Healthy, wealthy & wise


By Dan Moran

Be happy, wealthy & wise
It is a new year full of promise and opportunity. Perhaps a year of change for you or someone close to you, or the time when you make that real breakthrough in your life or career.

Knowing where to start your path to growth is often difficult, so I thought I would bring the thoughts of Dr. Stephen Covey’s The 7-Habits of Highly Effective People to mind. This is the 25th anniversary of the publication of the book and over 25 million copies in 40 languages have been put into practice. In fact, you are invited to attend a special program by Franklin-Covey’s Cris Lang on February 12th at the Century House in Latham presented by the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by CRL. (See registration details below.)

I caught up with Cris to talk about how one can apply the 7-Habits in their quest to be happier, healthier and wiser beginning in 2014.

As we enter a new year, how wouldyou recommend that one apply 7-Habits to achieve their 2014 goals?
I recommend that they read and re-read the book. Study the 7-Habits and discuss with others.  As one learns, they internalize their learning and act upon it. Start slow and understand that this is not a quick-fix, rather a lifelong practice. Also, just focus on one habit at a time; don’t try to do all right away. Determine what is the one thing you can change to be more effective and choose the habit that will allow you to achieve it.  

Is there one habit that you feel is the breakthrough for someone who is determined and focused to grow  and succeed?
All the habits are extremely important. In my mind, Habit #1: Be Proactive, is critical and a great place to start. When one is proactive, they take responsibility for their self, their needs, feelings and actions. Proactive people are more resourceful, accountable and they do not blame others. They focus only on what they can control.

Peter Drucker once stated, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.”
How would you recommend one measure their short and long-term progress?
Simply, they need to have goals that are measurable. Without goals you cannot measure progress. Write your goals down and keep in view.  Be very specific with dates to achieve. Establish priorities aligned to goals in a weekly task list and check them off when done. Review progress on a weekly basis and remember, consistently is critical. Three key tips:  1. Do 20 minutes of weekly planning focused on goals at home and work.  2. Do daily planning – 10 minutes in morning – have a meeting with yourself and identify the 3-4 most important goals 3. Get someone at work and one at home to be accountable to.

How can one who is stuck find a way to move forward?
Focus on Habit #2: Begin with the end in mind. Have a laser-focused vision of where you are going.  Focus on this and your mind will be less stuck in the old you.  

Last words of wisdom?
Sure – attend the overview on February 12! Really, take dedicated time to define what you want 2014 to be. Try this: Define the amazing contribution you want to make in 2014 as a mother, father, friend, boss, worker, coach – and write it down – now. Make it clear and exciting. Then commit to one activity – yes, just one – that you will make each week to turn your vision into a reality.  Always break your goals into bite-sized pieces and always continue moving forward. Keep it simple and savor the breakthroughs.  simple and savor the breakthroughs.  

A quick review of the 7-Habits:
Habit 1: Be proactiveTake initiative in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life’s principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind
Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Envision the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life.

Habit 3: Put first things first
A manager must manage his own person. Personally. And managers should implement activities that aim to reach the second habit. Covey says that rule two is the mental creation; rule three is the physical creation.

Habit 4: Think win-win
Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a "win" for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten his way.

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring and positive problem solving.

Habit 6: Synergize
Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals no one person could have done alone.

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw
Balance and renew your resources, energy and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes exercise for physical renewal, prayer (meditation, yoga, etc.) and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to society for spiritual renewal.

 2014 can be your year to achieve and grow. Start Now!

 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Signature Program, Wednesday February 12. 7:30am – 11am. The Century House, Latham. $75 Members; $95 Future Members & Walk-ins Online Registration: or 274.7020.

See you there!

Dan Moran is president & founder of Next-Act, a career management & transition firm located in Colonie.  You can reach him at 641.8968 or or visit

A beginner’s guide to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
By Ciara Hassenpflug

Do you want to join your friends and family who are already a part of the vast social media world? It can be overwhelming when you don’t know where to start or how it all works, but you don’t have to feel left out of the conversation anymore. Below you will find the basics of three of the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is leading the social media pack with more than 1.19 billion monthly active users and counting. Originally created as a way for college students to connect, it has since expanded so that anyone over the age of 13 years old can create an account.

Creating a Facebook account is free and easy. The first step is to go to and enter your name, email address, gender and birthday followed by creating a password for the site. Next, you will complete your Timeline, which is your personal profile page. Here, you can add a profile picture and cover photo and add any personal information you wish such as employment history, education, relationship status, places you’ve lived, and more.

Once you have your Timeline and personal page set, you can begin adding “friends.” The odds are that many of your family members, friends, co-workers and classmates are already on Facebook and you can search for them by name. As you build your friends list, Facebook will also begin to make suggestions on additional people you might want to connect with in a sidebar titled, “People You May Know.” You aren’t obligated to add them, but it might help you find a long-lost friend or two.

“I joined Facebook in order to stay in touch with family members that are spread out across the country,” said Wayne McCann, 57, of Gloversville. “But now, I’ve reconnected with friends and classmates that I never thought I’d talk to again. It’s been wonderful to keep in touch and get updates on their lives.”

When you log in to Facebook after going through the set-up process and adding friends, you will see a News Feed on the homepage. This is where you will see your friends’ status updates, photos, shared articles and whatever other activity they are doing on the site. Likewise, your friends will see any updates you make as well. Using the share menu that is at the top of your news feed, you can update your status, and share photos, videos and links you find interesting.  If you want to share something with one individual friend, simply go to their personal page and post directly to their Timeline. You are able to customize your privacy settings, but if you don’t want your friends to see something, a general rule is that it’s best not to share it.

Social media isn’t just popular for personal use, but for business owners as well. Jeff Foley, of Jeff Foley Photography in upstate New York, said that using platforms such as Facebook has been an effective form of advertising, allowing his work to be in front of thousands of eyes each week.

“I’m able to share images, stories and behind-the-scenes snippets with current, past and potential clients,” he said. “I can tag people in the things I share, which drive their friends and family members to take a look.” Foley has built his brand and his client base without being overly self-promotional, so when people need a photographer, they may say, “Hey, how about that guy we saw on Facebook?”

Facebook can be used from a home computer or on your smartphone once you download the free app. For more detailed information, Facebook has an in-depth help section that covers everything you need to know about your account and privacy settings, guidelines, how-tos and more.

Averaging more than 215 million active users, Twitter launched in 2007 and is a platform where users share thoughts, news and information in 140 characters or less. According to Twitter: “It’s like being delivered a newspaper whose headlines you’ll always find interesting – you can discover news as it’s happening, learn more about topics that are important to you, and get the inside scoop in real time.”

To set up your account, go to and enter your name, email address and a password. Unlike Facebook where you use your real name, on Twitter you are asked to create a username, called a handle. If it’s available, you can use your real name or some version of it, such as @JohnDoe or @John_Doe (Twitter names usually appear with an “@” sign before the name because that is how you reference other users on the social media network. When you are picking a name, you wouldn’t include the “@”.). If you have a common name and you find what you want isn’t available, feel free to get creative!

Once signed in, you can add a photo and contact information and then move on to finding people to follow by name or email address. If you decide to follow somebody, you will automatically see their updates in your feed. Your Twitter feed will be public and viewable by anyone in the world unless you make it private and then approve only the people who request to follow you.

In addition to following people you know, Twitter is a great way to follow celebrities, stores and brands that you enjoy. While many celebrities use it solely as a means of self-promotion, most use it as a way to make themselves more relatable while simultaneously keeping fans updated on their latest projects and products.
“I follow my favorite actors and musicians and its fun to get an insider look into what their lives are like,” said Kristen Pooler, 29, of Menands. “Some celebrities even interact with fans on Twitter, breaking down that wall between us and them.”

As with Facebook, Twitter can be used from both your computer and your phone and also features a robust help section that covers anything you would need to know to successfully use the site.

Even though it boasts more than 150 million monthly active users, Instagram is one of the newest social media platforms, having launched in October 2010. In that time, more than 16 billion photos have been shared.
Currently only available on iPhone and Android, once downloaded, the app allows you to take a photo with the camera on your phone, or directly through the app, and then choose a filter to transform the image. There are a number of filters to choose from; some enhance the colors of the photo, while others play with lighting to give an aged appearance. You can crop the image, add a border and even blur aspects to highlight the focal point. Photos are saved to your camera roll, allowing you to easily sync them with your computer and print at your convenience.

“It definitely brings out your artistic side,” said Kelly Anthony, a 26-year-old Albany resident. “I love that it allows you to take professional-style photos with your smartphone.”

Just like with Facebook and Twitter, you can find friends and family on the app and follow their photo streams. Instagram accounts are public by default, but you can choose to make yours private. In that case, only users you approve may follow you and view your photos. Users are able to like or comment on your photos and you have the ability to tag your Instagram friends in photos they might appear in.

In addition to your home feed of photos from users you are following, Instagram has a “Popular” page that shows the most-liked photos from everyone using the app. Anthony enjoys this feature, as it gives her the ability to connect with users from all around the world. “I get to see people and places I would have never had the chance to, just by scrolling through the app.”

Each time you upload a photo on the app you are given the choice to share it on other networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. A newer feature of Instagram is the ability to take short videos, a maximum of 15 seconds long, that you can edit and filter as well.

Paul Conti, an associate professor in the Communications Department at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, uses social media sites to stay in touch with former students. “It helps maintain a connection to students after they graduate and also creates a network of resources I can point to for our current students,” he said. “In terms of social media’s strategic value as a marketing or communications tool, it is another asset in the kit.”

All three of these social media platforms are constantly evolving and making upgrades to better serve their users; however, their basic goal hasn’t changed: helping you stay connected to the people you care about.
Safety disclaimer: It’s important to note the safety concerns when sharing personal information on these and any social media platform. Be cautious with what you post and what information you broadcast to the world. For instance, it’s not a good idea to announce a vacation or say you are out of town, giving criminals the head’s up that your house and/or loved ones are unattended.

One of the most recent, and most addictive, social networking sites to hit the Internet is Pinterest. With more than 70 million users, 80 percent of which are women, Pinterest is a place to share and store online images that interest you. It’s basically a virtual bulletin board where users “pin” images from around the web onto various “boards.” You can create boards for any topic imaginable, from recipes and fashion, to wedding ideas and home décor. The possibilities, and pins, are endless.

Signing up for Pinterest is easy and can be done either through your email address or via Facebook. Once you do that, you can choose categories that you are interested in to get you started. You also have the ability to search for friends and family and follow their boards to see what they are pinning. See something you like? Simply click the “Pin It” button and it will be sent to the board of your choice. That pin will generally have a hyperlink attached to it that will lead to the original website where the image is from.

You may be asking yourself where the social aspect comes in. Users have the ability to not only re-pin someone else’s pin, but also leave a comment on it, like it, or tweet it and share it on Facebook.

The newest feature of the site is called “Place Pins,” which are new map-enabled pins that make it easy to plan things like group vacations or to make a board dedicated to your favorite locations. These pins show up on a map that you can share with friends and are accessible from anywhere on your iPhone or Android device.

Twitter terms to know
A big part of navigating the “Twitterverse” is knowing the lingo. Below is a cheat sheet of the most commonly-used terms that will help you understand the network:

  • Tweet – a 140-character message.
  • Retweet (RT) – A retweet is when you re-share another person’s tweet on your own feed.
  • Handle – The username you chose when you signed  up.
  • Mention (@) – This is how you reference another user in a tweet.  Simply use “@” in front of the person’s handle (i.e. @JohnDoe) and the user is notified that they have been mentioned. It is Twitter’s way of handling conversations between users in the public feeds.
  • Direct Message (DM) – If you want to send a private tweet to someone so that it does not show up on your feed you can direct message them.
  • Hashtag (#) – Putting “#” in front of a word or phrase makes it searchable on Twitter. For instance, if someone tweeted #CapitalRegionLiving, you could click on that phrase and see all other tweets that include that hashtag. It’s used as a discovery tool allowing others to find your tweets, based on topics.

By Sarada Bernstein

New Year’s resolutions for the whole family
Connecting the dots…nutrition simplified

Are you looking to improve your health this New Year, but tired of making resolutions that might not last?   This year, why not take a new approach and focus on goals as a family?  Making resolutions as a family can help motivate you to stick with your resolutions all year long, plus it allows time for bonding.

Get started with these suggestions for resolutions to improve your family’s health:
1. Experiment with produce.
Make a family trip to your local market and explore the produce department.  Make a plan each week to choose and prepare a fruit or vegetable that they’ve never tried before.  For kid friendly fruits and vegetable ideas, try purple cauliflower, star fruit, avocados, sugar snap peas, mini sweet peppers, kiwi and blackberries.

2. Make ingredient swaps together.
Make a “swap plan” for the New Year to trade less healthy products for healthier versions like switching to whole-grain bread, 1% or skim milk, tub margarine (trans –fat free), seltzer or calorie-free flavored waters.  Start out slow and just make one swap each week.  Here are some more ideas:

  • Try quinoa or brown rice instead of white rice
  • Serve plain oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit and nuts instead of pre-sweetened oatmeal
  • Prepare whole-grain pasta instead of white pasta
  • Enjoy low-fat frozen yogurt instead of full-fat ice cream
  • Snack on 94% fat-free popcorn instead of full-fat versions or other fried snacks

3. Start a family recipe challenge.
Challenge your family members to create their own healthy meal ideas.  Each week, have one family member (kids included) choose a healthy meal of their choice, then shop for the ingredients and prepare the meal together.   When everyone is involved, they’re more likely to eat and try new foods.  Plus, this is a great opportunity to bond and enjoy a family meal together.

4. Reduce screen time and fit in fun!
Screen time is considered time spent in front of the computer, television or video games. Dedicate one hour a day to screen-free time.  Use this time to get active as a family and focus on fitness – and fun!  Try things like yoga, bike riding, skating or even dancing.  Choose something your family loves and do it together!

Meals the whole family can enjoy
With today’s hectic schedules, family dinners often fall by the wayside.  And complicating the issue, family members often have different food preferences.  Who has time to prepare multiple meals?  No one!  But, by creating meals with options, you don’t have to.

Here are some ideas:
Mexican fiesta:  Make your own tacos. Create stations filled with cooked, shredded beef, grilled chicken breast strips or grilled fish.  Serve this with fat-free refried beans, low-fat shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and whole-grain tortilla shells. Prepare a mixed green salad with low-fat dressing as a side dish.  Let each family member create his or her own Mexican meal.

Salad station:  In a large salad bowl, toss mixed greens with low-fat vinaigrette dressing.  On the side, set up plates with assorted fixings.  Start off with a lean protein like grilled chicken breast, lean steak, your favorite fish, or try a vegetarian option like baked tofu.  Pair your protein with an array of grilled vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, asparagus and onions.  Then finish off with healthy toppings like heart-healthy nuts and low-fat shredded cheese.  Let each person build their own healthy salad creation.

Pasta station:  Prepare whole-grain pasta and top with marinara sauce.  On the side, serve grilled chicken breast strips or grilled shrimp.  Next, pair with cooked vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms or peppers.  Let each family member create their own pasta primavera.  

Rice bowls: Start off with a bowl of cooked whole-grain brown or wild rice.  Then pair with a lean protein such as pork loin, chicken breast or lean beef.  Cut into strips, toss with your favorite reduced sodium marinade and either stir fry or grill.  Next choose your favorite vegetables like peppers, onions, mushrooms or broccoli—or a combination.  Arrange meal components into separate bowls and let family members assemble their own rice bowls.

However you decide to prepare your family meal, the most important thing is to eat together and to have some fun while you’re doing it.  

Here’s to a healthy and happy 2014!

For more healthy eating tips and recipe ideas, visit us at or visit your in-store dietitian to help you put a plan in place.   

Sarada Bernstein MPH, RD is a Corporate Dietitian for ShopRite Supermarkets. ShopRite of Niskayuna- Sarah Ender MS, RD- 491.0050. ShopRite of Albany- Adrian Allen RD – 708.3445. ShopRite of Colonie- Amy Imler RD- (518) 598-4970. ShopRite of Slingerlands- Kristin Caponera RD- (518) 708-7815

Easy tips for a deliciously balanced eating routine
Sometimes even the smallest changes can offer big results to your overall well-being.
When maintaining or pursuing a healthful eating routine, adopting a balanced approach is essential for success. Rather than restricting yourself, strive instead to make small steps toward a healthier lifestyle. A few simple changes to your daily routine can eventually turn into lasting habits that are far more enjoyable and easier to maintain.

As an expert on the positive impact of small changes, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Keri Gans offers these helpful tips:

Create a healthy eating schedule
Food is fuel. In order to keep energized throughout the day it is important not to skip meals. Grab a midday snack, like The Laughing Cow Light White Cheddar flavor with whole grain crackers, to help you overcome that all too familiar late afternoon slump. These cheeses are a must-have for your January shopping lists.

Eat the right kinds of fats
A little healthy yet tasty fat, such as 1/4 of an avocado or a handful of almonds, can go a long way. It can provide flavor, satiety and be good for your body, especially your heart.  Share food and good times with advance planning. To help ensure healthier choices are made when dining out, be sure to grab a quick, tasty snack to tide you over before your meal. Some great snacking options include a wedge of The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss flavor with pear slices, a low-sugar granola bar or 1/4 cup of roasted edamame. The less hungry you are, the easier it is to stay on track. For more great snacking tips, visit

Enjoy the foods you are craving
Want that slice of pizza or piece of chocolate? Go for it. To maintain a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle, try and eat well the majority of time, but make sure you leave room for some of your favorite indulgences. If you don’t allow yourself to enjoy these foods on occasion, you might always be craving them, which can lead to overeating.

Make savory swaps for old standbys
It is never necessary to eliminate the flavors you love, instead learn to enjoy them in a healthier way. Are you in the mood for nachos but trying to eat a little better? Swap the high-fat cheese and greasy fried chips for a wedge of The Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle with a serving of baked tortilla chips. With eight delicious varieties to choose from, this cheese is the perfect snack to satisfy your cravings in the New Year.
So, enjoy all the flavors and fun of life by adopting a small-step approach toward eating well. Each tiny change is a step in the right direction to a happier, more satisfied you.
– Family Features

By Judith Torel

Healthy and wise strength training
Winter in the great northeast provides many activities that let us athletically “play” outside on weekends, but much of our exercise has to come inside on weekdays because it is dark and too cold to be outside before and after work. That makes winter the perfect time of year to focus on strength training workouts because they are best done inside.  Strength training is necessary to help insure that your body remains injury-free from the demands of other sports and activities and it increases bone density and metabolic rate.

If you are over 40, strength training is practically mandatory in order to avoid injuries, although active people of all ages will enjoy the benefits. The wise person recognizes that muscles do not work in isolation but in systems of kinetic chains.  Kinetic chains involve main movers and stabilizers.  The main mover muscles are the ones that actually contract and extend to move your body and they can only handle the load that the stabilizing muscles can accommodate. The stabilizers are the muscles that keep you steady, balanced and strong when moving.  If the stabilizing muscles are not strong enough to do their jobs, then injury and pain will result.  Read on to learn how you can successfully strengthen them so that this coming spring, you will be fitter, faster and pain and injury free!

What are stabilizer muscles?
All muscles act as stabilizers depending on what movement your body is performing.  The muscles that are stabilizing in any given movement help keep you balanced and upright when moving.  For instance, when running, your hamstrings and glutes are moving you forward but your abdominals and side leg muscles, like the tensor fasciae latae on the side hip, are working to keep your pelvis stable so you can run faster and injury-free.
Most of the athletes I work with become injured not because the main movers are weak, but because the stabilizing muscles cannot keep up with the demand of the activity of choice. Weak stabilizing muscles put extra stress on the main movers and can result in injury and pain syndromes in both themselves and the main movers.

It is not just athletes who need strong stabilizing muscles.  People who sit a lot need to strengthen stabilizing muscles because sitting for extended periods of time weakens the muscles that stabilize basic movements of everyday life.  In addition, we sit in positions that cause unnatural pressure on all muscles (sitting with a rounded lower back, for instance) which leads to weak and misaligned main movers and stabilizer muscles. All people can benefit from strengthening the muscles that work to stabilize and balance the skeletal system as we move in everyday life and sport.

How do you train stabilizer muscles?
First and foremost, when working on strengthening the muscles that are stabilizing particular movement patterns, you cannot use the same amount of weight that a main mover could handle.  If you try, you will get hurt.  You are best served to use your body weight, gravity and a light to moderate additional load in the form of a dumbbell, tube, band or other strength prop.

Second, to train and strengthen stabilizing muscles it is necessary to choose “functional” exercises, which means you are training a “movement pattern” and not just isolating a muscle.  You will be doing a “compound movement,” which is an exercise that involves more than one joint.  A squat or a walking lunge is a compound movement that involves the hips, knees and ankles and will strengthen stabilizers because balance and alignment are necessary to perform them correctly.  In contrast, a quad extension on a weight machine will involve just one joint (the knee) and it is performed sitting so the stabilizing muscles do not have any demand.
Third, single side exercises like one leg squats will better work stabilizer and main mover muscles than a double leg squat. When performing a single leg squat, be mindful of using a moderate weight instead of the heaviest one because balance will be compromised, alignment will fail and injury is likely.

The wise person, who is looking to avoid injury and muscular-skeletal pain or who wants to be faster and stronger, will be well-served to invest some time in the weight room this winter training muscles that will stabilize your summer activities!

Judy Torel is a USAT certified coach, has a Master’s degree as a psychotherapist/life coach, is a certified metabolic nutrition coach, 200 RYT yoga instructor, and ACSM certified fitness specialist. She is an ultra-distance runner and 6 time Ironman competitor. She can be reached at and her office is located at 116 Everett Road, Albany.

Bed bugs
It seems like over the past few years, not a week goes by that you don’t either read or hear about bed bugs. Where did these creepy pests come from? How did they become so wide spread so quickly?  

Evidence of bed bugs goes back well over 3,000 years from the days of ancient Egypt.  And they will attack anyone, even the President of the United States. In the 1700s, after many sleepless nights dealing with these pest, John Adams is quoted as saying bed bugs were the "enemies of all repose." How did they get here? Bed bugs hitched a ride to the United States with the early Colonists and were an everyday occurrence until the 1950s. The introduction of pest control products – DDT from the WWII era, for example, along with the widespread use of vacuums and washing machines all but eradicated bed bugs in the developed world.
Bed bugs numbers remained pretty well contained until the late 1990s when increased international travel, unawareness of prevention methods, the elimination of many pesticide products, a movement in pest elimination strategy to a more pest specific and targeted approach all contributed to a resurgence of bed bugs in the United States.

Being involved in the pest control industry since 1984, I’ve seen this resurgence first hand. My techs deal with thousands of pest control issues every year, but it wasn’t until 2004 that we received our first phone call regarding bed bugs. I was initially surprised to hear someone calling for information about these pests. My assumption was that they had just returned from some distant place on the globe and had the misfortune of bringing home some unwanted souvenirs. However, as time passed, we started to receive more and more calls about infestations. After reaching out to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), we were alarmed. Some of the larger cities (primarily New York, Philadelphia and Detroit) were already having major issues with bed bugs and smaller metropolitan areas, such as Albany, were just starting to see the spread. Every year since then, we have received a gradually increasing number of bed bug related phone calls.

In 2011 NPMA conducted a survey that found 1 in 5 Americans have either had a bed bug infestation or know someone who has encountered them at home or in a hotel. Their 2013 survey of pest control professionals found that 99.6% of respondents had encountered a bed bug infestation.

Bye bye bugs
Bed bugs are very difficult to get rid of. Their life cycle consists of seven stages from egg to adult. In the first few stages, they are so small you can barely see them, but even when full grown an adult bed bug is only the size of an apple seed, and flat, which enables it to squeeze into very small cracks or crevices. They set up camp not only in beds but also sofas, chairs, behind electrical plates, gaps along baseboards, in the openings behind window/door frame moldings, behind headboards and even inside or behind picture frames.  Basically, they can crawl and hide just about anywhere they choose. What’s more, this hardy species can live quite comfortably for up to four months without feeding and in some cases have been known to survive for over a year without food.
Even when a room is vacant for an extended period of time (hotel room, an apartment in a multi-unit building, the first floor of a two-family house, etc.) bed bugs will easily leave the vacant unit and migrate to adjoining units. Bed bugs are nocturnal and are attracted to carbon dioxide, so as you sleep, every time you exhale you are sending out a beacon for all bed bugs to follow. A common occurrence is when a person is tired of getting bit in their bed, so they move to the living room couch to escape them thinking the bed bugs will stay in the bedroom.  They don’t realize that it is only a matter of time before the bed bugs start to migrate out of the bedroom, into the hallway and over to the couch.

Bed bugs can survive a wide range of temperatures, from nearly freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and they’re excellent world travelers, hitching their way around the globe and back again. This past spring in Schenectady, as our techs were treating a house for bed bugs they spotted someone driving off with the infested mattress which had just been tossed out for trash pickup. College students routinely pick up discarded furniture thus introducing serious bed bug problems in various college dormitories.

One of the most common ways bed bugs are introduced into your home is through travel. For that reason, you should always take a proactive approach wherever you stay. Contrary to popular opinion, bed bugs are not necessarily indicators of filth or a sanitation problem. The truth is, they can be found hiding in 5 star hotels and exclusive B&Bs.

What should you do when you discover bedbugs? First of all (this may be easier said than done) don’t panic. The good news is that unlike most pest vectors – the mosquito (West Nile virus), flea (plague), tick (Lyme disease) or the mouse (hantavirus), the bed bug does not transmit any disease to humans. The most important step is proper identification. If you are able to positively identify that bed bugs are present in your home, immediately have a pest control professional perform a detailed inspection for you and recommend a plan of attack. This is not a pest that can be eliminated with do-it-yourself measures.

However, preventative measures to reduce your chance of exposure and infestation are easily attainable. Get in the habit of bringing along a small flashlight and magnifying glass when you travel.  A simple 5 to 10 minute inspection of the mattress, box spring, and headboard may be all it takes to help you avoid a future bed bug problem of your own. Pull the sheets back and carefully inspect all folds, creases, tags, openings, and gaps, looking for clusters of small black spots (dried blood stains) or the bed bugs themselves. They vary in size from poppy seed to apple seed like in size.  If you notice anything suspect, notify management and change rooms or establishments immediately. If you do change rooms, make sure not to take an adjoining room on either side or the room directly above or below as bed bugs may have come from or spread to these rooms. As an added precaution, upon returning home from your travels place all clothes in the dryer and run it on high heat for 10 minutes.  Once the temperature reaches 122 degrees Fahrenheit, all stages of the bed bug, including eggs, will be killed.

Rick Zalucki is owner of Absolute Pest Control, Inc.  For more information call 382.5577 or visit


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