What Is the East Asian Tick?

east asian tick
Image courtesy of NIAID via Flickr CC by 2.0
The East Asian tick is a tick that is mostly brown in color. It is a tick that is considered very invasive, meaning it can quickly establish itself in an area. It is able to reproduce asexually. These ticks are often found in large numbers and can be very difficult to completely eliminate.

How Did the East Asian Tick Get to the United States?

No one is sure how the East Asian tick came to the United States. It was first found this fall in new Jersey. The officials there tried to eradicate it but were unable to. They just determined that is firmly established in New Jersey. It has not been identified in other areas of the United States including the Virginia Beach area. However, no one is sure how long it will take for the tick to spread outside of New Jersey.

Why Are People Worried About the East Asian Tick?

One of the reasons people are concerned about this tick is it is a known carrier of STFS, which is a serious illness. The ticks can also transmit other illnesses such as including Japanese spotted fever. They are often spotted around farm animals, but can also attach themselves to other animals including deer.

Should I Worry About Other Ticks Too?

The wet winter means that there should be a large tick population this year. Although the East Asian tick has not been identified in Virginia Beach yet, a number of other ticks have. These ticks also carry illnesses that can make you, your family or your pets very sick. These illnesses include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Stair and Lyme disease. Ticks can bite throughout the year and the small ticks, also called seed ticks, are very prevalent in the spring.

What Steps Can I Take to Stop Tick Bites?

There are steps you can take to protect yourself from tick bites. The first is to treat your yard for ticks. This allows you to enjoy your time outside without worrying about being bitten. Be sure to check for ticks often, especially after visiting a tick-prone area. You can wear insect repellent with DEET in it to reduce the chances of being bitten. Dressing in love sleeves and long pants can help. If you tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants, you lower the chance of being bitten. If you find a tick, you should remove it with tweezers and then flush it down the toilet or wrap it in tape.

Are Fire Ants an Issue in Virginia?

fire ant controlFire ants are an invasive species of ant that are spreading throughout the United States. They do better in warmer climates, so they tend to be found in the southern parts of the United States more than the northern parts.  They can be found from California to Florida and are pushing a bit more north every year.

Fire Ants in Virginia Beach

Fire ants have been reported around Roanoke and Richmond and in areas near Virginia Beach. They are growing more each year and may be an issue in your yard. Fire ant colonies can be quite extensive with large tunneling systems. They have been an issue in Virginia Beach and the Hampton Roads area. It is important to understand the threats that fire ants can pose.

Dangers of Fire Ants

The biggest danger of fire ants is there bite, which stings. When fire ants bite, it will leave a large welt. Often people are bitten by several fire ants at nearly the same time, and when they are disturbed, many fire ants will attack at once. Fire ant bites can cause a serious allergic reaction in some people. They will also attack and eat small animals.  People who have been bitten by a fire ant never forget how strong the sting is. It can take a while for the stinging to go away and then bite can be painful for a while.

Spotting Fire Ants

Usually you will see the fire ant mounds before you see the ants themselves. The mounds can be quite large almost, a foot hide and about eighteen inches in diameter. They will start out smaller and look like sandy piles. Fire ant mounds do not have holes in the top of them. Fire ants are reddish brown and larger than most ants. If you see fire ants, you should steer clear. Be careful of stepping on the mounds. If find the mounds, you should keep your family members clear of the area until you can treat the area.

Treating Fire Ants

Fire ants can be difficult to treat because they will flee the mound you are treating through their extensive tunneling system. They will then build a new colony and mounds somewhere else in your yard. A professional can be sure to completely eliminate the fire ants for you. In order to eliminate the colony, you need to be sure to kill the queen and be sure that you treat all the possible mounds and tunnels that they have created.

5 Questions About Wood Rot

wood rot repairWood rot is a common problem, especially in older homes. It can occur in almost any home, and there are certain things that make it easier for wood rot to occur. If you have an older home, or if you have had a flood in your home, it is important to keep an eye out for wood rot and to check periodically for signs of wood rot.

What Is Wood Rot?

Wood rot is caused by fungus that will grow on your wood and weaken it. It happens when the wood becomes wet and your home is warm. It is common in areas that are usually damp, and your crawlspace may be one area that has an issue with wood rot. You may also face issues in your bathroom or eve in your attic if you have had a leak in your ceiling. It is vital that if you have a burst pipe or flood from a rainstorm that you make sure everything dries out completely as quickly as possible to make sure that you do not end up with wood rot.

How Do I Identify Wood Rot?

You may see the fungus growing on the wood itself. You can also check the wood. If it is spongy or soft and darker than the other wood, this is a sign. If the wood has dried out completely, it will be crumbly and crack easily when you test it.

Where Can Wood Rot Occur?

Wood rot can occur anywhere in your home where wood is. The wood needs to become wet to allow the fungus to grow on it, so bathrooms and kitchen floors are common areas, as is your crawlspace or basement, but it can spread from those areas to other areas in your home.

How Do I Repair Wood Rot?

You will need to replace the wood that has been affected by wood rot. There are treatments you can apply to the surrounding areas to stop it from spreading. The wood rot weakens the wood and can cause issues with structural integrity of your home, so you need to act quickly to address the issues of wood rot around your home.

How Can I Prevent Wood Rot?

Building with wood that is treated against wood rot can make a difference. The most important thing you can do is to keep the wood dry, which means making sure your crawlspace is dry and climate controlled. You also need to act quickly after a flood to clean up and make sure everything dries out completely.

What Is the Most Common Type of Termite in Virginia?

termite controlThere are three basic types of termites, and there are different steps that you can take to protect your home from those types of termites. It helps to know what the primary types of termites that you will need to worry about in and around your property. In Virginia, the most common type of termite is the Eastern Subterranean termite.

Eastern Subterranean Termites

The Eastern Subterranean termite is spread throughout the Eastern part of the United States. These termites live underground in colonies and the termites will crawl up into the wood to feed. They will build mud tubes to protect themselves as they crawl up into your home. There three different roles in an Eastern Subterranean termite colony. The workers will focus on getting the wood to feed the colonies, the soldiers will protect the other termites, and the queen and kings. These termite colonies can move as they move from food source to food source.

Preventing Subterranean Termites

The best way to prevent these termites from infesting your home is to remove everything that attracts them to your yard. This means clearing out old wood like fallen trees or branches. You may also want to clear out old tree stumps. Clearing out leaf debris can also help. Be sure that you do not use wood mulch near your home, since the termites will eat that. You should also be sure that you only use treated wood in the building projects around your home.You should also be sure that your home is in good repair. Leaks can make your wood wet, which is how termite prefer it. You should be sure that the wood dries out completely. Check your foundation periodically for cracks, which can give termites easy access to your home. You should also check for mud tubes along the foundation, which is a sign that you already have termites in the home.

What Other Types of Termites Can Damage My Home?

There are two other subtypes of termites. Dampwood termites like to feed on damp wood. They may come in through your attic. These termites need constant access to moisture and they can actually build their colonies inside of the wood of your home as they eat it. Drywood termites will also live inside the wood of the home. They are more likely to eat through the siding of your home and you can even find them in furniture. Keeping your home in good repair can prevent the termites from finding their way into your home.

5 Cockroaches in Virginia

cockroach control
Image courtesy of David Monniaux CC by SA 3.0
Cockroaches can be a serious problem and it only takes a few to start a serious infestation in your home. Once a cockroach wanders in looking for food and water, it can only take a few weeks for it turn into a full-blown insect infestation. Here are five types of cockroaches found in Virginia.

American Cockroaches

The American cockroach is large and grow up to one and half inches long. It can fly. It is also known as the Palmetto bug or water bugs. These roaches are a reddish brown and may have pale marking along the sides. These cockroaches tend to come in your home during the winter or after a rainstorm. The prefer the temperature to be around 84 degrees. American roaches will eat a variety of food including cheese, beer, hair and glue.

Brown-banded Cockroaches

These small cockroaches look similar to German cockroaches, but they have white bands across the body. These cockroaches may be found in your home. These cockroaches do not need as much water and so they will spread out into your living room and bedrooms. They will feed on a wide variety of things including trash and even nylon. When they invade your home, they can live for up to 206 days.

German Cockroaches

German cockroaches are light brown and small. They are different from brown-banded cockroaches because they have distinct dark parallel streaks that run down the back starting at the head and moving down to the base of the wings. German cockroaches will not survive outside and need warm weather. They are usually found in homes, restaurants or institutions like nursing homes. The German cockroach reproduces the most rapidly out any cockroach and likes sweet, fatty foods, starches and meats. They will eat glue or toothpaste if other food is not available.

Oriental Cockroaches

Oriental cockroaches are another common cockroach found inside homes. These are darker in color than German cockroaches and can be dark brown to almost black. They prefer areas that are damp and can be found around pipes that leak and in sewers. They move more slowly than other cockroaches but can prove difficult to kill since they may wash the insecticide off when they travel through water.

Wood Roaches

Wood roaches are unlike the other cockroaches listed. While they are the most common roaches in Virginia, they primarily live outside. It is not easy for a colony to be established inside of your home, and so you usually do not need to treat for these roaches. You can find wood roaches around heavily wooded areas. These roaches will fly, and have a white margin just behind their head.The experts at EcoTek can help you correctly identify and treat any cockroaches that you may have in your home. It is important to work quickly to eliminate any roaches with cockroach control treatments to prevent an infestation from taking hold.

A Comprehensive Guide to Getting Rid of Fleas in Your House

Fleas are tiny, dark brown insects. They have no wings, but possess strong legs that enable them to jump incredibly far. They often reside in places which are sheltered from direct sunlight. Animals with furry coats are ideal hosts for fleas. Pets that live in your garden are likely to struggle with flea infestations. Fleas can easily be carried into your house by your pets. Once fleas have entered your home, you must take action. A simple search on the internet will reveal numerous ways to deal with fleas. We’ve made this easier for you by giving you a comprehensive guide to getting rid of fleas.

Treating Flea-Infested Pets

In order to eliminate all fleas, you must promptly address the source of the fleas. This is most likely your pets. Dogs and cats are especially prone to flea infestations . There is no use in killing fleas in carpets and sofas while fleas are still being carried inside by your pets. Look for flea-control products for pets, such as flea combs, flea shampoos and flea sprays. After treating your pets, you should keep them away from flea-infested areas.

Cleaning Your House

Re-organize things like boxes, shoes and papers to clear the floor. This will make cleaning and vacuuming easier. Gather together removable items such as carpets, rugs, pillows, mats, cushions and pet bedding. Wash or dry clean these items at a high temperature. Use the vacuum cleaner to target hidden corners and carpets. Sprinkle some salt or baking soda on the carpet before thoroughly vacuuming it. Once vacuuming is complete, seal the vacuum bag and throw it away. This will prevent flea eggs and larvae from growing into adults and re-infest the house.

Flea Foggers

If your house is heavily infested, chemical products such as flea bombs and flea foggers should be used. These contain a kind of chemical pesticide, so it is best to keep children and pets far away from the treated areas. Instructions on how to apply the flea fogger should be read carefully. Protect yourself with gloves, a mask, and protective clothes. Furniture and obstacles should be cleared prior to fogging, so that all corners of the room are fogged. Leave the house after using the flea fogger for about 8 hours before cleaning and vacuuming.

Preventative Measures

Tidy your house and outside areas frequently. Mow the grass, prune shrubs, and clear fallen leaves and debris. Take good care of your pets and keep them clean. You could also consider planting herbal shrubs, such as peppermint or lavender shrubs, as these repel fleas.By following these tips, we’re sure that you will be able to eliminate fleas from your home in a short space of time.

How Can I Prevent Termites?

termite control
Image courtesy of James Niland (CC by 2.0)
Termites are a common problem that many homeowners will have to deal with at one point in their lives. Termites move from place to place and expand their colonies. Termites are found throughout the United States, but tend to do less damage where there are cold, dry winters. If you are a homeowner, there are a few steps that you can take to protect your home from a termite infestation.

Consider a Pretreatment Before You Build

Many building companies will complete a pretreatment for termites before they build. This is a soaker type treatment where the termiticide is applied to the ground before the building begins. This provides protection under the concrete slab and around your home. If you are building a home yourself, you can request that the contractors do this before they start building.

Seal Off Your Crawlspace

Many crawlspaces have dirt floors. If you can seal off your crawlspace, you can limit the areas that termites can get into your home. You can hire a termite control professional to do this for you, or you can attempt to do it yourself. The project can be quite time intensive and depending on the current condition of your crawlspace, it may include mucking things out. A professional company will make sure is done correctly and give you the protection that your home needs.

Regular Inspections and Bait Stations

Regular termite monitoring can help you detect termites before they cause a lot of damage. Bait stations can alert you that termites are on your property and allow you to treat for them if it becomes necessary. The bait stations are chemical free, and attract the termites since they contain wood and cellulose. If termites are found in these stations, you can begin treatment.

Use Treated Wood

If you are building a new outdoor project like a deck or shed, be sure to use wood that has been treated for termites, especially if it will go directly into the ground. Subterranean termites will begin to eat the wood of the deck and give you no visible signs unless the wood is treated.

Stack Wood Away from the Home

If you keep wood for a fireplace or wood burning stove, you need to stack the wood away from your home. If you can store it on a concrete pad, you provide another layer of protection for the wood. You can also cover it with a tarp for additional protection.Image courtesy of James Niland (CC by 2.0)

5 Things That Attract Cockroaches

cockroach on counterIf you are worried about roaches in your home, or that you may get them in the future, there are things you can do to make sure that your home is not as attractive to cockroaches. If you get rid of these things, you can reduce the chance of having roaches in your home.

1. Leaky Pipes and Moisture

Cockroaches need easy and steady access to water. They tend to congregate in areas where there is water like your kitchen, laundry room and bathroom. Making sure to mop up any spills as soon as they happen or cleaning up after a bath or shower can help. However, fixing any leaking pipes can make a big difference. If you discover a leak, be sure that the area around it dries out completely.

2. Cardboard and Paper

Cockroaches eat cardboard and paper. If you are storing boxes in your home, you are more likely to attract cockroaches to your home, especially where you store things. If you use cardboard boxes to store old clothes or books, you can change the containers. Instead of holding onto moving boxes  you may want to recycle them or pass them onto someone else to use.

3. Food and Its Smells

Roaches are looking for food and so anything that is giving a strong smell may attract them. Food that is left out on the counters or in the sink can attract them as well as the trash that you leave in an uncovered garbage can overnight. You can remove these elements by doing your dishes as you use them and by taking out your trash each night. Be sure that you do not have trash especially with food on it around your home.

4. Pet Food

Pet food can attract a number of pests because it is made up of high protein. The best way to deal with this is to store your food in an airtight container. If you have a real problem with roaches, you may want to feed your pets and then put up their bowls.

5. Clutter and Mess

Cockroaches like places where they can hide and small spaces. Clutter can create that and make it easier for them to find places to hide. Clutter also makes it more difficult to keep a room or space clean. If you live in townhomes or apartments, you may be fighting off roaches if your neighbors have issues with too much clutter or a messy home.Cockroaches are known carriers of diseases ranging from samonella to dysentery, so it’s important to exterminate cockroaches as soon as you notice them in your home.

How to Check for Bed Bugs

bed bugOne of the best ways to prevent getting bed bugs is to check your hotel room for bed bugs before you unpack. If you suspect that you may have bed bugs, this process can help you confirm whether or not you have bed bugs at home. If you are in a hotel room, be sure not to put your suitcase on the floor or bed until the inspection is complete.  If you find bed bugs in a hotel room, take your luggage with you and request a new room. Be sure to complete the inspection again before you decide to stay in that room.

1. Check the Bedding

The first thing you should do is check the bedding. Bull the comforter or guilty all the way back and look at the sheets. If there are bloodstains on the sheets, this is a sure giveaway. You should also look for droppings, which are small and black as well as skin casings that they may leave behind.

2. Look at the Mattress and Box Springs

On the mattress and box springs, you may see rusty stains or the bed bug droppings. You may also see the bed bugs themselves or the yellow skins that nymphs shed. You may notice eggs which are very small or you may also see the bed bugs themselves. It is worth pulling the sheets all the way back.

3. Behind the Headboard

Another key place to look is behind the headboard and along the wall. You can also check behind the nightstand that is next to the bed. Again, you will be looking for the dark round droppings, the eggs and discarded skins as well as the live bugs. If you can shine a flashlight here, it may be easier to spot the bed bugs.

4. Bites

If you are worried that you may have bed bugs at home, bites are something that you should keep an eye out for. Bed bugs will bite you several times during a feeding, and the bites are usually in a straight line. Many people confuse flea bites with bed bug bites, but here’s an article for more information about fleas: Do Fleas Live on People? Whether you have flea bites or bed bug bites, you should call and request a free bed bugs inspection from the professionals at EcoTek.

Facts About Carpenter Ants

ant controlCarpenter ants are different from the typical household ants in a few different ways. If you have carpenter ants, you will need to take steps now to deal with them because they can cause damage to your home that is similar to the damage that termites cause. Here are interesting facts about carpenter ants.

1. Carpenter Ants Size

Carpenter ants are bigger than the ants you may normally see around your home. They are between a quarter and a half inch in length. Many of the other household ants do not get longer than one sixteenth inch in length. The size difference makes the carpenter ants appear gigantic in comparison.

2. Carpenter Ants Homes

Carpenter ants get their name because they build their homes inside of wood. They do not eat wood the way that termites do, but they will build their nests inside dead wood, and when they do this they can weaken the structure of your home. They can be difficult to find because the damage is done behind the drywall or in areas that you may not see. They will also build nests inside the wood a termite colony already ate through.

3. Carpenter Ants Strength

Carpenter ants can lift more than seven times their own weight. Some people estimate that it can be up to fifty times their own weight. Either way that is a massive amount of weight to carry. The ants can also work together to help move objects.

4. Carpenter Ants Have a Long Life

The queens can live up to twenty-five years. The longer the queen leaves, the bigger the colony. They will even create satellite colonies that can stretch over large areas. This means that they can overtake your entire home.

5. Carpenter Ants Can Bite

Some species of carpenter ants have venom and the bite can sting similar to that of fire ants. Even if the carpenter ants in your home do not have venom, the bites can still hurt and cause welts. They may offer spray a sort of glue if they feel threatened. The glue is toxic and can hurt other insects and may even bother you.Learn the difference between carpenter ants and termites