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.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pests and the Canterbury Earthquake

There are many things more important than pests for the people of Canterbury to think about at this time; friends and family, making buildings safe, continuing aftershocks, the clean up etc. However, there should, perhaps, be some thought put into pests. In the case of rodents and flies they can be transmitters of disease, and this is a time that disease is one of the major threats. In the case of borer and ants this would be an opportunity to carry out effective control programs.

The ground in Christchurch and surrounding districts has been given a good shake up. The buildings that many pests live in have also been shaken and many destroyed. Pests that naturally live and nest in the ground or live in buildings with us, such as rats, mice, borer, flies and ants will have had a shake up also. What is likely to happen to the pests? What effect will the quake have on them?

Rats and Mice
Norway rats (sometimes known as water rats) normally live in burrows but often make their homes in sewers, drains and buildings. They are strongly commensal with human activity. Roof rats are naturally arboreal, usually living and nesting in trees, but they often live in the roofs and higher parts of our buildings, as their name suggests.

It seems likely that rats of both types will have been shaken out of their normal routine. While many will have been killed as their nests collapsed, many more will have been induced to leave their 'homes' and will scatter, seeking new places to find food sources and shelter. The destruction of buildings and their contents will have broken food storage containers and facilities perhaps allowing access to the food for rodents and other pests.

With broken sewers and water systems there comes a risk of direct contamination of water supplies from sewers, but also of rats that had been living in sewers carrying disease to new areas. The same is probably the same with mice. Rats and mice dribble urine continually and produce many droppings each day.

Take care when cleaning up your home or workplace. Wear gloves and carry out good hygiene to prevent picking up disease such as gastroenteritis, Wiel's disease, salmonella, E. coli etc. Remove or secure possible food sources for pests as soon as possible. Carry out preventative rodent control.

Ants and Other Insect Pests
The major ant pests in Christchurch are Darwin and Argentine ants. Both these species commonly live in nests in sandy soil. Both also produce 'super colonies' where several nests co-operate and act as a single colony. Each nest contains multiple queens, each capable, with only a few workers, of setting up a new nest.

It seems likely that many ant nests have been destroyed. However, as with rodents, it seems likely that many more nests will have been disturbed and the colonies will have 'budded' as queens with their own groups of workers leave damaged and disturbed nests in seek of new places to set up home. So there may be an initial reduction of ant numbers across the city but those remaining will be seen more as they move. As warm weather arrives, ant colony size will rise quickly. New ant nests are likely to find new sources of food and shelter quickly.

While ants are under environmental stress from the disturbance of the earthquake it would be a good time to carryout an ant control program around your property to prevent ants setting up home there.

A similar story is likely to be the case for many other insect pests that casually intrude into buildings.

Borer
The damage to wooden buildings is not likely to have any impact on the borer larvae within. Many damaged old buildings will have to be pulled down and rebuilt and new timber will be treated and protected from borer attack. Many homes and other buildings will not be damaged to such an extent and will be repaired.

Some thought should be taken about rebuilding. If borer infested timbers such as weatherboards, joists, beams etc. are exposed during repair this is an ideal time to treat the bare timber with borer protection such as NO Borer fluid. You can get up to 20 years borer protection from such treatment.

Flies
The temperature reached 21C in Christchurch yesterday, which was pleasant for those living without electricity, but it is an indication of warmer weather to come in spring and summer and immediately encourages flies to breed. The warm weather combined with broken sewers, spilled food and other fly breeding places may see a rapid increase in fly numbers. Flies are carriers of disease and may move from sewerage to your kitchen work surfaces or food. It would be advisable to carry out pre emptive fly control and use surface sprays such as NO Bugs Super and NO Flies to reduce the risks and annoyance of flies.

Kiwicare product will continue to be available from our retailers throughout Canterbury. Kiwicare is a Canterbury company and we wish everyone in the region all the best in this difficult time.

A mouse walks into a bar and asks the bartender "Have you got any cheese?"
"No" says the barman.

"Got any cheese?" Repeats the mouse.
"No, I have no cheese" says the barman.

The mouse: "Got any cheese?"
Barman: "NO. Are you deaf? I said I have NOT got any cheese."

"Got any cheese?"
"I am cheesed of with you! But I have no cheese and if you don't stop asking me if I've got cheese I'll nail you to the bar."

"Got any nails?"
"No"

"Got any cheese?"

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kiwicare Still in Business After Quake

The Kiwicare factory and head office is intact and business is as usual  following Canterbury's massive 7.1 Richter Scale earthquake on Saturday morning.

The purpose built facilities are only 8 years old and were built to the highest standards. This is particularly important for a facility that handles a significant quantity of chemicals. Racking and storage within the factory were also not damaged and machinery appears intact.

But most important of all the staff have all come through the experience uninjured and with only minor damage to things in their homes.

Thank you to all those that have called and emailed to enquire about us here in Christchurch.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Christchurch Earthquake

I live in Kaiapoi, 10km north of Christchuch and I, like the rest of Canterbury, was awoken with a jolt at 4.45 this morning. I managed to get out of bed and stand in the bedroom doorway. I thought about getting out of the house as the front door was only a few metres away. But I was listening to the joints in the wooden house making some serious cracking and creeking noise and thought there is some real chance that the building will collapse.

When the main quake ended, and it wasn't clear when that was as further quakes rumbled through for some time. I grabbed the torch and took a look around the house. There wasn't much that sits on shelves still on the shelves. The TV in my bedroom and the plants on the shelf were all on the floor. Funny thing is that I didn't notice them falling during the quake.

My power is back on now at 9.30 but water is still off. I am very surprised that the power has been restored so quickly and I don't expect water to come back on for perhaps days. This after taking a walk into Kaiapoi as the sun came up. The Canterbury plain is based on ancient river beds and there has been serious liquifaction. 100m from my house the road has buckled and silt and mud worked its way to the surface.

Blackwells still flying flag


Car Park that used to be flat


Liquifaction in a garden

Many were not so lucky

Still getting aftershocks but getting blasé about them even though the computer screen is wobbling around as I write this.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cholecalciferol Possum Bait Still Available

The second day of the PestNET conference held at Lincoln focused on new products and product development. There was also discussion on the availability of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) possum baits. There has been a recent surge in the cost of cholecalciferol worldwide. At one point it had gone up by 1000%. Although it has eased back again it is still much more expensive than it was 18 months ago. As the chole (as it is often known) is a significant cost of possum baits using this toxin some of the manufactures have stopped manufacture and some chole baits are no longer available.

Kiwicare is both an importer and exporter of cholecalciferol and as such has secured an exclusive supply. Kiwicare NO Possums Cholecalciferol Gel Bait is still available for control of possums and the price has been kept steady, with no increase in the last 3 years.

NO Possums Cholecalciferol Gel bait is ideal for use where long term control of possums is required. The bait is truly long life; lasting up to two years without deteriorating, even in wet conditions.

It is not required to have a licence or approved handlers certificate to use NO Possums making it ideal for self-help and community environmental protection groups.

So the Coach Says to the Team. "Listen Up Men. I’m Changing Our Team Name to The Possums.” One of the Players Says “What… Why Coach?” Coach… "Because We Play Dead at Home and Get Killed on the Road!"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Joe Bennett at PestNET

I attended the first day of the PestNET conference at Lincoln University yesterday. PestNET is an organisation of pest control contractors mostly involved in Animal Health Board operations to control Tb in  vectors such as possums. However, I was happy to see some other groups represented at the conference including Otago Peninsula conservation group and the Little Yellow Eye Penguin Group and we had a couple of great talks from iwi. The first day of the conference focused on the need for good communication between contractors, AHB, DoC and other stakeholders and the public including iwi and landowners.

We could all take a leaf out of Joe Bennett's many books. We were lucky enough to have Joe as the after dinner speaker for the conference. I have read a few of Joe's books and read his column in the Press and other periodicals when I come across them. I had expected a gentle chat with humorous observations. What we got was a polished stand up performance that had the tears of mirth running down my cheeks. Move over Billy Connolly you have a rival.

If you are planning a conference dinner I happily recommend Joe as the man to get for your after dinner speaker.

Today at the conference is the day for hearing about technical developments in pest control for controlling possums, mustalids and rodents. There are improvements afoot in many of these areas, not least through developments of Kiwicare products. you will hear about them here. So keep watching this space.

A cow with poor eyesight walks into a bar. She coughs to attract the attention of the bartender (Tb or not Tb?).
When he turns she asks "Can I have a Guinness please? I've never had one before and my Irish cow friend tells me it's great."
The bartender realising the cow has poor eyesight, because of the milk bottle spectacles she is wearing, decides to save on the Guinness and give her coke. 'How would she know?'
The cow take s swig of the drink and spits it out. "Yuk!" she says. "That can't be Guinness. Where is the creamy head?"
The barman pours the cow a Guinness and hands it to her admitting "I thought I could get the coke past your eyes."