live in and aroundDuroia Hirstula, a species of tree that provides them with protected nesting areas and offers nutrition in the form of extra floral nectar or food bodies inside the tree.
What does this ant provide the tree in return for food and shelter? They increase the ability of these trees to grow and flourish by creating a safety zone or “Devil’s Garden”.
What is this evil spirit infested garden”? It’s a large stands of trees, in the Amazonian rainforest, that consists, almost exclusively, of a single species, Duroia hirsuta, and, according to local legend, is cultivated by an evil forest spirit, the Chullachaki. These “gardens” stand in extreme contrast to the surrounding, heavily foliated, Amazonian jungle. Researchers estimate that the largest garden observed, contains 328 trees in an area of about 14,000 sq. ft., and is around 800 years old.
There is no evil spirit involved in these gardens, just a small, highly motivated ant, known as the Lemon Ant. Once the Lemon ant queen establishes her colony in a Duroia hirstula tree, worker lemon ants start to attack all surrounding vegetation, injecting plants with formic acid (produced in internal glands) which kills the plants.
Once the worker ants, which constantly patrol their territory, identify an invading plant species, they attack the plants in mass, causing the plants to die a slow death. Besides killing invasive plants with their internal herbicide, the lemon ants also attack herbivorous, plant eating, insects which attempt to feed on the Duroia hirstula tree. As the Duroia hirstula tree produces saplings, they are also protected by the worker lemon ants. This beneficial relationship is known as mutualism.
However mutually beneficial this relationship might be, in the long run, it might be more of a case of can’t live without them but in the end, for the tree, can’t live with them. There is a downside to this relationship, particularly for the tree, for as the colony grows, it weakens the structure of the tree as the ants establish hollow passages and chambers inside the tree.
The name Lemon ant comes from the ability of these ants to produce, as part of a glandular chemical defense system, a lemony smelling acid. When crushed or attacked, citronellal pheromones are created by the ant to communicate alarm and danger to nearby nest mates. These ants also have a tangy lemon taste. So, if you’re adventurous, they’ll provide a delicious, lemony treat.
It is a very depressing moment in a homeowner’s life when the pest control company issues the heart stopping diagnosis, “You Have Termites”! What runs through the mind at that point is, where did they come from, how could this happen, why my house, how much is this going to cost me? The answers to these questions are: they tunneled in or flew in, your house is aging and providing the resources necessary to feed them and maintain their species. And they’re going to cost you a lot.
Each year approximately 600,000 homes across the U.S. require treatment for the control of these insects and damage repair. Across our nation homeowners spend upwards of $5 billion annually.
All areas of the U.S are ripe for subterranean termite habitation. Weather conditions, plus food and water sources determine whether their populations will be minimal or extremely heavy. The coastal areas of the Southeast and Southwest have the added threat of drywood termites.
In a recent study, California has 3 cities on the Top 50 Termite Cities list. Los Angeles ranking # 2, San Francisco #9 and San Diego coming in at #11.
In California’s forests, woodlands, and deserts termites commonly feed on dead and dying trees, tree stumps, grasses, bushes, or other pieces of dead or decaying wood. Termites can be highly beneficial as they break down woody debris, return nutrients to the soil, and provide an energy-rich food source to a multitude of predators. Fortunately, or unfortunately, these same areas have been plowed under or built over to make way for human habitation.
Home building has risen by necessity and these wood laden structures have become the alternativefood source of the termite. Technically termites don’t know the difference between a tree and a million-dollar house. What they know is, dinner is served!
Termite pests in California include subterranean, drywood, and dampwood species. Dampwood termites derive their name from the fact that they live in moist wood, especially in stumps and fallen trees in forests. Drywood termites are common and can survive in very dry conditions, even in dead wood in deserts and do not require much moisture or contact with soil. Subterranean termites are very abundant in most parts of California, even at elevations above 8,000 feet, and live and breed in soil, sometimes many feet below the ground.
Termites are 24/7 eaters and, as long as there iscellulose (a component of all wood and other plant-based materials) available they will literally eat you out of house and home. But wait, researches are now looking into what else they might be willing to consume besides your home. Check out this link to the NPMA (National Pest Management Association) website where scientists are finding out what else termites will eat. Their new series is now ready for viewing and it’s called, Will They Eat It?
If you are not interested in what they eat, and you just want to get rid of the termites, contact a professional pest control company. Corky’s Pest Controlhas solutions for all your pest needs especially termite extermination and termite damage repair.
Secret number one, is keeping it clean. Cleaning themselves, each other and their nest means that ants have a greater chance of survival. This frequent communal cleansing removes disease organisms therefore reducing exposure to deadly pathogens.
Secret number two, is some ant species use home-crafted “antibiotics” called Antimicrobials— chemical compounds that kill pathogens and boost their immunity. Ants apply these compounds to their own bodies, to their nest mates and to their nests. Sharing these antimicrobials among the colony is an important part of the insects’ communal life.
An individual’s health is dependent upon the health of the colony and vice versa.
The ants’ strategy when it comes to fighting disease is reminiscent of how we humans prevent outbreaks: early action is often decisive when it comes to successfully containing epidemics.
If, however, the ants fail to cure a nestmate, more drastic (inhumane in our view) measures are used to protect the colony. They throw the sick individuals out of the nest, preventing the spread of disease. It has been observed that in most cases only the young are forcibly exiled. Adult workers seem to accept their fate and leave on their own.
Research indicates that the most potent antimicrobials are produced by one of the smallest ants— Solenopsis molesta,
also known asthe thief ant(which lives in some of the smallest colonies) and also by the desert fire ant,,Solenopsis xyloni , whose colonies can contain hundreds of thousands of individuals.
It is crucial for any successful society to develop a means, beyond individual resistance, of controlling the spread of disease. Some of our largest cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco need to take advice from the insect world (excluding forced exile of course) and clean up the mess, take care of the masses of humanity living on the streets and reduce sickness and the spread of disease. If ants can do it so can we!
There are more than 20 different earwig species making the United States their home. These fear inducing creatures get their name from the old European myththat they crawl into people’s ears and tunnel into their brains, laying eggs, while the sleeper blissfully dreams on. The nightmare begins the next morning! This superstition has no real scientific basis, but the fear is very real to many people. If you are into horror movies check out the extremely scary, Night Gallery, TV series episode named “The Caterpillar”. You might want to start wearing earplugs to bed.
Earwigs are outdoor creatures and can be found living, in large numbers, under lawn debris, mulch or in tree holes. They pose more of a threat to garden plantingsthan to humans. They spend their days hiding and feeding on leaves, flowers, mold, fungi and plant insects such as aphids. At might they tend to congregate in wet undisturbed areas feeding on decaying plant material. They gain entrance to homes through cracks and crevices and occasionally by wandering in through open doorways as they forage for food. Indoors they can be found near water areas (kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc.) and because they are attracted to light, they can be a real problem on porches and patios.
These visually creepy creatures do not spread disease, but they do emit a foul-smelling liquid as a means of self-defense. Their pincers are mainly used to aid in reproduction, hunt prey and for defense. When humans become annoying, they can also use the pincers to pinch. The pinch may be slightly painful but doesn’t transmit venom (since they don’t have any) and rarely breaks the skin.
Toget rid of earwigs, you need to get rid of the areas around the home that attract them, such as leaf piles, wood piles, dense vegetation and areas that accumulate moisture. In essence, create a defensive perimeter around your home; move firewood away from the home, cut back dense foliage, and ensure proper drainage away from structures. Its also important to clean downspouts and gutters and make sure they drain away from the home. The key to earwig control is to prevent moisture buildup that attracts them.
Earwigs are easily identified. They have elongated, flattened bodies, usually black to reddish brown in color. They are about ½ inch in length and some species have wings, but rarely fly. Their most distinguishing feature is a pair of large pincers, cerci, at the back end of their body. These forceps-like appendages are what have most people “wigging out”.
All bugs hatch from eggs, which usually live on the undersides of leaves or in hidden spots on plants. The eggs hatch into larvae (also called caterpillars, grubs, or maggots), which will later become adults. Adult bugs lay eggs and usually have wings.
Bad bugs can eat plants or cause damage at different stages in theirlives, so it is important that you get rid of the trouble makers when they are causing the most damage. Most of the time, this will be when they are in their larval stage; hungry and growing fast! Many bad bugs in your garden will come in cycles, seasonally.
They suck the juices from the leaves of many different plants. When done sucking the juices from the leaves, the leaves curl up or fall off the plant. Sometimes they also spread plant diseases. Aphids are a primary producer of honeydew, an important food source for ants and other insects. These hungry plant suckers, come in all colors, even one that is covered with white furry filaments(Woolly aphid). It’s said that almost every plant has an aphid to call its own. Aphid infestations can, at their worst kill plantings (suck the life out of them) and spread diseases that can also kill them.
Here are a few things you can do to get rid of aphids.
A strong jet of water will wash many of the aphids off the plant.
Tiny sap sucking insects that are abundant on vegetable and ornamental plantings, especially in warm weather. They are not true flies but are related to aphids, scales and mealybugs. They derive their name from the white waxy covering on the adult’s wings and body. Adults have yellowish bodies and four whitish wings. Many species are most readily distinguished in the last nymphal (immature) stage, which is wingless and lacks visible legs. Depending on species, whitefly nymphs vary in color from almost transparent yellow or whitish to black with a white fringe. The Giant Whiteflyarrived in San Diego in 1992 and is now wide spread in Southern California and sporadically in other areas. This species,Aleurodicus dugesii, infests many hosts especially tropical plants such as hibiscus and bird of paradise but will also infest citrus, mulberry and a host of other ornamental plants. They can also be instrumental in the spreading of plant diseases.
Getting rid of whitefly infestations is a difficult task. Here are some suggestions:
Prune infested branches and leaves.
Give your plants a bath. Spray them with water, this knocks off a lot of the whitefly (which, by the way, cannot climb back up onto the plants) and removes honeydew that attracts other insects.
Cut areas of tall grass and remove leaf litter from under trees and plants.
Keep your plants healthy. Healthy plants naturally repel insects whereas sickly or stressed ones will attract them.
Primarily pests of woody plants. They appear as tiny blistesr or shell-like bumps on leaf backs and stems. Their feeding activity results in poor plant growth. Other symptoms are sticky excretions andsooty moldon evergreens.
Suck the life out of plants. They leave brown or white marks on leaves or fruit. Some people think these marks look like scars. Adults are thin and tiny bugs, that are usually so small and dark that many people never see them. They only see the damage they cause, which includes black fecal spots and scaring on leaves. Leaves will appear silvery and distorted (curled). Heavy infestations can retard growth, and lead to defoliation and plant death.
Eat tunnels in leaves. The damage does not kill the plants, but the leaves and fruit look less appealing to eat, especially if you are selling them or giving them away to friends! The larvae do most of the damage. Leafminers are light green maggots that live in (and eat!) leaves. We make curvy, winding tunnels in leaves henceforth their name.
Eat large holes in the leaves of big plants, and both the leaves and stems of seedlings. Eggs look like little piles of white jelly balls, and usually are found under rocks or logs where the adults live. Adults look like snails without the shell, and are gray, black, brown, or green. Slugs leave slimy silver trails wherever they go! Yuck!
These are just of few of the garden bugs that made the“Bad Bug” list. If you are dealing with any of these bad bugs and have come to the conclusion that they have taken over your yard and are ruining your landscape, there is help to be had. Follow this link to get the help you need:https://www.corkyspest.com/
There are lots of flying insects out and about in our gardens, fields and other open areas and they are all busy at work fulfilling nature’s directives. So, since we humans are also frequenting these same places it’s important for us to steer clear of these busy creatures because some of them will sting if you invade their space. Beware! Being stung is no picnic and can ruin your day!
Bees are fuzzy pollen collectorsthat almost always die shortly after stinging people (the stinger becomes embedded in the skin, which prevents multiple stings). Bees don’t always die each time they sting, though; the primary purpose of the stinger is to sting other bees, which doesn’t result in the loss of the stinger. A bee can generally only sting you once and her death is assured.
The problem with explaining the difference between wasps and hornets is complicated in that, according to most definitions of wasps, all hornets are wasps.
Wasps are members of the family Vespidae, which includes yellow jackets and hornets. Wasps generally have two pairs of wings and are definitely not fuzzy. Only the females have stingers, but they can sting people repeatedly.
Yellow jackets are sometimes confused with bees because they look very similar. With a black and yellow body, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two at first glance. Yellow jackets are a type of predatory wasp that are part of the genera Dolichovespula and Vespula. Most are black and yellow, but some, like the bald-faced hornet, are black and white and all the females have stingers.
Hornets are a small subset of wasps not native to North America (the yellow jacket is not truly a hornet). Somewhat fatter around the middle than your average wasp, the European hornet (considered the only true hornet in North America)
is now widespread on the East Coast of the U.S. Like other wasps, hornets can be extremely aggressive and can sting multiple times.
Bees and wasps have different types of stingers, which affects the amount of venom that they can inject in a single sting. Wasps have smooth stingers, which allow them to sting a perceived threat, multiple times. Wasps in general are more aggressive than bees (excluding “Killer Bees”) and will sting more than once. Honeybees have barbed stingers that dig into the skin, remaining embedded as the bee flies away. Not all bees have barbed stingers. For example, the bumblebee’s stinger is smooth, allowing them to sting multiple times, just like wasps.
Bees and wasps inject different amounts of venom per sting. A honeybee, who can only sting one time, injects as much as 50 micrograms of venom in a single sting. As the stinger is embedded in the skin, it continually pumps this venom into the body, so the sooner you remove the stinger, the less venom it injects. It typically takes about 45-60 seconds for the full amount of venom to be released. A wasp injects a significantly smaller amount per sting — only 2 to 15 micrograms — but can do so more than once in a short period of time.
The chemical composition of bee and wasp venomare different but, they produce similar side effects. Both types of venom make your body release histamine, which causes symptoms like those of a mild allergic reaction: itching, swelling, redness and pain at the sting site. Because the venom typically makes the site of the sting sore and achy, applying an ice pack can help dull the pain. The site may remain sore for several days as it heals.
Different people have different reactions to bee and wasp venom. A person with a severe allergy may need immediate medical attention after a single honeybee sting, while a healthy person without a significant allergy can withstand 1,000 or more stings before reaching a lethal dose. If you don’t know whether you are allergic and you’ve been stung, watch out for the symptoms of an allergic reaction,which can develop immediately or within 30 minutes. They include difficulty breathing, hives that spread, facial swelling, chest tightness and difficulty breathing. These symptoms also can lead to loss of consciousness, so if you believe you may be experiencing this type of allergic reaction, contact emergency medical services immediately.
Fun Fact:Bees stopped buzzing during the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse.
on August 21, 2017, while millions of Americans took a break from their daily routines, to witness a total solar eclipse, a similar phenomenon was happening unnoticed nearby: Bees took a break from their daily work schedules, too.
In a first time study of a solar eclipse’s influence on bee behavior, researchers at the University of Missouri organized a group of citizen scientists and elementary school classes in setting up sound monitoring stations to listen in on bees’ buzzing—or lack thereof—as the 2017 eclipse passed over. The results, published today in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America, were clear and consistent at locations across the country: Bees stopped flying (therefore buzzing) during the period of the total solar eclipse.
Eros and the Bees
A bee stung Eros on the nose
While he was smelling on a rose
“Mother Venus, ay,ay,ay
Please help me or I’ll die
What a terrible disgrace
A dragon bit me on my face”!
Venus comforts first her son
then speaks to him with mocking fun:
The little bee’s tiny sting
Is for you an earnest thing
But more painful and real hard
are your stings in human’s heart
image: A. Dürer, 1514: Eros, Venus and the bees; the poem is from the Anacreonteia
Spring is the time of renewal and is associated with the beauty of the “reborn”. Birds are on the wing and so are beautiful butterflies, but there is something bad and ugly winging it’s way into our neighborhoods and right into our homes. It’s the mosquito!
What causes mosquito populations to diminish and explode? According to entomologists, it’s a combination of weather and climate. Mosquitoes arevery sensitive to their environment. Temperature and rainfall are the two major factors determining mosquito populations. These two factors have an extreme effect on their survival and ability to reproduce. How much it rains at one time, when it rains, how long a cold or warm spell lasts and when it happens are all important when it comes to predicting what kind of mosquito season will be in our future.
Mosquitoes can complete theirlife cyclesfrom egg to adult in about a week, therefore it is extremely important to eliminate breeding sites by; emptying collected water or use it within the week. Rain barrels and containers must be tightly sealed to prevent mosquito entry, and green, unmaintained pools should be emptied and cleaned. And don’t forget to get rid of the water collected in the pans under potted plants. Mosquitoes can breed in less than a ½ inch of water. Mosquito larvae are completely aquatic, and they need a source of standing water that will support them until they are ready to emerge as adults.
Spiders crawl around your house, some jump across your lawn — and others take transoceanic flights. With airships made from strands of silk, some species of tiny spiders take to the air in a process called “ballooning”.
Ballooning spiders were first documented in the 17th century but until the 21st century, scientists had no idea exactly how these spiders take to the air. So modern day researchers, in Berlin, used a wind tunnel to approximate conditions that would cause spiderlings to balloon. What they observed was fascinating.
The spiders (crab spiders) first sensed the wind through hairs on their legs. Then, they further tested the wind conditions by lifting one or both, of their front legs into the air for 5 to 8 seconds. They’d repeated the process, until they were satisfied with the wind conditions, each time rotating their bodies in the direction of the wind.
When the spiders were finally ready to take flight, they raised their abdomens and spun their silk — each strand around 2 to 4 meters long (6.6 to 13 feet) — eventually forming a triangular kite of sorts. With enough drag from the silk against the wind, the spiders used these thin, silky sails to take off. During takeoff and throughout the flight, the spiders kept their legs stretched out, just like human parachutists.
This is all well and good but how do researchers explain ballooning in the absence of wind?
According to a different set of researchers out of Berlin, drag forces from wind or thermals are not the only things responsible for this airborne scattering of spiders.Electric fields or electromagnetic fields, at strengths found in the atmosphere, can also trigger ballooning behavior and provide lift in the absence of any air movement.
So, why do these amazing creatures take to the air? Ground travel is just too hazardous.
Ballooning as a mode of travel is primarily used by newly hatched baby spiders to escape being cannibalized by their siblings and fed upon by predators. Adult spiders sometimes resort to it when resources are scarce, or to escape hazards (fires, floods and predators).
In casting their fate to the wind, spiders may drop just a few feet from their takeoff site, or they might get caught in a jet stream that takes them across oceans. But, in all cases, they go where the wind takes them. Fair winds little spiders!
Huckleberry Finn was an amature raft builder and river rafter, when compared to Red Imported Fire ants.
As fire ants are flooded out of their underground nests, they hold onto each other for dear life, forming a fire ant flotilla that allows them to survive. Actually, they hold themselves together by linking mandibles (mouth parts) to the legs of other ants and locking leg to leg to mouth to leg.
Instead of scattering, with every ant for him or herself, red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) have the unique ability to gather together as a colony and form living rafts on the surface of rising flood waters.
Their rafts are so tightly woven together, that water cannot penetrate the raft. This structure also holds a layer of air, called a plastron layer, tightly around the raft.The plastron layer (air bubble) facilitates buoyancy and keeps ants on the bottom of the raft (those underwater) alive. This unique “air bubble” and a waxy coating on their bodies allows these ants to stay afloat for weeks if necessary, so that they have a fighting chance to reach dry land and save their colony.
To make sure the colony survives, the queens and their eggs (there can be one or more queens in a colony), are given the driest accommodations on the raft, near the center. The raft itself is in constant motion, with ants moving across the top and joining the stationary layer on the bottom. In this way the raft is kept in tip top condition.
Scientists don’t really know why some ants get to be the bottom raft crew, but it seems that there is some indication that this is not a voluntary position.
The colony must survive. So while floating down the river on natures currents, these ants are constantly searching for new and safe places to set up housekeeping.
So, what do these ants do when they finally hit dry land? Abandon ship of course!
All ashore that going ashore!
The South American or Red Imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) was initially introduced into Southern California in 1998 (Orange County) and is a major concern as an invasive species. It is similar in general appearance to our native southern fire ant (S. xyloni), except the head and thorax of the red imported fire ant is a little darker and their dirt excavations for colony sites are much larger, almost the size of gopher mounds!
The sting of both species of fire ant is about the same pain level, and leaves a raised reddish welt, especially in tender areas. A single bite or sting is not pleasant but watch out for a whole colony may decide to attack at once if a threat to the colony is perceived and this can be a definite health concern as they can inflict significant damage and a whole lot of fiery pain.
With the amount of rain and snow, in California this year, and the extensive number of areas destroyed by fire, flooding is a major problem for we humans and animals alike. You can be sure, as we deal with disastrous flooding, Fire Ants will be industriously building rafts, and river rafting their way to safety and, like Christopher Colombus, new lands to colonize.
Every time I sit with my grandkids and watch their favorite movie, Disney’s, Ratatouille, I can only picture in my mind the “cute”, humanized rats running around a kitchen, peeing and pooping uncontrollably even shedding hair and their fleas and mites as they create fantastic meals for their human patrons. I am so grossed out! You see, being in the pest control industry for over 20 years has taught me a lot about animal habits and physiology, and although it is a myth that they have no bladders and no sphincter muscles, it’s a fact that rats and mice constantly eleminate their waste wherever they happen to be and quite frequently. So, wherever they roam, they leave a trail of feces and urine behind. “ICKY”!
These pests are more than just a nuisance. Rodents, such as rats, mice and even rabbits, are associated with a number of health risks. Rats and mice alone are known to spread more than 35 diseases and these diseases can be spread directly to humans, by the handling of live and dead rodents, through rodent bites and through contact with rodent feces, urine and saliva. Indirectly, diseases can be transmitted through fleas, ticks and mites that have fed on the infected rodents. Rats and mice carry parasites, like tapeworms and are also responsible for eliciting allergic reactions, as their hair, dander and particles of feces become airborne.
Scary fact; a single mouse is capable of depositing up to 25,000 fecal pellets in a year. That’s approximately 70 pellets each day (not to mention free flowing urine). So, there is no question that prevention and prompt removal of these dirty guys, is of paramount importance.
Vector control (a county program) has several suggestions for minimizing rodent infestations like trimming back trees and shrubs, cleaning up pet food and fallen fruits outside, closing entrances to your home larger than a quarter inch and cleaning up rodent feces and urine with a disinfectant that is rated for killing viruses. They warn to not use a vacuum. It could push pathogens into the air and increase the chance of someone breathing them in. It is suggested that if you must use a vacuum, thoroughly spray entire infected area with a disinfectant that kills viruses, then let it stand until it’s dry. Then vacuum carefully with a hepa-filter equipped vacuum. Don’t forget your face mask!