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The Perfect Cranberry Sauce

The Perfect Cranberry SauceAh, Cranberry Sauce. The fruitcake of the Thanksgiving Feast. Do you put it on the turkey? The stuffing? The crackers? Does anyone actually eat it? Just how did this end up on the dinner table for the biggest meal of the year?

Anyone who’s ever experienced any problems with their internal body plumbing knows that cranberry juice is a stalwart over the counter remedy when you can’t get antibiotics from your doctor quick enough. And that legacy of healing actually comes from the native tribes in New England that the early settlers met.

So whether you choose to believe the American mythos of the First Thanksgiving or not, there’s no question that those tribes passed on the story of the powerful red berry to their new neighbors before things started getting too tense. And that alone earns the cranberry a place on your Thanksgiving table.

So How Did it End up in a Can?

The way most families typically eat cranberry, er, jelly (sauce is a stretch!) has its own very American roots. The natives the early European settlers met had always harvested the cranberry by hand, and that method existed for the first half of our nation’s history.

But in the 1930’s, growers discovered that by flooding the cranberry bogs, the cranberries begin to loosen from their vines and float to the surface – like in those Ocean Spray commercials. That allows the farmers to use mechanical means to harvest thousands of berries in the time it used to take to harvest a couple hundred. And it required a lot fewer people.

Speaking of Ocean Spray

Even before they discovered wet harvesting, the farmer’s cooperative known as Ocean’s Spray had found a use for the berries that weren’t pretty enough to sell at your local grocery store. They mashed the berries up and pushed them into a can. The berries even helped, supplying natural pectin.

Once wet harvesting increased the supply of cranberries, Ocean Spray began marketing the canned cranberry jelly throughout the year (although the November sales are more than 4 times as high as every other time of the year combined). And that’s good enough for most people.

But We’re Not ‘Most People’

Thanks to Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray, et al, the rest of us feel more than a little pressure to make an entire homemade meal – so we’ve got a fantastic (and simple) recipe from the Food Network for the Perfect Cranberry Sauce that will not only be Instagram-worthy, but something people will actually eat.

What You’ll Need

12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries into a saucepan

1 cup sugar

1 strip orange or lemon zest

2 tablespoons water

How You’ll Craft It

Empty the bag of cranberries into a saucepan. From those, take a 1/2 cup and set them aside in a small bowl. Stir the sugar, zest and water into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft. It should take approximately 10 minutes. Turn the burner up to medium heat and cook until the cranberries burst, about another 12 minutes. Bring the heat back down to low and stir in the cranberries from the bowl. You can add a little more sugar, and salt and pepper to taste while it cools to room temperature. Snap a quick pic to become the envy of your friends and serve with dinner.

We’d just like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to you for being our family, friends, readers and clients over the years. While our business is pest control, our heart is the Good News, and we’re privileged to share it with you. Thanks for being a part of the Good News Pest Solutions story, and if there’s anything we can do, just let us know.

Pest of the Month: White Footed Ants

GNPS POM White Footed AntOften mistaken by homeowners as one of species of ‘Crazy Ants,’ no one’s quite sure how the White Footed Ant arrived in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana, as well as the East Indies, but they were first identified at a tree nursery near Miami in 1986.

The Technomyrmex albipes quickly spread across Florida like they had across Japan and Indonesia 125 years earlier. They measure 2-3 millimeters long and are shades of dark brown and black. They are best separated from other ants by their pale yellow to white feet, hence the name.

Are they a problem?

White footed ants don’t bite or sting and in fact have only one defense against extinction: reproduction. It may sound funny, but it’s no joke – unlike most ant species, almost half of the white footed ant colony are reproductive females. That’s between 4,000 and a million and a half potentially pregnant ants at any time.

White footed ants also spread more readily than other ant species. Between July and August, a small percentage of winged males and females do a mating flight, copulating in mid-air, then landing and starting a new colony. The colonies also spread by budding, where a group of non-flying nestmates will set out on a road trip to found a new colony.

Why are they so annoying?

White footed ants are not known to cause any structural damage, and as mentioned earlier, they don’t bite or sting. They’re just very annoying to homeowners as they seek out sweet foods and once they’ve established themselves in an area, are difficult to get rid of.

When not dining in your sugar bowl, White footed ants tend to go foraging along branches and trunks of trees and shrubs that have nectars and/or sap-sucking insects that produce honeydew. Once a food source is located, pheromone trails are laid down, which is why you often see lines of the ants moving back and forth between food sources. And yes, into your home.

Unlike most ant species, the foragers don’t carry food back to the colony, regurgitate it or share it with others. Despite being non-fertile, these foraging ants lay what are called ‘trophic eggs,’ which the young and the fertile feed on. This method of food production also protects the colony from toxic ant baits, as only the ants eating the bait perish. Even if they survive to lay trophic eggs, the poison isn’t handed down. Oh, and White footed ants are very good at detecting and re-routing around chemical insecticides.

Where do they live?

Technomyrmex albipes – also sometimes classified as Technomyrmex difficilis – nests in trees and bushes, tree holes, under palm fronds, in loose mulch, under debris, in rain gutters, wall voids, and attics. Also, they tend to nest outside more often than inside.

So how do I get rid of them?

Sadly, it seems that white footed ants are here to stay. Once they find their way into your home, it is almost impossible to eradicate them from it, even with professional help. One thing you can do is trim trees and bushes and arrange decorative mulch so that none of them are in direct contact with your home. You can also seal any cracks or crevices that could lead into your home, like around windows, doors and where electrical, phone or cable lines enter your home or attic.

The best defense we can recommend is our Go Green Plus 3 protection. Our trained technicians inspect the interior and exterior of your property, making sure proper precautions are taken, then they treat the perimeter foundation, entry points, eaves, plant beds and trees with reduced–risk, safe, green products. And we’ll repeat the process 3 more times during the year – and return any time there’s a new problem, without any added charges.

To be doubly sure, you might also consider our Thermal Acoustical Pest (TAP) control. While its primary purpose is to refresh your attic after a rodent infestation, it also protects your attic against most other insects, including White footed ants (TAP contains boric acid, a safe chemical that is effective against them). TAP nearly pays for itself in sound-proofing and is more energy efficient insulation than the pink stuff that funny looking cat sells. And it’s fire-retardant.

If you’re having an issue with white footed ants or any other insects, give us a call today. We’ll inspect the property and give you the best options available from our array of family-friendly, 100% organic pest solutions. We’ve been taking care of our customers from Sarasota to Punta Gorda for nearly 30 years and we’d be happy to bring you into our family of satisfied clients!

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!

Bed Bugs Love Dirty Laundry!

Bed Bugs Love Dirty LaundryWe’ve mentioned before that no one knows for sure why Cimex lectularius – better known as the common Bed Bug – has recently had a huge resurgence in North America after almost disappearing in the 1950’s.  A lot of theories and pieces of the puzzle have been suggested, but none of them fully explain the phenomenon.

Now, scientists at a research college in England have discovered a startling new clue to the mystery – and certainly one that explains the rapid spread of the insects across both the United States and the globe.

It’s so simple, once you hear it, it’s almost too obvious – one of those right in front of your nose discoveries. Oh, and speaking of noses…

Blood, Sweat & Tears

Most folks are aware that bed bugs feed on blood. Preferably human, but they’re not always too picky when they’re hungry. We also know that the little critters can hibernate, not eating for up to a year.

But what the researchers at Sheffield College discovered was that bed bugs are drawn to humans because of their smell. And, as a result, if they can’t find one of us to munch on, they’ll hide out in our dirty clothes.

Much like our old friends the mosquitoes, bed bugs are attracted to the smell of human beings. They even have a technical term for it. Insects that are hematophagous. Higher levels of the carbon dioxide we exhale triggers a foraging instinct in both bugs. But that instinct is released when they smell our blood.

By the way, bed bugs can sense 104 different chemical elements and compounds in the smell of our skin.

A Little Extra Carry-On Weight

When bed bugs are in the foraging mode, the smell of a person causes them to have a both an electrophysiological and behavioral response. So, they naturally seek it out and often nestle down in dirty laundry and the suitcase or clothes basket carrying said laundry.

So, to put it in simpler terms, bed bugs seek out things that smell like people. If they can’t bite you – because you’re not there – they opt to hang out in your soiled laundry. When you pack those dirty clothes into your suitcase, you inadvertently bring them along.

So an untreated outbreak of bed bugs at a hotel in Topeka, KS can rapidly spread to your home or other places you’re travelling. If the average hotel has 100 rooms, that means 50-100 new places for the bed bugs to spread, even without taking into account their ability to inbreed, or the average litter of 300 bed bugs from one pregnancy.

We’re itching just thinking about it…how about you?

What Do I Do?

Well, first off, always do a bed check for bed bugs when you first check-in to your hotel room. No hotel is immune these days, no matter how low rent or swanky it is. If you are able to, wash your clothes before you pack them back in your bags to leave. And if you do end up bringing bed bugs home with you, call us. Only a professional pest control provider can truly solve an infestation.

We also handle the everyday insects and rodents that tend to find their way into your home. And as we’re coming up on Halloween, what better time to check out our Go Green Plus 3 Program. We do a thorough initial treatment, then enhance its effectiveness with tri-annual rechecks that keep your home bug free. It can also be affordably combined with our Term-Assure 365 Termite solution or our Thermal Acoustical Pest Control that helps lower your energy bill.

All of our pest solutions are 100% natural, organic, safe for the whole family and more effective than standard chemical treatments. We’ve helped families all up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida, from Lakewood Ranch to Ruskin and North Port and we’d love to share the Good News with you too!

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