Living Pest Free


Pests are not part of a healthy home. Some pests are irritants to people with asthma or other respiratory problems. Also, pests can spread disease. In order to keep your home pest-free, remove all sources of food, water, and shelter for the pests. Store food in pest resistant containers, seal cracks and openings throughout your home. If needed, use sticky traps and baits in closed containers to rid your home of pests, and close off all points of access.

About Integrated Pest Management

Common pests can cause serious health problems! Pests such as weeds, cockroaches and rodents, as well as the chemicals we use to control them, can cause and trigger allergies and asthma by contaminating our air indoors.

 What is IPM?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a method that focuses on knowing the pest in order to prevent pests from getting out of control. IPM is safer because non-chemical methods are the first line of defense. If chemicals must be used, always choose less hazardous products. Be sure to read warning labels before using any chemical products.

Use IPM to eliminate pests safely

Step One: Find out what kind of pests you have and where they are coming from. Each pest has different habits so it’s important to “know your enemy!” For rodents and roaches, sticky traps can tell you what and where they are.

Step Two: All pests look for food, water and shelter. If you understand what they want, you can take it away. This is the most important step in IPM and prevention!

  • Keep living areas clean and uncluttered.
  • Put food in tightly sealed containers.
  • Keep trash in a closed container.
  • Fix plumbing or water leaks
  • Seal entry points such as gaps in walls, pipes, pavement and other surfaces using caulking, steel wool, or other pest-proof materials for.
Step Three: Use traps and baits first, along with less-toxic dust such as boric acid.

  • Put the bait close to the pest’s hiding place.
  • Do not spray any pesticides. This will keep the pests away from the bait.
  • Choose and use chemicals very carefully!
  • Read the label – it has valuable information on proper use.
CDC Rodent Control website

Mosquitoes can develop in any standing water that is present for more than five days. To reduce the mosquito population around your home and property, eliminate all standing water and debris. Here are some spots where water can collect or where poor maintenance can cause problems.

Dump Standing Water

·         Pool cover that collects water, neglected swimming pool, hot tub or child’s wading pool.

·         Birdbath (clean weekly) and ornamental pool (stock with fish).

·         Any toy, garden equipment or container that can hold water.

·         Flat roof without adequate drainage.

·         Clogged rain gutter (home and street).

·         Leaky faucet or pet bowl (change water daily).

·         Uncovered boat or boat cover that collects water.

·         Missing, damaged or improperly installed screens.

·         Tree rot hole or hollow stump.

·         Junk and discarded tires (drill drain holes in the bottom of tire swings).

You should also…

Get rid of tin cans, bottles, jars, buckets, drums, and other containers, or keep them empty.

·         Empty your small plastic wading pool weekly and store it indoors when not in use. Make certain your swimming pool is properly maintained and the cover stored so it won’t collect water.

·         Don’t let runoff water from your air conditioner accumulate in shady areas. Repair faulty septic fields.

·         Change water and scrub vases holding flowers or cuttings once a week – or grow cuttings in sand.

·         Don’t dump grass clippings, branches or other items in storm creeks.

·         Keep in mind that mosquitoes rest in vegetation and other protected places; keep the grass cut and bushes trimmed.

·         Wear light-colored clothing (white is best) and a white hat as mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors. Wear long sleeves and long pants to minimize exposed skin.

·         Homeowners can purchase biological mosquito control products at garden centers, home supply, and other retailers. Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) is the active ingredient; it destroys the intestinal lining of the mosquito larvae. Another product contains methoprene which prevents the larvae from developing into adults. Barrier sprays are also available that can be sprayed on vegetation where mosquitoes rest.

·         Check out various mosquito repellent products and follow label instructions.

It’s a fact…

All mosquitoes need water in which to pass their early life states. Adult flying mosquitoes frequently rest in grass, shrubbery or other foliage, but they never develop there.

Some mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water where they hatch in a day or two. Other mosquitoes lay their eggs in old tires, tin cans, or other water-holding containers in which they may remain unhatched for weeks or months until they are covered with water. With both types of mosquitoes, the “wigglers” or larvae grow quickly and turn into “tumblers” or pupae. Soon the skin of the tumbler splits open and out climbs another hungry adult mosquito.

Neighborhood mosquito control

Mosquitoes are an all too familiar summer nuisance. They can also pose a potential health threat as they can transmit such mosquito-borne diseases as encephalitis, dengue, malaria, and dog heartworm.

 If you wish to spray your yard to control adult mosquitoes, your Public Health Department, the University of Missouri Extension Center or your local hardware store or garden center can recommend insecticides that are effective and approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Be sure to follow all label instructions carefully.

Remember, treating adult mosquitoes is only a temporary solution. Elimination of breeding sites and stopping mosquitoes while they are still in the water is much more effective and economical.

The West Nile virus, like most mosquito-borne viruses, is found in wild birds. The disease caused by the virus was first described in Africa in 1937, with outbreaks occurring later in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The virus was first documented in North America in 1999.

Most people infected with West Nile virus do not experience any symptoms. In about 20% of infected people, symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches. In rare instances the virus can infect the human nervous system, causing diseases such as meningitis or encephalitis.

West Nile virus is maintained in nature through a complex life cycle involving wild birds and mosquitoes. When a mosquito feeds on an infected bird, it can pick up the virus and transmit it to other, uninfected birds. Occasionally, infected mosquitoes will feed on mammals such as horses, dogs, cats, and humans, and transmit the virus to them. Mammals are dead-end hosts, however, and do not contribute to the transmission cycle.

Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. In 1952, the first human cases of Zika were detected and since then, outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Zika outbreaks have probably occurred in many locations. Before 2007, at least 14 cases of Zika had been documented, although other cases were likely to have occurred and were not reported. Because the symptoms of Zika are similar to those of many other diseases, many cases may not have been recognized.

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Local transmission has been reported in many other countries and territories. Zika virus will likely continue to spread to new areas.

Specific areas whereZika is spreading are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. If traveling, please visit the CDC Travelers’ Health site for the most updated travel information.

Tick-Borne Illness While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active.

Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks

·         Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.

·         Walk in the center of trails.

Repel Ticks with DEET or Permethrin

·         Use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.

·         Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.

· Other repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body

·         Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.

·         Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.

·         Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.

·         Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)

Many tickborne diseases can have similar signs and symptoms. If you have been bitten by a tick and develop the symptoms below within a few weeks, a health care provider should evaluate the following before deciding on a course of treatment:

·         Your symptoms

·         The geographic region in which you were bitten

·         Diagnostic tests, if indicated by the symptoms and the region where you were bitten

The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses are:

·         Fever/chills: With all tickborne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time of onset.

·         Aches and pains: Tickborne disease symptoms include a headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. With Lyme disease, you may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient’s personal tolerance level.

·         Rash: Lyme diseasesouthern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF)ehrlichiosis, and tularemia can result in distinctive rashes:

o    In Lyme disease, the rash may appear within 3-30 days, typically before the onset of fever. The Lyme disease rash is the first sign of infection and is usually a circular rash called erythema migrans or EM. This rash occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected persons and begins at the site of a tick bite. It may be warm, but is not usually painful. Some patients develop additional EM lesions in other areas of the body several days later.

o    The rash of (STARI) is nearly identical to that of Lyme disease, with a red, expanding “bulls eye” lesion that develops around the site of a lone star tick bite. Unlike Lyme disease, STARI has not been linked to any arthritic or neurologic symptoms.

o    The rash seen with Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) varies greatly from person to person in appearance, location, and time of onset. About 10% of people with RMSF never develop a rash. Most often, the rash begins 2-5 days after the onset of fever as small, flat, pink, non-itchy spots (macules) on the wrists, forearms, and ankles and spreads to the trunk. It sometimes involves the palms and soles. The red to purple, spotted (petechial) rash of RMSF is usually not seen until the sixth day or later after onset of symptoms and occurs in 35-60% of patients with the infection.

o    In the most common form of tularemia, a skin ulcer appears at the site where the organism entered the body. The ulcer is accompanied by swelling of regional lymph glands, usually in the armpit or groin.

o    In about 30% of patients (and up to 60% of children), ehrlichiosis can cause a rash. The appearance of the rash ranges from macular to maculopapular to petechial, and may appear after the onset of fever.

Tickborne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization. Although easily treated with antibiotics, these diseases can be difficult for physicians to diagnose. However, early recognition and treatment of the infection decreases the risk of serious complications. So see your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the symptoms described here.

Bed Bugs FAQs

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Bed bugs should not be considered as a medical or public health hazard. Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

What health risks do bed bugs pose?

A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:

·         the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting

·         bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,

·         rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and

·         a sweet musty odor.

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.

Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

How did I get bed bugs?

Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?

Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.

How are bed bugs treated and prevented?

Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.

Treatment for Lice and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is mayonnaise effective for treating head lice?

CDC does not have clear scientific evidence to determine if suffocation of head lice with mayonnaise, olive oil, margarine, butter, or similar substances is an effective form of treatment.

If the treatment for head lice doesn’t seem to be working, does this mean the lice are resistant and I need a different treatment?

The following are several common reasons why treatment for head lice may fail sometimes:

1.    Misdiagnosis. The symptoms are not caused by an active head lice infestation.

2.    Applying the treatment to hair that has been washed with conditioning shampoo or rinsed with hair conditioner. Conditioners can act as a barrier that keeps the head lice medicine from adhering to the hair shafts; this can reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.

3.    Not following carefully the instructions for the treatment that is used. Some examples of this include not applying a second treatment if instructed to do so, or retreating too soon after the first treatment before all the nits are hatched and the newly hatched head lice can be killed. Another reason is retreating too late after new eggs have already been deposited.

4.    Resistance of the head lice to the treatment used. The head lice may have become resistant to the treatment. If the treatment used does not kill the head lice, your health care provider and pharmacist can help you be sure the treatment was used correctly and may recommend a completely different product if they think the head lice are resistant to the first treatment.

5.    Reinfestation. The person was treated successfully and the lice were eliminated, but then the person becomes infested again by lice spread from another infested person. Sometimes reshampooing the hair too soon (less than 2 days) after correctly applying and removing permethin can reduce or eliminate any residual (continued) killing effect on the lice.

Is there a treatment recommendation for certain age groups?

Before treating young children, please consult the child’s doctor or the health department for the recommended treatment based on the child’s age and weight.

Are there any side effects from using these chemical treatments for head lice?

Treatments for head lice are generally safe and effective when used correctly. Some treatments may cause an itching or a mild burning sensation caused by inflammation of the skin on the scalp. Most products used to treat head lice are pesticides that can be absorbed through the skin. Therefore, all medicines used for the treatment of lice should be used with care and only as directed.

Is it necessary to remove all the nits?

No. The two treatments 9 days apart are designed to eliminate all live lice and any lice that may hatch from eggs that were laid after the first treatment.

Many nits are more than ¼ inch from the scalp. Such nits are usually not viable and very unlikely to hatch to become crawling lice, or may, in fact, be empty shells, also known as casings. Nits are cemented to hair shafts and are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people.

However, parents may choose to remove all nits found on hair for aesthetic reasons or to reduce the chance of unnecessary retreatment.

Where can I go to have the nits removed from hair?

CDC does not make recommendations about businesses that may offer such services. Your health care provider or local health department may be able to provide additional guidance. Removal of all nits after successful treatment with a pediculicide is not necessary to prevent further spread of head lice. Removal of nits after treatment with a pediculicide may be done for aesthetic reasons, or to reduce diagnostic confusion and the chance of unnecessary retreatment. Because pediculicides are not 100% ovicidal (i.e. do not kill all the egg stages), some experts recommend the manual removal of nits that are attached less than1 cm of the base of the hair shaft.

Why do some experts recommend bagging items for 2 weeks?

Head lice survive less than one or two days if they fall off the scalp and cannot feed. Head lice eggs (nits) cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they do not remain under ideal conditions of heat and humidity similar to those found close to the human scalp. Therefore, because a nit must incubate under conditions equivalent to those found near the human scalp, it is very unlikely to hatch away from the head. In addition, if the egg were to hatch, the newly emerged nymph would die within several hours if it did not feed on human blood.

However, although rarely necessary, some experts recommend that items that may be contaminated by an infested person and that cannot be laundered or dry-cleaned should be sealed in plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks to kill any lice that already are present or that might hatch from any nits that may be present on the items.

Should my pets be treated for head lice?

No. Head lice do not live on pets. Pets do not play a role in the spread of head lice.

Should household sprays be used to kill adult lice?

No. Using fumigant sprays or fogs is NOT recommended. Fumigant sprays and fogs can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and they are not necessary to control head lice.

Do I need to have my home fumigated?

No. Use of insecticide sprays or fogs is NOT recommended. Fumigant spray and fogs can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and they are not necessary to control head lice.

Routine house cleaning, including vacuuming of carpeting, rugs, furniture, car seats, and other fabric-covered items, as well as laundering of linens and clothing worn or used by the infested person is sufficient. Only items that have been in contact with the head of the infested person in the 48 hours before treatment need be considered for cleaning.

Should I have a pest control company spray my house?

No. Use of insecticide sprays or fogs is NOT recommended. Fumigant spray and fogs can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and they are not necessary to control head lice.

Routine vacuuming of floors and furniture is sufficient to remove lice or nits that may have fallen off the head of an infested person.

Will laundering kill head lice?

Washing, soaking, or drying items at a temperature greater than 130°F can kill both head lice and nits. Dry cleaning also kills head lice and nits. Only items that have been in contact with the head of the infested person in the 48 hours before treatment should be considered for cleaning.

Although freezing temperatures can kill head lice and nits, several days may be necessary depending on temperature and humidity; freezing is rarely (if ever) needed as a means for treating head lice.

Which medicine is best?

If you aren’t sure which medicine to use or how to use a particular medicine, always ask your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. CDC does not make recommendations about specific products. When using a medicine, always carefully follow the instructions contained in the package or written on the label, unless the physician and pharmacist direct otherwise.

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