Doing a bit of traveling this holiday season?  Staying in a hotel?  Think your hotel is safe from a bed bug infestation?  It’s not.  A recent article published by PJ Media entitled, “10 Hotel Chains with the Worst Bed Bug Infestations” lists some rather well known hotel chains:

Holiday Inn, Days Inn, Hampton Inn, Marriott, Hilton, and Motel 6 to name a few.  It seems like no one is safe, no matter what the cost you pay for a space to lay your head.  But fret not!  You can take control of the situation, making certain that your room is bed bug free.  Just as any pest management professional will tell you – the key to any pest issue is a good and thorough inspection.


LIVE BED BUGS: This one seems obvious enough.  If it moves, it is probably still alive.  The common misnomer is that bed bugs are microscopic.  They aren’t.  You can see them, though they are fairly small.  Figure A is an image of a bed bug on a linen sheet.  Bed bugs do not fly or jump, but can crawl rather well.  Keep in mind that bed bugs are nocturnal, which means they are much more active at night.  If you find a bed bug during the morning or afternoon hours, it might be resting and will not automatically move unless prodded along.

DEAD BED BUGS: This sign is just like live signs, but you know… lifeless.  Dead, done, call it a day.  Just because you find dead activity, this does not mean that there are no longer bed bug issues, just as it does not mean that there are current bed bug issues.  All it really means is that you should continue your inspection.

MOLTING:  Bed bugs go through what is called an incomplete metamorphosis.  Instead of egg, larva, pupae and adult, bed bugs go from egg to nymph to adult.  A nymph is basically a small version of an adult bed bug.  As bed bugs grow larger, their exoskeleton becomes too tight, forcing the bed bug to molt from the restrictive skin.  They do this by literally growing out of their exoskeleton, leaving it behind. This molting process will happen many times until the bed bug officially becomes an adult and reaches its maximum size.  The left over exoskeleton, in turn can often be seen in, around and nearby harborage areas.

BLOOD DROPLETS (FECES): Not only do bed bugs consume blood, but they also excrete it in the form of feces.  What goes in, must come out!  The feces may be black, brown, yellow or even red in color and are easily identified.  Small, pinhead-sized dots can cover the area in question, giving proof positive identification of a previous or even current bed bug infestation.

SIGNS OF PREVIOUS TREATMENT:  This is perhaps a harder item to identify.  There are several ways to kill a bed bug and not all of them are pesticidal.  For instance, our organization prefers to utilize steam because the heat not only kills the adult, but also the eggs and leaves no residual trace that we were ever there, nor does it produce any pesticide off-gas.  (A win-win!)  Some pest control companies will prefer to utilize dust, which is typically a white, chalky powder.  It does not take much effort to apply and while it may not kill all bed bugs, it can be more cost effective – though a repeat visit will undoubtedly be required.  If you do see signs of dust, make sure you do not see it on a surface that you sleep on.  You do not want to inadvertently breathe in pesticides while sleeping. It is not necessarily a bad thing if you find residual dust behind wall coverings or headboards.



There is no law that states a hotel must tell you if they have had a bed bug issue or in which rooms.  Keep in mind that although there may be issues in one room, this does not mean that the entire hotel is infested.  Bed bugs do not typically travel from room to room on their own – they need a host or to be moved unknowingly via janitorial or some other method.  Some hotels are willing to move occupants to another room if there is concern that there may be a problem.  Of course, this starts the inspection process all over again.  When in doubt, find another place to stay or stay with a relative that you know does not have any bed bug issues.  The worst thing you can do is turn a blind-eye to a potential issue.  Most people would rather go through the hassle of inspection than transport bed bugs to their home.


It truly is the most wonderful time of the year – even for us pest controllers, as many insects such as ants become dormant. But is this the case for all pests? One species that seems to increase in numbers are red wasps.

The key phrase is seems to, because by most accounts, red wasps (also known as paper wasps) do in fact decrease in numbers during this time frame. However, young, mated female wasps will look for shelter in cracks and crevices of buildings or homes in order to survive through the fall and winter months. This phenomenon is referred to as overwintering.

According to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, “…in late summer, queens stop laying eggs and the colony soon begins to decline. In the fall, mated female offspring of the queen seek overwintering sites.” Female wasps look for sanctuary and it can appear that their numbers have increased due to the visual barrage of wasps swarming around warmer sides of structures. But the wasps are simply testing the property, looking for small gaps and openings, in search of spaces large enough to squeeze their tiny insect bodies into, giving them the protection they need from the soon-to-arrive colder, wetter climates. Donald Lewis, from the Iowa State University Department of Entomology states, “… the wasps that survive the winter are the fertilized “foundress” queens that will start “from scratch” to build a new nest and colony…. [Subsequently] finding wasps indoors in the spring does not automatically mean there was a nest in the [structure].”  The same goes for finding wasps within the structure in the fall or winter.  Again, the overwintering female wasps are not looking to nest or create colonies – they are simply in search of temporary shelter.

While in the state of overwintering, wasps are sluggish and are not typically aggressive, though that is little comfort to those witnessing their antics.  Pesticides may be used in any visible cracks and crevices and those areas that are within reach, but will do little to deter the pests from flying in and around the area. (If the pest does not land on the topical application, it will not be eliminated.) Unless there are specific gaps or penetrations that can be sealed or addressed through mechanical means, often the answer is simply wait until the first or second cold snap of the season to kick in.  Once the cold weather settles in, those wasps that did not find shelter will die off and those that did will transition into a hibernation-like state until Spring when they will attempt to emerge from their make-shift shelter and fly away.


I was in a property managers office some time ago and we were talking about exterior rodent bait stations.  You know – those black boxes you see outside of buildings, medical facilities, retail locations and even around restaurants.

I asked the manager if their current pest control company serviced the stations on a regular basis.  The response was this:

Yes. The applicator tells me he catches and pulls out at least one or two rodents from those stations every month.

Sounds good, right?  All the more reason to have rodent bait stations around your facility, right?  Here is the problem.  I checked the stations before I left and like most exterior rodent bait stations, these were designed to either monitor rodent activity or reduce the population of rodents around the complex by using bait.  The stations were not, however designed to catch or trap rodents.  While there are some rodent bait stations that allow for either a) a glue board or b) a snap trap to be placed inside of the station, most exterior rodent bait stations are used to introduce several ounces of rodenticide into the environment while keeping the rodenticide out of reach from human kind.  Because the bait can either be toxic or non-toxic (US Green Building Council preferred) and because the toxic forms are mammalian toxins, it is always best to use a tamper-proof bait station when utilizing rodent bait around a property.

Pest management professionals can use these stations to prove or disprove rodent activity around a property.  If there is an ongoing issue within a facility and the activity is relatively new, it may be a good idea to introduce exterior rodent stations.  If the activity has been commonplace for some time, introducing rodent bait stations may not do much of anything to the rodents traversing inside.

Below is a basic breakdown of the inside of one of these stations.  It is not complex.  The rodent(s) enter the box through one of two side openings. They travel to the bait, located in the bait chamber.  Again, some stations are large enough to fit a glue board in the bait chamber and some stations are tall enough to fit a snap trap, allowing the bar of the snap to extend fully, killing the rodent once inside.  MOST stations though, are not designed for that purpose.  Most are simply designed for the use of bait monitoring.  If you are not sure which type of exterior rodent bait station your pest professional is currently using, ask them to show you.  Walk down to one of the stations, have him or her unlock it and take a look inside.  You might be surprised by what you find!


Lady Beetles (commonly referred to as ladybugs) are small, beneficial creatures.  They are typically red or orange, with black polka-dotted markings.  Some cultures consider these highly identifiable pests as lucky. That is not the case, however when it comes to most of our clients as our firm will routinely receive requests from home owners, tenants and building managers during the winter months, to inspect and determine why they seemingly have an infestation.  We usually start seeing the colorful beetles in November and are called upon to address their presence through January.  Inevitably, what our team will find is a fresh delivery of poinsettia plants, which often turns out to be a Trojan horse.

Why are lady beetles associated with poinsettia plants?  To understand that, we need to understand the following: Integrated Pest Management may be all the rage when it comes to pest management in homes and commercial structures, but it actually started in the agricultural industry well before it was introduced to and by pest management firms.  Why spray a bunch of pesticides in and around your farm, when you can alter the surrounding ecology, making the area inhospitable to plant predators and crop killers.  Lady Beetles are beneficial in both adult and larval stages, feeding primarily on aphids. They can also feed on mites, smaller insects, and eggs of other insects if need be.  Farmers will release the beetles into their crops in the hopes that the beetles will keep their crops from becoming overrun by aphids.  If the crop is an indoor crop, the farmer has the added benefit of keeping these tiny protectors in a localized area.  If a farmer has an outdoor crop, he or she may need to release a new batch as often as every few days.

We can thank the farmers for the added business, though if it were up to us, we would let the beetles be.  In the words of some other famous beetles (Beatles): “Let it be, let it be, oh yes, let it be.”


Let’s get this out of the way first – the correct spelling of gnats is GNATS. Over the years, I have seen nats, knats, kats, nagts, nahts and ants. Yes, ants… But no, it is just gnats. The “g” is of course silent. In commercial spaces, fungus gnats are almost always associated with plants. Not always, mind you, but almost always. I’d say somewhere in the 90% range. Fungus gnats breed on microscopic fungi growing within the soil of a potted or atrium plant. In rare cases (think of the other 10%), fungus gnats may be breeding from mold and mildew associated with a moisture issue or water leak. To rid your space of gnats, do not turn towards pesticides. Seems odd that a pest control service provider would tell you NOT to use pesticides, but it is true. Fogging agents and spray pesticides will do little to control these pesky pests. They may kill off some of the adults, if you can get the adult gnat to come in contact with the pesticides, but the larva will continue to grow and within a relatively short period of time – adults will emerge and you will be right back to square one.

So what do you do? Try this recipe:

  1. Baking Soda: 1 Tablespoon
  2. Water: 1 Quart

Mix well, allowing the baking soda to fully dissolve in the water. Pour the mixture over the top of the soil, making sure to get good, even coverage. Remember!! This is a mixture ratio. Not all plants will need an entire quart of water and some may actually need more. The goal is to simply get just enough of the solution into the soil so that the baking soda can react with the mold, mildew and fungus. The baking soda will eliminate the food source, which will then eliminate the larva. Does this mixture kill the gnats? Not directly. Again, you are eliminating their food source, which will starve them out and stop them from becoming adults. Does this mixture have any impact on the adult gnats? No. But the life span of an adult gnat is only a few days, so within a relatively short period of time, you will not see any more gnats in the environment.

It is important to note that if you do use this method, you will need to treat ALL of the plants in the environ with this solution. Gnats fly, so if you do not treat all of the plants, the odds of a re-infestation or a continuance of the same issue will likely take place. Also, this is a REACTIVE protocol. Do not start watering your plants with this mixture every time you water your plants. You may eventually kill the plant. After you get rid of the issue, try to pull back on watering your plant(s) with as much water as you had been. Most plants are resilient, so if you were watering once a day, switch to once every few days or twice a week. If you were watering twice per week, switch to once per week or maybe even once every two weeks.

Of course, the other option is to simply get rid of the live plant(s) and start using fake ones!


If you live in Houston, you need proactive pest management services to control pests before they become an issue. Environmental Coalition specializes in bi-annual exterior treatments and monthly mosquito treatments for residents all over the city.


Environmental Coalition Incorporated focuses on the exterior of the home because that is where most of the pests issues that plague home owners come from. Several species of ants, cockroaches, spiders and even wasps and mosquitoes emanate from the outside-in. Start with an exterior prevention program. It is cost effective and keeps pesticides and other toxic materials out of your home, while keeping pests out too. Exterior treatments are typically made once every six (6) months and can include treatment for your entire yard as well.


Environmental Coalition Incorporated does not recommend interior treatments for residential properties as a means of pest control. But if you request an interior preventative treatment or simply want one, we can provide te service. The interior preventative treatment would be done on an annual basis (once a year) and, similar to our commercial accounts, there will not be any spray pesticides involved and treatment will be made in the safest manner possible. Areas included are restrooms, kitchens, attic spaces, laundry rooms and a few other miscellaneous locations within the home.


  • Bi-Annual exterior treatments around the home and on the grounds
  • Wide variety of pests included without any additional charge or fee
  • Free consultations with you, your neighbors and your community
  • Mosquito reduction programs available either monthly or bi-weekly


Ants – Bats – Bees – Birds – Cockroaches / Roaches – Critters – Mice – Mosquito / Mosquitoes – Mouse / Mice – Pigeons / Birds – Rats – Rodents – Silverfish – Spiders – Termites – Wasps – Wild Animals