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.

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Pest Control: The Label Is The Law

Exterminator SprayingWhat’s in a label? For pest control operators there is much more to find in a label than just words; there is law. Each and every chemical used in pest management has certain purposes and conditions that companies must follow when handling. These policies are sustained to maintain the safety of clients and proper extermination. Labels carry strict, unbendable outlines for usage, and along with this strict adherence of policies come many implied expectations and qualities.

Standards: Purpose & Trust

When a pest control operator is solicited, its purpose is to regulate chemicals according to their labels. Anyone can smash a roach with a sandal, but mass extermination and the science of the chemicals involved is the operator’s main purpose. This purpose is the core to the company. Clients that hire professionals do it out of trust. This trust stems from the implication that the exterminator will practice proper application methods on the job. The trust that labels truly will be law. Each exterminator goes into a job with a purpose and a sphere of trust. The purpose to properly interpret the company’s pesticides and the trust that they will do it as trained.

Homeowners Not Meeting The Standard

So what happens when homeowners decide to take pest control into their own hands? Is the label still the law? In Elizabeth Whitfield’s case, the label certainly was not her priority. She was using some bug foggers to get rid of her single-wide mobile home’s pest problem, and those ended up not killing the bugs, but killing her 10-month old baby. Each fogger she used was meant for a much bigger home and while she used 2 to 3 a week, the normal use was of 1 per month or few months.

So is the standard for pest control the same for licensed companies as for homeowners? It should be, but unfortunately, and hypocritically, it is not. Over-the-counter pesticides are not as regulated as they should be for homeowners, yet important chemicals used by professionals are constantly banned and restricted to the pest control market. Chemicals used by pest control operators can be very dangerous, but so can in-home treatments. All labels, whether used by professionals or used at home, should be treated as law to maintain the safety and proper outcome desired.

Bug Control: DO-It-Yourself?

Insecticide sprayLabels are a priority when dealing with pesticides. Many of them can be complex and should only be treated by professionals. The best extermination will only be achieved with the best service. Most guys don’t read the label when doing it at home, and this is what causes accidents; many severe accidents. Pest control abuse is far too common among people and homeowners choosing to neglect professional help, but the expectation that professionals will read the label is more than just an expectation, it’s a law; a law that should be applied in all aspects of pesticide usage and all pest control.

Saving The Bees: How EU’s Pesticide Ban Affects The US

Bees pollinating a basil (?) plant. I had a ha...

Pollination plays a crucial role in food production, which means that bees are intricately tied to the success of the process. Over the last decade, however, concern for these small pests has grown increasingly urgent, as bee colonies continue to see huge hive losses. The EU took action recently decided to ban neonicotinoids, the most popular insecticide in the world, for two years. Many believe that neonicotinoids are linked to the hive losses, including the European Food Safety Agency.

Beekeepers, charged with the task of moving hives into California to fertilize almond trees this year, scrambled to make that process happen. The situation on the west coast highlighted an issue that could have far-reaching consequences around the world. What does it all mean?

California Almond Orchards

Almonds are big business in California; they are the number one overseas agricultural export. The orchards are laid out across hundreds of thousands of acres, and in order to make sure the trees are pollinated properly, approximately one and half million bee colonies must be brought in to do the job. This year, because of the hive losses, the pollination process was only achieved through a nationwide plea to bring in the necessary number of bees.

Bee hive

Concerns For Food Production

The almond orchards are unique, in that they need a significant number of bees in order to complete the pollination process. Therefore, although other crops have not yet been affected by hive losses, they will be if the current trend does not begin to reverse itself soon. Some beekeepers reported losing half of their hives this year, and the bees that were left were not always as efficient and effective as bees from previous colonies.

The European Commission is certainly taking the situation seriously. They recently decided to ban neonicotinoids, the most popular insecticide in the world, for two years. Many believe that neonicotinoids are linked to the hive losses, including the European Food Safety Agency. The move comes as scientists are speaking out about how a shortage of bees will affect worldwide food production. While neonicotinoids are certainly not the only factor in play, they do seem to confuse bees and make them less likely to find their way back to their hives. They could also make the pests more susceptible to diseases. Still, there is some debate about exactly how harmful neonicotinoids really are.

The queen bee in a hive.

U.S. Reaction

In response to EU’s ban and concerns raised by a number of commercial beekeepers and environmental advocacy groups, the Environmental Protection Agency is taking a second look at neonicotinoids. One way they hope to protect bees is by cutting back on how much neonicotinoid-contaminated dust is sprayed at planting time, since bees are particularly likely to come across the insecticide at that time.

Neonicotinoids are used prominently in the United States, particularly on corn, cotton, rice, grains, fruits and vegetables. The insecticide was widely accepted in the 90s because the risk of human exposure is low compared to previously used products. However, neonicotinoids remain present as plants grow and develop, which means there are a number of ways that bees could be exposed to them, something that was not considered when the insecticide was first introduced. Because of how frequently neonicotinoids are used, wild and domesticated bees are exposed to the insecticide often, which makes for a very uncertain future. Still, while neonicotinoids were present in damaged hives, the exact reason for hive losses can’t yet be pinpointed.

The only thing we know for certain is that there will be fewer bees this year than in years past. As the issue becomes more serious, both private citizens and Odessa pest control technicians are doing their part to help. Wild bees making a “nuisance” of themselves are more likely to be relocated than destroyed, which certainly helps. However, the losses of domesticated bees may be too great to overcome.

About the author: Chris is a blogger for a Texas based pest control company.

Published by Thomas Ballantyne

What Is Integrated Pest Management?

1382ps_02333.jpg
1382ps_02333.jpg (Photo credit: IRRI Images)

If you are reading this, you are either currently experiencing a pest problem, have dealt with one in the past, for some reason enjoy learning about random niche industries, or are banging on your keyboard yelling at the Google for misdirecting you. The term “pest” is the official term used to describe organisms detrimental to human activities and the unofficial term you once used to describe your little brother during the two hours after nap time. No one enjoys pests having free reign in their home anymore than you enjoyed having to sprint full speed after Justin through the middle of the grocery store during rush hour. But alas, pest control is an issue many homeowner must face at some point or another.

So what do you know about pest control? Other than the infinite catch-phrase puns and insect caricature logos, what actually goes into a pest control service? In many cases, pest control boils down to a couple dudes buying some really toxic materials and spraying them all over your house and property. Yippie! That sounds like fun! Good thing you don’t have any kids or pets… oh you do? There are laws in place to protect you on some capacity from irresponsible pesticide application, but ultimately, it is up to the consumer to do his or her due diligence when hiring a pest control company.

Despite the negative examples, there are, of course, some good guys in this industry. Shortly after World War II, scientists began developing what is known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This system takes a broad look at pest control and seeks to “integrate” a wide range of tactics, techniques, and research into controlling each species of pest, striving to achieve a “happy” balance of economic efficiency and environmental responsibility. To put that in terms that I can understand, IPM is all about killing bugs as efficiently as possible while taking into account peripheral effects on the surrounding environment. IPM is centered around six basic ideas.

1) Acceptable Pest Levels

Because IPM is a comprehensive strategy rather than an event-specific attack, it works to establish an “acceptable pest level” in any given context. Complete extermination is often impossible, so instead of living in denial and burning our home down with a flamethrower, we want to know how much of a given pest we can afford to allow in any given situation. Once this threshold is crossed, we then employ the most efficient techniques for returning the population to acceptable levels.

2) Preventative Cultural Practices

This one is pretty simple. It means we take an intelligent look at our surroundings and act accordingly. So if my home/farm/bat cave is located in the middle of a high-functioning, watermelon-destroying weed resort, I’m going to go ahead and refrain from planting an acre’s worth of watermelons. Or if I’ve already planted my watermelons, I’m going to have my farm designed in such a way that I can quickly isolate and quarantine an outbreak after some idiot flies overhead, dropping a new strain of watermelon-eating bacteria into my perfectly rounded delights. The keyword here is “preventative.”

Fort Custer Integrated Pest Management
Fort Custer Integrated Pest Management (Photo credit: U.S. Army Environmental Command)

3) Monitoring

I doubt I need to explain the term “monitoring” to you. However, you should know that this isn’t kindergarten-teacher-watching-you-pretend-to-sleep monitoring. This is science-nerd-in-high-school-chemistry-class monitoring. Records are kept. Eyes are strained. Complaints to management are made. Diligent monitoring is the cornerstone of IPM.

4) Mechanical Controls

When pests multiply beyond their acceptable limit, IPM uses giant robots to murder them with lasers. Well… that actually might be a slight exaggeration. What does happen is that simple techniques including hand-removal, barriers, vacuuming, or tilling are employed to break up the pests’ nonstop baby-making and put the population levels on decline.

5) Biological Controls

What’s the only thing cooler than laser-wielding, bug-killing robots? The answer, of course, is biologically engineered super-carnivores! What!? There aren’t any of those either!? Boring! Actually, this step is simply introducing natural predators of the targeted pest into the environment. This is a very calculated process, requiring significant research to ensure that more islands aren’t completely taken over by brown tree snakes. I’m looking at you Guam.

6) Responsible Pesticide Use

Remember at the beginning when we said IPM is all about killing bugs as efficiently as possible? This is the grand finale to that goal. If the only answer for addressing a bug problem is dirty, toxic, high-powered pesticide, than by golly, bring out the poison guns. To be fair, it’s a lot less gung-ho than the previous statement might lead you to believe, but I desperately needed to use the phrase “poison guns” in a professional article.

There you have it. I totally answered the question asked in the title, which is probably the first article you’ve read today where that is the case… so no complaining. If you got disillusioned at the end, check out Green Pest Management. It’s basically the same thing as IPM, but they use boring organic pesticides at the end instead of poison guns. Lame!

 

Author Bio
Tiffany Olson is an enthusiastic blogger who writes for small companies so that they may increase their online presence. This article was written on behalf of the good people over at Killroy.com and their work with pest control in Union City.

 

Your Pest Control Links For The Week

Your Pest Control Links For The Week

 

Ridding Your Pantry of Pests

If you’ve ever poured yourself a bowl of cereal in the morning; and found beetles, weevils or other pantry pests crawling around in your Cheerios; you know it can be quite a disturbing experience. Here’s some advice on getting rid of the uninvited guests. More…

Millipede Menace

This article offers some good advice on preventing millipedes. These pests smell awful, are dirty, leave stains, and can even disrupt electrical equipment. More…

Difference Between Waterbugs and Cockroach Infestations

For some insight on cockroaches and waterbugs, including what they look like, where they live, what they eat, and how to get rid of them, click here.

Proper Identification is the Key to Controlling Ants Populations in Louisiana

Louisiana has some 131 different species of ant, including the Raspberry Crazy ant. The key to controlling these ants is identifying the species. Different species of ant require different types of treatment form a pest control professional. More…

Pesticides Over the Years

Pesticides have evolved over the years. To read more about this evolution, click here.

There is a Wasp’s Nest Outside My Door! Now What?

If you ever have the misfortune of having a wasp or hornet nest in or around your home, take these steps before you get stung. More…

 

Pest Of The Week: Argentine Ant

 

Linepithema humilis, Argentine ant
Linepithema humilis, Argentine ant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Routinely found underneath the moist areas of your property, Argentine ants build their nests under rocks and other debris. They can also build nests inside your home, as they enter looking for their favorite sweets. Argentine ants are located in the Southeast U.S., Washington, Oregon, and California.

Argentine ants are a grayish-brown in color, and are approximately 1/8 inch long. Colonies can have multiple queens, and tens of thousands of worker ants, as different colonies join forces. These ants are notorious for driving out other ant species.

Argentine ants love anything sugary and sweet. These ant pests will commonly eat the nectar that plant aphids provide for them In exchange; Argentine ants will protect the aphids from other predators.

One of the most effective pest control approaches to exterminating the Argentine worker ants and queens is to actively bait this pest with poison; concealed in sugar. Once the Argentine ants have returned the bait to the nest, the remaining colony will soon die off.

 

America’s Newest Home Threat: The Kudzu Bug

Kudzu bugs are a relatively new sight in the south, arriving on the scene less than a year ago. As colder weather arrives, these pests are beginning to head indoors in search of warmth. It is important to remember, though, that the bugs should not be feared. They will not cause harm to either you or your property, although they do release a smell if they are stepped on, and their remains could leave a stain on your floor or countertops. If your home is showing signs of a kudzu bug infestation, the following information will help you manage your problem.

Complete a visual inspection of your property

You will not be able to entirely prevent kudzu bugs from congregating around your property. However, there are things that you can do to help. Spend an afternoon thoroughly examining the outer perimeter of your home. Look for cracks or crevices where the bugs could squeeze in; sealing up these holes should make a substantial difference in your infestation.

Consider the pros and cons of pesticide spray

Be aware that spraying pesticides is unlikely to be effective. Of course, spraying chemicals directly on the bugs will kill them, but the population is typically so large that simply spraying a few will not make a big difference in the grand scheme of things. You can spray around your door frames and windows if you would like, although it may be hard to target the right areas if you don’t have professional pest control knowledge.

If you do need to get rid of a few bugs quickly and you are interested in using a spray, look for something that has synthetic pyrethriod in the ingredient list; this will work the best to eradicate these pests. The names you are looking for include cyfluthrin, lamda-cyhalothrin, bifenthrin and permethrin. Those hoping to go green may be disappointed. Organic products generally don’t work that well with kudzu bugs, although if you are determined to give it a try, look for a product with pyrethrins in it.

While you may think it just a formality, it is always important to thoroughly go over the directions for any pesticide that you are using. A few precautions you may want to take include wearing protective eye gear and covering up or relocating any furniture, toys or other possessions in the path of the spray. Spraying is not a long term solution; it will kill the bugs that you are spraying, but it will not work to keep them away over time.

Use alternative indoor pest control methods

Spraying inside your home is basically ineffective, and you run the risk of pets or family members coming into contact with the poison. Therefore, the best tool to combat kudzu bugs is actually your vacuum cleaner. By sucking up the pests, you don’t have to worry about stepping on or crushing them to get rid of them. Be diligent about throwing out your bag, though; if you don’t switch it out on a regular basis, you will begin to notice a distinct odor.

A kudzu bug infestation can be very irritating. By using the tips included above, you may be able to get a handle on the problem without involving pest control specialists.

About the author: Mike owns and operates a Stamford Pest Control company, helping his clients deal with nasty and pesky home invaders like the kudzu bug.

 

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Ant Control – Professional Bug Pesticides

Transcript from Ant Control-Professional Bug Pesticides video:

Pest Control Professional and Ant Control Specialist Speaks: “What does Raid and professional sprays do? That’s what we want to talk about next. Let’s talk about this picture down here that I drew. Let’s pretend like this black mass is the colony itself, it’s where all the young are breeding. It’s where all the worker minors, the eighty percent of the colony, are thriving, right in here. Forgers will often times forge outside, but they’ll also forge inside, like on the floors or up on the counter tops. That’s what the little black dots represent.”

“Other bug companies use a pump can to pump up their spray, their standard bug spray, their insect spray, and they spray along the floorboards right here. If someone has an ant problem, they’ll spray right here. If it’s a really bad problem, they’ll tell the consumer to open up your cabinet and take all the stuff out, and spray all over in here, and they spray inside, everywhere. They even might spray up on the counter top. And they’re just using a general pesticide. Usually it’s some sort of a pyrethroid; that means it’s been dried from a chrysanthemum flower, very similar to the products that we use.”

“But, they’re spraying it all over here. And you’ve got to ask yourself, well, what does all of that spray do? And I’ll tell you what all that spray does. It will kill any ant that’s out right now at the time. But, this spray, as is Raid and most professional sprays, they’re all repellents. Ants can tell that they’re there, so ants will not cross them. In other words, the colony right here will just refuse to come out. They just won’t come out. And so what you’ll see is a consumer who’s had another pest control company, but if this house is in a neighborhood that’s infested with ants and they have ants, what’s going to happen is the guy comes in and sprays, everything’s cool for about three to six weeks. And then BAM, the ants are right back in the same place, or three feet to the right. Or the guy comes out and sprays and this colony moves, and it starts showing up in the kitchen, or the bathroom, or just some place other than where he sprayed. This is why people think that when you spray, bugs move from one location to the next.”

“Most pests can’t tell that the insecticides are down, but ants can, and they won’t cross it, so they’ll move their colony. Another thing that can happen is let’s say there’s another cabinet over here, right? This is the kitchen and there’s another cabinet over here. This is the pantry. And there’s a whole bunch of stuff in the pantry. And there were just a tremendous amount of forgers forging in here. And the guy says, well, I’m going to go to the source, and he sprays all over here. But, all of these ants can’t go back across the line, they won’t cross it again. So you actually have divided the colony. This is called budding, and what will happen is very likely one of these normal ants, one of these normal working ants will mutate slightly into a queen, and they’ll develop a new colony. It’s called budding.”

“You have to get the queen and you’ve got to get a large majority of their workers to successfully eliminate the colony.”

– Bulwark Exterminating Ant Control

Top 100 Pest Control Companies – Breaking Down PCT’s List

Bulwark Exterminating made it’s first appearance ever in the PCT Top 100 this year ranking #31. But being in the top 100 doesn’t make Bulwark a big company. Bulwark is still a little fish in a big pond. Dwarfed in size compared to Orkin and Terminix, Bulwark is still small enough to care, but big enough to do it right. Here is a break down of other stats from PCT’s Top 100 pest control service list.

http://66.181.99.28/PCT0511_top100list.aspx

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Scorpion Venom to the Rescue? Morphine? Pesticide?

Need Scorpion Extermination?Michael Gurevitz has been featured in a number of recent news reports for his research into practical and useful uses of scorpion venom. His research has found varying types of venom and varying effects based upon the chemical proprieties of the venom. Documenting and researching these properties has further proven that some toxins can target specific mammalian channels, and others will attack insect channels that are non existent in mammals, i.e. humans. But Michael hopes to take this information to a whole new level by identifying how these toxin interact with sodium channels, which make up mammal and insect nervous systems.  That information could lead to a pesticide based on scorpion venom and a morphine like medicine based on scorpion venom. But what are benefits of using scorpion venom and are there possible cons?

On the subject of venom toxins Raymond St. Leger, an entomologist at the University of Maryland, states that they are “a resource with almost limitless potential,…But you need a way of getting them into the insect.” Herein lies one problem. Genetically altering a plant to produce a similar compound to the scorpion venom will be useless as a pest control technique if ingesting the plant and its newly acquired compound does nothing to the pest because it is ingested rather than stung/injected into the blood stream. Exterminators that will hunt and manually inject the compound are going to hard to find. Clearly this is not the intent. The objective is to develop a pesticide that will be absorbed through an insect’s exoskeleton. The pest control products need to penetrate into the insects and attack their nervous systems, leading to paralysis and death. Determining the venom’s effective life span and how long it will take to be absorbed will determine the success of this natural alternative.  In order for a pesticide to be effective it must have a decent residual, something many natural products lack.

Individuals must further investigate the human health effects of occupational exposure. What dangers do these bio-pesticides and bio-insecticides poise with frequent and regular use to the applicators? What danger does this put on those that milk the scorpion’s venom? Adam Seever, put it this way, “I know it may seem backwards, but I don’t focus on how the products we use will effect my customers. I focus on whether they are safe for my technicians to use on a day in and day out bases. If my techs are safe then the customers will be safe as well.” On a pound per pound base is the scorpion venom more or less toxic then your average pest control product? Lastly, the most severe problems that occurs with products and even with scorpion toxins are caused by a mammals allergic reaction to the products. This varies on a case by case base, but one must wonder if this reaction would be higher in a pyrethrin based product or a scorpion based product.

The response that Michael Gurevite gave us on the potential allergy’s and dangers of the scorpion venom is as follows:

“In the venom of scorpions of the Buthidae family, to which the Israeli yellow scorpion belongs, one can find a large variety of peptide toxins that affect ion channels. We work on those that affect sodium channel. Among these toxins there are different classes divided according to their pharmacological effects (alpha and beta), and further divided to groups by their ability to compete for the same receptor site, and their activity toward mammals and insects. Some of the toxins would be active against practically all animals, some show preference for mammalian channels, and some are anti-insect selective. All these differences in activity and preference are those that interest us at the molecular/structural level.

The desert bark scorpions belong also to the family Buthidae, the most common is Centruroides sculpturatus in Southern US and Mexico. Their venom contains mostly toxins of the beta class that affect mammals and insects. We work on toxins of both the alpha and beta classes.”

Hopefully Micheal’s research pays off. It is very fascinating that he is documenting these effects and classifying them on a molecular level to the point that he can determine a “alpha” or “beta” class. This will in no doubt be beneficial in developing more pest solutions that will only effect insects and not humans. Or taking that one step further, that can target specific insect species.

And yes there is a sinister side of this in that we could use the scorpion’s sting against itself. Imagine the novel title now, “Scorpion’s recruited for Scorpion Control.” And homeowners that deal with scorpions would welcome the opportunity to use an effective scorpion insecticide against scorpion infestations in Phoenix, Austin, and Las Vegas. Especially using their closely related Buthidae family members for Scottsdale scorpion extermination.

There is also a potential that the research could lead to a scorpion based “morphine”, or other scorpion related health care products. Scorpion venom has even been tested in fighting off cancer. Could it be possible that a pesticide and a cancer “fighting” agent could use the same chemical makeup? Perhaps some day sooner than you think.

Bulwark Exterminating,1228 E Broadway, Mesa, AZ 85204 (480) 969-7474

Mesa Pest Control