Category Archives: Health Related Pest Problems

Health Related Pest Problems

Giant Rats: From Nasty Vermin to Super Heros

 

Giant RatScary Rats:  Giant rats are no longer just figments of the imagination.  Now, it seems, these once mythical rodents are in fact real, and they’re absolutely, ginormous. That’s really, really big!

A rat, which was called “Vika” by locals on Vangunu (one of the many islands making up the group known as the Solomon Islands) solomon-islandswas for decades the stuff of legend. It wasn’t until a logging company (in 2015) accidentally flushed one from hiding, while clearing trees, that the Vika stories changed from fiction to fact. Then in 2017, researchers were able to hunt one of the rats down and through DNA testing found that this huge rodent, was a brand new species.

Now known as Uromys vika  , this rat has orangish brown fur, measures a foot anvika-ratd a half long and weighs more than 2 pounds. To put that in perspective, the average rat in the US., tops out at about 8 ounces with a body 7-11 inches long and tail another 7-9 inches. This new rodent, thought to be strictly herbivorous (plant eating), feasts mainly on nuts whose shells are thicker than that of a coconut. The animal’s massive teeth easily gnaw through the outer layer of the nut to make a meal of its tasty insides.

Another Giant Rat species, the Bosavi woolly rat is one of

From Wikipedia

the largest rats, according to the Smithsonian Institution. A Smithsonian biologist discovered this new species of giant rat in 2009 in the crater of Mount Bosavi, an extinct volcano in Papua New Guinea. It weighed close to 3.5 lbs. and measured 32 inches long, including the tail. This gigantic rat has a thick silver-gray coat and was not unafraid of humans. According to researchers, this species may only live inside this volcano.

The African or Gambian pouched rat,  Cricetomys gambianus, (is also on the exremely large side. It weighs between 2 to 3 pounds and grows to around 3 feet long (including its’ tail).  In its native Africa, the pouchedgambian-rat-standing rat lives in colonies of up to twenty, usually in forests and scrub areas, but also very often around termite mounds. It is omnivorous, preferring palm fruits and palm kernels while also feeding on vegetables, insects, crabs, and snails.  It is not a true rat but is part of an African branch omuroid rodents. It derives its name from the pouches inside its mouth (in the cheeks) that are used to store extra food.

For all it’s scary and perceived nastiness this rat rates right up there master-splinter-action-figurewith the famous “Master Splinter” of Ninja Turtle fame for his save the world attitude.  Known universally as the Hero Rat” for its work as a trained landmine detector and in the medical field for its ablity to detect, sniff out tuberculeosis ,. A single Hero rat can clear 200 square feet of landmine infested g round in an hour (done manually, the same area would take 50 hours to clear). A TB-detection rat can evaluate 50 samples in eight minutes (almost a day’s work for a lab technician).

Since 2000, these rats have cleared mine fields in Tanzania, and detected 6,693 land mines, 26,934 small arms and ammunitions, and 1,087 bombs across hundreds of miles in Mozambique. They’re also hard at work in Thailand, Angola, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Since 2002, trained tuberculosis-detecting rats have bFrom Wikimedia Commonseen used in 19 TB clinics in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam. They’ve successfully screened 226,931 samples and identified 5,594 TB patients. Get more info on these amazing Heros and the innovative research company (Ngo Apopo) that trains and provides their services at https://www.apopo.org/en/ You can even adopt a rat!

Being intelligent, playful and  very affectionate, they are sometimes kept as exotic pets.  Unfortunately, when a group of Gambian pouched rats escaped frorat-as-pet-1914404_960_720m a breeder in Florida and colonized an island called Grassy Key, they  become an invasive species. In addition, in 2003 they played a role in an outbreak of monkeypox in the United States. They are now a restricted animal and can only be imported for scientific research, exhibition, or educational purposes with a valid permit issued by the CDC.

Featured Picture: Giant Gambian Pouched Rat finds a landmine (photo by Xavier Rossi).

Other pictures: From Wikimedia Commons

 

Assassin Bugs: The “Kiss” of Death.

It’s getting close to Halloween and it’s time to think about scary, creepy and ghoulish things .  The “Assassin Bug” fits the bill .  It’s name stirs up  scary thoughts and its persona is ghoulish.  Here’s why it’s the perfect Halloween bad bug:

assassin-bug-carrying-corpsesThis insect stabs its prey and sucks it dry, then attaches the corpse to its back. Not just one or two at a time, these bugs can carry around huge piles of their enemies (or fast food containers). Although, weighty and really very ghoulish, this behavior acts as a visual and olfactory camouflage as well as providing highly effective body armor.

 

Brings to mind the Brain Bug from Starship Troopers drinking a guy’s brains.  Yuck!!

There are about 7,000 species of assassin bugs in the kissing-bug-rhodnius_prolixus70-300world and while they can deliver a painful bite, assassin bugs are usually no threat to mankind. Then there’s the exception: the blood-sucking kissing bugs, aptly named because they bite humans painlessly on the face and around the mouth while they sleep.  (They are attracted to the carbon dioxide exhaled while breathing.) Problems occur when they defecate in the process, leaving protozoans from their feces in the wound, leading to chronic heart, digestive and neurological problems. Chagas disease, is a serious problem in South America, and infections may be on the upswing in the United States. 

freeze-frame-of-pest-news-minuteFor  more information on Chagas disease and other important pest topics watch the Corky’s Pest Control’s  “Pest News Minute”.

 

Just a couple of examples of these creepy creatures.

Wheel Bug   assassin-bug-wheel-bug-eating

 

assassin-bug-spiney-red

 

Spiney Assassin Bug

 

 

 

war-bug-star-ship-troopers

 

War Bug from Starship Troopers

Scarey but not as scary as the real ASSASSINS.

 

Kissing Bug picture: By Dr. Erwin Huebner, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.

Natural Diasters: Hurricanes, Fires, Earthquakes and Rats!

roof-rat-on-lightMembers of the Muridae family are the dominant species in every region of the world, due to their ability to adapt to and exploit new situations. Commensal rats and mice, those that live at the expense of humans, invade their dwellings, eat their food, upset their comfort, and frequently transmit diseases to them, belong to this family. Three species of commensal rodents are the most widely distributed: the Norway Rat, Rattus norvegicus; the Roof rat, Rattus rattus; and the Common (House)  mouse, Mus musculus.

When natural disasters strike, rats and mice experience the same suffering as humans. Many of them are crushed to death or drowned, die of starvation, or fall prey to infections. Their populations are frequently decimated. Survivors, fearful and disorganized, wander into new areas in search of protection, shelter, and food. It taRat yellingkes time for them to regroup and reorganize their social behavior, become familiar with their new environment, find safe havens, locate food and water, and memorize their movements. All this occurs before they can again begin reproducing.

Colony building and reproduction will only begin when their new ecosystem has stabilized. This typically takes 6 to 10 months under favorable conditions. As the rodent population grows and resettles, people have a greater chance of being exposed to the diseases carried by rodents. Rodent urine and dander also contain allergens that can cause allergic reactions or trigger asthma symptoms in sensitive persons and more than 9,000 persons are treated in emergency departments annually for rat or mouse bites

rat-biting-girl-clipartFACT: Some rats, if provoked and cornered, will fight their way out of a confrontation, as will many wild animals. But most rats and mice do not directly attack humans. Young babies, bed-confined elders, and the homeless sleeping in doorways and alleys, however, are occasionally bitten by unprovoked rats.  In some cases, those cleaning up debris after natural disasters will come in contact with frightened rats (mice) and may experience bites. 

So even with immediately decreasing populations, rats are perceived to be increasing because they gravitate to the same areas as humans and become more prevalent and  evident in those environs.

Why are rodent populations, and their movements, so important after disastediaster-damagers? Because events like Hurricane Irma and Jose, the fires in our great northwest, tornados in the midwest and the earthquakes in the U.S. and Mexico, can change the ecology of affected areas, making it more favorable to rats and other vermin. At the same time, they can curtail community services that can keep these  pests in check.

For more information on Rats and Mice and the illnesses they cause and the diseases they carry, check out this link:  https://www.cdc.gov/rodents/diseases/index.html

Need to know how to get rid of Rats and Mice? Check out this website: https://www.corkyspest.com/rats.html

Beach Bugs, They’re a Real Summer Bummer!

It’s Summer and the California beaches are the vacation destinations of millions of people.  It’s where we have fun in the sun, cool off in the water and relax on the sand under colorful umbrellas with cool drinks ansecluded-beachd our favorite books.

 

 

Reality check: what we often find are crowds, screaming kids, sand in awkward places, sunburn,  packed parking lots, traffic jams, and “Bugs”!

crowded-beachBe prepared to share your summer beach experience with these annoying, “Beach Bugs”.

Sand Fleas:  

sand-fleaThe common sand flea (Orchestia agilis), that is found on California beaches, is really an amphipod, or a small, shrimp-like crustacean. They burrow into the sand and they feed on decaying plant and animal matter that washes up on the shore, especially seaweed. They do not want anything to do with people. They obviously are not fleas, not even insects. However, they jump, similar to the way fleas do and they live in the sand, so hence the name sand flea.  On other beaches, around the world, different species of sand fleas present problems for humans, and other mamals, as they bite to gather blood in order to reproduce and carry diseases, not unlike mosquitoes.

Sand Flies:

sand-flies-on-legsThis is a general term that can be applied  to any biting fly you might encounter at the beach, besides a mosquito. This could even be a type of horsefly that is associated with that type of beachy habitat. Most commonly, the name sand fly refers to flies in the family Ceratopogonidae. These are small biting midges, sometines refered to as no-see-ums, only 1-4 millimeters in length that live in aquatic habitats all over the world. Like mosquitoes, it is only the female that sucks blood to get protein in preparation for laying her eggs. The bite itself is too small to feel. It’s not until later when your skin starts to react with the proteins in their saliva that you start to feel the itch, and oh brother, what an itch!

Salt Marsh Mosquitos: 

black-saltmarsh-mosquitoThe Aedes taeniorhynchus, commonly known as the black salt marsh mosquito, and the   Aedes sollicitans are frequent biters at Southern California Beaches.  They lay their eggs in brackish and saltwater pools left over from rising then receding tides. There is no mystery about these agressive ladies. They’re big, they’re hungry and they will come after you any time of the day whether you’re swatting at them or not. They are larger than many freshwater mosquitoes, so their bites are bigger too. In other parts of the world, they are vectors of Venezuelan and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Luckily, in our area, this is not a problem, but they are a prime vector of dog heartworm, so if you live near the beach, keep your dogs on a heartworm preventative.

Sea Lice or Baby Jelly Fish (not bugs but they will bug you!)

What we callsea-lice-baby-jellyfish sea lice are actually larvae of jellyfish that float around in clouds in the ocean. Although they are tiny, they still possess those nasty stinging cells or nematocysts. If you’re swimming in the ocean, they can become trapped between your bathing suit and skin. This is when you can be stung. The stings cause intense itching and burning which result in a rash with small raised blisters.  The rash can last anywhere from two days to two weeks, but most of the time they go away with no medical attention necessary, just lots of cortisone cream and Benadryl! Prime time for ‘Sea Lice” is May through August.

So, grab your sunblock,  your bug repellent (with deet) and head out to the beach. Have fun, play safe and don’t let the “beach bugs” bite!  going-to-the-beach

Asian Needle Ants vs Argentine Ants: GAME ON!

As an invasive species, Argentine ants have been extremely successful invaders. These aggressive, territorial ants, which can live in super-colonies comprised of thousands of queens and millions of workers, easilyargentine_ant displaced native species as they spread across the United States. No other ant species has successfully stood up to these super troopers — until now.

 

So, what gives Asian needle ants (Brachyponera chinensis or Pachycondyla chinensis) an edge over the competition? Researchers have come to the conclusion that the Asian needle ant’s ability to tolerate cooler temperatures is a major factor in their success. In cooler months, both species become dormant and their basic activities slow way down. This temporarily stops reproduction, diminishing populations. Asian needle ants wake up and become

active much earlier inthe year than Argentine ants, getting a jumpstart on their competitors. They start to reproduce, forage for food, and build new colonies in Argentine ant territory as early as March, while the Argentine ants take another couple of months to rise and shine and get going. Finding their old territories already occupied, the Argentine ants typically move on to other areas.

In forests, Asian needle ants nest in rotting logs, under leaves and mulch, and under rocks. In human environments, they can nest anywhere from potted plants to under door mats, in landscaping materials, and even under dog bowls.

While they love to eat termites, Asian needle ants will consume just about anything it can get its’ mandibles around, from dead insects to other ants to human garbage.  Its’ aggressiveness, habitat versatility and eating habits could mean a great change to our eco-systems.  When these guys move in they eat other ants, devour their food sources, and take up their nesting spaces, forcing native ant species, such as Wood ants, Acrobat ants and Thief ants, to disappear. This is a problem because, these native species play important roles in the ecosystem. Many native ants are gardeners—they till the soil and plant seeds, and the loss of these ant species will impact the health of our forests, and in the long-run, destroy them.

acrobat-ant-crematogaster-scutellaris
Acrobat Ant

 

Redwood Ant
Redwood Ant

 

 

 

 

Thief Ant
Thief Ant

Not only is this ant of concern to its’ adopted habitats but it is also a health concern as it’s venomous sting causes burning and site redness (with dull nerve pain lasting up to 2 weeks) and in some extreme cases, allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).  Scientists have deduced that more people are allergic to Asian ant stings than to Honeybee stings.

Although not yet arriving in California, in great numbers, they are heading our way.  They have already been stopped 6 times at our boarders and appear to be hitch-hiking on imported food products, landscaping and plant materials and grandma’s potted plant.

What does an Asian ant look like?  It is shiny, black with lighter orange legs, has a stinger and is only about 0.2 inches long. The Argentine ant, in comparison, ranges in color from light to dark brown, doesn’t have a stinger (but they do bite) and are about 0.08 inches in length,  much smaller than the Asian needle ant.

For more info on common ants in California, follow this link: https://www.corkyspest.com/ant-id.html

 

Brown Recluse or Not Brown Recluse! Busting the Bite Myth.

Here in California, the brown recluse spider has been elevated to a major urbanspider-face legend alongside UFOs, Bigfoot, the Jackalope and Elvis.

There is a great “fear” of brown recluse spiders in California, mostly because of misguided and sensationalized media hype. So say spider experts from the entomology department at the University of California, Riverside.

brown-recluse-and-pennyThe common name “brown recluse spider refers to one species of spider, Loxosceles reclusa, which lives in the central Midwest: Nebraska recluse-spider-map-of-u-s-from-ucrsouth to Texas and eastward to southernmost Ohio and north-central Georgia. It gets its name from its color and its shy, reclusive, nocturnal nature.

This species of violin spider is not native to California and only a handful of these spiders (less than 10) have ever been collected here.  Of those that were, there was some relationship between the spider and a recent move or shipment of goods from the Midwest.

There are other Loxosceles spiders in California, the most common desert_recluse_-_loxosceles_desertabeing Loxosceles deserta, found in sparsely- populated areas of the eastern California desert. There are no established populations of native Californian violin spiders in urban non-desert locations. In southern California, a South American violin spiderLoxosceles laeta, chilean-reclusealso known as a Chilean recluse, which is supposedly more venomous than the brown recluse, inhabits a small area of Sierra Madre, Alhambra, San Gabriel and Monterey Park. According to researchers, there has not been one verified bite incident involving L. laeta in California because they mostly live in basements and steam tunnels and they rarely, hang out in plain sight, in people’s homes.

Busting the Bite Myth!

Rick Vetter, a retired University of California, Riverside entomologist, along with lead author Dr. W. Van Stoecker and Dr. Jonathan Dyer, both dermatologists in Missouri who specialize in treating brown recluse bites, have co-authored a recently-published paper in JAMA Dermatology that describes skin conditions that are often misdiagnosed as bites from the much maligned, brown recluse. Their paper introduces a mnemonic device NOT RECLUSE that describes the most common skin conditions that are misdiagnosed as a brown recluse bite.

Not Recluse: Red, elevated and persistent or chronic wounds.

Recluse bites are whitish blue or purple (not red), flat (not elevated) and don’t last more than three months.

Open wound from Brown recluse bite

 

Brown Recluse Bite -minor reaction

So, if a patient has a wound that is elevated or red or persists more than 3 months, something other than a brown recluse bite should be considered.

A red lesion would indicate a bite or sting by another insect/spider or might be a bacterial infection caused by :

MRSA-Staph Infection

 

Anthrax Infection

streptococcus or anthrax or the result of both.

 

According to Dr. Vetter, brown recluse spiders are no longer than a half-inch in body length and have a dark brown violin shape on their body. They are venomous, but about 90 percent of bites self-heal, ab

Healed Brown Recluse Bite

out 10 percent result in a rotting flesh lesion, and less than 1 percent cause a systemic reaction that can be fatal.

There is no denying that necrotic wounds are occurring in California but as long as people keep the myth of the brown recluse, alive, the real causes of these wounds will continue to be misdiagnosed and effective treacarter-recluse-wife-1080x1080-002tment delayed.

 

Here’s a little Recluse Humor!  Enjoy!

Find more chuckles at CorkysNoon Cartoon.com

 

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.

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?

There’s a “Dirty Rat” in Man’s Family Tree

Say hello to one of your oldest relatives, named Protungulatum donnae.

After a six-yeearliest_placental_mammalar study of the mammal family tree, scientists now believe that many mammalian species (people included) originated with a tiny rat-like creature that crawled the Earth tens of millions of years ago.

Fossils of the Protungulatum donnae look like the best ancestor mammal-ancestor-skeletoncandidate for the mammal family tree extending back 66 million years, and preserved evidence revealed that the creature weighed around eight ounces, had a long fuzzy tail and ate bugs. Maureen A.  O’Leary, anatomist at Stony Brook University, says, “The findings were not a total surprise. But it’s an important discovery because it relies on lots of findings from fossils and molecular data.” [The New York Times]

Researchers reported, the animal had several anatomical charactprehistoric-rateristics for live births that occur in all placental mammals (creatures that
nourish their young in utero through a placenta) and led to some 5,400 living species, from shrews to elephants, bats to whales, cats to dogs and, not least, humans.

So now it all makes sense, why scientists rely on mice and rats, when researching cures for human ailments or studying human behavior.

Rat yellingTheir genetic, biological and behavioral characteristics closely resemble those of humans, and many symptoms of human conditions can be replicated in mice and rats. “Rats and mice are mammals that share many processes with humans and are mouse-yellingappropriate for use to answer many research questions,” said Jenny Haliski, a representative for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

Some examples of human disorders and diseases for which mice and rats are used as models include:

Hypertension, Diabetes, Cataracts, Obesity, Seizures, Respiratory problems, Deafness, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Cancer, Cystic fibrosis, HIV and AIDs, Heart disease, Muscular dystrophy, Spinal cord injuries

Now you know why great-uncle Joe looks the way he does, why aunt Mary is man-looks-like-ratso mousey and why cousin Billy Bob eats so much cheese.eating-cheese

Tales from Natures’ “Dark Side”

 

Gather round the old campfire or maybe just the family fire pit.  It’s  Halloween and time for tall tales, urban legends and “True Stories”.  Mother Nature provides the best material for horror stories and here are a few tales to get you ready for

                                  “The Scariest Time of The Year”!Halloween Clock

Stop! Don’t Lick that Envelope!

This lady was working in a post office in California, one day she licked the envelopes and postage stamps instead of using a sponge.

That very day the lady cut her tongue on the envelope. A week later, she nlicking-lots-of-envelopesoticed an abnormal swelling of her tongue. She went tothe doctor, and they found nothing wrong. Her tongue was not sore or anything. A couple of days later, her tongue started to swell more, and it began to get really sore, so sore, that she could not eat. She went back to the hospital, and demanded something be done. The doctor, took an x-ray of her tongue, and noticed a lump. He prepared her for minor surgery.

When the doctor cut her tongue open, a live roach crawled out. There were roach eggs on the seal of the envelope. The eggs were able cockroachs-in-mouth-scary-picto hatch inside of her tongue because her saliva kept it warm and moist, just perfect for growing roach babies…

This is a true story … Yuck!  Anyone remember the Alien movie?

http://www.snopes.com/horrors/insects/cockroacheggs.asp

The Dangers of Sunbathing

A young woman was sunbathing on the beach and was just about to drop off tosunbathing sleep, when she felt an insect running along her jawbone and then down her neck. She brushed it away, and thought nothing more of it.

After about a week, she noticed what she thought was a pimple growing and growing. The skin was inflamed and it looked like a blister. Then, one day, she was blow-drying her hair and hit the inflamed spot with her hair dryer. The blistered skin broke open and hundreds of tiny white baby spiders and pus came pouring out of the wound!

It seems that while sspiders-coming-out-of-girls-facehe was sunbathing, her pores had enlarged enough that a mama spider could deposit her egg sac in one. They incubated under her skin until she smacked herself in the jaw with the hair dryer!

Entomologists at the University of Illinois explained to National Geographic that spiders aren’t built to inject their eggs under the skin. They may be able to plaster them on top of the skin, but that wouldn’t make much sense.

http://www.thescarystory.com/averyshorthorrorstory/

http://www.scaryforkids.com/the-red-spot/

The Monster In The Elevator

A man was found slumped in an elevator, very much dead with two holes in his neck. The coroner discovers the man died in a state of shock, and he’d lost a lot of blood. However, to everyone’s surprise, there’s no bloelevator-with-dead-insideodstains, no fingerprints, and no signs of forced entry. Things take another bizarre turn when, one month later, a teenage girl is found dead in the same elevator with two identical puncture wounds in her throat, minus a liter or two of blood. People are starting to think there’s a vampire on the loose. What other explanation makes sense?

The police are getting desperate sothey stake out the apartment, posting a detective and a sergeant inside the elevator. The men ride the lift up and down for hours and hours, which turn into days. On the third day, the elevator suddenly shakes and comes to a halt. The power dies, plunging the men into darkness, which isn’t good news since the sergeant suffers frwolf-spider-eyes-and-fangsom a mild case of claustrophobia. The two pull out their flashlights, and it’s then they hear the click, click, click on the elevator roof. As their heart rates jump, they realize something big—something alive—is up there, crawling around, and it’s then that they see the hole in the ceiling where a panel has fallen away. The detective shines his light toward the hole and has to fight back sheer terror as he sees a large, hairy head the size of a soft ball, covered with eight shiny eyes, all staring right at him.

The sergeant isn’t quite as calm. Not only does he have claustrophobia, he’s also deathly afraid of spiders. He panics and drops his flashlight, and suddenly the three-foot-long beast springs into the elevator and lands on the sergeant’s face, mutant-spider-dogwhere it proceeds to sink its jaws into his cheek and suck out blood. The detective is paralyzed for a moment, but then he draws his gun and fires, shooting off one of the spider’s hairy legs. Wounded, the creature rushes past the detective and escapes out the hatch, leaving one more corpse and a traumatized detective. Is the story true? Probably not. But it’s something to think about if you’re ever stuck in an elevator. And heaven forbid that the lights go out!

Along came a spider and more scary stuff:  http://www.slemen.com/spider.html

http://listverse.com/2013/11/24/10-scary-spider-stories/

Mistaken Identity

A family had just purchased a small puppy. They had only had it for a week or so and decided to take it to the beach with them. When they arrived, they found out that they could not take the puppy onto the public beach because of a city ordinance. Instead of traveling back home to learat-on-a-leashve the puppy or leaving it in a hot car, they left it on its leash… tied to the car.

After a few hours, they came back to the car to discover that someone had stolen their puppy. The leash and collar were still there, tied to the car. They searched all around the parking lot for the puppy. No luck. They did, however, find another scruffy looking dog wandering the lot with no collar. Instead of leaving with no pet, they decided to give the mutt a home.

They brought it home and kept it in the house with them for a week. They then decided to take the dog to the vet to get his shots, etc.

Upon examininmexican-dog-ratg the dog, the vet made three discoveries:

  1. Their new pet was not a dog, but a large dock rat.
  2. Their puppy was not missing, but had been eaten by the rat.
  3. The rat has rabies!

 

http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/dogs/a/mexican_pet.htm

http://www.scaryforkids.com/new-pet/

                                        Halloween Pumpkin Happy Halloween                     Telling tall tales and scary stories is an art form.  You have to do it right in order to create the desired effect.  Check out these links to perfect your tale telling skills:

  https://roadtrippers.com/stories/perfect-campfire-horror-story?lat=40.80972&lng=-96.67528&z=5

http://westsidetoastmasters.com/article_reference/campfire_stories.html