Last week a super sleuthing Master Gardener discovered a highly suspicious orange, black, and white bug on her thirsty Rose of Sharon. Fearing a visit from the dreaded spotted lanternfly she hit the web-o-sphere and correctly identified the critter as a scentless plant bug. Nice detective work. My first encounter with this fetching rascal happened on a trip to a home improvement store, where I discovered a forlorn collection of Rose of Sharon shrubs desperately hoping someone would buy them before they were relegated to the dumpster to make room for a sprouting forest of plastic Christmas trees. One look at blossoms that had since gone to seed revealed hordes of magnificent scentless plant bugs decked out in harlequin costumes of orange, black, and white. With all the recent fuss about invasive bugs like the spotted lanternfly and brown marmorated stink bug, my angst twisted on the possibility that this was yet another case of a noxious invader arriving on our shores with a shipment of exotic plants. A quick look at the labels on the Rose of Sharon revealed that these plants were homegrown. A little poking around on the internet confirmed this to be a native bug with some redeeming qualities rather than a nocent new pest. Whew, what a relief!
Although this bugger was new to my eyes, Niesthrea louisianica is long known to occur in North America from New York to Florida and west to California. This curious sucker is a gourmand for plants in the mallow family including cotton, Chinese lantern, okra, and Rose of Sharon. Like its cousins, the boxelder bug and red-shouldered bug that we met in previous episodes, Niesthrea has sucking mouthparts used to probe vegetation and seeds and extract liquefied nutrients. Unlike stink bugs and boxelder bugs that flock to houses to overwinter, Niesthrea finds a protected refuge outdoors beneath leaves and duff near its host plants. In spring, adults return to plants, begin feeding on foliage, and after mating, lay eggs in clusters of one to three dozen on the foliage or developing fruit of their host. After about a week, eggs hatch and tiny nymphs begin to feed. The plant bug requires little more than a month to complete a generation in summertime, and in southern states several generations occur each year.
During the growing season when flower buds abound, scentless plant bugs complete several generations on members of the mallow family. In the month of September, winged adults like the one on the left mill about with pretty orange and black nymphs. Later, when only dry pods remain, adults search for seeds to suck on, spend a little time hanging out with the gang, and work on looking sharp with some careful grooming of legs, wings, and derrière.
Bug of the Week has visited several exotic insects that attack our native plants after arriving in the US. However,beautiful Niesthrea louisianica turns the table and demonstrates how plant-feeding bugs sometimes become our allies when the plants on their menu are weeds. Throughout the corn and soybean growing regions of the US, an aggressive exotic weed called velvetleaf competes with our crops for nutrients and water. Velvetleaf is a member of the mallow family and thereby qualifies as a dinner item for hungry Niesthrea. By attacking the pods of velvetleaf and killing developing seeds inside, this small bug plays an important role in reducing the numbers of noxious velvetleaf weeds in many parts of the country. In one study, more than 80,000 Niesthrea lousianica were raised and released in several Midwestern states. Near the points of release, Niesthrea made a serious dent in the viability of velvetleaf seeds. Score one for the hometown bug.
Bug of the Week thanks Sonia Smith for inspiring this week’s episode and providing the nice image of scentless plant bugs. Two fascinating references, “Life History of Niesthrea louisianica (Hemiptera: Rhopalidae) on Rose of Sharon in North Carolina” by Al Wheeler and “Inundative biological control of velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti [Malvaceae] with Niesthrea louisianica (Hem.: Rhopalidae) by N. R. Spencer, were used as references for this episode.
Rodent Awareness Week 2023 is set to kick off on October 22. That makes it an ideal time to learn not only why rodent control is so essential, but also how to protect your property and prevent infestations.
Raising Awareness of the Damages and Harm Rodents Can Cause
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) founded Rodent Awareness Week in 2014 to raise awareness of the dangers of this particular pest problem. The timing of the week coincides perfectly with the time that many mice and rats start moving indoors to find warmth and shelter from cooler outdoor temperatures.
As anyone who has encountered pests indoors can attest, rodents can be tiny terrors. Seeing one darting through your home or business can cause alarm, at best. Even worse, rodents can do a lot of damage and spread harmful germs that can put both people and pets at risk.
Did you know that rodents like mice and rats have front teeth that never stop growing? That’s why these critters constantly gnaw on everything they can find. They gnaw on wood, insulation, siding, food and packaging, electrical wires, and more. Additionally, rodents often create damage while building their nests, tunneling into insulation and even burrowing into upholstered furniture at times.
Aside from the gnawing and burrowing, other possible rodent problems include:
Damage to structural elements of homes and other buildings
Chewed-through food packaging and destruction of food items
Loss of crops and plants in gardens and landscaping
Contamination from urine and feces everywhere they go
Everywhere they go, rodents tend to leave streaks of urine and messy feces. Combined with their saliva, these materials can potentially harbor dangerous germs and contribute to vectors of illnesses. They may also carry parasites and other pests, including fleas, ticks, and mites, indoors.
Common diseases caused by rodent contamination include:
Rat Bite Fever
Signs of Rodent Activity
Rodent Awareness Week is the ideal time to learn about what to look for if you suspect rodents may be invading your home, business, or other property. These scurrying pests often sleep during the day and remain active at night, making it hard to spot live rodents. In addition to physically seeing mice and rats, other signs of rodent activity include:
Shredded insulation, fabric, plant materials, and paper used for nesting materials
Chew marks on walls, floors, beams, structural elements
Destroyed and chewed through food packaging with food items strewn around the area
Rodent droppings, particularly near food or water sources, in cupboards, and in drawers
Stale, musty odors coming from of out-of-reach spots
Sebum stains, caused by oils in the rodents’ fur and skin and leaves a stain after prolonged traffic to an area
Rodent Treatment and Prevention
Rodents can slip though openings as tiny as a dime or a quarter. If they find entry points that aren’t quite large enough to squeeze through, they will gnaw through the edges until they can fit through the opening. Once inside, not only do rodents wreak havoc, but they also reproduce at a rapid rate. In fact, mice can have as many as 12 babies every three weeks.
That staggering statistic underscores why rodent control is so essential. Moving quickly to eliminate the problem is vital. Calling for professional help is an important part of eliminating these pests for good.
The professionals at Catseye Pest Control have the extensive training and necessary tools and equipment to take control of infestations quickly and efficiently. It all starts with a thorough inspection, inside and out. This allows technicians to identify where rodents are nesting, to learn how and why they are entering the property, and to devise a tailored treatment plan.
Once a customized solution is created, removal begins with Catseye managing every step of the process. After ensuring all rodents are eliminated, Catseye performs cleanup and disinfection, with minor repairs also available to help return your property to its pre-rodent state.
How You Can Help Prevent an Infestation
Making your property less appealing to rodents can help prevent future problems. Although an infestation isn’t something you can handle on your own, you can take some proactive steps to minimize your risks. Examples include:
Eliminating Possible Nesting Sites
Outdoors, rodents love debris piles, stacks of lumber, abandoned vehicles, and trash to nest and find shelter. Indoors, it’s helpful to eliminate clutter. It’s also important to inspect any boxes that come into the building.
Secure Food and Water Sources
Repair leaky pipes and secure all food, including pet food, to make the home or building less attractive to nesting rodents. Store food in tightly lidded plastic, metal, or glass containers. Avoid leaving pet food and water out at night and be sure to store leftovers in sealed containers.
Clean Up the Area
Indoors and out, keeping things neat, tidy, and clean can help avoid problems. For example, wipe down counters and appliances to remove food residue and promptly clean crumbs and other messes from the floor. Wash all dishes after using them and get rid of your garbage frequently, using rodent-proof containers for temporary storage.
Seal Off Potential Entry Points
Getting rodents out is only half the battle. Preventing them from squeezing their way back inside is equally important. Sealing small holes and cracks with steel wool and patching walls is one option. It’s also wise to invest in a system designed to provide guaranteed protection.
Cat-Guard Exclusion Systems do just that by offering an impermeable, chemical-free barrier to prevent rodents and other nuisance wildlife from entering the premises. This natural, safe, and humane option can be used as targeted protection in vulnerable areas. Use all three systems together for whole-home protection, from the top of the roof to subterranean levels.
Schedule a Free Inspection
Catseye is dedicated to customer-first service, with various options available for homes and businesses in need of rodent, nuisance wildlife, and pest control. If you learn just one thing from Rodent Awareness Week 2023, let it be this: Working with professionals is the key to solving rodent problems.
Working with experts you can trust offers next-level peace of mind. If you suspect you have a rodent infestation or want professional tips on preventing them on your property, contact us to get started.
You might occasionally hear about “tick season,” a period of time when tick activity tends to be at its highest. Nationwide, tick season typically spans from March through October. State-to-state, it may vary. For many people, the off-season may provide a sense of false security.
Ticks thrive in wet, warm weather, but can they survive in the cold? Let’s explore tick activity during the off-season and look at ways you can protect yourself and the people and pets you care about.
Are Ticks Still Active in the Fall?
Truth be told, ticks can be active year-round. Throughout most of Catseye Pest Control’s service areas, tick activity remains relatively high through October, although it can extend until December. In fact, many species produce two periods of pronounced peak activity levels. The first is usually in March or April, while the second is October and November.
During autumn months, the weather typically cools off a bit. Cooler nights change tick activity, leading these tiny pests to hide under debris until the warmth of the sun encourages them to come out.
Tick activity continues during fall, and it can also be even more dangerous if people let their guard down and take fewer precautions against tick bites. Remember, in any season, ticks can carry diseases like Lyme disease, Powassan virus, and more.
North American Tick Species
More than 800 species of ticks can be found worldwide. More than 90 species of ticks can be found throughout the United States. However, different states and regions are more favorable for certain tick species. Across North America and throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, four species account for the majority of tick activity.
These ticks are commonly found in wooded areas, but they can easily spread to other locations. Deer ticks primarily feed on white-tailed deer, although they may also feed on squirrels, mice, and other mammals. Deer ticks can carry Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis.
Lone Star Ticks
Lone star ticks, named for the single white spot on their backs, were once only found in the Southern U.S. However, the Lone Star tick has now spread along the entire East Coast. It may feed on humans, birds, dogs, cattle, and other animals. Some of the serious health risks posed by these ticks include STARI, ehrlichiosis, and a relatively new condition called Alpha-gal allergy. This condition is marked by an allergy to meats that contain alpha galactose, including pork and beef.
Brown Dog Ticks
One of the unique qualities of the brown dog tick is its ability to live its life entirely indoors. This means it can thrive quite well in areas with colder climates, even during the frigid fall and winter months. Although it may bite people and other animals, the brown dog tick primarily feeds on dogs. It may transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis.
American Dog Ticks
Also known as a wood tick, the American dog tick primarily feeds on dogs, although it also bites humans. These ticks are commonly found along the edges of roadways and trails. They have larger bodies that can grow to 1/2 inch after feeding. American dog ticks may transmit serious diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which can be fatal if left untreated. They may also carry tularemia, which can paralyze and kill both dogs and humans.
Can Ticks Survive the Winter?
Can ticks survive the cold winter months? Many ticks become less active in winter, and research conducted in laboratory freezers shows that ticks die in temperatures below 14 degrees Fahrenheit. However, in nature, these blood-thirsty pests could find shelter to avoid cold temperatures. Common winter hiding spots include burrowing into the soil, under leaves and debris, and even under the snow. They also have physiological adaptations that help them withstand periods of cold weather.
Some ticks, including the lone star and American dog ticks, become very inactive or dormant during winter, typically when temperatures reach or fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Others, including deer ticks, remain active in above-freezing temperatures. Additionally, dormant ticks can become active on warm, sunny winter days.
Tips to Make Your Property Less Appealing to Ticks Year-Round
Maintaining a tidy property can go a long way to minimizing the risk of ticks. These pests often shelter in tall grass, making it essential to mow frequently throughout the growing season. Other actions you can take to make your home less appealing during peak tick seasons and during times of low tick activity include:
Eliminate hiding spots and shelter: Ticks love debris piles, wooded areas, and tall grass. Perform a thorough fall cleanup to remove fallen leaves and get rid of junk.
Create a barrier: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends creating a 3-foot barrier between your lawn and wooded areas. Using strategic landscaping and adding rocks or wood chips can accomplish this effectively and helps reduce the risk of ticks migrating from the woods onto your property.
Deter deer and other animals: Ticks commonly travel on deer and rodents. Keeping nuisance wildlife and rodents away from your home and property can help reduce your risk.
Professional Tick Control Services in Your Area
Although you can take certain actions to make your home and property less enticing for ticks to find shelter, the single most effective way to control the situation is with professional help. Tick control services provide treatment and prevention for peace of mind when ticks are active as well as when they are dormant.
With Catseye Pest Control’s organic tick and mosquito program, technicians visit the property monthly from May through October. We use an all-natural, environmentally friendly approach to eliminate ticks. From the initial, detailed inspection to administering monthly organic treatments that provide a barrier against ticks to offering preventive tips, we’ve got you covered.
Contact Catseye to Learn More
Many people keep their guard up during warm weather months and worry less about ticks once the temperature drops. Achieve peace of mind and feel like you’re in control in any season with professional services. Our technicians have the training and expertise needed to keep your property, pets, and loved ones safe. Contact us for more tick control information or to schedule a free inspection.
In a recent episode, we lamented frustrating efforts to halt the spread of spotted lanternfly in the early years of its arrival in the US. We also know that vertically challenged humans can only reach and destroy by scraping an unsatisfyingly small proportion, about 2%, of lanternfly eggs deposited on trees. We know that several predators (birds, mammals, amphibians, and fish), parasitoids, and pathogens, all part of Mother Nature’s Hit Squad, are helping to put a beat-down on lanternflies. This week we add one more predator to a growing list of good guys helping to squelch the lanternfly invasion, the black and yellow garden spider.
Sometimes good fortune smiles on my garden, and last week a drop-dead gorgeous black and yellow orb weaver decided to set up shop just outside of my picture window beneath an overhanging eve. You may have shared my experience of wandering along a path through a meadow and bumbling into an enormous spider web ruled by a fearsome black and yellow spider. Argiope aurantia, the so-called black and yellow garden spider, belongs to family known as Araneidae, the orb weavers, made famous by E. B. White in his classic tale ‘Charlotte’s Web’. Webs of the black and yellow garden spider can be gargantuan, often spanning several feet. You may recall that Charlotte used her web to write eloquent praises for her friend Wilbur in an attempt to rescue him from becoming a porcine feast for farmer John. To my disappointment, my giant spider has only somewhat mastered the letter “W”, (or is it “M?”) which she copies repeatedly to create a conspicuously large band of zigzagging “W’s” in the center of her web.
An ill-fated spotted lanternfly struggles to free itself from sticky strands of the spider’s web. Web vibrations alert the spider to the victim’s presence. Lightning fast, the spider dashes from the center of the web and immobilizes the lanternfly with sheets of silk. With its prey swaddled and helpless, the spider delivers lethal bites to the lanternfly. She then retreats to the center of her web. As daylight wanes, the spider moves its meal to the center of the web. Using powerful fangs, she macerates the lanternfly and then slurps liquefied lanternfly into her digestive tract. By nightfall, the lanternfly is but a shriveled hulk. Bye, bye, lanternfly.
Spider aficionados call this band of heavy silk the stabilimentum. The function of the stabilimentum is a topic of debate among arachnologists. Some suggest that the band helps disguise the spider from its predators by providing a form of camouflage as the spider rests in the center of its web. Others believe that the silk may act as a tiny parasol shielding the spider from intense rays of the sun. One fascinating study revealed that the conspicuous bands of silk acted as a visual warning to low flying birds, thereby reducing the likelihood of devastating web-destroying crashes much the same way an image of an owl on a large plate glass window dissuades misguided birds from crashing and breaking their necks. Of course, the spider cares not for the welfare of the bird, but repairing bird-damaged webs takes time away from important projects like capturing and eating insects.
Other encounters with black and yellow garden spiders, like gently poking them, provoke a remarkable behavioral display called web-flexing. Here the garden spider retreats slightly from the stabilimentum and begins to rhythmically flex and extend its legs. These gyrations set the entire web rocking back and forth in ever-increasing waves. Swaying the web in rhythmic motion is often observed in orb weavers. Web-flexing has been reported as a way of dislodging potential predators or causing prey to become entangled in sticky capture-threads in the web.
On a rainy morning, Sylvia, a black and yellow garden spider, uses her forelegs to rock her web back and forth. This behavior known as web-flexing may help her snare prey, dodge predators, or, perhaps, shed raindrops that accumulate on capture-threads of her web. Another black and yellow garden spider has had a very successful season producing two marble-sized egg cases from her harvest of prey. Video credits: Michael Raupp and Ann Payne
Flexing may serve other defensive purposes as well. Enemies of the orb weaver include predatory lizards, toads, and other spiders that rely on keen eyesight to locate and capture prey. In an interesting treatise on orb weavers, researcher Wayne Tolbert suggested that web-flexing might be a clever way for the spider to conceal its exact location, thereby confounding hungry predators.
As fate would have it, swarms of spotted lanternflies reside in our research plots near Antietam Battlefield. They provide a ready source of food for my pet spider. Lanternflies stand no chance once they encounter the sticky strands of the web. The speed with which my spider immobilizes her victim in a silken wrapper is reminiscent of Frodo’s wicked encounter with Shelob en route to Mount Doom. Sometimes the prey is treated to a bite or two from the spider’s impressive fangs. On other occasions, she simply wraps up the victim and later fetches it to the center of the web where the snack is devoured. Over the next several weeks, my orb weaver will play a small role in helping to reduce populations of spotted lanternflies. I hope she will soon deliver a large marble-sized egg case somewhere in her lair. These eggs will be repatriated with the spotted lanternfly outbreak in Washington County where they will join their feral kin in the battle to quash these beautiful but noisome lanternfly invaders.
We thank Virginia Master Gardeners of Greenspring Gardens for providing the inspiration for this episode. Three great articles, “Predator avoidance behaviors and web defense structures in the orb weavers Argiope aurantia and Argiope trifasciata” by W. Tolbert, “Do stabilimenta in orb webs attract prey or defend spiders?” by T.A. Blackledge and J.W. Wenzel, and “Using community science to identify predators of spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae), in North America” by A.E. Johnson, A. Cornell, S. Hermann, F. Zhu and K. Hoover were consulted for this episode of Bug of the Week. To learn more about all things spotted lanternfly, please visit Penn State’s awesome spotted lanternfly website at this link: https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly
When is a bed bug not a bed bug? That is an interesting question.
Bat bugs look nearly identical, but they have different feeding habits and slightly different habitats. If you are like many people, you might not have heard of bat bugs. If you do encounter them, you will likely mistake them for bed bugs. That’s exactly what happened to one East Hamden, Connecticut, homeowner.
Catseye Pest Control responded to a call from a customer who recently purchased a home in East Hamden and found bat droppings in the attic. The client, who was eight months pregnant with the couple’s second child, explained that they had just moved into the home. She also revealed that she found a bug in her bed and showed the pest inspector a photo of the offending insect.
With a decade of experience and a record of inspecting more than 10,000 homes, the Catseye inspector quickly realized that although the pest in the photo looked like a bed bug, the circumstances didn’t sound like a typical bed bug scenario.
Spoiler alert: They weren’t bed bugs at all.
So, let’s explore what bat bugs are and how to get rid of a bad bug infestation through the lens of our client’s experience. We will also detail how Catseye identified the infestation and applied effective bat bug treatment options.
What Are Bat Bugs?
Although bed bugs are a well-known challenge faced by homes and businesses across the United States, a lesser-known relative of this blood-sucking pest is seemingly on the rise. To the naked eye, the two are indistinguishable.
Bat bugs (Cimex adjunctus) look nearly identical to bed bugs (Cimex lectularius). However, these two pests have different habits and require different approaches to achieve lasting elimination. Understanding bat bug habits and where they live can help make identification easier.
Bat Bug Habits and Habitat
Bed bugs typically live in just about any dark, protected location near their hosts, which are primarily humans, although they will feed on other animals. Bat bugs, however, remain close to bat colonies. These tiny, dark brown or beige-colored pests only wander when their hosts abandon them. They look nearly identical to bed bugs, with flat, tiny, oval-shaped bodies that easily tuck into small spaces. Under a microscope, it’s possible to spot one of the only physical differences: longer hairs along the bat bug’s upper thorax.
Are Bat Bugs Dangerous?
Although bat bugs may bite humans, they cannot survive on human blood. These pests can only molt and reproduce on a diet of bat blood. Bat bugs aren’t known to carry diseases or pose a danger to people or other animals, but their bites may cause itching and mild irritation.
The presence of bat bugs can cause significant anxiety for homeowners and businesses. This is particularly true when the tiny pests are found in commonly used interior spaces and beds, as was the case with our client. The bigger danger is the presence of bats, which can carry rabies. Additionally, bat excrement can grow a fungus that causes histoplasmosis, a respiratory disease.
Signs of a Bat Bug Infestation
What should you look for if you suspect an infestation? Bat bugs are most commonly found in and around bat colonies. They are relatively rare for pest control professionals to encounter.
In the case of Catseye’s East Hamden client, the inspection revealed clear signs that they were dealing with bat bugs. The homeowner found small bugs that looked identical to bed bugs in her bed.
Signs of an infestation to watch for include:
Presence of live bugs, small and reddish-brown in color, on furniture, walls, and other surfaces
Dead insect skins or small white eggs found in crevices, including the seams of furniture and mattresses
Stains on upholstery and linens
The presence of bats in and around the property
Signs of Bats
In the case of Catseye’s client, the technician became sure they were dealing with bat bugs after discovering evidence of a long-established bat colony. Inspection of the attic revealed not only live bats but also bat bugs found directly below where the bats roosted. The signs included:
Urine-streaked and stained attic walls with a whitish color near the bat colony
Dark brown sebum staining on attic beams caused by the oils in the bats’ skin
Presence of live bats
The guano had accumulated in piles up to 2 inches deep, indicating an ongoing problem. Additionally, sebum staining typically takes years to accumulate, leading the technician to believe the bat infestation had been present for a long time. Live bats were roosting in the roof vent and directly below them, and the technician identified many spots that looked like bed bug droppings.
The location of these droppings suggested that they were bat bugs. He also found live bat bugs adjacent to the colony.
How to Get Rid of Bat Bug Infestations
Bat bug treatment starts with eliminating the bats, but before you can do that, it’s critical to identify the exact pest causing the problem. In the case of the East Hamden home, the inspection was a pivotal part of identifying the pest as bat bugs, not bed bugs. It also provided the details and information needed to create a customized, comprehensive treatment plan.
This essential step makes a tremendous difference, as the treatments for bed bugs and bat bugs are vastly different. Treating bat bugs requires the removal of the bats, restoring and abating the affected area, and treating the attic and rooms.
Safely removing bats from the premises requires trained professionals. Catseye’s wildlife specialists have extensive training on how and when to eliminate bats from a property. Because they are essential to the ecosystem and protected by many state and federal laws, removal can only be performed at certain times of the year. Timing is essential to avoid interfering with hibernation, migration, and birthing patterns.
When the timing is right, we install an excluder in the area where bats live. This is a funnel-shaped door that lets bats exit without allowing them to re-enter the home. It’s a perfectly safe and humane way to evict bats.
Disinfection and Bat Bug Treatment
Once the area is free of bats, it’s critical to thoroughly clean the space and apply bat bug treatment to kill any remaining bugs before they find new hosts. For the Catseye’s East Hamden client, technicians started by creating a clean space. This involved removing all insulation, vacuuming to remove debris, and disinfecting all affected areas with hospital-grade disinfectant.
The team wore personal protective equipment (PPE), including Tyvek suits, respirators, and nitrile gloves during the process.
Once the cleaning and disinfection were complete, we applied bat bug treatment in the attic and any rooms where homeowners found bat bugs.
Once the cleaning and treatment process was complete, we began putting things back together. We installed new T.A.P. insulation as an assurance to guard against any hidden bat bugs and comply with all local building codes. Catseye also provided follow-up inspections and treatments as needed to provide peace of mind.
Preventing bats from ever returning is mission-critical for long-term success. Although every scenario is unique, exclusion services effectively seal off potential entry points, including gaps, cracks, and holes.
In this case, the technician found gaps between the ridge vent and the interior of the attic. We also found problems with the chimney flashing and a gap between the main roof and a dormer. To seal off any potential entry points, Catseye installed our Upper Cat-Guard Exclusion System and RidgeGuard.
One of three Cat-Guard Exclusion Systems, this provided a permanent barrier to keep bats, rodents, and other wildlife from entering the upper portion of the home. The technician fastened the RidgeGuard, a PVC-coated mesh, to the ridge on either side. This system allows proper ventilation while preventing animals and other pests from gnawing through or getting inside.
Contact Catseye for More Bat Bug Treatment Information
Our East Hamden client was able to restore peace of mind and enjoy their home without worrying about bats and a bat bug infestation. The best way to get rid of bat bugs is by partnering with a professional with the expertise and equipment needed to get the job done correctly. From the initial inspection to follow-up visits and recurring treatments as needed, Catseye always has our clients’ best interests in mind. We also offer extensive training and state-of-the-art equipment.
Trips to the tool shed have become lively during these waning weeks of summer. Upon approaching the shed door, I am often buzzed by one or more baldfaced hornets. These intimidating predators with nasty stingers never mount an assault. Their agitation seems more like that old W.C. Fields chestnut “Get away from me kid, you bother me.” Obviously, my presence interrupts some important work underway. So, what is the deal with hornets and the tool shed? Closer observation revealed hornets gnawing on the T-111 siding of the aging shed. At this time of year, nests of many social wasps like the baldfaced hornets and their cousins, yellowjackets, are running at a fever pitch. Wasps gnawing wood began several months ago, when a single female baldfaced hornet, a queen that survived winter, began to construct a nest. Using powerful jaws, she stripped plant fibers from dead branches (and maybe my tool shed) and miraculously combined them with saliva to produce high-quality papery pulp. Her paper was shaped into chambers for brood and a weatherproof cover for her nest. Larvae that hatched from the eggs she laid were fed macerated caterpillars, flies, moths, and other insects captured by the queen. These larvae soon developed into workers that assisted the queen in gathering food, enlarging the nest, and tending to the needs of their sisters and the queen.
Over the past few weeks, a trip to the tool shed has included close encounters with baldfaced hornets. No aggression here, but it became pretty obvious that I was interrupting their business. Watch and listen to this worker as she gnaws at the wood to collect wood fibers. A miraculous concoction of wood fibers and saliva will be turned into pulp and formed into paper to build chambers for brood and an ever-expanding cover for the nest.
As the colony grew, the mother queen spent less time out foraging and more time at home laying eggs. Her daughters shouldered the load of finding dinner for their sisters and mom and gathering wood fibers, the raw material necessary for enlarging the nest. With the approach of autumn, the rapidly growing nest is in a constant state of transition. Portions of the exterior papery envelope are removed to accommodate an ever-expanding number of brood cells. By late summer the colony is in high gear, with hundreds of workers capturing prey and raising young while the queen busily lays eggs. As summer wanes, workers will build over-sized brood cells into which the queen deposits eggs destined to become new queens and males. The founding mother queen then dies, and virgin queens fly away and mate before seeking hibernal shelter under bark, inside fallen logs, or in other protected locations. There is a common misconception that the large paper nest will house hornets for multiple seasons. This is not the case. Before winter, the nest is vacated by workers, queens, and males and it will not be used again in subsequent years.
A look inside the nest reveals sisters hard at work tending the brood. Larvae squirm and poke their heads from papery cells as the workers move about the brood combs.
If you come across a large paper wasp nest, please resist any urges to investigate the nest too closely or hurl stones at it. I succumbed to this misguided temptation at age eleven and pegged a large nest with a stone from the distance of about twenty feet, a marvelous toss indeed. I was immediately greeted by an angry hornet that made a beeline from the nest to a spot on my forehead where it delivered a wicked sting, the kind of “kill shot” that snipers make in movies. I high-tailed it out of range and never again tempted a hornet’s wrath. The sting of a baldfaced hornet really packs a wallop and some people are allergic to the venom in the sting. If you are stung by a baldfaced hornet or other wasps or bees and have difficulty breathing, swelling in the face, throat, or mouth, difficulty swallowing, anxiety (beyond that of being stung), rapid pulse, or dizziness, seek medical attention instantly. If the nest is out of the way and does not endanger people, perhaps it can be left alone. These hornets consume large numbers of pests in our gardens and landscapes. If the nest is located in a place frequented by people or pets, then removal may be necessary. Professional exterminators can do the job. People allergic to stings of wasps, hornets, or bees should not undertake this task, as baldfaced hornets are quite aggressive. Potent wasp and hornet sprays are available for home use, but if you choose this option be sure to carefully read and follow directions on the label.
We thank Ivan and Patricia for providing the inspiration for this Bug of the Week after discovering a nest of baldfaced hornets attached to their home. The ever-fascinating book “The Insect Societies” by E.O. Wilson was used as a reference for this episode.
Along the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to Florida a delightful small dragonfly called the Seaside Dragonlet makes saline pools its home. This small dragonfly is unique among its kin by virtue of the fact that it is the only member of the order Odonata capable of developing in a marine water source. That’s right, immature stages of other dragonflies live in the fresh water of streams, lakes, ponds, and swamps. Nymphs of the Seaside Dragonlet are able to survive in pools of water with salinities as high as 48%. Now that’s one salty brew.
Unlike highly active dragonflies intent on staking out territories and actively defending them like ones we met in a previous episode, Seaside Dragonlets are described as lethargic and apparently show little interest in defending territories. Most of their time is spent in the leisurely activity of perching on vegetation with their head directed upwind toward the prevailing breeze. Scientists believe an upwind orientation may assist with lift-off when they decide to fly. On a recent visit to coastal Delaware, we were amazed by the vast number of Seaside Dragonlets in the landscape, where they perched on vegetation and blades of Spartina grasses at the edges of marshy pools. Little did the dragonlets know that humans had unintentionally designed a lethal trap for them in the form of marsh-side vacation homes. In a new development of beautiful homes, builders created covered porticos at the front entry of each house. These small porches were illuminated at night by brilliant lights that attracted a wide variety of arthropods. One group of opportunistic arthropods is spiders, predators with a fondness for building webs in nooks and corners of buildings. In past episodes we met pholcid spiders known as daddy-long-legs, web builders along walls and in corners of rooms inside homes. In the benign corners of the illuminated porch of one vacation home, pholcid spiders discovered excellent hunting grounds and set up shop to capture prey. During summertime, Seaside Dragonlets appear to be a staple in their diet.
On a shrub in the front lawn of a bayside home, Seaside Dragonlets perch facing an onshore breeze. In an upper corner of an illuminated porch, the gossamer web of a pholcid spider has snared a dragonlet. Despite attempts to free itself, by the following morning after a lethal encounter with the spider, it has joined other dragonflies and a crane fly in daddy-long-leg’s web of doom.
Near one such home, dozens of Seaside Dragonlets perched on ornamental shrubs and lazily cruised the landscape. In the corner of the front entryway of this home, several dragonlets and other hapless six-leggers were tangled in the loose web of a rather large pholcid spider. As I entered the home one evening, a newly snared dragonlet struggled to break free of the sticky strands of the spider’s web. By morning, its struggles had ended and the dragonlet joined a macabre tableau of ill-fated prey kissed by the lethal fangs of the spider. As you watch the video, you will see a click beetle and crane fly that also succumbed to the spider’s bite. In addition to some dragonflies, several species of beetles, flies, moths, and other insects are attracted to porch lights. These prey items may catch the attention of hungry dragonflies. In an attempt to capture prey of their own, perhaps Seaside Dragonlets unwittingly become snared in the trap set by an even more fearful predator, the daddy-long-leg spider. There is a strange irony to see a dragonfly, an active ariel predator, dispatched by the clever silken contrivance of the patient spider, abetted by lights and corners provided by humans.
Bug of the Week thanks Drs. William Lamp and Jeffery Shultz for providing identifications of the dragonfly and spider, respectively. The following articles were used to prepare this episode: “Observations of dragonflies visiting lights at night” by F. Kon Hong-Qiang, “The Behavior of the Seaside Dragonlet, Erythrodiplax berenice (Odonata: Libellulidae), in a Maine Salt Marsh” by W. Herbert Wilson, Jr., and “Arizona dragonflies” by Ann Cooper.
Last week we visited spotted lanternflies as they continued their march through the DMV and other states in the eastern half of the United States. These killers of grape vines are a major nuisance in residential and commercial landscapes by virtue of their creep-me-out vast numbers and the prodigious amounts of honeydew they excrete as they feed. Honeydew is the sticky sweet waste product squirted from the rear-end of the lanternfly as it sucks nutrient rich phloem sap from a plant. Honeydew rains down on objects below, fouling fruit, foliage, lawn furniture and slow-moving humans that linger too long beneath trees. This carbohydrate rich liquid provides a substrate for a fungus called sooty mold, a black cloak that coats and disfigures underlying objects. Although sooty mold is not pathogenic, it diminishes the plant’s ability to capture energy from sunlight thereby reducing photosynthesis and impairing growth. As we learned in a previous episode, lanternfly honeydew is a favored food source for many kinds of stinging insects including bees and wasps. Recently, a large landscape maintenance firm in the DMV made an unprecedented purchase of cans of wasp and hornet sprays at a local hardware store. When asked “why so many”, the landscaper replied something like “the landscaping crews are running into unreasonable numbers of yellowjackets and various wasps as they clean up landscapes.”
On tree of heaven coated with sugary honeydew excreted by lanternflies and cloaked in black sooty mold, yellowjackets, paper wasps, and hornets forage. Along the edge and within a forest conservation area loaded with tree of heaven, several eastern yellowjackets have set up shop. Lanternflies nearby provide a ready source of food. Work and studies within the site have become spicy this summer due to the presence of stinging insects. Could recent reports of elevated numbers of wasp nests be linked to increasing numbersof lanternflies in areas infested with this invader? Only Mother Nature and the wasps really know.
Unlike the nests of bees, the nests of yellowjackets contain no honey or pollen. Yellowjacket larvae eat meat and carbohydrate rich foods gathered by the workers. In this regard, yellowjackets are beneficial because they kill many caterpillars and beetles that are pests in our gardens. By late summer and early autumn, colonies may contain thousands of workers and are often about the size of a football. Under extraordinary circumstances, some nests may persist for more than one year and reach gigantic proportions. There are reports of monster yellowjacket nests in southern states reaching the size of a “Volkswagen Beetle”. Yikes! I sure wouldn’t want to bump into one of those with the lawn mower. Well, as summer wanes towards autumn, colonies of many social wasps including yellowjackets, bald-faced hornets, and paper wasps will operate at a fevered pitch as they try to feed massive numbers of brood in their nests. As we learned in previous episodes, nests are aggressively defended and intruders are attacked with extreme prejudice.
Lil’ Rover demonstrates what happens when you sit on a nest of yellowjackets, but don’t worry, Lil’ Rover has thick fur and was not harmed in the making of this video.
The venom of yellowjackets and their kin has evolved to bring maximum pain to vertebrates like skunks that pillage their nests. Encounters with these fierce ladies confirm that their venom brings agony to humans as well. Yellowjackets are capable of multiple stings, but only to a limited extent. Contrary to common belief, they have small barbs on their stingers and some may lose their stingers after an attack. If you are stung, apply ice to the site of the sting to reduce some of the damage and pain. Sting relieving ointments and creams are available in pharmacies and sporting goods stores and may help reduce the pain and itching. If you know that you are allergic and are stung, seek medical attention immediately. If you are stung and experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or swallowing, hives on your body, disorientation, lightheadedness or other unusual symptoms, call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention immediately. Desensitization therapy has proven very helpful to many people with allergies to stings of bees and wasps.
At Bug of the Week’s five-acre SLF tracking site, prior to the arrival of SLF a single eastern yellowjacket nest was discovered in the ground in 2021. With the arrival of lanternflies at the site in 2022, two yellowjacket nests were discovered near groves of tree of heaven, and with thousands of lanternflies spewing honeydew in 2023, five colonies of eastern yellowjackets have been discovered at the site to date. Adding even more moments of shock and awe to work at our study site are bald-faced hornets, which constructed an additional nest in a pile of brush. It could be coincidental that both lanternflies and stinging wasps are on the uptick due to some other environmental circumstance rather than being linked. At this point in time, we simply do not know. If you encounter a yellowjacket or bald-faced hornet nest and the nest is unlikely to be encountered by humans or pets, you may simply leave it alone. As mentioned before, these wasps help reduce populations of pests. If the nest is in a place that threatens you, children, or pets, you may consider eliminating it. Commercial pest control operators can assist you in this. I have purchased aerosol sprays, applied them according to instructions on the label, usually at night or in the evening, and had excellent success. Please be careful around these fierce ladies or you might feel their wrath.
Bug of the Week thanks Dr. Nancy Breisch for sharing her expertise and knowledge about stinging insects. We thank bold landscape managers and arborists for providing inspiration for this episode and Randy Taylor for sharing his pretty yellowjacket nest with us.
For every human on this planet, there are approximately 2.5 million ants. Recent research revealed that the global ant population is 20 quadrillion — possibly more.
With that kind of number, it’s little wonder that these small, industrious, important members of the ecosystem also routinely top lists of common household pests. The National Pest Management Association reports that infestations of carpenter, odorous house, and pavement ants are among the most common. Infestations occur everywhere, including single-family homes, apartments, office buildings, restaurants, hospitals, and more.
Dealing with ants can be very frustrating, and it’s essential to approach ant control with care and caution. Although it’s natural to consider DIY ant control for a fast fix, these methods often open the door to more problems while failing to eliminate the ants.
Let’s explore ant removal and control methods to better understand all the available options and the pros and cons of each one.
The Risks of DIY Ant Control
On the plus side, DIY ant control methods like ant baits and insect sprays are readily available and relatively inexpensive. However, although these methods may appear to be a cost-effective and easy solution to the problem at hand, DIY ant control is rarely effective. Not only will you most likely not eliminate the infestation, but you will expose yourself, family members, and pets to potentially dangerous chemicals.
DIY Methods Rarely Solve the Problem
You may see short-term ant control after spraying an insecticide, but once the product wears off, the pests often return. Chemical products can be too weak or too harsh to safely eliminate the problem. You could still have an ant infestation, even after risking poisoning people or pets with the chemicals in DIY pest control products.
When you try to deal with an ant infestation on your own, you are only addressing the ants you see. These options do little to get to the root of the infestation, which can eventually lead to large, expanding colonies and property damage.
Ant Bait Must Be Carefully Tailored to the Ant Species
Additionally, it’s important to note that different ants require different treatments. For example, if you are using ant baits, odorous house ants prefer baits that are sweet, while other ants prefer protein or grease-based baits. Likewise, fast-killing baits may work too quickly to eradicate the entire colony. Not using enough bait is equally problematic because it only kills a portion of the ants, allowing the rest of the colony to continue to grow.
DIY Ant Control Relies on Harsh Chemicals
Even if you are not using bait stations, you are likely turning to cans of ant-killing sprays that contain potentially hazardous chemicals. These products can cause irritation of the skin and eyes, respiratory problems, and allergic reactions. Inadvertently swallowing or inhaling these chemicals can be harmful, which is why following label directions is essential. Trusting the application process to licensed professionals helps ensure that it is done safely and effectively.
Benefits of Professional Ant Control
Using DIY ant control methods rarely eliminates ant infestations at the source and poses potential hazards to people and property. That’s why Catseye Pest Control recommends leaving ant control to the professionals. Licensed, trained technicians can mitigate the risks while providing thorough, effective ant removal and preventing future infestations.
Experts Can Tailor the Treatment to the Species of Ant Invading Your Space
Not every treatment option works for every type of ant. That’s one of the major failings of DIY options. Professionals, on the other hand, have the education and expertise to identify the ant species infesting your home or business and provide appropriate treatments.
Professionals Safeguard Your Health and Well-Being
Catseye’s technicians are highly trained and educated on safety and the proper use of all pesticides and other ant control strategies. Pros can advise you on if and how long you and any other people and pets should avoid treatment areas, and they use commercial-grade equipment to eradicate infestations safely.
You Will Save Money in the Long Run
At first glance, DIY products seem like the most budget-friendly option — until you factor in the ineffective performance and possible health risks. Many people use sprays, baits, and natural DIY treatments first, only to end up calling for professional help anyway. By that point, the infestation has often grown significantly, requiring more extensive services.
Catseye Pest Control’s Approach to Ant Control
At Catseye, we do things a little bit differently. We are dedicated to not only meeting, but exceeding our customers’ expectations, starting with our free inspections and customized treatment plans. Our approach to ant control starts with a thorough inspection to locate the colony, identify the ants, and decide on the optimal treatment strategy. We inject the nests to flush them out, add bait treatments when appropriate, provide spot treatments, and repair damage as needed.
When to Call a Professional
Ideally, you should call a professional as soon as you realize you have an infestation. If you try DIY methods and don’t get results within a week or you notice ants returning, it’s time to call a pro. So much more goes into eradicating and controlling ant colonies than simply spraying the ants you see. A professional will provide safe, effective treatment that gets lasting results.
Don’t Risk DIY Ant Control, Contact Catseye to Get Rid of Ants Permanently
DIY methods for ant removal and control may seem like they are inexpensive and easy, but they don’t get to the source of the infestation, allowing the colony to continue growing. When you work with Catseye, you will enjoy long-term results and cost savings. You also enjoy the peace of mind that only comes from knowing your home is protected from ants and other pests, including rodents and nuisance wildlife.
This week we turn to the Bug of the Week mailbag to explore why some folks are seeing more spotted lanternflies (SLF) around their homes and in their landscapes.
Reason 1. Since first detected in the US almost a decade ago, SLF has made an astounding range expansion from their entry point in Berks County, Pennsylvania to Huntington County, Indiana more than 580 miles away. This feat was not accomplished on their own. SLF are believed to move only a matter of several miles by walking, hopping, and flying. Nope, these vagabonds are super stowaways and heinous hitch hikers, moving as eggs, nymphs, and adults on vehicles, lawn furniture, plants, and other natural and human-made objects. Here in the DMV and adjacent states like Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, they made beachheads and rapidly colonized several counties. All counties in New Jersey and Delaware house breeding populations, with Maryland not far behind. Larger states like Pennsylvania and Virginia still have uninfested counties but one look at Figure 1 suggests that these states are trending toward full saturation. Bug of the Week’s outdoor SLF tracking site near Antietam Battlefield in Maryland discovered a couple dozen SLF adults in 2022. Last week hundreds of adults festooned branches and trunks of trees. Dramatic population explosions are underway in several landscapes in the DMV and in some 14 states in eastern North America with new detections of infestations being reported on a weekly basis. So yes, due to range expansion there are indeed more lanternflies to be seen today in the US than there were just a few years ago.
Reason 2. The second and perhaps more salient reason why there seem to be more SLF has to do with their seasonal phenology, that is the regular progression of development, survival, and activity throughout the year. In a previous episode in early May, we met tiny SLF nymphs as they hatched from eggs that survived winter’s onslaughts. Shortly after hatch, active feeding stages of spotted lanternfly were at their peak. Since early May, local populations of SLF dramatically declined as lethal weather events like cold and rain, murderous predators like spiders, mantises, and assassin bugs, diseases caused by fungi, and pesticide applications have taken their toll. The illusion that there are now more SLF than there were a few months ago has two explanations. First and foremost is the fact that adult SLF are roughly 10 times larger in size than tiny hatchling nymphs. Bigger bugs are easier to see. Second, these adult rascals are on the move, taking wing and winding up on the side of a house, on a sidewalk, lawn chair, or favored tree. While young, SLF nymphs feed on a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, more than 70 species of host plants are known. Nymphs are widely distributed in the landscape. Adults are most frequently found on a smaller sample of trees with invasive tree of heaven high on the list, and maples, walnuts, and a few others also commonly mobbed. Highly mobile adults and hordes of sap-sucking adults create a mien of many more lanternflies.
As we enter the period of adult migration, feeding, honeydew production, grape vine ravaging, and general annoyance, people will be wondering what to do. One popular and highly touted tactic is to do a little tap dance on SLF adults stranded on sidewalks or on the ground. The logic here is that every other SLF killed will be one less to lay eggs. Oh, every other bug because only females lay eggs and the sex ratio is likely 50:50, get it? Unfortunately, in the early stages of the SLF invasion, some 1.5 million SLF were killed by noble volunteers in Berks and nearby counties, yet these scoundrels managed to spread to surrounding counties and states more than 500 miles away. The contribution of stomping and squishing to reductions in SLF populations remains a mystery. Nonetheless, as Sheryl Crow opined, “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”, so squish away if it makes you happy.
In April and May when millions of spotted lanternflies hatched, this year’s crop of lanternflies was at its zenith. As tiny black and white nymphs dispersed, they fed on myriad herbaceous and woody plants. Their colors changed from black and white to red, black, and white as they developed. Their numbers dramatically declined as weather, beneficial insects and diseases, and human interventions took their toll. Although fewer survived, when large adults gather to feed on favored trees or land on humans and buildings, their presence will be observed by more people. Many will perish on sidewalks and roads beneath the tires of vehicles and feet of humans.
What’s the bright spot here? Well, my tree care guys, certified arborists near ground zero in Pennsylvania, report that SLF populations have declined noticeably since the early years of the invasion in the late 20-teens. How so? Well, the aforementioned push-back by Mother Nature’s hit squad of predators, parasitoids, and pathogens coupled with host plant removal and highly efficacious and well-timed insecticide applications all help mitigate problems created by SLF. Quarantines enacted by several states appear to be slowing the spread of SLF on a regional scale. Let’s hope that the combined efforts of Mother Nature and clever humans can help keep this nocent invader at bay.
Bug of the Week thanks members of the Penn-Dell and Mid-Atlantic chapters of the International Society of Arboriculture for providing the inspiration for this episode and Dr. Shrewsbury for spotting and wrangling spotted lanternflies. We acknowledge the great work of scientists contributing to our knowledge of this pest with particular thanks to authors of articles and aforementioned websites used as references, including “Perspective: shedding light on spotted lanternfly impacts in the USA” by Julie M. Urban, “Dispersal of Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) Nymphs Through Contiguous, Deciduous Forest” by Joseph A. Keller, Anne E. Johnson, Osariyekemwen Uyi, Sarah Wurzbacher, David Long, and Kelli Hoover, “The Establishment Risk of Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) in the United States and Globally” by Tewodros T. Wakie, Lisa G. Neven, Wee L. Yee, and Zhaozhi Lu, and “Applications of Beauveria bassiana (Hypocreales: Cordycipitaceae) to Control Populations of Spotted Lanternfly (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae), in Semi-Natural Landscapes and on Grapevines” by Eric H. Clifton, Ann E. Hajek, Nina E. Jenkins, Richard T. Roush, John P. Rost, and David J. Biddinger. Thanks to Brian Eshenaur and the entire team at the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program of Cornell University for providing the updated maps of spotted lanternfly in the US.