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By Kwame Opam
It should first be stated that these ants aren’t just crazy, they’re scientifically crazy. Known as the Rasberry Crazy Ant, they’ve garnered a reputation in the US for moving in massive colonies and destroying everything in their path. And they’re spreading.
The Crazy Ant got its name from the way it tends to run around in circles… before it eats everything. Scientists believe it may have originated in the Caribbean and arrived on US shores back in the 1950s, but the species only became a recognized problem in 2002. By then, they’d reached Texas and just started swarming. Over the years, all residents had to do was walk outside and see literally hundreds of the ants running around erratically. And now they’ve moved into Louisiana.
The worst part is the damage they cause to electronics and equipment. They seem to love nesting in and eating computers by the thousands. And they’re resistant to extermination efforts because colonies are so large and they rebound so quickly—often in a matter of hours. They even take out fire ants… which might be seen as a good thing for some people, but still.
I keep thinking of that scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with the killer ants (yeah I watched it, so what?). It might not be as terrifying as that in real life, but imagine seeing millions of ants just marching up your block. Scary, gross stuff. [Daily Mail]
Image Credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski/Shutterstock
(Frommers.com) They’re back and they’re bigger than ever: After a decades-long hiatus, bedbugs have made a creepy-crawly comeback in hotels, office buildings, department stores — you name it — all across the U.S. In fact, according to a recent poll conducted by the National Pest Management Association (www.pestworld.org), 95% of the pest control companies surveyed reported a bedbug infestation within the last year — up an astounding 70% from more than a decade ago.
The pesky critters can induce itchy, red welts and enough anxiety to make travelers wonder if they should stay home. Luckily, there are plenty of precautionary measures to reduce the risks of an encounter while on the road. Sleep better at night by following these expert tips from the NPMA, the American Hotel & Lodging Association(www.ahla.com), and the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (www.nysimp.cornell.edu).
With proper identification, a thorough room inspection, and careful packing and unpacking, you can stop worrying about sleeping tight — and letting the bedbugs bite.
What Do Bedbugs Look Like?
Wingless bedbugs range in size from 1 to 7 millimeters, are reddish brown, and flat and oval in shape. Fecal droppings (brown or black stains that look like pepper flakes), shed skins, and the tinier translucent eggs and nymphs (juveniles) are evidence of the live pest.
Pre-Trip Packing Tips
A hard-shelled suitcase has fewer folds and seams where bedbugs can hide. Pack your belongings — clothes, toiletries, shoes — in sealable plastic bags, and open only when accessing the items. Alternatively, consider wrapping your entire pack in a trash bag to stave off potential infestations during your travels.
Before Unpacking Your Luggage
Many travelers throw a suitcase on the bed or keep the bag zipped up on the floor in hopes of keeping out any wandering scourges. Instead, place your baggage — including any purses, backpacks, or camera bags — on a luggage rack or in the bathroom, where there are fewer nooks and crannies.
How to Inspect Your Hotel Room
Bedbugs like to lodge themselves into cracks, crevices, folds, and ruffles in areas frequently trafficked by humans. When you arrive, pull back the covers of the bed and inspect under the linens and pillows. Use a flashlight if necessary. Look in the seams and sides of the mattress, box spring, and frame, and then check behind the headboard. The majority of the pests away from the bed will be within close proximity: under and around nightstands and lamps, and in the pleats of upholstered furniture (a favored hideaway) and drapes. The bloodsuckers can also reside behind wall hangings, such as mirrors and paintings.
If You Suspect an Outbreak
Don’t take things into your own hands. If you squash one pest, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t others lurking in the crevices. Work with hotel management to find the best solution. When switching rooms, don’t accept one directly adjacent, above, or below the infested room, as bedbugs can easily hitch a ride to neighboring spaces via housekeeping carts, wall sockets, and luggage. Each property and brand has a different protocol regarding pest control. Many hotels will distribute bedbug fact sheets, assure proper treatment of affected areas, offer alternative accommodations, and launder your clothes for free. Unfortunately, sleep sacks can’t protect you from getting bitten; bedbugs can feed through the fabric or crawl through the opening of the sack as you snooze.
When You Get Home
Even just a few of these critters can start a full-blown infestation, should you inadvertently carry them back to your abode. Conduct a thorough inspection of your suitcase outdoors or in the garage, away from furniture and sleeping areas. If you live in an apartment, use your balcony, bathtub, or shower (bedbugs have a harder time crawling up smooth surfaces and are easier to spot against light colors). In the worst-case scenario, keep the suitcase out in the hallway. Pay special attention to pockets, linings, and seams. Then thoroughly vacuum or steam clean the bag before stowing it away. Wash all of your clothes — even those unworn — on a high-heat setting, and dry for at least 30 minutes. This will kill any previously undetected bugs.
Do you have a pest related question for the experts at Hulett Environmental Services? Hulett is the Florida pest control expert! Please fill out the following form and a Hulett representative will contact you within 24 hours or the next business day. Please call 866-611-2847 if you need immediate service.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON SPECIES OF ANTS?
There are more than 700 species of ants in the United States. Some of the most common include argentine, carpenter, odorous house, pavement and red imported fire ants.
All ants are social insects that live in colonies. They can be identified by their three distinct body regions: head, thorax, and abdomen. However, the biology and habits of each ant species is different and understanding these differences is necessary to effectively control an infestation.
WHERE AND WHEN ARE YOU MOST LIKELY TO ENCOUNTER ANTS?
It depends on the species, but ants are commonly attracted to the food in a kitchen, especially sweets and protein-containing substances. Ants are most often found on floors, countertops and in food items. Some species prefer to build nests in soil – such as landscaping – or cracks in concrete on your driveway, walkway or in your garage. Carpenter ants build nests in wood. Ants are typically found indoors the spring and summer months as they search for food.
SHOULD HOMEOWNERS/RESIDENTS BE CONCERNED IF THEY FIND ANTS IN THEIR HOME?
Most species of ants are considered ‘nuisance pests,’ meaning that they don’t pose a significant threat to health or property, but are an annoyance when found indoors. In fact, ants are the number one nuisance pest in the United States.
Some species of ants, however, can pose threats to health and property. Carpenter ants, for example, excavate wood in order to build their nests, which can cause extensive damage to a structure. Fire ants, on the other hand, sting when threatened, resulting in painful welts that can be dangerous to allergic persons. These species should always be handled by a professional.
Regardless of the species all ants can contaminate food sources and small infestations can grow quickly, so any sign of an infestation should be dealt with promptly.
WHAT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE TYPE OF ANT TREATMENT AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
A trained and licensed pest professional is the best person to make a recommendation based on the proper identification of a particular ant species and the threats they could pose to health and property. Also, homeowners may have a preference as to which treatment is used, so it is important that they have a detailed conversation with their pest control company. The cost of the treatments can vary depending on the size of the infestation and the property being treated.
WHAT CAN A HOMEOWNER DO TO CONTROL ANT INFESTATIONS?
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. Wipe down counters, regularly remove garbage, clean up grease spills, rinse and remove empty soda cans or other recyclables and mop/sweep the floors. Homeowners should also keep food in sealed containers and keep pet food/water dishes clean. Outside the home, eliminate sources of moisture or standing water such as birdbaths or kiddie pools. Finally, seal cracks and holes around the home to close entry points.
Local area governments have stepped up mosquito spraying to combat a large hatching of the blood-sucking bugs in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.
Drought conditions had limited the number of mosquitoes in the area this summer, but cyclone-caused flooding in streams and rivers and an increased amount of standing water caused a resurgence of the irritating insects, said Tony Cahoon, the public works director for Carteret County.
“We had a good hatching after the storm, but we are getting the number under control with spraying,” he said, adding that the naturally short lifespan of mosquitoes and anticipated cooler weather will help reduce the number of the insects as well.
Onslow County Vector Control and Jacksonville Mosquito Control have also doubled efforts to eliminate the insects, officials said.
Vector Control, which partners with the N.C. Wildlife Service to control beaver populations and keep streams flowing, has concentrated on spraying for mosquitoes since the storm, workers said Friday.
Dry weather before the storm and the sudden downpour of rain from Irene created breeding grounds and dampened dormant eggs, Lenoir County Health Director Joey Huff said.
“Mosquito eggs can lie dormant for very long periods of time,” Huff said. “Once they become moist from rain or any other type of moisture, they hatch. It would take just a few days to turn into the adult mosquitoes. … We’re now seeing an abundance of mosquitoes that we did not have to experience prior to the hurricane.”
Residents can help diminish mosquito breeding grounds on their property with just a few simple actions, according to Onslow County Vector Control.
Get rid of any stagnant or standing water in buckets and flower pots. Regularly change water in bird baths and animal water bowls. Ditches should also be kept clear and free of debris so water can drain off as it is supposed to.
Vector Control also recommends residents use insect repellents, especially on children and the elderly, during any outdoor activity. Anyone who owns horses are encouraged to have them vaccinated against Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus.
It takes about one week for a mosquito to grow from egg to adult, according to Jacksonville Mosquito Control, which offers the following recommendations:
- Throw away old bottles and cans.
- Clean overgrown ponds and stock with fish.
- Screen or cover rain barrels.
- Clean leaf-clogged gutters.
- Repair leaky faucets.
- Throw away or destroy used tires.
- Recycle or throw away trash and unwanted items.
For more information or to schedule mosquito spraying contact Onslow County Vector Control at 910-455-0181, the City of Jacksonville Mosquito Control at 910 938-5333, or Carteret County Mosquito Control at 252-504-2107.
Freedom ENC staff writer Jane Moon contributed to this report. Contact Daily News Senior Reporter Lindell Kay at 910-219-8455 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his crime blog, “Off the Cuff,” at http://onslowcrime.encblogs.com.