Information on summer pests

What are some examples of summer pests?

There are many different types of summer pests although some of the most prominent home invaders include ants, cockroaches, and termites.  Of course outdoors will bring us a different set of pests – mosquitoes, ticks, and flies are some of the most prevalent.

Are these pests dangerous?

Summer pests are much more than a nuisance – consider these statistics:

  • Termites destroy more homes each year than fires and floods combined; they cause over 5 BILLION dollars of damage.
  • Stinging insects send 500,000 people to the emergency room each year.
  • Recent medical studies show that cockroach allergens trigger asthma attacks in children.

Should we expect more summer pests than usual in our area this year?

We should expect an average amount of pests – comparable to last year – this summer.  A good indicator of pest pressure is winter moisture.  We didn’t have a terribly wet winter this year, so we should have an average summer for pests.

How can a homeowner get rid of summer pests once they are inside their home?

The best way to eliminate summer pests once they ALREADY infest your home is to call a pest professional.

What steps can homeowners take to reduce the likelihood of summer pests inside their homes?

There are many steps homeowners can take to reduce the likelihood of occasional invaders:

  • Keep all kitchen areas clean (including floors). Kitchen appliances should be kept free of spills and crumbs. Clean shelves regularly and store foods such as cereal, flour, and dog food in resealable containers.
  • Periodically sweep and vacuum floor areas in the kitchen, under furniture, and around dining areas. Pay particular attention to pet food and water dishes.
  • Keep garbage areas clean. Garbage should be stored in sealed containers and disposed of regularly.
  • Seal cracks, crevices, and other gaps around doors and windows. Doors and windows should always be kept closed or well screened.
  • Check pipes and pipe areas around the house for leaks, cracks and gaps and seal and patch any problems if necessary. Leaky faucets should also be fixed.
  • Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces dry. If you have mold and mildew in your home or office crawlspace, it’s a symptom of an excess moisture problem.
  • Inspect boxes, grocery bags and other packaging thoroughly. Insects have also been known to come in on potted plants and in luggage.

Do you have any good rules of thumb for dealing with summer pests?

  • When it comes to your home – the cleaner the better.  Many summer pests are attracted to food and water sources left out around your home.
  • Standing water attracts thirsty pests.  Try to remove all stagnant water sources in and around your home.
  • A safe bet about pests – there is almost always more than one.  Pests breed extremely quickly. If you notice cockroaches or termites in or around your home, chances are great that there are many more where they came from.

Tell me a little bit about ants…

There are as many ways to control ants as there are species of ants! Different species eat different things – making it almost impossible to inspect a single area and control the ant population.  The best strategy homeowners can employ when attempting to control ants is to clean, clean, clean. Kids are home more in the warm weather so wipe down counters, regularly remove garbage, clean up grease spills, remove empty soda cans and mop the floors.

Tell me a little bit about cockroaches…

Cockroaches enjoy damp, dark places with a plentiful food supply; They like to hide during the day, often behind kitchen appliances or in cupboards. Inspect these areas vigilantly and clean regularly.

Tell me a little bit about mosquitoes…

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water that collects in ditches, birdbaths, flowerpots and old tires.  Check those areas and remove the standing water to help eliminate the threat.

Tell me a little bit about termites…

Termites build mud tunnels on the foundation of a home for covert access to wood. They can also be found by looking for broken-off wings.

Mosquitoes increase disease risk in USA – USATODAY.com

Mosquitoes increase disease risk in USA – USATODAY.com.

Appearance:

Mosquitoes bite with their mouth parts and have scales on the back of their wings.

Size:

Approximately ½-inch long.

Behavior:

Mosquitoes have caused countless problems for man throughout history. The mosquito feeds on human blood in order to provide nutrients to make eggs. It can leave behind serious health threats such as viruses and other disease-causing pathogens.

Habitat:

Mosquitoes rely on standing water to breed. Mosquitoes that attack people in their own yard are usually breeding close by. Many mosquitoes found around homes are known as “tree hole” mosquitoes. This species does not breed in a natural body of water; rather the female seeks out accumulated water in hollows of trees and such.

Interesting Fact:

Mosquito-borne diseases, such as encephalitis and West Nile Virus, cause many deaths in developing countries.

Control:

Do you live in Florida and think that this pest may be invading your home or yard? Hulett Environmental Services offers specialty pest control treatments designed to control and eliminate this pest!

Bed Bugs: The Beauty Shots

Found some great photos while surfing the web via TIME.

Check em’ out with the link below, but try not to bug out!

http://img.timeinc.net/time/photoessays/2010/bedbugs/bedbugs_05.jpg

Bed Bugs: The Beauty Shots

The Pest of the Year shows off its stuff in microscopic detail.
Photographs by Adam Nadel / Polaris Scanning Electron Microscope provided by Tescan \ USA / Jack Mershon

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,2019344,00.html/r:t#ixzz0zjvWwgDT

Florida budget cuts, mosquito burst create itchy issue ~ REUTERS

Florida budget cuts, mosquito burst create itchy issue

By Amy Wimmer Schwarb

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla | Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:48pm EDT

(Reuters) – James David’s job of controlling mosquitoes in a part of Florida that Spanish explorers once dubbed “Los Mosquitos” is often futile.

But this year, the fight “feels like a sort of hand-to-hand combat,” said David, the mosquito control and coastal services director for St. Lucie County in southeast Florida.

In the past two years, David’s local government has cut 42 percent of mosquito control funding and a quarter of his staff. This year, the state slashed its contribution to local mosquito control by half.

Just weeks ago, with a line-item veto, Republican Governor Rick Scott closed a university mosquito lab that David had relied on for pesticide research.

All this comes as most local mosquito control officials agree the mosquito situation is the worst they have seen since 1998, when El Nino caused rampant rains and the pesky insects that come with them, said Shelly Redovan, executive director of the Florida Mosquito Control Association.

“It’s a bad mosquito year,” Redovan said. “And when you’ve also got reduced funding, it’s going to be tough.”

Florida’s depressed property values and high foreclosure rates have left the state with fewer tax dollars to spend, and nearly every facet of public life has been touched as lawmakers try to pay the state’s bills.

Yet effective management of mosquitoes has been so closely linked to the state’s prosperity that mosquito control officials fear they are victims of their own success.

“We should never, ever forget from where we’ve come,” said Angela Weeks-Samanie, an environmental specialist with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which administers the state mosquito control funds.

“In the blink of an eye, we could go back to where we were when Florida was uninhabitable.”

SLEEPING ON THE BEACH

Mosquitoes have been part of the state’s recorded history since the arrival of the first European settlers. The Spanish, French and English all recounted tales of sleeping on the beach, covered in sand, to escape them.

When Florida was being considered for statehood, U.S. congressmen debated whether mosquitoes would prevent it from ever being a suitable place to live.

Mosquito-spread Yellow Fever broke out in the 1870s and 1880s in pockets throughout Florida — including Jacksonville, Tampa, Key West and the Panhandle — and led to the formation of the State Board of Health in 1889.

More recently, the insects have been common perpetrators in disease outbreaks, such as in the early 2000s, when West Nile virus was spreading in Florida, and in 2010, with dengue fever in the Florida Keys.

This year, the mosquitoes seem to be hitting coastal areas hardest. Lee County, which includes Fort Myers in southwest Florida, set a record in May for the number of mosquito complaints.

One day that month, the county received 457 calls from citizens.

Meanwhile, the Orlando area farther inland is seeing mosquito numbers that are similar to last year’s.

The most likely reason: This year’s troublemakers appear to be floodwater mosquitoes, which thrive in different conditions than the species that lay eggs in standing water.

“Floodwater mosquitoes lay their eggs above the high-tide line, where it’s dry,” said Roxanne Connelly, president of the state Mosquito Control Association and an associate professor of entomology at the University of Florida.

Several months of dry conditions followed by heavy rainfall created ideal conditions for this species, she said.

“Then, sometime later, when you get a high tide or some other influence, they all hatch at the same time,” she said. “They become adults at the same time. And they’re all looking for blood at the same time.”

In one three-acre salt marsh in St. Lucie County, David found mosquito larvae packed so tightly that 1 million were squeezed into an area the size of a pickup truck bed.

Spraying with heavy equipment was ineffective because winds were strong. The pesticide he chose didn’t work, so he changed chemicals twice.

“We were sending out hand crews over and over again at dusk and dawn, trying to spray by hand,” David said. “We’d treat it; it would look like we got a great knockdown. And then, three hours later, it would be just as bad it was before.”

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Bohan)

Florida Mosquito Control

The Insect Genome Project Can Save Us From Disease

The Insect Genome Project Can Save Us From Disease

BY Ariel Schwartz

The Human Genome Project was a $3.8 billion undertaking that has so far yielded over $800 billion in economic output. The 5,000 Insect Genome Project (i5k), an initiative that aims to sequence the genomes of 5,000 insects and arthropods over the next five years, could reap similar rewards–but for a fraction of the price.

The initiative’s launch group, which includes researchers from the USDA, the European Bioinformatics Institute and Kansas State University, believes that it can sequence all 5,000 genomes for $5 million (and handle bioinformatics and data mining for another $10 million). This is just a fraction of the million or so insect species in existence, of course, but DNA sequencing costs are dropping constantly–so a goal of 5,000 insects is just the start, according to American Entemologist. What might we look forward to in a world where insect genomes have been decoded?

  • Better pesticides. Researchers can use sequencing information, computational analysis, and bioinformatics to figure out what changes in the genome make insect species resistant to certain pesticides. By mining data for the genes involved with detoxifying chemicals that make their way inside insects, for example, researchers could figure out how to target them. Researchers could also figure out how insect immune systems change in response to the use of biopesticides. We can already hear Monsanto salivating.
  • Protection for more vulnerable species. The same data about those detoxifying genes could be used to protect honeybees (which don’t have as many detox genes to begin with) from being affected by pesticides–and that could help prevent our entire food system from crashing down.
  • Preventing the spread of insect-borne diseases. Plant, animal, and microbe genomes are already being sequenced. By adding insects to the mix, scientists can better understand the relationships between host, insect, and pathogen–and potentially stop disease transmission. “So if you think about mosquitoes, we currently have three genomes of mosquitoes that are vectors of malaria and other diseases. But there are other very similar, related mosquitoes that do not act as vectors, so we want to sequence non-vector species as well so we can determine what makes an arthropod a vector or not a vector,” explained Daniel Lawson, a coordinator at the European Bioinformatics Institute in an interview with American Entemologist.
  • Development of detection devices for biodefense. If scientists can replicate insects’ sharp sensory receptors, we could see all sorts of DARPA-like nanotech military spy cameras.

The i5k project hasn’t definitely decided on what insect genomes to sequence, so if you have any favorite bugs, submit them here.

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.