Michelle Higgens – Nov. 6, 2015
Michelle Higgens – Nov. 6, 2015
George Dvorsky – i09.com
Two of the most destructive species of invasive termites are joining forces in Florida. By mating together, they’re forming prolific hybrid colonies. Scientists are now worried about the potential damage these insects will inflict on Florida’s dwellings.
In total, entomologists have catalogued over 2,800 termite species, but only 6% of are classified as pests to human structures. It’s estimated that termites cause upwards of $40 billion in damage each year.
Among the most notorious termite pests are China’s Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus) and the tropical Asian subterranean termites (Coptotermes gestroi). Both of these species have been introduced to Taiwan, Hawaii, and south Florida on account of human activity. These bugs hail from the same genus, Coptotermes, but they evolved separately and haven’t interacted for thousands of years. However, despite evolving in separate ecological niches, these termites have retained the ability to interbreed.
Hybridization among native species is a common occurrence, but interbreeding between two invaders is rare. University of Florida at Fort Lauderdale entomologist Thomas Chouvenc and his colleagues are now extremely worried about the synergistic effects produced by the intermingling of these two foreign species.
Termites are similar to bees and ants in that they’re social insects. Their colonies consist of queens and kings, who are in charge of reproduction; workers, who supply everyone with food and maintain the nest; and soldiers, who protect the colony. Scientists thought that the two species had distinct swarming seasons — the time of year when alates establish new colonies. Shockingly, however, C. formosanus and C. gestroi now appear to have overlapping swarming seasons. This overlap means that the two most destructive termites in the world now have the opportunity to interbreed.
Compounding the problem is the observation that the Asian termite males prefer to breed with Formosan females. This is increasing the risk of hybridization.
This worries the researchers who say the combination of genes results in highly vigorous hybridized colonies that can develop twice as fast as the two parental species.
The new hybrid colonies are expected to inflict serious damage to south Florida homes and businesses in the near future. The researchers also worry that the hybrids could eventually make their way out of Florida.
The researchers don’t know if a hybrid colony can produce fertile and fully functional alates for maintaining future hybrid colonies. Because of their long life cycle, it could take 5 to 8 years before colonies mature in the lab and in the field. Further work will be required.
That said, and in the words of the researchers:
Coptotermes mature colonies can contain millions of individuals and live up to 20 yrs and even in the absence of alate hybrid fertility, the persistence of hybrid colonies in urban environments would still present a threat to structures.
In other words, “a kick from a mule is as good as a kick from a donkey.”
Read the entire study at PLoS One: “Hybridization of Two Major Termite Invaders as a Consequence of Human Activity“.
Bed bugs are one of the most difficult urban pests to manage. Due to the biology of bed bugs and the limitations of available control methods and materials, human factors play important roles in the success of bed bug management efforts. More than any other urban pest, the safe and efficient elimination of bed bug infestations requires close collaboration among residents, property management staff, and the pest control provider. In practice, there often are disputes about the causes of control failures. Lack of resident collaboration is the most commonly cited cause of failure among pest management professionals (PMPs) and property managers.
Residents, conversely, often argue the inferior quality of the pest control service is to blame. These different opinions have, at least in part, arisen from the lack of understanding (or misunderstanding) of bed bug behavior and the role non-chemical bed bug control techniques play in successful bed bug elimination. In the following article, we’ll analyze the major types of obstacles created by residents and discuss effective methods for overcoming these challenges.
A bed bug infestation in a multi-unit dwelling is a social issue and requires the cooperation of residents, property management and the PMP. Overcoming these obstacles starts with education. Educate residents and property management staff regarding bed bug biology, prevention and non-chemical control methods. An educated resident is more likely to identify infestations and follow a PMP’s recommendation. Likewise, a knowledgeable housing staff is more effective in setting up a good bed bug management program and assisting PMPs in identifying and removing the obstacles created by the residents.
In some instances, residents possess a handicap and are thus unable to fully cooperate, while others are not bothered by bed bugs and are simply uncooperative. In such cases property management must take initiatives to help the PMP solve the problems. There are many cost-effective methods to remove the previously mentioned obstacles. These may include:
From our field experiences, we were still able to eliminate many difficult bed bug infestations even when the previously mentioned obstacles were present, but months of biweekly inspections/treatments were required. In a community-wide bed bug integrated pest management demonstration study in a low-income community, 95% of the 66 treated infestations were eliminated over 12 months when many apartments had the previously mentioned obstacles (R. Cooper, unpublished data). In that study, the housing staff took the double role of pest control technician and maintenance. He assisted residents with challenges, provided tokens for weekly laundering and followed through with each infestation until no bed bugs were detected. It took a median number of 7 biweekly visits to eliminate an infestation.
These successful cases demonstrate that lack of resident cooperation should not be used routinely as an excuse for control failure. Inaction will only worsen the bed bug problems and incur more difficulties and higher costs over time. Rather, PMPs and housing staff should take proactive roles in correcting/minimizing the obstacles and designing treatment strategies based upon the characteristics of the communities. With the available tools and materials, PMPs can still deliver effective bed bug elimination in challenging situations.
The authors are members of the Rutgers University Department of Entomology and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Naylor, R. A., and C. J. Boase. 2010. Practical solu- tions for treating laundry infested with Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 103: 136-139.
Potter, M. F., A. Romero, K. Haynes, and W. Wick- enmeyer. 2006. Battling bed bugs in apart- ments. Pest Control Technology 34(8): 45-52.
Wang, C., M. Abou El-Nour, and G. W. Bennett. Controlling bed bugs in apartments — a case study. Pest Control Technology (11): 64-70.
Wang, C. L., K. Saltzmann, E. Chin, G. W. Bennett, and T. Gibb. 2010. Characteristics of Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), infestation and dispersal in a high-rise apartment building. Jour- nal of Economic Entomology 103: 172-177.
NPMA – pestworld.org
Your home is often considered to be your biggest lifetime investment. However, if you own a business, you know how critical commercial pest control is to protecting your investment — essentially your livelihood – from pests and rodents.
From building a positive reputation to increasing your revenue, your customers are at the heart of what you do. Pests and rodents in your businesses can affect the way your customers view you and your company. They can pose serious risks to the health of your employees and the safety of your property. Even though pests and rodents are small, their affect on your business bottom line can be enormous.
Preventing pest infestations and practicing proper commercial pest management should be an important part of the outstanding service you provide. From insights on integrated pest management (IPM) to pest control and prevention tips, Pestworld.org will provide you with the most up-to-date information on pests and how to get rid of them.
Read through our pest fact sheets on various bugs and rodents; look at our commercial protocols for bed bugs; and remember that NPMA is here to help you address your business’ pest control needs at every turn.
BANGKOK (AP) – Bugs in a gourmet kitchen are usually something to be squashed or swatted. But at Le Cordon Bleu, the esteemed French cooking school, chefs and food scientists spent a week simmering, sauteing and grilling insects to extract innovative flavors they say could open a new gastronomic frontier.
As a finale to their research, the school’s Bangkok branch held a seminar Thursday called “Edible Insects in a Gastronomic Context,” which booked up weeks in advance. The event included lectures and a tasting menu for 60 open-minded participants, a mix of student chefs, scientists, professors and insect farmers.
First came a vial of ant-infused gin, followed by a shot glass of warm cricket consomme, then an hors d’oeuvre of cockchafer butter and herb crisp. For the unfamiliar, a cockchafer could be mistaken for a water bug but is in fact a giant beetle.
The insects were not visible in the final products but artfully hidden, pureed into batters, their juices extracted for essence.
“We didn’t want to just put a bug on a salad and say, ‘Voila!’ We wanted to know, can we extract interesting flavors, new textures, aromas and turn it into something delicious?” said Christophe Mercier, an instructor who helped organize the event in the Thai capital.
Before anyone else could crack a joke about bugs in fine French food, the chefs made their own.
“This is the first time that insects have been granted access to the Cordon Bleu,” Mercier said with a smile, adding that the 120-year-old Paris-based school had never to his knowledge held a workshop quite like this.
At the school’s entrance, a welcome table was decorated with tropical flowers and bowls of bugs – crickets, silk worms, bamboo worms and live water bugs as big as a toddler’s hand.
The idea for the event was inspired by local eating habits in Southeast Asia. In Thailand and neighboring countries, many people eat fried insects as snacks, leading Mercier and colleagues to wonder if they could learn from the locals. He ran the idea past his Paris headquarters and “they were excited by the idea,” he said.
“You have to approach this with a really open mind,” said Roberto Flore, head chef at the Nordic Food Lab, a Copenhagen, Denmark-based laboratory devoted to discovering new tastes for cooking. The lab started a project called the “Deliciousness of Insects” in 2012 and was invited by the Cordon Bleu to work with its Bangkok-based chefs this week and help develop the recipes that were presented at the seminar.
Flore brought along certain products from his lab, where he first created the cricket consomme and the gin, which he described as having “an explosion of lemony taste” that came from acid produced in the ants’ abdomens.
It was the gin that helped win over the chefs.
“Some things were very impressive, and some things were very bizarre,” said Fabrice Danniel, master chef at Bangkok’s Cordon Bleu. “The taste of the alcohol was amazing. It’s more than alcohol. The taste was unique.”
“I was very surprised with the consomme, too,” he said about the broth served in a shot glass. Participants described it as meaty, nutty, flavorful, subtle and not-at-all grainy. “It was light, yet full with aroma and flavors – flavors of the insect,” Danniel said.
A Cordon Bleu chef, Christian May, admitted privately that he was initially repulsed by the intense aroma of the grilled crickets for the broth. He encouraged his colleagues not to demonstrate for the seminar how the consomme was made but just serve it elegantly on trays, which they did.
“It tasted good. You just have to remove the image of the insect from your mind,” he said, noting that this will be the biggest challenge if and when insects go mainstream in Western cuisine.
Before that happens, more research is needed. It’s not clear if serving insects is legal in all Western countries. Proper hygiene needs to be ensured at insect farms. There are also safety concerns.
“We do have to be a bit careful,” said Alan Yen, an insect expert and professor from Australia’s Latrobe University, who suggests never eating raw insects and says anyone with a seafood allergy should probably steer clear of bugs. “Some insects are toxic, some have allergens. There are medical complications with some people.”
Chefs should tap the knowledge of cooks in countries where insects are commonly eaten, he said. According to the U.N., insects have long been part of human diets in nearly 100 countries, particularly in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In Thailand alone, there are 200 species of insects eaten as food, said Patrick Durst, a senior official with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization who has co-authored a study on Thailand’s edible insect industry. To people who frown on eating bugs, he says this: “Take a look at shrimp. What an ugly creature. Is it any more attractive than a grasshopper?”
And what about snails, said French chef Willy Daurade, who made the evening’s dessert – a “bamboo worm bite.”
“We eat escargots,” said Daurade. “They’re ugly. But in fact it’s delicious.”
After the seminar, the chefs repaired to a back room for a glass of champagne and congratulated themselves on a good start.
“This is not the end of the story,” said Danniel, the master chef. “We want to develop more recipes, hold another workshop and maybe even write a cookbook.”
Batten down the hatches. It’s that time of year when boxelder bugs are snooping around looking for a winter home. Your home and mine, that is.
You know these bugs. They are about a half-inch long and charcoal gray, with three red stripes on their thorax and red veins on their wings. Viewed objectively, they might be pretty as individuals or clustered on the south wall of your home some warm fall or winter day. But viewed subjectively? Yuck.
Boxelder bugs are “true bugs.” That is, they are in the insect order known as Hemiptera, commonly known as true bugs, a group to which flies, bees, mosquitoes and aphids do not belong. Some identifying characteristics of true bugs are two sets of wings, the rear ones shorter than the front ones, wings at rest held flat on their backs, sucking mouthparts and a beak at the front of the head.
Another characteristic of many true bugs is their scent, which is bad. As a gardener you may have experienced this scent from another true bug, the squash bug. Stink bugs also are true bugs. Boxelder bugs are actually among the scentless true bugs.
ALL THEY WANT IS SOMEWHERE COZY
In their search for a cozy, dry spot in which to spend the winter, boxelder females will sneak into cracks in a home’s foundation and around windows and doors, even gaps beneath siding. From there, some might accidentally find their way inside.
Come spring, the females will be out and about, eager to lay eggs. The eggs hatch into bright red nymphs who resemble their mothers, except they have small or no wings. The nymphs go through a series of molts to reach adult size, each time shedding their old, undersize skeletons, climaxing in the emergence of the fully developed adult in July. Given enough time, the cycle from egg to adult might be completed again before winter sets in.
NO THREAT TO PLANTS
While the insects are growing, they are, of course, eating, and their food of choice is their namesake, boxelder. The tree, like the insect, is ubiquitous over much of the country.
The bugs will eat boxelder flowers, fruits, leaves and small twigs. They actually do little harm to boxelder trees, which many people consider little more than weeds ? weak-wooded trees with muddy yellow leaves in autumn.
If pressed by hunger, the bugs also will feed on ash trees, other maple species (boxelder is a species of maple) and fruit trees.
Boxelder bugs also do little harm if they get in your house. They might take an occasional taste of some houseplant, but they don’t eat clothing or food.
The worst that can be said of them is they’re a nuisance, perhaps enough so to warrant some human intervention. This does not mean dousing them with pesticide, although oil, insecticidal soap, and pyrethrum or rotenone are allegedly up to the task. Within walls, silica aerogels, such as Drione, kill the bugs by absorbing their waxy coating and causing dehydration.
A better approach, besides just ignoring the bugs, is to avoid the problem in the first place. Prevent their entry by caulking openings in your home’s foundation and around windows and doors, and screen vents, such as the one from a clothes dryer. (All this has the added benefit of making your home more energy-efficient.)
Finally, cut down boxelder trees near your home, especially the female ones whose flowers are a particular delicacy to boxelder bugs. I cut down a large boxelder near the south side of my home and the boxelder bug problem is no more.
Not so for Asian multicolored lady beetles, which also seek shelter in fall and inadvertently wander indoors ? but that’s another story.
PestWeb by Univar
The Windy City was the most rat-infested city in the country in 2013, according to pest-control company Orkin. The company based its rankings on the number of rat-eradication service requests it received in specific cities. It says cities, in general, can be great homes for rodents because they can thrive with help from human infrastructure — specifically by eating garbage and taking shelter in buildings.
From a press release that announced Orkin’s rankings:
Fall is a prime time for commensal rodents to actively seek food, water and shelter when temperatures drop and before the winter weather arrives. Each fall, rats and mice invade an estimated 21 million American homes. It only takes a hole the size of a quarter for a rat to squeeze inside, and a hole the size of a dime for mice. Rodents are also known to chew around holes to make them larger, after which they can slip into homes. It is not uncommon for homeowners and businesses to begin spotting rodents beginning in October.
Orkin reminds city-dwellers that besides being gross and annoying, too many rats in an area can also be a health issue. They can carry and spread respiratory and neurological diseases and are the hosts for several types of insects that can carry and spread even more diseases. Plus, they can trigger allergic reactions. Pregnant women and children are at particular risk.
Five of the most infested cities:
2. Los Angeles
3. Washington, D.C.
4. New York
5. San Francisco
See the five cities that round out the top 10 most-rat-infested cities in the U.S. at Reboot Illinois.
The City of Chicago website says the Chicago species of rat is called the Norway rat-but the species originated in Asia.
The rat has an average life span of six to twelve months. Beginning at the age of two to three months, a female rat can produce four to seven litters per year with each litter containing eight to twelve pups. Females can become impregnated within 48 hours after giving birth. The number, size and survivability of litters produced depends upon the amount of food and shelter available.
They prefer fresh food, but will eat many things such as pet food, dog feces, garbage and plants. If food is scarce, the strongest rats may even eat the weakest and young.
Norway rats prefer to live in burrows in the ground. They are excellent climbers and swimmers and most active at night. They have very hard teeth and can chew through wood and plaster or any other material that is softer than their teeth. They can crawl through holes the size of a quarter, tread water for three days and land unharmed after a five-story fall.
Norway rats live in colonies that have very well defined territories. The strongest colonies get the best places to live.
A rat in an alleyway may be creepy, but a rat in the home is downright icky. Orkin offered some advice about how to prevent and deal with these twitchy pests:
–Regularly inspect the home – inside and outside – for rodent droppings, rub marks or burrows.
–Seal all cracks and gaps around utility penetrations larger than 1/4 of an inch, as well as install weather stripping at the bottom of exterior doors.
–Trim overgrown branches, plants and bushes near the home, and consider keeping a 2-foot barrier between any landscaping and the home.
–Store all food (including pet food) and garbage properly in sealed containers both indoors and outdoors.
–Remove all pet bowls after animals are finished eating, and remove pet waste from the lawn promptly.
Contact Global for assistance managing rodents, as these pests can be dangerous and difficult to control.
Chicago has also been named the top city for bedbug infestations for two years in a row and general pest infestations by Orkins, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. According to Crain’s, 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti in March suggested the city use a bait that sterilizes female rats as a way to control the animals.
Restaurants swear that hanging water bags keep flies out of the food. Or do they??? Read on…
by Robert Lamb – HowStuffWorks.com
Perhaps you’ve visited a restaurant and seen clear, water-filled bags hanging on the doors or cinched up in the outdoor dining area. You might ask, “What’s all this about? Some crazy new way to control temperature? A scheme to save money on water pitchers?”
While any effect on temperature is purely accidental, these hanging bags are all about driving pests away. People hang these bags outside their homes, businesses and even in their barns to drive fliesaway.
Various takes on the water-bag practice exist. Some advocates insist the bag must have flakes of floating tin foil; others say a single penny. A couple of industrious Web sites even offer commercial takes on the concept, selling specially designed water bags to be used as repellents.
Flies spend much of their time buzzing around such germ havens as dumpsters, carcasses and animal droppings. Then, loaded down with germs, these flies swarm around your chicken sandwich — it’s only natural that you’d want to keep them away. After all, flies aren’t just annoying, they carry diseases.
But how can a bag of water help? Does it even work? Experts and amateurs alike are split on the question. Here, we’ll examine both sides of the issue.
So how does the method drive flies away? Some insist the flies perceive the clear liquid as the surface of a body of water. Others claim the insect flies away at the sight of its own magnified reflection. But the most popular reasoning that pops up among entomologists and patent-filing entrepreneurs is simple light refraction.
Refraction takes place when a clear or opaque object, such as a piece of glass or a bag of water, alters the course and velocity of light. The rays of light, which normally travel in a straight line, bend. This effect is responsible for a number of optical illusions, such as mirages, that occasionally baffle humans as well. For more information on refraction, read How Light Works.
The insect’s head mostly consists of a pair of large complex eyes, each of which is composed of 3,000 to 6,000 simple eyes. These eyes can’t move or focus on objects like human eyes, but they provide the fly with a mosaic view of the world around them. Each simple eye provides one small piece of the puzzle, much like the way a screen’s pixel delivers one detail of the larger picture.
A housefly bases its sense of direction on the direction sunlight comes from. Some entomologists believe that when these complex, sensitive eyes experience refracted light, the insect becomes confused and flies away.
While some supporters claim water bags keep all kinds of flying insects away, most report success with complex-eyed insects, like houseflies.
Not convinced? You’re not alone. Read the next page to explore some of the doubts about optical fly repellent.
There are plenty of people who don’t think water bags can repel flies. Critics often classify this theory in the realm of old wives’ tales and modern superstition. They chalk success stories up to confusion between correlation and causation.
Imagine a traveling salesman offers you an irresistible bargain: For only $19.95, he’ll give you a belt buckle that can prevent shark attacks. You wear it for a week and, sure enough, no shark bites. Does this mean the magic belt buckle works? Is there an actual correlation between wearing the belt buckle and avoiding sharks? Is one the cause of the other? To properly measure this, you’d have to consider how often sharks attacked you prior to wearing the buckle, and the various other reasons sharks may be leaving you alone.
If all the factors are not taken into account, hanging water bags used to repel flies may seem to work due to the placebo effect. In medical terms, this is when people who think they’re being treated for a condition feel better, even if that treatment treats nothing at all. The same effect could occur for people who think they are treating a pest problem.
But what if the situation is even worse? What if the placebo actually increases the problem being treated? When Mike Stringham, professor of entomology at North Carolina State University, investigated the use of clear plastic water bags as a fly deterrent, he encountered just such a situation.
Stringham conducted a 13-week field trial by installing commercial, water-based optical fly repellants on two egg farms. Stringham measured the fly activity based on the spots of regurgitated material the flies left after feeding. He concluded that areas equipped with water bags actually experienced higher levels of housefly activity.
However, the study was not conducted under natural lighting conditions. Its purpose was to determine whether the water bags could be used to decrease fly populations on egg farms. The study didn’t explore the possibility that direct sunlight increased the water bags’ efficiency.
So do bags of water lower the number of houseflies around homes and restaurants? There are reasonable explanations that argue yes and significant evidence that proves no. Regardless, you can still find water bags hanging near restaurant patios and backyard porches across the globe.
If you reside in the Northeast or the Mid-Atlantic regions of the country, you are likely familiar with stink bugs, especially in the fall and spring months. Although stink bugs don’t present a health threat to people, the fact that they look to our homes as a winter vacation spot makes them a major nuisance this time of year.
What Are Stink Bugs?
Adults are approximately three-quarters of an inch and brown, gray or dark green in color and are shaped like a shield. They have alternating light bands on the antennae and dark bands on the thin outer edge of the abdomen. The stink glands are located on the underside of the thorax, between the first and second pair of legs.
These pests typically produce a single generation per year, but warm spring and summer conditions could push them to produce two or three generations. During warm months, female stink bugs attach large masses of eggs to the underside of leaves and stems. After hatching, the wingless nymphs go through five immature stages before becoming full-sized, winged adults.
Adult stink bugs are most active from spring as they emerge from their overwintering spots to late fall, seeking shelter from the cold. In many cases, their shelter is also our shelter and homeowners begin to see these pests hanging on curtains, lampshades, screens and other objects inside homes.
Where Did Stink Bugs Come From?
The brown marmorated stink bug, native to Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea, was first discovered in the United States in eastern Pennsylvania in 1998. Since then, the stink bug has migrated to other states such as: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.
In recent years, there have been reported sightings in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Why Are Stink Bugs A Problem?
Although simply a nuisance pest for homeowners, stink bugs have become a serious problem for the agricultural industry in the United States due to the damage they cause to crops and plants. Stink bugs typically attack apples, peaches, figs, mulberries, citrus fruits, corn, tomatoes, green peppers and persimmons as well as ornamental plants, weeds, soybeans and beans grown for food production. Because they use their piercing and sucking mouthparts to feed on plant juices, they end up damaging the crop permanently. This damage results in a characteristic distortion, referred to as “cat facing,” that renders the fruit unmarketable. Some growers have lost their entire crop to these pests and the agricultural industry as a whole has incurred millions of dollars in losses. As an invasive species, the stink bug doesn’t have any natural predators and scientists are feverishly working on finding ways to combat this destructive pest.
What Is That Smell?
The problem more familiar to homeowners who encounter this slow-moving, armored-looking pest – is the smell. When handled or disturbed, stink bugs are able to secrete a bad-smelling, bad-tasting fluid from pores on the sides of their bodies. This secretion protects stink bugs from predators .And, to them that’s what we are – tissue-wielding, newspaper-swatting, foot stomping predators.
The reason stink bugs end up in our homes is because they are looking for a spot that will keep them safe from harsh winter elements such as rain and snow. Some you see, but many more will manage to hide in attics, basements or other parts of the house.
These stinky visitors will once again make an appearance in the spring as they seek a way outside to find a mate. Preventing them from coming into our homes is the best way to avoid the “ewww, stink bug!” shrieks that emanate from home after home in the spring and fall months.