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Bizarre Insect Defense Mechanisms

Your average Joe assumes that insects defend themselves by biting with their mouth parts or by stinging with their stingers. It does not occur to most non-experts that insects vary just as much in their defensive features as they do in their physical features. Some insects have adapted to surviving on this planet by evolving excessively strange and complicated physical defense mechanisms that seem to defy logic. A particular group of sap-sucking insects provide an apt example of this sort of strangeness. A type of sap-sucking insect known as a “sharpshooter” uses a truly unique catapult-like physical feature to fling its urine for reasons that are still unknown. These insects are capable of flinging their urine at incredibly high speeds, and after years of research, scientists are finally able to understand how this insect achieves such an outlandish feat.

It is not unheard of for people to become doused with the urine of sap-sucking insects after walking near a tree infested with the seemingly mischievous insects. According to the engineer who led the recent study on how sharpshooter insects propel their urine, it is not known why these insects developed this odd ability, but it could be to avoid being exposed to their own urine, as the scent of urine can attract predators. The engineer who led the study, Saad Bhamla, of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, recorded the urine-propelling behaviors of two sap-sucking species with high speed video footage in order to determine how these insects achieve such remarkable urine-speeds. The two species are commonly known as the glassy-winged sharpshooter and the blue-green sharpshooter. Video footage revealed that tiny barb called a stylus, which is located at the insects’ rear, works like spring to propel urine into the air. As soon as a drop of urine falls onto the stylus, the mechanism springs forth, launching the urine droplet into the air at an acceleration of 20 times that of earth’s gravity. The stylus is outfitted with tiny hairs that also work to launch the urine droplets into the air.Sharpshooting sap-suckers do a lot of damage to the natural environment, as they transmit bacteria that causes disease in plants. Unfortunately, sharpshooters have recently expanded beyond their native southeastern US habitat to infect vineyards in Northern California.

Have you ever found a sap-sucking insect in the wild?

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How The Irish Potato Famine Led To A Deadly Outbreak Of Diseased Lice In The United States

Typhus fever is an infectious disease that was considered a significant public health threat in most populated regions of the world prior to the 20th century. According to the World Health Organization, the disease is relatively rare these days, as only 1 in 5 million people fall ill from typhus fever worldwide each year. To be precise, typhus fever comprises three distinct infectious diseases, each of which is normally associated with a particular arthropod. These diseases are known as epidemic typhus, scrub typhus and murine typhus. Scrub typhus is spread by chiggers and murine typhus is spread by fleas. Epidemic typhus spreads rapidly within dense populations by means of body lice, making this form of typhus the deadliest, most widespread and most historically significant of the three types.

The most notable outbreak of epidemic typhus in the United States occurred in 1846, which is the same year that the Irish potato famine occured. These two events share a causal relationship, as the disease was transported to the US by starving Irish immigrants who were escaping their impoverished conditions back home. Prior to this American epidemic in 1846, a smaller-scale typhus outbreak occurred a decade prior in Philadelphia. This outbreak was found to have originated within an impoverished Irish community. Since many longtime American citizens felt threatened by the rapid spread of the disease via body lice, anti-Irish sentiment became common in the northeast US. By the time the massive waves of Irish immigrants brought the diseased lice with them to the US, citizens of the US had already started to associate the disease with Irish populations.

Despite Americans’ fear of contracting diseased lice from nearby populations of Irish immigrants, typhus fever remained almost exclusively limited to the Irish immigrant population. For example, in just one New York hospital, 138 patients with typhus fever were admitted in just a one month period in 1847, but only five of these patients were regular American citizens. The same year, a New Orleans hospital accepted 1,045 typhus patients, only 9 percent of which were non-Irish immigrants. Unfortunately, New Orleans suffered epidemics of typhus after charitably treating Irish typhus victims in the city’s hospitals. A vaccine for typhus prevention does not exist, but antibiotic treatment is often sufficient to eradicate the disease in the rare cases when it occurs.

Do you fear that the United States could once again fall victim to disease-carrying insects transported into the country by immigrants?

 

 

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A 130 Million Year Old Fossil Contains Insects

Discovering ancient insects that are well preserved within amber is always exciting for entomologists, but a recent fossil discovery is unlike anything ever discovered before. A recent study describes a fossil that contains insects that are emerging from their eggs. This is an extraordinarily unique find and researchers are not exactly sure how such a fossil could come to exist. Also, the insects contained within the amber possess a strange anatomical feature that allows them to break free from their hard egg shells. These fossilized insects are now extinct, but they are closely related to modern green lacewings.

The tool that these extinct insects used to break free from their shells is aptly referred to as an “egg buster.” According the study’s author, Dr. Michael Engel, egg bursting anatomical features detach from the bodies of newborn insects very quickly, but this recent fossil is the only one in existence that shows this feature on extinct insects. The fossil was determined to be 130 million years old, which means that this egg bursting bodily feature existed on insects as far back as the cretaceous period, a fact that was previously unknown to experts. The fossil also demonstrates that egg bursting physical features have not changed much over the past 130 million years of insect evolution. However, researchers are not in precise agreement concerning the circumstances that allowed these newborn insects to become fossilized within amber right as they were hatching. The most likely scenario is that the eggs had been placed on a tree trunk before sap bled from the trees, effectively covering the insects right as they were hatching. Egg bursting features are diverse in shape and location, but the fossilized insects possess an egg bursting appendage that resembles the ones possessed by their modern relatives living in the same location. This feature resembles a jagged blade and it is quickly discarded upon hatching.

Have you ever witnessed an insect hatching from its egg?

 

 

 

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How Do Stick Insects Respond To The Predators That See Through Their Camouflage?

How Do Stick Insects Respond To The Predators That See Through Their Camouflage?

Phasmids are a particular order of insects that are more commonly known as stick insects. Phasmids comprise an abundance of species located in various regions of the world. Scientists have documented around 3,000 different phasmid species, but more are being found regularly. Phasmids are closely related to crickets, praying mantids, cockroaches and katydids. Most people will recognize an immediate association between the well-camouflaged praying mantid and the cryptic phasmid, as phasmids hide from predators by using their stick-like appearance to blend in with foliage, hence their common name, stick insects. Although phasmids and praying mantids are both blessed with the evolutionary gift of camouflage, praying mantids are carnivorous and predatory while phasmids are herbivores and relatively passive. Considering this difference, phasmids are far more reliant on their natural camouflaged appearance for their survival than praying mantids are. However, this does not necessarily mean that phasmids are doomed to being eaten alive when a predator manages to see through their disguise.

Unfortunately for female phasmid species, only the males are able to use their wings in order to make airborne escapes from predators. When a female phasmid becomes aware that it is being eyed by a predator, it will attempt to perform natural-looking movements in order to escape the predator’s visual contact. For example, a female phasmid may move itself behind an object in a manner that makes it look like a leaf being blown in the wind. If this particular method is not an option, or has failed, then a female phasmid can violently flicker its wings as a show of intimidation to deter predators from attacking. In order to compensate for their inability to make airborne escapes, some female phasmid species can intimidate predators by exposing a colorful stripe located beneath one of their wings. In the insect and spider world, bright colors on insect and spider bodies indicates their toxicity to predators. Although female phasmid species are not toxic to predators, some species have, nevertheless, acquired the colorful stripe as a survival adaptation. This colorful stripe only becomes visible during the female’s defensive display.

Have you ever witnessed the violent defeat of an insect by another smaller insect?

 

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 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.

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A Brown Recluse Spider Bite Caused A Woman To Hallucinate And Become Paralyzed, And There Are Dozens More Hiding In Her Home

The brown recluse spider may not look intimidating, but it is one of the most dangerous spider species in the United States. According to medical experts, around ten percent of brown recluse spider bites to humans result in tissue death, but negative health consequences can be felt by bite victims who never develop serious infections. For example, last summer a Tennessee woman, Angela Wright, experienced hallucinations and temporary paralysis in response to brown recluse venom alone. In fact, the one bite that Angela sustained nearly gave her a fatal stroke.

Wright woke one morning with pain in one of her arms and small bumps on her chest. Angela eventually visited the doctor where she was prescribed medication for the bumps, but her symptoms became worse. Soon after, Angela began to hallucinate and she developed seemingly bizarre symptoms such as sharp chest pains, flu-like symptoms and eventual paralysis. It turned out that the bite had formed two blood clots within Angela’s lungs. These clots brought Angela dangerously close to having a stroke. The doctors who treated Angela claimed that the neurotoxic components within brown recluse venom caused her to experience hallucinations.

Angela refused to sleep within her apartment for one more night, as she had found dozens of the spiders infesting her apartment unit before she visited the hospital. Angela had complained to the apartment managers about the infestation, and the managers responded by sending a pest control professional to her room to spray insecticide, but the spiders remained. Sadly, this one bite may have caused lasting medical problems, as doctors believe that Angela will have to remain on blood-thinning medication for her entire life as a result of the clots. Angela is also experiencing sudden bouts of pain in her chest. Due to the risks associated with blood clots, Angela’s doctors recommended that she avoid having children for life.

Have you ever killed a brown recluse spider that you found indoors?

 

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A University Student Is Not Tolerating Her Insect And Spider Infested Dorm

A University Student Is Not Tolerating Her Insect And Spider Infested Dorm And One Company Is Forcing Employees To Eat Cockroaches

Many people who are currently attending college can tell you that dorm rooms leave much to be desired. There are not many 18 year old college freshman who expected their dorm room to resemble a hotel suite, but certainly no dorm resident should have to tolerate cockroach and spider infestations. While finding a cockroach or two within one’s dorm room may not be uncommon for many college students, one student at the University of Louisville in Kentucky is making the whole world know that officials are doing nothing to clear the cockroach infestation from her dorm room.

The student recently posted pictures of the cockroaches and spiders in her dorm room to social media sites in an effort to motivate university officials into hiring a pest control professional to address the infestation. The pictures were posted with an accompanying description of her situation. The student’s plan worked, as her situation was reported by a local news station, which prompted the university’s housing authorities into responding to her complaints. A spokesperson for the university even went as far as to send a letter to the news station explaining how seriously the university is taking the student’s complaints. The letter claimed that other past complaints from students concerning insect infestations in their dorm rooms were promptly addressed by university officials, and the university is working closely with the current student in order to resolve the problem. Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe in China, employees are being forced to eat cockroaches by their managers.

Three managers that worked at a home improvement store in southern China have been jailed for making employees consume cockroaches and other disgusting items. The managers reportedly made only those employees who failed to make sales targets consume cockroaches. The managers were arrested after a former employee posted pictures and a description of the humiliating punishments to a social media site. Hopefully the victims of this cruel form of abuse can find satisfaction in the perpetrator’s incarceration, but at least the managers were dedicated to maximizing company profits.

 

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Rock Squirrels Are The Most Dangerous Wild Animals At The Grand Canyon, And They Hate Selfies

Rock Squirrels Are The Most Dangerous Wild Animals At The Grand Canyon, And They Hate Selfies

The Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the United States, and is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The desert canyon contains several long pathways for hikers, two of which form a continuous 15 mile long trail. As you can probably guess, visiting the Grand Canyon can be dangerous, and many tourists have sustained injuries while visiting the national park. It may come as a shock to learn that the region’s wildlife pose the biggest threat of injury to Grand Canyon visitors. Coyotes, foxes, bats, and mountain lions are all dangerous animals that Grand Canyon tourists may encounter.  However, the most dangerous wild animal that dwells in the Grand Canyon region happens to be the rock squirrel. Also, rodents and other wild animals in the Grand Canyon area can spread infectious diseases such as Hantavirus, rabies, and plague. In fact, all three of these diseases have been found in the region’s wildlife in recent years. Squirrels have become the most dangerous animals at the Grand Canyon partly as a result of the many attacks that tourists have suffered while attempting to take selfies with the nut-eating rodents. Selfie-related squirrel attacks have become so common at the Grand Canyon that park rangers have begun warning tourists about the dangers associated with “squirrel selfies.”

Red rock squirrels attack more tourists at the Grand Canyon than any other wild animal. Feeding squirrels and even holding a hand out to one will likely result in a bite, but it is turning one’s back on a squirrel for a perfect selfie that is causing a surge in rock squirrel attacks in the park. Rock squirrels are also one of the only wild animals in the region that maintain a constant presence around the park’s gift shop, snack shops and welcome center, making dangerous encounters with these squirrels more likely, especially near the snack shop. The park has launched the #FindYourDistance and #SafeSelfie campaign in order to increase awareness concerning the dangers of posing for selfies with the park’s wildlife.

Would you be willing to take an African safari in spite of the risk of being attacked by wildlife?

Spooky Pests Can be a Nightmare for Homeowners

Spooky Pests Can be a Nightmare for Homeowners

Magic Pest Control warns homeowners to be on the lookout for common creepy critters this fall

With Halloween right around the corner, sightings of classic creepy bugs and creatures will surely be on the rise as homeowners decorate for the spookiest day of the year. However, Magic Pest Control reminds homeowners that real pests pose threats to both health and property and an infestation can be a real nightmare.

Pests such spiders, bats, rats and mice are frequently associated with Halloween fun and campy horror movies, but if found inside the home, they are cause for concern. These pests are more likely to invade houses as the weather cools down, so it’s important for homeowners to be on the lookout for any signs of pest problems.

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the following pests could threaten the health and safety of your home this fall:

Spiders

For many people, spiders of any size and shape are cause for great alarm when found in the home, and their webs can be a serious nuisance. However, there are only two species of spiders in the U.S. that pose significant threats to human health: the brown recluse and black widow. Both species will bite when threatened and can cause painful, and possibly fatal, reactions. Anyone who suspects they’ve been bitten by either of these should promptly seeking medical attention.

Bats

Bats prefer to settle in dark, secluded and protected areas, including the attics of homes. They are known carriers of rabies in the U.S. and capable of infecting humans and other animals. Their droppings can also cause certain lung diseases. Bats are protected mammals in many states, so it is necessary to contact a pest control professional or the local wildlife service before taking any action to remove bats from the home.

Rats

Rats can inflict property damage and threaten human health. Their strong teeth allow them to chew through glass, cinderblock, aluminum and wire, increasing the potential risk for fires. They are also vectors of diseases including plague, jaundice, rat-bite fever, cowpox virus, trichinosis and salmonellosis. Additionally, rats can introduce fleas in to a home. These pests can fit through holes the size of a quarter, so closely inspect both the inside and outside of the home for any gaps that could allow them easy entry.

For more information on these pests and how to prevent them, please visit www.magicpest.com

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Pest Control Q & A

Phoenix Pest Control Q & A

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, like Magic Pest Control.

For more information on common household pests, please visit www.magicpest.com