To Vaccinate or not to vaccinate – that is the question

August 31st, 2015

To Vaccinate or not to vaccinate – that is the question

It’s something the average person would never think of. A vaccination for bees. Not against a bee sting, but an actual vaccination for the bees themselves to help combat the unknown reasons why they are dying on a rapid pace.

It’s become common knowledge lately that there seems to be an epidemic of bees in particular, facing environmental dangers that are quite serious. According to a 2014 US Government report, bees and other pollinating insects are vital to humans food security especially in fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Over the past 60 years, the numbers of bee colonies has dropped at a pace that is very alarming. Managed colonies in the United States were around the 6 million number 60 years ago and today there is a mere 2.5 million.

The vaccination for the bees would come in the form of an edible substance that would help the bees fight of many pathogens. This vaccination would be both edible and natural. Introduced to the bees in their own bee hives, served as a cocktail they couldn’t turn down. This would reduce the amount of bacterium that could be partially to blame for the decline of the bee population.

For more information on the decline of bee populations please click here

Family vacation nightmare

August 28th, 2015

Family vacation nightmare

A Charlotte, NC family came home to a nightmare after their vacation. The family left their vehicle in the airport parking lot for the 10 day duration. They returned Sunday only to realize their vehicle had been infested by ants.

When the family returned home from vacation they picked up their car and loaded in as any family would. It wasn’t until one of the kids started saying there were ants, that the parents noticed the ants crawling on the console, their bags, their kids and even on them. There were more than a thousand ants in the car, in this bizarre and gross incident.

Nearly two hours of cleaning the car upon arrival did not get rid of all of the ants. Two days later their car was still crawling with ants, in the doors and floorboards specifically. The family has used ant spray and traps and still has been unsuccessful at the act of de-anting his car.

The family was reimbursed in full for their parking fee and the airport has also stated they will pay for any additional cleaning fees. This is not the first time this airport has had an issue with ants. Fire ants were a huge cause for concern just a few years ago.

For more information on the ant infestation, click here

Tick borne disease on the rise

August 27th, 2015

Tick borne disease on the rise

300,000 human illnesses per year in the United States are caused by tick borne diseases, costing nearly $1.3 billion each year. Recently a statement was released calling for a new strategy to invest in an approach to stop this prevalent epidemic of tick borne disease.

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) believes there is a disconnect of informational flow between the general public and scientists who study ticks. The ESA’s statement requests a strategy to have a uniform approach to the learning curve citing there are unique capabilities available to help prevent human disease. For instance, Lyme disease is only one of the tick borne diseases that can cause severe human illness. Bourbon virus, Heartland virus and new strains of Lyme disease all currently have no vaccine.

The ESA is requesting a greater financial investment in the hopes that it can better train professional entomologist and citizen-scientists to be able to notice and monitor these new strains of disease. They believe that this training could cause a reduction of nearly $3 billion in costs to the livestock industry each year.

The ESA also states that this training, a more research based focus and ecological understanding as well as implementing partnerships with those who can catalog and analyze the data, will cure our tick problem.

Diseases from ticks can be very serious. For more information please click here

Flies, more than just pesky annoyances – engineering works of art

August 26th, 2015

Flies, more than just pesky annoyances – engineering works of art

Anyone who has ever attempted to catch or swat at a flying insect will testify that they are in fact aerial acrobats to say the least; but how do they do it? They fly forward and back, up and down, side to side and even dive bomb you now and again.

There is a small almost gearbox in a flies wings that allows them to “warm up” their engines to get going. It’s clearly taken a long time for scientists to come to find this out, but now the information flow is happing at warp speed.

With the increased knowledge of the biological systems of flying insects, we can in turn better understand our own biological systems, and hopefully even copy them.

Not many people actually notice, but flies do in fact have two separate sets of working wings. One, of course everyone has seen and notices right away. The other set however, is small and shaped like a drumstick and functions as a gyroscope. This smaller set of wings is what allows the fly to orient themselves once in flight.

Flies are so much more than a pesky annoyance when it comes to actual mechanics. From mechanical coupling, to almost a clutch and transmission system, adding in sensory feedback and neurons, these complicated beings are more than they appear.

Flies are awkward and annoying,  but if you would like to learn more about how flies fly, click here

Termite structure in Africa has been around longer than 2000 years

August 25th, 2015

 

In a remote woodland area of Africa, an ancient structure was discovered that dates back more than 2000 years. The structures engineer? Termites.

Standing more than 33 feet tall termites were about to build this mound complete with air conditioning, in a manner that has withheld 2000 years of wear and tear. Of course, the termites have since abandoned their marvelous structure, but other structures created by termites were also located in the area. Those additional structures date back as far as 750 years. These types of termite structures or insect high rises, can even withstand fire. Two additional structures were found abandoned, but two of these structures were still occupied by their termite tenants. One of which stands 20 feet tall, the other just smaller than 11 feet tall.

The ancient and left behind mound, dating back 2335 years, was aged by using the earth at the base of the creation. The theory based on a new mound built on top of an existing mound is that termites can and do live in the same home for centuries. Who knew they were such family oriented pests?

No one is exactly sure how these massive and intricate insect sky scrapers are engineered or erected, but it seems as though a true family effort is put into place and carried out to ensure the safety of longevity of the mounds.

For a more complete history of termite structures, please click here

The 5 Stages Of A Bed Bug Infestation

August 24th, 2015

The 5 Stages Of A Bed Bug Infestation

A bed bug infestation has become one of the most dreaded, and yet increasingly more common occurrences to ever plague a hapless home owner. And this summer, the open invitation for the insidious creatures to breed even more insanely couldn’t be any warmer.

In this hot mating season, be aware and remain vigilant, as we give you the lowdown on the 5 stages of a bed bug infestation:

  1. Itching.

Bed bugs tend to bite in clusters, so if you notice a cluster of red, itchy spots, usually around your neck, legs, back or arms, chances are you could have a bed bug under your sheets.

  1. Inspection.

It’s always better to intervene before a few bed bugs turn into an all out infestation, so start your checkup early. Bed bugs usually leave spots of blood feces behind, so if you discover some unexplained clusters of dark spots on your sheets, chances are, that’s a bedbug’s excrement.

  1. Finding the actual culprits.

Bed bugs tend to hide in corners, seams, under wooden panels or edges, and other difficult to reach areas. Be vigilant. Carry a flashlight and magnifying glass if you have to. Once you spot them for real, then it’s time to take action.

 

  1. Who you gonna call?

As soon as you’ve established that there are indeed bed bugs in your property, don’t leave anything else to chance and call your pest exterminator right away. A bed bug infestation is not a situation you can DIY. If you engage in ineffective measures, you might end up having to discard more furniture, sheets, and carpeting than you intended at first, and thus end up spending even more. It defeats the purpose of DIY. So just make things easier for you and your exterminator and just call the expert.

  1. Peace.

The bugs have been effectively cleaned out, finally, by your pest exterminators. Time to lay back down on the futon and get your much-needed peaceful shut eye. Is that a bed bug crawling behind your neck? No, it’s just the feeling of great satisfaction. Now get back to sleep.

 

Birmingham infested with Health Risk Ants

August 21st, 2015

There is nothing like an ant that can sting, bite, and spread disease, but then you add resistance to being killed, and they just start to become a major nuisance and health risk.

A rare Argentinian ant known as a ‘Crazy Ant’ has been spreading around Birmingham at an alarming rate. Not only do these ants chew through electrical wire, which causes major problems, but they spread diseases such as salmonella and love setting up near places that have sugars or food. It’s not enough for them to chew through the wiring of places though; they electrocute themselves in the process and die, leaving a smell that attracts more of them to then bite the wires and cause more damage.

Add all of this to the fact that normal predators for ants aren’t effective against these crazy ants, because they use a caustic acid on their stingers that make them one of the more defensible types of ants. They are truly one of the worst pests to deal with, with health risks, damage to electrical interiors and bites that can be painful due to their powerful jaws that can break through electrical wire.

It is recommended that if you see a black ant with red hair that you should call an exterminator as soon as possible, as these ants can really cause some serious damage to your home, and to your health.

The Strength of Ants

August 20th, 2015

The Strength of Ants

It isn’t common to be able to see the power and strength of ants in play, but a recent set of photographs have revealed the kind of teamwork and power that the average ant in the wild can pull off.

These Indonesian ants carry off seeds that are three to four times their size, and far heavier, and they even do it in tiers of passing off the seeds to each other and all while dangling from a single branch. This kind of feat of strength isn’t all that unusual for ants though. The average ant is capable of lifting and carrying around 10 to 20 times its own body weight, which makes ants one of the strongest creatures in the world.

What is unusual is being able to see that strength in action, and so close up. We also get to see the kind of teamwork that these ants utilize by reaching lower down on the branch with stacking on top of each other, and even where they fend off a white spider as a group.

The pictures show just how capable ants are, and the teamwork they can achieve. When some of the ants finished their job of carrying one seed, they went back to help the others still bringing seeds in which made it go faster for all of them. Truly this is one of those remarkable things that you likely won’t get to see close up without the camera technique that was utilized to capture these photos.

Termite structure in Africa has been around longer than 2000 years!

August 19th, 2015

Termite structure in Africa has been around longer than 2000 years!

In a remote woodland area of Africa, an ancient structure was discovered that dates back more than 2000 years. The structures engineer? Termites.

Standing more than 33 feet tall termites were about to build this mound complete with air conditioning, in a manner that has withheld 2000 years of wear and tear. Of course, the termites have since abandoned their marvelous structure, but other structures created by termites were also located in the area. Those additional structures date back as far as 750 years. These types of termite structures or insect high rises, can even withstand fire. Two additional structures were found abandoned, but two of these structures were still occupied by their termite tenants. One of which stands 20 feet tall, the other just smaller than 11 feet tall.

The ancient and left behind mound, dating back 2335 years, was aged by using the earth at the base of the creation. The theory based on a new mound built on top of an existing mound is that termites can and do live in the same home for centuries. Who knew they were such family oriented pests?

No one is exactly sure how these massive and intricate insect sky scrapers are engineered or erected, but it seems as though a true family effort is put into place and carried out to ensure the safety of longevity of the mounds.

For a more complete history of termite structures, please click here

Wood, Termites and Lighters Don’t Mix

August 18th, 2015

Have you ever been out chopping wood only to find a horrible termite infestation? What would you do to try to get rid of them?

That is exactly what happened to a young man and his father in East Jefferson on Sunday. The father and son duo were chopping logs together when the son noticed the infestation of termites. What happened next neither of them expected. The son used his lighter in an attempt to try to burn out the termites. Unfortunately, he was also standing in some very dry grass at the time causing a simple burn out to turn into an ignited brushfire that consumed approximately 1/10th of an acre before two separate fire departments were able to put extinguish the fire.

East Jefferson Fire Rescue was first on the scene, with neighboring Naval Magazine Indian Island firefighters helping in the attempts as well.

Neighbors to the location of the fire site noticed the blaze and a plume of smoke and called 911. With the hard work of these two fire teams, 11 firefighters from Navy, and four extra firefighting trucks, they were able to have the fire put out in approximately 15 minutes. They later overhauled the site. Any time there is a flame near wood and especially if that is also near dry grass, you are asking for trouble!

For more information on this termite burnout disaster please click here