All posts by Hulett Environmental

Aphids Found in Christmas Trees

Aphids Found in Christmas Trees

According to the Home Depot in West Palm Beach, Florida there have been three different reports of aphids being found in Christmas trees.

Toy Whitaker, bought a tree from Home Depot about a week and a half ago and this past Tuesday said his family found countless bugs falling off their tree and onto the living room floor. Toy said they looked like ticks, however David Sprague of Beach Environmental pointed out that they aren’t ticks and instead are aphids.

David says he has been receiving a lot of calls lately regarding aphids being found in Christmas trees. “They are a piercing, sucking insect. So they are drawing the juice out of the tree. It causes the needles to fall off prematurely,” he says.

Aphids are unlike ticks as they do not carry Lyme disease and do not suck blood from humans or animals. Instead these bugs just go after whatever plant is in their area.

 

Unfortunately, David says that he has received a lot more calls this year than in years prior about aphids being found in Christmas trees. He believes that is likely due to the weather up north where all of the trees are coming from.

Using Insects in the Classroom

Using Insects in the Classroom

The Entomological Foundation hosted a one-day teacher’s workshop where they instructed more than 60 teachers on how they can incorporate insects into the classroom. This event was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center during the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America.

During the workshop, attendees experienced interactive presentations and hands-on activities where they learned how to create homes for bees, how to make flies defecate the rainbow and where to find the best lesson plans.

Experts in entomology from around the country flew in to teach these sessions, all of which believed that insects can be used to teach valuable lessons on biology, conservation of the environment, climate change and even engineering.

Dr. Karen Oberhauser of the University of Minnesota passed around chocolate chip cookies while she gave a presentation on the evolving monarch migration patters in North America. After everyone had eaten and enjoyed their cookies, Dr. Oberhauser announced that they were made using ground crickets. Ahh, how would you feel? Dr. Tom Turpin of Purdue University said that “the best education is when the student doesn’t know its happening.”

The Entomological Foundation is a not-for-profit whose mission is to build a future for entomology by educating young people about science through insects. The not-for-profit has partnered with the Entomological Society of America in order to better reach this mission.

Cricket Chirps Potentially Have ‘Predatory Roots”

Cricket Chirps Potentially Have ‘Predatory Roots”

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Scientists have discovered that some cricket’s chirps could be a technique to reveal their location to potential mates.

Researchers say that the mating call has likely evolved from the males impersonating hunting bats. The call triggers the female cricket to shudder and in turn allowing the male to locate the female. Learn more about the findings here.

“It struck me as very strange that these crickets would use such high frequencies for mating purposes,” the scientists at Dartmouth College said, especially considering that other cricket species avoid sounds at these frequencies.

Lead researcher Professor Hannah ter Hofstede said, “I expected the females to walk to the speaker, because this is the usual behavior for female crickets, but they did not do this – [they instead] made a small jerking motion after each male call.”

Further study revealed that this way of communication has changed over evolutionary time to be where it is at today.

Getting Rid of Mice for Good

Getting Rid of Mice for Good

Unfortunately, as the weather drops, mice are finding their way into warm, cozy homes. Luckily there are some things you can do in order to get rid of these mice and keep them away for good.

Here are a few facts about finding a mouse in your house:

  1. There is never just one mouse.
  2. Droppings are a major telltale sign
  3. Mice can cause more damage then what the eye can see

So what steps should you take in order to rid these unwanted creatures?

  • Don’t waste your time with home remedies. There is no science behind home remedies. Mice are used to living with humans so the smells associated with us are not a good repellant to them.
  • Try out the store-bought traps. Mousetraps are still very effective!
  • Find their entry point. It’s important that you figure out where the mice are coming in so you can help determine where they are living and building nests. These places are also the best areas to set your traps.
  • Make sure you stock up on caulk and steel wool. Once you handle the infestation, make sure no additional mice find heir way in. Block off any opening with caulking and steel wool and be sure to replace weather stripping.
  • Check your garage! Mice like to live under car hoods, where the engine is nice and warm. Be sure to keep them out of the garage so they don’t start eating your car wars and do some serious damage to your car.
  • Cut your shrubbery and branches away from your house. Unfortunately although they may look nice they are the perfect highway fro a mice and insect to get into your home.
  • Airtight food canisters are a great investment. You are less likely to attract mice if your food is more off limits.

Everyone has a different threshold for what they are willing to deal with so if necessary call your local professional to fix the problem! If they are licensed by the state they will take their time and get the job done properly with the latest techniques for treatment.

Entomology Professor Instilling a Passion For Insects In Her Students

Entomology Professor Instilling a Passion For Insects In Her Students

Within the first week of “Introduction to Entomology,” professor Tiffany Heng-Moss gives all of her students a live cockroach. Each student is not only responsible for keeping the cockroach but researching on it as well.

When Heng-Moss discovers the cockroaches they are given to students in Ziploc bags. Generally the cockroaches will eat through the bag within 48 hours so it is the

students’ responsibility to create a home for the roach similar to its native habitat. The students host the roaches for about 3 weeks during which time they test a series of hypotheses on what the cockroaches like to eat and then explain a unique behavior the cockroach has.

Throughout the semester, students learn about varies types of insects. “At the start of the semester, the insects would rotate around very quickly, but as we moved through the semester, all of a sudden the students start to kind of get used to this and they start to actually look at the insects and make observations; they became the scientists,” Heng-Moss said.

Heng-Moss wants to help students discover that science is not just an array of facts, it is an ongoing process of discovering through experiments.

Artist Decorates an Art Installation With 5,000 Insects

Artist Decorates an Art Installation With 5,000 Insects

Jennifer Angus, the artist, believes that all insets are beautiful and admires their diversity, which is why she created an art installation featuring 5,000 of them! The insects, which cover the walls, are arranged in eye-catching patterns. The installation is in Washington, D.C’s Renwick Gallery.

Angus hopes that through this installation she is able to raise awareness about insect conservation and biodiversity. Most of the insects (not endangered) used come from a specimen dealer in Southeast Asia. The insects are all apart of Angus’ personal collection of which she has collected for the last two decades.

All the insects have not been altered or re-colored in any way. Her goal is to motivate and remind people that will habitats around the world are under attack. She says that is important to note that even though insects are small there importance should not be forgotten.

“I hope that my exhibition will get them excited and perhaps they will be motivated to get involved with one of the many of the rainforest preservation projects out there. I would also like people to think about their own environment and behavior. How is urban and suburban encroachment affecting wildlife big and small in your neighborhood?”

Overall its important to note that insects are an essential part of our ecosystems. And if Angus’ installation allows some to look at bugs in a different way and consider the bigger picture then it will have been a worthwhile endeavor.

Of you are ever in the area, you can visit Angus’ “In The Midnight Garden” room, part of the “Wonder” exhibition, which runs until July 10, 2016.

Gypsy Moth Mania

Gypsy Moth Mania

The invasive gypsy moth looks like it may be making a resurgence in the United States. The warmer than average winter comes with the possibility of the gypsy moth population surging. These insects can spread and produce offspring on a massive scale. One egg mass from a female gypsy moth can produce 500 hungry caterpillars. That means it won’t take long for these invasive pests to flourish in this warmer weather. This spells serious bad news for our trees. When a gypsy moth infests a forest their caterpillars eat the leaves of trees and shrubs, ultimately killing the plants. Repeated infestations can result in the destruction of countless trees. Trees stressed by drought and other factors are in even greater danger of being killed by these voracious pests. If the infestation becomes bad enough officials will put quarantines into effect. People need to be on the lookout for these black caterpillars with white tufts of hair, as seeing just one could mean many more are on their way.

Have you ever seen a gypsy moth? Have you seen the devastation they can wreak?

The Ant Code of Honor

The Ant Code of Honor

We don’t usually think of ants as being caring and kind, but when the colony is in trouble it’s “all for one and one for all.” Generally, ants are pretty tough to damage. They have an extremely strong exoskeleton and flexible internal organs that can be moved around quite a bit without being damaged.  They also don’t feel pain to their body the way we do, so even an injured ant can continue to march on. But, every now and then one of the crew does get into trouble. So, what do his or her fellow ants do when their comrade is in danger?

Surprisingly, ants within the same colony are quite protective of each other. If an ant sibling is hurt, his or her fellow ants will carry their injured brethren back to safety. And if an ant gets stuck in sand, its fellow ants will actually undergo a rescue mission to free their sibling and then take him or her back to safety. How do they know to do this? When an ant is hurt they emit alarm pheromones, which call their ant siblings to their rescue. For tiny pests ants are surprisingly humane.

What do you think of this selfless behavior from a little pest?

Home Remedies for Bites and Stings

Home Remedies for Bites and Stings

Getting an insect bite or sting can be a huge pain, especially if you don’t have anything at home to treat it. There are everyday household items you can use to treat bites or stings that people have been swearing by for centuries. So, forget running to the store, just look in your pantry for a home remedy.

When your first stung move slowly away from the insect, as the bee that stung you will warn other bees, making them more likely to sting you as well. You should remain as calm and quiet as possible, as venom spread faster through the bloodstream with movement. Make sure you remove the stinger as soon as possible. You can remove the spines of a puss caterpillar by putting cellophane tape or facial peel on the spot and ripping it off.

Apply an ice pack on the sting and elevate the limb to reduce swelling. Then you can take a nonprescription medicine such as Tylenol, an antihistamine, or hydrocortisone cream to relieve the pain and itching.

What do you do to treat insect bites and stings?

Following an Unknown Spider/Insect Bite, UK Man Dies

Following an Unknown Spider/Insect Bite, UK Man Dies

Fifty year old Simon Paul Tongue passed away after suffering from a heart attack caused by an acute allergic reaction to an unknown spider/insect bite.

Isle of Wight coroner, Caroline Sumeray said, “”On the balance of probabilities, he had an allergic reaction which started a chain of events that overwhelmed him. His body was put under a lot of stress, which led to a massive heart attack.”

After work, Paul had texted his wife, Janice, complaining that he didn’t feel well and that his arm was swollen. Martin Smith, Paul’s stepson said that he had saw Paul’s arm which was swollen and exuding fluid. Once Janice made it home (around 10pm), Paul was lying in bed with a high temperature, had vomited and was hallucinating.

Within minutes of Janice’s arrival, Paul had stopped breathing. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene just after 11pm.

According to Dr. Norman Mounter, a consultant histopathologist said that Paul’s deal was unusual in the sense that there were no signs of anaphylaxis– swelling of the tongue, lips and airways, typical side effects of an insect sting or bite. Dr. Mounter believed that Paul might have suffered from Kounis syndrome, a cardiac event elicited by a hypersensitive reaction.

 

His wife Janice concluded, “It was an unknown insect bite. It just happened so quickly.” A bite that Paul never remembered getting.

 

What precaution(s) do you take if you get an insect/spider bite?