There are lots of Top Ten lists for cities: best beaches, most friendly, lowest crime, most bed bugs? Yeah, that’s the last list any city wants to top off, but unfortunately somebody has to – and for the first time in five years, it wasn’t Chicago. Baltimore, the ‘city of 1,000 slogans,’ has a new, unfortunate moniker, the leader of bed bug outbreaks for 2016. Meanwhile, the Windy City isn’t in the clear, dropping just 2 slots on the annual list.
Just 10 years ago, most people hadn’t even heard of bed bugs, as Cimex lectularius (and its tropical cousin Cimex hemipterus) had been pretty much dormant in the United States since the 1960’s. But shortly after we celebrated surviving the virtual computer bugs of Y2K, very real bed bugs began re-emerging as a significant threat.
What’s worse, bed bug populations are booming so much that they’ve begun spreading from their normal feeding grounds – beds in homes and hotels where humans are at rest for an extended period of time – to office building complexes. In fact, more than 70 percent of people in urban environments have encountered bed bugs.
In Florida, infestations are down: the Tampa-St. Petersburg area dropped down to #35 on the list, Orlando-Daytona is #44, and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale dropped to #46.
Experts say that education and preventative measures are the best defense against bed bugs. In the past 10 years, the annual amount spent to treat for Cimex lectularius has increased more than 600 times.
However, the fact that the most popular vacation spots – including most of the Sunshine state – are low on the list, if at all, is a clear indicator that efforts in these areas are making an impact on the increase of the bugs, despite a higher chance of their spread.
Because of their size and the fact that many people don’t react to their bites, bed bugs can be hard to find. They can hide in the smallest of cracks, mattress seams, even thick carpet, and can survive for nearly a year without feeding. The first signs are often the small dark stains the bugs leave behind. And while opinions vary, it seems that black or UV lights don’t make bedbugs any more detectable.
When traveling, remember the SLEEP acronym:
At home, decrease clutter, check your bed and bed clothes regularly and inspect any secondhand furniture before bringing it into your home. And if you find a potential infestation on your bed linens or stuffed animals, run them in the dryer at the highest heat the fabric can sustain for 15-30 minutes. And while you’re waiting on that, contact Good News Pest Solutions to come and treat your home with the safest and most affordable organic pest control on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
In the 1970’s, the unusual loss of several colonies of bees across the United States led to a bit of a panic among scientists and farmers. It seemed that there was a global crisis in the making. That scare was mined by science fiction authors and moviemakers, even as recently as the 2008 film, The Happening. Ultimately, in real life, it was discovered that the so-called “Disappearing Disease” had been recorded as far back as the 17th century and was part of the normal cycle of bee colony life, albeit a rarer occurrence.
Here at Good News Pest Solutions, we deal with and study a lot of different insects and bugs – yes, they are two different things – and one of our favorites has always been the humble bumblebee. While they don’t produce enough honey to harvest, they are excellent pollinators, especially for wildflowers and cranberry bushes, and you could call them the original AirBnB-ers, reusing mouse holes, compost heaps, and piles of leaves for their homes.
Unfortunately, one science fiction nightmare is coming true. Bombus affinis, also known as the rusty patched bumblebee, has now been placed on the endangered list. The rusty patch bumblebee is a native to North America, at one time blanketing the upper Midwest. But their numbers have been declining since 2003. By 2014, the state of Vermont and then Canada declared the bombus affinis an endangered species. Now, after an estimated 87% decline, as tracked by the Xerces Society, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has given the species endangered status.
Unfortunately, the biggest threat to Bombus affinis is other bumblebees. In the 90’s, several efforts were made to commercialize the bumblebee populations for better crop pollination. One such effort involved shipping queens of two species of bumblebees, Bombus occidentalis and Bombus impatiens to breeding facilities in Europe. The resulting colonies were then shipped back to farms in the United States. Recent studies have theorized that these colonies were infected by wild European bees in the same facility and brought the disease back to North America, devastating bee populations that had not built up a natural resistance.
Additionally, all bumblebees are at risk from pesticides and environmental encroachment (that’s a big phrase for the problems caused when we keep building more stuff). Even the farmers bumblebees are meant to help and the fertilizers they spread can have a negative effect on the bumblebee population. Planting more crops leaves less space for milkweed and other wildflowers that the bumblebees rely on for the feeding of the colony.
The easiest way to identify the Bombus affinis is by their unique markings. Unlike the round markings on the back of most bumblebees, the rusty patched bumblebees have an almost mushroom shape, that tapers to a V in their back.
So what can you do? The rusty patched bumblebee is seldom found in Florida, but in general, just leave bumblebee nests alone. Except for the queens, the bee colony dies off each season, and bumblebees in general are not that aggressive, so just relax and let them go about their way. And when more tips are offered, we’ll be the first to let you know!
Here at Good News Pest Solutions, we care about the environment and endeavor to use cutting-edge, natural, eco-friendly pest control measures that are safe for our earth and you, while being highly effective at controlling pests. If you are looking for a green pest control company, look no further! You have found the Gulf Coast’s leader in natural pest control; contact us today!
Most folks like to do something special for New Year’s Eve – shoot off some fireworks, drop in at Disney, maybe even brave the crowd in Times Square to watch the ball drop. But one prime celebration location is suffering from an ages-old infestation that the most romantic city in the world just can’t get a handle on – the Parisian rat population.
We all remember from our history classes that the nasty little rodents spread the Bubonic plague – in fact, recent examinations of history have proven that the Black Death of the 1300’s that ravaged close to half of the population of Paris was not spread by rats and other rodents, although most people still assume they were to blame. Given their history, it’s no surprise that, despite the Pixar film, most rats are still not welcome at Parisian dinner tables.
Yet, despite the city government’s pledge to completely “de-raticize” the Renaissance tourist attraction in 2014, it’s apparently more visibly infested than ever before, forcing the closing of nine popular parks in the City of Light – including the famous Parc du Champ-de-Mars, home of the Eiffel Tower. In fact, animal control officers say this is the worst the city has seen in almost 40 years.
And there’s a reason that we said a visible problem – it appears the rats are overrunning the above ground city because of a huge overpopulation below ground. Now there’s something you don’t want to hear, especially if you were planning a trip to the city’s historic catacombs. And the most popular plan of attack? To drive the rats back into the sewers – not, we’re thinking, a viable solution to stopping the spread of a disease, should that recur.
The problem is apparently, two-fold – new European regulations, meant to mirror ones in the United States, changed the way rats were poisoned, as the old ways could also lead to water contamination as well as being accidentally ingested by curious pets and children. So now the rats have to seek out the poisoned bait in enclosed boxes – a lot harder draw for the rodents who can easily find a smorgasbord fit for the Rat King in open garbage pails.
In fact, in the weeks since the new regulations took effect, not a single rat has ventured into the boxes of death – and the ready supply of food means the rats can continue to reproduce at an alarming rate. Rats can mate every 3 weeks, producing a litter of 4-5 baby rats, and those newly born babies can get pregnant themselves within 6-9 weeks.
What’s worse – even if the rats in Paris’ past (Rattus rattus) didn’t spread the Black Death, their distant Asian cousins– Rattus norvegicus – which was responsible for the Modern Plague in the 1860’s, arrived in the French capital about 200 years ago and are now the dominant species as well as known spreaders of salmonella and swamp fever.
Still, the Parisian animal control people do believe the rats have a place in their city – just out of sight. When properly maintained, the rats work well as composting agents, devouring waste that would otherwise need to be disposed of, and their furry little bodies – they also work great as pipe cleaners. Once again proving that every living creature has its own God-given purpose. Who knew? 🐭
If you see rats in your home or on your property, give us a call. Good News Pest Solutions has been recognized as the Gulf Coast’s leading expert on keeping rats and mice out of your home and in reducing the rodent population outdoors as well. We guarantee your property for a year after treatment and, like all our solutions, employ biologically safe alternatives to harmful chemicals that protect your pets and family while eliminating the pests. Contact us today!
2016 has been an unusual year for news. From unexpected outcomes to Presidential elections to police shootings to the highest focus on resolving racial tensions than we’ve seen for the past 50 years.
But one of the biggest news stories for the Gulf Coast of Florida this year was the Zika virus and its primary source of distribution, our old friend, the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947, in a captured monkey, by scientists studying yellow fever in the Zika Forest of Uganda. Within 4 years it had been identified in humans, but until 2007, only 14 cases had ever been documented.
In May of 2015, the virus, which had previously only been found in Africa and Asia, was confirmed to have spread to Brazil. By December, cases had popped up throughout the Caribbean.
By February of 2016, the Center for Disease Control & the World Health Organization, based on an abnormally high number of babies being born with small heads, a symptom of microcephaly, caused by Zika, declared a public health emergency for Brazil and the American continents.
With the Summer Games already scheduled to overtake Rio de Janiero and the close proximity of Brazil to our Florida coastlines, the mosquito quickly became the star of newscasts both locally and nationally.
While the mosquito, in general, has always been a known vector for various diseases, including encephalitis and West Nile virus, the rapid spread of the Zika virus pushed the general public to demand increased efforts to control mosquitoes.
When cases of the Zika virus started appearing in Florida and Texas, even the most somber minds started to worry. Scientists began searching for a vaccine to prevent Zika, but say that even in the best of situations, it would not be available until early 2018.
The symptoms of Zika include mild fever, conjunctivitis (red, sore eyes), headache, joint pain, and in most cases, a skin rash. There is no cure for Zika, but mosquito bites can be prevented by utilizing insect repellent and wearing long sleeved shirts and pants, and getting rid of standing water (a mosquito breeding ground). Once infected by Zika, it can also be transmitted to sexual partners for 2-3 weeks.
Because of the chance of birth defects, pregnant women are considered particularly susceptible to Zika and should take extra precautions, and some families might want to wait before trying to get pregnant.
While governments rushed to utilize their standard practice of spraying harmful chemicals to kill mosquitoes, our Florida universities looked for other options like synthetic insecticides and sterilization.
But here at Good News Pest Solutions, we think we have the best option around. One that’s good for your family, pets, and surprisingly…the mosquitoes.
Our popular No Bite Zones technology doesn’t kill mosquitoes, which can upset the ecosystem, but instead converts the biting mosquitos into vegans, leaving them with no desire to bite you or your pets. And like all of our solutions, it’s entirely eco-friendly and safe for your whole family.
As it starts to get cooler, we’ll see fewer mosquitoes out anywhere, but as soon as temperatures start to rise, you can be sure they’ll be back. Just this week another case was reported in Texas, bringing the total cases within the United States to just under 4500, with 1100 of those pregnant women. Don’t wait until spring, take precautions to protect yourself and your family today.
There’s a long standing tradition of science borrowing from nature to create new technologies. Biomimicry is a fancy word for seeing what God has created in nature and being inspired to adapt it for human’s use. Helicopter propellers, your smart phone camera, and even Velcro were all inspired by the Master Creator’s design work.
Bugs may seem like a strange inspiration for technology, since most people see them merely as pests they’d rather not have around them. We understand that tendency, but we also know better than most that some of the best technological advancements are inspired by our insect inhabitants.
One clear advancement from the study of how God created insect life is probably pretty obvious – miniaturization. Knowing that some insects have somewhat advanced brains led to the ongoing quest to make computer components smaller and smaller. But one group of guys took the inspiration to a whole new level.
RoboRoaches Ride Again!
We’ve mentioned this possibility in a post a while back, but computer controlled roaches have continued to advance, uh, so to speak. A couple years ago, the guys behind Backyard Brains came up with an educational tool of sorts – they managed to figure out a way to operate cockroaches by remote control. They even raised $12,000 on Kickstarter to develop an iPhone app and bring the project to the masses.
Since then, their control systems have gotten smaller and more precise, and some folks have added miniaturized cameras and sound recording devices to the cockroach’s ‘backpacks,’ giving a brand new meaning to “bugging” someone. In fact, fully tweaked-out RoboRoaches™ are used as a plot point in a movie coming out later this year. And other bugs aren’t far behind. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that.
Bright Blue Butterflies
There’s a distinct chance that the device you are reading this post on could itself be an example of biomimicry. Back in the early 2000’s, an engineering grad from MIT was inspired by an article that explained how butterflies create the bright colors we see in their wings. Rather than a pigment or dye, as we would typically get a colorful array, God created the butterfly’s wings in such a way that the layers of shingled plates that make up the wings reflect a particular color in daylight.
Instead of adding something to the surface or expending the energy required to make the wings different brilliant hues, the structure of the wing itself causes the colors we see. That inspiration led to experimentation on flat device displays. What he ended up with was a panel made up of a series of microscopic mirrors that uses ambient light, rather than requiring a typical powered LED panel (itself a miraculous innovation). Technology developer Qualcomm bought his company and used the technology in e-readers, smart phones and laptops.
Oh, and remember that blue dress-gold dress debate? It was an unintentional viral consequence of that very same perception of color based on light reflections.
Butterfly’s Dark Underside
On the flipside – literally – of butterfly wings, the surface is darker, almost black in most instances, which inspired university researchers in China to develop a new super dark carbon film that is applied to solar panels, vastly increasing their efficiency.
The darker surface looks that way because of nanoscopic interference waves – that inspired some Canadian scientists to create the most advanced anti-counterfeiting stamp ever – even better than holograms – and it’s not restricted just to money.
And the same principle inspired a New York company to develop more reliable RFID chips – like those used for animal identification and in your latest credit cards.
A Few More Highlights
We’ve talked in an earlier post about the communication skills of fireflies’ lights, but scientists also analyzed how the scales surrounding the genus Photuris work and used it to develop an LED bulb that’s almost twice as bright.
It sounds like it’s right out of a science fiction story, but a California company found a way to utilize literally thousands of plugged in electrical devices that would normally just suck up power whether they were on or off, and created a machine hive mind, inspired by bees, to try and better manage the state’s energy consumption and eliminate brown outs.
We here at Good News Pest Solutions are genuinely thrilled to see how inspired we can be by the Master Creator’s designs in nature. That’s one of the reasons we sought out and developed the most comprehensive, green approach to pest control. If you need to get the creepy crawlies out of your house, contact us today!