Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Roach Baits Can Eliminate Tough Infestations

Until fairly recently the control of large, stubborn infestations of cockroaches in apartment buildings, food handling facilities and commercial buildings depended on the "spray and pray" method. In other words you sprayed as much insecticide as possible and prayed that it would work. Most of the time this method in fact failed but it sure made a lot of money for pesticide manufacturers! It failed for several reasons but one was that cockroaches can detect and learn to avoid pesticide residues.

New Research

Researchers have recently figured out that if you lace a highly attractive food with a small amount of slow-acting insecticide the results are better. Roaches find the bait, eat it and thereby contaminate themselves with the insecticide. Now they have time to get back to the harborage (a safe area inside a wall where cockroaches congregate, a simple type of "nest") where they contaminate their mates and disrupt the whole colony. Baits take longer to work but they offer the promise of complete control of even large infestations.

Professional versus consumer-level baits

There are many cockroach baits on the market, some are even sold through grocery stores and the like. Because the new baits are significantly more expensive then the older products they have been relegated to "professional" status. This is unfortunate because it makes them harder for the consumer to find and the result is many people faced with a cockroach infestation resort to insecticide sprays, the old, failed spray and pray method. The good news is that professional-quality baits are now available as well but you have to shop online to find them.

I have posted a revised page about these new baits at our 'Bugs site (click here) including a link to an online source.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Brownish-Green Mites Invade Homes - Oh, My!

clover mite
Clover mite, about the size of a period(.).
Have you ever found brownish-green mites that seem to be invading your home? You may have found large numbers around a window or on a counter top. If you crushed the mites they left a greenish stain. If you looked closely, you might have seen long front legs like the mite in the photo (left). These long legs are often mistaken for antennae.

You probably found clover mites. Clover mites are a type of spider mite that feeds on plants and they occasionally enter homes from plants growing along the foundation of your home, entering through open windows or cracks.

Most spider mites rarely if ever leave their host plants but clover mites are a little different. For reasons that are not entirely clear these mites will start a sort of "mass migration", often in the spring, that can end with large numbers of mites on your interior walls and counters. Rest assured the mites are harmless except for the potential for staining of interior furnishings if crushed. They do not bite and will not infest food or other household items. In fact, mites that are found inside can be simply swept up, insecticides are not needed nor are they very effective in this case.

The key to stopping mites from entering homes is to manage the source - the plants growing around your home's foundation. Plants can be removed or simply cut back so they don't lay against the house. Try to maintain a gap of at least 12". I've recently posted an article at our 'Bugs site that spells out more ways to manage clover mites and keep them outside (click here).


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Big, Brown Bugs Invade Homes

brown marmorated stink bug
During the last few weeks I've gotten numerous questions through my 'Bugs site and through AllExperts about "large, brown bugs" in homes. Several people have sent images like the one to the left. They describe the bug as about 3/4" long, brown in color, and they sometimes mention the white or brown alternating marks around the back-end (see photo).

The questions are almost always - what is it, is it dangerous, and how do I get rid of it?

This big, brown bug in this case is the brown marmorated stink bug, a relatively new nuisance pest in parts of the US. It is an introduced pest (not native to the US) and is rapidly spreading to new parts of the country. My guess is that in a relatively short time most areas of the country will be home to this new insect.

The bugs are completely harmless but have the annoying habit of congregating on and entering homes in the fall. Their objective is to find a warm place to spend the winter and will leave in the spring to resume their normal life cycle. However, during their winter vacation they can be an unwanted house guest - to say the least!

For more information about identifying the brown marmorated stink bug and protecting homes (including insecticide treatments) from this new invader, see this article at our 'Bugs site. We also have articles about the closely related boxelder bugs.