Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Boracare/Bora Care - Nothing is Better

I felt that I needed to tell people about an incredible product called Bora-Care. It is a termiticide, insecticide, and fungicide that is used on wood, plywood, logs, any cellulose product. The reason I bring this up is because of the increasing number of calls that I have received from people in the New Orleans area trying to re-build after hurricane Katrina. Their homes were virtually submerged in water, which of course has led to major fungus problems throughout the structures. Most of them have already done the research and know that Bora-Care is the product to use. But why?

When Bora-Care is applied to a wood surface, it literally penetrates deep down to the core of wood. If there is any fungus on the wood, it will neutralize it. If there are any wood destroying organisms in the wood eating it, such as carpenter ants, termites, powder post beetles, they will die. The best part is that once the wood is adequately treated, it stays in the wood indefinitely. That's right. . .Forever! Not only that, but it does not stain the wood or discolor it. Basically, if you ever have a chance to treat any wood part of your home; the studs, the siding, the floor boards, joists in a crawl space, attic space, I would treat it with Bora Care.

If its good enough to restore a proper living environment to hurricane victims, its good enough for me.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Seminar on Bed Bugs: Dr. Michael F. Porter shares the latest

Bed Bugs are the hottest new topic in the pest control industry today. If you've failed to notice the bed bug news articles popping up like wildfire all over the country, then let me just say that Bed Bugs are coming back with a vengeance. They're infesting New York City, and the little devils have managed to hitchhike around the entire country, even the world as the latest article about Bed Bugs in Australia makes plain! Furthermore, every dwelling place is a target--from apartments to single-family homes to five star hotels.

It wasn't surprising that Bed Bugs were the focal point of the most recent Georgia Pest Control Association Conference held this past January in Athens, Georgia. Among the guest speakers was world-renowned etymologist Dr. Michael Porter from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Dr. Porter's research on Bed Bugs is perhaps the most extensive and thorough on the Internet. It's no wonder that he was introduced to us as one of the top 25 most influential people in pest control!


Dr. Porter
told us that before blood meals bed bugs are as flat as a pancake. They are very small in size. In fact, if you don't see them on a black background you may not see them at all. During the nymph stage a bed bug is so small that it is the height of the word Liberty on a US penny! s are much larger and much more visible, and the bed bug will appear larger in size when it is engorged with blood after a meal. However, I'm writing this here to emphasize the fact that careful inspection is a must. A typical Bed Bug will molt five times before becoming an , and therefore shed skins and eggs may be the only evidence you can find of their existence. The bed bug life cycle is egg-->nymph-->adult.


Bed Bugs normally congregate around the bed areas, particularly the mattress. This is where infestations usually begin, and from there they can spread from the bed to the bed frame and eventually to other parts of the dwelling space including tables, chairs, couches, etc. It is sometimes possible that an infestation could begin in a couch or spread from an infested couch brought into a home and then to the bedroom.

Bed Bugs have a tendency to aggregate in small areas along the tufts, folds and seams of a mattress. However, this behavior is not always consistent. In one inspection Dr. Porter discovered one or two bed bugs on the carpet, some in the ceiling of the room, and one on a picture frame! This is why we stress to be thorough in bed bug control, especially when you tackle the bed bug treatment on your own. You need to invest in a good magnifying glass and be very meticulous in your treatment. The scary fact that "they could be hiding anywhere" is never truer then in bed bug control.

Dr. Porter's team found that in many hotel infestations the Bed Bugs were found on the bed frame (especially the head board) because the bed sheets are jostled daily by the housekeeping staff. Spraying down only the mattress with insecticide and neglecting other harborage areas of the hotel room just won't solve the problem in this situation.


Bed bugs are very resilient, which possibly explains how they are able to hitchhike all over the country in people's clothing, luggage, old couches and furniture etc. and go days and days without a blood meal. In fact, Dr. Porter suggests that they can live up to a year without a meal! While both very hot and very cold temperatures kill bed bugs, lowering the temperature of a home to solve your bed bug problem just won't do. Dr. Porter found bed bugs alive and well in a discarded mattress on the side of a road that had been there for days in very cold temperatures. Bed Bugs are certainly resilient creatures, but they are slow moving insects and contrary to some claims, they don't jump from place to place.


If you failed to notice a theme in this article than let me say it again: The KEY to Bed Bug control is thoroughness. If you miss just one small area on a mattress, then your chances of reinfestation are very high. Our customers may think we are pushing some marketing gimmick when we insist that they buy enough bed bug products to do a complete treatment with at least 1-2 full follow-up treatments, but that's simply the only way to solve the problem. Here are some of Dr. Porter's Bed Bug treatment suggestions:

1. Don't rely on odors. Some people claim that bed bug infestations have a distinct smelly sweet odor, but this is not always the case.
2. Get a magnifying lens - at least 16x and wear gloves. It's better to search for the bed bugs in pairs (2 technicians). Be careful not to get the bed bugs on your clothing and accidentally carry them to other locations!
3. Placing glue boards around the room won't do much in testing for bed bug activity.
4. Check the box spring--the box spring is bed bug heaven. Check it and treat it well. If the box spring looks bad just throw it out, including the mattress. Wrap the boxspring and mattress in plastic before transporting them so bed bugs don't fall off in the house.
5. Vacuum up bed bugs, but know that they can be hard to dislodge from the mattress and furniture. Scraping them with some type of tool while sucking with the vacuum will help.
6. Using a Steamer is useful as the heat will kill the bugs. A lot of bed bugs will die when they come in contact with the steam, however steam cleaning furniture and mattresses with a wand attachment may blow some bed bugs away without killing them, complicating the infestation.
7. Inspect the bed frames and headboards carefully. This is ground zero for bed bugs.
8. Treat all infested areas including the mattress (especially the tufts, fold and seams), headboards, under furniture etc, along the baseboards of the room, behind switch plates on the walls etc.
8. Plan for 2-5 subsequent services/treatments.


Insecticides with pyrethrins are effective against bed bugs. Specific laboratory tests have found that Demand CS, Drione Dust, Suspend SC, D-Force and Delta Dust all work well. Demand CS was found to kill the bugs faster than the other products (in about 30 minutes or less), but Suspend SC kills almost as fast as Demand and it is the only insecticide labeled for spraying directly on the mattress. That's why we recommend Suspend SC on our web site. Demand CS may be necessary in tougher commercial and hotel applications.

Do-It-Yourself Pest Control

I recently read an article about how pest control companies feel threatened by the ever growing market of Do-It-Yourself Pest Control Stores. It seems like everyday more and more companies are starting to realize that there is a market for the people that either do not want to pay the money or to deal with the service calls and companys technicians anymore.

Thanks to the internet, consumers can now buy the same products that they pay a company to use on their home. The EPA has restricted most products that have posed a threat in the past.

Today's products for the most part have no odor, are very safe around kids and pets, yet still just as effective as the "good stuff" in years past. The main difference that products are better is the chemical make-up, but the amazing thing is that they are just as good with less than 1% of active ingredient, compared to years ago where the active ingredient was 40%-50%. Very Strong!!! Too strong for the average homeowner.

Now that todays products are available to the homeowner, this industry is catching on like wildfire! I hear stories time and time again that people are just fed up with some service companies. There are not on time, they cost too much, and sometimes the service doesn't even work. The old story holds true: No one will care as much about your home as you will, no one will be as thorough to keep bugs out of your home as you will. Not to mention that you will save about 70% off of what you pay a company to do your own service.

As long as companys are out there doing half the service and work for the full price, i think this market is here to stay.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Our last pest control conference had a very interesting guest speaker. He is a world renowned entemologist and very good at what he does. He spoke briefly about urban pests, ones that are hard to control such as roaches, but in addition cause many health problems especially in low income urban housing.

He then shifted gears to bed bugs. In not so many words, he basically told us (the pest control technicians) that if we did not learn how to properly treat for bed bugs, we would be missing out on revenue. In his words, "bed bugs are becoming a national epidemic".

The main influx has resurfaced in New York, primarily from business travelers from overseas. Unfortunately, because New York is such a hub, signs of bed bugs are now starting to show up all over the nation. Mainly this stems from people staying in hotels in the north east states, and bringing back the "hitch hikers" to their own homes or apartments. This gentleman in our conference told us that companys charge upwards of $250.00 PER ROOM!

I was somewhat floored by this pricing, and couldn't even think of asking someone for that kind of money per room. The speaker went on to talk about how involved a treatment is and that every square inch must be treated. All furniture in the room must be taken apart. In addition, every inch you treat on the initial application must be done a second time at a minimum, two weeks later. Sometimes 3 and 4 treatments are necessary. At that point the $250 per room was justified in my mind.

I am praying that Atlanta does not become another New York when it comes to bed bugs. The money sounds great, but i hope my technicians can treat the rooms as thoroughly as they should be. Hopefully people would want to do the job themselves and pay less money. Here is an article about the new bed bug epidemic:
The Bed Bugs Are Back - New York Times

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Termite Treatment 101

I had a phone today that I've gotten many times and have not written down the steps for future reference. The common question I get is, "how do you perform a proper termite treatment?" It is actually quite involved, so I think by writing it down I can reference people to this and not have to explain it each time. This treatment applies only for SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES. Drywood termites require a different treatment method.

A Liquid termite treatment, although involved, is definitely something a homeowner can tackle. What makes it EASIER for a company is the equipment. It is definitely not rocket science. The main piece of equipment that makes it easy for company’s is they have 100 gallon pressure sprayers. A typical termite treatment requires 100 to 200 gallons of finished solution, so it helps out quite a bit to be able to treat in one or two shots. A homeowner normally does not have access to a 100 gallon spray rig, so it is much more time consuming. Most homeowners use a 5 gallon bucket. Since subterranean termites come from the ground, the goal is to put a complete termiticide barrier around the structure. This is achieved by trenching where there is dirt against your foundation, and drilling where there is concrete against your foundation.

Using a pick axe or trenching tool, you should dig a 6 inch wide and 6 inch deep trench directly against the foundation everywhere the ground comes up to the structure. Once the trench is complete it is filled with 4 gallons of mixed termiticide per 10 feet. This is where the 5 gallon bucket comes in handy. If one side of your house is 30 feet long, than you "eye" 4 gallons in the bucket and pour it in the trench 3 times for a total of 12 gallons per the 30 feet. You can use a one gallon sprayer to mix and spray the chemical with, but if your house requires 100 gallons of chemical, it may take you two days to fill the sprayer 100 times. It also helps to have something large to mix the chemical in, and then pour it in the 5 gallon bucket to place in the trench.

Once the trench is filled with the proper amount of termiticide, cover the trench back with the dirt that was removed. You want the dirt that you place back in the trench to be treated also, so that you have a complete barrier against your house and no untreated soil. If you place the dirt back in the trench while it is still filled with the termiticide, it will mix and be treated. If the ground has already soaked up the termiticide, than you will need to pour extra termiticide on top of the backfill.

For your garage, porch, patios, or other contiguous slabs against the home, you will need to get the termiticide underneath the concrete against the foundation. To do this you will need a hammer drill with a 12" by 1/2" wide drill bit. You drill holes throughout the concrete about 3-4 inches away from the wall or foundation, and apart about every 10"-12". Once the holes are drilled, you fill at the same rate you did the trench, 4 gallons per 10 feet. To fill these I would recommend using the one gallon sprayer on a "pin stream" setting so you can force the liquid down the hole and not splash it everywhere. Once the holes are filled all you need to do is patch them with a concrete patch filler you can buy at Home Depot.

These are the basic steps in a liquid termite treatment for Subterranean Termites. If your home has a crawl space or is surrounded by brick on all 4 sides, there are some additional drilling that usually is done when a professional treats your home. However, we have only covered the basics today. Good Luck!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Roaches, Roaches, Everywhere!

I have been in the pest control industry for quite awhile, so on most normal days I do not see new and unusual things. I have been on some "bad roach calls" plenty of times, but this day would be different. I've heard stories. . .even seen educational videos for my training classes we take every year. Every time I have watched these "bad roach accounts" I said to myself, "I will never see something that bad".

It was a beautiful sunny day outside, and I had just arrived at the office to a phone call about a family in a trailer about 5 miles from the office. They said they had a roach problem and wanted a one time treatment to help cut down on the problem. This was a normal call that we get every day, so I didn't think much of it. When I arrived at the structure I was thinking to myself this will be a quick in and out service, and I will be on my way. I was met outside at my truck as I was gathering my arsenal by the 12 year old daughter of the family. As I was digging through my toolbox I asked her how bad the roach problem was and she responded, "It's gotten really bad lately, we see them all over now". That is usually not a good sign. As I walked in the front door, the odor hit me like a ton of bricks. When you walk in a "bad roach call" you can smell the infestation. It has a distinct smell. This was the worse odor I can ever remember. I know the problem was bad before I even saw the first one. As I made my way further into the structure, it was kind of dark and dismal. It was quiet thought, and in the background I could hear what my eyes had not yet seen. I looked up at the ceiling and it moved. I looked at the walls and they moved. Then I realized what I was dealing with. Usually when you first go into a bad roach account, they congregate in the kitchen and bathrooms, and you find some here and there in the rest of the house. For me to see the numbers I saw in the living room and on the ceiling, this infestation had to be at the next level. Roaches are not really social creatures. When you have roaches showing up in huge numbers in other parts of a house other than the kitchen and bathrooms, you know that the population is so great they had to spread out.

Upon further examination I realized that I was in the "big one". The videos I had seen and stories I had heard about could not prepare me for what I was witnessing in person. One for the record books. They were everywhere, by the thousands. Every inch of the counter, every drawer, every cupboard, every box, every picture frame and poster on the wall, covered in roaches. The saddest part of the whole situation was that humans actually lived here. They sleep here with roaches crawling on them all night, they eat here with roaches crawling all over their food. Roaches are some of the unhealthiest pests around. They carry disease and filth that causes asthma and typhoid fever just to name a few. When you enter a house with roaches, you look for the areas of fecal matter to see where they are hiding out at. There "waste" looks like pepper shaken out on a counter top, and is the unhealthy and diseased part of a roach infestation. Usually you find these fecal deposits in corners, around picture frames, underneath appliances. This particular house had fecal deposits everywhere, and on everything. The people inside of course had asthma, as expected. Some of the fecal deposits were like none I had ever seen, 1/4 thick "cakes" of fecal matter. I could not believe what I was seeing, I could not believe people could live in these kinds of conditions. I couldn't believe that people could let a problem get this bad before calling for help.

The farthest room from the kitchen was the 12 year old girl's bedroom. She had pictures of crayon drawings on her wall and above her bed on the ceiling. Each one of these pictures when tapped with my hand, revealed hundreds of dwellers behind them. I moved her book bag off the wall that was hanging on a hook, and from behind it hundreds of tiny roaches scattered like the light switch was just turned on.

The ideal answer in this situation is to either. . .A.) Call someone else, I'm outta here. B.) Burn down the structure and start from scratch. Or C.) Ask the homeowner to leave for a day and fog like you have never fogged before.

I always like a challenge so I offered answer C. We have a micro jet fogger at our office which I have used in many situations somewhat like this. One thing was evident, a good fogging is their only hope, but they will still have roaches. The hope is to cut down the numbers so they can at least hopefully sleep at night without uninvited guests in their bed, and to hopefully get the population contained back in the kitchen. They agreed to leave the following day. I returned with the fogger and got started. When you start fogging a roach infested house, you usually double the number of roaches you have seen previously. The fog that is created is tiny particles of insecticide that flushes insects out of hiding, and soon after kills them. After a room fills with the fog, they begin to come from everywhere. Of course I was wearing the proper equipment: eye protection, chemical respirator, gloves, long sleeves, and long pants. After you fog each room separately, the entire house at this point is blurry. I set the fogger down near the door and go outside to get some fresh air. I usually leave the fogger on for a couple more minutes to fill the house up completely. I open the door to grab the fogger and turn it off. Once you have fogged a roach infested house, you can hear them falling off the ceiling and hitting the floor, it sounds like rain drops. I was interested in hearing this particular job because of the great numbers I was dealing with. I opened the door and stood silently for a second. It sounded almost equivalent to a torrential downpour in the summertime. Minus the lightning and thunder. I could see the kitchen floor from the front door where I was standing. There were thousands of dying roaches on the linoleum floor, legs up. It reminded me of the battle scene from Saving Private Ryan when they stormed the beach at Normandy. It was a brutal sight. I left the house planning on returning a couple hours later to assess the damage.

Upon my return I would say the assault was successful. Piles of casualties lay all over the house. I would say enough to fill up an entire large kitchen trash bag completely with dead roaches. That family was very pleased with the results. I returned a week later to inspect the structure again and evaluate if it would need another treatment. I was amazed at the results, but it was still not hard to find them. At this point if it was the first time I had entered this house, I would still think in my eyes that it was a bad roach problem. However, my version of a bad roach problem had now taken on a whole new meaning. The homeowners did not want another service. They had lived in those conditions so long, that after the fogging they felt the problem was take care of, even though there will still roaches in many places.

This structure of course was not very clean. The floors look like they had not been vacuumed in years. Cleanliness is key in any roach infestation. Each night the counters and floors should be wiped down of all sticky substances and crumbs. The sink should not have any dishes left in it over night, and the sink should be dried out each night too. This goes the same for bathrooms. Roaches can go a long time without food, but must have water to survive. A couple drops of water can sustain a hundred roaches for weeks. Sometimes cleanliness alone can solve a roach problem, but not one of the magnitudes I have just spoke about. The problem escalated to that point though because of the lifestyle and uncleanliness of the homeowners. The problem doesn't happen overnight, and will not go away overnight. If there is food and water that is left around, roaches will thrive and reproduce so fast that before you know it, you could be the next "bad roach call".