Nov/December 2016

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Nov 01, 2016 @ 11:41 AM

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Safeguarding Children's Health

Whether it's our children at home or in schools and other public places, we all want to protect them from any threat to their health and well-being. Pests are one important threat to children, A wide variety of pests are involved, but listed below are the four top pest health threats to our children.

     1. COCKROACHES. This was a surprise threat no one was aware of until research showed roaches are a top cause of allergies among children.  The allergens are the proteins in the cast skins and excrement of the roaches.  The cockroaches' ability to transmit a vast array of other diseases in legendary, including food poisoning as they wander over food and food-preparation surfaces.

     2. RATS & MICE. These pests are another source if allergies in children. Rodents also transmit hantavirus and many other disease, can bite babies, contaminate food with their droppings, and carry fleas and ticks which then can bite children and transmit disease.

     3. STINGING INSECTS. Insects like wasps and yellowjackets are everywhere, and fire ants and Africanized honey bees are spreading in this country. One or several stings from any of these insects is usually painful but not life-threatening unless a child is highly allergic to them. But even children who aren't allergic are in danger if they wander too close to a hive and are attacked by large numbers of stinging insects.

     4. MOSQUITOES. Because these insects transmit everything from West Nile virus to Zika, these pests  are frequently in the news. West Nile is only one of many encephalitis-type diseases that mosquitoes can transmit. All cause a dangerous inflammation of the brain, and children are particularly vulnerable.


Puzzled About "Dry Rot"?

Many people are confused by the name dry rot, sometimes called wood rot. Contrary to what its name seems to imply, dry rot needs moisture. To understand why it is named dry rot, you need to know how it develops.

     Dry rot is caused by a fungus. The fungus gets its nutrition by consuming wood, which must be damp for the fungus to grow and multiply. How can a moisture-loving fungus thrive where wood is dry? It brings water to the wood! This amazing fungus grows water-conducting strands called rhizomorphs that carry moisture from damp soil and other moisture sources to dry wood. In that way the fungus keeps dampening new areas of wood, thus continually enlarging its food supply.

     After the fungus absorbs all the nutrition it can from the wood, leaving it crumbly and weak, it dies. With it dies its rhizomorphs, and gradually the wood dries out again. This is why the wood may be perfectly dry when damage is discovered.

     There is no way to reverse dry rot damage, but as soon as it is discovered and the source of the moisture is eliminated, the fungus stops destroying more wood and dies.

     This is a good example of how early detection and correction of moisture problems can greatly reduce huge future repair bills. Our regular professional inspections find dry rot and other developing wood-destroying fungal problems, as well as destructive termites and many other wood-damaging insect pests.


Can Spiders Hear You?

It has always been thought that because spiders don't have ears or eardrums, they can "hear" sounds only up to a couple inches away. A recent discovery with jumping spiders showed that these spiders actually have a much more acute sense of hearing that ever believed.

     Spiders have very sensitive  hairs on their legs that can feel vibrations. These hairs are so sensitive that they can feel the vibration that sounds make.

     Using a new technique, researchers were able to get in the spider's brain and see when neurons fire. The spiders were able to hear sounds up to 16 feet away.

     So, could spiders be overhearing our conversations?  Much still unknown about what spiders can and can't hear. The jumping spiders were most sensitive to sound frequencies that would enable them to hear the beating wings of certain kinds of wasps that parasitize them-the spiders would stop and remain motionless when they heard those sounds. Spiders may never have developed an ability to hear voices, or other sounds that do not immediately threaten them.

     These tests were done with jumping spiders. Other kinds of spiders are now being tested, to determine what they can and can't hear.


Mice Make Ultrasonic Sounds

Mice are able to make ultrasonic "songs" to attract mates as well as help them defend their territories. The sounds are high frequency whistles, and are completely inaudible to the human ear.

     Until now, it was not known how the mice were making these sounds. It turns out they are making the sounds in a way never seen before in any animal-they shoot air from the windpipe against the inner wall of their larynx. This causes a resonance and produces the ultrasonic "whistle".

     The only thing that has been known before to make these high frequency sounds is the engines of supersonic jets. It is possible that other animals, including bats, may be using the same mechanism.