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Don’t Play With the Bats!

Don't Play with BatsIt’s the time of year when we start thinking of Halloween and all that entails: trick or treating, witches, black cats, and of course, vampires that turn into bats. Actually, funny story – did you know that in Bram Stoker’s novel, the most famous (or is that infamous?) vampire, Dracula, is never seen turning into a bat? It’s hinted at, but he actually is more likely to turn into a wolf! How’s that for a monster mash?

We know in real life that bats aren’t evil bloodsuckers; they’re cute little nocturnal mammals. But that doesn’t mean they’re all loveable and fun to play with, either!

Bat Scratch Fever

…which some high school kids in Utah found out the hard way. More than 40 kids at two high schools in the Salt Lake City area had to be treated for rabies after a student was scratched by a bat.

Both schools are on the bats migratory path, about 20 miles apart. And while only one person at one school was positively scratched by a bat, the second school discovered a massive bat colony in the attic after getting reports that students were carrying the bats around.

Because rabies is not easily identified in bats by sight, every student who came into contact with the bats was forced to undergo 2-weeks of 5-shots, because once the symptoms appear in humans, it’s almost always fatal.

Don’t Be Afraid

The good news is, while there is always a chance of stumbling over a rabid bat, most bats generally keep to themselves, and, as you might imagine, mostly come out at night. In fact, in Utah, just as here in Florida, it’s illegal to disturb the bats because they are a protected species (as in, just this side of endangered). And except for the rare case of rabies, none of the 13 species found in Florida are interested in biting you.

In fact, their status is one of the reasons we’ve made bats our pest of the month for October. Luckily, October is in the ‘off-season’ for bat mating. That means we can do what we call exclusion. We safely relocate the bats from your home or business to happier locales.

If it were earlier in the year, we are not as able to assist. April 15 to August 15 is bat maternity season, and because of their protected status, even the highly-trained professionals on our Good News Pest Solutions team can’t touch them. So we recommend checking before it’s too late – in between searching for your annual receipts, for example – or giving us a call in September.

But Seriously…

If you do find one or more bats in your attic or office space in Bradenton or Port Charlotte, just call us. Don’t try to touch it or move it on your own. Even if they aren’t going to bite you, they’re not going to be thrilled at being poked at, and again, it is against the law. We’ll find the bat a safer place to live and you can focus on deciding which one of those fun size candy bars you’re going to give out!

An Interesting Twist – Zika Fighting Cancer?

Zika Virus Cancer Fighter There are many happy accidents throughout history where a scientist’s intention becomes a catalyst for a completely different discovery. The oldest and best remembered is of course the bread mold that Alexander Fleming (not Louis Pasteur) first identified as penicillin.

Then there’s the heart medications – minoxidil and sildenafil became Rogaine and Viagra. Finasteride, developed for prostate cancer, became Propecia, and of course, the most powerful neurotoxin known to man, Botulinum, is used to relieve wrinkles, but also Parkinson’s disease, bladder spasms, and even chronic migraines.

But even after all that, we’re always surprised when a new accidental medical discovery comes along. None stranger than the latest one…

Unless you’ve been living in a bomb shelter for the past two years and have just emerged to check the latest news, you’re aware that the Zika virus, carried by Aedes mosquitoes, has been quite a concern in Florida, Texas, Lousiana and South America.

One of the biggest concerns has been for pregnant women, as being infected with the virus leads to in-utero birth defects, particularly brain damage in developing babies.

But what if you could harness the damage the Zika virus does to unborn children and use that viral instinct for good?

That’s exactly what scientists at Washington University are now testing. And they say the tests are going well.

Dr. Michael Diamond, a professor of molecular microbiology, pathology and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis says they now have evidence that the Zika virus successfully kills stem cells in brain tumors.

The idea came from another researcher, Zhe Zhu, who noticed that the glioblastoma stem cells in the cancer looked a lot like the stem cells you find in a developing infant brain. Glioblastoma stem cells are the ones that make brain cancer so insidious, allowing the diseased cells to take over the once healthy cells and are fairly resistant to chemotherapy and traditional cancer treatments.

Zhu postulated that since the Zika virus kills those fetal cells, maybe it would do the same to the tumor cells.

They’ve also had success treating mice with brain tumors. The next step is to test human tumors grown in mice, then eventually human trials.

With the destruction and heavy rains brought to the Sunshine State by Hurricane Irma, and with other potential storms on the horizon, mosquitoes are a major concern for all of us and our neighbors. Even without the threat of the Zika or other virus’, nobody likes being bitten by a mosquito. So why not turn the ones in your yard into vegans?

Our patented, exclusive No Bite Zones technology eliminates the threat of mosquito bites, while leaving them around to do their original good work as pollinators. We’ve helped families across the Gulf Coast of Florida, everywhere from Ruskin down to Punta Gorda with all natural pest solutions, and we’d love to help you too. Give us a call.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with all those to our south who took the brunt of Hurricane Irma. Our prayer is that the God of all comfort will do His work as only He can do! And click here for some tips on staying safe as you rebuild.

Flooding & Floating Ants: What to Know & Do

Flooding and Floating AntsWhen there’s excessive rainfall and the floodwaters start to rise – like when a Hurricane like Harvey or Irma hits or approaches the Gulf Coast – everyone fights to rise above the waves and survive it. And none are more adaptive and resilient than the Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA).

While most fire ants avoid humans unless they feel threatened, RIFA are the ones that attack anything that moves, including the 60% of Gulf Coast residents that get bitten every year, and their pets.

As the name implies, RIFA are imported from Brazil. No one’s sure just how, but they first showed up in Mobile, AL in the 1940’s and rapidly spread to 13 other states and have been found as far North as Oklahoma. They overtake and displace other species with startling regularity.

Which leads us to their latest adaptation. As early as post-Katrina (and probably earlier, but we didn’t have as much Twitter and Instagram), people posted images of huge floating rafts, made up solely of Red Imported Fire Ants.

Scientists say as soon as the ant hill starts to become immersed in water, the colony will spread out into a wide pancake shape that allows the ants to float and survive without the ants drowning, surviving until the waters recede enough for them to build a new ant hill (or at least 12 days under laboratory conditions).

The first series of ants link together in a matter of seconds by mandibles, tarsal claws, and adhesive pads on their feet to form a mass that decreases their mean density as a whole, becoming a buoyant raft, made up of 100,000 to 250,000 individual ants.

All ants are what’s known as hydrophobic. That means their bodies partially repel water, making it bead up. A group of them together can trap a whole layer of water and oxygen around their collective bodies, increasing their buoyancy.

As you can see on the short video below, posted by the Green Apple Network, the ants are moving around, active the whole time as they float down the floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey. This probably indicates that the ants move about in shifts, swapping positions so that all of them survive.

The lighter colored dots are larvae and pupae – literally the whole colony is saved.

Entomologists caution that as interesting as the ant rafts may seem, do NOT reach out and touch them by hand or even with a stick. The colony will survive even initial submersion. It will not end well for you.

However, there is a good defense against these floating mandibles of death – and it’s something easy to find – it might even be in your own kitchen.

You see, the ants survive because they cling to each other and spread out the benefits of their hydrophobic abilities. But their Achilles heel is, believe it or not, dish soap. Just like those old Dawn commercials, when a little soapy water hits the floating ant colony, it instantly breaks the ants’ grip on each other, and the makeshift raft collapses. Just make sure there isn’t any dry land they can get to easily enough, or you might get a parting shot.

There is one positive thing that is coming from the experience: scientists are hoping that they can utilize what they’ve learned from the ant rafts to develop better waterproofing and flotation devices.

Since Hurricane Irma came through, the rain will certainly rile the fire ants up, and the other place they tend to run when water starts rising is right for your house.

Protect yourself now and in the future with our Go Green Plus 3 all organic pest control that’s 100% safe for the whole family and protects your home and yard from fire ants, as well as roaches, silverfish and other crawling insects.

We protect homes all up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida, from Sarasota to North Port and we’d love to help you out too! Just give us a call to learn more.

Pest-O Pizza: The Benefits of Eating Insects

The Benefits of Eating InsectsIn our recent Pest of the Month post, we talked about how some folks in China eat cockroaches as well as using them for medicinal uses. It sounds like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie, but in other parts of the world, insects are often eaten – even considered a delicacy.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Here in the United States, we eat snails (escargot), pig intestines (pork rinds or chitlins), crawfish (gumbo), Rocky Mountain Oysters (Google it), Scrapple, and pickled pigs feet. And that’s not even counting the foods we’re not even sure are foods, like Twinkies.

Believe it or not, Entomophagists (people who regularly eat bugs) say that ants, termites, and wasps have a particularly tasty flavor…who knew?

One of the biggest arguments for coordinating your own bug buffet is that they’re packed with protein, not to mention healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Sure you have to eat a lot more, but as you can see on the graphic to the left, insects have two to four times as much protein per 100 grams. And there are 1900 varieties of edible insects, so there are plenty of flavors to choose from.


They’re also a healthy and eco-friendly option – cultivating and harvesting insects for food requires less land, water and plants for food. They also release less greenhouse gasses, lower levels of ammonia, and are, well, fully biodegradable. And with a worldwide protein shortage looming, the US might soon be forced to join the nearly 2-billion other people in the world eating insects on a regular basis. In fact, there are already restaurants where you can grab literal grub in – you guessed it, New York and LA.

But since you’re on the Gulf Coast of Florida, we thought we’d share some great recipes that utilize insect as ingredients, including our favorite (by name anyway): Pest-O Pizza. Don’t miss out, you could be the first family on your block to start the Entomophagic revolution!

Of course, we wouldn’t blame you if you don’t want to be that family. If you’d rather us just keep the insects, dead and alive, out of your house and you live somewhere between Apollo Beach and Punta Gorda, give us a call!

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.

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