Archive for the ‘Damage’ Category

Bedbugs With Drug-Resistant MRSA ‘Superbug’ Germ Found

ATLANTA — Hate insects? Afraid of germs? Researchers are reporting an alarming combination: bedbugs carrying a staph “superbug.” Canadian scientists detected drug-resistant staph bacteria in bedbugs from three hospital patients from a downtrodden Vancouver neighborhood.

Bedbugs Superbugs

Bedbugs have not been known to spread disease, and there’s no clear evidence that the five bedbugs found on the patients or their belongings had spread the MRSA germ they were carrying or a second less dangerous drug-resistant bacteria.

However, bedbugs can cause itching that can lead to excessive scratching. That can cause breaks in the skin that make people more susceptible to these germs, noted Dr. Marc Romney, one of the study’s authors.

The study is small and very preliminary. “But it’s an intriguing finding” that needs to be further researched, said Romney, medical microbiologist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

The hospital is the closest one to the poor Downtown Eastside neighborhood near the city’s waterfront. Romney said he and his colleagues did the research after seeing a simultaneous boom in bedbugs and MRSA cases from the neighborhood.

Five bedbugs were crushed and analyzed. MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, was found on three bugs. MRSA is resistant to several types of common antibiotics and can become deadly if it gets through the skin and into the bloodstream.

Two bugs had VRE, or vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, a less dangerous form of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Both germs are often seen in hospitals, and experts have been far more worried about nurses and other health care workers spreading the bacteria than insects.

It’s not clear if the bacteria originated with the bedbugs or if the bugs picked it up from already infected people, Romney added.

The study was released Wednesday by Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rats!

Remodeling in the East Bay

From dirt to doorknobs

It’s a rare attic or crawlspace where we see no evidence of these nasty critters. It seems like they climb, swim, dig, or chew their way into our houses no matter what we do. One homeowner complained of rats that ate the fruit out of their dining table centerpiece!

Rat raceway between insulation and subfloorRat raceway between insulation and subfloor

It’s bad enough that they get into our attics and crawlspaces, worse yet is what they leave behind. Proteins in their urine are potent allergens and become airborne when dry. Their urine and feces can contain hantavirus, a group of deadly virus that can be aerosolized and transmitted through air movement (more on hantavirus).

In the average house ducts leak at least 30%, and the building “shell” leaks at least 100% more than what’s required for adequate ventilation (data). If the leaky ducts run through the attic or crawlspace, they can directly vacuum up rat leavings and deliver it into each room of the house. If they don’t vacuum it up directly, they can depressurize the house, causing the house itself to suck it in through all the little holes and cracks between the attic or crawlspace and the house.

Rat urine on a water pipeRat urine on a water pipe

 In a typical building performance project that involves rodent infestation, we remove all contaminated materials and neutralize soiled surfaces. Then we reduce duct leakage and eliminate air infiltration between the attic or crawlspace and the living space. Even if the rats eventually get back in, the bad stuff stays in the attic or crawlspace, not in the bedrooms.

This unsealed, leaky duct plenum makes a handy toilet. Unfortunately, it is also pulling pollutants into the indoor air.This unsealed, leaky duct plenum makes a handy toilet. Unfortunately, it is also pulling pollutants into the indoor air.
 

Subterranean Termites – Swarming!

Yes, it is that time of year (at least in Sunny St. Petersburg,Fl.) when the temperature and humidity is just right for the hordes of cellulose eating subterranean termites to swarm.

While it is only natural to see termite swarmers outside, the presence of termite swarmers inside of your home must raise serious concern.

Swarming occurs when reproductive male and female termites exit the colony and attempt to begin building a new colony. Since it takes most termite colonies at least three years to produce termite swarms, this is a likely sign of an ongoing problem.

 It is often difficult to determine the difference between termites and ants. Termites have two pair of wings (front and back) and are of almost equal length. Ants also have two pair of wings but the fore wings are much larger than the hind wings. 

Also, termites have relatively straight antennae while ants have elbowed antennae.

   Ants generally do not swarm at the same time as termites, but it can happen.
   Termites have a thick waist and ants have a narrow waist
   Termites have straight antennae and ants have elbowed antennae
   Termites have four wings that are all equal in length
   Ants have four wings, however, two are larger and two are smaller

This is an example of a healthy subterranean termite swarm. The easiest way to identify the subterranean termites and the drywood termites are the wings.  As you can see here, the subterranean termite has a black body with white milky wings, as a drywood termite usually has iridescent wings.

Fun Termite Facts:

Termites have been around since the time of the dinosaurs!

Termites live long lives. Every termite colony has a queen which may live from 15 to 30 years, laying hundreds of eggs each day. Any number of colonies may infest a home.

Termite colonies eat non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

Termites do more damage than all fires, hurricanes and tornadoes combined.

The total weight of all of the termites in the world is more than the weight of all the humans in the world.

In Australia, termites build towers 6 metres high and 30 metres wide. Ten tonnes of mud are collected bit by bit by millions of insects. Soilder termite guard the mud castle, where the queen lays her eggs and is fed by worker termites.

Termite nests may be over 20 feet (7 meters) high and contain more than a million insects in a highly structured society.

These nests are intricately built, with a huge network of chambers and passageways, including ventilation, drainage, and heating systems.

Amazingly, termites manage to build their nests entirely out of soil, using saliva where necessary to hold it together!

TICKS that don’t tock

Ticks…what can I say…I hate them. They are nasty little creatures and I do not know of one well seeded bugman that does not roll his eyes at the mere mention of the word….. “TICK” (BTW, I just rolled my eyes).

We responded to a tick problem from a new customer and much to our dismay, the event was a normal tick job…nasty. Not nasty as if the home was dirty, actually the home was immaculate in appearance. When I say “nasty”, it is in reference to the fact that we felt imaginary ticks crawling on us during the whole treatment. If you are an experienced pest control operator, you instantly understand what I am speaking about. This happens quite often when treating for ticks and bedbugs.

Our somatosensory system becomes superhuman and even the slightest dermal sensation is perceived as if a horde of ravenous ticks are attempting to attack us with their blood sucking parasitical bite.

Our inspection revealed that the heaviest concentrations were in the areas of where the family dog slept. The crate and the owners bed.

 Yes, the dark spots that you see on the mattress are ticks.

After ticks feed on the host, it is normal for the ticks to climb upwards and deposit their eggs.  Here is a photo of an infested curtain. 

Here is a photo of the ticks that were removed from the customers bed once the fitted sheets were removed, the customer was never bothered by ticks.

Do you see the small dot on the side of the plastic cup, below is the same picture enlarged.

The tick larva stage is very small and can hide practically anywhere.

LIFE CYCLE

Ticks have four developmental stages: egg, six-legged larva, one or more eight-legged nymphs and adult. Hard ticks usually mate on the host animal. The female then drops to the ground and deposits from 3,000 to 6,000 eggs, which hatch into larvae or “seed ticks.” Larvae climb nearby vegetation where they collect in large numbers while waiting for small rodents or other vertebrates to pass within reach. After a blood meal on the host, the engorged larvae drop to the ground. shed their skins (molt) and emerge as nymphs. Like larvae, the nymphs await the passage of a host, engorge themselves with blood, drop to the ground, molt and become adults. Adult ticks seek host animals and after engorgement, mate.

Male hard ticks usually mate with one or more females and then die, although some may live for several months. Females die soon after depositing their eggs in protected habitats on the ground. The life cycle requires from as little as 2 months to more than 2 years, depending on the species.

The treatment for ticks has to be custom-made for each and every job. It is imperative that the technician perform a complete inspection of the interior of the residence as well as the exterior for the residence. This residence was treated for ticks a month prior, the customer stated that the other pest control company never removed bed linens or even moved the dog crate around. Inspection is incredibly important.

Village of the Damaged

Those cute little creatures that share our living space here on earth are quite good at damaging our world in places not normally noticed. maybe its just their way of pay back.

 Pecking Creatures

In the pictures below, birds have been “pecking” out the latex sealant in many areas of the roof’s edge. The problem here is that water flows into the holes during one of our heavy Florida rains and is running down to the floor below and heavily damaging the walls.

This has been going on for many weeks, just as soon as the gaps are resealed, the birds return and peck out more holes.

 

Gnawing Creatures

This customer heard a gnawing sound in his attic, we checked out the attic and found a heavy rodent evidence but there was no signs of gnaw marks anywhere to be found. Gnaw marks can’t always be located but the customer was so adamant about the gnawing that we checked the roof. Bullseye!

 

THE VERY DESTRUCTIVE TYPE

 

 This is from my aunts house, she had a raccoon in her attic. The raccoon would walk along the wooden fence, hop onto the rain gutter and slip into the attic through the vent that the raccoon had ripped open.

And my personal favorite…

THE  WEIRD TYPE

A new customer called in with a rodent problem. We met the home owner and she described the usual rat observations until she mentioned that the curious little rodent was pulling the upholstery tacks out of the dinning room chairs.

 She said that each morning the little rascal would remove a few tacks out of the chairs.

The Evidence…..

 

Here is some rat trivia from Wiki

Did you know….A 2007 study found rats to possess metacognition, a mental ability previously only documented in humans and some primates.

Domestic rats differ from wild rats in many ways. They are calmer and less likely to bite; they can tolerate greater crowding; they breed earlier and produce more offspring; and their brains, livers, kidneys, adrenal glands, and hearts are smaller.

Rats are edible by humans and are sometimes captured and eaten in emergency situations. For some cultures, rats are considered a staple.

Ancient Romans did not generally differentiate between rats and mice, instead referring to the former as Mus Maximus (big mouse) and the latter as Mus Minimus (little mouse).

On the Isle of Man (a dependency of the British Crown) there is a taboo against the word “rat.” See Longtail (rat) for more information.

The Black Death is traditionally believed to have been caused by the micro-organism Yersinia pestis, carried by the Tropical Rat Flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) which preyed on Black Rat living in European cities during the epidemic outbreaks of the Middle Ages; these rats were used as transport hosts.

The normal lifespan of rats ranges from two to five years, and is typically three years.

 

Pest of the year winner: Chinch Bugs

Although we still have three months before the end of the year, I am going to have to go out on a limb and give the 2010 Pest of the Year Award in the Insect Division to none other than ‘The Nasty Rascal, the Chinch Bug!’ Since a few weeks ago when I wrote about my thriftiness, I was reminded of a few situations by family and friends that needed to be mentioned in my column.

Armyworms were bad this year; however, they are easy to see, easy to identify, and easy to kill. The chinch bug is about impossible to see (about the size of fine ground pepper), the damage can be confused between fungi, dry areas, and just dead areas, and although they are easy to kill once identified, the chinch bug keeps coming back.

I was riding through a neighborhood over the weekend and every St. Augustine grass lawn had some chinch bug damage. In the old days (Dursban, Diazinon), you could put out a product in May and pretty much control chinch bugs for the season. Now depending on the product, if you get two to three weeks of control you are lucky. Most of the products work on the adults and do not affect the eggs that are waiting to hatch.

There are a lot of cases of resistance to certain control products in Florida, so be sure to rotate chemical families of your products (not just product names). Since some of our sod comes up from Florida, we will most likely experience these resistant chinch bugs before long. If you talked to some of the people I talk to, you would swear they are already here.

‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug’ got this designation from attacking family’s lawns during the summer while families were taking their summer vacation. The fact is that this very small insect and a lot of its buddies can wipe out a beautiful yard in a very short period of time. Hard to control weeds like bermudagrass and Virginia button weed always seem to move in on the weakened areas.

There is a fungus in the soil that controls chinch bugs. We had a wet winter, and then it got super dry. When it dried out the fungus in the soil that keeps chinch bugs in check died. When the fungus died, the chinch bugs went crazy. The reason you see chinch bugs along the road, driveway, sidewalks or in the sunniest part of the yard is because that is where the fungus dies out first. Chinch bugs rarely attack grass in the shade because the fungus keeps them in check.

Since chinch bugs attack the grass along the road, driveway, and sidewalks, when people treat for them, they often throw product on hard impermeable surfaces (roads, driveways, and sidewalks). Always be sure to sweep or blow any particles back into the grass to avoid any unwanted runoff. This particular runoff situation would be another reason to refer to this pest as ‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug!’

Northern Manhattan Subway Riders Say Rats Abound

Fulton Street in Manhattan, June 2010.Marcus Yam/The New York Times The rats are downtown, too: Fulton Street in Manhattan in June.

Rodents, the traditional scourge of New York City, are having a rough year. The rise of the bedbug seems to have rendered rats a has-been pest, a mere nuisance to be ignored rather than read about in countless alarmist trend articles. The bedbug is a breakout media star; the rat is, well, still a rat.

But there is one realm where the rodent still rules, where rats play the stars of an underground theater with a captive audience in the millions. Where else but the subway?

Earlier this year, the city’s Board of Health, in what was called the first study of its kind, discovered that half the subway lines in Lower Manhattan exhibited signs of mild or severe infestation. At the time, many New Yorkers expressed a surprising fondness for the creatures.  Now, a new, slightly less scientific survey has found a similar rat takeover of 20 stations in Upper Manhattan, based on the observations of thousands of riders who say there is a “severe” rodent problem in the underground.

The Have You Seen a Rat Today? campaign, sponsored by State Senator Bill Perkins, a Democrat of Harlem, collected responses from about 5,000 New Yorkers who filled out surveys distributed by the senator’s office.

Because this type of survey is self-selecting, and because there was no way to verify the responses, the results of Mr. Perkins’s study (also see below) ought to be taken with a grain of rat poison. But the findings do seem to match up anecdotally with many New Yorkers’ experiences.

Nearly 9 in 10 respondents said they saw rats on a daily or weekly basis in the subway, with a majority of sightings on the tracks. (Far fewer rats appeared to make their way onto benches or into the trains themselves.) Only 1 percent of the respondents said they “never see rats.”

All 20 stations in Mr. Perkins’s district, the 30th, were cited. The worst offenders: the big 125th Street express stop at Saint Nicholas Avenue; the 145th Street station on the A, B, C and D lines; and the 163rd Street station in Washington Heights. Strangely, the new 96th Street station at Broadway was also cited, although perhaps all the recent construction sent rodents scurrying of late.

The point of the survey, Mr. Perkins said, was to prompt officials to examine new methods of attacking the rodent problem. He also proposed a ban on eating in the subway, similar to no-food policies used on transit systems in Chicago and Washington.

“What we know for sure is the rats are not growing the food they are eating, nor are they shopping at Whole Foods or McDonald’s,” Mr. Perkins said in an interview. He noted that discarded food and litter are the primary culprits that attract rats to the mass transit system: “If you feed ’em, you breed ’em.”

Mr. Perkins mailed his survey results to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Oct. 21, and he urged the agency to step up its eradication efforts. The agency has laid off station cleaners this year and acknowledged over the summer that it may not have the budget to pursue a more advanced attack against rodents.

“I know this is a challenging time for transit and for the M.T.A.,” Mr. Perkins wrote in his letter. “But rodents in the subway jeopardize the health of all those who travel and work underground.”

In the interview, Mr. Perkins emphasized the far-reaching effects of his cause.

“This system is so important to people,” he said. “It is an experience that determines significantly one’s daily life, not simply from a bread-and-butter go-to-work point of view, but from an emotional and psychic point of view.

“You’re on a subway and a rat is sitting next to you — that moment does not end for a while.”