Hulett Kid’s Corner

Have you and your family seen the Hulett Kid’s Corner section of our website yet? We have informational games and riddles for the entire family to enjoy. The kid’s corner is designed to help teach your kids about our environment and how to manage the various pests we come across.  Some of the activities include Bug Coloring Pages, A Bug Word Search, Insect Riddles and more!

Invasive Species in South Florida

USA Today recently ran an article highlighting some of the effects invasive species have had on the U.S. landscape. Highlighting the article was the Crazy Ant which has been prominent in the South Florida region. The article also explores other invasive species including the devastating Emerald Ash Borer, Snakehead, Burmese Python, and Nutria. For more specific information on the Crazy Ant check out this post: Crazy Ants.

Commercial Environmental Services: Health Care

Healthcare facilities are susceptible to most of the pests common in most houses and businesses. Ants, fire ants, bedbugs, cockroaches, ticks, fleas, mice, mosquitoes, rats and spiders, among others, can all slip into buildings as people and deliveries come in and out.   Pests can gain access in backpacks, boxes, delivery vehicles and on people and their belongings.

Pests can transmit a host of diseases to humans and animals with effects ranging from minor discomfort to death. Some diseases spread by pests include:

* Bubonic plague              * Rabies

* Cholera                            * Rocky Mountain spotted fever

* Dengue                            * Salmonellosis

* Encephalitis                    * Shigella

* Dysentery                        * Staph

* Hantavirus                      * Strep

* Lyme disease                  * Tapeworms

* Malaria                            * Trichinosis

* Murine typhus * Typhoid fever

* Polio                                 * West Nile virus

A study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a report in the New England Journal of Medicine show that even among many common asthmatic triggers, cockroach allergens cause the most health problems for asthmatic children. These allergens build up in deposits of droppings, secretions, cast skins, and dead bodies of roaches.

Pest-transmitted diseases can be controlled through proper pest management techniques.  Identification of species, habitat and behavior can help a pest management professional control infestations and subsequently suppress outbreaks of pest-transmitted diseases.

Is it feasible for a facility to employ its own staff members to sustain a pest-free environment?

Just as a facility wouldn’t employ an unlicensed nurse or doctor, the National Pest Management Association recommends that they not take a chance with an untrained and unlicensed pest control professional. If in-house pest management is required, make sure that the individuals are qualified. Arming untrained personnel with pest management tools can be dangerous and most facilities depend on outside pest management firms.

Licensed and professionally trained pest control professionals are best suited to keep health and property-threatening pests in check. Today’s pest control professionals are experts in every sense of the word. They are trained in the latest techniques and necessary to identify pest problems and recommend the safest and most responsible pest management methods available.

Pest control professionals undergo training to meet state regulatory and certification requirements. They participate in industry workshops and forums to further their knowledge of the field. All states offer pesticide applicator certification programs, which require testing on chemical properties, selection, usage rates and safety. To remain certified, most states require continuing education, which includes the latest information about on-site pest management needs assessments and state regulatory requirements.

What are the most important steps to ensure proper pest management?

Pest management plays a major role in allowing us to live healthier, more prosperous and comfortable lives.  To ensure proper pest management always deal with a qualified and licensed pest management company that is a member of national, state or local pest management associations. Membership in the national, and state or local pest control associations is a good indicator that the company has access to modern technical information and is committed to further education.

Reach a complete understanding with the company before work starts; find out what the pest is, how the problem will be treated, how long the period of treatment will be, and what results can be expected. Effective treatment depends on correctly identifying the pest species and developing a treatment that takes the pest’s biology and habits into account.

In between professional pest control visits, employees can take a variety of steps to reduce the likelihood of infestation and ensure proper pest management.  They should remain vigilant in assessing their environment.  Encouraging employees to wipe down exposed areas, secure trash lids, maintain a clean floor space and keep windows and doors fastened will go along way in helping to prevent infestations. Employees can also track pest sightings in a pest sighting log – recording the type of pest, location and behavior.  This will help a pest management professional when they come in to evaluate the facility.

Can pest-control be managed without the use of insecticides? 

While it’s true that insecticides are used in pest control, the pest management industry is in the forefront of widespread efforts to make insecticides part of the program, not the only means to pest control.

The result is called Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a process that goes beyond traditional pest management techniques. Though centuries old, the latest IPM techniques have found broad-based support from the scientific community, government, and the pest management industry.

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a broad approach to pest management that focuses on addressing the reason that the pest problem exists rather than on just the pest itself. IPM accomplishes this by eliminating the three things pests need to survive: food, water and shelter. There are three common steps involved in practicing IPM. They include inspection, pest identification, the establishment of control measures(such as caulking cracks in sidewalks or walls, moving dumpsters away from buildings and appropriate pesticide applications),. To be acceptable, the pest management measures must be both environmentally compatible and economically feasible. The NPMA has advocated IPM for years through seminars, publications, and by supporting its techniques nationwide.

IPM is the springboard of pest management into the new century.  It is the smart way to conduct pest management.

How Hungry Mosquitoes Cool Themselves

NYTimes.com: How Hungry Mosquitoes Cool Themselves

Most blood-sucking insects urinate while they feed so they can avoid filling up on fluid and get more nutrients out of their meal.

But some species of mosquito also do what is called preurination – they excrete drops of freshly ingested blood without extracting any of the nourishing blood cells.

The behavior has always confused scientists because “blood is a very precious resource,” said Claudio R. Lazzari, an entomologist at François Rabelais University in Tours, France. “The risk of taking it is very high.”

New research, conducted by Dr. Lazzari and colleagues and published in the journal Current Biology, shows that the preurine may serve to keep the cold-blooded mosquitoes from overheating while they take their blood meal, which can be as warm as 104 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the host animal.

Roughly one to two minutes after she starts feeding, an Anopheles stephensi mosquito will excrete urine and preurine through the anus, at the end of the abdomen. Sometimes a drop of the fluid will form and cling to the body before falling off; when this happens, some fluid evaporates like sweat and cools the mosquito’s abdomen by almost four degrees.

Mosquitoes also feed on nectar, but they tend not to preurinate when they eat lower-temperature, sugar-based meals.

The mosquito is not the only insect that uses ingested food to regulate its temperature. Aphids excrete honeydew to prevent their abdomens from getting too hot, and some bee species regurgitate a bit of nectar to keep their heads cool while they fly.

Ant poison paralyzes prey from afar

By Jennifer Welsh, LiveScience Staff Writer

Ant-nest invaders beware: The African ant species Crematogaster striatula has venom so potent that termites don’t even need to come in contact with it to feel its wrath. The chemical can kill at a distance as a group of ants approach the termite butt-first.

The poison is emitted by a gland called the Dufour gland, near the worker ants’ stingers, and seems to have three functions. The chemicals emitted by the gland not only paralyze and kill termite prey, they also attract ant nestmates nearby to assist them. The ants invoke the chemicals the same way to repel alien ants.

Learning more about how insects defend their homes may also help us defend our homes against pesky invaders. The researchers, led by Angelique Vetillard of the University of Toulouse, in France, characterized the specific chemicals in the venom, providing initial clues about the source of the venom toxicity, which could help researchers produce natural insecticides.

This research provides “a basis from which further studies can be conducted in the search for natural insecticides, including new molecules effective against insects resistant to currently used insecticides,” Vetillard said in a statement.

These African ants live among rotting branches on the ground in cocoa-tree plantations. They prey upon the termites, even though these termites have developed elaborate architectural, behavioral, morphological and chemical means to defend themselves.

To figure out how the ants’ chemicals work, Vetillard and colleagues set up field experiments. They found that the chemical was more deadly to the termites than to other ants. Invader ants tend to back off and run when cornered, but the termites are more likely to stand their ground in the face of danger. When cornered, the ants were able to poison the termites from a distance of 0.2-to-0.4 inches. The researchers suggest their thin skin may also make them more sensitive to the poison.

When an ant detected a termite, it approached with its abdominal tip (containing its chemical-laden stinger) pointed toward the prey. By raising its stinger the ants create tiny particles of the toxins, which fly through the air. The chemicals their stingers emit seemed to draw their nestmates to help them take down the termite invader. As expected, the termite boldly stood its ground; but after about 10 minutes it fell down and rolled onto its back, its legs batting the air, paralyzed.

Next, one lone ant approached, watching for the leg movements to subside. When there were fewer movements of its legs, all of the ants approached the termite and prepared to seize it by an appendage and bring it back to their nest.

When the ant workers discovered several Camponotus brutus, an alien ant species, imbibing honey on their territory, they defended their turf by again very slowly approaching butt first, stinger tip pointed toward the aliens, causing them to retreat. Without there being contact between the antagonists, the intruding ants slowly backed away from the smell of the chemical, though they seemed unhurt.

The study was published Dec. 14 in the journal PLoS ONE.

You can follow LiveScience staff writer Jennifer Welsh on Twitter @microbelover. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescienceand on Facebook.

Dengue Fever Cases Subside In Florida, But Threats Remain

USNews.com: Dengue Fever Cases Subside In Florida, But Threats Remain

(HealthDay News) – While the alarming re-emergence in 2009 and 2010 of mosquito-borne dengue fever in the continental United States seems to have subsided, that’s no reason to believe the potentially deadly infection won’t be back, experts warn.

The outbreak of the sometimes-excruciating viral illness centered on southern Florida. Now, researchers have issued an update on the situation for one locale in particular, Key West.

“We know now that Key West is a high-risk area for dengue and we could have ongoing dengue outbreaks again,” said the report’s lead author, Carina Blackmore, from the Florida Department of Health. However, if people use air conditioners and screens and stay inside during hot, muggy days there is little chance dengue will become endemic, she said.

Dengue remains a leading cause of illness and death in tropical areas but was largely thought to be absent from the United States since the 1950s.

However, in 2009, 27 people living in Key West came down with illness via locally acquired infections, and then 66 more residents contracted the illness in 2010, the researchers report. The outbreak seems to have eased since then, with no cases reported in 2011.

That doesn’t mean that dengue is eliminated from the population, however, because around 75 percent of people infected never develop symptoms. Blackmore and her colleagues estimate, therefore, that about 5 percent of people living in Key West neighborhoods where cases occurred could be infected.

Because Key West has a large population of the type of mosquitoes that transmit dengue, called the “house mosquito,” Blackmore’s team decided to investigate the size of the outbreak there. They identified a number of cases and found that people who got dengue were less likely to use air conditioning, and they often had birdbaths or other types of containers where the mosquitoes could breed.

Blackmore noted that dengue is not transmitted person to person, but from humans to mosquitoes and then back to humans again. However, trying to eradicate house mosquitoes has never been successful, she said, because of where they tend to propagate. “House mosquitoes are lazy mosquitoes — they breed in [even] very small containers,” she said.

The report appears in the January issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which is published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Hal Margolis, chief of the CDC’s dengue branch, said that most dengue that appears in the United States is still brought back by people who have traveled to areas in the world where the diseases is endemic. “There are thousands of people who come back with dengue. That’s really the biggest problem,” he said.

There are also sporadic outbreaks along the Texas/Mexican border, Margolis said. In addition, dengue is endemic in some areas of the United States such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Asian possessions such as Guam and American Samoa, he said.

The Key West outbreak was unusual in that it lasted for two seasons, Margolis said. “Frankly, we don’t know if it is still there,” he added. “How it got introduced, we don’t know.”

Dengue could still become endemic in Florida, Margolis said. “We won’t know for several seasons. Only time will tell us; it’s really had to predict,” he said.

The disease can cause a high fever and people can feel sicker than they have ever felt before, Margolis said. “The danger comes in those people who get severe dengue; that usually happens with a second or third infection,” he said. “Twenty-five percent of people who have first infections may go on to have severe dengue.”

In severe dengue, plasma leaks out of the blood vessels, ending up around the lungs and abdomen, and sufferers can develop shock, Margolis said. About 15 percent of people have these severe signs, he said. About 1 percent may die, he added.

The biggest hope for prevention lies with a vaccine, Margolis said.

“There is a lot of effort on dengue vaccines going on, but it’s going to be another three or four years before a vaccine is approved,” he said. There are vaccines currently in clinical trials, he added.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University in New York City, agreed with the experts’ warnings. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see more cases,” he said.

Trying to control the mosquitoes to curb infections has not proven to be all that effective, he said. People who have air conditioning or screened windows may be at lower risk, since a closed house keeps the flying insects at bay.

The problem is that the mosquitoes in Key West are now carrying the disease, which makes it more likely that there will be more outbreaks, Siegel said.

More information

For more information on dengue, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon Released

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Hate bugs? Now is your chance to get revenge. Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon has been released for PC. Notice how every year bugs get bigger and new varieties come out of the woodwork? I’m convinced that the Insect Armageddon is close at hand. We’ve learned how to fight off the zombies, now it may be time to learn how to defend ourselves against the creepy crawlies. If you pick up Insect Armageddonyou’ll get 25% off, bringing the price down to $14.99 USD.

Thousands of giant insects and aliens once again ravage the earth, and only the Earth Defense Force can stop them. Defend the city of New Detroit against an infestation bigger and meaner than ever before. Destroy these monsters at all costs, even if it means turning entire city blocks into rubble! Enjoy raw arcade shooter satisfaction on a gigantic modern scale. Collect over 300 weapons: assault rifles, rocket launchers, energy weapons, sniper rifles, grenade launchers and more! Play with 4 upgradeable armor types: Jetpack, Battle, Tactical, and Trooper. Experience Massive replayability through arcade style scoring, tons of weapons to collect, and multiple difficulty levels in every game mode!

In addition, the game also features a six player Survival mode that pits a human squad against a nonstop onslaught of the largest enemies the aliens have to offer. New Detroit’s giant bug problem is unavoidable, and mankind’s last hope lies with the Earth Defense Force. Defend the world from the insect invasion, even if it means blowing up the entire city as part of the extermination process.

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon and the soldiers are equipped better than ever in the latest cult classic iteration that follows in the footsteps of Earth Defense Force 2017 (Japanese Title “Earth Defense Force 3” developed by Sandlot), and Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon continues the rich history and hardcore fun of the series.