Month: June 2020

Deerly departed: food for flesh-recycling carrion beetles – Margined carrion beetle, Oiceoptoma noveboracense, and American carrion beetle, Necrophila americana


A margined carrion beetle takes a break from eating flesh and maggots to glam for the camera.

A margined carrion beetle takes a break from eating flesh and maggots to glam for the camera.


Through no fault of their own, white-tailed deer are a major pest of ornamental plants in our suburban and rural landscapes. It is estimated that in the US, more than 20 million deer share the land with us. When I see a dozen or so bedding down in my backyard, I think most of these rascals live in Columbia, Maryland. Long gone are the wild predators, mountain lions and wolves, that once kept burgeoning deer populations in check. Encroachment of human development on natural habitats put deer in contact with humans and their gardens. The grazing pressure of deer in my neighborhood has defeated all attempts at growing unprotected vegetables. During the winter, my pansies were pillaged and my once glorious azaleas were reduced to skeletal pickets of denuded branches presenting a few sad blossoms this spring. Small saplings bear the scars and deformities dealt by young bucks removing velvet from their antlers. The growing tips of my hopeful sunflowers and blueberries are but a memory. With all the undesirable changes deer bring to the suburban landscape, what is the upside of this pariah?

A nocturnal jaunt near a carcass reveals a pretty American carrion beetle caught in the beam of a flashlight.

A nocturnal jaunt near a carcass reveals a pretty American carrion beetle caught in the beam of a flashlight.

One answer to this question appears in the final resting place of recently expired deer, the deerly departed so to speak. Several years ago while walking a field not far from a roadway traversing Etchison, Maryland, I noticed the earthly remains of a white-tailed deer resting in the tall grass, no doubt the unfortunate participant in an encounter with a vehicle on the nearby road. Upon closer inspection, I discovered a well-developed ecosystem of necrophagous insects making the most of the decaying bounty provided by the deer in its final act. Among the most prominent and abundant of these flesh eaters was Oiceoptoma noveboracense, commonly known as the margined carrion beetle. Along with flies and other species of beetles, carrion beetles provide an important ecosystem service by recycling the protein found in the flesh of dead animals. Carrion beetles are not usually the first to arrive at the carcass of a dead thing. This honor belongs to blow flies which often discover a body within minutes of its demise. Once colonized by blow flies, a dead animal will soon be writhing with maggots of flesh-eating flies. Maggots are an important source of food for adult carrion beetles. As they graze on the fleshy bounty, adult beetles occasionally deposit eggs in the soil near the carcass. Eggs soon hatch into larvae, youthful champions at consuming shreds of protein-rich flesh and internal organs of the deceased. By the time I happened across the deer, hundreds of beetle larvae were enjoying sustenance and shelter from the helpful deer.

In a previous episode we met bess beetles, one of the champion insect recyclers of wood. But in the wild more than wood is available for repurposing. Dead animals play an important role in food webs as rich sources of nutrients for the necrophagous species, eaters of the dead. Watch how a bountiful supply of deceased white-tailed deer reenters food webs with the assistance of flesh-eating carrion beetles.

A more recent discovery of a disarticulated deer along a bike trail revealed the carrion beetle’s dogged ability to remove even the last shreds of meat from a bone. After feeding as larvae and molting several times, larvae move to the soil to pupate. A bit later in summer, fresh adults will emerge from the soil and await the arrival of more dead animals ready for recycling. Due to their affinity for certain types of habitats, their patterns of seasonal appearance, and their geographic distribution, Oiceoptoma beetles can be useful in helping crime scene investigators solve homicides. Uplifting encounters with deceased white-tailed deer provided some succor to the ill will engendered by these habitat destroying herbivores. To bring more crime solving, flesh recycling beetles into the world is surely a noble final deed for the oft maligned white-tailed deer. 


Many thanks go to Kelly for allowing me to wander his fields and to Dr. Shrewsbury, who spotted the deer skull along the Western Maryland Rail Trail, for inspiring this episode. The delightful reference “The Carrion Beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae) of Nebraska” by Brett Radcliffe was used as a resource.

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Aphid lions green and brown, aphids you are going down! Chrysopidea and Hemerobiidae


It’s obvious how the beautiful green lacewing got its name.

It’s obvious how the beautiful green lacewing got its name.


Although not as lovely as the green lacewing, the brown lacewing also spells disaster for many common garden pests.

Although not as lovely as the green lacewing, the brown lacewing also spells disaster for many common garden pests.

Last month we learned how aphids can wind up with a hole in their rear end courtesy of tiny parasitic wasps that turned them into mummies. This week we see how aphids can meet another gruesome end in the jaws of aphid lions. With ample rainfall and favorable temperatures, the lush growth on trees and shrubs continues to generate healthy populations of aphids on many garden plants. A week or so ago, on a dynamite pollinator attractor called Silphium perfoliatum, a.k.a. cup plant, I noticed a fine crop of aphids happily sucking sap on the underside of leaves. The thought of giving these gals (many aphids at this time of year are a “ladies only” society due to parthenogenetic reproduction) a squirt of insecticidal soap to quell their numbers ran through my mind for a brief moment. Fortunately, upon closer inspection of the festivities I spotted a murderous contingent of Mother Nature’s hit squad nearby, brown lacewing larvae. Brown lacewings are close kin to debris carrying green lacewings we visited in a previous episode.

Green lacewing eggs are deposited at the tip of slender stalks.

Green lacewing eggs are deposited at the tip of slender stalks.

Green and brown lacewings go by the colorful common name of aphid lions. Here’s why. Adult lacewings are attracted to fragrant odors emanating from plants infested with aphids. As they feed on plant sap, aphids produce a waste product called honeydew. The honeydew is a sweet concoction of sugars, amino acids, and other compounds. As this sticky goo degrades, telltale odors waft from the plants. Female lacewings cruising the landscapes in search of food for themselves and their babes sense aphid-related odors. The scent is like the smell of burgers and fries to a fast food junkie and sends a signal to the mother lacewing that “dinner is served”. Upon arriving on a plant, if the proper cues are present, the female green lacewing touches her abdomen to the surface of a leaf and draws out a thin strand of protein. At the tip of this protein stalk, she deposits a single egg. Why she goes to this trouble is not entirely clear. Perhaps, by placing the egg on a stalk, hungry predators including other lacewing larvae are less likely to snack on the tasty egg. Brown lacewing mothers seem to eschew this behavior and deposit their eggs directly on the surface of the leaf. After hatching, the tiny larva shinnies down the stalk and begins its search for food. If mom was clever and placed the egg in the right spot, a smorgasbord of aphids awaits nearby.

Aphid lions to the rescue! Last week my cup plant was loaded with aphids. Brown lacewing larvae came to town and now it’s so long aphids. When aphids appear, before you spray take a moment to see if some of Mother Nature’s hit squad, like brown and green lacewing larvae, have arrived to help.

Silken spheres attached to the leaf’s surface provide safe haven for the green lacewing larva to transform into the gorgeous adult.

Silken spheres attached to the leaf’s surface provide safe haven for the green lacewing larva to transform into the gorgeous adult.

Aphid lions have powerful, sickle-shaped jaws that grasp their prey. Once attached to the aphid, a pump in the aphid lion’s head is activated and the liquid life is sucked from the hapless victim. Aphid lions are reported to devour 200 aphids per week and several hundred during the course of their development. After shedding its skin twice to grow, the aphid lion spins a white cocoon and attaches the cocoon to the plant. Within this silken orb the transformation from alligator-like larva to pupa to winged adult takes place. After a few weeks in the cocoon, the beautiful adult lacewing emerges. The adult green lacewing has fantastic green or golden eyes and dozens of veins running through its wings, hence the name lacewing. Adult lacewings eat nectar and pollen and honeydew produced by aphids and other sucking insects. In addition to feasting on aphids, voracious lacewing larvae eat a variety of prey including caterpillars, spider mites, lace bugs, beetle larvae, and eggs of many kinds of plant pests. They are highly beneficial. Aphid lions can be purchased commercially and released on plants to help reduce pest populations. These fierce predators have been used to reduce pests with some success in agricultural crops such as cotton and strawberries and to reduce mealybugs on houseplants indoors and lace bugs on azaleas in landscapes and nurseries. As I watched aphid lions devour aphids with remarkable gusto, I wondered what our world would be like if aphid lions were the size of the German Shepherd next door.  


The interesting references “Handbook of Biological Control” by Thomas S. Bellows and T.W. Fisher, and “Biological control in specific crops: Woody Ornamentals” by Paula Shrewsbury and Michael Raupp, were used to prepare this episode.

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Powassan Virus Threatens Northeastern United States

Dangerous Tick-Borne Illness a Current Threat to Humans’ Nervous Systems, could be Fatal

Each year we anxiously await the return of summer and outdoor activities.

And, each year, the threat of an increased tick population and tick bites loom over our heads.

This year is no different (as if we didn’t have enough to worry about). While tick bites can spread a variety of diseases, Lyme disease is probably the most commonly referenced disease transported by ticks.

But, believe it or not, there are potentially worse diseases spread by ticks, including those in the Northeast United States.

One of those is the potentially deadly Powassan virus.

Powassan virus can be spread via bites by infected deer ticks, attacks the nervous system, and cause long-term damage in humans.

This isn’t the first occurrence of the tick-borne disease in the Northeast. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 24 cases in New York and 22 cases in Massachusetts between 2009 and 2018. There have also been cases reported in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, as well as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, since 2009.

Cases are reported to the CDC by state and local health departments and happen most frequently from late spring through mid-fall when ticks are most active.

As tick populations are expected to increase each year, health officials are anticipating an influx in the spread of Powassan virus directly related to the increased population.

What is Powassan Virus?

Powassan virus, also known as POW, is more aggressive than Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.

An RNA virus, meaning it has ribonucleic acid as its genetic material, Powassan virus belongs to the genus Flavivirus and is related to West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis.

The virus can cause severe issues — including infection of the brain.

Unlike Lyme disease, a bacterial infection, the Powassan virus cannot be treated with antibiotics.

Although it is still rare, cases have been increasing in recent years.

Most cases in the United States have been reported in the Lake George, New York, area and other regions in the Northeast.

How Does the Powassan Virus Spread?

Ticks become infected with Powassan virus if they feed on infected animals, like mice.

Once the tick attaches itself to a human, the disease can be spread in only 15 minutes.

The deer tick, also called the black-legged tick, is the primary culprit when it comes to the spread of Powassan virus. This tick is also responsible for infecting people with Lyme disease.

But, the squirrel tick (Ixodes marxi) and groundhog tick (Ixodes cookei) also have potential to spread Powassan virus to people. Although it is less common since these two species of ticks don’t typically feed on humans.

Powassan Virus Symptoms & Treatment

Powassan virus can cause infection of the brain (encephalitis) or the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

Unlike other tick-borne illnesses, Powassan virus symptoms may never appear in an infected person.

It can range between a week to a month for symptoms to appear.

Initial symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting, and weakness throughout the body.

Symptoms can progress to confusion, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking, and seizures.

According to the CDC, approximately one out of 10 people die from Powassan. And approximately half of the survivors will have long-term health problems like the loss of muscle mass and strength, chronic headaches, and memory problems.

To diagnose the disease, medical professionals will evaluate displayed symptoms, history of possible exposure, and order laboratory testing of blood or spinal fluid.

At this time, there is no vaccine treatment for Powassan. People suffering from the virus are often hospitalized to receive support for breathing, staying hydrated, or reducing swelling in the brain.

Protect Yourself from Ticks

Finding a tick on your body, especially one that has become attached, can be a scary experience.

It’s important to safely and quickly remove the tick as soon as possible. The longer the tick stays attached, the chance of contracting a tick-borne illness like Powassan increases.

Since there is no current vaccine or treatment, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from the threat of ticks.

The looming threat of hard-bodied ticks and the diseases they spread makes professional tick control essential.

Finding and treating a tick infestation can be challenging, especially if they are spread throughout the property.

A pest management professional has the education, equipment, and skills to tackle a tick infestation. The professionals at Catseye Pest Control use their expertise to identify and determine the best solution to the problem.

Contact our pest and wildlife specialists today to learn more about our organic Tick and Mosquito Control program.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

Millions of Periodical Cicadas Emerging

Warmer Weather Leads to the Emergence of Periodical Cicadas After 17 Years

Periodical cicadas, also referred to as either the 13-year or 17-year cicadas, are expected to emerge this summer in the United States.

There are approximately 3,390 species of cicadas, 190 of which call North America their home.

Most cicadas are called annual cicadas because adults can appear yearly, every two years, or every five years, depending on the species.  

Periodical cicadas, however, appear every 13 or 17 years.

When & Where Will Cicadas Emerge in the United States?

A large quantity of 13- and 17-year cicadas are expected to emerge in parts of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia this summer.

It’s possible for thousands of cicadas to emerge on a single acre of land.

That’s a lot of pests!

Areas on the East Coast, like New York and Rhode Island, can see an emergence of annual cicadas each summer.

Similarly, Florida experiences cicadas that emerge year after year when the soil has reached the perfect temperature.

But, when it comes to the likes of the 17-year cicada, that’s more of a concern for New York and Connecticut than other states in the Northeast.

New York and Connecticut expect to see 17-year cicadas during the spring and summer months of 2030.

Lifecycle of Periodical Cicadas

Since the 13- and 17-year cicadas have different lifecycles, they are classified into different broods based on the anticipated emergence. The species can be made up 15 different broods. This year’s emergence has been classified as Brood IX.  

After the cicada nymphs have matured, they will build mud tubes in the soil as a way to crawl out. These tubes are also known as cicada huts.

Once the pest has made its way out of the soil, it will molt into their winged-adult form.

Why Does it Take Years for Periodical Cicadas to Emerge?

There is approximately 12 different 17-year broods and three broods of the 13-year cicadas.

Depending on the species, the larval stage for a periodical cicada can last either 13 or 17 years. Annual cicadas have a much shorter larval stage and emerge much quicker.

But the precise reason why it takes them so long to return is still somewhat of a mystery. Some scientists have suggested that the timeline could be the pest adapting to avoid a predator.

Without changing their cycle, they would emerge around the same time as a predator looking for a tasty meal.

Another reason could be due to the climate. Cicadas are a warm-weather pest, so it’s unlikely for the pest to survive in cold weather.

Even though North America experiences changes in temperature, some environmental issues have led to inconsistent temperatures. So, an unexpected cold snap could keep the pest in the soil a bit longer.

Once the soil reaches a comfortable and consistent 64 degrees Fahrenheit, the pest will begin to emerge.

What Do Periodical Cicadas Look Like?

It can be fairly easy to identify 13-year and 17-year cicadas.

Their bodies are a striking shade of black, six legs, and can range in size from one to two inches. Along with antennas, the pest has red eyes, and orange veins in their wings, not to be confused with annual cicadas which are black and shades of green.

black periodical cicada with large red eyes and wings with orange veins holding on to the needles of a pine tree

Cicada adults live for approximately two weeks after emerging from the soil. Not only that, but the pest has been known to “sing” or chirp. Why do cicadas sing?

First, not all cicadas make a chirping sound. The noise is made by males as mating call. Female cicadas can hear the sound up to a mile away.

So, with all the 17-year cicadas expected to emerge this year, this sound will be anything but pleasant. 

Potential Cicada Damage to Trees & Homes

Luckily for homeowners and business owners, a cicada infestation is less likely to occur than most other pests.

Even though they aren’t a threat to humans, the pest can cause significant damage to trees — including apple, dogwood, pear, cherry, and many others.

Damage can be prevented by adding tree wraps or other protection around the tree trunk.

However, if you find your home or business infested with cicadas, it’s best to leave removal to the professionals.

Catseye Pest Control pest control professionals have the knowledge and experience to protect your investment from infestations and structural damages caused by pests.

Cat-Guard Exclusion Systems are an eco-friendly, permanent solution to keep unwanted pests and wildlife out of your home or business.

And even though cicadas aren’t a severe threat to people, it’s still best to prevent them from becoming a bigger problem.

To learn more about how Catseye can protect your home or office, contact us today.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

Recyclers in the Circle of Life: Bess beetles, Odontotaenius disjunctus


These powerful jaws can gnaw through even super-tough wood like oak.

These powerful jaws can gnaw through even super-tough wood like oak.


Dilemma for a bess beetle at a picnic “Do I go for the hamburger bun or find a dead tree to eat?” Image credit: Ashley May

Dilemma for a bess beetle at a picnic “Do I go for the hamburger bun or find a dead tree to eat?” Image credit: Ashley May

Last week we visited blood-thirsty mosquitoes, ectoparasites high up the food web that feed on animals including us. This week we meet one of Mother Nature’s champion recyclers, bess beetles, whose mission is to repurpose tough wood fibers into cute beetle larvae. During the past week or two while wandering wooded trails, I have enjoyed several encounters with magnificent bess beetles as they scurried about the forest floor. Coincidentally, several images of bess beetles have arrived in my mailbox from other folks curious to learn about these lumbering beauties. Bess beetles are also known as patent leather beetles and the horned Passalus by virtue of their shiny deep brown color and notable horns. These powerful beetles are important participants in the great circle of life. No, they do not occupy an exalted place at the top of the food chain like Mufasa, the Lion King. They sit near the bottom of the heap along with fungi and bacteria where they help decompose fibrous wood. Adult bess beetles use strong jaws to gnaw and ingest wood. After being processed in the beetle’s digestive system and deposited back in the wood, the microbe-packed droppings, a.k.a. frass, are consumed by bess beetle larvae. The microbes contained in the leavings of the adult beetles are particularly important for young larvae that require parental microorganisms to help them digest wood. Tough plant tissues such as lignin and cellulose are indigestible to us, but the gut microbiome of the bess beetle and resident microbes found in decaying wood enable bess beetles to capture nutrients as they recycle tough plant polymers.

Bess beetles are among the champion recyclers of the insect world. A remarkable microbiome in their gut enables bess beetles to breakdown tough polymers found in wood and extract nutrients locked up inside. Now is a great time to observe bess beetles as they scramble across the forest floor or recycle wood beneath the bark of fallen trees.

Upon plucking a bess beetle from the forest trail, I was intrigued to hear it squeak. Bess beetles are able to produce sound by rubbing their wings across a rasp-like structure on the upper surface of their back just beneath the hard wing covers. This form of sound production is called stridulation. Many beetles, such as the milkweed longhorned beetle we met on June 27, 2016 in “Turning the tables on milkweeds: Milkweed longhorned beetle, Tetraopes sp.”, stridulate. The larvae of bess beetles are somewhat unique in that they also stridulate by rubbing together two sections of their legs. Several authors suggest squeaking sounds enable both larvae and adults to communicate with others in the decomposing wood. One account indicates that larvae follow the calls of adults in the colony. Perhaps this is a way for parents to assist their babies in discovering food or maybe it conveys a message akin to “eat your vegetables”. Other scientists believe the calls may frighten would-be predators. To learn the true nature of the call of the bess beetle, I made a recording of the sound. By playing the sound backward at very slow speed, the beetles could clearly be heard trilling the Gershwin classic “summer time and the livin’ is easy”. Guess summer must be right around the corner.


Bug of the Week thanks Ashley May for inspiring this episode and providing the nice image of a bess beetle that apparently joined her picnic. Information for this Bug of the Week came from two fascinating papers, “Gut anatomical properties and microbial functional assembly promote lignocellulose deconstruction and colony subsistence of a wood-feeding beetle” by Javier A. Ceja-Navarro, Ulas Karaoz, Markus Bill, Zhao Hao, Richard A. White, Abelardo Arellano, Leila Ramanculova, Timothy R. Filley, Timothy D. Berry, Mark E. Conrad, Meredith Blackwell, Carrie D. Nicora, Young-Mo Kim, Patrick N. Reardon, Mary S. Lipton, Joshua N. Adkins, Jennifer Pett-Ridge, and Eoin L. Brodie, and “Observations on the life history of the horned Passalus” by L.E. Gray.

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Snap to it and dump those containers or there will be blood! Culex and Aedes mosquitoes


With a belly full of blood, this Culex mosquito will soon be laying eggs.


With COVID-19, the economy, and now social unrest in our land, we’ve all had a lot on our minds. While rightly absorbed with these critical issues, attention to a few little pest management details have fallen by the wayside around my landscape. On a recent journey behind my toolshed, I found my old Frisbee, a wheelbarrow, a five-gallon bucket and a long abandoned former fire pit filled to the brim with murky water. This should have been no surprise, what with several impressive bouts of rain we’ve had recently. Want to know the perfect recipe for creating scads of mosquitoes? Abundant rain, containers filled with decaying organic matter like leaves and flower buds, a little warm weather, and some overwintered mosquitoes like the ones nibbling my ankles a couple of weeks ago. One look into the water revealed not hundreds but thousands of tiny mosquito larvae, a.k.a. wrigglers, ready to turn into tiny vampires in a week or so. Using my mosquito sampler, I reckoned there to be roughly 2000 larvae in the fire pit. With temperatures now hitting the 90s in the DMV and throughout parts of our country, legions of female mosquitoes shall emerge from the drink and, as Paul Thomas Anderson said, “there will be blood.”  

Water filled containers and drain pipes are breeding sites for mosquito larvae. Get cracking and inspect your landscape, eliminate breeding sites by inverting containers, dump bird baths twice a week, and if you cannot drain standing water kill mosquitoes where they breed with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis.

Awhile later that day, in preparation for my joyous weekly lawn cutting event, my wife removed a drain cover in the lawn to prevent its impending destruction, one that had befallen other such drain covers levied by the blades of my lawn mower. Upon removing said cover, we were once again astonished to discover scores of mosquito wrigglers paddling about the waters of the drainpipe. How female mosquitos penetrated the gravity triggered trap door security of the drain cover remains a mystery to me. Darn clever are these tiny vampires.  

Hundreds of larvae will hatch from Culex egg rafts floating on the surface of the water.

During the first several days of adulthood, both male and female mosquitoes consume carbohydrate rich food such as plant nectar or aphid honeydew. For male mosquitoes, sweets remain the sole source of food, but the gals have a blood lust. Female mosquitoes use animal blood as the source of protein to produce eggs. The pregnant mosquito lays her spawn in a water-filled container such as a pail or bird bath, or in pools of standing water on the ground. Some, like the ferocious Asian tiger, Aedes albopictus, lay eggs near the water-line of a container. When the vessel fills with rainwater, eggs hatch and larval development begins. Others, such as the common house mosquito, a.k.a. Northern house mosquito, Culex pipiens, lay eggs in clusters called rafts that float on the surface of the water. Each raft may contain more than 150 eggs.  

Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance and several species here in the United States carry important diseases such as West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Chikungunya, and Yellow Fever. West Nile virus has killed more than 2,600 people in the US since first detected in New York two decades ago. While most of us shrug off West Nile virus, it can be severe and even lethal to seniors and certain others. Recent research helps explain why this may be so. Our immune system plays a vital role in preventing diseases carried by mosquitoes. Cells lining our skin and mucus membranes bear specialized virus-sensing proteins called Toll-Like Receptors, a.k.a. TLRs. TLRs have the critical function of detecting invaders like West Nile virus. If TLRs detect the West Nile virus, they release additional proteins that stimulate production of chemical communication compounds called interleukins. Interleukins released into the bloodstream marshal cellular assassins called macrophages and direct them to hunt and kill cells infected with West Nile virus before the virus can multiple and make us seriously ill. Researchers have suggested that some seniors and people with compromised immune systems may lack sufficient TLRs and related immune system proteins to thwart the West Nile virus.  

Mosquitoes loom large this time of year around our nation.

Many species of mosquitoes prefer to feed at dusk and you can avoid being bitten by staying indoors in the evening. Unlike many of our native mosquitoes, the exotic Asian tiger is a daytime biter, adding hours of entertaining itching, scratching, and swatting to days in the garden. Protect yourself from aggressive biters by wearing light-weight, long-sleeved shirts and pants when working outdoors. Certain brands of clothing are pretreated with mosquito repellents such as permethrin. I have worn these in tropical rainforests where mosquitoes were ferocious and repellent clothing really did help. Many topical insect repellents can be applied to exposed skin before you go outdoors. Some will provide many hours of protection, while others provide virtually none. Some repellents should not be applied to children and you should always help kids apply repellents. Do not apply repellents containing DEET under clothing. For safety, be sure to read and follow the directions on the label of the repellent before you apply it to people or clothing.

If you dine outdoors, place a small fan on your patio. The light breeze created by the fan will reduce the number of mosquitoes flying and biting. Many traps are also available to capture and kill mosquitoes. Some, like the sensational bug-zappers, rely on a light source to attract blood seekers. However, many types of moths, flies, and beetles are attracted to light, whereas mosquitoes, unfortunately, do not use light as the primary cue to find their meals and are not readily attracted to light traps. One study demonstrated that less than 1% of the insects attracted to light traps were biting flies such as mosquitoes. This study estimated that light traps kill billions of harmless and beneficial insects each year. Actually, mosquitoes are attracted to odors emanating from the host. As we move about the earth, we release many odors, including carbon dioxide and lactic acid, that are used by hungry mosquitoes to find us. Some mosquito traps release carbon dioxide and will catch many mosquitoes. However, much work remains before we fully understand how well these traps reduce biting rates or generally reduce mosquito populations in a broad area. Another trap called the Gravid Aedes Trap (GAT) has been used along with reduction in breeding sites on a community-wide basis with good success in several locations, including some in the DMV. These traps are partially filled with water then organic materials like hay or alfalfa pellets are added to create an infusion. The delightful aroma of this infusion is irresistible to pregnant, or, in ento-speak gravid, Aedes mosquitoes like the Asian tiger. Reminiscent of the Hotel California, mosquitoes check into the GAT but they never leave. Inside the GAT they are snared in sticky stuff or poisoned.

Mosquitoes in my back yard seem to have an ankle fetish. At double speed watch this one tank up on blood and then scram to find a place to digest its meal and turn my blood protein into mosquito eggs.

To reduce the chances of mosquitoes breeding around your home, eliminate standing water by cleaning your gutters, dumping your bird bath twice a week, inverting your wheelbarrow and getting rid of water filled containers. If you have an aquatic water garden, drain pipes that hold water, or standing water on your property that are mosquito breeding sites, you can use a product containing the naturally occurring soil microbe known as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, a.k.a. Bti. Bti comes formulated in doughnut-shaped tablets that can be placed in water to kill mosquito larvae. Battalions of biters are about to make their presence known. So snap to it, inspect your landscape and eliminate mosquito breeding sites. And get ready to protect yourself, or there will be blood.


We thank Mike Murillo for providing the inspiration for this episode. Several interesting articles including “How the body rubs out West Nile virus” by  Nathan Seppa, “Toll-like Receptor 7 Mitigates Lethal West Nile and Encephalitis via Interleukin 23-Dependent Immune Cell Infiltration and Homing” by Terrence Town, Fengwei Bai, Tian Wang, Amber T. Kaplan, Feng Qian, Ruth R. Montgomery, John F. Anderson, Richard A. Flavell, and Erol Fikrig, and “Density and diversity of non-target insects killed by suburban electric insect traps” by Timothy B. Frick and Douglas W. Tallamy, were used in the preparation of this episode.

To see how to reduce mosquito breeding and biting in a residential landscape, please visit this website: Mosquito Protection – Bite Them Before They Bite You

To learn more about mosquito repellents, how long they last, and which one might be right for you, please visit the CDC’s comprehensive mosquito repellent website, Prevent Mosquito Bites.  

To learn more about how communities can band together to reduce mosquito populations by eliminating breeding sites and using GATs, please visit this website, CITIZEN ACTION THROUGH SCIENCE: COMMUNITY-DRIVEN MOSQUITO CONTROL



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Benefits of Disinfecting Office Workspaces

How Commercial Disinfection Services Can Keep Office Workspaces Safe

Americans spend approximately 45 hours each week at work, sometimes more.

And, even though business owners employ cleaning services or carry out DIY efforts, it isn’t enough to defend against harmful pathogens like the ones that cause COVID-19.

There are many high-touch areas in offices that increase the chance of contamination of germs, viruses, and bacteria, which can spread easily to other employees, customers, and loved ones.

Disease outbreak is a serious situation, which has been made evident by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

That’s why now, more than ever before, it’s important for businesses to use professional commercial-grade disinfection services that can help protect against viruses such as coronavirus, hantavirus, E. Coli, and hepatitis B and C.

Benefits of Using ViralGuard Disinfection Services

Safer Work Environment

For many businesses, employees work in close proximity to one another.

And there can be a variety of high-touch areas like furniture, keyboards, and door handles that can have a harmful impact if contaminated.

ViralGuard Disinfection Services from Catseye Pest Control uses EPA-registered disinfectants and materials to disinfect impacted areas.

The commercial-grade disinfectant is safe for people, pets, and has a clean scent.

Depending on the surface material, it takes approximately an hour and half for the disinfectant to dry. After the drying time, your business can continue with its day-to-day affairs.

Disinfecting workspaces on a regular basis can help protect office workspaces from becoming contaminated with viruses and bacteria.

Fewer Sick Days Caused by the Spread of Disease

Sick days are essential, but it can hurt the business when most — if not all, of your employees are out sick.

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This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

Cicada surprise in the DMV! Brood IX and straggling Brood X periodical cicadas, Magicicada spp.


Look what showed up in a yard in Bowie Maryland, a periodical cicada. Image: Nancy Harding, UMD Entomology


Earlier this year we broke the sad news that the Washington–Baltimore region would not have the pleasure of enjoying billions of boisterous Brood X cicadas.We suggested a road trip to southwestern Virginia, southern West Virginia, and northern North Carolina to witness the appearance of Brood IX cicadas. Not ones to disappoint, cicadas are emerging in these areas by the billions. Before COVID 19 and lockdown, Bug of the Week was planning a road trip to southern VA to listen to the big boy band in the treetops and revel in this spectacular and unique event that happens nowhere else in the universe except right here (we think).

Periodical cicadas have a marvelous and unusual life cycle for an insect spending either 17 or 13 years mostly underground as nymphs feeding on sap from tree roots. In spring, usually in mid to late May of the 13th or 17th year of their life cycle, nymphs emerge from their subterranean crypts and molt into adults. One of the many wonders of cicadas is that broods of 13 and 17 year cicadas emerge on different years and in different locations. A brood of cicadas emerges somewhere in the eastern or central U.S. almost every year. There are 3 broods of 13 year cicadas and 12 broods of 17 year cicadas. Many of you may remember the spectacular emergence of Brood X up and down the east coast in 2004. Since then, parts of our region have seen cicadas of Brood II, Brood XIV, and Brood XIX. You can learn about Brood XIX by visiting “St. Mary’s survivors – Cicadas of Brood XIX” and learn about Brood II in a lengthy series of episodes beginning in April of 2013 with “Hail Brood II: Magicicada spp.” We also introduced the class of 2021 with Brood X stragglers back in 2017 with “Periodical cicadas up and out of the ground in Maryland, DC, and Virginia – Magicicada spp.”.

Guess what, we are beginning to see the vanguard of Brood X cicadas appearing one year early in the Baltimore-Washington region. Keep an eye out for these cicada stragglers and report your sighting using the free Cicada Safari app.

In addition to the massive emergence of billions of Brood IX cicadas underway in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, Maryland seems to be a hotspot for the appearance of cicada stragglers, the vanguard of Brood X cicada scheduled to make their grand appearance in 2021. Image: Gene Kritsky

However, this week we began receiving strange sporadic reports of a few periodical cicadas emerging in the suburbs of Baltimore, Washington, and throughout the DMV. This wonderful event is part of the ongoing mystery surrounding one of Nature’s most magical creatures. Before local cicadaphiles get their hopes too high and cicadaphobes start packing to leave town, please know that this is not a full blown emergence of Brood X. Cicada experts call sightings of a few cicadas in unexpected locations in “off” years, cicada “stragglers.” Stragglers are periodical cicadas that emerge in years prior to or after their brood is expected to emerge. Usually, 17 year cicada stragglers emerge four years prior to their expected emergence date; however it is possible for periodical cicadas to emerge between 8 years earlier and 4 years later than expected. Based on historical data, researchers can associate stragglers with their massive parent brood. This year unexpected stragglers, likely from Brood X, have shown up in our area. The map accompanying this episode provides scientifically vetted accounts of actual sightings of periodical cicadas in our region this spring. This wonderful event has entomologists eager to add new information to our knowledge of these inimitable creatures.

To join other cicadaphiles in the quest for information on these marvelous creatures, look for the Cicada Safari app at the app store. Image: Gene Kritsky

Ok, so cicadaphiles, here is your call to action and a chance to participate in an awesome citizen science project! Cicada researchers are vastly interested in the phenomenon of cicada stragglers, as they may inform us on the evolution of cicadas, their distribution, and the formation of new broods. If enough of these rascals emerge at once, survive, and successfully reproduce, a new brood may be just around the evolutionary corner. To get in on the action, go to the app store on your cellular phone and download the Cicada Safari app. It is free and very easy to use. Download, register, and start snapping pictures of cicadas. Easy as pie. Cicada geniuses will vet your images and add them to a growing data base designed to demystify the seasonal phenology and distribution of these charismatic creatures.

So snap to it and keep your eyes open for cicadas.


We thank Nancy Harding for providing the inspiration for this episode and for sharing the nice image of a cicada. We also thank Dr. Gene Kritsky of Mount St. Joseph University for providing insights into this article and for sharing the distribution map of cicadas as of May 23, 2020 from data assembled from the Cicada Safari app. To learn more about magical periodical cicadas, please visit fabulous repository for all things cicada at Cicada Mania and search the archives at Bug of the Week for “cicada”

This post appeared first on Bug of the Week

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