Ants are known for their unrelenting industriousness and incredible strict social system that seems flawless. It must be because their numbers never seem to dwindle, if anything it is hard to find a spot on earth that doesn’t seem to be crawling with this indomitable insect.
Their strict hierarchy system often ensures that everyone knows their role and the colony grows from strength to strength.
Ant populations on earth
According to the British entomologist known as C.B Williams, his calculations on the number of insects on earth at any given time led him to an estimate of one million trillion insects. If that estimate were true, then his bold claim is that all insects in the world would weigh as much as the entire human population
That sounds outrageous until you read or hear Edward O Wilson a Harvard professor and the German biologist Bert Hoelldobler claims on the subject in their book titled ‘Journey To The Ants’ published in 1994. Their argument seems to pick from and advance the British entomologist C.B Williams theory. The two professors suggest that a single worker ant weighs about 1-5 mg. If Williams estimated world insect population are ants, such a calculation would put earth’s population of ants at ten thousand trillion. That being the case, then indeed all the ants in the world put together would weigh the equivalent or perhaps even more than the total weight of all human kind on earth considering that an average human weighs about 62 kilograms.
Ant queen and the colony
But what does do all the above figures have to do with a queen bee? Well, it goes to show that the importance of the queen bee in multiplication of colonies. Her role in increasing and preservation of ant populations is indispensable. The Ant queen is the cog that keeps the population wheel of the ants spinning, take the ant queens away and the population of ants would be decimated. The various ranks of the ants know this and therefore instinctively perform their roles with military precision and discipline. The female worker ants dutifully forage for food and feed the colony as well as the queen in addition to making sure that the colony is clean. The other members of the colony are soldiers who ensure that everyone else in the colony is protected from harm. Then there are the drones who are essentially royalty because they are the princess and princesses of the colony.
Once the princesses become of age, they will mate with the drone and then move out to start new colonies of their own as queens. The primary role of an ant queen is laying eggs, and ant queens can live well beyond a decade and can lay up to a million eggs in a lifetime. When her colony population is healthy and robust, she will then switch gears to birthing more drones (princes and princesses) in order to extend the royal lineage and ensure continuity. The drones will then grow mate and leave the nest to start colonies of their own and so the cycle goes on and on.
The ant bee is noticeably bigger than the rest if the ants. That is not because she is pampered, but because the musculature is necessary to become an efficient egg laying machine to fill the earth with little ravenous ants.
Sometimes it may be hard to establish whether there are rats in your space but a sighting of rat poop is a sure way of telling that this rodent has found a home in your house. Most people tend to confuse rat and mouse poop but the two are distinctly different. Mouse poop is much smaller with pointy ends and the size of a rice grain. Rat poop on the other hand is much rounder and fatter with more volume and rounded edges.
Unfortunately, rats defecate wherever they want indiscriminately. This means no space is safe from these hideous creatures. The droppings are usually black in color turning a dull black with time. When fresh the droppings are extremely black so you can tell if the rat infestation is current on an old one.
Health risks from rat poop
During the winter months when rats can find their way into your house you have to deal with their poop in addition to their unwanted presence. The rats will defecate where they find food like in a cupboard or pantry. Their fecal matter can spread disease causing bacteria not to mention contaminate your food that is stored in those areas. Plus they can trigger an allergic reaction in human beings once the feceas become dry and can be breathed in. Here are some diseases associated with rats and their poop:
The bubonic plague
This disease is lethal and feared because it is highly contagious and can decimate entire populations. In the middle ages it wiped out a third of the European population at the time. It is famously known as the Black Death. Symptoms include headache, fever and swollen lymph nodes that are painful to touch.
This is a life threatening disease spread when people inhale or come into contact with an infected rat’s droppings, urine or even saliva. People get headaches, dizzy spells and abdominal issues.
Salmonella is spread when human beings come into contact with the fecal matter of rats through food. Unfortunately, it is possible to ingest food that has been contaminated by rat poop especially if you leave your food open during a rat infestation. In the US, there are roughly 40,000 cases of salmonella reported because of contamination of food with rat and other rodent poop.
How to mitigate rat poop
You can prevent the contamination of your food with rat poop by preventing rats from entering your home in the first place. This is the first line of defense against these rodents. If you have an infestation, call a professional to set traps and get rid of the rats for you.
Make sure to lean the areas where you notice rat poop thoroughly. Wear latex gloves when cleaning rat urine or poop to avoid contaminating your hands.Spray the area with disinfect and or pour water with bleach and let the area soak for a few minutes to loosen the poop and also to sterilize the space. Use a paper towel, not your regular kitchen cloth, to wipe away the poop and urine. Keep repeating this process until the area is completely cleaned and disinfected.
By the time you notice the tiny dark gray or black gnats buzzing round, one generation of these common plant pests has already infested the soil of your herb garden.
To find a natural cure for soil gnats in herb gardens you should understand the life cycle of the fungus (soil) gnat or Sciaridae.
The eight-inch long gnat you see is the mature adult and it is in the process of laying approximately 300 eggs on the moist soil surface of your garden for a new generation.
These gnats prefer to lay their eggs on damp soil which is rich in organic matter. During the winter, when overwatering is more common, the soil gnats may become a problem.
The entire life cycle of this garden pest is about four weeks in duration from egg to mature adult. The mature fungus gnat will not harm the herbs in your garden, but the larvae will. From four to six days after the eggs are laid, they hatch.
The fungus gnat larvae are white and about a quarter-inch in length with a black head.
Fungus gnat larvae burrow into the moist soil and feed upon the root system of the herb plants. Adult soil gnats live for only about ten days.
One natural cure for soil gnats in herb gardens is to first rid the soil of the infestation of eggs and larvae. Horticulturists agree that you should allow the soil to completely dry out between waterings.
Dry soil will cause the larvae to dry up. The soil should be dry for up to three inches in depth. Water only until the water comes out through the drainage hole in the bottom of the planter.
Remember that seedlings require smaller amounts of water than mature herb plants and may require watering only once a week during the winter months.
For severe infestations, the herb garden plants may need to be repotted in new soil. The old soil should be discarded. Another natural cure for soil gnats in herb gardens is to fool the gnats into believing the soil is not moist.
Do this by applying about a quarter-inch of sand to the soil surface and then covering the sand with cedar chips. The sand will dry quickly and cedar is a natural insect repellent.
Trap the mature gnats by hanging a sheet of yellow paper that has been coated with petroleum jelly close by the affected herb plant. The yellow paper attracts insects and the petroleum jelly makes them stick to the paper. This coated paper operates much like the flypaper strips you can purchase in hardware stores.
Another method is to place vegetable oil and cider vinegar in a plastic container or jar with the lid perforated with holes. The gnats will find a way to get to the cider vinegar and be trapped by the vegetable oil which floats on the surface.
Even if the gnat finds a way to get out of the jar, it will not be able to reproduce. You can prevent soil gnat infestations in your herb garden by these methods.
The best way on how to get rid of bug bites is to be prepared.
In your own backyard, you probably know the most common bugs that will bite. If mosquitoes are a problem, put on a natural repellent before going out in the early morning or in the evening hours-I like bug sprays that use lemon balm and eucalyptus.
They’re more natural than sprays that contain DEET, and often just as effective.
Another novel way to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your area is to build a bat box. Bats eat up to 1200 mosquitoes an hour, making them the perfect natural, mosquito defense.
If there are fleas in your house, your best defense is a thorough cleaning-vacuum, have the carpets steam cleaned, and bathe and brush your pets.
If you live in an area with ticks, wear clothing that covers your skin when you venture into the woods. Check yourself over when you return so you can immediately remove any ticks.
If you’re going somewhere new-on a hike or a vacation-do a little research to find out what biting bugs are present and what you can do to prevent or minimize bites.
Do You Know The Difference From One Bite To The Next?
When a bug does bite you, the first step to finding relief is to identify the bite.
Mosquito bites are the easiest to identify because they are among the most familiar. They cause a hard, red lump that itches.
Flea bites usually occur in clusters of little bumps or spots. The most common areas to be bitten are the armpits, around the ankles, and in the bends of the elbows and knees. If you look closely, you can see the bite mark in the middle of each bump or spot.
Tick bites are the easiest to identify because the tick is usually still there. Ticks are small, black bugs that latch on when they bite. If the tick is gone, you can recognize the bite because it’s more painful than itchy.
Spider bites result in a raised bump that usually blisters within a day or two. Like tick bites, spider bites are usually painful rather than itchy.
If you have mosquito bites, there are several things you can try to relieve the itching. I’ve found that applying an ice pack to the bites for 15 to 20 minutes is very helpful.
You can also dab a little honey, vinegar, baking soda paste (just mix a little baking soda with a little water), or Mentholatum on the bite to relieve itching.
Flea bites are best relieved by soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salts and baking soda. Baking soda makes for an excellent itch reliever and the Epsom salts can help with healing the bites.
The first step in getting relief from tick bites is proper removal. To safely remove a tick, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and grasp it as close to your skin as you can. Pull it straight out without twisting.
Once you’ve removed the tick, put it in a small jar with some rubbing alcohol-ticks can carry dangerous diseases and if you get sick, this may help your doctor identify the illness and treat it more effectively.
Finally, wash the bite with soap and water. An ice pack can help relieve any pain caused by the bite.
If you get a spider bite, wash the bite thoroughly with soap and water. Use a cool compress to relieve any pain or swelling that occurs.
The pincher bug can become a nuisance if they set camp in your yard. Like most insects, pincher bugs are attracted to white lighting outside the house. In summer, having pincher bugs invade your patio and other outside house areas with white lighting is a common occurrence. If possible, a simple solution such as getting the outside light to face the house as opposed to the yard or changing the bulb from white to yellow may help in not attracting them. They are drawn to a white light, therefore switching to a yellow build often proves helpful.
What do they look like?
These little bugs can strike fear in you especially when you don’t know exactly what they are. That is because if you see one or several, it can only mean the rest of the horde is not far behind. Pincher bugs produce pheromones which helps explain why they often cluster together in huge populations. They are pretty fast for insects and that coupled with forceps or pincers on the back of their body is enough to cause concern to anyone who spots the in or around the home. The pincers are a weapon they use to defend themselves against predators as well as for sparring matches with their own kind.
Adults will measure anywhere between 5-25 mm depending on the species. There are at least 20 different species in the United States with significant variance in behavior from one species to another. They are all nocturnal and prefer to emerge at night.
Are pincher bugs dangerous to humans?
Other than looking creepy, pincher bugs are a not a danger to human beings. Some species of this bug are known to secrete a foul smelling liquid as a way to defend themselves against predators. Their bite is not venomous and they rarely attack. This same bug is also called the earwig. They prefer to live in cool, damp and undisturbed places such as under rocks, logs, under leaves and mulch in the garden. When the conditions are right, such as wet soil, food and ground cover, these little bugs can wreak havoc in the garden. They eat and live on vegetation such decaying vegetation and sprouts. Some species of pincher bugs are predators and will therefore prey on other insects.
Pincher bugs rarely enter the house, unless they just happened to wander in your home as a result of an open door. They tend to seek shelter in a home during extended periods of heat and dryness.
The best way to control the pincher bug is by ensuring that your yard is dry and clear of rotting debris. Removing damp leaves, logs and twigs, as well as pruning trees that cast a shadow on the compound preventing it from drying will help in keeping this bug away from your yard and home.
Some people fear earwigs because they have been told that they enter people’s ears when they are asleep. This but a myth and has no truth in it.
Infestations by this but are very rare, however should you notice that these bugs are in your house in areas with water such as the kitchen and bathroom, call an exterminator to help you get rid fo the problem.
Some people may have heard of a vinegaroon but for most, the word and sound of it might be completely strange. Guess what? The vinegaroon is the only whip scorpion found in the United States.
What is a vinegaroon
An encounter with one of these creatures can be scary because of their menacing look. But what may strike you as odd is that vinegaroon has features of both a spider and scorpion, so you might not be quite sure what you are looking at. Good news is you are not alone because countless people have had the same reaction when they set eyes on their first vinegaroon. One could say that the vinegaroon is a cross between a spider and a scorpion and they would be right on so many counts.
For starters, the vinegaroon is classified as an arachnid which is the same classification as a spider. Vinegaroons have eight legs just as spiders do and will rarely be seen during the day as they are nocturnal creatures. They also have two menacing claws the front of their bodies.
Vinegaroons also have a long tail like appendage at their hind quarters similar to the one seen in scorpions.
Is a vinegaroon’s bite venomous
Most people who have had the unfortunate luck of being bitten or stung by a vinegaroon’s, know that the sting can be quite painful. What’s more, is that a vinegaroon’s defensive mechanism against an intruder is not just stinging, but it will also release a spray. Should the fluid touch the bite area, one will have a burning/stinging sensation similar to the stinging effect of vinegar when it touches an open wound. The fortunate thing though, is that other than the aftershock of being bitten by the creature its bite and spray are not venomous. If not careful the spray can get into the eyes causing a stinging sensation. But other than the initial pain one may feel, there is no damage done.
The vinegaroon’s bite and its spray may be painful but it is not venomous nor life threatening. The best cause of action after one has been bitten, sprayed or both by a vinegaroon is to wash the area with water and soap. In the event that skin breaks as a result of a bite, then the real danger is in bacteria, and other germs infecting the area. Washing the area with soap and water ensures that the chance of an infection is minimal.
So the next time you are out camping and one of your buddies or yourself gets stung by vinegaroon spider, you will know exactly what to do. As mentioned before, this is a nocturnal creature and will rarely be seen during the day. They are however fairly active in the night. Folks going for camping or exploring the outdoors at night need not be overly worried about this creature. It rarely attacks humans and will only do so in a case where if feels threatened.
Bat bugs are to bats what bed bugs are to humans. They are parasitic bugs that feed on the blood of bats. Here is the thing: the two parasites are close relatives just with difference blood preference. They are from the Cimicadae family of insects and unfortunately, despite their preference for bat blood they have no problem getting into your bed and furniture and biting you.
Bat bugs are predominantly found in places where there have been bat colonies. If that is your chimney or attic you can expect them to migrate to your furniture when there no longer any bats in the vicinity. Since the bat bug doesn’t attach to the bat like a tick they need to live nearby to access the bat during feeding times. They live within the crack and crevices of these areas as long as bats are available.
Difference between bed and bat bugs
These two parasites are very similar in color, shape and characteristics. It is very hard to tell the two apart but upon close inspection you will notice that the bat bug has hairs on the upper thorax that are much longer than those on a bed bug.
Are bat bugs dangerous?
Of course, bats are known to carry rabies and their fecal matter can transmit histoplasmosis to humans and both diseases can be fatal if not treated. But that doesn’t mean that the bats are carriers so or transmitters of these diseases.
When these bat bugs are starved of blood they can resort to feeding on humans. However, they can survive in your furniture or carpeting for as long as a year without feeding. No amount of vacuuming will get rid of them.
In desperate times they will also feed on cat and dog blood.
How to get rid of bat bugs
Bed bugs are more tenacious compared to bat bugs so getting rid of the latter is probably a little easier. However, they are just as secretive and furtive as their cousin and since they don’t feed frequently getting them can become a bit of a task. Professionals know where to go to find them and what to look for and that is why it is advisable to call in pest control experts when you notice bat bugs.
Of course, the best way to get rid of these pests is to never let them in at all. This means that you have to check your space for bats and get rid of them to prevent an infestation of bat bugs.
Symptoms of bat bug bites
Their bites are very similar to bed bug bites. Once they bite the area gets a burning sensation that is quickly followed by a bump that swells and raises a clear center. The bug uses their proboscis to pierce through the skin and suck the blood out into their stomachs. Like bed bugs they are also nocturnal creatures that are most active when you are asleep. They bite the most during the early hours of the morning or during the night. They will hide in the bedframes and under the mattress seams.
Mosquito bites can occur at any time of the day depending on which mosquito is biting you. A typical mosquito bite looks round and puffy with a dot at the center. This reaction is instantaneous and shows up as soon as the mosquito bites you. The bump then becomes red and swells accompanied with a lot of itching.
Children and people with a compromised immune system may suffer more severe reactions to the bite including a break out of hives, swollen lymph nodes and a massive patch of redness and swelling. Typically the mosquito bite should not be a source of concern because the swelling and itching go down in a few minutes to hours; unless, of course, one has an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite or a mosquito-borne disease.
The Skeeter syndrome is a severe reaction to a mosquito bite with severe symptoms. The bite becomes swollen up to twice or three times the size of a normal mosquito bite, sometimes even bigger. A high fever accompanies this swelling coming hot on the heels of the bite and within a few hours of the bite. Skeeter syndrome can occur in absolutely healthy victims of a mosquito bite.
Skeeter syndrome can get intense with adverse reactions like very pronounced swelling especially if the mosquito has bitten the victim on the same spot several times. There is also a lot of heat emanating from the bite site as well as pain which is not normal with a mosquito bite. For some people their faces swell as well and lips or eye lids will puff up while others have nausea and vomiting as well as blistering on the site of the bite and difficulty breathing.
Skeeter syndrome can be diagnosed in a clinic or b an allergist using a skin test. The good news is that Skeeter syndrome is not as deadly as the anaphylactic shock that people go into from wasp and bees stings. Medical practitioners haven’t seen Skeeter syndrome victim fatalities.
How to tell a mosquito allergic reaction from a mosquito bite infection
Both situations feature very similar symptoms including itching, redness, pain and swelling. Some fever and chills are involved as well. However, while the infection can occur within a few days of the bite the allergic reaction occurs immediately. Skeeter syndrome doesn’t take long to manifest and it can be very scary especially when accompanied with difficulty breathing.
We always recommend preventing mosquito bites as a way to prevent eh larger issues that may arise for the bite. As such using repellent and sleeping under a net should be your first line of defense. Also, learn whether you are susceptible to mosquito bites more than other people and steer clear of areas with mosquitoes.
If you have an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite, make your way to the doctor’s. They will probably give you and oral antihistamine and prescribe a pain reliever. For people who have very severe reactions the option of allergy shots that desensitize the patient so that the reaction is not life threatening.