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Summer bugs; Pests or specs of beauty?

Summer bugs; Pests or specs of beauty?

Summertime brings on the onset of all types of outdoor activities. From hiking to ball games, humans love to explore the glory of the outdoors during the warmest time of year. It also happens to be one of the biggest times of year to discover the different species of insects hiding in your favorite outdoor hideaway.

From looking closely at a favorite flower and realizing there is a pollen covered bee moving the flowers petals, to seeing a black insect with red tattoos on its back scaling the rocks surrounding your favorite hiking spot, insects really can be beautiful if you take the time to recognize the beauty.

Dragonflies and beetles can also be spotted during the summer months with their colorful markings and designs, they are hard to miss. Carrion beetles for instance are black and white beetles that will catch your eye with their vulture like attitudes. Dragon flies dive bomb gracefully around without fear and hover allowing you to see their colors.

Along with all the beauty of course comes bites from the insects. So the question is, is the beauty worth the pain and itchiness of the height of bug season? Of course it is. Just be careful and try to know your bugs. Stay away from the venom and enjoy the colors of summer.

For more information on summer insects please click here

The Ants Go Marching – How to Get Rid of Ants in the House

The warmer summer months bring with them South Florida summer rains and increased ant activity. You might have already seen ants marching into your South Florida home over the last several weeks. Although not all types of ants bite or sting, what you might not realize is that in addition to being a nuisance, certain types of ants can pose a risk to your health and property. Carpenter ants tunnel through wood to build nests and can cause severe property damage. Fire ants can bite or “sting” and cause severe allergic reactions in some. That’s why it’s important to address any potential ant infestation as soon as possible.

Ants or Termites?

It can be difficult to tell the difference between the flying forms of ants and termites. In warm weather, both species “swarm” and leave the nest in large numbers to mate and establish new colonies. To the untrained eye they can be very difficult to tell apart. There are three easy ways to tell flying ants and termites apart here is what to look for:

  • Wing size – Termite wings are all equal in length and extend well past the abdomen. Ants have wings which are unequal in length and generally end at the tip of the abdomen.
  • Antennae shape – Antennae on termites are straight and bead-like, but on ants they are elbowed.
  • Waist size – Ants have a pinched waist, but termites have no constriction in the body and are more streamlined.

Flying Ant or Termite?If you aren’t sure, call Hulett today to schedule your professional inspection.

Ants are typically found inside the home in areas with high moisture such as in kitchens, on counters, under sinks and in bathrooms. Dripping faucets and leaking pipes may also be important water sources that ants will use. So it is important to fix any leaks immediately.

Removal Tips

Most ants that are found in homes nest outdoors and enter homes only to search for food or water. The main tip to get rid of ants is to create a less inviting environment for them, including removing food and water sources.

The summer rains and warmer temperatures also make it easy for the plants in your yard to flourish. As your plants grow out and touch the side of your house, ants and other pests are able to use the tree branches as a little bridge right into your home. Trim shrubs and trees away from the home regularly to help prevent pest problems.

Inside the home, keep your kitchen clean. Seal food items properly, clean counters, fix leaky pipes and remove unnecessary clutter. Some species are particularly troublesome to get rid of. Just call Hulett at 1-866-611-2847 for the most effective targeted pest control treatments for your home, and schedule a free in home inspection and estimate.

It’s a bugs world

It’s a bugs world

I was raised with no fear of insects and am thankful for the entomologist background my father gave me. My mother was certain that marrying an entomologist would mean absolutely no bugs in the house. She, like so many others, was afraid of all those little, pesky, creepy-crawlies that surround us every day both within the sanctuary of our homes and in the outside world. There is no such thing as a bug free world.

Part of the problem with this thinking is the person’s lack of understanding of the war on bugs. Sure we don’t want insects having a free for all in our homes. Sure there are crops to protect and insect-borne diseases to prevent. Insecticides are continually being developed and redeveloped not only for public safety, but because of the tolerance these critters will develop to create their super powered insect immunities. There are millions of different species on this planet we claim is ours. We as humans are out numbered about 2 million to 1. They will thrive and carry on without us, yet we cannot survive without them. Looks like it’s a bug’s world after all.

There are many different cultures already that consider insects of all types a delicacy. Americans are much slower to accept the idea of grasshopper kabobs. The reality of it is we already eat insects whether we know it or not.

For more information on ingesting grasshopper, fruit flies and maggots click here

It’s not a nightmare! It’s just a spider web

It’s not a nightmare! It’s just a spider web

Hundreds of feet and entire trees have succumbed to a giant cooperative spider web in Texas.  It is speculated that thousands of spiders have worked together to build the massive mega-web. It looks like a giant communal based home for the massive amount of eight legged pests.

Local residents near Lakeside Park South in Rowlett, Texas have turned the spectacle into a touristy home to visit. One man brought his grandchildren with him to see the giant web because he wanted to make sure his grandkids did not miss witnessing such a rare sight. He was even quoted describing the web as “Amazing”.

Another local resident traveled during the miserable summer weather to visit the silk spun web. Even after going through the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension’s Master Naturalist program, all this resident could say is, “It’s just so cool, I don’t know, I am just a science nerd, I guess. I just love this sort of thing.”

The spiders have spun a web so long it’s like a natural net catching mosquitoes and small flies. Experts say that is likely the inspiration behind the cooperative web.

Residents have left the web alone stating this type of spider is not a threat. Residents went on to say that this is a very good lesson for people actually; “We can do amazing things if we set our minds to it and work cooperatively.”

For more information on the giant spider web click here

Giant ants invade Florida Museum

Giant ants invade Florida Museum

On July 7, two six foot nine inch, 1100 pound ants titled “X” and “O”, were installed via crane and put on display in Gainesville at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Sculptor, Susan P. Cochran, of Palm Beach cast the giant, bronze eye catching pieces of art. “X” and “O” were installed outside of the museum with a reception following.  These large scale ant sculptures have received international acclaim.

The Florida Museum of Natural History will remain home to the ants for the next year for viewing, as part of The University of Florida’s Creative B summer Program. This program targets the University’s artistic students for a consolidated and collective resource for participants to enjoy a wide range of artistic and cultural events.

For more on the invasion of the ants please click here

Flying insects powered by gyroscopes?

Flying insects powered by gyroscopes?

It’s not science fiction. Scientists are doing a collaborative research project to answer just that. Are wings on flying insects powered by internal gyroscopes and can they break that information down enough to better understand how, in an attempt to replicate the technology in smarter, more efficient aircraft for humans?

In this study, scientist use moths for a controlled study to monitor the behavior and nervous system to try to learn how they fly. We know how to MAKE things fly, but HOW they fly is a very different question. One researcher describes the process as if it were another language. The wing talking to the brain and vice versa, and we just need to learn that language to apply it to a larger scale, aircraft for humans.

By building robotics that mimic the actual movements of birds, insects and other flying animals; scientists are getting closer to being able to use the technology in even drones. While there are socially sinister uses of the technology in place such as surveillance and targeting and exploration, the possibilities of the technology being used to save lives are endless.

So, are insects powered by internal gyroscopes? That answer is unclear because we are unable to determine their senses at this point. We don’t know how the insect is able to determine velocity, rotation or orientation. Once that matter is pinpointed, moving forward may become much easier.

Studying flying insects in more depth can be found here

Wood, Termites and Lighters Don’t Mix

Wood, Termites and Lighters Don’t Mix

Have you ever been out chopping wood only to find a horrible termite infestation? What would you do to try to get rid of them?

That is exactly what happened to a young man and his father in East Jefferson on Sunday. The father and son duo were chopping logs together when the son noticed the infestation of termites. What happened next neither of them expected. The son used his lighter in an attempt to try to burn out the termites. Unfortunately, he was also standing in some very dry grass at the time causing a simple burn out to turn into an ignited brushfire that consumed approximately 1/10th of an acre before two separate fire departments were able to put extinguish the fire.

East Jefferson Fire Rescue was first on the scene, with neighboring Naval Magazine Indian Island firefighters helping in the attempts as well.

Neighbors to the location of the fire site noticed the blaze and a plume of smoke and called 911. With the hard work of these two fire teams, 11 firefighters from Navy, and four extra firefighting trucks, they were able to have the fire put out in approximately 15 minutes. They later overhauled the site. Any time there is a flame near wood and especially if that is also near dry grass, you are asking for trouble!

For more information on this termite burnout disaster please click here

This Peacock Spider’s Dance Is Captivating

If you thought spiders weren’t already interesting enough critters just the way they are, wait till you see a peacock spider. You wouldn’t normally call a spider captivating, but in this case, even a self-proclaimed arachnophobe might venture to take a second look.

From the word clue “peacock”, you can already gain a clue as to what a peacock spider would look like. Nicknamed “Sparklemuffin” and “Skeletorus”, these peacock spiders were discovered in the 1800s and are native to Australia.

The sight of a male peacock spider’s bright, colorful back is odd if you compare it to conventional images of spiders, whose bodies are usually covered in darker, more sombre, dangerous tones. The peacock spider’s colors, on the other hand, are not dominated by grays or blacks, but of relatively “happier” tones, such as fiery oranges, brilliant blues, searing speckles of red, impressive purples, attractive yellows, and a few dark shades for dramatic effect, reminiscent of a male peacock’s tail, which is used to attract potential mates.

When it  comes to mating rituals though, a male peacock spider does more than simply display its attractive piece of nature’s artwork for a back. The creature also has a mating dance ritual that truly is captivating to watch, as it raises its various legs one by one like its own version of Hokey Pokey, moving them in staccato-like motion. It lifts its colorful back up and down and hops around, dancing to the beat of its own internal drum.

As of this writing, more species are still being discovered, which makes you wonder about all the other marvels of nature that are still out there, waiting to be seen and appreciated. As for our enchanting peacock spiders, here are some videos you can check to watch their dance captured in HD.

New Species of Spider Leads to Robot

New Species of Spider Leads to Robot

Somewhere in the Moroccan desert there is a new species of spider that was discovered to be capable of cart wheeling around everywhere in the sand, including up dunes. This flic-flac spider, named for its cart wheel move, is able to move across the desert at incredible speeds thanks to the gymnastics it performs. And the person who discovered it decided to put this spider’s ability to move across the sand into a robot.

The spider robot, called the Tabbot, performs the same function almost, rolling across the sand at a fast pace, both up and down, and because of its development, it might be something we use on other worlds such as Mars, which is known for having lots of red sand areas.

This interesting mode of getting around, isn’t just that too. The spider can also use this somersaulting to scare off predators by jumping at them, or to simply escape predators by moving faster and more erratically than them. The spider also works on creating little huts made of silk for the times when the desert heat is too much to even be moving.

Of course this isn’t the first spider to be discovered capable of maneuvering through the desert with gymnastic characteristics. However, it is the first spider that can do that going up and down sand dunes. Most other spiders that exhibit this behavior can only do it going down sand dunes.

Who knows what other mysteries and inspirations other parts of nature can unfold for us?

Teamwork and Leadership Taught by Crazy Ants

Teamwork and Leadership Taught by Crazy Ants

A single species of ant, known as the longhorn crazy ant, was recently studied for a science journal, which led to some unique discoveries about ants and how they work together, as well as a system they use that humans don’t when it comes to leadership.

The study focused on looking at a group of ants that need to move a specific object that is too large for one ant. This led to a group of five to ten ants working together to move the object toward their nest. By observing this process the scientists were able to determine that it is unlikely ants have some kind of hive mind or collective intelligence, because not only did they change which worker was doing what, but they changed leaders based on whether the ant knew where to go next or not.

This suggests that ants aren’t actually some kind of conformist creature that can only act in a group, and that they each actually have individual personalities and knowledge. Ants have just evolves over millions of years to work together while still maintaining their individuality.

The most unique thing that these ants do comes with their leadership change. The ants would change up who was the leader of the group carrying the object based on when the previous ant ran out of knowledge about where to go next. This suggests the ants choose a leader solely based on knowledge and only knowledge in that moment. There wasn’t any one ant that had the status of leader who wasn’t leading in that moment. A process that humans don’t exemplify due to the power that often comes with leadership.

Maybe there are a few more things we can learn from ants.

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