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Are Bed Bugs more active during fall?

Bed bugs are a year-round problem, not just during the fall. Infestation can ramp up in fall, but that isn’t because they’ve moved in from the outdoors. If you have bed bugs, the chances are they’ve been reproducing, spreading and biting for months and you are just now noticing.

While other pests hibernate or search for warmer temperatures indoors, the bed bug has been inside the entire time. Bed bugs are an indoor pest and are rarely found outside.

Therefore, the climate outdoors is not really a factor for why bed bugs are a big problem in the fall. It is the actions we humans take when the seasons change, and we move back indoors to get away from the colder weather.

Fall indicates the end of summer, but it doesn’t mean the end of bed bugs. When we take that last summer vacation, and the kids go back to school, we may be introducing bed bugs into our lives for the first time, and it isn’t until a few months later that we start to notice them.

Hitchhiking Summer Invaders

Despite their name, bed bugs are not just found in beds. They can be found anywhere people go, including public places such as libraries, movie theaters, and public transit.

Summer vacation just ended, and bed bugs may have come home with you in your suitcase, on your clothes, or in your shopping bags.

A single bed bug, carried home in a suitcase or on a piece of clothing, will multiply and become an issue very quickly. As the bed bug lays eggs and they hatch, those bed bugs can quickly become adults and lay eggs, and those eggs hatch, and more bed bugs emerge … you get the picture?

Bed bugs take a couple of months to fully go through a life cycle. If you were traveling this summer, it’s possible that you brought bed bugs home without knowing it.

Bed Bugs & School

The end of summer also means school is back in session. bed bugs sigma pest controlGoing back to school means kids are in close contact with each other. Kindergarten, middle school, high school … all those kids returning to school, with their summer hitchhiker in hand, can become a serious bed bug problem.

College kids move into the dorms where a single bed bug can quickly infest an entire floor. Books, backpacks, jackets, hats, furniture and bedding are frequent targets for bed bugs.

Kids tend to leave clothing lying around, in their backpacks, and often share their clothes with friends. Daycare kids lie down for nap time near each other, and after school sleepovers pick up this time of year.

These are just some of the many ways bed bugs appear more active in fall.

Bed Bug Travel Precautions

Bedbugs invade new areas after being carried there by clothing, luggage, furniture, and bedding. Bed Bugs do not discriminate between clean and dirty homes or businesses. The most at-risk places are those with the highest occupancy turn-over like hotels, dormitories, apartments, and homeless shelters.

Whether you are on vacation, or heading off to school for the fall, here’s what you can do to make sure you don’t bring bed bugs with you:

  • Keep your suitcases covered in plastic and off the floor when you travel.
  • When you travel, take a small flashlight to help you look for bed bugs.
  • When you return from a trip, wash all of your clothes – even those that have not been worn – in hot water to ensure that any bed bugs that may have made it that far are not placed into your drawers/close.
  • Never place luggage on the carpet or bed. Always use the luggage rack.
  • Be sure to check for signs of bugs by lifting up the corner of the sheet and look on the edge of the bed near the seam for droppings.
  • Wash out backpacks and don’t share clothes with others.

Got Bed Bugs? Hire a Professional

Bed bugs are hard to see, so if you think you have bed bugs, call a pest management professional. Bed bug infestations can be a real nuisance to deal with. To take care of an infestations, it’s important to know what these pests look like, how to identify bites, and what potential risks are associated with bites.

Thankfully, getting rid of bed bugs is as easy as calling a Sigma Pest Control technician. If you find that you have a bed bug infestation, be sure to call a Sigma Pest Control for efficient, professional, and effective pest control services.  

Sigma Pest Control are your licensed and trained heat treatment experts. Our Bed Bug Control program is your answer to a bed bug free home. Call today for a FREE inspection and consultation – (540) 94-SIGMA.

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Are Termites Active During Winter?

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since we’ve no place to go” … it looks like we’ll be stuck inside with the termites. 

Just because it is cold outside, and you want to be inside, doesn’t mean that you are the only one that feels that way. Termites, and other pests, also seek shelter from the cold of winter.

Termites appear to be most active in summer because humans are most active then. We humans tend to notice termites, and termite damage, because when it is nice outside, we move around more, cleaning, doing chores and yard work.

Termites are colonizing insects like bees and ants. Each type of termite plays a specific role within the colony. Termite workers are responsible for gathering food for the colony and are the ones which cause the most damage to wood and your property. Workers are also the one’s you see in the soil around the foundation of your property.

Unfortunately, termites defy the seasons, and our desires, by staying active year-round. Regardless of the weather, the time of year, or your location, termites don’t take time off because it is cold. Termites will invade your home in the dead of winter AND the hot days of summer.

Winter termite activity: Outdoors

Not all insects die off or go into hibernation during the winter months. Insects and pests have all sorts of survival strategies to make it through the cold.

In colder climates, winter does reduce termite activity. Unfortunately, cold conditions won’t kill termites or drive them away. It just forces them deeper underground or into the center of wood sources that they find outside. This makes the heat coming from inside your home that much more appealing.

Subterranean termites build their colonies underground. In winter months, they try and stay underground below the frost line. The colder the weather, the deeper they’ll dig in search of warmer ground.

Drywood and dampwood termites colonize in wood filled areas like old stumps or trees. If you have stored firewood outside, that wood is vulnerable to termites as well. Once you bring that wood into the house you may have inadvertently introduced termites as well. It’s important that you remove stumps and dead trees and keep firewood at least 20 feet away from the side of the house.

Winter termite activity: Indoors

Termites don’t typically find and move into your home during the winter months. Usually, they were already in your house to begin with. While the colder temperatures make outside habitation less inviting, termites will stay where they are provided with a nice, temperate, springtime temperature; your home.

The ideal temperature for termite development (and damage) is around 75°F, a comfortable temperature for any home during winter. But don’t drop that thermostat to 50 thinking they’ll go away. That won’t work. Your home is the perfect winter getaway for termites because they get wood, water and warmth. You’ll be hard pressed to scare any termite from your home with these excellent accommodations.

Do termites swarm in winter?

When a colony matures it sends out swarmers to create new colonies. This activity usually coincides with warmer months. Just because your house might be a consistent temperature doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a swarm in your home.

In spring, when it gets warmer outside the walls of your home, it will bring the temperatures up enough to trigger the swarming behavior. That’s usually when you find swarmers crawling around on your interior walls.

Swarming termites can take flight in you home if they’ve infested an interior wall, but it is rare. Regardless of whether they are inside or out, most swarming activity takes place during warmer months of the year.

Termite Prevention

Small steps make a big difference in termite prevention and sustaining an effective termite treatment plan. Start by eliminating moisture conditions and termite food around your home. These simple steps make your home a less attractive target, helping deter termites.

Termites do leave warning signs. Indicators of a termite infestation include wood that sounds hollow when tapped, cracked or bubbling paint, mud tubes on exterior walls or crawl spaces, and a temporary swarm of winged insects in or around your home.

Simple steps can help prevent an infestation. Keep gutters and downspouts free of debris, install screens on exterior vents, store firewood and lumber away from your home, and eliminate moisture by fixing pipes and other home fixtures prone to leaking.

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Treatment

If you see the signs of termites already in your home, you may have a problem which needs to be handled by a trained professional.

Sigma Termite Solutions (STS) allows you to have the peace of mind that your home is protected from termites for good. 

With Sigma Termite Solutions, your home receives a long-lasting barrier against termites, and a thorough inspection of your home is administered every year. If termites are ever found we will, as always, honor our satisfaction guaranty and take care of the problem.

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Fall Pest Control Tips

The lazy days of summer are just about over. Fall is upon us, and so will be fall pests if you don’t prepare the outside of your home properly.

As the cooler weather begins to settle in, the pests we so often associate with the outdoors can quickly become indoor pests. Just as humans seek shelter from the cold, outdoor pests will do the same and your warm home, full of food and water, is the perfect winter retreat.

What kind of pest might I find in my house in fall?

There are many fall pests: rodents, spiders, yellow jackets, ants, and cockroaches are the most common. But you might also find stink bugs, flies, beetles, bed bugs, lady bugs and bees.

Rodents

When we say ‘pest’ we aren’t just talking about bugs and insects. Mice and rats are the most common fall and winter home invader.

Keep these pests out of your home by sealing points of entry, usually around the outside of the house, with caulk and mesh.

Make sure vents are covered, screens are repaired, and install weather stripping around doors. Last, cut back shrubs and branches so mice can’t just walk up and over into your home from the yard.

Spiders

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You can knock down cobwebs all winter long, but before you do consider this … spiders are natures insect repellant. Spiders can reduce the amount of other pests in your home and out.

Sure, it is not fun to walk into a cobweb, but if you can avoid it you might consider leaving it alone. A spider wouldn’t build a web if it didn’t think there was food in the area.

Stinging Insects

Yellow jackets, hornets and wasps are the most common stinging insects found in the home. As the food source for these stinging insects starts to diminish, these stinging pests seek new food sources including juice, candy, pastries, meet, and dairy.

Keep your garbage cans closed tight, your screen doors fixed and closed, your vents sealed, and food sealed and stowed away if you wish to keep these pests from seeking shelter inside your home.

Ants

ants

Ants create trails so other ants from the colony can quickly and efficiently seek out new food sources. If you don’t want a trail that leads into your home you should consider the following prevention tips.

Seal all cracks around the foundation, store food in airtight containers, sweep floors often, eliminate sources of standing water and keep tree branches and plants cut back.

Additionally, don’t store firewood and building materials next to the home and don’t store unused firewood in the home overnight.

Cockroaches

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The cockroach – day or night, summer, fall, or winter, these are pests you do not want in your home; ever! Cockroaches are known to carry and spread all kinds of bacteria and they can trigger asthma attacks in children.

Since cockroaches tend to be found near pipes and drains, keep kitchens and bathrooms sanitized, vacuum frequently and ensure that all cracks around the home are sealed.

Also, store leftover food and pet food in storage containers, take out the trash daily, and seal entry points into the home with caulk and expanding foam.

10 fall pest control tips

Toss the chip clips, clothes pins, and paper bags. When it comes to proper sealing and storage of food use storage containers instead. Storage containers are harder to access, can be easily stacked and sorted, and they keep your food dry.

Insects are attracted to leaves, mulch, wet soil, and other common fall materials, and rodents often seek shelter in a garage or basement. But if you rake and dispose of the dead leaves, and clean up the inside of the garage, you are eliminating the hiding places often sought after by fall pests.

Pests need water to survive. In the winter, indoors, these pest will seek out water from condensation, leaking pipes, and ceiling leaks. Fix these issues and you’ll reduce one major resource that pests need to survive. If they can’t find water, they won’t stick around in the winter.

Pests like nothing better than easy entry into your home. A shrub, placed close to the house, gives them easy access to windows and doors. While a tree branch provides a path to your roof, chimney, and eaves just in case the windows are shut.

Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter. Use caulk and expanding foam to seal the space and deny entry.

Take the time to perform a thorough exterior inspection of your home. Look for openings, cracks, gaps, including in all exit and entry points of utilities and vents, damaged screens, and damaged or missing door sweeps. Remediate any issues you might stumble upon if you want to prevent pests from getting inside.

Many homes use firewood for warmth in the winter, but don’t be tempted to store it close to you home. Keep firewood at least 20 feet away from the house, and only bring in the amount that you plan to burn. You do not want to leave firewood in your home if isn’t being burned.

Windows screens, mosquito nets, and similar barriers protect against inquisitive summer and fall pests, but only if they provide complete protection. And as long as the frame is in good shape repairs are easy and can be done in a few minutes.

Make it a rule to never leave food out overnight, including dirty plates. These draw in hungry fall pests that will happily make your kitchen their winter home.

We need vents in our homes to expel bad air and bring in new/clean air. You can’t close these areas off completely, but you can introduce screens and mesh that allow the air to flow in and out, but is small enough to keep the pests from entering through this window.

The last word ...

To be honest, there are hundreds of precautions, preparations, and fixes you can install to help seal and prevent your home from the fall pest migration. Crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s can be a real chore and still, despite your best efforts, pests still might find their way into your home.

If they do, call Sigma Pest Control. At Sigma Pest Control, our pest technicians are trained to help manage pests of all kinds. Regardless of whether you have one pest or a thousand, we will design a program that is right for your situation.

We offer free inspections, and our professional and courteous customer service speaks for itself. No sales pressure, no gimmicks, and no hidden costs. You get first rate service and an end to your fall pest problems. 

Call Sigma Pest Control for a free inspection – 540-94-SIGMA. 

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Meet the House Mouse

Up close, these little fellas look sweet and innocent, but when underfoot, scurrying across the room, and popping out of pantries, the house mouse takes on a whole new image. Did you know that they don’t mean to scare you? They are just making themselves at home, in your home, because it is warm, dry, safe (even from cats), and there is food … lots of food.

Say, “hello”, to the house mouse. House mice are gray or brown in color, with large ears, small eyes, and averages five to seven inches in length (counting the tail).

The house mouse is the most comment rodent in the world. What makes it so popular? Probably the fact that a single female house mouse can produce upwards of 150 babies a year.  

House mice usually feed on cereal grains, not cheese like most people think, but given the chance they will eat just about anything they can get their teeth on.

Now you know the most common facts about the house mouse, what are some things not so well known about the house mouse?

House Mouse Facts:

The house mouse has a keen sense of taste, hearing, smell and touch. That is why they can see and sense the traps laid out to catch them. They can sense that the environment has changed. If you really want to trap a mouse, set out several traps and dab each trap with different bait (peanut butter, bacon grease).

Living close to humans, and relying on them for food and shelter, betters their chance of survival. They make themselves at home in and around houses, barns, warehouses, granaries, fields and farms. In cooler weather, they almost always make their way indoors for warmth.

Nests are made in dark, quiet spaces, in between walls, cabinets, closets, basements, attics, storage areas, rafters etc. The house mouse prefers to keep their food source and nest close together.

The house mouse can squeeze into some pretty small places. If they can get their head into the space, then their body will follow. They have a backbone and skeleton just like other mammals.

House mice prefer to feed on grains and plants, but they will eat meat and dairy products if given the chance. They will even eat their own droppings to acquire the nutrients produced by the bacteria in their guts.

A house mouse produces between 40 and 100 droppings per day. That could be more than 35,000 droppings a year.

If they have a reliable food source, the house mouse will produce lots of pups. A single female can produce upwards of 150 babies in a year.

The word ‘rodent’ is Latin for ‘to gnaw’. Mice will gnaw through most barriers including plastic, rubber, vinyl, insulating foam, wood, drywall, and electric wires.

They HAVE to chew – a mouse has a tiny mouth and tiny teeth, but unlike humans, mice teeth never stop growing. They HAVE to chew in order to keep their teeth from getting bigger than their mouth.

Mice can run up any rough vertical surface. They will run horizontally along wire cables or ropes and can jump up 13 inches from the floor onto a flat surface.

Rooting around dirty floors, alleyways, and sewers means mice are likely to pick up germs along the way. Mice are constantly exploring and leaving behind urine, feces and hairs in our food and clothing.

You can pick up these germs by: ingesting food or water contaminated with mouse urine or droppings, inhaling dust contaminated with urine or droppings, direct contact with an infected animal or its excrement, bites from infected fleas, ticks or mites

Prevention and Control

Like most pest control house mouse sigma pest controlremedies, the best offense is a good defense. Preparing your home against mouse infestation is better done BEFORE they mice arrive than after. Effective mouse prevention includes cleanliness and mouse proofing your home, and mouse control requires population reduction.

Prevention does not mean elimination. Making sure your home is clean, and your food is properly stored, doesn’t mean you don’t (or won’t) have mice. All places where food is stored, processed or used should be made mouse-proof. Dried grain and meat products should be stored in glass jars, metal canisters or other resealable airtight containers. A clean house and well stored food does reduce the likelihood that mice will set up shop in your home, but you also need to make sure they can’t get in in the first place.not afraid mouse

Eliminate the openings to your home by which mice might enter is another preventative measure against house mice. Seal any openings larger than 1/4 inch to exclude mice. Seal cracks and openings in building foundations and openings for water pipes, vents and utilities with metal or concrete. Doors, windows and screens should fit tightly.

Finally, along with preventive measures, you need to prepare for crowd control. Trapping is an effective control method when only a few mice are present in a building, but where there is one mouse there are surely more to follow. This is where help from a certified pest control professional comes in. They’ll know what to do if you have mice. They’ll know what to look for and how to remedy the situation.