Jan/Feb 2018

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Jan 02, 2018 @ 12:43 PM

Health Care-Prevention is Best

With health care getting expensive, complicated, and time-consuming, it really pays to take steps to protect your family, pets, and yourself.

     One important cause of health issues is pests.  By eliminating or greatly reducing pest indoors, people are bitten less by spiders, ants, fleas, and other biting and stinging pests, and they also get sick less often.  Pests transmit diseases to us in different ways.  Creatures like flies and cockroaches carry many different kinds of disease-causing organisms in and on their bodies.  They spread these when they crawls across a surface, and in their droppings.  Flies also regurgitate their food, then drink it again.  Flies typically carry a load of 500,000 disease organisms on the surface of their bodies-and many more than that inside their bodies!

     Many insects transmit diseases directly into our blood stream when they suck out our blood. For instance, ticks transfer pathogens to us that cause Lyme disease and many other diseases.  Mosquitoes transmit West Nile virus, Zika, malaria, dengue fever, and many other diseases.  

     Breathing in airborne insect debris is another problem. Just a few years ago it was discovered that the deadly hantavirus is transmitted when people breath in dried, airborne bits of mouse feces containing the virus.  And it is now well documented that a major cause of asthma are the bits of airborne feces and dried insect parts of various insects, especially cockroaches.

     These are just some of the many important reasons that make our professional pest control services an essential ingredient for maintaining great health.


Termites Swarming Soon

Within the next months, a big event will happen in the life of millions of termite colonies-they will begin to swarm in our area.

     Why is that so important?  There are two reasons.  First, this is the first sign many homeowners see that tells them their home is infested with termites.  Seeing termite swarmers act as a "wake-up" call, alerting them to take action and call us for a professional inspection. Second, unlike wingless worker termites that can't reproduce, winged termites swarmers mate and start new colonies.  And many of these swarmers, or "reproductives," as they are sometimes called, will start new colonies within several blocks of where they emerged.

     Winged termites emerge from mature termite colonies in the hundreds or thousands. Fortunately, most will not survive to start new colonies-they'll either be eaten by predators, or die from adverse weather conditions.

     Often, ant swarmers emerge at about the same time as termite swarmers, so it is important to tell the difference between these two pests, because control methods are very different.  We've included a handy drawing that shows differences between winged termites and ants-notice that unlike ants, termites front and rear wings are about the same length, termites have a broad "waist" or middle section, and termite antennae are curved and not sharply bent like ant antennae.AntTermite.gif

Call us if you see either of these pests in or around your home.  We'll conduct a professional inspection, and whichever pest you have, design the best strategy to control them.


Another New Ant Invades

A new ant was discovered in Fort Lauderdale, yellow ant is a tropical species that is native to Madagascar and has slowly been spreading around the world. It is likely already in other warm areas of our country but just hasn't been discovered yet.

     This ant is extremely small-less than 2 millimeters long, or only .07 inches.  That's much smaller than almost all other ants, so it is easy to not even notice it.  But what it lacks in size it makes up in sheer numbers. Think of inter-connected super colonies of millions of worker ants, with not one, but thousands of egg-laying queens in each colony.  By the time they are detected going into a home, it is likely that their colonies are gigantic-that's what happened when the first little yellow ants were discovered.  These ants become so numerous that it can out compete other ant species, and has the potential to become the dominant ant each area it invades.

     Fortunately, the little yellow ant does not bite.  But at this time very little is known about this new invader.

More Pests Coming

Many of our worst pests are not natives, but came from other parts of the world via ships and planes.  As modern transportation has improved and travel between countries increases, more pests are accidentally being introduced into the U.S.

     Inspectors of the U.S. Department of Agriculture are charged with finding and intercepting these pests at airports and shipyards, and they stop many thousands of destructive pests from entering our country every year.

     According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, increasing travel has multiplied the workload of these inspectors, making pest invasions more likely.

     If you go to another country, please don't bring back fruit or any other items that may contain pests.


What about the Zika Virus?

     Here's a bit of good news.  Many people thought that we would see an explosion of mosquito-transmitted Zika cases in 2017 in the U.S. and around the world. But it never happened.

     As you will recall 2016 the Zika virus, and the devastating birth defects  it causes, exploded in Latin America and the Caribbean, and this spilled over to the U.S.  There were 5,000 Zika cases reported in the U.S. from travelers who were bitten by mosquitoes in other parts of the world and returned here with the virus, plus another 224 cases of local transmission where people were bitten and contracted the disease in Florida and Texas.

     But in 2017, there were only about 367 travel-related cases of Zika in the U.S.  There were only two cases suspected local transmission, plus another four cases were the virus was acquired through sexual transmission.  This reduction was seen in other areas of the world as well.  For instance, Puerto Rico had 35,000 Zika cases in 2016, but less than 500 in 2017.  This type of drop-off in infections is a pattern that has occurred with other viruses similar to Zika-when some of the human population is exposed and develops an immunity, the percentage of susceptible people to infect drops, and the virus loses steam.

     Zika will continue to be a highly important mosquito-transmitted virus to be cautious about.  There will likely be occasional flare-ups in different areas, and no one knows how long the immunity will last.  If many people in a region lose their immunity, we may have more very dangerous outbreaks.  It is important to remain vigilant about the mosquito-borne virus because it causes not only birth defects, but also ongoing neurological effects in adults.

Crickets Fight Back if...

Crickets fights have been part of Chinese culture for thousands of years.  One problem with batting crickets is that once defeated in a contest, a cricket loses its aggressiveness and won't fight again for about 24 hours.

     But German entomologists discovered a trick to restore a cricket's will to fight within minutes of a lost battle.  They simply throw the crickets up into the air, forcing it to fly briefly. 

     The scientists also tried tumbling crickets in a tube, and shaking them in cupped hands, but these were not nearly as effective as forcing crickets to fly.