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Professional Pest Control Resources

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Mosquito Control For The
Pest Management Professional

Jeffrey R. O’Neill

(Mr. O'Neill is the Northeast Regional Manager for Wellmark International's Zoecon Professional Products Division.  He is a graduate of Rutgers University and has published multiple articles related to entomology and general pest control.)

mosquito pest control training program
Mosquito anatomy

If you wanted to know what is mankind’s worst enemy, it would certainly be the female mosquito. Around the world, more humans die from mosquito-borne diseases than any other form of human death. Malaria is only one disease of many transferred to man by this deadly creature; however, it kills over 2 million people each year, half of them children. The word, malaria literally means "bad air" as it was believed that the sickness and fevers suffered by the soldiers in an army that had passed through swamp lands, was caused by the breathing in of the foul smelling swamp gasses in the air. Yellow Fever or "Yellow Jack" is a mosquito borne virus that changed the course of history many times through destruction of military operations by high troop mortality. It also caused many ships and towns to be burned in a futile attempt to rid them of the contamination of this horrible disease. On our home front in the USA, the West Nile Virus epidemic has killed over 260 humans, over 14,000 horses, and hundreds of thousands of birds including hawks, eagles, owls, songbirds, and many endangered species, putting them on the brink of extinction. This public health threat has thrust the pest management professional into the limelight as a source of information and prevention for the homeowner to utilize for protection against mosquito nuisance and potential danger.

mosquito professional pest management
Mosquito Feeding

There is a real and growing business opportunity for the pest management professional to offer mosquito reduction service to residential and commercial accounts. Existing local mosquito abatement organizations do not have the financial or personnel resources to offer effective backyard reduction service, although some try to on a request-for-service basis. Those that offer backyard inspection and treatment do not usually get to the location on the same day as the request, and often get bogged down by so many requests that they cannot visit everyone. They also rarely will do commercial accounts. They certainly will not treat the same people repeatedly or do backyard parties. This gives the pest control entrepreneur an opportunity to offer service-for-hire in a new market, and at the same time become a cutting-edge pioneer and soldier in the battle to protect the public’s health against new arthropod-borne illnesses. It is not complicated to do this service and requires very little investment.

It is important to know some basic facts about mosquito biology to help approach their control. Only the female mosquito bites and sucks blood. Both male and female mosquitoes feed on flower nectar to secure a sugar-water fuel source for flight. When the female finds a blood meal, her blood stomach will fill, expand, and to make room for the blood, squeeze out the excess nectar by compressing the nectar stomach below, forcing the fluid out her rear-end onto the host. This blood is a protein source that will be used to create her eggs. The eggs will be laid either singularly on mud (Floodwater Mosquitoes), or in still clean water of swamps and freshwater marshes (Malarial Mosquitoes), or as a raft of 50+ eggs floating on the surface of foul smelling, highly organic still water (Culex Mosquitoes). At least ½ inch of rain must fall to create enough standing water to last for the minimum of 7 days to activate the eggs laid in the mud habitats such as salt marshes, roadside ditches, and pastures. The larvae that hatch out into the water habitat breathe air at the surface, like whales and dolphins. They go through 4 instar molts before they go into pupation. The first three instars feed on detritus (organic particles) floating throughout the water column. During the 4th instar, the mouthparts fall off and they stop feeding. This is important to know if a bacterial larvicide such as Bacillus thuringiensisisraelensis or Bacillus sphericusis going to be used because they must be eaten by the early instars to kill by stomach poisoning, and will have no impact on the non-feeding 4th instars. Insect Growth Regulator larvicides will impact the 4th instar larvae. The pupae are free-swimming and non-feeding but can be controlled by the addition to the water surface of oils or monomolecular films which block their breathing tubes to suffocate them. The adult mosquito can only emerge from the pupal case in very still water. Any movement by wind or current will knock over the adult and it will drown. Fountains used in small ponds create this rippling effect, which prevents mosquito emergence on the continually moving surface water. When the adult first emerges, it mates quickly, and then seeks a nectar meal for flight energy. Once "tanked up" the female will start seeking a host to feed on for blood. They do not want to fly far and will feed as close to their emergent habitat as possible. However, the floodwater species can fly up to 35 miles to get a meal. If they emerged in a rain gutter, a backyard swimming pool, bucket, flowerpot saucer, children’s toy, or tire, they will stay in the area if children and adult humans are present.

pest controller training for mosquito eggs

Mosquito Raft of Eggs

Some mosquitoes feed primarily on birds. These spread diseases like West Nile Virus, from parent bird to baby nestling bird, which creates an amplification of the virus throughout the bird population. Others feed on birds and mammals. They are the vectors that spread the West Nile Virus from birds to horses and to humans. There is a tree-hole mosquito that emerges from clogged rain gutters and is a vicious biter of man. It is believed that it may be among the primary mosquitoes responsible for transmitting WNV from birds to humans, especially since it lives on top of your home. Clogged rain gutters represent many miles of mosquito breeding sites in a community.

pest controller training prevents west nile virus
Mosquito Larvae

Mosquito females rest on plant surfaces while waiting for a blood meal host to wander by. They need to stay in the shade to prevent loss of water from sunlight. Most mosquito species bite after the sun goes down. Some newly arrived exotic species, such as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, will bite all day long in the sunshine. Mosquitoes usually will not fly if the temperature goes below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

professional pest control products for mosqito larvae
Mosquito Pupae

A reasonable approach to mosquito reduction is to treat all the standing vegetation with any residual adulticide that will stay on the plant surface for several weeks. This is called a barrier application and is done to gardens, shrubbery, tall grass, and low trees with a power sprayer or backpack sprayer. It will kill the females as they come to rest on the plants before their blood meal. The removal through dumping or treatment with a larvicide of any standing water in man-made containers will eliminate the potential of mosquito emergence in the local area of the home. There are larvicide products that offer long-term prevention of mosquito emergence from these backyard aquatic habitats. Some of these can be purchased by the homeowner to treat themselves. Others are for professional use only. Consult the label, or ask your pest control product supplier for help.

Jeffrey R. O’Neill


West Nile Virus Update

In the summer of 1999, experts at the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identified the outbreak of encephalitis in New York City as the West Nile Virus (WNV). Although recognized in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and parts of Europe, this virus had never before been recorded in the Western Hemisphere and is believed to have entered the United States with infected birds. The virus is transmitted primarily by the Culex pipiensspecies of mosquito which bites infected birds and in turn spreads the virus to other animals and humans when taking a blood meal. This mosquito breeds in stagnant water such as that found in old tires, gutters, and birdbaths.

New York City health officials began a vigorous area-wide spraying campaign in September of 1999. The pesticide of choice at the time was Malathion which stemmed the outbreak and demonstrated the benefits of pest control methods for protecting public health. Although some groups are opposed to pesticides spraying, it is absolutely the right thing to do. Dr. Steven Ostroff, the federal government's WNV czar said that "we would have been in significantly worse shape" had there been no efforts taken to stem the outbreak. Nonetheless, in 1999 the mosquito-borne virus infected 62 people in the New York metropolitan area with seven lives claimed.

Although the advent of winter and freezing temperatures caused mosquito activity to cease, New York City Health Commissioner Neal Cohen had stated in 2000 that "any recurrence is likely to be identified very, very early. The city will be very prepared." So that all staff was properly trained and accredited, the city chose Bug Off Pest Control Center to provide public health training for the New York City Department of Health and the New York City Parks and Recreation Department in March 2000. The purpose of these special programs was to prepare city pest control services personnel for the New York State Public Health Exam so that they could implement mosquito abatement programs in the Spring and Summer of 2000.

In the Spring of 2000, New York City installed mosquito traps in order to analyze collected mosquitoes for the virus. Dead birds were also analyzed in order to track the virus and target spraying to those hardest-hit areas. Two dead crows found in Staten Island in July tested positive for the virus - the first sign the disease in the city on 2000. Y2K's outbreak was especially hard on animals. Squirrels, birds, bats, horses, raccoons, rabbits, and chipmunks have all died from the virus. Hundreds of infected birds were found in Rockland, Westchester, and Suffolk counties as well as Bergen County, NJ and Fairfield County, CT. After July, New York City ground-sprayed with Anvil, a synthetic pyrethroid containing Sumithrin.

By tracking the virus and selectively spraying, the city avoided a repeat of 1999's more virulent outbreak. WNV claimed one life in New Jersey in September 2000. Overall, 18 people were affected in the region with the vast majority residing in Staten Island - the epicenter of WNV activity that year.

Recent developments show that West Nile Virus is here to stay in North America. To date, WNV has been reported in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. The CDC reports that 187 human cases and three deaths have been recorded in 2005.  The course of action from now on will have to be the implementation of regional programs to minimize any impact on human health. Dr. Lyle Petersen of the CDC declared "... the bottom line is that complacency is the wrong attitude... if conditions are right, this has the potential to cause a very, very large outbreak... the potential of causing significant human illness and death is only going to get greater in the next several years. We need to stay vigilant."

avoid west nile virus with pest control supplies

CDC's Map of WNV Activity in 2005


Mosquito Facts

  • There are 47 species identified in the northeast. 150 in North America and over 3,000 worldwide. Of the 47 Northeast species, 12 are considered pests to humans and livestock.
  • Only the females bite in order to obtain the protein necessary for egg laying. Both males and females feed on flower nectar and plant juices.
  • The mosquito life cycle has 4 stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. All mosquitoes spend their larval and pupal stages in water.
  • As members of the food chain, mosquitoes are eaten by fish, birds, and bats - and like bees and butterflies, they are also pollinators.
  • Mosquitoes fly at a rate of 1 to 1.5 mph.
  • Mosquitoes rarely bite at temperatures below 50° F in the winter. Some adults hibernate while others die and leave winter-hardy eggs.
  • "Encephalitis" literally means an inflammation of the brain. Symptoms of the disease generally occur 5 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and include headaches, fever, body aches, skin rashes, and swollen lymph glands. Severe infection is marked by stupor, disorientation, a stiff neck, coma, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and sometimes death. Fatality rates range from 3% to 15% with elderly and infirm particularly susceptible to the disease. The virus is not spread directly from person to person or from birds to people.


Tips for Limiting Mosquito Exposure

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts long pants and socks when outdoors.
  • Be extra careful when outdoors from dusk to dawn, when mosquito activity is at its peak.
  • Use an industrial insect repellent carefully on skin and clothing. An effective repellent will contain 20% to 30% Deet.
  • Don't let standing water collect around your home. Remove standing water from cans, jars, tires, and garden decorations. Clear out gutters or any other source of standing water. This is where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
  • Have tight-fitting screens on doors and windows to prevent entry.
  • Dispose of old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums or any water-holding containers from your yard and cover trash receptacles to keep out rainwater.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets.
  • Fill in tree rot holes and hollow stumps with sand or concrete.
  • Empty wading pools when not in use. Chlorinate your pool daily and change the water in birdbaths at least twice a week.
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery well trimmed to prevent mosquito harborage.
  • If necessary, use a quality insect spray to kill mosquitoes indoors. Make sure it is labeled for mosquitoes, is allowed to be used as space spray indoors and follow all safety precautions.
  • Make sure your community has programs for mosquito control in place.
  • Contact a Professional Pest Control Operator.

Things to Know About German Roaches

german roach exterminator supplies

Four species of roaches are common in New York: the German, the American, the Oriental and the brown banded.  German roaches are by far the most common roach pest in the country. Their presence is a source of embarrassment and disgust. More importantly, they are a significant health concern. A roach will travel through waste and then contact food preparation surfaces, plates, utensils and foodstuffs. They carry disease-causing bacteria and they trigger allergies and contribute to asthma.

commercial pest control products for roaches American roach male, female, egg casings, and nymphs

raoch pest management supply  Brownbanded roach male, female, egg casing, and nymphs

pest control training for roaches  German roach male, female, egg casings, and nymphs

professional pest management roach control  Oriental roach male, female, egg casings, and nymphs

For optimal control, we must keep them starved, thirsty and homeless. Roaches prefer to remain close to their food sources, take them away, and they will likely seek a more hospitable home. Store food in tight containers; practice strict sanitation - tolerate no grease or crumbs; empty and secure trash daily; repair leaks and keep baths and kitchens dry; never leave pet food exposed; remove clutter and debris; inspect electrical appliances and heat-generating devices; vacuum regularly; seal gaps, cracks, and crevices.

A successful pest control professional should always be aware of the following key characteristics of roaches:

Roaches reproduce quickly: The female German roach has the highest rate of reproduction of all species of roaches. Egg capsules (ootheca) contain more eggs, eggs hatch in a shorter time and nymphs reach maturity quicker than any other roach. It is this phenomenal rate of reproduction that allows roach populations to rebound so quickly after chemical treatment. That is why applications must be thorough and frequent in order to stay ahead of the growth curve.

Roaches thrive in warm, humid environments: Since roaches originated in the tropics, they prefer high temperature and humidity levels. That's one of the reasons why they infest kitchens and baths and why they congregate where there is heat-generating equipment like stoves, refrigerators, pipes, etc. With higher heat and humidity levels, their reproductive rates are also accelerated. Unfortunately, high temperatures also reduce the effectiveness of most pesticides. At high temperatures, the technician needs to choose formulations that don't break down easily (MEsSCs, etc.). Ideally, heat and moisture sources must be regulated to prevent excessive levels of heat and humidity. Although this will help, roaches do quite nicely at room temperatures as well.

Roaches spend most of their lives in cracks and voids: Roaches are nocturnal and secretive. They venture out only occasionally to forage for food and water. For every roach seen in plain sight, hundreds can be hidden inside wall and ceiling voids, behind cabinets and inside appliances. Roaches are thigmotactic (they like to have something touching the top and bottom of their bodies simultaneously) and that is why they prefer cracks and crevices. Effective control requires sealing cracks and gaps, using flushing agents to remove roaches from their harborages and targeting cracks and crevices with long-lasting residuals.

Roaches aggregate: Roaches are not social insects and do not establish colonies, but they do crowd together. Fecal points usually indicate aggregation sites. These spots should be cleaned off to monitor future activity and the area should be treated with residual insecticides or baits. Pheromone traps can also be useful.

Females carry their egg capsules: Unlike other roaches, the female German roach carries its ootheca dropping it just before it hatches. While the female is gravid, she is less active and stays hidden in protective voids making her less susceptible to insecticidal treatments. The capsule has a hard covering that protects eggs from predators and parasites. Most pesticides cannot penetrate the egg capsule. Often, the egg capsule survives treatment and emergent nymphs appear weeks after an insecticidal application has been performed. That is why it is especially important to treat deep inside cracks and to schedule follow-up treatments within a month where heavy infestations are present.

German roaches are mobile: As populations increase, roaches move to new areas in search of food, water, and harborage. They may move from the kitchen to living areas, closets, and furniture. In apartments and office buildings, they follow utility lines into adjacent units. Roaches can also hitchhike in furniture, shopping bags, and clothing. Anything brought into the house should be inspected carefully. This tendency to disperse means that the entire structure must be treated and inspected on a regular schedule. Professionals must also expand their search for roaches into sites not typically associated with roaches.

German roaches are adaptable: Roaches can detect insecticides and may escape the effects of the chemical before picking up a lethal dose. The insecticide treatment may even drive roaches away from their normal habitat into other areas. All the more reason to pinpoint cracks and crevices where the roach will be forced to contact the product. Even so, roaches can develop a resistance to insecticides. When insects are exposed to a chemical, the least susceptible ones may survive to pass on their resistance to their offspring. If the same insecticide type is applied constantly, a population of resistant insects can emerge. That is why a variety of products and techniques must be employed including using growth regulators, baits and even vacuuming.

Roaches are coprophagous: Roaches will eat anything that is organic but they have a particular predilection for each others' feces. This is the logic behind insecticidal baits. A roach will feed on the bait, ingest a lethal dose and pass along the poison in its feces which is in turn consumed by his colleague who is poisoned as well. This "domino effect" explains the success of the insecticidal baits that have been introduced in the last few years.

Invasion of the Body Snackers -
Bed Bugs are Back!

bed bug pest control chemicals

After being all but invisible for half a century, bed bugs are back with a vengeance in the US.  Most Americans have never dealt with a bed bug.  Until recently, they were a rarity even among most pest control professionals.  Although bed bug infestations were common in the US prior to WWII, improvements in hygiene and the introduction of more effective pesticides (DDT) in the '40s and '50s made bed bugs an insignificant pest. They were still common in other regions of the world, however, and in recent years bed bugs have made a dramatic comeback in the US.  Bed bugs have been found in all 50 states with urban areas having three times as many incidences as rural areas.  The biggest contributors to this resurgence are greater rates of immigration, more international travel and the expansion of global trade.  Add to this the introduction of new pest control practices that leave bed bugs unharmed as well as the removal of many effective pesticides and you have the makings of an outbreak.

Bed bug incidents are increasing all over the world and they are appearing almost everywhere. In the United States, the greatest number of encounters are in homes and apartments, hotels and motels, college dorms, homeless shelters and nursing homes. There have also been sightings in office buildings, hospitals, movie theaters, public transportation and department stores. Not surprising given the ability of this pest to hitchhike in people's personal belongings.

Bed Bug Pest Control Training Courses
A bed bug egg


Adult bed bugs are about 1/8-inch long and reddish-brown with oval, flattened bodies.  Four-segmented antennae are attached to the head between the prominent compound eyes. The proboscis is located beneath the head and passes back between the front legs.  They feed solely on the blood of animals. They first got a taste for human blood when cave-dwelling humans lived beneath bug-infested bat roosts.  Bed bugs do not fly but can move swiftly over walls, floors, and ceilings.  Females attach their eggs in secluded areas. The eggs are whitish and very hard to see with the naked eye.  Under ideal conditions, eggs hatch in about seven days.   Newly hatched nymphs shed their skin approximately five times before reaching maturity.  A blood meal is required between each successive molt.  Bedbugs complete development in about one month, producing three or four generations per year.  Bed bugs are very resilient and resourceful, they can survive for months without feeding and in the absence of humans, they will bite other warm-blooded animals, including pets.

Bed bugs are nocturnal. During the daytime, they hide in cracks close to where humans sleep. The prefer tiny crevices in mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards. In these hiding spots, you will find fecal stains, eggs, molted skins, blood spots and in heavy infestations, a musty odor. As the population grows, they will spread to other cracks and crevices throughout the room, adjacent rooms and other apartments.

Bed bugs are attracted to humans by body heat and emissions of carbon dioxide.  As they bite, they inject an anesthetic which allows them to feed undetected. They typically require a 5- to 10-minute blood meal in order to completely engorge themselves.  The saliva that is injected in the puncture results in circular, red, itchy welts.  Although more than 25 infectious agents have been associated with bed bugs, they have not considered vectors of the disease since these pathogens are not transmitted.  Though not presently considered a public health threat, bed bugs take an emotional toll on many victims.  We cannot dismiss the stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, anger, frustration, nervousness, fatigue, humiliation, embarrassment and depression suffered by many. In addition, excessive scratching of bites may cause infection.

 Commercial Pest Control Chemicals for bed bugs
Bed bug nymphs - various instars

How Did I Get Them?

Although it may seem that bed bugs arise from thin air, chances are that they were imported in luggage, furniture, beds, etc.  Outbreaks can often be traced to overseas travel where bed bugs may have been present in cruise ships, resorts, hotel rooms or hostels.  Bed bugs are cryptic and agile and can easily escape detection after crawling into your suitcase, backpack or other belongings.  Other sources of infestation may be the purchase of recycled mattresses and box springs or the introduction of contaminated furniture. Bed bugs may also migrate from adjacent infested apartments.

All that is required for bed bugs to thrive is an abundance of cracks in which to hide and the presence of warm-blooded hosts.  Unlike roaches that thrive in filthy conditions, cleanliness is not a determining factor when it comes to bed bug infestations.  They have been detected in pristine homes and in spotless hotel rooms.  What is important is early detection.  Once an infestation becomes established the costs and efforts associated with control become much greater than if the infestation had been identified in its early stages.

Pest Control Supplies Online New York
Bed bug feeding


The control of bed bugs is a challenge even for the most experienced and talented pest control professional.  It requires thorough inspections and meticulous applications and even so, retreats are common.  Treatment options are not as wide as those for roaches or ants and the need for customer cooperation is greater.  The major reason for bed bug retreats is poor customer preparation.  The client must assist in allowing access to all areas, removing clutter, laundering bedding and clothing and in some cases, disposing of contaminated items. Bed bugs can be treated, but success depends on an effective partnership between the pest management professional and client.

The first step is to diagnose the problem correctly.  Established infestations are easily confirmed but in the early stages, the signs are more subtle.  After all, many things other than bed bugs can produce itchy welts on a person's body.  Many times medical personnel misdiagnose the symptoms and attribute the welts to scabies, rashes, allergies or other pests like fleas, ticks or mosquitoes.  The flip side, of course, is that as people become more aware of bed bugs, any welt, rash or itching will be attributed to them when they may be due to other factors.  To avoid this, both physicians and pest control professionals must learn to become better diagnosticians.

When inspecting for evidence of bed bug activity,  we are primarily looking for live bed bugs, bed bug eggs, cast skins and fecal staining. A thorough inspection requires the use of a flashlight, a magnifier, a vacuum (Atrix Vac, IPM Vac, Bug Sucker Vac) and a pyrethrum flushing agent to help reveal where bed bugs might be hiding. Any possible crack and crevice on or near places where you sleep or rest must be inspected and vacuumed as the first step towards control.  The vast majority of bed bugs in any given account will be found in bed components (mattress, boxspring, bed frame), couches and armchairs.  First, dismantle the bed and check all components including the interior of the boxspring.  Nightstands, dressers and all other furniture should be emptied and examined.  Upholstered chairs and sofas must also be checked.  Other areas of concern are: along and under the edge of wall-to-wall carpeting; cracks along baseboards; door and window frames; hollow doors; behind picture frames; behind switch plates and outlets; under loose wallpaper; inside closets; inside electronic equipment, air conditioners, and ceiling fans.

Since bed bugs are so hard to detect, many of our clients have opted for canine inspections.  Make sure that these dogs and their handlers are nationally certified and experienced. Properly trained dogs will only signal in the presence of live insects and viable eggs.  The handler should attempt to confirm the canine alert through visual inspection or, if practical, by using a second canine. This option is very useful for confirming the presence of bed bugs prior to treatment as well as for determining the success of the procedure after the fact.


Once upon a time, bed bugs were treated by the wholesale application of DDT. This is no longer an option.  Our arsenal of effective bed bug products has been depleted and treatment today requires thoroughness and precision using a variety of options.  We mentioned vacuuming as an important element of control (IPM Vac, Atrix Vac, Bug Sucker).  Other non-chemical techniques are steaming with dry vapor (mattresses, box springs, carpets, and upholstery), isolation of infestibles (black bags, air-tight containers), sealing of cracks and crevices, thermal treatments (items in black bags exposed to direct sunlight at 120ºF for 2 to 3 hours will create a heat chamber and kill all life stages of the pest), freeze treatments and encasement of mattresses, box springs, pillows and cushions in hypoallergenic covers and active mattress and boxspring  liners. Eventually, the use of insecticides labeled for bed bugs and for the treatment site may be inevitable if the goal is to eradicate bed bugs.  (An option that is growing in popularity is fumigation).

As part of a comprehensive treatment, pest control specialists will use a variety of flushing agents ( CB 80, CB123 Extra ), contact aerosols (Topia,  EcoExempt KO), residual aerosols in cracks and crevices ( D-Force, Bedlam ), liquid residuals on surfaces and along edges (Permacide Concentrate, EcoExempt IC2, P-1 Quarts, P-1 Gallons,Deltamethrin Spray, KBB ), powders in voids and other inaccessible areas ( Diatomaceous Earth, EcoExempt D, Pyganic), sanitizers for mattresses, cushions, pillows, drapes, carpets ( Sterifab Pints, Sterifab Gallons, Sterifab 5-Gallon ) and growth regulators to prevent development into adulthood ( Gentrol Vials, Gentrol Pints ).  (Visit our Bugs page for more available products). Please note, under no circumstances should you use kerosene, gasoline or total release foggers ("bombs") for the control of bed bugs.

When bed bugs resurface, it may be due to the reintroduction of infested items, migration from adjacent areas or the survival of pre-existing populations. Multiple visits may be required for success. Some reasons for follow-ups may be due to eggs hatching, failure to treat all harborage sites, insecticide resistance, structural deficiencies and lack of client cooperation.  For long-term control, monitoring (ClimbUp, Bed Moat, BDS, Night Watch), follow-up maintenance programs and inspection of surrounding apartments should be considered until the problem is resolved. Bed bugs are going to be with us for a while. With greater awareness from the public, better skills on the part of professionals and the introduction of more effective treatment options, we can achieve optimum control.

Highlights Of The Global Bed Bug Study (2010)

Almost 1000 U.S. and international pest management professionals participated in a survey conducted jointly by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky's Dr. Michael Potter regarding their experiences with the resurgence of bed bugs. Here is some of the key information learned from the U.S. respondents:

  • Bedbugs predominate in apartments and homes (80%), hotels (60%), dorm rooms and shelters (30%), nursing homes (20%) and office buildings (15%)
  • Average number of treatments to gain control: 2.25
  • The primary detection methods include: visual inspections (90%),glue traps (40%), interceptors (20%), canines (15%), COlures(15%).
  • The primary treatment methods include: insecticides (80%), laundering (70%), mattress and box spring encasement (70%), disposal (60%), vacuuming (50%), steam (30%), heat (20%), fumigation (10%), freezing (5%).

A lesson learned from the international respondents is that bed bugs are more manageable where older families of chemicals are allowed to be used (organophosphates and carbamates). These substances are no longer allowed in the U.S.


  • Be careful when traveling abroad and when staying in hotels. Keep luggage elevated off the floor and outside the bedroom. Consider a travel-size spray for use in your travels.
  • Inspect your belongings carefully to prevent hitchhiking bed bugs.
  • Do not introduce second-hand beds or furniture into your residence.
  • Avoid clutter.
  • Seal cracks and crevices.
  • Vacuum (Atrix, IPM Vac, Bug Sucker Vac) regularly and quickly discard the bag.  Besides the floors, also vacuum mattresses, box springs, couches, arm-chairs, closets, shelving, the inside of furniture, baseboards and window and door frames.
  • Encase mattresses and box springs in air-tight, hypo-allergenic covers or wrap them in active liners.
  • Install ClimbUp and Bed Moat interceptors under furniture legs.
  • Report suspected activity to property management personnel quickly.

Bed Bug Checklist

  • Strip all beds and launder all sheets, pillowcases, mattress pads and blankets.
  • Remove items from closets, drawers, nightstands, bookcases and dressers and store in plastic bags or plastic containers.
  • Have all clothing, fabrics, and drapes laundered or dry-cleaned.  Normal wash cycles will kill bed bugs.
  • Running items in a dryer at high heat settings will kill all life stages.
  • Do not move items out of infested areas unless they are securely wrapped or bagged.
  • Discard cardboard boxes, bags, newspapers, and magazines.  Bed bugs prefer harboring in wood, fabric and paper items as opposed to metal and plastic.
  • Discard all ripped or torn materials as well as any heavily infested item. Use disposable gloves, securely wrap and seal items and handle them carefully. Think about wearing a protective outfit: although bed bugs will not jump on a person like fleas, rubbing against a contaminated mattress could dislodge bed bugs onto your clothing.
  • Deface and label discarded items like mattresses, box springs, and sofas.  This will discourage curbside scavengers and prevent the spread of infestations.
  • Save suspected evidence of bed bug infestations for proper identification by trained professionals.

A parting thought from our friend Dr. Michael Potter at the University of Kentucky:

“Bed bug management will be handicapped until the chemical industry invents a safe, residually potent product with a permissive label. In the meantime, we must use the tools available. The essence of bed bug management remains hard work, and constant vigilance to prevent or detect infestations in the early stages. This cannot be achieved by the pest management industry without informed and cooperative customers.”

The common brown rat (Rattus norvegicus - also called the Norway rat or sewer rat) is a destructive animal pest. These rodents eat and contaminate large amounts of feed, damage structures by their gnawing and burrowing and spread diseases that affect livestock and people.

Recognizing Rat Infestations

The presence of rats can be detected by droppings or signs of fresh gnawing. Tracks can be seen in mud and on dusty surfaces. Runways and burrows may be found next to buildings, along fences, and under low vegetation and debris.


Norway rats are husky, brownish rodents that weigh about 11 ounces. They are 13- to 18- inches long including the 6- to 8 1/2- inch tail. Their fur is coarse and mostly brown with scattered black on the upper surfaces. The underside is typically gray to yellowish-white.

Rats will eat nearly any type of food, but they prefer high-quality foods such as meats and fresh grain. Rats require 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce of water daily when feeding on dry food. Rats have a keen sense of taste, hearing and smell. They will climb to find food or shelter, and they can gain entrance to a building through any opening larger than 1/2-inch across.

Rats have litters of 6 to 12 young, which are born 21 to 23 days after mating. Young rats reach reproductive maturity in about 3 months. Breeding is most active in the spring and fall. The average female has 4 to 6 litters per year. Rats can live for up to 18 months, but most die before they are one year old.

Rat Control

Sanitation: Poor sanitation and the presence of garbage allow rats to exist in residential areas. Good sanitation will limit the number of rats that can survive in and around the home. Good sanitation practices involve good housekeeping, proper storage and handling of food materials, disposal and elimination of rodent harborage (shelter).

Rat-Proof Construction: The most successful and permanent form of rat control is to "build them out" by making their access to structures impossible. Ideally, all places where food is stored, processed or used should be rodent-proof. Store bulk foods, bird seed, and dry pet food in metal trash cans or similar containers.

Seal any openings larger than 1/4 inch to exclude both rats and mice. Openings, where utilities enter buildings, should be sealed tightly with metal or concrete. Equip floor drains and sewer pipes with tight-fitting grates having openings less than 1/4 inch in diameter. Doors, windows, and screens should fit snugly. It may be necessary to cover edges with sheet metal to prevent gnawing.

Traps: Trapping is an effective method of control. Trapping has several advantages: 1) it does not rely on inherently hazardous poisons; 2) it permits the user to determine if the rat was killed and 3) it allows for the disposal of rat carcasses, thereby eliminating odor problems which may occur when poisoning is done within the buildings.

A simple, inexpensive wood-based snap trap is available in most pest control centers. Wire cage traps are another option. Bait traps with peanut butter, pepperoni, bacon, or chocolate attached securely to the trigger. The trigger should be set lightly so that it will spring easily. Set traps close to walls, behind objects, in dark corners and in places where rat activity is seen. Place the traps so that rats, following their natural course of travel (usually close to a wall), will pass directly over the trigger.

Poison Baits (Rodenticides): Rodenticides are poisons that kill rodents. They are available as either non-anticoagulants or as anticoagulants.

The non-anticoagulants cause death either via the nervous system or via the release of calcium into the bloodstream. Anticoagulants cause death as a result of internal bleeding which occurs as the animal's blood loses its clotting ability and capillaries are destroyed. The active ingredients are used at low levels, so bait shyness does not occur when using properly formulated baits.

Most of these baits kill rats only after they are fed on for a number of days. These baits are known as multiple-feeds. Baits which are capable of causing death after a single feeding are known as single-feeds. However, rats do not die for several days. When baits are used, fresh bait must be made available to rats continuously as long as feeding occurs. Depending on the number of rats, this may take a few weeks.

Bait selection and placement: Baits are available in several types. Grain baits in a meal or pelleted form are often available in bulk or packaged in small packets. These "place packs" keep baits fresh and make it easy to place baits into burrows, walls, or other locations. Rats will readily gnaw into these bags to get to an acceptable bait. Block-style baits are also very effective for most baiting situations.

Use of tamper-resistant bait boxes provides a safeguard to people, pets, and other animals. Place bait boxes next to walls, with the openings close to the wall, or in other places where rats are active. When possible, secure the bait station to fixed objects to prevent it from being moved.

Sound and electronic devices: Rats quickly become accustomed to regularly repeated sounds. Ultrasonic sounds, those above the range of human hearing, have very limited use because they are directional and do not penetrate behind objects. Also, they quickly lose their intensity with distance. There is little evidence that sound of any type will give adequate control.

Mouse Morsels

pest control training for mice

The house mouse (Mus musculus) is remarkably well adapted for living year-round in homes, food establishments and other structures. Homeowners are especially likely to notice mice following their fall migration indoors in search of warmth, food, and shelter. Once mice become established inside the home, they can be extremely difficult to control.

Mice originated in Asia and spread throughout Europe centuries ago. In the 1500s mice arrived in the new world on the ships of the Spanish explorers. They quickly spread throughout the Americas. Next to humans, the house mouse has the widest distribution on earth of any mammal.  They are found wherever humans are found and are entirely dependent on us for their survival.

Although most people consider mice less objectionable than rats, mice are more common and cause significantly more damage. Mice are prolific breeders, producing six to ten litters per year. The greatest economic loss from mice is not due to how much they eat, but what must be thrown out because of damage or contamination. Food, clothing, furniture, books and many other household items are contaminated by their droppings and urine or damaged by their gnawing. House mice chew through electrical wiring causing fires and failures of household appliances. Mice can also transmit diseases, most notably salmonellosis (bacterial food poisoning) when food is contaminated with infected rodent feces. Other diseases include rickettsialpox, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, leptospirosis, ratbite fever, tularemia, and dermatitis caused by the bites of mites living on mice. Hantavirus is another danger becoming more common.

Mice are nocturnal creatures and avoid being seen by the homeowner. The most obvious indicators of their presence are droppings (1/8 to 1/2 inches long, dark and pointed at both ends); sounds of them running, gnawing, or squeaking; damage to stored food; and nesting sites. Mice are highly curious and explore their territory daily, paying special attention to new items or physical changes in their home range. Unlike rats, mice show no aversion to new objects (neophobia).

Compared to rats, mice forage only for short distances from their nest, usually not more than 10 to 25 feet. When food and shelter are adequate, their foraging range may be only a few feet. For this reason, traps and other control devices must be placed in areas where mouse activity is most apparent. Mice prefer to travel adjacent to walls and other edges - an important point to remember when positioning control devices. Mice seem to prefer cereal grains and seeds. They are sporadic in their feeding particularly when there are many food sources available. In these situations, mice may make 20 to 30 visits to different food sites each night taking as little as 0.15 gram of food at each site. In all, the average mouse will consume only 3 to 4 grams per day.

Signs of a mouse in the house

Mice constantly leave droppings in the areas they frequent. Approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch in length, fresh droppings are dark in color and soft in texture. As they age, droppings become hard and brittle.

Mice travel the same runway time and time again, leaving a smudge mark along walls, pipes, and holes.

Footprints and tail drags can sometimes be seen in dusty locations. Tracking dust has proven helpful in determining the presence and location of mice.

Mice can chew through anything that is softer than their teeth. On wood, the darker the wood, the older the gnaw marks are.

If your dog or cat inexplicably gets excited, it is more than likely that mice are moving about.

The sound of mice gnawing, squeaking, or running through the walls or ceiling is occasionally the only sign of their presence.

Favorite nesting materials are shredded paper, insulation, cotton balls, and string. These materials make excellent lures for snap traps.

Rodent Trivia:

If humans are present to provide warmth and food, mice can survive almost anywhere. In fact, colonies of mice have been found thriving in the supplies used on polar expeditions.

Each year, rodents cause more than one billion dollars in damage in the United States alone.

Unlike the teeth of other mammals, the front incisors of rodents never stop growing. In fact, continuously growing front teeth is a trait shared by all rodents. By observing captive mice and rats who have nothing to gnaw upon, it has been found that these incisors can grow up to five inches per year.

Rat and mouse bones have been found in caves where cavemen lived.

A mouse can jump down 12 feet without injury. What's more, mice have a 12-inch vertical jump. Mice can also scale rough vertical surfaces and walk along thin ropes and wires.

The odor of mice is quite distinct. An experienced pest control specialist can tell the difference between rat and mouse odors.

Mice are prolific breeders as the following statistics demonstrate:

Age of onset of reproductive capabilities: two months

Gestation period: three weeks

Litter size: five to ten pups

Re-breeding time: immediately

A female mouse can produce around forty pups per year.

Pest Control and Public Health

Among the endless blessings of living in America is the fact that the US has been largely free form the serious public health problems that plague underdeveloped countries. Americans are not faced with the real danger of having their health seriously compromised by life-threatening insect-borne diseases. Fortunately, most of the health threats posed by insects and rodents in this country are more benign: cockroach allergies, food poisoning, rat bites, bee stings, etc.

That is not to say that public health problems do not exist. Throughout the nineties, Hantavirus killed scores of individuals primarily in the Southwest. In the Northeast, Lyme disease is a very real threat with tens of thousands of people affected. Even Malaria has been detected recently among immigrant groups in urban areas.

With all of this in mind, the pest control professional will continue to be counted on to play an important role in protecting the public's health. Pest control operators take justified pride in their role as guardians of health and property. They are on the front lines of man's constant battle against harmful pests, and the public needs to have a better understanding of the vital role played by this industry in contributing to their quality of life.

Our enviable quality of life often makes us unaware or unconcerned about the threat of pest-borne diseases. The general perception in some circles is that if there is any health threat it comes from pesticides and not the pests themselves. The pest control industry is therefore viewed as the public health problem, not the cure. The public needs to overcome the fear of pesticides and come to accept that pesticides play a critical role in preventing a great many health problems. The argument can be made that pesticides are extremely important for human survival. They are essentially "environmental medicines" used to correct pest imbalances which affect our food supply, our property, and our well-being.

Some health problems related to pests:

Allergies: (cockroaches, fleas, mice) the highest incidence of allergy problems among inner-city children is associated with cockroaches

Asthma: (cockroaches, fleas, mice) roaches have been identified as a common trigger for asthma attacks. Inhalation of roach feces and body fragments has contributed to the explosion of asthma cases in the past twenty years.

Encephalitis: (mosquitoes) the outbreak of West Nile encephalitis in New York City resulted in over 60 people being stricken and 7 deaths in 1999.

Lyme disease: (ticks) this is currently the most significant arthropod-borne disease in the US. There are 12,000 to 16,000 cases of the disease reported nationwide every year.

Hantavirus: (mice) this is a severe respiratory infection spread by rodent urine, feces or saliva. This disease was first noted in the early nineties in the Southwest. Although rare, over 40% of its victims die and there is no known cure.

Insect stings: (yellow jackets, hornets, bees) these insects inflict painful stings which at best cause discomfort and at worst may result in death among hypersensitive individuals.

While pest control professionals play a critical role in preventing or limiting many public health problems, there are several conditions that pest control operators should not address, even if pressed by the customer to provide service. Most notably, lice, and scabies. These conditions should be treated by a physician. Another common condition, "delusional parasitosis" (the belief that insects are present where none exist), should never be treated. If no pest is present, then no application can be performed.

The Role of Pest Control in the Protection of Food and Health

The US food supply is certainly the safest and most abundant in the world. The food industry is the most controlled and regulated in the nation with dozens of Federal, State and municipal agencies overseeing the production, transportation, storage, processing, preparation and serving of our foodstuffs. Protecting food is serious business.

Notwithstanding the above, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has determined that 6.5 million people are stricken every year with food poisoning while 9,100 die from food contaminated with bacteria or viruses. The principal food contaminants are microbiological and physical. The greatest hazards come from microbiological contaminants such as E-coli, salmonella, and listeria which are carried by pests; and physical hazards such as live and dead pests, body parts and excreta which make food unsafe and repel consumers. By controlling potential microbiological and physical contaminants, the food industry can assure the public that our food is as safe as possible.

Informed consumers concerned about food safety have a low tolerance for food contaminated by pests. The expectation by the public is that our food is plentiful and wholesome. Although for the most part, this is the case, it has created additional pressures on the food industry and has expanded the role of the pest control professional. Even though the regulatory pressure is high, there aren't enough federal, state and local inspectors to comprehensively oversee the great and growing number of food producers and outlets. The food establishment's staff may not be properly trained in regulatory matters or proper food handling practices. That leaves the pest management professional with a greater responsibility for aiding the food industry in protecting our food.

The pest control operator's training and experience cannot be duplicated by a food establishment's personnel. The pest management specialist is an expert in pest identification, biology, and behavior. He is skilled in current control technology, strategies, and practices. He has also become an educator to his clients as well as a consultant on relevant pest control regulations and food safety procedures.

It is the responsibility of the pest management specialist to:

Point out ways of preventing pest entry through the exclusion of pests from areas where food is manufactured, packaged, held, prepared and served. This is accomplished by caulking cracks, plugging holes, installing screens and ensuring that windows and doors fit tightly.

Advise the account on the removal of water, food, and harborage; the three elements absolutely necessary for the survival of any pest.

Recommend proper sanitation standards and housekeeping and storage protocols. It is crucial that staff maintain proper hygiene, that food establishments be clean and that food is stored in ways that prevent access by pests.

Monitor to identify pest species accurately, to determine population size and to target areas of activity.

Devise a treatment program which may include chemical as well as non-chemical control options within the established guidelines for applications in food establishments.

Pest control in food establishments is desirable on many levels. The existence of pests is aesthetically unpleasing causing distress and making customers unhappy; their presence may be a sign of poor sanitary practices; and of course, they are a potential hazard factor for the spread of disease. Medical entomologists believe that pests carry and transmit disease-causing pathogens in food premises. Their secretory and excretory matter contaminate food affecting its nutritional value and making it unsafe and unsaleable.

Roaches feed on human and animal waste and carry bacteria that contaminate foodstuff.

Rodents spread disease through physical contact, urine, and feces. They also carry parasites on their bodies that act as vectors of disease.

Flies breed in human and animal feces. Their high mobility allows them to contaminate food, utensils and preparation surfaces. The presence of flies is indicative of poor waste disposal practices.

Most cases of food poisoning result in allergic reactions or stomach and bowel distress manifested by cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The most common viruses are:

Salmonella, Dysentery, E-coli, Staphylococci, Listeria, and Hepatitis-A


Andy Linares is a man of the highest integrity with a strong sense of honor. I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Andy on a host of projects while I was the editorial director of PMP magazine, and I am here to tell you that Andy will deliver on what he promises. It's rare these days to find a business partner in which you can have absolute trust — but Andy Linares is just such a partner.

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