Bed Bug Crash Course for College-Bound Students

Sending a child off to college this fall? Arm him or her with information about preventing and responding to bed bug infestations.


It’s true—college dorms and student apartments are not immune from bed bug infestations, reports Washington Post columnist Jennifer LaRue Huget. But forewarned is forearmed; a little prevention—and a lesson in what to do if the worst happens—can help keep bed bugs from ruining your child’s college experience, here in our Sacramento pest control region or anywhere in the country.

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California Wants You to Know About Healthy Schools

California’s Healthy Schools Act of 2000 (Assembly Bill 2260) put into place right-to-know requirements such as notification, posting, and recordkeeping for pesticides used at public schools and public child day care facilities. For more information, including a copy of the laws, go to DPR’s School IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Web site:

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation provides a lot of useful information for parents, schools and pest control professionals, including Frequently Asked Questions about the program, and an attractive, fun school-year pest control calendar full of information about controlling all types of pests, from to rats and mice, to tree pests and turf weeds. E-mail to receive a hard copy.

Here are just a couple of the Frequently Asked Questions about DPR’s School IPM Program and the Healthy Schools Act:

What is a pesticide?

Under state and federal law, a pesticide is any substance that controls, destroys, repels, or attracts a pest. Pesticides include insecticides, insect repellents, miticides, herbicides, fungicides, fumigants, nematicides, rodenticides, avicides, plant growth regulators, defoliants, desiccants, antimicrobials, and algicides. More

Does the Healthy Schools Act have a list of approved pesticides for use by schools or child day care facilities?

The Healthy Schools Act does not establish a list of pesticides approved for schools or child day care facilities. However, DPR does maintain a list of pesticides that are prohibited for use in schools or at child day care facilities. See DPR’s Web site (, click on “Pesticides Prohibited from Use” in the column on the right). More

First day of school is just around the corner here in our Sacramento pest control region—here’s wishing you and your family a safe, pest-free 2011-2012 school year!

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Spider Fact & Fiction: What to Look For, What to Do

Our pest control technicians have been getting lots of complaints about spiders lately. A couple of customers have even stopped by our office, bringing dead spiders in Ziploc bags so we could identify the intruders. In both these cases, the culprits were sac spiders.

Although the bite of the agrarian sac or yellow sac spider commonly found in our homes is not fatal to humans, this type of spider is believed to be responsible for more bites than any other spider, usually when trapped  in ones clothes or bedding. The bite stings and causes a red welt and irritation similar to a mosquito bite. (If any insect bite causes a severe or unusual reaction, contact a physician immediately.)

The sac spider typically builds its sac-like web in corners, behind shelves and framed pictures and can sometimes be spotted running across walls or ceilings. It is light yellow with a darker stripe down the center of its upper abdomen and, like most spiders, has eight eyes arranged in two rows at the top of its head, difficult to see with the naked eye.

Most spiders are not dangerous and can usually be eliminated by removing their webs and/or eggs. Spiders seen out in the open during the day are unlikely to bite people.

Although we often hear reports of the brown recluse spider in our North-Central California region, in fact the brown recluse doesn’t live in California. The only recluse spider native to California lives in the Southern California desert and is less toxic to humans than its close relative, the non-native Chilean recluse spider, which has become established in Los Angeles County. Recluse spiders have a violin-shaped mark on their heads, which may or may not be easily distinguished, and have only six eyes. They are active at night and tend to stay hidden in dark, undisturbed places like storage boxes or old clothes or shoes.

The only California spider known to inflict serious injury to humans is the black widow, which usually is found outdoors in hidden locations such as in wood piles or underneath porches or sheds. Take care when you’re outside gardening, especially at this time of year, when the weather is still warm and sunny. The black widow’s web may not be visible in the sunlight, and you can easily stick your fingers into the wrong place.

The adult female black widow has a shiny black body, slender black legs, and a red or orange hourglass-shaped mark on the underside of a large, round abdomen. The body, excluding legs, is 5/16 to 5/8 inch long. 

The best way to prevent spiders in your home is to vacuum up webs and avoid clutter build-up that can provide hiding places. To prevent spiders from entering your home or commercial building, seal foundation cracks and other access holes, keep window and door screens in good repair, and keep areas around the building foundation free of clutter.

If you are troubled by a spider infestation, our trained pest management professionals will make a free home inspection, identify the type of spider, determine the best method for safely eliminating them from your property, and follow up with regular de-webbing or other treatment to prevent their return. Some of the information in this article was obtained from the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. Visit for more information, call us at 916-457-7605 (877-D-BUGIN-U toll-free) or e-mail us at

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Untrained pesticide use can do more harm than good

As the economy continues to slog along and homeowners become more frugal in response, a new do-it-yourself trend has caught on. More families are enjoying home-cooked meals rather than eating out. The backyard vegetable garden rage has permeated all the way to the White House. Householders are tackling home renovation projects and auto repairs on their own. And undoubtedly, more people are eyeing their pest control service as another potential way to cut costs with a do-it-yourself regimen. But pest management is one area where do-it-yourself is a bad idea. Here’s why.

Pest control is a highly regulated industry requiring extensive and continuing training of personnel. During training, technicians learn about the life cycles and habits of each species of household pest, and more to the point, they learn what kinds of treatment are most effective in eliminating infestations, how to prevent recurrences, precise quantities of chemicals to apply where necessary, and how to handle and dispose of chemicals with the least impact to homes, people, pets and the surrounding environment. Few home- or business owners, regardless of how much online research or reading they do, achieve the level of knowledge and skill that each pest control professional receives in order to be licensed. And the results of well-meaning but non-professional pest control efforts can be disastrous.

As a recent Sacramento Bee article reported, researchers have found high concentrations of pyrethroid pesticides in the American River and many area creeks that feed into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, one of the most significant ecosystems in the world and a source of drinking water and agricultural irrigation for much of California. The source of the pesticides: urban Sacramento. Scientists believe consumers may be overapplying pesticides to their lawns, gardens and homes or pouring or rinsing them down the drain.

Whereas a householder may figure, if a little is good, more is better, a trained pest control professional assesses the situation, determines the most effective treatment to meet the customer’s needs and cost considerations, and then applies a precise amount of pesticide to a defined location. And a pest control professional is trained in safe disposal and storage of unused chemicals, the source of far too many accidental poisonings and other household tragedies.

Since 1987, Pest Control Operators of California has conducted a public service campaign, Chem-Safe, to educate consumers about the proper handling of household chemicals. The U.S. Poison Control Center estimates that half of all accidental poisonings in the United States are caused by household chemical such as cleaners or pesticides. Every year hundreds of thousands of California Children under the age of 5 years of age are poisoned in the home with household chemicals and medicines.

As proud members of Pest Control Operators of California, we at Earth Guard urge you to handle and dispose of all household chemicals carefully and to consult a trained pest management professional to assess and address pest problems in your home or business. You can learn more about Earth Guard by visiting Here are some safety tips from PCOC:

PCOC Safety Tips for handling Household Chemicals
• Keep all chemicals and pesticides locked up and out of reach of children.
• Use pesticides and household chemicals in accordance with manufacturers’ directions.
• Don’t saturate: using twice as much of a product does not mean it works twice as well.
• Don’t put products in unlabelled bottles or cans—keep them in their original containers.
• Never play chemist! Don’t mix products together because poisonous or explosive chemical reactions may occur.
• Always wear protective equipment such as goggles and gloves when using chemicals or pesticides.
• Avoid breathing mists or vapors, especially from aerosol products.
• Keep children and pets away from the area being treated or cleaned.
• Wash carefully after handling chemicals and pesticides.
• Dispose of the products carefully: containers tossed in the trash may still contain harmful amounts of the product.

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Most Common Northern California Ants

Spring and summer is high season for ants and for ant pest problems in our homes and gardens.

There are some 200 species of ants in California, but fewer than a dozen are common household pests in our area. Of those, the most common is the Argentine ant, a dull-brown ant about 1/8-inch in length. Less common but also significant pests are the pharaoh ant, the odorous house ant, the thief ant and the southern fire ant. If you step on an odorous house ant, which is dark brown to black and about the same size as the Argentine ant, you may recognize it by its strong odor. Carpenter ants are black or red and black and larger than the Argentine ant at ¼ to ½ inch in length and, because they hollow out and nest in wood, can do significant damage to homes and buildings. Our L.A. neighbors are dealing with a serious problem from the red imported fire ant, which has recently established a population there; they have not yet been found in Northern California.

Most of the ants we see are easily recognizable. However, in the warm spring months, mature ant colonies produce winged ants, which travel away from the nest to mate and form new colonies. For that reason, ants are sometimes mistaken for termites.

Inside your home, ants may feed on sweets such as sugar, honey or fruit juice, or on fats and meats. Your first sight of ants may be of a long chain of them leading from the food source inside your home to their nest outdoors or in the cracks and crevices of your home.

Ants often make their trails on pipes or wires and enter buildings via cracks and crevices. Caulking can help prevent ants from entering your home. Rinsing out soft-drink and juice containers before putting them into the recycling bin and storing sugar and syrups in airtight containers also helps.

Your local pest control professional can assist you by identifying the type of ant or pest problem you have, assessing the best way to eliminate it and prevent future invasions, and helping you decide upon the right combination of pest control services for your household or business.

For a free pest assessment and estimate from our licensed, bonded and certified pest control professionals, contact Earth Guard Pest Services, (916) 457-7605 or toll-free (877) 328-4468,  

Source: University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program

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