How Dangerous is the Kissing Bug?

A kissing bug perches on a flower without petals.

Kissing bugs may sound cute, but you’re not going to be affectionate toward these creepy critters. The reason for their nickname is that these minuscule pests are infamous for biting people in the middle of the night, usually near the mouth. Waking up covered in bites on your face is unpleasant enough but can kissing bugs actually be deadly? The pros at Russell’s Pest Control share the answer as well as advice on how to keep kissing bugs, and other insects, out of your home.

What’s a Kissing Bug?

Triatomine bugs, sometimes known as “kissing bugs,” are parasitic insects that feed on blood. They’re oval-shaped, dark in color, and normally reach lengths of between 1/2 and 1 inch. Although youngsters lack wings, adults have them and can fly. Their long, noticeable beak, which they employ for feeding, is their most distinguishing characteristic.

Kissing bugs are nocturnal so they typically hide close to animals or people who are sleeping. They tend to hide in small cracks or crevices. Although females may leave eggs behind, adults are mostly solitary and do not reside in large groups.

How Dangerous Are Kissing Bugs?

Kissing bugs are harmful, just like any other insect that feeds on blood. Although their bites are not extremely painful, they have the potential to spread infections. Chagas disease, which may have chronic consequences lasting a decade or more after the initial transmission, is the illness these insects are best known for spreading.

Chagas Disease: What’s That?

Typanosoma cruzi, a parasite that kissing bugs carry in their digestive systems after feeding on an infected organism, is the cause of Chagas disease. The parasite enters the bite wound through the feces that the kissing bug generally leaves behind after feeding; it does not spread while the insect is actively feeding. Chagas disease may be fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Early symptoms of the illness include:

  • Swelling around the bite
  • Fever and exhaustion
  • Body pains
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite or nausea
  • Swollen glands

Get medical help right away if you think you might have Chagas disease, or another sickness. If you think your pet has been bitten, call your veterinarian right away because other animals might also be afflicted with this illness.

How to Avoid the Kissing Bug

The last thing you want to see looking in the mirror in the morning is bite marks on your face from one of these bugs. The best way to avoid being bitten is to keep them out of your home. Here are some methods for keeping kissing bugs away:

  • Seal any gaps around your foundation, windows, and doors.
  • Repair or replace any old screens or weatherstripping around windows.
  • Clear the area around your property of rubbish and keep your landscape tidy.
  • Put your yard lights further away from your home’s foundation.
  • Let your pets sleep indoors at night.
  • Check sleeping areas frequently for bugs.

What To Do If You Find A Kissing Bug

Seeing a pest in your house is never fun, especially one as ominous as a kissing bug. The CDC advises against coming into contact with the kissing bug, despite the fact that your first inclination might be to squish it immediately.

Instead of smashing it, place a transparent container on top of it and trap it. After that, call an exterminator. They’ll be able to verify the species of bug and check your home for evidence of other pests. 

Knoxville Pest Control Experts

Whether you’re worried that you have a kissing bug in your home or other pests, Russell’s Pest Control is here for you. We’ve been providing quality service at a fair price since 1971. Contact us today for your free inspection!

Why Are Earwigs Invading My Home?

Earwig in Knoxville TN home - Russell's Pest Control

Looking at an earwig up close, you would think it would be far more comfortable living in some alien landscape than on your bathroom floor. Its slimy appearance and foreboding pincers give it an extraterrestrial look, but these insects can be found just about anywhere here in Knoxville TN. These are insects that make their home in the soil around your home. However, there are certain conditions that will attract earwigs.

Knowing how to prevent these insects, then, means knowing how to avoid what attracts them in the first place! Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about preventing earwigs from invading your home with the experts at Russell’s Pest Control.

What Makes Your Yard Inviting To Earwigs?

Like most pests, earwigs are always on the hunt for food, water, and accessible shelter. Here’s what may be attracting earwigs to your home:

  • Earwigs love moisture. If you have a broken or obstructed gutter, a leaky spigot, or some other condition that is allowing moisture to dampen the soil near your home, you’re likely to invite earwigs in close.
  • Earwigs love plants. If you have a garden, flower pots, or some other vegetation near your home, earwigs will take notice.
  • Earwigs love decaying wood. If your home is being damaged by water, or you have wood in your yard that is slowly decaying, earwigs will be happy to live on your property.
  • Earwigs love to hide beneath items. Lawn clutter, construction materials, tarps, rocks, wood, and other objects that are left in your yard, especially in areas where there is vegetation, will be a magnet for earwigs.

Why Do Earwigs Come Inside?

If you are seeing a few of these bugs inside your Knoxville TN home, you may be wondering what drew them indoors to begin with. There are three circumstances that might compel earwigs to make their way into your home:

  1. While these are definitely insects that like moisture, they are capable of drowning. During a rainy season or even after just one rainstorm, earwigs may leave the soil around your home and attempt to enter your home to get away from the rising water.
  2. Being an insect that likes moisture, they can also enter a home when things get too dry outside. After a time of drought and dryness, it is not uncommon for homeowners to find these pests in their basement. But they aren’t usually content to stay in the basement.
  3. Sometimes they enter a house simply because it’s there. This is why it is important to reduce the factors above to reduce earwigs in your yard. It is also a good idea to have ongoing pest control treatments to make your property less hospitable to bugs.

Need Help Getting Rid of Earwigs?

Sometimes there’s no telling how earwigs got inside your home. And once they’re there, Contact us today for assistance with earwigs and other household invading pests that live in your yard. The team here at Russell’s Pest Control has the answers you need to keep these bugs where they belong. Contact us today to get started!

Is TAP Insulation Better Than Regular Insulation?

TAP Insulation in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

Home insulation is important to keep your property at your desired temperature and to aid in noise reduction. But what if your insulation could also prevent pest problems common in Knoxville households? That’s where TAP® Insulation comes into play. This environmentally-friendly home insulation option is superior to traditional insulation in several ways. Not only does it outperform other options, but TAP Insulation is also renowned for its pest-resistant properties. If you’re thinking of upgrading your existing insulation, TAP Insulation comes highly recommended by the pest control pros at Russell’s Pest Control. Read on to learn why!

Why Choose TAP Insulation?

As it becomes a more popular choice over the years, it’s increasingly apparent that TAP Insulation is the best option on the market. This is because in addition to its pest control properties, TAP simply outperforms traditional insulation options. Some of the many benefits of this insulation are:

  • As an energy-efficient option, TAP can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 30%.
  • TAP is environmentally friendly by using recycled paper diverted from landfills to create the product.
  • This insulation is capable of filling the nooks and crannies that are unreachable with traditional insulation.
  • TAP Insulation is the only insulation registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • More cost-effective than traditional insulation, TAP is a one-time investment with no need for re-treatments.
  • TAP can be installed over existing insulation and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Does TAP Prevent Pests?

Yes! TAP is known for its ability to ward off pest problems. This is because the insulation is infused with borate, which affects the metabolism of insects and eliminates them. There are many pests that can be controlled with TAP Insulation. They include ants, cockroaches, earwigs, centipedes, darkling beetles, crickets, silverfish, millipedes, firebrats, dermestids, sowbugs, lady beetles, booklice, termites (including Formosan termites), boxelder bugs, stink bugs, kudzu bugs, bat bugs, pillbugs, snails, wildlife, and slugs!

TAP Pest Control Insulation in Knoxville

If you’re interested in upgrading your home insulation, TAP is for you! In addition to outperforming other insulation types, TAP will work to create a barrier against pests. Russell’s is proud to be a licensed installer of TAP—contact us today to set up an appointment or to learn more.

Top Earwig Prevention Tips

Top Earwig Prevention Tips

Many of us remember, back in the day, being sent out to the front yard to get the laundry off the line in the summer time. Each time, you were instructed to be sure that every item was shaken out thoroughly to ensure that no earwigs came inside with the freshly dried clothes; and each time the whispered warning from your brother as you walked out the door typically included something about earwigs getting inside your ear and making a nest. You approached the clothes line with fearful trepidation, making sure to keep your guard up for these dreaded creatures as you would fold the clothes – the hair on the back of your neck standing straight up the whole time. The sighting of one tiny earwig would send the article of clothing flying through the air as you ran wildly screaming and crying into the house and your brother stood by laughing hysterically, tears rolling down his cheeks. Oh, the memories…

The truth is that earwigs do not crawl into your ears. Most earwigs prefer life outdoors hiding in moist soil under rocks and other damp places. If they find their way inside, it is likely because they were accidentally introduced to the area by us. Laundry, boxes from the garage, bags of soil stored outside, plant pots, and many other items can all become transporters of earwigs. Sometimes, a lot of dry weather can force them to look for more appealing accommodations, and a damp crawlspace or basement might be just the ticket.

To prevent an earwig infestation, first, make sure that anything that is stored outside is thoroughly checked before bringing it in. This includes recycling such as newspapers, potted plants, boxes, books, and yes, laundry. Make sure that any openings around your home are sealed. Be sure to check vents, areas around windows and doors, and your foundation. Earwigs do not need a lot of space to get in; so make sure these areas are checked thoroughly. Also, be sure to use dehumidifiers, vents, or fans in high-moisture areas like basements and bathrooms.

Russell’s Pest Control can help you prevent earwigs and a multitude of other pests from invading your home. Our year-round pest protection plans are tailor-made for homeowners just like you who want to make sure that their home and their family are protected from infestations of dangerous and obnoxious pests. With one call to us, a trained technician will be on the way to do an initial inspection and to go over which plan will suit your needs and your budget best.

Earwigs: The Pincher Pests

Recently, I discovered that some new neighbors have taken up residence nearby. When I lifted up the lid to my outdoor garbage bin, a whole hoard of insects went scurrying away; they had been hiding in the crease where the lid fits onto the bin. I discovered a similar swarm underneath the trash can when I tipped it up on its wheels to roll it to the curb. The bugs in question were earwigs, and they seem to be out in large quantities right now. If that’s the case, we should discuss what you need to know about earwigs to make sure they don’t become a problem in your home.

Earwigs are bizarre-looking creatures that sometimes give people the creeps. They have long, thin bodies that are noticeably flattened. This body structure is important so that they can fit into tight crevices (like under trash cans) to keep safe in the warm months and to keep warm in the winter. Their most obvious physical characteristic, however, is their set of pincers on their back end (this has led them to be nicknamed “pincher bugs”). These pincers are quite large in comparison to an earwig’s body. They are often used for defense, though humans could suffer little harm from an earwig’s pinch.

Earwigs are omnivorous, which means they’ll cheerfully eat rotting plants or dead insects that they come across. Like centipedes, they are heavily moisture dependent and are most likely to be found in a home in a damp basement or garage or in a bathroom with a water leak. Urban legend would tell you that earwigs get their name from their tendency to hide in pillows so that they can enter the human ear at night. This is not true. A typical bedroom is much too dry for an earwig, and they have no interest in laying eggs in your brain. So, that’s good news, right?

If you have earwigs in your home, you should walk the perimeter of your house to try to find their primary harborage site. Like many pests, earwigs are extremely attracted to wood piles because they can hide in damp places underneath the bark. Wood piles should be moved away from the house as should leaves and other debris. If you have thick, leafy groundcover or climbing ivy, you are also at higher risk for an earwig invasion. Ivy in particular holds moisture incredibly well and does not dry out as grass does. If this ivy is on your exterior walls, it is a perfect, damp bridge that earwigs can use to enter your home.

Once exterior concerns are taken care of, you could also check the inside of your home for moisture issues. Sometimes, an earwig infestation is a good indicator of a plumbing leak that you might have otherwise missed. Also, be sure to take out your trash regularly and disinfect your trashcans often. I once visited an apartment shared by several college students. They had an earwig problem in the kitchen, and we quickly identified that the problem was that each student piled multiple (rather damp) bags of trash on the tile floor in the hope that one of the other roommates would take all the garbage out at once. Once the garbage removal was put on a regular schedule, the earwigs disappeared and no further intervention was needed.

If these suggestions do not work and you want to use a product to treat your home for earwigs, keep in mind that these are very quick pests and that a line of spray with an over-the-counter pest product may not really faze them. Running over the spray line certainly would not be enough to kill a healthy earwig. At Russell’s, we could approach the problem from a variety of angles, including targeted liquid treatments with products that will stick to the earwig’s exoskeleton or with baits. Give us a call at 865-584-8549 if you want to hear more about our treatment options or contact us here to get more information.