Feeling itchy what is it?
Once again we were called out to a customer’s home to figure out what problem they had and to see if we could fix it.
During the phone conversation when the customer first called us, she was thinking that there may be a problem with lice, bird lice to be precise.
I went through a few different things with her on the phone, asking some questions about why she thinks it could be lice of some sort, so I would ask things like were in the house are you getting bitten, i.e. in all rooms or just certain rooms like bedrooms.
The customer explain to me that her and the rest of the family were feeling itchy in pretty much all the rooms, now I must add at this stage, they do have a family bird, a cockatiel that’s kept in a nice roomy cage and is also moved around the home at different times of the day.
How to figure out what pests it is?
Now I’ve written blogs on this sort of thing many times in the past, about problems in and around the home where occupants of the home are being bitten, and the problem can be from many different types of pest, from bedbugs, mites, lice, fleas etc. so the thing to do first is to find out what it is we are dealing with.
Upon arrival to the home the first thing I do is have a good look around, do a full inspection of the home walking through each room, inspecting beds and frames, by doing this it gives me a better idea of what pests I can start to eliminate from the equation.
By doing a good inspection of the beds I can rule out bedbugs, because if it was a bedbug’s problem I would easily be able to see them and their eggs around the edges of the mattress, and possibly around the bed frame itself.
Also by doing a general inspection of the home I can rule out fleas, because if it was fleas again like with bedbugs we would see them pretty much straight away, and also most likely get some bites from them as they emerge from the pupa stage of the life cycle.
So I’ve now completely ruled out fleas and bedbugs, so the other two likely problems are lice or mites, now as I explained at the start of this blog the customer was convinced it was something to do with the bird, because she had read on the internet that birds can get lice.
I had told the customer to go to the vets before we arrived and get a spray from them for bird lice, this is just sprayed onto the bird and then the bird will clean itself and wash the product through its feathers and kill any lice that may be on it.
So the bird was treated, and upon arrival the first thing I looked at was the bird, and I have to say it looked in very good condition and seemed very happy, this is not the case if it is infested with lice, there is a good chance that the bird would have some bold patches if it had lice and would also look quite distressed, this wasn’t case.
So now I’m sort of ruling out bird lice, but it’s still in the back of my mind that there could have been a miner problem with them, but I wasn’t seeing any real evidence of this, so I am now looking more towards mites or more specifically dust mites.
Ok so upon arrival and doing my inspection I did notice that the house was cluttered to say the least, the house was a Queenslander style home with high ceiling and VJ walls and ceilings all made from wood.
The problem I am seeing from the start is a lot of dust and I mean a lot, for instance when I was looking behind book cases, wardrobe etc. there was a massive amount of dust and also on the beams that run horizontally around the walls.
To my eye the whole house needed a good clean up and vacuuming, but not just the visible floors that are easy to get to, but areas behind furniture also that are not often moved, this is where a lot of the problem lies, so to me the problem is more again to do with dust mites rather than lice, although we will treat for both mites and lice at the same time just to be sure.
So now I have explained what the problems is, now we need to work out what to do about it, and also explain it to the customer so that they understand why they are in this situation.
Explaining it to the customer?
This is where being a pest control technician is a bit tricky, as you need to put on your diplomatic hat, you have to be honest about why and how the problem has occurred, but it has to be said in such a way that you don’t offend anyone, at the end of the day your job is to help and also to explain.
So I had a word with the customer at the end of my treatment, and explain to her what I had done and now more importantly what her and the rest of the family need to do to help.
What the customer needs to do to help?
The customer is the most important part of the puzzle besides the pest control treatment when it comes down to getting rid of a pest problem of any kind from cockroaches, bedbugs, fleas, lice, ants, rodents, it doesn’t matter what pest it is, the customer needs to follow the advice of the pest controller that has done the treatment.
So my recommendation for this customer is to leave the treatment for about 2-3 weeks, then after that a full detail of the house is needed, and I mean a full detail this is not going to be a 30 minute house clean, it is going to be a few days of cleaning and scrubbing.
As I explained to the customer all of the bed frames need to be pulled out and vacuumed along with all the skirting boards, any rubbish has to be thrown away, all the rooms ceiling fans wall etc. need to also be vacuumed, all furniture will have to be moved from its current position and a clean behind it will have to be done, then it can be put back into place.
This is a great time to do a clean out of any rubbish that may be lying around the home, we all start to accumulate bits and pieces over time that gets left behind furniture etc., so it’s important that it goes at some point, in other words don’t become a hoarder because it can get out of control in a very short time.
The customer in this case was very good and understood what was needed to be done and if she follows my advice she shouldn’t have any further problems with lice or mites again.
What was our treatment?
So our treatment for this customer was firstly to do a pest spray of all the rooms, this meant a detailed spray not just a light spray of the edges, we treated all of the mattresses and bed frames, behind cabinets, all the walls were treated and the roof void.
For the most part a liquid spray was used this is great for an instant knock down, it’s especially good for treating the beds and mattresses as it get into all the cracks and crevices where bugs can hide.
Once the spraying was done, we then treated the roof void with a permethrin dust, this is blown into the roof void with a powerful blower, the dust will settle inside the rood cavity, resting on the beams etc. and getting into any crack and crevices, this part of the treatment is a must, without this you are really missing out a big and very important part in trying to get rid of pests like dust mites, and bird lice.
We also did a spray of the outside of the house and the garage and the underneath of the house, part of the home had been closed in and used as an office, so all of this needs to be treated also.
Once the treatment was done, a short time later the carpet cleaners came in to do a deep steam clean of the mattresses and the all the carpets and some rugs.
Now you’re probably thinking well now all the pest treatment is going to be cleaned away, and in part this is true, but after the steam clean a second spray is done to the mattresses and carpet edges, the first or initial treatment was to kill any dust mites or lice that may have been around, and this also makes it a lot better for the carpet cleaners to do their job, as they won’t be being bitten during the cleaning process.
Advice about the treatment for the customer?
Ok so now we are all done the treatment has been done and the steam cleaning has also been completed, so now what for the customer.
Well as I explain earlier the customer need to follow our advice and carry out the cleaning that we have stated needs to be done, but don’t forget this can’t be done for about 2-3 weeks as it will just wash away our pest treatment.
After the cleaning has been completed then give it another week to see if the problem with the dust mites and lice has been eradicated, if so then no more treatment is needed, but regular vacuuming is still important and needs to be done at least 3 times per week.
If after the customer has done their part of the cleaning and they are still having any troubles, they then need to contact us to come out and have a second look.
At this point a second spray may be necessary, the second treatment is covered by our warranty service, but to keep the warranty in place the customer needs to ensure that they have done as we have asked, regards the house cleaning.
When and if you ever get a problem with a pest of any kind, and I’m talking about an infestation here, were the problems has escalated out of control, it takes both a well experienced pest control Brisbane company and the help and cooperation of the customer to help eradicate the problem.
If all advice is taken into account by the customer and the treatment is done correctly by the pest control company then you should be free from biting bugs.