- Subterranean termites are by far the most destructive species of termite as they eat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Each year, termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage.
- Termite colonies can have upwards of 2 million members.
- Termites are present in 70 percent of countries across the world and their population outnumbers human beings on a ratio of ten to one.
- The queen termite can lay up to 40,000 eggs per day.
Termites are wood-destroying insects. Their presence dates back to the dinosaurs. While they play an important role in nature, experts estimate they cause $5 billion of property damage each year.
Yes, the three major kinds of termites in the United States are dampwood, drywood and subterranean. Dampwood termites commonly live in heavily forested areas of the country as they prefer wet wood; while, drywood termites, much more rare in the United States, prefer extremely dry wood. Subterranean termites require moist environments, live mainly in the soil and are the most destructive species.
Depending on where you live, termite swarms may be visible in the early spring. Termites are often confused with flying ants. Telltale signs of termite infestation include soft wood in the home, mud tubes on the exterior of your home (often near the foundation) and darkening or blistering of wood structures.
Termites eat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, meaning damage to wood in and around a structure can happen very quickly. In fact, the NPMA estimates that termites cause $5 billion in property damage each year. The good news is that termites can be controlled with the partnership of a trained pest professional.
Homeowners are most likely to notice termites when they swarm in the early spring. A termite swarm is a sign of a likely infestation. If you notice a termite swarm on your property, contact a licensed pest professional promptly.
There are many steps a homeowner can take to help prevent termites from infesting their property. Most importantly, a homeowner should eliminate or reduce moisture in and around their home, which termites need to thrive. Divert water away from your home’s foundation by installing properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation. Trim vines, hedges and other vegetation to prevent them from blocking vents. Remove old form boards, grade stakes, tree trunks and roots near a building, as they may attract termites. In addition, maintain an 18-inch gap between soil and any wood portions of your home. Finally, routinely inspect the foundation of your home for signs of termite damage.
Termites are not a pest that can be effectively treated by a homeowner. A licensed pest control professional will be able to recommend a course of action depending on many factors, including the area of the country that you live in, the size of your infestation, the termite species present and your home’s construction
The National Pest Management Association and the entire pest management industry are committed to providing highly effective treatment options for all pest issues. The most effective type of treatment depends on the severity of the infestation, the species of termite, and the location and construction of the home. A trained and licensed pest control professional can assess each infestation individually and recommend the most effective treatment plan.
Termites cannot be effectively treated by a homeowner on their own. Pest control professionals have the training, expertise and technology to eliminate a termite infestation.
- Install screens and weather stripping on windows and door sweeps on doors.
- Fix any cracks in siding and walls, especially where pipes or wires enter the home.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.
- Wear heavy gloves when moving items that have been stored for a long period of time.
- Inspect items such as boxes of decorations and grocery bags before bringing them indoors.
- Store clothing inside plastic containers and check shoes before putting them on, as spiders often hide in these items.
- If you suspect that a spider has bitten you, contact your primary care physician for medical advice.
- If you have a spider infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional.
Recent developments in the field of robotics includes insect robots. Robotic ants and butterflies as well as two major companies working together on robotic surgery advances are on the move. The group of robotic animals created by robotics company Festo is growing. Recently, German robotics company introduced a hoard of ants as well as a butterfly robot.
The extraordinary animal robots are part of the company’s Bionic Learning Network. According to CNET, the BionicANTS can operate as a team the way real ants do. They communicate and coordinate movements and actions in an impressive collaboration. The ants have a light construction that enables them to fly together. The robots were inspired by the ant’s swam intelligence and physical body. Swarm behavior, or swarming, is a collective behavior exhibited by animals of similar size. They collect and move together, perhaps milling about the same spot or perhaps moving or migrating in some direction. eMotionButterflies are also capable of collaborative behavior. These robotic insects are lightweight and will help researchers and developers fuel robot development in the future.
On another front, according to the Wall Street Journal blog, Google is pooling intellectual property and resources with Ethicon, a part of Johnson & Johnson, to develop robotics to assist surgeons. The deal is anticipated to close in the second quarter. The focus will be minimally-invasive surgery. For example, the da Vinci robotics surgical system for minimally-invasive procedures, including gynecological and prostate surgeries is well known.
Exciting robotic advances and collaborations promise to make the future more efficient and productive. Someday they could even handle the routine daily tasks people dread. After all, the iRobot Roomba is already keeping carpets clean without all the manual labor. As far as insects go, the continues study of their adaptive abilities, mechanical structure and physical movements and responses are essential to the continued success of the robotics industry.
- Cockroaches can live for up to a week without their heads. They can also hold their breath for 40 minutes and even survive being submerged in water for half an hour. Additionally, some species are able to withstand freezing temperatures.
- Small size.Cockroaches are small pests, so they can easily hide in cracks and crevices. Male cockroaches can fit through an opening as small as 1/16 inch in width or the thickness of a quarter.
- Quick speed.Cockroaches are very fast and can run up to three miles an hour. A newborn cockroach, which is about the size of a speck of dust, runs nearly as fast as its parents.
- Irregular feeding habits.Cockroaches can survive for up to one month without food and one week without water. They are omnivores and are attracted to all types of foods, including sugars, proteins and fats.
Researchers in South Florida have recently found that the two most invasive termite species in the world may eventually produce new termite hybrid that cold be devastating. This new species could reproduce faster than their parent species and might have a larger range.
The Asian (Coptotermes gestroi) and Formosan (Coptotermes formosanus) subterranean termite species cause an estimated $40 billion worth of damage worldwide, the researchers reported. Both types of termite have evolved separately for hundreds of thousands of years. Due to human expansion and trade, the species were brought together in Taiwan, Hawaii and South Florida.
The study’s lead researcher, Thomas Chouvenc, an assistant research scientist of entomology at the University of Florida, has observed the two mating. This raises concerns that the hybrid offspring might have developed a temperature tolerance that stretches from North Carolina to Brazil. “That is the worst-case scenario,” said Chouvenc who has observed the hybrids growing in the lab.
In South Florida, the Asian termite typically mates in February, and the Formosan usually mates in April. In March 2013, Chouvenc found the two species mating at the same time. He believes that the warming climate has changed the termites’ mating seasons, but more evidence is needed to find the root cause.
The size of the hybrid brood, nearly twice the size of either parent group, is another concern, According to Chouvenc, when the researchers observed a Formosan colony and an Asian colony that were kept separate in the lab, each colony had about 80 offspring after a year. However, when the Formosan mated with the Asian termites, their colony produced about 150 termites in a year. The researchers are currently replicating the experiment to see if they get the same results.
The new study details a “fascinating situation” and “a sobering picture,” said Ed Vargo, a professor of entomology at Texas A&M University. “You have the two most destructive subterranean termite species in the world, and here they are, brought together through human activity, being introduced together in a place where they’re not native, and they’re hybridizing,” Vargo said.
The venom of the “death stalker” scorpion of North Africa and the Middle East, also called the most venomous scorpion known to man, may be the best friend to pets suffering from certain types of cancer. Death stalker venom contains a molecule can prolong the life of dogs inflicted with the deadly disease.
Whiskey, Hot Rod, and Browning developed malignant tumors. Their owners decided to enroll them in a clinical trial at Washington State University Veterinary School. The dogs, along with 25 other patients, were given intravenous injections of a chemical derived from the death stalker’s venom prior to surgery. The venomous chemical “paints” cancer cells so the cells will be become fluorescent. This makes the cancerous cells easier to distinguish from normal cells and allows veterinary surgeons to know the exact limits of the cancer and ensures removal of all cancer cells during surgery.
According to Pediatric oncologist Dr. Jim Olson, developer of the tumor paint, this is far superior to the present method of “taking wide margins” and hoping cancer cells do not get left behind. “I predict that in a decade or so, surgeons will look back and say ‘I can’t believe we used to remove tumors by only using our eyes, fingers, and experience.’ Those hidden deposits of 200 or so cancer cells? They won’t go undetected.”
Olson re engineered the molecule in the venom to latch on and identify cancer cells without causing the clinical symptoms associated with a scorpion sting. He uses the technique at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to help people, but he says it is also a way to help the pets they love.
“Many animal tumors resemble those that arise in humans, so it only makes sense for the two groups to reap the benefits that tumor paint can provide during cancer surgery. As WSU uses the technology to help dogs, the dogs provide information that’s applicable to human cancer.”