What’s all this chirping about? Ask the fall field cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus

What’s all this chirping about? Ask the fall field cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus

 

While some home invaders are unwelcomed guests, the annual visit by field crickets always provides a bit of alright.

While some home invaders are unwelcomed guests, the annual visit by field crickets always provides a bit of alright.

 

In previous episodes we visited rather unsavory home invaders like stink bugs and camel crickets. This week let’s meet a most entertaining and downright amusing visitor, the fall field cricket. Several weeks ago, chirps from the basement heralded the annual invasion of field crickets to my home. Last week at 4:35 am I was awakened by the loud earnest chirping of a field cricket somewhere in the basement. With my sleep seriously disturbed and my cell-phone on the nightstand, I seized the opportunity to see how well chirps of this diminutive troubadour tracked ambient temperature. Here’s how it works. As you know, insects are cold blooded. Their body temperature is more or less the same as the environment that surrounds them unless the insect is basking in the sun or using muscles to elevate its temperature like the dobsonfly we met in a previous episode. Many years ago, a noted entomologist, Richard Alexander, demonstrated a simple relationship between ambient temperature and the how often a cricket chirped. Simply count the number of chirps in 15 seconds, add 37, and you will approximate the ambient temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. With sleep impossible, cell phone in hand, stopwatch enabled, I sampled my cricket’s chirps several times at 15 second intervals over the next few minutes. The average number of chirps per 15 seconds was 40. So, this little guy (only males chirp) reported my household temperature to be 40 + 37, or roughly 77 degrees. A quick check of the household digital thermostat revealed a temperature of 74 degrees. So, the cricket’s estimate was but a few chirps away from being spot on.  

This little field cricket demonstrates his skill at helping humans estimate ambient temperatures. Counting the number of chirps in 15 seconds and adding 37 provides an estimate of ambient temperature. Let’s see how well this works.

filescraper copy 2_2000.jpg

Melodious male crickets bear a multi-ridged structure called the file on one forewing. The opposite forewing bears a hardened structure called the scraper. As wings open and close, the file moves across the scraper creating vibrations, chirps, that resonate from the cricket’s wings.

Although some might think so, helping humans figure out ambient temperature is unlikely the reason why crickets chirp. A few years ago, I tracked two male crickets, one of which was missing a hind leg, and a rather portly female. Never one to stand in the way of romance, I captured the trio and placed them in a small terrarium. Within moments the smaller male, the five-legged fellow named Pete, challenged his cohabitant, Bud, to a duel that resulted in boisterous chirping, snapping of jaws, and grappling with forelegs. The more aggressive Bud soon vanquished his challenger and Pete retreated to a quiet corner of the terrarium. Crickets battle for food and mates and chirping is a part of this. For centuries Chinese gamblers have wagered high stakes on the outcome of cricket fights.  An interesting trick used by the cricket handlers to resuscitate losers of bouts is to shake the defeated warriors and toss them in the air several times. This dramatically reduces the recovery time and allows the small combatants to return to the arena in minutes rather than the regular convalescent period of hours or days. A study published in Nature scientific journal confirmed the success of this therapy in helping defeated crickets regain their fighting spirit. Rather than interrupt Nature’s course, I allowed Pete to sulk in the corner. Shortly after his victory, Bud initiated a series of soft chirps and his efforts were soon rewarded by a visit from the robust female, Wendy.  

What useful information is carried in the male cricket’s song other than the typical male plea for female attention? A fascinating study by two Finnish scientists of the Mediterranean field cricket, Gryllus bimaculatus, found a link between the male cricket’s song and his immune response. Troubadours with a highly attractive song also had superior immune systems. If the ability to ward off diseases due to superior immune function is passed along to progeny, then females that choose a mate with an enhanced immune system may ensure better survival of their offspring. By demonstrating his superior immune system with a song, the male cricket may win the lady.  

One last thought about the cricket and his song relates to Old Man Winter, who is just around the corner. Of course, once winter’s chill arrives in a few weeks and temperatures plummet, crickets will not be chirping at all. Rather than depending on crickets to let you know how cold it is outside, time will be better spent inside pondering crickets and their songs over a mug of steaming hot chocolate. 

Acknowledgements

The following articles were used in preparation for this Bug of the Week: ‘Courtship song and immune function in the field cricket Gryllus bimaculatus” by Markus Rantala and Raine Kortet, “Aggressiveness recovers much faster in male crickets forced to fly after a defeat” by Hans A. Hofmann and Paul A. Stevenson, and “Seasonal and daily chirping cycles in the northern spring and fall field crickets Gryllus veletis and Gryllus pennsylvanicus” by Richard Alexander and Gerald Meral.

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Lace bugs help put the “sick” in sycamore: Sycamore lace bug, Corythucha ciliata

 

A beautiful sycamore lace bug seems to stand guard near her recently laid clutch of eggs.

A beautiful sycamore lace bug seems to stand guard near her recently laid clutch of eggs.

 

American sycamore is a magnificent native tree often found growing along streams and rivers. Although it thrives in rich, moist soils, its ability to survive stressful environmental conditions such as poor soils, drought, heat, and pollution has earned sycamore a valued place in cities and residential landscapes worldwide. Here in the DMV by the middle of summer and reliably by the month of October, some sycamores just look sick. Their leaves have turned from verdant green to anemic yellow. This is not just the work of Mother Nature signaling the tree to prepare for winter. Since late spring, many sycamores have had the life sucked out of them by thousands of tiny sap-sucking insects called sycamore lace bugs. We met relatives of the sycamore lace bug in a previous episode of Bug of the Week called “And may all your azaleas be white.”

Oh my, hundreds of sycamore lace bug feeding punctures on the bottom of a leaf translate into a galaxy of white stipples on the upper surface of a leaf.

Oh my, hundreds of sycamore lace bug feeding punctures on the bottom of a leaf translate into a galaxy of white stipples on the upper surface of a leaf.

One leafy subject I examined this week had more than 200 lace bug eggs, nymphs, and adults on the undersides of several of its leaves. Beautiful but pernicious is the adult lace bug. Delicate outermost wings with numerous lacey veins give this bug its common name. And these wings are not just adornment. They can be tilted like a shield to ward off attacks by would-be predators like lacewing larvae or ladybugs. As autumn ends, adult lace bugs find protected places beneath bark or debris on the ground to spend the winter. In spring shortly after new leaves are formed, they return to the foliage and attach small black barrel-shaped eggs onto the leaf’s surface. The highly fecund female can lay more than 200 eggs during the course of her lifetime. Tiny black nymphs festooned with rows of spines hatch from these eggs. Like their parents, lace bug nymphs have a beak used to rupture cells and withdraw nutritious liquid contents. The combined feeding of nymphs and adults results in many tiny white stipples visible on the upper leaf surface. The lower surface of the leaf is a mess of nymphs and adults, shed skins, eggs inserted into leaves, and dark fecal spots – the spoils of the ongoing feast. As numbers of lace bugs grow and successive generations feed on leaves, stipples increase and sometimes coalesce in a way that makes the entire leaf appear yellow or bronze.

White stipples on the upper leaf surface of sycamores may reveal adult sycamore lace bugs on the lower surface. Look for barrel-shaped eggs, spiny nymphs, shed skins, beautiful adults, and nasty tar-like fecal deposits left behind by lace bugs as they feed. Dense infestations may accelerate discoloration and early abscission of sycamore leaves.

Sycamores looking a little yellow and sick? Could be the mischief of sycamore lace bugs.

Sycamores looking a little yellow and sick? Could be the mischief of sycamore lace bugs.

Lace bug development is temperature dependent and, as the world warms and our cities grow hotter, lace bugs may be able to complete more generations each year. If lace bugs and their damage are too great, the sycamore may simply drop its leaves and bring a premature end to the lace bug’s shenanigans. Other factors such as lack of nutrients or water may also cause sycamore leaves to turn yellow and fall, but one sure way to rule lace bugs out or in is to turn the leaves over and inspect them for the telltale signs of a lace bug infestation – lace bugs at all life stages, shed skins, and their fecal deposits. We often lament the fact that so many pests of our forests and gardens, like emerald ash borer, brown marmorated stink bug, and spotted lanternfly, arrived in North America from foreign lands. In the game of global economic tit for tat, our native sycamore lace bug is another example of a pest we have shared with other neighbors around the world, including more than three dozen nations in North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceana, where sycamores are widely planted and now regularly attacked by this insect. 

Acknowledgements

We thank Veronica Robinson and John Neal for providing the inspiration for this episode. The interesting references “Corythucha ciliata (sycamore lace bug)” at the CABI website https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/16264#tosummaryOfInvasiveness, and “Managing Insects and Mites on Woody Plants: an IPM Approach” by John Davidson and Michael Raupp, were used as references for this episode.

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What Does a Cockroach Nest Look Like?

Learn How to Identify a Cockroach Nest & the Best way to Safely Remove a Nest from Your Home or Business

Few pests are as universally hated as cockroaches. But its reputation is more than well-deserved.

The invasive pest will eat almost anything — including feces. Cockroaches also tend to carry or spread diseases such as dysentery, cholera, and typhoid fever, which can be quite alarming for homeowners and business owners alike.

Additionally, cockroaches can trigger allergic reactions like asthma and dermatitis.  

The pest tends to live, hide, and forage in groups or colonies for survival. A single colony can have hundreds of cockroaches.  

So, if one cockroach is spotted, it usually leads to the discovery of more — quite a lot more.

A truly frightening thought for anyone if a cockroach is spotted scurrying across the floor.

Even more alarming is how efficiently cockroaches can mate and reproduce. The insect can reproduce quickly and in large numbers.

After just a few weeks an immature cockroach can become a mature adult, ready to reproduce. Depending on the cockroach species, a female can produce between six and 14 ootheca egg capsules.

These oothecas can contain upwards of 40 eggs and can take approximately 28 days to hatch.

A single female cockroach can birth approximately 200 offspring within her lifetime.

Depending on the species of cockroach, that lifespan can be anywhere between 100 days to over a year.

With all the trouble cockroaches cause, it’s important for homeowners and business owners to understand what to do in the event that cockroaches have moved in.

This includes learning about where cockroaches gather and hide after foraging — the roach nest.

But knowing how to find and identify a cockroach nest is only part of the battle.

Contacting a knowledgeable pest control specialist to eliminate the problem helps to ensure that the pest is fully eradicated from the property and reduces the risk of reinfestation.

What is a Cockroach Nest?

Normally, pests that live in colonies can be identified by the nest. Bees, for instance, live in honeycombed hives with a clear hierarchy in which the queen reigns over her workers.

But there is no such hierarchy in cockroach colonies. And a cockroach nest isn’t a single, meticulously constructed entity.

Instead, cockroach colonies are groups or hordes that hide together in a shared space after foraging at night.

The pest is not a truly social insect and is therefore without a queen. Instead, the pest is considered to be gregarious and will congregate during times of rest — typically during daylight hours.

So, rather than a structured habitat, a roach nest tends to look like a messy area cluttered with:

  • Grown roaches: Adult cockroaches retreat to the nest to avoid daylight and predators.
  • Nymphs: Tiny, baby cockroaches which are often light brown or white in color.
  • Oothecas: Although just 1/4-inch in length, these brown, pill-shaped egg cases can hold upwards of 40 cockroach eggs.
  • Molten exoskeletons: Cockroaches shed their hard shells as they grow. Nymphs will shed multiple times until they reach maturity, littering the nest with their molten remains.
  • Droppings: Tiny, oval-shaped specks, cockroach droppings that resemble mouse feces, but can be differentiated by the ridges on the sides.

brown German cockroach nymphs surrounding a light brown cockroach egg case on white floor

Cockroaches form groups by producing chemicals called aggregation pheromones as signals to other roaches.

These pheromones emit a musty odor. If a musty smell or tiny pellet-like droppings can be traced throughout a property or home, it may be a sign of a cockroach nest.

The discovery of a single cockroach nest can possibly lead to a substantial infestation.

Where Are Cockroach Nests Typically Found in the Home?

Cockroaches, even ones of a larger size like the American cockroach, can gain access to a structure through the smallest crevices and entryways.

Points of entry can include cracks in the building’s foundation, piping, siding, and drainage systems.

Once the pest has infiltrated a property, it will look for a place to build a nest or habitat. American roaches tend to create roach nests in basements and crawlspaces.

Because cockroaches prefer secluded areas, the nests are established in places that are typically difficult to see or reach. Within a home or building, roach nests are likely to be found:

  • Behind or inside kitchen appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers.
  • Throughout cluttered and insulated attics or basements with boilers and water heaters.
  • Inside cabinets, especially sink or plumbing cabinets that lead to drainage systems.
  • Within pantries, cupboards, drawers, or other places where food is stored.

In the U.S., the two most common species of cockroaches are German and American cockroaches. German cockroaches are smaller, and typically found in kitchens and bathrooms.

Able to produce six generations per year, this cockroach species is small in size but mighty in numbers.

Cockroaches prefer concealed areas that have easy access to food, moisture, water, and heat. So, finding roach nests isn’t an easy task for the untrained eye.

While roach droppings, musty smells, molten cockroach exoskeletons, and broken oothecas can help lead to the nest, it’s best to call a licensed pest control expert who can locate and remove the nest with ease.

Expert help is especially necessary for cockroach infestations, as do-it-yourself methods are often fruitless.

Untrained individuals who use DIY methods almost always fail to completely eradicate this resilient pest from the property — making reinfestation an inevitability.

With the help of a licensed specialist, individuals won’t have to worry about confronting the nest alone and can rest easy knowing it will be properly removed from the premises.

Eliminate a Cockroach Infestation with Catseye Pest Control

Business owners and homeowners have a lot on their plates but handling a cockroach infestation or removing a nest should never be on their task list.

As disease-carriers, cockroaches present a health hazard to everyone in the home, office, or other building.

Moreover, a cockroach colony and its nest are hard to find and remove completely without expert help.

To ensure the safety of yourself and loved ones, contact Catseye Pest Control to take care of a roach nest or infestation.

Catseye’s Cockroach Removal Program successfully eradicates the invasive pests using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods.

IPM methods allow our pest control technicians to eliminate an issue in a way that is effective and environmentally friendly — and customized to the unique needs of the property.

These methods can leave you with peace of mind knowing that it is safe for children, pets, and guests.

To keep your home or property cockroach-free and get back to enjoying your space without worry or fear, contact us today.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

Catseye Pest Control Makes PCT’s Top 100 List of Best Pest Companies in 2021

Learn How Consistent Performance & Quality Customer Service Made Catseye Pest Control One of the Best Pest Control Companies in the Country

Each year, Pest Control Technology Magazine (PCT) releases its ranking of the 100 best pest control companies in the country, known as PCT’s Top 100 List.  

PCT Magazine is the leading business-to-business publication for the structural pest control industry in both the United States and Canada.

Currently, there are over 25,000 pest control businesses in the U.S. alone, so making PCT’s Top 100 List is not only incredibly competitive but also impressive.

Now, in PCT’s 20th year since issuing the first ranking in 2002, the magazine has awarded Catseye Pest Control an esteemed spot in PCT’s 2021 Top 100 List.

This honor speaks to Catseye’s immense growth as a brand and company since the business’ founding in 1987.

Placing in PCT’s 2021 Top 100 List showcases Catseye’s ability to evolve and deliver the high-quality services clients have come to know and expect. 

In the wake of receiving this award, Catseye Pest Control President Joe Dingwall reflects back on the successes of the company and how the staff rose to the occasion during the pandemic in order to be considered one of the best pest control companies in the country.

“Throughout the pandemic, our staff have found creative ways to respond to the needs of our clients. By coming up with new, inventive methods, we’ve maintained our high standards while also prioritizing the safety of our customers and ourselves,” Dingwall said.

Catseye Pest Control’s PCT Top 100-Worthy Customer Service Policy

What truly sets Catseye apart from other companies in the industry is the dedication to offering personalized customer service to each client, ensuring their individual needs have been met.

In accordance with the company’s customer service policy, no matter the type of pest, nuisance wildlife, or service, each client receives a free inspection by a licensed pest control expert.

Once the property is assessed, a customized plan is made to target the issue and stymie any chance of recurrence.

Clients who have been enrolled in the year-round Platinum Home Protection Program are guaranteed a full refund if the technician’s work didn’t live up to expectations. This guarantee attests to the company’s dedication in providing the best solutions and services to all clients.

Thanks to this risk-free service, clients who choose Catseye can feel rest assured that the trained and knowledgeable technicians will work to regain control of the property and help restore peace of mind.

Moreover, clients who desire environmentally friendly solutions can enroll in Catseye’s pest prevention programs, such as Cat-Guard Exclusion Systems, which use non-toxic barriers rather than chemicals to control wildlife infestations.

And unlike the competition, our clients receive their own customer service representative, which makes communication easy, personable, and efficient.

Clients are also given an online account, adding another layer of convenience many of us desire during our busy days.

Through these online accounts, customers can make payments and receive important information like service schedules, updates, and reports on all assignments.

Additionally, a service scan system is installed on the property. Through the Catseye Service Scan System, clients are able to see who serviced the affected area and when.

All information is recorded and automatically uploaded to the client’s account. This added step ensures that the client remains aware of what’s going on, in addition to how the property is being treated.

By communicating and establishing trust with clients, Catseye has been able to create a community built on customer satisfaction and employee interest.

How Catseye Pest Control Acted as An Essential Service During COVID-19

Catseye has ranked multiple times throughout the past decade on the PCT Top 100 List. This accomplishment speaks as a testament to the company’s ability to adapt and develop.

Due to social-distance protocols and stay-at-home orders, businesses faced uncertainty throughout 2020.

But Catseye continued to thrive as technicians worked tirelessly to help ease the minds of business owners and employees.

With the spread of COVID-19, the need to feel at ease and create a safe environment was of the utmost importance.

To do so, Catseye technicians used the ViralGuard service, an advanced disinfecting service that utilizes a disinfectant registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for commercial properties.

This service expands upon the commercial disinfection services by tailoring it to combat SARS-CoV-2, the bacteria responsible for COVID-19.

ViralGuard also protects against other viruses, including E. coli and avian influenza.

Through ViralGuard’s in-depth sanitation treatments using EPA-registered disinfectants, Catseye has been able to help essential services, such as police stations, function safely.

Catseye Pest Control technician wearing fully encapsulated PPE disinfecting a black and white police SUV

These services have also been beneficial for businesses throughout a variety of industries — including hospitality and education.

And, for interior pest preventative services like Cat-Guard, Catseye has found creative ways to limit contact — allowing clients and technicians to remain socially distanced.

Through these solutions, clients have been able to receive regular maintenance and service checkups safely.

Providing high-quality customer service is paramount. It’s about more than maintaining a position on the PCT Top 100 list. It’s also about ensuring peace of mind for everyone our technicians work with.

What Makes Catseye A PCT Top 100 Company?

To be considered a PCT Top 100 company, a pest control firm must display stellar management and business practices.

After being in the industry for over 30 years, elite leadership, customer service, and quality pest control management have become second nature.

But ranking in the 2021 Top 100 List is a particularly noteworthy honor.

“We’ve reached the PCT Top 100 while only being in the New England market for four years. Considering the timeline, that’s a significant accomplishment,” Dingwall said.

But it’s not the accolades that drive the staff.

Rather, this year’s honor attests to the consistent service based on the core values of communication, caring, understanding, and trust.

“It’s the ability to be flexible in order to meet the needs of our customers, community, and employees that are key factors to our growth as a company,” explained Dingwall.

“We’ve developed specialized disinfection services, like ViralGuard and limited the frequency of our interior pest control services with Cat-Guard. All of these adjustments we’ve made out of respect and concern for our staff and clients,” he continued.

The awards serve as recognition for the tremendous efforts that have been put in place to improve services for customers and employees alike.

Receive Professional Pest, Wildlife & Disinfection Services  

Whether it’s a business, facility, or residence, ensuring customers feel at ease in their own space is our top priority.

Each of our services can be tailored to fit the specific needs of the property to ensure the situation is handled properly — whether it’s our disinfection services or the removal of a nuisance wildlife critter.

To learn more about how Catseye can service your property, contact us today.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

Beware of zesty drinks! Yellowjackets, Vespula, bumble bees, Bombus, carpenter bees, Xylocopa, and honey bees, Apis, can really spice up soft drinks

 

Uh oh, better check that soda can to see if a zesty surprise awaits inside.

Uh oh, better check that soda can to see if a zesty surprise awaits inside.

 

If this episode of Bug of the Week reads like a public service announcement, well, that’s because it is. While our usual episodes demystify insects and revel in their curious and marvelous behaviors, every now and then something a bit unseemly pops up and warrants attention. In past episodes we have quelled fears of murder hornet invasions in the DMV, provided information to thwart mosquitoes and ticks, and addressed autumnal invasions of stink bugs, spiders, and other creepy creatures. This week we aim to help you avoid a nasty surprise at your October picnic.

yellowj2 copy1500.jpg

Apple sauce in a cup is an irresistible source of sugar for a yellow jacket in autumn.

On a recent outing to a park, my granddaughter was frightened when yellowjackets swarmed her blueberry flavored shave ice. A second unnerving tale arose when a colleague took a swig from a soda can and imbibed a yellowjacket. Fortunately, the angry vespid stung her tongue, not her throat, prior to ejection from her mouth. Lucky her, to only suffer a swollen tongue and not a life-threatening occlusion of the throat. Yellowjackets are among the most aggressive of all stinging insects in the DMV. During late summer and early autumn yellowjackets operate at a fevered pitch as workers try to gather food to maximize the production of brood back at the nest. Unlike the nests of honey bees, yellowjacket nests contain no honey or pollen. These rascals are meat eaters that also gain carbohydrates from fruits, flowers, and sometimes human-made sources. At sunny October picnics and tailgating parties, yellowjackets visit plates and battle you for bites of barbecued chicken. Meaty protein will be taken back to the hive for the developing brood. Yellow jacket larvae are fed meat and carbohydrate rich foods provided by the workers. Natural prey items of yellow jackets are other insects such as caterpillars and beetles that plague garden and landscape plants. In this regard, yellowjackets are highly beneficial.

By late summer and early autumn, colonies may contain thousands of workers and their subterranean or aerial nests can attain the size of a football. Under extraordinary circumstances, nests may persist for more than one year and become enormous. There are reports of monster yellowjacket nests in southern states reaching the size of a “Volkswagen Beetle”. In late summer, back in the nest, the yellowjacket assembly line switches from production of workers to the production of queens and drones. Foraging occurs at a frenetic pace. Queens produced in autumn leave the nest and seek protected locations under tree bark or in other outdoor refuges to escape the ravages of winter before founding new colonies next spring. You can learn a bit more about yellowjackets in a previous episode entitled “Be careful around yellowjackets: Eastern yellowjackets, Vespula maculifrons”. Bumble bees, carpenter bees, and honey bees are also on the prowl for sugar sources during the waning days of autumn. In addition to natural sugar sources, sweet soft drinks are also on the menu. Liquid sugar sources are guzzled and stored in the bee’s specialized honey stomach. Carbohydrate rich liquids are fed to brood, other bees, or turned into honey upon returning to the hive.

October is a month when stinging insects hunt for food. In the wild, caterpillars are a regular source of protein and carbohydrate rich honeydew supplies energy for yellowjacket workers and brood. Human-made sources like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are on the menu and sweet soft drinks are favorite sources of sugar. Soda cans may contain nasty surprises, bees or wasps, so be careful and consider pouring drinks into cups. Open cups provide a chance to look before you sip. For children, consider using cups with reusable straws and tight-fitting lids for soft drinks.

What can you do to avoid confrontations with these stingers? Choose picnic and tailgating spots carefully. Do not set up your picnic near a trash container or dumpster where yellowjackets and bees may be foraging for discarded barbeque or half-full cups of cans of sugary soft drinks. Bring a covered container to stow your trash and to keep hungry foragers away from food scraps and partially filled drink containers. Keep food covered. This reduces recruitment by foragers that accumulate around accessible food sources. Drink from clear bottles or pour drinks into clear cups. This will allow you to observe stinging insects doing a backstroke in your drink before you down them. Bees and yellowjackets often find their way into pop-top cans and can disappear down your gullet without being seen. Instead of canned drinks, try juices in drink boxes equipped with tight fitting straws. These are great for children who often place canned soft drinks down for a while before returning to finish them. Better yet, for your youngsters, pour soft-drinks into one of those cleverly designed drink containers with tight fitting lids and reusable sippy straws (good for the environment too!). If yellowjackets try to sneak a bite of your food, gently brush them away rather than engaging in hysterical slapping and squealing. Quick movements and non-lethal blows can incite painful stings. Oh, and you may have heard that yellowjackets are capable of multiple stings. This is only partially true. Contrary to common belief, some yellowjackets have barbed stingers like our friends the honey bees. Yellowjackets may lose their stingers and be eviscerated in the process. If you are stung, apply ice to the site of the sting to reduce swelling and pain. 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, seek medical attention immediately. Enjoy outdoor feasts with friends and families on these glorious October days. By taking a few precautions you can avoid nasty surprises from yellowjackets and busy bees.

Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Shrewsbury for drinking a yellow jacket and living to tell about it, and Eloise for braving out the feisty wasp’s attack on her shave ice. We also thank Dr. Nancy Breisch for sharing her expertise and knowledge about stinging insects.

This post appeared first on Bug of the Week

Beware of zesty drinks! Yellowjackets, Vespula, bumble bees, Bombus, and honey bees, Apis, can really spice up soft drinks

 

Uh oh, better check that soda can to see if a zesty surprise awaits inside.

Uh oh, better check that soda can to see if a zesty surprise awaits inside.

 

If this episode of Bug of the Week reads like a public service announcement, well, that’s because it is. While our usual episodes demystify insects and revel in their curious and marvelous behaviors, every now and then something a bit unseemly pops up and warrants attention. In past episodes we have quelled fears of murder hornet invasions in the DMV, provided information to thwart mosquitoes and ticks, and addressed autumnal invasions of stink bugs, spiders, and other creepy creatures. This week we aim to help you avoid a nasty surprise at your October picnic.

yellowj2 copy1500.jpg

Apple sauce in a cup is an irresistible source of sugar for a yellow jacket in autumn.

On a recent outing to a park, my granddaughter was frightened when yellowjackets swarmed her blueberry flavored shave ice. A second unnerving tale arose when a colleague took a swig from a soda can and imbibed a yellowjacket. Fortunately, the angry vespid stung her tongue, not her throat, prior to ejection from her mouth. Lucky her, to only suffer a swollen tongue and not a life-threatening occlusion of the throat. Yellowjackets are among the most aggressive of all stinging insects in the DMV. During late summer and early autumn yellowjackets operate at a fevered pitch as workers try to gather food to maximize the production of brood back at the nest. Unlike the nests of honey bees, yellowjacket nests contain no honey or pollen. These rascals are meat eaters that also gain carbohydrates from fruits, flowers, and sometimes human-made sources. At sunny October picnics and tailgating parties, yellowjackets visit plates and battle you for bites of barbecued chicken. Meaty protein will be taken back to the hive for the developing brood. Yellow jacket larvae are fed meat and carbohydrate rich foods provided by the workers. Natural prey items of yellow jackets are other insects such as caterpillars and beetles that plague garden and landscape plants. In this regard, yellowjackets are highly beneficial.

By late summer and early autumn, colonies may contain thousands of workers and their subterranean or aerial nests can attain the size of a football. Under extraordinary circumstances, nests may persist for more than one year and become enormous. There are reports of monster yellowjacket nests in southern states reaching the size of a “Volkswagen Beetle”. In late summer, back in the nest, the yellowjacket assembly line switches from production of workers to the production of queens and drones. Foraging occurs at a frenetic pace. Queens produced in autumn leave the nest and seek protected locations under tree bark or in other outdoor refuges to escape the ravages of winter before founding new colonies next spring. You can learn a bit more about yellowjackets in a previous episode entitled “Be careful around yellowjackets: Eastern yellowjackets, Vespula maculifrons”. Bumble bees and honey bees are also on the prowl for sugar sources during the waning days of autumn. In addition to natural sugar sources, sweet soft drinks are also on the menu. Liquid sugar sources are guzzled and stored in the bee’s specialized honey stomach. Carbohydrate rich liquids are fed to brood, other bees, or turned into honey upon returning to the hive.

October is a month when stinging insects hunt for food. In the wild, caterpillars are a regular source of protein and carbohydrate rich honeydew supplies energy for yellowjacket workers and brood. Human-made sources like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are on the menu and sweet soft drinks are favorite sources of sugar. Soda cans may contain nasty surprises, bees or wasps, so be careful and consider pouring drinks into cups. Open cups provide a chance to look before you sip. For children, consider using cups with reusable straws and tight-fitting lids for soft drinks.

What can you do to avoid confrontations with these stingers? Choose picnic and tailgating spots carefully. Do not set up your picnic near a trash container or dumpster where yellowjackets and bees may be foraging for discarded barbeque or half-full cups of cans of sugary soft drinks. Bring a covered container to stow your trash and to keep hungry foragers away from food scraps and partially filled drink containers. Keep food covered. This reduces recruitment by foragers that accumulate around accessible food sources. Drink from clear bottles or pour drinks into clear cups. This will allow you to observe stinging insects doing a backstroke in your drink before you down them. Bees and yellowjackets often find their way into pop-top cans and can disappear down your gullet without being seen. Instead of canned drinks, try juices in drink boxes equipped with tight fitting straws. These are great for children who often place canned soft drinks down for a while before returning to finish them. Better yet, for your youngsters, pour soft-drinks into one of those cleverly designed drink containers with tight fitting lids and reusable sippy straws (good for the environment too!). If yellowjackets try to sneak a bite of your food, gently brush them away rather than engaging in hysterical slapping and squealing. Quick movements and non-lethal blows can incite painful stings. Oh, and you may have heard that yellowjackets are capable of multiple stings. This is only partially true. Contrary to common belief, some yellowjackets have barbed stingers like our friends the honey bees. Yellowjackets may lose their stingers and be eviscerated in the process. If you are stung, apply ice to the site of the sting to reduce swelling and pain. 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, seek medical attention immediately. Enjoy outdoor feasts with friends and families on these glorious October days. By taking a few precautions you can avoid nasty surprises from yellowjackets and busy bees.

Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Shrewsbury for drinking a yellow jacket and living to tell about it, and Eloise for braving out the feisty wasp’s attack on her shave ice. We also thank Dr. Nancy Breisch for sharing her expertise and knowledge about stinging insects.

This post appeared first on Bug of the Week

2021 Update on the Asian Giant Hornet Situation in the United States

Learn About the Most Recent Sighting of the Asian Giant Hornet & What U.S. Experts are Doing to Eradicate It

The dreaded Asian giant hornet — commonly referred to as the “murder hornet” has recently made another appearance in the United States.

A resident in the State of Washington reported seeing a live Asian giant hornet in the outskirts of Blaine, WA, in early August 2021 — the first killer hornet sighting of the year in the U.S.

While verifying the location of the sighting, experts uncovered an Asian giant hornet nest of nearly 1,500 hornets.

The invasive pest was first spotted in WA during 2019 and its presence is cause for concern because the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) preys on honey bees to the point of destroying entire colonies.

Considering how important honey bees are to the ecosystem, a nationwide infestation of Asian giant hornets could result in severe environmental repercussions for the U.S.

Not only that, but the pest has an aggressive nature and has been known to attack if provoked.

This species of pest possesses powerful stingers containing venomous neurotoxins. These neurotoxins cause extreme pain, tissue damage, and in rare cases, death.

For experts, this sighting stresses the need for complete eradication of the murder hornet before it spreads across the country.

Now, efforts to remove the foreign pest have increased as federal organizations like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) work with other state and local agencies on the Pacific Northwest.

This combined effort aims to help protect the nation’s people, environment, and honey bees from Asian giant hornets.

First Killer Hornet Sighting in the U.S. of 2021

In mid-August, experts confirmed the location of the first killer hornet sighting in the U.S. of 2021.

Incredibly, it was only two miles from the town of Blaine, WA, where the original killer hornet sighting of 2019 was reported.

According to the WA resident who witnessed and reported the 2021 killer hornet sighting, it was attacking a colony of paper wasps.

Working together in late August, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Oregon State Department of Agriculture’s (OSDA) Insect Pest Prevention and Management staff, and the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) tracked down the source of the pest — its nest.

To find its nest, the federal and state teams, led by entomologists, captured some live Asian giant hornets in the area and tagged the pest with tracking devices called radio tags.

Using the radio tags, experts followed the murder hornets back to the nest which was built in the base of a dead alder tree in Whatcom County in the state of WA.

The rural area borders the Blaine, WA and Canada.

closeup of a man’s hands as he uses black tweezers and white twine to attach a yellow radio tag to an orange and black Asian giant hornet

The nest was an expansive nine layers and contained nearly 1,500 murder hornets, including 113 mature worker hornets — which is quite an alarming amount.

Experts exhumed the Asian giant hornet nest by drenching it in foam and removing it from the interior of the tree. Then, they collected the hornet bodies with a vacuum.

As an added precaution, experts also wrapped the tree in plastic to keep any surviving Asian giant hornets from escaping before releasing carbon dioxide into the tree, successfully killing the pest.

Continued Efforts to Fully Eradicate Asian Giant Hornets from the U.S.

The USDA APHIS is continuing to work alongside the Pacific Northwest state and local government environmental agencies to ensure the Asian giant hornet infestation is contained.

While the sighting was alarming, it did help experts develop and test effective eradication methods for the Asian giant hornet.

According to USDA APHIS and WSDA entomologists, the methods used to locate and remove the Asian giant hornet nest were so successful that entomologists plan to keep using these tactics as the pest’s population intensifies.

Experts have set up Asian hornet traps throughout the area and continue surveilling rural WA for more appearances of the nonnative pest.

transparent Asian giant hornet trap hanging from a tree in a green forest with a man in a blue shirt in background

Additional detection strategies are also in development as experts learn more about the foreign stinging insect.

For instance, from the 2021 sighting and nest eradication, USDA entomologists learned that an Asian giant hornet nest generally keeps an internal temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

This discovery has inspired experts to consider using thermal imaging devices to detect Asian giant hornet nests, which are often built underground or at the base of rotting trees.

Experts believe thermal imaging trackers can find warm spots beneath the forest floor where Asian giant hornets are likely constructing habitats.

Aside from its unusually large size, experts have also noted an Asian giant hornet can be identified by the loud humming noises it emits while flying. This noise is significantly louder than that of a typical hornet, wasp, or bee.

Now more familiar with the sound, experts plan to use this humming as another way to detect the pest.

But as the mission to eradicate Asian giant hornets in the U.S. continues, officials warn untrained individuals against attempting to remove a nest on their own.

Residents need to be cautious as the hornet will sting those who attempt to handle the nest or remove the pest from its current location.

A single sting can deliver a substantial dose of venom — a significant amount more than that of a native bee or wasp.

And in extreme cases, a murder hornet’s sting can even be fatal.

Residents are instead encouraged to report any sightings of the Asian giant hornet to the WSDA and stay far away from the area until further notice.

As this territorial insect can seriously harm people, only pest control experts, entomologists, and other trained experts are authorized to safely respond to an Asian giant hornet sighting or infestation.

Potential Environmental Impact of Asian Giant Hornets & Other Facts

At two inches long and with a three-inch wingspan, the Asian giant hornet is the largest hornet in the world.

The Asian giant hornet originally comes from East Asia and is a common sight in Japan, Korea, and China — hence its name.

Experts are still unsure of how the large stinging insect got onto U.S. soil, although it is likely that the pest was trapped in a shipping container from one of the originating countries.

But so far, since the murder hornet arrived in the U.S., it has lived up to its nickname.

With its intimidating size, sharp jaws — also known as mandibles, and 1/4-inch-long stingers, Asian giant hornets are a threat to other hornets, wasps, bees, and people.

Its stingers can even pierce through a standard beekeeping suit, forcing entomologists to wear special suits during eradication.

The most concerning thing about the murder hornets in the U.S., however, is its diet because Asian giant hornets primarily feed on honey bees.

closeup of orange and black Asian giant hornet killing a colony of yellow and black honeybees.

Honey bees are an integral part of our ecosystem. Without them, most mammals, including humans, would starve.

Common food items like apples, squash, and broccoli, rely on honey bees as the insects deliver the pollen grains these plants need in order to grow and reproduce.

Honey bees also produce honey, another food source for both humans and animals.

Although birds, bats, and other insects are pollinators, honey bees are the most effective pollinators.

But Asian giant hornets threaten these vital pollinators by feeding on entire colonies of honey bees.

This hornet species will typically attack in swarms, but a small group can do a lot of damage. In fact, a single swarm of 50 killer hornets can wipe out an entire colony of 50,000 honey bees.

If murder hornets do spread across the nation, the honey bee population could face near-extinction, causing catastrophic environmental effects and food shortages throughout the country.

Therefore, containing and eradicating murder hornets from the U.S. is extremely important to protecting honey bees — and the rest of the environment.

And with no natural predators in the U.S., the responsibility to eliminate Asian giant hornets from the country falls on expert intervention.

Protect Your Property from Stinging Insects with Catseye Pest Control

While Asian giant hornets have not been found in the Northeast, the region still faces its own share of poisonous stinging insects, such as yellowjackets and bald-faced hornets.

Hornet and wasps threaten the safety of a home, business, or property due to the pests’ venomous stingers and aggressive nature.

Untrained individuals face a high-risk of injury to themselves or others if they try to address a stinging insect infestation. To safely eradicate it from the property, a licensed pest control specialist is needed.

Catseye Pest Control offers tailored eradication solutions for stinging insects, such as Hornet Control and Nest Removal services.

Using environmentally friendly pest management practices, our hornet removal methods are effective as well as completely safe for children and pets, so homeowners can feel rest assured.

To learn more about this service or to schedule a free inspection, contact us.

Allow Catseye to take care of your property and get back your peace of mind.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

What Are These Tiny Black Ants in My House?

Identifying the Tiny Black Ants Swarming into Your Bathroom & Kitchen

Perhaps one of the most common house pests found throughout the Eastern United States are tiny, black or dark brown ants, which are commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens.

This tiny pest can leave homeowners and business owners feeling frustrated, especially if they aren’t sure what kind of ant it is and how it’s getting into their house or business.

More than likely, those tiny black ants that are caught invading a home’s bathroom and kitchen are odorous house ants.

Named after the rotten smell the pest emits when squashed or crushed, odorous house ants live in colonies and infest homes in swarms, which grow exponentially from June to August — the pest’s prime mating season.

During these summer months, environmental conditions like warm temperatures and extended daylight hours encourage odorous house ants to gather, mate, and reproduce.

For homeowners, having ants in the kitchen and bathroom is a nightmarish thought, especially as such rooms are shared spaces that are used on a regular basis.

Although not dangerous, the sight of an odorous house ant in the kitchen or bathroom is quite unpleasant as the pest can contaminate the space with bacteria.

And seeing small black ants inside the home or business often indicates a bigger infestation may be lurking in the walls, voids, or other cracks throughout the structure.

Considering a single odorous house ant colony can contain up to 10,000 ants during the peak mating season, the possibility of an infestation is extremely concerning to any homeowner.

It’s important for property owners to know what could be causing an odorous house ant infestation and how a pest control professional can eliminate the issue.

Where are These Odorous House Ants Coming From?

Whether you’ve encountered an ant infestation before or if this is the first time, it’s vital to understand how the pest is able to gain access to the building and where they’re coming from.

Unfortunately, at only an 1/8-inch long, odorous house ants can easily get inside a home through even the tiniest of cracks or crevices, like underneath doorways and through holes in the walls.

And as the pest comes from wooded areas in humid climates, an abundance of tiny black ants can be found in the Northeast.

The appearance of ant mounds — or nests, throughout a yard or property is a sign odorous house ants could soon become a problem within the home, if it hasn’t already.

While living outdoors, odorous house ants survive by eating other insects — especially ones that secrete a sugary substance known as honeydew, like mealybugs.

In addition to this, the small, black ants eat vegetables and plant secretions, such as nectar. This sweet diet also gives the odorous house ant its nickname, the sugar ant.

But when in need of more moisture, heat, or nutrients, swarms of odorous house ants may venture indoors through cracks in piping, cement, and wooden infrastructure or flooring.

Once inside, the pest will establish nests in the walls, wall voids, and other cavities throughout the house.

An average-sized odorous house ant colony contains 2,000 workers. But during the pest’s peak mating season, colonies can contain up to 10,000 workers.

So, although little and seemingly harmless, this unwelcome houseguest can quickly turn into a major problem if left unaddressed.

Left to its own devices, an odorous house ant colony will continue to multiply throughout the home — invading and contaminating a household’s food and water supply, a true nightmare for any homeowner.

Why are Odorous House Ants Showing Up in My Kitchen & Bathroom?

While odorous house ants can infiltrate any part of the home, the tiny black ants favor kitchens and bathrooms for several reasons.

For one, odorous house ants are attracted to easily accessible food. Using odor detectors, the pest can locate food sources of any kind — including residues, leftovers, food on used dishware, and crumbs.

As a result, kitchens and pantries become hot spots for odorous house ants to ravage and feed.

swarm of black odorous house ants eating yellow hummus off a white plate sitting on light brown wooden surface.

Improper food storage, like leaving pantry goods and pet food unsealed or opened, encourages the tiny black ants to invade the kitchen.

Even if the only traces of leftovers are restricted to the kitchen sink disposal and garbage can, ants will find a way to access it — especially if both remain uncovered and exposed.

Another reason tiny black ants are primarily found in the kitchen and bathroom is because in addition to foraging in trails or swarms for food, odorous house ants are also searching for sources of water.

Water is pumped into the home by way of sinks, dishwashers, toilet bowls, and showers — which is quite appealing to the pest.

Condensation produced by kitchen and bathroom appliances as well as poor ventilation can create pools of standing water for odorous house ants to drink from.

Since both the kitchen and bathroom provide the easiest access to food and water, these rooms are most targeted by odorous house ants.

To discourage ants from venturing into the kitchen, properly store food — including pet food, in hard, non-porous, and airtight containers. This effectively cuts off its access to nutrients.

Homes and businesses that suffer from leaky faucets or poor ventilation should have the issue rectified to stymie the pest’s access to water.

Taking such measures can help to prevent an odorous house ant infestation from worsening until a pest control specialist arrives and eliminates the issue.

Contact a Professional to Eliminate & Prevent Ant Infestations

The sight of small black ants in the kitchen, bathroom, or other area of a home or business is quite alarming.

But it is also an indication of a potentially serious infestation that needs to be addressed by a pest control technician.

Professionals can eradicate the issue completely by finding the source of the infestation, which is most often the colony’s nest, and removing it.

Trained pest technicians also reinforce the home with barriers and other methods to permanently keep odorous house ants out of the kitchen, bathroom, and all other areas of the business or home.

Ant control and elimination services from Catseye Pest Control have been designed to tackle ant infestations with effective methods, like insect growth regulators. Such devices destroy the ants but are harmless to people and animals.

As a leading pest management service provider in New England, Catseye employs technicians with the expertise and skill to eradicate odorous house ants — and other common insects — from any property.

Don’t let ants, odorous or otherwise, invade your property. Contact Catseye today to learn how we can help regain control of your home and sanity.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

New England Sees Increase in Tick-Borne Disease Cases For 2021

Learn Why Tick-Borne Diseases Are Increasing in New England During 2021 & How to Protect Yourself

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought everyone outside for socially distanced fun but spending time outdoors during the summer and fall can bring its own set of risks.  

Hospitals across New England are seeing an exponential rise in tick-borne disease cases amidst the 2021 tick season.

In the Northeast and more specifically the New England area, ticks remain active until temperatures hit 35 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Ticks reach peak activity during the spring and summer months, typically from April to August. But if the temperature remains warm, tick activity can last into the fall.

This year’s tick season, however, appears worse than what we’ve encountered in previous years.                                                                                                                                           

Reports from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) indicate emergency rooms throughout the state are seeing higher numbers of tick-borne disease visits in 2021 than those of the past three years.

The state of Connecticut also reported an alarming increase in ticks during late April and early May of 2021. The increase in ticks includes several species that are new to the area — the lone star tick, the Asian longhorned tick, and the Gulf Coast tick.

In New Hampshire, an official health alert issued by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) warned residents of both the statewide and national increase of tick-borne disease cases, particularly Lyme disease.

Lyme disease, according to the NH DHHS, currently accounts for 82% of confirmed tick-borne disease cases in the United States.  

Considering the severe rise in tick-borne disease cases in 2021, it’s important New Englanders understand why tick-borne diseases are increasing and the factors causing this phenomenon.

It’s also important for residents to have a clear understanding of how to protect themselves and their loved ones from ticks and tick-borne diseases.

The Rise of Tick-Borne Diseases in New England: How It’s Happening & Why

Tick-borne diseases have been on the rise in the U.S. for several years, but the explanation as to why tick-borne diseases are increasing is complicated.

Surveillance reports from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) dictate that the recorded number of common tick-borne disease cases skyrocketed from 48,610 cases in 2016 to 59,349 cases in 2017.

For Lyme disease, the number of cases in the U.S. has more than tripled within the past two decades, from 12,801 reported cases in 1997 to 42,743 in 2017.

The staunch rise in reported tick-borne illness-related cases indicates the factors behind why tick-borne diseases are increasing at a substantial rate.

But ultimately, there are several main reasons for why tick-borne diseases are increasing. These include:

  • Increase in native ticks and non-native tick populations due to climate change.
  • Shifts in human population density resulting in increased exposure to ticks and tick-heavy areas.
  • A rising number of germs responsible for carrying tick-borne illnesses.

These factors are explored in more detail below.

Increase in Ticks & Expansion of Non-Native Tick Populations into New Territories

Non-native ticks are venturing into new areas, thus increasing the chances of tick-borne illnesses and infection. As a result, areas that previously saw very little or no tick-borne disease cases are facing an alarming emergence of cases.

Areas once considered low-risk but are now experiencing an increase in ticks and tick-borne illness cases include counties in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and North Central regions.

Although it’s still too early for experts to tell, many suspect that changing climate patterns like rising temperatures and humidity are causing significant ecological and environmental disruptions.

In turn, such disruptions have resulted in a stark increase in ticks throughout certain parts of the country.

For instance, some tick species such as the lone star tick, which used to be found primarily in the Southeast, have expanded its territory. The lone star tick can now be found in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the U.S.

Last year, the Connecticut State Department of Public Health (CT DPH) cautioned residents of an acute emergence of the lone star tick throughout New Haven and Fairfield counties.

This non-native tick is considered to be aggressive. It’s also known to bite humans and is associated with several diseases, including tularemia, Bourbon virus, ehrlichiosis, and others

Lone star ticks are recognizable by the singular, star-shaped marking on its back.

closeup of tiny, brown lone star tick on person’s finger

Recent studies also discovered that saliva from the lone star tick can cause an allergy to red meat in some individuals. This allergy is called alpha-gal syndrome (AGS). While severity of AGS varies, extreme allergic reactions are life-threatening.

As the lone star tick population within the region rises, so does the allergens and diseases the pest carries — making the tick even more of a nuisance for residents in the New England area.

Apart from Connecticut, the CT DPH warns of an increase in lone star ticks in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

And the lone star tick isn’t the only species expanding its territory. Recently, foreign ticks have become a growing concern within the U.S as well.

Between 2017 and 2021, Asian longhorned tick and Gulf Coast tick populations have moved into multiple states, including Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Both the Asian longhorned tick and the Gulf Coast tick carry a disease known as rickettsiosis.

Rickettsiosis is a type of spotted fever in which patients develop target-like rashes on the body. They can also experience nausea and fever. If left untreated, rickettsiosis can be fatal.

Growing Human Populations in Tick-Heavy Areas

While climate change may be causing a northward expansion of non-native tick species, there is another reason as to why tick-borne diseases are increasing within the New England region.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research on Lyme disease cases indicates the climbing rise of tick-borne illnesses is also because of shifting population densities in tick-heavy areas.

Due to nationwide population growth between the 1990s and the mid-2000s, people moved from cities and settled into more suburban or rural areas. In turn, towns and counties within high-risk locations grew.

For instance, the number of counties established in high-risk areas in the Northeast and upper Midwest of the U.S. have tripled since the 1990s.

Within the Northeast alone, the number of high-risk counties went from 43 in 1993 to 182 by 2012.

Consequently, the heightened human exposure to ticks explains why tick-borne diseases are increasing in those areas.

Rise in Germs Responsible for Carrying Tick-Borne Illnesses

An additional factor as to why tick-borne diseases are increasing is the rise of germs responsible for tick-borne illnesses.

Between 2004 and 2021, six more germs were discovered to be able to spread tick-borne diseases.

These germs are:

  • Borrelia mayonii: Discovered to cause Lyme disease.
  • Borrelia miyamotoi: Able to spread tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF).
  • Ehrlichia muris eauclairensis: A bacteria responsible for Ehrlichiosis.
  • Heartland Bandavirus: Known to cause the Heartland virus, which is similar to Ehrlichiosis.
  • Rickettsia parkeri: A recently discovered transmitter of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). and other spotted fever diseases.
  • Rickettsia species 364D: A germ that transmits spotted fever diseases like rickettsia pox.

Combined with humans’ heightened exposure to tick-heavy areas, this increase in tick-borne germs has caused tick-borne illnesses to rise exponentially.

Disease-Transmitting Ticks That are Native to New England

Although there are different species of ticks found throughout the U.S., the two most common in New England are deer ticks — also called blacklegged ticks, and dog ticks.

Deer or blacklegged ticks are extremely prevalent in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. So, residents need to be mindful of non-native species in addition to native tick species plaguing their property. 

Even though they’re no bigger than a sesame seed, deer or blacklegged ticks are primary transmitters of Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and Powassan virus.

Dog ticks have been known to spread RMSF and tularemia diseases to humans and animals.

Symptoms of RMSF are similar to those of rickettsioses. This includes target-like rashes on the arms and legs as well as nausea. Victims also become feverish.

Like rickettsioses, RMSF is especially dangerous. Death can occur if the disease is not properly taken care of by a medical professional.

For safety, public health organizations like the CDC and EPA encourage residents to know the types of ticks that are native to the region and remain continuously aware of new tick species reported in the area.

Confronting a tick-infested area is not advised as the chances of contracting a tick-borne disease are very high. Property owners should have tick-infested areas treated by a licensed pest control expert who is trained to safely eliminate the threat.

Keep Lawns Tick-Free with Professional Tick Removal Service

As the risk of contracting a tick-borne infection grows in New England, residents should be extra careful when enjoying the outdoors.

Worry-free fun without concern of disease-transmitting pests can be achieved with Catseye Pest Control’s Organic Tick & Mosquito Program.

Under this program, our experienced pest technicians will perform in-depth inspections of the area before creating a treatment plan that is tailored to the property.

Utilizing organic products to treat the infested area, Catseye can help put homeowners and business owners at ease.

The pest control methods used under the Organic Tick & Mosquito Program are environmentally friendly, safe for pets, and safe for children. This is just another way we are committed to protecting your loved ones and your property against pests.

Don’t let ticks ruin your time outdoors. Contact us today to learn how our licensed professionals can take care of these pests — and many others, leaving you with peace of mind.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

4 of the Most Poisonous & Venomous Insects in New England

Learn about the 4 Most Dangerous Insects in New England & What to Do If You Encounter One

Residents and those visiting the Northeastern region of the United States must be cautious of venomous insects, four different species, specifically.

The insects on this list have venomous bites or stings that can cause acute pain and trigger allergic reactions.

It is important to know what to do if you encounter such dangerous insects as well as how to treat their venomous bites and stings to prevent health complications.

1. Yellowjacket Wasp

The yellowjacket wasp (Vespula squamosa) is an aggressive and venomous stinging insect.

A Northeast native, yellowjacket wasps are often seen during the summer season and sometimes as the season shifts to fall. Yellowjackets can typically be spotted from June to October.

This stinging pest is most active during the day.

When temperatures drop, yellowjacket workers die off. The workers cannot withstand temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, especially for more than a couple of days.

But, fertilized queen yellowjackets are able to hybernate over the winter.

They survive the cold by leaving the used nest and burrowing deep inside tree stumps, hollow logs, and other cavaties for warmth.

The bright yellow stripes against the predatory insect’s black body gives the yellowjacket wasp its name.

Often confused with bees and other types of stinging pests, yellowjackets can be distinguished by the lack of fuzz on its slender, shiny bodies. Yellowjackets are also smaller and slimmer than hornets.

Yellowjacket workers are about 1/2-inch in length, whereas a queen can be nearly an inch long.

closeup of a yellowjacket worker wasp with a black body, yellow stripes, and brown wings crawling on a brown plank of wood

Yellowjackets live in colonies housed within multi-layered, papery nests. These nests are usually burrowed in wall voids, rock piles, rotted tree trunks, and other cavaties.

A single nest can host up to 5,000 yellowjackets.

Yellowjacket venom can incite immediate pain and life-threatening allergic reactions like anaphylaxis, in which the airway swells and closes.

The symptoms of a severe reaction include:

  • Hives
  • Coughing
  • Tightness in chest
  • Swollen tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Fainting or coma

Yellowjackets, when threatened, attack in swarms and can sting multiple times.

If stung by a yellowjacket, immediately leave the site of occurrence as the venom releases a chemical signal alerting other yellowjackets that help is needed.

A yellowjacket sting appears as a small, white welt on the skin surrounded by redness. Unlike bees, yellowjackets rarely leave their stingers injected in the skin of their victims.

closeup of a red sting mark created by a yellowjacket wasp on skin surface

If there is a stinger, use a straight-edged object, like a credit card, to scrape it out. Attempts to squeeze the stinger out of the affected area can aggravate it.

Dizziness, wheezing, or rashes are all signs to quickly enlist a medic’s help. Victims that suffer over 10 stings should also immediately seek medical help.

While waiting for medical assistance, sanitize the sting site with soap and water. Do not use peroxide, ammonia, or other chemicals as it can further irritate the affected area.

Once the sting site is properly washed, spray it with an anesthetic spray that contains benzocaine. This helps to numb the pain and ease inflammation.

Doctors may prescribe antibiotics, antihistamines, or inject medication through an EpiPen® to treat allergic reactions or bacterial infections.

Yellowjackets are attracted to sugary residues, perfume, flowers, hairspray, and floral patterns.

To drive them away:

  • Keep garbage cans covered or sealed. 
  • Use caulk to seal any visible cracks and voids in the walls, roofline, or foundation of the home.
  • Plant wormwood, thyme, spearmint, and cucumbers.  
  • Spray essential oils like peppermint or eucalyptus in and around the residence.
  • Hang sugar water wasp traps around sheds, picnic areas, and playgrounds.

Yellowjacket infestations are a serious matter that must be handled by a professional. A specialist will find the source of the infestation, the nest, and properly remove it.

2. Bald-Faced Hornet

Found throughout the U.S., the bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) is very territorial. It is also not an actual hornet, but rather another type of yellowjacket.

Bald-faced hornets are distinguishable from yellowjackets by their slightly larger size in addition to the white and black stripes that streak cross their abdomens. Worker bald-faced hornets are 3/4-inch long.

Another name for the bald-faced hornet is the white-faced hornet.

The bald-faced hornet rears its ivory-colored head from spring to late summer.

Workers die off over the winter, while fertilized queens hybernate under rock piles, rotting wood, and other debris until the next year.

closeup of a black and white bald-faced hornet on a nest

Bald-faced hornet nests are cone-shaped and typically built close to the ground. Occasionally, bald-faced hornets may construct nests in high areas like the eaves of a rooftop or the branches of a tree.

 The nests can reach up to two-and-a-half feet in length.

One nest can contain over 400 workers. Bald-faced queens construct nests using their saliva and the cellulose of rotting wood.

closeup of a gray bald-faced hornet on a nest under a house eave

This type of wasp fiercely protects its nest. Trespassing is often met with repetitive attacks from multiple bald-faced hornets.

Female bald-faced hornets can also dispense poisonous spray, usually into the faces or eyes of their victims. The poison is ejected from their ovipositors, which are tube-like organs typically used to lay eggs.

This poisonous spray acts like pepper spray in that it stings the eyes and even causes temporary blindness. Both people and animals are susceptible to a bald-faced hornet’s spray. While it is painful, the spray is not fatal.

If nests are attached under the eaves of buildings, overhangs, or other areas frequented by people, a pest control specialist should be called as it is extremely unsafe to confront bald-faced hornets directly.

As with yellowjackets, multiple strikes from a bald-faced hornet’s venomous stinger can cause intense pain, itchiness, and swelling for approximately 24 hours.

Yellowjacket sting symptoms apply to those of bald-faced stings as well.

More than 10 bald-faced hornet stings will require immediate medical attention in case of severe reactions.

Treatment for bald-faced hornet stings is much the same as treatment for yellowjacket stings.

Bald-faced hornets are scavengers. Their diet consists mostly of other insects, including caterpillars, flies, and even yellowjackets. Bald-faced hornets are also attracted to meat and nectar.

To deter bald-faced hornets from making a home near your property:

  • Plant citronella, thyme, or eucalyptus.
  • Treat house eaves with natural repellent made from essential oils like clove, geranium, and lemongrass.
  • Spray wasp repellent around the property.
  • Set up bird feeders and baths to attract birds as they are natural predators of bald-faced hornets.
  • Hang a fake hornet nest as the bald-faced hornet’s territorial nature will deter it from overstepping the boundaries of another wasp nest.
  • Hang wasp traps around the property.
  • Refer to yellowjacket repellent methods.

3. Brown Recluse Spider

Although rare, the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles) is occasionally seen in the Northeastern parts of the U.S., but it is not native to the region.

This species of spider is originally from the Southeast and Southwest — states such as Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Oklahoma see high populations of the spider, but can travel to other parts of the U.S. by hiding in freight trains and shipping containers.

Brown recluse spiders are most active between the months of April and October.

The brown recluse can be identified by its brown coloring and a dark brown violin-shaped marking on its upper body. It is this marking that gives the brown recluse its nickname, the fiddleback spider.

closeup of brown recluse spider crawling on gray pavement

This type of spider enjoys dark, secluded areas with warm climates. Attics, shoes, bed corners, garages, sheds, and other crevices are all great hiding places for the brown recluse.

Brown recluse spider venom is poisonous. However, the spider only releases its poison in very small quantities.

In most instances, the brown recluse’s conservative nature keeps it from being lethal as it is not aggressive and only attacks if it feels threatened.

A brown recluse’s venom severely damages the blood vessels, causing tissue deterioration. In response, the body releases inflammatory cells and proteins, like cytokines, to defend against the venom.

The subsequent effects of these cells can include the destruction of red blood cells. It can also result in end-organ damage such as kidney dysfunction.

Bite marks from a brown recluse appear as reddish fang marks followed by blistering and lesion formation.

closeup of a black scarring and blistering brown recluse spider bite mark

Typically, victims experience fever, nausea, vomiting, intense itchiness, and muscle pain.

Victims should seek medical support if bitten. If left untreated, within two weeks the white blisters can discolor to blue and ulcerate.

It can take three months for a brown recluse spider bite to completely heal. Daily follow-up with a physician ensures any complications are addressed and the victim stays on the path to a full recovery.

Severe instances may require skin graft surgery to treat serious skin damage, ulcers, or necrosis, but this is rare.

The brown recluse spider is often mistaken for the relatively harmless American house spider due to the similar coloring.

To differentiate a brown recluse bite from that of another spider, doctors use the mnemonic phrase NOT RECLUSE which stands for symptoms that are not characteristics of a brown recluse wound:

  • Numerous bites: Brown recluse spiders only bite once.
  • Occurrence: Brown recluses are nonaggressive pests unless provoked.
  • Timing: The bite occurs when brown recluses are inactive (outside of April to October).
  • Red center: Brown recluse bite marks are pale with redness surrounding the affected area.
  • Elevated: Brown recluse bites are flat — not raised or elevated.
  • Chronic: If victims experience chronic symptoms, it may not be from a brown recluse attack.
  • Large: Brown recluse bites are small, no bigger than five inches in diameter.
  • Ulcerates: Ulcers shouldn’t appear before two weeks from the time the victim was bitten.
  • Swollen: Brown recluse bites do not swell, with the exception of the affected area being the face or feet.
  • Exudative: Pus exudes from the wound, brown recluse spider bites blister or scab.

Brown recluses build their habitats in reclusive spaces, so infestations occur where clutter or crevices are prevalent. To avoid an infestation, block possible habitats by:

  • Reducing clutter throughout the home and property.
  • Keeping shoes off the floor or shake them out prior to wearing them.
  • Placing glue traps along baseboards or other areas attractive to brown recluses.

Brown recluse fangs are tiny and cannot easily puncture through clothing. When cleaning cluttered areas, wear long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and pants.

Considering the intense effects of brown recluse venom, it is important not to go searching for them. If you suspect an infestation, enlist the help of a pest control expert.

4. Black Widow Spider

Although not native to the U.S. and rarely found in New England, black widow spiders (Latrodectus) have been reported in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and southern parts of Vermont.

Black widow spiders most likely find their way into New England by way of shipping crates from southern states — like Florida, where they are more prevalent.

The black widow spider is easily identifiable by its black, bulbous body with red, hourglass-shaped markings on the underside of its abdomen.

closeup of black spider with red markings on web attached to green leaves

Black widow spiders enjoy areas under debris or wood piles, eaves, outdoor toilets, and other locations populated by flies — their primary prey.

Commonly found near ground-level holes or crevices in foundations, black widows will build their webs close to the ground, in dark or burrowed areas.

Black widow spiders are nocturnal, hiding in their nests during the day, reserving the evening hours to hunt. Only female black widow spiders are venomous, males are harmless.

A black widow spider’s bite appears on the skin as two puncture marks.

closeup of black widow spider bite mark on finger

Their neurotoxic venom, once injected, travels through the bloodstream and causes nausea, vomiting, stomach and chest pain, muscle cramps, rashes, and increased blood pressure. Victims may also have difficulty breathing.

In extremely rare cases, black widow spider bites can be fatal.

The pain and discomfort from a black widow bite can last for several days but may not occur immediately after being bitten.

Nonetheless, victims must seek immediate medical attention after getting bit as symptoms can progressively worsen within hours.

As black widow spiders prefer dark, secluded areas where flies accumulate, keep your yard, garden, crawlspaces, attic, basement, and shed clutter-free.

Do not attempt to manhandle black widow spiders.

Most insecticides for black widow spiders are only available to licensed pest control experts.

Therefore, spider control services for black widow spiders is best left to professionals like those at Catseye Pest Control.

General Pre-Medic Treatment for Venomous Insect Bites & Stings

While waiting for medical attention, victims should try slowing the progress of a venomous attack by:

  • Washing the affected area with soap and water.
  • Applying a sanitized ice pack to the affected site.
  • Elevating the affected body part and keeping it stationary.
  • Applying antibiotics to the bite or sting to prevent infection.
  • Using antihistamines or hydrocortisone cream to calm itchiness and reduce inflammation.
  • Taking pain medication like Ibuprofen or Tylenol to abate acute discomfort.
  • Keeping track of any worsening or new symptoms.

It is also crucial to not break any subsequent blisters as this may lead to a bacterial infection.

Get Expert Help for Dangerous Pest Infestations

Confronting the territory of a venomous or dangerous pest is not recommended for anyone other than a trained pest control technician.

Improper management of an infestation increases the chances of reoccurrence — and could lead to serious bodily harm.

A licensed pest control expert can safely remove the dangerous pest from the premises, helping to ensure the safety of those on the property. It will also leave you with peace of mind that the infestation was handled properly.

Catseye Pest Control offers Integrated Pest Management services (IPM) for all types of infestations.

IPM refers to a pest control approach that is both effective and environmentally friendly. It focuses on exterminating current infestations as well as preventing future ones by:

  • Offering customizable treatments that address the severity and type of the infestation.
  • Using organic, environmentally friendly pest control practices.
  • Regularly monitoring the infested area with pest monitoring programs.

For extra protection from harmful pests like spiders, rodents, and stinging pests, Catseye offers a Platinum Year-Round Protection Program, helping to provide you with peace of mind.

With the Platinum Year-Round Protection Program, clients can expect quality treatments handled by our licensed professionals. Included in this protection plan are:

  • Complete removal of pest habitats found in and around the property.
  • Removal of pest excrement, exoskeletons, and other debris.
  • Environmentally friendly spray treatments around the perimeters of the home.
  • Installation of rodent monitoring devices throughout the afflicted area.
  • Sealing of cracks, cavities, and other crevices found throughout the property.

This service also includes bi-monthly checkups to ensure the property remains pest-free.  

Contact our expert pest control technicians so that we may rid your property of any potentially dangerous pests.

This article appeared first on Catseye Pest

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