Happy 4th of July!
(Phys.org) —A pair of researchers with the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida has conducted a through genetic analysis of butterflies and moths and in the process has revealed some of their evolutionary history. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Akito Kawahara and Jesse Breinholt describe the DNA analysis they undertook of the insects and the results they found in doing so.
Butterflies and moths are among the most cherished of insects, the researchers note, due to their beauty and relationship to equally lovely flowers. All told there are approximately 160,000 known species of the insect, though many more have not been identified—some scientists suggest there could be half a million. Despite their widespread popularity, the evolutionary relationship between the two (moths and butterflies) has been difficult to estimate—very few fossils exist due to their extremely fragile body and wing structures and the lack of thorough DNA studies. In this new effort, the team in Florida set out to more firmly establish the evolutionary tree of the wispy creatures.
The two researchers sequenced almost 3000 genes creating in the process a dataset that included 46 taxa that combined 33 new transcriptomes with 13 genomes, expressed sequence tags and transcriptomes. They used a technique known as HaMStR (a next-generation sequencing approach) to identify 2,696 genes for inclusion into their phylogenomic analysis.
Their study showed that butterflies all share a single common ancestor and give credence to the theory that butterflies are more closely related to very small (micro) moths, rather than those of larger species, contradicting previous studies that had found the opposite to be true. More specifically, they found evidence that suggests plume and geometroid moths are likely the first relatives of butterflies. Also, the research showed that insects known as hedylids, commonly known as butterfly-moths are in fact true butterflies, not moths at all.
The overall result of the work was what the duo describe as the “first robust, transcriptome-based tree of Lepidoptera”—one that strongly contradicts the placement of butterflies in the historical context. It also provides an evolutionary framework, they note, for future research efforts—be they developmental, genomic, or ecological—for both butterflies and moths.
More information: Phylogenomics provides strong evidence for relationships of butterflies and moths, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, rspb.royalsocietypublishing.or… nt/281/1788/20140970
AbstractButterflies and moths constitute some of the most popular and charismatic insects. Lepidoptera include approximately 160 000 described species, many of which are important model organisms. Previous studies on the evolution of Lepidoptera did not confidently place butterflies, and many relationships among superfamilies in the megadiverse clade Ditrysia remain largely uncertain. We generated a molecular dataset with 46 taxa, combining 33 new transcriptomes with 13 available genomes, transcriptomes and expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Using HaMStR with a Lepidoptera-specific core-orthologue set of single copy loci, we identified 2696 genes for inclusion into the phylogenomic analysis. Nucleotides and amino acids of the all-gene, all-taxon dataset yielded nearly identical, well-supported trees. Monophyly of butterflies (Papilionoidea) was strongly supported, and the group included skippers (Hesperiidae) and the enigmatic butterfly–moths (Hedylidae). Butterflies were placed sister to the remaining obtectomeran Lepidoptera, and the latter was grouped with greater than or equal to 87% bootstrap support. Establishing confident relationships among the four most diverse macroheteroceran superfamilies was previously challenging, but we recovered 100% bootstrap support for the following relationships: ((Geometroidea, Noctuoidea), (Bombycoidea, Lasiocampoidea)). We present the first robust, transcriptome-based tree of Lepidoptera that strongly contradicts historical placement of butterflies, and provide an evolutionary framework for genomic, developmental and ecological studies on this diverse insect order.
Beware of the Stings This Summer
Hulett Environmental Services profiles the most dangerous summer stingers
The summer season is a time to enjoy the sunshine and the great outdoors, but it’s also the time when stinging insects can make an appearance at picnics, cookouts and pool parties. Hulett Environmental, a pest management company servicing South Florida warns that yellowjackets, wasps, hornets and other common stinging insects can pose an increased threat to one’s health. In fact, they send more than half a million people to the emergency room every year, according to the National Pest Management Association.
From painful stings to severe allergic reactions, stinging insects can put a damper on summer fun. Whether you plan to fire up the grill, go to the playground or relax by the pool this summer, it’s important to be aware of the risks posed by certain stinging insects.
Below are the most common stingers people might encounter during the summer months.
Yellowjackets – Yellowjackets are distinguished by the black and yellow color pattern banded across their abdomens. They are territorial and may sting repeatedly if threatened.
European Hornets – European hornets are active at night. They have smooth stingers that carry venom known to cause itching, swelling and pain for about 24 hours. Like yellowjackets and wasps, European hornets can sting repeatedly during an attack.
Paper Wasps – Paper wasps are not an aggressive species by nature, but they will sting if their nest is threatened. Wasp stings are painful and can cause the same risk of allergic reaction as other insect stings.
Killer Bees – Africanized “killer” bees defend their colony and will attack in large numbers when threatened. However, they can only sting once as their stingers are barbed and tear off when trying to get away. Killer bees have been known to chase people for more than a quarter mile.
The best way to prevent an unwanted encounter is to exercise caution when outdoors. If you come in contact with a bee or wasp, do not swat it, as that may actually provoke an attack. Remain calm and the insect should fly away without causing harm.
For more information on stinging insects, visit www.bugs.com
Hulett Environmental Services, an organization committed to the protection of public health, food and property from household pests, offers these tips to help pests from ruining your summer gathering:
If pests become intolerable, you may have a larger problem and need professional assistance. Sometimes, pest pressure can get out of hand. For example, if homeowners notice large mounds of ants or stinging insect nests around the property, they’ll want to contact a professional to help them safely remove these infestations as they can be a threat to our safety. Just Call HULETT!
Missy Henriksen with the National Pest Management Association shares some recommendations on selecting the best pest professional to keep you, your family and your home safe from pests.
Florida Pest Control Reviews of Hulett Environmental services via Yelp:
“They inspected our home and showed us the termite damage. We needed the traditional tenting, not the tentless method. Theyare very professional about their work, and explain everything they do. We will now follow up with the bi-monthly pest control service for maintenance. Jonadab, who will be doing this for us, is very thorough and, again, explains everything he does.”
Dr. Jorge Parada – National Pest Management Association
Chikungunya, a viral infection transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes, originated in southeast Africa and was first described in Tanzania in 1952. Subsequently, it has spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa and has become well established in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and islands of the Indian and Pacific Ocean.
More recently, Chikungunya has been reported in at least 15 Caribbean islands, including Hispaniola (Haiti & Santo Domingo), as well as French Guiana on mainland South America.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of June 10, a total of 39 chikungunya cases have been reported from U.S. states and territories. One locally transmitted case has been reported from Puerto Rico. All other cases occurred in travelers returning from affected areas in the Caribbean or Asia. To date, no local transmission has been identified in the continental United States.
The mosquitos that carry the Chikungunya virus (aedes egypti and aedaes albopictus) can bite during the day and at night, both indoors and outdoors, and often live around buildings in urban areas.
Typical symptoms of Chikungunya infection include the rapid onset of severe joint pains (especially in the hands and feet) and fever. In fact, the name “Chikungunya” derives from a word in the Kimakonde language of south east Africa, meaning “to become contorted” and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain. Symptoms start four to eight days after the mosquito bite (range from two to 12 days). Infected persons can also have headache, muscle pain, rash and joint swelling. Generally, symptoms resolve after one week, although some people may experience long-term joint pain. Chikungunya is generally not fatal, but the painful symptoms have led people to say “It won’t kill you, but it may make you wish you were dead!”
Because there is no specific antiviral drug treatment for Chikungunya, physicians direct patients to use over the counter analgesics and medication to control fever, and to get plenty of rest and fluids.
Several methods can be used for diagnosis. If you develop the symptoms of Chikungunya and have recently traveled, see your doctor. Your doctor may order blood tests to look for Chikungunya or other similar diseases.
Since a vaccine to prevent Chikungunya does not exist, it is best to try and avoid infection in the first place.
As the Caribbean is a popular vacation spot for many Americans, avoiding travel may not be a realistic or desirable option. Rather, travelers are advised to take a number of precautions when staying in countries where Chikungunya is endemic.
Travelers should don protective clothing (long-sleeved shirts, long pants, hats) that is treated with insect repellent. When spending time outdoors, travelers should use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535, on exposed skin.
When choosing a hotel, ensure the rooms are equipped with fully functioning air conditioning systems, as well as door and window screens. Insecticide-treated mosquito nets afford good protection, as do mosquito coils or other insecticide vaporizers to reduce contact with mosquitoes indoors, especially in high risk areas.
During outbreaks of Chikungunya – or if mosquito populations surge – community-wide insect/vector control programs may be activated and travelers should heed these warnings.
Finally, patients who are diagnosed with Chikungunya should avoid additional exposure to mosquitoes to help prevent the further spread of the virus to other mosquitoes and subsequently to other people.
Part of the 2012 television campaign for Hulett Environmental Services.
A lush green landscape can be a sense of pride for you and your family, while also adding value to your home. Hulett Environmental Services offers a full array of lawn pest, plant disease, weed control, and specialized fertilization services to meet your landscape’s specific needs.
We will provide you with a level of service that is backed by over 40 years of local experience and enhanced by our ongoing training that keeps all of our technicians on the leading edge of the pest control industry of South Florida.
Hulett experts suggest the following mosquito prevention tips in and around the home:
Pantry pests can easily contaminate stored food and can also be brought into the home undetected in already infested purchases. Hulett Environmental recommends some proactive practices to keep your pantry pest-free:
Tips for Hiring a Professional South Florida Exterminator:
Cooperation is a must in preventing and controlling pests and rodents. Choosing a pest control professional to share in identification and treatment responsibilities is an important decision. The recommendations provided below will help you to better understand how to select a pest control professional and make a decision that best serves your business:
Locate a licensed pest control professional in your area who can assist you in proper identification and treatment of your pest problems.
For more information on crazy ants, please visit www.bugs.com
Preventing pests from entering your home is even more important than controlling them once you have a problem. That is why Hulett’s Healthy Home program focuses on pest prevention, not just pest control.
Traditional pest control companies simply apply pesticides in and around your home in a routine manner, but Hulett’s programs are designed by Graduate Entomologists and offer a more specific, customized approach.
From a health and environmental standpoint, this is a much more responsible treatment method for you and your family; which means no unnecessary smelly sprays in your home!
With Hulett you receive a more effective and convenient pest prevention system with guaranteed results!
Here are a few clues that termites may be present in a home:
A recent survey of pest professionals across the country, conducted by the National Pest Management Association, found kitchens (96%) and bathrooms (89%) to be particularly vulnerable to ants.
It’s probably not a surprise the kitchen is considered a favorite ant hangout. In addition to food access, the sink provides a water source that ants need to survive. If you’re lax about immediately cleaning up crumbs and spills, you may be inviting ants in. Here are a few tips to keep ants out of the kitchen:
Areas around the house with excess moisture are known to attract ants, so bathrooms are highly susceptible to an infestation. Carpenter ants, for example, often build nests in damp areas like behind bathroom tiles or under sinks. To prevent an infestation in the bathroom, homeowners should:
Other Common Hideouts
Ants can easily find a way indoors through even the tiniest cracks, so other areas of the home are also common hideouts. The NPMA survey revealed ants are also found in the following areas:
To keep ants from finding a way inside, homeowners should pest-proof around the outside of the home. Experts recommend sealing any cracks with silicone caulk, repairing holes in window and door screens, replacing weather-stripping, fixing loose mortar around the basement foundation and windows, and keeping tree branches trimmed back and away from the house.
Hulett Environmental Services recommends the following five simple steps that homeowners can do today to thwart an ant infestation.
1. Block off access points. Take time to inspect the outside of your home for cracks and crevices, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter. Seal any small holes or gaps with a silicone-based caulk. Keep tree branches and other shrubbery well trimmed and away from the structure.
2. Eliminate sources of water in and around the home. Indoors, routinely check under sinks for areas of moisture and repair any leaky pipes. Consider using a dehumidifier in damp basements, crawl spaces or attics. Outside, ensure that downspouts and gutters are functioning properly so that water flows away from the home’s foundation.
3. Keep a clean kitchen. Wipe down counter tops and sweep floors to removecrumbs and residue from spills. Store food in sealed containers, and keep ripe fruit in the refrigerator. Also, make sure to dispose of garbage regularly.
4. Don’t forget about the pets. After mealtime, keep pet bowls clean and wipe up any spilled food or water around them promptly. Store dry pet food in a sealed plastic container rather than the paper bags they often come in, which can be easily accessed by ants, rodents and other pests.
5. Work with a pest professional. Eliminating ants can be challenge without the proper treatment. Some species of ants, like carpenter ants, can cause serious property damage while others can pose health threats. If you see ants in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to identify the species and recommend a course of treatment.
Stinging insects such as yellowjackets, wasps and hornets send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room each year. And, if that’s not bad enough, they become extra feisty in late summer and early fall when their colonies forage for food to sustain their queens during the winter months.
While the thought of encountering a bee hive on the porch or a hornets nest under the patio is enough to make anyone want to stay indoors over the next few weeks, don’t fret. There are a handful of ways to ensure these pesky stingers won’t ruin your fun in the sun.
Seal cracks and crevices
One effective way to prevent an infestation of these insects and most other pests is to eliminate access and harborage sites around of the home. Stinging insects often build their nests inside attics and chimneys, behind porch lights and under decks or eaves. Homeowners should seal all visible cracks and crevices to keep these pests from moving indoors, and regularly inspect around the yard and along the perimeter of the house for nests.
Keep food covered
Have you ever been to an outdoor gathering where bees are swarming around the table of hamburgers, chips and fruit? Stinging insects are attracted to exposed food and open garbage cans. To avoid an unwanted encounter with a yellowjacket or bee during a picnic or cookout, cover all food when outside and be sure to keep tight fitting lids on trash bins.
Avoid excessive use of fragrances
Yellowjackets and other stinging insects are attracted to sweet-smelling fragrances. If spending long periods of time outdoors, avoid excessive use of perfume or cologne. When possible, also choose unscented shampoos, soaps, lotions and sunscreen.
Adjust your wardrobe
Avoid wearing dark colors and floral prints, since these patterns are known to attract stinging insects. It’s also important to wear closed-toe shoes, especially in grassy areas as bumblebees and some hornets often nest there.
Remain calm, cool and collected
If a stinging insect is flying nearby, many people’s first reaction is to either swat the insect away or flail their arms in panic. However, these movements may actually provoke an attack. Do not swat the pest, but rather remain calm, slowly walk from the area and it should fly away with causing any harm. If you do get stung, carefully remove the stinger and seek medical attention, as reactions can be severe in some cases.
Just Call Hulett!
If a nest is found on the property, keep yourself and other members of the family away and do not attempt to remove it on your own. Depending on the species, a nest could contain hundreds (if not thousands) of stinging insects, which could swarm and sting en masse if they are disturbed or feel threatened. Instead, contact a licensed pest professional who will be able to identify the species and aid in stinging insect control by either destroying the colony or removing it to a safe location.
Stinging insects can be hard to avoid as they often show up to picnics, cookouts and pool parties. The best way to prevent an unwanted encounter is to exercise caution when outdoors. To learn more about stinging insects, watch this Stinging Insects 101 video.