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Posts Tagged ‘integrated pest control’

Building a Better Bond with Bees

Understanding Bees BetterWe’ve posted several times about the dwindling bee population. In fact, for the past 11 years, the bee population has decreased by approximately 40% per year, resulting in a focused campaign on many fronts to not only try and deal with the problem, but to raise the public’s awareness of it as well.

That included a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture of 4-million dollars to help improve the health and reproductive cycles of bees in the Midwest. The US Postal Service recently launched “Protect Pollinators” – a Forever stamp campaign, highlighting the bee as well as the butterfly.

And all the attention spurred many others to start studying the Apis mellifera more closely, including several universities in the United States and Canada, and National Geographic.

Why Are Bees So Important?

You may remember that insects pollinate by transferring the male germ cells of a plant to the female stigma. Sometimes that’s the same plant – more often it’s a different plant, due to a difference in maturity and seeding times. There is some wind-borne pollination, but the majority of plants that we use for food can only be pollinated by insects.

Bees are the number one pollinators – handling 80% of insect-oriented pollination, accounting for some $15-BILLION per year in agricultural production. Not only can the large perennial colonies move to wherever they are needed, but they can communicate direction and distance from the hive to nectar sources – an attribute humans have taken advantage of as we work to help the bees help us.

Honey bees excel at finding the most abundant and sweetest source of nectar near the colony. Scouts communicate information about the source to their brood with what is called “dance language.”

It’s Science, Not Fiction

While the precipitous drop in bee population since 2006 looks to be slowing somewhat, scientists say that the size of the honeybee population has been cut almost in half since the 1970’s. And post-apocalyptic fears aside, they say that the one thing that could almost certainly mark the end of life on earth as we know it is the decimation of bees.

Where Are the Bees Going?

Several theories have been brought up over the years to explain the loss of bees. Habitat loss, fungal disease and pesticide use have all been considered. Colony Collapse Disorder has, until recently, been the most accepted explanation for dwindling numbers.

But a recent discovery looks to blame a more specific source – Varroa destructor, a parasitic mite from Asia. The pinhead-sized mite crawls onto young bees and sucks their blood. This eventually destroys a hive because it weakens the immune system of the bees, and it makes them more vulnerable to stress and disease.

See it to Believe it

National Geographic commissioned Anand Varma to take detailed photographs of developing honeybees. As you can see in the short video below, he took a long look at the first 21 days of a bee’s life, with the mites clearly visible in this macro-view of a bee colony.

Varma also explains how an experimental breeding program at the USDA Bee Lab in Louisiana is finding ways to exploit some bees’ natural resistance to the mites, while avoiding some known side effects. By delving deeper into what makes bees function and thrive, we can further assist them, possibly even reversing the disappearance of the bees and redeeming our past interactions with our favorite pollinator.

One way you can help the bees today and protect Florida’s status as the number 3 producer of natural honey is by choosing to utilize the 100% natural, integrated green pest control that Good News Pest Solutions provides. We’re committed to keeping your family, pets and the environment safe from harmful chemicals, whether you live in Apollo Beach or Port Charlotte. For more information, give us a call!

A Good Pollinator Can’t Be Licked

A Good Pollinator Can't Be LickedThey’ve borne classic cars, cartoons, movie stars and super heroes. And now, the US Postal Service has announced they’re honoring a very special group of insects – bees and butterflies – some of our favorite pollinators!

On August 3rd, the United States Post Office unveiled their latest addition to their line of limited edition Forever Stamps, at the American Philatelic Society National Summer Convention StampShow in Richmond, Va.

There are five very colorful stamps in the series, highlighting Monarch butterflies and western (or European) honeybees perched on flowers, getting their taste of nectar. This is the second time in 10 years the post office honored nature’s pollinators. In the 2007 series, the stamps honored the bumblebee, hummingbird, a bat, and the Southern dogface butterfly.

Strangely, the USPS didn’t choose to highlight another one of the leading pollinators – our favorite, the second most active pollinator – the mosquito. I guess they didn’t think those stamps would sell very well.😉

How Do Butterflies Pollinate?

Regardless, the Monarch butterfly is a more beautiful alternative, and a major player in widespread pollination. Because the butterflies migrate over thousands of miles every year, their multigenerational journey ranges from southern Canada, the entire length of the contiguous United States, even deep into Mexico, where they spend the winter months resting before returning north!

While honeybees do not naturally migrate anywhere close to those distances, one of the side effects of the dwindling numbers of honeybees is that these days, we often intervene to help them do their jobs.

Humans & Bees Working Together?

Beekeepers often load their hives into trucks, driving all across the country to assist farmers and accommodate various growing seasons. And that’s actually one of the reasons the US Postal Service decided to highlight these helpful insects.

The new stamp series is titled “Protect Pollinators,” and while no money from the sale of the stamps goes to the cause, USPS hopes that the stamp series will draw attention and more resources to the valuable pollinators and keeping them alive. You can pick yours up at your local post office or online here.

So, What Else Can I Do?

The Postal Service is also reaching out and encouraging everyone to plant locally appropriate, native plants. It’s a win-win – there’s one more flower to be pollinated, and you can enjoy the glorious colors.

There’s one more way you can protect a pollinator – the one that didn’t get his – or rather – her just desserts from the Post Office. By getting our exclusive No Bite Zones technology, whether you’re in Port Charlotte or Lakewood Ranch, you can take momma mosquitoes and turn them and their babies into vegan mosquitoes that will pollinate as God intended, without biting your family or pets. Another win-win situation. Give us a call to find out more!

And pick up some of the Protect Pollinators Forever stamps. You can’t lick them. (Cause they’re self-stick. Get it?)

August Pest of the Month: Bed Bugs

Pest of the Month August Bed BugsAs we head into the final month of summer, we thought we’d highlight a pest most often thought of as one you encounter on a vacation – but can just as easily show up in your home. Cimex lectularius– better known as the ever-nasty bed bug.

It may seem like bed bugs have been in the news a lot lately, and you’re not wrong – especially since they had all but disappeared until just a few years ago.

Prior to World War II, bed bugs were a huge problem across the United States. Advancements in personal hygiene and extensive use of DDT led to the cimex species being isolated in remote areas of Africa and Asia.

That all changed about a decade ago. There’s still no clear reason why, although scientists now believe that the bugs have built up a resistance to many insecticides. Add that to a unique genetic anomaly – while inbreeding leads to most species’ deterioration, bed bugs, like the royal family, tend to thrive on it.

Bed bugs only feed for 2-5 minutes, then move on. A lot of people don’t even realize they’ve been bitten, since even the most severe reactions to a bite resemble hives, and many people have little or no reaction.

Unlike fleas, ticks and other biting insects, bed bugs don’t hitch hike on mammals, but rather on clothes, which is why they are so prevalent in urban areas.

While they’re small, bed bugs are easy to identify because they move in great numbers. Individual bugs are less than ¼” long, oval shaped, reddish-brown and flat. After eating, they are a bit fatter and redder.

One of the easiest ways to detect a bed bug infestation is the residue they leave behind. After feeding, bed bugs leave small brown or dark red fecal spots on fabric (they kind of look like coffee grinds, yuck!) and you may even find small cast off shells as they molt to their next stage.

While bed bugs need to eat before each molting stage, they can remain dormant without eating for several months, especially while travelling on clothing or luggage.

And while bed bugs are found most often in hotels and shelters, they can also end up in your home or apartment, especially in today’s more sharable society. Whether it’s taking an Uber, chilling in an Airbnb, or picking up a curb alert couch, there’s more chance than ever that bed bugs can end up hitching a ride to your home.

One woman in New Jersey was found dead in a home so infested with bed bugs, that, although they didn’t kill her, everyone who went into her house had to wear hazmat suits and be disinfected afterwards.

Not to fear, though. Bed Bug infestations are not difficult to treat, but they do take time. The first step is to limit the contamination – clear away clutter, thoroughly wash sheets, stuffed animals and any potentially infested clothing. Vacuum thoroughly, empty and seal the bag, and discard it into a trash receptacle outside your home.

Another great option – our Go Green Plus 3 program. Integrated pest control that is not only highly effective against many pests, but is 100% safe & organic – an eco-superior solution to those nasty chemicals some of the other guys use. We cover most of the Gulf Coast of Florida, from Ruskin to Punta Gorda. Give us a call to find out more!

Bee Buzzes: The Key to Their Survival?

Bee Buzzes - A Key to their SurvivalOn the HBO show Silicon Valley, one of the running themes is how the computer whizzes use their technology to share data across thousands of phones and Internet-connected smart devices to improve the world.

Now scientists at the University of Colorado & the University of Missouri may have discovered a way to use that technology to solve a very non-technological real-life problem.

For years, farmers and entomologists alike have noticed dwindling bee populations and sought ways to stem their apparent decline. There are many reasons proposed for the diminishing bee population – habitat loss, climate change, exposure to pesticides, the increasing industrialization of farmland, even our own government programs that limit use of farmland, resulting in fewer pollination sources.

Regardless of the reasons, the reduced bee population, both in wild and managed hives continues to be a source of concern for farmers.

But now a team from the biology department at the University of Missouri may have found a ‘sound solution.’

A Sound Solution?

Scientists have used sonic vibrations to monitor birds, bats, frogs and other insects for more than 100 years. So the researchers decided to try that approach with bumble bees.

The first step was to determine the similarities in frequencies of various bees in the lab, much like determining a musical pitch. Then they teamed up with a group at the University of Colorado to record and analyze data using tiny microphones in three locations on Pennsylvania Mountain, in Colorado.

They soon discovered that existing algorithms that estimated the bee population, in almost every case, significantly underestimated the quantity and variety of bee populations that they found evidence of in the acoustical surveys.

But How Do Cell Phones Help?

Using improved algorithms based on the data, the team at UM are now working on an app that anyone can download on their smartphone. The app allows folks to use their phones as mobile microphones, recording, collating and uploading data on the bees’ buzzing, as well as a photograph of the bees recorded if they want.

The data from the study and its continued tracking, as well as the efforts of hundreds, if not thousands, of ‘citizen scientists,’ could help farmers track the pollination of their fields and orchards, as well as predicting potential areas where pollination is dropping off before it gets to crisis levels.

And that’s not all. Now that they’ve determined the frequencies, they hope to do future studies on whether or not bees detect competitors by their distinctive buzzes and whether flowers respond chemically to the sound of bee buzzes.

While bees are the number one pollinator of flowers and crops, thankfully, they’re not the only one. We’d like to think we’re doing our part to preserve the second largest pollinator, mosquitoes, with our exclusive No Bite Zones technology that turns the biting momma mosquitoes into vegans, along with their offspring. Especially as our summer rains continue, our clients from North Port to Parrish are enjoying a mosquito free season. If you’d like to check it out, give us a call! Like all our products at Good News Pest Solutions, it’s 100% organic and safe for everyone in your family.

 

Keep Your Cool in the Summer Months!

Green Ways To Keep Cool this SummerAs we move into the hottest months of the year, we thought we’d share some green tips on how to keep your cool in the house while still keeping your electric bill in check.

Cool Your Rooms!

For starters, cover your windows. As much as we enjoy a little natural light during the day, experts say that 30% of your home’s excess heat is coming through your windows. Using blinds, shades or curtains can reduce the temperature in your home on a hot day up to 20-degrees. Not to mention the electricity you’re not spending on air conditioning and fans.

Speaking of fans, make sure all your ceiling fans are turning counter-clockwise. This circulates the air and creates a wind-chill breeze effect, making you feel cooler, especially at higher speeds. In the winter, you can reverse the fans back to clockwise so the warm air that naturally rises is pushed down into the room. (Most ceiling fans have a switch in the base that changes the direction.)

If you don’t have ceiling fans, how about creating your own homemade DIY air conditioning. Fill a mixing bowl with ice or a frozen ice pack and position it at an angle behind a box or table fan. The fan will draw the cool air into the room, rapidly reducing the temperature. Or, if you’re feeling particularly industrious, check out these steps on how to build a “swamp cooler” that can reduce the temperature in a small apartment for only $25!

Cool Your Furniture!

Make sure your sheets are fresh – used sheets absorb sweat and body heat and hold onto it for longer than most people think. Cotton sheets breathe easier and stay cooler.

Water works! While you’re pulling off your sheets to change them, lay a large towel or two down before sliding the fitted sheet into place. Then take a clean, empty spray bottle and fill it with cool water. Spray the top sheet with a light misting of water from the bottle and the dampness will draw heat away from your body. And store the spray bottle in the fridge for the next night!

Also consider investing in a buckwheat pillow. Not only does the pillow not collapse under the weight of your head and neck, helping promote a more comfortable sleep, the buckwheat hulls also don’t hold onto heat – so both sides are the cool side!

Cool Yourself!

Sometimes the best way to beat the heat is by reducing your own temperature! We’ve heard lots of old wives tales about licking your wrists or plunging your head into an ice bucket. We’d like to think our methods are a little more sensible.

Of course, we endorse the standard approach of keeping yourself well hydrated through hot days. Technically, any liquid will do, but we recommend light and healthy beverages like iced tea, lemonade, and, of course, cool refreshing water!

Rather than licking your wrists, a cool compress on pressure points like your wrists and neck will make you feel cooler.

Consider a cold shower. The cool water is bracing and can reduce your body’s overall temperature. It’s especially effective right before bed, even if you don’t dampen the sheets.

(Don’t) Cool It on the Home Improvements!

Certain renovations may take longer to feel the effects from – but are definitely worth the expense for the long-term savings.

Trees can be valuable for shade, but also help cut down on the sun’s heat even when it’s not directly shining on them. Palm trees are less effective, but there are many native Florida fauna that will work well.

Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs – you know, the curlicue ones. The standard incandescent bulbs we’ve been using for generations expend 90% of the energy they use (which itself is much higher than CFL’s) on generating heat. CFL bulbs use less energy, last longer and will reduce the temperature in your home considerably.

You might already be considering insulation, but what about insulation that saves you considerably on your energy bills, reduces sound pollution AND helps control pests access to your house?

Our Thermal Acoustical Pest Control (TAP)  system is 32% more efficient than standard fiberglass insulation and provides a barrier for roaches, ants, silverfish and the sound of your neighbor’s dog that just won’t stop barking. It reduces heat in the summer, cold in the winter and, like all of our products, is 100% safe for your whole family, including pets! And while it’s not pink and doesn’t have a cartoon mascot, it is made with 87% recycled materials that would otherwise be filling a landfill – and is EPA certified!

Call us today to get more information on this remarkable product or any of our natural pest solutions!

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