5 Helpful Hints to Prevent Tick Bites

5 helpful hints to prevent tick bites in New Berlin WI - Batzner Pest Control serving Southeastern Wisconsin

With fall quickly approaching, chances are you’re wanting to spend as much time outdoors as possible before the cold months of winter hit! Whether you’re hiking or hosting a party in your backyard, it’s essential to know how to protect yourself from ticks. As tiny as they are, ticks can be dangerous as they may transmit serious illnesses, such as Lyme disease. Even though tick bites don’t always result in an illness, it’s important to understand how you can prevent being bitten in the first place! Read on to learn our top tips on preventing tick bites!

5 Tips to Prevent Tick Bites

  1. Wear protective clothing: When venturing into areas with a lot of vegetation or tall grass, make sure to keep bare skin to a minimum. Dress yourself in light-colored pants and long sleeves, wear closed-toe shoes, and consider tucking your pants into your socks.
  2. Use insect repellent: On areas of the skin that are still exposed, it’s recommended to use an insect spray containing at least 20% deet, as it can help deter ticks. Apply as directed by the manufacturer.
  3. Keep a tidy yard: Ticks love to seek shelter in areas with a lot of vegetation, even in your own backyard. Trim your grass, prune your shrubs and bushes, and remove piles of wood or other debris to keep ticks at bay.
  4. Be cautious when hiking: If you’re walking or hiking in wooded areas or spots with a lot of vegetation, try to stay in the center of the trail. Avoid stepping through areas of tall grass or unkempt vegetation, where ticks could be hiding.
  5. Check pets for ticks: Pets can’t defend themselves against ticks in the same way you can, which is why it’s crucial to check their coats for ticks on a regular basis, especially after they’ve walked through thick vegetation.

Signs of a Tick Bite

Because ticks are so small, it can be hard to know when they’ve hitched a ride on you or your pet. When they’ve found a host to feed on, ticks use their piercing mouthparts to first inject an anesthetic, which is why most people don’t feel the bite of a tick. As the tick fills with blood, it will eventually fall off its host. If a tick is found before it feeds, it can be removed with tweezers. Some signs of a tick bite include the telltale red bull’s eye rash around the spot of the bite. While most bites are harmless, they can transmit dangerous diseases and should always be treated by a medical professional.

How to Protect Yourself from Ticks

Even with tick season coming to a close, you shouldn’t let your guard down. Following the aforementioned tips can help lessen the risk of getting bitten by a tick, but it’s also important to always thoroughly check yourself and your pets after spending time outdoors through the fall. If you suspect ticks have made their way in your yard or home and are spreading, it’s time to call in for professional help. The licensed experts at Batzner Pest Control can keep you and your family safe from these potentially harmful insects!

Bed Bug Facts and Information for Prevention

Bed Bugs are a very real problem in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association, 1 in 5 Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has.

In the pest control industry, we answer countless questions about bed bugs and consider ourselves “myth busters” when it comes to the tiny, blood-sucking pests. Knowledge is your first line of defense. Simply knowing how to correctly identify a bed bug and its basic behaviors goes a long way in preventing an infestation.

Basic bed bugs facts:
  • Bed bugs primarily feed on humans, but they also feed on warm-blooded animals, including birds, mice and pets.
  • Adults are just under ¼” long, relatively flat and oval in shape compared to most other insects.
  • Bed bugs can lay one to five eggs per day and more than 500 in a lifetime.
  • Bed bugs can survive for several months without eating.
  • Bed bugs can withstand a wide range of temperatures, from nearly freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Bed bugs draw blood for about five minutes before retreating to digest.
  • Bed bug hatchlings are so small they can pass through a stitch-hole in a mattress.

Now that you’re thoroughly disgusted, let’s move on to how you can protect yourself. While there is no 100% guaranteed way to prevent bed bugs, there are steps you can take to greatly decrease your chances of bringing them home.

It’s important to keep in mind that bed bugs can be found nearly everywhere. Hotels, movie theaters, apartment complexes, libraries, public transportation, retail stores, and even offices can all harbor bed bugs.

Quick tips to help keep you bed bug free:
  • Regularly inspect sleeping areas for signs of bed bugs such as pepper-like stains, molted bed bug skins and white, sticky eggs.
  • Never bring second-hand furniture, especially mattresses and box springs, into a home or college dorm without thoroughly examining it for signs of a bed bug infestation.
  • At hotels, thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in furniture. Pull back the bed sheets and check the mattress seams for pepper-like stains that may be evidence of bed bug activity. If you suspect an infestation or problem, notify management and change rooms immediately. Be sure the new room is not adjacent to or directly below or above the possibly infested room.
  • Keep suitcases in plastic trash bags or protective covers during a hotel stay to prevent bed bugs from nesting there. Do not put them on the beds.
  • Upon returning home from a trip, inspect all suitcases and other belongings before bringing them into the house.
  • Wash all clothes – even those that have not been worn – in hot water and dry them using an extra-hot dryer setting.

If you suspect or discover a bed bug problem in your home, it’s best to contact a professional right away. Attempting self-treatment can often do more harm than good.

Prevent Bed Bugs from Coming Home from College

If your child is a college student visiting home for the weekend or moving home for the summer, you should be conscience of protecting your home from bed bugs. They hitch rides to and from campus along with your kids. College dorms and apartment complexes are hot spots for bed bugs. College housing can be prime territory for bed bug infestations to spread rapidly, and it only takes a few hitchhikers on your son or daughter’s belongings to bring that infestation into your home. If you have a child in this position, make sure they aren’t bringing any unwanted guests back with them.

Because bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers, they are easy to carry both to and from campus. Here are a few tips on bed bug prevention in college dorms and apartments:

  • Suit cases and trunks should be fully inspected for signs of bed bugs prior to using for back to school packing, especially if they were used for other travel.
  • Any secondhand or rental furniture should be inspected to ensure that it is free of any bed bugs or bed bug evidence.
  • Dorm rooms should be inspected prior to unpacking – begin with the mattress and check any additional furniture in the room, such as sofas or chairs.
  • Invest in a mattress encasement if your school doesn’t provide them. While a mattress encasement can’t stop bed bugs from getting into your dorm room, they can allow you to see bed bugs that get introduced to your room, since it prevents them from being able to hide on the mattress and box spring. Look for an encasement that promotes “bug proof” zipper locks.

Randy Rupert, Batzner’s Bed Bug Team Leader, recommends the following to prevent the transfer of bed bugs while moving. A visual inspection before packing is always necessary.

  • Look out for blood spots on linens and clothes
  • Check for fecal spotting on and inside the box spring and box spring frame
  • Inspect area around bed for shed skins, eggs, and live bugs

If you find any reason to believe that bed bugs are present, or if you just want to be extra careful:

In the Dorm
BAG EVERYTHING, especially linens, clothes, and shoes and securely tie the bag(s).

At Your Home
Leave the bags/luggage in the garage, complete the following steps before bringing anything inside (if possible)

  • Empty the bag as soon as possible
    • Put contents into the dryer right away, dry for 30 to 60 minutes on HIGH
    • Keep an eye out for black spots in seams, dust skirts, fitted sheets, and other places bed bugs like to live
  • Vacuum all the luggage, bags, etc. as well as the around the bags/luggage
  • Wash canisters and other transferring material that cannot be vacuumed
  • Wipe down hard surfaced items (laptops, TVs, etc.)

Moving day from a college campus can be a tiring, frustrating experience, but these few extra steps are very much worth the effort. Bed bugs in your home are a sure way to ruin what should be an enjoyable time with your child! If by some chance a bed bug infestation still occurs, or if you have any questions on bed bug prevention or management, don’t hesitate to call 866-591-3519 or contact us online.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs in Schools and Avoid Bringing Them Home

Bed bug infestations with sustaining populations in classrooms are rare because schools are generally poor environments for bed bug survival and reproduction. However, periodic introductions of bed bugs into classes occur more often due to the increasing frequency of bed bugs in homes.

Bed bugs can crawl onto or off of a person, or their belongings, at any time making them excellent hitchhikers. In fact, the most common way for bed bugs to enter a school is through “hitchhiking” from an infested site. Usually this is from a student, staff or teacher’s home which has a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs are not associated with uncleanliness or socioeconomic status, but this insect has a substantial social stigma. While teachers and staff can be more easily addressed, dealing with students or parents can be challenging, especially if the family cannot afford proper control measures or their landlord refuses to properly treat their home.

Steps schools can follow if a student’s home is known to have a bed bug infestation:
  • Provide the student with educational materials they can take home with them.
  • Send a letter to the student’s parent or guardian requesting that they take steps to reduce the risk of bed bugs being transported to school.
  • Send a letter to all parents with children in the affected classroom.
  • Provide the student with plastic bags or a plastic bin in which to store their belongings while at school.
  • Isolate the student’s belongings.
  • Reduce the number of items that the student has to transport between school and home.
  • Regularly inspect the student’s desk and or locker for bed bugs.
  • Avoid accumulation of clothes, shoes and boots in the classroom.
Preventing Bed Bugs in the School:

Providing proactive bed bug education is the best way to prevent a bed bug infestation in schools.

  • Provide educational materials to staff and parents/guardians.
  • Keep the facility clean and uncluttered. Bed Bugs are not associated with uncleanliness, but a clean facility makes it easier to detect bed bugs before an infestation gets established.
  • If children take naps at school, regularly put the bedding in the dryer on a high setting for at least 30 min. This will kill all stages of bed bug development. Dress up clothes or theater costumes should also be regularly put through the dryer.
  • Regularly clean and inspect the following: lost-and-found, sleeping areas, upholstered furniture, and wall mounted items (pictures, clocks, signs, mirrors, etc.).
  • Store items (bedding, clothes, coats, bags) in clear plastic containers when possible.
  • Consider periodic inspection by a bed bug detecting canine, if bed bugs are consistently an issue in the population you serve.
Recommendations for parents to follow at home:
  • Parents should regularly inspect their children’s belongings for hitchhiking bed bugs.
  • Limiting the number of items children bring home from school.
  • Regularly checking backpacks, jackets and clothing after kids return home and keeping these items in a separate area of the house.
  • Wash and dry cloth items returning from school in hot temperatures.
  • Inspecting your car for signs of bed bugs, like shed exoskeletons and blood stains.
  • If the school has reported an infestation, consider housing all related items in a sealed plastic bin.
  • Ask school administrators whether they have bed bug detection and elimination plans.

Whether your kids are in school or you work in a school yourself, it is important to keep yourself educated about bed bugs and prevention.

Get more information on bed bugs here.

Proactive Bed Bug Control Using Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs in Hotels, Apartments, and Hospitals

Be Proactive About Bed Bugs; Implement Our Regularly Scheduled Canine Inspections!

Brenda Borgman, Batzner’s Account Executive Manager, sums up the benefits of proactive bed bug canine inspections: “Doing proactive sweeps cuts down on heavy infestations by allowing us to detect and treat a problem early on. This reduces the chance of it spreading to more parts of the building, which can be expensive and a hassle for owners and managers to deal with. Overall, the proactive approach is a much more cost-effective way to handle bed bugs in multi-unit properties.”

Difference between Inspections and Treatment

What are proactive bed bug sweeps? By contracting to have bed bug sniffing dogs come in at regular intervals, bed bug problems are caught before they are able to take hold and spread into a full-blown infestation. The cost of proactive inspections compared to the steep cost of eliminating heavy infestations multiple times means they pay for themselves.

Frequency of Inspections

The frequency of these inspections is determined by the clients’ needs. For college dorms this is often just once a year before the fall semester or twice a year in the fall and during the winter break. Other properties, such as apartments, hotels, hospitals, and social service training facilities require more frequent visits, usually quarterly but sometimes monthly.

How Proactive Inspections Work

Our highly-trained Bed Bug Canine Team performs sweeps of critical areas where bed bugs are likely. In dorms, apartments, and hotels, this covers the rooms, hallways, and lobbies where there are many people coming and going, with particular focus paid to the bed area and furniture where a tenant/guest might be sleeping. Similarly, in social service and healthcare facilities, the waiting areas, training areas, and emergency rooms are considered critical areas due to the amount of people going in and out who are potential carriers for bed bugs.

Remember, early detection is the key to preventing bed bugs from becoming a major problem. Randy Rupert, our Bed Bug Team Leader, adds that, “In addition to the cost saved by avoiding multi-unit infestations, preventative canine inspections’ high detection rate provides property owners and managers peace of mind that bed bugs won’t be shutting down their business.”

Learn more about our bed bug Canine Team!

Call 866-591-3519 or contact Batzner online today for more information about our proactive canine inspections!

Pests That Trigger Allergies and Asthma: Stinging Insects, Cockroaches, Dust Mites

It may be prime time for seasonal allergy sufferers in Wisconsin, but there may be another cause of asthma and other allergic reactions lurking in or around your home: pests!

Stinging Insects

Those who suffer from stinging insect allergies may show signs from itching and hives, to more serious symptoms such as shortness of breath and anaphylaxis, which is a potentially fatal reaction. An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts to an allergen. In stinging insect allergies, the allergen is venom from a sting. Most serious reactions are caused by four types of insects:

  • Yellow jackets are black with yellow markings. Their nests are usually located underground, but sometimes found in the walls of buildings, cracks in masonry or in woodpiles.
  • Honey bees have round, fuzzy bodies with dark brown and yellow markings. They can be found in honeycombs in trees, old tires or other partially protected sites.
  • Paper wasps are slender with black, brown, red and yellow markings. They live in a circular comb under eaves, behind shutters or in shrubs and woodpiles.
  • Hornets are black or brown with white, orange or yellow markings. Their nests are gray or brown and are usually found in trees.

Cockroaches

What you may be surprised to know is that cockroaches are actually one of the leading causes of asthma symptoms in children. This may result in difficulty sleeping and wheezing, itchy skin, throat and nose, as well as inflamed eyes and ears. While adults may also have these symptoms, children are particularly sensitive to the cockroach droppings, saliva, shed skins and remains that contain potent allergen proteins. Every aspect of a cockroach will become a component of your home’s dust, potentially leading to an asthma attack. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation has indicated at least 78% of urban homes contain cockroaches, while the suburbs also see their fair share.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are also extremely common in the home, and symptoms include congestion, cough, facial pressure, itchy and watery eyes, and postnasal drip. Dust mites, close relatives of ticks and spiders, are too small to see without a microscope. Dust mites eat skin cells shed by people, and they thrive in warm, humid environments. In most homes, such items as bedding, upholstered furniture, pillows, curtains and carpeting provide an ideal environment for dust mites. The waste products of dust mites, not the mites themselves, are what cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Throughout its short life span, a single dust mite may produce as much as 200 times its body weight in waste products. Dust mite waste contains a protein that is an allergen. An allergen is a substance that provokes an allergic reaction. By taking steps to reduce the number of dust mites in your home, you may get control of dust mite allergy.

How Can the Pests Be Managed?

Batzner Pest Control and the National Pest Management Association recommend the following tips for safeguarding homes against pests that cause asthma and allergies:

  • Keep food sealed and stored properly, and clean kitchen floors and counters daily.
  • Dispose of garbage regularly and store in sealed containers.
  • Seal cracks and holes in homes, including entry points for utilities and pipes and in screen doors and windows.
  • Keep basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  • Consider a dust mite allergy cover for your bed.
  • Hard surface flooring may also be helpful to lessen the allergic effects of dust mites.
  • Vacuum at least once a week using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter.
  • If allergic to stinging insects, learn how to use an epinephrine kit and carry it with you at all times.
  • Should you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as tongue and throat swelling, wheezing, dizziness, or shortness of breath, call 911.

If you suspect a cockroach infestation or notice a hive or nest on your property, contact Batzner Pest Control to identify and safely treat your home.

5 Tips to Prevent Fall Invaders, Including Spiders, Centipedes and Earwigs

Those of us in the pest control industry consider occasional invaders to be some of the creepiest of the crawlies. You’ve probably seen them scurrying across your bathroom or living room floor at one time or another. Most commonly, occasional invaders include centipedes, millipedes, earwigs and Asian lady beetles, among others.

These pests are referred to as occasional, or fall, invaders because they sporadically enter homes or businesses through cracks or crevices, most commonly in the fall. They’ll usually seek shelter indoors when the weather becomes too hostile outside for them to survive. You’ll typically find them by themselves or in small numbers near food sources, in basements, or other cool, damp places.

Occasional invaders aren’t necessarily a health or structural concern, however, they are definitely nuisance bugs; biting, pinching, eating houseplants, damaging fabrics. The main concern for a home or business owner may be food contamination, so be sure to take proper precautions if you believe one of these pests has taken up residence in your food.

Here are Batzner’s five tips to prevent occasional invaders:

  1. Caulking and sealing entry points such as windows and doors. This eliminates some of the most common entry points for occasional invaders.
  2. Don’t forget to vacuum! You can use your vacuum in two capacities here: to clean up any dead bugs which may be attractive to pests, or to clean up any occasional invaders you spot in your home. Just be sure to clean out the vacuum right away!
  3. Make your landscaping less pest friendly. Remove leaf piles, overgrown bushes or trees, and mulch around the perimeter of your home. These are great places for these pests to live.
  4. Repair screens on windows and doors. Similar to caulking and sealing, these are also common entry points for occasional invaders, so it’s a good idea to make sure there is no damage to your screens.
  5. Seal all food containers. It seems obvious, but if a pest has no access to food, they are less likely to stay.
  6. If you believe you’ve spotted some of these occasional invaders, utilize the prevention tips above to limit the infestation. However, if you’re continually noticing these pests, it’s a good idea to consider Batzner’s year-round pestfree 365 program to keep pests at bay.

Call Batzner at 866-591-3519 or fill out a form online for more information today!

What Spring Pests to Expect: Ticks, Boxelder Bugs, Mosquitoes and Ants

As the weather warms and the ground thaws, spring pests will start to emerge from their winter hiding places to enjoy all the good things that the season has to offer. The additional pest activity can be a nuisance for homeowners, so be sure to keep an eye out for signs of infestations. Insect infestations can cause issues inside and outside the home that can be annoying and expensive to fix. Here are some common springtime insect pests to watch for, and the potential damage that can be caused by letting their populations get out of control:

  • Japanese Beetles– Japanese beetles begin the spring in their grub stage, nibbling away at your lawn’s root system. This can lead to dead spots and bare areas in the lawn which require reseeding. When the temperature gets warm enough, the grubs emerge from the ground as beetles and feed on the leaves of plants and trees, including ornamentals like roses.
  • TicksTicks start appearing in the spring, and can cause a number of problems if they are hanging out in your yard. Their bites, while occasionally very painful to people or pets, are usually just a mild annoyance. However, being bitten should be taken seriously, as ticks are known for spreading diseases such as Lyme Disease.
  • Boxelder BugsBoxelder bugs don’t typically cause extensive damage to homes or foliage during the spring. They spend their spring and summer feeding and reproducing on a select few kinds of trees, primarily female box elder trees, and only occasionally cause minor damage to fruits and leaves. Crushing them can release an unpleasant odor, and their feces can stain light colored surfaces. Allowing their population to go unchecked does create a nuisance in the fall, when they reenter the home in preparation for winter.
  • MosquitoesMosquito eggs begin hatching in the spring, and reach their adult stage in less than two weeks. As with ticks, mosquito bites are mostly an annoyance, but they can also spread diseases such as West Nile and yellow fever.
  • AntsAnts also emerge from their nests in the spring, and are often drawn into your home in search of a meal. In addition to crawling all over any food that has been left out, research has shown that ants can cause or exacerbate asthma, allergies, and other respiratory issues for those sensitive to such problems.

More information on these pests, including signs of infestations, can be found on the National Pest Management Association’s website. As with other pests, spring insects are best handled by a professional. If you see any signs of an infestation in your home or workplace, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Home to Keep Pests Out

Spring is just around the corner, which means it’s time for homeowners to start planning their spring cleaning schedules. Whether you’re a fan of getting everything done in one weekend-long marathon or prefer to spread it out over the entire season, it’s important to keep pest control on your to-do-list. The warmer weather encourages greater pest activity, and a lack of preventative care could lead to potential unwanted activity inside your home. Some preventative pest control measures may already be part of your spring cleaning agenda, or you may try out some of these suggestions:

For inside your home, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), recommends you do the following:

  • Remove all items from kitchen cabinets and pantry; discard any stale or dated items.
  • Wipe down the insides of kitchen cabinets and install fresh shelf paper.
  • Pull out kitchen appliances and vacuum behind them.
  • Scrub all kitchen surfaces including floors, countertops, and appliances.
  • Clean out the bathroom medicine cabinet.
  • Wash the shower curtain and liner.
  • Check around the sink, bath, and toilet to make sure there is no excessive moisture; fix any leaky pipes or faucets that could be causing the moisture.
  • Inspect common storage areas such as the basement, closets, and garage; eliminate clutter wherever possible.
  • Transfer stored items from cardboard boxes to plastic bins with sealed lids.
  • Caulk any potential pest entry points.

For outside your home, the NPMA suggests:

  • Seal cracks and small openings along the house’s foundation, as well as entry points for utilities and pipes.
  • Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows.
  • Trim tree branches and shrubbery to keep them away from the house.
  • Keep mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation (stones are a great alternative).
  • Eliminate sources of standing water around the house, including birdbaths and in clogged gutters.
  • Clean out gutters and downspouts.
  • Screen all windows and doors.

Making sure that these tasks are on your spring cleaning checklist will help reduce pests from entering your home for the spring and summer seasons. If you see signs of an infestation during your cleaning and don’t want to spend your valuable time solving the problem, contact the professionals at Batzner Pest Control. We are always happy to help!

7 Tips for Preventing Ants from Entering Your House

Spring is approaching and the temperature is on the rise. That always lifts your spirits after the long, cold winter. But green grass and flowers aren’t the only thing on its way. ANTS!

You may have begun to spot a few ants in your home or business. Don’t stress out! Here are a few simple prevention methods, and a solution if you believe you might have an ant infestation.

  1. Clean up any food or liquid spills immediately. Ants will most likely come into your home or business to look for foods, so you’ll find them most frequently where food is kept.
  2. Sweep up any crumbs or food particles under kitchen appliances. You know that toaster oven on your countertop that always seems to have crumbs hidden underneath? Or those mystery food particles lurking under your refrigerator?
  3. Store food in airtight containers. Believe it or not, ants certainly do have a sweet tooth. Leaving items like baking sugar or sweet cereal boxes barely closed is like a written invitation to ants and other crawling critters.
  4. Clean up any leftover pet food. Pet food dishes may also be the culprit of any ants that may have taken up residence in your home. If Fido hasn’t finished his meal, or made a mess, be sure to clean it up immediately.
  5. Seal up any cracks or crevices in doorways, windows and any other access points to the outside. That draft does more than raise your energy bill and give you a chill, it may also be an open walkway for ants into your home or business.
  6. Keep compost and garbage bins enclosed. Compost is an amazing source of nutrients for your growing garden, but it’s also a dream food source for ants.
  7. Inspect mulch, remove leaves in gutters and downspouts. On the exterior of your home, landscaping may play a role in any ant activity you may see in your home. Keep trees and shrubs from directly touching your home.

Keep in mind that once an ant has found a food source, they leave a pheromone trail behind them, alerting other ants within the colony that they’ve located food. It’s a strong possibility that if you’ve seen one ant, others aren’t far behind.

If you suspect an ant infestation, contact Batzner Pest Control as soon as possible to speak with an expert.