Welcome to Front Range Pest Control of Fort Collins Inc. Pest Library. We have put together a library of pests that are common in Northern Colorado.
Common ants that are pests include sugar ants, carpentar ants, pavement ants, and the yellow crazy ant.
Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae, and along with the related wasps and bees, they belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than 12,500 species are classified and the upper estimates of species is about 22,000. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and a distinctive node-like structure that forms a slender waist.
Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies which may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. These larger colonies consist mostly of sterile wingless females forming castes of “workers”, “soldiers”, or other specialised groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called “drones” and one or more fertile females called “queens”. The colonies are sometimes described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.
Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and certain remote or inhospitable islands. Ants thrive in most ecosystems, and may form 15-25% of the terrestrial animal biomass. Their success has been attributed to their social organisation and their ability to modify habitats, tap resources, and defend themselves. Their long co-evolution with other species has led to mimetic, commensal, parasitic, and mutualistic relationships. Ant societies have division of labour, communication between individuals, and an ability to solve complex problems. These parallels with human societies have long been an inspiration and subject of study.
Many human cultures make use of ants in cuisine, medication and rituals. Some species are valued in their role as biological pest control agents. However, their ability to exploit resources brings ants into conflict with humans, as they can damage crops and invade buildings. Some species, such as the red imported fire ant, are regarded as invasive species, since they have established themselves in new areas where they have been accidentally introduced.
Ants as Pests
Some ant species are considered pests, and because of the adaptive nature of ant colonies, eliminating the entire colony is nearly impossible. Pest management is therefore a matter of controlling local populations, instead of eliminating an entire colony, and most attempts at control are temporary solutions.
Ants classified as pests include the pavement ant, yellow crazy ant, sugar ants, the Pharaoh ant, carpenter ants, Argentine ant, odorous house ants, red imported fire ant and European fire ant. Populations are controlled using insecticide baits, either in granule or liquid formulations. Bait is gathered by the ants as food and brought back to the nest where the poison is inadvertently spread to other colony members through trophallaxis.
Boric acid and borax are often used as insecticides that are relatively safe for humans. Bait may be broadcast over a large area to control species like the red fire ant that occupy large areas. Nests of red fire ants may be destroyed by following the ants’ trails back to the nest and then pouring boiling water into it to kill the queen. This works in about 60% of the mounds and requires about 14 litres (3 imp gal; 4 US gal) per mound.
Beetles are the group of insects with the largest number of known species. They are classified in the order Coleoptera, which contains more described species than in any other order in the animal kingdom, constituting about 25% of all known life-forms. 40% of all described insect species are beetles (about 350,000 species), and new species are frequently discovered. Estimates put the total number of species, described and undescribed, at between 5 and 8 million. The largest family also belongs to this order-the weevils, or snout beetles, Curculionidae.
Beetles can be found in almost all habitats, but are not known to occur in the sea or in the polar regions. They interact with their ecosystems in several ways. They often feed on plants and fungi, break down animal and plant debris, and eat other invertebrates. Some species are prey of various animals including birds and mammals. Certain species are agricultural pests, such as the Colorado potato beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata, the boll weevil Anthonomus grandis, the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum, and the mungbean or cowpea beetle Callosobruchus maculatus, while other species of beetles are important controls of agricultural pests. For example, beetles in the family Coccinellidae (“ladybirds” or “ladybugs”) consume aphids, scale insects, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects that damage crops.
Beetles as Pests
Many agricultural, forestry, and household insect pests are beetles. These include the following:
Pine Beetle Damage to Pine Tree
The Colorado potato beetle
Leptinotarsa decemlineata, is a notorious pest of potato plants. Crops are destroyed and the beetle can only be treated by employing expensive pesticides, many of which it has begun to develop resistance to. As well as potatoes, suitable hosts can be a number of plants from the potato family (Solanaceae), such as nightshade, tomato, aubergine and capsicum.
The Boll Weevil
Anthonomus grandis, has cost cotton producers in the United States billions of dollars since it first entered that country. The bark beetles Hylurgopinus rufipes and Scolytus multistriatus, the elm leaf beetle, Pyrrhalta luteola, and other beetles attack elm trees. The bark beetles are important elm pests because they carry Dutch elm disease as they move from infected breeding sites to feed on healthy elm trees. The spread of the fungus by the beetle has led to the devastation of elm trees in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, notably in Europe and North America.
Red flour beetle
Tribolium castaneum. Flour beetles are pests of cereal silos. They feed on wheat and other grains and are adapted to survive in very dry environments. They are a major pest in the agricultural industry and are highly resistant to insecticides.
The Death Watch Beetle
Xestobium rufovillosum, (family Anobiidae) is of considerable importance as a pest of older wooden buildings in Great Britain. It attacks hardwoods such as oak and chestnut, always where some fungal decay has taken or is taking place. It is thought that the actual introduction of the pest into buildings takes place at the time of construction.
Asian Long-horned Beetle
Citrus Long-horned Beetle
Western Corn Rootworm
Coconut Hispine Beetle
Brontispa longissima, feeds on young leaves and damages seedlings and mature coconut palms. On September 27, 2007, Philippines’ Metro Manila and 26 provinces were quarantined due to having been infested with this pest (to save the $800-million Philippine coconut industry).
The Mountain Pine Beetle
Normally attacks mature or weakened lodgepole pine. Under the right circumstances outbreaks make it the most destructive insect pest of mature pine forests. The current infestation in British Columbia is the largest Canada has ever seen.
Find out all about Bed Bugs!
Bed Bugs information
Bedbugs (or bed bugs) are small, elusive, and parasitic insects of the family Cimicidae. They live strictly by feeding on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded animals. The name “bed bug” is derived from the insect’s preferred habitat infesting houses and especially beds or other common areas where people may sleep. Bedbugs, though not strictly nocturnal, are mainly active at night and are capable of feeding unnoticed on their hosts.
Largely eradicated as pests in the United States in the early 1940s, bedbugs have been resurgent in the past decade to near epidemic proportions.
Bedbugs seem to possess all of the necessary prerequisites for being capable of passing diseases from one host to another, but there have been no known cases of bed bugs passing disease from host to host. There are at least twenty-seven known pathogens (some estimates are as high as forty-one) that are capable of living inside a bed bug or on its mouthparts. Extensive testing in laboratory settings concludes that bed bugs are unlikely to pass disease from one person to another. Therefore bedbugs are less dangerous than some more common insects such as the flea.
Other effects on health
The salivary fluid injected by bed bugs typically causes the skin to become irritated and inflamed, although individuals can differ in their sensitivity. Anaphylactoid reactions produced by the injection of serum and other nonspecific proteins are observed and there is the possibility that the saliva of the bedbugs may cause anaphylactic shock in a small percentage of people. It is also possible that sustained feeding by bedbugs may lead to anemia. It is also important to watch for and treat any secondary bacterial infection. Systemic poisoning may occur if the bites are numerous.
Detection of Bed Bugs
Confirming the presence of bedbugs can be a tricky matter-particularly in cases where an infestation is light, recurrent, or when a user has no prior experience in dealing with bedbugs. Because of this, it is advisable that a person become aware of the telltale signs of a budding infestation and, if noted, seek to have it treated immediately (either through self-treatment, in taking measures to isolate the problem, or through the hiring of a professional) before the infestation has a chance to grow and spread into something that will be more difficult to contain later on. In light infestations, bedbugs will often lodge themselves unnoticed into the tiniest of crevices away from viewing and will usually come out to feed only deep in the middle of the night. But this rule is not set in stone as there will be exceptions-particularly in heavy infestations where it will then become common to see bedbugs crawling about in broad daylight.
Early infestations can be difficult to detect and the symptoms of bedbugs might often be detected before the bugs themselves. Typical symptoms of a bedbug infestation may include the discovery of fecal spots, crushed bedbugs and/or bloodstains on the sheets, the finding of cast skins that have been discarded, the development of itchy welts from their bites (in those that react), etc. Use of a crevice tool to reach into small spaces as well as the use of a magnifying glass and/or flashlight can assist in the successful detection of bedbugs and their symptoms. A crevice tool, however, can be improvised but-very importantly-should consist of a non-conductive material such as plastic or wood if it is to be used to probe walls, baseboards, and/or electronics, etc. (to prevent electric shock).
Control and elimination of Bed Bugs
With the widespread use of DDT in the 1940s and ’50s, bedbugs mostly disappeared from North America in the mid-twentieth century. Infestations remained common in many other parts of the world and in recent years have also begun to rebound in North America. Thanks to rises in rampant hoarding around the United States, bedbugs are able to hide and reproduce without immediate detection. Reappearance of bedbugs has presented new challenges for pest control due to their developed resistance to various pesticides including DDT, and organophosphates. In fact, using DDT on today’s bedbug makes it more active.
Another reason for their increase is that more pest control services use gel-based pesticide baits for control of cockroaches and ants, the most common pests in structures, instead of residual sprays. When residual sprays were used to kill the more common insect pests, they resulted in the collateral control of bedbug populations. The gel-based insecticides primarily used today to control cockroach and ant populations do not have any effect on bedbugs, as bed bugs are not attracted to baits.
Yet another perceived cause of the bedbug resurgence is the growing push to recycle mattresses. Not only are mattresses to be recycled collected and stored with those already processed, but it is very difficult to ensure that no bedbugs or eggs survive the processing. The National Pest Management Association, a US advocacy group for pest management professionals conducted a “proactive bedbug public relations campaign” in 2005 and 2006, resulting in increased media coverage of bedbug stories and an increase in business for pest controllers.
Fleas, Mites & Ticks
Pests include those organisms which vector human disease, such as rats and fleas which carry the plague disease, mosquitoes which vector malaria, and ticks which carry Lyme Disease.
Flea is the common name for insects of the order Siphonaptera which are wingless insects whose mouthparts are adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. Fleas are external parasites, living by hematophagy off the blood of mammals (including humans) and birds.
In the past, it was most commonly supposed that fleas had evolved from the flies (Diptera), based on similarities of the larvae. (Some authorities use the name Aphaniptera because it is older, but names above family rank need not follow the ICZN rules of priority, so most taxonomists use the more familiar name). Genetic and morphological evidence indicates that they are descendants of the Scorpionfly family Boreidae, which are also flightless; accordingly it is possible that they will eventually be reclassified as a suborder within the Mecoptera. In any case, all these groups seem to represent a clade of closely related insect lineages, for which the names Mecopteroidea and Antliophora have been proposed.
Some flea species include:
Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis)
Dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis)
Human flea (Pulex irritans)
Northern rat flea (Nosopsyllus fasciatus)
Oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis)
Relationship with host
Fleas attack a wide variety of warm-blooded vertebrates including dogs, cats, humans, chickens, rabbits, squirrels, rats, ferrets, and mice. Fleas are a nuisance to their hosts, causing an itching sensation which in turn may result in the host attempting to remove the pest by biting, pecking, scratching, etc. the vicinity of the parasite. Fleas are not simply a source of annoyance, however. Some people and animals suffer allergic reactions to flea saliva resulting in rashes. Flea bites generally result in the formation of a slightly-raised swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the center (similar to a mosquito sting). The bites often appear in clusters or lines of two bites, and can remain itchy and inflamed for up to several weeks afterwards. Fleas can also lead to hair loss as a result of frequent scratching and biting by the animal, and can cause anemia in extreme cases.
Besides the problems posed by the creature itself, fleas can also act as a vector for disease. For example, fleas transmitted the bubonic plague between rodents and humans by carrying Yersinia pestis bacteria. Murine typhus (endemic typhus) fever, and in some cases Hymenolepiasis (tapeworm) can also be transmitted by fleas.
Mites belong to the subclass Acarina (also known as Acari) and the class Arachnida. Mites are among the most diverse and successful of all the invertebrate groups. They have exploited an incredible array of habitats, and because of their small size (most are microscopic) go largely unnoticed. Many live freely in the soil or water, but there are also a large number of species that live as parasites on plants, animals, and some that feed on mold.
Allergy to Mites
Mites cause several forms of allergic diseases, including hay fever, asthma and eczema and are known to aggravate atopic dermatitis. Mites are usually found in warm and humid locations, including beds. It is thought that inhalation of mites during sleep exposes the human body to some antigens that eventually induce hypersensitivity reaction. Dust mite allergens are thought to be among the heaviest dust allergens.
Like most of the other types of allergy, treatment of mite allergy starts with avoidance. There is a strong body of evidence showing that avoidance should be helpful in patients with atopic dermatitis triggered by exposure to mites. Regular washing of mattresses and blankets with hot water can help in this regard. Antihistamines are also useful; Cetirizine, for example, is shown to reduce allergic symptoms of patients. However not all types of mites are infectious including the Alaskozetes antarcticus an arctic inhabiting mite.
The clover mite, Bryobia praetiosa, is a type of mite best known for the reddish stain left on surfaces after being crushed. Clover mites are 1/30 inch long, oval shaped arachnids with a pair of long legs pointing forward often mistaken for antennae. They are reddish-brown; the younger ones and the eggs are a bright red.
Clover mites can become a nuisance in and around houses. They generally enter houses close to thick vegetation and can infiltrate houses in very large numbers through cracks and small openings around windows and doors. Whether indoors or outside, clover mites are found more commonly in sunny areas than in darker areas.
Spider mites are members of the Acari (mite) family Tetranychidae, which includes about 1600 species. They generally live on the under sides of leaves of plants, where they may spin protective silk webs, and they can cause damage by puncturing the plant cells to feed. Spider mites are known to feed on several hundred species of plant.
Spider mites are less than 1 mm in size and vary in color. They lay small, spherical, initially transparent eggs and many species spin silk webbing to help protect the colony from predators; they get the “spider” part of their common name from this webbing. Hot, dry conditions are often associated with population build-up of spider mites. Under optimal conditions (approximately 80F), the two-spotted spider mite can hatch in as little as 3 days, and become sexually mature in as little as 5 days. One female can lay up to 20 eggs per day and can live for 2 to 4 weeks, laying hundreds of eggs. A single mature female can spawn a population of a million mites in a month or less. This accelerated reproductive rate allows spider mite populations to adapt quickly to resist pesticides, so chemical control methods can become somewhat ineffectual when the same pesticide is used over a prolonged period.
Tick is the common name for the small arachnids in superfamily Ixodoidea that, along with other mites, constitute the Acarina. Ticks are ectoparasites (external parasites), living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, and occasionally reptiles and amphibians. Ticks are vectors of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease, Q fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia, tick-borne relapsing fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and Tick-borne meningoencephalitis, as well as anaplasmosis in cattle and canine jaundice.
Ticks are a vector for a number of diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other Tick-borne disease.
American Dog Tick
Dermacentor variabilis, is perhaps the most well-known of the North American hard ticks. This tick does not carry Lyme disease but can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
The Deer Tick
Ixodes scapularis, is common to the eastern part of North America and is known for spreading Lyme disease.
The Western Black-legged Tick
Ixodes pacificus, lives in the western part of North America and is responsible for spreading Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It tends to prefer livestock such as cows as its adult host.
The Lone Star Tick
Amblyomma americanum, is part of the Ioxdidae family, classifying it as a hard tick. The adult females are distinguished by a white dot or “lone star” on its back. The adult males can also be seen with dots and white streaks on the edge of their bodies. This tick has been associated with transmission of Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI) in humans, which is a disease caused by a Borrelia sp. related to the agent that causes Lyme Disease.
Flies & Moths
True flies are insects of the order Diptera (di = two, and pteron = wing), possessing a single pair of wings on the mesothorax and a pair of halteres, derived from the hind wings, on the metathorax.
The presence of a single pair of wings distinguishes true flies from other insects with “fly” in their name, such as mayflies, dragonflies, damselflies, stoneflies, whiteflies, fireflies, alderflies, dobsonflies, snakeflies, sawflies, caddisflies, butterflies or scorpionflies. Some true flies have become secondarily wingless, especially in the superfamily Hippoboscoidea, or among those that are inquilines in social insect colonies.
Diptera is a large order, containing an estimated 240,000 species of mosquitos, gnats, midges and others, although under half of these (about 120,000 species) have been described. It is one of the major insect orders both in terms of ecological and human (medical and economic) importance. The Diptera, in particular the mosquitoes (Culicidae), are of great importance as disease transmitters, acting as vectors for malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, yellow fever, encephalitis and other infectious diseases.
A moth is an insect closely related to the butterfly, both being of the order Lepidoptera. The differences between butterflies and moths are more than just taxonomy. Sometimes the names “Rhopalocera” (butterflies) and “Heterocera” (moths) are used to formalize the popular distinction. Many attempts have been made to subdivide the Lepidoptera into groups such as the Microlepidoptera and Macrolepidoptera, Frenatae and Jugatae, or Monotrysia and Ditrysia.
Failure of these names to persist in modern classifications is because none of them represents a pair of “monophyletic groups”. The reality is that butterflies are a small group that arose from within the “moths” and there is thus no way to group all of the remaining taxa in a monophyletic group, as it will always exclude that one descendant lineage.
Moths are sturdy and usually are more resistant to pesticides than are mosquitoes and flies. Some moths are farmed. The most notable of these is the silkworm, the larva of the domesticated moth Bombyx mori. It is farmed for the silk with which it builds its cocoon. As of 2002, the silk industry produces over 130 million kilograms of raw silk, worth about 250 million U.S. dollars, each year. Not all silk is produced by Bombyx mori. There are several species of Saturniidae that are also farmed for their silk, such as the Ailanthus moth (Samia cynthia group of species), the Chinese Oak Silkmoth (Antheraea pernyi), the Assam Silkmoth (Antheraea assamensis), and the Japanese Silk Moth (Antheraea yamamai). The mopane worm, the caterpillar of Gonimbrasia belina, from the family Saturniidae, is a significant food resource in southern Africa.
Despite being framed for eating clothing, most moth adults do not eat at all. Most like the Luna, Polyphemus, Atlas, Prometheus, Cercropia, and other large moths do not have mouths. When they do eat, moths will drink nectar.
General pests that are common in Colorado include Centipedes, Crickets, Millipede, Springtails, Sow Bugs or Woodlice.
A pest is an organism, usually an insect, which has characteristics that are regarded by humans as injurious or unwanted. This is often because it causes damage to agriculture through feeding on crops or parasitising livestock, such as codling moth on apples, or boll weevil on cotton. An animal can also be a pest when it causes damage to a wild ecosystem or carries germs within human habitats.
Centipedes (from Latin prefix centi-, “hundred”, and Latin pes, pedis, “foot”) are arthropods belonging to the class Chilopoda and the Subphylum Myriapoda. They are elongated metameric animals with one pair of legs per body segment. Despite the name, centipedes can have a varying number of legs from under 20 to over 300. All centipedes (discounting individual mutants) always have an odd number of pairs of legs, e.g. 15 or 17 pairs of legs (30 or 34 legs) but never 16 pairs (32 legs). A key trait uniting this group is a pair of venom claws or forcipules formed from a modified first appendage. This also means that centipedes are an exclusively predatory taxon, which is uncommon.
Hazards to humans
Some species of centipede can be hazardous to humans because of their bite. Although a bite to an adult human is usually only very painful, it can be dangerous to small children and those with allergies to bee stings. The bite of larger centipedes can induce anaphylactic shock in such people. Smaller centipedes usually do not puncture human skin.
Crickets, family Gryllidae (also known as “true crickets”), are insects somewhat related to grasshoppers and more closely related to katydids or bush crickets (family Tettigoniidae). They have somewhat flattened bodies and long antennae. There are about 900 species of crickets. They tend to be nocturnal and are often confused with grasshoppers because they have a similar body structure including jumping hind legs.
Crickets are harmless to humans. While they are known to carry a large number of diseases, some of which can cause painful sores, they are not fatal to humans. Disease can be spread through their feces, bite, or physical contact, though crickets are not aggressive toward humans and rarely attack. Crickets are a favorite insect of children to collect in areas of the world they populate.
Only the male crickets chirp. A large vein running along the bottom of each wing has “teeth,” much like a comb does. The chirping sound is created by running the top of one wing along the teeth at the bottom of the other wing. As he does this, the cricket also holds the wings up and open, so that the wing membranes can act as acoustical sails. It is a popular myth that the cricket chirps by rubbing its legs together.
There are four types of cricket song: The calling song attracts females and repels other males, and is fairly loud. The courting song is used when a female cricket is near, and is a very quiet song. An aggressive song is triggered by chemoreceptors on the antennae that detect the near presence of another male cricket and a copulatory song is produced for a brief period after successful deposition of sperm on the female’s eggs.
Crickets chirp at different rates depending on their species and the temperature of their environment. Most species chirp at higher rates the higher the temperature is (approximately 62 chirps a minute at 13°C in one common species; each species has its own rate). The relationship between temperature and the rate of chirping is known as Dolbear’s Law. Using this law it is possible to calculate the temperature in Fahrenheit by adding 40 to the number of chirps produced in 14 seconds by the snowy tree cricket common in the United States.
Millipedes are arthropods that have two pairs of legs per segment (except for the first segment behind the head which does not have any appendages at all, and the next few which only have one pair of legs). Each segment that has two pairs of legs is a result of two single segments fused together as one. Most millipedes have very elongated cylindrical bodies, although some are flattened dorso-ventrally, while pill millipedes are shorter and can roll into a ball, like a pill bug.
The name “millipede” is a compound word formed from the Latin roots milli (thousand) and ped (foot). Despite their name, millipedes do not have 1,000 legs, although the rare species Illacme plenipes has up to 750. Common species have between 36 and 400 legs. The class contains around 10,000 species in 13 orders and 115 families. The giant African millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas), known as shongololos, is the largest species of millipede.
Springtails (Collembola) form the largest of the three lineages of modern hexapods that are no longer considered insects (the other two are the Protura and Diplura). The three orders are sometimes grouped together in a class called Entognatha because they have internal mouthparts, but they do not appear to be more closely related to one another than to insects, which have external mouthparts.
Relationship with humans
Various sources and publications have suggested that some springtails may parasitize humans, but this is entirely inconsistent with their biology, and no such phenomenon has ever been scientifically confirmed, though it has been documented that the scales or hairs from collembolans can cause irritation when rubbed onto the skin. They can sometimes be abundant indoors in damp places such as bathrooms and basements, and under such circumstances may be found on one’s person, but this is only accidental.
Claims of persistent human skin infection by springtails may indicate a neurological problem, or else delusory parasitosis, a psychological rather than entomological problem. Researchers themselves may be subject to psychological phenomena. For example, a publication in 2004 claiming that springtails had been found in skin samples was later determined to be a case of pareidolia; that is, no springtail specimens were actually recovered, but the researchers had digitally enhanced photos of sample debris to create images resembling small arthropod heads, which they then claimed to be springtail remnants. However, Hopkin reports one instance of an entomologist aspirating an Isotoma species and in the process accidentally inhaling some of their eggs, which hatched in his nasal cavity and made him quite ill until they were flushed out.
Sow Bugs or Woodlice
A woodlouse (known by many common names: see below; plural woodlice) is a crustacean with a rigid, segmented, long exoskeleton and fourteen jointed limbs. Woodlice form the suborder Oniscidea within the order Isopoda, with over 3,000 known species. Woodlice in the genus Armadillidium can roll up into an almost perfect sphere as a defensive mechanism, hence some of the common names such as pill bug or roly-poly. Most woodlice, however, cannot do this.
Pill bugs and Pill Millipedes
Pill bugs (woodlice of the family Armadillidiidae) can be confused with pill millipedes. Although they are distantly related to one another, the two are taxonomically distinct.
Both of these groups of terrestrial segmented arthropods are about the same size. They live in very similar habitats, and they can both roll up into a ball. Both pill millipedes and pill bugs appear superficially similar to the naked eye. This is an example of convergent evolution.
Pill Millipedes can be distinguished from Woodlice on the basis of having two pairs of legs per body segment instead of one pair like all isopods. Pill Millipedes also have thirteen body segments, whereas the woodlouse has eleven. In addition, Pill Millipedes are smoother, and resemble normal millipedes in overall coloring and the shape of the segments.
Learn about Mosquito Control and West Nile Virus.
Mosquito and mosquita (from the Spanish meaning little fly) is a common insect in the family Culicidae (from the Latin culex meaning midge or gnat). Mosquitoes resemble crane flies (family Tipulidae) and chironomid flies (family Chironomidae), with which they are sometimes confused by the casual observer.
Mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult or imago. Adult females lay their eggs in water, which can be a salt-marsh, a lake, a puddle, a natural reservoir on a plant, or an artificial water container such as a plastic bucket. The first three stages are aquatic and last 5-14 days, depending on the species and the ambient temperature; eggs hatch to become larvae, then pupae. The adult mosquito emerges from the pupa as it floats at the water surface. Adult females can live up to a month – more in captivity – but most probably do not live more than 1-2 weeks in nature.
Mosquitoes have mouthparts which are adapted for piercing the skin of plants and animals. They typically feed on nectar and plant juices. In some species, the female needs to obtain nutrients from a “blood meal” before she can produce eggs. There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes found throughout the world. In some species of mosquito, the females feed on humans, and are therefore vectors for a number of infectious diseases affecting millions of people per year.
West Nile Virus: What causes it?
The infection is transmitted by mosquitoes. They acquire the virus after biting an infected bird, and then they bite us. In 2006 there were 4269 cases of West Nile Virus with 177 deaths. Virus transmission occurs mostly during warm weather, when mosquito populations are active. In the northern part of the country, infections occur mainly in the summer and early fall, but in the warmer southern regions, the virus can be transmitted all year. The incubation period – or the period between when you’re bitten by an infected mosquito and the appearance of signs and symptoms of the illness – ranges from two to 14 days.
Signs and Symptoms:
Most of the time, infection with West Nile virus makes people mildly sick. A person may get flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, and sometimes skin rash and swollen glands. More severe infection can result in encephalitis, which includes symptoms of severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, and sometimes convulsions. It’s rare but, severe West Nile infection in healthy, younger people can be fatal, but the elderly are at greatest risk for severe complications.
How to know if you have West Nile Virus:
The virus causes an infection that can lead to inflammation of the brain (swelling) much like encephalitis, or swelling of the spinal cord, or the tissues surrounding it and the spinal cord like meningitis. If the doctor thinks you might have the virus, they will ask you questions to see if you were at risk for getting the virus. If you have symptoms that the virus is affecting the brain and spinal cord a blood test will be done to see if you have antibodies to the virus. And sometimes a Lumbar Puncture (spinal tap) is done to look for the virus.
Treatment for the Virus:
There is currently no specific treatment for the virus. Mild infections go away on their own. But severe cases of encephalitis are treated with supportive care in a hospital. This care involves helping the body fight illness on its own. It often is used when no specific treatment exists for an illness, as is the case with some viruses. Treatment for West Nile virus can include receiving fluids through IV, or help with breathing using a ventilator, and prevention of another infection like pneumonia.
Prevention of West Nile Virus:
The best way to prevent West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses is to avoid exposure to mosquitoes and eliminate mosquito-breeding sites.
Drain standing water in your yard and patio. Mosquitoes breed in pools of standing water.
Unclog roof gutters, clean them of water and wet material.
Empty unused items that hold water like swimming pools.
Change water in birdbaths at least weekly.
Be aware of any sick or dying birds in your yard and report them to your local health department.
To reduce your own exposure to mosquitoes:
Avoid unnecessary outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most active, like at dawn, dusk and early evening.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you go into mosquito-infested areas.
Apply mosquito repellent to your skin and clothing. You can use items with DEET, Picaridan and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus as repellents. Choose DEET concentrations based on the hours of protection you need – the higher the percentage the longer the repellent will work.
Citronella candles can prove some usefulness if used properly.
Keep in mind that some repellants can be toxic, and use only the amount needed for the time you’ll be outdoors. Don’t use DEET on the hands of young children or on infants under 2 months of age.
For those spending time outdoors and choose not to use a repellent, use mosquito netting to offer you some protection.
Learn all about the oldest pest in the world, the Cochroach!
Cockroaches (or simply “roaches”) are insects of the order Blattaria. There are about 4,000 species of cockroach, of which 30 species are associated with human habitations and about four species are well known as pests.
Among the best-known pest species are the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, which is about 30 millimetres (1.2 in) long, the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, about 15 millimetres (0.59 in) long, the Asian cockroach, Blattella asahinai, also about 15 millimetres (0.59 in) in length, and the Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis, about 25 millimetres (0.98 in). Tropical cockroaches are often much bigger, and extinct cockroach relatives such as the Carboniferous Archimylacris and the Permian Apthoroblattina were several times as large as these.
Roaches' role as Pests
Cockroaches are one of the most commonly noted household pest insects. They feed on human and pet food, and can leave an offensive odor. They can also passively transport microbes on their body surfaces including those that are potentially dangerous to humans, particularly in environments such as hospitals. Cockroaches have been shown to be linked with allergic reactions in humans. One of the proteins that triggers allergic reactions has been identified as tropomyosin. These allergens have also been found to be linked with asthma.
General preventive measures against household pests include keeping all food stored away in sealed containers, using garbage cans with a tight lid, frequent cleaning in the kitchen, and regular vacuuming. Any water leaks, such as dripping taps, should also be repaired. It is also helpful to seal off any entry points, such as holes around baseboards, in between kitchen cabinets, pipes, doors, and windows with some steel wool or copper mesh and some cement, putty or silicone caulk.
Cockroaches have been known to live up to three months without food and a month without water. Frequently living outdoors, although preferring warm climates and considered “cold intolerant,” they are resilient enough to survive occasional freezing temperatures. This makes them difficult to eradicate once they have infested an area.
Cockroach Control, with cockroach baits, boric acid, and hydramethylnon gel.
There are numerous parasites and predators of cockroaches, but few of them have proven to be highly effective for biological control. Wasps in the family Evaniidae are perhaps the most effective insect predators, as they attack the egg cases, and wasps in the family Ampulicidae are predators on adult and nymphal cockroaches (e.g., Ampulex compressa). The house centipede is probably the most effective control agent of cockroaches, though many homeowners find the centipedes themselves objectionable.
Ampulex wasps sting the roach more than once and in a specific way. The first sting is directed at nerve ganglia in the cockroach’s thorax; temporarily paralyzing the victim for 2-5 minutes, which is more than enough time for the wasp to deliver a second sting. The second sting is directed into a region of the cockroach’s brain that controls the escape reflex, among other things. When the cockroach has recovered from the first sting, it makes no attempt to flee. The wasp clips the antennae with its mandibles and drinks some of the hemolymph before walking backwards and dragging the roach by its clipped antennae to a burrow, where an egg will be laid upon it. The wasp larva feeds on the subdued, living cockroach.
Bait stations, gels containing hydramethylnon or fipronil, as well as boric acid powder, are toxic to cockroaches. Baits with egg killers are also quite effective at reducing the cockroach population. Additionally, pest control products containing deltamethrin or pyrethrin are very effective.
In Singapore and Malaysia, taxi drivers use Pandan leaves as a cockroach repellent in their vehicles. In Russia, some people, after opening all cupboards, leave a saucepan half-full of sulfur burning on a gas ring, then quickly come back in to switch it off (with gas mask) and leave the residence for a few days. This is said to be protective for ten years.
An inexpensive roach trap can easily be made from a deep smooth-walled jar with some roach food inside, placed with the top of the jar touching a wall or with sticks leading up to the top, so that the roaches can reach the opening. Once inside, they cannot climb back out. An inch or so of water or stale beer (by itself a roach attractant) will ensure they drown. The method works well with the American cockroach but less so with the German cockroach. A bit of Vaseline can be smeared on the inside of the jar to enhance slipperiness. The method is sometimes called the “Vegas roach trap” after it was popularized by a Las Vegas-based TV station. This version of the trap uses coffee grounds and water.
Some of the earliest writings about cockroaches encouraged their use as medicine. Pedanius Dioscorides (1st century), Kamal al-Din al-Damiri and Abu Hanifa ad-Dainuri (9th century) all offered medicines that either suggest grinding them up with oil or boiling them. The list of ailments to be treated included earaches, open wounds and “gynecological disorders.”
Pest control is cited as one of the reasons for reduced populations of cockroaches in ex-USSR countries.
Mice, Rats, and Voles are common rodent who become pests to humans.
The genus Peromyscus contains the animal species commonly referred to as deer mice. This is a genus of New World mouse only distantly related to the common house mouse, Mus musculus. The most common species of deer mouse in the continental United States are two closely related species, P. maniculatus, and P. leucopus. In the USA, Peromyscus is the most populous mammalian genus overall, and has become notorious in the western United States as a carrier of the hantavirus.
The deer mouse came to the attention of the public when it was discovered to be the primary reservoir species for hantavirus. A recent study in British Columbia, of 218 Deer mice showed that 30% were seropositive for B. burgdorferi. Ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, and bubonic plague are also carried by the deer mouse.
The house mouse (Mus musculus) is a small rodent, a mouse, one of the most numerous species of the genus Mus. As a wild animal the house mouse mainly lives associated with humans, causing damage to crops and stored food. The house mouse has been domesticated as the pet or fancy mouse, and as the laboratory mouse which is one of the most important model organisms in biology and medicine It is by far the most commonly used genetically altered laboratory mammal.
House mice thrive under a variety of conditions: they are found in and around homes and commercial structures as well as in open fields and agricultural lands. House mice consume and contaminate food meant for humans, pets, livestock, or other animals. In addition, they often cause considerable damage to structures and property. They can transmit pathogens that cause diseases such as salmonellosis, a form of food poisoning.
Mice and Humans
House mice usually live in proximity to humans, in or around houses or fields. Originally native to Asia (probably northern India), they spread to the Mediterranean Basin about 8000 BC, only spreading into the rest of Europe around 1000 BC. This time lag is thought to be because the mice require agrarian human settlements above a certain size. They have since been spread to all parts of the globe by humans. Many studies have been done on mouse phylogenies to reconstruct early human movements. For example one study showed a previously unsuspected early link between Denmark and Madeira on the basis of the origin of the Madeiran mice.
An individually ventilated and sealed cage for laboratory mice. House mice can transmit diseases, and can damage food and food packaging. Some of the diseases the house mouse carries can be deadly. Here are some of the diseases the house mouse can transmit: Murine typhus, Rickettsialpox, Tularemia, and the Bubonic plague. These mice can be very dangerous to people if they contaminate anything in their houses, especially food. It is also possible for wild house mice to transmit rabies, therefore a wild house mouse should never be handled. They can also cause substantial damage when feeding on grain. It is thought that house mice were the primary reason for the taming of the domestic cat. Various mousetraps have been developed to catch mice. Generally, rats are more harmful to humans than mice.
The first written reference to mice kept as pets occurs in the Erya, the oldest extant Chinese dictionary, from a mention in an 1100 B.C. version. Human domestication led to numerous strains of “fancy” or hobby mice with a variety of colours and a docile temperament. Domestic varieties of the house mouse called “feeder” mice are also used as food for some carnivorous pet reptiles, arthropods and fish. Mice bred for this purpose are genetically identical to other domestic mice, and can be kept as pets themselves.
Identify harbourages, effect proofing to doors and holes in building fabric. identify defective access routes via services. Remove attractive foodstuffs, control waste and locate baits to effect control. Contact dust can be applied to ductings and harbourages only when safe to do so. break back traps can be sited and sticky boards are often used as a last resort. bait shyness and marked behavioural changes are often reported with bait box and bait shyness.
A pack rat, also called a trade rat or wood rat, can be any of several species in the genus Neotoma, but most commonly the Bushy-tailed Woodrat.
Pack rats are prevalent in the deserts and highlands of western United States and northern Mexico. They also inhabit parts of the eastern United States and Western Canada. Pack rats are a little smaller than a typical rat and have long, sometimes bushy tails.
Pack rats build complex nests of twigs, called “middens”, often incorporating cactus. Nests are often built in small caves, but frequently also in the attics and walls of houses. Some Neotoma species, such as the White-throated Woodrat (N. albigula), use the base of a prickly pear or cholla cactus as the site for their home, utilizing the cactus’ spines for protection from predators. Others, like the Desert Woodrat (N. lepida) will appropriate the burrows of ground squirrels or kangaroo rats and fortify the entrance with sticks and bits of spiny cactus stems fallen from Jumping and Teddy-bear Chollas.
In houses, pack rats are active nocturnally, searching for food and nest material. A peculiar characteristic is that if they find something they want, they will drop what they are currently carrying, for example a piece of cactus, and “trade” it for the new item. They are particularly fond of shiny objects, leading to tales of rats swapping jewelry for a stone. They can also be quite vocal and boisterous, sounding at times as if a “family rift” is taking place.
Historically, houses in or near ghost towns were typically infested with pack rats. Some species of pack rats were called “prairie flounders” by settlers. This might have occurred because the eyes of pack rats are set somewhat higher in the head than other rodents.
Identify harbourages, effect proofing to doors and holes in building fabric. Identify defective drains/sewers and possible access via services. Remove attractive foodstuffs, locate perimeter baits or internal baits to effect control. Contact dust can be applied to ducting’s and harbourages only when safe to do so. Live and break back traps can be sited and sticky boards are sometimes used but are are not generally effective for best control.
A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a stouter body, a shorter hairy tail, a slightly rounder head, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed molars (high-crowned and with angular cusps instead of low-crowned and with rounded cusps). There are approximately 155 species of voles. They are sometimes known as meadow mice or field mice in North America. Vole species form the subfamily Arvicolinae with the lemmings and the muskrats.
Voles are small rodents that grow to 4-8 inches depending on species. They can have 5-10 litters per year. Gestation takes for 3 weeks and the young voles reach sexual maturity in a month. Needless to say, vole populations can rapidly grow from one or two to many within a very short period of time. Since litters average 5-10 young, a single vole in the yard can become 50 or more in less than a year.
Voles are commonly mistaken for other small animals. Moles, gophers, mice, rats and even shrews have similar characteristics and behavioral tendencies. Since voles will commonly use burrows with many exit holes, they can be mistaken for gophers or some kind of ground squirrel. Voles can create and will often times utilize old abandoned mole tunnels thus confusing the land owner into thinking that moles are active. When voles find their way into the home, they are readily identified as mice or young rats. In fact, voles are unique and best described as being a little bit like all the other animals they are so commonly thought to be.
Like moles, they will readily thrive on small plants. Like shrews they will eat dead animals and like mice or rats, they can live on most any nut or fruit. Additionally, voles will target plants more than most other small animals. It is here where their presence is mostly evident. Voles will readily “girdle” or eat the bark of small trees and ground cover much like a porcupine. This girdling can easily kill young plants and is not healthy for trees or other shrubs.
Voles love to eat succulent root systems and will burrow under plants or ground cover they are particularly fond of and eat away until the plant is dead. Bulbs in the ground are another favorite target for voles; their excellent burrowing and tunnelling gives them access to sensitive areas without clear or early warning. A vole problem is often only identifiable after they have destroyed a number of plants.
Species of voles can be found in Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America, and tundra areas.
Depending on the species, the vole’s diet consists of seeds, tubers, conifer needles, bark, various green vegetation such as grass and clover, and insects. Some species will die, however, if deprived of their main meal, Douglas Fir needles, for too long.
Many predators such as martens, raccoons, owls, hawks,falcons,coyotes, foxes, snakes, the red tailed hawk, weasels and cats eat voles. A common predator of voles is the short-eared owl as well as the northern spotted owl, the Saw-whet Owl, the barn Owl, and the Northern Pygmy Owl.
The average life of a vole is 3-6 months. Voles rarely live longer than 12 months. The longest lifespan of a vole ever recorded was 18 months.
The Brown Recluse, Black Widow and Wolf Spider can be dangerous to humans, find out more about these venemous spiders.
Spiders (order Araneae) are air-breathing chelicerate arthropods that have eight legs, and chelicerae modified into fangs that inject venom. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species diversity among all other groups of organisms. Spiders are found worldwide on every continent except for Antarctica, and have become established in nearly every ecological niche with the exception of air and sea colonization. As of 2008, approximately 40,000 spider species, and 109 families have been recorded by taxonomists; however, there has been confusion within the scientific community as to how all these genera should be classified, as evidenced by the over 20 different classifications that have been proposed since 1900.
Most spiders will only bite humans in self-defense, and few produce worse effects than a mosquito bite or bee-sting. Most of those with medically serious bites, such as recluse spiders and widow spiders, are shy and bite only when they feel threatened, although this can easily arise by accident. Funnel web spiders’ defensive tactics are aggressive and their venom, although they rarely inject much, has resulted in 13 known human deaths. On the other hand the Brazilian wandering spider requires very little provocation.
The brown recluse spider or violin spider, Loxosceles reclusa, is a well-known member of the family Sicariidae (formerly placed in a family “Loxoscelidae”).
Brown recluse spiders are usually between 6-20 mm (¼ in and ¾ in), but may grow larger. They may be brown, gray, or a deep yellow color and usually have markings on the dorsal side of their cephalothorax, with a black line coming from it that looks like a violin with the neck of the violin pointing to the rear of the spider, resulting in the nicknames fiddleback spider, brown fiddler or violin spider.
The brown recluse spider is native to the United States from the southern Midwest south to the Gulf of Mexico. The native range lies roughly south of a line from southeastern Nebraska through southern Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana to southwestern Ohio. In the southern states, it is native from central Texas to western Georgia and north of Virginia. A related species, the brown violin spider (Loxosceles rufescens), is found in Hawaii. Despite many rumors to the contrary, the brown recluse spider has not established itself in California. There are other species of Loxosceles native to the southwestern part of the United States, including California, that may resemble the brown recluse, but these species have never been documented as medically significant.
As indicated by its name, this species is rarely aggressive. Actual brown recluse bites are rare. The spider usually bites only when pressed against the skin, such as when tangled up within clothes, bath towels, or in bedding. Many human victims of brown recluse bites report having been bitten after putting on clothes that had not recently been worn or disturbed. In fact, many wounds that are necrotic and diagnosed as brown recluse bites can actually be methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or simple staphylococcus infections. Other causes include skin cancer, Lyme disease, and other infected insect bites and skin lesions. Brown recluse bites may produce a range of symptoms known as loxoscelism. There are two types of loxoscelism: cutaneous (skin) and systemic (viscerocutaneous).
Most bites are minor with no necrosis. However, a small number of bites produce severe dermonecrotic lesions, and, sometimes, severe systemic symptoms. These symptoms can include organ damage, and occasionally even death; most fatalities are in children under 7 or those with a weaker than normal immune system. (For a comparison of the toxicity of several kinds of spider bites, see the list of spiders having medically significant venom.)
A minority of brown recluse spider bites form a necrotizing ulcer that destroys soft tissue and may take months to heal, leaving deep scars. The damaged tissue will become gangrenous and eventually slough away. The initial bite frequently cannot be felt and there may be no pain, but over time the wound may grow to as large as 25 cm (10 inches) in extreme cases. Bites usually become painful and itchy within 2 to 8 hours; pain and other local effects worsen 12 to 36 hours after the bite with the necrosis developing over the next few days.
Serious systemic effects may occur before this time, as the venom spreads throughout the body in minutes. Mild symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, rashes, and muscle and joint pain. Rarely more severe symptoms occur including hemolysis, thrombocytopenia, and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Debilitated patients, the elderly, and children may be more susceptible to systemic loxoscelism. Deaths have been reported for both the brown recluse and the related South American species L. laeta and L. intermedia. Other recluse species such as the desert recluse (found in the desert southwestern United States) are reported to have caused necrotic bite wounds, though only rarely.
Western Black Widow
Western black widow spider or Western widow, is a highly venomous spider species found in western regions of the United States of America. The female’s body is 14-16 millimeters in length and is black, often with an hourglass shaped red mark on the lower abdomen. The male of the species is around half this size and generally a tan color with lighter striping on the abdomen. The population was previously described as a subspecies of Latrodectus mactans and it is closely related to the northern species Latrodectus variolus. The species, as with others of the genus, build irregular webs, the strands of which are very strong.
The female’s consumption of the male after courtship, a cannabilistic and suicidal behaviour observed in Latrodectus hasseltii (Australia’s redback), is rare in this species. Male Western widows may breed several times during its relatively shorter lifespan.
The ultimate strength and other physical properties of Latrodectus hesperus silk were found to be similar to the properties of silk from orb weaving spiders that had been tested in other studies. The ultimate strength for the three kinds of silk measured in the Blackledge study was about 1000 MPa. The ultimate strength reported in a previous study for Nephila edulis was 1290 MPa ± 160 MPa.
Wolf Spiders are robust and agile hunters with good eyesight. They live mostly solitary lives and hunt alone. Some are opportunistic wanderer hunters, pouncing upon prey as they find it or chasing it over short distances. Others lie in wait for passing prey, often from or near the mouth of a burrow.
There are many genera of Wolf spider, ranging in body size from less than 1 to 30 millimetres (0.04 to 1.18 in). They have eight eyes arranged in three rows. The bottom row consists of four small eyes, the middle row has two very large eyes (which distinguishes them from the Pisauridae), and the top row has two medium-sized eyes. They depend on their eyesight, which is quite good, to hunt. Their sense of touch is also acute.
Wolf spiders are unique in carrying their eggs along with them in a round silken globe, or egg sac, which they attach to the spinnerets at the end of their abdomen. The abdomen must be held in a raised position to keep the egg case from dragging on the ground, but they are still capable of hunting while so encumbered. Also unique to wolf spiders is their method of infant care. Immediately after the little spiders hatch and emerge from their protective silken case, they clamber up their mother’s legs and all crowd onto her abdomen.
Their eyes reflect light well, and one method of finding them is to hunt at night using a flashlight strapped to one’s forehead so that the light from the flashlight is reflected from their eyes directly back toward its source. This is also especially helpful because the wolf spiders are nocturnal and will be out hunting for food, making it easier to find them. Because they depend on camouflage for protection, they do not have the flashy appearance of some other kinds of spiders. In general their coloration is appropriate to their favorite habitat.
Wolf spiders will inject venom freely if continually provoked. Symptoms of their venomous bite include swelling, mild pain and itching. Though usually considered harmless to humans, the bite of some species may be painful. In the past, necrotic bites have been attributed to some South American species, but further investigation has indicated that those problems that did occur were probably actually due to bites by members of other genera. Australian wolf spiders have also been associated with necrotic wounds, but careful study has likewise shown them not to produce such results.
Wolf spiders can be found in a wide range of habitats both coastal and inland. These include shrublands, woodland, wet coastal forest, alpine meadows, and suburban gardens. Spiderlings disperse aerially and consequently wolf spiders have wide distributions. Although some species have very specific microhabitat needs (such as stream-side gravel beds or montane herb-fields) most are wanderers without permanent homes. Some build burrows which can be opened or have a trapdoor. Arid zone species construct turrets or plug their holes with leaves and pebbles during the rainy season to protect themselves from flood waters.
Learn all about Bees, Paper Wasps, Yellow Jackets and other stinging insects.
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea, presently classified by the unranked taxon name Anthophila. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees in seven to nine recognized families, though many are undescribed and the actual number is probably higher. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants.
Bees and humans
Bees figure prominently in mythology and have been used by political theorists as a model for human society. Journalist Bee Wilson states that the image of a community of honey bees “occurs from ancient to modern times, in Aristotle and Plato; in Virgil and Seneca; in Erasmus and Shakespeare; Tolstoy, as well as by social theorists Bernard Mandeville and Karl Marx.”
Despite the honey bee’s painful sting and the stereotype of insects as pests, bees are generally held in high regard. This is most likely due to their usefulness as pollinators and as producers of honey, their social nature, and their reputation for diligence. Bees are one of the few insects regularly used on advertisements, being used to illustrate honey and foods made with honey (such as Honey Nut Cheerios).
Dolichovespula maculata is a North American insect commonly called the bald-faced hornet (or white-faced hornet or white-tailed hornet). Its well-known features include its hanging paper nests and the females’ habit of defending them with repeated stings.
The bald-faced hornet is 1/2 to 5/8 in (1.25 to 1.6 cm) long. It is black with white markings on the face, the thorax, the last few segments of the abdomen, and the first segment of the antennae. The wings are smoke-colored and the eyes are brown. It belongs to a genus of wasps called yellowjackets in North America, but is not called that because it lacks yellow coloring. Instead, it is called a hornet in the American sense of a wasp that builds paper nests, especially one of the subfamily Vespinae. It is not a “true hornet” in the British sense, that is, a member of the genus Vespa in the same subfamily, such as the Asian giant hornet or the European hornet.
European Paper Wasp
Polistes dominula, sometimes referred to as the European Paper Wasp, is one of the more common and well-known species of social wasps in Europe. It is considered an invasive species in Canada and the United States.
The native range of P. dominula covers much of southern Europe and North Africa, and temperate parts of Asia as far east as China. It has also been introduced to Australia and North and South America. This species was introduced into the United States in 1968 in the New Jersey Pine Barrens and spread throughout most of the country during the 1980s and 90s, in some cases partially replacing native species. Another introduction was discovered in the late 1970s in Cambridge, Newton and Somerville, Massachusetts. The first wave consisted of solitary-founding but socially-nesting individuals, then a wave of social founders (several females found a new nest together). In warmer regions there have been reports of “supercolonizers” most of whom enlarge their natal nests in successive years, rather than dispersing.
In the United States, Polistes dominula nests earlier in the spring, in a wider variety of nest sites, and feeds on a larger variety of insects than native species, which feed almost exclusively on caterpillars. Most entomologists consider it to be an invasive species. This wasp can be mistaken for a yellowjacket, as it is black strongly marked with yellow, in a pattern very reminiscent of a yellowjacket, and quite different from the native North American species of Polistes.
Honey bees (or honeybees) are a subset of bees in the genus Apis, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests out of wax. Honey bees are the only extant members of the tribe Apini, all in the genus Apis. Currently, there are only seven recognized species of honey bee with a total of 44 subspecies (Engel, 1999) though historically, anywhere from six to eleven species have been recognized. Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the approximately 20,000 known species of bees. Some other types of related bees produce and store honey, but only members of the genus Apis are true honey bees.
Widely known as the “killer bee”, Africanized bees are highly defensive hybrids between European stock and the African subspecies A. m. scutellata; they are thus often called “Africanized bees”. Originating by accident in Brazil, they have spread to North America and constitute a pest in some regions. However, these strains do not overwinter well, and so are not often found in the colder, more Northern parts of North America. On the other hand, the original breeding experiment for which the African bees were brought to Brazil in the first place has continued (though not as intended): novel hybrid strains of domestic and re-domesticated Africanized bees combine high resilience to tropical conditions and good yields, and are popular among beekeepers in Brazil.
Yellow jacket or yellow-jacket is the common name in North America for predatory wasps of the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. Members of these genera are known simply as a “wasp” in other English-speaking countries. Most of these are black-and-yellow; some are black-and-white (such as the bald-faced hornet, Dolichovespula maculata), while others may have the abdomen background color red instead of black. They can be identified by their distinctive markings, small size (similar to a honey bee), their occurrence only in colonies, and a characteristic, rapid, side to side flight pattern prior to landing. All females are capable of stinging which can cause pain to the person that has been stung. Yellowjackets are important predators of pest insects.
Due to their aggressive behavior, including stinging, many other insects exhibit mimicry of yellowjackets; in addition to numerous bees and wasps (Müllerian mimicry), the list includes some flies, moths, and beetles (Batesian mimicry). Yellowjackets’ closest relatives, the hornets, closely resemble them but have a much bigger head, seen especially in the large distance from the eyes to the back of the head.
In 1975, the German yellow jacket first appeared in Ohio and has now become the dominant species over the Eastern Yellow Jacket. It is bold and aggressive, and if provoked, it can sting repeatedly and painfully. It will mark aggressors, and will pursue them if provoked. The German yellow jacket builds its nests in cavities (not necessarily underground) with the peak worker population in temperate areas between 1,000 and 3,000 individuals between May to August, each colony producing several thousand new reproductives after this point, through November. The Eastern Yellow Jacket builds its nests underground, also with the peak worker population between 1,000 and 3,000 individuals similar to the German yellow jacket. Nests are built entirely of wood fiber (usually weathered or dead) and are completely enclosed (football or soccer-ball shaped) except for a small opening (entrance) at the bottom. The color of the paper is highly dependent on the source of the wood fibers used. The nests contain multiple, horizontal tiers of combs (10 or more) within. Larvae hang down in combs.
In the Southeastern United States, where southern yellow jacket (Vespula squamosa) nests may persist through the winter, colony sizes of this species may reach 100,000 adult wasps.
Front Range Pest Control of Fort Collins Inc. specializes in pest control services for homes and commercial spaces in Fort Collins, Colorado and areas north to Wyoming. BBB-accredited, we commit to a safe and humane process in getting rid of unwanted pests within your property.
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