Archive for the ‘Bug Busters’ Category

This Time Of Year Brings Out The Poisonous Caterpillars

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

It is that time of year again when people become excited about locating and photographing the strange looking wooly bear caterpillars. These caterpillars are popular among bug enthusiasts and average joes alike because, according to folklore, these fuzzy caterpillars can predict the future. So how does that work, you ask? Well, it probably does not, but legend says that these white caterpillars possess red bands around its body that are either broad or narrow in appearance. That much is true, however, some believe that more narrow bands indicate a harsher winter as opposed to broad bands that indicate a warm winter. Oh yeah! They are also venomous.

As a caterpillar this creature is just as poisonous as it is when it becomes a moth, in this case we are discussing the hickory tussock moth. Entomologists warn against handling the caterpillars or the moths since they can deal out a painful sting that feels like nettle. Although you won’t experience anything more than a rash along with a stinging sensation, it is possible to have an allergy to the moth or its venom, so steer clear.

Have you ever heard of venomous caterpillars or moths? Have you ever been stung by one? Did you know what kind it was?

Insect Bite Menaces Soccer Game

Friday, October 7th, 2016

When I think of an insect bite ruining someone’s afternoon outside playing soccer or some other sport, my mind tends to draw the conclusion that the terrible itch from the bites were probably driving the injured parties insane, making it difficult for them to concentrate on their task. Sports doping rules being violated is definitely not the first thing…or even the last thing that comes to mind.

Just before a major soccer match between the Italian teams Lazio and Fruilani, favorite player for Lazio, Stefan Radu, was stung by an insect. To relieve the pain and itching, Radu spread cortisone cream on the area. Unfortunately, there was insufficient time before the start of the match for the substance to wear off, which would apparently violate anti-doping rules. And so Radu was benched rather than risking getting a two year ban has he been tested for drugs. Now, maybe this is just me, but since when is cortisone cream an illicit drug that could somehow enhance a player’s abilities? Seriously, that’s a little extreme in my opinion. In case you were wondering, even without their star player on the field, Lazio soundly beat Fruilani 3-0.

Can you think of any other instances where someone might get in trouble for using cortisone cream to relieve a bug bite?

How To Prevent Insects From Invading Your Home

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Nobody likes seeing bugs in their home, but according to one entomologist, keeping bugs entirely out of people’s homes is an impossibility. According to Jeff Whitworth, an entomologist, people will always have to deal with bugs in their homes, but one way to reduce the number of bugs that we see in our homes is to understand how bugs get in in the first place.

Understanding how bugs get into your house is pretty tough to ascertain since most of us live in homes that already seem to be tightly sealed. However, when it comes to bugs in your home, you yourself may be partly responsible since for seeing them. It is not uncommon for bugs to hitch a ride into a person’s home. Bugs could be hiding in your jacket or a shoe, but once these bugs find a food source in your home they will be there to stay. You would be surprised how many bugs you can prevent from becoming fixtures in your home by inspecting yourself for bugs before you enter your home.

Have you ever noticed a live bug on you while you were out and about?

Disney is Joining in the Fight Against the Zika Virus

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

It looks like even Disney is going to do its part to fight the Zika virus now that it has entered U.S. soil. They started giving away free bottles of Cutter insect spray last week. However, those tiny little bottles must have been breaking the bank since they now just changed from giving out those bottles to simply placing a giant industrial size container of insect repellent lotion on top of tables throughout the park. Just in case anyone doesn’t know how to apply the lotion, there are cast members standing by each table, ready to help answer any questions or concerns.

This seems a little cheap to me. I mean, I’m pretty sure everyone knows that if given a choice, people would much prefer spray over sticky lotion. And, in my opinion, changing the insect repellent you’re giving out to guests just a week after you start is just plain bad form. It’s pretty obvious that we’re just not worth the spray bottles – that’s how much Disney loves you…think about that.

If you had to choose between insect repellent lotion or spray, which would you choose? Does this make you lose just a little bit of respect for Disney?

Mad Scientists Create Three-Eyed Cyclops Beetle

Friday, August 26th, 2016

Most people are familiar with the stereotype of the “mad scientist”. They tend to have crazy hair that sticks out in every direction, are known to laugh maniacally every so often, and are fond of creating monstrous abominations through genetic experimentation. Of course, most people also know that they died out with Joseph Mengele…or did they? A team of scientists led by Eduardo Zattara, a postdoctoral researcher in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology, decided to play God and recently created a three-eyed beetle with an added compound eye in the middle of its head, inspiring them to give it the nickname “Cyclops”.

Now, I know what this looks like, but these scientists weren’t actually living out their darkest fantasies of being the next Victor Frankenstein. They were actually studying the possibilities of genetic evolution by shutting off a specific gene in the dung beetle to see what kind of physical changes it might result in. This helped them understand how certain genes cause the evolution of new characteristics in insects. When they removed the orthodenticle genes, the beetle grew a third eye in the center of its head and lost its horns. This was a monumental leap forward in our understanding so far of how evolution works.

What external factor could possibly cause this gene to suddenly become active and spark an evolution in the beetle’s physical traits?

How Climate Affects A Spider’s “Personality”

Friday, August 19th, 2016

When we think of spiders we do not think of them as being rich with personality. Spiders are more like mindless organisms that live for nothing more than satisfying their instinctual needs. However, a group of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill believe that spiders do indeed have personality, and what type of personality a spider has can determine its fate.

The researchers believe that climate change could potentially have a major effect on how spider populations are constituted from generation to generation. In order to test the idea that temperature could influence gene flow in spider populations the researchers used the tangle web spider in the experiments. Tangle web spiders are known for possessing one of two possible personality traits–docile and aggressive.

The researchers learned that the aggressive spiders would die if the temperature in their environment reached ninety three degrees Fahrenheit, while the docile spiders were able to survive and thrive when exposed to temperatures in the nineties. Interestingly all of the spiders were able to survive the 93 degree heat when they were all mixed together. So the aggressive tangle web spiders can only survive high heat environments when they are sharing an environment with docile spiders. This finding indicated to scientists that the selective pressures were to heavy to bear for the aggressive spiders when they were not mixed with their docile counterparts. In other words diversity is a good thing for tangle web spiders, and it makes you wonder if diversity would not also be a major benefit to human survival as well.

In this particular experiment what would have been the most likely cause of the mass deaths of the aggressive spiders? Did they all kill each other fighting over resources?

Don’t Room With Bed Bugs This Fall

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Bug Busters USA Back to School Bed Bug Advice for College Students


As college students prepare to return to campuses nationwide, many plan to bring secondhand furniture including mattresses, futons, dressers, couches and more. As bags are being packed, and students begin to move in, Bug Busters USA is urging students in the Southeast United States to inspect new lodgings, personal belongings, and secondhand items, for bed bugs as these pests can cause painful, red itchy welts and can also spread quickly when introduced to new environments.

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), bed bugs pose serious concerns to dorm rooms and thrive in university environments as there are often many people living in a confined space. In fact, a 2015 survey, conducted by the NPMA and the University of Kentucky, found that bed bug infestations in the United States continue at high rates, with 99.6 percent of pest professionals treating for bed bugs in the year prior.

“Bed bugs are opportunistic and elusive pests,” says Court Parker, COO  at Bug Busters USA “As students return from summers filled with travel they may unknowingly be transporting bed bugs to college campuses. Or, they could be returning to an environment where bed bugs are already a problem. It is essential that students inspect all belongings to help keep these pests at bay. Bed bugs are not only undesirable for students but also for parents who don’t want their children bringing these pests home on breaks.”

Bug Busters USA offers tips to help prevent bed bugs from taking up residence in dorms:

  • Fully inspect suitcases prior to re-packing for a return to school, especially if you have traveled during the summer. Wash all clothes, even those that haven’t been worn, in hot water.
  • On move-in day, thoroughly inspect the entire room including mattress seams on beds, behind the headboard and in furniture using a flashlight for good visibility. If you see anything suspect, immediately contact a university facility manager or landlord.
  • If you are considering bringing “secondhand” furniture to campus, properly inspect it for telltale signs of bed bugs. If you notice and signs of shed skins, small blot marks/pepper-like stains do not bring it to campus.

Students are urged to follow prevention tips when packing for school and before unpacking in a new room. For more information on preventing bed bugs, visit  

The Four Kinds of People Mosquitos Love

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Do you ever feel like mosquitos seem to seek you out more than other people? Well, you may actually be correct. There are four things that can make you much more of a mosquito magnet than other people. Unfortunately, not all of these conditions are possible to change, so you may just be stuck spraying insect repellent all over you every time you go outside.

Scientists already knew that mosquitos are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale, but you might not have known that pregnant women produce a hell of a lot more, which means they also attract way more mosquitos. This is even more dangerous with the recent Zika virus outbreak, which is a particular threat to pregnant mothers and their unborn babies. Another thing that can make you a mosquito magnet is exercise. Mosquitos love lactic acid, which your muscles produce in very large quantities when you strain them during exercise. Mosquitos will also flock towards people with a higher temperature, meaning you should stay away from drinks that will raise it. Alcohol in particular will make your temperature go up, meaning mosquitos will flock towards your warm body. For some reason blood type can also affect how much mosquitos are attracted to you. If you have type O blood, you have an 83% chance of getting bitten by a mosquito…or many mosquitos.

How much of a mosquito magnet are you? Do you have any tips for repelling mosquitos?

Wasps Use Spider Silk To Patch Wounds

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

A type of wasp that is native to Finland has adapted to make clever use of spider silk. The genus known as Clistopyga lays its eggs inside the dead bodies of jumping spiders. This seems like a strange place to lay eggs, but it turns out that wasps don’t have much to choose from when it comes to finding shelter for their babies. In order to ensure the safety of their larvae these wasps add insult to injury by stealing the jumping spider’s silk after paralyzing the jumping spider with their venom.

The stinger of this type of wasp has many uses. First the wasp will find a jumping spider that it can lay its eggs inside of. Then they immobilize and slowly kill the jumping spider with its venom. Next the wasp will use its stinger to stab the jumping spider in order to lay its eggs inside the spider’s fresh wound. However, the wasp eggs are still vulnerable to predators, as they are not completely shielded from the environment. To fix this problem the wasp rummages through the spider’s nest looking for bits of spider silk, which it then uses to sew up the wound. Once the wound is completely sewed up, the wasp larvae is sure not to be removed from the jumping spiders body cavity. This cruel, yet sophisticated, behavior is pretty impressive considering that a wasp has a brain smaller than a pinpoint.

Why would wasps prefer to store their larvae inside of a jumping spider’s corpse as opposed to finding other forms of shelter? And why a jumping spider and not another type of spider?


Spiders Protect Themselves Through Disguise

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Every animal knows how to intimidate their opponents, but very few are clever enough to wear a disguise to appear tough to predators. The jumping spider is a good example of a creature that can disguise itself in times of trouble.

The jumping spider fools predators into thinking that it is actually a very aggressive ant with a painful bite. The ant that the jumping spider is mimicking is called the Weaver Ant. These ants possess two different pain-causing chemicals in their venom, which can cause pain lasting up to a week. These ants are so fierce that even much larger birds, reptiles, and amphibians won’t go near these guys.

The weaver ant is a pretty good bug to pretend to be if you are trying to survive amongst other bugs, and the jumping spider is not the only bug to pose as a weaver ant. The Myrmarachne Spider is capable of modifying its cephalothorax to look and walk more like a weaver ant. Apparently all bugs regard the weaver ant as the most intimidating of all bugs.

Are there any other types of animals that mimic objects or other animals to avoid attack?