Nelson Ruiz No Comments

The Eco-Friendly Bacteria That Live Within Termite Mounds Absorb The Harmful Methane Gases Produced By The Insects

Climate change is widely understood to be driven by the air pollution that results from burning fossil fuels. While fossil fuel emissions account for most forms of air pollution, there also exists several natural sources of air pollution. For example, cattle are well known for contributing to climate change by releasing digestive gas that is rich in methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Surprisingly, termites emit far more methane into the atmosphere than cows. This is due, in part, to termite abundance, but the unique wood-digesting bacteria in termite guts is the primary reason for the relatively methane-rich digestive gas emitted by the insects. Experts estimate that termites are responsible for 1 to 3 percent of all methane emissions. This seemingly insignificant amount actually equals 20 million tons of methane. However, the amount of methane emitted by termites may be less significant than previously thought, as researchers have recently learned that termite nesting mounds contain bacterial microorganisms that absorb the methane gas released by termites.

Considering that mounds contain entire colonies that are composed of thousands of individual termites, methane emissions are particularly thick and concentrated around mounds. Since mounds are methane hotspots, Dr. Philipp Nauer from the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at the University of Melbourne measured methane emissions within mounds to gain a more accurate idea of how much methane is released into the atmosphere.

Dr. Nauer did not expect to discover methane-consuming bacteria within termite mound-soil. This group of soil bacteria are known as methanotrophs, and they consume methane gas as their primary energy source. The researchers measured the amount of methane consumed by methanotrophs in 29 mounds from 3 termite species. It turns out that 50 percent of the methane released by termites within a mound is consumed by the bacteria. The methods Dr. Nauer developed for measuring the amount of gas that is released by termite mounds, and the amount of gas consumed by methanotrophs within mounds can also be used to measure termite population size within each mound.

Do you think that some forms of termite activity could be environmentally harmful despite the fact that termites are an ecologically essential insect species?

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Residents From 48 States Sent Brown Recluse Spiders To A Researcher Who Claimed That Their Habitat Is Limited To Only A Few States

Brown recluse spiders are among the most well known of all arachnids, which is understandable considering the deadly reputation that the spiders have generated during the past several decades. The brown recluse group of spiders started to become well known in America during the late 1950s when the first medical reports describing this spider’s potentially deadly bite became available to the public. These early medical reports, as well as several subsequent reports, described how brown recluse bites can sometimes lead to necrotizing infections at the site of the bite wound. Although many Americans have heard of brown recluse spiders, very few are able to recognize them. A study in the Journal of Entomology clearly demonstrated that a vast majority of Americans are convinced that they know what brown recluse spiders look like, despite identifying the wrong spiders as brown recluses. For one thing, brown recluse spiders are only endemic within a handful of American states. Despite this fact, residents of 48 states sent the author of the study brown recluse specimens in order to prove that they can accurately identify the spiders within their home state. Consequently, the researcher received spider specimens that were not brown recluses, and many of the specimens did not even resemble the notorious spiders.

Considering the numerous studies that have been published on brown recluse spiders in America, researchers are certain that this spider’s distribution only lies within the southernmost states as well as a few midwestern states. Although the study’s author claimed that brown recluse spiders do not exist within states located in America’s northern, northeastern or northwestern territories, residents of all the states located within these regions attempted to prove him wrong by sending their own captured brown recluse specimens. Of course, the participants sent the wrong spiders, but this was a part of the study.

The researcher challenged Americans in each state to locate and submit brown recluse specimens that they had captured. The lead researcher did this in order to determine if any brown recluse species migrated to any new states. Based on the submissions, the answer to this question was “no.” The second question that the study’s lead researcher was attempting to answer was where the brown recluse is perceived to exist by the American public, and the answer to this question is “everywhere.” Despite the fear many americans have toward brown recluse spiders, it turns out that Americans are surprisingly ignorant of the brown recluse spiders’ distribution and appearance.

Do you think that you would be able to accurately identify a brown recluse species?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Researchers Discover Three New Scorpion Species That Make “Hissing” Sounds To Scare Away Predators

Researchers Discover Three New Scorpion Species That Make “Hissing” Sounds To Scare Away Predators

During the summer of 2017, a group of researchers discovered three new species of club-tailed scorpions in South America and the Caribbean. Two of these new species, Ischnotelson peruassu and Physoctonus striatus, were discovered in Brazil, and the third, Rhopalurus ochoai, was found in Venezuela. All club-tailed scorpions, including the three newly discovered species, are notable for having large bodies, striking colors and the ability to intimidate enemies by making a “hissing” sound.

The three new scorpion species were described in a recent study authored by Lauren Esposito, curator of archaeology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Considering the rapid rate of deforestation and other environmental issues affecting arthropod habitats in South America and the Caribbean, Esposito is determined to protect club-tailed scorpions from further population declines. Finding the three new species was not easy, as Esposito and her colleagues had to search for club-tailed specimens at night with the assistance of ultraviolet lights. Club-tailed scorpions, like the vast majority of scorpion species, are active at night, which is why the team used UV lights to track the creatures down. When scorpions are exposed to UV light, their exoskeletons produce a bright blue-green glow. The research team spent weeks looking beneath rocks, within caves and near rivers for new bush-tailed species. GPS coordinates marked every location where new specimens were discovered, which allowed the researchers to trace the specimens back to their home environment.

Although most bush-tailed scorpion species are rarely encountered in the wild, they are, nevertheless, well known for their disturbing ability to “hiss” at their enemies. It is important to note that bush-tailed scorpions do not produce this hissing sound in the same way that Madagascar hissing cockroaches produce their signature hissing sounds. Rather than emitting sounds by releasing air through spiracles, bush-tailed scorpions produce hissing sounds in a manner similar to how crickets and cicadas produce their signature sounds. Bush-tailed scorpions rub specialized body parts together in order to produce an audible hiss, which sounds quite similar to the hiss produced by Madagascar hissing cockroaches. The scorpion species that is most well-known for producing a hissing sound is the Opistophthalmus glabrifrons species. This species is more commonly known as the shiny burrowing scorpion or the yellow-legged creeping scorpion, and they dwell within several African countries.

Have you ever heard an arachnid produce an audible sound of any kind?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Researchers Found 650 Bee Species In A National Park Monument

When it comes to bees, honey bees get all of the attention. Humans have been raising honey bees for thousands of years, and many people wrongly assume that honey bees are the only types of bees that pollinate flowers and much of the world’s crops. However, scientists have documented more than 20,000 bee species, and only a few of these species produce honey, and some do not even possess stingers. North America alone is home to 4,000 bee species and most of these species dwell within relatively dry climates. Since bee populations are decreasing dramatically, researchers are frantically trying to locate as many bee hotspots as possible in order to preserve their most valued natural habitats. Amazingly, one researcher discovered 650 different bee species inhabiting one small area of a national park in Utah.

Experts have documented around 1,000 bee species that dwell within the state of Utah, but finding all of these species inhabiting one single location is impossible. Despite this, an independent bee researcher, Olivia Carril, recently discovered 650 of these 1,000 bee species inhabiting the well known Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. Carril found 660 native bees within the borders of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which accounts for around 60 percent of Utah’s native bee population. A few years ago, a similar study determined that 770 bee species were discovered east of the Mississippi River. To put this in perspective, the total amount of bee species existing in one half of the United States is just 100 more than the amount of bee species found within one National Park monument in Utah.

Due to Carril’s research, there is now an interest in preserving this region’s ecosystem, as it provides a safe zone for more than half of America’s bee species during the winter season. This region of Utah is a preferred dwelling ground for bees due to the area’s diversity of plant life and long growing season.

Have you ever encountered an active bee nest within a desert landscape?

 

 

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Bed Bugs Or Fleas?

Some people find joy in locating and handling certain insects, but nobody finds joy in handling insects that suck blood in order to survive. There exists a plethora of insect and arachnid species that suck blood. These arthropods include ticks, mosquitoes, fleas and bed bugs. Surprisingly, bed bugs are unique among blood-sucking insects in that they do not transmit any diseases to humans, but they do leave visible welts that itch like crazy. Generally, people have no problem discerning a mosquito bite from a flea or bed bug bite, but it can be hard to tell the difference between flea bites and bed bug bites. Both fleas and bed bugs inflict numerous bites on humans, but they are rarely caught in the act of sucking blood due to their tiny body size and nocturnal feeding habits. Fleas and bed bugs both inflict welts that look identical, and the bites that each insect leaves result in similar degrees of itchiness. Waking up with bug bites all over one’s body is unpleasant enough without having to stress over not knowing which type of bug caused the itchy welts. Bed bug bites are commonly mistaken for flea bites and vice verse, but there does exist notable differences between the types of injuries that each insect inflicts.

Bed bugs and fleas are similar in that they both survive solely by feeding on the blood of mammals. Bed bugs prefer to feed on human blood while fleas prefer the blood of furry mammals. However, fleas find human blood perfectly acceptable and they will not pass up an easy source of blood just because it comes from a human. Fleas and bed bugs are nocturnal, which means that both prefer to bite humans while they sleep. This makes it very difficult for a person to determine which insect is responsible for bite injuries. However, a sharp observer can spot differences between fleas and bed bugs easily by watching how the insects infesting their home move about. Fleas can jump long distances while bed bugs slowly crawl. Bed bugs are also larger than fleas. Flea bites also tend to be clustered together in one area of the body while bed bug bites are more scattered across the body. Of course, the most important difference between fleas and bed bugs is that only fleas can transmit disease to humans. These diseases include the plague, typhus, and cat scratch disease.

Have you ever discovered several bug bites that you had no memory of receiving?

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Researchers Have Created The Most Reliable Evolutionary Tree Of Scorpion Species By Analyzing Their Venom

Researchers Have Created The Most Reliable Evolutionary Tree Of Scorpion Species By Analyzing Their VenomAbout Pest Control in Phoenix, Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek

As far as most people are concerned, scorpion species generally look the same. They all have pincers and a stinger that is attached to the end of a menacing looking tail. The only variance between scorpion species may be body size and color, but beyond these two features, what other physical traits vary across scorpion species? As it happens, this question is still being asked by many entomologists and evolutionary biologists working today. This is because a reliable evolutionary tree detailing scorpion evolution has never been accurately mapped out. Creating a family tree of existing scorpion species is difficult because very little phenotypic variation exists between the more than 2,000 scorpion species that have been documented and described by scientists. This is surprising considering that scorpions have adapted to living in a variety of different types of environments in all continents in the world except for Antarctica. Most other arthropods that are species-rich and widely distributed have developed unique physical traits in order to adapt to new environments, but scorpions have maintained a similar physical appearance for the 300 to 400 million years in which they have existed. However, one determined researcher recently created the first accurate and comprehensive evolutionary tree of scorpion species by analyzing the molecular shape of different venoms.

A postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin in Madison created an evolutionary tree of scorpion species by using available genetic information. However, genetic data was not sufficient for creating a comprehensive family tree of scorpions. This inadequate first map led Lopez to analyze the 3D structure of the molecules in the venom of different scorpion species. Basically, Lopez created a second tree that mapped out different venoms and their relative similarities and differences to one another. By applying this second map to the first map of genetic relatedness between available scorpion DNA samples, Lopez succeeded in mapping out the evolutionary family tree of scorpions. The shape of different venom molecules also indicates the particular prey-animals that each scorpion species is adapted to hunt. This information could be used to geographically map-out various scorpion habitats around the world.

Did you know that scorpions are one of the oldest arachnid species known to humankind?

 

 

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

How To Know If The Wood In Your Home Was Damaged By Termites Or Ants

How To Know If The Wood In Your Home Was Damaged By Termites Or Ants | Phoenix Pest Control Experts

Termite damage is not always easy to recognize, and they are not the only wood-boring insects that exist. Upon noticing unexplained damage to areas of structural wood, you should first have a termite inspection conducted immediately in order to prevent irreparable damage from occurring. When it comes to wood-boring insects, termites are the last insects that you want infesting your home. When compared to other wood-boring insects, termites cause the greatest degree of structural damages. When a home’s structural damages become extensive enough to clearly indicate a termite infestation, the damage can sometimes be irreversible. Although termites are destructive creatures, they cannot render a home unlivable within a few days; instead, homes become structurally compromised only after long periods of destructive termite activity. Many people whose homes are protected by termite barriers and insecticides may still notice structural damage that indicates a termite presence. When this occurs, many homeowners may assume that they had been ripped-off by a shady exterminator who failed to install effective anti-termite barriers. However, it is far more likely that another type of wood-destroying insect is responsible. Termite poisons and repellents may not be as effective at killing other types of wood-boring insects, this is why it is important to understand the difference between termite damage and damage caused by other forms of destructive insects.

In addition to termites, carpenter ants can also cause damage to the wood in people’s homes. However, only termites are capable of causing damage that is extensive enough to render a home unlivable. No other type of insect can destroy a home’s structural integrity. One difference between the two insects is the type of wood that they are attracted to. Termites excavate wood that is intact and free from rot, such as timber and tree stumps. Carpenter ants, on the other hand, are attracted to wood that has already sustained damage, whether it be from rot or fungus. Carpenter ants, like termites, leave behind noticeable amounts of wood-shavings since they do not consume the wood that they excavate. Although termites consume the wood that they excavate, they can also leave behind wood shavings, albeit far less. In cases where wood destruction makes it hard to determine the type of insect pest responsible, you can instead attempt to locate the insect culprit yourself. Termites and carpenter ants are the same size, and they both swarm. These similarities can make the two different insects hard to discern, but termite workers are pale-colored, and nearly translucent, while carpenter ant workers are reddish or dark in color. Since termites consume wood, they often remain unseen within hollowed sections of wood, but carpenter ants can often be spotted foraging for food within people’s homes, as they do not consume the wood that they excavate from structural timber.

Do you know of any other type of insect species, besides termites and ants, that are capable of inflicting damage to timber structures?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

 Tips For Pest Prevention | Phoenix Pest Control Experts

 Tips For Pest Prevention | Phoenix Pest Control ExpertsAbout Pest Control in Phoenix, Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek

What makes homes attractive to pests?

Pests are attracted to food, water and shelter. Exclusion techniques and removing food and water sources will help deter pests. Simple measures such as keeping food in sealed containers and cleaning up after each meal to avoid leaving crumbs can help. Fix leaky pipes and drains to ensure that if pests do get in, they won’t have ideal conditions in which they can thrive.

How do pests get into homes?

Pests enter structures through cracks and crevices around windows, doors, along foundations, ripped screens, uncapped chimneys, and also through holes where utilities enter a structure. Firewood, groceries, and other deliveries can carry pests in, too. Seal any openings with silicone caulk or steel wool, and to avoid hitchhiking pests, examine packages thoroughly before bringing them inside.

Where are pests most likely to settle in?

Pests have direct access to basements and attics through roofs and foundations, so they should be kept well ventilated, dry, and clutter-free. Also, because of the concentration of food and water, kitchens and bathrooms are other common areas.

What should I do if I have an infestation?

Despite even the best efforts, pests can still find their way inside. If you have a pest problem or need advice on how to better pest-proof your home, contact a qualified and licensed pest control professional.

Kandice Linwright No Comments

The Most Common Winter Pests

Most common winter pests in Phoenix, Arizona

It might not feel like winter outside, but we’re still in the thick of the winter season. And while temperatures are rising above 80 degrees, winter pests are still invading your home getting ready for the warm weather and influx of food.

Some of the most common winter pests are mice, spiders, rats and scorpions.

Mice – A mouse can act like a contortionist, squeezing and bending their bodies to get into houses through openings as small as 1/4 of an inch. Once inside mice reproduce quickly, and before you know it – your house can be overrun with mice. Not only are they destructive to property, building nests and chewing on wood and furniture, but mice present a health hazard through their bites, urine, and feces.

Rats – Slightly larger than the common house mouse, rats are rodents that destroy property by chewing electrical wires and building nests in walls and under appliances and leave a trail of potentially hazardous excrement. Both mice and rats thrive in the many nooks and unused spaces a house offers for nesting.

Spiders – While spiders are often thought of as beneficial pests because they eat other household pests, most people don’t want to share their homes with a bunch of creepy, crawly spiders. One of the most unfortunate things about spiders is that they often enter homes while hunting other pests that have come before them.

Stink bugs – Another nuisance pest, stink bugs don’t transmit diseases to humans or pets, nor do they cause damage in homes. Still, they are unsightly, and like their name suggests, can cause quite a nasty odor in your home. Stink bugs will sometimes leave stains on curtains and walls and can invade your home in large numbers, which they do simply to survive the low temperatures.

So, how can you prevent winter pests from invading your home? First of all, get yourself a reliable pest control professional, like Magic Pest Control. A great relationship with an expert in pest control can make all the difference.

Secondly, get those pest control professionals out to your home once a month. Have our experts seal up your home to keep winter pests away. All cracks, holes and soft wood needs to be patched and replace. All carpeting that doesn’t attach needs to be placed down correctly. All ceiling fans that do not fully cover the hole needs to be repaired.

Thirdly, keep a mindful eye on the floors at night when scorpions roam, and during the day when spiders and cockroaches invade.

 

Termite Behavior Can Be Altered By Various Types Of Wood Fungus

Termite Behavior Can Be Altered By Various Types Of Wood Fungus

Termites mostly feed on natural sources of wood and dead plant matter located in regions that are largely uninhabited. Although termites are ecologically important for clearing land of dead wood and plant matter, numerous fungal species are also essential for wood degradation. Termites and fungi both thrive within hot, wet and humid conditions, and both compete for nutritional and water resources. In fact, termites and fungi have been known to partition their mutual habitat in order to fairly divide resources, and some termites have evolved symbiotic relationships with fungi. Not surprisingly, different species of wood-degrading fungi can alter termite behavior, which may play a part in facilitating their mutually cooperative relationship. Some species of wood-degrading fungi can even repel termites or slow their feeding. These forms of wood-degrading fungi could be used for developing new termite control strategies.

The species of wood-degrading fungus known as G. trabeum contains a chemical that is identical to a trail-pheromone that is emitted by termites. This fungus has also been found to influence the manner in which termites construct their tube shelters and select their food. Pest control researchers once created a bait-trap for termites by mixing G. trabeum with a slow acting poison that termite workers acquire before spreading the poison to the rest of their colony. A 2002 study had researchers expose termites to three different types of fungi. When eastern subterranean termites and Formosan subterranean termites were given a choice between a fungus-free sawdust pile and three other piles that had been colonized with white rot, brown rot and litter rot fungi, both termite species preferred all three of the fungal sawdust piles over the fungus-free sawdust pile. Both species preferred white rot and litter rot fungi over brown rot fungi. Also, all three of the fungal sawdust piles caused Formosan termites to increase their tunneling speeds while untreated sawdust had no effect on tunneling speed. It has been suggested that some wood-degrading fungi allows termites to absorb more nutrients in wood, which may increase their energy levels. Several different types of wood-degrading fungi have shown promise as bait components in termite traps.

Do you think that some types of wood-degrading fungi that could attract termites to bait-traps could be harmful to humans?