Posts Tagged ‘SC pest control’

Clemson Extension agent identifies new invasive pest in South Carolina

Friday, October 12th, 2012

A new invasive pest has been identified in South Carolina. “A homeowner brought it into the Lexington Extension office from West Columbia. I knew it was a tortoise beetle; it was just a matter of finding out what kind it was,” said Vicky Bertagnolli. “Eucalyptus typically doesn’t have that many pests, so it was pretty easy to find.” To read more click on the link below.

Clemson Extension agent identifies new invasive pest in South Carolina

South Carolina Exterminator Finds Man Under Church

Friday, January 20th, 2012

A South Carolina exterminator found more than he bargained for while treating a church in South Carolina.

According to WYFF4.COM, “A member of the church told police an exterminator had come to spray under the crawl space and found a homeless man living there. He said there was also food and clothing in the space.”

I have heard of find a lot of things in crawl spaces but this one might just top them all.

Have you found anything unusual while inspecting crawl spaces?

Bugs of Death May Help Solve Murder Cases

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Bugs of Death May Help Solve Murder Cases

LiveScience.comBy Wynne Parry |

When investigators exhumed the body of 33-year-old Jonathan Blackwell, they found something they didn’t expect: insect larva on his remains.

Insects attracted by a decomposing body can prove to be important evidence, because they can help investigators establish a crime’s timeline. But in Blackwell’s case, the larva appeared to be out of place.

Blackwell’s remains were recovered in December 2006. By then, he had been missing for about two years, ever since leaving work at a Virginia Goodyear Plant on Oct. 7, 2004, according to news reports. But the blowfly larva found buried with him had reached a stage of larval development indicating they were about seven days old.

A second grave

An investigator on the case contacted Wes Watson, a professor of entomology at North Carolina State University, who reviewed photos from the scene. The insect evidence indicated the shallow grave where Blackwell was found, in a field near a barn in Guilford County, N.C., was not his first grave, Watson said.

It turns out that Blackwell was buried for most of those two years in another grave before his killer dug up the corpse, Watson said.

During summer in the south, a corpse left exposed can be reduced to a skeleton within a week. Burial not only inhibits insects from colonizing a body; it also slows down the decomposition process by limiting the microbes’ access to oxygen.

It appears Blackwell’s first burial preserved his body somewhat, leaving tissue for the blowflies to colonize after his killer dug him up, investigators concluded.

This situation raised a question for Watson, a veterinary entomologist who consults on forensic cases: If blowfly larva were buried with a corpse, would they be able to develop and emerge as adults?

Blowfly basics

Metallic-bodied blowflies look a lot like common houseflies, and they are one of a number of insects attracted by dead animals, including human corpses. For instance, carrion beetles arrive to lay their eggs, and predatory beetles show up to feed on the other insects’ larva. “It is quite remarkable the number of different species that are found on the remains,” Watson said.

Blowflies arrive quickly, usually within just minutes of death, attracted by the gases released by the newly dead body. They then start to lay their eggs around the nasal and oral cavities where these gases, associated with the start of decomposition, are escaping. [10 Tales from the Crypt & Beyond]

In warm weather, the eggs hatch within about 24 hours, then the fly goes through three larval instars, or phases of development. At the end of their larval lives, the young blowflies move away from the corpse, burrow into the ground, form pupae and metamorphose into their adult, winged form, which crawls to the surface and flies away. The amount of time this entire process takes depends on temperature, but in North Carolina summers, the blow flies develop from egg to adult in a week to 10 days.

To see how reburial would affect the insects’ progress, Watson and three colleagues put fly larvae and pupae from two species of blowfly into PVC pipes covered with 2, 10 and 20 inches (5, 25 and 50 centimeters) of soil.

“Most people who commit crimes use a shallow grave; they don’t have time or patience to dig a grave that’s deep,” Watson said.

In all cases, at least some adult flies emerged. Overall, third instars, the most active larval stage, were the most successful. The researchers tested the third instars at 4 feet (1.2 meters), and found that some were still able to make it, although one species was considerably more successful than the other.

This is the first report of blow flies climbing up through soil covering a corpse, and it means that insects found in the soil around a buried body — not just on an exposed corpse — can provide important evidence for investigators, including helping them construct a time line for the crime and alerting them that a body may have been moved, as Blackwell’s had been, according to Watson.

After Blackwell’s body was found, and his family learned of his fate after two years of limbo, a murder warrant was issued for Stacey Webster, who turned himself in, according to a report by WFMY News 2. Webster was convicted of the murder in 2010.

With a Little Genetic Reprogramming, Blood-Sucking Can Be Deadly for Mosquitoes

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

With a Little Genetic Reprogramming, Blood-Sucking Can Be Deadly for Mosquitoes

spacing is important

What’s the News: Biochemists at the University of Arizona have found a promising new way to fight disease-carrying mosquitoes. In their research project, published in the journal PNAS, the scientists blocked mosquitoes’ ability to digest blood, making blood-sucking deadly to the winged pests. This technique could someday be used alongside other strategies to battle mosquitoes, like repellents and traps.

How the Heck:

  • Mosquitoes, like many other insects, draw most of their nutrients from nectar. But when it comes time to produce eggs, female mosquitoes require large amounts of protein, which they get from blood. So, Roger Miesfeld and his research team decided to see what would happen if they blocked a mosquito’s ability to digest blood.
  • The researchers focused on a protein complex called coatomer protein 1, or  COPI, which is made up of several subunits that cells use to secrete gut enzymes that break down blood proteins. When a mosquito draws blood, cells lining its gut package enzymes in small droplets called  vesicles, and release the packages into the gut.
  • Using a technique called  RNAi, the researchers shutdown individual COPI subunits in about 5,000 mosquitoes. Surprisingly, more than 90 percent of the  yellow fever mosquitoes died within 48 hours of blood feeding. “When she does [feed], all hell starts breaking loose, biochemically and anatomically speaking,” Miesfeld said in a prepared statement.
  • The researchers think that the removal of a COPI subunit makes the whole secretion process defective—It causes the cells lining a mosquito’s gut to fall apart, allowing blood to seep into its body.

What’s the Context:

The Future Holds: Miesfeld says that the research could be used in conjunction with other mosquito-fighting techniques, if they can develop a small molecule that works in place of the injected RNAi. Scientists could douse mosquito nets with the molecule to create an effective mosquito-specific insecticide, or place it in a pill for people to swallow (as with the deworming pill above). Though, Miesfeld notes that genetic changes would eventually make mosquitoes immune to the molecule.

Scientists looking for tree-killing pests

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Scientists looking for tree-killing pests


Something unusual has been spotted sprouting from local trees.

Residents may have noticed the appearance of purple boxes hanging in branches of trees throughout Blount County. They’re part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture project to track the possible spread of the non-native emerald ash borer, a type of tree-killing beetle that can travel undetected in firewood and nursery stock from quarantined areas of the country.

Elizabeth Long of the University of Tennessee Entomology and Plant Pathology Department said that contractors are putting out 4,300 of the traps within a 50-mile radius of a site on the Knox County/Loudon County line where the beetles were discovered in 2010.

“They are doing a follow-up survey to try to find out where the beetle may be,” Long said. “We’re hoping not to find it, of course.”

The beetle traps are pretty easy to spot, Long said. “They are so obvious and people do notice them. The contractors should be checking them every couple of weeks through August.”

Last year was not a good year when it came to the discovery of invasive pests in East Tennessee. The discovery of the emerald ash borers came within 10 days of the announcement that researchers had confirmed the presence of the devastating thousand cankers disease, which kills black walnut trees, in Knox County. Shortly afterward, it was discovered in Blount County, which is now under a quarantine prohibiting the movement of firewood and black walnut nursery stock and limiting the movement of black walnut timber and other material that can spread the disease.

The thousand cankers disease-causing fungus, Geosmithia, is transmitted by a small twig beetle. Branches and trunk tissue are killed by repeated infections by the fungus as the beetles carry the fungus into new bark.

An outbreak of the disease was discovered in Knox County in July by a state forester. It was the first detection of the destructive tree pest east of the Mississippi River. Scientists who study the disease have described the discovery as a “death sentence” for the black walnut trees in the affected counties.

It’s not that East Tennessee hasn’t already been a battle ground against invading alien species. University of Tennessee scientists are developing ways to deal with the hemlock woolly adelgid in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Caves in the Park are also quarantined because of presence of a fungus called Geomyces destructans, which is believed to cause the bat-killing White Nose Syndrome.

“I don’t think we’ll be out of a job any time soon, unfortunately,” Long said.

What’s all that noise? Cicadas!

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Millions of those red-eyed bugs will come out of the ground this spring, but don’t worry

A swarm of critters that emerges from underground every 13 years will fill the air over much of the Southeast with their ear-splitting mating calls.

Scientist call them periodical cicadas, Brood 19. Writers often mislabel the red-eyed, 11/2-inch-long insects as locusts, as in biblical plagues.

As ground temperatures approach 64 degrees, the four species of 13-year cicadas will dig out at night from burrows where they have sucked sap from roots for more than a decade.

Cool – or yuck, depending on your sensibilities.

Entomologists don’t know exactly what triggers their emergence, but the date does not vary much among generations.

“Periodic cicadas are amazing in their ability to be synchronized,” said Clemson University entomologist Eric Benson. “Almost overnight, tens of thousands emerge in an area. It’s something to behold.”

He predicts the swarms will rise in late April or early May, based on spring weather and the behavior of the cicadas in 1998, the year of the most recent emergence.

Other species of smaller cicadas come around every year.

Concentrations of the 13-year variety have been known to reach 1.5million per acre in some places. But more commonly, the density is in the hundreds of thousands per acre, scientists say.

The Mecklenburg County parks department will conduct a citizen scientist project to see where and when the cicadas emerge.

“You only have a month to study something that happens every 13 years,” said J.C. Chong of the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence, S.C.

A rural phenomenon

City slickers are less likely to notice the bugs. The cicadas stay where there are lots of trees and shrubs and the soil is undisturbed. They favor hardwoods and have a particular taste for oaks.

But country folk, hunters, hikers and other outdoorsy types will find them in woods across the Carolinas.

“I remember walking in Greenwood State Park,” said Andy Boone, a forest entomologist who worked at the South Carolina Forestry Commission during the 1998 event. “They were all over the place.”

Periodical cicadas aren’t beachcombers. They are not readily found in places where the soil is moist, as in the coastal plains.

Yet where they cruise for mates, their presence is unmistakable. Their crispy brown carcasses litter the ground after their short flings. They leave millions of eggs tucked into tender branches of young trees and plants.

Within weeks, the babies, which look like tiny ants, drop to the ground and start digging for a place to develop – for 13 years.

Besides their odd life cycle, the cicadas’ most memorable feature is their love song.

Males vibrate membranes on their bodies that emit calls to females. But the boys are choosy. Each species emits a specific song, and the sound lures only females in that species, scientists say.

The male cicada gets around. He mates several times, as do the females. But the boys are busier. Each female lays as many as 600 eggs.

Love-starved critters

When the sounds from four species combine, it’s a chorus of noises.

The tune is a shout. It can reach the 100-decible range from one love-starved bug. That’s about the same as the roar of a motorcycle or standing within 3 feet of a lawn mower.

Some scientists say periodical cicadas are the loudest insect in the world.

“If you’re not in a car, you can hear them from several miles away,” Boone said of his excursions into the South Carolina woods 13 years ago. “It sounded like a busy airport taxiway.”

He estimated the volume reached 80 to 90 decibels and compared the sound to churning ball bearings “that are not quite in synchronization.”

After a while, though, the noise fades into the background. Much as a homeowner grows accustomed to the passing train whistle near his house, “Your brain processes it and you don’t hear it,” Boone said. “It’s like white noise.”

Both genders of cicadas die when the mating cycle is complete, within six to 10 weeks.

The insects are relatively harmless, scientists say. They are not poisonous. They don’t transmit disease. They have few predators, other than pesky fungal parasites.

“They don’t bite,” said Tim Mousseau, an entomologist at the University of South Carolina. “They’re not interested in (garden) plants. They don’t eat crops.”

Only young trees and shrubs are vulnerable, and then only if they happen to be where the infestation is particularly intense, he said.

Too many young cicadas feeding on branches can damage or kill their host.

Entomologists recommend that growers either refrain from planting the year before an emergence or that targeted fauna be covered with screening material.

Meanwhile, the bugs sure are tasty to birds, spiders, snakes – even the family pet.

There are so many cicadas that nature allows hungry animals to feast until they’re full. But that still doesn’t significantly reduce the population.

Cool? Yuck.

Newly deciphered ant genomes offer clues on ant social life, pest control

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

An international team of scientists has decoded the genome of a persistent household pest — the Argentine ant, an invasive species that is threatening native insects across the world.

The newly sequenced genomes of the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) and the red harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex barbatus) could provide new insights on how embryos with the same genetic code develop into either queens or worker ants and may advance our understanding of invasion biology and pest control.

The scientists reported the results as part of a series of three decoded ant genomes, including the Argentine ant, the red harvester ant and the fire ant published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In addition, the genome of the leaf cutter ant is scheduled for publication in the Feb. 24 issue of the Public Library of Science Genetics.

“We now know that ants have the genes and genome signature of DNA methylation — the same molecular mechanism that published honeybee studies have shown is responsible for switching whether the genome is read to be a worker or queen,” said Christopher D. Smith, assistant professor of biology at San Francisco State University, an author on three of the four genome studies.

Similar to bees, ants have sophisticated social structures. Queen ants typically have larger bodies, wings and fertile ovaries, and are responsible for reproduction in the colony. Worker ants are smaller, wingless and infertile, and are tasked with foraging for food and caring for the queen’s offspring.

Analysis of these new ant genomes suggests that chemical modification of certain sections of DNA could be responsible for the differential development of queens and workers.

As an ant larva develops, DNA methylation, which involves methyl chemical groups attaching onto the DNA, may switch off the genes that control reproductive capacity and wing growth.

“Our analysis suggests that ants may utilize the same genetic system as honeybees to create their social structures, although we have yet to understand whether the process works in exactly the same way across species,” Smith said.

Smith co-led the Argentine ant research with Neil Tsutsui of University of California, Berkeley; was a lead author on the red harvester ant genome along with Chris R. Smith of Earlham College and J|rgen Gadau of Arizona State University; and was a co-author on the leaf-cutter ant genome.

The mapping of the Argentine ant genome may enable the development of novel pest control solutions.

A better understanding of how larvae develop into queens or workers could support the development of new control methods that use more benign chemicals to limit the number of queens born in a colony, effectively sterilizing the population. (ANI)

Read More:

North Carolina Ant Control Company ~ Bug Busters USA

Find bedbugs with new iPhone app

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Track bed bugs with new iPhone app

The new Bed Bug Alert app for the Apple iPhone enables users to input data about bedbug incidents and see where others have reported sightings anywhere in the nation.

The $1.99 app was developed by Adam Kotkin, CEO of Apps Genius, who lives in the bed bug capital, New York.

“About once a week I rip off my sheets and start looking closely. I haven’t been to a movie in six months. I hate public places right now,” Kotkin said.

Atlanta doesn’t make the top 10 list of cities with the most reported bedbug sightings. (Following New York are Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati and Chicago.) But there are 25 hotels in metro Atlanta marked by red pinpoints on the the app, which uses Google maps for users to zoom in on locations.

The Georgia Department of Community Health doesn’t track bedbug infestations in the state because they’re too common, a spokeswoman said last week. Local health departments are likely to keep closer track; for example, the Fulton County Department of Public Health has logged nine complaints about bedbugs in the county in 2010. Kevin Jones, acting director of environmental health services, said five complaints came from “tourist accommodations” (hotels and motels) and two each from homeless shelters and apartment complexes.

Kotkin said he and his crew gather information about bed bugs from more than a hundred sources. A staff of 11 at Apps Genius works seven days a week to pull and verify data from public health records and press releases.

The “Report Bed Bugs” tab on the app is built in for users to report their findings while traveling and the staff sorts through thousands of them daily.

But, as with any user-generated content, verification is nebulous. And even if a site has corrected the problem, the location will still pop up on the alert with a notation of how long ago the bed bug issue was reported.

The next version of the software will color-code the locations to note how long they’ve been on the site.

And in the event of false postings, “We have a mechanism that someone at the location can use to contact us and we’ll take it off,” Kotkin said.

The Bed Bug Alert isn’t the first database of reported findings. Various Facebook pages and longstanding websites such as and also include lists of sightings searchable by city or hotel.

Apps Genius is also planning a bed bug app for BlackBerry and Droid devices.

Staff writer Shelia Poole contributed to this article.

Stink bug numbers ‘explode’ along East Coast

Monday, November 15th, 2010
This summer as the first, major population explosion of a new, invasive insect hit the middle Atlantic region, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture were busily trying to find a natural enemy to fight it.

The sudden blossoming of brown marmorated stink bug numbers signaled the arrival of a major agricultural pest and a minor but aggravating household one.

Newly-arrived alien insects often survive under the radar for years before their population suddenly reaches a point where they “explode,” says Douglas Luster, research leader at USDA’s Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit in Newark, Del. This variety of stink bug is originally from Asia and was first seen in the United States in 1998 in Pennsylvania. It’s now been detected in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and Virginia. Limited populations also have been detected in Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, and California, according to USDA.

The stinkbugs got their name for the herbal, pungent smell they emit when frightened. This summer there was a major infestation of the brown, three-quarter-inch bugs in houses across the mid-Atlantic.

“We had three or four nights in a row when we had hundreds of them in our bedroom,” says Luster. The bugs don’t bite and can’t fly well, so while a nuisance they’re not dangerous to humans. “They vacuum up pretty well,” he says.

But while annoying in the home, in the field they are becoming a major agricultural pest. The bugs suck the juice out of corn, fruits and other crops, making them unsalable. Back in 2005 USDA researcher Kim Hoelmer began looking to see if the brown marmorated stink bug had any natural enemies in the United States. Although he discovered a native parasitic wasp that laid its eggs in stink bug egg masses, it only infected about 5% of them, not enough to knock back the invading species.

To find a better biological control, Hoelmer went to Asia where he discovered three species of tiny Asian parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside stink bug eggs, destroying them. The Asian wasps showed rates of parasitism as high as 50% to 80%.

The team is now studying these wasps in USDA’s high-security containment facility in Newark, to ensure that they do not pose a threat to native American insects.

Introducing a non-native species to go after another non-native species is a delicate operation because of the possible unintended consequences. In 1930 poisonous South American cane toads were introduced into northeast Australia to attack sugarcane beetles, but ended up being a major pest on their own.


‘Pest Quest’ Children’s Show Brings Fascinating World of Bugs, Rodents and Wildlife to Kids of All Ages

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

(Fairfax, VA) – The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) announced the creation of a new children’s show that teaches kids about the fascinating world of insects, rodents and small wildlife. The entertaining and educational show, aptly named “Pest Quest,” will deliver buggy factoids to junior scientists and is available on NPMA’s websites, and

“Pest Quest” is hosted by a group of energetic pre-teens in a fun, colorful science lab full of gadgets and bubbling beakers. Each episode explores a variety of different topics, from wolf spiders, velvet ants and click beetles to opossums, pigeons and bats (and everything in between). Other fun features include “Pest Commander Pete’s Head Scratchers” and “Itsy-Bitsy Mystery” quizzes, which engage viewers and test their pest knowledge. In addition to sharing fun facts, the show aims to educate viewers about the risks posed by certain creatures when they enter homes and properties and become pests.

Twenty-four episodes have been produced for the first season of “Pest Quest,” focusing on species found within the United States. New episodes will be posted to the Pest Quest Channel twice a month.

“Children are fascinated by bugs and anything ‘creepy crawly’,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. “We wanted to foster and encourage that interest by creating a web-based program that allowed us to share our wealth of pest knowledge with such a captive audience, evoking their inner-entomologist and scientist.”

NPMA has a variety of programs designed for use in the classroom and on the family computer for children in grades K-8. Lesson plans, science projects, report writing programs, interactive games and other fun facts are on The Pest Quest Channel is the next installment in NPMA’s commitment to science education.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.