Tag Archives: bugs.com

Don’t forget to declare your…Insects?

A man crossing into the United States from Mexico forgot to declare his bugs as food at the port of entry. The unidentified driver told agents he forgot to declare the bags as food items. He was given a $175 fine and the insects were seized. Agents sent the bugs to the U.S.  Department of Agriculture where they were identified as a type of stink bug. Pests must be reported when brought into the country because they feed on plants, CBP officials said in a release.

Moral of the story is don’t forget to report pests when crossing the border since they feed on plants!

Checkout the full story

Discovery of new ant may signal wave of expansion

Discovery of new ant may signal wave of expansion

By HARRY EAGAR – Staff Writer (heagar@mauinews.com) , The Maui News

There are no ants native to Hawaii, so whenever a researcher sees an ant, it’s an invader. While scouting for the long-established Argentine ant along Waipoli Road in 2009, University of Hawaii entomologist Paul Krushelnycky discovered an extensive field of odorous house ants.

It was a surprise, because although these ants are native to much of North America, they hadn’t been found in Hawaii before. In a research paper published in Myrmecological News (online in September, scheduled for print early next year; www.myrmecologicalnews.

org), Krushelnycky and Grzesiek Buczkowski, an entomologist at Purdue University, wonder whether it may signal a new wave of ant expansion.

Over the past century, tropical ants, including fire ants, have swept the world, but temperate zone ants have not been as adventurous.

The mysterious colony of odorous house ants in remote Waipoli raises more questions than it answers.

And while odorous house ants do not bite people or chomp on buildings, they could pose an additional threat to native insects by outcompeting them.

Krushelnycky said he is concerned because invaders have already made huge inroads at lower elevations, and the odorous house ant (Tapinoma sessile), which lives as far north as Canada, might find a home in the higher elevations of Haleakala National Park, where tropical ants find it too cold.

Odorous house ants have already found a happy home in Kula. In North America, they are inconspicuous, living in small colonies in leaf litter, but when they move to the city, or to warm Maui, they learn different habits.

The Waipoli infestation covers a huge area, about half a mile across at least, and it may be a supercolony. DNA testing will be needed to confirm that, but ant fights suggest it.

In the wild, odorous house ant colonies are small, with a single queen. In warm buildings at Purdue University in Indiana, Buczkowski said, they have formed supercolonies with 25,000 queens and 5 million workers.

By putting workers from different nests in a glass vial, Krushelnycky and Buczkowski observed whether they made antagonistic movements or got along quietly.

Ordinarily, ants from two nests would not get along. In Kula, the ants were peaceable, although less so the farther apart any two nests were, suggesting that all are closely related.

That does not mean the ants are gathered densely together. The nests are widely dispersed, and the ants share their territory with seven other species, including the Argentine ant and the big-headed ant.

This raises questions for the entomologists, because past work has found odorous house ants to be outcompeted by Argentine and big-headed ants. They seem to be holding their own in Kula, though.

Cas Vanderwoude, who devised a novel bait that allowed eradication of a colony of little fire ants in Waihee before they could irrevocably establish themselves, wrote in an email: “It’s really hard to predict what a new species will do once it arrives in a different environment. . . . Certainly Paul’s research on Argentine ants in midelevation parts of Maui show there could be cause for concern” with odorous ants as well.

“The issue here is that we have a very narrow window of opportunity to eradicate something once it is discovered. Without certainty about potential impacts, it is difficult to present an economic case for funding.”

Funding is scarce now, anyhow, and nobody knows how long the odorous ants have been at Waipoli, according to the researchers.

Because they already cover such a big area, Krushelnycky said he is doubtful they could be eliminated.

The little fire ant colony that was destroyed was in a much smaller area.

There is a difference of opinion about what odor odorous house ants emit.

They come from a family notable for the smelly defensive chemicals they make. Some think their smell is like coconut, although Krushelnycky said that, at best, it smells like rotting coconut to him.

Buczkowski described it to a Purdue journalist as reminiscent of pina colada.

Vanderwoude, who works in the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawaii-Hilo and with the state Department of Agriculture, participated in the Waipoli surveys, but he said he doesn’t know why Tapinoma smells as it does.

Many ants have distinctive smells (and tastes; Vanderwoude sometimes tastes ants). “There is another species in Australia that smells like mint-chocolate!” Vanderwoude wrote. But, “some ant species taste vile, so choose carefully!”

* Harry Eagar can be reached at heagar@mauinews.com.

Wireless chip catches ride on dragonfly

Wireless chip catches ride on dragonfly

Duke University researcher Matt Reynolds and colleagues have developed a sensor and transmitter light enough to be carried by a dragonfly, transmitting the insect’s nerve impulses to researchers at 5 megabytes per second as it hunts its prey on the wing. (Credit: Duke University)

DUKE (US) — A new wirelessly powered telemetry system is lightweight and powerful enough to study the neurological activity of dragonflies as they capture prey on the wing.

Past studies of insect behavior have been limited by the fact that remote data collection, or telemetry, systems were too heavy to allow the insects to act naturally, as they would in the wild. The new system uses no batteries; its power is beamed wirelessly to the flying dragonfly.

Duke University electrical engineer Matt Reynolds, working with Reid Harrison at Intan Technologies, developed the chip for scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), who are trying to better understand the complex flight control system of dragonflies.

They gather their information by attaching tiny electrodes to individual cells in the dragonfly’s nerve cord and recording the electrical activity of the dragonfly’s neurons and muscles. Because existing systems are so heavy, experiments to date have been carried out with immobilized dragonflies.

“Our system provides enough power to the chip attached to a flying dragonfly that it can transmit in real time the electrical signals from many dragonfly neurons,” Reynolds says. The researchers expect this system will enable studying behavior of small animals remotely for the first time.

Reynolds, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, presented his work last week at the annual Biomedical Circuits and Systems Conference, held by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in San Diego.

Tons of data

The wireless power transmitter works within a flight arena used for the experiments. It can send enough power to the chip to enable it to send back reams of data at over five megabits per second, which is comparable to a typical home Internet connection.

This is important, the scientists say, because they plan to sync the neuronal data gathered from the chip with high-speed video taken while the insect is in flight and preying on fruit flies.

“Capturing this kind of data in the past has been exceedingly challenging,” says Anthony Leonardo, a neuroscientist who studies the neural basis of insect behavior at HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia. “In past studies of insect neurons, the animal is alert, but restrained, and observing scenarios on a projection screen. A huge goal for a lot of researchers has been to get data from live animals who are acting naturally.”

Weighs less than a stamp

The average weight of the dragonfly species involved in these studies is about 400 milligrams, and Leonardo estimates that an individual dragonfly can carry about one-third of its weight without negatively impacting its ability to fly and hunt.

Currently, most multi-channel wireless telemetry systems weigh between 75 and 150 times more than a dragonfly, not counting the weight of the battery, which rules them out for most insect studies, he says. A battery-powered version of the insect telemetry system, previously developed by Harrison and Leonardo, weighs 130 milligrams—liftable by a foraging dragonfly but with difficulty.

The chip that Reynolds and his team developed is just 38 milligrams, or less than half the weight of a typical postage stamp. That makes it one-fifth the weight of earlier telemetry systems, but with 15 times greater bandwidth, Reynolds says.

The researchers expect to begin flight experiments with dragonflies over the next few months. The testing will take place in a specially designed flight arena at HHMI’s Janelia Farm complex equipped with nature scenes on the walls, a pond and plenty of fruit flies for the dragonflies to eat.

The chip, with two hair-thin antennae, will be attached to the belly of the insect so it does not interfere with the wings. Being carried like a backup parachute on the underside of the animal also gives it uninterrupted radio contact with the power transmitter on the ground.

The project is supported in part by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

More news from Duke University: http://today.duke.edu/

National Pest Management Association Announces Pest Photo Contest Winner

National Pest Management Association Announces Pest Photo Contest Winner

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has announced the winner in its first annual Pest Photo Contest, a national online competition that challenged photographers to submit images of common household pests, rodents and small wildlife.

Pete Elbert, Photag5345, has won the grand prize of $1,000 for his photo submission of a yellow jacket.

Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to the finalists. We look forward to receiving some more superior submissions next year!

Florida budget cuts, mosquito burst create itchy issue ~ REUTERS

Florida budget cuts, mosquito burst create itchy issue

By Amy Wimmer Schwarb

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla | Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:48pm EDT

(Reuters) – James David’s job of controlling mosquitoes in a part of Florida that Spanish explorers once dubbed “Los Mosquitos” is often futile.

But this year, the fight “feels like a sort of hand-to-hand combat,” said David, the mosquito control and coastal services director for St. Lucie County in southeast Florida.

In the past two years, David’s local government has cut 42 percent of mosquito control funding and a quarter of his staff. This year, the state slashed its contribution to local mosquito control by half.

Just weeks ago, with a line-item veto, Republican Governor Rick Scott closed a university mosquito lab that David had relied on for pesticide research.

All this comes as most local mosquito control officials agree the mosquito situation is the worst they have seen since 1998, when El Nino caused rampant rains and the pesky insects that come with them, said Shelly Redovan, executive director of the Florida Mosquito Control Association.

“It’s a bad mosquito year,” Redovan said. “And when you’ve also got reduced funding, it’s going to be tough.”

Florida’s depressed property values and high foreclosure rates have left the state with fewer tax dollars to spend, and nearly every facet of public life has been touched as lawmakers try to pay the state’s bills.

Yet effective management of mosquitoes has been so closely linked to the state’s prosperity that mosquito control officials fear they are victims of their own success.

“We should never, ever forget from where we’ve come,” said Angela Weeks-Samanie, an environmental specialist with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which administers the state mosquito control funds.

“In the blink of an eye, we could go back to where we were when Florida was uninhabitable.”


Mosquitoes have been part of the state’s recorded history since the arrival of the first European settlers. The Spanish, French and English all recounted tales of sleeping on the beach, covered in sand, to escape them.

When Florida was being considered for statehood, U.S. congressmen debated whether mosquitoes would prevent it from ever being a suitable place to live.

Mosquito-spread Yellow Fever broke out in the 1870s and 1880s in pockets throughout Florida — including Jacksonville, Tampa, Key West and the Panhandle — and led to the formation of the State Board of Health in 1889.

More recently, the insects have been common perpetrators in disease outbreaks, such as in the early 2000s, when West Nile virus was spreading in Florida, and in 2010, with dengue fever in the Florida Keys.

This year, the mosquitoes seem to be hitting coastal areas hardest. Lee County, which includes Fort Myers in southwest Florida, set a record in May for the number of mosquito complaints.

One day that month, the county received 457 calls from citizens.

Meanwhile, the Orlando area farther inland is seeing mosquito numbers that are similar to last year’s.

The most likely reason: This year’s troublemakers appear to be floodwater mosquitoes, which thrive in different conditions than the species that lay eggs in standing water.

“Floodwater mosquitoes lay their eggs above the high-tide line, where it’s dry,” said Roxanne Connelly, president of the state Mosquito Control Association and an associate professor of entomology at the University of Florida.

Several months of dry conditions followed by heavy rainfall created ideal conditions for this species, she said.

“Then, sometime later, when you get a high tide or some other influence, they all hatch at the same time,” she said. “They become adults at the same time. And they’re all looking for blood at the same time.”

In one three-acre salt marsh in St. Lucie County, David found mosquito larvae packed so tightly that 1 million were squeezed into an area the size of a pickup truck bed.

Spraying with heavy equipment was ineffective because winds were strong. The pesticide he chose didn’t work, so he changed chemicals twice.

“We were sending out hand crews over and over again at dusk and dawn, trying to spray by hand,” David said. “We’d treat it; it would look like we got a great knockdown. And then, three hours later, it would be just as bad it was before.”

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Bohan)

Florida Mosquito Control