Beware of the Sting

The summer season is a time to enjoy the sunshine and the great outdoors, but it’s also the time when stinging insects can make an appearance at picnics, cookouts and pool parties. A-1 Exterminators, warns that yellow jackets, wasps, hornets and other common stinging insects can pose an increased threat to one’s health. In fact, they send more than half a million people to the emergency room every year, according to the National Pest Management Association.

“From painful stings to severe allergic reactions, stinging insects can put a damper on summer fun,” said Gary Weisberg, owner of A-1 Exterminators. “Whether you plan to fire up the grill, go to the plabeey ground or relax by the pool this summer, it’s important to be aware of the risks posed by certain stinging insects.”

Below are the most common stingers people might encounter during the summer months.

  • Yellow Jackets – Yellow jackets are distinguished by the black and yellow color pattern banded across their abdomens. They are territorial and may sting repeatedly if threatened.
  • European Hornets – European hornets are active at night. They have smooth stingers that carry venom known to cause itching, swelling and pain for about 24 hours. Like yellow jackets and wasps, European hornets can sting repeatedly during an attack.
  • Paper Wasps – Paper wasps are not an aggressive species by nature, but they will sting if their nest is threatened. Wasp stings are painful and can cause the same risk of allergic reaction as other insect stings.
  • Bees – Africanized “killer” bees defend their colony and will attack in large numbers when threatened. However, they can only sting once as their stingers are barbed and tear off when trying to get away. Killer bees have been known to chase people for more than a quarter mile.

The best way to prevent an unwanted encounter is to exercise caution when outdoors. If you come in contact with a bee or wasp, do not swat it, as that may actually provoke an attack. Remain calm and the insect should fly away without causing harm.

Reports of Chikungunya Virus

In recent reports, cases of the Chikungunya, a viral disease spread by mosquitoes, have been found in Boston and some surrounding communities.

The Boston Public Health Commission sent an alert to physicians last week with a warning to look out for symptoms of the illness, which causes severe fever and joint pain. Just four cases have been reported since last week, and several other cases have been confirmed with in New England during the past month.mosquito-150x150

Chikungunya is endemic to parts of Africa, Asia, southern Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but has begun to appear in the Caribbean. The federal Centers for Disease Control have identifying cases in the United States earlier this year. There have been 129 cases reported since July 1st and those run across 27 states, including Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

“We really wanted the health care providers to be aware that they should be advising some precautions for people,” said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the commission’s Infectious Disease Bureau. “We encourage people to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, to use repellents, and if weather conditions are OK, to wear long sleeves and long pants.”

A public health alert was not issued because the type of mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya do not typically live here, in Massachusetts, and the virus cannot be transmitted person to person, said Dr. Catherine Brown, the state public health veterinarian.

“There’s nothing we need to do to prevent further spread in Massachusetts,” Brown said. The fact that we are now beginning to identify people who have contracted the infection of chikungunya, is not a surprise. They picked it up while traveling.”

While it is usually cleared by the immune system in seven to ten days. Medical treatments for the disease do not exist. Doctors can reduce the fever, joint swelling, headaches, muscle pain, and rash that are often symptoms of the virus.
“All you can do is make the patient comfortable with pain medications and bring the fever down,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gelfand, an infectious disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School.

While chikungunya is not spread by mosquitoes in New England, West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis are, and summer is when the risk is highest.

Public health officials are advising people to get rid of places mosquitoes can breed, such as buckets of water that have been sitting outside and kiddie pools.

Article Reference: Yasmeen Abutaleb | Globe Correspondent

Indian Meal Moth the Pantry Pest

Pantry pests, or stored product pests that tend to gather around food stowed in pantries and cabinets, can quickly become a hassle for homeowners during the summer months.

A variety of critters fit into the category of pantry pests including beetles, ants, earwigs, but the most common species are the Indian meal moth. Fortunately, this pest does not pose any serious health or property threats, however, they can become major nuisances to homeowners due to their quick ability to infest an area in a short amount of time.

Pantry pests can infest common baking ingredients such as flour, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate and more. In some cases, they are also attracted to dried flowers and potpourri, which make decorations another susceptible breeding ground for home infestations. Indian meal moths like to feed on dried fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, chocolate, birdseed, dog food, powdered milk, dried red peppers and candy.MealMoths-ad

Now, as the holiday season kicks into full swing, people across the country will begin running to the grocery store and digging into pantries for baking ingredients to make their favorite holiday treats. But, before rummaging through to find the spices and flour, consider inspecting all of the pantry items to ensure they are pest free. Here are some other tips to guard against pantry pests and help the holiday baking plans run smoothly:

Purchase proper storage: Invest in some Tupperware-type containers with secure lids. These will not only keep your pantry looking nice, but will also protect your food from pantry pests and even small rodents that may be looking for an extra meal. Anything made of plastic or glass works well, as long as the storage item comes with a tight-fitting lid.

Here are some tips on keeping these pests out of your home.

Use a bay leaf: Add a bay leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods like flour, rice and other grains – the herb’s pungent scent repels many pantry pests.

Inspect the groceries: Most pantry pests are brought into the home from items that are already infested such as food in paper grocery bags, cardboard or plastic bags. On your next shopping trip, make sure to inspect the packaging of all items before tossing them into the cart. If a package is opened or shows the slightest sign of damage, do not purchase it. For products already in the home, visually inspect and sift through ingredients to ensure they remained pest-free while in storage.

Check the date: Remember to check expiration dates on baking ingredients before use. Occasionally sort through old items in the pantry and toss out anything that’s been stored for a long period of time.

Practice good sanitation: Do not let spills sit for a long period of time. Immediately wipe up any crumbs or spills from countertops, tables, floors and shelves, and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles. Also, consider periodically emptying the cupboards and cleaning them with soap and water to get rid of any bugs that may be hiding inside.

Seal cracks: Look for any cracks or holes where pests might be coming into your home especially around the stovepipes and water pipes. Also, eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains with a dehumidifier.

Store seasonal décor: Dried foliage, potpourri and Indian corn should be kept in airtight containers during off seasons and unpacked outside prior to displaying them inside the home for the holidays.

If you find pantry pests in your kitchen, discard the infested foods in outdoor trash bins and clean all of the shelves in the cupboards with a vacuum. If an infestation has already taken root, consult with a licensed pest professional from A-1 Exterminators to inspect and treat the problem. Our professionals can keep these pests from multiplying and contaminating other foods in your home.

Keep The Ants From Marching Into Your Home

The weather conditions have improved so ants will be trying to enter homes in search of food and water. A-1 Exterminators encourages homeowners to take proactive steps to reduce the likelihood of seeing these nuisance pests in your garage or crawling across the kitchen counter.

Ants often infest kitchens and bathrooms, but homeowners may also encounter them in cooler spaces like carpenter_antbasements, garages and around air conditioning units,” said, Gary Weisberg, owner of A-1 Exterminators.

Experts from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommend the following five simple steps that homeowners can do today to prevent an ant infestation.

  • Block off access points. Take time to inspect the outside of your home for cracks and crevices, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter. Seal any small holes or gaps with a silicone-based caulk. Keep tree branches and other shrubbery well trimmed and away from the structure.
  • Eliminate sources of water in and around the home. Indoors, routinely check under sinks for areas of moisture and repair any leaky pipes. Consider using a dehumidifier in damp basements, crawl spaces or attics. Outside, ensure that downspouts and gutters are functioning properly so that water flows away from the home’s foundation.
  • Keep a clean kitchen. Wipe down counter tops and sweep floors to remove crumbs and residue from spills. Store food in sealed containers, and keep ripe fruit in the refrigerator. Also, make sure to dispose of garbage regularly.
  • Don’t forget about your pets. After mealtime, keep pet bowls clean and wipe up any spilled food or water around them promptly. Store dry pet food in a sealed plastic container rather than the paper bags they often come in, which can be easily accessed by ants, rodents and other pests.
  • Work with a pest professional. Eliminating ants can be challenge without the proper treatment. Some species of ants, like carpenter ants, can cause serious property damage while others can pose health threats. If you see ants in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to identify the species and recommend a course of treatment.

For more information on ants or other common household pests, please visit http://www.a1exterminators.com.

Mosquito Season is Here

Warmer weather is finally here and New England residents are no doubt spending more time outdoors. However, with increased outdoor activity, the public is at risk of becoming a meal for summer’s most dangerous and pesky pest – the mosquito. We at A-1 Exterminators, are urging the public to take preventative measures to protect themselves and their families.

“Mosquitoes are emerging early across the country due to recent rainfall and an increase in temperatures,” said Gary Weisberg, Owner at A-1 Exterminators. “With the threat of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, it’s important for people to take the necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites when spending time outdoors in the coming months.”

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a nonprofit organization committed to the protection of public health, food and property from household pests, offers the following tips to avoid becoming a mosquito target:

  • Eliminate areas of standing water around the home such as flowerpots, birdbaths, baby pools, grill covers and other objects where water collects. Mosquitoes need only about a ½ inch of water to breed.
  • Screen all windows and doors. Repair even the smallest tear or hole.
  • Minimize outside activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. If you must be outside during those times, consider staying inside a screened-in porch or dressing in clothing that leaves very little exposed skin.
  • Avoid wearing dark colors, loose-fitting garments, and open-toe shoes.
  • Always use an insect repellant containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus when spending time outdoors or traveling, especially in areas known to have increased mosquito populations.
  • If you are concerned about mosquito activity in your area, contact a pest management company or your local mosquito abatement district.

For more information on mosquitoes and other summer pests, please visit http://www.a1exterminators.com.