Termites move faster at warmer temperatures, which means that termite damage can escalate faster as summer arrives and temperatures rise.
Research was conducted by entomologists at the University of Florida (published by the Entomological Society of America) studying the effects of temperature on tunneling and food-transportation activity of four subterranean termite species. The termites were observed at successive temperatures between 59 to 95°Fahrenheit.
Except for one species (R. virginicus), the termites tunneled more quickly and reached food faster as temperatures rose. Additionally, the study showed that three of the species (C. formosanus, R. virginicus, and C. gestroi) generally took in more food and traveled farther from a food source at higher temperatures.
By understanding termite feeding behavior and the outside influences on this, termite control strategies can be improved. As the authors wrote, "The results of this study provide further evidence that the cold winter season may not be ideal for baiting programs."
It's spring. Although the weather is warming slowly in much of the U.S. this year, the insects are starting to become active, including the termites that are flying to mate and start new colonies.
Seeing winged, swarming termites around your home in the spring is a sign that you may have a problem and should have your home professionally inspected. But, it is important to know that not seeing swarms doesn't necessarily mean you don't have termites.
Termites can do a great deal of damage before you even know they are there, so in addition to swarms, you should keep any eye out for other signs of possible termite presence, it is important to contact a pest control professional as soon as possible.
Other signs include:
- discarded wings - once the swarming termites mate, they lose their wings and seek shelter to begin a new colony.
- piles of "frass" - termites push their droppings or feces out the entry/exit holes of their colonies which can build up beneath the hole.
- mudtubes - to reach wood that does not touch the soil, some termites will build mud tubes - through which they climb to reach the wood.
- odor - extensive populations can begin to emit a musty, mildew smell
- "water" damaged appearance - termites stay within the wood, and as they excavate more and more of the interior of the wood, the exterior can begin to appear damaged ... and if you knock on it, you will be greeted with a hollow sound.
In celebration of National Pest Management Month, you can take a colorful NPMA "quiz" to find out what pest you are. Simply make selections of your favorites of things such as color, hobby, food, and superpower, and voila - You are a ...
...Bed Bug! (Hmmm, I've written enough about bed bugs, sometimes I do feel like one!) You want to see the world! You travel as much as possible to experience new places, meet new friends, and stay up all night having fun. While you don't seem to have roots in one place, you know the importance of family and having a steady support system.
After giving your pest type, the answer then provides a fact about the pest. Mine said:
Did you know that 99.6% of pest professionals have treated for bed bugs in the past year?
Just for fun, I took the quiz a second time, entering random choices. This time I turned out to be a ...
...Beetle! You're a kind person and a good friend. You like to stay in your comfort zone, but you also enjoy meeting friends for a low-key night out. You're passionate and have dedicated a lot of time to your favorite hobby or activity.
And the fact about beetles ...
Did you know that beetles tend to gather around food often stored in pantries and cabinets, such as flour, dry cereals and spices?
You can then find out more about the pest you are like to by clicking the links to the NPMA site.
Take the quiz at NPMA's "What Pest Are You?"
The March 19. 2014, episode of TLC's Hoarding: Buried Alive featured a Salt Lake City home so cluttered and infested with cockroaches that a contractor stated what was to become the episode title: "This will never pass inspection." The brothers living in the home were facing a home inspection; if they didn't pass they would be evicted and the landlord would lose his license.
Not only is such clutter a sanitation issue, but it enables cockroaches to survive, thrive and build up expansive populations. Cockroaches can be challenging to control in the best of conditions, but their presence can be dangerous to the people, especially those living in conditions such as these, because if not eliminated, cockroaches can transmit disease and cause allergic reaction.
Brownbanded Cockroach photo courtesy CDC
When you were young, did you ever sprinkle salt on slugs to see what would happen? I have to admit that we did when the slugs came venturing out on damp days. But I don't think Dad minded at all, since it just meant one less slug to keep out of the garden!
With March and the finally melting snows often come thoughts of our summer gardens ... and the spring and summer pests that come with those seasons ... and how we can control them this year!
Salt kills slugs because it draws the moisture of their bodies, dehydrating and killing them. It isn't a highly recommended practice for control, however, because excessive salt can also negatively affect plants, burning their foliage or roots.
There are numerous methods of ridding lawns and gardens of these damaging pests - from doing nothing and allowing the dryness of summer to send them slip, sliding away to following a six step strategy.
Photo by Guttorm Flatabo(wikipedia user:dittaeva)
In the midst of the news about the continued rise of bed bugs ...
- "Since 2007, [Alaska] has been tracking the number of bed bug-related complaints and concerns received from private businesses and the public. Complaints increased considerably during 2007-2013." State of Alaska Epidemiological Bulletin
- "Outraged parents claim they weren't notified of bed bugs in their children's school until after the building was cleaned." CBS New York
- "Bed bugs have been detected at the Thompson Center, the Loop building that acts as the seat of state government in Chicago." Chicago Tribune
There is a ray of hope ...
- "Boston seems to be slowly winning its battle against bedbugs more than a decade after the scourge broke out." Boston Herald
According to the article, the Boston Department of Inspectional Services said that the number of complaints about bed bugs dropped by 16 percent between 2012 and 2013, with 410 complaints in 2012 and only 344 last year.
We can only hope that this is the start of a new trend.
Today (March 20) is the first day of spring ... which means it is also time to celebrate Termite Awareness Week. Coinciding each year with the start of spring, the week is recognized by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA); its outreach arm, the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA); and Chase's Calendar of Events.
Spring is prime termite season as swarmers, or winged termites, emerge in search of establishing new colonies, which often include vulnerable residential properties. Spring also kick starts the housing market and home remodeling projects move into full swing. The NPMA urges homebuyers and homeowners alike to pay particular attention to signs of a termite infestation and to seek an inspection.
In a 2013 survey, NPMA found that
- 38 percent of U.S. adults worry about discovering termites in their home,
- 33 percent have or know someone who has experienced termite damage
- 52 percent of Americans have never had their homes inspected - despite these concerns
"When it comes to ensuring the structural stability of your future home, a wood destroying organism (WDO) inspection is a must," said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "Termites cause approximately $5 billion in property damage annually, an expense not typically covered by homeowners' insurance. Avoiding a termite or WDO inspection leaves the buyer vulnerable to unexpected out-of-pocket costs down the line."
Termites are known as "silent destroyers" due to their ability to chew through wood, flooring and even wallpaper undetected, 24/7, and can compromise the structural stability of a home within several years depending on the species.
There are more than 40 Insect Zoos or Museums across the U.S., with some being a part of a local zoo or museum, others hosted by universities, and still others, completely stand-alone.
Have you been to any recently ... or ever? Did you find it interesting? Learn any fun facts? If We'd love to hear your views.
Following is a simple click-the-box survey.
Or, if you have more to say than that, please leave a comment below!
It's that time of year -- you walk outside only to run into a swarm of flying insects. Not flies, not gnats, but ... ants? Ants have wings?
Yep, throughout the spring, summer, and even into the fall for some species, male drone and female queen ants have wings and are flying voraciously in pursuit of a mate. They won't last long however, as they have a very short lifespan -- few of these winged ants will make it beyond a week or two, and an extremely low percentage actually make it all the way to mate -- most are eaten by birds or other predators who love this annual snack. And it's even worse for the males, because once they finally find a female with which to mate, they die.
For the females, it's their one chance to mate then breed to start a new colony and become its queen. In some species, they will share the rule, but whether a colonies lone or multiple queen, once she breeds, she will be waited on hand and foot, and fed by the ant workers.
Not all ant species fly to mate however. Some simply mate within the nest then walk with their brood to a new location to start a new colony.
So next time you walk - or run - into a swarm of flying ants, you'll know ... the rest of the story.
Photo by Luís Flávio Loureiro dos Santos
Remember those lightweight, summer clothes you put away for the season? With the tough winter seen across much of the U.S., you've probably been pining for warm-weather days -- and those warm weather clothes. Even if it's not quite warm enough to wear them yet, you may want to start pulling out those clothes for a pre-season check.
Clothes moths love stored, undisturbed clothing that is made of almost any type of natural animal fiber. Although wool and furs may be more commonly used in winter clothing, there are blends of these, as well as silk and feathers that are used in summer clothing - and are just as attractive to the moths. And these moths can develop quickly in the heated buildings of winter.
If you inspected your clothing, washed or dry cleaned it, then put it in tightly sealed, insect-free containers for winter storage, your clothes are probably fine. But if you have any doubts, now may be a good time to pull out the items (especially those of animal fiber), hang them in the light, inspect them for any signs of clothes moths, and brush them out well.
If anything is found, take steps immediately to control the moths, then put some preventive action in place.
And when you store your summer items next fall, remember to take these same preventive steps first.