Tag Archives: spiders

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.

 

“It’s not The Planet of the Apes—it’s The Planet of the Arthropods.”

 

Who are the most successful beings on Earth? It certainly isn’t Man, Ape or any other mammal. The most successful animals on the planet are the arthropods. They have conquered land, sea and air, and make up over three-fourths of all currently known living and fossil organisms. They are the true masters of the Earth!

Various Arthropods Wikipedia Commons
Various Arthropods Wikipedia Commons

The Phylum Arthropoda got its name from the Greek, arthros (jointed) and poda (foot) and encompasses over 800,000 species, including arachnids (spiders), crustaceans (sea creatures) and insects.  Also, members of this gigantic phylum are Myriapods; centipedes, millipedes, sea spiders, and maybe a host of other organisms yet unidentified.

What do all of these creepy, crawly and flighty creatures have in common?  They are all invertebrate (without a backbone), have symmetrical, segmented bodies, jointed legs, exterior skeletons, a ventral (front) nervous system, highly developed sensory organs and they are cold blooded.

Arthropods have a leg up on all other organsms. They do everything with legs or modified legs. They swim, crawl, jump, and fly, they use legs to sense with (their antennae), to bite and sting with and to chew with (they even chew sideways).  All this and more, is done with legs.

So, with segmented bodies that accommodate environmental changes, with legs that let them walk; with hard, waterproof shells that keep water in or out; and with highly adaptable respiratory systems, arthropods have dominated the animal world.

Arthropods occur in virtually every earthly habitat, from the cold ocean depths to the hottest deserts. They can live through extremes that would kill most vertebrates.

Fun Facts about Arthropods:

  • Arthropods crawled onto land about 100 million years before vertebrates did. It’s thought that colonizing land was easier for them for several reasons – including the fact that they had already evolved legs, which they used for walking on the bottom of the sea.
  • About 80% of all animal species are arthropods!butterfly-emerging-from-cocoon-1518060_640
  • All arthropods undergo metamorphosis – a process where their bodies change radically as they pass from their larval to adult stages. Butterflies are the best-known for entering cocoons as caterpillars and coming out quite different, but all arthropods do something similar!
  • When arthropods outgrow their old exoskeleton, they molt – leaving behind their former skin and growing a new one. All arthropods do this at least once in their lives.
  • Crustaceans and arachnids – two types of arthropods – have blue blood instead of red blood! Their blood uses a blue copper compound to carry oxygen, instead of the red iron compound used by most other animals.
  • An Arthropods’ hard exoskeleton is made of chitin – which is made of a sugar glucose compound! It’s not sweet but it sure is hard!

If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos. (E. O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life)

Spiders Spin a Web of Fear!

Spiders and their webs are synonymous with Halloween.gothic-2487365_640

Spider lore has changed over time.  According to medieval superstition, people believed that if you saw a spider on all hallows eve, it was the spirit of a dead loved one watching over you.  When humanity started the witch hunt era, spiders became associated with magic, witches and the supernatural, right along with bats and black cats. They also become representatives of danger, fear, ensnarement, and deception (think of the phrase “caught in a web of lies”).

Their odd anatomy and physiology (multipwolf-spider-eyes-and-fangsle eyes, crushing mandibles, 8 legs, and bulbous abdomen) creates aversion and fear in some individuals. brown-hairy-spider

Add in their habit of seeking out cracks and crevices to hide in, their skittering and jumping movements and their nocturnal foraging activity, not to mention their ability to create great sticky webs, and what you have is the basis for “arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders.cobweb-74592_640

So now that we are convinced that spiders are loathsome creatures, our imaginations add magnitudes of size and deadliness, making them truly Halloween icons.

The true nature of spiders isn’t to be scary.  But if you are perceived to be scary, then nobody messes with you, hence you may live longer.

Spiders have acquired a bad reputation over the centuries.  Going from lucky charms to fearsome, evil specters.  What they really are, are natures clean-up crew. wasp-spider-3659351_640                                        Spiders eat other insects.    Their diet consists mostly, of flies, roaches, moths, earwigs, aphids, caterpillars and even pesky mosquitoes.  Some of these delicacies, spread disease, so spiders help humanity stay healthy.

While we faspider-man-1242398_640ntasize spiders into huge, deadly, horror creatures, remember they are also the inspiration for a much beloved super-hero, Spider Manspiderman-1341591_640 

You may be noticing more spiders out and about. It’s Fall, otherwise known as Autumn, and this is the time of year when many male spiders are out searching for a mate. This is true for house spiders and garden spiders, alike. If you are seeing more spiders inside your home, they may have came in from the cold, but more likely that they have been hiding in your wall voids all summer, venturing out, now into your living areas looking for mates.  Once they mate, chances are, the males will die and the females will go back into hiding, lay their eggs and then, you know, “die”.

Need help dealing with your spiders?

spider-web-wrapped-people-53b8ac2c3810a68c25b00366961187d7

Follow this link: Get Rid of Spiders!

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

 

A warm beverage, A romantic fire and BUGS !

Even sun worshiping, Southern Californians like the aroma,  romantic ambiance and the warmth that a fire in a fireplace brings to their homes during cool, damp, fall and winter evenings.  Although some enjoy the atmosphere of an electric fireplace, nothing beats  a real wood fire.

Be aware! Anytime you bring materials from the great outdoors into your home, you may be importing hitchhikers. Firewood, pine cones, seedpods and other natural items often host insects and arthropods. The majority, of these pests don’t pose a real threat to your home, furnishings or family, but it’s nice to avoid the unexpected fright and frustration tha their presence can elicit.

Firewood inswood-pileects usually belong to one of two groups:

  • those that actively feed on wood and
  • those only seeking shelter.

Here are some creatures that you might run into and some tips for keeping them  out of your home.

Beetles are the most common group of insects found within firewood. Wood borers often attack dead or dying trees and are in the woodeucalyptus_longhorned_borer_01 when it is cut. Often, the first indication of beetle activity is the presences of a powdery dust or frass coming from holes on the wood surface. Adult beetles may also be seen on or around the firewood.  Longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae), Flathead and metallic wood borers (Buprestidae), Bark and ambrosia beetles (Curculionidae), Powderpost beetles (Bostrichidae) are a few you might run into.

Termites: Termites accidently brought indoors with firewood will not infest structural wood.

Termites

Their presence in firewood, piled close to the home, may warrent an inspection for termites.

Ants: Some species of ants- including carpenter ants can be found in wood. There is little chance they will nest in the home, but if wood is brought indoors and warmed up,

carpenter_ant_nest_creemorethe ants can become active and create a nuisance anytime of the year.

 

Wood Wasps: Species of wood wasps, horntails and other wasp-like insects breed in dead wood.As with most of the insects mentioned here, they cannot re-infest wood or cause damage to a structure.

wood-wasp.

Spiders, earwigs, wood roaches, sowbugs, crickets and small flies may hide and/or overwinter in firewood. Oh, and don’t forget rats and snakes find woodpiles quite homey too.

Earwig and Black Widow
Earwig and Black Widow
Wood roaches and sowbugs
Wood roaches and sowbugs

 

crickets
House Crickets

Insect invasions of homes from firewood can be reduced by following these simple rules:

  • Avoid stacking the wood directly on the ground. This will keep the wood from getting too wet and reduce the chances for infestation by termites and ants.
  • Don’t stack firewood in or against the house or other buildings for long periods of time. Termite or carpenter ant problems can develop and cause more serious problems.
  • Use the oldest wood first, for it is most likely to be infested. Avoid the tendency to stack new wood on top of old wood.
  • Cover the wood during the summer and fall. This will keep it drier and exclude some creatures seeking overwintering sites.
  • Shake, jar, or knock logs together sharply to dislodge insects and brush off any obvious structures such as webbing or cocoons before bringing it inside.
  • Bring in small amounts of firewood that can be used up in a day or so and keep it stacked in a cool area (e.g., garage or porch) until it is burned. When wood warms up, the creatures in or on it will become active.
  • Do not treat firewood with insecticides. It is unnecessary and potentially dangerous due to chemical toxins released while burning.  Pesticide treated firewood is a “Health Hazard”!

Always obtain your firewood locally. Firewood from other areas could harbor, non-native, invasive pests, and has the potential to create a destructive infestation where you live or camp. Most experts recommend that no firewood be moved more than 50 miles from its origin. If you are planning a camping trip, away from home, don’t bring your own firewood with you. Buy wood from a source near the camping area. buy-it-where-you-burn-it-banner