7 Bug Super Skills

ant dumbbell

1. Spider Silk

spider silk

Spider silk stronger than steel?!?!?! Maybe, maybe not?! The answer to this question is one of those that may never be answered. Comparing different factors of the two materials, it really is a toss up in regards to who comes out on top. The mere fact that a spider can produce anything that is comparable is simply extraordinary. Mass producing spider silk is extremely difficult. A spider normally only makes the amount of silk it requires and nothing more.

2. Beetle Super Strength

Dung Beetles

Dung beetles are known for their love of feces. Most dung beetles will roll up the feces and hide it away for their feast. The horned male of the species Onthophagus taurus is extremely strong, being able to pull over 1000 times its own body weight. This statistic certainly makes this beetle the strongest insect on the planet.

3. Firefly Code

firefly

Fireflies are remarkable critters. Their bioluminescence is beautiful and impressive, but how they use it is even more outstanding. The flashes and light-up sequences they emit are a sort of firefly Morse code. They have their own language visible to humans. Deciphering it is still a work in progress, but this phenomenon is definitely something to study.

4. Flight of the Bumblebee

bee flight

We all know that bees can fly, but for decades scientists and physicists had no idea just how they did. In 1934, it was calculated as aerodynamically impossible by French entomologists August Magnan and his assistant Andre Sainte-Lague. Bees are some of the larger flying insects, and their wings just shouldn’t be able to lift the hefty bug. In today’s scientific world, bee flight is explained, but is still a wonder. Bees flap their wings incredibly fast, and that along with their wing angles, makes the flight of a bumblebee a reality.

5. Super Speedy Desert Locust

desert locust

Some of the fastest recorded insects in the world are the desert locust. They can clock in at an impressive 20 mph. Most humans can average a 10-minute mile, so imagine being able to run 3 times faster than normal. These insects can fly more than 3 times faster than a human can run. This is for sure the definition of super speed in regards to bugs.

6. Math Whiz Cicadas

Cicada Swarm

Cicadas are the by far the insect world’s conquistador of arithmetic. These insects emerge every 13 or 17 years; all at the same time. You will not find a wondering cicada in year 9; no! They all somehow sync up to emerge together. This is quite the environmental advantage. Predators don’t have time to evolve a preference for cicadas. There prime number emergence also limits the amount of times they’ll be caught with a predator found of their skins.

7. Mantis Head Tricks

Green Praying Mantis

Pulling a fast one over on a praying mantis is no easy task. These insects can spot it all. They are able to rotate their heads 360 degrees; giving them an all-access pass to their environment. This in combination with the praying mantis’ stealthy hunting skills makes it a lethal predator in the insect world.

3 Sweet Bug Treats You Must Try

Those who know me best know I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so it would come to no surprise if I told you I was browsing indulgent recipes last night to satisfy my cravings. Upon doing so I came across this bug treat… This bug inspired snack:

http://www.bulwarkpestcontrol.com/bug-treats

While this particular lovebug treat only looks like a delicious bug, it got me wondering,

“Are there any sweet treats that actually have bugs in them?”

In my search, I found that there are actually a lot of tasty treats out there that have insects as a main ingredient. These three seemed to look the most appetizing.

Here are three sweet bug treats you must try:

Chocolate Chirpie Cookies

"Chocolate chirp cookies" with crickets

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dry-roasted crickets
  • 1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips
  • >1 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preparation & Cooking

Preheat oven to 375. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and insects, mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Banana Worm Bread

 Banana Worm Bread

Ingredients

  • Dried mealworms1/4 cup dry-roasted meal worms
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preparation & Cooking

Mix together all ingredients. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.

Recipe courtesy of Iowa State University Entomology Department 

Cranberry Oatmeal Grasshopper Cookies

Grasshopper Cookie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rinsed cranberries
  • 1 Cup White Chocolate Chips (Optional)
  • 1 ¾ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup dry roasted grasshoppers

Preparation & Cooking

Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease baking sheets. In a bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, beat together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and airy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add oat mixture, crickets and cranberries and mix until well combined. Place dough in spoonfuls, 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake cookies in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes total.
Transfer to racks to cool. Makes 30 to 40 cookies.

Recipe courtesy of insectsarefood.com.

Bon Appetite!

The next time you’re craving something a little sweet, indulge your adventurous side by making up a batch of one of these bug treats. Let me know what you think, and comment below if you have any other insect recipes you’d like to share with our readers.

 

Pest Control News: Valentines Day Edition

Heart Scorpions

Valentines Day Bugs

There are two bugs that have names synonymous with Valentines Day; and coincidentally, one is our pest of the week. Here’s what you need to know about two Valentines Day Bugs; the Lovebug and the Kissing bug… Read More

Book Lice Or Psocids’

My wife loves getting books for any special occasion, and I’ll admit that sometimes I’ll get her a book from a used book store. This Valentines Day, don’t give your significant other Book Lice… Read More

New England’s Most Invasive Insects

If you live on one of these New England states, be on the lookout for these three invasive insects this Valentines Day… Read More

Wasps & Bees Can Be Scary And Dangerous!

Wasps & Bees can be scary and dangerous, and ruin your Valentine’s Day! Learn the differences among all the different wasps and bees, and what you can do about removing their nest… Read More

Racket on the Roof, is it Rats?

Imagine you’ve spent the Valentines Day wooing your significant other with flowers, chocolates, romantic cards, and dinner; only to bring him or her home and hear scurrying and scratching above your bed…Read More

Pest Of The Week: The Lovebug

Lovebug

What better for our pest of the week, than the lovebug…? After all, today is Valentines Day! The name lovebug is synonymous with Valentines, romance, and love; but the truth is there really isn’t much to love about the lovebug—At least not when they are swarming.

Every April or May, and again in Late September or early October, lovebugs take to the air. I’m talking hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of these insects swarming, almost life a black cloud moving throughout the sky. It’s all part of their mating cycle.

In fact, the lovebug’s mating cycle, and their tendency to spend most of their short lives mating, is why they are called lovebugs. You can see them swarm in many parts of the Southern United States; around the Gulf of Mexico. In states like Texas and Louisiana, it’s common to have swarms of lovebugs get inside your home if they have an entry point. They can be drawn in by the lights of your home, and they are even attracted to anything light colored. In addition to being a household pest twice a year, lovebugs are quite the nuisance when driving. They sure can make a mess out of the front of your car, as you smash them on the road.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Valentines Day Mating Rituals… Of Bugs

Ladybugs In LoveWith Valentines Day just around the corner, many of us will be buying flowers, chocolates, and romantic cards in hopes of wooing our mates.

Did you know that many of our insect friends also have rituals of their own in hopes of luring in a mate this Valentine’s Day?

In honor of Valentines Day, here are a few unique, bizarre, and downright cool mating rituals of five different bugs or arachnids:

“Peacocking” Peacock Spiders 

_MG_0331 peacock spider Maratus splendens

Okay before you jump all over me, I know spiders aren’t bugs; they’re arachnids. Despite this classification, Peacock Spiders perform one of the most elaborate and downright cool mating rituals I have ever seem in the insect/arachnid world.

When a Peacock Spider is attempting to find a mate, the male spider will jump and dance around to try and impress a female Peacock Spider. He will lift his legs high in the air and bring them down slowly. He will spread himself wide, flatten himself down, and then pop right back up with his back legs raised in the air. This dance, or “peacocking” as it’s sometimes called, is how the Peacock Spider gets its name.

Female Peacock Spiders will watch carefully to see if the dancing spider is a good enough mate. When the male spider is ready to make his move he will approach carefully; quickly waving his back legs back and forth in the air. He then lifts a brightly colored flap up into the air, mimicking a peacock.

See the mating ritual for yourself:

Beheading Praying Mantises 

Praying Mantis Cannibal

This Valentines Day, you’ll likely treat your mate to a romantic dinner. When it comes to praying mantises, a romantic dinner means something completely different.

A female praying mantis will seductively lure in a male praying mantis with her powerful pheromones. As a male praying

Praying Mantis Sexual Cannibalism Female just ...

mantis approaches, he’ll do so as he performs a courtship dance. If the female mantis deems him worthy, she’ll allow him to commence mating. While the act is being performed, it’s pretty common for the female praying mantis to turn around and chew of the head of her mate. She’s a cannibal!

This act of cannibalism is not without purpose. Researchers have found that the male mantis appears to thrust more vigorously without his head attached to his body; which increases the success of copulation.

Dancing Fruit Flies 

Dancing Fruit Flies

This Valentines Day, nothing would make that special someone of yours more happy, than taking him or her out dancing. Several species of fruit fly have also discovered this little secret, as they will dance with their mate before they get busy. With their brightly colored wings and bodies, these species of fruit fly will actually dance mid-air. It’s quite the spectacle! Fruit flies will also dance at any invader; to intimidate and scare away the threat.

Smooching Kissing Bugs

assassin bug

When I refer to a kissing bug, I’m not referring to some “bug” or illness you catch from kissing; so kiss away this Valentines Day! I’m referring to an insect that gives you kisses while you sleep at night… And not the type of kisses you want. Kissing bugs have a tendency to bite the faces and lips of humans while we sleep, which can cause severe allergic reactions.

This blood meal is necessary for male kissing bugs to mate and for the female kissing bug to lay eggs.

Scorpion Fly FaceSpitting Scorpion Flies  

If you play your cards right this Valentines Day, you may be swapping spit with your significant other. Swapping spit is also common among scorpion flies, as male scorpion flies leave soggy presents for female scorpion flies before mating.

Female scorpion flies choose their mates based the saliva-secretion ability of her suitor. Basically, they are wooed by spit! The male scorpion fly will spit up a nutritious gift for his sweetheart. This spit draws in the female scorpion fly, and also keeps her from flying off in a fit of cold feet.

Once the female scorpion fly stops receiving soggy presents, she puts an end to the relations. The male scorpion fly will gather up the leftover spit and, like pawning off a half-eaten box of Valentine chocolates, reuse them to romance a new female.

Happy Valentines Day! 

If you’re finding yourself having trouble finding a mate this Valentines Day, why not pull a page out of the insect’s book… Well, with the exception of the be-headings.

Have a Happy Valentines Day!

 

Daddy Something Bit Me!

Assassin bugI was lying in bed last night, in that state where you’re half awake and half asleep. It’s then I heard a sound no father wants to hear… A blood-curdling scream coming from my daughter’s bedroom.

As I threw off my covers, and clumsily dashed through the hall to my daughter’s bedroom, I was greeted by my petrified and hysterical four-year-old.

“Daddy, something bit me!!!”

Daddy Something Bit Me!

Bug BiteAfter hearing the discerning news, that my daughter was either bit or stung by something as she lie in her bed, my first thought was “scorpion!”

Living in Arizona, it’s actually fairly common to be stung by a scorpion while in bed. I’m guessing each and every Arizonan either knows somebody who has been stung by a scorpion while in bed, or has been stung themselves. Before climbing into bed, most of us in Arizona take a quick peek under the covers for scorpions; as scorpions like to climb up the bedding from the floor and hide out during the daylight hours.

After entering my daughter’s room, I closely examined her as she showed me where it hurt. Sure enough, there was a bright red dot on her arm that looked very much like a scorpion sting. The area near the bite or sting site had begun to swell, and a red ring began to develop on her leg. At this point she was freaked out and frankly so was I.

I frantically tore the covers and sheets off my daughter’s bed, shaking them frantically. We looked and looked in her bed, on the floor, and throughout her room, but couldn’t find anything that even resembled a scorpion. After about five minutes of searching for a scorpion, we were about to give up.

Then my daughter spotted it!

The Culprit

assassin bugOn the floor, at the foot of my daughter’s bed, lie a funny looking insect that I had never seen before in person. I grabbed a jar and scooped it up. I closely examined the culprit as it squirmed and twitched in the jar.

The insect looked almost like a mosquito, but bigger. It had long legs and a narrow head. Its back was orange, and it had a very long and sharp looking beak. I did a quick check online, to confirm what I already knew.

It was an ASSASSIN BUG!

Working for Bulwark Exterminating, I was aware of the Assassin bug; but not as an enemy but as an ally. Commonly used as a natural pest control method, the Assassin bug has proven its ability to perform as an effective exterminator of spider and termite control problems. I was really unaware that Assassin bugs can also attack and bite humans.

Assassin Bug Bites

Assassin Bug bitesOften aggressive, Assassin bugs are not afraid to attack creatures; much larger than itself. In fact, if not handled with care and caution, Assassin bugs have been known to attack humans; causing a very painful bite and severe reaction.

Appropriately named, the Assassin bug will wait patiently for the opportunity to ambush their prey. Exercising speed and accuracy, the Assassin bug uses its long beak to stab it’s victim; and inject lethal toxin.

Yes, my poor daughter learned all about this the hard way!

10 Authors Inspired By Bugs

While most people were screaming and running away from our little insect neighbors, some authors actually received inspiration from them. If you find yourself in the mood for a story inspired by, and written with, pests in them, we have the perfect list for you! Find out which writers let their imaginations wiggle away at the sight of creepy critters:

Here are ten authors inspired by bugs and other pests:

1. Edgar Allan Poe 

A copy photograph of the portrait painted by O...

Poe was famous for his dark poems and short horror stories, so it is no surprise that he could find inspiration from something that makes so many people squirm. His 1843 work, The Gold- Bug portrayed a tale of a man who gets bit by a gold-colored bug and then is compelled to go on a buried treasure hunt.

2. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson 

Portrait of Lewis Carroll: This was first publ...

In 1865, writing under the pen name Lewis Carroll, Dodgson wrote the classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In this fantastic adventure, little Alice encounters many creatures we consider pests including The Mouse, The Dormouse and, of course, The Caterpillar. Alice is helped by some of her unusual acquaintances all throughout her unique adventure.

3. Franz Kafka 

English: 3:4 Portrait crop of Franz Kafka

Kafka wrote Die Verwandlung in 1915, later translated into the English novella, The Metamorphosis. It is a nightmare of a story about a man who wakes up to find out he had been transformed into a giant bug! Talk about a horror story!

4. William Golding 

Lord of the Flies

Golding found his inspiration from one of our winged companions when he wrote the classic, The Lord of the Flies, in 1954. Although there are no characters that are flies, in this twisted tale, the story’s name comes from a character’s vision after a traumatic event. The severed pig’s head with flies swarming around it, it became the Lord of the Flies to little Simon in this suspenseful tale.

5. Eric Carle

Front cover

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, written in 1969, is… well it’s about a very hungry caterpillar! Although it is a story about a crawling bug, this brightly illustrated picture book has delighted children for generations and has become a must have in many home libraries.

6. Stephen King 

Stephen King, American author best known for h...

Falling back to another king of horror, King uses insects as a source of inspiration in his 1980 collection Dark Forces, more specifically, in one of novellas in the series, The Mist . This story depicts a host of unusual, beast-like creatures that attack a small town, killing several of its residents. Among the beasts are large, killer insects.

7. Laura Numeroff

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Numeroff writes a slightly less intimidating tale then Mr. King with her 1985 book: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. This cute, children book writes of the woes of giving a mouse a cookie. Although one would not like to live it out in real life, it is a fun tale to read to your children and another classic addition to many home libraries.

8. Simms Taback

Cover of "There Was an Old Lady Who Swall...

In 1997, Taback wrote the now famous, rhyming children’s book, There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. Oh my! In this fun-filled tale, children watch a woman swallow all kinds of bugs and animals.

9. J.K. Rowlings 

English: J. K. Rowling, after receiving an hon...

Joanne “Jo” Rowling must have been bit at some point in her life because one of the beloved characters, Hagrid, from her 1997 The Harry Potter Series, was fascinated by monsters and kept giant talking spiders as pets. They show up throughout the series causing major problems for the unlucky people who happen to cross their paths! 

10. Suzanne Collins 

This photo is from the Time 100 Gala - click h...

Collins, created a fantastical world under New York City in her 2009, The Underland Chronicles. In this story, the main character has to fight rats, reason with cockroaches and fly on bats to find his lost father and return home.

Authors have been finding insight from pests for many years and, no doubt, for years to come. Next time you are looking for a suspenseful tale or simply just want to eat along with a hungry caterpillar, grab one of these wiggly tales and enjoy!

 

5 Fun Facts About Pillbugs

PillbugsPillbugs are known by many names, including wood louse, roly poly, potato bug, and armadillo bug. Whatever you call it, the pillbug is a fascinating insect – which is not even really an insect! Below you’ll find 5 fun facts about the pillbug that will make you have more respect for this little creature.

1. Pillbugs Aren’t Actually Bugs

Did you know that pillbugs – or roly polies as you might call them – aren’t actually bugs? It’s true – they are actually crustaceans, not insects! This makes them related to crayfish and shrimp – more so, in fact, than they are related to any insect! In fact, pillbugs are cousins to the giant isopod, a deep sea dweller that feeds at the bottom of the ocean. Isopods even roll up to protect themselves the way their smaller terrestrial counterparts do – who would have ever guessed?

2. Pillbugs Breathe Through Gills

Terrestrial pillbugs breathe through gills, just like their marine counterparts. Their gill-like structures enable them to exchange gases, which mean they require a moist environment to dwell in. However, they can NOT survive being fully submerged in water.

3. Pillbugs Don’t Urinate

Pillbugs have an amazing ability to tolerate ammonia gas, which means they have no need to convert their wastes, which are high in ammonia, into urine. The ammonia gas simply passes through their exoskeleton, entirely eliminating the need for these critters to urinate.

4. Pillbugs Can Drink From Their Anus

Pillbugs have the ability to drink the old fashioned way, using their mouthparts, but they can also use their anus to take in water. Their rears contain special tube-shaped structures called uropods, which have the ability to wick up water whenever it’s needed.

5. Pillbugs Eat Their Own Feces

A pillbug’s diet consists of lots of feces – including its own. You see, when a pillbug poops, it loses a little bit of copper, which is an essential element it needs in order to live. Rather than let all that copper go to waste, the pillbug recycles it by ingesting its own poop. This ecological method is known as coprophagy.

As you can see, this little bug – or crustacean, if you will! – is a unique and interesting creature. Not only does it curl up in a ball when it feels threatened, but it’s larger marine cousin, the isopod, also does this. It makes one marvel at the wonders of evolution, that this critter crawled up from the depth of the cold sea to dwell on land, shrinking to the size of a pill in the process. The pillbug is definitely an intriguing creature!

About the author: Chris is writer for Fox Pest Control, a Virginia Beach based pest control company.

 

5 Strange Bugs You’ve Never Heard Of

The world is full of natural wonders, and that extends to the insect kingdom. Scientists are constantly discovering new species that were previously unknown to the world. Below is a list of five strange and downright wacky bugs that you’ve probably never heard of.

1. Panda Ant

Panda Ant

First discovered in 1938, the Panda Ant actually isn’t an ant at all – it’s a wasp! This fuzzy black and white critter hails from Chile, and is related to the Red Velvet Ant, a species of wingless wasps, (which is also known as the “Cow Killer”, as it’s sting is so poisonous it is said to debilitate cows.) The Panda Ant is aptly named due to its black-and-white markings, which resemble that of a panda bear.

2. Thorn Bug

Thornbug4.jpg

Officially known as the Umbonia Spinosa, this critter is native to Southern Florida, where it’s a pest to ornamentals and fruit trees. These bugs form in dense clusters around twigs, branches, and small tree trunks during periods of heavy infestation. The thorn bug is believed to be a relative of cicadas, and while it is unusual to look at, it is also stunning. This insect uses its beak to pierce plant stems in order to feed on the sap. There are four species that are known to exist. You can spot a thorn bug by its green or yellow color and reddish lines or brown markings, as well as by the prominent pronotal horn on the males.

3. Hummingbird Hawk-Moth

English: A Hummingbird Hawk-moth Français : Un...

Also commonly known as a “hummingmoth,” this insect resembles a hummingbird both in appearance and mannerisms. Not only does it have a long proboscis, it also hovers and makes a humming noise similar to that of a hummingbird. It also feeds on flowers like a hummingbird. This critter should not be mistaken with the hummingbird moths found in North America, although they are from the same family and are similar.

4. Poodle Moth

Poodle Moth

The Venezuelan Poodle Moth is a fairly new species of moths discovered in 2009 by Dr. Arthur Anker. It’s a funny looking, fuzzy little critter found in Venezuela. This white, furry creature is a neotropical ornamental moth, although not much is known about it or its behavior.

5. Giant Isopod

English: The underside of a male Bathynomus gi...

The Giant Isopod is like a ginormous roly poly or pill bug that dwells in the bottom of the sea. With large compound eyes and an average length that’s between 7.5 inches and 14 inches, and a maximum weight and length of 3.7 lbs and 30 inches, this giant crustacean is nothing to scoff at. Much like their smaller counterparts, the Giant Isopod has the ability to roll up into a ball so only it’s harder, outer shell is exposed, which provides protection from predators trying to attack their more vulnerable underside. Although the Giant Isopod may appear to be frightening, they really are just a giant roly poly! The Giant Isopod is even considered a delicacy in some cultures – meaning, yes, you can eat it!

There are virtually tons of unusual creatures in the insect kingdom; these are but a few of them. The world is indeed a strange place, with proof being all around us in the form of strange yet fascinating creatures, such as these weird bugs.

About the author: Chris is writer for Fox Pest Control, a Connecticut based pest control company.

Published by Thomas Ballantyne