The Dangers of the Kissing Bug

a closeup of a kissing bug on a plant outdoors

A kissing bug? The name sounds almost endearing. But once you learn more about them, they become far less appealing. Different people have different ideas of romance, but it’s safe to say that none of them include a blood-hungry parasite with a particular passion for biting your face. Kissing bugs are really just a cutesy name attached to a pest in the same category as ticks, mosquitos, and fleas – and just like any of its siblings, it can be a carrier of disease.

With kissing bugs comes the threat of Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasite that causes Chagas disease. It’s passed when kissing bugs defecate after feeding, and if it’s rubbed into any break in the skin you risk catching the illness. That’s why it’s so important to know what kissing bugs look like, how to keep them away, and who you can trust for extermination services.

Identifying Kissing Bugs

Kissing bugs are known for their elongated, oval-shaped bodies. They can be colored in shades of brown or black (occasionally with red, yellow, or tan markings on their abdomen), and are between ¾ to 1¼ inches. 

These parasitic pests have their origins in Mexico and Central and South America. In recent times, though, they’ve been spotted in several regions of the United States – including Bristol. Kissing bugs primarily live outdoors near their usual hosts, which may include many wild and domesticated animals as well as humans. But they have been known to come into homes through open doors and windows, where they may hide in pet bedding and other secluded areas.

Treating a Kissing Bug Bite 

How do you know if you have a kissing bug bite? They look similar to other bug bites, skin irritations or infections, often taking the form of 2-15 marks in one particular area. This could be anywhere on your body, but especially around your mouth or eyes. They might itch, but for certain people, you may only need an ice pack and an antihistamine. 

Chagas disease may be a health concern in warmer parts of the country. The early symptoms feel similar to a bad flu with fever, nausea and general fatigue. In severe cases, you may even experience swollen eyelids. If that happens, it’s vital you seek medical attention immediately.

Preventing Kissing Bugs

The good news is that kissing bugs don’t usually infest homes in Bristol. But since we’re close to so much farmland it’s something we should prepare for. You can do this in a similar way to how you’d exclude many other pests by sealing cracks and gaps in your home or putting screens in your windows. 

If you have animals, keep their cages away from your property, or wash their indoor bedding on a regular basis. And since kissing bugs are so drawn to light, consider turning off your outdoor lights overnight. If you do all this and still end up with an infestation, you can trust Leo's Pest Control to treat your property with skill and expertise.

Leo's Pest Control for Kissing Bug Extermination

At Leo's Pest Control, we’ve been providing residential and commercial pest control since 1967. We’ve dedicated ourselves to helping our friends and neighbors in Virginia and Tennessee live better and more pest-free lives. Whether that’s through our year-round PestFree365+ program or TAP Pest Control Insulation, we have many ways to help. So if you’re a homeowner in Bristol, you don’t have to play host to kissing bugs or any other amorous pests. Contact us today to get your free quote and kick them out for good! 

TAP® Insulation: Frequently Asked Questions

a termite and cockroach, white background

If you’ve explored our websites and the services we offer for homes in and around the Bristol area, you’ve probably heard of TAP® Insulation. And maybe you have some questions – like, why would a pest control company install insulation? What can TAP do that other materials cannot? If you’re wondering this service is right for your home, keep reading for the answers to any questions you may have!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is TAP Insulation? 

TAP® stands for Thermal Acoustical Pest Control insulation. It’s a form of loose-fill cellulose that’s chemically treated to act as a pesticide.

Q. How Does TAP Insulation Kill Pests? 

The cellulose that makes up TAP insulation is treated with boric acid, a naturally occurring mineral that isn’t harmful to pets, children or adults unless ingested in large quantities. But when smaller insect pests come into contact with it, the powder gets into their system when they groom themselves and others. Insects are unable to pass the acid, and they eventually die of malnutrition or dehydration.

Q. What Pests can TAP Insulation Kill?

TAP can kill a variety of smaller insect pests. This includes Formosan termites and ants, to bugs as big as snails, roaches and beetles.

Q. Is TAP Environmentally Friendly? 

TAP Insulation is environmentally friendly in several aspects. The cellulose we use is made up of 80% recycled material. Not only that, but when you use TAP, you’re actively keeping other, alternative and less-biodegradable materials from winding up in landfills.

Q. How is TAP Insulation Installed? 

TAP is made from loose-fill cellulose that can easily be blown into attics, or into the wall voids of newly constructed properties. It also easily covers any existing insulation, allowing you added protection without added inconvenience.

Q. How Does TAP Rank as an Insulator?

Not only is TAP an effective pesticide with the potential to last indefinitely, but it also functions as a high-quality insulator for the home. It slows down the transfer of heat, which allows your home to stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. And, while it doesn’t have the R-Rating of spray foam, it still ranks higher than fiberglass in terms of noise-canceling capabilities.

Leo’s Pest Control for TAP® Insulation

As a homeowner in Bristol, there’s no way to completely avoid the risk of pest infestations. What you can do, however, is to take every precaution available to you. And TAP Insulation, when installed correctly, is the best step you can take to keep infestations from ever getting the chance to form. There’s no effort on your part, all you need to do is schedule installation and enjoy a more pest-resistant home. Contact Leo’s Pest Control today to schedule an estimate! Or, if you want to know more, visit our TAP Insulation page.

How to Identify Termite Holes in Wood

Termite holes in Bristol TN - Leo's Pest Control

If you’ve ever discovered tiny round holes in wood and wondered what could’ve caused them, you may have encountered termite exit holes! When certain termite species swarm in the spring and summer, they leave their nests and, in doing so, tunnel through wood. The kick-out holes they leave behind are soon thereafter plugged by remaining termites, which is a characteristic that helps set apart termite holes from those left by other wood-destroying insects. While it’s hard to know for sure what type of insect left behind exit holes in wood without the help of an exterminator, there are a few ways you can learn how to identify termite holes.

Do Subterranean Termites Create Exit Holes?

No, only drywood termites leave behind termite holes. Although subterranean termites swarm just like other termites in the spring and summer, they leave their nests in a very different manner. True to their name, subterranean termites build nests underground and travel through mud tubes. These mud tubes also serve the purpose of being their exit from the nest. Seeing holes on a wooden structure, then, is typically indicative of drywood termite activity. This is because drywood termites typically infest wood above ground that is drier. In order to vacate the nest, they must bore through the wood.

Wood Holes from Wood-Destroying Insects

There are many types of wood-destroying insects that are capable of creating tiny, round holes in wood. Needless to say, this makes it difficult to know whether you’re dealing with termites of some other insect. The most common wood-destroying insects include carpenter bees, carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, and bark beetles, among others. All of these insects have unique behaviors and different wood preferences, making it difficult to know which wood-boring insect you’re dealing with. For this reason, it’s best to contact your local pest control experts for help identifying any suspected exit holes. We also have additional articles about termite damage in our termite learning center.

What Does a Termite Kick-Out Hole Look Like?

There are several unique characteristics of exit holes that help differentiate them from holes left by other insects. These include:

  • Termite kick-out holes are round and no bigger than ⅛ of an inch.
  • After the swarmer termites leave the nest, the termite nymphs within the nest will use a paste made out of frass to plug the holes.
  • It is rare to see uncovered termite holes, as the nymphs work quickly after the swarmers depart.
  • The kicked-out wood looks like tiny mustard seeds and can appear in a pile.

Identifying Termite Holes in Tennessee

It can be distressing to discover tiny, round holes in any wood structure within or outside your property. In order to identify or rule out termite activity, it’s crucial to enlist the help of a professional pest control expert. Contact the termite exterminators at Leo’s Pest Control today to learn how we can help!

What You Should Know About TAP® Insulation

Cellulose insulation in attic


As winter approaches and the weather cools down in the Bristol TN area, pests start looking for protection, warmth, and a reliable food source. All of these things are present in the typical home, which explains why insect infestations can increase later in the year. Does it really need to go that far, though? What if we told you there was a proactive step you could take to prevent infestations from starting in the first place? There is. TAP® Pest Control insulation is not only effective against the majority of common insect pests, but it’s also high-quality insulation that makes your home more comfortable and energy efficient. Keep reading to find out how!

What is TAP® Insulation?

Thermal Acoustical Pest Control Insulation is referred to as TAP®. It’s made of cellulose, mainly from recycled newspaper, which is blown into attics or wall cavities. It can be added to new or existing construction on top of the insulation that’s already there. The cellulose in TAP® Insulation has been treated with borate salts. Although the borate is not concentrated enough to harm humans, it is lethal to insects. Bugs get the borate on their skin and consume it when they groom themselves. They can’t eliminate it from their bodies, so it builds up and they ultimately die of hunger or thirst. Borate is effective at killing many common insect pests, including:

  • Ants
  • Beetles
  • Cockroaches
  • Silverfish
  • Termites

How TAP® Insulation Benefits You

The fact that TAP® Insulation doesn’t lose effectiveness over time if it’s applied properly is a key benefit. It continues to be an effective and reliable pesticide as long as the material is undamaged. In fact, it’s predicted that under ideal conditions, it can continue to work for up to 100 years!

TAP® not only works well as a pesticide but also as insulation. It increases the efficiency of your home and lessens the load on your HVAC system. This explains why it has earned Energy Star and UL labels and how it can help you save up to 30% on your yearly energy costs.

TAP® Insulation can help your home become (or remain) pest-free, more energy-efficient, and quieter. Installed at a level of R-60, it can almost totally block outside noise. 

TAP® Insulation From Leo’s Pest Control

Since 1965, we’ve worked to keep homes in the Bristol area pest-free. TAP® Insulation is just another way for us to help local residents fight pests while making their homes more energy efficient and comfortable. If your home is cold or drafty and has pests, our certified TAP® Insulation installers are ready to help. Don’t wait another winter. Contact us today for an estimate!

Will Rodents Damage My Insulation?

rat covering eyes with paws

You may already know the signs of a mouse or rat infestation. There are the droppings, the punctured bags of food and gnawed-on stored belongings. Some people don’t even need to hear the trademarked scratching coming from inside their walls or above their heads at night, but anyone who does knows they need help. Leo’s Pest Control can handle a rodent infestation, regardless of the species. But if the rats or mice get into your insulation, they can cause damage beyond our scope of expertise.

How does a rat or mouse infestation get in your insulation? What can you do to protect your home, and how can Leo’s Pest Control Help? Let’s go into all of that below.

Insulation: A Rodent’s Best Friend

Rodents aren’t that different from any other living thing in the world. All they want is shelter, something to eat, and to not be bothered while they do so. When it comes to the average home, a rodent can find all of that in the quiet corners of the attic or in the void between walls. It’s just a happy coincidence that these are also the two most insulated parts of the average property. Happy for them, at least.

Fiberglass insulation is the most common in households in Tennessee and Virginia, as it’s affordable and fairly durable. Unfortunately, it’s also the favorite amongst invading rodents. Once rats and mice get inside the structure of a house, they enjoy tunneling through the soft and fluffy material. They’ll even tear it apart to either eat it or use the material for their nests. You can call us and get your property clear of mice and rats, but that might not be enough to solve your rodent problem in its entirety. The nest they can leave around can be foul-smelling and messy. And rodent droppings may contain Hantavirus, a flu-like condition that can be fatal, so trying to handle damaged insulation on your own can actually be hazardous to your health.

You can’t fix insulation once it’s been contaminated. What you can do is call for professional home technicians to replace the material safely and efficiently. Or, even better, you can make sure rodents don’t get into your home to begin with.

How Leo’s Pest Control Can Help

We already said that there isn’t much we can do with insulation once rodents have damaged and contaminated it. We offer TAP® Insulation, but that borate solution isn’t designed to deter or kill anything larger than a slug or cockroach. What we can do is plan and execute a wildlife exclusion strategy tailor-made for your specific property. This will involve finding every potential point of entry in your home and addressing it, covering gaps and filling cracks as needed. When we’re done there will no longer be easy access for not only rodents, but many other pests as well. This is only one step in our rodent exterminating process, which we’ve been using to treat homes around Bristol and beyond for years. So if you want to protect your insulation, your home, and your peace of mind, do so with Leo’s Pest Control. Contact us today to get started!

Common Pests During the Late Summer

A deer tick

Some of us look forward to the end of summer to finally catch a break from pests, but August and September won’t afford us this opportunity quite yet. In fact, there are several kinds of bugs and wildlife that thrive in the conditions of the late summer. If you want to ensure that the last of the warm season isn’t ruined by pest problems, you have to weave prevention strategies into your routines. To learn about common late-summer pests in Bristol TN and what you can do to stop them, read on for advice from Leo’s Pest Control!

Pest That Thrive in Late Summer

Late spring and early summer are commonly regarded as the height of pest season, but this doesn’t mean that the late summer and other seasons are free of pest issues. Here in Bristol, we commonly face the following pests in the late summer:

  • Wildlife: If an animal hibernates during the winter, you can be sure that they will be active all summer. Our late summers usually come with raccoon, opossum, and squirrel problems.
  • Bees and wasps: As long as people are gathering outside, bees and wasps are going to hang around. If you cook outside often or have a habit of leaving out sugary or protein-rich foods, you can expect bees and wasps to build nests close to these newfound food sources.
  • Ticks: Ticks breed in the early summer to produce booming populations that hang around until temperatures drop significantly again. Watch out for ticks around tall grass or dense vegetation.
  • Mosquitoes: If you don’t disturb their breeding grounds, mosquitoes can develop a consistent output of offspring that stick around into fall.

Preventing These Late Summer Pests

We want to preface this prevention information by reminding you that any serious pest infestation should be dealt with immediately by an experienced technician. However, if you want a head start on keeping these late summer pests off of your property, we have some advice for you:

  1. Look for standing water: Because mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, getting rid of all potential breeding grounds will keep them off of your property. Pour out rainwater wherever you find it — be sure to look in gutters, planter boxes, and similar places.
  2. Keep your yard tidy: Trimming plants, removing leaf piles and grass clippings, and decluttering in general will all help prevent temporary pest shelters.
  3. Seal entry points: Look around the outside of your house and any structures in your yard for gaps in roofing, siding, fencing, foundation, or elsewhere. Seal holes with a silicone-based caulk or install screens to cover window gaps.
  4. Protect your trash: Taking out your trash regularly will prevent indoor pest problems, and using lids that seal on your outdoor bins will prevent wild animals and bees.

Professional Pest Control for Late Summer

If you have already tried a bunch of prevention methods and have had no luck keeping pests off of your property in Bristol TN this summer, it’s time to team up with your local pest experts. Our team at Leo’s Pest Control knows all about the pest problems that residents and business owners face year after year in our region. We can quickly assess your property for crucial vulnerabilities and put together a uniquely-crafted plan that tackles them safely and efficiently. Reach out today for a free quote!

Get Ants Out of Your Bathroom

Ants found in a bathroom in Bristol TN - Leo's Pest Control

Here in Bristol TN, we’re used to dealing with all kinds of ants throughout the year. Unlike most kinds of regional pests, ant problems aren’t confined to one season. Any time we experience a dramatic weather shift, ants come out of their colonies on the hunt for more reliable resource access. They usually find everything that they need in and around our bathrooms! Does this sound like your current situation? If so, read on to learn how to prevent and get rid of ants in the bathroom with help from the ant removal experts at Leo’s Pest Control!

Why Are Ants Taking Over My Bathroom?

Bathrooms are desirable places for ants because of the easily accessible water and shelter that they provide. It’s easy to let still water pool up in your sink, in your shower, or on your bathroom floor, but even tiny puddles can allow ants to hydrate while scouring the rest of your home for food. Carpenter ants are particularly infamous for infesting bathrooms because of the likelihood of water-damaged wood to tunnel through. That said, all kinds of ants can probably find what they need in your bathroom. This is how they usually get in:

  • Holes in and around plumbing fixtures
  • Cracks in foundation and walls
  • Ventilation systems
  • Doors and windows that don’t completely close

Ants can also sneak from room to room in your home, so try to trace their trail to figure out if they’re coming from somewhere else in your home.

Getting Rid of Ant Trails in the Bathroom

Finding out where your ants are coming from is easier said than done, though. It’s near impossible to figure out where your ants are coming from when they’re escaping through tiny holes in the walls or moving through your ventilation system. This is why it’s so important to work to prevent ants beforehand. We recommend you take this ant prevention advice:

  • Make sure your bathroom is properly ventilated
  • Use a silicone-based caulk to seal any cracks around the outside of your home
  • Replace water-damaged wood
  • Move mulch away from your house and trim plants away from your walls
  • Make sure your windows and doors seal shut

Best Way to Get Rid of Ants in Bristol TN

If you just can’t figure out how to get rid of ants in your bathroom, reach out to your local pest control company to see how they can help. At Leo’s Pest Control, we train our ant exterminators to leave no stone unturned. We will conduct a complete property inspection to find how your ants got in, locate the colony they’re coming from, perform exhaustive ant control measures, and teach you how to keep your house ant-free on your own going forward. To learn more about how we do all of this and receive a free quote, contact us today!

Pest Proof Your Backyard in 10 Steps

A backyard to be serviced in Bristol TN - Leo's Pest Control

The sunshine and warmth bring everyone outdoors all spring and summer here in Bristol TN. However, we aren’t the only ones excited about the good weather. All sorts of common pests capitalize on the warmth that follows after a rainy season, and if we aren’t careful, our lack of preparation can invite them into our yards to settle, feed, and reproduce. Looking to learn how to keep pests out of your backyard? Read on for advice from the technicians at Leo’s Pest Control!

10 Pest-Proofing Tips for Your Backyard

Keeping pests out of your backyard during the spring and summer means adding pest prevention measures to your regular cleaning and upkeep routines. Here are our technicians’ 10 best tips to help you do so!

  1. Get rid of standing water: Still water provides breeding grounds for mosquitoes and a hydration source for many other kinds of pests. If you find rainwater pooling in buckets, planters, gutters, or elsewhere on your property, pour it out or cover it.
  2. Trim your plants: Unkempt trees, bushes, and brush can create shaded hiding places for pests like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.
  3. Clear away yard waste: Piles of yard waste can work as temporary hiding places for pests ranging from ants to rats. Dispose of your yard waste regularly.
  4. Use garden netting: Protecting your plants with garden netting can keep away common garden thieves like raccoons and even smaller garden pests like beetles.
  5. Mow your lawn regularly: Mowing your lawn once a week can ensure that longer grass blades aren’t trapping standing water and allowing common lawn pests to find easy shelters.
  6. Dethatch your lawn, too: A thin layer of thatch can insulate your lawn and keep it healthy, but too much will suffocate the grass and create a sheltered environment for all kinds of insects.
  7. Keep bins sealed and far away: Pests as small as wasps and as big as raccoons will take advantage of open trash cans to forage for food. Seal your bins if you can, and keep them at a good distance from your yard.
  8. Store firewood up and away: Keeping firewood off of the ground and away from your home or back deck can prevent devastating termite infestations from developing.
  9. Hydrate your lawn properly: Your lawn needs a regulated amount of water because both overwatering and underwatering can lead to pest problems. A sprinkler or irrigation system can solve this problem.
  10. Hire an exterminator: A professional pest control technician can approach your yard with the expertise to identify vulnerabilities and create a plan to keep pests off of your property.

Pest Control for Your Backyard in Bristol TN

If you want to make sure your backyard stays pest-free all through the year, get in touch with your local pest control company. Our technicians at Leo’s Pest Control are trained to conduct exhaustive services, starting with property-wide inspections to identify problem sites, following with extermination and exclusion measures, and returning for any preventative maintenance necessary. For a free quote, contact us today!

Dealing with Carpenter Ant Damage

Carpenter ants found in Bristol TN - Leo's Pest Control

Carpenter ants might not be the most destructive pests in the world, but they make up for what they lack in speed and volume with stealth and strategy. These ants nest in our wooden walls, so unlike termites, they never have to leave the home. As they steadily build their numbers inside the wooden structures of our buildings, carpenter ants break off into satellite colonies and continue their tunneling in different parts of the property. Do you think you’ve found carpenter ant damage in your home or business around Bristol TN? Read on for advice from the Leo’s Pest Control ant exterminators!

Did I Just Find Carpenter Ant Damage?

It’s hard to catch carpenter ants before their infestation grows to considerable sizes because they nest inside our walls. As they tear through the wooden structures of our buildings, they split off in different directions to spread their damage all throughout the premises. Watch out for these signs of carpenter ants if you believe you’ve found their damage:

  1. Little piles of wood shavings in unforeseen places
  2. Tiny holes near striated structures in wooden beams
  3. Faint rustling sounds coming from ants in the walls
  4. Winged ants entering and exiting cracks in wood

Carpenter ants are black to dark red in color, ¼-⅜” in length, and their swarmers are winged. Finding these ants around wood damage is a sure sign of an infestation.

What to Do When You Find Carpenter Ant Damage

If you’ve found carpenter ant damage on your property, you should immediately take action to get rid of the ants and prevent any further damage. There are a few carpenter ant removal methods that you can do on your own:

  • Use window cleaner or a soapy water to flush ants out with a liquid that won’t have toxic repercussions
  • Mix borax with sugar water to make a poisonous bait that ants love
  • Spray a citrus-based cleaner, lemon eucalyptus oil, or cinnamon around areas of activity

The problem with these strategies is that although they might take care of a portion of the problem, you’ll never rid your home or business of carpenter ants without wiping out every nest in the building.

Carpenter Ant Extermination in Bristol TN

If you want to be 100% sure that carpenter ants are gone and never coming back, you can rely on your local ant exterminators. Our team at Leo’s Pest Control has helped many home and business owners restore order on their properties. Over the years, we’ve developed efficient and environmentally responsible carpenter ant extermination strategies, and we pair these practices with tips and advice to help you keep carpenter ants out of your home on your own. Learn more and get a free quote by getting in touch with us today!

What Animal is in My Attic?

Hearing items moving around up in your attic? Or maybe something walking around in the middle of the night? This may sound like a scene straight out of a B-list horror movie, but it’s likely something far more common. One of the major signs of a nuisance wildlife problem is, indeed, hearing noises in your walls and attic. Animals have a knack for getting into our homes via the roof, where they can take up shelter in your attic. Needless to say, no one wants to share their property with a wild animal—or worse, a whole family of them.

At Leo’s Pest Control, we know how distressing a wildlife problem can be inside your property. Our experts are here to share everything you need to know about potential infestations in your attic.

Types of Animals in the Attic

Here in Bristol TN, we are no strangers to wild animals in our neighborhoods. The wildlife most likely to get in your attic are the ones that have access to your roof.

The most common wildlife that enter attics are:

  1. Squirrels: One of the most common attic pests, squirrels can squeeze in through tiny openings and are feared for their ability to chew through wires.
  2. Raccoons: Female raccoons are known to nest in attics, and can come and go during the day and night. Chattering noises may indicate a nest of baby raccoons.
  3. Bats: Possibly the most dangerous attic-dweller is the bat. Bat waste is toxic and can cause health risks.
  4. Birds: Hearing chirping noises or fluttering indicates you could have a nest of birds in your attic. They have a harder time leaving once they’re inside.
  5. Rats & mice: These rodents can make some of the loudest noises with their scratching, chewing, squeaking, and running. The roof rat is the most common rodent in attics.

How to Safely Get Rid of Wildlife in the Attic

If you suspect you have a wild animal living in your attic, never attempt to locate it yourself. Trying to get rid of the animal, bat, or bird on your own isn’t just dangerous for you and your family—it’s dangerous for the animal, as well! Some wildlife can carry rabies and will bite if they feel threatened. Bottom line: it’s best to always enlist the help of a professional. When you work with a humane wildlife removal company like Leo’s, you can trust the safest traps and measures are enlisted to safely remove and relocate any wild animal.

Humane Wild Animal Removal in Bristol TN

At Leo’s Pest Control, we know it’s stressful to learn you have a wildlife problem in your attic. We also know it can be dangerous for your family. Our experts can thoroughly inspect your property, safely remove the animal, and implement preventative measures to stop wild animals from gaining access to your attic again. Contact us today to learn more!