Rodents may be small, but they pose a number of threats to human health and property.
Aside from being a nuisance, rodents are vectors of a vast array of diseases, such as Salmonella, murine typhus, infectious jaundice, rat-bite fever and the potentially fatal Hantavirus. They can also chew through drywall, insulation, wood and electrical wiring, increasing the potential risk for fires.
Here are a few clues that rodents may be present in a home:
Noises: Rodents often make scurrying sounds, especially at night, as they move about and nest.
Gnaw marks: New gnaw marks tend to be rough to the touch and are light colored.
Burrows: Inside, rodents often nest in various materials such as insulation, and they are drawn to areas that are dark and secluded.
Damaged food packages: House mice prefer to feed on cereals and seeds, while Norway rats prefer meat, fish and dry dog food.
Droppings: A trail of rodent droppings is typically found in kitchen cabinets and pantries, along walls, on top of wall studs or beams, and in boxes, bags and old furniture.
It’s no surprise that bugs eat plants and there’s even a plant that eats flying insects called the Venus flytrap. But are there other carnivorous plants lying in the wake for an unsuspecting victim?
Pitcher plants are among those that can digest insects. One species of the pitcher even has fangs and uses insects to digest insects. Mind blown yet?
These plants are shaped like pitchers with the rims slippery so insects can fall into the fluid inside where they drown and are digested. But the fanged specimen is different because there is no slippery edge and recruits ants as permanent tenants.
Obviously a plant-ant alliance is in the works but what are the benefits for the plant exactly? Vincent Bazile from Universite Montpellier II has found that the fanged pitches produced leaves three times bigger than those without plants and colonies were bigger with the leaves. With the ants there, the plant gets enough nutrients for a healthy growth thereby providing more nectar for the ants as both grow bigger.
Bazile also found that the ants contribution to their beneficial relationship lie with feeding the plant their feces, transferring the nitrogen from their harvest, thereby giving the plant the nitrogen it needs. Thus, having the ant digest its food before it digests the feces. Indeed, almost fifty percent of the nitrogen the plants gets comes from the poop of ants.
There is evidence to support this as other plants species use others as a second stomach, such as the flycatcher bush in South Africa, or the Heliamphora. The latter uses bacteria and the former uses tiny insects.
Because of this unique way of digesting, scientists argue that these plants are true carnivorous plants because of the reliance on others for food and lack of self-sufficiency. But on the other hand these species tend to be more long lived than their cousins who don’t get enough nutrients and waste most of it producing the lures of the traps.
What do you all think? There is no doubting the successfulness of this endeavor but how do you categorize the plant because of its adaptation in nature?
According to the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency two south Florida ports of entry have intercepted two “destructive pests” from the Caribbean. The pests were found in commercial produce shipments.
“Our nation’s food supply is constantly at risk from pests not known to occur in the U.S. These two significant pest interceptions by our CBPAS in Port Everglades and Miami International Airport exemplify CBP’s continued commitment to safeguarding American agriculture,” said Director, Field Operations Vernon Foret, Miami Field Office. While CBP specialists were conducting an intensive examination of a mixed commodity shipment from the Dominican Republic they discovered a larva of Helicoverpa armigera and Old World Bollworm.
By almost any standard or measure of pest severity, the Old World bollworm is high ranking. According to Nala Rogers in her article Incognito Caterpillar Threatens U.S. Borders,
annual losses from the pest are estimated at $5 billion. The caterpillars eat more than 180 kinds of plants including cotton, corn, soybeans, citrus fruits and ornamental flowers. A single female can lay thousands of eggs, and adult bollworm moths can ride wind currents up to 2,000 kilometers—about the distance from Mexico City to Albuquerque, N.M.
The invasive pest looks identical to a common North American species called the corn earworm Helicoverpa zea. This has made the task of finding and stopping the newcomers appear nearly impossible. USDA officials are trying to stop the bollworms, but first they must find them.
Entomologists can distinguish adult moths by their genitals, but only after dissections. Caterpillars have no genitals and can only be identified by their DNA, which takes about a week with traditional methods. “The problem is that you can’t take a week to get an answer if you are holding up a perishable shipment of fresh produce, like oranges or tomatoes,” says Todd Gilligan, research scientist at the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management at Colorado State University.
Over the years there has been much attention given to the idea of personality. Among human beings, having a unique and attractive personality is important and the key, in most professions to be being successful. And while the idea that human beings all have their own personality that is different from all other humans may not be 100% true, we all have our own individual characteristics that make us who we are.
Researchers studying the behavior of insects have recently discovered that cockroaches have individual character traits. This discovery might help explain why the cockroach have had a greet deal of evolutionary success.
Isaac Planas Sitjà, one of the researchers from the Université libre de Bruxelles who studied the personalities, said that the observed personalities have been categorized as “shy or cautious and bold or explorers.” According to Sitja, “shy roaches are those that spend more time sheltered and do not explore their surroundings as much, while bold individuals spend more time exploring and less time sheltered.” The findings were published in the Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.
Different personalities assist in the survival the species because they increase the chances of that some in the group will survive. The personalities of individuals can also affect the behavior of groups of cockroaches. Cockroaches used in the study were measured for the speed with which they found shelter and the time they spent exploring and seeking out new supplies of food. In their natural environment, the differences in personality could lead the more adventurous cockroaches to find new supplies of food but could also increase the chances of them being preyed upon.
During the experiment, researchers attached radio tags to American cockroaches in order to monitor their movements. The roaches were kept in darkness during the experiments and were released in groups in areas surrounded by electrified wires to prevent escape.
Crazy ants. Named one of the most invasive species of bugs, their sudden explosion in population has brought a large amount of attention to southern states such as Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida. Named for their psychotic behavior, crazy ants often try to get into any space that they’re able to fit. Although the ants do not have a harmful bite to humans, they still cause many problems for homeowners or farmers who often find their homes, appliances or even their bodies to be covered in the small insects. Ants even crowd around animals such as cows or chickens, leading to asphyxiation. This large amount of small bugs is quickly becoming a problem. And so far, there hasn’t been a method found which stops them.
Originally found in Texas in 2002, crazy ants are descendants of Nylanderia pubens, a species of ant which has been in Florida since the 1950s. However, those ants are much more relaxed and less invasive – many scientists at first doubted that such insane ants could be relatives of this calm species. But as the number of ants quickly multiplied, people knew something must be done. In 1999, the National Invasive Species Council was founded in order to combat the effects that intrusive species. This included 13 federal agencies and departments. Groups such as the Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service all combined in order to work together against these up and coming menaces. As the amount of crazy ants rapidly grew, the attention to the NISC did as well. They summoned a committee of different educational entomologists and state representatives to pool their information. Most concluded that to begin to combat these invaders, a great amount of funding would be needed. But this meeting took place in 2008, when the American economy began to fall. Money would be short on hand, especially for such a minor issue as this. Even now, the government spends over $120 billion a year on intrusive species that take over different environments. The imported red fire ant costs over $1 billion a year – to Texas alone. Crazy ants, which are spreading much faster than fire ants, could quickly become an expensive problem.
What can homeowners do to prevent infestations?
Seal points of entry around the house including small openings and cracks around doors and windows.
Clean up food spills, keep honeydew in closed containers in the fridge and remove other potential attractants as soon as possible.
Remove potential nest sites/debris from around the exterior of the home
If you suspect an infestation, call a professional to evaluate the best course of treatment.
There are a half dozen different species of fire ants in the Southern United States, some of which are native and others imported. Although all can sting and hurt humans, the red imported fire ant is the most threatening.
Fire ants are known for the large mounds of dirt they create above their underground colonies. These mounds can even be found in garages or in crawlspaces. If these mounds are disturbed, fire ants will race to the top and surround and sting whatever is disturbing their nest. To avoid fire ants – avoid these mounds.
Fire ants are sensitive for vibration or movement. They race up a person’s leg and when one ant stings, that person jerks or moves. This movement triggers the other ants to sting in response. Fire ant venom causes small blisters to form within a day of being stung. These little pustules usually cover the skin of the person who was stung and can easily become infected.
If a fire ant stings you, take the following steps:
It is recommended that the blisters not be broken.
Did you know? Daddy Longlegs Aren’t Actually Spiders
A common mistake that most people tend to make is automatically assuming a daddy longlegs is a spider because it has a bunch of legs, a small body, and is super disturbing. But, they’re actually not real spiders. A daddy longlegs, also known as a harvestman, is actually a type of arachnid that belongs to the Opiliones family, which are different from true spiders. Harvestmen can’t actually produce venom, or even have fangs. They’re not even harmful to humans! Even so, we often don’t like seeing them because most people assume spiders are bad.
A big difference between spiders and daddy longlegs is that a body of a spider is usually in two segments, whereas in the harvestmen it’s fused into one. The body of a daddy longlegs is actually pretty small. On average, the body is only about five-sixteenths of an inch, whereas the legs can span up to six inches. To put it in perspective, if the same ratio was applied to humans, we’d all be walking around with legs that would reach up to 50 feet. That’s absolutely crazy. The legs are also able to detach easily from the body, so if they are being chased by a predator, they can leave behind a leg, which twitches and lets daddy longlegs escape. The leg can twitch anywhere from a minute to a whole hour!
But, you must keep in mind that just because they aren’t dangerous doesn’t mean they should still be there. It’s still important for people to get an inspection in order to get rid of unwanted pests, because they can still cause problems.
Below are examples of what passes for romance in the world of bed bugs, termites, kissing bugs and fire ants:
Bed Bugs: These pests are infamous for their ability to reproduce rapidly, creating major infestations in short periods of time. However, it is not their ability to quickly multiply that puts them on our list for strange mating rituals; instead it’s how they reproduce that makes people cringe. Bed bugs practice a mating behavior known as “traumatic insemination” where the male pierces the abdomen of the female to directly inseminate her body cavity. Male bed bugs often attempt to mate with other males, killing them in the process.
Termites: Female termites release “mating pheromones” that act as a perfume to entice male termites. Once the males locate the female termites, they will break off their wings, symbolizing that they are a couple.
Kissing Bugs: Despite their name, there’s nothing romantic about these bugs! Kissing bugs have a tendency to bite the faces and lips of humans while they sleep, not only causing welts and allergic reactions, but they are also capable of spreading the potentially fatal Chagas disease. They frequently defecate on or near the bite wound, allowing the parasite that spreads Chagas to enter the person’s blood stream. This blood meal is necessary for male kissing bugs to mate and for female kissing bugs to lay eggs.
Fire Ants: In fire ant colonies, the queen ant is in charge of laying eggs and can even control how many male and female eggs she lays. The queen can live for up to seven years and produce more than 1,000 eggs each day. Male ants, called drones, are not so fortunate. Their only role in the colony is to mate with the queen and then die soon after doing so.
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