Newsletter

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Sept/Oct 2016

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, Sep 01, 2016 @ 09:35 AM

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Pest Invade in Fall

Now and during the months ahead our weather starts a gradual change, causing changes in pest problems as well.  Some of the fall-invading pest in our are have already begun looking for food indoors, or a more protected place to spend the winter. Unfortunately, homes and other buildings are exactly what many of the fall invaders are looking for.

Some common fall invader:

     Rats and Mice are like a "pest from hell"- who wants them? These have been multiplying outdoors all season, and now are searching more aggressively for ways to get indoors.

Ladybugs, particularly the spreading multicolored Asian lady beetle can become a major invader. This insect was introduced to control crop pests, and then starting unexpectedly becoming and indoor pest. Some people are allergic to this beetle when it invades in large numbers.

Wasp and yellow jacket queens overwinter in protected places and start new colonies in the spring.

Ant colonies are huge this time of the year, and some species become constant invaders.

     Many kinds of crickets invade homes in the fall, sometimes in large numbers.

     Other common fall invaders include stink bugs, box elder bugs, cluster flies, clover mites, elm leaf beetles, root weevils, cockroaches, millipedes and centipedes.

It's during these months ahead that our professional pest management services are especially important to protect you and your pets, as well as your home and belongings, from pests that can cause either damage or can sting, bite or spread disease.

 

Termite Prevention is Wise

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Termites are among the most damaging and costly of all pests. Their damage to structures now causes over five billion dollars a year in this country alone.

One reason termites can cause so much damage is that homeowners are often unaware for years that termites are eating their home. Most homeowners first see termites when they swarm, but a young colony doesn't send out swarmers until it is three to five years old. By the time swarmers are seen, termites may have caused substantial damage. Worse yet, an indoor colony often release swarmers outdoors, so the homeowner never sees them.

     How fast do termites work?  A typical mature colony of 240,000 subterranean termites (some colonies are much larger) consumes an average of about 20 grams of wood in a 24 hour period.  This converts to about 16 pounds of wood each year year per colony. You can be sure to wood was put there for a purpose, so removing it makes the structure weaker.

     Like a slow-spreading cancer, it's much better to catch the problem early. That's why it's important to have us either monitor for termites or do a regular, professional inspection to detect them and other wood-destroying pests, as part of a preventative maintenance program to secure and protect your home.

     Catching these pests sooner rather than later means you spend far less to control them.  In addition, catching them early means the wood-destroyers have done less damage, which can save you thousands of dollars in repair cost. Benjamin Franklin would agree this is an especially wise investment!

The Amazing Monarch

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Monarch butterflies are starting their annual migration to various  warmer areas of the country, as well as the mountains of central Mexico.

     These amazing creatures migrate south in the fall, with some populations traveling as far as 4,580 miles. In the spring, it takes several generations of the butterflies to cover this distance. The butterflies mate and lay eggs along the way, with each new generation of adult butterflies continuing the journey north along the migratory route.

     How do they keep flying in the right direction?  It turns out that monarchs use two completely different navigation systems, depending on whether it is a sunny or cloudy day. When the sun is shining, monarchs navigate by the sun and use a time-compensated sun compass.

     Until recently, scientists were stumped about how monarchs navigate on cloudy days with no sun to navigate by. It turns out that monarchs use geomagnetic clues-they use a sophisticated magnetic inclination compass system, using the angle of the Earth's magnetic field to guide their movement. This is similar to that used by much larger-brained migratory vertebrates such as birds and sea turtles.

     But the new research shows that the navigation system monarchs use on cloudy days uses light as well as geomagnetic cues. Monarchs have special cells in their antenna that can detect ultraviolet light, and since that light penetrates clouds, it is a cue that they can use even on cloudy days.

     In effect, on cloudy days monarchs use a very sophisticated light dependent magnetic inclination compass. It turns out that these beautiful butterflies have a navigational system that is truly amazing!

Mouse Meningitis

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When we think of diseases associated with mice, we generally think of Hantavirus, Salmonella, and other diseases. But as we enter the busy rodent season people need to be aware of another mouse-borne disease. Called "mouse meningitis" by some, its full name is lymphocytic choriomeningitis, or LCM for short. The virus that causes this disease is lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, or LCVM.

Like Hantavirus, people can get LCM when they are exposed to fresh urine, droppings, saliva, or nesting materials from infected mice. Only the common house mouse carries the virus (although pet hamsters can catch it from mice). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 5 percent of house mice in the U.S. catty LCVM virus. The virus occurs throughout the country. Once mice are infected, they remain infected for their entire life and can continue to infect people and other mice.

     Although mice never show any signs of the illness themselves, infected people start off with "flu-like symptoms", then the disease starts to have neurologic symtoms. Pregnant women who become infected with the virus can pass the virus along to their baby, who may suffer serious consequences, including mental retardation.

 

   

July/August 2016

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 @ 09:55 AM

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Those Busy Ants

Around the country, problem ants, often originally from other countries, continue to invade new areas.

      Crazy ants, trap jaw ants, white footed ants, fire ants, Argentine ants, and Pharaoh ants are just a few of the many ants species that are gradually spreading. These and other prolific ant species are one of the reasons ants have become our nations #1 pest. Because unprotected homes experience repeated and persistent ant invasions each year, new clients call more often to control invading ants that any other pest.

     Ant colonies are humming with activity at this time of year! There is an abundance of food, and colonies are growing in numbers, with queen ants laying dozens of eggs day in and out. At various times ants wander indoors, searching for food, moisture, or a better nesting site. If they find what they are looking for, expect more ants to follow-often hundreds or even thousands of ants within an hour of the original discovery.

     Outdoors, an abundant food eaten by many kinds of ants is honeydew. What is honeydew? It is a sugary substance excreted by aphids, white flies, and many other plant-sucking insects. Ants love honeydew so much that some species actually tend and protect the aphids and other pest that produce it, and will even carry aphids to new plants.

     Ants are pests that almost continually try to invade homes, and require professional treatments to keep them out. If you or someone you know is having problems with ants, call us-we are the area ant experts!

 

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Are You Feeding Termites?

No one knowingly hangs a sign on their door saying "Termites Welcome Here" But unfortunately most homes have one or more conditions that practically beg any termite in the area to invade.

     On of those "welcome signs" for termites is excess moisture in the structure, a condition that attracts termites and many other wood destroying pests. This is a common problem-one study found that an amazing 88% of all homes have one or more moisture problems!  Some common moisture problems found are: Improperly drained downspouts and air conditioners, leaks in the roof or gutters, poor drainage around the foundation, and sprinklers spraying water onto the side of homes. Fix these today-don't invite termites to move in and eat your home!

     Here are some more important steps to take to discourage home-destroying pests:

  • Remove pieces of wood, as well as dead roots and cardboard buried or laying on top of the soil. Also remove tree stumps.

  • Make sure no wood in is in direct contact with the soil. Termites often invade wooden fences, trellises, and flower planters that are touching soil, and then use these as hidden highways to enter your home.

  • Do not allow shrubs or vines to block any air vents.

  • Finally, be sure to have us professionally inspect all potential termite problem areas on a regular basis (if we are not already doing this for you), and treat if needed to prevent or stop and infestations. We often save our customers thousands of dollars by either preventing or stopping early an infestation of wood-destroying pests.

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Choosing Outdoor Lighting

All year, but especially during the summer, outdoor lights attract millions of flying and crawling pests, as well as spiders, ants and other pests that come to feast on whatever the lights draw in. A recent study compared outdoor residential lights in Virginia and found that some bulb types attracted far more pest than other bulbs. The standard incandescent bulb attracted the most pests, followed by CFL, halogen, cool color LED and an incandescent yellow "bug" light. The warm color LED bulb attracted the fewest pests of all the bulbs, so this would be a good choice for outdoor lighting. (a warm color LED was higher Kelvin rating than a cool color LED).

     Up until now the yellow "bug" light has been the recommended choice for outdoor lighting situations, but many people don't like the yellow color of the light. This study also found another disadvantage of the yellow "bug" lights-they attracted more earwigs ("pincer bugs") than all the other light bulbs, and more true bugs (such as stink bugs) than warm LED bulb.

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Roach Infested Apartment EXPLODES!

A cockroach-infested apartment exploded recently in New Jersey. It happened when the occupant, who was untrained and was using a household insecticide to try to kill cockroaches, began to experience a headache and opened a window. According to the firemen who responded, the explosion happened when the build up of trapped indoor fumes, combined with the additional oxygen from outside, was ignited by the stove pilot light.

     The two adults and toddler that lived in the apartment were taken to a hospital and unfortunately had no home to return to. But ironically the firemen who were called to the scene could still see live cockroaches crawling about!

     Folks, this kind of damage happens all the time. please leave pest control to trained professionals; this never happens with the products we use and the safety precautions we employ.

May/June 2016

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, May 02, 2016 @ 01:43 PM

Spider Alert!

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This year we'll most likely see an abundance of spiders.  You might even see more kinds you've never seen before!  That's because whenever insects become abundant (and the weather this year has been perfect for insects to increase), the spiders that feed on them also multiply.

     Here's the good news.  Most spiders are not dangerous.  In fact, most can't even pierce our skin with their mouthparts, Even the most tender-skinned person among us has skin that is just too tough and thick for spiders. Fortunately, too spiders generally try to avoid us, and the venom of most spiders isn't strong enough to harm huge giants like us.

     However, some spiders can deliver a nasty bite. Of the over 3,000 species of spiders in the United States, about 50 of them are able to bite us. Of these, black widows (and some of their relatives) and brown recluse spiders are medically the most well-know, and have the most powerful venom. More good news, these spiders are not in California.  However, there has been a lot of research published recently that is showing that many reported "spider bites" are actually the bites or stings of other pests like fleas, mosquitoes, ticks, and biting flies, as well as bacterial infections, etc.

     Remember to never pick up a spider with an unprotected hand. Reduce clutter around your home. Properly light entryways so that you don't attract insects and spiders to these areas. Because spiders reinfest, regular professional treatments are needed to keep them controlled and prevent them from building their messy webbing.

 

Preventing Termites Saves Money

Termites are among the most damaging and costly of all insect pest. Each year termites cause over 5 billion dollars of damage to structures in the United States.

     Why so costly?  Partly because termites do their destructive work deep inside a home, hidden from view, so homeowners are completely unaware their home is infested.  Sometimes they see the winged termites (swarmers) that start new colonies, but it typically takes a new colony three to five years to start producing swarmers.  By the time the colony has spread and already may have caused substantial damage,  In many cases homeowner never even notices the swarmers, either because there aren't a lot of them, or because they are exiting the colony from somewhere outdoors rather than inside the home.

     How fast do termites work? A typical mature colony of subterranean termites has 240,000 termites.  This number of termites consumes about 20 grams of wood in a 24 hour period which equates to about 16 pounds of wood eaten in a year. As you can imagine, removing this amount of wood each year greatly weakens a structure.

     Termites are like a slow-spreading, hidden cancer.  It's much better to catch the problem early, and control it then.  That's why it's so important to have us do monitoring or regular inspections to detect these and other wood-destroying pests.  Consider this an important cornerstone of preventative maintenance to protect your investment in your home. 

     Catching these pest early means you spend less to control them and repair damage, often saving you thousands of dollars.

 

Bed Mattresses Can Spread Bed Bugs

     Most people would never pick up a discarded mattress they saw on a sidewalk. These mattresses are not on the clean, but increasingly they are also infested with bedbugs.

     But what about "renovated", "reconditioned", or "refurbished" mattresses?  There are state laws that require companies that process these mattresses to sanitize them, but has been found that bed bugs are not adequately controlled by some companies.  Think twice about buying these mattresses, and look for the white tag that is placed on new mattresses, not the yellow or red tag on second hand mattresses.

     If you know anyone who is discarding a mattress infested with bed bugs, be sure to tell them to slit it open, bag it, label it "Bed Bugs", and dispose of it properly, so that hopefully no one will re-use it.

 

Car Burns Because of Bed Bugs

     A Long Island, New York, man who saw bed bugs in his car was told by a friend that rubbing alcohol kills the bugs, so he proceeded to dump the flammable liquid all over the car's interior.   Then he decided to sit in the car, relax, and light a cigarette!  The resulting flames engulfed the car plus two cars parked nearby.  The man suffered second degree burns as he escaped out of the car, and a helicopter rushed him to the hospital.

     The car was so badly burned that detectives could not read the VIN number or the license plate.

      Friends, alcohol in any form does not do a good job of controlling insects.  Not only is it a danger because it is highly flammable, but in a recent published test it only killed about half the bugs.  It's best to contact a professional that deals with these pest. 

 

Where you are Stung Matters

Researcher Michael Smith allowed himself to be stung at 25 different places of his body by honey bees, and discovered that where you are stung determines how painful the sting is.  The three least painful locations were the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm, all scoring 2.3 pain rating on a 1-10 scale. Some of the most painful places to be stung were the penis and upper lip, scoring 7.3 and 8.7, respectively.   The nostril was the most painful place to be stung, scoring 9 out of 10.

     This is a dedicated researcher!  Sounds like a very painful research.  Best not to get stung at all.

 

   

 

Newsletter Mar/Apr 2016

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Fri, Mar 04, 2016 @ 10:10 AM

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Here Come The Pests!

Pests have been less active outdoors, but that always changes as the weather starts to warm in the spring. As pests wander about outdoors searching for food, water, shelter, mates, and places to lay eggs, many will find their way into homes. They don't care that you haven't invited them in!  For these pests, even the smallest cracks and crevices are like a big, inviting "bug doorway" for them.

     Fortunately, our professionally applied perimeter treatments help prevent pests from invading your home. These treatments are applied around the foundation of your home and in other key areas. Perimeter treatments are especially effective at stopping crawling pest from invading your home-halting many pest problems before they begin. Our perimeter treatments stop invasions of pests like ants, crickets, centipedes, and many, many others.

    Keeping pests out is important not only because they can be a major annoyance, and are embarrassing. Invading pests can also leave odors and stains, droppings and dead insect bodies, and webbing, plus contaminate human and pet food. Some can cause allergies or bite and sting. In fact every year in this country a half million people are rushed to the hospital emergency room because of stings by bees, wasp, ants, spiders, and scorpions.

     Yes, you can be sure pests will return! But our expert perimeter treatments are just one of the many tools we have in our arsenal to help our customers enjoy a more enjoyable life with fewer pests and pest-related problems.

 

Watch for Termite Swarmers!

One way homeowners discover they have termites is when they see winged reproductive termites, called swarmers. During swarming season, hundred of termites with wings will make a mass exodus out of a colony and take to the air. Usually this happens after a rain as the temperatures begin to warm and the days lengthen, but it can happen at other times as well.

     Once these termites emerge from their nest, they quickly begin flying, and any wind will spread them even further. They quickly pair up, pry off their wings, and retreat to a cozy dark place where they mate and start a new colony. Swarmers that emerge indoors are attracted to bright lights and are often found around windows and lights. Finding termites or their wings indoors is almost always a sign that the house is infested and being attacked by these wood-destroyers.

     Termites in periods of low rainfall are less likely to swarm. At those times they often do deeper into the ground, waiting for more favorable conditions. Also, only mature colonies produce swarmers. So termites may be eating your home even if you don't see swarmers or other signs of termites.  A professional inspection is the best way to determine if your home is infested with termites.

     Call us if you haven't had a recent inspection for wood-destroying pests, or if you find swarmers or other signs of termites, and will schedule an inspection.  Finding infestations early and eliminating them before they cause major damage can easily save you hundreds, and sometimes many thousands of dollars.

El Niño Affects Pests

The El Niño weather patterns we are experiencing now mean different things for different parts of the country, but much of the country will probably be either or both wetter and warmer than normal. Many people are asking what that will mean for pest populations this year.

     That is difficult to know at this point, but we can look at the 1997-1998 season, which was also a very strong El Niño year like this one. There was a glut of pests that year-much HIGHER numbers of everything, including mosquitoes,

Soy-Based Wiring Attracts Rodents

Many car companies are experiencing problems because they replaced metal or plastic parts with a bio-degradable product. Unfortunately, these are sometimes food based products that pests love to eat. The latest case is Honda, who in their quest to "go green," used a soy-based biodegradable wire coating on some of their engine wiring rather than a plastic coating. Apparently the soy-based coating is quite tasty to hungry mice, rabbits, and squirrels.  They will chew on it and cause the engine to malfunction.

     One man claims he had to take his 2012 Honda Accord in twice to have the wiring fixed because of gnawing rodents, and there are many other cases of this happening. We get many calls from our clients that have stored vehicles that have been infested with rats in their engine compartment, with severe damage.

     Soy used in vehicles has caused some funny problems in the past. In the mid 40's license plates in some states were made from compressed soy beans and fiberboard, as a way to save on using metal during the ear. But they soon found that goats and cows were attracted to the vehicles, and would chew off entire license plates!

    

 

Tags: Termites, ants, swarms

Jan/Feb 2016

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Jan 04, 2016 @ 11:33 AM

Pests Survive Adverse Weather

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In this El Nino year where weather around the country won't be typical, the question arises, "How will this affect household pest?" A common myth is that floods or unusually cold weather eliminates household pest outdoors. But we have seen in the past, that pest populations are surprisingly resilient. Once the weather warms up, the surviving pests are ready to start invading again, sometimes with an apparent vengeance!

     Floods force many pests to flee and spread out to new areas. The decaying organic material that floods leave behind also provides food for population explosions of pests like flies, rodents, and roaches. Mosquitoes also increase after rains and floods.

     Rats and cockroaches are two pests that simply head to higher ground when flooding begins. Apparently they are able to detect the quick drop in barometric pressure which signals sudden downpours-weather records sometimes show they flee to higher grounds just before flooding actually starts.

     It was once thought that flooding would eradicate termite colonies. But it turns out that termites don't easily drown-they are able to shut down their body processes to reduce oxygen consumption. These are amazing weather survivors!

     Not all pest can survive unusual cold spells, but some do it with ease. They may burrow into the ground where it is warmer. Many pests, including carpenter ants, survive because their bodies actually produce glycerol, a very effective antifreeze.

     Once again, "primitive" insects and rodents are not only equipped to survive, they actually thrive in adverse conditions.

Termites Swarming Time

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If you've ever seen termites swarmers pouring out of the ground or out of holes in wood, you've witnesses the single most significant annual event in a termite colony. Each colony sends out many hundreds of winged termites. These become the future kings and queens of new colonies.

     Most swarming occurs in the spring (often on a warm sunny day after a rain), although some can occur during fall and at other times of the year as well. Colonies infesting heated homes often are the earliest to send out swarmers.

     Unfortunately, if you find many swarmers indoors, or coming out of areas next to your foundation, it is usually a sign that the structure in infested with damaging termites. It is also a sign that the colony is a larger, more mature colony, because a termite colony usually doesn't send out winged termites until it is four or five years old. As colonies mature, they gradually send out more swarmers.

     If you find swarmers inside or next to your home, call us right away so we can schedule a professional inspection. We'll determine if the pests are termites or swarming ants (which are easily mistaken for termites) and we'll help you select the best and most cost-effective control strategy for your particular pest situation.

Yes! It's OK to S-c-r-e-e-a-m!

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As a dinner guest, have you ever been in the awkward position of spotting a spider, cockroach, or other pest on or near the dinner table? Perhaps in years past, in some situations, the polite thing would have been to ignore it.

     Thank goodness proper etiquette no longer requires us to pretend we don't see it! According to a book titled "Miss Manners," by Judith Martin, you can now shriek loudly, if you so desire.

     We must add that proper social etiquette (and friendship) would require you to go one step further-help your host solve their problem and avoid any future embarrassment with pests by recommending our services. We'll take care of their problem, and chances are they'll be so glad you told them about us that you will be invited back again real soon-to a bug free home!

Keep Your Garage Pet-Safe

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Garages are common storage areas for pesticides, fertilizers, cleaning agents, and other chemicals. Using our professional services reduces or eliminates the need for many of these products. But there is one common item people often aren't aware of that can be deadly if ingested.

     The common antifreeze, ethlene glycol, tastes and smells sweet to pets (as well as children), but is deadly if they lap it up. A single teaspoon of regular antifreeze can kill a cat. Clean up any spills immediately, or buy "safe" antifreeze (propylene glycol), which is non-toxic for pests and wildlife.

     Keep antifreeze and all cleaners, insecticides, etc., in a closed cabinet where curios pets can't get to them and tip them over.

Moths That Drink Blood?

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In nature there are many kinds of organisms that drink blood-mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, some flies and gnats, some other insects, leaches, and vampire bats. But vampire moths? It's true-there is a group of moths in the genus Calyptra that are known as vampire moths because they are capable of drinking blood.

     Vampire moths normally pierce fruit to suck the juice, but they will also drink blood from humans. Vampire moths can pierce even the tough hides of animals like elephants and buffaloes, so our skin is easy for them to penetrate. Interestingly, only the males drink blood. They have been recorded to continue sucking blood for almost an hour if left undisturbed! Plus, the place where they bite becomes red and sore.

     Fortunately, these moths are not found in the Americas, but in parts of Europe and other areas of the world. There is one species of vampire moth here in North America, but unlike it's cousins, it apparently does not feed on blood. That's one less pest to be concerned about!

Electric Mosquito Swatter Causes House Fire

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 In the Philippines, a person swatted a mosquito with one of those electric insect swatters, killing the insects. Unfortunately, the dead mosquito fell on and ignited some firework rocket fuses that were going to be used for the holidays, setting them on fire. The resulting fire completely burned the house to the ground and injured two of the residents.

     These electric insect swatters, avaiable widely in hardware and other stores, have an electrically-charged grid that zaps and kills insects. However, the dead, sometimes still-smoldering insects present a fire hazard people need to be aware of.

Tags: Swarming termites, pesticide

Newsletter Nov/Dec 2015

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Tue, Nov 03, 2015 @ 10:42 AM

Don't Let Pests Spoil Your Holidays!

Holidays are typically a busy time filled with wonderful treats and indoor gatherings. Our warm indoor environments become beacons to many pest. Nothing spoils a good time like finding uninvited creepy crawlies flying or scurrying about. Fortunately our ongoing professional pest services reduce the likelihood of pest attacks. There are also a few things you can do to help.

     Stored Food attracts many pests, including flour beetles and moths. Bags and boxes that are old, or opened and lefty to sit, are especially prone to infestation. Rotate your food so that older containers are consumed first. Don't be tempted to buy large containers of food that are going to sit around for a long time. Be sure to seal well all containers that have been opened, or place the contents in plastic or glass containers.

     Insects live in fresh Christmas trees, including aphids, spiders, beetles, and various other pests. These pests may have been inactive on the tree, but once they are brought into a warm room, they will start crawling or flying about. Spraying the tree with a strong jet of water before you bring it indoors is a good way of dislodging pests living there.

     Before you bring in firewood indoors, look it over to make sure pests aren't hiding in it. Like pests in Christmas trees, they'll become active when brought indoors. Shake or sweep them off outside.

     Finally, keep a clean kitchen and dispose of kitchen garbage regularly to avoid attracting ants, cockroaches, and other hungry pests.

 

Termite Misconceptions

     Too often we humans ignore dangers around us, and end up suffering costly consequences. We often do that with termites.

     People often don't realize just how destructive termites are-they cause over five billion dollars of damage every year in this country. A mature colony of some kinds of termites contain as many as several million of these wood-destroyers-an incredible number of mouths to feed!

     Without realizing it, people inadvertently help these expensive pests when they build structures that concentrate wood (wood is like steak to termites) where termites can easily get to it. It is a mistake to think concrete stops them, it only slows them down. Concrete foundations develop cracks, some of which are hidden, and concrete has holes in it where pipes and electrical wires enter the home. Sooner or later termites find these gaps and cause damage, unless the home is being protected with our treatments.

     People also do many things that actually increase the ability of termites to enter a structure. They let plants grow too close to the foundation, and the roots eventually crack the concrete. They let wood stay in contact with the ground, giving termites direct access to their food. And they do many other things that encourage termites to move in, like allowing moisture problems to continue, and leaving formboards, firewood, or other wood laying on the ground.

     Don't assume your home is termite-free. Call us if you have not had your home professionally inspected recently. This is the wisest defense against these aggressive and destructive pests.

Little Fire Ants

     Among ants, here is an especially serious one that has been spreading. The little fire ant is on the list of the world's top 100 nastiest invasive pest species. It is in southern Florida, has been spreading in Hawaii, at times has battled in California and Texas, and is on world-wide watch list.

     This ant is smaller than the red imported fire ant, but it has a really painful bite, and can cause an extremely itchy rash. The bite is so painful relative to the size of the ant, that some people call it the electric ant.

     One of the nastiest things about these ants is that they like spending time up in trees, and when the wind blows, the ants are blown down-often onto people or animals, which the ants then sting. They have been known to sting the eyes of pets, causing them to go blind. In some areas the problem has become so serious that crops can't be harvested. And they become so numerous and eat as many insects and small creatures, good and bad, that these little ants can change an entire ecosystem.

How Effective is Pressure-Treated Wood?

     Pressure-treated wood is wood that has had a chemical preservative forced into it, to help prevent it from being destroyed by wood-eating pests and decay fungi. Pressure-treated should be used whenever wood touches soil, or is close to soil.

     The problem is that over a period of 7-10 years the chemical slowly leaches out of the wood. The outer inch or so of the wood might still be protected, but the inner wood might not be. If there are drill holes or cracks in the wood, or if the wood was cut,it often exposes unprotected wood in the center to pests and fungus decay.

     Therefore, whether wood is pressure-treated or not, if it is in direct contact with soil, it will eventually rot and become susceptible to attack by termites and carpenter ants. In the long run, it is best to never let wood touch soil. Consider pressure treated wood to be "termite-resistant", not "termite proof."

Man Starts Dangerous Fire

A man at a gas station spotted a spider on his car gas filler lid and tried to kill it by lighting his cigarette lighter. Of course a blaze erupted almost instantly. The fire burned part of his car and completely destroyed the gas station pump before he was able to douse it with a fire extinguisher. The man was very fortunate to escape serious injury.

     The entire episode was caught on the station's video surveillance camera.

     Notable lesson: Don't let the fear of spiders result in dangerous reactions. Burning them is never recommended, especially around flammable gas!

Cockroaches to the Rescue?

     After an earthquake or other disaster, accurately and quickly locating people trapped in rubble can save lives. While specially trained dogs have been invaluable to locate trapped people in many situations, a small cockroach can go places that a dog can't.

     Researchers are getting closer to being able to accomplish this. A cockroach can be fitted with a GPS locator beacon, plus a tiny camera can also be attached. Cockroaches are steered remotely by an electric pulse transmitted to their antenna. This is surprisingly effective-the pulse fools cockroaches into "thinking" they have hit an obstacle, allowing a handler to steer them in the direction he wants them to go.

     Specially fitted and controlled cockroaches and other creatures are called "biobots", short for "biological robots, " and they may someday soon be frequently used to help save lives.

 

 

Newsletter Sept/Oct 2015

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 @ 12:51 PM

Uninvited Guest Eating Your Home?

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Our busy life styles have unfortunately reduced the number of quests many of us invite into our homes for a meal. But termites, both unin-vited and unwanted, continue to enter homes as much more than ever. They become permanent residents, feasting on the wood that holds our homes together. Don't let this happen to you!

     Regular inspections help protect your investment by identifying conditions that encourage termites, and catching infestations early, sometimes before they have done any damage. The wood in our homes can last for centuries, but wood-destroying pests can ruin all that.

     Termites, wood-boring beetles, carpenter ants, and wood decay all attack wooden structures. Besides looking for these pests and signs of them, we also find conditions that increase the likelihood of an attack. For subterranean termites, conditions that encourage them include poor drainage, water leaks, cracked foundations, wood that touches the soil, tree stumps and roots too close to a foundation, dirt-filled steps, soil above siding, and many other seemingly insignificant situations that can end up causing expensive problems.

     If termites or other wood-destroyers are present, don't panic. Fortunately the termites from Saturday morning cartoons don't exist-most termites eat homes slowly, one ounce of wood at a time, so you have time to call us and get the job done right by professionals. Proper evaluation of the problem and professionals. Proper evaluation of the problem and professional treatment techiques are essential in stopping these expensive "house guest" from feasting on your home.

On-Going Service Protects Best

Why is regular, on-going professional pest management service so important? Some pests multiply more slowly this time of the year, but others take their place and are even more active now. On-going service provides the best protection against the constantly changing invaders, and is your best value.

     Rats and mice will be especially troublesome during the months ahead. Each year over 23 million households in the U.S. fight winter rodent infestations. These pests have been outdoors multiplying and eating during the warmer months, and now are looking for a warmer, drier shelter. Homes and garages provide needed shelter, and food and moisture as well.

     Mice and rats don't just eat and contaminate your food, they can transmit diseases, are a source of allergens, and can chew through wiring and insulation, which causes further damage and occasional fires.

     Many other pests continue to multiply and cause damage indoors, including ants, cockroaches, fabric pests, stored product pests, fleas, spiders, and others. You may even inadvertently carry home some of these pests in shopping bags and boxes.

     On-going service can catch all these problems early, preventing expensive pest damage and making your home safer and more comfortable. Another great benefit of having fewer pests, their damage and droppings-it makes cleaning and maintaining a home easier! We all can use that during the busy holiday season ahead.

Pest Prevention Tip of the Month

Don't inadvertently bring pests indoors! Check furniture, food, grocery bags, boxes rolled up newspapers, luggage, and other items you carry in. Also check potted plants you bring in. There may be ant colonies in the soil, pests underneath the pot, and pests on leaves.

New Honey Bee Findings

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We all want to do whatever we can to protect our pollinators-especially honey bees. Honey bees have been hit with a number of problems over the last decade, and entire task forces of scientists have been trying to figure out what has been killing them. This has been difficult to determine, partly because there are a number of fairly new, or spreading, pests of honey bees. The worst pest in honey bee hives is the tiny Varroa mite, but honey bees have been hit with other mites and a variety of fungal and other diseases that kill them as well.

     On top of all that, it was thought that certain pesticides might be affecting honey bee colonies, but researchers have found that these pesticides by themselves are probably not as important to colony decline as once thought. It has also been discovered that even solar storms (sunspots) on the sun affect bees because it changes the earth's magnetic fields. When these fields change, bees have trouble finding their way back to their hives because honey bees (and other insects and animals) use earth's magnetic fields to navigate with.    

     Here's one bit of good news about the Varroa mites that arer deadly to honey bees. Wild honey bee colonies have been discovered near Ithaca, New York, that are resistant to the mite. The mite also doesn't affect Africanized honey bees. It's possible that eventually we can breed honey bees that aren't affected by this spreading pest.

Cockroach Allergens May Increase Glaucoma Risk

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Exposure to cockroach and cats may increase the risk for glaucoma, new research shows.

     People with glaucoma had significantly higher levels of immunoglobulin E, a typeof allegic antibody, compared to people without glaucoma. The tests showed that it is specifically cockroach and cat allergens that increased the probability of glaucoma-there was no increase of risk with dog allergens. These findings raise the possibility that the immune system plays a role in glaucoma. The study was published in the American Journal of Ohthalmology.

Head Lice News

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With children going back to school, outbreaks of head lice in schools are more likely. The best control of this pest is using an over-the-counter head louse shampoo or lotion, plus combing the hair with a louse comb-a fine-toothed comb that hair passes through, but not lice eggs (nits) and lice.

     Unfortunately, research just released in August has confirmed what scientists (and parents) have been finding recently-that many lice populations are resistant to the common insecticide in louse lotions and shampoos-pyrethrins and permethrin. Although you can start with these products and they may still work (especially when combining the treatment with using a louse comb), they have been used so much that they are not as effective as they once were. Always follow lable directions exactly.

     Fortunately, more effective products (ivermectin, spinosad, and benzylalcohol) are available, but only through a doctor's prescription.

     Remember, head-to-head contact with an infested person is the most common way to get head lice. But a person can also become infested by sharing combs, coats, etc. that have been used by an infested person within the last couple days, and by lying on a bed or pillow that has recently been used by an infested person.

 

    

Newsletter July/Aug 2015

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 @ 03:05 PM

Ants Are Invading

Ant problems both indoors and outdoors are common this time of year, and these problems will continue well into fall. Not only are ant colonies huge this time of the year (ant colonies may double in size by late summer), but there are more ant colonies now than there were in the spring.

     The natural outdoor food supply for ants also starts to decrease in late summer and fall. The combination of more and bigger ant colonies and less food cause more ants to invade homes, looking for food. Another factor that drives ants indoors is the weather-some kinds of ants are looking for a better place to move their colony. Indoor is much more protected from weather extremes. You can imagine the problems they cause when and entire ant colony moves indoors.

      If you or someone you know has ants, give us a call and we will make your ant problem a thing of the past! If you already have our regular treatments, you probably have not had ant problems for a long time. Still, because ants are constantly reinvading from surrounding properties, here are a few wise things even our regular customers should do to help reduce the possibility of ant invasion:

  • Keep food spills and crumbs cleaned up, and make sure all indoor and outdoor garbage cans have tight-fitting lids.

  • Trim tree and shrub branches so they do not touch buildings and act as a bridge for ants.

  • Eliminate sources of water, such as leaky faucets and roof leaks, because water is important to ants.

Prevent Termites Now

Each year, termites and other wood-destroying pest cause many billions of dollars worth of damage in the United States! So it is well worth your time to take steps to prevent damage from these costly pests and protect your investment in your home:

Reduce excess moisture.

Termites, like carpenter ants, are much more likely to attack moist wood than sound, dry wood. Repair leaking pipes and roof leaks, and make sure rain gutters are draining properly. Slope soil so water flows away from your foundation. You may need to install cement aprons at the bottom of your downspout to help water flow out. You may even need a sump pump. Do not allow shrubs or vines to partially block air vents.

Eliminate wood touching

or very near soil. Termites are much more likely to find and attack such wood, and their entry into it is usually hidden from view. Wood siding, untreated posts under foundations and porches, fence posts, flower boxes, etc., should never come close to or touch the ground.

Have an inspection

for wood-destroying organisms. Call us today for an inspection if you have not had one recently or are not under a termite service agreement with us-this is the single most important step you can take to prevent termite damage, save money, and give you peace of mind.

 

Formosan Termite Swarming

The formosan subterranean termite is especially damaging to wood, and it is spreading in the United States. One of the ways these termites get started in an area is from boats and ships that pick up these hitchhikers when they are in infested areas, or take on infested cargo, and then dock on our shores. When winged reproductive termites swarm from the boats, they take to the air and land nearby shore areas, where they start new colonies. Winged termites eventually swarm from these colonies, spreading the infestation further every year.

     It has not been known exactly how far these winged Formosan termites spread. One new study in New Orleans found that the majority of then landed within 273 yards of their parent colony. But one winged termites was caught a whopping 1422 yards away, or almost a mile. It was not windy during the study, but on windy days they would probably land even further away.

 

'Spider Rain' Reported

In an event that received world-wide coverage a few months ago, the sky was filled with millions of spiders and their silky threads in New South Wales, Australia. The spiders floated around and then down, landing in everything, even in people's hair and beards. The occasional phenomenon is called a 'spider rain' because of the huge numbers of spiders involved, and although the spiders are typically not poisonous, it can cause a real panic.

     Young spiders often float up into the sky on silken threads, a dispersal method called ballooning. Ballooning happens all around us from spring through fall, but it seldom gets noticed.

     It is thought that conditions have to be just right for a spider rain: large numbers of spiders need to hatch and be ready to balloon, but weather conditions somehow hold them back. Then the weather changes, it is perfect ballooning weather, and lots of spiders become airborne the weather shifts again, sending the spiders back to earth in a short time. It is still not well understood how shifts in weather contributed to a spider rain.

 

How Long Do Bedbugs Live?

Although bedbugs are problems year-round, the warmer months from July to September are peak bedbug months, when these pests are multiplying faster and are more active and noticeable. Under ideal laboratory conditions bedbugs live an average of 6-12 months, although in the real world their average lifespan is probably shorter.

     However, we have heard some people say they are going to "wait out" a bedbug infestation, hoping it will die out on its own if they simply take an extended vacation. This doesn't work. While young bedbugs will die after a few weeks without a blood meal, adult and larger nymph bedbugs somehow seem to survive without a blood meal for a very long time. They have been shown to survive very well for over a year without feeding. Amazing!

     So please be wary of used furniture, especially beds, bedside tables, couches, etc. that may have bedbugs hidden in them. Bedbug infestations don't go away-they need to be professionally treated to eliminate the pest. We do not offer conventional treatment, but highly recommend fumigation.

 

Why Lyme Disease is Difficult to Treat

New research shows that the bacterium that causes Lyme disease forms dormant persister cells. These cells are known to evade antibiotics, and may explain why Lyme disease is so difficult to treat in some patients. If caught early, patients treated with antibiotics usually recover quickly. But about 10 to 20 percent of patients, mostly those who have been diagnosed and treated with antibiotics after the disease is well established, continue to have persistent and recurring symptoms after treatment.

     Lyme disease affects 300,00 people annually in the United States, according to the Center of Disease Control.

 

Newsletter May/June 2015

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, May 04, 2015 @ 01:00 PM

The Plentiful Pests of Summer

     In the summertime the pests are abundant-multiplying like crazy as the weather warms. Here are some of the many summer pests that can become problems.

     Stinging and biting insects: Bees, wasp, hornets, yellow jackets, scorpions, and certain ants and spiders pack stings that can be painful and even dangerous. Other pests suck our blood, usually without us knowing it while it is happening. These include fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, biting gnats and flies, and others. Bed bugs are nightmarish blood-suckers that have returned with a vengeance, after being free of them for decades.

     Food Contaminating Pests: Stored food moths and beetles find their way into many foods we keep for ourselves or our pets. Cockroaches, ants flies, rats and mice can be problems anywhere food is stored, cooked, or served-and often throughout our homes. Watch your pet food to make sure you aren't feeding bugs or other creatures at nght.

     Fabric Damaging Pests: Cloths moths and carpet beetles favor wool, but also damage other fabrics. Silverfish, crickets and other pests will occasionally damage fabrics as well as papers.

     Wood Destroying Pests: Termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, powderpost beetles, and decay fungi all eat wood for food, and carpenter ants chew into wood to create space for their expanding colonies. Either way, these pests cause serious damage.

     Occasional Invaders: Hundreds of different pests may invade a home occasionally, and just be a nuisance and clean-up problems, or even cause allergic reactions.

     With our professional services, you can enjoy a great, pest-free summer!

 

Termite Colonies Larger than Expected

For a long time it was thought that the average subterranean termite colony contained about 250,000 termites. It was thought that these colonies might have as many as one million individuals only in unusual situations.

     But in recent years new research has shown that some termite colonies are much larger. Dr. Grace has evidence that colonies can consist of up to 3.2 million termites. These estimates were made in Canada, where we expect termite colonies to be smaller that in warmer areas. In Florida, Dr. Su has shown that some native subterranean termite colonies there actually reach 5 million termites!

     Why is termite colony size important? Larger colonies can cause a greater amount of damage in a shorter period of time than smaller colonies, and they can be eating wood in larger area-perhaps in several homes at once. For instance, a large colony of 3.2 million termites can consume over 1.5 pounds of wood every day, and they are able to find and infest unprotected wood in an area covering 2.5 acres!

     Formosan termites, which are spreading every year, have even larger and more destructive mature colonies, ranging from 2-10 million individuals. They can tunnel an amazing 110 yards-the length of a football field! Formosan termites can cause significant damage to a home in just 6 months, and have been known to actually bring down a home in as little as two years.

     Call us to arrange an inspection or treatment for these hidden pests-finding and controlling them early can prevent a lot of damage to your home.

 

New Tick-Transmitted Disease

While Lyme disease is the most common tick-transmitted disease, with 30,000 reported cases a year, ticks continue to be in the news because of the other virus they transmit.

     A Kansas man died died last year from Bourban virus, a new virus named after bourban County where he lived. He was a healthy man who died after only 10 days in the hospital. At this point it is not known for certain how he contracted the disease, but this kind of virus is usually transmitted by a bite from a tick or other insect. The Bourban virus is similar to viruses found in other parts of the world, but nothing like it has been in this country before.

     The Powassan virus occurs from Virginia up to Maine, and east to Minnesota. This is a tick-borne encephalitis virus that is low in numbers, but has been increasing in recent years.

     The new Hartland virus infected two men in Missouri in 2009. While they fortunately recovered the US Centers for disease Control Prevention anticipates that more people will become infected. The virus is transmitted by lone star ticks.

     Finally, besides sometimes transmitting disease, bites from some lone star ticks are causing another problem-making some people allergic to red meat. Unlike most food allergies, the symptoms, including vomiting, abdominal cramps, hives, and anaphylaxis, typically come three to six hours after an infected person eats red meat. The only good news is that the allergic reaction seems to fade after a few years if people avoid additional tick bites.

 

True Amphibious Insects Discovered

There is always a new and exciting discovery in the insect world!

     In Hawaii's freshwater streams, 14 new species of amphibious caterpillars have been found. While many insects larvae live in streams and lakes, these are the first truly amphilious insects (they are equally at home in water or on land) that have ever been discovered, anywhere in the world.

     It is still not understood how the caterpillars, which grow to be small moths, can breathe under water. A clue may be that they only live in fast moving streams. The water in these streams have high oxygen levels, so somehow they may be absorbing oxygen by a process not yet understood.

Allergists: A Pest-Free Home is Important

A survey of 500 allergists showed that an overwhelming 97% think that a pest-free home is an important step in preventing asthma and allergy symptoms. The survey of medical professionals was conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

     Many common household pests, including cockroaches and rodents, can trigger allergic reactions in certain people. Using our professioanl services to prevent pest problems is asimple way to help avoid pest-related allergies.

Hybrid "Super" Termites Discovered

Scientest were shocked recently to find that two different species of very destructive termites are mating in the wild. Formosan subterranean termites are mating with Asian subterranean termites in South Florida. Currently these hybrid colonies are only in South Florida, because while formosan termites have spread to 11 states, Asain termites have invaded more recently, and so far are only in Hawaii and parts of Florida.

     The scientists have also discovered that the resulting colonies appear to be even more destructive that their parents, primarily because some of these "hybrid" colonies are growing in size twice as fast as their parent colonies.

     "Hybrid vigor" is well known, because it happens sometimes when two plant varieties combine. Hybrid means that the resulting offspring are in some ways superior to either variety. Unfortunately, that is what is happening with the termites-the colonies become larger, faster. With animals, two species normally can't produce fertile offspring. (For example, the mule, a cross between a donkey and a horse, is sterile.) It is still not known if these hybrid termite colonies will be able to reproduce.

     But even if a colony can't reproduce itself, the sheer numbers of termites in a hybrid colony can be incredibly destructive. It is expected that these hybrid colony will contain a million termites after five years or so-that's a very short time to grow so large. It is a case of "hybrid vigor" at its worst.

 

 

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