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The dengue virus may actually make mosquitoes thirstier for human blood, new research has found.
In a study published last week in PLoS Pathogens, mosquito experts at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the dengue virus altered the production of proteins made by 147 different genes.
Some changes appeared to make the antennae more sensitive to odors — making them better at hunting humans, the virus’s only known mammalian host. Other changes in salivary gland genes appeared to make it easier for the virus to get into a mosquito’s saliva, ready for injection.
Those tests were done on a genome microarray — snippets of the DNA of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes coating a glass slide. But when the researchers tried to replicate the results in live mosquitoes, they could not prove they were hungrier.
“Since we can’t infect humans for our experiments, we think it’s a problem with the model,” said George Dimopoulos, lead author of the new study.
In his laboratory model, mosquitoes had to drink infected blood from a balloonlike membrane and then were offered mice to bite.
“Mosquitoes will feed on other animals if they get hungry, but it isn’t their favorite dish,” Dr. Dimopoulos said.
Up to 100 million people are infected with dengue each year; it is known as “breakbone fever” for the joint pain it causes. Up to 15,000 die of it annually, most of them children, according to the World Health Organization. There is no vaccine or cure.
PEST-PROOFING CAN HELP KEEP PESTS OUTDOORS THIS SPRING
Hulett Environmental Services offers tips to help homeowners pest-proof their home
Spring is here and that means weekends throughout April will find homeowners opening windows, packing away the winter clothes and returning patio furniture outdoors. While partaking in these annual “spring cleaning” routines, Hulett Environmental Services is also encouraging people to add pest-proofing inside and outside of the home to their spring to-do lists.
“As the weather continues to warm, homeowners should expect to see increased activity from various insects such as ants, termites and cockroaches,” said Greg Rice at Hulett Environmental Services. “Taking preventive measures early in the spring season is the best approach to avoiding infestations and the subsequent health and property risks associated with these pests.”
Experts at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and Hulett Environmental Services recommend the following steps homeowners can take to keep unwanted pests outside where they belong:
- Seal cracks and holes along the foundation of the home including entry points for utilities and pipes.
- Screen windows and doors.
- Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water around the house, including birdbaths and in clogged gutters.
- Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and on a raised structure such as concrete blocks or poles.
- Keep kitchens clean by wiping counters and emptying the garbage frequently.
- Avoid leaving pet’s food dishes out for long periods of time.
- Inspect the outside of a home for nests built by stinging insects — typically found in the eaves under roofs.
If you suspect you have an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to identify the species and recommend a course of treatment. For more information, please visit www.bugs.com
Golden rain tree flowers and seed pods. UF/IFAS Extension
By Adrian Hunsberger
Q. I found a whole bunch of black and red bugs on my lawn. Are they eating my plants?
These insects are called the Jadera or golden rain tree bugs. They feed on the seeds of the golden rain tree and the seeds of balloon vine and the invasive Chinaberry but don’t cause noticeable plant damage.
Avoid crushing them since they cause stains and spraying them with pesticides is not warranted.
You can hose them off with water to move them off walkways and porches. Jadera bugs are seasonal and are most noticed when the seeds have dropped from the tree. If this insect is causing a nuisance on lawns and playgrounds, rake up and remove the golden rain tree pods and seeds.
The golden rain tree is a handsome flowering tree well suited to south Florida soils and conditions. The flowers are yellow and the tree produces pink papery seed pods that look like triangular-shaped balloons that are persistent on the tree for a few months.
Send undamaged (live or dead) insects in a crush-proof container such as a pill bottle or film canister with the top taped on. Mail them in a padded envelope or box with a brief note explaining where you found the insects.
Do not tape insects to paper or place them loose in envelopes. Insect fragments or crushed insect samples are almost impossible to identify.
Send them to the address of your county extension office, found in the blue pages in the phone book under county government.
Adrian Hunsberger is an entomologist/horticulturist with the UF/IFAS Miami-Dade Extension office. Write to Plant Clinic, 18710 SW 288th St., Homestead, FL 33030; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/29/2771093/bugs-wont-harm-plants-will-stain.html#storylink=cpy
Because of the extra-mild winter this year, the early spring could bring an unwelcome guest: the tick. Be warned: The warmer weather is good news for people and pets who want to be outside, but beware of an uptick of the hard-to-detect pest.
The basic reason is that the eggs will hatch sooner. “Eggs are already in the ground, but this is the time that they will be coming out in great numbers,” said Pollie Rueda, an entomologist stationed at the Smithsonian and Walter Reed Army institute of Research. He noted that the normal tick season is from May through August, but with the 70-degree temperatures in some places, the ticks may get a jump on the season.
Ticks that are already out and about are the visible adult, sesame-sized ones, noted Kristen Nordlund of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Think of these little buggers as the arachnid form of vampires. They hang out in blades of grass for a host to come along — a mouse, a dog, or a human — to attach themselves and feed off your blood over days, or until discovered, and they often leave disease behind — sometimes multiple illnesses.
The big concern for humans, according to the CDC, is that most tick infections occur during the “nymph” stage. Those recently hatched ticks are the size of the period at the end of this sentence, and they have four sets of legs and the ability to suck your blood. Because they are essentially invisible, preying on a host can easily go undetected.
In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted. Infections from ticks, such as Lyme disease (plus babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and anaplasmosisis), are on the rise and are difficult to diagnose. The symptoms are awful: from headaches to long-term joint pain and even heart problems.
Since 1992, the cases of Lyme disease have doubled, according to the CDC, and more than 21,000 cases are reported every year.
The CDC is conducting tests on actual households to confirm if spraying a pesticide in the backyard helps to reduce the incidence of human disease. Check its website for good information on preventive measures.
NATIONAL PEST MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION REPORTS RESURGENCE IN BEDBUG INFESTATIONS
Bedbugs Infesting Residential and Multifamily Homes, Apartment Complexes, Residence Halls, Hospitals and Hotels
According to the National Pest Management Association, pest control companies are reporting a significant increase in the number of calls regarding bedbug infestations. Renowned hitchhikers, bedbugs catch rides in luggage, shoes, pant hems and any other mobile material. Although there is no way to determine the actual cause of the resurgence, experts are attributing the increase to several things, which include global travel and the mobility of the pest.
These infestations can be difficult to detect due to the elusive, nocturnal and transient nature of the pest. Although their name suggests otherwise, bedbugs can be found in carpets, peeling wallpaper, light fixtures, and any crack small enough for a thin insect to hide. Bedbug infestations are not a sign of unsanitary or unclean living areas.
Adult bedbugs are about the size and shape of a lentil. Their color depends on how recently they have eaten. They turn red after consuming a blood meal and then begin to gradually turn a brownish color. Capable of living up to ten months without a meal, a single bedbug can lay up to 500 eggs in its lifetime.
As bedbugs bite human skin, they inject an anesthetic-like liquid that numbs the skin and allows the pest to bite undisturbed. In fact, humans don’t usually wake up when they are being bitten; however, they do find themselves scratching circular, red, itchy welts in the morning.
Bedbug infestations should only be treated by trained, licensed professional pest management companies. This is not an infestation that can be treated by do-it-yourself measures. Professionals know where to look and can offer the most up to date methods of bedbug control.
For more information on other ant species and preventative tips visit
Making movies isn’t as glamorous as you might think.
Especially indie flicks.
Just ask a certain Parks and Recreation star about the time she got bedbugs…
Aubrey Plaza ended up with a case of the creepy parasites while filming a comedy called, of all things, Safety Not Guaranteed.
Shot on a shoestring budget in about 24 days in rainy Seattle, Plaza stars as one of two magazine editors (the other is newcomer Karan Soni) who are helping a writer (New Girl‘s Jake Johnson) track down a man (Mark Duplass) who claims he can travel back in time.
“It was a nightmare,” Plaza told me about the bedbug bites while the cast was promoting the movie at South by Southwest at the W hotel in downtown Austin. “But, you know, it happens in hotels.”
Her costars couldn’t help but mess with her about it. “I thought she was just freaking out too much and giving herself hives,” Duplass cracked.
Added Johnson, “I told her, ‘The bedbugs seem to only bite when you have a lot of anxiety.’ I think it may have just been a rash from stress.”
Kidding aside, it seems to have all been well worth it. Writer Derek Connolly actually wrote Safety with Plaza in mind. It first picked up buzz at Sundance and was a must-see at SXSW. “I read it and immediately attached myself to it,” Plaza said. “I had so much fun making the movie. It was a lot of fun.”
And that included getting to shoot a gun. But, Plaza smiled, “we were doing it at such a fast pace, I thought I was going to shoot myself in the eye.”
Hey, it certainly would have made her forget about the bedbugs.
How One Empty Home Can Lead to Pests for the Whole Block
More than 800,000 homes across the U.S. were foreclosed in 2011, and that number is expected to climb 25 percent this year to more than 1 million homes, according to the RealtyTrac. While the effects of a foreclosure are obviously most devastating to the homeowners and their family, neighbors can also be impacted.
For one, a foreclosure can drive down the value of the rest of the homes in a neighborhood. In addition, a foreclosed home that is empty and uncared for can attract a variety of pests, including termites, spiders, ants, mosquitoes, stinging insects and rodents. An overgrown or unkempt yard, for example, can harbor many more pests than a well-groomed one. In addition, a foreclosed home is more likely to be in need of repairs to the structure. Small holes in siding, rips in screens, broken window glass and cracks in foundation provide easy access inside for pests.
Pests find that an empty house makes a great home for them – providing shelter and even food (in the form of other pests, crumbs, abandoned pantry items and decaying material) and water (from leaky pipes, toilet bowls and standing water). Once these pests find their way into a foreclosed home, it is only a matter of time before the population grows and offspring venture out, seeking food and shelter in other homes on the block.
A rodent infestation is especially likely to spread from a foreclosed home to other nearby houses. As it is, rodents invade an estimated 21 million homes in the U.S. each winter, and with rapid reproduction rates (a female house mouse, for example, can give birth to up to a dozen babies every three weeks) a small infestation can quickly spread to neighboring homes. Rats, on the other hand, can travel up to a mile in a single night. They are also known as exceptional diggers and often build intricate systems, called burrows, which allow them to travel around a neighborhood undetected.
Once rodents do invade a home, they can pose serious health and property risks. Rodents contaminate food and spread diseases like Hantavirus, a viral disease that can be contracted through direct contact with, or inhalation of, aerosolized infected rodent urine, saliva, or droppings. They can also carry and spread fleas, which can pose serious health risks to family pets. Additionally, rodents can pose a significant property risk as they have a tendency to destroy insulation in attics and gnaw wiring, causing up to 25 percent of house fires in the U.S.
Unfortunately, if a house in your neighborhood is under foreclosure, there is little that you can do to prevent pests from infesting that home. But there are many steps that you, as a homeowner, can take to prevent those pests from finding their way into your home. Your first step should be to contact a licensed pest professional who will be able to determine what types of pest infestations your neighborhood is most at risk for, and recommend a prevention plan to help keep your home pest-free. Of course, any pest prevention plan works most effectively when a homeowner carefully follows the recommendations of their pest professional and follows simple pest-proofing tips.
DANIA BEACH – An 88-year-old Dania Beach woman is speaking out after paying $1100 to two men in what BSO says was a termite scam.
Now, the Broward Sheriffs Office is also warning residents about the two men and their unlicensed company: Legend Tree Service.
“I think they’re both crooks,” said the victim. “I think it was very dishonest.”
She asked that CBS4 not reveal her identity, but she told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that she wants to speak about the two men who she said took her money, and who she said are on the BSO flyer.
D’Oench spoke to her at a nursing home where she was visiting her husband.
The two men on the flyer are Michael Scott Goodwin, 51, of Pembroke Pines and George B. Scott, 52, of Hollywood.
The BSO flyer said they “have a history of exploitation of the elderly.”
The flyer said they have been handing out business cards for “Legend Tree Service” and been advising victims that their trees or gardens are infested with termites and that they must “spray immediately” to prevent the termites from destroying their homes.
The flyer says Legend Tree Service is not licensed as a company and is not licensed to spray. It said the two men have collected initial payments from victims, and then have returned on the following day to collect a second payment, even though no further work was done. The flyer says they recently targeted elderly residents in a mobile home park in Dania Beach.
A similar warning was issued by the BSO Tamarac District, which notes, “A business card alone is not sufficient documentation to proceed with an agreement for services.”
CBS4 spoke with a victim who lives at the Estates of Fort Lauderdale Mobile Home Park off Stirling Road in Dania Beach.
She said she felt she could trust the men who told her that her Robellini palm tree was infested.
“He said termites were going to get under my house,” she said. “I live in a mobile home. It was going to destroy my house. The minute I heard termites, I got all shook up so I just gave him the money, $550 on the first day and $550 on the second day.”
“He said he wanted to prune that tree and I’m going to spray all the foliage around your home for $550,” she said. “First it was $330, then $550. Then he came the next day and charged me another $550.”
She said very little work was done.
“I’ve got over a thousand dollars invested in this Robellini that he trimmed a little bit and supposedly sprayed with insecticide for termites,” she said.
The case drew a strong warning from BSO.
“These predators always look for people in the community who are vulnerable,” said BSO spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright.
“If someone comes to your home, then be aware,” she said. “You have the right to say give me your card. Give me your information. I’ll get back to you. You have the right to say no thank you. I don’t want to do business with you.”
“The best thing to do, the best course of action is to get the information. Research it. Get the referrals on your own. Check them out through the Better Business Bureau. Call your local Police Department to see if they’ve had any complaints on these individuals. If anything sounds suspicious, if anything tells you it is wrong, then it probably is. You need to listen to it.”
The victim told CBS4 that she has learned a lesson. “Check the guy that is supposed to do the work,” she said. “Make sure they are licensed and insured.”
She hopes her story will raise awareness about these issues and hopes she can get her money back.
While BSO is warning the public about the two men, authorities say there is no probable cause to arrest them.
CBS4 placed phone calls to the numbers listed in the BSO Event report. He was not able to reach Goodwin, but George Scott called him back and said that he was hoping to pay the victim back with a cashier’s check for $1100.
At first Scott said he would meet with D’Oench for an interview but then said he could not.
Scott said that he wanted to help the victim and said, “I’ve been working my whole life.”
The BSO Event Report says that “the subject cut hedges and put mulch down, but it is unknown what he actually did do for her and what if anything was actually needed.”
The report says Scott has a suspended license and an active warrant for driving license revoked.
“I know the police may be looking for me because of that warrant,” Scott said, “but that has nothing to do with my work.”