Category Archives: General Pest Control

Discussion about general pest control practices.

South American Palm Weevil, The Darth Vader of Weevils Annihilating Palms As It Travels North

The South American palm weevil has ignored the boarder wall and is headed straight into California on its never-ending quest for plentiful food and abundant breeding grounds. Here in San Diego County,palm-weevil-in-hand with our iconic landscape palm trees, like the Canary Island date palm and others, we have everything these invasive weevils need to sustain their ever-growing populations.

Historically these tree killers are well known from Argentina and Paraguay north through South America and Central America to central Mexico and into the Caribbean.

Since 2010 they have been attacking and killing palms, primarily Canary Island Date Palms, in Baja California adjacent to San Diego.  Then in 2015, they were found to be the cause of death of 10 Canary Island Date Palms in a neighborhood of San Ysidro,

Credit: Forest & Kim Starr Biologists

which is in the southern part of San Diego.  More recently, this year, they have been detected in these same palms, in Rancho Santa Fe, in North San Diego Country, where treatment is commencing to safe-guard these beautiful, expensive landscape trees.

If left unchecked, these invaders will be a real threat to the region’s ornamental and palm industry. The ornamental palm industry in California, has an estimated value of $70 million while commercial date producers in the Coachella and Imperial Valleys contribute about $30 million to the state’s economy. These guys could put a big dent in California’s already challenged economy.

Despite the weevil’s large size, it is often difficult to detect infestations because they live inside the palms. However, infested palms will often exhibit yellowing and suffer notched or chewed looking new fronds or internal damage to the top of the crown. In advanced stages of infestation, the tops of palms can droop and collapse.

UC Riverside CISRdamaged-crown-of-date-palm

 

south-american-palm-weevil-rhynchophorus-palmarum-jpg

The devastation comes not from the adult weevils themselves, but their larvae, which eat the palms from the inside out, typically in the crown of the tree. That makes it impossible for the tree to grow new fronds and causes it to die from the top down.

The South American palm weevil can also transmit another palm-killer — the red ring nematode — which has not been found in California to date, and Fusarium Wilt – an infectious fungal disease, that kills the palm and infects the soil surrounding the palm for years.

According to experts, a detection and monitoring program must accompany any treatment program. Monitoring for any change in tree appearance is crucial. Insecticide treatments alone do not necessarily guarantee eradication. In addition to any proposed treatmepalm-weevil-monitoringnt, keeping a palm as healthy and vigorous as possible may reduce the likelihood of an infestation, since weak, sick or damaged trees attract these harmful pests.

Insecticidal treatments can be made if the surrounding environmweevil-insecticidal-treatmentent allows for a safe and proper application. Applications should be made by a licensed and trained professional.

 

Agriculture officials are hoping to locate and stop the invasive South American palm weevil before it gets a foothold in California. Therefore, they are encouraging anyone who sees a large long nosed black beetle, to report it.

Researchers at the University of California Riverside are encouraging anyone who spots palm weevils or palm trees damaged by the pest to fill out an online form on the website of the Center for Invasive Species Research. The CISR website also provides wonderful photographs to help with identification.

No-See-Ums: A Plague of Invisible Blood Suckers

Producing extreme wet weather conditions, Mother Nature is gearing up for another blood thirsty assault on mankind and this time we won’t see them coming.

The same conditions that encourage mosquitoes, give rise to the infamous “the-swarmNo-See-Ums”, also called, Sand flies (which they really aren’t) or Biting midges, in Western North America, “Punkies” in the Northeast, “Five-o’s” (because they do their biting around 5PM) in Florida and Alabama, “Pinyon gnats” in the Southwest, and “moose flies in Canada.

But no matter what they’re called, their bites are extremely annoying and reactions to these bites range from small red welts at the bite site to locamidge-bites-and-reactionlized allergic reactions with burning and extreme itching, sometimes lasting hours.

Ceratopogonidae, or biting midges, are a family of small flies (1–4 mm long) in the order Diptera. Coastal and mountain areas provide their primary habitat and they love wetlands and salt marshes. They will also breed in, backyards, tree-holes, mud and damp leafy areas; anywhere there is moisture.biting_midge01

No-see-ums are the smallest blood-sucking insects on earth, and like the mosquito, only the females bite as they require the proteins from blood to produce their eggs.  They have serrated mandibles (mouthparts) biting-midges-feedingthat take a chunk out of your skin, leaving a hole that fills with blood. Then they suck it up. They feed both on humans and other mammals. Several species will suck the blood of  insects, including mosquitoes. Some species spread the livestock diseases Blue tongue and African horse sickness and a condition called Sweet itch.  In some countries, particularly in tropical regions, these insects can transmit parasites and diseases such as filarial worms in humans, but none are known to transmit diseases to humans in the U.S.

Almost invisible, no-see-ums appear at dawn and dusk, just like mosquitoes, and have a 4- to 6-week life cycle. Late Spring and summer are  their peak swarming season.  Unfortunately, they continually breed, even during the winter months. In winter, they just slow down tmidge-life-cycleheir life cycle and wait for favorable conditions in other life stages, like eggs and larvae. Their sole purpose in life is to breed, so after mating (males) and after egg laying (females) die. Females may lay 30-100 eggs in a clutch and up to 7 clutches before she dies. Because they do not feed, adults live for only 3 to 5 days. The biting midge larvae are bright red in color and live in the water until fully mature, and able to fly.

No-See-Ums are often confused with mosquitoes. Thimidge-comparison-for-sizes is because midges closely resemble mosquitoes (although much smaller)and their immature stages (eggs and larvae) share many of the same water sources. Like mosquitoes, midge larvae survive quite well in polluted, stagnant water.

Midge or a mosquito?look_alikes

  • Midges, raise their forelegs at rest, while mosquito adults do not.
  • The wings of midges are shorter than their  body, while mosquito wings are slightly longer than their body.
  • Midges have nonfunctional (reduced) mouth parts, while mosquitoes have a long proboscis (needle like projection). Mosquitoes pierce the skin with mouthparts like a syringe and suck up the blomouthparts-culicoidesod. Midges, however, cut the skin with sharp mouthparts like a mosquito-mouth-partspair of scissors and then suck up the pool of blood that forms by rolling its mouth into a short feeding tube.
  • Midges form large mating swarms in the evening, which may occur over several days. While male mosquitoes may swarm when mating, they are typically in a defined location and difficult to see.
  • Midges only live long enough to mate and lay their eggs, while certain species of mosquitoes can live for months at a time.

midge-protectionBecause of their prolific breeding habits and the fact that a lot of their breeding areas are protected by state law, midges are impossible to control completely.  So, if you can’t kill them all, the next best thing is….

Protect Yourself”.

  • Avoid areas that are known to have high biting insect activity.
  • cut-grassKeep vegetation surrounding dwsunshine-and-birdellings to a minimum.  Mow tall grasses and cut dense foliage. Let the sunshine in. Dry out wet, muddy areas and pick up leaf litter. Get rid of breeding areas.
  • Reduce moisture around the house. Get rid of standing water, don’t over water and empty any water holding containers (plant pots, toys, tires, stagnant ponds and pools etc.).
  • Batten down the hatches.  Fix broken screen_rippedwindows, install screens with extra small mesh, caulk openings into the interior of dwellings.  Keep windows and doors shut if unscreened. Keep outdoor lights off during evening hours or install yellow outdoor lighting to deter midges.  They’re attracted to light, but less so to yellow lighting.
  • Midges are weak fliers and do not like to seek blood meals when a moderate breeze is blowing, therefore, ceiling fans or other air circulation devices that increase air flow, inside dwellings, may also decrease biting midge activity indoors.
  • Wear light colored, long sleeve clothing and cover expinsect-repellent-applicationosed areas of skin, when outdoors during midge activity periods, usually early morning and late afternoon, to minimize exposure.
  • Personal insect repellents (containing Deet) applied to the skin and clothing as directed usually give several hours protection.
  • spraying-plantsSynthetic pyrethroid barrier sprays, applied around vegetation and exterior walls may substantially reduce midge adult numbers around treated premises for many weeks. Continuous, periodic, or seasonal treatments to the landscape is recommended.

Midges, even the biting kind, are important to the eco-system. They make up an essential part of the food chain as they provide food for fish and other aquatic animals, bats, other invertebrates, birds, lizards and even carnivorous plants like sundews and butterworts.

So, like tman_shooing_flies_lg_clrhe mosquito, we don’t want to live with No-See-Ums but our world can’t survive without them.

Doctor Dolittle Talked to the Animals…….Plants Talk to Animals and Each Other.

From the “Eentsnts”, tree-like creatures, created by J.R.R. Tolkien for his Middle Earth fantasy world, to the “Womping Tree” of Harry Potter fame, to “Groot” of the scienaudrey-ii-lightce fiction thriller/comedy “Guardians of the Galaxy”, and you can’t forget “Audrey” from The Little Shop of Horrors, talking plants, plants that communicate between themselves and others, have fascinated fiction enthusiasts and hardcore realists alike .

Contrary to the long-held idea that plants are silent, stoic, and uncommunicative, recent research has made it clear that many species have litalking-flowersvely and informative conversations with each another. Scientists have revealed that plants communicate through the air, by releasing odorous chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and through the soil, by secreting chemicals for transport along thread-like networks formed by soil fungi. This is the plants version of “wireless communication” and they’re having more than gossip sessions: these signals warn of the many dangers facing plants.  No longer can we call reclusive individuals, wall flowers, because now we know plants have active social lives.

Plants aren’t limited to conversations between themselves.  It turns out thatwasp-attacking-catapiller plants can also summon help from the animal kingdom, when under attack — when corn plants (Maize) or tobacco plants are munched on by caterpillars, they can give off an odor that attracts caterpillar-eating wasps!  A chemical in the armyworm’s drool triggers the leaves of corn and tobacco seedlings to scream for protection and aide from armyworm predators.   If you’re a corn or tobacco farmer, you might want to start using this trick to defend your crop against aphids.

There’s also evidence that plant-eating insects are intercepting the chemical communications of their prey. Ted Farmer, noted researcher from the Department of Plant Molecular Biology, University ofplant-intelligence-79-638 Lausanne, Biophore, Lausanne, Switzerland,who found evidence of an electrical nervous system in plants, has also found evidence that insects actively try to minimize the chemical defenses of the plants they feed upon.  (Read his paper, Differential gene expression in response to mechanical wounding and insect feeding in Arabidopsis.) Ants, microbes, moths, even hummingbirds and tortoises (Farmer scientifically verified their responses) all detect and react to these blasts of plant defensive chemicals.

This is what we know about plant communication:

  1. Plants can call for help.  When you smell the sweet odor of cut grass or cut flowers you are really smelling the plants “distress call”.  The plant is calling in help from insects that will eat the insects currently feeding off of it.  The grass or flower treats the lawnmower or scissors as it would a hungry insect chewing its body parts.
  2. Plants listen in to other plants private conversations. talking-plants They evesdrop!  Plants can pick up chemical signals from unrelated, plants in their surrounding area.  When they pick up a strangers’ chemical “SOS”, they start to produce their own defensive mechanisms pro-actively.
  3. Plants will defend their home territory.  Plants are competitive organisms.  Thflowers-in-gardeney compete for sunlight, water, and nutrients.  Certain species of plants can emit chemicals into the soil that will kill foreign plant species.  Then there are plants that can nullify the effects of these toxic emissions with their own chemical concoctions, effectively protecting themselves and other unrelated plants close by.
  4. Plants can recognize their relatives and siblings.  They tend to recognize and support their relatives.  They become less competitive for resources when in close proximity to their own family members, sharing rather than hogging available resources, promoting the health of their species.  One for all and all for one.
  5. Plants can communicate, not only with insects, but with mammals.  Plants usebat-talking-to-plant their communication skills to attract animals that bring them beneficial help. Whether its food they need or defense from enemies, plants are not shy when it comes to asking for “Help”.  The carnivorous, Pitcher Plant, is able to communicate acoustically with bats making it easy for bats to find them and deposit guano into the plant, providing nourishment.

So, go ahead, talk to your plants.  Find out whats bugging them, then call a plant pest professional to save the day!

Here’s a little pest humor. Get ready to Smile!fly-trap-cartoon

Danger Will Rogers, There Are More Bugs in Space Than Astronauts.

A wide variety of animals have been launched into space, including monkeys, dogs and bugs.

The United States launched flights containing monkeys and primates  ( Ham seen here in his flight couch) between CHIMPANZEE "HAM" IN FLIGHT COUCH FOR MR-2 (MERCURY-REDSTONE2) (REF# LOD 61C-1141948-1961 with one flight in 1969 and   another in 1985. France, launched two monkey-carrying flights in 1967. The Soviet Union, launched monkeys between 1983 and 1996 and during the 1950s and 1960s  dogs,  were used in  the Soviet space program.

But the very first animals sent into space were Bugs.bug-astronautsExperiments on fruit flies have advanced our knowledge of genetics, cell biology and medicines, since 1909.  So, they were an obvious choicfruit-fly-singlee,to launch into orbit aboard a U.S. V-2 rocket, on February 20, 1947. The objective of the fruit fly experiment was to investigate the effects of radiation exposure at high altitudes. At the end of their space flight, The Blossom capsule was ejected successfully and the fruit flies were recovered alive.

 

Silkworm larva and eggs have also become accomplished space travelers. They have hung out, in space, with vasilk-worm-expiramentsrious astronauts on NASA space shuttles for decades.  But, their role, providing information crucial to mans’ space exploration changed as Chinese scientists demoted them from micro-astronauts to high protein space snacks. 

On July 28, 1973, the first spiders in space, garden spiders named Arabella and Anita,were passengers on the Skylab 3 flight along with pocket mice, a fish and three (3) human astronauts.  A Lexington, Massachusetts high school student, named Judith Miles, proposed a “spider” test as part of a student focused Skylab 3 experiment. At first, the spiders were frantically swimming in place due to the lack of gravity, but after two days, Arabella began Skylab Spider Arabellabuilding a web and then Anita spun one shortly thereafter. Their webs were finer and much sloppier than ones spun on earth. The “test” revealed quite a bit about the effect of zero  and micro-gravity on motor coordination. Both spiders died in orbit, their sacrifices giving scientists quite a bit to chew on, and those fascinating tidbits have helped further the study of zero or microgravity. Arabella’s body was put on display at thUS Space and Rocket Museum, and the cages where they spun their webs, at the Space Science exhibition at the National Air & Space Museum.

Spiders were again launched into orbit in 2008.  Two Oorb-weaver-webs-in-spacerb Weavers, lost their battle with zero gravity, experiencing the same problems as their predecessors: the inability to produce the strong, beautiful web designs they are known for here on earth.  Oh, what tangled webs they weave, in space!

In 1984, NASA sent 3500 Honey bees into space, in an effort, to find out if they  hold the key to off world crop pollinationResearchers bees-in-space-1984found that they build honeycombs quite well in microgravity and their behaviors remain constant whether in space or on earth.  Subsequent experiments are taking place back here on earth in zero gravity chambers.

Monarch and Painted Lady butterfly larvae had their turn in space in 2009.  Astronauts had the privilege of witnessing the birth of the most beautiful butterflies on earth.butterflies-in-space Painted lady and Monarch butterfly eggs and larvae, flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station, where their life cycles, in zero and microgravity, were studied. Students here on earth, in grades K-12, used original photos from the mission to conduct open-ended scientific investigations in classrooms.

Ants made it into the limelight of space exploration, on the International Space Station in 2013 through 2015. The objective of the “Ant” experiment was to compare behavior differences in groups of ants, in this case Pavement ants, living in normal gravity against those in microgravity conditions. It measured how the interactions among ants, in a group, depended on the number of ants in a given area. Their behaviors may be important in determining how swarm intelligence works.  Understanding swarm ants-in-spaceintelligence will help scientists create mathematical processes for solving complex human problems, such as routing trucks, scheduling airlines, or telecommunications efficiency. Cameras recorded ants living on the International Space Station, and software analyzed their movement patterns and interaction rates. Students in grades K-12 got to watch the videos, in near real-time, and conducted their own classroom experiments.

If you’re tired of home-invasion-antsBugs invading your space and want to stop experimenting with ineffective control methods.  Follow this link and get professional help today! www.corkyspest.com

 

Featured image: Fine art America –  spiders-in-space–she-waits by JamesTemple.

In The Game of life, Humans Need to Take a Page Out Of The Ants’ Play Book.

Researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology say that ant colonies become more efficient when workers have a work-life balance, according to an article on ZMEScience.com. The study found that depending on the size of the colony, up to 80% of workers could be doing nothing at any given time. This helps conserve food, enesleepy-antsrgy and resources, and is especially helpful in larger colonies. So, it seems ant colonies increase their efficiency by letting workers take time off.

Current studies show, that as a colony’s population grows, the numbers of “Lazy” workers increase dynamically and a majority of those slacker ants could be doing nothing but grooming, aimlessly walking around or just lying still. Does this sound like a few co-workers, that shall remain nameless?

Ants try to hit a balance between the need for new resources, and the need to conserve those already stored. Inactive workers may represent a bet-hedging strategy in response to random environmental changes.

lazy-ant-in-color-on-hamockThe ‘lazy’ ants, therefore, are an important asset to the colony. Just how important is still being researched but some theories on the subject are:

  • Ants rest by rotation, so there’s always a pool of fresh workers to replace the ones too tired to continue their assigned tasks.
  • They can be called upon in an emergency,  like a reserve army or repair crew.
  • They are there to take the place of those ants that die in the line of duty.
  • They are too young or too old to actively participate in colony life.

Whatever the runion-ants-jpegeasons for some ants, specializing in “doing nothing”, this laziness benefits the colony and increases its’ sustainablity.

 

 

Many people confuse frantic energy with effectiveness. So not true!

Observing how ants maximize efficiency by balancing some work with a lot of rest could help make human society more productive and increase its’ longevity.

In the 1800s, during and following the industrial revolution, industrialists and unions alike agreed that workers needed a day off. This later became a two-day weekend. But in those days, work was mostly manual labor, and once workers left the job site, they also left their work behind. They were genuinely able to rest, away from work, without having to think about it or worry about what might be going on in their absence.

work-overloadToday, recent technological changes  have made it possible for workers to stay in touch 24/7.  Smart phones, hand held computers and other remote working technology have made it possible to work, on breaks, at lunch, after hours and  even on vacation.  People find it hard to “shut down” and genuinely rest and in most working environments people are expected to be “on call”, at all times. This never ending work schedule strips them of their ablity to have a life outside work.  Our work, life balance is way out-of-whack.  Stress is our enemy. It shortens our lives, damages our bodies and takes away our quality of life.  And it makes us fat!

It’s time to take a page out of the Ants’ Play Book!  Productivity, effectiveness and our general health individually and as a society depends on balancing work and rest.

Yep, It’s time for that power nap!

ants-sleep

                Follow this link to get the scoop on how and why ants sleep.

           http://www.buzzle.com/articles/do-ants-sleep.html

If the ants, on your property, are wide awake and heading into your house, it’s time to call a professional!  Follow this link to the best ant control service program in California, maybe even the world.   https://www.corkyspest.com/ants.html

Featured Image by illustrator Tina Do, entomologist.

Insects Have Super Powers, Humans Only Dream Of!

Many of the advanced technologies that humans have developed for survival, insects possess naturally.  In some cases, their nature has human technology beat.

Spiders:  “Material toughness” is defined as the amount of energy per volume that a material can absorb without rupturing. Kevlar, the stuff in bulletproof vests, is among the toughest materials ever made by man. Spider silk is up to three times tougher. It’s also five times stronger than steel. What’s more, this silk is incredibly lightweight; a strand long enough to circle the Earth would weigh less than a bar of soap.

Spider “Silk”, one of nature’s most amazing constructs, is made in the golden_silk_spider_-_flickr_-_p_a_hbelly of a spider.

So how do they produce this amazing material?  They assemble proteins together (in their gut) into extremely long and unbreakable chains, then spit the assembled protein chains out through glands called “spinnerets” near their mouths, while at the same time removing water, which hardens it into a strand. By weaving these “silk” strands together, they build elaborate webs from which entangled prey have no hope of escaping.

Scientists are hard at work, in their labs, spending millions of dollars, attempting to replicate spider silk. Having sequenced the silk gene, they are inserting it into all manner of living things (bacteria, plants and animals) in the hopes that they’ll produce quality silk in abundant quantities. So far, nothing beats the silk made in the bellies of spiders and it doesn’t cost the spiders a cent!

spider-silk-cape
Woven cape of spider silk

Spiders can also spin their silk into gold.  Golden fabrics, that are worth their weight in gold.   The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is home to the largest known tapestry of spider silk, woven using 1,063,000 spiders in Madagascar. The creation of such an ornate and unique tapestry begs the question: what can man do with this new medium?

Cockroaches: No radiation sickness for these guys.  Nor will they be wiped out, as a species, by high radiation levels, from a powerful nuclear explosion, that would effectively wipe out all of humanity. What gives roaches this amazingly effective, radiation shielding? It’s biological.

Cockroaches, and a few other hardy insects, can withstand much higher levels of radiation than humans.  How is this possible?  Well, it’s a known fact (among the scientific community) that cells are mostcockroach-and-radiation susceptible to radiation when they are dividing and cockroach cells divide only when they molt, which is a weekly occurrence, that lasts two days. Therefore,  only those roaches molting at the time of high radiation levels, will be killed. Human skin cells, on the other hand, divide about every 1/2 to 1 1/2 hours depending where they are on the body.

More Cockroach Super Powers:

  • A cockroach can lose its head and still survive. The organs that control the cockroach’s vital functions can be found in the thorax or the micockroach-headless-cockroach-bleached-stillddle part of the cockroach. So, when they lose their head, which does contain a primitive brain, they will continue to go about their daily business until they get hungry or thirsty.  Headless, they can neither eat nor drink and will die within days from thirst.
  • A cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes, and can even survive being submerged under water for half an hour.
  • Cockroaches can leap tall grasses at a single bound.  At least a species of Japanese cockroach can.

Bees: Ever try to take an extra suitcase on a plane, only to be told, sorry, that will be another $25? Cash or card? Why the extra charge?  It’s because airplanes aren’t made to carry too much excess weight and still rbaggage-on-planeemain in the air.

Bees, on the other hand, are engineered, to stay aloft carrying plenty of extra weight.  Because of their heavy lifting ability compared to their size and their haphazard flapping of wings, scientists were, for years, amazed that they could keep themselves aloft. The secret of honeybee flight, current researchers say, is the unconventional combination of short, choppy wing strokes, a rapid rotation of

.. Honey Bee in Flight | by wwarby
.. Honey Bee in Flight | by wwarby

the wing as it flops over and reverses direction, and a very fast wing-beat frequency (super-fast, at around 230 beats per second).  For efficiency, lift capacity and flight dependability, the Bee, hands down, has it all over man’s best efforts to create the perfect flying machine.

Besides being able to fly while defying the laws of aerodynamics, bees also navigate their surroundings by other means like remembering visual landmarks, taking the sun’s position into account, and using the Earth’s electromagnetic field.

The typical loads collected by a foraging honeybee are:
Nectar: 30-50mbee-carring-polleng (but can take up to 100mg, a bee’s weight is about 90mg)
Water: 25mg (max 50mg)
Pollen: 16mg (8mg x 2 pollen baskets on their legs)

Bees are in the news again as they take another hit to species survival.  Extinction may be fast approaching certain bee species. The Rusty patched bumble bee has just been added to the endangered species list here in the U.S. as it poputations have decreased 87%.

Can’t wait tsuperroacho find out what other amazing super powers insects have? Follow this linkhttp://www.toptenz.net/10-insects-with-amazing-superpowers.php

 

Bed Bugs: Help! Monsters Are Hiding Under The Bed and In It!

Monsters are things of nightmares, and as children we often needed Mom or Danightmare-boy-in-bedd to check out the underside of the bed to make sure a monster wasn’t lurking there.  If all was well, per the “Monster Check”, sleep would come if eyes were shut and covers pulled up tight.  The theory was, if it couldn’t be seen, it wasn’t there.

But the blood sucking monsters known as Bed Bugs, Cimex lectularius defy inspection, hide under, arobed-bug-bashund and in our beds, and using the dark of night, stealthily creep out of hiding to attack singularly or in hordes. Leaving itchy red bites and psychological trauma (fear and loathing) in their wake.

Bed bugs are ancient monsters, sucking the blood of man, other warm blooded mammals and birds, in order to survive, and they ddt-for-bed-bugshave been feasting regularly since the dawn of human history. While bedbugs were largely eliminated by pesticides (DDT) after World War II, their populations have rebounded because of greater global travel, urban sprawl and pesticide resistance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While they are usually found hiding in and around bed frames and mattresses, bedbugs are extremely mobile and hide in furniture, curtains, carpet edges, lamps and switch plates, picture frames, luggage, purses, blankets, and clothing.

Amazingly, research has determined that bed bugs do not transmit any illnesses through their bites. But the bites alone can cause redness, swelling and painful allergic reactions.

vre
VRE Bacterium
VRE Infections

However, recently, in Vancouver, British Columbia, hospital researchers, found bed bugs harboring bacteria known as VRE, (vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium) and MRSA, (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). It is currently under study, as to how bed bugs might play a part in the transmission of these two, drug resistant, germs

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and a dead human neutrophil
methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

which cause extremely lethal infections.  As of now, bed bugs are thought to have

mrsa-staff-infection
MRSA Infection

spread these germs passively, by merely transporting them on their body parts or proboscis and leaving them behind as they crawl over open wounds or skin lesions.”

“As closely as bed bugs reside in human domestic spaces, it’s not surprising that they would acquire human pathogens such as MRSA and VRE”, states Richard Oehler, a researcher at the University of South Florida.  How they can spread these pathogens between humans is the subject of ongoing scientific study.

Not so fun fbed-bug-rashact: According to scientists, an army of bed bugs can attack a person 500 times in one night.  I’m glad I wasn’t the researcher that was sacrificed, in the name of science, in order to obtain that statistic!

Got bed bugs?  Think you have bed bugs or do you want to be prepared just in case?  Check out these links for prevention and extermination techniques.

https://www.corkyspest.com/bed-bugs.html

https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs/getting-rid-bed-bugs

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/bedbugs-infestation#1

If you find yourself losing the Bed Bug Battle, call a professional and start winning today!

Photo-Illustration by John Ueland for TIME Joel Stein: What’s so bad about bed bugs?

Sex and the Single Termite

Termites not only raid people’s homes, but also those of other happy termite couples.

Homosexuality is known as an “evolutionary paradox” because it can’t produce offspring. So why does it happen? Biologists at Kyoto University in Japan have now uncovered one explanation for the behavior — at least in termites.

Reticulitermes speratus
Reticulitermes speratus

When male termites are single, and no female mates can be found, the guys tend to

By Richard Levine Coptotermes formosanus
By Richard Levine Coptotermes formosanus

form homosexual couples, in order to survive.  A new study by Kyoto University scientists, in Japan, confirms this unusual behavior. Their study used subjects from Japanese termite species, that are genetically the same or similar to those found in the United States.(Reticulitermes speratus, Coptotermes formosanus).

These homosexual pairings may give male Japanese termites an evolutionary edge, according to new research. Scientists found that when female mates are lacking, male termites will pair up and nest together. These samtermite-king-queen-and-workere-sex pairs will even take over a heterosexual couple’s nest, killing the resident male (King) so that one member of the male-male pair can mate with the female (Queen), the researchers said.

Though pairing with another male is not the best option, as only one of the termites can mate once a female is found, the researchers noted that the behavior does give single termites a better chance at survival.

In the study, published in Animal Behavior, the researchers reported that homosexual male termites built nests together, just as with heterosexual couples. “Male termites aren’t able to survive on their own, but those that make nests with another male survived for much longer,” states Mizumoto. “This was especially beneficial in situations when searching for females raises the risk of being preyed upon.

“It’s clear that male-male pairing is a strategy for survival – a safety in numbers or “selfish herd” approach that works because a predator can’t catch two prey at the same time.

Scientists previously thought homosexual pairings of invertebrates like insects were the result of misrecognition of males as females. However, in the new study, researchers at Kyoto University found that the male termites in same-sex pairings did not act as if they had mistaken their partner as female.

Another interesting fact about termite sex, is some termites skip the sex altogether and have babies anyway.

Scientists recently discovered that termite queens could produce new queens without mating with the king. The queens still produce workers and soldiers the traditional way.sancheztermitebabyfoodtoon1080x1080 These new discoveries seem to indicate that the queen is able to control the genetic makeup of the colony. By producing new queens without mating, the queen reduces the chance of inbreeding.

 

 

Ants: Look out World! Super-Colonies Defy the Laws of Evolution.

First there was one; then there were two – and before long there were billions of them. Invasive ants have managed to form super-colonies that have the potential to grow indefinitely.

Ants normally form colonies with only one nest and one queen. But for 15-20 of the world’s 12,643 known ant species, this isn’t enough: they form super-colonies with multiple nests and many queens. This enables them to spread over large areas and wipe out other ant species.
According to Jes Søe Pedersen, of the Department of Biology, at the University of Copenhagen. “It looks as if the ants defy evolution, and we’re eager to figure out how that’s even possible,” “We have notrouble with understanding how evolution has created the classic ant colony,”says Pedersen.  “The workers work for their sisters – new queens – and their brothers – males. It gets a bit trickier to understand when the workers work for other ants’ sisters and ant-queen-eggs-and-workersbrothers, as is done in super-colonies. According to the laws of evolution, you only need to help out your relatives. But we’re seeing ant colonies so big that all the ants cannot possibly be related. So why are they helping one another? That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” he says.

Super-colony #1

Argentine Ants are now present on most continents.

The ant species that formed this massive super-colony originates from Argentina. It has spread to Europe, the USA, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Hawaii from a super-colony that came from South America margentine-antore than 100 years ago, partly via ship cargo.

The largest Argentine Ant super-colony in the world was discovered in 2000 in Southern Europe. The size of this super-colony is amazing. Spread over 4000 miles near the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines, it actually consists of two super-colonies, with 33 populations consisting of millions of queens and billions of workers. They’re working together to create this gigantic society covering a larger distance than many of the world’s countries.

Although the Argentine Ant poses no risk to humans, it can soon become a nuargentine-ant-nestisance when suddenly there is an unprecedented increase in ants in the garden and infesting the house.

In Southern California, the Argentine ant is the No. 1 pest that extermination companies are hired to get rid of, UCSD researchers say.  They havargentine_ant_large-california-mape displaced more than 50 species of native ants, some ten times their size, to establish a “super-colony” that stretches from San Diego almost to the Oregon border.

What is also important, is to understand that the dominance of these ants can cause a ripple effect in the ecosystem as they eliminate other native ant species as well as other insects. This alters the food base for species further up in the food chain.

One big family

According to scientists, whenever ants from the main European and Californian super-colonies and those from the largest colony in Japan came into contact, they acted as if they were old friends.

These ants rubbed antennae with one another and never became aggressive or tried to avoid one another.

In short, they acted as if they all belonged to the same colony, despite living on different continents separated by vast oceans.

Super-colony #2

 Red Imported Fire Ants causing havoc in the U.S.
fire-ants-1The red imported fire ant is also native to South America and has been accidentally introduced in Australia, New Zealand, several Asian and Caribbean countries and the United States.

Red imported fire ants are dominant in their chosen areas of infestation and live in a wide variety of habitats. They can be found in: rain fireant-nestforests, in disturbed areas, deserts, grasslands, alongside roads and buildings, and in electrical equipment.

In the Ufire-ant-bitesS, the red American fire ant has had an iron grip on the country since the 1930s. This ant is also imported from Argentina, but unlike the Argentine Ant, it’s nasty sting is painful and sometimes hazardous to animals and humans alike. It’s sting is equivalent to that of a bee with the same dangers involved.

Since a super-colony can contain billions of these miniscule creatures within a relatively small area, great efforts are being made to fight them.fire-ant_map

According to researchers, “Trying to fight the red imported fire ant on a large scale is hopeless. It’s costing the US billions of dollars every year to fight this ant, to compensate for losses of crops and to provide medication for animals and for people who have been stung.

Other ants that have formed Super-Colonies:

Ethopia, Africa – The infamous ant speciesLepisiota canescens, is demonstratinlepisiota_canescens_sudan_2009_forkey-4-picsg the behavior needed for super-colony formation and global domination.

 

 

 

Australia, Christmas Island, Indonesia – The Yellow Crazy Ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes, is an extremely successful aAnoplolepis gracilipesnd resourceful species, and considered to be one of the worst invasive species on earth.  When disturbed they move around in a frantic motion, hence the name ‘crazy’ ants. They are aggressive and yellow-crazy-ants-feedingcompetitive to other ants and insects and this enables them
to out‐compete and displace other species and dominate food resources. These ants have spread through tropical and sub‐tropical zones of much of the world by ‘hitching’ rides with human produce and materials.

What will happen when all of these super-colonies meet

A titanic “War” for world domination!

ant-cartoon

Azteca, eciton, ants fighting, ant warfare, eciton hamatum, social insects, territory defense, animal territories, rainforest

ants-fighting

What Do You Give a Gopher for Christmas? The “Boot”!

Gopher It! Give Gophers the Boot!
Gopher It! Give Gophers the Boot!

That gopher that’s been living in your front yard for the last 2 years,  now considers himself part of the family. Just like creepy Cousincouch-potato Earle, that came to visit two Christmases ago and is now living in the basement, your gopher is entrenched and living rent free in your yard.   So, what do you give your gopher this Christmas?  The same thing that you give Cousin Earle.  The boot!

Pocket gophers live solitary lives in underground tunnel systems (sound like Cousipocket-gopher-close-upn Earle in the basement?), which they vigorously defend. They prefer loosely compacted or sandy soil for easy excavation. Their systems are typically made up of shallow feeding tunnels that run downward into deep nesting tunnel systems that can be several feet underneath the shallow systems. The average shallow tunnel depth is between 6-12 inches.

Gophers can heave up large amounts of soil in random mounding patterns, each forming a crescent shaped mound. (Mole mounds are conical in shape and form almost linear directions pocket-gopher-tunnelsin their digging patterns.) Gophers will forage above ground very near the tunnel opening for food and nesting material, just like creepy Cousin Earle, who makes his way up the stairs from the basement to raid the fridge. They have been known to create up to 70 mounds a month destroying gardens and lawns alike.

Gophers do not go dormant or hibernate, but they will take prolonged rest periods when temperatures or humidity reach uncomfortable extremes, and will go to deep nesting runway systems and live off stored food caches. Sounds like Cousin Earle again.

The most frustrating thing about gophers (and Cousin Earle), besides their year-round, daytime and nocturnal activity, is their ability to thwart your most creative and diligent eviction tactics.

Gopher resistant plants, natural predators, smelly repellent concoctions, Juicy Fruit gum, noise makers and vibrators, gas and smoke bogopers being blown upmbs, water boarding (tunnel flooding) and poisons, can all be part of an eviction program.  But the essential action you must take is consistent attention. No matter what method you decide upon, it is important to follow through, keep vigilant and act immediately when activity is observed.

When is it time to hire a professional exterminator? When your best efforts have failed, and all you want for gopher-and-snakes-cartoonChristmas is your beautiful yard and garden back!