All posts by Hulett Environmental

Learning the Language of Pests

Insects rely heavily on chemical signals probably more than on any other form of communication. These signals, called semiochemicals or infochemicals, serve as a “language” that mediates interactions between organisms. Insects may be highly sensitive to low concentrations of these chemicals.

At the University of California, Riverside, entomologists and chemists have developed a technique for replicating complex chemical mixtures of the chemical signals insects use to communicate. This development could result in new “green” methods for controlling pest like ants by disrupting the organization of their colonies.

Most insects use chemical signals for communicating with species and sex. Social insects such as ants living in colonies also differentiate castes (workers, queens, and drones) based on chemical cues. Insects employ their sense of taste or smell in order to detect the presence of semiochemicals. Specialized receptors may be located anywhere on the body, but are commonly found on the feet, antennae, palps, and ovipositor. “Insects that live in large colonies, such as ants and bees, these chemicals have additional functions,” said co-author Jocelyn G. Millar. “The queen in these colonies, for example, uses the chemicals to prevent her workers from laying eggs of their own and ensuring that she remains the only reproducing female in the colony.”

The researchers devised a technique that allowed them to isolate 36 pure hydrocarbon molecules from the complex chemical blends of 20 randomly-chosen insect species. After the compounds could be conclusively identified, the effects of the individual chemicals could be tested. Their technique is described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

If these chemicals could be isolated, they could utilized to enhance pest control efforts and may one day replace insecticides. However, isolating these chemicals and determining their absolute configurations and functions has been challenging because the chemicals occur in complex mixtures which are hard to separate.

http://entomologytoday.org/2015/01/14/chemicals-used-by-insects-for-communication-may-be-used-to-control-them/

Ebola Origin Might Have Been from Insect-Eating Bat

Ebola Origin Might Have Been from Insect-Eating Bat

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When a disease such as Ebola begins to spread all over our world, scientists are focused on two main things. The first is how to cure it. The second is to find where the outbreak exactly occurred, in order to help them acquire a little more information about it. Until recently, there hasn’t been any hints towards where exactly Ebola originated from, other than the large area of South Africa. However, studies are now showing that the disease actually may have originated from an insect-eating bat. What’s interesting about this is that the bat doesn’t target humans – so why did we suddenly become infected?

Researchers from Robert Koch Institute in Berlin went to the field in order to find the whereabouts of the origination point. They started by going to the hometown of the first victim, a two-year-old boy named Emile Ouamouno. What they discovered is that the young boy often played near a tree infested with the fruit bats. Earlier in the year, the locals had burnt the tree down, as they often eat the bats as a source of protein. It’s expected that this is how the young child was first infected.

Humans must keep in mind that even if it may seem that we coexist peacefully with other animals, we must always be ready to combat any unforeseen circumstances. Luckily, thanks to our Pest Control companies today, we are able to keep our dangers in check, and are always ready to protect our species in case the need arises.

Article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/12/141230-ebola-virus-origin-insect-bats-meliandou-reservoir-host/

The Ocean? Scorpions?

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To most of non-biologists, the word scorpion is synonymous with desert. Indeed popular culture almost always portrays scorpions as desert dwelling micro predators with a nasty sting. However, in reality, the origins of scorpions have been a bit unclear. The oldest of these arachnids (spiders, ticks, and mites) are known from fossils found in Scottish rocks dated somewhere between 433 to 438 million years ago. Recently, well-preserved fossils from southwestern Ontario may prove that the animals originated in the seas and climbed to shore long before scientists previously thought.

According to Proceedings of the Royal Society B, these eleven fossil specimens were buried in sediments on the shores of ancient lagoons around 430 million years ago. Researchers suggest that since all of the fossils are molted exoskeletons, the remains were too fragile to be washed to their final resting place. Therefore, the remains were probably shed at the water’s edge.

In addition, anatomical characteristics of the fossils back up the theory that early scorpions climbed out of the sea. Apparently they animals didn’t possess structures that would enable them to feed on land. However, the last segment of the legs is very short. This allows the creature to plant its “foot” flat like modern-day scorpions. So instead of walking on tiptoe like other water-dwelling scorpions of the era were presumed to do.

Today, there are nearly 2,000 scorpion species. Thirty to forty of these species contain strong enough poison or venom to kill a human being. Scorpions are considered by most to be desert dwellers, but they are also found in Brazilian forests, British Columbia, North Carolina and even the Himalayas. They are resilient and can adapt to changing conditions. Researchers have frozen scorpions overnight, but when put back into the sun the next day they simply thaw out and walk away. Scorpions have existed for hundreds of millions of years. Like crocodiles and sharks, they reside among the quintessential survivors. .

 

 

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/scorpion/

http://news.sciencemag.org/evolution/2015/01/first-scorpions-may-have-crawled-seas

Sociogenomics

Sociogenomics

Eusocial insects, the highest level of animal sociality, are among the most successful creatures on Earth. Ants, bees, wasps, termites and aphids are eusocial insects whose everyday lives have inspire and informed human ingenuity for centuries. Scientists are investigating the molecules that motivate eusocial behavior in exciting and innovative ways. This blossoming area of research, called “sociogenomics” by Gene E. Robinson in 2005 is having a tremendous impact on our understanding of the evolution of eusociality.

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Eusocial insects have three common main characteristics:

  1. A single mother, with the help of others, performs cooperative care of young.
  2. A reproductive division of labor evolves from sterile castes and display characteristics associated with helpful behavior.
  3. Overlapping generations that allow older generations to help younger generations.

Sociogenomics is new, but the field is expanding rapidly.  According to Claire Asher at the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, University College London, “This new research provides insights into how genomes interact with the physical and social environment to produce highly adapted, specialized castes with extraordinary phenotypic innovations. These findings have highlighted the importance of gene regulation and epigenetics in controlling behavioral plasticity across the animal kingdom.”

With reach methods improving at what Asher calls “breakneck speed,” the tools needed to uncover the molecular secrets behind the complex lives of eusocial insects have been realized. The ability to study any species in their natural habitat is crucial for “studying simple societies, such as those of stenogastrine hover wasps and allodapine bees, where worker behavior depends so much on the ecological constraints of the environment.”

Sociogenomics establishes an essential common ground for ecologists, evolutionary genomicists and developmental biologists to study macroevolutionary patterns and behaviors in the fine-scale detail of gene regulation. When disparate disciplines of biology are united, new ideas, new hypotheses, and a deeper understanding of the natural world invariably emerge.

http://es.rice.edu/projects/Bios321/eusocial.insect.html

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/41704/title/The-Genetics-of-Society/

Hulett Environmental Services offers advice on pest-proofing to keep spiders out

Hulett Environmental Services warns that homeowners might begin to notice more spiders in and around their home.

Much like humans, spiders seek shelter from cooler weather in warm environments. Unfortunately, our homes provide the perfect harborage site for these creepy crawlers to ride out the colder months, which can lead to a larger infestation.

Spiders prefer to spin their webs in dark, undisturbed areas around the house, so homeowners should pay special attention to basements, garages and attics. We recommend keeping these areas particularly clean and free of clutter. Experts also suggest the following tips to avoid contact with spiders:

  • Install screens and weather stripping on windows and door sweeps on doors.
  • Fix any cracks in siding and walls, especially where pipes or wires enter the home.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.
  • Wear heavy gloves when moving items that have been stored for a long period of time.
  • Inspect items such as boxes of decorations and grocery bags before bringing them indoors.
  • Store clothing inside plastic containers and check shoes before putting them on, as spiders often hide in these items.
  • If you suspect that a spider has bitten you, contact your primary care physician for medical advice.
  • If you have a spider infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional.

Spiders are a beneficial part of the ecosystem, as they provide a natural form of pest control by catching insects in their webs, but that doesn’t mean they have an open invitation to wander inside our homes.

CTA to put Rats on Birth Control

CTA to put Rats on Birth Control

Chicago Transit Authority, also known as CTA, is resorting to different methods to stop the reproduction of rats, which are quickly overtaking the city. However, what they have in mind isn’t a simple trap such as using cheese as bait. What they have in mind is a way to stop the problem at its roots, using a new type of technology – birth control.

Chicago was named the “Rattiest City” in America by Pest Control company Orkin based on the number of rodent treatments that CTA has performed in the last year. CTA alone has spent over $500,000 on pest control annually. Even though CTA insists that pest control is not an issue, they have still been trying to combat it. Brown Norway Rats, the most common species of rodent in Chicago, are the ones causing most problems. They can carry infected fleas or ticks on their bodies which can harm pets, and sometimes they may even bite humans.

This new technology, named ContraPest, is a semi-liquid type of bait manufactured by the Arizona company SenesTech, and will sterilize the rats after they have eaten it. Female rats lose their eggs, and male rats develop problems with their testicles.  While ContraPest will not actually kill or harm the rats, it does cause full sterility after roughly eight to twelve weeks. After a three-month study was done on the product, it showed a 43% decline in population, which shows the treatment to be effective.

Article: http://www.redeyechicago.com/news/cta/redeye-cta-to-put-rats-on-birth-control-20141222%2c0%2c451858.story

An Insect-Eating Plant Sealed In Amber

The first thing that comes to mind for most people when thinking of a carnivorous plant is a Venus flytrap. However, Venus flytraps are not the only type of Carnivorous plants that have lived on Earth. But until recently, not much was known about carnivorous plants which lived in the past. Human scientists only just discovered a pair of amber-encased leaves which revealed some of the secrets of how exactly carnivorous plants from the past really worked.

Originally alive thirty-five to forty-seven million years ago, this special type of plant lived in the area that we now call Russia. Scientists first classified this plant as a type of “Roridula plant”, as the fossilized leaves looked very similar to carnivorous Roridula plants that are still alive today. In order to survive, the plant focused on surviving by feeding on small insects. In order to lure the insects on the leaves, this carnivorous plant secreted a sticky fluid through tentacles placed throughout its leaves. Any small insect that touched the sticky fluid would immediately be stuck in place. What’s interesting here is that this plant didn’t simply eat the stuck insects. Roridula plants actually don’t make their own digestive enzymes, unlike other carnivorous plants such as pitcher plants or Venus flytraps. Instead, the Roridula plant would wait for a special type of insect, called “Roridula bugs” to eat the caught prey. The special species of insects are able to produce a slimy substance that lets them live on Roridula plants without getting trapped. After the unique insect would feast upon the stuck victim, the carnivorous Roridula plant would then feed off of nutrients excreted in the Roridula bugs feces.

In Germany, a group of several botanists and geologists from many different research institutes are still studying the amber-encased leaves. They believe that it was originally fossilized because a pair of the Roridula leaves must have gotten caught in tree sap which both killed the leaves as well as preserved them. They have reported that other organic material is still attached to the leaves, helping them even further their amount of research. Paleontologists have found different types of other carnivorous plant seeds, but there hasn’t been any actual evidence of how carnivorous plants actually trap their prey. It’s almost fascinating seeing the different forms of evolution and how simple plants have adapted over such long years. It makes you wonder how much plants will continue to mutate in the future, and how it will affect our environment.

Read more:

Article: http://www.popsci.com/here-science-first-fossil-carnivorous-plant-trap

 

Bed Bugs… Repellent? Yahoo!

Although many of us are familiar with the popular rhyme, the bed bug is a pest that not a lot of people know very much about. According to the CDC, this may be because bed bugs have been customarily viewed as a pest problem in developing countries.  However, bed bug infestations have been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.”  The CDC also claims that they have been “found in five-star hotels and resorts.” In addition, where you find a bed bug has nothing to do with “the cleanliness of the living conditions.” These blood sucking pests are usually transported by travelers moving from place to place.

First, read the popular nursery rhyme.  Cute? Right?

Good night, sleep tight,
Don’t let the bedbugs bite,
Wake up bright
In the morning light
To do what’s right
With all your might.

And while bed bugs are not a medical risk and are not known to carry disease, their bites, while usually harmless, can cause serious allergic reaction. The idea of something sucking on your blood is just creepy. Fortunately, for bed bug victims, a biologist in Vancouver British Columbia has figured out a way to attract and repel bed bugs.

Regina Gries, a biologist at Simon Frasier University, has recently discovered that bedbugs communicate by odor. Through “painstaking” research, she was able to identify that histamine effectively repels bed bugs. In the process of allowing herself to be bitten 180,000 times, she also discovered five odors that attract bedbugs. These odors can be used to draw them into traps.

As a result of this ground breaking research, a British Columbia company called Contech Enterprises is currently developing what could be the first affordable bait and trap system for detecting and monitoring bed bug infestations. Yahoo!

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html

http://ktla.com/2015/01/10/biologist-researching-how-to-kill-bedbugs-allows-them-to-bite-her-180000-times/

http://www.scrapbook.com/poems/doc/2712.html

 

No Tent Blues | Hulett Environmental Services

Termite Blues~ This commercial is part of the Hulett 2013 T.V advertisement campaign starring Greg Rice. Please be sure to tell us what you think in the comments box below!
Hulett’s trained inspectors evaluate each structure’s layout, then locate all potential sources of termite nesting, and identify penetration points in and around your home. Once your Free Termite Inspection is completed, an appropriate treatment will be recommended from any of the following:

• Liquid Defense Termite Treatment (Subterranean Termites)
• Termite Baiting System (Subterranean Termites)
• No-Tent Termite Control (Drywood Termites)
• Tent Fumigation (Drywood Termites)
• Preventative Termite Control (Options for both Subterranean and Drywood Termites)

Get your Free Professional Termite Inspection and no obligation price quote — Just Call Hulett today!

Hulett guarantees if the termites come back after one of their treatments, the problem will be re-treated at NO ADDITIONAL COST to you for as long as your agreement is renewed!

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West Palm Beach, FL 33411
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