All posts by Hulett Environmental

Is It A Wasp, Hornet, Yellow Jacket, Or A Bee? How To Tell

Is It A Wasp, Hornet, Yellow jacket, Or A Bee? How To Tell

Knowing the ‘enemy’ is a fundamental law of survival. In simpler terms, knowing who or what to avoid is key to keep from suffering unnecessary pain or worse — death. On a lighter note, telling one creature from the other is a way to identify if it is dangerous, if it is a predator or prey, if it can or cannot be domesticated, or if a peaceful level of coexistence can be established.

Which brings us to our topic, which is a basic lesson of identification: is it a wasp, a hornet, a yellow-jacket, or a bee? Here’s how to tell.

  1. All wasps and bees have three-part bodies, but wasps have thinner, pinched waists while bees have thicker waists.
  2. Most bees are hairy; most wasps are smooth and hairless.
  3. Wasps have fairly longer legs than bees. Bees have expanded hind legs for carrying pollen
  4. Bees collect pollen; wasps are carnivorous. Wasps attack, sting, and collect their insect prey to feed their larval offspring. There is only one known carnivorous bee specie — the Trigona hypogea, found in South America.
  5. Bees are usually not aggressive unless handled roughly. They usually only sting when defending their hive. Hornets do not sting when left alone but can be aggressive when defending their nests. Yellowjackets can sting even when out hunting or unprovoked.
  6. Honeybees can only sting once. A honeybee dies after stinging. Solitary bees, bumblebees, wasps, hornets and yellowjackets can sting multiple times.
  7. Most bees are brownish-yellow and black. Yellow jackets generally have body segments in alternating bright yellow and black stripes while hornets are black and white in color. Wasps can range in color from black to metallic greens and blues.
  8. Most wasps, including hornets and yellowjackets, fold their wings laterally, along the length of their body when at rest, giving their wings a thin, long appearance. Bees’ wings remain flat and open on their backs even when at rest. Yellowjacket wings are as long as their bodies.
  9. Yellowjackets are known scavengers. They are attracted to meat, fish, and sugary substances, so they can draw near open picnics and areas where there is trash.
  10. Hornets measure 1 to 1 ½ inches long. Yellowjackets are smaller, and measure 10 to 16 millimeters in length. Bees can measure from 3.9 centimeters up to 2 millimeters long. Wasps can range in size from microscopic up to several centimeters long.

Some of these insects can be harmless when left alone to pollinate, or hunt their prey, while some can be pesky and even dangerous  if you’re trying to clean up your trash or have an al fresco picnic, as they may also choose to partake of your meal and may sting if you swat at them. Telling these insects apart is vital, especially during more outdoorsy spring and summer seasons. Identification leads to understanding, and understanding leads to the highest possibility of a relatively safe coexisting relationship.

Hybrid Termites Flourish Under Unusual Palm Beach County Heat

Hybrid Termites Flourish Under Unusual Palm Beach County Heat

The arrival of spring and summer seasons have always heralded the arrival of tourists and local vacationists. But recently, Florida has also been teeming with something — or in this case, some things, a little more than unwelcome: termites. And if the presence of exotic tourists lounging under the Palm Beach County heat are not unheard of in this time of year, the presence of exotic termites have now also been discovered to swarm aplenty, thriving almost maniacally under the same unusual warmth of the season.

University of Florida entomologists announced the discovery of a new “super termite hybrid”, believed to be a product of climate-directed mating seasons that, due to the unusually hotter and extended summer, now overlap. All through March to May, South Florida reached its warmest recorded season, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. In West Palm Beach, temperatures were also higher than the historic norm by 4.1 degrees, which resulted in a field day for heat and humidity-loving termites.

“There is no exactly correct answer as to why it’s such an active swarm season this year, but it is,” said Greg Rice, marketing director for West Palm Beach-based Hulett Environmental Services.

They may not be sure about what’s causing the recent termite swarms, but those intense infestations are certainly the culprit for why Hullet’s termite business went up 27% in May compared to the same period in 2014; Guarantee Floridian’s termite treatments doubled over 2014 according to sales manager Carlos Pedroso; and business went up 40% last year and geared for another increase this season for West Palm Beach-based Beach Environmental owner, David Sprague.

It just goes to show that where there’s a field day for pests, there’s also a peak in the pest extermination business, as they get down to the nitty and gritty with not only their old nemesis, the original dry-wood termite — but now have the added pleasure of meeting the newcomer hybrids.

How to Choose the Best Termite Warranty for Your Home

termites wreak havoc

Did you know that termites cause billions of dollars in damage each year and that the damage is not covered by homeowners’ insurance? All pest control companies are not the same and the same is true for their warranties. There are a variety of companies that offer a wide range of options that differ in what they cover and what they don’t. Choosing the right termite warranty can be tough, but protecting your largest investment shouldn’t have to be.

Questions to ask when reviewing your warranty options

What is the deductible?

no-deductibleThe Hulett warranty provides you with a zero dollar deductible! This is not true for all pest control companies. Make sure you know what your deductible will be when comparing the cost of treatment options presented by other companies.

Is there a limit to the life of the agreement?

renewableWhile some companies put a limit on the life of their warranty, Hulett’s renewable agreement is extendable for the life of the structure as long as annual coverage is maintained. It can be transferred at no additional charge to the new homeowner if you choose to sell your home! Other companies limit coverage making a full retreat necessary.

Will the cost increase after a certain period of time?

rising-costBe sure to ask when you might expect a rate increase on your warranty. Some companies in their agreements can change the cost of the renewal at any time without notice. But Hulett guarantees your renewal price with no increase for 4 years! Understanding the “real cost” of treatment will ensure you are comparing apples to apples when choosing a professional termite control company.

Are annual inspections included?

annual-inspectionsNot all companies provide a free annual inspection with their termite warranty. The Hulett warranty provides you with annual exterior inspection as well as offers a perimeter spray at no additional charge at the time of your annual inspection! Annual inspections are critical to ensuring your home remains protected helping to prevent long-term structural damage to your home by identifying early warning signs.

What happens when I sell my home?

sell-houseIf your home is sold, your Hulett warranty can be transferred to the new homeowner at no additional charge. Most companies will not allow for transfer of ownership and this can be detrimental to the marketability of your home.

Will anything void my warranty?

protectedRead your agreement carefully. Some companies will void your warranty for structural issues like foundation cracks and masonry failure and other things like soil disruption. Other companies do not cover common things like soil disruption caused by new landscaping as enough to invalidate your warranty. But not with Hulett. You can rest assured that Hulett has you covered. Structural issues and/or soil disruption like these will not invalidate Hulett’s warranty! With Hulett’s professionalism and experience we take pride in taking care of our customers.

What treatment method would Hulett recommend to protect my home from termites?

termiteDifferent types of termites require different types of treatments. Drywood termites require treatments such as Hulett’s structural (tent) fumigation or Hulett’s unique “No Tent” Termite Control. Both services are effective and customized by Hulett to meet your needs. Subterranean termites are treated with Hulett’s Liquid Defense treatment or a Termite Baiting System. No matter the type, Hulett provides all of the most effective and environmentally responsible treatments! Hulett can help you decide which one works best for you during your FREE inspection.

Annual termite inspection

It is estimated that termites annually cause more damage to South Florida homes than all fires and hurricanes combined. That is why it is so important to inspect your home regularly. Termites can be “silent invaders” and can gain access into your home without you ever knowing it. As part of Hulett’s inspection, a HealthyHomeTM certified inspector will perform a complete inspection of your home to ensure no new threats have developed. For over 45 years Hulett has treated thousands of homes and buildings throughout South Florida for termites!

Award-winning service

Hulett has been awarded the Dow AgroSciences “Commitment to Excellence” Program in fumigation every year since the awards inception in 2000. Admission into the program requires extensive and continuous training with special emphasis on all mandatory safety practices including proper aeration and the use of secondary locks. To ensure that all members maintain the high standards established by the program, a series of written examinations must be passed without exception. Hulett is proud to provide you with only the best in fumigation services.

Your satisfaction is our top priority. We pledge to swiftly and effectively resolve any concerns you may have at no additional charge. Our steadfast commitment to customer satisfaction has been our guiding principle for three generations. Do you live in South Florida and think termites may be invading your home or office? Call Hulett today at (866) 611-BUGS (2847) to schedule your FREE Termite Inspection with no obligation!

*See full agreement for details

Drug Bugs May Be Flying at an Airport Near You

Drug Bugs May Be Flying at an Airport Near You

Dog training certainly seems accessible for any interested owner, and lab mice and rats are well heeled with the assistance of their scientist overlords, but trained bugs?

Turns out bees are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.  Maybe it’s the prejudice of their small size, or alien insect natures, but humans have figured out how to communicate with bees. And in the process, these friendly little yellow and black critters may be the next big thing in security.

Airport security, that is.  Bees work cheap, and don’t take up a lot of space.  Not only that, they bring their own uniforms.

But how do we know when they’ve found drugs, or bombs?  At this stage, they have only proven their ability to locate cocaine and heroin, and it’s the antennal response.

Cockroaches and moths did a pretty decent job, too, but the honeybees had the most sensitive antenna.

As bizarre as trained bugs may seem, they have some definite advantages over highly trained dogs.

First, dogs have difficulty re-learning to identify new drugs – and bees show no such problem. Dogs also can adopt human prejudices, because they are so well tuned to our behavioral cues.  Bees don’t pick up on our opinions.

 

So far, bees have only been tested at sniffing drugs, but the future for bug-training is wide-open.

Soybean Fields Fertile Ground for Bug Control

Soybean Fields Fertile Ground for Bug Control

A widely used food staple, soybeans provide a nutritious food source to more than just humans.  A huge variety of bugs go after the plant, and as conditions change due to weather and bug resistance, researchers have to go farther afield to protect them.

At Louisiana State University, the Agricultural program has its hands full monitoring soybean crops for how effective current pest management approaches are.  Teams of agricultural researchers are studying how well various integrated pest management approaches work.  By comparing past pest control methods with new ones, they hope to find the best way to keep the bugs away.

Part of pest control is insecticides, and another part of an integrated program is using other bugs to prey on plant-eating insects. In addition, every season brings a slightly different type of bug into contact with soybeans.  Last year, red and black banded stinkbugs proliferated, while this year it’s the green and brown kinds.

Insects also develop resistance to insecticides, but the level of resistance can change.  Researchers work closely with farmers to determine how much pesticide needs to be used to optimize growth and minimize economic harm.

Male Flies Do More Harm Than Good in Seeking ‘Hot’ Mates

Male Flies Do More Harm Than Good in Seeking ‘Hot’ Mates

We all know the “It” girl – the one woman every man wants, no matter how much money or status he has to gain to get her.  “It” girls often develop a repertoire of skills to dissuade and even repel their many suitors.  Apparently, female fruit flies need to get some of these skills, too.

In the case of some fly species, the male harassment of the hot female flies is not an evolutionary advantage.  The superior genes in the females are what causes male attention, but this behavior ultimately puts Drosophilia serrata at evolutionary disadvantage.

Experimenters observed the flies over 13 generations, allowing groups to adapt to a new environment.  They found through careful study, and by manipulating the potential number of mates for females, that too much attractiveness backfired.

When the experiment was finished, researchers sequenced the genomes of all flies and compared those harassed to the non-harassed.  When the male attention was allowed to occur at high rates and without intervention, the offspring were increasingly less adaptive over generations.

Associate professor Steve Chenoweth at the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences noted that the results clearly showed a lack of adaptive ability in species where harassment of attractive females was common.

The Stuff That Rat Dreams Are Made Of

 

The Stuff That Rat Dreams Are Made Of

Researchers know that rats dream, and even what they dream about.  But do the rats themselves experience their dreams?  One researcher says, “you’d have to ask them.”

The new research on rats involved electrodes strapped to the heads of rats as they wandered around trying to find food.  The experiments set up a chamber filled with foods that the rats could see, but not get to.

After monitoring waking activity in the search for a meal, the observers then attached electrodes during rat sleep.  When they awoke, and were allowed to get at the food.

The data from all three phases (searching, sleeping, and finding) showed that two activities – dreaming and going toward the available food – were the most alike.

Lead researcher Hugo Spiers, a professor of experimental psychology at University College London, explained the conclusions. “During exploration, mammals rapidly form a map of the environment in their hippocampus,” “During sleep or rest, the hippocampus replays journeys through this map which may help strengthen the memory.”

The replay of images is considered to be the stuff of dreams, but there is no way to confirm whether the rats remember this information.  It’s the brains way of helping mammals solve pressing problems.

 

Space Mice Launched Where No Man Has Gone Before

Space Mice Launched Where No Man Has Gone Before

Conditions in space look quiet and peaceful, but the lack of gravity takes a toll on human bodies.  With ambitious plans to man a mission to Mars, the effects of time in deep space need to be further explored before human explorers leave the earth.

Enter space mice, creatures on a mission.  They’ve been (involuntarily) working to help humans understand how long-term exposure to space conditions, with a seminal experiment of 91 days aboard the International Space Station.

Six astromice were housed there and the results of their mission produced fascinating data about the threats to human for prolonged space travel.  These included anemia, skin thinning, osteoporosis, and muscle wasting.  Immune and heart function were also studied.

Dermal atrophy is a concern based on some data from humans.  The main result from the mice trials showed significant reproductive organ decline, with mice losing almost all sperm due to degeneration of testicles.

Microgravity conditions have similar effects on mice and humans, and more tests are underway.

SpaceX, a private company launched by Elon Musk, has sent 20 mice into space to live for a month, while being monitored for physical responses to microgravity.  They will be housed in a state-of-the-art NASA habitat.

Robot Design Copies Sleek Roach Shell

Robot Design Copies Sleek Roach Shell

In robot science, even tiny inventions can change the shape of things.  A simple seek-and-find type of robot has been fitted with one small but powerful addition to overcome obstacles in its path.

Clutter is the enemy of robots, because each new and different obstacle must be overcome with a different feature.  Sensors are often used in complex ways on robot bodies to keep the artificially intelligent creature moving toward its goal, without being derailed by something as simple as a steep hill or drop of water.

Most robots are designed to avoid obstacles by sensing their proximity and moving around them.  But a team at Berkeley, led by postdoctoral researcher Chen Li, has developed a robot that can scamper between obstacles.

The breakthrough in design came after observing a common roach, species Blaberus discoidalis, make its way through an obstacle course resembling tightly crowded sticks of grass.  Researchers then ran their rectangular-bodied robot through the same course, and noted how it got hung up on the pillars, or became stuck, or even collided with the pseudo-grass.

A new robot with streamlined “roach” shell was built, and made its way much like the real thing through the course, traversing and rolling through the fake grass pillars rather than bumping into them.