Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Article - PCT Magazine

In this town we call home! Everyone hail to the pumpkin song!


Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween full of trick-o-treaters. Well, I had the opportunity to help out PCT Magazine for an article about Pest Management during a Zombie Apocalypse. The original idea for this fun article came from watching too many episode of the Walking Dead, and being annoyed that no one ever gets West Nile Virus or Dengue when traveling through the swamps, etc. It’s kinda like this picture I saw the other day: 

Luckily, for this fun project I had my friend Allison Taisey helped me out! She is amazing, the best entomologist ever! If you have the chance, check out her site. She has very helpful information regarding pest management and multi-housing.

But, without further ado, here is my published article thanks to the lovely folks at PCT Magazine for the opportunity to contribute:

PCT Zombie Article

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How Simple Home Improvement Projects Can Keep Pests Out

Pest control is often difficult and time-consuming, which is why many homeowners choose to ignore it. However, you can prevent pest infestations while beautifying your home through home improvement projects. Prevent your home from needing a termite inspection or other costly pest control procedure by attempting some of these simple home improvement projects:

Building Better Baseboards
Ever notice that the exterminator always sprays around the edges and corners of the room first? This is because there are gaps there. While you might not see them in the corners of walls, they exist nonetheless and serve as hiding places for critters.

The baseboard around your floors is a great place for pests to enter your home, which is why you may want to replace yours if it’s old or damaged. When installing a new baseboard, you can keep bugs like crickets and roaches out by using a flexible inorganic joint compound in the cracks. The compound’s flexibility will ensure that the seal won’t crack as the house settles in, deterring pests in the future. 

Sealing Cellars and Basement Joints
Many homeowners who have high energy bills can reduce this expense by resealing their basement. This will ensure that your basement isn’t leaking air or accumulating moisture. Basement seal kits are easy for novices to use and they're relatively inexpensive. Using a sealant can prevent termites from entering your home and causing major structural damage.
Siding Installations
Installing new siding on your home is an excellent way to improve energy efficiency, but it's also good for keeping insects out. This is especially true when you cover up the soffit areas under roof overhangs. These spaces are often more susceptible to termite intrusion, being as they are less weather-ready. A good aluminum or vinyl siding job complete with vented soffits is the best way to protect these areas from stray termites, wasps, and other destructive burrowing insects.

Landscape Design
Another big issue determining how well your termite inspection goes is how susceptible your yard is to infestation. If there are a lot of dead trees on the property close to your house, it's more likely that termites will migrate inside. However, trimming shrubbery and removing dead trees can prevent termites from gaining access to your house. Keeping firewood 15-20 feet away is another preventative measure.

Termites and rodents are attracted to moisture. When landscaping your home, make sure to keep the mulch beds near your house low so that they don’t retain as much water. As a general rule, leave a 6-inch gap between the side of the house and the edge of the mulch. This makes it easier for the exterminator to see termite tracks. Employing just a few landscaping efforts can keep your property clear and termite-free.

Before hiring an exterminator, try some of these home improvement projects. Not only will they make your home less vulnerable to pest attacks, but they will improve its value. If you’re home improvement efforts fail to rid your home of pests, you’ll need to contact a reputable pest control company so that the pests don’t cause further damage to your home.

Monday, September 17, 2012

5 Simple Improvements that Add Value to Your Home Prior to Selling

Today's article is a Guest Post by my friend Sam from Saint Louis, MO.

With real estate on the rebound, people look to jump back in the business, while getting the most out of selling their homes. Selling a house can be a difficult process, since potential buyers have become more selective, risk averse and demand higher quality for the money they will put down on a home. Although this buyer’s skepticism has added pressure on sellers to produce and promote quality houses for sale, hope is on the horizon for selling and buying with confidence. If houses are worthy to buyers, then sellers won’t have a problem getting back in real estate and getting those listings sold.

One mistake sellers make, in an attempt to save money, time or both, is trying to sell a house that isn’t ready. Producing a house that buyers will want to buy is the proper way to sell. It’s essential to create something buyers will want and not force them into believing a house is right for them. This only feeds the buyer’s skepticism and will be counterintuitive down the road for the seller’s intent on saving time and money.

The following home improvements can redeem sellers’ houses for sale. However, these enhancements are under the assumption that larger problems homes normally face are already fixed, such as foundation damage, pest problems, and even mold and mildew infiltrations. The improvements below are typically economical and easier to implement instead of solving the previous, more challenging problems. They’re considered to be additions that add value above the average cost, rather than home problem resolutions than keep your home at its base value.

Create Comfortable Lighting: Lighting sets the mood of a home. Any home with unappealing or harsh lights will distract the potential home buyer of being comfortable. A home needs to be an invitation of relaxation. Take a coffee shop, for instance, or any atmosphere of a restaurant. The lighting is typically low key, creating a cozy atmosphere. People don’t want to be distracted from their meals. The same applies to a home.

Make It Look New: Throw up a new coat of paint, vacuum the carpet and clean everything. I mean everything. People love clean, tidy living quarters. It reduces stress. Otherwise, it’s only sidetracking them from the rest of the home.

Plant a Colorful & Lively Exterior: Plant some flowers and other greenery out front. The outside is the first thing buyers will see. It’s a first impression, so take advantage and give them a reason to want to see the inside of the house.

Ensure Energy Efficiency: A home will be one of the most expensive purchases in someone’s lifetime. Anything that will save them money along the way will only be beneficial. Ensure that windows and doors are energy efficient, upgrade to energy star appliances and install CFL’s. Sometimes it’s the small things that entice people.

Eliminate Odors/Add Refreshing Scents: People want to feel refreshed and even enticed upon entering a home. An odor-free or appealing scent will be beneficial for buyers feeling comfortable or “at home” while looking at a house.

These improvements will allow sellers to add value to their houses for sale without having to put much effort and, in some cases, much money into the projects. Sellers should be proud of the homes they are selling, while buyers shouldn’t feel skeptical of buying a home. With quality houses for sale, buyers and sellers will have the confidence to continue with a purchase or sale, leaving both parties content.

Author Bio: Samuel Ott is a writer for STL Real Estate, a leader in buying and selling real estate in St. Louis, Missouri area.

Friday, June 29, 2012

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are small insects in the family Cimicidae. Mature bed bugs are no more than 5 to 7mm long and oval in shape. Their flat appearance often confuses people into thinking they are either small cockroaches or ticks. They prefer to feed on human blood, which makes them impossible to ignore. Bed bug treatment is not easy and often has to be performed by a bed bug exterminator.

As nymphs, they are clear and become bright red directly after feeding. The adults are brownish in color, but appear reddish after eating. Bite marks can range from small bumps to large hives, depending on the size of bed bug that bites and allergy level of the human it feeds from. They average in looks that compare with mosquito bites and are typically itchy.

Why Are They on the Comeback?

Recent news reports have detailed the infestations of major hotels and businesses. Even though the use of a bed bug exterminator was incorporated, hotels have been subject to lawsuits arising from bed bug bites suffered by guests. The reasons that bed bug reports are on the rise are twofold: lack of DDT and International travel.

The DDT Connection
DDT was used heavily as a pesticide in the 1950s and 60s as a method of preventing bed bugs. Little thought was given to side effects until horrible birth defects began showing up and a study concluded that it was too harmful to use as a pesticide. The ban of its use has been a boon for our health and the environment, but we lost an effective form of bed bug treatment.

International Travel

Bed bugs were never completely eradicated in all parts of the world. Hotels across the nation are conveniently located close to an international airport, making it easy for these pests to hitch rides in a traveler’s personal belongings.

What to Look For?

There are signs to look for when checking into lodging that accommodates international travelers. Hotel and motel sheets, pillowcases, and mattresses may have traces of bed bug feces. These are tiny dots that are dark brown or black in color. You may also want to look closely at the headboard, corners of the mattress, and the nightstand for signs. They also love to hide behind loose wallpaper and pictures hanging on the walls. Waking up to painful, itchy welts is another sign of an infestation. It’s important to note that bed bugs can go unseen. For this reason, it’s best to hire a beg bug exterminator to treat the problem.

Preventing Bed Bugs

Preventing bed bugs is certainly easier than fighting an active infestation. Look closely for the signs of bed bugs, such as feces on the sheets or mattresses. Try and keep your luggage to a minimum and store it off the floor, preferably on hangers away from the walls. Consult a bed bug exterminator if you feel you may have brought the problem home and need a bed bug treatment. A pest professional will be better equipped to eliminate the infestation. 

Author Bio: Rose McMillan is an experienced pest control professional who has worked at at several pest control companies, including Terminix and now does freelance writing with the purpose of giving back to the community by educating homeowners.