Tag Archives: Pest Control

Insect Colonies Share Brain Power

social insects

Scientists recently performed a study comparing the complexity of brain function in social insects as opposed to solitary insects. They found that unlike vertebrate species, which evolve to have increasingly complex brains the more complex the society becomes, social insects that share information among the members of the colony reduces their need for complex brain function and the complexity of their cognitive brain functioning actually decreased as the complexity of their societies increased.

In vertebrate animal societies as the social environment grows more complex over generations the cognitive abilities of the individuals in that society are forced to adapt and also become more complex. More complex social societies tend to have an increased amount of competition between their individuals. As individuals have to navigate more and more challenges such as conflict over resources, their cognitive abilities are forced to evolve in order to continually sharpen their intelligence so they can continue to survive in more and more complex societies.

However, in social insect species the colony tends to be made up of family groups, with the children staying to help their parents, and while there may be some conflict in these colonies, the survival of the group depends on their ability to work together as a cohesive unit. The more cooperative structures of social insect colonies end up affecting the evolution of the brain differently.

Researchers studied the brains of 29 related species of wasps from Costa Rica, Ecuador and Taiwan. They studied both solitary and social species that had varying colony sizes and structures. They found that the solitary species had evolved to have larger brain parts associated with complex cognition used for such things as spatial memory, associative learning, and multi-sensory integration. On the other hand, the social insect species had less complex cognitive function. The researchers believe that this is because social insect colony members are able to rely on group members, meaning they don’t have to invest as much energy in more complex individual cognitive functions. These social species evolved to survive cooperatively, utilizing such things as sharing information among colony members, which reduces the need for individual cognition.

Do you think humans could have evolved in this manner if we had more cooperative societies, or is that impossible due to our conscious brains? How might our humans society be different if our brains had evolved in the same way as our societies became more complex?

Off With Their Heads! Brutal Insect Decapitators

Off With Their Heads! Brutal Insect Decapitators

We’re all pretty familiar with the gruesome practice of using the guillotine during the French Revolution to decapitate hundreds of French nobility. But that was actually the most humane method of head removal us humans have come up with to date. We’ve been chopping off heads left and right for centuries, and not always in the most clean manner…but it turns out we’re not the only species to use this gruesome killing method. There are actually a number of insect species that specialize in decapitation.

One of the most ruthless headhunters in the world is the seemingly unassuming tropical flies of the Dohrniphora genus. Three species of these phorid flies make their living by slicing the heads off of trap-jaw ants. A female fly will surgically remove her victim’s head with her very long proboscis that is tipped with a sharp blade-like organ. She will then either drag off the head so she can eat the goo inside in peace, or use the empty head as a vessel for her to lay her eggs in. How do these tiny flies outwit these fearsome giant ants? They attack them when they are injured during a colony battle. That’s pretty clever if you ask me.

What do you think of this ruthless behavior in such innocent looking flies? Will this make you a little more wary of these seemingly insignificant creatures in the future?

April marks annual designation celebrating the important role of pest professionals

This April, Hulett Environmental Services is proud to celebrate National Pest Management Month, a public observance formally recognized each year by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to acknowledge the pest management industry’s redcommitment to the protection of public health and property from household pest threats.  Additionally, as spring is an especially busy time for pest-related activity, Hulett Environmental Services encourages homeowners to take proactive pest proofing steps in the coming weeks.

We are proud to be members of an industry which plays an important role in people’s everyday lives and are committed to helping homeowners protect their homes and ensuring public places and residences are free of disease-carrying pests.

As pests emerge from their overwintering spots, we encourage the public to tackle simple home improvement and landscaping projects that will make a big difference in staving off infestations during the warmer months.

Hulett Environmental Services experts recommend the following tips to pest-proof the home this spring:

  • Seal any cracks on the outside of the home with a silicone-based caulk, including entry points for utilities and pipes.
  • Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows.
  • Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
  • Repair fascia and rotted roof shingles.
  • Keep mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation.
  • Eliminate sources of standing water around the house, including birdbaths and in clogged gutters.
  • Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  • Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
  • Avoid leaving pet’s food dishes out for long periods of time.
  • Just call HULETT if an infestation is suspected.

Why Bed Bugs Aren’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon

Why Bed Bugs Aren’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon 

Bed Bugs—two words that have become infamous for several reasons. One, they are exactly the type of insect that so many fear … they hide during the day and come out at night to feed on unsuspecting humans. Secondly, once you have them in your home they are extremely hard to eliminate.

Think you have Bed Bugs and want to try to get rid of the problem on your own? No chance. This is a job for professionals. We are experts in Bed Bug elimination and control, and this is exactly what you will need should you have or suspect Bed Bugs in your home.

The problem is not going away, and in fact, a new report shows that the number of Bed Bugs in New York City hotels has sky rocketed. What’s more, one of the most common ways Bed Bugs get into homes is by bringing them back after travel. Hotel beds, furniture and even luggage racks are common areas to find these pests.  They then latch onto belongings and “hitchhike” their way into homes.

So, what can you do while traveling? In short, be sure to lift up the bed sheets and inspect the mattress (bear in mind Bed Bugs tend to hide in the seams of mattresses) and consider leaving your suitcase in the bathtub, as this is one area that Bed Bugs are unlikely to be found.

What do you think? Will you be storing your luggage in the bathtub from now on when you travel? What other precautions do you take when it comes to Bed Bugs?

Stopping the Spread

Stopping the Spread

As crazy as it sounds (or maybe not crazy at all) invasive insects cost the U.S. an estimated $120 billion a year in damages to our environment, agriculture and native species. Below I will list out 5 invasive pests, and how you can stop their spread!

Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP):

A disease-infected insect that spreads Huanglongbing (HLB or citrus greening disease) throughout citrus producing states. I order to stop the spread of the ACP; consumers must avoid moving citrus plants. Unfortunately once a tree is infected there is no cure, leading the tree to produce green, misshapen and bitter fruit.

Imported Fire Ants:

Both black and red fire ants commonly move to new, non-infested areas by doing so naturally or by spreading colonies, and potentially even by hitchhiking on agricultural commodities. Reduce their spread by cleaning all farm equipment that may be caked in mud and dirt before moving them between properties.

Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB):

These beetles attack 12 different types of trees, with the most being maple. Once a tree is infested with ALB the tree will due. We can help by reporting signs of ALB that way the spread can be prevented by the state. Signs of ALB include ¼ inch or larger exit holes, egg sites, frass (sawdust-like material) on the ground or in brand crotches, dead or fallen branches and an larva or tunneling holes in cut wood) Make sure you do not move firewood either because you may be moving ALB or other damaging pests.

Khapra Beetle:

Although this beetle has not been detected in the United States, we want to be sure that it stays this way as it is one of the world’s most destructive pests. They are a threat to stored agricultural products, including grain, spices, packaged and dried food and animal products. The plants at risk include wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, rice and flour. To help prevent this beetle from entering the U.S. be sure you are always declaring all agricultural products when traveling internationally.

9 Killer Insects to Watch Out For

9 Killer Insects to Watch Out For

Usually we hear about all of the deadliest insects coming from Australia or Africa. We consider ourselves pretty safe in the U.S. But, don’t let your guard down just yet. We too have deadly insects that can deliver a fatal blow should we encounter them. They typically spend the winter far away from humans, so we’re relatively safe…for now. Here are nine deadly insects that are native to the U.S.

The Arizona bark scorpion is the only scorpion whose venom can be fatal. If you’re stung by one you can expect to experience numbness, convulsions, and frothing at the mouth. Sounds fun…

Most people are familiar with the black widow spider. But did you know that its venom is fifteen times stronger than a rattlesnakes? Symptoms include chest pain, vomiting, swelling, and fainting.

Brown recluse spiders lurk in the dark, hidden corners of your home. Their bite causes your skin cells to necrotize, and if not treated immediately, can lead to fatal infections and loss of limbs.

Puss caterpillars may look cute and cuddly, but those fuzzy “hairs” are actually spines that can become embedded in your skin and cause an incredibly painful reaction.

Anopheles mosquitos transmit malaria, and many of them are resistant to insecticides.

Kissing bugs transmit the parasite T. cruzi, which causes Chagas disease. Symptoms can include stroke, constipation, and even sudden cardiac arrest.

Wasps actually cause a surprising number of deaths in the U.S. every year. This is mostly because many people are allergic to their sting.

Africanized bees are much more aggressive than their traditional counterpart, and tend to attack in swarms. The sheer number of stings a person can get from one of these swarms is what kills people.

Do you remember learning about the bubonic plague in history class. Well, Oriental rat fleas still carry the bacteria that causes the plague. Catch this bad boy and you can expect symptoms as awful as internal bleeding and seizures.

What do you think of the U.S.’s most dangerous insects? Do they make you afraid to go to sleep at night?

Bug Free BBQ

Bug Free Bbq

Summer time is filled with social events and of course this includes the beloved bbq. If you know you are going to have one you can prevent unwanted buggers before the party even starts. At least a week before the festivities, make sure you repair all window and door screens and needed. If you find any standing water, such as in planters or other items in your yard, be sure to dump it as mosquitoes loves standing water to breed. Mosquitoes are also most active when most bbq’s heat up. From dusk to dawn. Be sure to have a supply of spray for your guests or remind them that long sleeves are always a plus. Ants, yellow jackets and flies love bbqs as much as we do! Asks your guests to please make sure the doors are closed tightly behind them as the traffic flows in and out of your home. Serving food inside can help eliminate some of the attraction, as well as making sure all spills are cleaned up and trash is thrown away in a sealed container. Can and bottle can be a great hiding spot for a stinging pest. You may want to use clear glassware to keep an eye on things. Don’t get bugged at your next bbq.

For more information on mosquitoes, flies, ants and yellow jackets click here

Carpenters – the ants that don’t fix your home

Carpenters – the ants that don’t fix your home

Besides the obvious property damage concerns termite cause, carpenter ants produce the second highest amount of property damage. Carpenter ants will make their nest in wood. To do so they must first hollow the wood out, much like termites, causing severe damage.

Carpenter ants can be difficult to detect, despite the fact that their colonies can reach up to ten thousand workers.  If you don’t actually see the ants, one indication of an infestation comes after it is already too late. You may see small holes and shavings from the wood they have hollowed.

Carpenter ants are known to attack damn or decaying wood. One of the easiest ways to prevent an infestation is to remove any decaying wood from the perimeter of your home and keep your firewood away from your home.  To avoid issues, some other tips include keeping the wood to dirt ratio near your home very low and look in crawl spaces and other small areas regularly.

If you think you might have a carpenter ant issue, call your local pest control company so that they may formulate a proper plan to control the issue before any major damage is done.

For more information on carpenter ants, click here

Ant Slaves!

Ant Slaves

Scientists believed that the life of a Japanese oak blue butterfly caterpillar resembled that of a queen ant due to its loyal ant servants. A new paper, published in the journal Current Biology shows the Japanese species in a new light.  A three-member team at Japan’s Kobe University noticed that the ants who served a Japanese oak blue butterfly caterpillar did so constantly. They were pulled away from their daily duties even the search for food. Scientists assumed that they stayed with the caterpillar in some sort of symbiotic relationship for the sake of benefiting from a sugary syrup-like secretion from the caterpillar.

However, a free exchange would see lines of ants being pleased to serve the caterpillar for a time and then move on. The Japanese researchers showed that it was the same ants which constantly stood guard over the caterpillar.

With the help of both chemical and visual signals, scientists discovered that the caterpillar actually controls its “bodyguards.” The ants who sip its sugary secretions begin to take cues from the movement of the caterpillar’s ‘tentacles’ and abide by its instructions.

The caterpillar must secure safe transformation into a butterfly. During this metamorphosis, it needs protection from predators such as wasps and spiders. Its pheromones leave the vulnerable creature with an aggressive brigade of loyal ant bodyguards.

“There are glandular cells near the tentacles that could be secreting chemical signals,” researcher Masaru Hojo told New Scientist. “It is possible that both visual and chemical signals are stimulating the ant aggression.”

https://www.rt.com/news/311490-japanese-caterpillar-zombie-ants/

Sahara-Dwelling Ants Have Secret Heat Shield

Sahara-Dwelling Ants Have Secret Heat Shield

The silver ant stands out as it marches across the desert sands, appearing as a flash of metal.  They are only able to make forays outside their burrows lasting for ten minutes at a time in the midday heat, but that is enough to survive in this harsh environment.

Scientists have long wondered how this creature can withstand temperatures beyond 150 degrees, and thrive.  Recent research shows that it’s the ants coating of hairs that protect its body from both sun and heat.

Nature’s engineering has created a system of tubular hairs with a triangular shape, the bottom or flat part of the triangle facing down against the ant’s body.  Between that flat bottom is an air pocket.

The hairs have two functions that work to protect the creature from overheating.  Their triangular shape and color are anti-reflective, reducing the penetration of sunlight and therefore heat into the body.  At the same time, the hairs grow straight up but run parallel to the surface of the ants’ bodies, with an important air pocket that allows for cooling.  The two features work together in efficient combination.

The study’s conclusions have been published in the journal Science.  The researchers are now on the path to copying this amazing system to create a “metasurface” that could withstand very high temperatures.