Friday Favorites: Your Links Round-Up Of Pest Articles

Tick_Infested_Area_SignYour Homes Curb Appeal Could Be Attracting Pests

It’s important to pay attention to what implications your home’s curb appeal and landscaping can have for your yearly pest prevention. Here are some helpful landscaping tips to deter pests:

http://www.westernpest.com/blog/your-homes-curb-appeal-could-be-attracting-pests/

Preventing Ants Is An Ongoing Task

Check out these helpful tips from our Rose exterminators to prevent ant problems in your home:

http://www.rosepestsolutions.com/blog/post/preventing-ants-is-an-ongoing-task

Carpenter Bees Damage Wood

These bees are known as wood destroying insects, because they make their nests inside of wood and cause a host of problems for home owners as a result. If left unchecked, carpenter bees can cause structural damage. Learn more:

http://www.permatreat.com/carpenter-bees-damage-wood/

Pest Control Tips to Prevent Summer Stings and Bites

Pest control should be a year-round consideration, but there are several additional steps to take in the summertime to help avoid the risk of being an insect’s meal ticket. Read more:

http://pestcontrolsanantonio.com/2014/07/pest-control-tips-to-prevent-summer-stings-and-bites/

Why DIY Pest Control Is NOT A Good Idea

Do-It-Yourself pest control can be dangerous for you, your family and pets. The improper use of pest control chemicals can result in rashes, burns, vomiting, trouble breathing and even death. Professional exterminators are trained to use pesticides. Read more:

http://www.mccallservice.com/blog/post/why-diy-pest-control-is-not-a-good-idea

What You Need To Know About Argentine Ants

Argentine AntsWhat are Argentine ants? 

The Argentine ant is very small ant, only growing to be about 1/8 of an inch. They can, however, grow to be a huge problem if they infest your home.

What does the Argentine ant look like?

The Argentine ant will range in color from a dull gray-black, to a gray-brown color. They will have three different body segments call nodes; and will have six long skinny legs that come off the nodes. On the head there will be two long antennae.

What will the Argentine ant eat? 

The Argentine ant’s main food source is honeydew made from different bugs. They also like to eat foods high in protein, but love to eat sugar. Argentine ants will eat left out candy, fruit, cereal, eggs, juices, tuna, and anything else it can get a hold of.

Where do Argentine ants live and how big can the colony grow? 

These ants can be found in shallow nests under and around trees, walls, concert slabs, rocks, and piles of wood. Argentine ant colonies can have tens of thousands of worker ants, and any number queens. Most colonies can infest your home very quickly, because colonies will combine and double in size.

Linepithema humilis, Argentine ant

What will Argentine ants do? 

Argentine ants are always working on their colony. They do this by working on the nest, and by looking for food to service. A lot of time people will see the Argentine ants inside the home as the ants are looking for food.

Are Argentine ants a problem?

Since these ants are always building, they can become a huge problem at your home. They will start on the outside of the home and work there way inside. If these ants are not exterminated they will infest and cause a much worse problem.

If you are having problems with Argentine ants, get professional ant control!

Tramp Ants- These Ants Get Around!

I recently had the pleasure of attending Pest World 2013 in Phoenix, and it was there where I was introduced to the concept of tramp ants; presented by Dr. Laurel D. Hansen.

Tramp ants are recognized as such because of one common characteristic… Their loose morals. They get around!

Tramp ants are introduced, exotic, invasive, and alien.

Ant With FlowerHow Ants Are Spread

Tramp ants move locally, nationally, and internationally, via various modes of transport. They travel across oceans, over borders, across state lines; from farm to farm, city to city, and eventually home to home.

Tramp ants did not walk all by themselves from place to place, they had some help. Moving, traveling, vacationing; heck, even gardeners delight in foreign plants that have to be shipped. Lumber is moved throughout the continent, even throughout the world.

The human race is clearly the tramp ant’s best friend.

Ideal Features Of Tramp Ants

Not all species of ant spread successfully. Some move or are moved more effectively. Most types of tramp ants have many queens (polygyne), are aggressive (unicolonial), reproduce by budding, and do not have permanent homes (polydomous).

Most Common Tramp Ants In The U.S.

While there are quite literally dozens of different species of tramp ants in the United States, these five ants seem to be getting around the most:

Argentine Ants

Argentine Ants

Argentine ants are commonly found in much of the Southeastern United States; and also in parts of California, Oregon, and Washington. They originally came her from South America (obviously given their name), and are popping up in zoos and nurseries. Their colonies can be huge, with tens of thousands of worker ants and multiple queens. In addition, colonies can merge, becoming one massive super-colony that can extend over several residential properties. They are very aggressive, forcefully driving out other species of ants.

Odorous House Ants

odorous house ant

Getting their name from the nasty odor they emit when squashed, Odorous House ants are distinguished as tramp ants mainly because of their exploitation of other ant species. While they are a native ant, they have made their rounds; taking of the nests of other ant species.

Red Imported Fire Ants

Red Imported Fire Ant

The notorious of all the tramp ants, and the ant with the worse reputation, is no doubt the Red Imported Fire Ant. These aggressive, stinging ants were imported from South America. Their current range now stretches from Texas to Maryland in the U.S. They have also found their way to China, Australia, Thailand, the Philippines, and the Caribbean. A Red Imported Fire Ant queen can turn out some 1,500 new ant eggs a day. As you can imagine, these ants can create a major pest control problem for homeowners and local residents.

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ant

While the original origins of the Pharaoh ant are unknown for the most part (probably Africa), what is known is that these ants have become quite the nuisance pest, especially indoors. They are not only found in our homes, but are also infamous for infesting hospitals, grocery stores, hotels, schools, and restaurants. While Pharaoh ants cause significant damage in all of these places, they are most problematic in hospitals; being found in IV bags and operating rooms. Pharaoh ants are found virtually in every U.S. state, and throughout much of the world.

Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants

Pavement ants have a habit of creating problems under asphalt, or concrete slabs; pushing small mounds of soil out through the cracks and expansion joints. Adjacent Pavement ant colonies fight, producing spectacular sidewalk ant battles. The species is native to Europe, but was introduced to the U.S. in the early 1900’s.

Responsibilities Of The Pest Management Professional

When it comes to ant control, and dealing with tramp ants, pest management professionals have key roles. First, your technicians need to be able to identify all the species of ants they treat in the area. Most cities with universities hold ant identification workshops. There are also a wide variety of reference manuals available; as well as assistance from taxonomists. If your techs are seeing an ant species they cannot identify, with please have them turn to these professionals.

Always report new species of ant found in your area!

Strange Bug Facts: 5 Cool Things You Never Knew About Insects

Most homeowners are familiar with a variety of pests, but how much do you really know about the little creatures you see each day? Insects are actually quite intelligent, and there is a lot about them that might surprise you. These five facts will give you an inside glimpse into the secret world of bugs and other pests.

1. The animal that has killed more humans than any other is the… mosquito.

Mosquito

Mosquitoes may be tiny, but their bite packs a punch; they transmit parasites from one human to another, causing diseases like malaria. More than one million people die each year from mosquito bites, and the tally has grown so large, it even exceeds the number of people who have died as a result of war.

Two fun facts about mosquitoes: only the females bite, not the males, and the insects are drawn to human beings because of the carbon dioxide that we expel when we breathe.

2. The award for the biggest insect brain goes to the ant.

Carpenter Ant Face

Proportional to its size, the ant is the insect with the biggest brain. These little creatures outnumber humans about a million to one, and they are very social, residing in colonies with hundreds of thousands of other ants.

Ants seem to have a built-in earthquake radar, as they are able to detect a quake approximately 24 hours in advance. It is thought that they either pick up on changes in the Earth’s magnetic field or recognize changing gas emissions.

3. Honeybees pose a greater threat to human life than snakes.

Honeybee Honeycomb

While rattlesnakes and other poisonous reptiles are certainly dangerous, honeybees kill more people every year than all the various types of snakes combined. However, it is important to keep in mind that honeybees do important work; they pollinate about 80 percent of all flowering crops, which make up a large part of the human diet. As a result, most pest control companies will not destroy their hives and instead relocate them to another area where the honeybees can continue their work.

A few other things of note regarding honeybees: they never sleep and they fly at around 15 miles an hour. Also, they are the only insect that creates food humans can eat.

4. Dragonflies live for only a day.

Dragonfly

Dragonflies have an extremely short lifespan, experiencing the world around them for about twenty-fours before they die. They are also very fast fliers, moving at a rate of about sixty miles an hour. They obviously have a lot to do in a short period of time!

5. A bug is an insect. An insect is not necessary a bug.

ladybugs

Bugs typically have two pairs of wings and a tube-like beak. Many insects, like butterflies and ladybugs, are commonly confused for bugs even though they are quite different creatures. So, the next time you want to use “bug” and “insect” interchangeably, think again.

Hopefully, the next time you see an insect creeping about in your kitchen or fluttering around your car, you will look at it just a little differently. After all, you never know what is going on behind the scenes with these little creatures.

Chris is a regular contributing guest blogger on all bug things weird and fascinating.

Pest Control: Friday Links Round-Up

Bee BlossomFunny Fridays

In need of a good laugh this Friday? Check out these pest memes… Read More

Spring Bug Guide

Here’s a spring bug guide for homeowners in the upper Midwest… Read More

Crazy Ants Explained!

Here are a few helpful pointers about the Rasberry Crazy Ant… Read More

Arkansas Exterminators Offer Spring Pest Control Tips

Stinging insects, ants, and many other critters are busy in the spring. With just a few steps you can help limit your exposure to them… Read More 

Spring Ahead. Are Ants and Termites Headed Your Way? 

Ants and termites start to appear with the warm weather. Both of these pests can cause significant damage to your home. Insurance estimates that average repairs can run $3000+ and this cost is not always covered. This spring, be on the lookout for signs of these wood destroying insects… Read More 

 

Amazing Video: Jumping Ants!

ant jawsOkay. This is really cool!

I recently came across some remarkable video of ants catapulting themselves around with their jaws. They’re jumping ants!

While this behavior is not new to the insect world; I found it fascinating that the ants are not only able to jump backward, but have now evolved to jumping forward as well. This jumping forward is completely new to science!

The ants are called Trap-Jaw ants, and when they snap their “trap-jaws” together super fast, it causes the ants to quickly bolt through the air.

See the amazing footage yourself:

Amazing Video: Jumping Ants!

Trap-Jaw Ants

Trap Jaw Ant Portrait
Trap Jaw Ant Portrait (Photo credit: Gerald Yuvallos)

The ants featured above are called Trap-Jaw ants (Odontomachus). The footage was filmed in Borneo, although there are also Trap-Jaw ants found in the United States; particularly in the state of Florida.

Trap-Jaw ants have a pair of huge pinchers, or mandibles, that have the ability of opening 180 degrees. Once opened, these jaws will lock into place almost like a bear trap. There are sensory hairs inside the mandibles that will snap shut the ant’s jaws shut when triggered. When this happens, the result is a jumping ant that can reach record speeds of 80-140 miles per hour (mph).

This jumping or propelling behavior serves a couple purposes. Not only is it used to escape potential threats, but it also assists in catching other insects like termites and springtails. In addition to this ant’s trap-jaw self-defense mechanism, some Trap-Jaw ants can also unleash very painful stings.

The above footage of Trap-Jaw ants is from a NC State PhD student, D. Magdalena Sorger. You can see her research at www.theantlife.com.

Here is her Google scholar profile.

Ant Decapitating Flies

Parasitic FlyEver heard of the saying, “The enemy of your enemy is your friend?”

Well, if this sentiment holds true, let’s all embrace our new brain tunneling, mind controlling, head melting and ant decapitating friend… The Pseudacteon parasitic fly.

These teeny-tiny flies have the potential to be a natural pest control agent and combat the nasty hoards of fire ants that are plaguing the Southern United States. How you ask? By removing their heads!

Here’s how it all goes down:

Ant Decapitating Flies

Some of the most malevolent creatures to ever inhabit this country are the malicious, spiteful, stinging, Red Imported Fire ants. Their huge mounds are unmistakable. If you ever disturb one of these mounds in any way, hundreds of them will come spilling out, violently defending the colony by swarming up your arms and legs, painfully stinging you multiple times! Ouch!

For all of you that hate these fire ants with a passion, you now have a powerful ally to aid you in your battle.

Tiny parasitic flies of the genus Pseudacteon, which were brought up from South America by an entomologist for the sole purpose of controlling fire ant populations, kill fire ants by removing their heads.

These flies buzz around looking for fire ants; as they are drawn to the fire ant’s pheromones.

Upon locating a fire ant, the parasitic fly will dive-bomb into the ant’s head, sticking the ant with an internal ovipositor that looks like a microscopic needle.

Once sticking the ant, the fly will deposit a very small torpedo-shaped egg into the fire ant’s head.

Ant headWith an egg now inside the ant’s brain, the fly maggot will grow by feeding on the ant’s brain and bodily fluids. The fly larvae can actually control the fire ant’s mind for a period of time, until the larvae mercifully decides to kill it’s host.

The fly larvae will release a brain-dissolving chemical that eats away at the fire ant’s brain, membranes, glands, and muscle; some of which are needed to hold the ant’s head on it’s body.

Eventually, the ant’s head falls off, leaving the rest of the body behind, twitching like a decapitated zombie from The Walking Dead.

The fly larvae then hollows out the ant head, where it will stay and grow, until a new parasitic fly will emerge to once again burrow into another fire ant’s brain.

WOW! You can’t make this stuff up! It sounds like something straight out of a horror movie!

Fire Ant Control

We are still years away from importing these tiny parasitic flies from South America, to combat our fire ant populations. Entomologists have received approval to release four different batches of South American ant-decapitating flies in the U.S. Some argue against this idea… Kind of like breeding and releasing cats to combat a mice problem; only to be overrun by cats.

Until these tiny parasitic flies are frequently found buzzing in the U.S., taking out the masses of fire ants, your best bet to get rid of them is professional fire ant control. A combination of wide-area treatments and baiting is proven extremely effective for eliminating fire ants from a property.

Pest Control: Your Friday Links Round-Up

Black House SpiderPest Control: Your Friday Links Round-Up

Fall Wasp Wars

Every autumn, homeowners wage war against wasps and hornets. These flying pests grow excessively aggressive as their preferences move from proteins to sweets. Learn more about these wasp wars.

How to Get Rid of Bugs in Acorns and Pine Cones

Many of us use pine cones for holiday decorations every year, but unknowingly bring pests into our homes by doing so. Here’s a step by step guide to getting rid of these unwanted bugs so you may continue using acorns and pine cones for decor. More…

Plants Enlist Aid From Birds For Pest Control

When trees or plants are under attack from insects, they can emit certain scents that attract birds. The birds in turn then gobble up many of the plants-munching bugs. More…

Tips to Pest Proofing Your Home This Fall

With the change of season comes a different challenge for homeowners because it is also a peak time for pests to make their way indoors. Learn to protect yourself, here.

When Are Carpenter Ants Active?

Click here, to learn more about the most active times of year for carpenter ants.

Carpenter BeePest Of The Week: Carpenter Bees

Measuring almost an inch in length, Carpenter bees get their name for their love of all things wood. They will build their nests in building frames, dried wood, tree stumps, and bamboo by chewing through it. They can be destructive pests, despite their ability to beneficially pollinate.

These bees look almost like bumble bees, but are a little bit smaller and have a glossy, hairless, black abdomen. Throughout the spring and summer months, female Carpenter bees gather nectar to transform into their “bee bread” which they feed to the rest of the colony.

There’s more good news (other than beneficial pollination) about Carpenter bees… The males that one usually sees buzzing around the hive cannot sting.

Halloween Ants: 3 Ants Inspired By The Things Of Our Nightmares

What do Halloween spooks like vampires, ghosts, and zombies have to do with the picnic ruining, biting, stinging, and all around pesky ant? More than you might think!

Here are three different species of ant that are inspired by the things of our nightmares:

Dracula AntDracula Ants

Horrifying ants that suck blood… Say it isn’t so! Dracula ants (Adetomyrma venatrix) are named after the very famous fictitious vampire count Dracula; because of the grisly way in which these ants feast on the blood of their young. Well, technically it’s not the blood of their young that Dracula ants are drinking, but rather the hemolymph or ant blood equivalent. This practice is actually a form of non-destructive cannibalism, as it doesn’t kill the ant larvae.

If you think the ant larvae are simply providing a public service to the rest of the colony, letting hungry worker ants scratch and chew holes through their bodies as they feast on their blood; than think again. Scientists have witnessed the young Dracula ant larvae try to flee in fear, whenever a hungry work ant enters their chamber.

Dracula ants are primarily found in Madagascar, and are actually an engendered species. A typical colony will have about 10,000 ants, and have been found making nests in things like rotting logs and tree stumps. They are orange in color, and have abdomens that resemble wasps more than they do ants.

Ghost AntsGhost Ants

That tiny translucent creature crawling across your kitchen this Halloween is not a pint-size apparition with legs. It’s not the visible manifestation of that bug you squashed with your shoe last week either. Rather, it’s the pesky Ghost Ant (Tapinoma melanocephalum).

Found in Florida, Texas, Iowa, and Hawaii, these ants can be rather spooky for homeowners; as they intrude looking for food. Ghost ants get their name from their distinctive ghost-like appearance; translucent colored abdomen and legs. Unlike the Dracula ant, which feeds on the blood of their young, Ghost ants primarily feed on the honeydew they collect from plant-feeding insects like aphids.

Zombie Ants

You wake in a puddle of some unknown and impious fluid. You disjointedly crawl to your feet, but have no control over your body. You are no longer the living organism you thought you once were, but are some sort of rotting corpse; a hollow vessel harboring something disturbing inside. You’re confused, disorientated, and no longer seem to have any self-control. Most believe you’re dead, but fortunately your loved one’s think you are still alive – your soul still somewhere deep inside this now walking monster of a creature. Whatever sinister it may be, one thing is certain, you only want to satisfy your desire to eat others of your kind and spread the virus within.

No I’m not talking about the pilot to AMC’s The Walking Dead. I’m talking about ZOMBIE ANTS!

Zombie Ant

When I say zombie ants, I’m not referring to a specific species of ant named a “Zombie ant,” but rather a condition affecting tropical Carpenter ants that happen to come into contact with a certain type of fungus (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis). This fungus is a mind-leeching parasite responsible for creating extensive hoards of the zombie ants. Once the fungus has infiltrated the ant’s brain, it will become powerless to resist the calculated directives of its subversive ruler. After spending some time in this zombie-like state, the infected ant will die at a spot that has optimal reproduction conditions for the fungus. The fungus will sprout from the zombie ant’s head, almost like a tombstone, and release more parasitic spores that will infect other ants.

You can watch the whole process here:

 

What’s the scariest ant you’ve ever encountered? 

PestWorld 2013 Day 2

PestWorld 2013 Jordan Belfort

Day two of PestWorld 2013 (October 23, 2013) got off to an enthusiastic start as the 3,300 attendees got the privilege to hear from Jordan Belfort, “the Wolf of Wall Street.” After his remarks all of us pest professionals spent the rest of the morning checking out the pest management exhibits in the exhibit hall, while we mingled and networked with pest management professionals from all over the world. The afternoon was spent sitting in on some concurrent educational sessions, learning about some of the latest pests and pest technologies. During these sessions, much emphasis was also placed on PMP marketing, business management, and industry related training.

Here are a few of the highlights from day two at PestWorld 2013:

Opening General Session: Jordan Belfort “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

 

Jordan Belfort at PestWorld 2013

Day two of PestWorld 2013 was kicked of by “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort, sharing his interesting story; his rise and fall and rise again. As one of the most successful and dynamic sales guys in the history of Wall Street, Jordan was earning $50 million a year selling $5-$6 stocks to the wealthiest 1% in the country. During the peak of his success, Jordan fell into some of the pitfalls that super successful lifestyle. He found himself on some 22 different drugs, and in jail with Tommy Chong of all people, before he had a moment of clarity and turned his life around. Through this rise and fall, Jordan learned a few things along the way. Here are just a few points he touched on:

“Success in the absence of ethics and integrity is failure!”

  • You can change your life story by not succumbing to a negative situation.
  • If you have a vision, goals, and are driven toward something, you’re happy no matter where you are in life.
  • Our success or lack there-of, can come from our inner-world skills. Our belief systems, or the things in our head, lead us to success.
  • There’s always going to be stuff to trip us up.
  • Be visionary. Focus on visions, not just goal setting. Gravitate to other people with vision.
  • To get on top and stay there, you must continue learning
  • It’s hard to turn non-buyers into buyers. It’s easier to get existing buyers to flip.
  • Reciprocity is a powerful marketing tool
  • Linear concepts are easier for customers, and all of us to grasp.
  • Failure= not managing your growth

3 Things For Success

1. Have a vision for the future

2. Have the ability to share your vision. Make it known to others and empower them to take action.

3. Give more value than you look to receive. Monetize this value. Money and success is a byproduct of value.

The Wolf Of Wall Street Movie Trailer

 

PestWorld Educational Sessions

 

There were 24 different educational sessions to choose from today; everything from hiring/training PMP’s, to bedbug progress, to risks and rewards of pest control technologies. I had the opportunity to personally sit in on these three educational sessions.

Tramp Ants: What New or Exotic Ants Are Coming To Your Area

Dr. Laurel Hansen, from Spokane, WA, presented on Tramp ants. Tramp ants are introduced, exotic, invasive, and alien. They have made their way into urban environments from territories around the world. They are transported by us, usually by accident. Here are a few of the ants popping up in new territories around the world:

Tramp Ants: These Ants Get Around

Ponerine ants- From Africa and Central Asia, now worldwide. They sting! Nest under concrete slabs. Winged females are problems, leaving colonies, mating and stinging. Difficult to control.

Odorous House ants- is a tramp ant because they’re moving across the country. Now #1 most invasive ant, overtaking carpenter ant. Gel baits work best for these ants.

Velvety Tree ant- Similar to odorous house ant, but bigger. Moving from forested areas into structures. Very serious problem.

Pavement  ants- Stinging ants hiding under concrete slabs. Move around a lot.

Ghost ants- liquid baits, showing up in shopping mall atriums even in cold weather climates

White footed ants- found in Florida, SE United States, California, and Hawaii. Liquid baits to treat as well.

Pharaoh ants- Comes from Africa, and might be biggest tramp of them all.

What Would A World Without PMP’s Look Like?

  • Dr. Faith Oi of the University of Florida offered some insights on what our future would look like without pest control. Here are a few quick points I took away from her very in depth and historical presentation:
  • U.S. has ability to export food to poverty stricken countries. Pest control protects this food. Our food exports also affect our economic stability and GDP.
  • Malaria caused 289 million cases and 836,000 deaths in 2010. 90 percent come from areas without pest control. U.S. has very low rates because of pest control and medical technology.
  • 80 percent of diseases are spread by pests. Example: Typhus, Yellow Fever, Plaque which is spread by pests like rats, mosquitoes, and fleas, may have killed billions more victims.
  • Found this fact interesting: If we had pest control in early 1800’s, we wouldn’t have 1/3 of the U.S. Yellow Fever wiped out populations in Haiti, causing Napoleon to sell land known as Louisiana Purchase for $13 million.

German Cockroach Management: How Your Application Methods Can improve Your Speed and Efficacy

german cockroaches

Dr. Dini Miller of Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University presented a very elaborate and detailed guide on some of the most effective ways to combat German roaches. In this strategy, it’s crucial to start your baiting program in January if at all possible (tricky I know), and bait highly infested communities with a lot of bait fast. I will likely dedicate a separate blog post to this method and technique in the near future; so stay tuned!

Stay Tuned

Check back tomorrow for our highlights from day three of PestWorld 2013 in Phoenix, AZ.