Poison Ivy Season – Avoid the Rash

It is spring time and once again it is time for cleaning of yards, debris from winter and just general clean up around your property. Time for Poison Ivy again!

A few key facts about poison ivy to keep in mind:

  • The rash is caused by oil, Urushiol
  • Urushiol is present in ALL parts of the plant
  • It only takes 1 billionth of a gram to cause a rash
  • ¼ ounce of urushiol is enough to cause a rash for every person on earth (if all were allergic)
  • Urushiol normally stays active between 1-5 years on any surface, including dead ivy plants. Rash depends on individual sensitivity
  • Some people are not allergic to urushiol now, but may become so over time and with exposure
  • Highly sensitive people can have a reaction within 10 minutes or less of exposure
  • Urushiol can be spread on tools, trucks, clothing, paperwork, etc.
  • Wash contaminated work clothes separately
  • Clean tools that have come in contact with the plant
  • It can grow as a groundcover, free standing bush or climbing vine
  • Often grown on field edges, roadsides, fencerows, etc.
  • Three shiny leaflets are attached to woody stem
  • Size, shape and color of leaflets vary
  • Climbing vine has “fuzzy” tendrils
  • White-yellow flowers in the springtime
  • White berries, fruit in the fall that may persist all winter long on ends of branches
  • Poison ivy and stinging insects are hazards that should be addressed in your pre-clean-up hazard survey.
  • Avoidance is the best method of protection
  • Learn what it looks like and where it grows
  • Wear long sleeves, gloves, etc.
  • Use tools if you need to contact the plant on the ground but remember to clean that tool

If you do contact any part of the plant:

  • Wash affected areas with large amounts of clear water, avoid soaps as they may spread the oil
  • Use products like Tecnu to help remove the oil
  • Use Zanfel for light to moderate reactions
  • Seek medical attention for serious reactions

“The Treeworker”

Carpenter Ants – Common Michigan Pests

Carpenter Ants, a common problem for many U.S. households are difficult to control, therefore cause a large number of callbacks for pest control operators.

On warm spring days, carpenter ant presence may be apparent when swarms of large winged ants hover near windows or wingless ants forage through kitchens and pantries. Structural damage may occur when a large colony nests in a building, but most of the time it’s limited to minor cosmetic damage. The damage is often misdiagnosed as the work of termites.


Carpenter ants usually reside in and around homes. Workers vary in length from one-fourth to three-eighth inches and have mandibles, while queens are winged and often are about one-half inch long. Several carpenter ant species are in the U.S. The Camponotus pennsylvanicus is the most common species in the Eastern states, while the Camponotus modoc thrives in the west. Camponotus floridonis and Componotus tortuganus are common Floridian species. Most species are blackish with red or yellow features.


A single queen initiates a colony in the soil, beneath a rock or in a hole previously hollowed in the wood. She lays a few eggs that hatch into small workers in 60 to 70 days. The workers forage to feed the queen, her young and to build the nest. Larger workers protect the nest, explore and forage for food. The colony matures after two to six years, when winged reproductives are formed. At this point, the colony may comprise 2,000 to 3,000 individuals.

Carpenter ant workers will venture more than 100 yards to search for food, laying pheromone trails along the way to lead them back to the nest. They eat a variety of animal and plant foods, including live and dead insects, as well as scraps of food intended for human consumption.


Carpenter ants excavate large, smooth galleries in wood, creating a sandpaper finish look: thus the name “carpenter” ant. The ants burrow in wood for nesting purposes, creating galleries in moist or unsound wood.

Homes in or near wooded areas often are subject to carpenter ant infestation. The ants establish nests outdoors and set up satellite nests within homes. Ants in search of food enter through cracks, along wires or tree limbs or in firewood. Outdoor nesting sites include hollow logs or stumps, landscaping timbers, telephone poles and fence posts. Indoors carpenter ants nest in window sills, trim, hollow doors, roofs, porch pillars and joists. They typically excavate the softer wood, leaving the harder layers as gallery walls.


You will likely need the services of a certified pest management professional. To know they are reputable, verify they are in good standing with the state pest management association. The state association attests that they have the latest information and training. Bargain prices are not what’s needed in this case.

Once carpenter ant nests are located, application of a residual insecticide directly to the nest or gallery to control the colony, making sure to find the queen. Indoors, the technician may have to drill into or open voids when locating and treating nests. Nozzles that create a mist aid in dispersing the insecticide throughout the void.

Typical crack and crevice treatment can help maintain control. Use of baits supplements the residual insecticide application and fits into an overall control program. Perimeter treatment during the spring can protect the house from insect entry. The wettable powder formulation assures long-term control in the outdoor environment.

Chemical control measures are the most effective when accompanied by basic sanitation practices and elimination of high-moisture conditions.

Pest Ledger

The Evil Weevil – Pantry Pests


Sometimes found in the home, it is good to be aware of rice weevils that infest dried beans, acorns, chestnuts, birdseed, sunflower seeds, and macaroni that may be stored in your cupboard. Rice weevils penetrate and feed on the internal portions of whole grains during the larval stage, making early detection of an infestation very difficult to ascertain.

They are usually found in larger grain storage facilities or processing plants, infesting wheat, oats, rye, barley, rice and corn.

The adult rice weevil is small, 1/10 inch long and stout in appearance. It is reddish-brown to black in color with four light yellow or reddish spots on the corners of the top wings. Like all weevils, there is an elongated snout at the beetle’s front end and the area behind the head (called a prothorax) is strongly pitted. The larva is fat with a cream colored body that stays inside the hollowed grain kernel. This wholegrain pest, which originated in India, was spread worldwide by commerce and is one of the most serious stored grain pests on the globe. The adult rice weevil can fly and is attracted to lights. When disturbed, adults pull in their legs, fall to the ground, and feign death. If you see any weevils in your pantry, give us a call and we will eliminate them for you. As always be sure to check any grains you purchase from your local grocery store before they end up in your pantry.

Pest Gazette

Bed Bug Tips When Traveling

When traveling:

Check your hotel bed mattress for bed bugs. Look in the seams of the mattress and box spring. Look behind the headboard, and pull out the drawers and check the seams underneath the drawers. Report any bugs to the manager and move to another room, but not next door, directly above or below the infested room. Keep your luggage on the luggage rack. Upon returning home, vacuum your suitcase and wash all of your clothing according to Manufacturers recommendations, for non-washable items, dry cleaning is recommended.

All About Bed Bugs – Facts

BedBug Facts

  • Wingless insects of the family cimicidae.
  • Small, flat, oval, reddish-brown body. Adults are about the size of an apple seed.
  • Feed on human and animal blood.
  • Active at night and bite any areas of exposed skin.
  • Can infest a home and hide in crevices or cracks around beds or furniture.
  • While some bites may go unnoticed, bites may also result in localized swelling and itching, and the areas may become inflamed or infected when scratched.
  • Are not believed to transmit diseases to humans.
  • Females lay from 200 to 500 eggs, which are covered with a glue and hatch in about 10 days. There are five progressively larger nymphal stages, each requiring a single blood meal before molting to the next stage.
  • Can go without feeding for as long as 550 days.
  • Can suck up to six times its weight in blood and feeding can take 3 to 10 minutes
  • Adults live about 10 months, and there can be up to three to four generations of bedbugs per year.

Source: University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources.


Nearly eradicated in the United States 50 years ago, resistant strains of “super” bedbugs are infesting mattresses at an alarming rate. In what’s being touted as the biggest mystery in entomology, all 50 states are reporting outbreaks of the blood-sucking nocturnal critters.

Pest control companies nationwide reported a 71 percent increase in bedbug calls between 2000 and 2005. Left alone, a few bedbugs can create a colony of thousands
within weeks.

It may take three or more visits to eradicate and about $500.00 to $750.00 up to as much as $5,000.00 to eradicate the insects using professional exterminators.

Bedbugs have been found in moving vans, public transit seat cushions, airplanes and college dorms. They spread by hitching a ride on your clothes or in your luggage and
crawling off to infest your home or apartment building.

The size and shape of a lentil, bedbugs lay eggs during the day and hide in your bed, clothing and light sockets. At night, they suck your blood, leaving itchy bumps on your skin and little bloody excretions on your sheets. They don’t pass diseases, but they are incredibly difficult to exterminate, even following their blood hosts who move to new apartments trying to get away.

The bedbug resurgence has sparked Web sites like bedbugger.com , where people share extermination tips, bite mark photos and counsel each other through the stigma. There are bedbug symposiums, cover stories in American Entomologist magazine and dozens of videos depicting infestations on YouTube. California just issued its first state bedbug guidelines, and New York lawmakers want to ban the sale of reconditioned mattresses after 4,600 bedbug cases were reported in 2006.

Laundromats are packed, the tenants are in there, washing everything they own and giving each other knowing glances.

Bedbugs were nearly eradicated after World War II, when exterminators and homeowners used DDT to get rid of the pests.

Experts say bedbugs are making a comeback because of increased global travel and a shift toward less-toxic pest control. As people are backing away from harsh chemicals and indoor spraying, the bugs are becoming increasingly resistant to the pesticides.

We don’t use as harsh of chemicals as we used to, we don’t spray mattresses with insecticide before selling them anymore, and the bugs are getting increasingly resistant to
the few chemicals we have left,” said public health biologist Laura Krueger.

Nearly all exterminators use pyrethroids, which are a synthetic version of pyrethrum, the substance found in chrysanthemum flowers. Last fall, at the University of Chicago some of the nation’s best bedbug researchers delivered some sobering news.  They could kill bedbugs born in the lab with pyrethroids.  Four groups of adult bed bugs brought in from the outside were unaffected.

Because bedbugs are such a new phenomenon, people don’t know what to do about them and are often unwittingly making their problem worse, said Nobugsonme, a New York woman who runs the bedbugger.com Web site to help sufferers cope.

Thirty percent of people don’t have skin reactions to infestation until it has gotten out of control.

Pest control researchers are experimenting with alternatives such as steaming or freezing the bugs to death, and some New Jersey exterminators are gassing them with the termite killer Vikane.

UC Berkeley urban entomologist Vernard Lewis is trying to get grant money to build a baited bedbug trap.

Bedbugs give off a distinctive odor, described as rotting coconuts, and that’s probably how the males and females find each other, he said.

Until the experts figure it out, bedbug sufferers will have to help each other fight back and raise awareness.

Online resources:
For bedbugger.com , go to links.sfgate.com/ZCC
For the bedbugresource.com , go to links.sfgate.com/ZCD
For a youtube.com bedbug video, go to links.sfgate.com/ZCG