Home Decisions That Are Financially Responsible

Let’s face it. We are certainly in the information age. More information is available today from these amazing things we all have called “smart phones”. And it has made everyone a genius, right?Well, maybe not. But how can we use this information age to educate us on ways we can reduce recurring cost and save our hard-earned money?

cauking

Air Sealing

Over the last several years much information about energy efficiency in homes has been made available.  The greatest way to decrease your heating and cooling bills is through Air Sealing or Attic insulation.

People don’t like change.  For many years we kept our home phones lines connected. We all overspent on these land lines until we finally realized it was a tremendous waste of money. Same is true, and even more so, with air sealing and your attic insulation. Sealing cracks and crevices and adding cellulose insulation when needed is critical and can pay huge dividends starting TODAY. The cost you will pay to have your home air sealed or properly insulated, pales in comparison to what you will save over just a few years.

Closing small cracks, crevices, and gaps that leak into your house may not seem like a big deal but can save you an estimated 10% on your utility bills when properly air sealed.  A tube of clear caulk, expandable foam, and steel wool will go a long way in air sealing your home and thus, preventing pest entry and saving you money through the loss of energy.

before insulation

The largest impact you can possibly make to lessen your home’s expenses is to check your attic’s insulation. The lack of Attic Insulation for most homes is the primary reason for significant energy loss. When properly insulated, an average home can save 20 to 40 percent (or more) on its heating and cooling cost. It is so important to use your attic insulation, not for storage, but to provide a continuous barrier of insulation over your conditioned (only areas that are heated and cooled) space to maximize your homes energy efficiency.  80% of homes we enter are drastically under insulated. Even homes built in the last several years don’t have the proper amount of insulation.

Is there is a concern that you would be able to afford it? If that is indeed the case, then you sure can’t afford NOT to have it installed. There are financing options available for the cost to install attic insulation. Through financing, you could offset the cost of installation by the savings you earn with less utility cost to heat and cool your home.

Below are the two most common forms of attic insulation and the required (minimum) depth each one needs to be:

OK_B&ARecommended Inches in Depth to reach a R-38:
Fiberglass Insulation (Pink Panther Stuff)….12″
Cellulose Insulation (Recycled Grayish Material)…..11.5″
Keep in mind that fiberglass is highly combustible, has carcinogens, great harborage for pests and rodents, and does not maintain its R-value as well as cellulose.

Cellulose, on the other hand, is a fire retardant, Eco-friendly, reduces sound, has a “built in” pesticide in it, and maintains its R-value far better than fiberglass.
So it’s that simple. Go in your attic and measure how many inches of insulation you have and what type it is. Also, calculate attic’s square footage [length (in feet) multiplied by the width (in feet)].

With the proper measurements we can accurately price and finance (Financing Available at 0%) what it would take to save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars by adding the proper amount of insulation!

So the question is, how much are your utilities costing you now? If Air Sealing and Attic Insulation can save  you roughly 30%, how much would you save? Look it up. Find receipts of your utility bills and do the math. It will blow your mind.

Air Sealing and Attic Insulation not only make a ton of sense, but also more importantly, makes hundreds or even thousands of dollars for you!

If you would like more information on Air Sealing or our Attic Insulation, please call our office at 731-285-4982, or go to our website Okeena.com and request a “Quick Quote”.

Hope everyone has a great week and stay warm!
Scott Riley

Okeena.com

4evergreenlawnservice.com

Sleep tight, don’t let the Bed Bugs …

For millennia humans have battled the notorious blood sucker known as the Bed Bug. Although, there was a lull in Bed Bug activity for quite a few years in America, this nightmare-wreaking, nighttime-crawler is back on the scene, with a vengeance and people are freaking out!

It is believed that the Bed Bug originated in the Middle East, in caves where people, and bats, lived. It got it’s name from Ancient Rome, the Cimex, which means Bug. So, probably pretty poplar back then if you just call it Bug. Right?! Scientists actually believe that Bed Bugs have been around since Creation.

During the 1800’s in the United States, the Bed Bug was pretty popular. They didn’t discriminate, they were found among the poor and the rich from coast to coast. By the turn of the 20th century, most all Americans had been bitten by Bed Bugs at least once. Nearly 1/3 of most cities across the country were infested and practically all of the homes in the lower income areas were infested.

In the 50’s, DDT was introduced as a chemical that would eliminate Cockroaches and was found to be extremely helpful in reducing Bed Bug populations because treatment was performed on and around beds. In 1972 however, DDT was banned for use and since then Bed Bug infestations have been on the rise. Couple that with increased International travel, and we’ve got a recipe that can quickly grow to epidemic proportions.

Bed bugs are roughly the size of an Apple seed, generally up to 4 to 5 mm long (less than 1/4″)

They are flat, oval shaped insects that are reddish-brown in color. Bed Bugs only feed on blood. So, obviously, they’re going to be found in locations where humans rest, or sleep.

Bed Bugs are mostly found in cracks and crevices, so mattress seams, sheets, living room furniture, electrical outlets, behind baseboards and picture frames are all great nesting spots for them.

Widely found in hotels across the globe, most residential infestations occur by hitchhiking in luggage and then brought home. Not the gifts you want to bring home to your spouse and kids!

So why are Bed Bugs such a big problem?

Well, for starters, a Female Bed Bug can deposit up to 5 eggs per day – up to 500 in her year-long lifetime!  Some quick math, and you can see where a breeding pair can multiply into the hundreds of thousands in just a few short months. That’s an issue!

Another problem is Bed Bugs feed exclusively on blood meals to survive and multiply. Each affected individual will have different responses to the bites from no reaction to itching and some swelling to oozy nasty welts. Gross!

Although, scientists have yet to pin any disease transfer on Bed Bugs, they continue to research so we may find there are more serious problems than just some itchy welts in the future.

How do I know if I have Bed Bugs?

A quick inspection of your mattress will give you a good idea if you have Bed Bugs or not. Infested mattresses, mattress cover, comforters, and even cushioned furniture may show Bed Bug fecal smears, which are the dried excrement of Bed Bugs. Which, unfortunately is your blood!

As they grow in size, Bed Bug nymphs molt or shed their skins during their development. A good inspection will often reveal these around infested materials.

In addition, you may see live Bed Bugs themselves. They are often visible if the source is examined closely enough. The seams of mattresses and mattress covers, especially on the underside, make great bed bug hiding places.

What do I do if I see any of those things?

Although there are many DIY (Do-It-Yourself) pest products and procedures available, eliminating Bed Bugs is not going to be one of them. There are things that you can do to help keep Bed Bugs from infesting your home, or at least identify them quickly. But the treatment, eradication or elimination of Bed Bugs will require the help of a Pest Control Professional, like us.

Here are some tips to keep them out of your home, or at least catch them before they become a huge problem:

•Remove all clutter from your home, which makes finding them a whole lot easier

•Wash and dry your bed linens on the hottest temperature allowed

•Closely inspect any used furniture before bringing it home

•Inspect carefully after returning home from traveling or having overnight guests

The quicker you find out that you have Bed Bugs, the easier it will be for us to get rid of them for you.

Lastly, as I mentioned in the history of Bed Bugs, they do not discriminate. Bed Bugs can be found in anyone’s home across America, rich or poor, yours or mine. So, please don’t take it personally.

Getting Bed Bugs is nothing to be embarrassed about, we’re all candidates because we have blood in our bodies and we sleep.

If you’re concerned, or have more questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 731-285-4982 or click here if it’s easier:  http://okeena.com

This Most Prolific Indoor/Outdoor Pest Will Amaze You! ANTS!

What do you know about the most prolific pest in the world?

If you ask the average homeowner about ants, what most will say is that they hate them. But they really don’t know a whole lot about them. There’s a reason why these pests have moved to the number one position as the most invasive and abundant pest for homeowners across the globe.

Many Entomologists can present a dozen or more reasons why ant infestations are on the rise. But one conclusion keeps popping up in an overwhelming majority of their opinions. Simply, ants are extremely organized.

 

There are between 12,000 and 14,000 species of ants on the planet, but they all have one thing in common – they colonize in some sort of caste system. The Reproductive Queen (some colonies have multiple Queens) runs the show. Very similar to my house. She determines the size of the colony, what caste members are needed for the job at hand, and where the colony lives.

Alate Queens and Males are the potential colony starters. They are released from the colony, at the direction of the Reproductive Queen, and those that survive leaving the nest and mate in the air will eventually start new colonies. These fly ants are called  “swarmers” not to be confused with Termite Swarmers, but that’s another blog post.

Next on their staff are the Worker ants. These guys get the job done! They take care of all the foraging (searching for food) and protection of the colony. Some species have Major and Minor Workers. It’s really just a size thing, but they all have the same functions. In the average adult colony of 1,000,000 ants, Workers make up over half the colony. These are the guys we usually see running across the kitchen counter.

The Soldiers are part of the Worker group, but they have no foraging responsibility. They are the primary means of defending the colony. If you were to disrupt an ant hill, these are the guys that show up first. They’re really good at what they do and provide the necessary time allowed for the Workers to move eggs to a safe place if that becomes necessary.

Remember, all these members are controlled by the Reproductive Queen. If an attack does take place, the Reproductive Queen sends out a pheromone that sends everyone on high alert to protect the colony. At least to us, that is pretty amazing!

OK, so we know they are organized. What does that mean to me as a homeowner? Well, if you have had problems or are currently having problems, it means everything in keeping these prolific pests at bay. Every member of the colony has its job and they do it very well therefore, you have to out think this pest.

Ants are ground dwellers, that’s where the colonies are built. They can travel several hundred yards from the nest to a food source everyday. They’re going to do whatever it takes to sustain the colony. That’s why organization is key to the success of the species. So it is important to disrupt their organization in order to effectively control these very smart pests.

At certain times of year, ants feed on different food sources to help build and sustain the colony. In the Spring, they focus on proteins and fats to help build the colony back up after a long Winter. In the Summer, they shift to sugars which is the very reason they show up just in time for the family reunion picnic.

There are some things that you can do to keep ants from getting into your homes. You have to think a little like an ant, so get in that mind set as you prepare to take these unwanted pest down! The most important thing you can do is to eliminate the ways they can enter your home.

Exclusion is the foundation of successful ant control. As homeowners, we don’t care how many ants live out in the woods next to our house, we just don’t want them to welcome themselves into our homes. It doesn’t take much for them to gain access, so you must be diligent about seeking out every little hole they can enter. Caulking windows, filling gaps around air conditioning units, plumbing and gas pipe penetrations, replacing old weatherstripping around doors and garage doors, are all solid approaches to exclusion.

 

Reducing clutter around the outside of your home is a must do. Those old tires laying around and that wheelbarrow that you’ve been meaning to turn over and put back in the garage, finally needs to be taken care of. And those leaves you never got to from the Fall, that is a great place for ants to use as cover as they build up their colonies and prepare to look for vittles in your house.

Sanitation is another big one. Make sure that the kitchen is cleaned up after cooking. Enlist the kids to help if necessary, regardless how much they kick against it. If like my house, it’s a team effort here and every member of the house must be conscientious about cleaning up. Every little drip of bacon grease, crumb of birthday cake, kernel of dog food, and watermelon rind is a feast for the worker ants who will immediately tell their friends about the treasure they just found. Before you know it, you’ll have thousands of ants sharing the table with you.

If all else fails, and it often does, call us. We’ll work hard to develop a plan for you to take back your house from those organized ants and restore order to your home. We are well trained in ant control and can solve your unwanted guest problem quickly.

Call us now at (731) 285-4982 for a free consultation.

Have A Great Week,

Scott Riley

References:

http://people.scs.carleton.ca/~arpwhite/courses/5002/lectures/ant-facts.pdf

https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/pb1303.pdf

Give me a kiss, baby!

Sounds harmless, right? I mean if someone you love asks for a kiss, we kindly oblige. But what if it’s a bug? What if it’s the Kissing Bug? Now, that’s a problem.

Kissing bugs are members of the Reduviidae family of insects. Other reduviids, that are similar in appearance, feed on other insects and plants. If disturbed, they can inflict a pretty painful little bite.

But only the Kissing bugs are known to transmit the Chagas parasite, which, we’ll discuss more in a minute.

Kissing bugs develop into adults from a nymph stage, and both nymphs and adults engage in blood-feeding behavior.

These bugs feed on a pretty wide variety of wild and domestic animals including wild rodents, other wild mammals, and domesticated dogs.

Varying in size from about 3/4” – 1 1/4” in length, most species have a very characteristic striped orange or red band around the edge of the body. The legs of Kissing bugs are generally long and thin.

One very distinctive feature of the Kissing bugs are their mouth parts. It sort of appears as a large black extension to the head. These mouth parts most likely give rise to the nickname ‘Cone-nose bug’.

“Ok, so I’ve seen these guys around, what’s the big deal?”

Well, the this little guy carries the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which can live in its digestive system and can be transmitted to hosts by biting and then defecating near the site of the bite.

Kissing bugs can enter homes, hunting cabins, dog kennels, or other areas where they may find hosts on which to feed. Dogs can also become infected through the consumption of infected bugs.

Researchers have found that over 50% of Kissing bugs submitted by the public in some areas of the country are infected with this particular parasite that causes Chagas disease.

Chagas disease can be found in humans, dogs, and other mammals. In humans, Chagas disease manifests in two phases: acute phase and chronic phase.

After becoming infected with the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, the acute phase can last for a few weeks or months. This phase can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are common for many types of sicknesses, including fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, rash, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Of those who are infected with the parasite, approximately 30% are at risk of developing chronic Chagas disease.

Chronic Chagas disease includes cardiac complications and/or intestinal complications, and these signs may not be apparent until decades after the initial infection. Cardiac signs include enlarged heart, heart failure, altered heart rate, and/or cardiac arrest. Intestinal signs include an enlarged esophagus or colon, which can cause problems with digestion.

“Wow, so this can can be a real problem, right? What should I do if I find one in or around my home?

First, yes. Kissing bugs can be a real problem, maybe even one that plagues you throughout your life if you’re bitten by one that carries the parasite that causes Chagas disease.

So, if you do find one here’s what you should do:

Never touch a kissing bug with a bare hand.
A glove or small plastic bag may be used to catch the bug to avoid direct contact with the bug.
The bug may be stored in a sealed plastic bag, in a vial, or other small container.
All surfaces with which the bug came into contact should be thoroughly cleaned with a bleach solution.
Call us immediately for a proper identification of your specimen.

“What can I do to keep them away from my home and my pets?”

Because adult bugs are attracted to lights, we recommend that lights be turned off at night around houses and kennels.

Kissing bugs can fly in from many yards away, or from nearby wildlife habitats, so pesticide treatment may not reduce the threat of new colonization. However, some insecticides can be effective against Kissing bugs when sprayed around homes and the kennel areas.

Again, if you see something that even remotely looks like a Kissing bug, try to capture it using the above mentioned techniques and call our office immediately. We’re here to help.

If you want to take a proactive approach to treating your home, not just for Kissing bugs, but for all invasive pests, give us a call today at (731) 285-4982 or just click here.

Have a great week!

Scott Riley

What You MUST Know About Spiders In Tennessee

“Honey, come kill this spider!”

How many times have you heard that? Or said that? Probably, like most Americans, a lot!

Spiders are everywhere and there are so many different species of Spiders that we feel like we see different kinds of Spiders all the time. And we probably do.

There are approximately 4,000 different Spider species in the Unites States and Canada. Over 40,000, yes, forty thousand, species worldwide. So, how do we know which are good Spiders and which are bad Spiders? Or, if you’re like my wife, they’re all bad and must die!

Let’s break it down a little bit. First, you should know that only a few of over 4,000 species in the United States can cause serious damage from a bite.

The Brown Recluse, or Fiddle Back Spider, (tell-tale sign of the Brown Recluse is the Fiddle shape marking on it’s back) venom can cause significant cutaneous injury with tissue loss and  necrosis.

The Black Widow (black shiny color, with a yellowish orange or red hourglass mark or dot on the underpart of the stomach) venom can be excruciating and deadly. One can experience a serious illness even with a little venom as it affects the nervous system. Other symptoms are nausea, abdominal pain, headache, fever, an extreme blood pressure increase and vomiting.

The Red Widow Spider (black abdomen with red spots border lined with yellow lines, with the rest of it parts in a reddish-orange color) venom is a neurotoxin that leads to muscle spasms. Only the female bite.

The Hobo Spider’s (adult has several chevron-shaped markings on their abdomen, has a brownish color and can reach a body length  of  1/3″- 2/3″ and the legs can reach up to 2/3″ to 2″) bite forms a blister within 24 hours which later breaks open and turns into an ulcer with liquid oozing out after a day or two. Frequently, a terrible headache is one of the complaints in addition to weakness, nausea, damaged eyesight, short-term loss of memory and fatigue.  Mostly found in the Northwestern United States.

The Wolf Spider (adult wolf spider can reach up to  1/2″ to an inch or more in length with a brown to grayish speckles, and a distinctive impression of a Union Jack on the upper stomach area) The bite can be very painful and is venomous but not fatal. Wolf Spiders are not aggressive but they will bite you if provoked.

The Tarantula (commonly come in black or brown in color with distinguishable body hair which they use as a defense mechanism against predators. On average measure 2 3/4” up to 12”) bites are excruciatingly painful and can last for a number of days, but no recorded deaths from Tarantula bites. Mostly found in the West and Southwestern United States.

So, that’s quite a list but at least it’s not 4,000 dangerous Spiders, right?!

Ok, so how do we keep these beasts from getting us? Well, in general there are 2 control methods for getting rid of Spiders.

1. Altering the environment in and around the home to make it less attractive to Spiders

2. Finding and destroying as many spiders as possible

Let’s look at altering the environment:

• Routine, thorough house cleaning is the best way to eliminate spiders and discourage their return. A vacuum cleaner or broom effectively removes spiders, webs, and egg sacs.

•Spiders prefer quiet, undisturbed areas such as closets, garages, basements, and attics. Reducing clutter in these areas makes them less attractive to spiders.

•Large numbers of spiders often congregate outdoors around the perimeter of structures. Migration indoors can be reduced by moving firewood, building materials, and debris away from the foundation. Shrubs, vines and tree limbs should be clipped back from the side of the building.

•Install tight-fitting window screens and door sweeps to exclude spiders and other insects. Inspect and clean behind outdoor window shutters.

•Consider installing yellow or sodium vapor light bulbs at outside entrances. These lights are less attractive than incandescent bulbs to night-flying insects which, in turn, attract spiders.

How about destroying them? Yeah, that sounds good! Yup, we understand. That’s where we come in.

By setting up a good barrier protection program around your home, we can dramatically reduce the presence of Spiders. To some degree, this treatment will destroy Spider populations, but it’s effective largely because we are able to control other insects with a perimeter treatment. If there’s no food for the Spiders to eat, they’ll just go elsewhere. Perfect!

If you’re tired of screaming for your spouse, or just tired of killing Spiders yourself, try some of these easy tips and if all else fails, call us. We’re here to help!

Call us today at (731) 285-4982 or just drop us a message here.

Hope this is helpful,

Scott Riley

Okeena.com

731-285-4982