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.
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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 email@example.com.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/29/2771093/bugs-wont-harm-plants-will-stain.html#storylink=cpy
WASHINGTON, The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced that it is dedicating the month of April to sharing information about the threat that invasive plant pests, diseases and harmful weeds pose to America’s fruits, vegetables, trees, and other plants—and how the public can help prevent their spread. APHIS works each day to promote U.S. agricultural health and safeguard the nation’s agriculture, fishing and forestry industries.
“Invasive pests hit close to home and threaten the things we value,” said Rebecca A. Blue, Deputy Under Secretary for USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “We need the public’s help because these hungry pests can have a huge impact on the items we use in everyday life, from the fabric in our clothing, the food on our table, the lumber used to build our home and the flowers in our garden. During one of the most successful periods in history for U.S. agriculture, it is important that we step-up our efforts to educate Americans about USDA’s good work to protect our nation’s food, fiber, feed and fuel from invasive pests.”
Invasive pests are non-native species that feed on America’s agricultural crops, trees and other plants. These “hungry pests” have cost the United States billions of dollars and wreak havoc on the environment. USDA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection-working closely with state agriculture departments and industry-are dedicated to preventing the introduction and spread of invasive pests. The goal is to safeguard agriculture and natural resources from the entry, establishment and spread of animal and plant pests and noxious weeds.
But federal and state agencies can’t do it alone. It requires everyone’s help to stop the unintended introduction and spread of invasive pests. The number-one action someone can take is to leave hungry pests behind. USDA urges the public to visit www.HungryPests.com to learn more about invasive pests and what they can do to protect American agricultural resources by preventing the spread of these threats. Here are a few actions that people can take today:
- Buy Local, Burn Local. Invasive pests and larvae can hide and ride long distances in firewood. Don’t give them a free ride to start a new infestation-buy firewood where you burn it.
- Plant Carefully. Buy your plants from a reputable source and avoid using invasive plant species at all costs.
- Do Not Bring or Mail fresh fruits, vegetables, or plants into your state or another state unless agricultural inspectors have cleared them beforehand.
- Cooperate with any agricultural quarantine restrictions and allow authorized agricultural workers access to your property for pest or disease surveys.
- Keep It Clean. Wash outdoor gear and tires between fishing, hunting or camping trips. Clean lawn furniture and other outdoor items when moving from one home to another.
- Learn To Identify. If you see signs of an invasive pest or disease, write down or take a picture of what you see, and then report it at www.HungryPests.com.
- Speak Up. Declare all agricultural items to customs officials when returning from international travel. Call USDA to find out what’s allowed:
(301) 851-2046 for questions about plants
(301) 851-3300 for questions about animals
At www.HungryPests.com, a website available in both English and Spanish, visitors can access the interactive Pest Tracker to see what pests are threatening in a selected state, and to learn how to report suspected invasive pests. The public can also engage on the invasive pests issue via Facebook and Twitter. HungryPests.com is optimized for mobile devices. Public service announcements in both English and Spanish will air on television and radio throughout April and at peak times for domestic travel this summer. APHIS has also been actively collaborating with a number of state partners who will conduct targeted stakeholder engagement on invasive pest issues with state-specific outreach materials.
Added Blue: “The USDA and its partners are fighting invasive pests on three fronts: abroad, at the border, and across the homeland. We’re also developing new tools, improving our systems, and working hard to educate the public on how they can join the fight and help stop the spread of invasive pests.”
There has been success in the fight against invasive pests. The Asian longhorned beetle, detected in Illinois in 1998, was declared eradicated from Illinois in 2008 with the help of local, state and federal partners and Illinois residents. The beetle was also declared eradicated from Hudson County, NJ; and Islip, NY. Extensive efforts by USDA and its partners in California reduced European grapevine moth populations in 2011 by 99.9 percent. That pest was first detected in California in 2009.
With Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, APHIS works tirelessly to create and sustain opportunities for America’s farmers, ranchers and producers. Each day, APHIS promotes U.S. agricultural health, regulates genetically engineered organisms, administers the Animal Welfare Act, and carries out wildlife damage management activities, all to safeguard the nation’s agriculture, fishing and forestry industries. In the event that a pest or disease of concern is detected, APHIS implements emergency protocols and partners with affected states and other countries to quickly manage or eradicate the outbreak. To promote the health of U.S. agriculture in the international trade arena, APHIS develops and advances science-based standards with trading partners to ensure America’s agricultural exports, valued at more than $137 billion annually, are protected from unjustified restrictions.
When you hear of a photo contest you generally think of the usual. City skylines, pets, families, insects would all fall into the category of “usual”. This particular photo contest does not fall into that “usual” category. New York Subway Workers are Running a “Rate My Rat” Photo Contest in which they urge commuters to capture and upload the biggest, fattest vermin. The grand prize you ask? A month free transit pass. If you don’t believe me just visit www.ratfreesubway.com and take a look around for yourself. If you encounter rats I suggest you just call Hulett Environmental Services for all your rat control needs.
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
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!
To guard against the early emergence of pests, Hulett Environmental Services offers the following tips for homeowners:
- Maintain a one-inch gap between soil and wood portions of a building.
- Keep mulch at least 15-inches from the foundation.
- Seal cracks and small openings along the bottom of the house.
- Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water.
- Keep tree branches and other plants trimmed back from the house.
- Keep indoor and outdoor trash containers clean and sealed.
- Screen windows and doors.
- If you suspect a problem, contact a qualified pest professional who can recommend the best course of treatment.