Thursday, 15 November 2012

It's not a goodnight, I'm not sleeping tight. Is it the bed-bugs that bite?

Bed-bugs or fleas?

I've heard a lot about bed-bugs recently. Have I got them?

First things first. Let's see if you're in a high risk category. 
  1. Do you live in an inner city apartment?
  2. Have you been overseas recently and stayed in a hotel, motel or back packers?
  3. Have you had anyone staying with you recently? Did they stay in a hotel, motel or back packers?
  4. Have you bought any second hand furniture? Particularly beds or couches?
If you answer yes to any of the following questions you are in a high risk category.

If not, it's more likely you've got fleas. Check out our recent blog article about the flea life-cycle for more information about fleas.

If you answered yes to any one of the above questions then here's where you need to look to see if you've got anything obvious.

  1. Sheets and pillows. FORGET IT, you'll never, ever find bed-bugs there unless they're very sick or dead.
  2. The mattress seams..... maybe but not very usually unless it's a bad infestation.
  3. The bed-base. Absolutely! Particularly at the head end of the bed.
Why the head end of the bed? Well bed-bugs like somewhere where they're going to be undisturbed during the day, somewhere very close to their food source when they come out in the wee small hours of the morning when everything is quiet. Somewhere close to what attracts them.....your body heat and the carbon dioxide in your breath.

Your beds' base is the perfect habitat!

So what do you need to look for? If it's an advanced infestation the signs will be obvious in your bed-base;
  1. Adult bed-bugs. Usually reddy brown and about the size of a short grain of rice hiding under material coverings, wood slats or in the head board.
  2. Blood spotting on the bed base. This is the bed-bugs faeces.
  3. Very, very small white eggs gathered around other signs of bed-bugs.
However unless the infestation is advanced it's usually not that easy to spot a bed-bug infestation. Early infestations are harder to spot as bed-bugs are masters of hide and seek and may leave little trace of their presence.

Bed-bugs are very, very hard to get rid of. The best option is to get a professional pest controller who has bed-bug experience to look at the situation and offer advice on what you have and what you need to do to eradicate the problem.

The team at Bug king are experts at bed-bug extermination. Check out our recent coverage in the NZ Herald and on TV3's morning show.

If you need advice on a possible bed-bug infestation please feel free to give the team at Bug King a call.

The team at Bug King/Chimney King

Friday, 5 October 2012

Spring is officially here.........according to the bugs

There's been a definite change in pest problems.

Less rats and mice and a lot more flying insects.

The top three pests last month were;

  1. Rodents
  2. Fleas
  3. Wood/native cockroaches

It's only early days but we've noticed a big change in calls about bugs. It's shaping up for a big month for;
  1. Wasps
  2. Flies
  3. Fleas

These are definitely warm weather the team at Bug king would officially like to welcome in the spring season.

Our top two recommendations to keep your home pest free this Spring/Summer;

  1. Treat for flies now to control the population before the weather gets any hotter and the flies really start to breed.
  2. If you've got pets and you're planning a holiday, get a flea treatment before you go. This will ensure you're not attacked by hungry fleas when you get back.

The team at Bug King/Chimney King

Thursday, 13 September 2012

It's almost borer season

October is the adult borer flight season

So what! Well if you think you've got borer, now's the time to sort it out and break the borer life-cycle.

If you've got borer you're going to start noticing new holes, dark brown beetles and sawdust very shortly. This is because borer flight season is almost upon us.

Borer will happily bore away inside untreated timber throughout the year but you'll only really notice them from October-ish onwards. This is when the mature larvae pupate and emerge from your newly painted timber as adult borer beetles.

If you're seeing borer damage in visible timber it doesn't necessarily mean you've got a borer infestation. This could be old damage that has been treated in the past, however if you are seeing sawdust on flat surfaces it's more than likely that you have an active infestation.

Borer top view

Borer side view
DON'T PANIC! It is treatable. If the borer infestation is in the ceiling or sub-floor spaces a professional can apply a one off treatment that will kill the borer larvae in the wood before they have a chance to pupate and emerge as adult beetles (broken life-cycle = no more borer).

If you're seeing borer holes in timber inside your home the remedy is a little different. We can't treat the timber directly as it won't soak into the wood due to the paint and varnish but we can exterminate the beetles as they emerge from the wood and break the life cycle (broken life-cycle = no more borer). Unfortunately this means you'll need to get treatments sprayed on wooden surfaces throughout the home for the next four years to confidently eradicate the infestation. The good news is this is also an effective fly and spider no creepy crawlies over Summer for at least four years. Yayyyyyy.

So if you think you've got borer and need a professional opinion, don't hesitate to call the team at Bug King  for some friendly advice.

The team at Bug King/Chimney King

Monday, 27 August 2012

The Queen's have arrived

We got our first wasp extermination call of the season today.

Must be time for a post on the why's and what's of wasps, because they could be a big problem this season.

You must have's starting to warm up. This means the queen wasps are coming out of hibernation and looking for a place to build their new nests. Once she's established she'll start laying up to 100 eggs a day.......and the next thing you know it's the middle of Summer and you've got a wasps nest with between 3,000 and 6,000 wasps spoiling your good old Kiwi barbecue. 

As a rule, wasps don't return to the same place year after year, however they do prefer some particular habitats. If you get a wasp nest every year, take a look around your roof, does it get sun all day? Does it have lots of gaps for wasps to get in? Is there plenty of wood around your home (think fences, garden furniture, decks) to use as nest building material? Hmmmm, I think I've just described the majority of Auckland's homes!!! No wonder it's such a huge part of our Summer business.

The two types of calls we usually get are;
1. Nuisance wasps in the garden (where the nest can't be found).
2. An active wasp nest on the property.

Nuisance wasps don't necessarily mean you have an active wasps nest nearby. It is more likely that there are trees or bushes that provide a sugar based liquid food such as nectar that the adult wasps can feed on. Wasps are swarm feeders. If a foraging wasp has found a food source, it'll shoot back to the nest and recruit all it's mates to join in in a very short space of time one wasp can become hundreds.

Another possible reason for lots of wasps is them foraging for nesting material by stripping wood from fences, decks and furniture. Although this usually means a nest is nearby. If you think that a nest is present, stand and watch for a few minutes. This is normally enough to establish  flight paths and determine where the main activity is coming from.

Larger wasp nests have quite a bit of traffic coming and going, so should be easy to spot. The best places to look are;
  • Gaps in the foundation walls, like the ventilation openings, weep holes, trap doors.
  • The guttering and edges of roofing.
  • The base of thick shrubs like flax or agapanthus and tree trunks or stumps
This basic visual inspection will normally be enough to establish if a nest is present.

OK so we've located the nest. What do we do now? We're kiwis so a good old D.I.Y. home remedy is an option.....or not. If you're thinking of blocking the entrance or setting fire to it I've got one word for you....NO!

Do not block the entrance to a wasps nest. The wasps will get agitated and immediately start trying to find another way in and more importantly.....OUT!  Wasps in properties that have their exits blocked will chew their way out, usually to the inside of the house. Now we've got a problem and what should have been an easy extermination now becomes much more difficult.

Also, please don't set fire to the nest or nest entrance. You may kill a few, but you will set off their defensive mechanism and people are going to get stung. During the day, most of the wasps are out foraging so setting fire to the nest won't kill them. When they get back they'll get confused about where their home is and as their numbers steadily build they'll become a worse problem than before.

You could try a D.I.Y. wasp treatments from the local hardware. Some of these are effective but you will need to be able to see the entrance to the nest and you're going to have to get close. If you don't have the correct protective clothing, doing this can result in a serious attack. Aggressive German wasps will attack you just for being within 10m of their nest.

The best option is a professional pest controller. We apply a powder to the entrance of the nest that will kill the wasps in the nest as well as the foraging wasps as they return to the nest. Once the nest has been treated and the wasps exterminated we recommend you leave it in place. The nest was built there because it was a good place. Wasps don't re-use old nests. If you remove a treated nest, the location becomes free for another queen to build a nest another year. Also, other nests nearby will know the location of the treated nest and will investigate from time to time to see if there is an opportunity to raid it. When they enter the treated nest they will come in contact with the powder and occasionally enough is taken back to the neighbouring nest to kill that one as well.

The team at Bug King/Chimney King

p.s. If you've got a problem honey bee nest/swarm, contact the local bee-keepers association. They will usually relocate it for free.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Views from the top....#1

When you're on top of roofs sweeping chimney's you get some superb views.

OK.......not the best view we've seen but a good one to start with.

We're going to start a new series of photos, taking pictures of some of the views we get from the rooftops while the Chimney King guys are getting covered in soot.

Good old Rangi as viewed from Newmarket

This is from Newmarket, close to the shopping centre and looking east out to Rangitoto and over the causeway. Notice the tree in the foreground, this really blocks the owners view....that extra bit of height makes all the difference.

More great views to follow.

The team at Chimney King / Bug King.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Do ultrasonic pest repeller's work. It would be great if they did???

You know those ultrasonic, electromagnetic, ionic rodent and cockroach repellent thingy's you plug in the wall. Do they work?

The short answer is no! why not?

Well without getting to technical........the ability for animals to quickly acclimatise to repeated stimuli is well known.

What this means is that you may get some temporary relief from the problem but before you know it the pests are going only going to treat these products as soothing background music. Something that provides an assurance that everything's OK as they go about their daily tasks.

If these products worked then we'd be using them, they don't, so we don't.

Please be aware: the Australian Government Consumer Watch body the ACCC forced a brand of these products off the market as they had no effect on the pests that they claimed to drive out of the home. This company sold this product to 450,000 consumers. If the company had not withdrawn the product from the market they would have been faced a fine of many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This product is now on the market in New Zealand

If you want a real solution to your rodent problem, please feel free to call the team at Bug King.

The team at Bug King / Chimney King

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The top pests for June are...

It's the middle of winter and the flies are gone.

But that's seen an increase in....

Number 1: Rodents
Rats and mice are moving into the home because it's getting bloody cold and wet out there.

Look around the neighbourhood, can you see trees touching the roof of your neighbours home? There's more than a 50% chance that they've got rodents in the ceiling and don't even know it.

Number 2: Wood/native cockroaches
It's the cold and rain again, or it could be because you've just had a trailer load of wood delivered for the fireplace. Wood + disturbed habitat = outdoor cockroaches in the home.

Number 3: Ants
Amazing little insects but not so adorable when they're crawling all over the kitchen. Again it's the weather that's driving them inside. They want what we want, a nice dry, warm home.

All these guys would probably prefer to be outside....but not when it's cold and wet and there's plenty to eat inside.

You know the drill....give the team a call if you're having problems with any of these pests and we'll make sure they stay outside where they belong.

The team at Bug King / Chimney King

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

3 bombs and still got fleas

Why aren't these damn flea bombs working?!?

We know....and it's all to do with the flea life-cycle.

When we think of fleas, what immediately comes to mind is those little black critters that are great at jumping around and like to bite us. Unfortunately those little buggers are only the adult fleas, they have another 3 stages to their life-cycle and this is why flea bombs don't usually work.

 Check out the diagram on the left. Letting off a flea bomb will kill the adults and the larvae but only have limited stopping power against the pupae and no effect whatsoever on the eggs. This means you're only fixing 40-50% of the immediate problem...and....what's worse is there's no residual protection....i.e. once the flea bomb fumes disappear so does the killing power.

So the next thing you know it's 2 weeks down the track and the surviving stages of the flea life-cycle have matured into adults and you're getting bitten again and you let off more flea bombs and.....etc.....etc.

So that's why the damn flea bombs aren't working now what can you about it.

If flea bombs don't work then you're going to need a professional flea treatment. This involves applying a treatment that will kill the adult fleas/pupae/larvae and (AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT) a growth regulator that will stop the hatching eggs developing into adults.....and these treatments will have a residual, so they'll hang around and provide long lasting protection against future infestations.

p.s. Here's another couple of quick tips that will help keep those fleas at bay;
1. You can't spot treat for fleas. Those eggs can be dropped anywhere so you need to make sure you treat the whole house rather than only the rooms you think are infested.
2. If you're moving into a place where the previous owners had pets, definitely get a flea treatment before you move in.

This was a quick overview so, if you have any questions regarding this article, please don't hesitate to call for advice.

The team at Bug King/Chimney King

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Every year? Yeah, no.....maybe.

Do I need to get my chimney cleaned every year?

The most common question for the guys on the coal face during chimney season.

The short answer is yes....hmmmm actually no, hang on maybe. I guess there is no short answer.

It really comes down to two factors;

1. The physical
2. The paperwork

From a physical perspective it really depends on what type of fire you have, how often you use it and what sort of wood you're burning.

If it's an open fire (you know the old brick one's with a grate) that you use every night with wood that you bought from the guy that chopped down that pine tree last week....then the answer is definitely yes.
If it's a wood burner (the one's with a door) that you only use occasionally with that nice dry wood that's been seasoned for two years....then you can safely get away with every couple of years.

Physical: sweep and inspection = fire type x how often you use x quality of wood

The paperwork side of things is a lot less subjective. If I don't get a sweep and inspection every year am I covered by insurance......or not? Time to drag out that policy, dust it off, and battle through the small print or....we suggest you give them a quick call and make them work for their money. The most common conditions are;

1. Open fire: annually
2. Woodburner: every 2 years

Paperwork: Am I covered = CHECK YOUR POLICY!!!

If you're unsure, or need some advice, don't hesitate to call the team at Chimney King

The team at Bug King/Chimney King

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Arrghhh cockroaches. What will the neighbours think!

Hey, it's probably not as bad as you think because....

  ....not all cockroaches are equal. You can divide them into two distinct categories;

Update 2 September 2012.
We're getting a few enquiries from customers saying the cockroaches they've got are different to the one's featured below.  Apologies for not explaining ourselves better. These aren't the only outdoor cockroaches you'll see around your home.....just the most common ones by far. Other common outdoor cockroaches you may see include the Smokey Brown, Oriental and Brown Banded. Oh, and if you're interested these are the two types of nasty indoor cockroaches. German and American

  1. Indoor cockroaches: the nasty little buggers that live in your kitchen behind the fridge and think nothing of walking all over your dinner with their little disease ridden feet . You definitely don't want these in your home but we won't spend to much time on these as they're not as common as the......
  2. Outdoor cockroaches: these guys are harmless. Scary looking, especially if they're the big black Gisborne cockroach, but harmless. They'd much rather be outside frolicking in leaf litter and decaying wood but they occasionally they pop inside for a visit and to hang out on the walls of your home.
Gisborne Cockroach (Actual Size)
So why do these outdoor cockroaches want to pop in for a visit? Well, it's winter and it's getting a bit cold and wet outside. If you're looking for somewhere warm and dry, then it's just a short crawl up the wall and through that gap in the window or around the drainpipe. 

So, as long as you're not seeing cockroaches scuttle for cover when you switch on the kitchen light at night, then you've probably just got a few harmless wood cockroaches coming in looking for a bit of shelter.

Unpleasant. Yes, but certainly not a hygiene issue.

Still who really wants cockroaches in their home, even if they're harmless.

So what can you do to keep these guys out. Exclusion, exclusion, exclusion!!! You need to apply treatments to all potential entry points as well as the external walls to keep these pests out of your home and in the garden where they belong.

p.s. Above right is an actual size picture of native wood cockroach. Another very common outdoor cockroach you might see in your home this winter.

Regards, The Team at Bug King/Chimney King.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Chances are.......

H-cowls.....can't think of a better place to build a nest.

Do you have a woodburner? If so, have a look on the roof. Does it have a top bit (the cowl) that looks like this?

The H-cowl, the discerning bird's preferred nesting site.

If you do then there have probably been down-draught issues with your fire. These cowl's do an excellent job of solving that problem, HOWEVER, there is a downside.

There's a very high chance that you'll have birds nesting in the cowl come Spring. If you don't do something to prevent this, then when you light that first winter fire, you'll enjoy that lovely barbecue smell throughout your home as smoke pours out the fire rather than up the blocked chimney.

That's the bad news. The good news is, this is very easy to fix.

Either, get your friendly sweep to inspect the cowl in early Autumn as part of your annual sweep....

Or, get bird-proofing installed to stop birds accessing the cowl.

Physically, most woodburners don't need to be serviced every year (but check with you insurer for their requirements) so the least expensive option would be to have some simple bird-proofing measures installed.

Have a H-cowl or other bird control issues? Please feel free to give the team a call for advice.

The team at Bug King/Chimney King