Do all spiders spin webs?

Spider webs are some of the most intricate creations of nature in existence. The way they are made and they way that spiders utilize them, is absolutely incredible. Today, we are going to talk about how spider silk is made and how they use it. It should be known, that all spiders make silk, but not all spiders use that silk to make webs. Other uses of silk include: climbing, building walls for burrows, protection for egg sacs, transportation, and catching prey. Spiders transport by attaching an end of the silk to one side of a tree branch and dangling off the other, then letting go and moving with the wind; this is known as kiting. They also use the silk to “fish” in rivers and such “throwing a line” and catching what sticks. The use of the silk, completely depends upon the type of spider and their role in the wild. Different silks have different uses depending on the niche of the spider as well, some are sticky while others are impeccably strong. Now that we have some semblance of the who, what and why, we can gain a better understanding of how spiders create this stuff!  Spider silk is made within the spider through glands in it’s abdomen. The silk starts as a liquid made out of proteins and as the spider releases the silk out of its abdomen it becomes the fiber that is visible to us, the web. Spiders are so much more complex than the “scary” arachnid we see on the outside. 

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! 

 

How is an ant hill made?

Ant hills are some of the most intricate nests in the animal kingdom, yet hardly anyone knows their inner workings, or much about them at all.  I know I always thought that ants just, pile some dirt wherever they want and then live in that hill, but it’s actually far more sophisticated. Here’s the real intricacy behind how ant colonies build their homes. First, they search for the most adequate spot, which needs to be most ground, close to water, but not too close for obvious reasons. Once they have found the perfect spot, the ants will begin to dig their home.

A nest is separated into chambers, with the bottom holding the Queen Ant and her eggs. As the ants carve this out they will bring the dirt to the surface and stack it around the entrance which makes the hill we see above ground. They create a system of chambers and tunnels underground which aids in the organization of the hierarchies of the colony. The chambers stack in a sort of staggering fashion to avoid multiple cave-ins, and each chamber is separated by ant type. There is a chamber for worker ants, a chamber for soldier ants, etc.  This helps the ants be able to work together in a more productive way and helps them do what they need to do to continue their circle of life.

What can eat a spider?

When we think of spiders, we usually think of them as hunters, the top of the food chain, the “Big Kahuna” if you will. Well, believe it or not, there are many types of creatures that go after these bad boys, and today we identify who can size up against the eight-legged menace.

Astonishingly, spiders have a lot of enemies aside from humans. Spiders seem to be at the top because of how many types of insects they dominate, but in reality many creatures stalk spiders as prey, as is the circle of life.

 

There is a niche group of creatures called insectivores that mainly hunt insects and spiders. A few insectivores around us include, bats, lizards, frogs, rats, and birds. Spiders stand little to no chance with these animals, and thus the above insectivores are some of the biggest predators of spiders! 

Now, when it comes to invertebrates, spiders are the boss. In fact, they are ranked one of the top predators ever. The only small creatures that are known to eat spiders are other spiders and wasps. Though spiders rarely eat one another due to the hunt, the most common time another spider will eat its own kind is because a female spider eats its mate in order to aid their young. Though this is the most common occurrence of spider eating spider action, it doesn’t happen all that often. The real killer in this category is the wasp! Wasps are well known to stalk, kill and eat spiders. They do so by stinging and paralyzing the spider, and then burying the spider with its eggs and once the baby wasps hatch, it’s dinner time and they chow down on the spider. 

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? 

      

Why do some things glow under a UV/black light?

What do scorpions and teeth have in common? They both glow under a UV/black light! If you think about it, we see these types of lights quite often, in amusement parks, Halloween, bowling alleys, and even pest control. The real question is why do some things glow under UV/black lights, while others don’t?

 

A black light is actually a type of UV light, there are many types of UV or Ultraviolet lights, but the one in a black light is specifically UV-A. Ultraviolet light is a type of light with a less than normal wavelength, meaning it is out of the the visibility spectrum. UV lights are the the same type of light that emits from the sun. When these UV lights hit and reflect off of certain things, interesting reactions will happen. For example, when UV rays from the sun hit your skin you could get sunburned. In the case of a black light, when the UV light hits the chemical element phosphorus, it reacts by glowing. “Coincidentally”, phosphorus is common in plasma screen televisions, certain fabrics, teeth, fingernails, and scorpions! So if you’re ever at a bowling alley and your shirt, teeth, and fingernails start to glow, the answer is phosphorus!

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 To Keep Pests Out Of Your Christmas Decorations

The holidays are in full swing, and before you know it you will be left with the daunting task of putting away all of those Christmas decorations. Did you know that those beautiful Christmas wreaths, lights, ceramic nativities, and even your artificial Christmas tree can be a favorite hideout for pests all year long?

There are a few simple and inexpensive steps you can take now, so you don’t end up with a serious pest infestation later. The last thing you want is to create a safe haven for rodents, cockroaches, silverfish, spiders or scorpions.

How To Keep Pests Out Of Your Christmas Decorations 

container of red christmas baubles

Use proper storage bins. When storing your Christmas decorations, avoid using cardboard boxes. The tape, cardboard, and glue are a favorite food among roaches and silverfish. They can easily slip through the crevices of these cardboard boxes too. Opt instead for plastic tubs with tight fitting lids. These will surely help keep the bugs out of your decorations.

Use a Christmas tree bag. Again, toss the cardboard box your artificial Christmas tree came in, and use a Christmas tree bag that will tightly zip. Rodents like mice, squirrels, and rats love nesting in artificial trees year round. These trees provide pests with a safe shelter, much like they’d find in the wild.

Quickly throw away your real tree. That wonderful smelling Evergreen you chopped down on a family outing needs to be quickly disposed of; before rodents and other pests take notice, and take cover inside.

Seal linens in plastic bags.  Your stockings and Christmas tablecloths can offer a quick meal for pests like clothing moths, and cockroaches. Make sure items like these are sealed in plastic bags to keep out any humidity which can also attract pests.

Christmas_Tree_BoxThrow away edible decorations. I know you spent hours on that beautiful gingerbread house you made, but pests like mice and rats will quickly make a meal of it. The same goes for those candy canes you used to decorate the tree. Edibles will only attract pests.

Inspect storage area. Before you start stacking those plastic tubs of Christmas decorations in your garage, basement, or attic; look for existing signs of pests nearby. Rodent droppings, spider webs, and dead insects are a dead give away of a pest problem.

Clean, clean, clean. After inspecting your storage area for signs of pests, and before you start stacking the plastic tubs, make sure the area is clean. This simple act can go along way in keeping the bugs and pests away.

Get pest control. If you see any signs of pests where you are storing your Christmas decorations, get help from an Austin exterminator. Scorpion control, roach control, and spider control treatment plans can keep those pests away from your décor all year round. You don’t want to get bit or stung when you get them out for next season.

Happy Holidays From Blog Pest Control

All of us bug guys here at blogpestcontrol.com would like to wish you all Happy Holidays, and all the best for 2015. May your Holidays, and your Christmas decorations be pest free.

 

5 Things Your Pest Control Technician Wants You to Understand

exterminatorThere are a lot of misconceptions about what pest control is and what to expect from your technician. No one wants to see bugs or rodents on their property, particularly if they have made their way indoors. However, it is important to stay calm and listen to the expertise of the technician that comes out to service your property. They can help you understand how to prevent future problems and address current issues. To get you started, the following tips will clue you in to five things that pest control technicians wish their customers understood.

1. A technician is not an “exterminator.”

What do you think of when you hear the word “exterminator”? Most people envision someone letting loose a toxic cloud of chemicals on their property in an effort to get rid of all pests in the immediate vicinity. However, while the word “exterminator” is commonly used to refer to pest control technicians, it is not an accurate way to describe the work they do for you. Technicians come out, assess the problem, and put together a comprehensive plan to safely ward off bugs and other “critters.”

2. Keeping your kitchen clean doesn’t guarantee against pests.

There are a lot of things that make your house attractive to pests, and food is just one of them. For example, bugs also like moisture; they may target your house because they have access to water. It is important to walk around your property, identify areas where moisture is pooling, and figure out how to address the problem. Keeping your home clean is another positive step, but don’t be surprised if doing so doesn’t keep pests out entirely.

3. One time treatments are a band aid, not a permanent fix.

One time pest control treatments often make an immediate, positive difference in your pest activity. However, it is important to note that just because you don’t see any bugs right now doesn’t mean they can’t come back. And, they probably will. If you are serious about getting pests under control at your property, it is best to sign up for a recurring service. Look for someone that offers free call backs in-between visits, so you always know you are covered.

4. Technicians need your help.

When a technician comes out to treat, they may also make recommendations to the homeowner. In order for the problem to be treated effectively, those recommendations must be followed. Even something as simple as closing the garage door can make a big difference. However, it is also important to note that homeowners should not try and take matters into their own hands. “Helping” the technician by applying your own product may have disastrous consequences, like contaminating the professional treatment the technician put down.

5. Some pest activity is good.

No homeowner wants to spot a termite infestation. Similarly, roaches and ants are also an unwelcome nuisance. That said, there are some “pests” that you might want to see around your property. Ladybugs, for example, can help gardeners get rid of pesky aphids. Even most spiders are helpful, as they eat other insects. Still, if you are concerned, call and speak to a technician to see what they recommend.

It is possible to successfully rid your home of bugs and rodents. However, in order to do so, you must find and cooperate with a knowledgeable pest control technician.

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.