Thursday, December 23, 2010

What do you want for Christmas?

All we want for Christmas is good will to all men..........and women........and to hope this doesn't happen to Santa.

It is Christmas Eve and preparations are almost made for what I hope will be a great holiday for all of our customers and friends and all at Kiwicare.

This is traditionally Kiwicare's busiest time of the year, ensuring our retailers and customers have shelves filled with stock for all those wanting a pest free holiday and to work, rest and play in their gardens. The Kiwicare office and factory have been working long hours to keep up with what is our busiest year on record. For many there will be no long break as the factory and office will be open again on Wednesday 28th for the three days between Xmas and New Year and then again on the 5th January 2011.

Wishing you all a very safe and happy holiday.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Products for Professional Pest Controllers

Kiwicare is New Zealand's household name in pest control and manufacturer of the best range of DIY pest control and garden care products. KCLCommercial is the arm of the Kiwicare business that supplies products to the professional pest control and horticultural companies and technicians in New Zealand.

If you are a pest controller or horticultural contractor or would like to add pest control or garden care to your business's services, KCL Commercial can help. A list of the products available to professional users can be found at the KCL Commercial website http://www.kclcommercial.com/

Products range from highly palatable rodenticide bait and long life possum bait, residual insecticides and organic insect control to herbicides and new herbicide gel. Whatever the pest, KCL Commercial are likely to have a solution for you.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Human Health - Insects Spiders and Mites

In New Zealand we are all familiar with the direct threat of wasp and bees stings, how fleas and mosquitoes suck our blood and the bites sandflies take out of us. We also know that there are a few spiders that pose some risk to our health when they bite us and that the disgusting habits of flies can transfer food poisoning organisms from drains and rotting material to our food. But there are some other risks from bugs with which we might be a little less familiar.

Microscopic Mites
Dust mites are tiny microscopic creatures that live in the dust that accumulates in our home. They are part of the arachnid family which includes spiders. Most house dust particles are skin cells from humans and animals and the mites feed on this material. The mites are found in our bedding as well as carpets, clothes and furnishings. In fact anywhere dust collects. Asthma and chronic skin diseases such as eczema have been shown to be linked to the level of dust mites. These diseases are over reactions of our immune systems to some environmental stimulus. It is not the mites themselves cause these diseases but their waste material. The wastes contain proteins that induce the inflammatory responses as our bodies ‘see’ them as foreign. Vacuuming regularly using a vacuum with a fine hepa filter will reduce mite numbers and their waste. Changing the conditions in the home by improving ventilation and/or using a dehumidifier will also reduce house dust mite numbers.

The presence of spiders and insects such as head lice can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. We seem to have an inborn fear of spiders. It probably evolved to help our young avoid dangerous spider bites before they could learn. Venomous spiders would have been common in Africa where our ancestors came from. Just thinking about fleas, head lice or bed bugs is enough to make most of us scratch involuntarily. There is also a social stigma falsely associated with having an infestation of these parasites. Lack of cleanliness is rarely the reason for having an infestation. Vacuuming can form part of the eradication program required for getting rid of fleas and bed bugs but it is unlikely to be the solution on its own. Fleas, bed bugs and head lice can all infest the most fastidiously clean home and head lice seem to prefer clean hair because they find it easier to hold on to the non-greasy hair.

The social stigma involved with fleas, head lice and bed bugs has hindered understanding of these parasites, how to avoid them and how to get rid of them. Through more open discussion the stigma has been reduced over recent years with regard to fleas and head lice. But there is still little general knowledge and understanding of bed bugs because infestations are not talked about. It is a problem that is ‘swept under the carpet’ in more ways than one. As bed bugs are becoming more common around the world and in New Zealand knowledge will, by sad experience, become better. We can help reduce the rate of spread by being aware that bed bugs are spread by hitching a lift in things like our luggage or boxes of goods that are moved from one sleeping area to another. Bed bugs do not fly and live in close association with where we sleep. We can be pro-active in treating our luggage etc. with NO Bed Bugs spray prior to travel.

Which blood group do blood sucking insects prefer?
Fleas - A, because they lose A when they leave in a hurry.
Bed bugs - B, because without it they ed ugs.
Mosquitoes - O, because they need oes or they'd be like a pea.
Sandflies - A, AB, B or O. Because the bloodsucking ones are all female and they can't decide.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Spider Bites

New Zealand has only three spiders that have bites that can cause us concern for our health; the common White-tail spider, the rare native Katipo spider and its cousing the Australian Redback. The Redback is also rare but becoming more common in New Zealand according to AgResearch scientists. The Redback and Katipo have powerful venom that can be very painful and on rare occasions Redback bites can be life threatening. However, the rapid administration of anti-venom has meant that no one has died from a Redback bite for more than 50 years in its native Australia.

Adult female White-tail Spider
There is controversy over the risks posed by White-tail spiders. There is much hearsay evidence that the bite of a White-tail can cause ulceration and necrosis, but published studies of confirmed White-tail bites have not shown any link. It is accepted that their bite is painful and can cause localised swelling and itchiness.

White-tail spiders are hunting spiders. They hunt other spiders. Their normal habitat is among leaf litter, but they find our homes and buildings suitable for them to live. They often find an abundance of other spiders to feed on and dark dry areas like roof voids to build their nests. The nest of a White-tail is a tangled mass of silk where they lay their eggs.

Insect and spider bites and stings, whether from wasps, blood sucking insects, biting flies or spiders involve puncturing the skin and therefore some risk of infection. The infection can be directly from bacteria on the insect or spider mouthparts or from subsequent invasion of disease organisms at the bite site. Because bites and stings often become itchy they often get scratched. Scratching can open up bites to infections that could be serious. Perhaps such infections are the source of the ulceration and necrosis reported following White-tail bites. Avoid scratching bites. Application of anti histamines or topical steroids can reduce itchiness and swelling.

Spider bites can sometimes (but not often) be differentiated from bites of insects such as fleas or bed bugs. Spider bites involving venom usually cause pain prior to inflammation. Spiders use two fangs to bite and inject their venom so it is sometimes possible to identify two puncture wounds very close together.

Spiders are a beneficial part of the natural ecosystem, but many people have a fear of spiders and as discussed, some pose a risk to our health. A simple spider proofing treatment of a house can be carried out that will keep spiders outside and leave our homes spider free. Residual insecticides such as NO Spiders or NO Bugs Super can be purchased from good hardware stores. Spray around the exterior of a building where spider webbing is seen and where spiders could gain entry. Inside, spray the bottom and tops of walls, behind furniture and appliances and in voids such as roof spaces. NO Bugs Bug bombs or NO Bugs Borafume fumigators can be useful in hard to access areas.


A whitetail spider walks into a bar.
The bartender asks "What's your poison?"

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Insect Stings

We have few stinging insects in New Zealand but the few we have can cause more than just a nuisance; they can be a threat to our health.

Wasp Sting
Wasps and honey bees possess stings they use to protect themselves and their colonies. The hypodermic sting is inserted through our skin and venom is injected. Pheromone chemical signals are released when a bee or wasp stings. The pheromone induces other bees or wasps to also sting. So if you are stung once it is good advice to ‘calmly’ move away from any other wasps or bees.

The venom in a single sting will always cause pain but it can also cause life threatening anaphylactic shock in sensitive individuals. If they are aware of their hypersensitivity to stings such people will carry a supply of adrenalin for rapid administration. Adrenalin can save the life of someone suffering anaphylaxis.

Those that are not hypersensitive to stings can still be threatened by bees and wasps. Honey bees can form colonies of up to 50,000 individuals and Common and German wasps may have several thousand in a nest. These very large numbers can make them a very real threat to life if they are disturbed. More than 10 stings can cause serious swelling in most individuals. Medical attention should always be sought if sting sites are near airways where swelling might impede breathing.

Bees and wasps only sting when they or their colonies are threatened. Unfortunately we can induce stinging accidentally, such as in cases of sitting on a bee in the garden or disturbing a wasp nest that has been formed in a compost heap.

Honey bees are regarded as beneficial insects, not just because of their honey production but because they pollinate many of our crops. Only if a honey bee nest is built in the ‘wrong’ place should it be moved or destroyed. If you have a swarm or nest in a bush in the garden your local beekeeper will often come and collect it at no cost. If the nest is in the eaves of a house or other inaccessible place they can be destroyed, but any honey store must also be removed or new colonies are likely to move in to take over the nest.

On the other hand German and common wasps are invasive pests and can be build up to large densities, particularly in New Zealand’s native beech forests where they feed on the honey dew extruded by scale insects. They are a threat to New Zealand’s biodiversity. Wasp nests can easily be destroyed with Kiwicare NO Wasps carbaryl wasp dust puffed into the entrance of the nest.

As well as wasps and bees there are ants that bite and then spray the bite wound with venom. There are not any such ants in New Zealand but there is a real risk that biting ants such as Red Fire Ants or Crazy Ants could be brought in to the country and become established. The sting of Fire Ants is painful to both humans and animals. There have been three incursions of Fire Ants in New Zealand since 2001 but these have been successfully eradicated by MAF Biosecurity. If you want help prevent invasive organisms damaging New Zealand's environment join the NZ Biosecurity Institute. A very modest $30 per year.

The Kiwicare website and help desks are often contacted for advice on identification of insects and how to deal with nests and prevent stings.

Did you hear about the dyslexic wasp?
It has six paws and zubz around all day.

Blood Suckers and Poison Injectors

There are millions of insect species in the world. A few of them affect us by biting us and sucking our blood. In New Zealand we have fewer such insects than many other parts of the world, but there are several that are more than just a nuisance; they negatively affect our health.

Mosquito
Mosquitoes, fleas and bed bugs use needle like mouthparts to penetrate the skin and suck our blood. Proteins in the anaesthetic and anti-coagulants that they inject before extracting blood can cause itchy immune reactions where bitten. In many parts of the world, but not normally in New Zealand, mosquitoes and fleas transmit disease to humans. Mosquitoes can transmit malaria and dengue fever and fleas can carry murine typhus and salmonella. Bed bugs are on the increase worldwide but have never been shown to be implicated in disease transmission. However, the bites of bed bugs, as with mozzies and fleas can become infected, particularly when scratched.

Other biting insects include New Zealand’s sandfly or black fly. The female sandfly doesn’t bother with anaesthetic she just takes a bite at the skin and then sucks up the resulting drop of blood. She hopes to be able to fly away before she can be swatted. Horse flies and their like have similar feeding habits to sandflies, but their larger size can make their bites even more painful.
The Kiwicare website and help desks are contacted often for advice on identification of what insect or spider might be causing ‘bite marks.’ It can be very difficult to identify the insect or spider that has caused a bite just from looking at the bite. Bites tend to form similar sorts of localised reddening and swelling because the marks are caused by our immune systems reacting to foreign substances; whether proteins in the anti-coagulants and anaesthetics or just the physical damage caused by the bite. There are however some indications that can help to identify what pests might be responsible:
  • Bed bugs often give several bites in a straight line.
  • Fleas tend to feed at ankles, lower legs, wrists and torso.
  • Spider bites involving venom usually cause pain prior to inflammation.
  • If there appear to be two puncture wounds at a bite site this may indicate a spider is the culprit; spiders use two fangs to bite and inject their venom.
With insect or spider bites a puncture wound is usually visible and often includes the release of a small amount of blood. If no puncture wound is found it is possible that a red mark and swelling is due to some other skin reaction or damage to the skin caused by some other physical injury.

Just talking about fleas or bed bugs commonly makes people feel itchy and scratch the skin in response. Scratching can cause reddening and inflammation that can be mistaken for bites. It is therefore not easy for medics or pest experts to identify red marks as bites never mind being able to identify the possible culprit. However, if bed bugs, fleas, white-tail spiders or other biting insects are found then appropriate treatment to eradicate the pests can reduce the risk of bites.

A mosquito, a flea and a bed bug walk into a bar and order blood orange juice.
They get chatting and bragging about their capacity to suck blood. They decide to have a competition to see who can suck the most blood. They've got half an hour before meeting back at the bar.
When they return the bed-bug has blood dripping from his proboscis. "Where did you get that?" ask the mozzie and flea.
"From a woman asleep across the road" says the bed-bug.
The flea has blood all over its feet and is bloated, red and full of blood. "Where did you get all that?"asks the bed-bug and mozzie.
"From a tramp down in the park." Says the flea.
The mosquito's head is covered in blood. It's still dripping. "Where did you get all that blood?" ask the flea and the bed bug, most impressed.
"Do you see that bedroom window over there?" Asks the mozzie. "Yes" Say the bed-bug and flea"
"I didn't!" says the mozzie. Dazed.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Final Mo! ........or is it?

This is the Final Mo
Well Movember has come and gone. The Mo has grown and now that it is December it must go. Go the Mo.

The judging of the Kiwicare NO Mo Team took place yesterday and this magnificent Mo failed to gain the recognition it deserved. Neither winning the most magnificent mo award (which went to our Welsh colleague Nathan) or the award for 'best effort thanks for trying' award (which went to our ever hairy Shaun).


The Kiwicare NO Mo Team (and a few strangers)
Back row left to right - Jack(ie), Amy, Margaret, Karreena, Nathan,
Chris, Martin, Alister.
Front - Greg, Shaun, Mo(i)
To all those that took part in celebrating strange growths on the upper lip, a hearty thank you. And to all those that, like me, failed, better luck next Movember.

Where do rodents store their food?
In mouse stashes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Kiwicare production flat out to meet demand
Kiwicare is heading into the peak production and sales season as insect problems rise with rising temperatures. The La Nina weather pattern that we are experiencing this year is predicted to cause hot dry conditions in New Zealand and farmers have been warned to prepare for drought. Such weather is also likely to increase insect numbers including pests. Sales of Kiwicare insect control products is already showing a large trend upwards, above and beyond the usual rise at this time of year. This means that there is pressure within the factory to increase production to fulfill demand. I even found myself working on the production line on Saturday to help out. Many thanks to all the staff that are working so hard and so many long hours to ensure our retailers and the New Zealand public have the Kiwicare products they need.

The prospect of a bad year for insect pests means that I suggest you carry out a general insect and spider proofing of your house now, before you have to.

A normally busy bee,
is lazing under a tree.
When a wasp flies by,
and shouts "Hi!"
"Your usually busier than me."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Zealand Biosecurity

As a member of the national executive of the New Zealand Biosecurty Institute I had a meeting with the executive on Tuesday. Much was discussed, including the core focus of the members of the institute, namely the preservation of New Zealand's unique flora, fauna and habitats. These unique natural aspects of New Zealand's biodiversity are constantly at risk from pests and diseases being brought in from overseas. The recent discovery of a bacterial infection (PSA) on kiwi fruit vines across the country has highlighted the vulnerability of industry as well as natural ecosystems to organisms imported accidentally.

An incident today at work also shows how easily pests can be brought into the country. A container arrived at Kiwicare which had recently been offloaded from a ship in Lyttelton harbour having come from China through Hong Kong. Our ever vigilant store man and manager of our transitional facility (John Forrest) recognised signs of spider webbing and nests on the exterior of the container and immediately quarantined it before calling MAF Biosecurity New Zealand. MAF asked what was in the container and John had to explain that it was full of (irony of ironies) insecticide products.

John quckly sprayed the offending webbing nests with a dual action insecticide approved for the purpose to prevent any insects or spiders hopping off before MAF arrive.

The container has of course already been driven from Lyttelton through the Lyttelton tunnel and through a section of Christchurch. It is not inconceivable that anything on the container could have fallen off before getting here.

Within a couple of hours a MAF representative arrived to check the container and deal with any threats that it might pose.

The incident several things; firstly how vigilance and rapid reaction can reduce the risk of pest being imported and secondly how difficult a job protecting our unique natural environment and primary industry is. Many container are checked and treated with fumigants such as methyl bromide before being released from ports but insects and spiders, seeds and diseases can be on the exterior of containers as well.

Join us in the NZBI and learn how you can help prevent pests and diseases reaching New Zealand and deal with them if they gain entry. Membership is as little as NZ$30 per year.

A Red Imported Fire Ant walks into a bar in Auckland. The bartender says "How did you get in?"
"Oh. It was easy. I hitched a lift on an Acacia mearnsii."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New York, London..... Now Paris. Where Next for Bed Bugs?

Paris has recently been added to the list of the world's major cities to have bed bug infestations hit the headlines. See here.

I don't believe that the bed bugs have been transported there from New York or London, any more than they have been transported in the other direction. Bed bugs have been in Paris, London, New York, Auckland, Christchurch, Wanganui ...........and everywhere people have lived in numbers for many years, probably millions. What the increasing media frenzy is due to is increasing numbers of infestations and the consequent increasing transport of bed bugs from one place to another. This is a world wide phenomena.

While we should be vigilant and protect ourselves from being unwitting vectors of infestation, bed bugs are still rare. The New Zealand accommodation industry is pro-active in preventing bed bugs and dealing with a problem quickly when it arises. We, the travellers, can help by ensuring we take care to treat our luggage before travelling and to check rooms where we sleep both here and abroad. Don't lay luggage on beds or floors, and use the luggage racks where the bugs are less able to 'hitch a ride' in your case.

New York, Paris, London, Auckland, .....bed bugs are coming to a hotel/motel near you. Are you safe? No one is.

There are two bed-bugs in Paris. One says to the other "Let's go to the Hilton. I hear the drink is tasty but non-fattening there."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Old New Zealand Housing at Risk

Are you finding more of those little holes in the wood around your home?

Spring sees the beginning of the borer flight season when the adult beetles emerge from their wooden food source to mate and start the cycle of destruction all over again. Homes in cooler and damper parts of New Zealand such Otago and Southland are most affected by these destructive insect pests but no part of the country is immune. Each year, as more damage is accumulated, our homes and other affected buildings become weaker.

It might take more than 50 years for damage to accumulate to the point of failure but the number of homes reaching such a venerable and vulnerable age is increasing. It is estimated that over six hundred thousand New Zealand homes are now over 50 years old.

Thankfully borer do not damage timbers as quickly as termites. If the slow increase in holes is noticed at all, the progress of the damage is often ignored for years. Each year the floor boards might creak a little more and the weatherboards might take a little more filling before painting; but until a floor board fails and you fall through, or the weatherboards start to rot because of water penetrating the holes, you may not be aware that your home is in danger.

Borer tend to attack softer timbers, so the older houses with structural timbers made of good quality heartwood are likely to be structurally safe, but even these houses often have decorative or non-structural timbers of softer sapwood. We often see weatherboards or floorboards riddled with borer holes next to undamaged boards. Even the same board may be heavily damaged in one area and undamaged elsewhere.
Floor board showing borer damage in lower two thirds

In the 1950s preservative timber treatment was introduced to new buildings and this has protected many timber homes of less than 60 years of age, but not all later houses used treated timbers and treatment loses effectiveness over time; it should not be expected the treatment will give protection for more than 50 years. There are many homes older than 50 years with susceptible timbers and the slow chewing of borer beetle larvae is now making more and more timbers fail. It might be too late for some parts of older houses but the borer damage can be stopped or at least slowed greatly by the use of protective borer products.

The larvae of the common wood boring beetles (Anobium punctatum and Leanobium flavomaculatum) are slow eaters; they chew through the interior of untreated timbers for 2-4 years before emerging from the wood between October and March. As they emerge they open the small (2-3mm) holes in the surface of the wood that we identify as borer infestation. When we see these holes in our weatherboards, architraves, skirting, floorboards and furniture we only see the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ The vast majority of the damage is within the timber where a labyrinth of tunnels has weakened the wood.
Borer control can be carried out effectively by the use of borer fluids that penetrate deep into the affected timbers and provide protection for many years. Even the timbers that are hard to reach such as roof timbers and floor timbers can be given protection by the use of borer bombs during the flight season. These kill the adult beetles that have emerged from the flight holes and stop them mating and laying their eggs back on the timbers. There are also aerosol injectors that can be used to treat individual flight holes in damaged painted or varnished wood. This will kill larvae deep within the wood and prevent eggs being laid in the holes.

Spring is a good time to examine your home for sign of borer infestation. I suggest looking for fresh flight holes. These will have a clean appearance inside the hole. It may take examining the holes with a magnifying lens. Sand like dust known as frass may also fall out of the flight holes when the wood is given a tap. So check your home and protect it from damage now before you fall through the floor.

A borer beetle walks into a bar. 
The bar says to the bartender. "I'm bored."

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Show's Over for Another Year

The Canterbury A&P Show ended yesterday after three scorching days in the Christchurch sunshine. The quake and the economic climate didn't stop an estimated crowd of over 100,000 visiting New Zealand's biggest agricultural and pastoral show. The meteorological climate of three days of almost unbroken sunshine and temperatures well into and above the mid 20's brought people from the city to join the out of towners that make the pilgrimage to the show.

Kiwicare at Canterbury A&P Show 2010
Kiwicare supports the A&P Show each year as the company is one of the major manufactures in Christchurch. The Kiwicare display in the trade pavilion was visited by hundreds of people searching for advice on their garden and home. The stand was manned with me in the heat of the pavilion by a combination of volunteers from the office, factory, lab and sales team. Thank you to all those who came along to visit us.

We look forward to seeing you there again next year.

What do you get if you cross a hen with a brick?
A brick-layer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bed Bugs at the Canterbury A&P Show

Bed Bugs
I will be at the Kiwicare stand at the Canterbury A&P Show this week (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday). Come and visit us in the Trade Pavilion where we will answer your questions on pest control and garden care. I will also have some live bed bugs (safely sealed to prevent escape) to show those that want to know what to look out for.

See me deal with a bed bug infestation on TV3 Campbell Live

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Bed Bug Eradication on Campbell Live

Apologies to those that tuned in to TV3's Campbell Live tonight to see me dealing with bed bugs. The piece was Outrageously bumped until tomorrow (10th Movember) by a piece on the last episode of Outrageous Fortune. Perhaps the Fortune will come my way tomorrow.

See the program on bed bugs here.

Why did the bed bug drive on the motorway?
Someone told him it was a main artery!



Saturday, November 6, 2010

More Mo for Your Money

My Mo on Morning of
7th Movember
For those that see me on Campbell Live talking about bed bugs I think I better explain the strange appearance of a 'smudge' on my top lip. I have not forgotten to wash or been attacked by some large hairy caterpillar. I am instead taking part in Movember and growing a mustache to help raise awareness of men's health issues.

This is me today and the state of the mo. If you wish to donate to my mo or to the Kiwicare mo team "The Mo No Team" you can visit the official Movember site and donate online. I have, perhaps foolishly, promised to dye my mo red should donations to it reach $100.

Click here to donate to my mo.

Click here to donate The Mo No Team.

Thank you. And Good Health.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jetstar (Mis) Management

I had flown up to Auckland from Christchurch early yesterday and was booked on the 7.35pm Jetstar flight back to Christchurch. I was at the airport with plenty of time and having booked in found the departure lounge quiet enough to catch up on some calls and work. By 6.30pm the departure lounge was full and I realised the Wellington flight was delayed due to technical difficulties with the plane. The Christchurch plane was at the gate and I watched our luggage being loaded. Then about 7.15pm I watched as luggage was being unloaded from the Christchurch plane. ‘Funny’ I thought. Could they have loaded the wrong luggage? Then there was an announcement (note the order of these things) that the Christchurch flight JT255 was almost ready and passengers in rows 16-32 would be called to board shortly. At this, many passengers got up and stood in a queue to board. I didn’t as I was in a row 12.

At about 7.25pm there was another announcement and the penny dropped. The Christchurch plane was to be used for the Wellington flight and the Christchurch flight might be cancelled. There was and audible ‘Oh no’ from the Christchurch passengers and a silent ‘Yippee’ from the Wellington passengers.

I can understand the economics of the Jetstar decision. The Wellington bound plane was to fly back to Auckland for a further flight to Wellington but the Christchurch flight ended in Christchurch. So it was a decision on cancelling one Christchurch flight versus cancelling two Wellington and one Auckland bound flights. What annoys me, as will become clear, is the manner of the management of the handling of the situation from the point of the decision to cancel on.

First, it is clear that the decision to switch planes and cancel Christchurch was made maybe as early as 7.00pm as I saw our luggage being removed shortly after this time. But the departure lounge staff were obviously not told this, leaving them to make false announcements. It is likely the possibility of the need to cancel a flight was known much earlier as the damaged plane had been sitting on the tarmac for sometime already and the Wellington flight had already been delayed for some time.

Secondly, the announcement of the cancellation was made and then immediately the announcer said it was maybe not cancelled and they were working on ‘a plan.’ After the Wellington plane was loaded and the gate closed it was finally confirmed the Christchurch flight was cancelled. We should all go to the luggage carousel to collect our bags before going to check in points 1 and 2. At the check in desks we would be booked on the next available flight the next day and get accommodation vouchers. Fair enough; until you think about 120 plus passenger being handled by two check in desks.

Perhaps more intelligent passengers went straight to the check in desks. I, like many other did as instructed and went to collect my bag. There wasn’t space in the check in area for the queue so it wound its way up the stairs and a second stream started building towards the baggage claim.

Thirdly, and most annoyingly, for most of the next FOUR HOURS it took for Jetstar to process the passengers flights and accommodation for the night there were at no point more than 3 check in desks working, and one very hassled supervisor. I quickly realised that being towards the end of the queue I was going to be there for some time. Each passenger was taking on average 5-10 minutes to process. During this period some Jetstar staff, obviously coming to the end of their shift, left to go home.Leaving the queue of ever more disgruntled passengers to their long stand. At no time did I see a manger from Jetstar. I suspect they knew what they had let their meagre overworked few young girls to handle. Could Jetstar management not foresee the difficulties such a small team were going to face?

I n my opinion the management, or should that be, mis-management team, of Jetstar should be either forced to stand in a queue at their counters for four hours, or better, be forced to handle the 120 plus passengers from a cancelled flight. I think there would be a lot more action in finding staff to help out the next time a flight is cancelled.

On the positive side, I applaud the young Jetstar girls left to try and sort out the mess, but more than this I applaud the passengers who were in the most part stoic and almost endlessly patient. I know those that ended up at the Grand Chancellor with me at 11.45pm are now all members of the 255 club. We have found a group of new friends. One lady of Indian origin named Angie who had been going to Christchurch for weekend, on her first visit and first flight within New Zealand, said she enjoyed the company so much she thought we should do it again. I think she might have meant the get together and chat and not the standing in the queue for four hours.

Perhaps this could be a story for another Campbell Live?

You'll know it's Jetstar if:
  1. You cannot board the plane unless you have the exact change.
  2. Before you took off, the stewardess tells you to fasten your Velcro.
  3. The Captain asks all the passengers to chip in a little for gas.
  4. When they pull the steps away, the plane starts rocking.
  5. The Captain yells at the ground crew to get the cows off the runway.
  6. You ask the Captain how often their planes crash and he says, "Just once."
  7. Your life keeps flashing before your eyes.
  8. You see a man with a gun, but he's demanding to be let off the plane.
  9. All the planes have both a bathroom and a chapel.

Bed Bugs on TV3 Campbell Live

Yesterday I was in Auckland for the day and today I am still here. The reason I am still here will become clear later.

I came to Auckland to help in the making of a piece for TV3’s Campbell Live program. The reports I have made regarding the increase in bed bug problems tweaked the interest of the program makers and I was contacted to ask if I would help. What they wanted was some film of someone who was suffering a bed bug infestation and was willing to talk about the experience. And allow filming of the bed bugs in their home. A tall order.

Earlier in the week I was contacted by a lovely lady, named Jenny, who recounted a story of picking up bed bugs during her and her family’s travels sometime at the beginning of the year. As I listened to the story I realised how articulate Jenny was in telling of her experiences and how she wanted to educate people on what to look out for, what to do about them and to dispel the stigma surrounding bed bugs.

Once I had answered Jenny’s questions and had given her my advice I asked if she would be prepared to help in the making of the piece for Campbell Live. Jenny happily said yes, saying it would be a great way to get more understanding of these pests out to the public. When I contacted the Campbell Live office to say that I thought I had found a very good example of the problem with a very articulate lady to talk about it, they were also very excited.

There was one hitch. When I contacted Jenny again to arrange the filming; her husband and one of her daughters, when told, had been less enthusiastic and felt that there might be some risk to their workplace reputations. This was exactly the problem with the incorrect perception of linkage between bed bugs and cleanliness that we hoped the program would help to dispel. Jenny managed to convince her family that it would be a message worth helping to get across that bed bugs are coming and they will live in homes and hotels of the highest standards of hygiene; like Jenny’s.

The Campbell Live reporter Tristram Clayton, Jenny, Dave the cameraman and myself filmed the piece in Jenny’s lovely home over a period of nearly four hours yesterday and the piece will be shown on TV3 sometime early next week. I will let you know which day as soon as I know myself.

Who bit the big bold bald bear on the boulder on the shoulder and made the big bold bald bear on the boulder bawl?
A big bed bug bit a bold bald bear and the bold bald bear bled blood badly.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Flea Season Starting Already

The flea season traditionally follows Christmas. But this year I am already handling enquiries from people having difficulty dealing with fleas on their pets and in their houses. I have also noticed an increase in traffic on the internet and sales of Flea products are already soaring.

There are adverts been shown on national TV at the moment from the major pet flea control products. Interestingly the ads mention that the eggs, larvae and pupa of fleas are not affected by their products. Products that are dropped on the skin of cats and dogs make the blood of those animals toxic to the adult fleas that then feed on them. The larvae of fleas do not feed on the blood from your pets. the larvae feed on dust largely comprised of the dead skin cells of the pets and people in the house. So the products used to treat pets only kill adult fleas and only when they have sucked the blood of the treated pet.

Treatment of pets alone can control fleas once all the eggs, larvae and pupae have become adults, fed on the pets and died before laying more eggs.

Best control can be achieved by a combination of treating the pets and treating the areas where the eggs, larvae and pupae are living.

How to Get Rid of Fleas
Almost all flea infestations are associated with pets, birds or other animals. Cat fleas are the most likely to bite humans but all will feed on a host other than their favoured when it is all that is available. Getting rid of fleas requires a multi pronged approach:
    Flea Bites
  1. Vacuum? Vacuuming before treatment is advised by some pest control experts as it will 'activate' pupae so that the adults can be treated. However, the adults first action will be to try and find a food source. The food source is likely to be you. To prevent bites we recommend leaving the vacuuming stage until 5-7 days after treatment.
  2. Treat your pets – Flea control products can be obtained from your veterinarian or from pet supplies stores. If you have no pets check for other animals living around your house, such as birds in the eaves or cats under the floor. Animal flea treatments normally kill and/or sterilise the adult fleas when the fleas suck the blood of the treated animal.
  3. For a quick knockdown of flea numbers use NO Bugs Bug Bombs (Flea Bomb).
  4. Spray pet bedding areas and places where fleas have been detected with NO Fleas Total. This product will kill adult fleas and larvae that contact the treated areas. It also contains a growth regulator that stops development of fleas and terminating their life cycle.
  5. Following treatment carefully collect all bedding from the room and place in a plastic bag for transport to your washing machine, being careful to make sure no insects are dropped on the way. If possible wash the clothes in a hot wash.
  6. After 5-7 days – Vacuum – Thoroughly vacuum dust and other detritus from all areas. This will remove dead fleas, larvae and eggs and also remove the food that the larvae need to develop. It will also 'activate' remaining pupae and the hatched adults will contact the treated surfaces to be killed. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag immediately afterwards, by sealing in a plastic bag and placing in the waste bin outside.
  7. Spray again with NO Fleas Total to protect from further infestation. NO Fleas Total will remain effective for at least three months in most situations.
  8. Be sure to keep your pet's flea control up to date. This will help to prevent re-infestation. Regular vacuuming removes the detritus that flea larvae would feed on and help to reduce the risk of future infestation.
Be pro-active and protect yourself, your family and your pets from fleas now.

Shortest ever poem about fleas.

Adam had'em.


Monday, October 25, 2010

I am Getting Motivated for Movember

Before
Hi,

I’m joining the growing club of modern gentlemen who believe in the virtues of fine moustachery, immaculate grooming and growing a moustache for Movember. I am looking for like-minded ladies and gentlemen to join my team to change the face of men’s health.

Movember is about raising funds and awareness for men's health, specifically prostate cancer and depression in men. Close to 3,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in New Zealand each year and 1 in 10 men will experience depression in their lifetime. Many of these men do not seek help.

I think it’s time we did something about this.

Kiwicare is supporting the cause with prizes for the best company Mo, as voted by the Kiwicare staff, plus a $20 donation to the Movember cause for every Kiwicare staff member who donates.

The more people I can get on board, the more lives we can impact. I am asking you to join my team and either grow a moustache as a Mo Bro, or join as a Mo Sista to help recruit other gentlemen.

To join my Movember team go to http://nz.movember.com/register/114172 and follow the steps. Once registered you'll be sent all the information you need to raise funds and start growing as part of the Kiwicare Mo NO Movember team.

Or you can donate to 'The Mo NO Team' or to me 'David Brittain'.

If you’re interested in learning more about the work that is being carried out as a result of Movember funds, feel free to read the details at http://nz.movemberfoundation.com/research-and-programs.

I hope you join me to change the face of men’s health.

Never put anything on paper, my boy, and never trust a man with a small black moustache. - P. G. WODEHOUSE

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is Your Home Being Eaten from the Inside Out?

In New Zealand our older housing stock is weakening each year as more wood boring beetle damage is accumulated. The larvae of the common wood boring beetles (Anobium punctatum and Leanobium flavomaculatum) are slow eaters; they chew through the interior of untreated timbers for 2-4 years before emerging from the wood between October and March. As they emerge they open the small (2-3mm) holes in the surface of the wood that we identify as borer or woodworm infestation. When we see these holes in our weatherboards, architraves, skirting, floorboards and furniture we only see the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ The vast majority of the damage is within the timber where a labyrinth of tunnels has weakened the wood.
Floor board showing majority of damage in lower half

Thankfully borer do not damage timbers as quickly as termites. If the slow increase in holes is noticed at all, the progress of the damage is often ignored for years. Each year the floor boards might creak a little more and the weatherboards might take a little more filling before painting; but until a floor board fails and you fall through, or the weatherboards start to rot because of water penetrating the borer holes, you may not be aware that your home is in danger.

It might take more than 50 years for damage to accumulate to the point of failure but the number of homes reaching such a venerable and vulnerable age is increasing. It is estimated that over six hundred thousand New Zealand homes are now over 50 years old.

Borer tend to attack softer timbers, so the older houses with structural timbers made of good quality heartwood are likely to be structurally safe, but even these houses often have decorative or non-structural timbers of softer sapwood. We often see weatherboards or floorboards riddled with borer holes next to undamaged boards. Even the same board may be heavily damaged in one area and undamaged elsewhere.

In the 1950s preservative timber treatment was introduced to new buildings and this has protected many timber homes of less than 60 years of age, but not all later houses used treated timbers and treatment loses effectiveness over time; it should not be expected the treatment will give protection for more than 50 years. There are many homes older than 50 years with susceptible timbers and the slow chewing of borer beetle larvae is now making more and more timbers fail. It might be too late for some parts of older houses but the borer damage can be stopped or at least slowed greatly by the use of protective borer products.

The cool damp conditions found in the south of New Zealand suit borer well and the homes of Southland, Otago and Canterbury suffer more than most from the ravages of borer. Borer control can be carried out effectively by the use of borer fluids that penetrate deep into the affected timbers and provide protection for many years. Even the timbers that are hard to reach such as roof timbers and floor timbers can be given protection by the use of borer fumigators during the flight season. These kill the adult beetles that have emerged from the flight holes and stop them mating and laying their eggs back on the timbers. There are also aerosol injectors that can be used to treat individual flight holes in damaged painted or varnished wood. This will kill larvae deep within the wood and prevent eggs being laid in the holes.

This is a good time to examine your home for sign of borer infestation. I suggest looking for fresh flight holes. These will have a clean appearance inside the hole. It may take examining the holes with a magnifying lens. Sand like dust known as frass may also fall out of the flight holes when the wood is given a tap. So check your home and protect it from damage now before you fall through the floor.

Surveyor: "This house is a structurally unsound. I wonder what is keeping it from falling down.
Owner: "I think the woodworm (borer larvae) are holding hands."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spider and Bug Proof Your Home

How to Control Crawling Insect Pests and Spiders

Crawling insects are effectively controlled by treating surfaces with NO Bugs Super. Insects that contact treated surfaces are rapidly killed and in many cases the surfaces become repellent to insects and so acts as a barrier to insect pests.

Surface treatment using NO Bugs Super will give long term control of cockroaches, ants, spiders, silverfish, carpet beetle, booklice, fleas and other crawling pests. Insects and spiders are killed after they contact the treated surfaces and insecticide will not be inhaled by people or pets using the rooms. Spray around doorways and windows, skirtings, kick boards and the floor surfaces where insect pests have been seen crawling.
  • Before you begin - If the areas to be treated are dusty or greasy it is good practise to clean these down first to prevent runs and for the best effect of the treatment. Cover or remove all fish tanks, pets, food, food utensils, food preparation surfaces, clothes, toys and bedding. Pull furniture away from walls so that you can get a clear run of spraying rather than having to stop to move each item of furniture.
  • Crawling insects and spiders inside - Apply NO Bugs Super as a coarse mist around the edges of rooms, against skirting boards and kick boards. Pay particular attention to places where insect pests might gain entry to each room.
  • Crawling insects and spiders outside - Crawling insect pests and spiders can be controlled before they get a chance to enter your home. Spraying the exterior with NO Bugs Super acts as a barrier to many pests and will prevent the unsightly appearance of spider webbing build up around the home. Spray a band around the base of a ll external walls. Pay particular attention to doorways and around windows and vents. For spiders pay attention to gutters* and downpipes and other areas where spiders hide or build webs.
  • Choose a still day with a for cast of dry conditions for the next 6 hours. Apply NO Bugs Super as a coarse mist to exterior walls, window frames, door frames, vents, pergolas and other surfaces which pest insects and spiders might contact.
  • Note: Pyrethroids are broken down by UV light and have a shorter life in bright sunlight so a second spray in such areas will increase efficacy. NO Bugs Super is formulated to resist breakdown by UV light. Also pyrethrins are slower to work in higher temperatures; so on warm days the flies may take longer to die after contact.
  • Many spiders, particularly white tail spiders, and crawling insect pests will hide and infest voids around a house such as roof and ceiling voids. Kiwicare NO Bugs Bug Bombs and Borafume fumigators are ideal for eliminating spiders and insects in difficult to treat places such as these voids. The fumigants penetrate through the voids leaving nowhere for spiders and insects to hide.

 Tips: 

  • Porous surfaces that absorb the spray may require a second treatment once the first one has dried completely.
  • Do not over spray walls. Avoid spraying to point where liquid spray runs down the wall. If spray beads and runs, spray more lightly and repeat after first spray has dried.

Why did the fly fly?
Because the spider spied her.

Monday, October 18, 2010

How to Fly Proof Your Home

"One spray lasts all summer long."

NO Bugs Super Professional Strength is the best general purpose insecticide for eradicating and controlling spiders and a range of crawling and flying insect pests in and around home, office, factory and shop. One treatment of a home will last for up to 6 months.

The new professional strength formula provides the same level of protection from pest insects and spiders as you would expect from a professional pest control company.......but at a fraction of the cost. Here we will describe how and where to use the product to get the same level of protection as that you would expect from a professional treatment.

NO Bugs Super is:
  • Available in both a handy Ready To Use spray and as a Concentrate for making up enough spray to bug proof a whole building.
  • NO Bugs Super provides control of most crawling and flying insects, including cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, ants, spiders (including white tail spiders), carpet beetle, silverfish and many others.
  • Due to its UV stability NO Bugs Super provides control of pests both indoors and out all summer long.
  • It does not stain or smell.
  • Applied correctly it is safe around children and pets making it the perfect product for use around the home.
  • Made in New Zealand for New Zealand pests and conditions.
  • It is effective, easy to use and cost efficient.
How to use NO Bugs Super

NO Bugs Super concentrate is formulated for dilution with clean water. The dilution rate varies depending on the circumstances of use. Check the dilution rates on the container and select the one for your situation. Trigger sprayers or clean garden sprayers can be used.

Learn - How to Mix Concentrates

The ready to use trigger spray is ideal for treating small areas or as a 'top up' treatment of particularly vulnerable areas but is unlikely to be sufficient to treat and entire house.

How To Control Flying Insects

It is rarely possible to entirely prevent flies and flying pests from entering buildings if doors and windows are open but the numbers can be kept to minimum and flying insects killed soon after entering.

  • Surface treatment using NO Bugs Super (or NO Flies) will give long term control of flies. Flies are killed after they land on the treated surfaces and insecticide will not be inhaled by people or pets using the rooms. Spray the surfaces that you see flies landing on; these are often the edges of doorways and window frames, light fittings, ceilings, tops of walls and wall corners.
  • Before you begin - If the areas to be treated are dusty or greasy it is good practise to clean these down first to prevent runs and for the best effect of the treatment. Cover or remove all fish tanks, pets, food, food utensils, food preparation surfaces, clothes, toys and bedding. Pull furniture away from walls so that you can get a clear run of spraying rather than having to stop to move each item of furniture.
  • Flies inside - Apply NO Bugs Super as a coarse mist to walls (especially edges), ceiling, window frames, entrance ways, doors, porches, and areas where flies congregate.
  • Flies outside - It is more difficult to deal with flies outside as it may not be possible to treat areas not within your control and there can be no way to proof against flies. However, there are ways to minimise the nuisance. Search for possible breeding sites of flies. Remove or treat with insecticide any decaying animal or vegetable matter that might provide food for maggots (fly larvae). Check and clean drains.
  • Choose a still day with a forecast of dry conditions for the next 6 hours. Apply NO Bugs Super as a coarse mist to exterior walls, window frames, door frames, pergolas and other fly alighting surfaces.
  • Note: Pyrethroids are broken down by UV light and have a shorter life in bright sunlight so a second spray in such areas will increase efficacy. NO Bugs Super is formulated to resist breakdown by UV light. Also pyrethrins are slower to work in higher temperatures; so on warm days the flies may take longer to die after contact.
  • Baits are being developed for the control of flies outdoors. These may be useful in areas such as compost bins, chicken coops, animal houses etc. In such areas spraying can be less effective because of dust the presence of a great deal of decaying matter to attract the flies.
  • Citronella candles and other repellents can reduce fly numbers in limited areas such as decks and around barbecues. However, windy days will dissipate the repellents rapidly.
  • Personal insect repellent can be useful in preventing flies as well as mosquitoes and sand flies coming close to us. There are synthetic and organic insect repellents available
To Keep Flying Insect Pests To A Minimum Follow these simple principles.
  1. Remove or limit what is attracting the flies.
  2. Remove or treat breeding sites.
  3. Stop them entering by physical barriers.
  4. Use residual surface treatments where entry cannot be prevented.
  5. Use automatic aerosol dispensers in areas of high fly nuisance, but never where food is handled.
  6. Use aerosol insecticide as a quick knockdown but stay out of the sprayed area for as long as possible after use.
Why were the flies playing soccer in the saucer?They where playing for the cup!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bed Bugs Hit the Headlines

What a busy week it has been. My bed bugs blog of a few days ago has been picked up by the media across New Zealand and I and our Chief Chemist and Sales Manager have been fielding questions from newspapers, magazines, radio .....and tomorrow morning, TV.

The increase in bed bug infestations across the world and in New Zealand has obviously hit a nerve with people. If you want to learn more about bed bugs, how to identify them, what signs to look for, how to prevent transporting them around the world or to your home and above all how to get rid of them watch the TVNZ morning show tomorrow (14th October 2010) at 07.35. Martin Carson the Kiwicare Chief Chemist will be interviewed.......he is not taking over from Paul Henry....although I think he would do a very good job of it.

Why do bed bugs not bite lawyers?
The blood suckers might get in first.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Organic Weedkiller

There is growing interest in using natural and organic methods and products to control pests and diseases in the home and garden. However, the definition of natural and organic can be difficult to pin down. There is an argument that everything is natural; even petrochemicals are products made from oil which is formed in a natural process from decaying forests over millions of years. But such arguments miss the point of what it is that users want. They want products of natural origin that are subsequently less damaging to the environment.


There are a growing number of products that have the words natural or organic on the label but that does not necessarily mean that the entire product is natural or organic. An insecticide label may say “contains 100% natural pyrethrum” but that does not tell you whether there are other non-natural contents. For example the synergist piperonyl butoxide is often added to pyrethroid insecticides to increase the effectiveness of the product, this is a synthetic chemical and not natural or organic.

One way of telling whether a product is really organic is to check for certification from one of the recognised organic certification bodies. There are two such bodies in New Zealand, the independent not for profit incorporated society BioGro® and the government owned AsureQuality. Products that display the logos of these organisations have been shown comply with the relevant organic standards.

Some companies in New Zealand have embraced the public movement towards organic products and have developed ranges of certified organic products. Kiwicare has recently added a BioGro certified organic weed killer to its range. The range already includes certified organic fertiliser, caterpillar control, fungicides, insecticides, rodent bait, ant barrier and insect repellent.

Watch your weeds wilt and die within hours with the new organic weed killer. Kiwicare Organic NO Weeds is certified organic by BioGro® and uses a combination of natural technologies to achieve spectacular results. With a combination of both natural pine oils and plant fatty acids in the formulation the product strips the waxy cuticles from weeds and disrupts plant cell walls dehydrating the weed and killing it. The product works fast, particularly on warm dry days.





Then: Killer Weed.
Now: Weed Killer.



Monday, October 4, 2010

What Else Might You Find in Your Hotel Room?

On my Rarotongan travels the pest I had expected to encounter, but in fact didn't see at all, was cockroaches. When we are on holiday or travelling in warmer more humid regions of the world one can expect to encounter cockroaches and you should be aware of their habits and how to avoid them bothering you in your hotel room or bringing them home with you.

Cockroaches love warm moist conditions. Those of you in the warmer moister parts of New Zealand are probably well aware of them but those from the cooler drier areas south of Christchurch are only likely to come across them when travelling. Although there are many different species of cockroach their habits have many similarities and so controlling them can be generalised.

Roaches prefer warm, moist and sheltered areas close to food and water but it doesn't take much food to attract them. So when on holiday don't leave food in your room or if you do make sure it is well sealed in airtight containers. Although we tend to think of cockroaches as large, their nymphal stages can be quite tiny and so can get into non-airtight containers.

Cockroaches are largely active only at night and hide in cracks and crevices during the day. Their body shape is flattened so that they can squeeze into very small gaps. As nymphs the gaps can be tiny. So as with bed bugs mentioned in a previous blog it is important to place your suitcase where crawling insects will find it hard to access. You don't want cockroaches to hide in your case where there would be risk of taking them home with you.

Cockroaches lay eggs and egg cases in these cracks and crevices. Egg cases provide protection from insecticides and can remain hidden for months before hatching. So if egg cases were laid in your luggage you could unwittingly transport them home and only discover the infestation months later. You can protect your luggage from cockroaches by spraying with NO Bed Bugs luggage spray or NO Bugs Super prior to or during travel.

Cockroaches in tropical countries can fly. At night you might be woken by cockroaches battering themselves against you bedroom window. This is another good reason to keep your bedroom windows closed at night while in tropical countries or only open them when they are fitted with insect screens. In New Zealand the temperatures, although warm in some parts, re not generally high enough for cockroaches to fly.

Good hotels in tropical countries are used to proactively treating all areas of the hotel against cockroaches (as described below) and so you are only likely to have significant problems with cockroaches in accommodation premises with lower standards. Cockroaches are not just a nuisance pest; they are carriers of disease organisms. They can be found moving from drains, sewers and detritus to food preparation areas; kitchens, dinning rooms etc. and can be one of the ways that you can be at risk of picking up stomach bugs. You can reduce the risks of illness by maintaining good personal hygiene while on holiday. Wash your hands regularly or use NO Germs Hand Sanitiser after touching any surfaces that could be contaminated. Also avoid restaurants which might have lower standards and only eat food or drink water that you are confident has been cooked or boiled to high enough temperature to eliminate micro-organisms.

If you do bring cockroaches home with you, or you have a cockroach problem in your home carry out treatment as follows:

Place NO Cockroach Gel Bait in areas such as behind fridges and freezers, in rear of cupboards and areas where cockroaches have been seen. The bait will kill feeding cockroaches, those that these individuals regurgitate food for and those that cannibalise them after they die.

Knock down adults and immature cockroaches using NO Cockroaches (or NO Bugs) fumigators in each affected room. The fumigant penetrates into the nooks and crannies where cockroaches hide. Remove all dead cockroaches after treatment as females may be carrying eggs that could still hatch.

Spray around likely cockroach hiding places such as behind, ovens, fridges, freezers, cupboards etc. with NO Cockroaches or NO Bugs Super residual surface sprays. These give long lasting protection.

You can also spray accessible cracks and crevices with NO Bugs Crack and Crevice Spray or NO Borer Injector to flush out cockroaches and deny them these harbourages.

Also set NO Cockroaches Traps and NO Cockroach Gel Bait in affected areas. These will give early indication and control of any re-infestation.

Where do bed bugs save?
In blood banks.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Relaxed, Lightly Tanned and Without Bites

I returned on Tuesday from a great trip to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. What a fabulously relaxing place. The weather was a balmy mid twenties, mostly sunny and just the occasional shower to keep the heat down and the grass green. The sea ranged from pale turquoise of the lagoon to deep blue beyond the reef where the whales played and waved to us the onshore tourists.

I didn't sit in the sun all the time. I did get off my rear to go snorkeling in the lagoon that rings the island and I took a 4X4 trip around the island and up into the hills. I also made sure I sampled as many of the restaurants and bars around the island as time would allow. I was particularly impressed with the quality of the food. I have not eaten so much seafood for many years and am now a convert to tuna and game fish steaks. One restaurant in particular stood out, the Windjammer. The sad thing is was its last week of existence as the lease was up. My suggestion to those looking for good food on the island would be to find out where the chef and staff of the Windjammer have gone and go there.

I went to Rarotonga prepared for attack by mosquitoes and other biting insects and armed myself with Safari Stick and Safari Wipes insect repellents. I am pleased to announce both worked admirably and I was not bitten at all, except one night before I applied the repellent. Apart from the mosquitoes I was told by the hotel that there is another biting fly on the island and that they take steps to reduce its harm to patrons by trapping. The repellent seemed to work well on these beasties too and I was not troubled by them. I suspect the preponderance of chickens on the island and even around the hotel grounds also help to keep many insects down.

Other pests on the island include rats and myna birds that have displaced the native birds to pockets high in the forests of hills. Although I saw many myna birds I saw no rats. The hotel pest control program was working well on them. Ants were common and there were some that I watched intently in the hotel room, but they were not in any numbers that caused alarm unless food was left out. Don't leave your honey roasted peanuts where ants can get to them! My next blog will discuss how to avoid nuisance ants while on holiday and keep your honey roast peanuts free from extra protein.

Why do mosquitoes not bite property agents?
Because they worry the blood suckers might bite them first.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kiwicare is Mitre10 Platinum Supplier of the Year

At a recent Mitre10 Award ceremony Kiwicare picked up the Platinum Supplier of the Year Award 2010. The Mitre10 stores and staff from around New Zealand vote in categories such as innovation, customer satisfaction and training. In all 10 categories Kiwicare was above average. Against stiff opposition from over a hundred other suppliers Kiwicare triumphed.

Kiwicare Sales Manager Neil Martin collected the prestigious award at the Mitre10 Expo in Auckland last week. This top award follows five years of achieving top ten placing in supplier of the year and caps a great year of progress in developing great new products and developing our range in both home and garden care for New Zealand.

Thanks must go to all the staff at Kiwicare and specially to the team of territory managers who have great relationships with all our retailers.

This will be a difficult award to hold on to in 2011 but with yet more innovative new products, new staff and new factory facilities we intend to make every effort not only to hold on to the trophy but to further improve our performance for Mitre10 and the other retailers who stock our products.

There were two platinum blondes that had just left a shop and one of them had locked her keys in the car. She was trying to pick the lock when she stopped to take a rest and her friend said "Hurry up, it's starting to rain and the top's down!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Travel Pests

I am taking a trip to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands starting tomorrow (or today, as I time travel back a day over the international date line). This, and my last blog on how to protect yourself from bed bugs while travelling, have suggested that you might be interested in ways to stay safe from all sorts of pests while overseas.

What are the pests you might need protection from while travelling abroad?

There are some obvious ones such as mosquitoes and other biting flying insects in tropical countries. Many of these carry tropical diseases and are more than just an annoyance.

There are many of the pests you would encounter in New Zealand that are also pests in other countries, rats, mice, ants and fleas spring to mind.

Then there are exotic pests that are specific hazards of certain parts of the world; venomous spiders and snakes, biting ants and even larger dangerous animals such as crocodiles. Perhaps the largest 'pest' problem I have ever had was during a stay at an African safari lodge when an elephant got into the hotel compound. It was a pest by definition as an animal in the 'wrong' place. It was not shot, I am glad to say, but was coaxed by a dozen men to leave the compound and the fence repaired to keep him out. This is what I would call elephant proofing.

I will over this and my next few blogs describe ways to protect yourself from some of these pest threats. Starting with my trip to Rarotonga in mind I will discuss the likely pests in those topical islands.

The mosquito is a blood sucking insect found throughout the tropics and sub-tropics and even into temperate regions. The mosquito is a carrier and transmitter of many blood borne diseases, the major ones being malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever but there are many more.

It is more than a wise precaution to be well prepared to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other biting and blood sucking insects while travelling, particularly to warm countries where the insects are accompanied by risk of disease.

Most hotels in susceptible countries will have routine programs of mosquito control where they search for mosquito breeding sites (stagnant water) and treat the hotel with mosquito control products. Even with these measures you may still be at risk of bites while sitting by the pool or lying in your bed at night. But when you are away from the safety of your hotel you are most at risk. Personal insect repellent is the essential tool for preventing mosquito bites.

Safari Insect repellents come in various forms. There is the stick and roll on that contain the two strongest repellents DEET and DMP. There is a handy aerosol containing DMP and then for those that prefer to protect themselves with natural repellents there are the Organic Safari Wipes containing a combination of essential oils.

Mosquitoes are active at dusk, dawn and during the night.They are attracted to their blood feed (you) by heat and carbon dioxide from your breath. So keep the windows and doors to your bedroom closed at night unless there are mosquito nets fitted.

Some people react badly to mosquito bites and the bite sites become itchy and swollen. Take antihistamine tablets and cream with you for treatment of itchy bites. If bites become particularly swollen or do not reduce over a day or two seek medical advice.

Stay safe on your next holiday and be prepared for the pests found at your destination.

Why are fleas, bed bugs and mosquitoes all so easily fooled?
Because they are born suckers

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BBC Reports World on Threshold of Bed Bugs Pandemic

A recent survey of a thousand pest control firms around the world by the University of Kentucky and the United States' National Pest Management Association, appears to show that the bed-bug problem is increasing everywhere. Says the BBC.

New Zealand is among those countries experiencing a rapid rise in bed bug infestations. I have previously (Dec 09) written on how to get rid of bed bugs. Since then Kiwicare has launched a new NO Bed Bugs Total Solution Box containing all you need to get rid of a bed bug infestation and protect yourself, your luggage and your home from infestations.

Bed bugs live near where their hosts (you) sleep. Although they have increasingly been found in places like shops, theatres and transport they are still most common in accommodation businesses; hotels, motels and backpackers, where there is a large turnover of travelling people transporting bed bugs in and out of the premises. Travellers do, of course, also return home and risk bringing them into their house.

While travelling there are some precautions you can take to avert a bed bug encounter on your travels, and prevent bringing them home with you.
  • You can protect yourself from transporting bed bugs in your luggage by giving it a light spray with NO Bed Bugs ready to use spray prior to travel.
  • When you check into your room, don't leave your luggage on the bed, floor or upholstered furniture – bed bugs commonly hide in the seams around beds, under carpet edges and in the upholstery of furniture.
  • You can place your suitcase on a metal luggage rack, it might be advisable to inspect it first.
  • Check the mattresses of the beds. Bed bugs are small (3-5mm, about the size of a grain of rice), oval, wingless parasitic insects. When they have recently fed they will be reddish brown but when they have not fed for some time they will be pale and almost translucent..
  • Also look for signs of bed bugs. The first sign of infestation might be blood or bed bug faeces marks (like a tick with a black ballpoint pen) on mattresses or sheets.
  • Bed bugs can also hide in the bed frame, head boards or dresser tables so be sure to check those too. Look in all cracks and crevices.
  • If you find bed bugs in your hotel room – don't panic. Ask the hotel to change you to another room. The management will probably be happy that you have helped them identify an infestation before it becomes established.
  • Check the new room in the same way.
  • When you return home inspect your suitcase for any signs of the bugs and place all your clothes that were packed in the suit case in the dryer for 15 minutes on the high setting – even if you didn't wear them.
Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite.
You know you're at a bad motel when:
The mint on the pillow starts moving when you come close to it.
There is still some yellow crime scene tape around the door.
There are bullet holes behind the pictures.
There's a chalk outline of a bed bug on the bed when you pull back the covers.
The receptionist has to move the body in order to get some ice for you.
The wake-up call comes courtesy of the pest controller.