Category Archives for "Bugs"

Have Black Ants in Your House? Do This…

Black house ants are tiny black ants that are among the most common types of insects you can find in a household. Many types of ants can invade a home: carpenter, pharaoh, odorous, sugar and black. There are three casts into which ants are divided: worker, males and queens. Like all ants, black ants are very intelligent and they can be problematic when your house becomes infested. People can have a hard time dealing with a black ant infestation because these insects do not give up easily. Along with red ants, black ants are the dominant species of ants in the United States.

Identify Black House Ants

The average individual may have difficulties differentiating between different species of ants. The workers are small, having a size of a sixteenth part of an inch and the queens are double the side of the workers. These insects have two nodes on the petiole and are made of twelve segments, with a club of three segments. Black ants are two to three millimeters long and they usually build their nests underground, in decaying wood or under bark. They can often build nests in the roof of a house, but also in wall spaces. Their trails can go up to the trunk of the trees as they can also feed honey-dew from certain insects. Black ants have a black shiny appearance.

What Attracts Black Ants into Your Home?

Just like other creatures in this world, black house ants are attracted to your home because they are looking for shelter, food and water. For this reason, the first targets will be your kitchen and your bathroom. Black ants are attracted to the meats, the vegetables and especially the sweets in your kitchen. When they rest, ants can withdraw in wall spaces and in the roof of the house.

What Do Black Ants Eat and How Do They Behave?

Black ants enjoy the food spills that you may have in the kitchen, but they mostly feed on sweet foods. Ant queens live longer than workers and they have a period of time that is dedicated to mating and producing offspring. Once this happens, they do not mate again. Females and males leave the nest when they mate and this can expose them to predators. Black ants are not only very smart, but also very hard-working. Black ants seem to be more docile than red ants. They are social creatures and live in colonies.

Do Black Ants Bite Humans?

Black house ants can bite and the feeling you have when you are bitten is like a small pinch. Because the insects are very small, you may not even feel them crawling over you and you may not be aware of their presence until they bite. No mark is left on the skin after the bite. It seems that workers gathering food are not biting, but the ones that do guarding work are. Black ants are not as aggressive as red ants.

How to Deal with a Black Ant Infestation?

The first thing that you can do is to remove any possible source of food, shelter and water from the areas that are exposed to ants. Black ants often build their nests near food sources. If you want to prevent an infestation, you should always keep your home clean and dry. You may even have to move the furniture from time to time, for properly cleaning your entire house and minimizing the probability of black ants to establish their colony inside your home. Sealing your home is needed, because ants can use doors and windows to enter your home. Check your house entrances for cracks and seal them. The house becomes an unfavorable place for black ants as soon as you remove food sources.

Natural Solutions for Black Ant Control

Before you start to take control measures, make sure that you know exactly where the ants come from, then fill all the cracks and remove all the debris that could be used by ants to take shelter.  A natural and very cheap way to get rid of black ants can be the use of bay leaves. Place bay leaves where you see ants: corners, windows, cabinets and entry points. Mint is another natural solution and is very effective. You can use live mint (planted strategically), gathered mint or mint oil. A third solution can be red chili pepper in dust form. It can also work if you make a paste from it using water.

Using Baits Against Black Ants

Black ants have a specific track that they move on when they gather food and store it. Their movement is very predictable, so you can use baits successfully. Baits are easy to find in stores and they are effective methods of repelling ants. Baits do not eliminate ants instantly, but this can be used to your advantage. The infected ants return to the colony, where they infect other ants. In the end, the whole colony may die. The baits are used on the scent trails (tracks).

The Use of Ant Sprays

Spray use can be another convenient method of dealing with a black ant infestation. All you need to do is mix the substance, put in a sprayer and spray the insects until they are gone. You can use the spray directly on colonies and nests, even in your yard.  Many of the sprays you get from stores can be good for residual control over the insects once the spraying is over.

The Use of Poisons for Black Ants

Because black house ant infestations are so common, finding the right type of poison for these insects is easy. You can find poisons in store or online. Poison can be used in the cracks that black ants use as entry points to your house. There are aerosols and insecticides that can be poisonous to black house ants.

Using Heat and Water for Black Ants Population Control

Did you know that there is a simple method for getting rid of black house ants easily? This method involves heat, but not directly. If you try to burn the ants, you could end up burning items from the home and you may start a fire. Instead, you can boil water and pour it while it is still very hot inside the colony. Ants are hydrophobic animals, meaning that they are afraid of water and especially of floods. You will use a deadly combination in this way: heat and water (boiled water). Entire colonies can be eliminated using this method, including the queens.

Using Residential Pest Control Services Against Black House Ants

In the case that you don’t want to deal with the problem on your own, the best approach is to call an ant exterminator. This is a company that provides pest control services and ant extermination services for residences where there are ant infestations. Such a company can use more powerful solutions than the ones you can have at home or that you can find in stores. It can help you to permanently get rid of black house ants. When you deal with the problem yourself, sometimes you can achieve the opposite: ant colonies relocate but still get into your home.

Why Mosquitoes Cannot Transmit HIV & Diseases Mosquitoes Can Spread

Mosquitoes are no less pesky than the common fly. What makes them worse though is that they are considered the deadliest animals on Earth – killing more people every year than any other animal.

Mosquitoes have the ability to carry several deadly viruses, such as malaria, dengue fever, and West Nile virus. A question raised by many people is whether uncommon diseases are transmitted through blood, like HIV.

The Inability of Mosquitoes to Transmit HIV

Fortunately, mosquitoes don’t carry or spread the HIV virus. The reasons are:

  1. Anatomy of a mosquito

The needle of a mosquito is composed of six parts. To bite or pierce the skin of an animal or human, four of these parts are used. The other two consist of two tubes. The first tube injects saliva into the host and the latter sucks blood out to the mosquito. This is the primary reason why HIV cannot be transmitted through a mosquito. Humans are only injected with saliva.

  1. The digestion system of a mosquito

If there was any trace of the HIV virus inside a mosquito, it would get digested in the gut.

Unlike other mosquito related diseases, the HIV virus cannot replicate inside the mosquito’s gut and is broken down. HIV replicates in humans by binding to T cells.

These T cells don’t exist within the mosquito’s gut and therefore have no way to travel to the salivary glands of a mosquito.

HIV particles are digested with the blood meal by mosquitos and during this digestion process, the HIV virus is completely destroyed.

  1. Circulation of HIV in humans

For diseases transmitted by a mosquito to be spread from person to person, the specific virus must circulate at sufficient levels within the blood of the host.

HIV circulates at significantly low levels in human blood than required for the creation of a new infection. Hypothetically, if a mosquito were to inject HIV blood into a human, it would take approximately 10 million mosquito bites to carry a single unit of HIV. The average human with HIV positive carries around ten units of the virus.

  1. Interrupted while feeding

If a mosquito’s feeding is interrupted, it moves on to the next host and resumes its meal.

An AIDS-free host squashes the mosquito as it attempts to feed and smears HIV contaminated blood into the wound. In theory, any of the mosquito-borne viruses could be transmitted in this manner providing the host circulated sufficient virus particles to initiate re-infection by contamination.

The Risk through Physical Transmission?

Many people wonder about the risk of catching HIV through physical injection of a mosquito alone. Often the mosquito’s blood feasting is interrupted. When this happens, the mosquito simply moves onto the next host victim, with traces of the blood from the previous person still around its mouth. It is commonly believed that this leftover blood may contain HIV.

To debunk this sloppy seconds theory, the chances of this is highly unlikely.

  • First, the second host victim must be extremely close to the previous HIV-positive person for the mosquito to quickly hop from one to the next.
  • Second, there isn’t a large percentage of detectable levels of HIV in HIV-positive people. Modern medicine is helping to further decrease this percentage. The probability of the needle of the mosquito making direct contact with the HIV virus in the bloodstream in just one piercing is highly unlikely.

Although it might not seem that way, a mosquito doesn’t consume a lot of blood after biting, and an even smaller percentage of this meal is left as residue on the mouthparts. According to the AIDS journal, the HIV virus was unable to penetrate membrane-enclosed blood sacks when this scenario was replicated in laboratories by scientists.

Mosquitoes are Not Syringes

The misconception that the needle of a mosquito works the same way as a hypodermic syringe is incorrect. While many people are aware that mosquitoes transfer saliva before feeding, they are unaware that the salivary canal is separate than the food canal and it’s a two-way road.

Behind the needle-like apparatus is a complex structure that is different than an uncomplicated syringe. The mosquito has two tubes; one for saliva and the other for drawing blood. The two are not interchangeable and the remnants of the last blood meal are not flushed out as done with a used needle.

Common Myths

  • Swallowing a mosquito by accident does not lead to HIV infection. Again, the HIV positive blood content is insufficient to cause a new infection.
  • Same goes for squashing a mosquito. Many fear that any blood residue on the human skin after killing a mosquito is infectious. It’s not. Even if it gets in contact with an open wound, it again doesn’t have the required HIV content to cause any damage. As long as the blood is outside the host, it can’t do any damage anyway.
  • When a mosquito transfers a disease from one host to another, the virus must stay alive in the mosquito’s gut until the transfusion is completed. If the parasite is digested, which is usually what happens, then the cycle of transmission is interrupted and the parasite is terminated. It simply can’t be passed on.

How Do Mosquitoes Transmit Other Diseases?

Mosquitoes are able to spread certain diseases like malaria because the said virus is able to replicate inside the mosquito after an infected person is bitten.

The disease is mostly concentrated in the saliva of the mosquito which is injected into host victims through one of the mouthpart tubes when biting. Thankfully, this is not the case with HIV, making this transmission mode impossible.

Precautionary Measures

Even though the transmission of HIV through mosquitoes is overruled, they are still highly dangerous blood-sucking creatures.

Mosquitoes thrive in warm weather and basically trace humans by their carbon dioxide emissions, meaning that larger people and heavy inhalers are more prone to mosquito bites.

  1. Mosquito repellant

A number of specially-formulated and effective repellants are on the market. Apply the tonic to all exposed skin surfaces when in the great outdoors, especially during the night. Be sure to apply it before your sunscreen at daytime.

  1. All natural solution

If you have allergies or strong reactions to repellents, then consider non-chemical alternatives such as natural plant oils such as Citronella. Some people swear by Vitamin B and Tea Tree oil for repelling mosquitos. Experiment and try natural solutions which are suitable for your skin type while being effective.

  1. Wear loose clothing that covers properly

One of the simplest ways to prevent mosquito bites is to cover your skin. Wearing long sleeves and loose bottoms will not only be comfortable in humid, hot weather but also, sometimes mosquitoes are able to pierce through skin tight clothing and into the skin, especially if the fabric is of light material.

  • It’s a good idea to splurge on specially-designed shirts and pants that are lightweight but strong. These are mostly available in camping or sports stores and provide the best protection against mosquito bites while maintaining ease of wear.
  • A thrifty alternative is to spray the clothes you already own with a solution/repellant with Permethrin or similar repellant ingredient.
  1. Mosquitoes are attracted to sweat

Excessive perspiration attracts mosquitoes, although not fresh sweat. Sweat that has dried up on the human skin, broken down into its ammonia component by bacteria, is what mosquitoes love. Fun fact: The most despised smell on earth is the most adored smell by mosquitoes – unwashed smelly socks.

  1. Mosquito Nets

Mosquito nets are an affordable tried and tested method for keeping mosquitos at bay. Mosquito nets have holes large enough to allow breezes to pass through but small enough to keep insects out.

Hang or drape the netting over your bed and secure it to more than one surface. Make sure it is in a dome/tent like shape without bearing down on the sleeper. Sleep away from the netting as mosquitoes can sometimes bite through the netting

Holes must be checked regularly and darned or patched up using duct tape. For babies, use a carrier covered with mosquito netting, making sure that the edges are tightly fit with an elastic edge.

  1. Don’t let water stand

Mosquitoes, unfortunately, exist all over the world except in the extreme cold regions. But the creation of their favorite kinds of habitats to breed in should be avoided. Some hot spots for mosquitoes are:

  1. Swimming pools
  2. Areas with waterlogged land
  3. Industrial containers
  4. Construction trenches or ditches
  5. Sewage systems
  6. Clogged storm drains
  7. Don’t allow water to accumulate and stand near your home
  8. If you have a pool or a kiddy pool, drain it or cover it up when not in use.
  9. Treat sewages, pools etc. with chemical additives such as chlorine

Ear Mites in Dogs – Symptoms & Treatments

There are a number of pests that can live in your home, and these pests can not only be a bother to you, but also to your family dog.  One such pest is the ear mite.

Most Common Type of Ear Mite

There are a number of different types of mites that can live in your pup’s ears.  However, the most common type of ear mite is the Otodectes cynotis.  This tiny has parasite eight legs and it actually feeds on the wax and oils in your dog’s ear canal. These parasites are so tiny they can rarely be seen by the naked eye. Typically, your veterinarian will have to do a scraping for them; he or she will then put this scraping under a microscope to see if your dog has mites: That is how small these mites are!

Life Cycle

The individual ear mite only has a three-week life cycle; however, they breed, so you will get more and more mites as time goes on.

Checking For Mites at Home

If you can’t wait until you see the vet, you can check for mites at home.  Try this easy trick:

  1. First, take a cotton ball and gently swab the area of your dog’s ear, making sure not to get too deep.
  2. Next, examine this with a magnifying glass. If you can see little white specks, your dog has ear mites.

Now that you have determined the problem, you can start to treat your dog.  It is imperative that you get rid of the ear mites right away, because they will only get worse.  When your dog scratches his ears vigorously, he is allowing yeast and bacteria to be rubbed into his skin. This can lead to the development of secondary bacterial infections.

But you can prevent this!  Now that you know your dog has ear mites, you can treat them.

Symptoms of Ear Mites

Here are some symptoms of ear mites that you should not ignore:

If your dog begins shaking his head a lot, it could be ear mites. If he is favoring one side of his head (one side is listing a bit, one ear is down more than the other) you need to check it out.

If your dog is scratching around his ears, vigorously, it could be ear mites.

Additionally, check inside your dog’s ear for a buildup that looks like coffee grounds (it will be dark brown or black in color). This is a first indicator of ear mites.

If you notice any blood inside of his ear canal, this is a sign of an advanced infestation, and you should immediately see your vet.

Your dog’s ear flaps can become red and inflamed, as well as crusted and scabbed

Ear mites can also cause skin infections and permanent loss of hearing, so it is very important to check your dog’s ears regularly.

These parasites can also cause a strong odor in the ears, and this can be an early warning side.

Puppies

Ear mites are common in dogs of any age, but most often occur in puppies.  This is because puppies have not yet built up a strong immunity. So, if you have a puppy, it is important that you check his or her ears often, and be on the lookout for signs of ear mites.

At Home Treatment for Ear Mites

Ear mites are easy to detect at home, and easy to treat at home! Which is great for owners; it gives you a sense of peace, because you can help your pup easily, and you can do it inexpensively.

Mineral oil is the best and easiest treatment for ear mites. It will get rid of them quickly and painlessly!

  1. First, you will need a bottle of plain mineral oil (Only use mineral oil–not olive oil or any other kind of oil!  Not only will another type not work, it could make the infestation worse.) and an eye dropper.
  2. Now, clean dog’s ears in order to get rid of any ear wax and dirt. This will ensure that there is nowhere for the ear mites to hide (and nothing for them to want to eat!).
  3. Once they are clean, use the eye dropper and drop two drops of mineral oil inside each of your dog’s ears.  Then massage the oil into your dog’s ear canals.
  4. Next, soak a cotton ball in mineral oil and use it to thoroughly wipe the insides of your dog’s ears.
  5. Your last step is to give your dog’s ears a good massage to make sure that the mineral oil has been fully distributed (and he or she will really appreciate the ear rub, too!).

You will want to repeat this treatment twice a week for a month to make sure that any remaining mites are killed off. This will also prevent any new generations of mites from hatching.

Pest Control

Keeping your home free of all pests is a good way to keep your pups free from ear mites!  Having year round pest control will keep your home healthy, and your pets healthy.

Further Resources for Ear Mites in Dogs:

Ear Analysis for Pets

Do Dust Mites Bite People or Pets?NeverPest.com

White Cockroaches or Albino Roaches? – The Difference is Crucial.

Picture this: You suspect nothing, go to the kitchen, flick the light on, get the coffee maker ready and out from under it scuttles one of nature’s many great wonders. A rare and beautiful sight. There, in all its glory, is the super elusive albino cockroach, making a break for the sink. If you’re quick enough, you might catch it under a glass to show off to the family when they wake up.

That’s a beautiful story, but the reality is a lot different. By the time you can show off your catch, that roach you trapped is as brown as any other in the colony. You’ve been robbed of you great display. What happened?

The myth of the Albino Cockroach

Albinism or achromia is a congenital condition affecting enzymes that control pigmentation in the skin, hair and eye of affected animals. Albinism is caused by an inherited recessive gene and is present in all vertebrate species, including humans. The condition can present in different levels of severity, of which the absence of skin pigments is the most noticeable, but not necessarily the most troublesome. Animals afflicted with albinism suffer from other congenital defects, such as partial to full deafness, blindness, a heightened sensitivity to light and a propensity to develop rare forms of skin cancer in advanced years.

Scientists have extensively studied cockroaches for decades and have found zero evidence for the presence of the recessive gene that causes albinism. Cockroaches are perfect replicants of their parents and the colony is quite socially aware. Any individual with a congenital defect as severe as albinism would not survive.

Why are some roaches white?

Cockroaches are insects and as such, they have an exoskeleton. The outer hull of insects is made up of chitin, a proteinaceous substance akin to keratin which makes up our hair and fingernails. The exoskeleton is extremely sturdy and rigid by necessity. Unlike the bones in fish and mammals, exoskeletons do not grow with the animal. This is why all insects have to shed their skin at some point if they are to grow larger.

From egg to adulthood cockroaches go through 4 – 5 molting stages. The number of molts depend on the species of cockroach you’re dealing with. At each stage they shed their skin and emerge as a white roach. The animals appear white because the pigment in the new skin has not developed yet. This is a chemical process that can take several hours. The skin takes a few minutes to harden enough for the roach to be able to move. This is because the outer shell is so soft that the muscles inside pull them out of shape instead of moving them as intended. If you find a white roach, you may notice it less responsive or slower to run than its buddies. That’s because they might not be able to.  For more information on a typical cockroach life cycle you can check out this article. In order to get rid of the old exoskeleton, a new one has to grow under the skin. It needs to be larger than the previous version. It also has to be soft and flexible, to allow the animal and its new skin to be crammed into the increasingly tight space. After a certain period of time, the insect goes into molt, a process where the old skin splits open and the newly formed insect emerges. The roach swallows air to inflate its new skin into the right proportions. This is when the roach is most vulnerable. The new skin is soft and the animal can’t move as well with a soft body, thus leaving it at the mercy of predators and other various dangers. Cockroaches tend to molt in their harbour areas, hidden away from danger and in the safety of numbers. It’s for this reason white cockroaches are a rare sight out in the open, not because they are actually rare. If you do see a white roach, something has disturbed their haven and these animals have been prematurely stirred from their hiding place. If you’re seeing a white roach, you already made acquaintance with many of its brown friends. Where there is one, there are usually hundreds left in the walls and chances are good that a portion of them are in molt as well.

Call an expert

Pest control specialists encounter white cockroaches much more frequently than you normally would because the job entails delivering the pesticides right to the lair of the roaches. Cockroaches are a serious infestation that’s difficult to get rid of with over the counter insecticides. If you encounter any large quantity of roaches in all life stages, your home is overrun. This is especially true if some of the bugs you see are white or a lighter tan color than their buddies. Since cockroaches like to hide within walls and other difficult to access areas around the home, it is important to opt for an extermination method that addresses them right in their hiding places.

Additional Articles Related to Albino Cockroaches:

Learn the Differences Between Flying Ants & Flying Termites

Flying ants and flying termites can look very much alike, but knowing the difference between flying ants and flying termites is important. When you correctly identify the pest that you have, you will be one step closer to getting rid of your problem.

Looks

Look closely at the pest you have on hand; While the two have similar wings, flying ants actually have a larger pair of wings in the front than they do in the back. The wings on the termite are actually longer than their bodies. Flying ants have wings that are more proportionate to their body size. This type of ant will actually shed its wings once they swarm.

 

When checking out their antennae, notice that termites have antennae that are straight. Flying ants have antennae that are bent.

Flying ants have a thin waist (making them appear segmented) but termites have a broad waist, making their entire bodies uniform.

Termite Swarming vs. Ant Swarming

Flying termites tend to swarm in the early spring; they like weather that is warm and rainy. Flying ants, on the other hand, can swarm at different times of the year: they have no set pattern. Again, after they have swarmed, they lose their wings.

Preventing Termites

To really protect your home from termites, start with some prevention tips. Get rid of moisture: repair leaky pipes and faucets. If your air condition leaks, fix it! Make sure to divert water away from the foundation of your home.

Keep your gutters clean of debris and don’t use wood mulch in your yard or garden if you can help it. If you have a fireplace, do not keep a stockpile of firewood near your home’s foundation. You know termites love wood, so why entice them? And if you have dead shrubs or trees on your property, remove them immediately.

Eliminating Termites

If you do end up with termites, those awful things that can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your home, you can call a professional to get rid of them, or you can try some do-it-yourself tricks.

When you first see flying termites outside your home, invest in a bug zapper. Flying insecticide spray works, too.

If you see an active colony on your property, you have to attack the colony. Simply getting them in the air won’t do it. Sprays and traps that are dedicated to termites are your best bet. Once you see the colony, use insecticide spray all the way around your home’s foundation. A baiting system will starve the colony, so you can place baiting stations all around your home, spacing them out about a foot.

Preventing Flying Ants

Flying ants love food! To prevent them, simply get rid of food waste. Don’t leave food lying around; deal with leftovers immediately, keep your counters free of crumbs, lock your food up tightly, and take out the garbage right away if you have food waste in it (or find a secure garbage can).

Eliminating Flying Ants

If you have seen flying ants in or around your home, you must first locate the nest. They may be coming in from the outside, and you will most likely find their nest outdoors. Once you find it, pour boiling water down it or use a spray that is designed for flying ants. If the nest is indoors, bait is the perfect solution. Place bait stations around your home.

If there is no nest in your house, make sure to seal up all cracks and crevices around windows and doors, as this is probably how they are entering.

 

Additional Resources for Ant & Termite Identification:

  1. Swarming Indoor Insects – Texas A&M
  2. Differences Between Ants & Termites – Never Pest
  3. Winged Ants & Termites in Houses – Kansas State University Department of Entomology