What’s Living in Your Carpet?

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are often overlooked when people think about insect infestations in their home, but these pests can quickly take center stage when they get into your home.

Bed bugs love warm houses, especially near or inside of beds and bedding or other sleep areas. They are also found in hotels, schools, retail facilities, office buildings, libraries, and other public areas.

Bed bugs typically (but not exclusively) come out at night. Their primary annoyance to humans is their bite. While bed bugs are not know to transmit disease, they do in fact bite people, often around the neck and head and other places where bare skin is exposed. These bites are often mistaken for the bites of other insects. Some people are allergic to these bites and so bites can vary from a small red spot to a rash or even hives.

Bed bugs also feed on pets, so pet sleeping areas can also be a nesting spot for bed bugs.

Identifying Bed Bugs:

Bed bugs are flattened and oval in shape, have no wings, and adults vary from 1/4″ to 3/8″ in length, and look a lot like a wood tick. While typically brown, after feeding they turn purplish-red in color. At this time they also swell up and elongate which can make them appear to be a different insect. Young bed bugs are much smaller, only 1/16th of an inch in length, and are almost without color.

Bed bugs lay eggs in cracks and crevices, and a single bug can lat as many as 250 eggs in its lifetime. These hatch in 6-10 days, with the new nymphs immediately seeking a meal. They will then need to molt 5 times and will need to feed at least once for each molt, after which they will become adults. There can be as many as three generations of bugs produced each year, and individual bugs typically live for ten to twelve months. Adult bedbugs can go for almost their entire life between feedings, so a vacant house may be no guarantee that there are no bedbugs.

Treating Bed Bugs:

How do you get rid of bed bugs? Bed bugs are a particularly difficult insect to get rid of, and the University of Minnesota strongly recommends using a professional exterminator. In addition to moving and disassembling furniture, the insecticides used need to be professional grade and should be applied in conjunction with special equipment that can raise the temperature in the affected area to 118 degrees, and then maintain it for at least 70 minutes.


Dust Mites

The causes and effects of allergies have long been known and can be a serious health threat. Allergies are a menace to the immune system, resulting in inflammation of the eyes, nose (rhinitis), lungs (asthma), and skin (eczema).  It is estimated that allergies affect some 50% of the population.

One controllable culprit in the battle with allergens is the house dust mite, a microscopic insect which is found in our indoor environment. There are three widespread species of dust mite, and all contain and deposit allergens.

It is estimated that 30% or more of people have some form of allergic reaction to these allergens.

People tend to associate dust mites with their beds and bedroom, but dust mites are often found through most of a home and even in professional offices. Here’s why:

Humans shed skin scales which in turn feed the dust mites. Carpeting, bedding, and fabric upholstery provide them with a safe place to live. As a result, rooms that are used most in the home such as bedrooms, play rooms and living rooms as well as carpeted floors in offices are ideal breeding grounds for the dust mite.

Hidden places with food, particularly if there is some moisture, are also dust mite habitats. Under refrigerators, dishwashers, and ranges can make your kitchen into a breeding ground even though there is no carpet.

Identifying Dust Mites

Dust mites are tiny, being about 1/100th of an inch in length (0.25-0.3 millimeters) in length. This means that you need at least 10x magnification to identify them.

A single ounce of dust can support up to 15,000 dust mites, and a single mated female dust mite can produce up to 100 eggs, so a dust mite problem can rapidly become chronic.

So how do you deal with dust mites?

  • Dust mites particularly love pillows due to the increased moisture content from perspiration and breathing. Various studies have shown that feather pillows are dust mite friendly and others have shown that foam pillows are worse. In either case it’s simple to kill them. Simply wash your bedding and pillows. Normal clothes dryer temperatures of 221 degrees Fahrenheit will kill dust mites after about ten minutes.
  • Use a mattress pad. This provides a barrier to prevent mites from penetrating into your mattress and conversely from then traveling back into your bedding.. Regularly launder this pad.
  • Some people advocate using disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (DOT – an alkaline salt) powder on your mattress, but be aware that DOT can be an eye irritant.
  • Regular professional steam cleaning of your carpets removes dust mites and their food source.

Call Commercial Steam Team today at 952-224-7222 to help make your home environment more healthy and allergen-free!


Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles are an often overlooked pest that can cause a range of problems.

The greatest impact that carpet beetles have is on products of animal origin such as furs, flannels, woolens, and feathers. Overall, in most cases they are much more common and more damaging to fabrics than clothes moths.

Carpet beetles also can infest dried food products in your pantry. They are generally less damaging than many other pests in this area because they reproduce slowly (about one generation per year), they can nevertheless be a recurring problem since annual migrations can bring them back year after year.

Carpet beetles can also cause red bite-like welts on your skin. Since the beetles are attracted to the carbon dioxide that we exhale, they are often found in beds, particularly feather pillows. Unlike bed bugs, carpet beetles do not bite. The reason for the welts is that some people are allergic to carpet beetles. In particular, the long hairs on carpet beetle larvae can penetrate into the skin and trigger the allergic reaction. These hairs can even go through fabric. If other people live in your house and they are not experiencing these welts, this is a good indication that the problem could be carpet beetles rather than bed bugs, since bed bugs would tend to bite everyone indiscriminately.

Sometimes the allergic reaction can be worse in the winter, since static electricity can cause you to attract more of the hairs to your body.

Identifying Carpet Beetles:

Most carpet beetles and beetle larvae found in our region are small – and eighth of an inch or less. The beetles themselves are oval, shiny, and black. The larvae are often reddish or tan with short hairs. Since the larvae shed their skins often you will often see their cast-off skins which look like the live larvae.

You can often find the cast-offs and larvae in places where lint and animal fur may collect, such as along the edge of carpets or under rug ends, under furniture, in ducts and vents, in corners or in floor cracks. You may also find signs in stored wool products and clothing, or in stored food products.

Treating Carpet Beetles:

If you’re having an allergic reaction, you don’t need to chemically treat your home or office to get rid of the problem; It isn’t the live insect that causes the reaction, it’s the prickly little larvae hairs. These are often picked up by socks and shoes and can then be transmitted elsewhere. Here’s what you can do:

• Discard clothing items that have been heavily damaged
• Wash clothing and bedding in hot soapy water
• Steam clean your carpets

Steam cleaning should kill the pests in your carpet as well as remove the stinging hairs.

Call Commercial Steam Team today at 952-224-7222 to help make your home environment more healthy and allergen-free!


Fleas

There are over 2.000 species of fleas, and once your home has become a host for them it can feel like all 2,000+ have come to live there.

Fleas are at most an eighth of an inch in size and extremely agile, so they can be difficult to spot. They are usually identified first through the presence of bites, although close attention while brushing and inspecting pets may discover them earlier.

Fleas can live up to several years, although they typically live only two or three months. Once they become adults their main goal is to find blood which they need to reproduce. This means they bite.

Once they successfully bite their victim, the next step is to lay eggs, which they typically do on their host. This makes places where you and/or your pets rest or sleep into an ideal nursery for fleas. Eggs take 2-14 days to hatch. The larvae also require blood, and if enough blood and other nutrients (such as yeast) are available they will soon pass through 3 larvae stages and pupate. Larva often feed on fecal matter from the adult fleas. About a week after population the adult fleas emerge.

Flea bites itch, and on pets can cause hair loss through excessive scratching. Extreme cases can also result in anemia.

Fleas also carry a number of diseases, such as typhus; pneumonic, septicemic, and bubonic plagues; spotted fever; bacteremia; endocarditis; bacillary angiomatosis; and peliosis hepatis, as well as being a carrier for the Hymenolepiasis tapeworm.

Treating Fleas:

Most strategies involve insecticides, including types that attack the immature fleas and retain a residual effect to attack the larvae when they hatch. Flea control products, once begun, should be continued for at least 6 months, since this addresses the complete life cycle of the flea and doesn’t allow them to build up immunity. However, flea control strategies can be problematic. Flea ointment is hazardous to humans, for instance, and many treatments that work on dogs can be harmful to cats. One alternative, cedar oil, is non-toxic and has been proven to be effective for eradicating fleas, but keep in mind that some essential oils can be harmful to cats.

Bathing infested pets can dramatically reduce populations on the animal, especially if used with mild detergent or shampoo and in conjunction with brushing/combing.

Frequent vacuuming is a good treatment for removing pests in carpet and can remove 96 percent of adult fleas and 100 percent of young fleas.

Baking soda or finely ground salt when spread on surfaces can dehydrate and kill the fleas and larvae. Similarly, dehumidifiers and air conditioning can reduce flea survival rates.

Once your fleas have been eradicated its a good idea to have your carpets and upholstery steam cleaned to clean up any residue and make it harder for possible future arrivals to find food to help the larvae survive.

Call Commercial Steam Team today at 952-224-7222 to help keep your carpets flea-free!