Say Say Say

Currently, there is no Indiana State Insect. Many come to mind as candidates… However, there is proposed legislation to name Pyractomena angulate (common name: Say’s Firefly) the new Indiana State Insect. It is altogether fitting and exciting!

Say’s Firefly was first described by Thomas Say who is considered the father of American Entomology. Say was a taxonomist, who described and named many living things such as insects and mollusks. He accompanied other scientists and educators on the famous “Boatload of Knowledge” party that arrived in New Harmony, IN in January of 1826. A year after moving to Indiana, Say married Lucy Way Sistare, an artist who helped with her husband’s illustrations and was elected the first woman member of the Academy of Natural Sciences. Thomas Say described over 1,000 new species of beetles and over 400 insect species in his lifetime. His work in Indiana is considered his most monumental.

Say’s Firefly is one of the 175 firefly species that are sadly disappearing.

Of all the insects Say described, the firefly is the perfect one for the Indiana State Insect. Anyone who has spent time around Indiana’s lakes and streams know that they are so much more magical with the twinkling of this harmless and threatened creature (lightning bugs threatened…please see previous blog post: “Like Lightning”).

“Bringing to light” the plight of fireflies, honoring a legendary entomologist, and finally naming an Indiana State Insect sounds like enlightened legislation. Say Indiana-Say’s Firefly says it all!

The Beesness of Bees and Wasps

Bees and wasps share a lot in common. More common species of both have the ability to sting and often they can build scientifically (and geometrically) fascinating nests. Most people in Indiana just refer to them all as bees- that is fine by us because we will take care of anything pestering our clients. However, there are some simple ways to tell the difference between them and this can be helpful to know as many bees can be beneficial to the environment because they are good pollinators and stinging varieties only sting once. In contrast, stinging wasps can sting multiple times and therefore run a greater risk of causing anaphylactic shock which can be deadly in some humans.

Warning:
If you ever come across bees or wasps, think about how to get away calmly and quickly. DO NOT SWAT OR TRY TO ATTACK BEES OR WASPS! Doing so will cause them to be more aggressive and they might also release a chemical which alerts other members of their hives to become more agitated. If you find you are stung by a bee or wasp (bees usually leave the stinger and hind end in the skin, while wasps do not), please (remove stinger by scraping with sharp edge i.e. credit card), wash the area (ice and aspirin are ok for adults), and monitor your symptoms. If you have a history of anaphylactic shock or show signs of it (shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling in the neck, dizziness, nausea or vomiting) PLEASE SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY AND INFORM THOSE AROUND YOU OF YOUR CONDITION! It is best to LEAVE bees and wasps, and their nests ALONE! Instead, leave it up to the experts-US!

You can be an expert at telling the difference between bees and wasps. While flying, wasps tend to let their back legs dangle in midair – while bees tuck them under as to not be seen. While at rest, wasps keep their wings streamline with their body – a bee keeps its wings out to the side. Wasps are most usually shiny -while bees often seem to have fur (which is why they are good pollinators). Wasps are commonly more aggressive than bees -unfortunate, since they can sting more. We hope this comes in handy impressing your friends or for a trivia game and still recommend that you STAY AWAY FROM BEES AND WASPS! Whatever you do – don’t do this!… Aug/2013. Have a Safe and Happy Labor Day Weekend! We hope all your picnics are bee and wasp free!

Bedbugs in School

In a recent survey from the National Pest Management Association, 41% of pest control professionals indicate encountering bedbugs in schools and daycare centers. Unfortunately, bedbug numbers are on the rise. As back to school time is here, we’ve included these TIPS to prevent bedbugs coming home from school.

INSPECT FOR BEDBUGS

These reddish-insects are about the size of an apple seed and are notorious for hiding in small cracks and crevices. They can hide on backpacks, clothing, books, and even in the student’s hair. Be aware of other signs such as left-over body shells or fecal matter (small black or red spots on clothing). We suggest performing and teaching your child inspections for bedbugs daily. If your child is old enough, it is good for them to be on the lookout for these insects playing hide-and-seek. If your student has a locker at school, teach them the importance of keeping it clutter-free so as to regularly inspect it as well.

SEPARATE AND HEAT-TREAT ITEMS FROM SCHOOL

Immediately remove clothing near the door or contained area (not recommended in a bedroom). A laundry room is ideal because the very next step is to wash and dry clothes on high heat immediately. It is helpful that children do not run around their rooms and beds with their school clothes on unless properly inspected. At the very least, DO NOT LEAVE BACKPACKS IN OR NEAR BEDROOM AREAS! It is a good practice to remove folders, electronic devices and books from backpacks at once and look them over and throw the backpacks in the dryer on high-heat for a half-hour. If items show signs of bedbugs that cannot be washed/dried (books), place in sealed bag and dispose of in a trash can – do not risk cleaning or removing the bugs because it is not worth it -Simon says.

IF YOU SUSPECT A BEDBUG PROBLEM-TIME TO CALL!

Only a professional pest control program can eliminate bedbugs. We suggest you play telephone right away and give us a call – our pest control technicians work to act fast to get an infestation inspected and treated. If you find that the infestation came from your child’s school it is best to contact the school administration immediately. Negative social stigma aside, your child’s school should have a bedbug detection and elimination plan in place. Your information may save other students and homes from a costly and health-threatening bedbug infestation.
Get the game up on bedbugs so your children only come home from school with good grades and not insects! Tag!

Flea Circus

Our office has been inundated with calls about fleas and indeed it has been a bad year for them. The first thing any pest control company will tell you about fleas is that IT TAKES 21 DAYS TO KILL FLEAS AFTER YOU TREAT FOR THEM! This is true throughout the industry because even if all the fleas were killed today, in 21 days their eggs will hatch. When we treat for fleas, in 21 days when the flea eggs hatch the treatment will kill them off as well.

That brings us to the second thing any pest control will tell you about fleas: YOU MUST TREAT YOUR DOGS OR CATS WITH A VETERINARY-APPROVED FLEA TREATMENT! This means Advantage or Frontline or whatever your vet suggests. Please be sure to get the treatment from reputable dealers such as your vet, pet shops, or 1800PETMEDS.com. There are a lot of knock-offs on the market and some dealers may have them and they are expired so beware of getting them just anywhere. The real treatments have little bottles usually filled with Fipronil or a chemical that is totally safe for dogs or cats, and must be administered monthly. We know this can be an expense but it is a necessary one. It can range from $10-20 a month for the treatment and they usually come in 4-month dose packages. (Always follow the rules and instructions on the packages). These should be administered during the warm months of the year (May-August) and possibly September and October if a flea problem persists.

Treatments need to be given to all dogs or cats in the household (the doses vary according to the pet’s weight). We know this can be pricey and it is tempting to go with the cheaper brands such as Hertz or just using a flea collars or flea dips but THESE WILL NOT TAKE CARE OF A FLEA PROBLEM! The Hertz have even been proven to cause brain damage in some animals and simply don’t work and the flea dips and collars do not provide ongoing protection so don’t waste your money. (There is a PET BLOOD DONOR program that is run through IVAC that offers a 40% discount on flea medications along with many other benefits for other services such as free annual check-ups. For more information about this pet saving program, please call 1-800-551-4879). Even the flea pills given by a vet may not be the answer. One pill is designed like a flea dip. The animal takes the pill and the fleas die instantly but when the animal reenters the flea infested area again, there is no ongoing protection and the animal continues to get fleas. Be sure to ask questions when buying flea pills from the vet and make sure it is one that provides ongoing protection and is re-administered when needed.

• When our exterminators come to treat the property for fleas, it is best to treat the cats or dogs before or at the same time.
• We also ask that food items, toys, and clothes be stored and floor areas cleaned and accessible.
Birds will need to be removed during treatment and fish tanks need to be covered with water-pumps turned off.
• Reentry time varies by property but can usually be up to 1-3 hours after the treatment. Your exterminator will let you know when it is safe to reenter the property and when the treatment will be mostly odorless and completely safe for you and your pets.
• Again, please allow 21 days due to the nature of the flea life-cycle for complete treatment and prevent further infestations by treating your animals monthly.

We hope to take the hassle out of having fleas and seek to work one-on-one with our clients to find the most effective and timely solution to eliminating fleas. Call us today with all questions or concerns. Don’t let fleas turn your life into a circus -please say no to fleas!

Flying Ants or Termites?

As an exterminator, I am often asked the difference between ant swarms and termite swarms. Indeed, the two look very much alike. A good way to tell them apart is at their waist. If the individual insect has a pinched waist, it is most likely an ant. If it looks to not have a waist and rather looks like a small black tube with wings, it is most likely a termite. Never fear in either case as you’ve come to the right place. Your local pest professionals at JCE have both the tools and the talent to take care of you!

Of course, many would prefer to have flying ants over the termites since flying termites are an obvious sign of wood under threat. Still, when it comes to flying carpenter ants, they too pose a danger to surrounding wood and trees. As a general rule, the carpenter ants are larger than other ants; however, their identification can be tricky. Carpenter ants can cause wood damage that can be just as disheartening as any termite’s.

It is important to be able to identify and manage the wood-destroying pests as soon as possible and work to practice prevention techniques.

These include:
• Quickly fixing leaks and leaky spickets
• Eliminating standing water and excess moisture in crawls and basements
• Cleaning out gutters at least once a year
• Cutting tree limbs back away from the house
• Removing dead trees and logs
• Storing firewood off of the ground (on racks) and away from the house
• Once-a-year inspections of the property
• Power Spray Protection Program (does not protect against termites but your best bet for carpenter ants and other occasional outside invaders)

JCE seeks to protect your home from damaging insects and those that disrupt your life. Our pest control team is trained to identify potential problems and safely handle any infestations. Ants? Termites? There’s only one call to make!

Like Lightning

Magical summers have lazy vacations, barbeques, 4th of July fireworks, and fireflies. As a child, it seemed the firefly’s light shows could rival the fireworks – but not so this year. There just seemed to be a myriad more fireflies in my younger days compared to now. Was this true? Have the fireflies been disappearing? Research on fireflies has only quite recently begun but already a decline in their populations has been observed. Very little is still understood about fireflies but scientists are warning that fireflies may become rare and eventually extinct with some predictions as soon as the next couple generations. Imagine, our grandchildren only being able to just tell their grandchildren of fireflies with none left alive in existence. Indeed, a depressing thought.
It is hard to imagine summer without fireflies.
Scientists have recently excelled their efforts in the research of these magical creatures. The firefly tale begins in the tail. It produces what is called “cold light” and is caused by a mixture of three chemicals: Luciferin (a chemical that is heat-resistant and glows under the right conditions), Luciferase (an enzyme that triggers light emission) and ATP (a chemical that converts to energy and initiates glow and one that all living things contain). In some species, even the eggs and larvae emit light –GLOWORMS! So far, the research of the firefly has proven both medically and scientifically useful.
Fireflies love warm and humid environments and thrive in forests, fields, marshes, near lakes, rivers and ponds. They can be found on all of the continents except Antarctica, coming out in the summertime to the world’s delight. It is unfortunate that there is plenty of antidotal evidence that areas once full of fireflies (going back generations), have seen recent and dramatic population decreases. The cause of the disappearance is still being researched however, most scientists blame development and light pollution. As open fields and forests are paved over, fireflies’ habitats disappear. The increased use of pesticides and herbicides are also a factor. Habitats disappear under housing and commercial development so firefly numbers dwindle.
TOO MUCH LIGHT AT NIGHT
The male and female fireflies use flashing lights to communicate and attract mates. Human light pollution is believed to interrupt these flash patterns. Lights from homes, streetlights, cars, and so on have made it difficult for fireflies to signal each other for mating, meaning fewer firefly larvae next season.
So what can you do to save the fireflies?
• Turn off outside lights at night and draw blinds.
• Don’t over-mow your lawn (you’re welcome dad) –fireflies live on the ground during the day and over-mowing disrupts them. Consider areas of long grasses in landscaping.
• Create water features in your landscapes (such as small ponds or a diverted river).
• Plant Trees!!! Pine is a firefly favorite as the canopy provides a low light area.
• Let some log litter accumulate (this is especially for those who live beneath forest canopies).
• Do NOT introduce earthworms to your yard! This not only causes the reduction of plant diversity it also causes the reduction of food availability for fireflies.
• Use natural fertilizers as chemical fertilizers have a definite effect on fireflies-say no to lawn spray!
• Use fewer pesticides. Many communities spray for mosquitoes at night and inadvertently poison the fireflies. We encourage a broad spectrum mosquito control program including reducing standing water and the use of larvacides. Talk to your community leaders as many have found that this can actually save money and have a less impact on firefly species.
• Talk to your neighbors and get involved. There is even a way to get your garden certified through the National Wildlife Federation (www.nwf.org).
It is up to us to save the fireflies before they are glowing, glowing, gone!

Bedbugs (Expecto Patronum)

The June bug hath a gaudy wing,
The lightning bug a flame,
The bedbug hath no wing at all
But he gets there just the same.

Bedbugs do not have wings at any stage of their life. Still, just as the old saying goes, the bedbugs have gotten to Johnson County just the same. It was said for years that the reason we had a break from bedbugs for some decades is because of the widespread use of DDT in the sixties and seventies. Now, in laboratory testing, bedbugs have become DDT resistant. Bedbugs have been around on the Earth for some time now. Cimex lectularius (sounds like a Harry Potter incantation) has also been called, “Chinche,” “wall-louse,” and probably the first use of the word “bug.” The ancient Celts saw them as terrors of the night and the word “bug” is synonymous in their language with ghosts and goblins. There are twenty species in the world, eight of which are from North America.
Folklore about this bug has dated back for centuries. They were once considered a cure for a great variety of ailments. Crushed bedbugs mixed with salt and human milk were considered an ointment for the eyes. In powdered form, they were considered a cure for fevers. Eating seven bedbugs mixed with beans was believed to help those suffering from quartan plague. Even at present time, in certain areas of Ohio, this same mixture is used as a cure for chills and fevers. For hysteria, people took the bedbugs internally and just the smell of them was considered to relieve hysterical suffocation. At one time bedbugs were also thought to be especially good as neutralizers of serpent venom, that of asps in particular, as well as a useful preventative against all other kinds of poisons (Harry Potter, again…). We don’t recommend any of those cures and think those people in Ohio must be nuts. Instead, we recommend that if you are haunted by these goblins to go ahead and give us a call. We’ll use our magic.

Tick Talk

Living in southern Indiana, we all have our fair share of the woods, eventually. We don’t get too far into the warm months without starting to wonder how bad the ticks are going to be this year and perhaps a refresher on the subject would prove helpful to all. In Indiana, there are numerous species of ticks while three are common. The most common is the American Dog Tick described as large and slow and ranging in color from grey to dark brown. The next is the Lonestar (also called Seed, Turkey, and Deer) Tick. It is smaller than the American Dog Tick and the female of the species has a white spot in the center of her back. Leaving the Black-Legged Tick, which is considered the most feared because these tiny, mahogany-colored oval-shaped ticks, can be carriers of Lyme disease. They established themselves in Indiana in 1987 and are found to prefer feeding on mice, small rodents, and white-tailed deer. Still, fear over ticks is nevertheless due to the possible diseases they can transmit due to their parasitic nature. Besides, Lyme disease, ticks are also responsible for Mountain Spotted-Fever, Ehrilchlosis, and Anaplasmosis. Symptoms from any of these can include spreading rashes, headaches, fatigue, fevers, and muscle aches but these are rare.
Our Entomologists on staff recommend that if bitten, save the tick in any closable container and label it with date and time.
Of course, please seek medical attention if anyone were to experience unusual symptoms after being bitten by a tick. The proper way to remove a tick is to use tweezers (as close to the skins surface as possible), then pull upward with steady even pressure (don’t twist or jerk because the mouthparts can get left in the skin-if they do, try to remove with tweezers), clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol, iodine scrub, or/and soap and water. Avoid folklore remedies such as petroleum jelly or heat to get the tick to detach. The goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible not waiting for detachment.
To best avoid ticks, stay away from wooded or bushy areas, high grass, and leaf litter and when hiking, walk in the center of trails. If these areas are not avoided, as we always say, prevention is best! This includes long pants and long-sleeved shirt (tucking shirt into pants and pants into socks), using repellants (20% Deet or above- always follow directions on the bottle and apply product avoiding the hands, eyes, and mouth), and always do an inspection check when leaving the woods (look in and around ears, belly button, behind knees, between legs, around waist and especially the hair). The examination should also include gear and pets. Camp clothes and blankets should be dried in the dryer on high heat for an hour.
Never forget our canine friends! It is often that dogs are the first to suffer from tick problems and tick-borne infections are a more serious risk for canines. We recommend that you ask your veterinarian about anti-tick prevention products and determine a treatment program for the months of April through September in Indiana. For more information about ticks, see www.CDC.gov/ticks. So that’s the tick tock and we hope it just ticks away!

Hoosier Daddy

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! A special thanks to all the dads and granddads out there! We know that often it was they who smashed that stray spider horrifying the family or came to the rescue for a bee sting. We salute dads because we think you are all grand! Being from Indiana and from a family-run pest control company we can’t get through this holiday without celebrating the Grand Daddy Long Legs. There have been quite a few myths surrounding this creature. Often referred to as spiders and in the Arachnid family, they are not actually true spiders and belong to the order Opiliones, making them more closely related to mites than spiders. They do not have silk glands and do not produce webs. They also do not liquefy their food with venom like spiders. As a young camper in southern Indiana, tales around the fire were that Daddy Long Legs were extremely venomous and to close your mouth when sleeping because they could craw in your mouth and kill you. Although it is estimated that humans consume up to one hundred insects a year while asleep, swallowing a grand daddy long legs could not cause death on the top bunk. They do not have venom glands and do not produce venom. Some say their fangs are just too small to bite humans, but in fact, they do not have fangs at all. Instead, they use 3-jointed mouth organs like a claw to eat. Often, they are foragers coming out at night, eating decomposing animal and plant matter. Sometimes they are even called Harvestmen. They are carnivorous, eating living organisms but mostly sticking with plant matter and juices. They do not bite humans and are not to be feared. Still, many just find all bugs a general nuisance and of course we’ve got the answer for you. Our power-spray program is in full swing this year and all are guaranteed pest-free and safe. It is never too late for that last-minute Father’s Day gift that keeps giving all year long and ensures Dad won’t be bugged. For those who are curious about other tips to reduce Grand Daddy Long Legs populations, please call us today. As always, our trained technicians work tirelessly to stay on top of all the latest pest control techniques. Dad always said that he loved to make clients happy just that much more than killing bugs-so give us a buzz!

Bug Music in Johnson County

Bugs are always music to our ears here at Johnson County Exterminating because they give us the opportunity to grow our symphony of satisfied customers. Throughout human history, bugs have always inspired the arts such as literature and movies, even some early cave paintings in France have depictions of humans gathering honey. When it comes to music, author and musician David Rothenberg has recently put out a book with an accompanied cd entitled “Bug Music” (April 2013, St. Martin’s Press) in which he makes the claim that the rhythm and noise of insects are perhaps the earliest influence on human music. It just makes sense that ancient humans would have beat their drums along with the chirping of crickets or maybe fashioned instruments the way that insects make their music rather like the use of a bow over strings creates sound like a the cricket rubbing its legs together. David Rothenberg’s insights are quite fascinating and the cd includes the use of bug sounds set to music which becomes a favorite of entomologists and music-lovers alike. Some of our other favorites include the song “Ugly Bug Ball” sung by Burl Ives and written by Robert Shermann. This appears on Walt Disney’s “Summer Magic” program that used to be on Sunday nights on the Wonderful World of Disney and can now be found on YouTube. It is so fun for children that we include it in our PowerPoint presentation when we speak to students about bugs at your local schools. Who could ever forget the song “Doomsday: The Bugs are Taking Over” by Elvis Costello or Bobby Gentry’s song “Bugs” which is this author’s personal favorite. In it she sings of how bugs are everywhere and a “sure fire way to pass the time of day you fold up a newspaper and swat ‘em”. This song truly captures what a nuisance insects can be but if you find yourself heading for that newspaper too often- of course, give us a call, we can do quite a bit better than that and the silence of bugs can be music to many ears. Still, it’s easy to see how bugs have inspired music and whether it’s Rimsky Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee”, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, The Beatles, or even the heavy metal band Wasp, post and let us know what insect music inspires you!