Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dust Allergy Treatment

This blog is about insects and mites and the damage a few of them cause to we humans. Few people realize that a tiny mite that lives in the dust in our homes can cause severe, even life-threatening, allergy symptoms. While most people are unaffected, just like most people are not allergic to grass pollen, for those that are it can significantly impact their lives.

What causes dust allergy?

Allergies to household dust are common and tend to be worse in winter when houses are sealed up tight against cold weather. All allergies are caused by the reaction of our immune system to molecules called proteins that enter through our lungs, digestive system, or skin. If we eat something we are allergic to our body reacts, often violently. Likewise if we breath something we are allergic to we experience a range of symptoms from a mildly stuffy nose to anaphylactic shock. An allergy to dust is caused by proteins in the dust that we react to when they enter our lungs. The allergy-producing protein (allergen) is in dust because of a tiny mite, the dust mite, that lives in and consumes part of the dust. The allergen is part of the mite's waste products.

Treating dust allergies

The key steps to treating dust allergies are (1) reduce the amount of dust, and allergen, in your environment; (2) reduce the activity of dust mites; (3) medically treat the allergy symptoms.

Step 1

Dust and allergen can be reduced by normal cleaning, choosing the right the furnishings for a room, and filtering the air to remove allergen particles. It is especially important to reduce the amount of dust and allergen in bedrooms because of the adverse effect these allergies have on sleep quality.

Wet cleaning is much better than dry sweeping or dusting which only serves to stir up dust and the allergen pool. Most types of vacuum cleaners are counter productive as well. Floors and windows should be regularly washed, even the walls and ceiling in the bedroom should be washed yearly. No special soap is needed. The idea is to remove dust and allergens and simple water plus a mild detergent will suffice.

Remove rugs and other dust-trapping fabrics from the bedroom. Furniture should be covered in removable fabric that can be washed at least once a year. Bedding should likewise be washed as often as possible, plus an allergen-proof mattress cover.

Finally, install an air filtering system (air purifier) that employs HEPA-type filters. These filters scrub the air and remove nearly all suspended allergen so it can't enter your lungs. These air filters can be fairly expensive, and expensive to operate, but do reduce the level of allergy-causing allergen in the air stream. See Air Purifiers For Dust Mite Allergy for more information.

Step 2

Dust mites themselves are nearly microscopic, don't bite and would go largely unnoticed except for the fact that they produce these allergens. You can't effectively treat the mites directly with insecticide but you can slow their development by reducing dampness in the air (humidity), as dry air tends to reduce mite activity. Central heating and air conditioning are very effective. Also, it may help to put a barrier between you and mites that may live in your mattress using an allergen-proof mattress cover.

Step 3

Very effective allergy therapies are now available. Mild allergies can be treated with OTC medications (respiratory allergy) while more severe allergies can be treated with desensitisation therapy or prescription allergy medications. See your medical professional, get tested for the specific allergen so that it can be managed.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Wasp Nest Removal With Poison Bait

As a follow-up to last week's post about the new poison baits that can be deployed to eliminate threatening yellowjacket wasp nests, here are some details.

Bear in mind that while certain wasps can be dangerous, especially in late summer and early fall, all wasps are important predators of other insect pests. Only remove those wasp nests that are directly threatening such as nests located near picnic areas or playgrounds.

First, see this article about Wasp Removal With Baits at the 'Bugs site for background information.

Start your baiting program in mid- to late summer, starting any earlier is probably a waste of time since wasp activity is generally too low for baits to be effective until mid-summer.

Poison baits are prepared from some kind of minced meat (canned tuna and canned cat food work well) plus Microencapsulated Onslaught Insecticide (see below for insecticide and kits). Be certain that your bait station and placements are designed such as to prevent all non-target animals from accessing the bait. It is your responsibility to ensure that the poison bait is deployed so that only wasps can access it.

Once foraging wasps locate the poison bait they will carry a portion back to their nest (aerial and ground nests) where it will be feed to developing brood and eventually the queen. You will probably notice a significant reduction in wasp activity in 1 to several weeks that should last all season.

Poison baits are only effective against scavenger species since non-scavenger species are only attracted to living prey, not canned tuna!

For outdoor events such as picnics and weddings you'll want to start your baiting program at least a week before the event (after mid-summer) to have the best chance of effectively reducing wasp activity prior to the event.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

A New Yellowjacket Wasp Bait Insecticide

yellowjacket nest
A new insecticide is available for use in preparing baits for control of troublesome yellowjacket (social wasp) nests on an area-wide basis. The insecticide is called Onslaught Microencapsulated Insecticide. The Onslaught label allows for the insecticide to be mixed with a meat-based bait and dispensed to foraging yellowjackets. The combination should be very effective for area-wide suppression of yellowjacket nests and may even suppress wasp numbers the following year because of the impact it has on queen production.

Details regarding bait preparation, dispenser design, the Onslaught label and theory behind baiting can be found at the 'Bugs site here.