What is a spider’s web made out of?

For any of you who have seen any Spider Man movie *cough* Spider-Man: Homecoming *cough* which recently came out, you’ll notice that Spider-Man makes his own webbing! Let’s look into what a spider’s web is actually made of, and is it possible to recreate our web slinging friends antics? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When people think about the structure of a web they often think about the rumor that states that they’re stronger than steel… Well, not only is that true, but a spider’s web is actually stronger than steel! This is because of something called tensile strength, which refers to the tension of which the material can withstand, and why a web is more elastic than steel. Without that elasticity, people would be hurting themselves left and right as they try to clear webs.  The spider’s web is made of spider silk, which is an extremely elastic material constructed of lots of protein fibers. That being said, spider silk can bare more weight than steel, however it is much less dense. A spider creates its silk within a very specialized organ, called the spinneret. Another benefit of this silk, is that it contains glue like properties which aid in catching its prey. When an insect comes in contact with the web, they are likely stuck until their demise. Spider silk is also conductive to electricity, and the spider actually uses this to its advantage. They use this conductivity to build up a static charge, and like a sock sticks to a towel if there is too much static in the dryer, an insect with any static charge clinging to it will stick to the web as well, and they are unable to escape. At first glance, a spider web may seem like an intricate design for spiders to lounge on, but the underlying properties are absolutely fascinating. 

 

How do you get rid of a wasp nest?

As you may know, wasps are one of those annoying pests that are constantly angry, and can’t even bother to make us a bit of honey. What. A. Ripoff. There are a select few that choose to keep wasps around because they can kill and eat spiders; they would rather have wasps than spiders? Yuck. Spiders at least trap and eat bugs bugs, so how much are you helping by getting rid of them? This is one of so many reasons as to why wasp eradication should be a priority, and if you agree, then we are going to teach you how to find and then get rid of a wasp’s nest. First, consider calling a professional pest control service, they will be able to safely and effectively find and rid of your wasp nest, and you won’t have to put yourself at risk. If  pest control isn’t an option for you, then you need to start by identifying the type of wasp you are dealing with, who knows, they could be hornets! Hornets are a type of wasp that is very aggressive, and if disturbed in the slightest will sting, even if they aren’t necessarily bothered or in danger. The best way in which to identify if you have wasps or hornets, is to take a look at the structure of the test. If the nest has a “honeycomb” shape, then you are likely dealing with wasps or yellow jackets, but if the nest looks like an orb, sometimes basketball sized, then you are dealing with hornets. Below you will find examples of the nest types: 

Wasp Nest

Hornet Nest 

After you have identified what kind of nest you have, the next step is to get rid of your pest! Having the proper equipment is very important, as any mistake can result in a multitude of painful stings. Be sure to wear protective clothing, it is best to have a bee suit so there are no chances for gaps in protection. You also want to be sure to choose the proper pesticide spray, as your chemical will affect the outcome. It’s easy to pick the right one, just be sure that it indicates it is for wasps and you should be good to go. Next, you want to spray the pesticide directly into the hole of the nest for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat if necessary until your problem has been resolved. Tip: Try and spray at night, as they will be less active! After you’re sure they’re dead, knock down the nest with a stick, spray again with pesticide, dispose of the of the pieces, and you are officially wasp free.

 

Where are scorpions found?

Few people know that scorpions are scattered throughout the world in every continent other than Antarctica. That being said, you are most likely to encounter one in your lifetime! Though, these creepy crawlers are mostly found in the hotter regions of these continents, the most diverse group is within North America. In the United States alone, scorpions can be found in the south in its entirety from Florida to Arizona, the mid-west from Colorado to Minnesota, and in the west from California to Washington. They are often hidden in dark places, away from the sun, some common areas are under shady plants and underneath rocks (perhaps in your garden?). Scorpions will go anywhere and do anything to find water and shade, they may enter your home through your garage, sneaking under your doors, or in any cracks they can find on your home that lead inside.  Some other common areas where scorpions may be lurking include, but are not limited to, trees and tree bark, piles of wood, under any plant pots in the yard, and any areas that allow shelter in your home/yard. Within your home, look in/under your bed, in your shoes, and in any clothing that you may have stored that isn’t jostled around often, you never know! All of the above mentioned are just common places in which scorpions may be found, sometimes you will find them on your floor, on your counter-top, in your sink, or on the walls of your home. Scorpion encounters can happen any time, anywhere, just be sure that you are prepared! 

 

 

 

Roach Eats Spider!

A few days ago, we tried feeding our Giant Huntsman Spider, one of the largest species of spider in the world, a cockroach. Upon first glance, one would think, “oh the spider won of course!” however in this crazy turn of events the roach won the battle. While filming the attack, the spider missed its prey and ended up tangling its font two legs within its own webbing! Overtime we thought it might get free and try again, but a few days later we noticed that the spider no longer had a face and the cockroach was completely unscathed. A few more days passed, and the spiders entire body was soon missing.  After close examination, we realized that there were indeed a few remains of the spider’s legs, and with that it was decided that the cockroach decided to make a meal out of its predator. Huntsman Spiders are known to catch on average, 90% of their prey, and after some research we have not been able to find a similar event in an enclosure or captured in the wild. We are completely awestruck because roaches don’t generally win, and if they do they certainly don’t eat the predator!

See the video here:

Palo Verde Beetle Invasion

What’s gross, has six legs, antennae, and is a member of the beetle family? If you guessed cockroach, you would be close; but there is a new king in town. As repulsive as cockroaches can be, the Palo Verde Beetle has them beat. Visitors to Arizona, and even the natives, hardly ever know about this beetle… or they’ll confuse it for something else. Want to know more? Keep reading and learn all you need to know! What do they look like, are they harmful, where do they come from, and of course, as with all bugs, how do I get rid of them!?

Palo Verde Size

The Palo Verde Beetle looks about the same as a cockroach, but they are much bigger with huge antennae and mandibles! While most cockroaches are roughly 1.5 inches and smaller, the Palo Verde Beetle is roughly 3-4 inches long! To put that into perspective, some other things that are about half a foot (6 inches) long consist of: A dollar bill and an average pen. With the a width of about 2-3 inches, that’s the same as a cockroach’s length; while also being double their length! Another lovely fact, is that they can get bigger than a baseball or tennis ball! To sum it all up they are even are bigger than your phone and the list goes on and on. So if you’re ever near one, you’re sure not to miss it.

Palo Verde Beetle Range

The Palo Verde Beetles are primarily found in the Southwestern region of the United States, but can mainly be found in the Phoenix and Tucson parts of Arizona.

Palo Verde Beetle Description

You’re probably wondering, “why would I want to know more? They’re disgusting!”  Well, although they are pretty big, they actually look pretty cool. They have a few spikes on their outer body with a unique texture for their hard shell. Their antennae uniquely look like long horn cows, which is why the Palo Verde Beetle gets classified under the long horn beetle family.

How’d They Get Their Name?

The Palo Vedre Beetle gets it’s name from the Palo Verde Tree. These beetles lay their nests at the feet of these trees as well as other trees, but primarily the Palo Verde trees. Palo Verde trees are quite beautiful, having a unique yellow coloring that flowers the whole tree. These flowers branch out in a way that almost makes the tree look like a big yellow bush that helps attract many pollinators. These trees serve a big purpose in helping saguaro cacti as they will,  at times, shade them to strengthen their growth.

Though Palo Verde Trees are beautiful, unfortunately, these beetles are not found only at them, they range to other trees as well. This means they could be found closer to your home than you think.

Do They Bite?

Now, the question you’ve been waiting to be answered, are they harmful? These 6 inch beetles that can fly, if that’s not bad enough, nest around trees, and put cockroaches to shame actually are not known to bite or sting at all. After you’ve sighed with relief, you should know that  as great it is that they don’t bite or sting, they do, however, lay nests that are not good for the trees they choose to inhabit.

That’s right, surprisingly, the most dangerous things these beetles do is in their larvae state. The Palo Verde Beetles are in their larvae state for about 3-4 years. When they mature and mate they only live as fully adult beetles for about a month!

Are They Harmful?

The problem is that the larvae slowly eat away at the roots of the trees which will eventually kill the host tree. By the time you find their nests it may be too late. The best way to keep your trees alive in these situations, is to take really good care of your trees. Water them, keeps animals away from them, etc. and they should be able to fight them off.  As you do that, less beetles will come by your house.Unfortunately, that doesn’t always help get rid of them all.

There is only one sure fire way to make sure these beetles aren’t by your home and that is with Bulwark Pest Control. We not only will help with these monster cockroaches but also with regular cockroaches, ants, termites, spiders, and all sorts of critters. So call Bulwark Pest Control now!

How Software Can Change The Pest Control Industry

How Online Booking Can Change the Pest Control Industry

Biting season is here. The dreaded Zika virus has cities and local authorities eager to spray and pray. Bedbugs are busy conquering homes, movie theaters and hotel rooms across the nation. Meanwhile, warm summer weather is bringing out all the usual suspects, from ants ruining picnics to rodents preying on the pantries of your local restaurants.

Pest control companies increasingly rely on technology to help their customers with these kinds of problems, all year round. They’re using everything in their high-tech arsenal, from eco-friendly sprays to heat treatments. But for innovative pest control companies that want to go beyond killing bugs and squash the competition this summer, there’s another kind of technology helping them do the job: online booking software.

This kind of solution helps customers to schedule their own appointments directly through your website, automating a lot of administration that you don’t need to be doing and capturing a whole new demographic of customers who simply do not want to call or email. Here’s how it can help you.

  1. Automate and Improve Customer Service

“How fast can you get here?” is one of the first questions a customer has when they realize they’ve got an infestation on their hands. Kids have bedbug bites? A city inspector is threatening to close down a family restaurant? There’s no time to lose. You can hear the panic in their voice. Other kinds of service companies would love to have this kind of urgency in their own customers. For a pest control business owner, that urgency should be a good problem to have.

Unfortunately, the typical panicked customer won’t wait for you to contact them particularly if it’s after hours and many won’t even consider calling or filling out a static form and waiting for a callback at some unknown future time. Sometimes, their patience will only last as long as it takes to Google a competing pest control company. They won’t even leave an inquiry or ask for a quote. You’ll never hear from them again and the scary thing is it’s not possible to quantify how much business you’re losing unless you open your doors online, allow your customers to book, and measure the results.

With online booking, the customer has the ability to view the service schedule directly via your  website, choose an available booking time and get instant relief, knowing that help is going to be on the way. They can do that and avoid confusing email threads or lengthy phone calls (that tie you up when you could be out on a job). The administrative savings, improved customer experience, and increased sales can be game changers.

Companies have seen results of 30 percent or higher increased bookings after activating online booking – and that’s no surprise. After all, you can see the same link between added convenience and revenue when you’re booking a hotel, an air travel ticket or renting a car. That’s the convenience your customers want from you even if your preference is to have customers call so you can sell all the wonderful benefits of your service.

The reality is your customers are online and they increasingly want to book services 24/7 in real-time with no unnecessary emailing, no voicemails, no static forms, no back-and-forth, and certainly no phone-based sales pitches. Make it easier for customers to book jobs themselves and you’ll gain delighted new customers for life – many of whom would not otherwise become customers if your doors were closed online.

  1. Optimize Your Web Presence

Across the pest control industry, it’s not uncommon to see professional-looking websites that are built to sell. That said, some operators that have built their businesses largely on referral can get complacent when it comes to optimizing their sites for search or a convenient mobile experience.

Whether you’re looking to build on a well-established web presence or turn a dated website into an effective selling tool, online booking can integrate with existing websites to bring in more bookings and boost customer satisfaction. Effective online booking offers an easy-to-use interface for customers to actually engage with your website the way they want.

  1. Cut Administration Costs and Put More Resources into Essential Equipment

That insecticide isn’t going to pay for itself. The specialized equipment, uniforms and safety equipment, vehicles and salaries of the technicians carrying out the work can be very capital-intensive. Running a successful pest control company just requires more resources than many other kinds of businesses. The company can pass the expense on to the customer in higher billings, or look to cut costs.

Pest control companies that see similar results to other service industries already using online booking typically  see reductions of admin costs by 20 percent or more. Online booking frees up the time of administrators, so labor costs can be reduced or they can be redeployed to productive activities that perhaps generate additional revenue. 

  1. Scale Up More Efficiently

It’s not unusual for successful pest control companies to run multiple trucks and in some cases have operations from multiple locations around a city or even across a country. But the single variable of geography can add intolerable complexity to calendars, work order tracking and more. A Google calendar or similar app can become virtually unusable after dispatchers  fill in time slots for a few technicians or in multiple cities; try five, 10, or two dozen different locations or trucks using the same free online calendar, making it a cluttered mess.

Beyond the benefits offered by online booking, having the right cloud-based business management software as a foundation to  manage your entire business, from customers requesting quotes, to fleet logistics, and even billing is crucial. With the right system in place, pest control technicians can focus on their work, know where to go, and don’t need to check in with the office  about their jobs for the day. With the right system in place, the inefficiencies of dispatching, disconnected desktop software, or paper-based systems (yikes!) can be squeezed out of your business – and that’ll improve your bottom line.  Company marketers and salespeople can also quickly run reports on the information they need to make good business decisions and closely track performance metrics. Pest control companies with a few trucks on the road,  with multiple locations, or those with plans for growth absolutely need the kind of functionality offered by cloud-based business management software just to compete.

Online booking, with the right cloud-based business management solution as the foundation, is about far more than replacing the traditional approaches with a technical workaround. For pest control companies, it’s about getting the bugs out of the system, so your people can do their job.

Vonigo offers mobile service companies a cloud-based business management solution that streamlines the customer delivery process, from online booking all the way through to CRM, scheduling, invoicing, payments and the next visit.

Mosquito Guide 2016- What You Need To Know

mosquitosWith the mosquito populations worse than they have ever been, and the recent media firestorm surrounding the Zika virus, 2016 is proving to be the year of the mosquito. In fact, Bulwark Exterminating is being flooded with daily calls from people looking for relief from these pesky, blood-sucking pests.

The truth is that these pests are a major concern due to the diseases they transmit how they can negatively affect an economy by preventing outdoor recreation and production due to their significant annoyance.

The good news is that mosquitoes can be successfully managed through diligent efforts from both property owners and pest management professionals.

Here’s what you need to know about these annoying yet dangerous pests; your 2016 mosquito guide:

Understanding The Mosquito Basics

Arm_MosquitoBoth male and female adult mosquitoes feed on the nectar from plants to obtain nutrients to survive. Female mosquitoes also require the protein found in the blood of animals to support the production of eggs. Male mosquitoes do not require blood meals and therefor do not bite. Between the many species of mosquitoes, females can feed on human and animal blood both day and night.

Mosquito eggs must be laid in standing water to develop, and the eggs typically tend to hatch in just 1 to 3 days. Any object that is capable of retaining water for seven or more days is a potential production site for mosquitoes. This may include cans, rain barrels, and old tires. Under optimum conditions, a female mosquito can produce 50-500 eggs in her first brood.

Diseases Transmitted By Mosquitoes

It is said that mosquitoes pose a greater threat to human health and existence than any other animal worldwide. Malaria and Yellow Fever account for about 1,060,000 deaths per year worldwide. Although these diseases rarely occur in the US, these numbers are rising and outbreaks are expanding.

Some diseases that occur in the US as a result of mosquito bites include:

  • West Nile Virus – Few cases have caused fatal neurological disease in humans.
  • Zika Fever – A disease that can cause birth defects in pregnant women.
  • Dengue – An illness caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites. Causes flu like symptoms and in rare cases leads to death.

What’s All This About Zika?

Virus_Spreads_NewspaperZika virus has gained an increasing foothold across the Americas and Pacific islands. The virus, which is transmitted mainly via mosquitoes, is part of a group of viruses closely related to other mosquito-borne infections, including dengue, West Nile, and yellow fever. They’re geographically in similar areas, and they also have many of the same symptoms.

Once infected with Zika, only about 20% of people ever show symptoms of the virus, which most commonly include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes.

There is no vaccine or treatment available for the virus. One reason Zika is troubling is because it is a cause of birth defects including microcephaly (a condition where the baby’s head is abnormally small) in babies whose mothers have had Zika. The virus also been linked to a neurological condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Successful Mosquito Reduction: Inspection

Finding the areas where mosquitoes lay eggs is the crucial first step in controlling mosquitoes. Without treating or eliminating the source, mosquitoes will continue to be an ongoing battle.

Key inspection sites include:

  • Ornamental ponds and natural bodies of water
  • Green pools
  • Containers/flower pots and discarded items that may be holding water
  • Rain gutters and crawl spaces
  • Old car tires
  • Landscaping and irrigation systems
  • Bird baths/fountains
  • Holes in trees
  • Buckets/tub
  • Wheel barrels

Essentially, any location capable of holding standing water for seven or more days is a potential production site for mosquitoes. Unneeded water receptacles should be emptied and discarded if possible.

Successful Mosquito Reduction: Treatment

A two method approach consisting of larvacide mosquito dunks combined with a standard barrier treatment is required to significantly reduce the mosquito population on your property.

A close up shot of the common pest mosquito, Aedes vexans, resting on the water it just emerged from.  Below the water surface are several pupae waiting to emerge.

Larvicide Mosquito Dunks

Larvacide mosquito dunks are an insecticide which is specifically targeted for the larval life stage of an insect. A tablet is introduced into the stagnant water where mosquito larvae are found. These mosquito dunks treat the ponds and/or other standing water sources, preventing mosquito larvae from growing into breeding, biting, adults.

Barrier Treatment

Thick vegetation around a home can provide excellent resting sites for many mosquito species. Mosquitoes roost on the underside of leaves. Mosquito fogging is very effective method of leaving a residual product on the underside of leaves. By fogging the undersides of bushes and trees with a specialized pest control fogger with a combination of specific mosquito control product leaves a lasting residual where adult mosquitoes roost.  Additionally, these products will also be picked up by the adults and transferred to water sites when eggs are laid. This will kill off adult mosquitoes and help halt the local population’s reproduction cycle.

Permanent Mosquito Control

Mosquito_SwarmThe unfortunate truth is that mosquitoes can travel up to five miles looking for a blood meal. While taking the above treatment methods will drastically decrease the number of mosquitoes you’ll see in your home and on your property, a neighborhood effort must be made to rid yourself of them completely. Work with your neighbors to eliminate standing water on their property. Things like un-kept pools can be brought to the attention of local community agencies and HOA’s so they may be addressed.

Through diligent efforts from both property owners and pest management professionals, mosquitoes can be successfully managed.

Bulwark Exterminating Receives Thumbtack Honor

Bulwark Thumbtack AustinThis just in from Thumbtack:

Bulwark Exterminating is currently one of Thumbtack’s most active and highest rated skilled professionals in all of Austin; as Thumbtack awards Bulwark as Austin’s Top Pro!

This prestigious recognition is awarded to the best companies that demonstrate superior customer service; based on the customer reviews. Essentially, Thumbtack’s Top Pro recognition is voted on by consumers, with their positive feedback on a particular company; in this case Bulwark Exterminating.

Thumbtack is a smarter way to hire local professionals. Their technology is transforming the way people accomplish any project, anywhere, anytime. Just tell them you need done, and they’ll quickly deliver customized quotes so you can compare pricing, read reviews, and hire the right professional on the spot.

Bulwark Exterminating is honored to receive this prestigious award, as it recognizes continual efforts toward outstanding customer service.

Thumbtack Reviews From Bulwark Pest Control in Austin

Here are just a couple of the many excellent customer reviews Bulwark Exterminating receives on Thumbtack:

“This is the first time I’ve used Bulwark but they were here when they said they would be. The Technician asked if there were any particular things I wanted him to check or work on and yes, there were a few. Did a really good job and was in and out in no time. I would imagine after some time goes by and we’ve worked together about 6-months to a year, I would change the rating to Excellent just from my first experience.”

-Steve B.

“I had pest control service done. They were completely informative over the phone and I received next day service. The technician, Danny V., was very thorough and friendly. I would highly recommend this company.”

-Diana M.

“As always, friendly and courteous service…and paying attention to the details — such as the wasp nests that have formed recently. Thank you!”

Laurie C.

Bulwark Exterminating Thumbtack

If you live in the Austin, TX area, and are seeing bugs of any kind, find Bulwark Exterminating on Thumbtack at https://www.thumbtack.com/Pest-Control-Services-Austin-TX/service/1969463. We’d look forward to working with you and ensuring that you live pest free!

Super Roach Unmasked

Face-To-Face_With_RoachWe all know that the most sly and sneaky creepy crawler out there is the cockroach. This bug will eat our pizza or snickers bar if open and left out; it will even raid our pantries and refrigerators. Over a span of many years this bug has put up quite a resistance in the war against mankind. The roach is one of the most exterminated bugs by pest control professionals, but in the 1990’s in Florida, some of the exterminator’s tricks stop working. This was because the roaches developed a trick of their own; ditching their sweet tooth.

One of the professional tactics used against cockroaches is baiting them with a sweet, sugary poison. In the 90’s when this bait stopped working, researchers started speculating about this seemingly invincible pest. How had the bug avoided the sweet scent and taste of the concoction? Researchers from Raleigh’s North Carolina State University, Ayako Wada-Katsumata, Jules Silverman, and Coby Schal looked into that very question.

The Findings

Using the common German cockroach, researchers studied the reason for this change in roach behavior. Roaches use taste hairs all over their bodies instead of taste buds to taste their food. Researchers focused on the taste hairs around their mouths and two types of nerve cells that transmit signals to the brain. One of these transmits the taste of bitterness, while the other transmits the taste of sweetness. When the brain received the sweet signal, the roaches were, of course, inclined to eat the substance, and when it received a signal of bitterness, the roaches laid off. The three researchers from North Carolina determined that glucose, which is the main ingredient used in most sugary products, stimulates the bitter receptor in the roach’s brain.

Roaches_On_OrangeReactions

Entomologist at Purdue University, Grzegorz Buczkowski, and Walter S. Leal, the head of the entomology department in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Davis who were not involved in the research, made some remarks on the findings.

Buczkowski said, “We lose baits all the time.”  He expanded by saying that the bug industry has to keep up with the evolution of these bugs in order to maintain the effectiveness of their products. New poisons are constantly developed, because cockroaches and other pests become resistant to the poison, just as bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.

The findings now explain that it wasn’t an ineffective poison, or that the roaches developed immunity to it. The cockroaches simply changed their genetic make-up and lost the attraction to glucose. Now some roaches are passing off this gene and evolving into some sort of super roach.

Walter S. Leal says, “Sometimes the science is beautiful but you don’t know whether there is going to be an application five years from now, 10 years from now or 100 years.”

These results seem to be well on their way to helping the pest control industry and mankind in general to keep a leg up on the evolving cockroach.