Over the years there has been much attention given to the idea of personality. Among human beings, having a unique and attractive personality is important and the key, in most professions to be being successful. And while the idea that human beings all have their own personality that is different from all other humans may not be 100% true, we all have our own individual characteristics that make us who we are.
Researchers studying the behavior of insects have recently discovered that cockroaches have individual character traits. This discovery might help explain why the cockroach have had a greet deal of evolutionary success.
Isaac Planas Sitjà, one of the researchers from the Université libre de Bruxelles who studied the personalities, said that the observed personalities have been categorized as “shy or cautious and bold or explorers.” According to Sitja, “shy roaches are those that spend more time sheltered and do not explore their surroundings as much, while bold individuals spend more time exploring and less time sheltered.” The findings were published in the Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.
Different personalities assist in the survival the species because they increase the chances of that some in the group will survive. The personalities of individuals can also affect the behavior of groups of cockroaches. Cockroaches used in the study were measured for the speed with which they found shelter and the time they spent exploring and seeking out new supplies of food. In their natural environment, the differences in personality could lead the more adventurous cockroaches to find new supplies of food but could also increase the chances of them being preyed upon.
During the experiment, researchers attached radio tags to American cockroaches in order to monitor their movements. The roaches were kept in darkness during the experiments and were released in groups in areas surrounded by electrified wires to prevent escape.
Crazy ants. Named one of the most invasive species of bugs, their sudden explosion in population has brought a large amount of attention to southern states such as Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida. Named for their psychotic behavior, crazy ants often try to get into any space that they’re able to fit. Although the ants do not have a harmful bite to humans, they still cause many problems for homeowners or farmers who often find their homes, appliances or even their bodies to be covered in the small insects. Ants even crowd around animals such as cows or chickens, leading to asphyxiation. This large amount of small bugs is quickly becoming a problem. And so far, there hasn’t been a method found which stops them.
Originally found in Texas in 2002, crazy ants are descendants of Nylanderia pubens, a species of ant which has been in Florida since the 1950s. However, those ants are much more relaxed and less invasive – many scientists at first doubted that such insane ants could be relatives of this calm species. But as the number of ants quickly multiplied, people knew something must be done. In 1999, the National Invasive Species Council was founded in order to combat the effects that intrusive species. This included 13 federal agencies and departments. Groups such as the Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service all combined in order to work together against these up and coming menaces. As the amount of crazy ants rapidly grew, the attention to the NISC did as well. They summoned a committee of different educational entomologists and state representatives to pool their information. Most concluded that to begin to combat these invaders, a great amount of funding would be needed. But this meeting took place in 2008, when the American economy began to fall. Money would be short on hand, especially for such a minor issue as this. Even now, the government spends over $120 billion a year on intrusive species that take over different environments. The imported red fire ant costs over $1 billion a year – to Texas alone. Crazy ants, which are spreading much faster than fire ants, could quickly become an expensive problem.
What can homeowners do to prevent infestations?
- Seal points of entry around the house including small openings and cracks around doors and windows.
- Clean up food spills, keep honeydew in closed containers in the fridge and remove other potential attractants as soon as possible.
- Remove potential nest sites/debris from around the exterior of the home
- If you suspect an infestation, call a professional to evaluate the best course of treatment.
There are a half dozen different species of fire ants in the Southern United States, some of which are native and others imported. Although all can sting and hurt humans, the red imported fire ant is the most threatening.
Fire ants are known for the large mounds of dirt they create above their underground colonies. These mounds can even be found in garages or in crawlspaces. If these mounds are disturbed, fire ants will race to the top and surround and sting whatever is disturbing their nest. To avoid fire ants – avoid these mounds.
Fire ants are sensitive for vibration or movement. They race up a person’s leg and when one ant stings, that person jerks or moves. This movement triggers the other ants to sting in response. Fire ant venom causes small blisters to form within a day of being stung. These little pustules usually cover the skin of the person who was stung and can easily become infected.
If a fire ant stings you, take the following steps:
- It is recommended that the blisters not be broken.
- Wash the area carefully with soap and water.
- Apply cold compresses to reduce swelling
- Elevate the affected area
- If necessary, go to a physician.
Did you know? Daddy Longlegs Aren’t Actually Spiders
A common mistake that most people tend to make is automatically assuming a daddy longlegs is a spider because it has a bunch of legs, a small body, and is super disturbing. But, they’re actually not real spiders. A daddy longlegs, also known as a harvestman, is actually a type of arachnid that belongs to the Opiliones family, which are different from true spiders. Harvestmen can’t actually produce venom, or even have fangs. They’re not even harmful to humans! Even so, we often don’t like seeing them because most people assume spiders are bad.
A big difference between spiders and daddy longlegs is that a body of a spider is usually in two segments, whereas in the harvestmen it’s fused into one. The body of a daddy longlegs is actually pretty small. On average, the body is only about five-sixteenths of an inch, whereas the legs can span up to six inches. To put it in perspective, if the same ratio was applied to humans, we’d all be walking around with legs that would reach up to 50 feet. That’s absolutely crazy. The legs are also able to detach easily from the body, so if they are being chased by a predator, they can leave behind a leg, which twitches and lets daddy longlegs escape. The leg can twitch anywhere from a minute to a whole hour!
But, you must keep in mind that just because they aren’t dangerous doesn’t mean they should still be there. It’s still important for people to get an inspection in order to get rid of unwanted pests, because they can still cause problems.
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Love in the Wacky World of Bugs
Below are examples of what passes for romance in the world of bed bugs, termites, kissing bugs and fire ants:
- Bed Bugs: These pests are infamous for their ability to reproduce rapidly, creating major infestations in short periods of time. However, it is not their ability to quickly multiply that puts them on our list for strange mating rituals; instead it’s how they reproduce that makes people cringe. Bed bugs practice a mating behavior known as “traumatic insemination” where the male pierces the abdomen of the female to directly inseminate her body cavity. Male bed bugs often attempt to mate with other males, killing them in the process.
- Termites: Female termites release “mating pheromones” that act as a perfume to entice male termites. Once the males locate the female termites, they will break off their wings, symbolizing that they are a couple.
- Kissing Bugs: Despite their name, there’s nothing romantic about these bugs! Kissing bugs have a tendency to bite the faces and lips of humans while they sleep, not only causing welts and allergic reactions, but they are also capable of spreading the potentially fatal Chagas disease. They frequently defecate on or near the bite wound, allowing the parasite that spreads Chagas to enter the person’s blood stream. This blood meal is necessary for male kissing bugs to mate and for female kissing bugs to lay eggs.
- Fire Ants: In fire ant colonies, the queen ant is in charge of laying eggs and can even control how many male and female eggs she lays. The queen can live for up to seven years and produce more than 1,000 eggs each day. Male ants, called drones, are not so fortunate. Their only role in the colony is to mate with the queen and then die soon after doing so.
Hulett Environmental Services warns that flea populations are on the rise, especially during warmer months into Spring.
Fleas are parasites that feast on any warm-blooded body, including humans,” said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “Fleas and flea-infested animals were the cause of the Bubonic Plague, which wiped out much of Europe during the Middle Ages.” While the plague is an extremely rare disease today, fleas also transmit a bacterial disease, murine typhus, to humans through infected rats. Most commonly, homeowners with flea infestations will find themselves with itchy, painful red bumps resulting from fleabites.
If a person has a flea infestation, it is time to call a professional pest control company to treat the problem quickly and effectively. If someone has a severe reaction to flea bites, they should take precaution and seek immediate medical attention.
Hulett Environmental Services offers these tips to help your family and friends avoid flea infestations:
- Clean and vacuum frequently to help remove flea populations already in existence and discourage egg laying
- Keep your lawn groomed. Untended lawns provide hiding spots and food sources for rodents and other animals that may harbor fleas.
- Fleas hitch rides with mammals on the move, including rodents. If you have a rodent problem in your home or on your property, fleas may be soon to follow. Call a pest professional to rid your home of both.
- If you have pets, keep them leashed when outside. Visit a veterinarian annually, bathe and groom your pets regularly, and use flea treatments according to direction.
New Fruit Flies Discovered in Brazil
Two new fruit fly species belonging to the genus Rhinoleucophenga were recently discovered by Brazilian scientists. By fermenting fruits and vegetables to sample flies in the Brazilian Cerrado, the scientists discovered two specimens they could not identify. Although similar to other known species, this was a new species altogether. The new species as well as other significant findings are described in the Journal of Insect Science.
“One of the unknown species was similar to R. obesa, but the male genitalia were different,” they revealed in their report. “The second of the unknown species resembled Rhinoleucophenga stigma.” After comparing the specimens with ones in the Coleção Entomológica do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz in Rio de Janeiro, the scientists determined that they were indeed new species.
Fruit flies are common in our homes, restaurants, supermarkets and anywhere food is allowed to rot and ferment. Adults are roughly 1/8 inch long and usually have red eyes. The front of their bodies is usually tan and the rear is black. Fruit flies lay eggs near the surface of fermenting foods and other moist, organic materials. Once hatched, the larvae feed near the surface of the fermenting mass. Surface-feeding of the larvae allows damaged or over-ripened portions of fruits and vegetables to be cut away without having to discard the entire portion. The reproductive potential of fruit flies is staggering. An adult female is capable of laying 500 eggs, though the entire lifecycle from egg to adult is completed in about a week.
The best prevention against fruit flies is to eliminate their food sources. Produce which has ripened should be eaten, discarded or refrigerated. Cracked or damaged sections of fruits and vegetables should be cut away and discarded as eggs or larvae may be present in the wounded area. A single rotting piece of produce or forgotten juice spill can breed thousands of fruit flies.
Termite Prevention Tips and Termite Destructions Signs – Tips for Recognizing an Termite Infestation
Experts at Hulett Environmental Services propose several tips to avoid termite infestations for your home:
- As most termites are attracted to moisture, avoid water accumulation near your home’s foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
- Quickly repair house damage from a leaky roof or window as termites can thrive in this moisture.
- Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard, especially near the building. Remove old tree stumps and roots around and beneath the building.
- Most importantly, eliminate any wood contact with the soil. Maintaining a 1-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building is ideal.
Recognizing the destruction termites can cause, it is important to be aware of infestation warning signs:
- Swarming of winged forms in the fall and spring – termites can easily be confused with flying ants.
- Evidence of mud tunneling in, over and under wood structures
- Wooden structures exhibit darkening or blistering
- Damaged wood becomes extremely thin and can be easily punctured by a knife or a screwdriver
As termites are known to cause over $5 billion dollars in damage each year, virtually all experts recommend calling a pest professional to protect one of your most important investments, your home, from termite infestation.
Professionals offer the specialized skills necessary to rid a home of termite infestation: knowledge of building construction, an ability to identify termite species and the knowledge of applicable methods of termite control.