A new paper has found bat-eating spiders exist on every continent except Antarctica, with bats falling prey more often than expected.
Though bats are typically preyed on by vertebrates (with hawks, snakes and owls their most common predators), there are some invertebrate species quite partial to the taste of bat. We’ve previously written about the giant Venezuelan centipede Scolopendra gigantea, which hangs from cave ceilings and snatches bats as they pass. However, spiders eating bats was thought to be quite rare.
When two recent studies both reported spiders having bat for dinner, researchers wondered if this behavior was more common than suspected. After analysis of over 100 years worth of reports, together with interviews from bat and spider researchers, they found over 50 cases worldwide of spider attacks on bats.
90% of these attacks happened in habitats around the equator and 40% occurred in the neotropics (South America and tropical regions of North America). Interestingly it wasn’t just web-spinning spiders – 12% of attacks were by spiders such as huntsmen and tarantulas, which forage rather than make webs. In one case, a fishing spider was seen attempting to kill an immature bat (though it was scared off by photographers).
The authors point out that bat captures are likely still rare. It’s probable bats can detect webs using their echolocation abilities and even if a bat does fly into a web, only the strongest webs can take the impact without breaking. Unsurprisingly smaller bats are more vulnerable to spider web entanglement (and in some cases, it was exhaustion and dehydration resulting from this entanglement that killed bats rather than direct spider attacks).
To read the paper: http://bit.ly/13Z3QwT
Photo: A small bat entangled in the web of a Nephila pilipes spider in Australia. The spider appeared to be feeding on the dead bat. Credit to Carmen Fabro.
Information on Lawn Pests
Looking for information on lawn pests in Florida? You have found the right place on the web! Most homeowners in Florida take pride in maintaining their gardens and landscapes. But healthy landscapes can bring certain Florida bugs, and these pests feed on plants and grass. Unless protective pest control measures are taken, various outdoor invaders can do extensive damage to your yard and garden.
Chinch bugs are seriously damaging to St Augustine and other turf grass species. They suck the plant juices through their needle-like beak and can also cause other internal injuries to the grass, which can result in yellowish and brown patches in lawns. These affected areas are frequently noticed first along concrete or asphalt-paved edges, or in water-stressed areas where the grass is growing in full sun.
Aphids and whitefly feed on vegetable plantings, ornamentals and tender plant parts such as grass shoots, sucking out essential fluids. Aphids and scale excrete a sweet substance known as honeydew that attracts ants and forms a sticky coating on leaves. The honeydew can form a fungus called “sooty mold,” which can make leaves, especially on ornamentals, look black and dirty. Aphids can also transmit plant viruses to their food plants, which can cause the plant to die. These pests, as well as chinch bugs, are particularly prevalent throughout the spring months.
During fall and winter, mites and scale are common. Scale insects live in the soil and suck the juices from the grass roots of turf grass; they can also be harmful to ornamental plants. Symptoms attributed to scale insects include yellowing of the grass, followed by browning; scale damage becomes most noticeable when the grass is under stress due to drought, nutritional deficiencies and other afflictions. Ordinarily not a pest in well-managed lawns, mites are known to attack grasses. They suck the sap and cause leaves to appear blotched and stippled, and severe infestations can also kill plants.
Some of these pests are especially damaging since they are literally born and raised on lawn turf grass in the surrounding soil. Sod webworms eat various grasses as larvae and continue doing so as adults. Others, like mole crickets, destroy lawns by tunneling through the soil near the lawn’s surface, which loosens the soil so that the grass is often uprooted and dies due to the drying out of the root system. They also feed on grass roots, causing thinning of the turf, eventually resulting in bare soil. Mole crickets are common when the temperatures are the warmest and rainfall and humidity is high. They can also be found in and around your home in dark, damp places.
Slugsandsnails often move about on lawns and may injure adjacent plants. They are night feeders and leave mucous trails on plants and sidewalks. Plaster bagworms, close relatives of the clothes moth, are often found in sheds and garages.
Do you live in Florida and have a lawn pest problem in your landscape? Hulett Environmental Services offers custom designed lawn care treatments to control and prevent these pests!
Hulett Environmental Services, a pest management company servicing South Florida warns that homeowners might begin to notice more spiders in and around their home as the cooler weather rolls in.
Much like humans, spiders seek shelter from cooler weather in warm environments. Unfortunately, our homes provide the perfect harborage site for these creepy crawlers to ride out the colder months, which can lead to a larger infestation.
Spiders prefer to spin their webs in dark, undisturbed areas around the house, so homeowners should pay special attention to basements, garages and attics. recommends keeping these areas particularly clean and free of clutter. Experts also suggest the following tips to avoid contact with spiders:
- Install screens and weather stripping on windows and door sweeps on doors.
- Fix any cracks in siding and walls, especially where pipes or wires enter the home.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.
- Wear heavy gloves when moving items that have been stored for a long period of time.
- Inspect items such as boxes of decorations and grocery bags before bringing them indoors.
- Store clothing inside plastic containers and check shoes before putting them on, as spiders often hide in these items.
- If you suspect that a spider has bitten you, contact your primary care physician for medical advice.
- If you have a spider infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional.
Spiders are a beneficial part of the ecosystem, as they provide a natural form of pest control by catching insects in their webs, but that doesn’t mean they have an open invitation to wander inside our homes.
For more information on spiders and other common household pests, please visit www.bugs.com
Here are a few facts to help homeowners protect themselves from stinging insects over the next few months:
- Stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room every year. They can swarm and sting en masse, which can be life threatening especially for anyone who has an allergic reaction.
- Unlike some stinging insect species, wasps are known for their unprovoked aggression. A single colony of wasps can contain more than 15,000 members, so an infestation should not be taken lightly.
- Common nesting sites include under eaves, on ceiling beams in attics, garages and sheds and under porches. Some stinging insects can build their nests in the ground, including yellowjackets and velvet ants (which are actually a species of wasps). Over-seeding the yard provides more coverage and discourages these pests from nesting around the property.
- Painting or staining untreated wood in fences, decks, swing sets and soffits will help keep stinging insects such as carpenter bees out. Carpenter bees create nests by drilling tunnels into soft wood, which can severely compromise the stability of a structure over time.
- Only female carpenter bees have stingers. Female carpenter bees will only sting if threatened, but reactions to these stings can range from mild irritation to life-threatening respiratory distress.
Someone captured footage recently of an ant colony working together to haul off an enormous dinner. Some ants crawl under and support the meal, while others form a chain to pull it away. Together, the ants are able to move something hundreds of thousands of times their weight.
The footage was posted to LiveLeak. Check it out:
Dr. Jim Fredericks from the National Pest Management Association discusses if all spiders bite.
- Seal cracks around the outside of the home to prevent pest entryways.
- Properly ventilate basements and crawl spaces to eliminate harborage points.
- Vacuum frequently and remove garbage from around the home on a routine basis.
- Do not allow dirty dishes to accumulate in the sink and remain there overnight.
- Keep food in the refrigerator or in containers with tight-fitting lids to prevent contamination.
- Periodically check and clean the evaporation pan under the refrigerator or freezer.
- If you suspect you have an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to identify the species and recommend a course of treatment.
Many people blame their sneezing and runny noses on pollen and grass, however, household pests are often culprits as well. It’s important for people to make an effort to keep the home free of potential triggers, and the first step is practicing good sanitation.
We recommend the following tips for safeguarding homes against common indoor allergens caused by pests:
- Exclude pests by sealing cracks and gaps on the outside of the home. Pay special attention to utility pipe entry points.
- Vacuum at least once a week using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter.
- Keep food sealed and stored properly, and clean kitchen floors and counters daily.
- Dispose of garbage regularly and store in sealed containers.
- If allergic to stinging insects, learn how to use an epinephrine kit and carry it with you at all times.
- Should you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction following a stinging insect encounter, such as tongue and throat swelling, wheezing, dizziness, or shortness of breath, call 911.
- If you suspect an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to safely remove the threat.