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Category: Extreme Bugs

Extreme Bugs: The Fastest-The Desert Locust

Extreme Bugs The Desert LocustHave you ever seen an insect pulled over in a school zone for speeding? While that may not seem likely, for our latest Extreme Bug, the Desert Locust, the fact that it can fly more than 21 miles per hour into the wind is just one of the amazing aspects of this close cousin of the grasshopper.

In addition to its incredible speed – the fastest flying insect ever recorded – the Desert Locust is also one of the oldest recorded bugs – it appears in both the Bible and Qur’an, and while you may not realize it, you’ve probably even seen a representation of them in a movie.

In the Mummy movies, the one bug people remember is the scarab. But when they show a desert swarm – or when God calls down His wrath on Pharaoh and the Egyptians in the Ten Commandments (as well as the Bible story in Exodus it’s based on) – those are Desert Locusts.

It may seem surprising that the Desert Locust starts out as a mostly solitary insect. Sure, the pregnant mother locust lays up to 100 eggs at one, um, sitting, but most nymphs or hoppers spread out once they crack through the foam the mother encases the eggs in while they’re growing.

In fact, the mostly greenish hoppers and even the winged adults are happy to just wander around and eat the equivalent of their body weight each day.

But get a pack of these adult winged locusts together, especially if their food supply starts to dwindle as a result of a drought, and an interesting thing happens.

Desert Locusts: The Incredible Hulks of the Insect World?

The scientific term is polyphenism, which just means they can alter their physical form based on environmental conditions. With Desert Locusts, when more of them get crowded together, their hind legs start banging into each other and they undergo a change.

Think of Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk. The Desert Locusts‘ bodies become shorter. Their color changes to yellow and black. And they start pumping pheromones that cause them to become attracted to each other, shifting from solitary insects to a raging, gregarious swarm of hungry grasshoppers that can devastate any nearby crops. Wow!

Swarms descend on unsuspecting farmlands, wiping them out in mere minutes. Then the swarm moves on, travelling 1-200 kilometers per day. They routinely glide across the Red Sea and even crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to the Caribbean in the late 80’s in search of food.

A single swarm can cover up to 1200 square kilometers and can number 50 to 100 billion locusts per swarm.

Luckily, our wetter and generally colder weather in the United States and across Europe means that the Desert Locust will likely never pose a threat to us like they do to the Middle East.

While the everyday grasshoppers we encounter in Florida won’t completely decimate your garden and yard like their Desert Locust brethren, they do have a tendency to exhaust their food supply before moving on. That includes your garden and your citrus tree leaves.

Our Go Green Plus 3 may not eliminate these ravenous creatures, but give us a call today and we’ll explain how we help our clients from Parrish to North Port with our 100% organic pest control solutions!

Extreme Bugs: The Brightest – Fire Beetle!

Extreme Bugs Fire BeetleIn the award-winning film by Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water, the filmmaker’s latest creature creation in moments of extreme emotion lights up with a strange, otherworldly glow. The makeup and effects people working on the film managed this with a special UV paint and say they were inspired by several undersea and insect creatures in real life that exhibit bioluminescence!

The glowing insect most of us are familiar with is the summer firefly, although there is some debate as to whether or not they appear in some parts of Florida. However, as bright as those little guys you collected in a jar are, the Extreme Bug we’re highlighting today is the brightest of all – the Fire Beetle!

Meet the Fire Beetle

Fire Beetles, or Cucujos as they are called in Mexico & South America, are a species of beetles known as click beetles. They got the name from their ability to flex and snap their body segments, with, you guessed it, a “Click!” sound.  They use this ability to launch themselves into the air, or get their bodies turned right side up, especially when faced with a predator.

Pyrophorus noctilucus are similar to fireflies (who’re also a beetle) in their ability to glow brightly from two light organs at the bottom of their first torso segment. Instead of flashing their light on and off like fireflies, the Fire Beetles glow constantly, although they can get brighter to startle an incoming predator. They have the bioluminescence in every stage of development, including laying glowing eggs!

While flying around, the two glowing spots on its back and one on its abdomen shines bright – up to 45 millilamberts. How bright is a millilambert? The glow from the Fire Beetle is as bright as a single LED flashlight. But unlike the flashlight, the Pyrophorus noctilucus generates 100% of their energy in light. A standard flashlight only gives out 10% of light, the rest of the illumination coming from the heat the flashlight generates.

When they’re not glowing, Fire Beetles are mostly brown and measure an inch to an inch-and-a-half long. And we do see them from time to time in Florida, along with our Caribbean neighbors. They eat mostly pollen, aphids and scale insects that munch on your garden, so they’re helpful to have around.

Of course, if you’re discovering other creepy-crawlies around your home and yard, give us a call. Our highly trained staff are experts at taking care of just about every pest you’ll encounter, from rodents to insects. And we do it all with 100% organic, all natural solutions. For year round protection, our most popular solution from Bradenton Beach to Port Charlotte is our exclusive Go Green Plus 3. A full house treatment and 3 annual visits to bolster your protection. We’d love to have you join our family of satisfied customers!

Extreme Bugs: The Saddleback Caterpillar

Extreme Bugs Saddleback Caterpillar LOUISIANAAny school-age child can tell you that a creepy crawly caterpillar folds itself into a cocoon and dies, only to emerge as a beautiful butterfly. It’s a story of transformation, resurrection, and beauty. Except it doesn’t always work that way.

Our latest Extreme Bug is an example of how the process can work in reverse, how beauty isn’t always good and how interesting God’s creation is.

Sounds interesting…

The Acharia stimulea is a slug moth that can be found all across the Eastern side of the United States, including Florida. Once it emerges from its cocoon, it’s a rather glossy chocolate brown and black moth with just a few white specks to distinguish it from others in the Lepidoptera family.

However, before it enters its silk-encased seasonal nap, it is far more beautiful and deadly, and known colloquially as the Saddleback Caterpillar (pictured above).

Almost an inch in length, while it looks a whole lot prettier than most caterpillars and can be spotted in apple, oak, aster, dogwood, elm, maple, linden and citrus trees, touching it is a definite no-no.

The sharp bristles on its body that flow out under the colorful coloring of the ‘saddle’ portion contain a venom so powerful that the barest touch can cause a sting as painful – and often more so – than a bee sting. And it lasts a bit longer.

So how do I identify it?

Examined from a safe distance, you can see that the caterpillar almost appears to have two horned heads, like the push-me pull-me from Doctor Dolittle. In between the double-pronged ends sits the colorful green and red carpet-like backing, framed in white, that gives the Saddleback Caterpillar its name.

When born, the Acharia stimulea larvae are almost glowingly translucent. Within a month or so they develop their characteristic coloring and live for another 3-4 months, engorging themselves on leaves before wrapping themselves in an extremely tight cocoon for their metamorphosis.

Tell me more!

Another difference between normal caterpillars and Saddleback Caterpillars is that instead of the tiny clutching feet borne by most of their species, they could be likened more to a spider – little suckered feet that ooze bits of high-tensile silk.

The moths’ mating flight period is June to July for up to 24-hours per coupling, and in Florida, the caterpillars emerge and are most active in February and March.

But it’s dangerous, right?

Again, if you see this colorful insect, DO NOT TOUCH it. Just leave them alone. Okay, maybe snap a photo. But be careful. If you do get poked, get the tiny spiky hairs out immediately, then head to the hospital for treatment.

If you have any other insects invading your home or yard, give us a call here at Good News Pest Solutions and we’ll be happy to send out one of our highly trained technicians to take care of the problem with our 100% natural, organic pest control solutions that are safe for the whole family.  From Bradenton to North Port, you can count on Good News Pest Solutions!

Pest of the Month: Cockroaches

Pest of the Month CockroachesSeptember is known for a lot of things – the start of the school year, the end of the harvest, even in 1752 for losing 11 days (when England and her colonies joined the rest of the world in switching from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar)!

And September now holds the distinction for having the cockroach as its Pest of the Month!

They’re Ancient

While cockroaches themselves only live about a year, cockroaches as a species are one of the oldest ones on the planet. Whether you believe in the theory of evolution or God’s divine creation, cockroaches have been here since the beginning. There are, depending on who you talk to, between 3500 and 4500 species of these adaptable suckers, although luckily only about 30 of them live near humans.

They’re the Ultimate Survivor

Thanks to some confusion in the wake of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the general public now believes that cockroaches will be the final survivors of a nuclear holocaust.  That’s not entirely true.  The fact is, they would not survive a nuclear explosion, but they can take a LOT more radiation than we can – up to 10x as much.

On top of that, cockroaches have many other remarkable survival skills – they can survive without food for a month, can hold their breath for 40 minutes, and can survive for a week without their heads.

Cockroaches will eat ANYthing. Even their own mates. Cockroaches prefer meats, starches, and sweets, including beer, but they will eat just about anything to survive, including other insects and other cockroaches.  There are even fossil records that appear to prove cockroaches ate dinosaur poop back in the day.

They Come in All Sizes

A day old baby cockroach is about the size of a speck of dust – but can already run almost as fast as their elders. 3 miles an hour may not sound like much, but that’d be the equivalent of a human sprinting 200 miles an hour. Babies grow to adult size in a little over a month, but by then can have spread more than their share of allergens and diseases.

Average adult cockroaches range in size from ½ to 2-inches long. Here in Florida, we’re familiar with some of the larger versions of the classic German cockroach. But the largest cockroach is a species in South America, the Megaloblatta longipennis. It grows to 6 inches – with a wingspan of over a foot! That’s a little bigger than our Palmetto Bugs.

They’re Sometimes Cultivated for Medicine

Yes, believe it or not, in China, they farm and harvest cockroaches. According to university scientists there, American cockroaches can be cooked and consumed or ground into a powder that is utilized in burn creams and cosmetic facial masks.

Robotics scientists are also studying cockroaches’ exoskeletons and wings and their legs for prosthetic advancements. Of course, we’ve told you about several of these advancements and even the Robo-Roach.

We should also clarify at this point that the common names for many cockroach species are the result of nationalism – or rather anti-nationalism. Here in the states we have German cockroaches and in China and Africa they have American cockroaches. The names are sometimes thought to correspond with their point of origin, but more likely are examples of naming a bug they didn’t care for after the society they despised, or even the indigent population they’ve displaced.

How do I Get Rid of Them?

Although cockroaches, like all God’s creatures, do serve some purpose – they help cultivate the soil and do assist with certain aspects of natural recycling – none of us want them in our homes or businesses.  So, since September is the beginning of the last third of the year, this is the perfect time to start our Go Green Plus 3 treatment. We’re known from Bradenton to Punta Gorda for our all-natural, safe, 100% organic pest control methods that keep the crawling bugs out of your house. Call us and one of our highly trained staff can get you started. You might also want to ask about Term Assure 365, which adds our exclusive termite prevention, for just a little more.

And if you want to buy a Robo-Roach, well, just google it.

Extreme Bugs: American Carrion Beetle

Extreme Bugs - Corpse Eating BeetleWe’ve highlighted quite a few interesting extreme bugs over the years. It’s really incredible all the variety that God created in our world, and there are few scientific classes with more diversity than the insect world.

We think this month’s extreme bug is one of the most interesting. The American Carrion Beetle may seem like just a slightly larger than normal beetle, flying and crawling around, but these beetles actually help solve crimes!

What do they look like?

The Necrophila Americana are mostly found in the Eastern half of the United States (although there are other species in Asia). As we mentioned, they’re larger than most beetles – a half an inch long or bigger, and they have distinctive markings: a prominent yellow pronotum (kind of a cape that falls over their ‘shoulders’) with a black jagged spot in the center.

Sometimes they’re even mistaken for bumble bees when they’re flying around.

Carrion Beetles? That sounds a little disgusting.

It’s true, American Carrion Beetles get their name from their diet, from their earliest days as larvae through the end of their life, they devour decaying flesh. They will occasionally dine on rotting fruit, fungi and vegetation, but they much prefer the taste of carrion – human and other mammals.

After they feed, they leave some leftovers for the eggs that they lay on or near the decaying flesh. The eggs hatch larvae within a few days right next to their food supply.

It might be easier to think of them as the ultimate recyclers – repurposing nasty rotting meat to preserve life. Then there’s their crime fighting abilities.

Solve Crimes?

If you’ve watched any of those police shows on TV, whether its CSI, Bones or Law & Order, you’ve most likely seen at least one episode where they use entomology – the study of insects – to identify how long a body’s been dead.

Usually the first insects to show up on a dead body of any sort are flies – blowflies. But carrion beetles, once they find a food source, can be very aggressive about keeping other potential buffet sharers away.

The beetles will dig under their lunch, eventually covering it up with loose dirt, or working together to carry the corpse away. And because they’ve laid their eggs on the rotten flesh, they’ll often devour the fly larvae as they hatch to protect their young.

Because their life cycle is so distinct and specific, the guys and gals in the lab can analyze the age or generation of beetles they find on a dead body to accurately calculate the time of death – or at least dumping.

We should point out though, that these guys aren’t fun at parties, as the definitive example of the old adage, you are what you eat. To scare away predators, carrion beetles smell… just like their favorite meal.

We hope you don’t ever have a use for the American carrion beetle, but rest assured, if you run across some, you can make us your second call (after 911 or Animal Control). Our field agents are highly trained and know just how to handle just about any insect-related matter you’ll find. And we do it all naturally, with no harsh chemicals like a lot of other guys. And we cover a large range – from North Port to Sarasota and everywhere on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

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