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Love Bug Fruit Cups

Love Bug Fruit CupsAs we approach Valentine’s Day, everyone is talking about how love is in the air.

Bam!

Pop!

Squish!

And now, it’s on your windshield…

We’ve got a special treat for you this month. And don’t worry; it doesn’t involve devouring those sticky little romantic flies splattered across the front of your car.

In fact, while these treats take their name from Plecia nearctica, they don’t look anything like our second favorite Florida insect, and taste a whole lot better. Trust us – you don’t wanna taste real love bugs! Yuck!😝

Now, to be honest, this post is more of an arts and craft project than most of the recipes we share, but what better way to connect your kids to the fun?

Here’s What You Need

First, you’ll need to stop by the grocery store and pick up Dole Pineapple in Sugar Free Strawberry Gel Fruit Cups. Your mouth is already watering, isn’t it? Ours is.

Love Bug Fruit Cups

Photo Source: The Melrose Family

Then stop by your favorite fabric or craft store and grab the following:

  • Sparkly Pipe Cleaners
  • 3″ Sparkly Pom Poms for ends of Pipe Cleaners
  • 1/2″ Pom Poms for nose
  • Assorted colors and size of Googly Eyes (yes, that’s a word!)
  • Pink Foam Sheet for heart shaped feet – or you can pick up pre-cut foam hearts
  • Hot glue sticks & Gun – If you’re not a big crafter, you can usually find small sets for just a few dollars.

Putting it Together

First cut the sparkly pipe cleaners in half. Then glue the sparkle pom poms to the ends of the sparkle pipe cleaners, so they look a bit like the flowers and trees in a Dr. Seuss book.

Hot glue the googly eyes and tinier nose pom pom onto the front of the fruit cup to create the face.

Place a quick drop of hot glue on the base of each heart, then set the fruit cups so the lobes look like two pairs of toes – the feet of our fruity bugs.

Finally, glue the antennas to the back of the fruit cup so that they will stick straight up.

Now you’re ready to bring these Love Bug Fruit Cups to Valentine’s parties at school or home or even home schools!

Thanks to Jenny Melrose for this idea!

But What About…

Now as for the real love bugs, we’ve got a few safe, natural ways to keep them away from your house and help you get them off your car easier. You can check these out here.

Don’t worry, you’ve got time! While you may have already seen a few, Love Bug season really kicks off in late April & early May and September.

Yes, fine! We’ll answer the one lingering question we know you’re still curious about: It was a dare, okay?

If you have any other questions or need us to help handle Love Bugs or any other pest, contact us today! At Good News Pest Solutions, we only use organic, environmentally and family safe products to solve your pest problems.

And one more thing, Happy Valentine’s Day! 💗

The Bed Buggiest Cities in America

Bed Buggiest CitiesThere 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.

Bed Bugs On the Rise

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.

How Does Florida Rank?

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.

How to Search for Bed Bugs

When traveling, remember the SLEEP acronym:

  • Survey the hotel room for signs of an infestation. Look for black or brown spots on any furniture.
  • Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots: the mattress, box spring, bedskirt and other furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.
  • Elevate luggage away from the bed and wall. The safest place is in the bathtub.
  • Examine your luggage while repacking and once you return home from a trip.
  • Place all dryer-safe clothing from your luggage in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting after you return home.

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.

The 9 Things Mosquitoes Hate – And You’ll Love

Things Mosquitoes HateYes, we sometimes jokingly refer to them as the ‘state bird.’ But even before there was the threat of the Zika virus spreading throughout the sunshine state, mosquitoes have been one of our least favorite Florida residents.

And unlike the snowbirds, they don’t have a season, although they do tend to be more active during the rainy summers.

Chances are you’ve been woken up a few mornings by low-flying mosquito control planes, or driven through a late night cloud of DEET in more rural areas, as state and county officials try to combat the nasty little biters the way they have for the past 50 years. But those aren’t the only solutions to the problem. Here are 9 ways you can combat mosquito bites without harmful chemicals.

9 Ways to Combat Mosquitoes Naturally

  1. DRYNESS: The first, and possibly most obvious way to win the war on mosquitoes is by keeping it dry. As we mentioned, the rainy season is the most populous mosquito weather. That’s because the momma mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water. They dry out, then hatch once the water returns. So avoiding any areas of standing water on your property, from pet dishes, to birdbaths, to those bright blue tarps is essential to cutting down the mosquito population.
  2. SMOKE: There’s a reason torches are so popular for background get-togethers in Florida – and it’s not because of their more tropical look. Whether dipped in citronella or just generating an ashen atmosphere, smoke is a natural repellent for mosquitoes. Of course, some citronella is better than none, but even just placing a burning paper egg carton on the edge of your barbeque grill is a great way to keep the biters at bay.

Clothing

  1. LOOSE-FITTING Clothes: Believe it or not, just covering up with long sleeves is not enough. In fact, if your outfit is too tight, it might make you more appealing to hungry momma mosquitoes. Wearing clothing that is more loose fitting or even baggy not only makes it harder for mosquitoes to find your exposed skin, but it also keeps you cooler – and harder for the heat–driven insects to gravitate towards. We don’t, however, recommend wearing those pants that fall off your rear…😜
  2. LIGHT COLORED Clothes: In the same vein, darker colors are more visible to mosquitoes and mark you as a more tasty treat to their insect eyes. Lighter, pale colors blend into the background in the biter’s sight. Darker colors can not only appear warmer to mosquitoes, but the contrast also makes you stand out more, potentially drawing them in.
  3. FAN: Believe it or not, a good stiff breeze – whether natural or generated by a good fan – also helps keep mosquitoes away. You might recall from your school biology class that we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide for plants. Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide, which the wind from a decent fan disperses and dilutes. Plus, mosquitoes are weak fliers, so the breeze keeps them from getting close enough to bite you.

Flavors

  1. OIL OF LEMON EUCALYPTUS: When New Mexico State University looked for alternative ways to fight the spread of the Zika virus, they found that certain essential oils and plants naturally repelled mosquitoes. Most of us already know that Citronella works well, but cedar and garlic also have varying rates of effectiveness. The top two most effective were lemon eucalyptus oils and
  2. CITRUS: Citrus plants, as well as their crushed leaves and extracts made from them, naturally repel mosquitoes. Oranges, lemons, lavender, basil and catnip naturally produce oils that repel mosquitoes and are generally pleasant to the nose – unless you’re of the feline persuasion. The odor that mosquitoes most hate though is one you might not have heard of: Lantana. Their bitter citrusy smell is one that mosquitoes tend to avoid unless they’re really hungry. And they only cost a few dollars per home.
  3. BEER: Unfortunately, we aren’t about to tell you that drinking alcoholic spirits will repel mosquitoes. In fact, it’s the opposite. There’s something about the chemical reaction when the body processes alcohol, especially beer, that exudes a sweet smell in your sweat that attracts the hungry insects.
  4. PICARIDIN: We’re guessing you aren’t that familiar with this last one, at least by its proper name. But you may have heard of “Fisherman’s Formula.” Picaridin is a synthetic compound developed from the piperine plant – the same place we get table pepper. Unlike DEET, it doesn’t kill mosquitoes, but makes the user practically invisible to hungry mosquitoes. And if you’re planning a woodland hike, it chases off chiggers, too!

Of course, there’s another solution to preventing mosquitoes that we’ve found very effective. Our exclusive No Bite Zones technology not only keeps mosquitoes from biting you, it turns the hungry momma mosquitoes – and their offspring – into vegans, who don’t even feed on mammals. And unlike the dangerous chemicals you might find elsewhere, GardenPaqs from Good News Pest Solutions are safe for your family, your pets, and in this case, the mosquitoes, leaving them free to do their job as pollinators. Contact us today for more details!

 

Are Mice Causing Asthma in Schools?

Mice and AsthmaWhen temperatures start to drop, most warm blooded creatures– ourselves included – tend to seek out places and situations where they’ll stay a bit warmer.

If you’ve been in Florida for more than a few months, you’ll mysteriously find, regardless of where you came from, that you have a lower threshold for colder weather, even when the mercury is only dropping below 60-degrees.

Living in Florida causes physiological changes, that, combined with higher humidity, causes us to feel like 50 degrees around here is like 32 in Ohio, Michigan or Indiana.

What you may not know is that we’re not alone in this phenomenon. All mammals on the Gulf Coast of Florida: dogs, cats, mice and rats feel the “chill,” and subsequently also seek to bundle up if they can or move into places where it’s warmer. And thanks to our own adjusted cold tolerance, those places are often our homes, our schools and our churches.

An unfortunate side effect of the rodents seeking shelter is the spread of various allergens carried on their fur into the buildings, especially those with centralized heating and cooling systems.

Is There A Connection Between Mice and Asthma?

According to the CDC, more than 6-million kids suffer from asthma, including 17% of black children.

In the past, scientists and doctors studied the primary place where kids spend most of their time – their homes (and even their yards, although that’s less frequent these days).

And while there are many different allergy triggers that can be encountered in life, recent studies seem to show that kids who develop asthma and asthma like symptoms do so after being exposed to these allergens in their secondary home – their schools.

While the researchers are quick to point out there is no clear causal relationship between mouse-borne allergens and asthma, they did discover that they are universally present in schools. Further, in the inner city schools they tested, those with higher levels of mice-related allergens suffered symptoms at least one more day a week than kids in the other schools.

Other allergens, like dog and cat dander and dust mites were also found, but at much smaller levels and none of them appeared to increase the chance of asthma like the mouse-related allergens.

Further studies are being planned, but it seems clear that limiting exposure to mice, however cute, and the allergens they carry is important to help control asthma. Scientists will look into improving the air quality in schools and taking steps to control the pests by removing clutter and sealing up building cracks.

Of course, you can also take steps to control the exposure of your family to the allergens these rodents carry by taking steps at home.  Good News Pest Solutions has been recognized as the Gulf Coast’s leading expert on keeping rats and mice out of your house and in reducing the rodent population outdoors as well. We guarantee your property for a year after treatment and, like all our solutions, employ environmentally safe alternatives to harmful chemicals. Contact us to find out more today!

Extreme Bugs: The Orchid Mantis

Extreme Bugs The Orchid MantisIt’s been a while, but we’re finally back with one of our fun fan favorites – Extreme Bugs! This time around, we’re taking a look at one of the most unique members of the insect community – the beautiful but deadly Orchid Mantis.

Hymenopus coronatus uses cryptic mimicry to draw in its prey – other insects – by taking on the appearance of a beautiful flower – or so we thought. Recent studies show that the insects the Mantis consumes aren’t fooled by their predator’s resemblance to flowers, but simply to its brightly colored and petal shaped body.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. As you can see from our title picture, the Orchid Mantis sports a brightly colored pink and white body, and that body is flattened, making it look more like a flower than its brown, angular Praying Mantis cousins. And while the Orchid Mantis is the first known animal to be a true flower mimic, all isn’t as it seems. Although the Mantis takes its name from the orchid flower, in fact, it doesn’t look like an orchid any more than just any generic flower.

For years, naturalists believed that the Mantis was drawing its victims by camouflaging itself among flowers. But it turns out those were assumptions made based on limited facts, the Mantis’ being very rare in nature. And while we think it looks like a specific flower, the bugs it attracts just like the pretty colors that, to their limited brains, appear as food sources, as opposed to their doom.

The Mantis’ aggressive mimicry is not unknown to the insect world – Bolas spiders mimic the mating pheromones of female moths to draw horny male moths to their death and the female Photorus firefly mimics the flash pattern of other species of fireflies to bring in male suitors for dinner. Basically, males ‘in the mood’ are easily distracted by sparkling lights and pleasant smells, leaving them confused and nearly helpless. Uh, male insects, that is…

The Orchid Mantis, however, doesn’t discriminate on what they will feed on, enjoying a variety of flying insects of all genders, using their flowery colors and sensory exploitation to attract houseflies, bees, blue bottle flies – even in some cases butterflies! And their flower-like appearance protects them from birds and other natural predators.

Orchid Mantis, just one more example of the wonder of God’s creation and another interesting chapter in our exploration of Extreme Bugs!

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