Ask the Contractor: Pest control - How to battle weeds and avoid bedbugs

Bedbugs are carried via luggage, clothing and other personal belongings. Bedbugs can spread from hotels and homes into office locations and have been found on chairs and new furniture.

Bedbugs are carried via luggage, clothing and other personal belongings. Bedbugs can spread from hotels and homes into office locations and have been found on chairs and new furniture.

This past Tuesday, YCCA held its second 2011 quarterly Let's Talk Breakfast for the community. The topic was bugs and weeds, and we could have continued the breakfast into lunch and dinner because of all the great questions.

One critical discussion topic that came to light was the application of pre-emergents. According to our panelists from Carescape and The Joshua Tree Landscape Co., if you apply a pre-emergent too late in the season, it will not do anything, and too early in the season will just be a waste of product and money. The experts stated that now is the time to apply pre-emergent, because the weather conditions are just right, since we are on the verge on our monsoon season. Pre-emergents need watering after the application to ensure that the product makes contact with the roots and seeds of the weeds. Apply your pre-emergent now and, if rains do not arrive within 10 days, water the application by hand.

The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension site, www.extension.arizona.edu, has lots of valuable information for our area - on horticulture, hints for the backyard gardener and more. Both Richard Roy from The Joshua Tree Landscape Co. and Frank Abbott and Rick Cober from Carescape indicated their firms will come out for a free tree-care evaluation. Both of these firms have certified arborists on staff.

The next subject that brought several questions was the bedbug. Our panelists with Orkin Pest Control and Truly Nolan of America gave valuable information on this critter. The common name, we were told, is somewhat misleading inasmuch as the bedbug hides in cracks, crevices, behind baseboards and other areas; however, it is most often discovered in the bed. Matt from Orkin and Tammy from Truly Nolan both agreed that bedbugs can be difficult to find since they tend to hide during the day. Adult bedbugs are about 3/16ths of an inch long, broadly flat and oval and shaped like an apple seed. They are brown in color and turn reddish-brown after feeding on the blood of humans or other mammals or poultry.

Bedbugs are nocturnal. Bedbugs feed in approximately three to 10 minutes, and they consume about three times their weight. Bedbugs travel 15-20 feet each way nightly to feed, and they feed every few days if they have a host available. However, they can survive extended periods of time without blood meal.

Bedbugs often excrete part of their previous meal while feeding, which results in a telltale stain, normally on the mattress. The average lifespan of a bedbug is six to nine months.

Bedbugs are naturally infected with more than 20 human pathogens, but have never been proven to transmit any human diseases.

Some individuals appear to be more susceptible to bedbug bites due to their salivary proteins, and women seem to be more prone to bedbugs bites than men, because bedbugs like to feed on less-hairy humans.

Reactions can vary to the bites from no reaction to immediate reaction to a delayed reaction. Most people who have experienced bedbug bites have a reaction that is small, red and itchy and can appear as small bumps.

Bedbug infestations can happen quickly. Within a 45-day period, from day one, two bedbugs can create 1,040 eggs and 302 live active bedbugs.

Bedbugs are carried via luggage, clothing and other personal belongings. Bedbugs can spread from hotels and homes into office locations and have been found on chairs and new furniture.

Bedbug infestation has nothing to do with cleanliness or clutter or dirt.

Bedbugs are prevalent in our area. If you think you have bedbugs, hiring a professional to get rid of the infestation is the best way to go. Yes, this can be expensive, so do your research when hiring. Both of our panel speakers stated their firms will come out for free to do an inspection. Bedbug experts often have multiple approaches to extermination, from chemical to nonchemical. The panel speakers did state that bedbug extermination treatments such as the use of "bombs" purchased through local stores are not effective and do not reach into the crevices and cracks where bedbugs hide. Although they might exterminate any bugs that are out in the open, a new batch of bugs will reappear in two to three weeks when a batch of eggs hatch.

Some quick tips to prevent bedbug infestations:

• Used furniture is dangerous as it can already have infestations.

• When traveling, inspect items in the hotel room, such as the mattress and dressers.

• Keep your luggage zipped. Store your luggage on racks or on top of furniture.

• In your home, vacuum regularly, particularly along the baseboards and window frames.

• Keep your bed away from walls and keep in mind that if you live in an apartment, bedbugs can travel from one unit to the next.

• Wash your clothes in hot water if you suspect that you have bedbugs.

We talked about spiders and crickets and, now that it is summer, insects are very active. With the hot weather, they want to creep indoors where it is cooler. This is the time to become more proactive with insect control. Keep in mind, when doing pest control yourself, just because you eradicate the line of ants going into the garage with a can of spray, you are not taking the preventive approach, since you are not reaching the nest or the colony. Just because you eliminate the pests you can see, you are not eliminating them where they live - therefore, they will return. There are so many varieties of spiders and ants and crickets that different types of chemicals must be used to minimize insect resistance.

Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. Call YCCA for information on hiring a contractor at 778-0040. Submit questions to ycca@cableone.net or through www.ycca.org.