Bed Bugs Unfazed By Ultrasonic Devices, Researchers Report

Bed Bugs Unfazed By Ultrasonic Devices, Researchers Report

Northern Arizona researchers Kasey Yturralde and Richard W. Hofstetter tested four different products, none of which successfully drove away bed bugs.

With bed bugs bunking just about everywhere these days, people battling the bloodsucking insects may be tempted to try their hand at driving them away. But ultrasonic bug zappers, which retail for less than $25, aren’t the solution, say entomologists who tested some of the devices.

Northern Arizona researchers Kasey Yturralde and Richard W. Hofstetter tried out four different ultrasonic devices available on Amazon: one designed specifically for bedbugs and three that claimed to repel insects and small furry mammalian pests.

Their simple experimental design consisted of two 5-gallon buckets lined with sound-muffling insulation that were connected by a tube. An ultrasonic device was placed in one bucket, and eight to 10 bed bugs were placed in the tube.

More care was given to how the bedbugs were housed in the lab. The researchers kept them in large jars, like those used for canning, which were placed in bins full of soapy water. And every lip or edge over which a rogue bed bug would have to crawl was covered in a slippery substance a little like liquid Teflon, Yturralde says, to keep them from escaping.

In test after test, the bed bugs showed no preference for either bucket. None of the four devices drove the bed bugs away.

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Hulett Environmental discusses the importance of creating an integrated pest management (IPM) program

IPM is a process involving common sense methods and environmentally friendly solutions for controlling pests. The approach incorporates three basic steps: inspection, identification and treatment by a pest professional.

The goal of IPM is to stop pests before they invade homes. Developing an IPM program with a professional will give homeowners peace of mind that they will be protected against pest-related health and property threats.”

There are a few standard pest prevention protocols in every IPM program. Pest experts at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and Hulett recommend the following techniques:

  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home including entry points for utilities and pipes.
  • Screen vents and openings to chimneys, and keep tree shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
  • Eliminate sources of moisture and keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated.
  • Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
  • Keep counters, floors and other surfaces clean and free of crumbs.
  • Store food in plastic or glass containers with secure lids.
  • Vacuum often.

For more information on IPM, please visit or

Top Five Pest Stories of 2012

Top Five Pest Stories of 2012

From the West Nile virus and Yosemite Hantavirus outbreaks to Lyme disease and the plague, it could be argued that 2012 was the year of pest-related infectious diseases. But, there were also some weird and wacky pest stories that grabbed headlines over the past twelve months. Here’s the list of the top five pest stories of 2012, as ranked by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA):

West Nile Virus (WNV) Outbreak: The mosquito-borne WNV outbreak became the second-worst in the history of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 5,387 cases of WNV disease in people, including 243 deaths in 2012.

Hantavirus and the Plague: Ten people fell ill and three died from exposure to deer mice infected with Hantavirus after staying in tent cabins at Yosemite National Park. A Colorado girl was also infected with the Bubonic Plague, a rare disease that wiped out one-third of Europe in the 14th century.

Acorn Crop Boosts Ticks: This spring, the tick season was heavier than in previous years due to an increase in 2010’s acorn crop and a decrease in the white-footed mouse population this year. These strange events forced many ticks to find new warm-blooded hosts – humans, which caused a surge in Lyme disease.

Spider Calls Woman’s Ear Home: One of the strangest and most unusual stories of 2012 has to do with a spider that was recently removed from a woman’s ear canal after doctors found it living inside for five days.

Termite Species Re-Identified: An aggressive termite species was recently re-identified in Broward County, Fla. Native to the Caribbean, tree termites — once thought to have been eradicated in the United States — can cause widespread property damage in a short period of time. This species is being carefully watched by experts because it’s difficult to control with existing treatment methods.

For more pest news or to locate a qualified pest professional, visit

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.

Your Christmas tree may harbor up to 25,000 ‘freeloading’ insects: scientist

Your Christmas tree may harbor up to 25,000 ‘freeloading’ insects: scientist

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

Er, not quite.

Get a magnifying glass and take a close look at your Christmas tree, says a scientist.

In all likelihood, it is harbouring thousands of bugs.

Bark lice, mites, moths and the odd spider are among the tiny creatures that live on pine trees and find themselves dragged into homes when Christmas comes around, says Bjarte Jordal at Norway’s University Museum of Bergen.

Stimulated by the lights and warmth, they emerge from hibernation in your living room.

“In research on Christmas trees there have been found as many as 25,000 individual (insects)… in some of the trees,” says Jordal.

He adds, though: “As they cannot feed on the limited plants found in most households, the bugs will quickly dry out and die.

“These insects and bugs do not constitute any risk or danger to people or furniture. And if anyone is worried about allergic reactions, I don’t think there’s any danger of that.”

Winter Pest Q & A

Will pest infestations this winter be worse than most winters?

Pests need food, water, and shelter, just like humans. If conditions are good for any of these, a population will thrive. If all three are available, populations will explode. As humans, we provide the shelter, whether it be our homes or places of business.  This is also why pests populations vary from region to region of the country. If there is a wet summer with abundant plant growth, expect to see more rodents, insects, and other pests. Dry summers will lead to winter ant populations seeking food and water.

What types of pests can homeowners expect to see this winter?

This time of year, the house mouse is the most common pest in and around homes as well as spiders, squirrels and other small insects. While spiders for the most part are not aggressive, many homeowners and children find them frightening.  Mice on the other hand can be dangerous as they eat and contaminate our food, chew up woodwork and can create electrical fires by gnawing on wires. Other rodents such as chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, and opossums can get into open areas seeking food.

We are hearing complaints that ladybugs are coming inside in huge numbers. Are these pests something we need to worry about?

Ladybugs are often described as a beneficial pest.  This is because they help to rid your home and its surroundings of other more troublesome insects.  However, many homeowners can get extremely frustrated when these little bugs make their way inside for the winter.

The good news about ladybugs is that once they are inside your home, they don’t reproduce or feed.  They are merely a nuisance.

How do you get rid of ladybugs once they are inside?

Controlling these insects indoors consists of vacuuming or your best scoop-and-toss-outside method. If you use a vacuum, remember to remove the bag when finished. Seal it in a plastic bag and dispose of it with your normal garbage.

If the infestation is bad enough, consider calling in a professional to help you deal with the problem.

What are some other pests that homeowners need to be aware of this winter?

Cluster flies, a name that describes their habit of clustering in large numbers inside attics, also like the warmth of your home from late fall through early spring. These are large, black flies that show up in bedrooms and on windowsills.

They can be difficult to control in homes because they hibernate within inaccessible places, appearing on a sunny winter day, often near windows in the upper portions of the house, particularly in older homes.

What are the prevention steps for a cluster fly?

The best strategy with any pest is to prevent it from ever entering your home. Take some time before it becomes too cold outside to caulk around the outside of your home.  Be sure to seal any crack or crevice that could act like an entry way for pests.

Are there any other steps that homeowners can take to prevent pests this winter?

The National Pest Management Association recommends the following steps to pest proof your home this winter:

  • Frequent vacuuming can help to eliminate tiny pests or even food  that other pests feed on.
  • Make sure vents are screened and gaps around windows and doors are sealed.
  • Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
  • Inspect boxes, grocery bags and other packaging thoroughly to curb hitchhiking insects.
  • Keep pet food and water areas clean and fresh.
  • Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  • Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
  • Store fire wood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off of the ground.
  • Repair fascia and sofits and rotted roof shingles; some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood.
  • Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the basement foundation and windows.
  • A licensed and qualified pest control professional is your best resource to ensure these steps are completed properly.

Ensifera insect group

The hearing system of the Ensifera insect group continues to surprise.

Though mammals and insects have been evolving separately for a long time (and of course, they’re a much older group than us), a study in November found that how both gr

oups hear is not all that different. Mammalian hearing generally has three stages: first, sound waves vibrate the eardrum (or tymphanic membrane). These vibrations reach the three tiniest bones in the human body, known as the hammer, anvil and stirrup (collectively called the ossicles). These bones amplify the eardrum’s vibrations which then travel through the fluid-filled cochlea. Hair-like cells in the cochlea turn these waves into electrical impulses for the brain to interpret.

Remarkably, the South American katydid Copiphora gorgonensis also has a structure like our ossicles to convert and amplify vibrations. Their eardrums (unlike us, they have two per ear and hear using their legs) send vibrations to a plate-like structure. This ossicle-alternative amplifies the vibrations and sends them a simplified cochlea. The discovery was completely unexpected – not only is it a great example of convergent evolution, but it also shows sound analysis can be both incredibly small and yet extremely refined.

The second surprise is more recent, and possibly more staggering. Analysis of the New Zealand weta has revealed that they have a hearing component previously thought to be unique to toothed whales such as dolphins.

It was previously known that one of the components of the Ensifera hearing system sits within a fluid-filled channel. This fluid was previously assumed to be hemolyph (the insect equivalent of blood) but is actually a new kind of lipid – a hearing component only toothed whales were thought to have. Further study revealed the lipid-producing organ, now named the olivaris. Though only the weta was studied, the team believe the same component is present in all Ensifera insects.

It’s certainly a surprising result. “We don’t know why animals who are so far apart in evolutionary terms have this similarity, but it opens up the possibility that others may use the same system component,” said James Windmill (University of Strathclyde and co-author).

Photo credit: C. Williams.

Sources on katydids and mammalian hearing:

Sources on wetas and toothed whales:
The paper

The Assassin bug

Photo: rizalis/Flickr

Meet the world’s most gruesome killer. The assassin bug proudly displays the exoskeleton of its kills (after it sucked out the innards as dinner) on its back! But there’s logic to that macabre madness:

… the assassin bug’s width means it can pile them high, creating a mound of over twenty ‘shells’. The exoskeleton of ants is made of chitin, a particularly sturdy substance which can provide cover for the assassin bug for weeks.

The heap is stuck together by a sticky secretion. As it is usually larger than the bug itself, should another insect decide that the assassin would be good for its next meal it serves as a readymade getaway plan. The attacker goes for the larger part (the hollow exoskeletons) which are then simply shed, allowing the assassin bug to beat a hasty retreat.

Ark in Space has more pics: Link