs, Cockroaches and Bed BugsSep 3rd, 2013 | By Admin | Category: Community News, Health
By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Jay Lee, proprietor of Pest Patrol, a local family-owned-and-operated business, has been helping folks in Madison battle annoying household pests for years, and has some advice on steps people can take themselves to help keep these pests at bay. By understanding some of the ways these pests operate and how they get into your home in the first place, you might be able to cut down on their numbers and reduce the problem. If you still need help, Pest Patrol is there for you. Part One (8/28/13) looked at problems with those little black ants that get into everything. Part Two (8/30/13) looked at the problem with fleas. Part Three looks at two more common household pests in North Florida, palmetto bugs and German cockroaches, as well as a new arrival: bedbugs. Insects need heat and humidity to thrive, and summer is more ideal for their populations to flourish. The influx of pests this year are partly due to the excess rain which may disturb some of their outdoor shelters and send them hunting for shelter indoors, but the far more important factor is the extremely mild winter we had this year, with very few days of freezing temperatures. If we have very cold winters with several good hard freezes, it kills back the populations and makes managing pests later on a little easier. Without this cold winter kill-off, spring brings on ideal conditions for burgeoning populations. Palmetto bugs Palmetto bug is a general name for several species of large wood roaches in the Southeast. Three of the most common varieties in the North Florida region are the Florida wood roach, the American wood roach and the Australian wood roach. They are generally about as broad as an adult’s index finger, flat, usually about one and a half to two inches long, and often reddish brown to black. They love moisture, and love living in trees, mulch, outdoor sheds and storage structures, especially greenhouses, or in crawlspaces and attics of a home. There are occasional cases of large roaches breeding in attic spaces. They are classified as “occasional invaders” of homes because their usual method of introduction into a house is hitching a ride on another item, such as firewood, cardboard boxes, or potted plants moved indoors. They can also wander in through cracks or gaps around pipes or lines going into the house, or through and open window or door, when the weather is nice and homeowners leave these open for long periods of time to enjoy the breeze. Homes with big overhanging trees (especially oaks), with lots of natural ground cover in the yard (ivies or other low-growing plants), and dead leaves used as mulch for flower beds tend to have more of a wood roach problem. However, these bugs don’t prefer to live in air-conditioned homes, since they need lots of humidity and moisture. Their bodies have a very high water content, and they can die quickly from dehydration. Lee tells the story of a customer who wanted to show him a two-inch roach, and brought the dead bug in a Ziploc bag; however by the time he met up with Lee, the customer was astonished to see that the roach had shrunk down to about two-thirds its original size and was floating around in liquid that resembled…well…iced tea. That was the liquid that had started seeping out of its body upon death. They are fairly easy to keep out by finding their points of entry and sealing them up. If homeowners want to enjoy nice weather with open windows, these should all have well-fitted screens. Keep the doors shut, unless the doorway has a well-fitted screen door that leaves no gaps around the edges and meets the threshold at the bottom. If a big roach ends up inside, stepping on it or smashing it with a fly swatter is usually sufficient. Incidentally, they love to fly at night and are excellent flyers. This might be what many people find most disconcerting about them (aside from their creepy-crawly appearance), especially if anyone has ever tried swatting one of them off the wall, missed, and sent it flying around the room like a miniature brown helicopter. If a house has an ongoing problem with large roaches coming in, there may also be egg capsules attached to surfaces in out-of-the-way areas, capsules with crunchy, dark brown casings about the size of an elongated Tic-Tac. These capsules can contain up to 20 or 30 eggs each. If an indoor infestation gets too bad, for instance in an older home with myriad entry points or no air conditioning, Pest Patrol can help get rid of them and offer advice on keeping them down. German cockroaches Unlike their outdoorsy cousins, the smaller German cockroaches seldom get more than half an inch long, and although they have wings, they are very poor flyers. They love the indoors, especially kitchens, and they love cracks, crevices and tight spaces, and these are among the areas that will need to be treated to get rid of them. They also reproduce much faster, with egg capsules that contain 48 eggs each and remain attached to the female until the eggs are ready to hatch. They are more social than their cousins, and will often congregate somewhere, perhaps in a kitchen, hanging out in groups until they’re ready to feed. Since they are mostly indoor bugs, particularly drawn to human food sources (kitchens, restaurants, food processing plants, etc.) they are also a health hazard to humans, and Lee believes that those in the pest management business are more than just pest controllers. “We are stewards of the environment and of public health and safety,” he says, citing an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that states the number one cause of children being taken to the ER with breathing problems is cockroach dander. In severe cases, cockroaches eating children’s eyebrows and defecating in the eye sockets can introduce pathogens into the eyes. This was the case with a residence near the Cherry Lake region of Madison County several years ago, one of the worst infestations Lee had ever seen. The children were pale and sickly because of it. Getting the pests under control was a cooperative effort between the homeowner and Pest Patrol, and because of the severity, the ongoing battle lasted nearly six months. But in the end, with the cockroaches gone, the children’s health improved dramatically. “Homeowners have to be a part of the solution,” said Lee. In cases where homeowners need the help of professionals, “If you’ll follow my guidance, it will improve and speed up the process,” he said. Having done this for 25 years, and with the continuing education requirements of his profession, he has a store of knowledge and advice he can offer to customers. Bed bugs They’re heeeeere. Bed bugs are tiny, oval-shaped parasites that feed on the blood of humans. Since they are so small and come out at night, they are often hard to detect until they are well established. During the day, they retreat to hiding places near the host, often in bedding, couches or other padded furniture. They can lay eggs by the hundreds in the seams of fabric. Homeowners usually find bed bugs after noticing bug bites on the human host. These can resemble a rash or can break out in large, blistery patches. Other adverse health affects can be allergy symptoms common to bed bug infestations. The homeowner may also notice bed bug droppings – tiny, dark, barely visible, dust-speck-like spots on the bedding, that, when wetted, will smear red like fresh blood. In other cases, they may find molted exoskeletons or actually see the pests if they happen to wake up and turn on the light in the middle of the night. Bed bugs were almost eradicated in most developed countries after the 1940s and 1950s, but then they started to reappear in certain parts of the United States around 1995. For a while after that, you still didn’t need to worry about bed bugs unless you planned to travel in New England or other parts of the Northeast, where they were turning up even in four-star hotels in New York City. Now, they are definitely in the Southeast and other parts of the country as well, and they arrived in Madison about a year ago. Fortunately, there have been only a handful of cases so far, because bed bug infestations tend to break out more in the larger metropolitan regions than in the more rural areas, but when they get an antenna in the door, they mean to stay. If you live in an apartment or other multi-family dwelling, and if bed bugs break out in one unit, they can travel through ductwork to spread to other units. Bed bugs are notorious hitchhikers and can invade even super-clean households on the clothing of visitors, on pets, or on infested upholstered furniture or other items brought in from another location with an infestation. “Bed bugs are tough,” said Lee. This is one pest that almost always requires a professional to eradicate. Home remedies may not be effective and the chemicals that have to be used must be handled in strict accordance with regulations. “It goes against all our training, but in this case, we have to spray the bedding, and we have to spray the furniture,” said Lee. Pest Patrol uses compounds that are specifically formulated to kill the bugs and still be safe for human contact later on. Finally, if you plan to travel in an area where bed bugs are active, check the information on these two websites: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505144_162-37042517/bed-bug-danger-5-ways-to-stay-safe-when-you-travel/ and http://extension.psu.edu/pests/bedbugs/precautions-travelers. A final word on mosquitoes Even with the high rainfall amounts and very wet summer, we didn’t have quite the huge population of mosquitoes that we expected. In that respect, “We’ve been fortunate,” said Lee. For more information on Pest Patrol and the services offered, follow them on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pestpatrolpro or visit their website http://pestpatrolpro.com/6.html.