Bionic Ants. Revolutionizing Our Future Workforce.


Ants may be the perfect workers – they share chores, solve complex problems and work themselves to death without complaint.

And now the behavior and appearance of nature’s most hard working insect has been copied in plastic and metal, with the creation of BionicANTS by the German engineering firm Festo and its Bionic LearniRobot insectng Network. This company is using biomimicry, the practice of incorporating nature into mechanical development, to develop technologies that can be used to automate factories.

Festo’s main objective in the creation of these ants and other bioAnt for bionic ant pagenic insects (butterflies) is to improve factory robotics.  The developers, at Festo, say it’s not just the unusual anatomy of real-world ants that inspired the bionic version – the collective intelligence of an ant colony was also something they wanted to replicate.

These 3D printed, hand-sized, robotic ants work together to complete difficult tasks, such as manipulating a large object, as real ants do in nature. Sensors enable an ant to be aware of its surroundings and the robotic insects communicate over a wireless network to coordinate their actions.

Each ant is capable of making independent decisions, but in doing so it is always guided by the common objective and thereby plays its part towards solving the task at hand.

Researchers say these bionic insects could one day be used in place of humans in factories.

Our future may see bionic ants in our factories, but right now, keeping the real thing out of our homes and yards is a never ending battle for homeowners and pest professionals alike.

Need help?


El Nino will bring more than wet weather to Southern California.

The wet weather pattern blamed for this winter’s record snowfall in the East and mudslides in the West — is expected to wreak more havoc this spring with a surge in insects and other pests.

When there’s an increase in water, there’s an increase in vegetation growth, an increase in food supply and an increase in harborage (places to nest) and an overall increase in pest populations.

Rodents, Termites, Ants, Spiders, Roaches, Sow bugs and Mosquitoes will all see an upswing in their populations.

Look out for these pests.

Rodent populations are sensitive to weather conditions.  When inclement weather hits, rodents will look for shelter from the rain. As a result, homeowners often experience an increase irat in rain with suitcasen indoor infestations.  Outdoors, the rain and warmer weather brings an increase in food supply (seeds, nuts and small insects) which spurs an increase in breeding and therefor, increased population.

The Western Subterranean Termite.  This native pest can enter structurwestern subterranean termiteses through cracks less than one-thirty-second of an inch wide, including tiny openings in concrete slabs, around drain pipes and in between the slab and a home’s foundation.  Most swarming occurs in the spring, but with increased moisture levels, additional swarms may occur throughout the summer and fall.

Wet conditioArgetine ant colonyns will also create a field day for ants, including the highly invasive Argentine Ant, whose massive colonies can be found along the West Coast and parts of the Eastern and Gulf Coast states. The Argentine ant has few natural enemies here, so they can quickly knock out the native ants. When Argentine ants get inside a house, they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Red Imported Fire Ants also have invaded parts of the West, expanding their range every year. They are extremely resilient and have adapted so well that they can survive both floodsFire Ants make living raft and droughts. The picture to the right shows a live ant raft floating in flood waters.

Fire ants are known to become ferocious if their nests are disturbed, and their painful bite and sting carries venom that can be medically hazardous to some individuals.

While October typically marks the end of Mosquito season, heavy rains across the Southern Western United States have led to a second mosquito Feeding mosquito with human bloodseason. The heavy rains have provided ample areas of standing water, ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Temperatures remaining above 50 F in these areas have also created ideal conditions, allowing mosquitoes to thrive past the typical season.

Now is the time to mount a defensive position against the hordes of spring invaders. Your first line of defense being the elimination of harborage areas by cutting weeds and grass, thinning and cutting back shrubs and trees (keeping them off structures) and eliminating areas of standing water to deprive mosquitoes of breeding sites. Your second line of defense, your pest control professional, is then equipped to handle anything  else that mounts an invasion.

So dash between the rain drops and fortify your perimeter, the hordes will soon be on the march!

More information on El Nino and Insects in Southern California.

Insects Set for Spring Surge

El Niño May Bring an Unwelcome Insect Invasion to Southern California

Ant Facts to Start the New Year!

Holidays are over, a new year has begun, the kids are back in school and researching ant behavior and biology is my assignment this week so that I can pass on unique information about these abundant, complex and interesting creatures.

So finding out that Ants, who by the way, never take holidays, are the first in nature to actually hold class and train others in a vAnts Teamworkital skill, was news to me.  I always thought that ants were born knowing everything they needed to know to survive.  The notion of “Hive Memory and Pheromone Trails” being firmly entrenched in my knowledge bank.  Well here’s a new bit of knowledge to add to the bank.

There are certain Ants that teach each other how to find food by using a push, pull, pock and prants tandem runningod method, called “tandem running” In a new series of studies, researchers observed the first non-human example of formal instruction between a teacher and student in which two-way feedback initiates course adjustment and where both teacher and student modify their behavior to provide guidance at a rate appropriate for the student’s abilities.

When worker ants (always female) set out to find food they bring along another ant, and by employing “tandem running”, she teaches this second ant where to find food.

This process is slow, since the follower pauses every so often, creating a gap between the leader and herself, to acknowledge landmarks important for return trips.  When the follower is ready to continue, she hurries to catch up to the leader and taps her on the hind legs signaling her readiness to move on.  The leader will slow her progress if the gap between her and her pupil becomes to great and the opposite occurs if the gap becomes too small.

Why do ants take the time to instruct in this manner?  According to Nigel Franks, (University of Bristol professor with expertise in Animal Communications, Zoology and Ecology), study leader and foremost ant researcher states, “They are very close nest mates and their society as a whole, benefits from this behavior”. He also states that, “This behavior indicates that it could be the value of information, rather than the constraint of brain size, that has influenced the evolution of teaching.”

Other Interesting Ant Facts:

  1. Ants are capable of carrying objects 50 times their own body weight with their mandibles.
  2. Soldier ants use their heads to plug the entrances to their nests and keep intruders from gaining access.
  3. Certain ant species defend plants in exchange for food and shelter.
  4. Ants will enslave other ants, keeping them captive and making them do work for the colony.
  5. Ants started farming long before humans.

Have questions about ants or just want to get rid of them, check out the following link:

Insect Trivia: Who’s got The Most Toxic Venom?

The insect with the most toxic venom is not necessarily the most painful or the most lethal. Pain is a really subjective. What some might find excruciating, others might feel as merely uncomfortable. We can’t compare venom on the basis of incidence statistics, either, since people’s immune systems respond differently to the same venom. For those with bee venom allergies, a bee sting can be deadly, though the venom itself is not that toxic.

To compare insect venoms and determine which is the most toxic, an objective way to measure them is needed. A standard measure used in toxicology studies is the LD50, or median lethal dose. The higher the LD50 the lower the toxicity rate.

The LD50 measurement determines the amount of a toxin, relative to body weight, that is required to kill exactly half of a given population of organisms. In this study, researchers tested insect venom on mice to compare and rank their toxicity.Harvester Ant Maricopa

Ok, which insect is the most toxic? The harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex maricopa. one of the most common species of harvester ants found in the southwestern United States. With an LD50 measurement of just 0.12 mg per kg of body weight, the harvester ant venom is far more toxic than that of any bees, wasps, or other ants.

By comparison, honey bee venom has an LD50 measure of 2.8, and a yellow jacket’s venom has an LD50 of 3.5 per kg of body weight.

So, it takes just 12 stings from the venomous harvester ant to take out a 4 1/2 pound animal or three hundred and fifty (350) stings to kill a 150 pound human.

If you plan on roaming around the desert areas of the Southwestern U.S., watch your step, cause these guys pack a wallop!

Don’t Bring Pests into your Home for the Holidays- 5 Helpful Tips

Decorating for the holidays is great fun, but make sure to take a few moments to inspect holiday decorations for signs of pests before bringing thespider-found-in-holiday-decorationsm indoors. No one wants to deal with a pest infestation-especially during the holidays.

Boxes of stored decorations, firewood and greenery – including those hand-cut Christmas trees – can
hide rodents, ants, spiders and even spider eggs.

The following tips are provided to help you keep pest free this
holiday season:

  • Shake off trees, wreaths and garlands and carefully inspect them for pests or eggs that may be hiding in the branches before bringing them inside.
  • If copying a DIY natural decoration from Pinterest or other craft site, thoroughly inspect all foliage and greenery outside the home before beginning projects.
  • Store firewood on a raised structure that is located at least 20 feet away from the home and brush off wood before bringing it indoors.
  • After pulling decorations out of storage, unpack them outdoors to check for pests, such as mice. Look inside boxes for rodent droppings or gnaw marks, especially on strings of lights to eStoring Holiday Decorationsnsure the wiring is fully intact.
  • When storing decorations after the holiday season, use durable, sealed containers that pests can’t chew through instead of cardboard boxes or plastic bags.

The National Pest Management Association(NPMA) encourages homeowners to examine holiday décor for signs of pests before decking the halls.

Following these pest prevention tips will go a long way in protecting against unwanted intruders this winter. If you suspect an infestation, a qualified pest professional can evaluate the problem and recommend an action plan.

Keep the “Stress Grinch” from ruining your Holiday Spirit!

The holidays should be a joyful time, giving a chance to reconnect with friends and family. But they can also be extremely stressful, especially if unwanted guests like, Ants, Spiders, Pantry Pests or Rats decide to make a holiday appearance at your home.  If one of these pests is adding to your holiday stress, here are some tips on how to un-invite them and send them packing.

Always rBlog for holiday stressemember, the safest and most effective extermination methods are those performed by a pest control professional.




  • Practice good sanitation measures especially in the kitchen. Ants are attracted to the food we leave behind.
  • Cover food and liquid substances tightly and keep surfaces clean.
  • Sweep floors and vacuum your carpets. The tiniest crumbs can attract ants.
  • Always cover and seal the food that’s not in the fridge.
  • Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink.
  • Keep trash cans and bins clean and take the trash out often.
  • Keep your countertops dry. Don’t allow liquids to accumulate on counters and other surfaces. Ants look for water wherever they can find it.
  • Fix dripping faucets.


  • Vacuum up spiders, egg cases, and webs. Use the crevice tool to get into all cracks and crevices. Your vacuum is your most effective spider-control tool!
  • Remove clutter and control humidity in attics, basements, and other dark areas. Seal stored boxes with tape or use plastic storage boxes with tight-sealing lids.
  • Spiders generally enter homes through cracks and crevices around the foundation, or doors and windows. Install door sweeps. Seal or caulk entry points and make sure windows and doors fit tightly.
  • The use of pesticides indoors may help control other insects that spiders feed on, but they don’t provide long-term spider control.

Pantry Pests:

  • Don’t put exposed food on shelves. Place it in containers with tight-fitting lids; plastic bags aren’t adequate.
  • Regularly clean shelves, bins, and all other locations where there is any possibility of flour or other food particles accumulating. Certain pests need only small amounts of food to live and breed. Soap and water are great for cleaning flat areas, and vacuuming with a crevice attachment will help clean cracks, edges, and corners.
  • Don’t mix old and new lots of foodstuffs. If the old material is infested, the pest will quickly invade the new.
  • Clean old containers before filling them with fresh food. They may be contaminated and cause a new infestation.
  • Don’t purchase broken or damaged packages of food materials. They are more likely to become infested.
  • Construct storage containers so that they are tight and can be easily cleaned.
  • Store bulk materials, such as pet foods, in containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Keep storage containers dry. This is important because moisture favors the development of pantry pests, while dryness discourages them.
  • Some pantry insects breed in the nests of rodents and insects and may migrate from these into homes. Eliminate any nests found in or near the home.

Rats:  To stop rats from invading the inside, they must first be controlled outside.

  • Feed pets only the amount of food they will eat at a single feeding or bring food inside at night.
  • Keep garbage, trash, and garden debris in receptacles with tight-fitting lids.
  • Thin dense vegetation and create at least a 2-foot space between each shrub as well as between shrubs and buildings.
  • Thin or remove climbing hedges from buildings.
  • Remove tree limbs that are within 3 feet of a roof.
  • Seal all cracks and openings in the house’s foundation that are larger than 1/4 inch.
  • Make sure doors, windows, and screens fit tightly.

Rat Proofing your home

  • Repair or replace damaged ventilation screen around the foundation and under the eaves.
  • Provide a tight-fitting cover for the crawl space.
  • Seal all openings around pipes, cables, and wires that enter through walls or the foundation.
  • Be sure all windows that can be opened are screened and that the screens are in good condition.
  • Cover all chimneys with a spark arrester.
  • Make sure internal screens on roof and attic air vents are in good repair.
  • Cover rooftop plumbing vent pipes in excess of 2 inches in diameter with screens over their tops.
  • Make sure all exterior doors are tight fitting and weatherproofed at the bottom.

2015’s Top Termite Cities in California – Where Do You Live?

#1. Los Angeles #2. San Francisco #3. San Diego and #4. Sacramento

According to a recent study from Harris Interactive, the average damage caused by termite infestations is $8,184 per incident– and

Termites at a small hole in the timber. Larger-than-life reproduction ratio. Termites are insects in the order Isoptera.

the damage is most often not covered by homeowners insurance. Termite damage can be devastating because termites literally eat wood to build their colonies. You may not even know you have them until there is significant structural damage because they eat the wood from the inside out.  They continuously eat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They never sleep and they never take a vacation!

Termites are actually beneficial in nature, aiding in the decomposition of dead and decaying wood and the return of nutrients to the soil. This being said, they can’t tell the difference between the wood in your home from a tree in the forest.  So your home is an easy target and provides a great place for them to live with an endless supply of food.

If you live in an area where termite infestations are common, it’s important to inspect your home (or have it inspected by a professional) regularly for possible termite infestations. Catching termites early can save you costly home repairs.

Termite damage is commonly identified in door frames, garages, and attics.  Just about anything wooden, big or small, can be susceptible – even furniture. Because termites work beneath the surface of wood, it can take up to five-to-seven years (or less depending on the species of termite) before a termite colony produces any real detectable damage.

Warning signs that you may have a mature termite colony and infestation include:

  1. A swarm of termitescoming from your house (or other Swarming Termites in Eavesstructure), or termites flying around inside
  2. Piles of sawdust-like pellets or Mud tubestranslucent wingsabandoned near window sills doorframes or baseboards.
  3. Surface blisters on wood. Blisters are often caused by tunnels, or ‘galleys,’ dug by termites.
  4. Mud tubes. Pencil width mud tunnels climbing upward from soil areas around the structure up into its wooden portions.

So………… If you think you have termites or just want to make sure you don’t?  Call for a termite inspection.  Professionals are ready to either ease your mind or provide expert recommendations for your specific termite problems.

Want more information on termites?  Check out the links below.

For termite identification:

For a termite inspection:

For termite solutions:

Your 3 Most Unwanted Pests This Holiday Season

This time of year we look forward to spending time with family and friends, enjoying and sharing the warmth of our homes and plenty of wonderful food.  Even the stress of traveling is overshadowed by the excitement and anticipation of being with those we love or in the places we look forward to visiting.

Spending time cleaning up ants in the kitchen while trying to celebrate with family, bringing home bed bugs after a wonderful holiday vacation, or just hearing the patter of feet in the attic on a cold winter’s night can ruin your holiday spirit.

Here are some tips to keep your holidays a bit less stress filled.

Ants: How to prevent an invasion.

  • Practice good sanitatioAnts in housen measures especially in the kitchen. Ants are attracted to the food we leave behind.
  • Cover food and liquid substances tightly and keep surfaces clean.
  • Sweep floors and vacuum your carpets. The tiniest crumbs can attract ants.
  • Always cover and seal the food that’s not in the fridge.
  • Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink.
  • Keep trash cans and bins clean and take the trash out often.
  • Keep your countertops dry. Don’t allow liquids to accumulate on counters and other surfaces. Ants look for water wherever they can find it.
  • Fix dripping faucets.
  • For more information go to:

Bed Bugs:  Don’t bring them home with you.

  • Do not put yBed Bug 2our clothing or luggage directly on any bed. If bed bugs are present in the bed, they can climb into bags, suitcases or any laundry left on the bed.
  • Use metal luggage racks at all times. Bed bugs cannot easily climb metal surfaces, so they make an ideal overnight spot for your suitcase. Keep the rack away from the walls and any wooden furniture.
  • Use small plastic bags to pack clothing, shoes and other personal items. This will help prevent any bed bugs that climb into your suitcase from getting into your house with your clothing. Bed bugs can also hide in books, cloth toiletry kits and other non-metal personal items.
  • Hotels aren’t the only bed bug travel threats. Bed bugs thrive in dark, cool places with long-term access to humans. They can also be found on airplane and train seats, buses or in rental cars.
  • When you return home, leave your luggage in the garage, and immediately launder all cloth items. The first places bed bugs typically encounter are bags and suitcases so keeping your luggage outside may help keep them out of your home. Depending on where you live, keeping luggage outdoors may also leave bed bugs outside their comfortable range of temperatures. You can also eliminate bed bugs that may have gotten into clothing by laundering (washing and drying) all fabric items in hot water, although recent studies show that 20 minutes in a clothes dryer is all that is needed to ensure 100% control.
  • Don’t forget to treat your empty bags and luggage (with an appropriate bed bug product) before taking them into the house or putting them in storage.
  • Need more information go to:

Rats:  How to keep them out of your home.

Make sure yRat-infested-kitchenour property is well manicured. Get rid of clutter! Rats are fond of using trees, vines and large shrubs as ladders to access upper stories and roof areas. Dense foliage and ground cover needs to be thinned out or removed. Eliminate weeds, prune trees and vines back so they don’t touch the structure of the home or buildings on the property.

Don’t feed the rats. Keep pet food in closed containers and never leave it outside in open dishes, especially overnight. Clean up under and around bird feeders — rats are attracted to nuts and seeds. Pick up fallen fruit from the ground, and harvest your fruit and garden produce regularly. Clean your BBQ well — rats love leftovers and even a little grease can attract them! Finally, keep your garbage cans lidded and never leave trash in plastic bags outside.

Rats need water. Keep irrigation equipment in good condition and fix any leaks. Do not leave any pools of water outside like pet water bowls. Maintain pool equipment and keep storage boxes locked. Bird baths and fish ponds may also attract rats, so bear this in mind when you determine their importance to your property.

Inspect the exterior of the home or building to determine possible entry points. All openings to interior spaces greater than one half-inch (1/2″) should be sealed. Exclusion is an important rodent control technique that should be done before rats get into the structure or after rats have been evicted or removed. Sealing rats inside will lead to the destruction of your property as they try to escape and eventually die inside your home.

Locate access points for rodents where utility lines come into walls, as well as openings around air conditioning units, drain pipes and vents. Look for broken windows, warped doors, and unscreened vents as possible points of entry. All spaces beneath doors should be checked to see if the opening is too large. Reduce any openings as needed (remember, one half-inch (1/2″) is all the space a rat needs to gain entry).

Roofs should be checked to see that shingles and tiles are in good repair and sheathing is complete. Also, check roof ventilators and louvered-in wall vents.

Rats need to be eliminated from your home. The safest and most effective rodent extermination methods are those performed by a pest control professional. For more information see:





Honor our Veterans – Past, Present and Future

Veterans Day is celebrated to give honor and remembrance to those that are or have served in our military.  No matter what war, police action, government sanctioned “occupation” or humanitarian projects wvetere or are being performed, our armed services have employed the best of our best.  Through the years, these men and women have braved, clubs, arrows, knives, musket and cannon balls, bullets, rockets, chemical and biological warfare, hunger, thirst, heat, cold, insects and the diseases they carry to secure the” Freedoms” of our country and those of others as well.

Since the beginning of our country, an on-going war against disease and disease carrying insects has been waged by our military.
ore active military service days have been lost to diseases—many of them transmitted by insects—than to combat. In the Korean War, Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War, disease casualties (caused mostly by insect bites) outnumbered combat casualties.

The insect-borne diseases most often encountered by U.S. overseas troops are malaria, scrub typhus, leishmaniasis, and Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever. Three tick-borne diseases—Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Colorado tick fever—are often encountered by U.S. military personnel in the United States during stateside training exercises.

So while we recognize the valor and heroism inherent in our soldiers, remember that they are or have volunteered to selflessly give up their lives (in many different ways) for the freedoms enjoyed by you and me, today.

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.

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