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Termites In Your Home? Here Are 3 Of The Most Important Things You Should Know

Termites In Your Home? Here Are 3 Of The Most Important Things You Should Know

The University of Kentucky has released an informative FAQ article of homeowners on termites.

Here is a low-down on the experts’ answers to homeowners’ most common questions, and we have rounded up three of the most important:

Why worry about termites?

Termites are reported to cause billions of dollars in damages every year. The list of things they can damage are not limited to wood. Aside from posing a serious threat to your home’s structural foundations, termites can also damage books, insulation, papers, important documents, memorabilia, and even pool liners and filtration systems.

How will you know if your home is infested?

When you see mud tubes about the width of a pencil and sometimes wider, extending from your foundations or in other crevices and surfaces of your home, it is most certainly a termite infestation. Termites build these mud tubes for traveling between their underground homes and to new territory. Hollowed-out wood with bits of dried mud or soil lining its galleries is also a sure sign of a termite infestation. Rippled or sunken traces behind wall coverings can also be signs that termites have been tunneling underneath it.

One thing you also have to brush up on is identifying termites from flying ants.

Can I treat a termite infestation myself?

If a termite infestation happens to a small, uncomplicated structure isolated from your house, such as a mailbox, a sandbox, or your dog’s kennel, for example, then it is possible a DIY measure can help. But if you’re going to be exterminating an infestation that has burrowed deep into your home — which is a much more complicated structure, then you will certainly need the expertise and on-hand equipment range of pest control professionals. Attempting a DIY termite extermination project can only result in creating even more damage to your home.

 

 

 

Insects As Military Weapons: Yay or Nay?

Insects As Military Weapons: Yay or Nay?

Insects and military espionage aren’t usually placed in the same sentence, but news of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recent military projects using insects as military weapons has become a cause that has concerned some citizens.

DARPA’s program aims to develop Hybrid Microelectricalmechanical Systems (HI-MEMS) to combine nanotechnology with the bodies of living insects; in effect, creating insect cyborgs. DARPA believes this can improve the military’s capacity, particularly in weaponry and reconnaissance.

Society’s apathy for insects

A 2014 paper in “Society and Animals” discovered society’s lack of compassion for insects. This apathy, in effect, led to insects being unintentionally neglected, leaving them lacking the same type of protection as other animals. This lack of protection has left the insect population open to exploitation and abuse without coming across much opposition, compared to when experiments are done on dogs or cats, for example.

When technology can take over the whole role altogether

But with the rapid development of technology, why is there a need to use live insects in the first place? Why need insect cyborgs? Can’t fully robotic drones do the job instead? Wouldn’t this be a more ethical and ecologically friendly solution?

An example of this position put in practice is the Pentagon’s development of a robotic hummingbird drone without having to use any real hummingbirds in the process.

Using the same technology vilified for these projects can actually free the insects from the burden of being unnecessarily used in these projects in the first place. But until the public takes notice and stands up for this position, this unnecessary and cruel use of insect life may go on unchecked.

 

Chinch Bugs

Chinch Bugs

Hot and dry weather is ideal for pests like chinch bugs. A few small dead areas in the lawn can quickly spread, killing large sections that are costly to replace. If you have a St. Augustine lawn, you likely know that the southern chinch bug is a big problem. Most people tend to overlook them because they are so small. Adults are about 1/5 inch long and are black with white patches on the wings. The nymphs range from 1/20 inch long to nearly adult size. Small nymphs are reddish with a white band across the back, but become black in color as they grow.

Chinch bug nymphs and adults can cause significant feeding damage. They remove plant fluids and inject a toxin that causes the grass to yellow, turn reddish brown and eventually die. Damaged areas often join together into large patches of dead, brown grass. These injured areas are more prone to injury because they are in hot spots along concrete or asphalt paved areas or in water-stressed areas where the grass is growing in full sun.

The majority of damage occurs from April through September. Left untreated, these areas get bigger as chinch bugs span out in search of their next meal. The suggested economic threshold (the density of a pest at which a control treatment will provide an economic return) for the chinch bug is 15 to 20 insects per square foot. Though chinch bugs prefer St. Augustine grass, they will also feed on other grass species.

http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/chinch-bugs-in-home-lawns

http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/home-and-garden/2015-07-23/story/garden-help-those-unwelcome-lawn-tourists-are-back

How to Beat Mosquitos

How to Beat Mosquitos

A recent wave of air-sprayed insecticide has been sweeping through cities as the preferred method for eliminating issues with mosquitos. Most of the time this occurs in Florida cities as the weather and humidity of the air result in some of the perfect breeding grounds for these insects.

Of course there are other instances that result in mosquitos breeding in large quantities. The perfect breeding grounds for these insects are standing water. While you can’t always count on getting rid of standing water such as lakes and puddles of streams, you can take care of things like water building up in trash cans or dirt holes around your property which can lead to mosquito breeding and infestation.

In fact, it is recommended that you spend some time after each rainfall, cleaning out gutters, pool covers, garbage cans, flower pots, or anything else that could potentially house still water. It doesn’t matter what the water is in, if mosquitos come across it they will take advantage of it for breeding purposes.

Even if your city does resort to air spray insecticide to handle mosquitos, you still need to do your part to make sure your home isn’t being invaded by these potentially dangerous insects out for your blood. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to make sure areas around your house are clean of free-standing water and it could save you some hassle in the long run.

Ant Slaves!

Ant Slaves

Scientists believed that the life of a Japanese oak blue butterfly caterpillar resembled that of a queen ant due to its loyal ant servants. A new paper, published in the journal Current Biology shows the Japanese species in a new light.  A three-member team at Japan’s Kobe University noticed that the ants who served a Japanese oak blue butterfly caterpillar did so constantly. They were pulled away from their daily duties even the search for food. Scientists assumed that they stayed with the caterpillar in some sort of symbiotic relationship for the sake of benefiting from a sugary syrup-like secretion from the caterpillar.

However, a free exchange would see lines of ants being pleased to serve the caterpillar for a time and then move on. The Japanese researchers showed that it was the same ants which constantly stood guard over the caterpillar.

With the help of both chemical and visual signals, scientists discovered that the caterpillar actually controls its “bodyguards.” The ants who sip its sugary secretions begin to take cues from the movement of the caterpillar’s ‘tentacles’ and abide by its instructions.

The caterpillar must secure safe transformation into a butterfly. During this metamorphosis, it needs protection from predators such as wasps and spiders. Its pheromones leave the vulnerable creature with an aggressive brigade of loyal ant bodyguards.

“There are glandular cells near the tentacles that could be secreting chemical signals,” researcher Masaru Hojo told New Scientist. “It is possible that both visual and chemical signals are stimulating the ant aggression.”

https://www.rt.com/news/311490-japanese-caterpillar-zombie-ants/

Deciphering The Most Painful Venom Known To Man: Milking The Bullet Ant

Deciphering The Most Painful Venom Known To Man: Milking The Bullet Ant

If you are a keen masochist, then perhaps a time dedicated to studying bullet ants would be your kind of thing. Bullet ants possess the most painful venom known to man, and researchers are actually interested in investigating the potent neurotoxin packed by these infamous creatures. They believe that by milking the bullet ant’s venom, they can then study it for potential medical use.

For now, here’s what we know about the bullet ant and its infamous, venomous sting:

  • According to the Schmidt Pain Index, which ranks insect bites according to the level of pain they inflict, the bullet ant is at level 4 — right up there at the top, certain in its spot as the most painful stinger. In fact, that’s why it’s even called a “bullet ant” in the first place.
  • A sting from this creature contains venom that is capable of rendering a human paralyzed and trembling with pain, akin to the pain that results from being shot by a gun.
  • Bullet ants are incredibly aggressive, ample-sized ants, considered to be among the largest types of ant. The worker bullet ant can range in size from 18 to 30 millimeters — almost an inch long, and is surpassed only by the Dinoponera ant in size, but not, by a long shot, in sting power.

Another unwelcome — or in the case of the truly excellent masochist, welcome — tidbit: bullet ants can actually sting multiple times in a single second. And when they sting, they release a pheromone that encourages any nearby ant to also sting. Braver men have wept under a raze of the bullet ant’s sting; ask the Satere-Mawe people of Brazil, who have intimate experience with this feral creature, as they make their men wear gloves containing hundreds of these ants as part of their initiation to adulthood.
And to cement the bullet ant’s level of notoriety, the impact of its sting lasts for 24 hours or more, which can leave the inflicted in a state of uncontrolled, excruciating tremors. If you believe yourself up to the task, then you can add that encounter to your bucket list. Otherwise, leave the experience to Brazil’s bullet ant warriors and the rest of ant extermination to your pest control experts.

Cockroach Exhibit in Japan Features Man-sized Trap

Cockroach Exhibit in Japan Features Man-sized Trap

When you think about an animal exhibit, you usually imagine it displaying something as typical as bears, elephants, seals, giraffes or lions — the usual public favorites. But in an an act of unprecedented, innovative insight, a zoo in Japan has come up with a cockroach exhibit, complete with man-sized cockroach trap, as an alternative to the usual animal fanfare.

Interestingly, the zoo already has experience with featuring less-than conventionally savory types of animals in their repertoire. Tokuyama Zoo has already held special exhibits featuring a variety of insects and reptiles before and, due to popular demand, have decided to focus solely on the surprisingly well-patronized cockroach for their next exhibit.

According to the zoo’s spokeswoman, Tokuyama Zoo, located in Yamaguchi prefecture, will display a total of 100 up to 200 cockroaches at its event, with a kickoff event featuring 15 kinds of cockroaches sourced from different parts of the world — with rare kinds among them such as the  Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.

Now, regarding cockroaches in a controlled environment from a spectator’s, even a pseudo-scientist’s perspective may seem like a worthwhile enterprise, but if you ever come into contact with the same party cavorting around unchecked in your home, then a call to your pest control experts should be the proper — and immediate — recourse.

Want To Buy Your Own Butterflies For Your Special Occasion? This Startup Can Make It Happen

Want To Buy Your Own Butterflies For Your Special Occasion? This Startup Can Make It Happen

As worldwide contests for picture-perfect parties are doing their rounds on Pinterest, a couple’s butterfly-selling startup offers a unique and ethereal touch to celebrating special occasions.

Rose Franklin’s Perennials, has been run since 1991. The Pennsylvania-based nursery is owned and personally managed by Rose Franklin and her husband, Andrew Smith.

The couple sells about 80 different plants from their nursery, but hope to scale back on plant selling and instead expand the side of their business related to selling adult butterflies. The couple started by selling butterfly eggs and caterpillars to citizens and other homeowners during the summertime, and come August, would sell to schools, so children can get to watch the metamorphosis and butterfly life cycle in progress. Franklin hopes that with an increased demand for butterflies, they can eventually scale back their plant inventory from 80 to 40 types, and bring their focus to raising the former, delightful creatures.

Targeting the events market seems like a viable option for increasing butterfly appreciation. The thought of releasing live butterflies in a wedding as an alternative or complement to the traditional pigeons is an enchanting idea worth realizing. And if you move on to other parties, such as a debutante ball, or a little girl’s fairy-themed party, or a boy’s safari-themed birthday, a mother-to-be’s baby shower, a bridal shower, a play or a musical, the possibilities become endless and more fascinating to imagine than the last.

The couple are holding open houses on schedule to showcase their butterflies as well as to teach proper care. Online order information and other details can be found on their site at butterflybushes.com.

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.

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