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

Ants take hundreds of “Power Naps” to get through their day.

AntSleep300x200Ants, labor endlessly to support their colonies, each member having a specific job to perform, from the pampered Queens to the multi-tasking female workers to the short lived males, every member of the colony is continually in motion.

So, with all this non-stop activity, the question is, “Do Ants Sleep”?

Scientists say yes! It’s not exactly like human sleep, but ants seem to go through cycles or periods of rest and inactivity in which their body functions and brain activity slow down. It may seem like ants never sleep because some part of the colony is always busy, but individual ants do need to rest.

Studies by researchers at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg (published in the Journal of Insect Behavior), proved that not only do ants sleep but queens show signs of dreaming.

Worker ants, whose behavior is used to symbolize industry and efficiency, survive on the insect equivalent of hundreds of tiny” power naps” a day. Queens routinely sleep for as much as nine hours a day.  Queens definitely rule.

The way an ant colony is designed, suggests that sleep is necessary for the health and longevity of the queens and not so much the workers who are disposable servants of the queen, providing her with food, water, comfort, and protection.

The function of sleep, for ants, is still unknown.

But the lack of rest for the workers seems to help ensure the queens get to live long, peaceful lives.

 

Does a “power nap” sound good to you right now?  Go ahead. Enjoy!

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

Pest Control and the Drought

How the drought affects insects and pest control 

Current drought conditions are the most severe in approximately 1,200 years, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.  40% of California is in the “exceptional” drought category, which is up 23% from a year ago.

Flying and crawling insects, dependent on ever decreasing plant life, in fields, canyons and forests, are migrating to residential areas, back yards and public landscapes, in search of flowers, plants and water.

In urban areas, where water conservation is in force, many insects, including ants are heading indoors to find sufficient water to support their survival.

In anticipation of the increase in insect migration caused by the drought, we have changed our treatment programs to more effectively target invading insects.

Have you seen more pest activity in your yard lately?  Are you finding insects inside your home, that haven’t been there before?  Are insects getting out of control?

Blame it on the drought!

We Control Pests