Tag Archives: bugs

INSECTS: BE GRATEFUL FOR THE SMALL THINGS

We have a lot to be thankful for this year.  But did you know that there are a lot of reasons to be thankful for insects, our co-inhabitants of this planet?

Besides being a nutritious food source for millions of people, they provide their own form of pest control, they are nature’s woodland conservationists and forest, grassland and crop pollinators.  There are many insects that have a positive impact on human health and our environment.  Without insects, man can not survive and ultimately neither can this planet, as we know it.

Here’s a few our insect neighbors to be thankful for:

Honey Bees: Bees are one of the worlds most important pollinators.  They also provide, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and beeswax.  As they are endangered and beneficial, it’s just right to give them a little love and thanks this Thanksgiving.honey-bees-401097_640

There are other important pollinators, too.  Other bee species ( it’s estimated that there are at least 16,000 different species of bees world-wide), butterflies, beetles, flies and don’t forget birds and bats.

Praying Mantises: These insects are nature’s pest control technicians.  They eat insects that we humans find annoying and destructive such as flies and caterpillars.Praying mantis eating Even mosquitoes that bite and infect us with diseases are on their menu.  Thanks, guys and gals for your incredible appetite.

 

Lady Bugs: Most of these insects consume vast quantities of plant eating insects such as aphids and scale and in doing so Ladybug eating aphidthey help protect home gardens and commercial crops.  

 

 

Termites: These insects might seem an odd choice to include here. But termites are really important to our environment.  They are world class decomposers.

Termites
Termites

They break down plant fibers and recycle decaying trees into new, rich soil.   It’s not their fault that we build our homes from their favorite food, wood.

Termites deserve gratitude for their recycling efforts. Just pray that they stick to the forests and woodlands and away from our homes.

Roaches, Beetles, Grasshoppers, Termites, Ants, Caterpillars, Spiders, Grubs, Crickets etc.:

Why include these insects in our top insects to be thankful for?        eating-insectsAll of these insects contribute to the worlds food basket.

In developing countries harvesting insects provides livelihoods to predominately women from rural areas.  They have brought prosperity to  impoverished communities.  For example, the Mopane Caterpillar, from South Africa, brings in about $85 million a year.  In Cameroon and the Congo Basin, the insect trade accounts for upward of  20 percent of all economic activity.

So as we all gather around the table this Thanksgiving, giving thanks for our health, family and good friends. Remember to include a little gratitude for the bugs that make our lives livable and our planet thrive.

This Thanksgiving, be grateful, give thanks and enjoy!

1st-american-ant-colony

If you are more frustrated than thankful for the unwanted insects invading your home and landscape, call the  professionals and start enjoying your Thanksgiving Holiday and beyond.

 

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

IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WERE “BED BUGS”

Bed bugs are ancient insects and they’ve lived off warm blooded hosts since time began. Research shows that prehistoric bed bugs inhabited caves in the Middle East (the cradle of life), most likely feeding on bat blood until humans began to live in caves as well. Then the bat blood eatiliving-in-cavesng species developed a taste for human blood and our futures were sealbat-with-bat-buged.  Even today, bed bugs are perfectly capable of surviving off the blood of any warm-blooded animal, with their preference for humans simply being a result of our sleeping habits and choice of mattresses providing a safe and warm habitat.

IN THE BEGINNING:

The history of the bed bug, Cimex lecturlarius, can be traced by their name. In ancient Rome, they were called Cimex, meaning ‘bug’, the species designation lecturlarius, referring to a couch or bed. Could bed bugs have been the cause of the fall of Rome?  Did Cesar set his bed on fire to rid it of bed bugs then stand by playing his fiddle while it got out nero-fiddelingof hand and the whole of Rome caught fire?  Well it’s something to think about. Right?

Staying on track with history. Bed bugs were first mentioned on ancient Egyptian scrolls documenting how much of a nuisance they weegyptian-scroll-and-bed-bugsre to people. These scrolls date back to 3500 B.C. which is around the same time that the oldest bed bug fossils were discovered in archeological sites.

In 400 BC, Ancient Greece mentioned the bugs and they were mentioned again by Aristotle. According to Pliny’s Natural History, that was first published in Rome around 77 AD, medicinal uses for these bloodsucking insects included the treatment of ear infections and snake bites. Belief in their medicinal properties continued well into the 17th century. That’s when French naturalist Jean Etienne Guettard recommended they be used to treat hysteria. By 100 A.D., they were a well-known nuisance in Italy, by 600 A.D. in China, by the 1200s in Germany and the 1400s in France. England’s first encounters were in the year 1583 but until 1670 the bugs were rather scarce in England. These bugs did not recognize class distinction. They made themselves comfortable in the castles of the wealthiest and the crude huts of the poorest.

Bed bugs became stowaways then residents on our earliest ships – spreading arships-to-americaound the world at the same speed as humanity, eventually infesting all of Europe, Asia, and then America. The early European colonists brought the bugs with them to the Americas in the 1700‘s.

In the earlier part of the 18th century, colonial writings document severe problems with them in Canada and the English colonies. In the 1800s, they were abundant in North America. As a side note here, there are no accounts of American Indians being plagued with these vermin.

As a deteburning-bedrrent, early civilizations made beds from sassafras wood (presumed to be repellent), and later-on, attempts to eradicate these bugs included dousing cracks and crevices in sleeping areas, with boiling water, arsenic, and sulfur.  Some of the most extreme advice for killing bed bugs was published in The Compleat Vermin Killer (1777), instructing readers to fill the cracks of the bed with gunpowder and set it on fire.

Effective bed bspraying-for-bed-bugs-in-1930sug control methods were finally found in the early 20th century with the development of DDT and other pesticides. DDT was so effective that by the 1950s complaints of bed bugs, in developed countries, were practically non-existent, with reports of US scientists having trouble finding specimens for research.

Pest control professionals and entomologists, today, have several plausible theories as to why bed bug populations have recently skyrocketed in the developed world.

They believe that a combination of cheap travel, ineffective pesticides (DDT and other pesticides, have been banned for decades,) and a lack of awareness has jump started their resurgence.

Here are some links that will tell you more about mans’ relationship with “BED BUGS”.

http://www.hbed-bugs-breakfast-in-bedistory.com/news/worlds-oldest-known-beds-repelled-bugs

http://www.history.com/news/theyre-back-a-bed-bug-history