A Surprising Trigger for Allergies: The Roach | Kentucky Cockroach Control

A Surprising Trigger for Allergies:  The Roach

Common allergens, like pollen, are annoying but hardly life-threatening.  For some individuals, however, allergens can cause anaphylactic shock or trigger asthma reactions.

Asthma is entirely separate from the phenomenon of anaphylactic shock, but a person with asthma may experience allergies more intensely and their reactions can trigger an asthma attack.

A little known trigger for asthmatics is the cockroach.  Partly because these bugs are so common in homes, and partly because a great percentage of humans are allergic to them, they can cause a lot of grief for people who suffer from asthma.  The offending allergens come from cockroach feces, saliva and body parts.  These allergens mix with common household dust, thus circulating throughout the house.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that between three quarters and 98% of homes in the U.S. have cockroach allergies, and about one quarter to one half of individuals with asthma are sensitive to cockroach allergens.

Physicians can test for a wide array of allergens, including sensitivity to cockroaches.  If an allergy is present, the next step is to contact an exterminator to rid your house of roaches.

The Complex World of Ants | Kentucky Ant Control

The Complex World of Ants

If you’ve ever tried to remove an ant colony, you know how tough and persistent these creatures are.  They are a nuisance and can be destructive, but they also have amazing abilities, build complicated structures, and share more than a few traits with humans.

Most people know ants are incredibly strong.  They can lift objects 25 times their own body weight.  The common American field ant has a neck joint that can withstand 5,000 pounds its body weight.

Like humans, ants are highly social, yet also possess a competitive and sometimes warlike nature.  Some species build colonies, and others travel like nomads to find the best food sources.  Their societies have many rules, and use division of labor to find and store food as well as building and sustaining colonies.

They have intricate means of communication, using odors to give and receive vital information.  They mainly exchange news about impending danger and food.  If an ant is killed violently (by crushing) it sends out signal to all other nearby ants, who will go into a state of frenzy in response to the alarm.

Ants have been observed closely by humans, and we’ve determined that they may be the only other species (besides us) who can learn simply by watching another ant.  This is known as vicarious learning, and hasn’t been recorded anywhere else in the animal kingdom.

 

Sticky Business

Sticky Business

Scientists study biological systems to understand how nature works, perhaps with the ultimate aim of understanding man’s place in it. A side benefit of observing natural systems, however, are the marvels of engineering that non-humans animals possess. Insects are perhaps the most remarkable of creatures when it comes to movement, whether flying, crawling or hanging upside down.

The stick insect sometimes needs to hang upside down under leaves, and climbs vertically along branches. How does this creature accomplish adherence when upside down and ‘normal’ striding when right side up? Turns out a complex system of adherence explains these incredible feats – no pun intended – of travel.

Research from the Cambridge Department of Zoology breaks it down for us nonscientists in a three point system. But first it’s helpful to understand that stick bugs have heel pads and toe pads, each with their own independent friction features: toe pads are sticky, while heel pads are not sticky. The heel pads have three separate features to regulate grip strength.

First, rounded hairs – both on the pad itself and of the hairs. This feature means that as pressure is increased, surface area instantly increased as well. Second, varying lengths of hairs. This feature allows for more hairs to come in contact with the surface as pressure increased. Third, there is a back-up system with hairs that make side-contact when the most pressure is applied. Without any pressure, there is no friction and therefore no “stickiness.”

Fungus May Be The Ultimate Pest-Control

Fungus May Be The Ultimate Pest-Control

Two insects in particular plague modern humans, and those are ants and mosquitoes.  Ants destroy property, sting, and spread in alarming numbers; mosquitoes bite and carry deadly diseases.   But one scientist may have discovered the key to reducing, or even eliminating, their growing numbers: fungus.

Professor Nemat Keyhani is a microbiologist who is working with the fungus Beauveria bassiana as a potential pest-control agent.  Reliable testing has demonstrated consistent efficacy against both fire ants and mosquitoes, but without killing butterflies, moths or other benign insects.  After five years of research, Professor Keyhani is confident this fungus could be used as an effective means to eradicate ants and mosquitoes.

The fungus has received approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.  The next task before widespread implementation is to perfect economical methods of application.  Keyhani is hoping that private or corporate funding may be available, considering the potential marketability of ant and mosquito control.

The fungus is not harmful to humans.  Insects can also become immune to its effects, but Keyhani notes that its most fruitful application may be in combination with pesticides.

Salad Greens Invaded by Cross Blister Beetle in U.S. and Canada

Salad Greens Invaded by Cross Blister Beetle in U.S. and Canada

This large red and yellow beetle is not what you want to encounter when drizzling a nice raspberry vinaigrette over your salad. Unfortunately, several people have been shocked to discover a Cross Blister Beetle, lately known as the “salad beetle” among their greens.

Sightings in the U.S. have occurred, especially in boxes of organic salad green, and now the bug is showing up in Canadian salads, too.

The beetle is toxic, and consumers are not happy when they open a washed package of greens that is bug-infested.

These bugs have been found in Earthbound Organics products, and the company has sometimes offered reimbursement, sometimes a form letter describing how beneficial bugs can be used in farming. The blister beetle is not one of the latter.

The Food and Drug Administration, or its equivalent local agency, should be contacted if you find this beetle in your salad greens. You should also contact the retailer of the product, and the company that does the packaging.

 

This large red and yellow beetle is not what you want to encounter when drizzling a nice raspberry vinaigrette over your salad. Unfortunately, several people have been shocked to discover a Cross Blister Beetle, lately known as the “salad beetle” among their greens.

Sightings in the U.S. have occurred, especially in boxes of organic salad green, and now the bug is showing up in Canadian salads, too.

The beetle is toxic, and consumers are not happy when they open a washed package of greens that is bug-infested.

These bugs have been found in Earthbound Organics products, and the company has sometimes offered reimbursement, sometimes a form letter describing how beneficial bugs can be used in farming. The blister beetle is not one of the latter.

 

The Food and Drug Administration, or its equivalent local agency, should be contacted if you find this beetle in your salad greens. You should also contact the retailer of the product, and the company that does the packaging.

Death of the Spotted Lanternfly

Death of the Spotted Lanternfly

You’ve likely never heard of this multi-colored moth, and Agricultural Department officials want to keep it that way.  The bug has decimated the ash tree in parts of Michigan, and destroyed millions of these trees around the country.

In Pennsylvania, the Lanternfly has been spotted, and officials are working hard to make it nothing more than a memory.  Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Agricultural Secretary, is on a mission to wipe out this pest before it does damage to the state’s fruit trees, pines and hardwoods.

“As we know from a little of the history of this pest, it is very adaptable," he said. "There are 65 different hosts, 25 that are actually grown or can grow in Pennsylvania. So we have a lot to deal with here.”

Farmers as well as the loggers could be affected, and the economic threat is potentially in the millions of dollars in Pennsylvania alone.  The state Agricultural Department is working with two universities – Penn State and Kutztown University – to conduct research the insect.  In addition, the department will use two other important weapons in their battle to eradicate this insect: education of the public and quarantine of certain areas in the state.

The US Department of Agriculture is firmly behind Pennsylvania’s efforts, providing resources to make Pennsylvania the land “where the spotted Lanternfly died,” according to USDA official Kevin Shea.

Bugs: It’s What’s For Dinner

Bugs: It’s What’s For Dinner

Westerners aren’t quite used to the idea of eating bugs, but it’s common practice in many cultures.  In Thailand, the weaver ant is prized and the Japanese love yellow jacket wasp larvae.  Africans eat termites in many forms, including frying, steaming, sun-dried, or ground into a powder.  In fact, nearly 2000 insect species are considered edible.

One chef in Britain is welcoming insects to the menu, at Grub Kitchen.  Adam Holcroft wants to show British natives how edible and tasty insects are in a variety of forms.  Some of the dishes include bug burgers, as well as ice cream, or “bamboo fudge worm ice cream.”

The 37-year-old said: "We're treating them as a normal food item, incorporating insect protein as an ingredient but using normal flavours we're familiar with and everyday food items we recognise.”

Not every patron will want bugs, so the menu offers the usual meat-centered options.  But Grub Kitchen will cater the culinary adventuresome crowd, who is willing to step out of the crowd and add a side of grasshoppers to the dinner plate.

Queen of the Stink Bugs Turns Passion Into Art

Queen of the Stink Bugs Turns Passion Into Art

In Pennsylvania, there is a woman toiling away to bring stink bugs into a new light.  She has discovered the many virtues of using these critters in paintings, jewelry, pendants, and more.

Maryel Henderson has been making art for decades, and has always been interested in the natural world.  Prior to exploring stink bugs as a medium, she painted portraits of animals in non-native habitats, like polar bears in swimming pools or lizards on ceiling fans.

But she is now known, at least by her husband, as the “stink bug whisperer.”  She experimented with using the shell of the stinkbug – a familiar yet unique shape that resembles a shield – on pendants.  These sold well, and she’s branched out into a wider array of stink bug art.  This month, Henderson has opened a new art space at Marketview Arts in York, PA, where she will display the gamut of stink bug creations.

The work ranges in price from $40 to $900, depending on the piece and size.  Larger paintings go for more money, but stink art pendants start at less than $50.

Henderson can’t fully explain her love of stink bugs, but notes that it may have to do simply with their vulnerability and individuality.  "They're just clumsy and cute and awkward, and they kind of walk around like they're going through life minding their own business," she said.

The Secret Life of Acrobatic Ants

The Secret Life of Acrobatic Ants

Ants have long been known to share an important trait with humans: adaptation. New research on a variety of ants called “trap jaw” shows the remarkable ability to have adapted a predatory weapon (the “trap jaw”) as an escape tool as well.

Because of the way their jaws snap shut with great speed (for killing) these ants are able to also use this tremendous force to fly through the air. The mechanism works like this: when an ant snaps its jaw closed against another surface (for instance, the ground), the resulting impact sends it airborne.

While entomologists have long known about this ant super-power, recent researchers in Florida discovered that the flying ability isn’t just for fun.

These ants use their specialized, built-in jaw power as a means to fly, and have adapted to use flying as a means of escape.

Controlled experiments conducted by Frederick J. Larabee, a University of Illinois grad student, showed that the flying ability helps these ants evade the traps of an ant nemesis, the ant lions. Working under adviser Andrew V. Suarez, Mr. Larabee reported in the journal PLOS One. In his lab investigations, he noted that about half the time the trap-jaw ants were threated they scurried up walls, but in fifteen percent of cases they employed their flying super powers to escape the clutches of the lion ants.

Fruit Fly Information

Fruit Fly Information

At one time or another, we've all experienced fruit flies in our home or kitchen. But did you know they don’t actually come from fruit?

In this video below by Pestworld, learn the facts of fruit flies. For instance, instead of coming from decaying fruit itself they are actually attracted to the yeast produced by fermenting fruit and can track it from great distances. They are also to easily come into our homes, as their tiny size allows them to sneak through even the smallest of cracks. Plus, sometimes their eggs may already be on the fruit we purchase at the store.

So what can you do? Always check fruit that is left out for signs of over ripening. The riper the fruit, the more likely fruit flies will appear.