Month: July 2019

Nettles and poop on the menu for the Eastern Comma butterfly, Polygonia comma

  Angled wings with the mottled pattern of a dead leaf on the underside help the comma butterfly escape the searching eyes of predators. Note the bright comma-shaped mark on the hindwing that gives the comma its name.

Angled wings with the mottled pattern of a dead leaf on the underside help the comma butterfly escape the searching eyes of predators. Note the bright comma-shaped mark on the hindwing that gives the comma its name.

 

Stinging nettles and feces don’t make Dr. Oz’s list for the ultimate keto diet, but for caterpillars and adults of the comma butterfly, these foods are just fine. Let’s return to Shenandoah National Park where last week we met tiger butterflies. This week we arrive at the picnic ground at mile post 62.8 for a visit with the clever comma butterfly. Here at the east end of the picnic grounds a trail descends to the spectacular South River Falls, the third highest waterfall in the park. As the trail snakes deeper into the gorge, the understory of a maturing deciduous forest is covered by stinging nettles. These members of the Urticaceae, with their stinging spines and tender leaves, wear the telltale signs of leaf-munching insects: sections missing from the margins, small and large holes riddling leaf blades. On one nettle we spotted the beautiful comma caterpillar basking in the dim light of the forest. Festooned with stout spines, a potent defense against the tender mouths of vertebrate predators, the caterpillar seemed content to rest in plain sight. Nearby, another late instar larva strolled across lichen colored stones, perhaps on its way to find a tender-leaved nettle for dinner. Early stages of the comma are not so bold and hide beneath leaves when not feeding.  

Is this gorgeous comma caterpillar dashing off to find more food?

A little further down the trail we met hikers accompanied by their friendly canine companions. Fortunately, these pooches left deposits of former meals in small and large piles along the trail. Nutrient rich vertebrate scats are used by a variety of insects, including other brush-footed butterflies and broad-headed bugs we met in previous episodes.  Dung is a food source particularly rich in nitrogen, an element necessary for the growth and development of all living organisms, including insects. Commas have added scat to their menu, which also includes rotting fruit and carbohydrate-rich tree sap.

Watch as a pair of comma butterflies battle to see who can be ruler of the dung.

Stout spines help defend the comma caterpillar from attacks from hungry predators.

Stout spines help defend the comma caterpillar from attacks from hungry predators.

While comma caterpillars are protected by nasty spines, adult commas use another form of defense – crypsis. Unlike other butterflies and moths whose wings have smooth rounded margins, comma butterflies and their kin have forewings and hindwings bearing deep notches that break-up the typical butterfly outline. This gives rise to the common name for these butterflies that are known as angle wings. In addition to the uncharacteristic body outline, the underside of the comma’s wings strongly resembles a dead leaf. This masquerade helps the resting comma avoid detection by the searching eyes of hungry predators. Fortunately, throughout its range in the DMV the comma has two generations each year so there is still plenty of time to go for a hike, find some scat, and enjoy the antics of the marvelous comma butterfly.

Acknowledgements

Bug of the Week thanks Dr. Shrewsbury for spotting the peripatetic comma larva that inspired this episode and Dr. Burghardt for confirming the identification of the larva. The marvelous web site Butterflies and Moths of North America was used as a reference for this episode.

This post appeared first on Bug of the Week

Swallowtail soiree: Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly, Papilio glaucus

  It’s easy to see why it’s called a tiger.

It’s easy to see why it’s called a tiger.

 

One of the real treasures of the Washington metropolitan region is nearby Shenandoah National Park in northern Virginia. Over the next few weeks we will visit several remarkable six-legged denizens of the park and learn about their fascinating strategies for survival.

A meadow of wild bergamot in bloom becomes an early morning nectar paradise for eastern tiger swallowtails and other pollinators. Both light colored and mimetic dark colored females were common in the meadow.

In recent summers past, insect lovers lamented the scarcity of charismatic moths and butterflies around yards and gardens. This year giant silk moths like Cecropia, Promethea, and Luna moths, as well as several of their butterfly kin, seem to be enjoying a renaissance. While meandering by a meadow filled with bergamot and other native wildflowers, scads of magnificent butterflies, bumble bees, and other native pollinators were busy at work just moments after sunrise. Preeminent among the pollinators were scores of eastern tiger swallowtails, so named for their dazzling wing color pattern of alternating bands of yellow and black. Forces of nature that underlie upswings and downturns in populations of butterflies are not fully understood, but an abundance of high quality food for caterpillars, favorable temperatures for growth of larvae and foraging of adults, and a relative absence of natural enemies benefit butterflies. Butterflies visit flowers for nectar, a primary source of carbohydrates needed to power them through the landscape in search of mates and suitable food plants for their young. Females live only a few days in the wild and deposit small eggs on leaves of suitable larval trees including tulip poplars, cherries, ashes, magnolias, and several other species.

Young tiger swallowtail larvae resemble bird droppings.

Young tiger swallowtail larvae resemble bird droppings.

Tiger swallowtail larvae are masters of disguise. As you might imagine, plump juicy caterpillars are delicacies for a variety of birds, reptiles, and small mammals. One way to gain protection from these hungry beasties is to engage in the art of deception. The inconspicuous swallowtail egg hatches into a caterpillar that masquerades as a bird dropping. Even hungry predators like birds are unlikely to connect bird droppings with dinner, and dressing as a bird dropping is a very clever disguise for a juicy caterpillar. As the swallowtail grows larger and more apparent, a different subterfuge is used.

Large creepy eyespots of older swallowtail caterpillars frighten would-be predators.

Large creepy eyespots of older swallowtail caterpillars frighten would-be predators.

The second trick is to be bold and look dangerous like a snake. The latter stages of the tiger swallowtail caterpillar bear two large eyespots on their back. Eyespots are not true eyes, but only patterns of colors on the skin of the insect. Look closely at these. The eyespots are remarkably complete with pupils and irises. Viewed head-on, the larva of the tiger swallowtail looks like a green viper with very large eyes. Remember, snakes and birds are mortal enemies. Snakes often capture birds for dinner. Confronted by a sinuous creature with very large, scary eyes a bird may opt to seek its dinner elsewhere. The caterpillar’s trickery allows it to live another day.

 The adult tiger swallowtail engages in a ruse of its own. Throughout much of the range of the eastern tiger swallowtail, a second species of swallowtail shares flowers and airspace. The pipevine swallowtail, Battus philenor, has a black dorsal surface that is easy to recognize. Caterpillars of the pipevine swallowtail eat plants in the pipevine family that contain repellent chemicals called aristilochic acids. Larvae store these noxious acids and pass them along to adult butterflies. This imparts a nasty flavor to the butterfly and predators learn to avoid them. In parts of its range where pipevine swallowtails are common, the clever tiger swallowtail evolved a dark color pattern that resembles the coloration of its unpalatable cousin. Ah, but only the female of the species employs the dark colored ruse. These mimics gain protection from predators that have learned not to tangle with darkly colored distasteful butterflies. This week on a bright summer day when you see the gorgeous yellow and black tiger swallowtails in the meadow or your garden, know that you are company to a true master of disguise.

Acknowledgements

We thank Drs. Shrewsbury and Burghardt for providing images for this week’s episode. The delightful books and articles “Secret Weapons” by T. Eisner, M. Eisner, and M. Siegler, “Butterflies” by P.A. Opler and G.O Krizek and “Butterfly Ecology” by L.E. Gilbert and M.C. Singer were used as references for this episode.

This post appeared first on Bug of the Week

Carpenter Ant Populations on the Rise

Rainy Spring Weather is Driving Carpenter Ants Inside Connecticut Homes

Residents and business owners in Glastonbury, Connecticut, have experienced significant rainfall this spring — much like the rest of New England and the majority of the Northeast.

And ants, which are typically thought to be harmless but actually can cause real problems, are thriving thanks to the rain-heavy spring.

This is especially true with carpenter ants and carpenter ant infestations.

Carpenter Ant Identification in the Home

Carpenter ants are larger-sized ants and can range in color, typically dull black, red, or muddy brown.

Unlike most ant species, carpenter ants have a single node and a smooth thorax.

Another identifying characteristic of carpenter ants is the presence of wings. During the carpenter ants’ mating season, swarmers — which are winged carpenter ants responsible for reproduction — surface to mate.

With this in mind, it is not uncommon to see “flying ants” in your house or business.

Carpenter ant swarmers have two sets of wings which are located on the thorax above the pests’ waist. A carpenter ant swarmers’ job is simple — mate to form new colonies.

These colonies can grow to alarming sizes.

“An average carpenter ant nest is between ten thousand and twenty thousand ants,” Catseye Pest Control technician John Crowley told NBC Connecticut in a recent interview.

A carpenter ant nest will typically hold all stages of ants: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult worker carpenter ants.

There are also satellite colonies which are typically comprised of larvae and mature pupae.

With the staggering number of carpenter ants in each colony, an infestation and severe amount of carpenter ant damage is likely to occur.

Carpenter Ant Damage & Frass

If an infestation is not dealt with, it can lead to extreme carpenter ant damage throughout the home or business.

Carpenter ant damage typically begins when a colony in close proximity of your house or business finds an attractive piece of moist or decaying wood. This species of ant is most likely to go after wood structures or enter through damp or damaged wood near the foundation.

“The standard criteria for nesting carpenter ants is wood that has been effected by moisture,” Catseye Pest Control technician Paul Dube, A.C.E. explained. “Once inside, these ants will excavate smooth galleries and discard the wood shavings out of the nest creating piles of frass, which will also contain body parts of dead carpenter ants.”

Carpenter ants prefer to build their nests in wood that contains moisture, which means the significant amount of rainfall this year has created the ideal scenario for the pest.

The pest will chew tunnels into the wood to build their nests, leaving the wood weakened, hollowed, and vulnerable to collapse.

While damage can be visible at times from the outside, it is more frequently found inside the wood and therefore more difficult to detect.

“If the frass is visible, it’s a sure indication a carpenter ant colony is in the area,” Dube, A.C.E. said. “Sometimes this frass is hidden behind walls, so locating areas of moisture will help lead you to the carpenter ants.”

Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood, but instead discard the wood as they create tunnels and build nests.

Professional Carpenter Ant Treatment & Control

Carpenter ant infestations can be difficult to eradicate on your own as this species of ant is known for building satellite nests in various places.

So even if you were to eliminate one or two carpenter ant nests, it is probably that the pest has created satellite nests in other areas that you have not found.

With this difficulty in mind, Catseye Pest Control has created a carpenter ant treatment and control program.

Our goal is to protect your investment by providing award-winning customer service and a superior level of protection from carpenter ants.

Catseye’s tried and true process for pest and carpenter ant infestations includes:

  • Cost-free inspection
  • Custom-tailored carpenter ant eradication solution
  • Integrated Pest Management elimination methods

If you suspect your home or business is suffering from a carpenter ant infestation or carpenter ant damage, contact our pest management professionals immediately.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

Common Animal Damage Threats to Businesses

Wildlife Damage Management & Control

If you’re a business owner, it’s important to know the different threats to your livelihood.

This includes the threat of nuisance wildlife, which can potentially cause danger to humans and damage to property.

Protecting your investment before something serious (and expensive) happens is the best course of action to take for wildlife damage control — and it’s essential for business owners of every industry.

Nuisance Wildlife That Can Harm Businesses

Changes in weather, threats from predators, and the search for food can lead to nuisance wildlife trying to access your commercial business, office space, restaurant, or other form of business structure.

Depending on the nature of your business, this can be quite detrimental.

Medical facilities, restaurants, and hotels can face closures if deemed necessary by the local health department for unsafe and/or unhealthy conditions until the wildlife and rodent infestation has been rectified.

Raccoon Damage Can Impact Businesses

Raccoons will eat almost anything they can get their paws on, which can be an issue for farmers and businesses in the food industry.

Fruits, berries, livestock feed, even garbage can become a tasty meal for the masked critter.

Aside from eating or damaging crops, raccoons can also cause substantial damage to buildings as they try to gain access so they can build a nest.

When a raccoon builds a nest, they may create fire hazards if the nest is in a vent.

Raccoon damage also comes in the form of chewed wires, which can cause a short-circuit in electrical outlets.

Raccoon droppings are also a cause for concern for business owners. The critter is known for carrying various diseases and parasites, which can be transmitted through droppings.

With these concerns in mind, raccoon removal and exclusion is an important investment for any business owner.

Squirrel Damage Impacting Business

Squirrels are small in stature, but these critters are stronger and more destructive than their appearance lets on.

Using overhanging branches, utility lines, or climbing up the side of the building, damage caused by squirrels can cost business owners tens of thousands of dollars, or more.

They’ve been known to chew through roofs and even burn entire structures to the ground by way of an out-of-control blaze that started with chewing an electrical wire.

But they can be stopped.

Typical points of entry for squirrels include gable vents, soffits, and dislodged siding. Squirrels might also try entering through crevices in stone foundations.

They’ll chew and claw preexisting openings so that they become large enough to fit through and enter a building.

Once a squirrel has found a way into a basement, wall, crawlspace, or another area in a building, the critter will look for an area to build a nest, and the necessary materials to make it comfortable for their kits, or baby squirrels.

Diseases spread by squirrels are also a concern for business owners.

Among the viruses associated with squirrels include Leptospirosis, which can lead to kidney damage, liver failure, and respiratory distress.

With that in mind, property damage by squirrels can become a serious issue for business owners and requires professional squirrel removal and exclusion.

Bat Damage Can Impact Businesses

Even though bats are thought of as nature’s pest control, it doesn’t mean the rodent can’t damage your building.

This critter can access buildings through openings, gaps, and preexisting damage in the roofline, fascia, even chimneys.

Bat damage can include destroyed insulation, chewed wires, and scratched walls.

While bats can damage buildings in the ways we commonly think of, their droppings and urine can cause damage to insulation and drywall that business owners need to keep in mind.

Bat droppings, known as guano, can lead to an ammonia-like smell. Piles of guano are also a breeding site for fungus which can lead to histoplasmosis.

These fungal spores can lead to weakened immune systems, respiratory failure, and flu-like symptoms.

The potential threat of bat-related diseases, and because they are a protected species, makes professional bat removal essential.

Bird Damage Can Impact Businesses

With hundreds of bird species inhabiting North America, business owners need to be mindful of the damage birds can cause to their building(s) and property.

Birds are known for taking advantage of sheltered areas found throughout your business. These spaces can include the roof overhang, window ledges, and balconies.

Some birds, like pigeons, will even build their nests on air conditioning units.

Depending on the location and the weight of the nest, it can cause damage to the area while also impacting the structural integrity of the building.

Bird droppings, which have a high acidic level, can also lead to damage to building, roof, tar-based materials, and to equipment and machinery on the property.

In the instances where woodpeckers have taken over, the bird can cause severe structural damage to buildings simply by pecking — or drumming on the building.

Animal Damage Management Services

Wildlife and pest management professionals are trained in wildlife damage control and exclusion techniques that are safe, permanent, and environmentally friendly.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

What Eats Ticks?

Learn What Animals Eat Ticks to Help Remove Ticks from Your Yard

Ticks are blood-sucking pests that just won’t go away.

But they’re also a dangerous, evolving ectoparasite that seemingly has a new tick species to watch out for every year, making it even more difficult to prevent bites and potential health hazards.

With the recent upswing in cases of Lyme disease, and the increased tick population, it’s important to identify ways to protect yourself and your property from these blood-suckers.

We know certain animals, like field mice, have contributed to the increased and evolving tick population throughout the Northeast United States in places like New York, Massachusetts, and the rest of New England, but also across most of the country, too.

Mice carry the host bacteria for Lyme disease, which is acquired by ticks in the wild when they feed on an infected mouse.

But there hasn’t been a specific species of animal that has been effective in significantly decreasing the tick population, unfortunately.

Some animals can help limit the tick population naturally, and it’s helping people and families keep their outdoor areas at home a bit safer.

Animals That Eat Ticks

There are a large number of animals that eat ticks.

In recent years people have begun raising a few of these animals as pets on their property to lower the population and stay safe from ticks. Some other tick-eating animals aren’t raised as pets but can still be appreciated for their assistance in keeping ticks from completely taking over.

So, whether you have considered adding a few more animals to your family or you’re simply curious as to what animals eat ticks, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common and effective natural tick exterminators.

Ants & Amphibians

If there are wetlands or a creek behind your home or business inhabited by frogs or other amphibians, it could hold some benefits for the property.

Some natural predators of ticks include ants, frogs, lizards, and other critters that prey on small insects near water. And we know how much the mosquitoes love wetlands, too, as they thrive in these areas (and find a way to take it out on us humans).

Furthermore, most of the above-mentioned predators do not exclusively feed on ticks. They occasionally eat ticks, which unfortunately will not reduce the tick population as much as we would like.

Fire ants can be effective at eliminating ticks, but they bring their own danger as they will sting and bite if they feel threatened.

It should be noted, that pests like these can lead to an ant infestation. It’s important to realize that having a few around can benefit the area when they snack on ticks, but it can be a problem if there are too many — especially if you find them in your home or office.

So, it’s a bit of give-and-take in the realm of ants, amphibians, and wetlands.

Birds That Eat Ticks

Birds such as quails, chickens, guinea fowl, and wild turkeys have been known to eat ticks.

Chickens

Chickens are a form of natural tick control because of their eating habits. They tend to eat what is in the grass, which is where ticks primarily reside.

But they also have to get around the property to be most effective.

If chickens are restricted to a coop or a small area, their tick control will be less effective. The best way for chickens to eat ticks is if they can roam free on the property.

Unfortunately, this could also result in damage to your property if the chickens begin to scratch and destruct your garden and landscaping. Roosters have been known to get aggressive at times, too, especially as they get older.

Guineafowl

Guineafowl are birds that are native to Africa but have become an accepted pet-like poultry in the United States.

They have a natural pest and tick control ability because they feed on insects, including ticks. Guineafowl roam as a pack in grassy areas and will eat together in one area, which works well for deer tick control.

Because of this, guineafowl are typically better at tick control than chickens.

Many people will also use chickens and guineafowl as a form of tick control because the birds get along well.

Wild Turkeys

Wild turkeys have been thought of as a potential tick predator because they enjoy eating small, crawling insects.

And since they have an expansive pallet, wild turkeys eat pretty much anything, including ticks.

Most importantly, though, is the fact that, while turkeys and other birds that eat ticks enjoy making a meal of the pest, it is unfortunately not enough to eliminate the population in your yard or property effectively.

Do Opossums Eat Ticks?

Surprisingly, opossums eat a high number of ticks compared to other animals that prey on them.

So much so that the grooming habits of opossums acts like a vacuum cleaner for the ticks that latch onto them. These marsupials groom themselves regularly, much like a cat. And it helps feed them.

Opossums can eat up to 5,000 ticks in one week and are extremely efficient when it comes to foraging for and eliminating ticks.

Benefits of Professional Tick Control

Unfortunately, none of these animals have a tick-only diet and aren’t a likely one-off solution for a tick issue.

The most effective form of tick control and infestation elimination comes from licensed and experienced pest control technicians that use high-quality and eco-friendly elimination products that will significantly decrease the pest population but also keep your family and property safe in the meantime.

Catseye Pest Control understands that a tick infestation can leave you with a less-than-safe feeling. It is our mission to restore your peace of mind.
We do that with our Organic Tick & Mosquito Control treatment service safely kills the ticks on your property while also creating a barrier to prevent ticks from entering your lawn or home in the future.

Catseye’s process to preventing ticks from taking over property includes:

  • Beginning with a free, detailed pest inspection of the home/business and property. During this time, we can provide helpful tips to prevent further tick infestations and tick exposure.
  • Applying a fogging application that will eliminate the tick population found on your property. This application acts as a barrier for wooded areas surrounding the property. This solution is safe for the environment, while providing a thorough treatment that will eliminate ticks.

If you are dealing with a tick infestation in your yard, it is likely that you will find ticks on your body or in your pet’s fur when you go inside.

Once a tick infestation has made its way indoors, it can be a nightmare for homeowners and business owners.

Contacting our pest management professionals can help alleviate a tick problem safely and efficiently.

Trained and licensed pest technicians will do a full inspection to identify areas where pest activity is high and walk you through the possible solutions to your pest problems.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

This website nor its owners are an actual service provider, this website is a referral service. When you place a phone call from this website, it will route you to a licensed, professional service provider that serves your area. For more information refer to our terms of service.

© SFXPest.com

Call Now Button(877) 959-3534