Pest Advice Blog

Keeping Blood Suckers Away During the Summer

mosquito control during the summer
Mosquitoes are a true sign that summer has arrived and they’re likely to ruin your afternoon of outdoor fun if you’re not prepared.

The American Mosquito Control Association says mosquitoes are the deadliest animals

The American Mosquito Control Association says mosquitoes are the deadliest animalsAccording to The American Mosquito Control Association, or AMCA, “Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism – over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year.” Mosquitoes are responsible for outbreaks of malaria, throughout history, as far back as 2700 BC, according to the AMCA. Contained to tropical climates today, malaria obstructed the settlement of the US east coast colonies and wasn’t effectively controlled until the 1940s.

Mosquito-borne illnesses afflict animals as well as humans

Mosquito-borne illnesses afflict animals as well as humansTo make matters worse, mosquitoes carry diseases and parasites that afflict our four-legged friends, as well, especially dogs and horses. While we’ve learned to protect ourselves from mosquitoes with bug repellants, proactive prevention measures and the help of a professional pest control company, such as Truly Nolen, mosquitoes are responsible for more human deaths than any other insect, rodent or animal. In addition to the ancient diseases, malaria and yellow fever outbreaks and the current Zika Virus scare, mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting many other diseases, including:

  • Chikungunya
  • Dog Heartworm
  • Dengue Fever
  • Yellow Fever
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis
  • St. Louis Encephalitis
  • La Crosse Encephalitis
  • Western Equine Encephalitis
  • West Nile Virus

Mosquitoes like your backyard’s stagnant water

Mosquitoes like your backyard’s stagnant waterUnfortunately, urban environments, like your backyard can lend themselves well to making excellent conditions for mosquito havens. The incredible thing is that some homeowners unknowingly and unwittingly set up lovely breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Check your property for areas of stagnant or standing water. Extra gardening pots, old tires, even birdbaths can create excellent mosquito-growing areas, along with other uncirculated bodies of water including retention ponds, boggy areas, long-standing mud puddles, lakes, ponds, fountains and open rain retention barrels. Often overlooked, flowerbeds with residual water standing in flowering plants and in the catch plate at the bottom of planters, can also be inviting to mosquitoes. It is important to note that generally, water needs to be standing for 7 or more days and a cup is enough to create a breeding ground. Interestingly, of course, there are also mosquitoes in the west that don’t need standing water at all to breed, the females can lay eggs in mud.

Made in the shade

Made in the shadeShady, damp areas around your yard and home can create favorable conditions for mosquitoes, as well. Mosquitoes are also attracted to and can commonly be found under thick foliage or in a section of your yard, porch or patio that doesn’t get much sun. Any place protected from the wind and sun can be an invitation to mosquitoes. Additionally, removing debris from around your home can help reduce mosquito populations. Keeping your yard, shrubbery and tree limbs trimmed and eliminating long, unkempt vegetation from around your home and yard can make your yard an unfavorable destination for mosquitoes.

Things homeowners can do to reduce mosquito populations

Things homeowners can do to reduce mosquito populationsWhen it comes to your home, repairing screens and replacing worn screens can go a long way to protecting your loved ones from mosquitoes. Also, many products on the market today can be helpful in reducing your risk for mosquito bites. Citronella plants and citronella oil in tiki torches and outdoor candles, plus organic bug repellants and mosquito-deterring bracelets and other devices can work to ward off those blood-sucking creatures of the summer night. At dusk, at night and early in the morning, wearing long-sleeves and long pants will leave less skin area exposed to mosquitoes, as well.

Treating your yard

Treating your yardTruly Nolen technicians, outfitted with power sprayers or backpack misters treat protected vertical and inverted surfaces of dense vegetation up to a height of 6 feet. Creating a mosquito barrier, our trained and certified technicians treat up to 50 feet around the perimeter of your property.

Entryways and bite sites

Entryways and bite sitesZeroing in on areas within 10 feet of established bite zones, Truly Nolen professionals treat areas around doors and windows up to 3 feet off the ground, as mosquitoes are known to rest in these areas after feasting on pets and people, in preparation for egg-laying.

Addressing reproduction zones and cycles

Mosquito control misting machineTo head off egg-laying, Truly Nolen technicians apply larvicide in small amounts to interrupt mosquito reproduction cycles in moisture-prone areas, in planters, sprinkler heads and other potential breeding sites including ponds, fountains and ditches that show tendencies to retain water. For extra protection for your yard and home against mosquitoes, Truly Nolen can install a programmable misting machine to control and eliminate all adult flying pests around your home.

Trust Truly Nolen

Truly nolen - pest control termitesEven though taking preventative measures to get rid of mosquitoes may keep their numbers down, contacting a reliable and reputable pest control company, such as Truly Nolen can really seal the deal between your home and loved ones and dangerous pests. Contact your local Truly Nolen location for a free inspection for pest identification and to devise a plan customized for your home and family.

Summer is here and you’ve got some outdoor celebrating to do. Remember, preventing stagnant water and moist conditions around your home can help reduce mosquito populations around your property. Enjoy your summer of fun and mosquito-free backyard cookouts and pool parties. Contact your local Truly Nolen location to schedule a free pest inspection today!

Summer Pests Get in the Way of Summer Fun in Charlotte

Summertime pests can put a real damper on fun in the sun for people living in Charlotte and the surrounding areas. As the heat rises, more and more of these creepy crawlers catch your eye at softball games, picnics and even in your own backyard. Are they ALL dangerous? The answer is no, not all. However, bites from most common pests in the area can leave a red, itchy or irritated mark or bump on the skin, and there is the possibility of diseases being transmitted. Avoiding these pests by educating yourself and using the techniques described below, can prevent discomfort and save your outdoor plans this summer.

Wasps, Bees & Hornets

WaspWasps, bees and hornets can become a threat to food stores or homes in Charlotte if the aggressive types of the species begin to rely on people as a source for food. Controlling and managing the situation starts by first determining the species of the infestation – i.e. wasps, bees, stinging insects? Once identified, the pest and its swarm can be removed and further infestations prevented with treatment.

Fleas & Ticks

Fleas Ticks are found outdoors, in parks and in the woods. They are blood-feeders and hosts include both humans and animals. Fleas are more prominent outdoors and attack animals mainly, causing an intense itch and discomfort from their bites. Fleas and ticks can migrate indoors when attached to a pet, and this can cause a host of problems for the household. Getting rid of fleas and ticks starts at the vet’s office, where a diagnosis and treatment are provided. In conjunction with treating your pet, it will be necessary to clean your home and affected areas extensively, and talk to a local pest control expert about treatment and future prevention.

Mosquitoes & Common House Flies

Mosquitoes Pesky mosquitoes and flies can be found in open areas outdoors, such as parks, fields, forests, parking lots and backyards. They can also live in your home and cause quite a nuisance. Mosquitoes are attracted to higher levels of moisture on patios, hot tubs or other wet areas. Treating resting sites for these insects, and implementing moisture control in problem areas to remove moisture and prevent future infestation is available by your local pest professionals. Prevention has become a priority with outbreaks such as the Zika virus.

How to Steer Clear of Summertime Pests

Pests have an exceptional sense of smell, and this helps them target their preferred hosts. Bites can result in itchy rashes, spots and pain.  Some may also carry diseases which, at times, may be life-threatening, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and West Nile Virus to name a few. Some proven prevention and avoidance methods to practice include:

  • Generously applying and re-applying proper insect repellent before spending time outdoors.
  • Wearing long socks, long sleeves, long pants and a hat or scarf when camping or in the woods.
  • Checking your head and body thoroughly for tick and other insect bites when returning from the outdoors. Quick removal of ticks is important in disease prevention.
  • Using repellent torches or candles on your porch and at outdoor events, as instructed on the directions, is recommended.

Taking a proactive approach to pest prevention and management can decrease your risk of running into unwanted insects while soaking up sun and family fun. Truly Nolen Charlotte can help take care of your unwanted pests this summer. Call (704) 910-2936 for a free pest inspection.

 

Bee & Wasp Control: Infrastructure of a Bee’s Nest and Why You Don’t Want to Mess with It

bee and wasp control
As backyard entertaining brings the indoors outdoors this summer, your backyard or pool deck may play host to quite a few cookouts and pool parties. But sometimes, uninvited bees or wasps can disrupt summer fun activities. Because bees and wasps pose health threats to humans and pets, Truly Nolen recommends contacting a reliable and reputable professional pest control company to address your bee and wasp concerns.

Wild bee colonies Africanized

Also, with the sudden threat to honeybee populations worldwide, the thought of relocating a bee colony to an apiary may sound like a good idea to environmentally-aware homeowners but in Modern Farmer’s interview with Reed Booth, Southern Arizona’s Killer Bee Guy, Booth said beehives and nests found under eaves, in walls, in sheds and other places on homeowners’ properties should be eradicated as most wild bee colonies in the US have become Africanized. This means that due to the interbreeding of wild European honeybees with wild Africanized honeybees, the bees are much more aggressive and will attack people and pets. Pest professionals, such as Truly Nolen, know how to remove killer bees from your property, safely.

Honeybees vital to world’s crops and food supply

As the globe’s most important plant pollinators, honeybees play a vital role in contributing to over one-third of the planet’s food sources. Pollinating US crops at an estimated 10 billion dollars’ worth annually, honeybees produce honey collected from flower nectar. Bees depend on the honey they produce from flower nectars to nourish their young and provide sustenance for adult bees. While professional honey collection by beekeepers provides us with honey, beeswax, pollen, propolis and royal jelly, beekeeping is a highly specialized enterprise, conducted by trained apiarists.

Honeybee social structure

A honeybee colony’s highly sophisticated and social structure includes individuals performing specific tasks for the ultimate good of the colony. Divided into three castes, honeybee colonies consist of one queen, 20-80 thousand infertile female worker bees and 300 to 800 fertile male drones, whose only job description appears to be mating with the queen to produce more bees. Along with the adult bees, honeybee colonies also include about 500 eggs, along with 25-30 thousand immature bees in “various stages of development,” according to The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation’s website.

Inside the beehive

In familiar honeycomb-shaped nests, with their signature hexagonal shaped cells, worker bees raise the next generation of worker bees, in smaller cells at the bottom of the honeycomb. The upper, larger comb cells store pollen and honey to nourish the colony.

Sometimes nests require the construction of queen cells devoted to raising queen bees.

Worker bees

Even though they will never mate, the workers, do however “possess organs necessary for carrying out the many duties essential to the wellbeing of the colony,” says the FAO website article. Worker bees come equipped with:

  • Longer tongues than queens and drones used to extract nectar from flowers
  • Large honey stomachs for transporting nectar from plants to the hive
  • Pollen baskets on legs to carry pollen back to the hive
  • Glands in their heads that produce royal jelly to feed the larvae
  • Thorax glands that secrete enzymes needed to ripen honey
  • Four sets of wax glands for comb construction and sealing off honey cells
  • Highly developed stingers that allow them to defend the colony efficiently

Additionally, sterile female adults perform the bulk of the work in a bee colon. As immature bees, worker bees take care of the queen and the brood, performing these tasks and many duties inside the nest as house bees, including:

  • Cleaning the cells for future eggs
  • Cleaning the hive
  • Making sure the hive stays cool and ventilated for optimal honey production
  • Building comb cells for honey, water and propolis storage
  • Assisting in honey conversion
  • Packing the combs with supplies, including water, nectar and honey
  • Guarding the hive against all threats from other bees and predators
  • Performing orientation flights as training to become foraging field bees
  • Executing intruders or colony members marked as potential threats to the harmony of the hive

Executions “may be performed to eliminate strange bees, to kill or drive away old and sick bees, to discourage other hive predators from entering the hive, to remove sick or unwanted unemerged brood, to eliminate useless drones, and to kill unwanted or strange queens.”

As the FAO’s info on bees and wasps shows homeowners, bees and wasps do not play. They’re all business. The survival of a bee colony relies on delicately balancing a multitude of factors. For the good of the colony, bees and wasp will kill members of their own colonies, including their queen in order to maintain optimal hive conditions. In light of this information and observations, homeowners should steer clear and avoid attempting to remedy the problem on their own. Instead, homeowners should contact their local Truly Nolen location to schedule a free bee or wasp inspection, when bees and wasps move too close to human and pet living areas.

Entertaining outdoors can be a whole lot of fun this summer, without the threat of bees ruining your outdoor events. Contact Truly Nolen for all of your pest control concerns!

Spiders Commonly Found in Charlotte

North Carolina is home to dozens of species of spiders. While most species of spiders are relatively harmless, two poisonous species are common in the Tar Heel state, the black widow and the brown recluse spider.

Black Widow Spider

Spider, Black widow femaleThe black widow spider may cause severe neurological problems and under extreme circumstances, even death. Female black widow spiders will, on occasion, even kill and eat the male after mating. They’re larger than the male, by about half, and have a reddish hourglass shape on the underside of their abdomen. A bite from a black widow spider contains 15 times more venom than a prairie rattlesnake.

Female black widow spiders will hang upside down from their web to keep an eye on their egg sac. These spiders are quick and will attack anyone that comes near their egg sac. After a bite from the black widow, the following may happen:

  • muscle aches
  • redness
  • burning
  • swelling at the bite site
  • abdominal pain

If any of these symptoms arise, head to the nearest hospital for treatment.

Brown Recluse Spider

Spider, Brown RecluseBrown recluse spiders are very small, often smaller than a quarter and have six eyes and a violin shape. In some areas of North Carolina, brown recluse spiders are referred to as fiddle-back spiders. Brown recluse spiders like to hide in cool, dry places such as cardboard boxes.

Brown recluse spiders are often found in the flaps of cardboard boxes. Storing items in cardboard boxes in North Carolina pretty much guarantees you will have a brown recluse clan moving into your home soon. Brown recluse spiders are timid and often don’t bite humans unless they are pressed against the skin.

The bite of a brown recluse spider can result in redness and necrosis of the tissue around the bite site. In extreme cases, individuals may end up losing a limb or finger from a brown recluse spider.

Others worth mentioning

Another common spider found here in North Carolina is the golden orb weaver spider. This spider is harmless and will keep to itself enjoying the bugs found in your yard. Grass spiders are common all over the U.S. and spin dense, sheet like webs.

While most spiders are harmless, they can be a nuisance when they make their way into our homes. And while spiders generally prefer living outdoors, once they find a way into our homes, they are hard to get rid of.

In some cases, a separate pest problem may be attracting spiders into your home. A professional pest control company can examine the exterior and interior of your Charlotte area home to check for a spider infestation. Contact Truly Nolen Charlotte at 704-910-2936 for a free pest inspection and keep your home pest-free.

Flying Ants vs. Termite Swarmers

Flying Ant vs Termite Swarmer comparison

Spring in Charlotte not only means warmer weather and boating on Lake Norman, it also signals the beginning of increased pest activity. In Charlotte, like most of North Carolina, bug season starts in late winter and lasts until October. Flying ants and termite swarmers are common at this time of year.

In the spring and summer, Mecklenburg County homeowners witness young adult termites and some species of flying ants swarming, as part of their annual mating rituals. Usually in the daylight and following rain showers, winged reproductives, known as alates, fly around. They are looking for other reproductives of the same species to mate with and form new colonies.  This swarming activity can be alarming as well as confusing and many Charlotte homeowners want to know how to tell the difference between termite swarmers and flying ants.

Differences between flying ants and termites

Flying ants and termites may look similar but they actually possess very different physical attributes. Using a magnifying glass, you can see the following differences:

Flying Ants

FLYING ANTS

  • Ants have thin waists, which is the very narrow area between the thorax and first abdominal segment.
  • Ants have a pair of front wings that are much larger than the hind pair.
  • Ant wings have few veins and are usually clear.
Termite Swarmers

TERMITES

  • Termites’ thoraxes and abdomen are broadly connected.
  • Termites have two sets of wings that look approximately the same in size and shape.
  • Termite wings have many veins and may be milky-colored.

Prevalent flying ant species

The presence of flying ant swarms indicates that your home or property is either infested with ants or their nests are nearby. In the Charlotte area, the most prevalent flying ant species include:

  • Pavement ants – Found often in homes with concrete slab foundations, but can be found in just about any type of construction.
  • Odorous house ants – The most common indoor pest ant, named for their coconut smell.
  • Carpenter ants – Wood-destroying pests, can cause significant damage to Charlotte homes.
  • Red imported fire ants – Don’t come indoors but inflict painful stings that can result in dangerous allergic reactions.

Consult a pest control professional

Because ant colonies can consist of a primary nest with several satellite nests, contact a professional pest control company to eliminate ants from your Charlotte home. Truly Nolen’s trained and certified technicians inspect your home and property to determine a plan of action that includes pet friendly ant control treatments that eradicate colonies. By circulating materials via worker ants, these solutions eventually kill queen ants. With no queen ants, colonies cannot reproduce and will collapse.

Termite swarming can be an indicator of more serious issues, with different solutions.

  • Swarming activity outdoors, a reminder
    Outdoors, near tree stumps and other wooden materials, swarming may not indicate a termite infestation in your home, but a reminder to contact a professional pest control company for an annual inspection.
  • Swarming activity indoors, an indicator of termite invasion
    Indoors, swarming usually indicates an infestation somewhere in your home, in which case you should contact a pest professional immediately, as termites, especially subterranean termites can go unnoticed for years. Termites cause structural damage homeowners may not be aware of until expensive repairs become the homeowners’ nightmares.

Signs of termite activity

Most termite species prefer soft or water-damaged wood and some species will infest dry, solid wood as well. Unlike ants, termites do eat wood and subterranean termites build tunnels and claylike tubes from their nests in nearby tree trunks to their food sources in your home. Blistering wooden structures and blackening wood can be indications of termite activity, along with tunnels and claylike tubes leading from the soil to your wooden structure.

Contact Truly Nolen Charlotte

If you find evidence of termite damage to any wooden structures, this may be a sign of infestation. Truly Nolen Charlotte’s skilled professionals take your individual needs into consideration, designing a customized solution for your termite situation. With our combination of above and below ground treatments, we can provide the most complete and thorough termite protection. Our Total Termite Protection Plan treats attics, eaves, walls, windows, doors, plumbing pipes, foundations, slabs and other termite prone areas. Truly Nolen Charlotte protects your home against all types of termites, unlike many pest control companies who only treat for one type of termite.

If you suspect flying ants or termites in your home, call Truly Nolen Charlotte at (704) 910-2936 to schedule an inspection and have a pest-free spring and summer!

Boxelder Bug vs. Stink Bug

The boxelder bug and the stink bug are two easily confused insects, which can be seen congregating in and around homes, especially populating the Charlotte, NC area. Although slightly similar in appearance and peskiness, these pests are not one and the same. It is true, although different species, both stink bugs as well as boxelder bugs are attracted to the warmth coming from the crevices and entryways of your home. This is because both species need shelter and protection for over-wintering. So how do you tell the two apart, and keep them both out? Identification and prevention are key with these two pests.

Identifying Differences

Neither stink bugs nor boxelder bugs cause harm to humans, but they do have some pretty interesting reactions to danger. When crushed, the boxelder bug will secrete a dye that stains. The stink bug, no surprise, gets its name from the odor it emits when squashed. For mess-free removal of these bugs, be sure to use a vacuum hose attachment.

Boxelder Bug

Boxelder bug features:

  • dark brown or black coloration
  • ½ inch long
  • red veins on wings with markings on abdomen
  • scentless, plant bugs
Stink-Bug

Stink bug features:

  • green to brown coloration
  • short legs, narrow head
  • broad, flattened shield-shaped body
  • scent glands

Pest Prevention for Your Home

Prevention is the best method of managing pests, so it’s best to be proactive and safeguard your Charlotte home and its surrounding areas. Broken screens let bugs in and should be repaired or replaced immediately. Sealing holes and cracks around doors, windows and walls with silicon latex caulk can decrease access points. Lastly, you can benefit from expert advice and professional services by reaching out to your local Truly Nolen Charlotte location at 704-910-2936 for a free pest inspection.

Pets and the Pest Season: Keeping your Pets Pest Free this Season

keep your pets pest free this season
Keep on top of your pets’ pest potentials this spring and summer, by ensuring that your four-legged friends visit the vet for flea and tick prevention treatments or by purchasing effective topical drop treatments and ingested flea and tick products on the market.

How do fleas and ticks get in your home?

Usually, fleas and ticks come into your home on your clothes or your pets’ furry bodies. While it’s not difficult to detect fleas on your dog or cat, these tiny insects usually aren’t evident indoors until a full-fledged infestation gets underway.

Ticks can be extremely dangerous and homeowners who like to hike in wooded areas or tromp through tall grass, with or without pets, should practice a tick inspection routine, checking themselves and their pets for ticks after each foray into wooden areas before going back indoors. A tick infestation in your home could be a telltale sign of a possible rodent infestation. Vectors, like fleas and ticks feed on rodents’ blood, spreading respiratory pathogens, like the Hantavirus through contact with rodents and their ticks that spread diseases to humans.

Truly Nolen believes you, as a homeowner, can do a lot to prevent fleas and ticks in your home by offering flea and tick control services if you encounter a flea or tick issue.

Before you go indoors

But, before you go indoors, take a look around at possible flea breeding areas outside your home. Fleas and ticks like tall grass, leaf litter, extra flower pots, stacked wood, brick piles and other clutter near your home. Fleas and ticks like shady, moist and cool spots to breed, so cleaning up your yard, pruning bushes and trimming your grass to let more sunlight in goes a long way in the prevention of pest breeding grounds in your yard. Avoid over-watering your grass and ornamental shrubs to avoid setting up ideal conditions for fleas and ticks to thrive.

Sweep your porch, patio, deck and underneath your patio furniture on a regular basis. Also clean your pets’ outdoor lounging and running areas, in addition to the spaces under decks and porches where your pets like to hide out and rest.

Exclusion

The best way to prevent pest problems starts with shutting down entryways and sealing cracks and crevices in your home’s foundation. Repairing cracks and crevices in windows, doors and near other entrance points to your home further promotes pest exclusion.

Truly’s comprehensive Flea and Tick Treatment Program

If there comes a time when you suspect a flea infestation in your home, Truly Nolen guarantees to eliminate your pest problem, taking your family, pets and home into careful consideration. Truly’s Flea and Tick Control plan starts with an interview and an inspection of your home, by highly trained and certified technicians to determine the extent of your flea or tick problem.

Our individualized service specialists then devise a plan for your home, initiating an IPM, or Integrated Pest Management, approach that includes non-invasive treatments and pet-friendly methods towards a solution specific to your home. Your Truly technician will outline areas that need to be prepped before treatment begins. Most of these procedures are common sense practices used in an effort to eliminate most insects from your home.

Prepping your home for treatment

Vacuum Everything

  • Thoroughly and completely vacuum everything you possibly can, even hard surfaces, as fleas and ticks can hide in the cracks and crevices of your home. Pay special attention to pet beds, home furnishings and throw rugs. Do not use a central vacuum system, however, as fleas, ticks, and their eggs can get into that plumbing where they will breed and infest your home from there.
  • Seal affected vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and dispose of vacuum cleaner bag in an outdoor receptacle, so fleas can’t escape.
  • Steam cleaning or shampooing carpet can help eliminate fleas but live fleas still require treatment.

Launder in Hot Water

  • Wash all pet bedding, bed linens and other exposed blankets and throws in hot water and dry on the highest setting possible.

Coordinate Pet Care

  • Apply your pets’ flea and tick medications, or arrange for your veterinarian to treat your pets, on the same day your Truly Nolen Flea and Tick treatment will be administered.
  • Remove animals from your home to avoid re-infestation.

Your Truly Nolen technician will skillfully administer an interior liquid application with residual content to provide Truly’s guaranteed ongoing, long-term flea and tick control protection. Your certified technician, using a low pressure spray, will focus on areas and surfaces where your pets sleep and on their favorite lounging areas, like your sofa and any other areas documented during your inspection. Low pressure sprays for flea and tick treatment can be administered through highly focused streams of products so they don’t become airborne affecting pets and people.

Truly, truly wishes you a happy pest-free spring and summer. But remember that if pests start taking the fun out of your warm weather activities, just contact us; we’ll put them in their place.

What the . . . ? Exploring the Unknown Facts and Oddities of Insects

facts and oddities of insects
Insects make up the largest segment of life forms on the planet, outnumbering the sum of all of the other members of the animal kingdom. That’s a lot of bugs. With over 1,000 known insect species in the world, it shouldn’t surprise most that insects fit into their own biological niches with some strange and interesting features, habits and activities.

Did you know that silkworm moths have eleven brains or that caterpillars have 248 muscles in their heads or that a snail can sleep for three years? Some insects, like ants are named for their unusual behaviors and others for the unpleasant pain they can inflict upon humans.

Crazy Ants

In the southern US, crazy ants, an invasive Argentinian import not only moves in erratic, jerky movements leaving behind a wacky trail, they are covered with reddish brown hairs and are attracted to electrical wiring and components. Their carcasses can clog electrical switches wreaking havoc on electrical components.

When one crazy ant wanders into a transformer and is electrocuted, it waves its abdomen, releasing pheromones that attract more crazy ants which come into contact with the first ant or a hot spot and are also electrocuted. The accumulation of crazy ant carcasses creates a pile up causing electrical malfunctions. Additionally, rumor has it that due to the crazy ant’s ability to adapt to diverse environments, crazy ants may be on track to eliminate fire ants in the south.

Bullet Ants

Anyone who’s been stung by fire ants is well aware of the reason they’re called “fire” ants, because of the burning, stinging pain they inflict on unsuspecting humans. But the bullet ant will make a fire ant sting feel like a walk in the park. Rating the highest on the Schmidt pain index, some say the bullet ants’ sting feels like being shot with a gun. Not only that, this 1.5″ long menace looks like a chunky, wingless wasp whose venom causes intense throbbing, burning and relentless pain for a whole 24 hours, with uncontrollable shaking for days on end afterwards.

And as if it’s not bad enough that bullet ants inflict unfathomable pain and suffering on their victims, some Brazilian tribes use bullet ants as part of their warrior rites of initiation, sewing bullet ants into gloves that are then placed on the hands of eligible young tribe members. In order to complete the initiation, candidates must wear the gloves for a full ten minutes, twenty times in the span of a couple of years. Situated right next to the bullet ant on the Schmidt pain index is the tarantula hawk wasp.

Tarantula Hawk Wasp

While the thought of tarantulas makes most humans panic, evidently the sting of their predator, the enormous tarantula hawk wasp can be so powerful that it has been described as intensely electric. So much so in fact that in a peer-reviewed journal, invertebrate specialists suggest that the only thing a human should do after being stung by a tarantula hawk wasp, is “just lie down and start screaming.”

Scientists say even though the pain lasts only three minutes, most victims are unable to function mentally or physically after the stinging event, so in order to not injure themselves, they should just stay put and deal with the pain by screaming. While certain wasps and ants can cause humans to suffer, that’s nothing compared to some of the bizarre and sinister habits of more than a few wasp species, who control other pests and nurture their young in a most diabolical way.

Jewel Wasps: So resourceful, genius even

Jewel wasps, also called emerald cockroach wasps, because they prey on cockroaches for food, but not for themselves. Jewel wasps prey on roaches to feed to their young in a very interesting yet cruel manner. Initially, the jewel wasp partially paralyzes her victim. Next, she injects venom directly into the roach’s brain to block neurotransmitters that render the roach alive, but under her spell, with no will of its own.

Dragging her zombie-like victim into her underground lair, the jewel wasp lays an egg in the roach’s abdomen. When the egg hatches, the larval wasps eat the live cockroach’s insides. In eight days, the roach finally dies and the young wasps emerge. Insects reproduce in many strange ways. Some exhibit even stranger mating habits.

Femme Fatale Fireflies

Fireflies and lightning bugs, always a signal of summer’s arrival delight children and adults alike with their spectacular luminous displays. While every firefly species has a unique flicker code that attracts mates of the same species, scientists note an interesting trait among female fireflies. It seems that some lady fireflies, looking for food after mating, mimic the flicker code of other fireflies. When a like male firefly responds to her, she attacks and devours him. Some entomologists believe the sperm of the male firefly drives the urge in female fireflies to eat the males of another species. Fireflies are fun but the thought of giant insects make for some interesting and sometimes scary observations.

Giant Insects

Super-sized anything always grab our attentions. While some of the largest insects in the world make most people squirm, some are incredibly beautiful. Atlas moths, the largest moths in the world, commonly frequent the Malay Archipelago in Indonesia. Bird-sized insects, with a wingspan of at least one foot in length, Atlas moths’ wings can measure more than 60 square inches in total wing area.

The titan beetle, however, native to the Amazon rain forest can grow up to 6.5 inches in length and can easily snap a pencil in two with its giant mandibles and can reportedly rip through human flesh as well. The giant weta, a cousin of the cricket, is native to New Zealand and weighs in at about 2.5 ounces making it one of the heaviest insects in the world. Fortunately, giant wetas can’t fly like Africa’s 4-inch, 3.5 ounce Goliath beetle, an insect in contention for the world’s largest bug title.

Truly Nolen knows how interesting insects can be. Thinking like a bug helps Truly Nolen control and eliminate pests when they threaten your home, family, property or peace of mind. Contact Truly Nolen with your pest control questions or to set up a free inspection.

I Woke Up Like This: The Beauty of Bug Metamorphosis

Bug Metamorphosis
While we’re all familiar with the trope of the not-so-attractive caterpillar disappearing into a cocoon, then emerging some time later, transformed into a beautiful butterfly. You may or may not know that some arthropods go through this type of complete metamorphosis or that other arthropods undergo incomplete metamorphosis, gradual metamorphosis or no metamorphosis at all in their paths to maturity.

Butterflies are beautiful but the vast majority of arthropods flying around, in or near your home can be a sign of a larger pest infestation. Truly Nolen explores the life cycles of some bugs and arthropods that homeowners should be aware of in controlling household pests.

Here’s the thing, it seems entomologists and bug scientists all over the country divide and subdivide metamorphic stages to the point that some arthropods fall in one type of metamorphosis classification on one chart and in a different category on another.

Complete and incomplete metamorphosis can be easily defined as the stages differ in number. In complete metamorphosis, the four stages of an arthropod’s maturity are different in appearance and function.
 

Complete Metamorphosis

  • Arthropods whose life cycle consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult undergo complete metamorphosis and are known as holometabolous arthropods.
  • The larva form appears dramatically different than the adult arthropod.
  • This type of transformation provides arthropods significant survival advantages, as larva and adults don’t compete for food sources and adults and larvae are targets of different predators.
  • 85% of all known arthropods go through complete metamorphosis and include beetles, wasps, bees, ants, flies, moths and butterflies, along with fleas, alderflies, caddisflies, lacewings and scorpion-flies.

 

Incomplete Metamorphosis

Incomplete Bug Metamorphosis

  • Arthropods whose life cycle consists of three stages: egg, nymph and adult undergo incomplete metamorphosis and are known as hemimetabolous arthropods.
  • Beginning life as a wingless nymph, hemimetabolous arthropods resemble an adult in miniature.
  • Shedding their exoskeletons, as they grow larger, arthropods begin to look like their parents as they grow into adulthood.
  • Flying arthropods gradually develop wings, some permanent and some fall off after mating.
  • Incomplete metamorphosis occurs in arthropods including mayflies, dragonflies, damselflies, stoneflies, grasshoppers, praying mantids, pondskaters, water bugs and stick-insects.
  • Refers to arthropods that have aquatic nymphs or naiads that can differ considerably because of their need for gills from the adult form.

 

Gradual Metamorphosis

Gradual Bug Metamorphosis

  • Paurometabolous arthropods go through a simple or gradual metamorphosis.
  • The nymphs look like small adults, live in the same habitat as the adults and if the arthropod has wings, they will develop as external pads.
  • Also often listed in the incomplete metamorphosis category, this category includes cockroaches, termites, praying mantids, earwigs, web-spinners, booklice, parasitic lice, stinkbugs, plant bugs, bed bugs, cicadas, aphids, scale arthropods and thrips.
  • Tarantulas, brown recluse, black widow and most spiders undergo simple metamorphosis.

 

No Metamorphosis

No Metamorphosis

  • Ametabolous arthropods refer to the most primitive classification of arthropods that don’t develop wings as adults.
  • Nymphs and adults differ only in size and the ability to reproduce by laying eggs!
  • An exception to this rule are scorpions who go through a process called vivipary. Instead of laying eggs, scorpions give live birth, carrying their young on their backs, to nourish them until at least their first molt.
  • Arthropods with no metamorphic stages molt as they mature, shedding their exoskeletons as they outgrow them.
  • Some of these arthropods continue to molt as adults.
  • This type of metamorphosis includes silverfish and bristletails.

Arthropod metamorphoses can be fascinating, particularly in the miracle of the butterfly. While butterflies benefit mankind on many different levels, aesthetically and biologically, learning to identify life phases of arthropods such as carpenter ants, termites, pantry moths and cockroaches, may help alert homeowners to the signs of household pest infestations. For your peace of mind and with your home’s integrity in mind, contact your Truly Nolen location and ask about our Four Seasons Pest Prevention plan today!

The Cryptomaster Behemoth

A newly discovered arachnid TRULY has one of the coolest (and maybe scariest) sounding names of any creature!

Cryptomaster Leviathan
Source: Marshal Hedin via Wikimedia Commons
What comes to mind when you hear “Cryptomaster Behemoth”? Maybe you think of some kind of other-worldly guardian armed with a sword and shield while protecting a mausoleum. Perhaps a very, very tall computer programmer who encrypts data comes to mind? Or maybe you think of both: a tremendous crypt-keeping beast that stays current with today’s technology by having its tomb outfitted with high-speed internet and a Wi-Fi connection. I prefer to think that “Cryptomaster Behemoth” references the last one, mostly because of the visual it brings to mind.

The truth is the Cryptomaster Behemoth is not related to any of those. What it is related to is actually another previously recorded species of the Cryptomaster genus called Leviathan. Cryptomaster Leviathan was the first and original Cryptomaster and it was not until January 2016 that an article citing the new species was approved. The Cryptomasters are arachnids that are related to “Harvestmen”, or what we commonly refer to as “Daddy Long Legs”. Harvestmen are probably best known for their recent videos that can be seen all across social media. Each video is the same – the camera is focused on what looks like a large pile of pine needles until someone touches it and the whole mound comes to life; each “pine needle” is actually one leg, belonging to a Harvestman. It is at this point in the video that any nearby human starts running as if his or her life depended on it as hundreds of Daddy Long Legs scatter in all different directions.

So how did Cryptomaster Behemoth get its name?

The genus portion of its name “Cryptomaster” was named because it prefers to remain unseen. They always hide in the landscape, usually underneath some decaying, moist forest material such as stumps or leaves. Clearly, since the Leviathan species was thought to be the only Cryptomaster for decades, the name is well-deserved.

The last part of the name and part that defines the species, “Behemoth” was given due to the large size of this arachnid. Similar to Cryptomaster Leviathan, the Behemoth is much bigger than other arachnids that are genetically similar. According to the research team who discovered Cryptomaster Behemoth, both names, Leviathan and Behemoth, are from the Book of Job in the Bible and describe two huge and strong beasts.

Everything is relative, though. The Cryptomaster Behemoth is not very big compared to a human. In fact, Cryptomaster Behemoth has a body length of about four millimeters. At this size, the Cryptomaster Behemoth could sit comfortably on your smallest finger’s nail.

So, despite having a name suited for some kind of colossal monstrosity, the Cryptomaster Behemoth is really nothing more than a harmless Daddy Long Legs. Therefore, if you were hoping to see one on your next visit to the forests of Oregon, you might want to practice your woodland hide-and-go-seek skills and bring a magnifying glass. Truthfully, thank goodness these things are not as big as their name implies!


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