Tag Archives: Bugs

Keeping office clean

Caring For Your Workplace: How to Keep Your Offices Clean and Clear of Bugs

Keep your office pest-freeBe honest: when you hear the words “pest control,” doesn’t your mind immediately jump to your home? It is okay if it does: that’s where the focus lies for most of us. It is important, though, that you also put in some effort to keep your workplace as clean and pest free as possible. After all, the last thing you want is for a pest to hitch a ride home from work, right? So what do you do?

Getting Rid of Temptation

How often do you choose to eat lunch at your desk instead of going out? How often do you keep hot beverages nearby for sipping during the day? Do you keep tea bags or packets of hot chocolate or apple cider in your desk? Stop it.

Even if you bring your lunch from home, get away from your desk at lunchtime. Take your meal to the break room or even out of the building altogether. If the weather is cooperating, take it to a nearby park.

Instead of keeping tea bags, packets of hot chocolate or cider in your desk, bring them into work with you each day and keep them in a sealed Ziploc bag in your purse, briefcase or lunch bag. If you simply must keep a variety on hand, make sure they are sealed in an airtight container (sandwich bags, Tupperware type containers, etc.—no cardboard).

Clean Every Day

It sounds tedious but if you clean up your workspace every day, you’ll find that the task gets easier over time until it takes just a few minutes each afternoon before you leave. Even better, clean things during the day:

  • Put files and office supplies away as soon as you’re done using them.
  • Keep the clutter to a minimum; use digital reminders instead of scribbled notes.
  • Take your shredding and recycling out every afternoon.

If you snack at your desk, use compressed air to blow the crumbs out of your computer keyboard or laptop each afternoon and make sure you’re wiping down the desk before you leave. A quick swipe with the vacuum or carpet sweeper is also a good idea if you’ve been particularly messy.

If You Are in Charge

If you are the business’s owner, you’re going to have to take some extra steps to keep the space pest and bug free. Here are a few things that you can do:

Set up strict break room rules: used dishes need to be washed right away and food should not be left out unattended.

Ask employees to use the break room trash can for any food-based trash they might have and then have that trash taken out every day. If you don’t have a break room, ask them to take the food-based trash out to your dumpster or to an outdoor trash can to prevent pests from sensing it during the evening and night.

Hire a cleaning crew to come in at least once a week to do a thorough scrubbing of the workplace. Make sure to hire a cleaning crew that uses only environmentally responsible cleaning methods.

Hire a professional pest control expert to come in and treat the space so that pests won’t even be tempted to forage within the building. It is important that an expert treat the building for pests both inside and outside. Treating the outside of the building can keep the pests from being tempted to explore the inside.

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/

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Another Blogger Likes our Commercials

Remember when that blogger wrote a post about how much he loved the Hulett Environmental advertisements? Well another blogger has praised an old school Hulett advertisement on his blog. You can see it here. Something tells me this isn’t the last blogger to love, share or write about our commercials :-)