It’s theGerman cockroachthat is now being dubbed the “Superbug”of the insect world. These tiny roaches are swift, prolific and love to live right up close and personal with human beings.
Blattella germanica, better known as the German cockroach,is developing resistanceto a range of pesticides. This inborn resistance is making them nearly impossible to kill and is making their extermination an ongoing exercise in fighting nature’s ability to adapt. What’s really scary, is this cross resistance, to a range of toxic pesticides, is happening in just one generation. German roach offspring are being born already resistant to toxins that they haven’t directly been exposed to.
Researchers are now saying that because of this inborn resistance, these roaches will be almost impossible to kill with pesticides alone. Ridding homes of these superbugs will require a strategy that combines insecticides with a combination of mechanical strategies, including, improved sanitation, traps, and the implementation of the vacuum to suck up the hordes. This multi- faceted approach is far more effective than pesticides alone.
Out of 4000 species of cockroaches worldwide, the German cockroach is the most common species.
German cockroaches eat almost anything; hair, glue, soap, and even toothpaste. They are most fond of starches, sweets, meats, breads, gravies, and almost any other human or pet food.
Female cockroaches protect their eggs by putting them into a thick protective case that is called an oothecal. One female German cockroach can place 40 eggs in one oothecal. These egg cases are not susceptible to most pesticides.
One female roach can theoretically produce hundreds of thousands of cockroaches in just one year.
Newly born German cockroaches become adults in about 36 days.s
Because they’re cold blooded, cockroaches can live without food for one month but only one week without water.
They can also live about a month without a head. They breath through small holes in their body segments so they do not depend on their mouth or head to breathe. The roach only dies because without a mouth it can’t drink, so it dies of thirst.
Vehicles, cars, camper-vans, buses and trucks, provide many pests with a warm dry environment that often contains food. Vehicles can also provide these pests with transport, spreading the pests to wherever the vehicle travels.
Cavities in vehicles can provide warm dry places for ants to build nests and they will often find food dropped in the vehicle.
Spiders find the gaps around wing mirrors and door jams the perfect places to hide and build webs around mirrors and other parts on the vehicle.
Rodents will nest in cars left parked for long periods and may do significant damage to vehicle wiring and upholstery (not to mention the stink when they die in the vehicle).
Another pesky creature that can invade vehicles is the dreaded Bed Bug.
Bed bugs invade cars and other forms of transportation. They are hitchhikers extraordinaire! These many legged creatures sneak into vehicles via clothing, purses, boxes and cartons, luggage and even books and stuffed animals. They love clutter and choose living near a convenient host,You!
Other insects and even small animals can infest vehicles and are usually attracted because of something stored in the vehicle.
Here are a few tips for keep invading pests out of your vehicles.
Keep it Clean! –Be sure to keep your vehicle clean and remove clutter on a regular basis. This is the best way to deter pests from making themselves at home. Clean the outside too. Don’t forget to wash the undercarriage, wheel wells and under the hood. Your wheels are a critters bridge from the road into the vehicle.
Use a power vacuum – Make sure to keep your carpets and mats super clean! If you don’t have a good strong vacuum, use the pay-per-use vacuums at a gas station or car wash.
Shampoo –Shampoo or steam clean carpets and other fabrics.
Natural repellents – Making a solution of vinegar and lemon or vanilla is a great way to keep bugs and spiders away. Just wipe surfaces with a 50/50 solution. There are other herbs that also turn away unwanted visitors, such as eucalyptus. Always test the surface to be treated first to make sure the solution doesn’t do any harm.
Insecticide – Always follow the label instructions and employ recommended safety measures. Once the vehicle is all clean, spray a little under each floor mat; just enough to keep insects away but not to overpower you with its smell or fumes. If you keep your car outside, spray around the perimeter of your vehicle.
If you know or suspect you have an infestation on your hands, be aware that a DIY approach will not always provide a successful solution.Professional pest exterminators should be consulted to provide accurate identification, and proper and successful control methods.
There are other important pollinators, too. Other bee species ( it’s estimated that there are at least 16,000 different species of bees world-wide), butterflies, beetles, flies and don’t forget birds and bats.
Praying Mantises: These insects are nature’s pest controltechnicians. They eat insects that we humans find annoying and destructive such as flies and caterpillars. Even mosquitoes that bite and infect us with diseases are on their menu. Thanks, guys and gals for your incredible appetite.
Why include these insects in our top insects to be thankful for? All of these insects contribute to the worlds food basket.
In developing countries harvesting insects provides livelihoods to predominately women from rural areas. They have brought prosperity to impoverished communities. For example, the Mopane Caterpillar, from South Africa, brings in about $85 million a year. In Cameroon and the Congo Basin, the insect trade accounts for upward of 20 percent of all economic activity.
So as we all gather around the table this Thanksgiving, giving thanks for our health, family and good friends. Remember to include a little gratitude for the bugs that make our lives livable and our planet thrive.
This Thanksgiving, be grateful, give thanks and enjoy!
If you are more frustrated than thankful for the unwanted insects invading your home and landscape, call the professionalsand start enjoying your Thanksgiving Holiday and beyond.
With daytime and overnight temperatures falling, animals go into overwintering mode and for them this means leaving the landscape for warmer places which can provide food and water and a safer environment in which to have and raise their young. Your home is at the top of their list!
Rats (and mice) are our most frequent unwanted visitors, this time of year.
Besides being disgusting, noisy and destructive, rats and mice can contaminate food, spread diseases, bring on allergies and even invite their friends; fleas, ticks and lice into your home. Rats, especially, have been known to damage property by chewing through drywall, insulation, and electrical wiring (including vehicle wiring). So, if you park your car outside, don’t forget to check under the hood frequently.
Removing yard debris and trash. Always look for places you think rats might like to live such as wood- piles and thick ground covers. Take time to thin out the vegetation and move firewood away from the home. Frequently restacking the wood will also discourage rodents from the area.
Keeping trash cans tightly closed.
Storing pet food or bird seed in metal cans with secure lids.
Picking up fallen fruit. (Don’t feed the rats!)
Bringing in pet bowls and bird feeders at night when rodents are the most active.
Keeping your home in good repair. Check for openings where rodents can get in. Remember that a mouse can squeeze through a hole as small as a dime, and rats can enter through quarter-sized holes. Covering the openings with metal, concrete or mesh wool or copper mesh wool will stop them from getting in.
Rats and mice gnaw to take care of their teeth. Their front teeth constantly grow and without gnawing and chewing to reduce the size of their choppers, the teeth would grow right out of their mouths until they would be unable to eat therefore starving to death or the bottom incisors would poke through the roof of the mouth stabbing into the brain. Not a good way to go!
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 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.
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!
Spiders and their webs are synonymous with Halloween.
Spider lore has changed over time. According to medieval superstition, people believed that if you saw a spider on all hallows eve, it was the spirit of a dead loved one watching over you. When humanity started the witch hunt era, spiders became associated with magic, witches and the supernatural, right along with bats and black cats. They also become representatives of danger, fear, ensnarement, and deception (think of the phrase “caught in a web of lies”).
Their odd anatomy and physiology (multiple eyes, crushing mandibles, 8 legs, and bulbous abdomen) creates aversion and fear in some individuals.
Add in their habit of seeking out cracks and crevices to hide in, their skittering and jumping movements and their nocturnal foraging activity, not to mention their ability to create great sticky webs, and what you have is the basis for “arachnophobia”, or the fear of spiders.
So now that we are convinced that spiders are loathsome creatures, our imaginations add magnitudes of size and deadliness, making them truly Halloween icons.
The true nature of spiders isn’t to be scary. But if you are perceived to be scary, then nobody messes with you, hence you may live longer.
Spiders have acquired a bad reputation over the centuries. Going from lucky charms to fearsome, evil specters. What they really are, are natures clean-up crew. Spiders eat other insects. Their diet consists mostly, of flies, roaches, moths, earwigs, aphids, caterpillars and even pesky mosquitoes. Some of these delicacies, spread disease, so spiders help humanity stay healthy.
While we fantasize spiders into huge, deadly, horror creatures, remember they are also the inspiration for a much beloved super-hero, Spider Man.
You may be noticing more spiders out and about. It’s Fall, otherwise known as Autumn, and this is the time of year when manymale spiders are out searching for a mate. This is true for house spiders and garden spiders, alike. If you are seeing more spiders inside your home, they may have came in from the cold, but more likely that they have been hiding in your wall voids all summer, venturing out, now into your living areas looking for mates. Once they mate, chances are, the males will die and the females will go back into hiding, lay their eggs and then, you know, “die”.