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Insect Mating Rituals Lessons in Love from the Wild

Love is in the air this Valentine’s Day! Similar to humans, insects have their own unique techniques for finding and selecting the perfect Valentine. Forget flowers and chocolates, insects tap into their natural instincts when searching for love and engage in some pretty unique rituals in the process of trying to attract the right mate. While the mating habits of insects appear relatively simple from a human perspective, it can actually be quite the opposite. Insect mating rituals can be complicated and full of both romance and rejection.

The search for a mate can be a daunting task for humans and insects alike. Unlike humans (loosely speaking), insects have as specific wish list of requirements when it comes to determining what they want and need from a potential mate. With each type of insect using their own unique tactics for attracting the attention and affection of worthy suitors, first the insects must find each other and agree to mate. Insects typically engage in the widespread human practice of gift exchange prior to mating. However, instead of flowers or chocolate, male dance flies for example, are known to give prospective female mates an elaborate silk ball. Some species of insects will even go that extra mile and include edible prey within their gift, or fill the air with sweet smells in order seduce a potential mate.

In the world of insects, the search for love isn’t always a case of males pursuing females. Sometimes the females take love into their own hands. Female termites for instance, release mating pheromones that act as a sweet-smelling perfume intended to entice male termites. Once the male termite acknowledges the female working hard to allure him, they both break off their wings in order to symbolize that they are now a couple. Female fire flies on the other hand, use visual cues and glow to get the male’s attention. Males attracted by the female’s glow, use their sense of smell to locate the female and then mate. Female scorpion flies have very particular mating habits. These particular females choose their mates based on saliva-secretion ability. As the female waits patiently the male scorpion fly basically produces a large ball of saliva that serves as a nutritious nuptial gift for his new sweetheart.

Honeybees The honeybee’s mating ritual is truly fascinating. Queen honeybees are selectively bred in a special “queen cell” in the hive. Queen bees are fed royal jelly by worker bees in an attempt to induce them to become sexually mature. Virgin honeybee queens that survive to see adulthood, without being killed by rivals, will take to flight mating with only a dozen or so male drones out of tens of thousands of eligible bachelors in the hive. Females also run the show in the world of fire ant colonies. The queen ant is in charge of laying eggs and even has control over the number of male and female eggs she decides to lay. The queen’s only priority is to produce a replacement queen. Worker ants on the contrary, have no use for males after mating and shortly afterwards they typically die off. If the queen needs males, she can just simply lay more male eggs replenishing the male population.

The females aren’t the only ones initiating mating calls in the wild, some male insects have their own unique ways of seducing the lucky ladies that cross their paths as well. Male grasshoppers are all about serenading their potential mate. There are over 400 songs male grasshoppers sing to females, each with its own meaning. Some species of male grasshoppers also incorporate elaborate courtship routines. The Syrbula Admirabilis species for example, displays 18 different poses that involve using their palp, legs, and wings. Other species of male grasshoppers flash brilliantly colored wings while pursuing the female, whereas some remaining species relinquish dating entirely. While male grasshoppers are focused on winning over their female counterparts, male water striders use aggressive tactics to ensure that their mates don’t reject them. The male water strider creates tiny ripples in the water that actually lure predatory fish towards prospective female mates. The male will continue tapping his legs against the water’s surface until the female either agrees to mate with him, or ends up becoming fish’s prey. Resorting to a more coercive copulation, the male mounts the floating female from above, so the female is more at risk from predators since she’s on the water’s surface. This menacing pick-up tactic likely started after females evolved a “genital shield” resembling a chastity belt. The evolution of this “chastity belt” meant that mating could only happen with female consent. Unfortunately, female water striders don’t have much of a choice when it comes to mating, considering it’s either mate or deal with advancing predatory fish. Perhaps fire ants could provide some evolutionary tips to these ladies!

After each species of insect has identified with whom they want to partner with, they must work to make the magic happen, something we commonly refer to as “courtship” or “dating”. Many insects use extensive courtship rituals to choose their partners. Insect mating and breeding rituals, for the most part, are similar to that of humans however, the focus is primarily on reproducing and less on romance.

While most animals mate simply for the livelihood of their species, there are some mating rituals that are actually in fact a bit romantic (the male grasshoppers’ serenading for example). Some will argue that nothing speaks to the beauty of reproduction better than nature’s vast collection of intricate and sophisticated mating rituals, uniform only to one another in their beauty.

Don’t Let Fabric Pests Ruin Your Wardrobe

As you start digging through the back of your closet for warmer clothing this fall season, keep an eye out for household pests that may be destroying your clothes. Even though these pests are not usually disease or germ carriers, their presence can be a nuisance and difficult to eliminate. It’s important to ensure your clothes and other fabrics are protected as these pests can cause considerable damage before you even know they are present.

Generally, it’s the newly hatched larvae that do the damage on everything from sweaters, pants, jackets, wool rugs, to decorative needlework on your walls. Typically insect damage occurs on fabrics containing natural or animal fibers such as wool, mohair, silk, cotton, leather, fur, feathers, down, and any synthetics blended with these natural fibers.

Clothes Moths

Clothes Moth

Clothes moths are a light tan color, have very narrow wings, and can grow up to 1/2 inch long. It is the larva (small white worm looking) that actually eats wool garments, not the adult moths themselves. But if you see the adult clothes moths around you can assume they are laying eggs. Clothes moths pose no serious health concern to humans; however, an infestation can quickly ruin rarely used or stored clothing such as old military uniforms, blankets, feathered hats, tuxedos, overcoats, evening gowns, hats, antique dolls and toys, and wall hangings.

They thrive in dark, moist areas, such as closets and attics, where larvae have easy access to food sources like naturally occurring fibers such as wool and cotton. The damage from clothes moths appears as many small holes throughout the garment. Once you identify the presence of clothes moths, it is important to take action immediately. It is rare that infestations will be isolated to one particular location; moths like to travel around the home, searching for new places to lay eggs. Be sure to check carefully to find everything that has been infested. Clean, treat, or get rid of infested items. It may be better to throw out an infested item to protect uninfected woolens.

Washing items in a hot water wash cycle can be enough to kill all life cycles of the moth and ensure pests are removed at all life stages. Conversely, freezing temperatures can also kill any eggs or larvae in your wool garments. Depending on your environment, you can put the clothes outside on a cold day or use a freezer. Getting rid of clothes moths can be difficult so if signs of an infestation are severe enough, seek the help of a pest control professional as additional treatments may be required to eliminate the infestation.

Carpet Beetles

Carpet Beetle

Carpet beetles commonly cause damage to fabrics such as wool, silk, leather, and fur; they do not feed on synthetic fibers. Just like the clothes moth, the carpet beetle larvae are the ones to do the damage to your clothing. Carpet beetle larvae measure 1/8 to 1/4 inch long and appear to be densely covered with tiny hairs or bristles. The garment damage appears in one portion of a garment, or concentrated area. They easily find food in obscure places and can be easily dispersed throughout the home considering their unique ability to travel. Carpet beetles can be difficult to control and can cause extensive damage if left unchecked.

Getting rid of carpet beetles starts by ensuring you remove conditions conducive to infestations. Start by eliminating buildup of lint, dead insects and hair found inside the home. Wash drapes and other washable items in a hot water cycle, as they may contain eggs, larvae, and other adult carpet beetles. To treat items that are stuffed with hair or feathers, simply placing items in a dryer may not be enough – you may want to enlist the help of a pest control company. The application of targeted treatments can ensure proper removal throughout the home.



Silverfish are carrot-shaped insects with wingless, flattened bodies that are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long and silver in color. They feed on insulation, carbohydrates, starches, and proteins and both adults and nymphs damage fabrics. They are attracted to and commonly found in natural fabrics such as linen, rayon, and cotton. They require very high humidity or access to water, moderate temperatures, and dark places. Infestations are common around leaking pipes and closet areas.

They thrive on the tiniest scraps of food and once they establish a food source, they will remain and breed in the area. They tend to be most active at night and feed on natural starches and glues, leaving visible damage on finer fabrics such as silk, cotton, linen, and rayon. Silverfish eat at the surface leaving a “shaved” look, but will usually not leave actual holes in the fabric. Although they prefer starchy food, silverfish are quite able to digest cellulose and will devour your books as eagerly as the food stains on your garments! Your local Truly Nolen pest control company can help you protect your home from outside silverfish intruders.


CricketThe most common types of crickets are the field cricket and the house cricket. Crickets are about three-quarters of an inch in length and black or brown in color. Although crickets rarely cause any problems and pose no serious health risks, many people find their chirping annoying. Only house crickets can reproduce inside the home. Cricket infestations are rarely problematic since crickets thrive outside. If crickets are a common disturbance in your home, following up with a pest control expert will help you “cricket-proof” the interior of your home.

Tips for keeping your clothes pest free!

  1. Store only clean garments. Thoroughly clean clothes prior to storage by emptying pockets, washing to remove food stains, perfumes, and perspiration as these can be a reliable food source for a wardrobe-destroying infestation. Have garments dry cleaned (without starch) or place in dryer on high heat for 15 minutes to eliminate any insect eggs or mildew spores.
  2. Regularly clean and vacuum. Clean rugs and carpets, draperies, upholstered furniture, closets and anywhere else larvae can hide. When you are finished, immediately dispose of the vacuum bag.
  3. To avoid future infestations, store clothes in containers located in a cool, dry place. Use garment storage bags made of cotton and or vinyl. Make sure to utilize breathable bags for leather or fur garments. Preventative products such as moth balls and cedar products can provide additional protection. If the insects cannot lay eggs, they will not eat your clothes.
  4. Be careful what you buy second-hand. Always launder or dry-clean woolens that are bought from thrift stores or given to you as hand-me-downs. You could have unexpected guests along with that sweater!

Don’t let these fabric-eating pests ruin your winter wardrobe. Want to leave it to the professionals? Contact a trained Truly Nolen pest control expert. Schedule a free inspection today!

Keeping Mosquitoes in Check

Keeping Mosquitoes in Check

They say April showers bring May flowers, but there’s something else all of that water brings — mosquitoes. These bloodsucking insects are known for an annoying bite that itches and causes a small rash. Mosquitoes are disease-carrying insects that can spread the potentially deadly West Nile Virus and other illnesses.

Residents in most states should expect to see a large surge in mosquito activity in the coming months. Truly Nolen is already experiencing increased calls from around the country from residents, offices, and restaurants experiencing problems with mosquitoes.

Mosquito Repellants Are Not the Answer

For people who are frequently plagued by mosquito bites, bug sprays and candles containing chemical repellants may seem like the perfect solution to keep these insects in check. Unfortunately the chemical in these repellants — DEET — does not actually make mosquitoes leave the area. Instead the chemical is designed to block the mosquito’s ability to smell humans and therefore prevent them from landing on someone to bite and feed. While chemical repellants may save you from the occasional mosquito bite, they do nothing to address where the mosquitoes are coming from, causing you to spend more money in mosquito repellant products without really addressing the source of the problem.

Preventing an Invasion

A mosquito will spend most of its weeklong life near a favorable water source, which provides it food and favorable conditions to mature. Fountains, troughs, buckets, birdbaths, and ponds with standing water all provide female mosquitoes the perfect place for their eggs to grow. Removing these sources of standing water removes the potential for more mosquitoes to breed.

Once you’ve emptied some of these mosquito-spawning areas, it’s up to you to ensure standing water does not accumulate around your home. An effective mosquito prevention regimen also requires consistent landscaping, as mosquitoes enjoy hiding in tall grass, weeds, and other vegetation.

Keeping mosquitoes away from your home is extremely difficult and time-consuming and can keep you from enjoying all of the benefits of summertime. Instead a mosquito control program, like Truly Nolen’s Four Seasons pest control approach, can protect all areas of your home from all kinds of pests, especially the extremely annoying mosquito.

If your summer calendar is beginning to fill up fast, it’s important to ensure your home is protected from these voracious pests and the illnesses they can cause. A free pest inspection provided by a Truly Nolen technician can identify areas where female mosquitoes are likely to lay eggs.

If you’ve had to smack a few mosquitoes off in the past few weeks or are looking to avoid a potential infestation around your home, calling Truly Nolen can help you spend less time worrying about unwanted pests and more time enjoying the outdoors.