Why are wasps important?

Whenever we think of wasps, we think of nasty pests, getting stung, nests on our house, and other annoying attributes they tend to have. What we don’t realize is that where there is bad, there is often some good, and believe it or not, wasps have a pinnacle role in nature in helping the circle of life. Wasps provide parasitism, pollination, and predation. Parasitism happens when two species interact and one of them is helped while the other sacrifices. Wasps are used as insect control in farm crops, because while they don’t damage the crops they lay their eggs in caterpillars and ruin any chance of the caterpillars harming the crop. Wasps, like bees, are also pollinators. People always think of bees as the only pollinators, and that without them plants would die, which is true, but wasps are just as important and effective when it comes to pollinating. Predation, is perhaps one of the most important attributes that wasps offer. Some people know that wasps are great spider killers, but lesser known is the just how many insects they actually kill. Without wasps there would an exponentially greater number of insects in the world, so much that it would affect our ecosystem. Wasps are important, and without them there would be an astronomical ripple effect within the circle of life. Be careful the next time you see these pesky creatures, but keep in mind that they do a lot for us! 

 

Getting Rid of Wasps by the Pool

So, you have wasps around your pool, but you don’t know why. Believe it or not, the wasps are there for the water source, they need water to survive and your pool is the most convenient place to get it. You may be thinking, why on Earth do they want to drink from the pool, doesn’t the chlorine bother them? Well, long story short, no; water is water and wasps just don’t care. Though your pool is an easy water source, we have a way to keep them away! 

  1. Call an Exterminator – Always consider getting professional help first, it will help limit the amount of stings you incur and will ensure they are being removed from the location properly.
  2. Find an Alternative Water Source  –  Create some sort of pond, bird bath, or other water source outside of your pool that has a constant source of water. This is a more pest friendly option; the wasps won’t be harmed and they will leave your pool alone. 
  3. Create a Decoy Nest – Wasps are very territorial creatures, and creating a fake nest will surely deter them from the area surrounding your pool.
  4. Build a Trap–  To build a fake trap, cut a water bottle in half and fill it with diesel fuel. The wasps are attracted to the fuel, and will go into the bottle and drown. Though this method is less pest friendly, it gets the job done. 

If all else fails, your best chance is to locate the wasp’s nest by the pool and get rid of it. See my other blog: How do you get rid of a wasp nest? 

      

How do ants work together?

Whether you see them walking in a straight line, carrying their food as a team, or building a colony together, it’s no secret that ants are very organized and have a secret way of communicating that we can’t see.  Surprisingly this “secret” communication they use has nothing to do with speaking. One way ants communicate is by releasing pheromones that are universally understood by one another to signal different things, such as calling attention to food and alerting others of enemies.  Like the story of Hansel and Gretel they leave a trail of breadcrumbs, or, in this case, if an ant finds food, they leave a trail pheromones for the other ants to follow. They do this by using their antennae as sensors and continuing the succession of pheromones as they continue on their path to alert others. Ants also communicate through touch, and will lightly touch one another with their antennae to signal something important is happening. Although ants may not speak to each other, that doesn’t mean they never communicate by sound. When ants aren’t in a good position to send pheromones, like being trapped for example, ants with make a sound by rubbing their leg against a part of their body to make a scraping noise, usually as a distress call. Ants can work together because they, like humans, are among the few animals that can communicate in a way that allows them to be connected, sometimes in a way far beyond what humans do.

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.

 

Bug Themed Halloween Snacks

Sharing Halloween Treats

Halloween is the time to get all buggy – quite literally. Bugs are a common theme associated with the holiday that embraces all things creepy and crawly. A fun way to incorporate bugs into your Halloween plans is by making bug-themed snacks. No, this does not require the use of actual bugs (although technically you CAN eat most bugs if you really want to…) Below are some fun Halloween bug-themed snack ideas that not only will your children love, but adults will love as well.

Chocolate Chip & Spider Cookies

Spider CookiesGot your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe on hand? Good. Now gather the ingredients and make your cookies the way you always do. To create a “spider” effect, take a toothpick and drag it through the chocolate chips when the cookies are fresh out of the oven and the chocolate is nice and melty. Simply drag eight lines from each chip throughout the surface of the cookie, and voila – instant spiders. These are a fun, creepy, and delicious snack to serve to your family and friends on Halloween.

Spider Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are easy to make – simply boil eggs, let them cool (you can speed up this process by running them under cold water), cut them in half, scoop the yolks out into a bowl, add mayo, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings that you prefer (some people prefer adding mustard to the “deviled” part of the egg) and scoop back into the egg whites. To give them a Halloween twist, use olives to craft a spider’s body. Place a whole olive in the center of the deviled eggs, and slivers cut from another olive to craft as “legs.” (Alternately, you can cut one olive in half and use half as the spider’s body and cut the other half into the legs.) These snacks are fun, healthy, and tasty to boot.

Bug Juice

What is a Halloween party without some nice, refreshing bug juice? This creepy crawly beverage is easy to make and fun to drink. You will need 2 10-ounce packages of frozen strawberries, 1 6-ounce can of lemon concentrate, 1 quart ginger ale, 2 cups raisins, and 6 gummy worms. Got all that? Good. Now, you’re going to mix the strawberries and Ants On A Loglemonade concentrate in a blender until smooth and thick. Gradually add in the ginger ale. You will then transfer the drink to a punch bowl, where you will stir in any remaining ginger ale and the raisins, The gummy worms go around the edge of the bowl for a “swampy” effect. This delicious refreshment serves 10, and is the perfect beverage for your Halloween party.

Ants On A Log

Celery sticks spread with peanut butter and covered with raisins make for a delightful and healthy snack. This classic snack-food has been around for quite the while and is a long-time favorite among children.

If you’re planning the menu for your Halloween party, consider bug-themed snack foods. These recipes are all easy to make, are loads of fun, and are kid-friendly. In fact, your kids can even help with their preparation.

About the author: Chris is a blogger for an NJ pest control company. When he isn’t working he enjoys cooking or baking with his little boys.

Published by Thomas Ballantyne

Top 10 Edible Bugs

Most people agree that insects are unappetizing, but did you know that some people actually enjoy munching on them? It’s true- people who consume insects are practicing entomophagy, which is actually more common that you would think. Many insects are actually a good (and cheap) source of protein, and while most people eat bugs out of necessity, nowadays they are also considered a delicacy.

Below you will find a list of the top 10 edible insects, based on taste and popularity.

10. Weaver Ants Eggs 

 

Ant eggs for salad - Market outside Chiang Mai

Weaver ants eggs are used as a tasty dip or topping for salad and tortilla chips in Thailand. However, they can only be collected one month out of the year, which is a very tedious and painful process. Weaver ants’ eggs are squishy and must be fully cooked before being enjoyed.

9. Giant Water Beetles 

 

Fried Giant Water Beetles

Also a popular delicacy in Thailand are Giant Water Beetles. These huge beetles are deshelled and then roasted or fried. Supposedly they taste like scallops.

8. Larvets Worm Snacks 

 

Larvets Worm Snax

These worms are baked so they have a crunchy texture. They come in a variety of flavors such as BBQ, cheese and Mexican spice.

7. Witchetty Grubs 

 

Witchetty Grub

These large, fleshy, white wood eating moths or beetle larvae are a principal source of protein in the Australian Aboriginal diets. They can either be eaten raw or lightly baked (typically over fire coals.)

6. Crickets 

 

Fried Crickets

Crickets (along with grasshoppers) are a pretty common bug to be eaten. The general consensus seems to be that they have a nutty flavor, although you can buy them seasoned (such as Crick-ettes brand Cricket snacks, which come in three flavors: Salt and Vinegar, Bacon and Cheese, and Sour Cream and Onion.) In the Northeast area of Thailand, egg-laden crickets (in other words, “pregnant” crickets) are considered a popular and tasty snack.

5. Oven Baked Tarantula 

 

Oven Baked

Despite the fact that tarantula’s are arachnids, not insects, they are being included on this list simply because they are so closely related and commonly confused as being part of the insect family. At any rate, oven roasted tarantula is a popular menu item in Cambodia. The fangs must be removed before consuming; simply warm and enjoy. (Or not.)

4. Casu Marzu 

 

Casu Marzu, a type of cheese. This image was m...

Casu Marzu is a type of cheese made from sheep’s milk that is crawling with insect larvae, which is popular in Sardinia, Italy. The soft cheese has been fermented to the point of decomposition, inviting insect larvae to develop. Some people choose to pick off the translucent little worms crawling on the cheese surface, while others enjoy the maggots.

3. Termites

 

Deep Fried Bugs

Eating termites is a way of life in Africa and some parts of Indonesia. They’re commonly collected at the beginning of the rainy season (when other protein sources are scarce.) Termites taste best after being slightly roasted.

2. Chocolate Covered Giant Ants 

 

Chocolate Covered Insects

Ants are another commonly consumed insect, although they taste best encased in decadent Belgian chocolate. Giant Queen Leafcutter ants bathed in chocolate are said to have a nutty flavor, boost the immune system and give the consumer extra energy.

1. Bug Suckers

 

Bug Suckers

We’ve all (probably) seen the suckers housing insects at one time or another. These are a common treat sold across America in shopping malls and candy stores. Examples of insects which you can find encased in hard candy include scorpions (ok, these are arachnids,) worms, grasshoppers and crickets.

While eating insects is pretty much a novelty in our culture, in some places throughout the world it is a necessity. Just about any insect can be eaten, as long as it’s given a good, long boiling first. Although calling an exterminator is still recommended when you discover an outbreak of bugs in your house- technically you “go green” and eat them.

 

About the author: Chris is writer for a New Jersey pest control company.

 

Published By Thomas Ballantyne

Top 5 Best & Worst Mosquito Repellants

Mosquito repellantThursday is the Fourth of July! It’s a time we will gather together with our families and friends; celebrating living in the world’s best country. We will commemorate our nation’s independence by waving flags at parades, cooling off in swimming pools, woofing down tons of hotdogs and potato salad at BBQ’s, and cap the day off by lighting or watching vibrant fireworks.

With all of the day’s festivities, the last thing you want to worry about is blood-sucking pests like mosquitoes and ticks. One of the best ways to keep these irritating bugs from ruining your holiday is to wear a good insect repellant when you are outdoors. With so many bug sprays on the market today, we are all left wondering which ones work the best; and which ones will simply drain our wallets and offer no relieve from flying pests.

Here are the top five best and worst mosquito repellants:

Top 5 Best Mosquito Repellants

Consumer Reports recently released their ranking for the best mosquito repellants on the market today. Factors used to determine the mosquito repellant rankings include: cost per ounce, percentage of active ingredient (DEET) hours of effectiveness, and damage to materials. Here are the rankings:

 

Best Mosquito Repellants
Best Mosquito Repellants

 

Note: Only four of the top five mosquito repellants offered protection for eight hours or more. Non-coincidently, these four repellants also contained the active ingredient DEET in varying levels; the most effective mosquito repellant on the market.

Top 5 Worst Mosquito Repellants

GoodGuide also recently released their mosquito repellant rankings based on health, environment, and society factors. They count the number of ingredients in each product that are categorized as low, medium or high health concern; and then factor in other negative information (such as regulatory restrictions) and any available positive information (such as third-party certifications) to assign product scores. Here are the five worst mosquito products as determined by GoodGuide:

 

Worst Mosquito Repellants
Worst Mosquito Repellants

 

Note: It’s important to note that all of the tested products will keep the mosquitoes from biting if you’re going to be outside for only a short period of time. Look for a highly rated product to protect you on longer excursions.

How Mosquito Repellants Were Tested

For these insect repellent reviews, courageous testers at an outside lab bared their arms in mosquito-filled cages and also let ticks crawl on them. Scientists recorded how long it took for mosquitoes to start biting and for ticks to crawl over treated areas.

Factors used to determine the mosquito repellant rankings include: cost per ounce, percentage of active ingredient (DEET) hours of effectiveness, damage to materials, and the health, environmental, and social performance of products and companies.

Mosquito_Close-up_Sucking_BloodMosquitoes & West Nile Virus

There are currently some 176 different species of mosquitoes living here in the United States; all sharing one common characteristic… They are irritating! One common misconception about mosquitoes is that they all bite and suck blood. The truth is, it’s only the adult female mosquitoes that have a long piercing mouthpart needed to suck blood. She does so in order to provide for her future brood of mosquitoes. Males differ from females by having feathery antennae and mouthparts not suitable for piercing skin. A mosquito’s principal food is nectar or similar sugar source.

One unfortunate characteristic about the mosquito is that they can carry the deadly West Nile Virus. The Center for Disease Control urges the public to take precautions when outdoors. Make sure you wear an insect repellent with DEET; dress in clothing that covers as much skin as possible, and completely avoid the outdoors between dusk and dawn if at all possible.

To stop mosquitoes from breeding on your property, make sure to eliminate any standing water like in puddles, in kiddie pools, in tire swings, and in bird fountains. The easiest way to remove mosquitoes on your property is to kill their larva. Mosquito dunks, or larvicides, are dropped into water killing larva and stopping mosquitoes from laying their eggs. Treatments last for 30 days and cover 100 square feet regardless of depth. Pest control professionals can also spray your property frequently to help control the mosquito population.

 

Have a happy and mosquito free Fourth of July!

 

Identify Troublesome Pests And Critters With These Four Cool Apps

SmartphoneThat moment when you see a cockroach scurrying across the floor or a rat running alongside the wall is a disgusting moment indeed, but at least we can identify these common critters and make the appropriate arrangements for their removal. In many cases, however, bugs and insects may venture inside the home that are not easily discernible, leaving home owners pondering whether it is a stray bug or if there is a potential infestation problem. Fortunately, an array of mobile applications has emerged to help make this process easier. In the following article, we will detail four apps that help users identify pests, insects and critters without having to first resort to expensive consultations from local pest control companies.

Critter Lookup

Designed to offer a plethora of animals and insects for easy inspection, Critter Lookup is a free application that is downloadable via the iTunes Store. Upon opening the app, you will be able to select by category: reptiles, insects, birds and mammals are all clearly categorized from the start. This free service allows you to browse thousands of species to determine what exactly is in or around your home. Can’t find what you are looking for? With the photo search feature, you can capture a photo of the critter in question, have it emailed to a Critter Control representative and receive an answer as to what it is in a short period of time.

Bug & Weed Identifier

Built by the insecticide company Spectracide as a free way to identify pests, the Bug & Weed Identifier can be used in a variety of applications. Not only will you be able to identify troublesome insects and critters, but you can also browse and determine what invasive species of weeds are growing around your home. In many cases, certain types of weeds and plants will attract critters – depending on your circumstances, addressing both of these elements may prove to be a better approach. With detailed descriptions as well as treatment plans provided, using this app makes perfect sense for ridding the home of pests.

Bayer Pest Spotter

Another big name in the world of insecticides is Bayer, and naturally it makes sense that they would develop an app for dealing with critters. Upon downloading this free app from the Android Marketplace, you will have access to detailed records on more than 70 pests. Not only is basic information available for each unwelcome visitor, but there is also a variety of treatment plans and lists of attractants for each critter. The Bayer Pest Spotter was developed specifically for farmers but serves as a great way to identify many common pests around the home as well.

Suburban Pest ID

Designed to be an interactive and comprehensive identifier for pests, Suburban Pest ID functions as a facilitator between qualified professionals and home owners who need help identifying various pests. Included in the app is a repository of information to help with basic identification, but the $0.99 cost of the app covers interactive identification from the people at Suburban Pest ID. Simply snap a photo and upload it: you will receive a response and proper identification in no time at all.

Today’s featured writer, Ryan Hall, works for Swat Wild Life, a firm that is number one choice for humane wildlife removal in Toronto. He’s a tech enthusiast and keeps tabs on all the latest apps that help keep insects and pests away from home.

Published by Thomas Ballantyne