Common pests  can be serious health hazards. Cockroaches, bedbugs, mice, and rats – in addition to the chemicals we use to control them – can contaminate the air in our homes and trigger asthma and allergy attacks. Toxic sprays and bombs only eliminate a very small portion of the population.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a holistic method of pest control that addresses serious pest infestations and works to prevent pests from getting out of control in the first place. IPM uses techniques to make sure a home is not an attractive place for pests to live by removing water, food, and sources of shelter. These strategies, coupled with safer alternatives like bait stations, will manage pest problems without jeopardizing the health of the people that live in the home.

Cockroaches

Why are there cockroaches in my home?

Cockroaches are hitchhikers. They come into the home by hitching a ride on clothes, backpacks, bags, and other items brought into the home. Used furniture and appliances can be especially problematic, as they can also carry cockroach egg cases. Cockroaches do not typically crawl or fly from one house to another.cockroach-1-1366992

Where are cockroaches most commonly found?

Cockroaches are most commonly found in basements, kitchens, and bathrooms.The easiest way to detect cockroaches living a the home is to look for their feces, which looks like greasy black pepper and is often found in the corners of cabinets and shelving, along cracks, and by other hiding places. Of course seeing a cockroach itself is a sign of infestation. People with allergies or asthma will often exhibit symptoms when cockroaches are in the home.

Who is at risk?

Children are put at risk when sprays and bug bombs are used to try to rid the home of pests. For people with asthma and allergies, cockroaches are extremely problematic as their saliva, exoskeletons, and feces are all highly allergenic.

Are there any health impacts from cockroaches living in my home?

Cockroaches are an extremely common asthma trigger and are highly problematic for those with allergies. Some research points to their presence around young children as contributing to the development of asthma.

How can I get rid of cockroaches from my home?

Pests need food, water and shelter to survive. Removing those makes it very hard for pests to survive in your home.  Sprays and other pesticides should not be used, as they endanger people living in the house and only kill bugs when they come into contact with them.

You can take these Integrated Pest Management (IPM) steps to eliminate cockroaches:

  • Keep all living areas uncluttered and clean.
  • Eat in one area of the home to contain crumbs and food clean up.
  • Put all food, food scraps and pet food in tightly sealed containers.
  • Keep trash in a sealed container.
  • Mop and clean surfaces at least once a week.
  • Fix all plumbing and water leaks.
  • After food, water, and shelter have been removed, bait stations and insect growth regulators can be used to kill the existing population.

Bed Bugs

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small, flat parasitic insects that feed on solely human and animal blood. They are reddish-brown in color, wingless, smaller than an apple seed, and can live for several months without a meal. Bed bugs feed at night and hide during the day in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, behind wallpaper and in cracks and crevices. They cling to shoes, clothing, furniture, suitcases and other belongings and easily travel to wherever humans are located. Bedbugs are found all over the world, and although they are known to travel more than 100 feet at night, they usually will stay within eight feet of where people sleep.

 

Why are there bed bugs in my home?

The primary way bedbugs are spread from place to place is by hitchhiking on belongings. While they are known to hitchhike long distance on the luggage of travelers who have stayed in infested hotels, it is also common that they spread by bringing used furniture into the home, especially mattresses, couches, upholstered chairs, and other places where people sleep. Being small, they can also move between apartments within the same building in search of food.

Who is at risk?

All people are at equal risk from bedbugs. The concern is that they have an annoying bite and can interrupt people’s sleep. Some people are particularly sensitive to bug bites and can develop a rash.bedbug

Are there any health impacts from bed bugs living in my home?

Bedbugs are not known to spread disease. Some people will react to the bites with welts or swelling. There is the risk of localized infection from scratching the bites. The biggest problem comes from the loss of sleep due to the irritating bites. The anxiety and stress of having bedbugs in the home can cause a loss of sleep, even leading to mental health concerns.

A secondary concern is exposure to pesticides.  While bedbugs are very annoying, people are cautioned not to spray mattresses, furniture, and other areas with pesticides in an attempt to rid the home of bedbugs.  The exposure to pesticides, especially when used incorrectly, can be far worse than bug bites.

How can I get rid of bed bugs from my home?

Prevention is the best strategy against bed bugs. They are hitchhikers and spread by getting into clothing, furniture, suitcases, backpacks and purses. To avoid them spreading to your home, make sure to check those items for bugs before bringing them into your home, especially if you think you have been someplace that is infested.

Secondhand mattresses, furniture, and clothing should all be inspected, and clothing should be received in a plastic bag and immediately washed in very hot water.

If you have confirmed bed bugs in your home, clothing can be laundered to get rid of bed bugs. It is recommended that infested furniture not be moved, as this will only move the bedbugs around the home and spread the infestation. Putting an infested mattress or piece of furniture on the curb potentially shares the infestation with others and the home will still need to be treated to get rid of the bedbugs that have crawled off and are hiding elsewhere.  It is more effective to leave the furniture in place and to hire a professional to treat the home and furnishings.  This will also save on the cost of replacing the furniture.

Education is widely considered the most effective method of prevention. Bed bugs are not unavoidable; they can be stopped from entering your homes, agencies, businesses and institutions. Common recommendations from health departments and task forces/work groups include:

Get to know what bed bugs look like in all their life stages so you can distinguish them from other types of bugs. Collect specimens and show them to your local health department.

 

Mice & Rats

Why are there mice/rats in my home?

Mice and rats often seek shelter in homes when it is less desirable to be outside. During the winter, rats and mice will seek shelter where it’s warmer. If there is abundant unsecured food  or trash in the home, the mice will also seek it out. It doesn’t take much of an opening for a mouse to get in a house. A crack under a door, an open vent, or cracks in the foundation are all it takes.  A mouse can squeeze through a hole smaller than a dime. Rats can squeeze through holes that are the size of a quarter.

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Who is at risk?

Children are put at risk when poison baits are used to try to rid the home of pests. Mice and rats also carry a host of diseases. For people with asthma and allergies, mice and rats are problematic as their dander and feces are highly allergenic.

Are there any health impacts from mice/rats living in my home?

Signs of mice or rats living in the home include mouse droppings, holes in food packaging, gnawing, nests, or seeing the mice or rats themselves. Some people will exhibit allergic reactions to the presence of mice and rats, especially if the infestation is heavy. Rodents and their droppings can spread diseases and viruses, including hantavirus, salmonellosis and rat-bite fever. They also trigger asthma and allergies.

How can I get rid of mice/rats from my home?

Mice need food, water and shelter to survive. By removing these three things the environment will be less hospitable to them. Follow these steps to make your home mouse-proof.

  • Keep all living areas uncluttered and clean.
  • Eat in one area of the home to contain crumbs and food and to make clean up easier.
  • Put all food, food scraps and pet food in tightly sealed containers.
  • Keep trash in a sealed container.
  • Mop and clean surfaces at least once a week.
  • Fix all plumbing and water leaks.
  • Seal all holes and gaps in walls, pipes, pavement, and other surfaces with caulk, steel wool, scouring pads, or spray foam to keep mice out.

In addition to changing the environment in the home, use traps to kill them. Spring-loaded mousetraps should be baited with peanut butter and placed in areas where is there is obvious mouse traffic. Traps should be checked daily. Dead mice should be immediately removed, and traps should be re-baited after catching a mouse. This practice should continue until no mice have been caught for at least a week.

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