What to do When Dog Ticks Invade Your Home

A tick infestation in your home is an unpleasant experience to endure.  Due to their reproductive capabilities and their hard carapaces, these parasites are difficult to eradicate.  They also have the potential to pose health issues to your family and your pet.

In Egypt, the tick species which is most likely to infest your property is the Brown Dog Tick. These ticks come in different shapes, textures, sizes and colours – all of which change depending on the tick’s age and whether it has been fed a blood meal.  It is easy to think that you have seen different varieties, when in fact, it is the same tick

The most likely way they find their way to your home is by hitching a ride on the family pet or on your clothes if you have been walking through tall grasses and bushes.  House mice are also common carriers of ticks, fleas and mites.  If you suspect that you have rodents in your property, make sure that you address this problem as your home may become re-infested with ticks even though you have thoroughly exterminated existing ones. 

A single tick in your home, is not a sign of an infestation.  Make sure you dispose of it properly.  Do not crush it as this can expose you to potential disease pathogens. The easiest and safest methods to dispose of a tick is to smother it with a cotton that is saturated with alcohol and flush it down the toilet.

Check your pet for any ticks and provide them with the necessary treatment to kill and repel these.

Beyond addressing the welfare of your family pet, you want to make sure that it does not re-introduce ticks back into your home.  Be aware that a well-fed female tick can lay as many as 5,000 eggs in 15 days.  Being as small as poppy seeds, they will typically go unnoticed by home occupants until they have completed a full generation, by which time you will have a full-blown infestation. 

Whether you found one tick or more in your home interior, you should exhaustively clean your home.  The best method to do so is to meticulously vacuum your floors, carpets, drapes and all upholstered furniture.  Make sure you carefully dispose of the vacuum bag immediately afterwards.

If you have a garden, you would be well advised to cut any tall decorative grass, mow your lawn, trim dense, overgrown bushes and remove dead leaves from the ground.  Be aware that ticks grasp onto the top of tall grass, waiting for an unsuspecting host to latch onto.  

If you find more ticks indoors, you may have an infestation.  The first indication that you have a problem is when you find ticks crawling on your walls or curtains, in search of crevices and other hiding locations. 

At this point, it is highly recommended that you contact a professional Pest Control company to treat the infestation both indoors and around hardscaped areas surrounding your house.  Be aware that Pest Control companies that are licensed to operate in Egypt are not authorized to treat garden bugs.  This requires the use of powerful agricultural chemicals, which your garden maintenance crew can provide. “The most effective products available and [authorized for use] in Egypt to control ticks outdoors are the organophosphates Malathion® 60% and Dursban® (chlorpyrifos) 40-48% – however, be aware that Dursban® and other Chlorpyrifos have been banned in all of North America as well as Europe over health concerns for humans and wildlife” Samer Neama, Entomologist, SOTAICO.

In summary, treating a brown dog tick infestation in your house can be difficult and requires a four-step process: treating your pet, treating your home interior and outdoor hardscape areas, treating your yard, and sanitizing your house by focusing on vacuuming. This process may take several treatments and may require several months to eradicate an infestation. 

At SOTAICO, we have 50 years of experience dealing with pests in Egypt.  If you have not been successful in exterminating an indoor tick infestation, we can be of help.

If you would like to receive our pest control blogs and Tips on WhatsApp, please send us a
 WhatsApp message
on + 20 122 230 8871 : state your name and write “Tips” in the message.

Do Cockroach Infestations Diminish During Egypt’s Winter?

Having been around for more than 300 million years, cockroaches have proven that they are highly resilient creatures. It takes extreme temperatures to impact upon them and it is commonly joked that they would be the only surviving creatures of a nuclear holocaust. According to the CDC this resilience can make their control “a homeowner’s most difficult task because of the time and special knowledge it often involves”.

It is therefore no surprise that such tough insects are unaffected by the temperate climate of Egypt. This point is moot however, since the two species commonly found here – the American and the German cockroach – thrive most in the shelter, moisture and accessible food sources of sewers and indoor dwellings. They are therefore unaffected by seasonality.

Indeed, German cockroaches do not enter structures from outdoors, they are spread entirely by humans and live only indoors, spending most of their lives in cracks and protected void areas near sources of food and water. They eat almost anything including meats and grease, starchy foods, sweets, baked goods, leather, wallpaper paste and book bindings. This species is the most prolific, producing 20-30 eggs every 6 weeks.

American cockroaches can live indoors or out. Like all roaches, they thrive best in 25-29C temperatures. This species has a slower lifecycle than its German cousin. All nymphs hatch out at approximately the same time in June. In the fall, the population is at its largest and the bulk of it is comprised of large cockroach nymphs. These nymphs, along with the few remaining adults, are all competing for food and protected dwellings, in search of better temperatures and access to moisture and food. It is at this time that they are most likely to invade homes. Their flattened bodies allow them to enter through small cracks around loose-fitting doors and windows, and where electric lines or pipes pass through walls.

How do roaches get in the house?

Even the cleanest dwelling can become infested since all homes offer access to food and water to varying degrees. If they want to get in, cockroaches are capable of squeezing through a 3mm gap. Here are a few ways that cockroaches may get into your home:

  1. Packaging and boxes: German cockroaches may hitch a ride in cardboard boxes, gas canisters or furniture. You may bring a pregnant roach or its egg case home at the bottom of a bottled water carton without even knowing. Always inspect such boxes and packaging before bringing indoors. Also check food for roaches before putting it away. Onion and garlic husks can harbor roach eggs.
  2. Pipes and plumbing: Roaches can also get in the house through the plumbing. They migrate between neighboring apartments by traveling through the plumbing within a common wall and other utility lines.
  3. Sewers and drains: Sewers or drains are also popular American cockroach entry points. Repairs on the sewer system may lead to displaced cockroaches entering buildings and villas.
  4. Gaps and cracks in walls, windows and doors: Not only can cockroaches quickly squeeze through impossibly small cracks and crevices, but they can withstand a force 900 times their body weight and still run just as fast.
    The fact is, many houses have entry points that are easily accessible to roaches. Being aware of how they get into your home is the first step in helping to prevent an infestation.

How to control roaches in your villa or apartment?

Of course, it’s important to know what species of cockroach is infesting your home, so you know the best strategy to tackle the problem. Different species have different habits. Here are some general tips that can help you keep roaches from invading in your home:

  1. Discard empty boxes and cartons immediately as these are a favorite breeding ground for roaches which may be hitching a ride from a warehouse.
  2. Seal holes in common walls between apartments and around plumbing pipes.
  3. Use window screens and seal openings around doors and windows to keep cockroaches outside.
  4. Seal or use screens for large openings around outside drainage lines and sewer vents.
  5. Regularly clean sink and floor drains
  6. Always clean up spilled food and crumbs immediately and don’t leave dirty dishes out overnight. Store food in airtight, sealed containers.
  7. Put garbage in a sturdy container with a tightly fitting lid.
  8. Do not leave pet food out overnight
  9. Do not feed stray cats by putting food scraps outside your villa or in the stairwell of your apartment building – this will not only attract cockroaches but rats too. Discourage your neighbours from doing so.

Even if you are vigilant about preventing them, cockroaches may still find a way into your house. If you’re experiencing signs of an infestation, don’t wait to act. Contact the pros at SOTAICO®. We have many tools, products, and techniques available for cockroach control. Depending on the severity of your infestation, a treatment could be very simple, or could require everything at our disposal for effective control.

Mosquito Fogging in Egypt – What You Need to Know

Summer is almost upon us and with the heat, mosquito and fly populations will inevitably flourish.  It is around this time of year that the fogging trucks circle around Cairo’s residential compounds and seaside gated communities, billowing thick clouds of fog at dawn and dusk.  Soon, familiar and sometimes heated debates amongst compound residents will begin over what is more detrimental to residents – pesticidal fog or pestilent mosquitoes. 

Is mosquito fogging harmful to humans and the environment?

The short answer is that, if properly administered, mosquito fogging should be harmful to neither people nor pets and its effect on the environment should be minimal, though it will never be entirely absent. The operative word though is “if”. 

Before analyzing all variables of fogging and their impacts on both safety and efficacy, a few words are necessary regarding Pest and Vector Control Operators, as they are the first link in a long chain of variables. 

Pests are a nuisance but the manner in which they are controlled must not create a bigger hazard to us or the environment.  Therefore, pest control technicians need to be qualified; insecticides must be Public Health Certified and need to be responsibly sourced, applied and disposed of.  To mitigate against risks, the Egyptian Ministry of Health issues licenses for pest and vector control operators based on availability of in-house expertise as well as health and safety considerations, meant to protect consumers and the environment alike.  Be aware that in Egypt, most forms of pesticides can readily be sourced on the market.  Some of these, meant for agricultural purposes only, are at times indiscriminately used in residential settings because they are more effective (being more toxic) and less expensive than those approved for public health use. But not all chemicals are alike from the standpoint of their range of action, toxicity to humans and pets, or persistence in the environment. A license is therefore an important foundation when it comes to the use of public health pesticides.

What are the pesticides which are approved for space treatment by Egyptian public health authorities?  They are mostly pyrethroids such as Lambda® and Deltamethrin®.  Pyrethroids are a special chemical class of active ingredients in many modern insecticides found on store shelves and used by pest management professionals worldwide. The active ingredients in Raid, for instance, are all Pyrethroids.

While not all pesticides in the pyrethroid class are equally effective against the same pests, most share the characteristics that they are low in toxicity to mammals and birds; high in toxicity to fish if applied directly to water; require very low doses to kill insects (high arthropod toxicity) and they are fast-acting.

Pyrethroids became popular as consumer insecticides in the 1990s replacing older pesticides, like Dursban®, which has been phased out in most of the developed world due to concerns over the health of humans and wildlife.  

As an important sidebar, Chlorpyrifos, the active ingredient in Dursban®, is considered moderately hazardous to humans (Class II) by the WHO. As of 2020, Chlorpyrifos was banned throughout the European Union and the EU also applied to have the pesticide listed as a persistent organic pollutant under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Home uses of chlorpyrifos had already been banned in the U.S. and Canada since 2001, and last year was also banned for agriculture purposes.

Dursban® is however available in Egypt and at the present time is approved for agricultural purposes, which includes the treatment of residential gardens.  Licensed Egyptian Pest control operators are prohibited from using Chlorpyrifos and a range of other pesticides such as Malathion®2, which are approved mostly for agricultural use and certainly, never for indoor use.  Since these pesticides have a higher toxicity and are significantly less expensive than pyrethroids, they are a tempting choice for unscrupulous pest control operators.  One would be well advised to be cautious.

The active chemical ingredients used in foggers are but one cog in the wheel of the fogging process. Mosquito fogging chemicals are toxins after all and so can be detrimental to health if not properly administered. Hence, it is essential to adhere to the recommended insecticide formulation of the pesticide and the right level of concentration. The quantities of active ingredients in the fogging blend are typically minute (e.g. 3-5oz for 1 acre). Applied properly, truck spraying of pyrethroids is effective for mosquito control without unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment.

Any health risk depends primarily on the amount of pesticide that a person comes into contact with and the amount of time they are exposed to it. In addition, a person’s age, sex, genetic makeup, lifestyle and/or general health characteristics can affect his or her likelihood of experiencing adverse health effects as a result of exposure to insecticides. Some people may prefer to minimize or to avoid exposure to these chemicals. Remaining indoors and closing your windows while your neighborhood is being sprayed will lessen your exposure.

Another important variable in the fogging process is the carrying agent and the type of fogger used to dispense the chemicals.  There exist two types of foggers, each with pros and cons: Thermal Foggers and ULV or Ultra-Light Volume Foggers.

Thermal foggers are the most commonly used truck-mounted foggers. Such machines are equipped with a barrel that heats to high temperatures using either a propane gas or electricity depending on the type of fogger. The carrying agent is in a liquid form, and when pumped into the heat barrel, it instantly vaporizes. This allows production of a large number of particles in extremely small size, which form a dense cloud of fog.

One of the major advantages of thermal foggers is the fog itself.  ULV foggers that use cold fogging techniques, on the other hand, produce a practically invisible fog.  The visibility of the fog has a few advantages. Since it is highly visible it is easy to control and monitor the flow of the aerosol plume, allowing the operator to aim it towards specific areas and see that it hits its target.  This is especially important in windy conditions. Ironically, the visible fog often provides peace of mind to an operator’s clients who can actually see them doing something to combat the mosquito problem.

Droplets produced by thermal foggers are very small and can even get as small as 0.5 micron in diameter. Because of the small droplet size, these foggers can spray a higher density of droplets. Smaller droplets can penetrate very small areas such as dense foliage and will stay suspended in the air for a longer amount of time. This will increase the chances that the fog will come into contact with mosquitoes. Both of these factors make thermal foggers perfect for mosquito control applications.

Though thermal foggers allow the use of both water and oil-based solutions, typically the truck-mounted thermal foggers in Egypt use propane. The fuel can have a strong odor that may be unpleasant for people in close range.

ULV foggers are more environmentally friendly as they use water to disperse the chemicals. This eliminates any health risk which may be associated with the use of propane. Electric ULV foggers are generally quieter than thermal foggers, which is useful in residential compounds where noise may be an issue. The Red Sea resort of El Gouna mandates the use of ULV over thermal fogging in order to safeguard its status as a “Green City”. 

ULV foggers however have disadvantages. One of these is the droplet size which is larger than that produced by thermal foggers. Because large droplets are heavier, they tend to fall to the ground faster than smaller particles, reducing their likelihood of coming into contact with mosquitoes. The other significance of larger droplets is that they tend to impact upon larger insects, which can potentially pose a risk to beneficial species such as bees, dragonflies, butterflies.

This risk is reduced when fogging is conducted before dawn and after dusk when mosquitoes are active, while most other insects and arthropods tend to be dormant.  In addition to minimizing risk on beneficial insects, the timing of mosquito fogging is a critical factor in the efficacy of the vector control program.

As the fogging technique targets the mosquito on the wing, the applications need to be timed precisely, because different species of mosquitoes are active at different times of the day. Considering that worldwide, there are some 3,500 species of mosquitoes which have been identified and that in Egypt, at least 25 have been documented, identifying the mosquito species is essential.

Culex pipiens, commonly referred to as the common house mosquito is the most prevalent Culex species in Cairo

Many mosquito species fly in the crepuscular hours to avoid desiccation. Measurements of flight activity of some subspecies of Aedes and Culex mosquitoes, both prevalent in Egypt, during the late spring and early fall show that host-seeking activity is most prominent from 1 to 2 hours after sunset. However, during mid-summer when evening air temperatures are highest, peak host-seeking activity is delayed by 1–4 hours.  Other subspecies of Culex indicated that these are most active within 2 and 3 hours after sunset, with a significant reduction in host-seeking activity during the remainder of the night.  Identification of the mosquito species is therefore critical in order to determine peak flight activity and coincide fogging time with this peak.

Mosquito species identification, fogging time, droplet size calibration, active chemical ingredients and accurate blending … all of these factors will have a significant impact on the safety and efficacy of fogging.  But ultimately, the mosquito fogging debate also needs to consider the potentially detrimental effects of an unchecked mosquito population. 

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is identified as the main vector of many serious and medically important arbovirus-caused diseases, such as yellow fever, dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya.

Recently, the distribution of dengue virus infection has expanded markedly world-wide, including the Eastern Mediterranean, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. In Egypt, reported cases of dengue declined after 1940, which is attributed to vector control measures, leading to the complete eradication of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Recent studies however have reported the reemergence of Ae. aegypti in Egypt in some southern governorates. Accordingly,  Dengue outbreaks have been recorded recently in Assiout as well as the Red Sea city of Al-Qusair and in Hurghada. Vector control programs are necessary to prevent future outbreaks.

Samer Neama,
Licensed Entomologist,
SOTAICO Pest Control