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Sep 17, 2013 3:34:06 PM

8th Grade Student Dies From Ant Stings

An 8th grader at Haas School District near Corpus Christi, Texas died yesterday after being attacked by fire ants at school last week. 13 year-old Cameron Espinosa had a severe allergic reaction after being stung by fire ants on the school field during a halftime huddle. After being stung, Espinosa started screaming "ants! ants!", but no one took him seriously; the coach reportedly told him to "get a water bottle and spray yourself off"; and further medical attention was only demanded when Espinosa starting writhing in pain and screaming. By the time medics arrived, he had lost consciousness twice, and remained in critical condition at Driscoll Children's Hospital for the next several days. On Monday morning, the school announced his death, and held a moment of silence. All extracurricular activities are canceled for the rest of the week, and grief couselors are on hand to help students.

Hector Salina, board member at the school, said that he was outraged when he surveyed the football field to find more than 20 ant piles. He thinks the coaches should have taken notice before letting the students play on the field."If in fact the coaches there knew that there was a problem with ants before… Then you know what? It should have been taken care of," he told local station KRIS-TV.

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Posted in Pest Away By Shira Leff

A mattress encasement is the best way to ensure that your bed is protected from bed bugs. It is important to encase your mattresses whether you have had bed bugs in the past (and never want to deal with the horror of finding them on your bed again!) or even if you have never had bed bugs. Encasements essentially trap bed bugs between the encasement and the mattress, so they cannot get out and bite you. Without a food source (you) or a way to get out, the bed bugs will eventually die. Although it is kind of gross to think that you may be sleeping on bed bugs, it is also comforting to know that you are protecting yourself from actually getting bites!

Many mattress encasements are sold claiming to protect against bed bugs, but like most other things in life, mattress encasements are not created equal! Firstly, you should look to make sure that the encasement is certified to protect against bed bugs. Most that are really cheap won't actually be certified, which will essentially void the whole purpose of the encasement in the first place. There are three other things you should look out for when buying encasements:

1) The material should be durable and tear-proof-What good is a mattress encasement if they easily tear when you make the wrong move? You want to be able to buy them once and not have to think about it again. It's better to get an encasement that is more expensive but durable, than a cheaper version that will only last so long. Companies also often settle for cheaper materials that easily rip. Forewarned is forearmed!

2) Be sure to inquire about the material's comfort (or check it out yourself!)-If the mattress encasement is durable but you can't sleep at night because it is so uncomfortable, the whole purpose is defeated. Some materials are known to be uncomfortable, like rubber. Be sure that the one you buy doesn't make you sweat, or otherwise is impossible to effectively sleep on it.

3)The zipper-Bed bugs are small and crafty, and can crawl in almost anywhere. So don't get an encasement that has any room between the zipper and the fabric-bed bugs can crawl through this small hole! Instead, make sure that the zipper goes under a cloth hook and 'locks' into place which closes any possible gaps where bed bugs can escape. Also, the zipper should be large and easy to find. Otherwise, you will go through much frustration putting them on the mattresses, since you won't be able to find the zippers!

As an aside, Jeff, the owner of Pest Away Exterminating, advises that only Mattress-Safe and Protect-a-Bed mattress covers are effective encasements against bed bugs. You can purchase the Mattress-Safe encasements on the PestAway website, here or call us at 212-721-2521.

If you follow this advice, the old ditty 'Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" will be a true story for you!

Sources: The Bed Bug Survival Guide, by Jeff Eisenberg; Read More
Posted in Pest Away By Shira Leff

Let's face it. We know you probably have seen a centipede or millipede before...and probably in your house. These critters are extremely fast, so almost before you have a chance to scream, they disappear from sight. But boy, are they gross. Still, there's a somewhat enigmatic quality about each of them. Here is information about them that you always secretly wanted to know!

What is the difference between a millipede and a centipede? Millipedes have a lot more legs than centipedes. While both their names are exaggerations, as the millipede does not have 1000 legs and the centipede does not have 100, they do have ALOT of legs; the millipede is known to have between 40 and 400 with a maximum of 750 legs. Centipedes have from 30 to 50 legs, with one species having a lot more, at 350 legs. Fun fact: No centipede has exactly 100 legs, despite the name, because centipedes have an odd number of legs! Another difference between millipedes and centipedes is that millipedes are more round and have two legs per body segment. Centipedes are more flat and have 1 leg per body segment.

Interestingly, neither of them are actually classified as insects; instead they are arthropods, and are related to lobsters, crayfish, and shrimp. The most glaring difference between milllipedes and centipedes, and insects is that insects generally have 6 legs-while these bugs have a lot more!

Which begs the next question: Why DO they have so many legs? This is because their bodies are divided into segments, which are mostly identical, making them metameric animals. This is thought to be an evolutionary process, and traces of this development can be seen in humans in the repeating vertebrae of their backbones. With this body system, how do millipedes and centipedes get around? Millipedes move their legs in a wave-like fashion along their bodies, which propels them forward. Centipedes move their legs in a wave-like fashion while walking, allowing them to attain great speeds.

Millipedes and centipedes must stay away from direct sunlight, as they do not have the waxy cuticle of insects and thus run the risk of drying out. They also live in moist habitats. This is why you may see these creatures in dark crevices in your residence, or near a sink or pipe, or other moist location.

What to do if you see them in your residence?! The all-important question. Firstly, while they are probably one of the most disgusting looking insects, they are not actually dangerous. While centipedes may bite, the bites are not fatal, although you may experience chills from them. But obviously you want to get rid of these! The good news is that these creatures do not usually infest houses, so if you see one, it may just be one, and you can kill that one and rest easy. If you see one of these repeatedly, it may work to put glue traps in the locations where you see them, as this will stop them. Also, millipedes and centipedes need moisture and a food source, so a great way of keeping them out is by making sure there aren't moist cracks and crevices around the house. Also, centipedes eat insects, so (besides for all the other reasons to keep insects out!) make sure there aren't insects hanging around your house, as this will deprive them of a food source!

All in all, while millipedes and centipedes are gross and freaky, they aren't generally a huge problem in the house and they are relatively easy to get rid of. And after you freak out about them, realize how many interesting facts there are about them!

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Posted in Pest Away By Shira Leff

Do you know what stink bugs are? Where they originated? Where they cause the most damage in the U.S.? Check out this infographic for clear and concise information:

Although stink bugs don't sting or cause structural damage to homes, they are a nuisance because they secrete a foul smelling odor when they feel threatened, and when they want to attract other stink bugs.

Watch out for stink bugs as the summer comes to an end. As the cooler weather sets in, stink bugs invade homes looking for a warm place to hibernate, which is why you may see them more during the fall. They are attracted to heat and light as well, so it is likely you may see them around light fixtures or especially warm places in your residence. The best way to keep stink bugs out of your home is to keep them out of your home-make sure windows and doors have screens and are tightly closed. Be sure that there are no gaps in caulking around windows and doors, and that there are no other openings where these bugs can crawl their way in. Once you've seen them in your home, you must get rid of all of them or they will keep coming in. A easy method of extermination is to get a jar and fill it about halfway with water, and mix some regular dish soap into it. Flick the stink bugs into your jar with a sheet of paper or a paper towel. Stink bugs don’t like water, and the dish soap helps penetrate their armor.

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Posted in Pest Away By Shira Leff

At Pest Away, we know that our technicians and service are number one. After all, our motto is " Pest Solutions for Peace of Mind"! Still, it's always gratifying to hear back from very grateful customers! Here's an email we got today:

Hi Jeff,

I just called the office to follow up with you and to say thank you. Yesterday I spent an hour or so with Marion (forgive any spelling error) and it was an incredibly positive experience. He was excellent in every respect.

Thank you for taking the time to scope out the apartment on my behalf, and for helping to coordinate the service. Now I just have to pray that it worked! (Please let me know if there are other tricks of the trade to keep up my defenses....).

I will most definitely be providing referrals.

Please let me know you receive this since my prior note to you may have been blocked last month.

Best regards,


Thank you Marion! It is this level of service that we expect of all our technicians...and it is gratifying to know that it is recognized and appreciated!

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Posted in Pest Away By Shira Leff
Aug 9, 2013 10:46:38 AM

Back To School Without Bed Bugs!

Although school children will deny this fact, the school year will be upon us in a few short weeks. While you prepare for the new school year by buying new school supplies and books, it is prudent to prepare with bed bug knowledge as well. It is quite easy for your child to pick up bed bugs at school; there are many children in close proximity to each other. Furthermore, backpacks and other items come into close contact with each other in the coatroom, lockers, and on the bus, so it is quite easy for bed bugs to hitch a ride home with your child.

How to know if your child may have unwittingly brought bed bugs home with him? Thoroughly inspect your child's backpack and clothing for any evidence of bed bugs. Live bed bugs-which as adults are reddish-brown with small, flat, oval and wingless bodies about the size of an apple seed, and bed bug nymphs are similar but lighter and smaller. You may also see fecal staining, which is light brown to black and looks like tiny drops of dried blood.

If any of these are found, it doesn't necessarily mean that your house is infested; in fact, by finding evidence immediately (by doing frequent inspections of your kids' school items and clothing) you may just be able to nip a potential infestation in the bud. To eliminate bed bugs or fecal matter from your kid's school stuff, send the items through the wash and dry them at the highest dryer setting. This will kill all bed bugs. Items that cannot be washed can be put in sealed plastic bags or tightly lidded bins to prevent bed bugs from getting out and spreading further.

If you suspect bed bugs have already infested your home, do a careful inspection of all the mattresses, bed linens, headboards, upholstered furniture and draperies. Infestations typically occur near the areas where people sleep, so be especially vigilant when checking these areas. Signs of an infestation include bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets; exoskeletons after molting; rusty colored spots from blood-filled fecal matter, and a sweet, musty odor.

With these tips, you can start the school year off prepared to confront whatever challenge may arise-including bed bugs!


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Posted in Pest Away By Shira Leff

The summer is in its waning days (can you believe it?!), but bees and other stinging insects are not. In fact, it is at this time, in late summer, that these insects become most active, as they start foraging for food that will sustain them during the winter. So it is likely you will see more of them-and that they will be more aggressive-during the next few weeks. Here's how to get them away.

1. Do not wear bright colors. These colors make bees and other stinging insects think that you're flowers, and they will be attracted to you. Also, do not wear strongly-scented perfume. These perfumes will also fool bees into thinking that you're a nectar source.

2. If you're eating outdoors, keep food covered as best as possible, since bees are attracted to open food. Also, try to use bottles for drinking, as open drink holders will attract bees due to the smell of the liquid inside of them-and the last you want is to be bitten in the mouth!

3. If a bee comes close to you, do not swat at them as many people think to do. The sudden action will only startle them, and this may promote aggression. If you move away slowly or stand relatively still and don't go crazy, the bees will almost always move on after ascertaining that you are not, indeed, a flower.

4. Cover up as much as possible. In the unlikely event that a bee will sting, you will have less surface area exposed.

5. Pick up and get rid of trash. Rotten or overripe food strongly attracts bees and other stinging insects.

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Posted in Pest Away By Shira Leff
Aug 7, 2013 1:11:32 PM

Is It a Bed Bug or a Carpet Beetle

We strongly recommend getting a dog inspection for bed bugs even for customers who say they've seen live bed bugs in their residence. Why? It is not uncommon to confuse carpet beetles for bed bugs. If no dog bed bug inspection is done, customers would have to go through the entire bed bug treatment, which is costly and inconvenient, for no reason. Below are some ways in which carpet beetles can be distinguished from bed bugs.

Carpet beetles and bed bugs do share some similarities. For one, they look similar. They are both small, have a rounded appearance, and climb on furniture. However, upon closer examination, you should be able to tell the difference between a bed bug and a carpet beetle. While a bedbug's color reddish brown, carpet beetles tend to be either black in color or a mix of yellowish brown, black, and white. Additionally, carpet beetles are more rounded, while bed bugs are flatter. See the pictures below to compare.

Also, while both bugs are disgusting, only bed bugs bite. So if you are receiving bites, you probably have bed bugs. In rare cases, carpet beetles cause allergies that may look like bites, but in general, bites are a sure sign of a bed bug problem.

Finally, carpet beetles and bed bugs have very different life cycles. While bed bugs look pretty much identical throughout their life cycles, carpet beetles change drastically throughout. When they hatch from their eggs, they look like small, hairy worms. Bed bugs, on the other hand, look like-bed bugs, just smaller.

These tips should help you distinguish between carpet beetles and bed bugs. Either way, the problem should be treated-but each bug requires different treatment so it is important to know what you are dealing with!

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Posted in Pest Away By Shira Leff

Although generally we are not proponents of do-it-yourself pest control, in this case, we fully advocate it! Make this cute bug catcher with you kids or alone as a quick, easy, and useful summer craft! Taken from

What You Need:

Scissors, ruler

6-1/2-inch square of black fiberglass insect screening

Wire cutters

22-gauge lime-green wire

Empty plastic mayonnaise jar


Acrylic paints: black, orange, yellow

Wood cutouts: two 1-3/8x2-5/8-inch ovals; one 1-3/8x2-1/2-inch teardrop

Brush-on glitter paint: black, orange, yellow

White crafts glue

Two 10-millimeter oval wiggle eyes

Hot-glue gun, glue sticks


Cut a 6-1/2-inch-diameter circle from insect screening.

Use wire cutters to cut a 24-inch length of wire. Weave the wire through the screening about 1-inch from the edge, making the stitches about 1/2 inch long.

Place the screen on top of the jar, and tighten the wire around the jar rim. Twist the wire ends together to secure. Coil the ends.

Paint both sides of the wood ovals black, the rounded third of the teardrop orange, and the remaining two-thirds of the teardrop yellow to make the lightning bug wings and body. Let dry.

Paint one side of all three wood pieces with the corresponding color glitter paint. Let dry.

Use crafts glue to attach the wings to the body, glitter sides up. Glue wiggle eyes over the edge of the orange head. With an adult's help, hot-glue the lightning bug to the jar's side.

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Posted in Pest Away By Shira Leff
Aug 5, 2013 11:56:44 AM

Raccoons Are Not Cute!

Raccoons are not cute! If you see one, do not pause to instagram it-or you may get bitten. That's what happened to Taraka Larson, a NYC woman who was walking in New York City's Central Park. She saw the raccoons near the pond at 59th Street. “I was having a really nice magical sunset walk with myself, listening to Donna Summer and the sun went down and I was just in the moment, listening and walking and appreciating everything,” Larson told Gothamist. “And I noticed these two little dance partners blocking my path.I thought they would go away,” she said. “And then one of them got on top of my shoes and got under the tongue of my shoe and then wrapped its claws and started to gnaw on my leg. Instinct took over and I kicked it off and ran away.”

Taraka got help back at the Plaza Hotel where she had been staying, and was then rushed to St. Luke-Roosevelt Hospital. She got 15 shots in her ankle to ward off a possible infection or rabies. She will have to go back to the hospital at least 5 more times.

Moral of the story: If you see a raccoon, do not stop-this is not a great photo-op! Although raccoons can look cute (especially to city dwellers), they can be dangerous as they are known to bite humans, and they can be rabid. If you see a raccoon and it does not run away from you or at least keep its distance, get out of its way-lack of fear of humans and being about during the day are signs that a raccoon is sick, and may indicate that it is rabid.

Rabid raccoons are on the rise in Central Park and in New York City at large, according to the numbers recorded by Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. Dozens were located since the start of this year alone. If you have a raccoon infestation, call a licensed, competent pest-control company who can remove raccoons from your property humanely. Be sure that the company is licensed, as there is legal protocol regarding the humane removal of raccoons.

To keep raccoons away from your property, keep all garbage covered with a locked-down lid, as raccoons are attracted to food that is left out. Also keep all open areas like garages, closed, so raccoons cannot get in, as they are attracted to open spaces.

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Posted in Pest Away By Shira Leff