Blind mosquitoes are swarming — and the season goes until November

Blind mosquitoes are swarming — and the season goes until November

October 23, 2011|By Christine Cole, Correspondent

If you are one of the people suffering from huge swarms of blind mosquitoes this year, consider this: one year, piles of dead blind mosquitoes on Mount Dora sidewalks were 3 feet deep.

“The people used snow shovels to scoop them up,” said Bob Rinehart, county mosquito and aquatic plant management supervisor, who saw proof in an old black-and-white photograph. He explained that an increase or decrease in the number of the annoying insects — which can fly into people’s noses, mouths and ears — depends on how much food the immature insects find in the waters they hatch in.

“This year Lake Eustis is putting them off in large numbers,” he said. “Next year might not be as bad. Or it could be worse.”

Not good news for Brent Matthews. Eustis’ public-works maintenance foreman is in charge of keeping the dead bugs — correctly termed aquatic midges — off Lake Walk, the walkway along Lake Eustis.

“This has been the worst I’ve seen it in eight years here. We blow it off twice a week and pressure clean every two weeks, so we get the stains off,” Matthews said, noting they still emit a foul odor.

The nasty bugs have a life span, from egg to adult, of about two weeks, with the adult bug living only a few days, because they have no mouth parts. Rinehart said their primary purpose “is to propagate.”

Researchers have found that blind mosquitoes can be controlled when they are immature and still living in water, he said, with pesticides that are safe. But the cost would be prohibitive and the process would have to be repeated. The insects swarm at night, so people can turn off outdoor lights or use yellow bulbs. Houses painted white attract more mosquitoes than dark-colored houses. And, although living on or near a body of water increases the chances of swarms, it really doesn’t matter where you live.

“They are weak fliers,” Rinehart said. “Whatever direction the wind is blowing, that’s the direction they will go.”

But hope is around the corner: The aquatic midge season is April to November.

Three Weird Insect Sports

Three Weird Insect Sports

By Maryam Louise

When it comes to the world of weird sports, there are certainly some offenders. As People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) states on their website concerning animals used for entertainment purposes: “There is nothing remotely “sporting” about sports that involve unwilling animal participants.” However, there are plenty of ways that insects display their athleticism without provocation. To fans sports that involve insects are viewed as on par with any major championship. But let’s be honest—to most they are still seen as weird.

Australian cockroach racing

Cockroach exhibition race in Washington.

Who says cockroaches are good for nothing? In Queensland, Australia, the annual championships of theCockroach Races are held. Despite the fact that racing the world’s most unwelcome guest is strange, there are actually corporate viewing boxes at the event. Altogether over 5,000 cockroach fans participate, and have the option of bringing their own racer or buying one from the event’s bug ranch.

The refined sport of cricket spitting

A newcomer to the world of weird sports, spitting dead crickets as far as you can was developed in 1996. Created by Jonathan Neal the BugBowl is still popular at Purdue University, where Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology. On his blog, Neal lists several rules for the competition, including the species limitations, weight ranges of the dead crickets and a requirement that the Brown House Crickets are previously frozen.

Neal has gone on to publish “Living With Insects” and has watched his weird sport spread nationwide. Currently, Brian Johnsrud holds the world record for spitting a cricket: 22 feet and 8 inches.

Japanese bug fights

En Garde!

In Asia, it is common to find plenty of prize winning insect owners for the purpose of bug fighting. In particular there is a type of rhinoceros beetle that is favored for competition, called the kabutomushi. Although it is not referenced academically, lovers of the popular Japanese Bug Fight website will tell you that this was once a performance exclusively for Asian kings.

While the origins are still disputed, this show has now grown to include different types of insects. Millipedes, grasshoppers and the praying mantis have all been featured in Japanese Bug Fighting videos. Despite the popularity, there is plenty of outcry from insect lovers all over the world. In the forums, many people feel that insects fighting to the death is ethically inappropriate. Unlike other weird sports involving insects, this means that bug fighting might be locked into the weird category forever, since there may come a time when voters decide to ban it.

2011 PCT Bed Bug Survey Results

PMPs report seeing large increases in the number of bed bug encounters in college dorms, hotels, nursing homes, office buildings, schools and daycare centers, hospitals, public transportation and movie theaters compared to last year. More specifically, many places experienced double-digit growth from a year ago, including:

  • College dorms (54 percent, up from 35 percent a year ago)
  • Hotels/motels (80 percent, up from 67 percent a year ago)
  • Nursing homes (46 percent, up from 25 percent a year ago)
  • Office buildings (38 percent, up from 17 percent a year ago)
  • Schools and day care centers (36 percent, up from 10 percent a year ago)
  • Transportation (train/bus/taxi) (18 percent up from nine percent a year ago)
  • Hospitals (31 percent, up from 12 percent a year ago)
  • Movie theaters (17 percent, up from four percent a year ago)

Additionally, in this year’s survey, 21 percent of PMPs reported treating bed bugs in retailstores.


Bed Bug Control Experts

Hulett’s Healthy Home Bed Bug Program

Managing bed bug infestations quickly will help us to help you. At the first sign of a bed bug infestation, we will inspect your entire home free of charge. Once properly identified, treatment can begin as soon as that same day. You will be educated by our trained experts on the biology and behavior of bed bugs, as well as the important role you will play during our treatment procedure, which includes:

  • Treating entire beds and bedframes, headboards, nightstands, and dressers
  • Directly treating mattresses and box springs with the newest products available
  • Treating behind pictures or mirrors on walls
  • Treating carpeting, baseboards, electrical outlets, and any other voids where bed bugs may hide
  • Stopping the spread of bed bugs to unaffected areas of your home

Should I treat for them right now?

Bed Bug Propagation ScheduleBed bugs cause a great deal of physical and emotional distress to almost any resident. They cause red, itchy welts from their nighttime feeding and are a general nuisance. If left untreated, bed bug populations will grow exponentially as each day passes, making them more difficult to manage. Hulett uses an integrated approach that includes the newest products that are proven to manage bed bugs, as well as steam treatments, which kill all bed bug life stages, in areas where our products cannot be applied. Just call HULETT for your free, in-depth bed bug inspection today.

PCT Launches Annual Photo Contest

PCT Launches Annual Photo Contest

RICHFIELD, Ohio — PCT is proud to announce the call for entry for its 10th annual Best Pest Photo Contest. (Click hereto view a slideshow from last year’s contest). The contest is your chance to be recognized alongside your peers for having taken one of the best photographs in the pest control industry. Photos will be judged on color, clarity and content.  The winning photographer will receive $500. In addition to the photo, please provide:

  • Identification of the pest
  • Where the photo was taken
  • Anything else unique about the photo or circumstance under which it was taken

Send this year’s nominations via e-mail to or mail them (prints and CDs are both acceptable — no Polaroids) to: PCT Online, c/o Brad Harbison, 4020 Kinross Lakes Pkwy., Ste. 201, Richfield, OH  44286. Deadline is Dec. 5.

*Important note: There is a limit of one photo per entrant.

Could a Bug Circus Charge Your Phone?

Could a Bug Circus Charge Your Phone?

By Rhett Allain

Hat tip to John Burk (@occam98) for sharing this video (an ad for Snapdragon):

Well? Could this work? First, I am going to assume this is fake. Although I don’t know a whole bunch about bugs, I assume you can’t train a praying mantis to ride a bike.

Fine, it is most likely fake. But is it possible anyway? Ok, let me try to estimate this possibility. First, let me point out that some of these circus acts probably aren’t for the generation of power. The merry-go-round for instance. It seems like those bugs are just having a good time and not working hard like the scorpion and beetles. Maybe they are on their union break.

Let me at least get an estimate for the power produced from the tarantula on the inclined treadmill.

Spider 1

Here are some starting assumptions:

  • The treadmill is inclined at an angle of about 30 degreea.
  • The spider is about 5 cm long and as a mass of 50 grams (Wikipedia page on tarantulas).
  • The tarantula is moving with a speed of about 1 cm/second (relative to the treadmill).
  • This treadmill-generator is 70 percent efficient. This is probably way too high for something like this, but I am trying to give the bug-charger the best chance of working.

One final assumption: The work done by the spider (and the power) are the same for this treadmill as it would be for the spider walking up the incline. So, let me calculate the power the spider would need to walk up that incline at the same speed. Here is a force diagram:

Drawings.key 1

If the spider is moving at a constant speed, these forces have to all add up to the zero vector (no net force means no change in velocity). What is the Ff force? This is friction. I have drawn the forces ON the spider, not the force the spider pushes on the track. However, since forces are an interaction between two objects, the force the spider pushes on the track is the same magnitude as the friction force.

I can find the value of this frictional force (and the force the spider pushes) by looking at the forces along the plane. The plane-component of the weight and the frictional force have to have the same magnitude:

La te xi t 1 3

Now, what about the work? The work done by the spider will then be:

La te xi t 1 4

Where x is some distance up the incline. To determine the power, I need to know the time it takes the spider to go this distance. If the spider moves with a speed v, then t = x / v. This means the power is:

La te xi t 1 5

Oh, let me call the efficiency e then the electrical power output from the device would be:

La te xi t 1 6

Using the estimated values above, this gives a power production of 0.0017 Watts. WOOO HOO! That is some serious power. Instead of looking at all the bug devices, let me just say that there are about 10 of these spider-treadmills that all produce the same power. This would put the circus at 0.017 Watts.

Charging a phone

I have looked at phone charging before (charging a phone by typing). From that, I used a 1420 mAh battery at 3.7 volts. This gives a total amount of stored energy at 1.89 x 104 Joules.

Using my bug-circus, how long would it take to charge this phone?

La te xi t 1 7

That is just over 1 MILLION seconds or almost 13 days. Yes, thirteen days seems like a long time. However, you can at least enjoy the greatest bug show on Earth while you wait.

Mini-Monsters’ App Infests iPads With Bug Close-Ups

Mini-Monsters’ App Infests iPads With Bug Close-Ups

Via: Wired

By Dave Mosher

Zebra Jumping Spider Head

Insects, spiders and other tiny monsters that scurry across floors or fly through the air are frightening enough. Under an electron microscope, however, they balloon into terrifying yet beautiful spectacles.

For a few bucks, starting September 12, iPad owners can zoom in on such nightmarish electron-powered portraits using a paid application called “Mini-Monsters.”

‘Mini Monsters’ allows iPad users to sort creepy crawlers by eating habits, number of legs and even the threat level posed to humans. Science Photo Library

Each of the app’s 567 images of more than 200 unique species is zoomable and comes equipped with a caption. The detailed information covers everything from the monsters’ eating habits to favorite hiding spots.

Science Photo Library, a science-centric stock imagery company that hosts some 300,000 images and 20,000 videos, says Mini Monsters will cost $2.99 in the U.S., £1.99 in the UK and €1.99 elsewhere in Europe.

“We supply these images mostly to publications and advertisers, but wanted to get them out to the public in another way,” said Gary Evans, who helped launch the app as the manager of scientific relations at Science Photo Library. “The first person I’m going to show this to is my grandson.”

Three sets of contributors (Steve Gschmeissner, Cheryl Power and Andrew Syred, and Oliver Meckes and Nicole Ottawa) created images for the app using their own scanning electron microscopes, which are hundreds of times more powerful than optical microscopes.

We preview some of the best mini monsters in this gallery.