Category Archives: Community Support

Community Support

Insects Instrumental In The Creation of Daylight Savings Time

Benjamin Franklin is sometimes credited with the invention of daylight saving time. In 1784, he made a joking reference to daylight saving in a letter from France but never thought anything of the sort would ever be adopted.Hudson

The true mastermind behind the creation of daylight saving time was George Vernon Hudson, a specialist in insect biology (entomology) who left England for New Zealand in 1881. In 1895, when he first voiced the idea to the Royal Society of New Zealand, he was laughed at. Other members of the society said the proposal was confusing and unnecessary. But attitudes changed, and he lived to see his brainchild adopted (with variations in the ensuing years) by many nations — including, in his own in 1927.

It all began because Hudson became frustrated because dusk came so early in summer that it interfered with his evening insect-collecting routine. He figured the problem might be solved if the clock were advanced two hours in summer and then shifted back in the winter, when he wasn’t bug-hunting.

So, thank the Bugs for the hour of sleep we gain as we fall back at 2am on November 1st.

Ants – Nature’s Earthquake Early Warning System

Scientists were virtually certain that California would be rocked by a strong earthquake in the next 30 years. Now they say the risk of a mega-quake is more likely to happen sooner than previously thought.

In recent years, the USGS (United States Geological Survey) and several universities have been testing an early warning system designed to detect the first waves of an earthquake jolt and send out an alert before the slower-moving damaging waves begin. Proponents have said a few seconds of warning can allow trains to slow down, utilities to shut off gas lines and people to duck for cover. The public alert system – still in pilot phrase – needs more funding before it can be rolled out statewide.

So… while the experts test their experimental early warning systems and look for more funding, Nature has her own early warning system already in place.

The belief that animals can predict earthquakes has been around for centuries. In 373 B.C., historians recorded that animals, including rats, snakes and weasels, deserted the Greek city of Helice in droves just days before a quake devastated the city.

Ants comAnts and Earthquakesmunicate when an earthquake is imminent to ensure the survival of their colony.

A study done by Gabriele Berberich from the University in Germany found that the behavior of the redwood ant changes in preparation for an earthquake and doesn’t go back to normal until a day or two after the quake.

When an earthquake is imminent, the behavior of the ants, changes in a unique way. They stop going in and out of their mounds. Instead, the ants congregate outside their mound before, during, and up to a day after the earthquake. They basically stop all activity within their colony and meet outside, as they sense the growing tension in their environment. By evacuating their colony, they prevent it from being swallowed alive by earthquake activity.

Exactly what insects and animals sense is a mystery. One theory is that wild and domestic animals feel the Earth vibrate before humans. Other ideas suggest they detect electrical changes in the air or gas released from the Earth.

So, when the rats start leaving the area and the ants leave their nests, It’s time to stop, drop and cover, an earthquake is on the way!

For more Information, check out the links below:

http://www.naturalnews.com/039948_earthquakes_ant_colonies_premonition.html#ixzz3pKUxgLTu

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/11/1111_031111_earthquakeanimals.html

Cool Fall Nights Drive Rats Inside To Share The Warmth.

A survey from the NPMA (National Pest Management Association) found nearly half of all rat infestations happen in the fall and winter months.

As temperatures cool, especially overnight, rats look for warm sheltered spots with access to food and water, in which to set up residence.  Will it be your house this time?

These are not tidy guests. Rats urinate and defecate on everything, tear up furnishings, gnaw on wood (damage a structure) and electrical wiring (fire hazard), and bring fleas, ticks and lice, and the possibility of sickness and disease with them.

It’s much easier and less costly to prevent a rat infestation than to remove them after they’ve turned your home into their new living quarters.

 The NPMA recommends the following rodent-proofing tips:

  • rat_pipeSecure your home. Seal cracks and holes on the outside of your home to help prevent mice   and rats from using easy entry ways. Pay special attention to areas where utilities and pipes enter the home. Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
  • Don’t build rodent attractions near your home. Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five feet off the ground. Keep shrubs and trees cut back from the house.
  • Make sure your home isn’t rodent-friendly. Rodents can hide in clutter, so keep areas clear, and store boxes off of the floor. Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains. Keep food in rodent-proof containers.
  • If you suspect an infestation, contact a pest professional. Hiring a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the problem is the most effective solution to eliminate rodent infestations.

Rat Facts:

  • An adult rat can squeeze into your home through a hole as small as the size of a quarter.
  • Rats can live for up to 18 months, but most die before they are one year old.
  • Rats have strong teeth. They can chew through glass, cinderblock, wire, aluminum and lead.
  • Smell, taste, touch and sound help direct them to their food sources.
  • Rats are also responsible for spreading bubonic plague, also known as the “Black Death”. Although fleas are primarily responsible for infecting humans, they were originally infected with the plague by feeding on the blood of rats.

Really scary fact:  Dead Rats Walking …..

Oxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite whose life cycle can only be completed in the bodrat and caty of a cat. Rats can carry it, but it needs a cat to survive. And the way it finds a host is ingenious – rats who become infected suffer a change in their brain chemistry which causes them to become attracted to, rather than fearful of the scent of cats. Obviously, these rats don’t live long lives. Humans can also contract toxoplasmosis – some estimates indicate 1/3 of the world’s population has it. Occasionally fatal, it is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems and pregnant women (which is why women are told to avoid cat litter boxes when they are expecting). Toxoplasmosis has also been linked to many other ailments, including schizophrenia.

Killer Bees on the Move –

Africanized Honey BeeNews Flash — Africanized honeybees, known as killer bees, have made their way to the Bay Area for the first time and recent warmer weather conditions may have encouraged the move.

In a U C San Diego study on the Africanized bees’ population growth in Southern California, it was found that more than 60 percent of foraging honeybees in San Diego County are now Africanized.

Africanized honey bees (AHB) also called Africanized bees or killer bees are descendants of southern African bees imported in 1956 by Brazilian scientists attempting to breed a honey bee better adapted to the South American tropics.  Then something went, terribly wrong.  Thhoney_beeey got away from their handlers and flew, north to find better more abundant food sources and harborage areas.

Africanized colonies were first reported in Arizona and New Mexico in 1993 and in California in October, 1994. Within a year, more than 8,000 square miles of Imperial, Riverside and northeastern San Diego counties were declared officially colonized by Africanized bees.

These bees are considered a health threat. Experts say bees overall kill about 40 people a year in the U.S. No statistics are kept for Africanized bees, but people and animals are the most at risk if they don’t have a way to escape an attack. The Africanized bees have killed animals on chains and in fenced enclosures in Southern California and Texas.

Last month, a swarm of Africanized bees killed a construction worker and injured two others in Riverside as the workers graded land for a parking lot unaware of the presence of a hive.

Africanized Honey Bee Facts

  • They are slightly smaller than the European honey bee, but only an expert can tell  them apart
  • Defend their hive more rapidly than the European honey bee
  • Usually attack and sting in greater numbers
  • Are less selective about where they nest
  • Swarm more often than European honey bees
  • Do not have stronger venom than the European honey bee
  • Eat nectar and pollen and make honey
  • Are not native to the U.S.; they came from Africa

Not totally the “bad guys” that they are hyped to be.  They may be the answer to the demise of European bee colonies caused by diseases, mites, fungus and colony collapse disorder. So despite all its negative factors, it is possible that, in the long run. Africanized honey bees might actually end up saving our agricultural industry and of course the honey industry too.

When it comes to widow spiders, Brown is the new Black.

A recent survey of widow spiders in Southern California led by retired UC Riverside entomologist Richard Vetter revealed new information about their distribution in California.  Currently brown widows are 20 times more common then black widows in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, RivBrownWidowJim300x200verside and San Bernardino counties, at least in and around urban homes.  Experts believe they may eventually move up the coast of California and into the Central Valley.

Unlike black widows, Brown widows aren’t found in dry habitats or agricultural areas; they love urban environments and structures.  Preferred web building sites include; empty containers such as buckets and flower pots, mail boxes, entry way corners, under eaves, storage closets and garages, recessed hand grips of plastic garbage cans, undercarriages of vehicles that are stationary for long periods and the undersides of outdoor furniture and wrought iron railings.  They choose places that are more exposed than sites chosen by black widows putting them at higher risk for biting opportunities.

Drop per drop, brown widow spider venom is as toxic as othBrown Widow Spider and egg sacer widow spider species but it appears that these spiders do not have the ability to inject as much venom as the black widow or others of the widow species.  Bites occur mostly through accidental contact and the pressing of the spider against skin.  Symptoms of this widow’s bite include a red mark at the bite site and some localized pain.  The bite is not usually life threatening, and is considered less serious than a black widow’s.  This doesn’t mean that more serious reactions can’t happen, especially if a child is involved.  You can always call your physician just to be safe.

Differences between Brown and Black Widows:

  • The color of the brown widow spider is tan to brown or gray vs. stark black.
  • The egg sac of a brown widow has tiny spikes all over the surface; a black widow’s egg sac is smooth.
  • Brown widows produce more eggs and offspring than black widows.
  • A brown widow’s bite is usually less severe than a black widow bite as they tend to inject less venom.
  • Brown widows live in open areas whereas black widows hide in dark corners and crevices.

 

It’s Not A Mirage! Water is falling from the sky and ants are in the house again!

Ants have been racing into our homes and yards to find water and food since the onset of “the drought”.  But look, up in the sky, it’s raining aP15-AntsGoMarchingTHndants are still racing into our homes but now it’s to save their colonies from drowning and they’re bringing all of their “ants”, uncles, cousins, queens, and eggs with them.

So it’s not just the drought that brings these annoying trespassers to our homes it’s also the rain, and in the winter, the cold. Our homes and our yards provide optimal resources for their survival and survive they will!

Here’s more info on ants and the weather.

https://www.combatbugs.com/bug-files/ants-and-rainy-weather

http://news.stanford.edu/pr/01/ants45.html

What can a homeowner do to fight the ant invasion?  Check out this link for great tips on do it yourself solutions to keep your home free of ants. http://www.corkyspest.com/ants_new.html

Spiders Add Dancing To Their Skill Set.

All spiders crawPeacock Spider Jurgen-otto.2l, some swim, others are known for their jumping skills and still  others for their ability to catch a breeze and “balloon” to distant lands.

The jumping spider has added one more skill to its list of accomplishments: Awesome Dance Moves.

With their spectacularly colored bodies, rhythmic body movements, and booty-shaking gyrations, male peacock spiders (a species of jumping spider) put on a fantastic show to attract the attention of perspective mates.

Male spiders aren’t just dancing to get a “meaningful” date; they’re dancing for their lives. Their courtship performance is a life or death proposition, a truly risky business for the males, since female jumping spiders won’t hesitate to eat their suitors. Funny thing; they only seem to eat the bad dancers.  Keep practicing guys!                Shake that booty!

Original Video by Jurgen Otto: http://youtu.be/d_yYC5r8xMI Edited by Dario Trovato http://www.balzo.eu.

More on Dancing Spiders: http://mentalfloss.com/article/62195/5-flashy-facts-about-peacock-spiders

Bed Bugs Hitchhike Around the World

BedBugCouch300x200Bedbugs were nearly eliminated in the 1940’s with the help of the extremely-powerful, but now banned, chemical DDT. However, they have made a comeback in recent years, showing up in hotels, hospitals, buses, trains, movie theaters and other public places. They have the reputation for being the insect world’s most notorious hitchhikers.

These tiny bloodsuckers not only, make their homes in beds, but also in couches, clothing, and the seats of airplanes and trains. At night, they crawl out of cracks and crevices to feed on the blood of the soundly sleeping. These painless attacks generally go undetected until a skin rash appears.

Don’t miss out on, well deserved, sleep! Know what to do to stay bed bug free. http://www.pestworld.org/all-things-bed-bugs/bed-bug-prevention/tips-for-travelers/

Think you might have Bed Bugs? Need do-it-yourself tips,? Take a look at this informative site: http://www.corkyspest.com/bedbugs/

Let us know if you have questions about bed bugs and their control.

Have you had experience with bed bugs while traveling or when you’ve gotten home? Help others by sharing your stories.

Where have all the fleas come from?

Dog and cat flea picture.docPet owners, here in Southern California, are itching to find the answer to the question, “Where have all the fleas come from?”

Even with the many flea prevention products on the market today, fleas are again, emerging as a major pest and the reason seems to be drought related.

Feral animals that would normally live in the hills, canyons and scrub country, are being driven, by the lack of water, food and shelter, in their normal habitats, into urban areas where these life sustaining necessities are plentiful.  Coyotes, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, opossums and especially rats and mice are dropping off their fleas as they set up residence in or just pass through our yards, parks and green belts.  Almost all warm blooded animals have a flea that prefers it over other hosts. For example, rats are bringing with them not only the rat flea but the sticktight flea which is not normally found on domestic cats and dogs but will feast on them nonetheless.

Yes, the itching and scratching is annoying and frequent scratching and biting by an animal can cause hair loss and anemia, in extreme cases, but the dangers of disease from these tiny critters is terrifying.  Fleas carry and transmit plague, hantavirus, murine typus, tapeworms, and other nasty viruses and bacteria.  One bright light in this gloomy saga is that, according to the CDC, fleas do not carry or transmit HIV/Aids. http://search.cdc.gov/search?query=Transmission+and+fleas&utf8=%E2%9C%93&affiliate=cdc-main

What can be done to protect our pets and our homes from these bloodsucking insects?  A lot!   If you are already using a topical flea treatment on your pets and are still having flea issues, talk to your veterinarian, about switching products.  Topical and internal products do not stop fleas from being in your yard or where you walk your dog or where your cat roams, so fleas can still hop on and take a ride right into your house.  Consider treating your yard on a regular basis and remove anything that provides harborage for rats or other feral animals.  Here is a link to help you be as flea free as possible: www.corkyspest.com/fleas/index.html

Let us know how you are doing in the fight against fleas and what is working best for you.

Stay “Mosquito Free” while collecting and storing water for future use

The water conservation minded, dutifully collecting rain water and other runoff water to use in their gardens and landscapes, are finding mosquitoes in and around their collection barrels and buckets.

rain-barrel-1Standing water in storage containers is a perfect breeding place for mosquitoes.  Don’t panic, there are several simple but effective things you can do to keep these pesky, biting insects out of the water and away from collection receptacles, small ponds, bird baths and anywhere else that water accumulates.

Barrel covers, mosquito eating fish, insecticidal tablets (containing BT, bacillus thuringiensis), efficient pumps and drainage systems, are all effective solutions for controlling mosquito populations.  An even simpler and still safe and effective solution, is adding a small amount of vegetable oil to the water.  A light oil slick makes it impossible for mosquito larvae to live in the water.  It has also been suggested that natural essential oils can be used in place of vegetable oil.  The success and safety of using essential oils hasn’t been completely verified but if you’ve tried it, let us know how it’s worked for you.

Like the idea of using free mosquito eating fish?  County agricultural and vector control departments will provide the fish free of charge.  Check out the following links:

San Diego County http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/deh/pests/wnv/services/chd_wnv_mosquito_fish_locations.html

Los Angeles County

http://www.glacvcd.org/vector-information/mosquitofish/

San Bernardino County

http://www.sbcounty.gov/dph/dehs/Depts/VectorControl/mosquito_and_vector_control_home.aspx

Riverside County

http://www.northwestmvcd.org/Northwestmvcd/Mosquito_Fish.html