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

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.

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.