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

cockroach control
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.

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 bugsBed 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. 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 is important to be able to identify the ants so that you can choose the right treatment for 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.

4 Dangers of Rodent Infestations

rat exterminationRodents are more than just an inconvenience. They can spread a number of diseases and create problems that can affect you and your family. Once you understand the dangers of a rodent infestation, you will understand why you must act quickly to deal with the infestation and prevent a new one from happening. Learn the five dangers of rodent infestation.

1. Rodent Bites

Although most rodents try to avoid humans, some can become aggressive. They may bite you when you see them and try to capture them or they can bite you when you are asleep. According to the CDC, the chances of contracting rabies from rodents is very low, but you can catch other diseases from rodents and the bites can become infected. If you are bitten, and you can catch the animal, you should take it in to get it tested. However, you should have a rodent bite checked by the doctor to make sure that there is nothing infected.

2. Damage to Your Home

Another issue is that the rodents can cause damage to your home. They may destroy items in your home including bedding and food as well as damaging your walls. They may leave holes in the walls or foundations that other animals can get inside. They may also chew up the furniture or insulation. This can be expensive to repair, and you may end up needing to replace a lot of items.

3. Fire Hazards

Mice and rats will chew through everything. They can also through electrical wiring, which can cause a fire hazard. If they make their nests in your attic or basement and it is an area that you rarely go, you may not notice the signs of an infestation until significant damage is already done and the fire hazard already exists.

4. Diseases that Rodents Spread

The biggest danger from rodents is the diseases that they can spread. Many of the diseases are in the urine or feces like hantavirus. They can also spread the plague, salmonellosis, tularemia, and rat-bite fever. They can also bring in ticks or fleas which also carry diseases that they can spread to you like Lyme disease, Powassan virus, scrub typhus and West Nile virus.

Find out how you can prevent rats and mice from entering your home.

The Eastern Subterranean Termite

termitesThere are a wide variety of termites in the United States. However, in the southeastern portion, the majority of termites are the Eastern Subterranean termites. These termites have different characteristics than other termites. It helps to understand the termites and their habits.

These termites build their colonies underground through a system of tunnels. They rarely have the termite mounds, so it can be difficult to spot one in your yard. These tunnels can extend several feet from the primary nests and allow the works to go and find food and bring it back to the colony.

Eastern subterranean termites prefer to eat dead wood. This means they may be eating old trees or tree stumps on your property. They may also go after wood piles, which is why you should never stack a wood pile against your home. They will also eat the wood inside of your home.

Since they are eating the wood inside of your home and eating along the grain of the wood, you may not notice them right away. If you do notice damage it will be in long grooves that go with the grain. Other signs that they are in your home include the mud tubes that they build up the side of your foundation until they can reach the wood of your home. These tubes are about the width of a pencil and if you see them, you need to deal with termites right away.

Subterranean termite colonies will travel in search of more wood to eat. In addition to sending out winged termites to start new colonies, the entire colony will travel through tunnels to a new food source. Often the queen is carried by worker ants.

Termites are quite common in North Carolina and a study in 2008 showed that the average property in the state has about ten termite colonies in it. The key is to protect the termites from finding your home and making it their feeding ground. You can do this through several steps such as repairing leaky pipes, but the most effective thing is to monitor your property regularly and have a termite treatment if necessary.

Read How Can I Tell If I Have a Mouse or Rat?

5 Steps to Prevent Bringing Bed Bugs Home on Your Next Trip

bed bugsThere has a n increase in bed bugs throughout the United States in the last twenty years. There was a time when bed bugs were nearly eradicated in the United States. However due to the increased amount of travel, the incidence of bed bugs is increasing. The most common way to get bed bugs is to bring them home from the hotel with you. Here are five steps you can take to prevent bed bugs.

1. Inspect Your Hotel Room

Before you unpack or do anything, check your hotel room for signs of bed bugs. Start by looking along the headboard for signs of bed bugs which include the bugs, the droppings or shed skins of bed bugs. This will appear as small black dots.  Check your bedding as well, although this should be changed and it is not as likely to see them on the bedding.

2. Protect Your Suitcase

Keep your suitcase away from the bed. Use the luggage holding rack in your room to keep your suitcase off the floor and away from the furniture. You can also put your suitcase inside of a garbage bag once you have unpacked or when you are not using it as an added means of protection from the bed bugs. This will prevent the bed bugs from crawling into your suitcase and catching a ride home.

3. Keep Luggage and Other Items Closed

Keep any other bags you bring with such as your purse or backpacks away from the furniture as well. This includes the bed as well as any upholstered furniture. If you place them on the furniture or floor, you are more likely to pick up an unwelcome guest for the trip home.

4. Check Your Suitcase Before You Leave

As you are packing to leave be sure to thoroughly check your suitcase and any items you are packing for bed bugs. Be extra careful if you notice any unexplained bites that you have received during the trip. This safety check can help you identify if you need to take extra steps before you get home.

5. Treat Your Items When You Get Home

As a precaution, you can treat the items when you get home. Run your clothes through the hot water cycle and high heat on the dryer. This could kill all the bed bugs and their larvae. You can also treat the luggage with a special luggage heater. If you know that you do have bed bugs in the luggage, you may choose to dispose of the luggage and start fresh because the cost of luggage is usually less than treating your entire house.

If you do end up bringing bed bugs home, you should take the steps to treat them. It can be difficult to treat them on your own because they hide in small cracks and it can be difficult to find their nests. A professional can treat the bed bugs with either chemicals or heat. Contact the professional at EcoTek to learn more about the bed bug treatments available.

Learn about the importance of eliminating termites and how they can destroy a home: Can I Sell My Home After I Have Termites?

10 Facts About Cockroaches

cockroachCockroaches are most people’s nightmare. The idea of them invading your home and crawling across you dishes and plates can be horrifying. However, some people find them fascinating. Here are ten fact about cockroaches that you may not know.

  1. The world’s largest cockroach can grow up to six inches long It is reported to have a wingspan of a foot. However in the United States the largest cockroaches, also called Palmetto bugs, can grow up to two inches long. Most roaches that you find in your home are about a ½ inch long.
  2. Cockroaches have been on the earth as long as dinosaurs and possibly even longer. The earliest roach fossils are estimated to be 350 million years old. Roaches manage to survive in very difficult circumstances, which is one of the reasons they are so difficult to get rid of.
  3. Cockroaches are fast for their size. They can run up to three miles an hour, which can make them difficult to catch and kill with a shoe or a fly swat.
  4. Cockroaches breathe through holes in their shell, which means they can live up to a week without a head. They do need water, and without a head they cannot drink. They can only go a week without water.
  5. Cockroaches multiply rapidly. Roaches lay their eggs in ootheca. Depending on the species there can be between 16-50 eggs in each ootheca. A roach can lay up to 90 ootheca in a lifetime. This multiplies quickly. Add to this to the fact that the eggs only take about a month to hatch and you can see how quickly this can turn into an infestation.
  6. There are currently over 4500 species of roaches. Not all of them are considered pests. The most common variety of cockroach in the United states is the German cockroach, but Oriental and American cockroaches are quite common as well.
  7. Cockroaches are not considered native to North America. People estimate that the first roaches came to America in 1625 on a ship from Africa. The species is able t adapt to most conditions and quickly began to thrive in the United States.
  8. Some cockroaches can fly, but not all roaches do. In the United States, the Palmetto or American roaches fly. Other roaches can glide or use their wings t balance while the jump.
  9. Roaches can go up to a month without eating, but they do need a steady source of water. They can only survive a week without taking a drink.
  10. A new type of roach, the Turkestan roach, is starting to invade the United States. These can multiply more rapidly than other species and is a growing concern, especially in the southwest.

While there are some interesting facts about roaches, it does not make the idea of an infestation any more appealing. If you see roaches, it is important to act quickly to limit your exposure to the diseases they can spread. The pest way to deal with an infestation is to call the experts at EcoTek.

Learn more about cockroach extermination from EcoTek Termite and Pest Control.

8 Facts About Ants

Ants are prevalent throughout the world. The industrious insects work together to form a colony. Many people are fascinated by ants and all that they do. Here are 10 interesting facts about ants.

1. Queens Rule the Colony

The queen’s primary purpose is to lay eggs for the colony. The worker ants will bring the queen food and take care of her needs. If they need to evacuate, the ants will even carry the queen so that she does not move. Queens can live up to 15 years.

2. Tons of Ants

There are over 10,000 trillion ants throughout the world. There are estimates that the total weight of ants throughout the world is about equal to the total weight of humans in the world.

3. 12,000 Species of Ants

There are 12,000 species of ants throughout the world. Some ants are aggressive like the fire ant and army ant, while others are more focused on building a colony like a harvester ant or black garden ant.

4. Ants Vary in Size

The carebara atoma are the world’s smallest ants. They are about one millimeter long. The biggest ant is the camponontus gigas and their heads can be up to seven millimeters wide.

5. Lots of Eggs

A queen ant can lay up to 300,000 eggs in just a few days. Since queen ants can live up to 15 years that means she can lay millions and millions of eggs while she is alive.

6. Ants Have Super Colonies

Ant colonies can vary in size from species to species. However, there are super colonies that can have several queens and a large number of worker ants. According to Wikipedia, the largest ant colony is in Southern Europe that one super ant colony had millions of nests stretched along 3,731 miles of shore.

7. Ants Can Carry 3 Times Their Own Weight

Although very small, ants are very strong. They can carry up to three times their own weight. Ants will also work together to carry heavy objects.

8. Ants Have Hive Minds

Ants have a unique hive mind that allows them to communicate with each other and work together. The idea of a hive mind has been the basis of many science fiction stories, but ants seem to pull it off without any of the related fears and concerns.

Although ants are interesting creatures, they are not as fascinating when they are invading your home or kitchen. It is important to stop ants as soon as you see them since more are sure to follow. The experts at EcoTek Pest and Termite Control can stop the ants from invading your home.

Contact EcoTek for a free inspection and estimate, or learn more about ant extermination:

Winterize Your Home

winterize your homeWith winter coming temperatures are dropping. This can mean an increase in your power bill. It can also mean that different parts of your home are more vulnerable. It is important to take the time to winterize your home so that you can keep your home and family safe and protected. Here are five things you can do to winterize your home.

Check Doors and Window Cracks

Cracks around your doors and windows can let in the cold air and insects. If you notice that a particular window or door is especially cold or drafty, there are steps that you can take to stop the cold from coming in. You can apply a thin sheet of plastic to o the windows. This is done using heat and it shrinks to fit the window. You can also caulk any holes around the windows. Another option is to apply weather proof stripping around the door.

Fix the Crawl Space

Your crawl space may be an area where cold can come in and affect the floors of your home. Make sure the crawl space is secure and free from cracks that can allow drafts or animals in. If you have pipes in your crawlspace or your water heater, you may want to wrap them. This will prevent your pipes from freezing when it drops down to below zero. Wrapping your water heater can help reduce your power bill because it will stop the heat from escaping. You can find the items at your hardware store that can you can safely use to wrap your pipes and water heater.

Check on Your Heating System

Whether you have a traditional furnace or a heat pump system, it is important to make sure that it is ready for the winter. You need to make sure you change your air filters on a regular basis. Turn on the system and make sure it is working before the first cold spell hits. It is a good idea to have your furnace serviced on a regular basis to make sure it is working properly and it is safe for your home. If you have a pilot light with a gas furnace be sure to review how to light it and to see if there are any issues with it in your home.

Check Your Attic

Attics are another source of drafts. Adding an extra layer of insulation to your attic can help trap your heat in during the winter. It can also keep your home cooler in the summer. This is an improvement that is worth saving up to have completed. Addressing the drafts in your attic can significantly cut down on your heating and cooling bill.

Your attic can also provide a nice warm environment for wildlife to stay during the winter months. You need check your eaves and roof to make sure there are not holes that will allow animals to get in. If you hear noises at night or find evidence of a nest, you need to take care of the problem quickly. These wild animals can carry rabies and also cause damage to your home by chewing up electrical wires. It can be dangerous to trap an animal on your own. Contact the professionals at EcoTek and they can trap and safely remove any wildlife that you have. They can also help in cleaning up the nest and installing barriers to stop them from getting back in.

Find out more about how you can seal your home from the elements and save money: