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Pet Friendly Pest Control: Keeping Your Pet Flea and Tick Free

Pet Friendly Pest Control: Keeping Your Pet Flea and Tick Free

In South Florida, it’s always tick and flea season. Keeping your four-legged family members happy and healthy can be more challenging than in other cooler parts of the country. Warm, humid subtropical conditions with lush vegetation and the wide spectrum of wildlife contribute to the potential for many tick and flea associated diseases in the Greater Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach areas.

Our pet-friendly programs are an important feature in our Healthy Home guarantee

Hulett Environmental Services’ pet-friendly pest control program keeps fleas and ticks out of your home and off your favorite family members, your pets. Our Healthy Home approach to pest control uses materials designed for low concentration applications to effectively eliminate small insects, without harming people or pets.  We customize our treatments to your home, often using the same ingredients to treat your home’s interior and exterior as your pet care provider offers in flea and tick prevention for your pets.

Hulett’s proactive pest control programs are designed to not only address current flea and tick issues but also to prevent fleas and ticks moving forward. Because fleas and ticks carry deadly diseases, Hulett urges pet owners to contact a pest control professional as soon as possible with flea infestations and tick trouble.

Fleas carry several diseases that can affect humans and pets.

While fleas are generally just considered a persistent nuisance; these vectors also can cause several diseases in animals and humans, including:

  • Mycoplasma haemofelis
    Infecting red blood cells, M. haemofelis, a bacterial disease is spread to cats through flea, ticks and mosquito bites. M. haemofelis causes fever and anemia primarily in cats but may also affect humans with compromised immune systems, due to bacteria attacking red blood cells.
  • Tapeworms
    Tapeworms are a commonly known intestinal parasite. Children, dogs and cats may get tapeworms from accidentally swallowing diseased adult fleas. Easily treated in both humans and pets with an injection in pets and orally in humans, a drug, praziquantel dissolves the tapeworm in the intestines.
  • Murine typhus
    Another disease carried by cats that affects humans, murine typhus, is confined to Texas and California. While rats are the main carriers, cats coming into contact with diseased fleas can transmit Rickettsia typhi bacteria to humans. Murine typhus causes flu-like symptoms, followed by a rash beginning in the trunk of your body that spreads to your arms and legs. Murine typhus, should be treated as soon as possible as typhus can be fatal if ignored.

Generally, fleas cause a great deal of discomfort. Pets scratching flea bites can break the skin and cause secondary infections. Flea allergy dermatitis can make your pet itchy and miserable, causing excessive licking and scratching at the bite site or all over your pet’s body. Ticks present more dangerous health issues in pets.

Ticks can cause many serious diseases that can affect you and your pets
Most pet owners are more familiar with life-threatening diseases, such as:

  • Lyme disease
    The most commonly reported tick related disease, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium, Lyme disease is thought to be transmitted by the blacklegged tick in Florida. In dogs and cats, Lyme disease can cause joint swelling, lameness, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy and loss of appetite. In rare cases, severe progressive kidney disease can occur.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
    Considered the most severe tick-inflicted disease in the US, RMSF can be misdiagnosed, due to its flu-like symptoms in humans.  Mainly transmitted by the American dog tick in Florida, untreated cases of RMSF can affect organs and lead to death. Dogs exhibit flu-like symptoms in addition to depression and edema. In advanced cases, pneumonia, heart arrhythmia and renal failure can all be fatal to dogs.
  • Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis
    Ehrlichiosis, transmitted by the lone star tick and anaplasmosis, transmitted by the    black-legged tick resembles Rocky Mountain spotted fever with flu-like symptoms and rashes. Anaplasmosis can cause allergic reactions to cats and red meat in humans. Most ehrlichiosis cases are brought into Florida from other states and are difficult to diagnose due to their similarities to other diseases.

Flea infestations require the attention of trained professionals working in conjunction with pet owners 

While it’s tempting to try to tackle your flea infestation on your own, most commercial flea bombs, foggers and sprays prove ineffective, as they kill fleas in the immediate area but cannot penetrate to all areas where fleas can hide.

Trained and licensed professional pest control technicians, such as Hulett’s team of pest experts, use the most effective, pet friendly materials and methods to disrupt flea reproduction cycles, eliminating all four life stages of fleas inside and outside your home.

Flea and tick elimination and prevention is a collaborative effort

To successfully eliminate fleas, pet owners and pest control professionals need to work together. Pet owners need to provide flea and tick preventive treatments to their pets to eliminate the source of the infestation. Pet owners should make the following part of their ongoing efforts:

  • Thoroughly vacuum carpets, rugs, upholstery and pet bedding and then remove cleaner bags from your home.
  • Launder all pet bedding and pet toys.
  • Outside your home, eliminate all debris and clean pet lounging areas.
  • Keep grass trimmed.

In the battle against ticks, pet owners should keep the following points in mind for their own safety and the safety of their family members and pets.

  • Pet owners can wear long-sleeve shirts and pants when walking through tall grass and in wooded areas.
  • Check their pets, as well as themselves for ticks when returning from walks.
  • Wear insect repellant when outdoors.
  • Keep grass trimmed and your property clutter-free.

Exclusive to South Florida, Hulett Environmental Services works for you and your loved ones, including your pets, to quickly resolve all of your flea and tick issues, as well as all other household pest concerns in a pet friendly approach to a Healthy Home. It’s our guarantee!

Rats: If Only They Paid for Rent! Common Rat Entry Points and What You Can Do

Common Rat Entry Points and What You Can Do

Rodents have always co-existed with humans. Since the Roman Empire rodents and their disease-carrying vectors, such as fleas and ticks have been responsible for most of the major plagues throughout history. Alongside the increasing human population, rodents continue to increase in numbers as well. So, how do you keep rodents out of your South Florida home? This can be a tricky task given the fact that mice can squeeze into your home through dime-sized openings and rats are capable of squeezing through holes the size of a quarter.

Rodents are naturally equipped to get into any place they desire to

Rodents, armed with teeth stronger than platinum and amazing jaw strength can eat through wood, stucco, cement and even steel. Incredible sounding, yes, but true, nonetheless. Also, rodents must constantly chew to keep their teeth filed down to a manageable size. Rats and mice in your home will chew on anything and everything, including wood, drywall and electrical wiring.  Many house fires of undetermined sources point to rodents chewing through electrical wiring to sharpen their teeth and get through holes drilled for wiring in attics.

But how do rodents get into your home?

The short answer is, anyway they can. Besides squeezing through small holes, crevices and cracks in your home’s foundation, rodents can enter your home through vents, your air conditioner’s line set cover and through drainpipes.  As disconcerting as it is, rats can even enter your home through your plumbing by swimming up your toilet.

Rodents are excellent swimmers

Their swimming abilities explain, in part, how bubonic-infested rats were able to wreak havoc on Great Britain and half of the known world, during the Great Plague in the 1600s. In Erika Engelhaupt’s 2015 National Geographic blog article, she writes about rats entering her home through sewer pipes. Rodents, it turns out, can swim for three days at a time and can survive on food people flush down their toilets, as well as the undigested food in human excrement, if necessary.

Capping off sewer lines could result in rodents chewing through your plumbing or dying in your pipes, setting up the perfect nightmare scene for a fly or roach infestation. Rodents in your capped plumbing don’t just give up; they tend to pop up somewhere else. In apartment and condo settings, this might be your neighbor’s toilet.

Excluding rodents from your home

South Florida homeowners can take precautions to exclude rodents from their homes by sealing all cracks, crevices and holes in their foundations and around windows and doors.  Additionally, trimming tree limbs and shrubbery away from your home’s exterior eliminates bridges to your attic and other upper areas in your home. Removing all clutter and debris from the exterior of your property, keeping your grass cut short and your outside trash receptacle areas sanitized can make your home uninviting to rodents and other pests.

Create an unfriendly environment for rodents on the interior of your home

Rodents are resilient but dependent on humans for their sustenance. Mice and rats need the basic essentials that humans do. Your home offers warmth, shelter, food and water to mice and rats in one convenient location. Rodents don’t have to dodge predators, except your cat, in order to set up shop in your attic, walls or basement. In fact, rodents have cohabitated with humans for so long that, according to National Geographic, Norway rats (also known as common city rats) do not exist in the wild.

With that in mind, keeping all dry food storage containers tightly sealed in glass, metal or hard plastic containers and thoroughly cleaning food prep and dining areas after every meal can eliminate food sources for rodents. Washing dishes and placing food scraps in sealed trash receptacles can also make your home less inviting to rodents, as can sweeping and/or vacuuming dining area floors after each meal.

Repairing or replacing leaky faucets and pipes can reduce rodent water sources, even though rodents can get the water they need to survive and multiply from their food sources.

Signs of rodent issues include scurrying and squeaking sounds in your walls and attic, as well as:

  • Rodent droppings near food sources
  • Chewed food packages
  • Rodent sightings
  • Sudden fly or roach infestations

If you suspect rodents in or around your south Florida home; it’s time to call a professional

Hulett Environmental Services suggests contacting trained rodent elimination technicians who know how to handle rodent issues before they become infestations. Using environmentally-conscious techniques and materials, Hulett ensures you and your family responsible rodent removal with the placement of the latest and most effective capture equipment and non-toxic baits.  We monitor your home until all rodent activity ceases, sealing rodent entryways and installing entry limiting screens to your pipes and other pathways rodents may use to enter your home.

Preventive measures, such as making your home uninviting to rats, mice and other pests can help home pest-proof your sunshine state home. When pest issues arise, contact Hulett at the first sign of household pest activity.

How to Prevent South Florida Pests from Seeking Shelter in Your Home

Prevent South Florida PestsAlthough South Florida’s tropical environment allows her the leisure of moderate temperatures during the winter months, even cold snaps can find their way to the sunshine state. That’s when certain insects and rodents run for the shelter and warmth of your South Florida home. These household pests include carpenter ants, ghost ants, cockroaches, silverfish, ticks, roof rats and house mice. Not only are these pests annoying and inconvenient for you and your loved ones, they can also cause considerable damage to your home. Hulett Environmental Services encourages you to contact a pest professional at the first indication of insect or rodent issues in your home this winter.

Pests wintering in your home can spread pathogens and disease

  • Rodents carry life-threatening diseases caused by bites from vector insects, such as fleas and ticks.
  • Roaches that feed on rodent droppings can cause the dangerous respiratory condition, Hantavirus, as well as allergic reactions that can trigger asthma attacks, particularly in children.
  • Rodents, if startled or threatened, will bite people and pets.
  • Because rats and mice reproduce at a rapid rate, rodent problems should be handled immediately by professionals, trained and certified in rodent removal and elimination.

Some pests can put your home’s structural integrity at risk and even cause electrical fires

  • Carpenter ants burrowing through wood can cause as much damage as termites.
  • Rodents who can chew through wood, asbestos, brick, concrete, aluminum and ½-inch thick metal, also gnaw through electrical wiring and are suspected of starting house fires.

The best way to avoid the headaches of winter pests in your home involves making your home an uninviting place for pests to enter. Along with contracting a trusted pest control company, such as Hulett to create a pest barrier around your property, you can help protect your property from pests with a few common-sense practices.

Indoors, you can start by:

  • Keeping food prep surfaces and dining areas clean and sanitized
  • Sweeping, mopping and vacuuming floors regularly
  • Sealing all open dry goods in air-tight metal, glass or hard plastic containers
  • Cleaning dishes immediately after dining
  • Storing leftovers and desserts in your fridge
  • Using air-tight trash receptacles
  • Repairing leaks in pipes and any moisture-prone areas

Taking a look at your home’s exterior, make note of places where pests like to hide or nest. Removing all debris from your home’s exterior is a great place to start creating a clean, pest-free environment that excludes pests any time of year.

  • Remove all construction materials and unused plant containers.
  • Keep your lawn cut short and remove areas of tall grass nearby.
  • Stack firewood 20 feet away from your home, if possible.
  • Reposition rocks and mulch away from your foundation.
  • Trim branches away from your home and remove vines growing up your exterior walls.

Shifting focus to water-prone areas around your house, it is important to also look at areas where water is commonly found and take appropriate measures there.

  • Store any toys, planters and other items that collect water in dry places.
  • Repair any damp or rotting wood that makes it easier for pests to gain access to your home.
  • Clean your gutters and downspouts.
  • Make sure your downspouts are functioning properly to direct water away from your home.
  • Remove piles of gathered leaves from the base of your home and off your property.

Now that you can see your clean foundation, seal all cracks, crevices and holes at the base of your home. This not only deters pests, but also improves your home’s energy efficiency.

  • Check windows and doors for cracks and other places pests can enter your home.
  • Make sure door seals are in good shape or replace worn weather stripping.
  • Check crawlspaces for tight-fitting seals around openings
  • Seal or caulk cracks and crevices in crawlspaces.
  • Stuff small holes with steel wool to deter rodents.

Consider your roof and the upper area of your home, as well. Roof rats and flying insects can enter your home through tiny spaces.

  • Repair your roof or replace as needed.
  • Replace any damp or rotting flashing, fascia and eave boards.
  • Check attic vents for tight seals.

Other initiatives you can take to exclude pests include:

  • Keeping all trash receptacles clean and away from your home.
  • Sanitizing the area around your trash receptacles.
  • Moving compost piles away from your home.
  • Trading out standard white exterior lightbulbs with yellow or sodium vapor lights.
  • Installing storm windows. For year-round screen usage, your screens need to be intact, with no holes or tears and fit snugly.

With these pest prevention tips in mind, Hulett Environmental Services hopes you have a fun, pest-free south Florida winter. Cleaning up and repairing the exterior of your home this winter, plus keeping the interior of your home clean and sanitized goes a long way in creating a healthy place where pests can’t survive and reproduce. Come spring, you’ll be ready for the increased pest activity that comes with the season.  For comprehensive pest protection, contact Hulett to design a seasonal integrated pest management plan (IPM) that uses human and pet-friendly methods and treatments to create a pest barrier around the perimeter of your property. Don’t bug out this winter, call Hulett and keep your peace of mind intact. You’ve got our Healthy Home Guarantee!

Winter Pests are Here to Stay: Find out Which Pests are Most Common in Florida This Time of Year

Winter Pests are Here to Stay: Find out Which Pests are Most Common in Florida This Time of Year

This winter, as a large part of the US battles blizzards and frigid temps, Southern Florida, known for her gentler climate with more moderate temperatures welcomes visitors to catch a break from the cold and alleviate their winter blues, in her soothing sunshine. Know who’s not so welcome in Southern Florida during winter months? It’s those pesky household pests that insist on invading your home when Florida temps drop a few degrees below 60 for a few days?

The usual suspects making themselves at home this winter include insects and rodents

While some insect species, such as beetles dig into the ground to weather the winter outdoors, others prefer the warmth and resources of your home. Some of the usual suspects likely to be making an appearance in your greater Miami or Florida Keys area home this winter include ticks, ghost ants, carpenter ants, silverfish and cockroaches.

Along with insects, warm-blooded rodents, such as rats and mice, also prefer your dark, warm attic or convenient crawlspaces and wall voids to hunker down in during cold spells. House mice and roof rats take this quiet time to build nests and start families, while Norway rats, more acclimated to the cooler temps don’t usually take up residence in your home but come in for food they take back to their nests.

In addition to making nuisances of themselves, insects and rodents destroy property and pose health threats to humans and pets.

Cohabitating with humans since the dawn of civilization, rodents have been at the center of historic world-wide plagues, throughout history. Disease-ridden rodents, infected by ticks and other vector insects, played heavily into the fall of the Roman Empire and brought about the Great Bubonic Plague. Rodents also cause electrical damage, as well as structural damage, because they must chew on anything, including wiring and walls in order to keep their teeth in check.

It gets worse. Cockroaches and other insects that feast on rodent excrement can cause a serious respiratory condition, called Hantavirus, when rodent feces and urine particles become airborne during cleaning. Roaches crawling around in trash cans and garbage bins transfer bacteria and pathogens to food sources in your home. Some roaches also cause allergic reactions in children and sensitive people.

Carpenter ants, second only to termites in their capacity to destroy wooden structures, unlike termites, don’t actually eat wood but tunnel through it, in order to nest inside the wood. Also, although carpenter ants don’t damage wood at the same incredible rates as subterranean termites, they can go undetected for long periods of time inside your home.

Signs of insects and rodents in your home can manifest in various ways

Some winter household pests are easier to detect than others.

  • Ghost ants, despite their name and their miniscule size, nest indoors under cabinets, in wall voids, behind cabinetry, in between books, in potted plants and other inconspicuous places. Ghost ants foraging from food sources in your kitchen to their nests can be an obvious sign that you might have a ghost ant infestation in your home, although indoor foragers may come from a nest outside.
  • Carpenter ants can be detected by the sawdust they produce from burrowing through wood in your home, or in the altered appearance of affected wood.
  • Smaller, German, Asian and brownbanded cockroaches hide in dark, sheltered places in attics, storerooms, kitchens and bathrooms during the day and come out at night to feed. They can be found under sinks or drain boards, in cabinets and cupboards, behind drawers, around pipes, and around windows and doorframes.
  • Larger roaches, including the Florida wood roach and American, Australian, brown and smokybrown cockroaches, often known as palmetto bugs are generally outdoor types and may cause hysterics when they come indoors, due to their size and erratic movements.
  • Silverfish, with a voracious appetite are drawn to starchy foods and can be found in closets, pantries, bookshelves, attics and anywhere cereals, flour, paper and fabric are stored in your home. Tell-tale signs include affected books, fabrics or starchy food stores.
  • Rodents can often make scurrying, squeaking and chewing noises in your walls and attic. Droppings, found near food sources and evidence of chewed food packaging indicate a rodent issue. You may even spot rodents in your home.

Winter is here and although South Florida’s seasonal change is subtle, when temperatures do drop at times, insects and rodents might try to make a beeline for your home looking for warmth and food. These pests can wreak havoc on your winter, if left to their own devices.

Hulett Environmental Services encourages South Florida homeowners to contact a pest control professional at the first indication of insects and rodents attempting to winter in your home. Hulett ensures preventative measures, such as regularly scheduled pest control services that create a pest barrier around your property with our Healthy Home guarantee. To set up a pest barrier for your home and/or address an existing indoor pest issue this winter, contact Hulett Environmental Services today!

Zika Virus Fears Incites Majority of Brazilian Women to Avoid Pregnancy

Zika Virus Fears Incites Majority of Brazilian Women to Avoid Pregnancy

Brazilian women recently chimed in that over 50 percent of the potential mothers have been avoiding pregnancy due to their fears about the Zika virus. The survey conducted was able to collect data through face-to-face questionnaires as well as ones slipped in secret ballot boxes from 2,002 urban, literate Brazilian woman between the ages of 18 to 39. They collected data about women’s reproductive health and pregnancy, and even received information about abortion experiences. Only 27 percent said they hadn’t tried to avoid pregnancy, with 56 percent claiming that they were avoiding it, and the other 16 percent claiming they had already not been planning on getting pregnant as it was.

This widespread fear of getting pregnant is especially present in Brazil since they have been the country hit the hardest so far. There have been 2,200 cases of microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and more often than not leads to serious developmental problems that can lead to the child requiring a lifetime of personal medical care and a vastly shortened lifespan. This study gives an important peek into how the Zika virus is affecting Brazilian women and their pregnancy desires and intentions. It also could be a good indication of how women across the globe may all eventually be affected by the virus. The dangers are so high for pregnant women and their babies that perhaps women around the world will be deciding to avoid pregnancy for years to come due to fears about the Zika virus. Birth rates could drop dramatically.

These new findings also suggest that Brazil may need to take a serious look at changing some of their reproductive health policies, placing reproductive health concerns at the top of their priority list in their response to the Zika virus. Women need better access to safe and effective contraceptives for one, and many health experts believe the government should lift the ban on abortion considering the kind of serious health issues the Zika virus causes in babies, as well as the emotional and financial toll it puts on the mother of infants born with severe birth defects due the virus.

This could be just the beginning of women avoiding pregnancy all over the world. In the U.S. there have already been 32 cases of Zika-linked birth defects in infants reported, and that number is likely to rise in the coming months and years. 1,172 of the reported cases of the Zika virus in the U.S. have involved pregnant mothers, and a recent study estimated that 6 percent of those infected pregnant women will have babies with Zika-linked birth defects.

Do you think the Zika virus will end up causing a significant worldwide drop in birth rates? How could this effect the countries, governments, and people on this planet?

An Insect As Small As A Grain Of Sand May Destroy A Local Ecosystem

Insect

Globalization is a phenomenon that has allowed insects to travel across the world and into different environments. A United States Forest Service Research Entomologist, Andrew Liebhold, firmly believes that the increasing pest problems, which we have all been hearing about on the news is a result of globalization. This line of thought seems reasonable since there have been numerous cases in which nonnative insects traveled across the ocean by cargo ship only to arrive in a different continent. Although many experts agree that our ecosystems are in danger from rapid global travel, this is not the only reason as to why we are seeing more and more damaging non native insects in the US.  Of course, the process of global warming is playing a part in mass invasive insect migration as well.

Back during the roaring ‘20’s hemlock trees from Japan were shipped to America for landscaping purposes. Unfortunately, many of the trees that were shipped to the US from Japan were likely riddled with spiders known as the hemlock woolly adelgids (HWA). As soon as the 1980’s rolled around, it became clear that the HWA’s were destroying numerous hemlock trees at rapid rates.

Unfortunately, destroying hemlock trees results in undesirable environmental consequences. Even after a hemlock tree dies it can still have a negative impact on the ecosystem. For example, ninety bird species, forty five mammal species, and a plethora of aquatic life all use the hemlock tree for shelter. Once hemlock trees die as a result of the HWA’s tinkering, many of the above mentioned classes of animals will perish from lack of shelter.

Many different species of bird also inhabit the hemlock tree. Although the birds are lucky enough not to die while the HWA’s are destroying the tree, the birds are still forced to migrate elsewhere. An abrupt change in bird migrations can also have unexpected negative consequences on the ecosystem, as well as on other animal species living within the same environmental conditions.

Scientists have tried combating the invasive HWA insects by employing a variety of different methods. One method had researchers bring the HWA’s natural predatory enemies into the HWA’s habitat. Another method involved releasing parasites that seek the HWA as an ideal host. These two different species of organism were imported from Japan, which is also the HWA’s home country. Currently public health professionals are attempting to halt the migration of insects via human travel by restricting what types of cargo passengers can carry onto a plane or a cargo ship. Anything  that could attract invasive insects may soon be prohibited in airports and train stations. For example, wood packing material, such as wooden crates and pallets, may soon be prohibited since the HWA insect loves hitching rides on old slabs of musty wood. Instead these particularly types of wood will be outlawed at many airports around the world. Instead TSA officials will start to allow for manufactured wood, such as plywood or composite wood, which the HWA’s find repellent.

Pests like the HWA’s cause four billion dollars in damage annually, and that is in the US alone. Unfortunately, these costs are often pushed onto homeowners. Scientists are currently considering the use of strategically placed surveillance systems, so that hemlock tree smugglers can be caught before their criminality destroys the environment.

Could the HWA become eradicated after releasing the HWA’s natural predator into the HWA’s environment? Could releasing another nonnative predatory insect from Japan cause the same environmental problems that the HWA insect has caused already in the United States?

House Spiders – How To Play Nice With Your Unwanted Spider Roommates

House Spiders - How To Play Nice With Your Unwanted Spider Roommates

Even the cleanest house plays host to a variety of insects including a number of different spiders. Which ones are safe for you to live with? How harmful are these spiders? Do they earn their keep with their extermination of other pesky insects, or do they need to be evicted? Here’s everything you need to know about living or not living with your neighborhood house spiders.

There are a number of different spider species that can be found in your home. The most common species you are likely to come across are daddy long-legs, cobweb spiders, brown recluses, black widows, the funnel-web spider, the jumping spider, crab spiders, wolf spiders, and sac spiders. So, where can you find these hidden housemates? Spiders will basically make their home wherever the food is. They also are drawn to areas where there are lights that attract flying insects. Some of their favorite spots to nest are in corners, behind or underneath furniture, in basements and garages, in cupboards, and other dark spots.

One plus to having spider roommates is that they aren’t picky eaters, and will often feed on the insects we love to hate the most such as mosquitos, crickets, moths, flies, and even other spiders. Most of the spiders you find in your house are harmless to humans even if they bite them. The only ones you really need to watch out for are black widows, brown recluses, and funnel-web spiders. Symptoms of a black widow bite include nausea, cramping, and respiratory problems. A bite from a brown recluse spider can result in horrible skin lesions (necrosis) that can take months to heal. Bites from the funnel-web spider cause similar symptoms as the brown recluse. Spider bites are often misdiagnosed, however, so try to make sure you actually catch the culprit before you diagnose a bite as having come from a spider.

No matter how beneficial they may sometimes be, there are still times when you might just need to kill your unwanted houseguests. There are safe ways to do it, though. One good way to exterminate an unwanted spider and its web is to simply suck it all up with a vacuum. Make sure you empty and destroy whatever you’ve sucked up right away. This way any eggs you might have sucked up won’t have time to hatch. You can also capture the spider in a glass and release it back into nature at least several feet from your home. If you have a problem with any of the poisonous spiders such as the black widow, however, it’s best to call in an exterminator to take care of the problem.

How do you deal with spiders in your home?

The Real Life Insects That Inspired Fantastical Harry Potter Creatures

The Real Life Insects That Inspired Fantastical Harry Potter Creatures

First, are you a fan of the Harry Potter series, and if you’re not, have you been living under a rock?! Did you ever wonder if any of those magical creatures in the novels are actually based on real life creatures? Well, it turns out that they do! There were even some inspired by insects! Here are a few creatures from the series that you might recognize from our regular world.

The Bowtruckle is a small tree guardian that looks like a bunch of twigs patched together. They eat insects and are found primarily in western England and southern Germany where they protect trees that grow wand-quality wood. You might have already realized that in the real world we have our own insect that looks like a bunch of twigs, or what we like to call stick insects. While most of them are brown, their nymphs are actually a bright green color. Some Bowtruckles are specifically leaf mimics, which have a rather strong resemblance to true leaf insects.

Another fantastical creature from the world of Harry Potter is the tiny Australian bug called a Billywig, and it flies so fast that non-magical humans (sometimes referred to as Muggles) can’t see them despite their brilliant colors. Their sting carries a powerful punch, with venom that causes at first giddiness and euphoria, followed by uncontrollable levitation. The real world orchid bee, also called euglossine bees, was the inspiration for this creature. They are tiny bees that come in all shapes and colors such as blue, green, red, and gold. They only inhabit the Americas and have 200 different species. These are some seriously magical looking bees.

Do you know of any other creatures from Harry Potter that were inspired by real life insects?

Mosquitoes Deliver a Double Whammy of Diseases

mosquito

New studies have revealed some rather bad news about the mosquito’s ability to pass on diseases. It turns out they’re even better at it than we’d previously thought. So, you know how mosquitoes can carry more than one disease, as in they might be carriers of both the Zika virus and chikungunya? Well, it turns out they can give you both of those diseases with just one bite. How did we find discover this?

Well, it would seem some scientists were playing around with infecting lab mosquitoes with both the Zika virus and chikungunya, and the experiment worked! However, when they looked at the amount of mosquito saliva that is transferred in one bite they also found that those mosquitoes could now also infect a person with both diseases at the same time. The saliva contained enough of each virus that both could be transferred in one bite. Now doesn’t that just make your day? But wait! That’s not all!

It turns out that simply eradicating the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus may not actually end this epidemic. A new research study found that female mosquitoes can pass on the Zika virus to their offspring directly into their eggs. So, even if we kill all the adults carrying the virus, we’ll still have the next generation to deal with, and the next, and the next…you get the idea. Scientists believe that this is a defense mechanism that helps the virus to survive in an adverse environment. At the moment the pesticides being used to try and control the virus is able to kill off adults but not the eggs, meaning researchers are going to have to step up they’re game and come up with an insecticide that is able to kill off both the adults and their eggs. Mosquito eggs can also lie dormant for months when the weather is dry and then hatch once it rains. So, even if only a few eggs survived and carried the disease, they could start the epidemic all over again. We could have episodes of the disease popping up again after a dry spell and spreading on and off for years to come.

Do you think researchers will ever develop a way to completely eradicate the Zika virus?

Armor-Covered Spiders

Armor-Covered Spiders

Spiders are scary enough even when they don’t have any special adaptations. One species of spider called tetrablemmids has special body armor that is extremely strong and durable. These spiders have multiple layers of thick, hardened exoskeleton covering its body, including its abdomen. They may even be unsquishable!

While other spiders may have some armor, it is very rare for any to have armor on their abdomen. Scientists initially thought this tough armor was simply for protection, but new research suggests it has other uses too. Their armor is also much thicker and fused together at the seams, preventing any sharp point from making its way in and injuring them. The amount of thick exoskeleton on their body would be similar to wearing a layer of chainmail under a full suit of armor. Arachnologist at the Natural History Museum of Bern, Switzerland Christian Kropf compares them to miniature tanks. So, why all the added protection?

Tetrablemmids can be found in the forests of South East Asia, where another formidable foe lurks. Predatory wasps that feed specifically on spiders share the same living space, and they are voracious buggers. Their usual hunting technique involved swooping down to deliver a sting to the poor victim spider, which paralyzes them, allowing the wasp to then carry off the immobilized spider back to its lair. The wasp then lays an egg on the spider, and when they egg hatches it already has a hearty meal waiting for them in the form of the paralyzed spider.

The way the tetrablemmids are able to escape death by paralyzing wasp venom is that the wasps target the soft spots spiders generally have in between their plates of exoskeleton. However, since the tetrablemmids’ armor is fused together, there are no vulnerable soft spots for the wasp to attack.

But the armor is just for protection. It actually helps them conserve energy and move easier than other spiders. The plate on their abdomen is also thought to act like a bellows. The spiders can expand and squeeze it at will in order to pump fluid around their bodies. Scientists even think the armor may serve a function during sex. There are apparently quite a few advantages to having this thick exoskeleton. In fact, the tetrablemmids body has actually changed and adapted to work better with this armor, so they can benefit from its protection and the advantages it brings.

What other advantages might come with having such thick, strong body armor?

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