What Danger Does the East Asian Tick Pose to People in North Carolina?

east asian tick
Image courtesy of Richard Bartz CC by-SA 2.5
The East Asian tick has been on the news because it has been found in the United States. This tick is originally from Asia. It is recognized as a highly invasive species. It multiplies rapidly. It can reproduce asexually. When the East Asian tick is found, it is usually found in large numbers. There has been a case reported where enough ticks attached to one cow that they drained the cow until it died.

Should I Be Concerned About the East Asian Tick?

The main concern at this time is that the tick will spread throughout the United States. Currently, it is not in North Carolina, but officials are not sure how quickly it will spread. It does not respond well to attempts to contain it so the chances are that it will eventually reach North Carolina. The major concern is that the East Asian tick carries SFTS, which is a dangerous virus. There is no known treatment for the virus, instead doctors will manage the symptoms as the patients go through the course of the illness.

How Do I Identify Different Types of Ticks?

It can be difficult to identify the different types of ticks. The East Asian tick is brown and does not have spots or patterns on the back. However, this is similar to other ticks. The best option is to take the tick to the doctor or to your agricultural department to have it identified. Once you remove the tick, you should place it on a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and seal it in a zipper bag. The experts can look at the tick and determine what it is. If you find a tick that you have not seen before, you should have it checked out.

What Can I Do to Prevent Tick Bites?

There are a number of things you can do to prevent tick bites. When you are going into an area that has a lot of ticks, you should wear insect repellent with DEET. Wearing long sleeves and long pants can help too. You can treat your yard for ticks, and if you are worried about your children being bitten or if you live near woods, this is a good option. The tick season is expected to be record breaking with a large outbreak in North Carolina. There are already several types of ticks in the area that can spread diseases, and you should be protecting your family from them.

The Best Ways to Prevent Rodents

baby mice
Image courtesy of Polarqueen CC by-S.A. 3.0
Rodents are a nightmare for any homeowner. It is a hassle to trap rodents if they get into your home, not to mention the extensive cleanup process that follows. They can also spread disease and may bite your family members. The best thing you can do is to take the steps to help prevent rodents from getting in your home. Here are some things you can do to eliminate rodents from making your home their haven:

Prevent Rodents by Keeping Your Home Clean

Rodents are attracted to smells and readily available food. If you have a teenager that loves to leave food in their room or in the family room, you may be attracting the rodents into your home without realizing it. Doing the dishes each night and taking out the trash can help. Keeping your food stored in airtight containers and keeping your home free from clutter will also help prevent rodents from setting up a nest in your home.

Prevent Rodents by Repairing Your Home

Rodents are opportunistic. They will take advantage of any weak areas in your home and work to find their way in. Be sure that you regularly check the areas where the pipes and drains come into your home, as this is often an easy access point. Your crawlspace and along your foundation can also give access as well as your roof and under the eaves. If you see weak wood or holes repair them to stop the rodents from coming in.

Prevent Rodents by Addressing Your Property

Taking care of your property can help prevent rodents from finding their way into your home. If you have a lot of junk on your property, there are more places for them to hide. If you allow your lawn to become overgrown, you can also increase the chances of rodents hiding in the grass and then moving into your home as the weather becomes cold. If you keep the trees and bushes trimmed away from your home, you make it more difficult for the rodents to get into your home.

Prevent Rodents by Covering Your Trash

It is important to make sure the trash stored outside of your home is covered and sealed tightly. Open trash cans or overflowing trash cans attract animals and rodents. Once they are on your property, they are more likely to move into your home and cause issues there. Keeping the cans closed tightly can make a big difference overall.

What Is Crawlspace Encapsulation?

damaged crawlspace
Image courtesy of Jenny Cestnik via Flickr CC by ND 2.0
Crawlspace encapsulation is the process that seals off your crawlspace from the elements. It is a process that can have a variety of benefits for your home including lowering your cooling and heating bills and it can make your home healthier as it can address issues with the cleanliness of the air.

What Happens During Crawlspace Encapsulation?

The entire crawlspace is sealed off. The ground underneath the crawlspace is sealed off with a liner. It will go up to the wood of the home. If you have batting siding, it is usually replaced with board siding. This is helpful because it is more mold resistant. It can also do a better job of keeping your floorboards warm. The ductwork is changed so that the air from your air conditioner is now circulated throughout the crawlspace. This helps your air conditioner and furnace to work more efficiently since the outside air will not affect the system. The vents into the crawlspace are sealed off, and a special door is installed that will seal the space completely.

Why Should I Consider This?

There are many reasons why crawlspace encapsulation is a good option. It can improve your air quality. A crawlspace that is not sealed off can become humid and it can cause the wood to rot, it can also cause issues with allowing old to grow which will affect the air inside of your home. This can also give your home an extra layer of protection against insects like termites or other pests that may invade your home. It keeps the wood in your crawlspace dry and away from the insects.

Can I Do This Project on My Own?

There are a number of different steps that you will need to take and changes that you will need to make to a number of systems. It can take time, and if you miss one step or miss sealing one item, all your hard work may be for nothing. It is better to allow the professionals to take care of it for you. They can do it more quickly and make sure that everything is done correctly. They can address all the issues including possible drainage issues in the crawlspace that you may not recognize on your own. Although you may think that this is a costly project, it will save you money in your heating and cooling bills and in possible termite extermination and other repairs that can happen when your home is not properly cared for.

Preparing to Sell Your Home After a Termite Infestation

home for sale
Image courtesy of Images Money via Flickr CC by 2.0
When you learn that you have termites, you may be wondering how it will affect your ability to sell your home in the future. You may have taken care of the problem and tried to put it out of your mind, but now that it is time to sell, you will need to take a few extra steps to be sure that the sale of your home goes smoothly. Under law you must disclose that your home has had termites in the past, but there are things you can do to help things go smoothly when you are selling.

Show Documentation of the Original Treatment and Findings

You need to keep copies of the initial inspection that showed the termite activity, as well as the treatment that was completed to eliminate the termites. This report can answer questions about the type of treatment that was used, and how extensive the termite damage was to the home. This gives your potential buyer a clear understanding of what the issues were.

Be Prepared to Show Evidence of Repairs

It is important to provide documentation of the repairs that were made. It should show that all of the damage in the initial report was taken care of. You can provide the name of contractor or company that completed the repairs. This gives another layer of transparency which will help your buyer to feel more comfortable about buying the home.

Explain Monitoring and Further Treatments

As part of the treatment, you will receive information on how long the termite treatment will last. You will also need to have continued monitoring done of your property to make sure there are no issues in the future. It is a good to have regular inspections done on your home. Depending on the type of treatment that you had done, you may need continued treatments. You should provide the type of treatment, and you should also give the name of the company that you used to complete this service. Many new home buyers will continue to use the same company, especially if the warranties from the initial treatment carry over.

Schedule a New Inspection

You should schedule a free termite inspection as part of preparing to sell your home. This report will report on any current activity in your home by termites or other wood destroying organisms. If you have had regular treatments and inspections since your original treatment then this report should not show any problems. If it does show an issue, then you will need to have another treatment, and make any necessary repairs.

What Are the Types of Termite Treatments?

giant northern termite
Image Courtesy of CSIRO (CC by 3.0)
There are several different termite treatments that can be done to help treat and prevent termites. The type of treatment that is best for you depends on the situation and what types of termites that you have. You should seek a professional opinion and listen to your exterminator to determine the best treatment. However, it is a good idea to understand the basic treatments.

Wood Treatment

One of the treatments is to treat the wood. This is done by spraying the wood with a termiticide. This treatment is good at treating the exterior of the wood, and it can be done on wood that is already in an existing structure as a way to eliminate termites. However, it does not penetrate to the center of the wood, which can still be eaten by termites. Pressure treated wood has the treatment saturate the wood more completely. Pressure treated wood is good to use in outdoor structures like your patio or your fence.

Soil Treatment

Another way to provide a treatment is to treat the soil around your home. Soil treatment is often completed before a concrete slab is poured for a new building. This treatment is mixed and then poured into the ground at a depth of at least thirty inches. The insecticide is mixed with water and it saturates the soil. There is also the option of treating the soil around the exterior of your home once it is built. The treatment will be poured into holes and through a trench that surrounds the home. The holes need to be at least thirty inches deep. There are specific regulations about doing this to protect the environment and it is best to have a professional do it.

Foundation Treatment

This is a very common treatment. Once termites are found in your home, a treatment is applied directly to the foundation of your home. The treatment is effective because termites will pass through it and carry it back to the colony and it will eliminate the queen and then the colony. If the foundation is a cinderblock foundation, the treatment needs to be applied on the inside of each void or hole in the cinder block. This does require drilling into it.

Baits and Monitoring System

The final treatment is done through a monitoring system that installs baits around the property. The baits contain materials that naturally attract the termites. These stations are monitored regularly. If termites are found inside the stations, the cores are replaced with one that contains termiticide. The termites will take this back to the colony and eliminate the colony on your property so that it does not reach you home.

Schedule an Inspection

One of the best ways to protect your home is to schedule regular termite inspections. You should schedule an inspection each year. If you notice signs of termite activity like mud tubes along your foundation, you should schedule an inspection right away. The sooner you catch a termite infestation, the more quickly you can stop the termites from damaging your home.

5 Yard Projects to Prevent Termites

remove wood from yardTermites are one of the insects that cause the most damage to homes around the world. In the United States, they cause billions of dollars in damages each year. Since termites actually chew through the wood, they can weaken the structure of your home and it is important to make repairs as quickly as possible. Here are four yard projects, you can do to prevent your home from developing termites.

Clear Out Old Wood and Stumps

Termites like to eat old wood. If you have fallen trees in your yard or old tree stumps, you are practically sending out an invitation for termites to come into your yard, and when they have finished eating the old fallen trees, your home may become the next target. It is worth the extra effort to clear your home of old wood and branches. This can lower the chances of you having termite activity in your home. You may need to hire someone to come into take care of any stumps in your yard, but you should be able to clear up the rest.

Create a Cement Pad for Firewood

Stacking firewood directly against your home gives termites easy access to your home. They can crawl through it and up into your home. It is best to stack it away from your home. Putting in a cement pad to stack your wood on can add an extra layer of protection. The termites are less likely to find your firewood, and it gives you an additional layer of protection against termite activity. You can also cover the firewood to prevent it from getting termites or other insects in it. Then you do not need to worry about bringing termites in with your firewood.

Replace Old Wood Structures in Your Yard

If you are building any structures in your backyard, you will need to use treated wood. Your decks, sheds, and play structures all need to be built out of treated wood. Treated wood can last up to twenty years, but if your structure begins to show signs of damage it is important to replace it. If you have structures built without treated wood, you need to take steps to begin replacing those structures around your home.

Pay Attention to the Plant Beds Around Your Home

It is important to carefully plan and treat the ground that directly touches your home. Avoid using mulch in the flower beds that touch your foundation. Termites will eat the cellulose in the mulch and then move up to your home. If you have bushes or shrubbery around your home you need to keep it trimmed back so that it does not touch your home. The termites can crawl up the plants and access your home that way

Set Up Monitoring Stations Around Your Yard

There are monitoring stations that allow you to check for termite activity on your property. EcoTek has chemical free monitoring stations that are made up of wood, cardboard and cellulose. They check the stations quarterly and if there are signs of termite activity, they can begin to take the necessary steps to treat for termites. If you notice signs of termites around your home, like long grooves in wood or mud tubes on your foundation, you should contact the experts at EcoTek to schedule a termite inspection and possible treatment.

How to Protect Your Pets from Fleas and Ticks

puppy in a cup Seeing your furry friends uncomfortable and irritated because of fleas and ticks will surely ruin your day. Don’t let this issue get out of hand-  take these simple steps today.

Pay attention to your pets all the time

Many people believe that fleas are only a problem on hot summer days, but this isn’t totally correct. According to many experts, certain types of fleas and ticks can breed and suck animals’ blood even in winter. That is why vets highly recommend year-round defensive measures for your vulnerable pets. Nowadays, there are many different products available to use against fleas, and pet owners have hundreds of choices. Don’t use cats’ products for dogs and vice versa, because “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”. Most importantly, ask your vet for advice and strictly follow the instructions for the best efficiency and safety. If you don’t see any results, try another brand until you find one that works. Lastly, remember to check the expiration date on the packaging.

Clean your pets regularly

wet puppies in a sink  Combing and bathing your animals frequently allows you to identify a flea infestation as soon as possible, and will give you time to find out about solutions to treat it. This step is even more important when you have just walked the dog. Always do a comb through afterwards to check for fleas and ticks. When you see even one single flea or tick, then it’s time to give your pet a warm, soapy bath. Afterwards, apply some natural repellents such as mint or lemon essential oil to keep parasites away.

Defend your home

All your efforts with your pets may be for nothing if you ignore your own home. Hygiene is the most effective way to keep your living space flea-free. Cleanliness prevents ticks and fleas from finishing their life cycle. Pay attention to any areas that your pets have contact with, such as your mattress, bed and carpets. Tick and flea larvae like these places because they are dark and they can hide away undisturbed. Although fleas may have not yet have appeared in your house, it will only be a matter of time before any developing eggs will hatch. The solution is to vacuum carpets, mattresses, and furniture regularly, and to wash bedding frequently. When you vacuum, pay special attention to any hard-to-reach corners.  In addition, bear in mind that fleas can jump into your house via the windows or a balcony. To prevent this, plant some containers with mint in them or install glass screens to avoid this situation.

Protect your garden

dog with a ball On a sunny spring or summer day, nobody wants to miss out on a chance to sunbathe in their beautiful garden. Unfortunately, however, most gardens are full of favorable conditions for fleas and ticks to hide and breed. There’s no way of keeping your garden completely flea-free, but you can keep them away from your pets. Firstly, don’t let your lawn get too long. Fleas hate to be exposed to sunlight, therefore, keep your grass short and don’t hesitate to prune your trees and let more sunlight through. Secondly, put up a wall or fence to minimize the risk of your pets coming into contact with other strange animals. Just one unexpected guest can become the cause of a serious flea infestation. Thirdly, never allow your garden to become messy with a lot of rubbish like rotten leaves, bottles, overgrown shrubs, or other debris. Last but not least, grow different kinds of mint in the area close to your house to repel fleas. We are sure that they will move as far away as possible to avoid the offensive fragrance.

To sum up

We hope that you have now learned some useful tips on how to protect your pets, your home and your family. Keep your eyes on your pets themselves, as well as both the inside and outside of your house. Apply these useful tips and you should never have to worry about flea infestations.

How Do I Get Rid of Cockroaches If I Live in an Apartment?

dead cockroach
Image courtesy of Toby Hudson (CC by -SA 3.0)
Raleigh has the unfortunate distinction of being ranked sixth in the list of cities with the highest number of roach infestations around the country. Cockroaches tend to thrive in warm, humid climates and they can be difficult to clear up. If you are living in an apartment building, you may have an even harder time to clear up an infestation, as the cockroaches may move from one room to another. Here are some steps you can take to eliminate cockroaches.

Contact the Landlord

If you contact the landlord, you can request that the entire building (including the crawlspace) be treated by a cockroach exterminator. Then request that regular exterior treatments be completed. This should clear up any infestations that are currently in your building, and the exterior treatments can help to prevent any new cockroaches from coming in. If your landlord will only treat one apartment at time, the cockroaches will just move from space to space and continue to be a problem.

Eliminate Food Sources

If you have a clean home, you are less likely to have issues with cockroaches, even if your neighbors are still having issues. Be sure to store your food in airtight containers. Clean up any crumbs left over after eating or preparing a meal. Be sure not to leave any dirty dishes in the sink or out on the counters, especially overnight. Take the trash out every evening. Be sure that your interior trash cans have a tight-fitting lid to prevent the roaches from finding them.

Check the Apartment for Ways for the Roaches to Get In

Cockroaches can live on the interior of the walls. If there are any holes in the walls an electrical cover that is loose or off or cracks around the baseboards, you will need to have them repaired in order to stop the roaches from coming in. You can request the landlord to make the repairs or ask for permission to do them yourself. Check along the windows and door frames to see if there are cracks. The windows may need to have caulking applied to them. You can apply weather stripping to the door to plug any cracks that may be leading out. Check your kitchen counters to make sure they are flush to the wall. You may need to apply caulking there to stop roaches from living in the spaces between the cabinets and the wall. Image courtesy of Toby Hudson (CC by -SA 3.0)

5 Places You Can Pick Up Bed Bugs

bed bug on skinBed bugs are a growing problem around the United States. They are becoming more common in homes and in businesses. They are also hard to deal with because they have become more resistant to a number of chemical treatments, and they are very good at hiding. Even before you can start the process of eliminating bed bugs, it’s important to know how to check for bed bugs since they can go up to a month without feeding which may make it difficult to determine if you have a problem initially. Here are five places you may inadvertently pick up bed bugs.

1. Hotels

Hotels are the most likely culprit of picking up bed bugs and bringing them home. It is important to check your room before you stay and your luggage before you leave and when you get home. Look at the headboard and the bedding for droppings and rust colored stains. If you travel a lot you may want to invest in a luggage heater that can eradicate anything you might have brought home from you on the trip.

2. Gyms

Gyms are another area where it is easy to pick up bed bugs. People will bring their gym bags into the gym and leave them in a locker, on the floor or even on top of the lockers. The bed bugs crawl out of their bag and into yours. Then you unknowingly bring the bed bugs home with you. If you hear reports of bed bugs around your gym, you may want to leave your gym bag at home and travel to the gym in your exercise clothes. Bed bugs do not travel on people so you should be okay.

3. Schools

There are have been reports of bed bug outbreaks at schools around the country. This is usually the result of one the students bringing bed bugs with them when they have a problem with them at home. The bed bugs wander out and then start infesting the building. Students may end up bringing them home in backpacks. Schools may put a ban on all backpacks to try to stop the infestation.

4. Second Hand Furniture

Another way that people end up catching bed bugs is after buying secondhand furniture. They may not realize that the furniture is infested. Bed bugs can also live in couches or hide in headboards or cracks in bookshelves. It is important to thoroughly inspect anything that you do buy second hand and possibly treat it before you bring it into the home.

5. Moving into an Infested Apartment

Another way that you may end up with bed bugs is if your new apartment or condo is already infested with bed bugs. It is important to check your home and especially the baseboards in the bedrooms before you move in. You may request that your landlord treat for them before you move in if you live in a part of the country that has a bed bug issue.

Characteristics of a Fire Ant

fire antFire ants are an invasive species that are spreading throughout the United States. They first arrived in Alabama during the 1930s. They caught a ride on boats from South America. They spread quickly and are quite an aggressive species. It’s important to be able to identify the type of ants you have before you can determine the right treatment for killing them.


Fire ants are black and red in color. The worker ants have mandibles that they can use to bite victims. There is also a stinger on the abdomen. They have three clearly segmented. The fire ants are between to 2 mm to 6 mm in size, which is about a fifth of an inch in length. The fire ants also have large eyes and segmented antennae. There are three teeth on the front of the head.

Fire Ant Mounds

Fire ant colonies are quite large. They can be up to two feet in diameter and up to eighteen inches in height. They are different from other mounds because they will not have a hole in the top of the mound. They will enter through tunnels that are along the side of the mound. If you are treating the mound, they will leave through the tunnels, which can extend up to twenty-five feet away from the mound. They tend to be in a sunny area where they can find water outside. The colonies can include up to 500,000 ants. When the colony gets large, they may sound out new queens and males to establish a new colony. When faced with an infestation, it’s best to kill the fire ant colony as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

Fire Ant Behavior

Fire ants will bite and sting when threatened. When they do this, they release a pheromone that signals there is danger and all of the ants will attack you. They can do this is a swarm, and the number of bites can cause a serious allergic reaction. It may seem like they have a signal to attack all at once, and in a way they do, though usually it is a self-defense attack.  They like to feed on dead animals, living insects and honeydew. They will also eat sweet foods, fats and proteins from your home. Although fire ants can plague your yard, read some facts about carpenter ants and how they can be detrimental to your home.