Pest control

Bees Repel Wasp Predators By Shaking Their Rear-Ends In Unison

Bees Repel Wasp Predators By Shaking Their Rear-Ends In Unison


In east Asian forests giant honey bees resort to variety of strange but effective methods of protection against their wasp enemies.  East Asian honey bees are relatively enormous in size. Each honey bee is around one single inch in length and they can build nests that measure a few meters across. These honey bees are also quite aggressive. East Asian honey bees will not hesitate to sting humans and they are regarded as being one of the most dangerous of all stinging insects. In a matter of mere seconds, entire colonies can mobilize attacks on birds and mammals that happen upon their habitats. Despite their fierce nature, east Asian honey bees are preyed upon by wasps. These honey bees do not attack wasps by dispatching large groups of honey bee defenders. Honey bees do not seem interested in striking wasps or harming them in any way. However, this does not mean that east Asian honey bees are defenseless against predatory wasps. Instead these honey bees simply outwit predator wasps by resorting to unconventional forms of colony protection. One of the most bizarre of all these defense methods involves synchronized bodily movements among bees within a colony. This defense strategy is mysteriously successful, and it is known as the “Mexican Moon”.


East Asian honey bees are physically large, but the hornets that often hunt them down are significantly larger. Hornets will invade hives in order to abduct and consume grubs, and they also help themselves to individual bees that are located on beehives. This particular form of attack is known as “bee-hawking”.  Asian honey bees are vulnerable to these types of attacks because bees are active on the outside of hives where they are easy prey to hornet attacks. Luckily for east Asian honey bees, hornets can easily be repelled from attacking honey bees thanks to their rhythmic dancing. When a hornet is spotted approaching an active beehive, honey bees will stick their backsides in the air exposing their stingers. All bees present on a hive begin shimmying rhythmically with their stingers exposed. This specific act is referred to as “shimmering” and sometimes the “Mexican moon”. Upon witnessing this display, wasps give up their plan of attack and fly away. Experts are not sure why this method succeeds at discouraging enemy attacks, but some experts hypothesize that the shimmering makes it difficult for hornets to visually pinpoint one single bee for attack.


Do you think that the many stingers Asian honey bees display while shimmering intimidates hornets?

Ant Control Tips!

Although ants can be difficult to control once they have entered a home, the following preventative measures can play a major role in helping to avoid infestations:


  • Wipe up crumbs and spills immediately
  • Store garbage in sealed containers and remove from the home frequently
  • Keep food packages closed or sealed and store products in air-tight containers
  • Avoid leaving food out on the counter or pet food out on the floor for long periods of time
  • Repair holes or gaps in window and door screens
  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home including entry points for utilities and pipes
  • Keep tree branches and shrubbery well-trimmed and away from the house
  • Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around basement foundation and windows
  • If you suspect an ant or any pest infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect, identify and treat the problem

The Next Movie You Watch On Netflix May Be Chosen By A Fruit Fly

The Next Movie You Watch On Netflix May Be Chosen By A Fruit Fly


If you can believe it, people used to have to travel across town in order to secure a movie rental for home entertainment. Luckily, thanks to modern streaming services, the days of late fees, membership cards and five dollar movie rentals is over. Netflix started the online streaming trend nearly twenty years ago. When Netflix first hit the market, it was not immediately successful. Many people found mail-order DVDs and streaming services to be impractical. But Netflix soon proved to be a popular innovation in home entertainment. You may think that Netflix is fine the way it is, but executives with Netflix are still trying to innovate certain aspects of the Netflix experience in order to secure the number one spot in the streaming service market. Anybody who has used streaming services knows that these services recommend movies based on what you have already watched. It may seem like these movie recommendations are randomly chosen. However, all streaming services, like Hulu, Amazon and Spotify, generate movie, TV and music recommendations with advanced algorithms. It is important for streaming services to recommend movies that consumers will want to watch. Sometimes movie and television recommendations miss the mark. But other times recommendations are right on. Streaming services are attempting to generate more advanced recommendation algorithms. Officials with Netflix believe that recommending movies that agree with an individual consumers taste will allow the company to remain the number one streaming service. In order to perfect recommendation selections Netflix executives are recruiting fruit flies.


Fruit flies protect themselves by categorizing different odors as either dangerous or desirable. Fruit flies also compare new odors to past odors in order to better predict which odors should be avoided and which should be sought after. Referencing past odors as a way of predicting the effects of a new odor is referred to as “similarity searches”. Netflix executives believe that fruit flies could use their mental similarity searches to improve upon the existing algorithms that determine which movies are selected as recommendations. Some experts think that fruit flies would be far better than algorithms at determining which movies you will like. A new study suggests that fruit flies could be used as a model for the development of a new computer program that would select work to select recommended movies. Such a program would mimic fruit fly similarity searches. This means that fruit flies may be better than you when it comes to finding movies that you will like.


Would you be interested in reading the study about the computerization of fruit fly similarity searches?

Pest Q & A – Texas Pest Control Experts

What makes homes attractive to pests?

Pests are attracted to food, water and shelter. Exclusion techniques and removing food and water sources will help deter pests. Simple measures such as keeping food in sealed containers and cleaning up after each meal to avoid leaving crumbs can help. Fix leaky pipes and drains to ensure that if pests do get in, they won’t have ideal conditions in which they can thrive.


How do pests get into homes?

Pests enter structures through cracks and crevices around windows, doors, along foundations, ripped screens, uncapped chimneys, and also through holes where utilities enter a structure. Firewood, groceries, and other deliveries can carry pests in, too. Seal any openings with silicone caulk or steel wool, and to avoid hitchhiking pests, examine packages thoroughly before bringing them inside.


Where are pests most likely to settle in?

Pests have direct access to basements and attics through roofs and foundations, so they should be kept well ventilated, dry, and clutter-free. Also, because of the concentration of food and water, kitchens and bathrooms are other common areas.

The Most Dangerous Type Of Fly In The World Dwells Within America

The Most Dangerous Type Of Fly In The World Dwells Within America


When it comes to dangerous insects, most people dismiss flies as being harmless. Insects like mosquitoes, bees, wasps and even bed bugs are feared and avoided by Americans. However, there are thousands, if not millions, of insect species that exist in the United States that are rarely encountered by humans. Some of the more obscure insect species that are native to America may also be dangerous. One such obscure, but potentially dangerous insect that is known to exist in the US is a type of fly. This undesirable fly is not like your typical housefly. These flies are known as “black flies” and they distinguish themselves by sucking blood from people and animals. Most people think of flies as nothing more than dirty creatures that are great at annoying people during picnics. It is difficult to imagine an insect that resembles a housefly as being a bloodsucking, pain-inducing and disease spreading menace. Unfortunately, the black fly is all of these things, and its looks almost exactly like a common housefly. These flies are only known for spreading disease in South American and African regions. But black flies are still insects to be feared in America.


This blog has mentioned the disease known as “river blindness” in the past. This disease is spread by black flies in equatorial Africa and in mountainous regions of South and Central America. In the US, only six different species of black fly have been spotted. However, these flies will feed on human blood, and non-biting species have been known to invade people’s ears, throats, noses, eyes and mouths. Although black flies dwelling in America may not cause river blindness, they can cause some people to fall ill.


The seriousness of a black fly bite sustained in America varies from person to person. Some bites are harmless to certain people. Other people can experience symptoms such as, headaches, nausea, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and high fever. Black flies are located all throughout the US, but people living in the upper midwest are most affected by black flies. Many people living in this region often avoid outdoor activities during late spring and early summer in order to avoid unpleasant black fly bites.


Humans may be safe from dangerous disease agents carried by black flies, but livestock are not safe. Livestock can acquire numerous different disease agents following black fly bites, including protozoa and nematode worms. The suffering that farm animals endure as a result of black fly activity does not stop with infection. Livestock have been suffocated as a result of massive black fly populations crawling into their throats and noses. On rare occasions, farm animals have died from exsanguination (blood loss) after becoming covered in thousands of bloodsucking black flies. Be grateful that humans are spared such a gruesome death.


Have you ever sustained a black fly bite that you know of?

Deadly Mosquitoes May Have Infiltrated The UK Through A Train Tunnel

Deadly Mosquitoes May Have Infiltrated The UK Through A Train Tunnel


Here in America the aedes aegypti mosquito poses the greatest threat of disease to the country’s population. The recent Zika outbreaks in America were caused almost exclusively by this particular mosquito species. These mosquitoes often carry dengue fever and chikungunya in addition to Zika. However, the aedes aegypti mosquito is not the only Zika carrying mosquito that poses a public health threat in certain regions of the globe. Another potentially deadly mosquito species is commonly referred to as the Asian tiger mosquito. This mosquito species is native to eastern Asia, and it is officially referred to as Aedes albopictus. Despite the fact that these mosquitoes are native to Asia, countries in Europe have been seeing deaths resulting from this mosquitos’ invasive presence on the continent. How the mosquitoes accessed Europe in such great numbers cannot be determined with certainty. But many government officials believe that Asian tiger mosquitoes infiltrated regions as far north as Britain by accessing train tunnels.


Not long ago officials with the government agency known as Public Health England destroyed tiger mosquito eggs that were present in shipping containers. These containers were seized at an international truck stop in Ashford, England. This particular occasion had marked the second time in a year that tiger mosquitoes were discovered in the country.


The Asian tiger mosquito is well known for being the primary vector for the spread of chikungunya. Tiger mosquitoes cause over one million cases of chikungunya every year. Chikungunya has no cure and it causes painful flu-like symptoms in sufferers. These symptoms include headache, nausea, joint pain and rashes.


This is not the first time that tiger mosquitoes have been found in Europe. A decade ago Italy struggled with a nationwide tiger mosquito epidemic. In 2014 France announced that two citizens had contacted chikungunya. Tiger mosquito larvae can enter foreign countries easily in shipping containers, as they can survive for months in relatively harsh conditions. The mosquitoes arrived in Europe as grubs in tire shipments a few years ago. The grubs are well suited for surviving in wet pockets in rubber tires. Public health officials are now monitoring the Euroway tunnel for signs of a tiger mosquito presence after experts determined that the tunnel was a likely invasion route.


Do you believe that the Asian tiger mosquito problem in Europe will only get worse in accordance with increasing climate change?

Rats! Cold Weather Drives Rodents Inside Vehicles

When it comes to car problems, there are countless possible causes. However, motorists might be surprised to learn that a rodent infestation could be what’s plaguing their vehicle. Sureguard Termite & Pest Services cautions drivers to be on the lookout for a rodent problem under the car hood and take the necessary step to prevent it from happening to them this winter.


When the temperature drops, rodents seek shelter, food and warmth in order to survive the colder months, which is why they often move into homes this time of year. Unfortunately, cars offer the same protection and food sources for rodents that homes do. Plus, eco-friendly materials increasingly being used by car manufacturers, such as soy-based wiring, only further attract them and their palates.”


Sneaking into cars is rather easy for rodents, as mice and rats can fit through holes as small as a dime and a quarter, respectively. Steering columns, vents, pedal shafts and other openings serve as the main access points into vehicles for these intruders. Upon gaining entry, rodents commonly use insulation as nesting material and wires, tubes and circuitry as meals, leading to short circuits and other electrical problems.


Aside from costly car repairs, rodents can compromise human health by spreading disease and causing respiratory issues. To mitigate this imminent threat to both drivers and their vehicles, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and Sureguard Termite & Pest Services recommend the following prevention tips:


  • Seal up points of entry into garages using a silicone-based caulk, steel wool or a combination of both.
  • Check under the car hood for gnawed materials, droppings, nests and frayed wires.
  • Maintain a clean car by promptly wiping up spills, and disposing of paper, fast food bags and other trash in a sealed receptacle.
  • Consult with a professional automobile mechanic if signs of a rodent infestation are found.
  • Consider partnering with a licensed pest control professional to ensure an infestation doesn’t spread from the car to the home.

Which Insects Are Most Commonly Kept As Pets?

Which Insects Are Most Commonly Kept As Pets?


For people who fear creepy-crawlies, the idea of keeping bugs as pets is likely considered a living nightmare. Despite the common fears and criticisms that many people have toward insects and arachnids, keeping these creatures as pets is actually quite common. You have likely known at least one person during your lifetime who kept some sort of an arthropod as a pet. It seems like everyone eventually meets a morbidly minded teenager with a pet tarantula. Aside from arachnids, the most common insect pets in the United States are ants. Ants may seem like unsuitable pets, but ant pets are almost always kept in ant farms. Ant farms are fairly popular in the US due to the fascination many people have with an ant colony’s collective ability to build dwelling chambers within soil. Ant farms allow onlookers to view underground chambers built by ants. With the exception of ant farms, keeping insects as pets has never gained wide acceptance in the US. In Japan, on the other hand, insect pets are commonplace.


In Japan, keeping insects as pets is just as common as keeping dogs and cats as pets in America. Night singing crickets serve as one example of a common insect pet in Japan. Owners of night singing crickets enjoy the home security that these insects provide. While keeping a large dog makes immediate sense as a home security method, the security provided by crickets is not well understood by westerners. Although Americans may laugh at the idea of crickets successfully keeping people safe in their homes, crickets actually serve a purpose in this regard. Obviously crickets chirp, but when a cricket is approached it often stops chirping. Therefore, a sudden end to hours of constant chirping can indicate the presence of a home intruder. Many people living in Japan keep crickets for this very reason.


Although keeping insects as pets may not be popular in America, there are some Americans who take their insect pets very seriously. For instance, an eight year old girl living in Tulsa, Oklahoma keeps roaches as pets. To be more precise, this young girl keeps thousands of Madagascar hissing cockroaches in her room. Madagascar hissing cockroaches are the most common of all cockroach breeds to be kept as pets. After obtaining one roach as a pet a few years ago, the girl eventually decided that she liked the roach enough to let it breed. Now the young cockroach owner uses her vast collection of living roaches to prove to insect-haters that cockroaches are not as revolting as commonly believed. However, walking into a room crawling with thousands of enormous cockroaches may not work to make everyone unlearn their fear of roaches.


Have you ever captured an insect only to keep it as a pet?

Why Do Researchers Place Insects On Treadmills?

Why Do Researchers Place Insects On Treadmills?


When it comes to studying insects, most of you probably imagine a team of entomologists quietly observing bugs in the wild. Obviously studying wild insects in their natural environments is important to furthering insect related scientific knowledge. However, scientists must also carry out experiments in laboratory environments. This is not surprising, but some laboratory insect experiments would strike most people as quite odd. For example, it is becoming more and more common for researchers to place insects on devices that function like treadmills. Why researchers do this is not immediately obvious, but it is certainly not to help insects lose weight.


When researchers study insects, it is necessary to understand insect locomotion. All insects move in different ways. The variety of different ways in which insects move is not just of interest to entomologists. Mechanical and robotic engineers are also becoming more and more interested in how insects use their legs and wings in order to move. The past decade has seen numerous insect-inspired robotic designs. Without insect treadmills, engineers would not have been able to mechanically duplicate the details that make insect movement possible.


When an insect flies or crawls through its natural environment, it picks up on visual cues in order to determine how and where to move. In order to duplicate these situations in a lab, an insect is placed on a treadmill while a virtual reality screen serves as a standin for an insect’s natural environment. This virtual reality screen shows particular objects found in nature. These objects determine an insect’s directional decisions, while a treadmill simulates an insect’s movement. Researchers find these experiments useful when determining which parts of an insect’s brain contribute to its physical movements. These experiments also allow researchers to understand which environmental cues shape an insect’s decision making when traveling. Currently many different insects are being observed while running on treadmills. Ants, for example, are being placed on treadmills in order for engineers to better understand how to build driverless cars.


Do you think that insects can tell that they are not traveling within their natural environments during experiments that involve treadmills?

Two Dangerous Ants Are At War, And Both Are Dangerous

Two Dangerous Ants Are At War, And Both Are Dangerous


Two potentially dangerous and highly damaging invasive ant pests are currently at war with each other in the United States. Several years ago, a researcher from North Carolina State University in Raleigh accidently discovered the fierce conflict that still exists between the two ants. The war is between Argentine ants and Asian Needle Ants. The researcher, Eleanor Spicer, had discovered needle ant nests within Argentine ant territory in North Carolina. This was a surprising find since Argentine ants are known for destroying all other ant species in their territory. These ants are unique for forming colonies that can span incredibly large areas of land. These colonies are referred to as super colonies. The largest super colony of Argentine ants ever discovered was found in the Mediterranean and it spanned a distance of six hundred kilometers. Surprisingly, Spicer soon discovered that the Argentine ants in North Carolina were not gaining much ground. The ants had suddenly stopped progressing once they arrived at a two square mile area. The reason for their sudden halt had to do with the Asian needle ant. It turned out that the needle ants could hold their ground against Argentine ants. At the time, the needle ants were prevailing against Argentine ants. A few months later, Spicer noticed that the Argentine ants had retreated significantly. But she was not yet sure if needle ants were responsible for the retreat.


In order to determine if the needle ants were forcing the Argentine ants into retreating. Researchers poisoned large populations of needle ants in order to see how Argentine ants would respond. Soon the Argentine ants regained ground, which indicated that the loss of needle ants in the region allowed Argentine ants to gain an advantage. Clearly the two ants were at war. Evidence is showing that Asian needle ants are winning the war. Since Argentine ants cause significant damage to American crops and infrastructure, nobody will miss them. However, Asian needle ants are also invasive to America, and unlike Argentine ants, they can cause extremely painful stings. In allergic individuals death from Asian needle ant stings can result. More people are allergic to Asian needle ant stings than to honey bee stings. The needle ants are also harmful to the environment since they either scare away, or kill termites and other ants. These insects are essential for maintaining the health of the natural environment in America.


Do you think that Asian needle ant stings will become in issue in America?