Ticks are parasites, small, flat, dark colored, and oval in shape that feed on blood. They transmit deadly diseases to animals and humans alike.
A tick feels like a little bump on your dog’s skin when you run your hands over its body. Some ticks are very tiny and easy to overlook until they have fed and are full of blood. This happens when they have been feeding for days. So it’s very important give your dog an inspection for ticks after taking outdoor excursions in wooded or tall grasses areas. This should be done immediately you get home from your excursion because most tick borne diseases need a tick to feed for a few hours to be able to transmit infection.
So the risk of transmission is low if the ticks are located and removed promptly. Check your dog’s head, feet, ears, armpits and in between the toes thoroughly by running your hands over your canine’s body. See if you can feel any swollen areas or bumps because many times ticks are hidden under the fur and not readily visible. If your dog has light colored fur it is easy to spot a dark protrusion from the skin. If found, the tick will most likely have started feeding and will be engorged with the bite site looking red and irritated. When you are done checking your dog, inspect yourself for ticks also since ticks can transfer to you too.
Ticks are disgusting and a tick bite can transmit diseases. Being a dog owner it important to know symptoms of tick borne diseases. One also needs to know how to prevent and remove ticks and also how to handle tick bites.
Ticks transmit diseases which include:
- Rocky mountain spotted fever
- Tick paralysis
- Lyme disease
These diseases present symptoms which include lethargy and fever. Also lameness, anaemia and joint swelling. A clumsy gait which moves on to paralysis might occur with Tick paralysis. After ticks are removed the paralysis gradually disappears.
If your dog has been bitten and starts exhibiting signs of illness call on a veterinarian pronto for testing and proper diagnosis so treatment can begin.
Why ticks bite
Ticks are parasites that feed on their host’s blood. They are attracted to movement and will attach themselves to dogs, cats, cows, people and other mammals. After the tick egg hatches, the larva in order to grow into the next stages of nymph and adult must have blood meals throughout. It must have blood to survive.
You will need a pair of fine point tweezers to remove ticks from your dog. After locating the tick, clamp down on it carefully as close as possible to the dogs skin. With gentle pressure pull straight out until the tick loosens its grip and get it off the skin. Don’t grip it too tightly otherwise you run the risk of the tick rapturing and releasing pathogens. Clean the wound using alcohol and apply a topical antibiotic on it.
Prevention of tick bites
Inspect your dog every time you come in from outdoor excursions. Ask your veterinarian for tick bite preventative medication that suits your breed of dog. Clear the area around your house of shrubbery and long grass to deny ticks safe haven.
There are over 11,000 ant species in the world. Ants are social insects. They live in a colony and that functions harmoniously as a result of a strict hierarchy. The level of coordination and discipline with which an ant colony functions is nothing short of impressive.
When you see ant hills you might think that those are the nests but you would be mistaken. These hills comprise of dirt, sand, grass and wood debris that ants remove as they excavate beneath the ground creating chambers and tunnels which form the nest. These chambers and tunnels sink as far as 30 feet deep underground. Other ants burrow into rotting wood, others will only nest in trees. Their nests are engineered to create optimal conditions for larvae to thrive.
Ant colony hierarchy
Top of the pyramid is the queen ant which is the leader and founder of the colony. Her core purpose is to keep the colony populated by laying eggs. As a defense against predators the queen’s chambers are situated deep within the nest. The lifespan of the queen ants which is three decades is about thirty times more than the workers and drones who cater to her. The queen is way larger than the drones and workers.
Drones come in second. These are male ants and their one and only purpose is to make sure the queen lays eggs by mating with her. Soon after fulfilling this duty drones die.
Last but not least come in the workers. These are all female ants but they can’t lay eggs. Their most important duty is to feed the colony. Worker ants are also responsible for building and taking care of the nest and defending the colony from other marauding ants. Workers gather and allocate food ensuring that the next generation will continue to expand the colony. Members of a colony communicate with each other to coordinate their functions using chemicals which they smell using their antennae.
Members of the same nest identify each other through chemicals covering their bodies. A unique blend of chemicals coat the queen and announces her presence.
Ants process information as a cohesive group to solve knotty problems that a lone ant would be unable to deal with. Ants overcome by numbers when hunting. They bring down much bigger prey and will repel even mammals from their colony.
There are peaceful ants which gather vegetation to grow fungus which they feed on. Other ants feed off plants and dead insects.
Ants are loyal to their colonies to the death. Many ants will mark their territory which is off limits to any other ants as resources and food can be scarce. It is all out war when another colony invades. Workers will fight to the death in these territorial battles
Lifespan of ant Colony.
The lifespan of a colony is dependent on the species of ant. Colonies live as long as the queen is alive. Carpenter ant colonies can thrive for five to six years. Fire ants colonies which can number hundreds of thousands, with the queen laying a thousand eggs every day can flourish for about seven years.
If you see ants around your home it most likely means that there is a nest somewhere close by. Call a pest control professional to help eliminate them before they invade your home for food.
A spider bite gives everyone the shivers. Read on what to do in case of one
Most spiders aren’t dangerous. Many spider fangs are not strong enough to bite through human skin.
The small percentage of spiders that can puncture human skin and deliver venom can cause major health problems.
Signs of a spider bite
You might get bitten by a spider and not be aware of it until much later when you notice the bite. There are signs to look out for to identify a spider bite including the following:
- Pimples parallel to each other, a purple or red color blister
- Skin damage
- Red welts
- Muscle pain
- Pain on the bite site
- Headaches, fever, nausea, chills, breathing difficulty, sweating and anxiety.
Spider bites may affect the skin tissues and therefore take long to heal. Keeping the site of the bite clean is vital to avoid infection.
Bites from non venomous spiders can be treated at home by :
Elevating the bite site will help reduce the swelling, apply an ice pack at intervals of ten minutes. Also clean the bite site with water and antibiotic soap to wash out any bacteria. Applying topical antibiotic to the bite area and taking an over the counter antihistamine under the guidance of a pharmacist will help. If the symptoms are not fading away seek see medical attention.
Types of spiders, effects of their bites and treatment to take
- Black widow
This spider is black with a red hourglass mark on its abdomen. It’s got long spindly legs and bulbous abdomen. It prefers hidden places such as storage boxes, Wood piles, under logs and leaf debris. The black widow inhabits the western and southern areas of North American. The black widow bite feels like pinprick and its fangs leave two puncture marks on your skin.
When bitten by a black widow you will experience headache, muscle cramping, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and increased saliva emission. Other symptoms may include pain and burning at the bite site, restlessness, numbness and high blood pressure.
Medical intervention is necessary. You need to get to an emergency room quickly.
Tarantulas are big and hairy. The can have a leg span of 6 inches they have big visible fangs. They are quite timid and will only bite when absolutely cornered. Though they look menacing their bite is not considered fatal to humans. The bite feels like a bee sting. The bite site will become red and feel warm. Other signs are: itching, rash, breathing difficulty, low blood pressure, and swelling.
You will need to see a doctor if you exhibit these symptoms.
- Brown recluse spider
The brown recluse spider gets its name from its color and habit of hiding away in secluded dark places. It’s got a unique violin shaped mark on is back and long legs. It inhabits Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arkansas.
The initial bite is not painful. It starts to turn red itchy and hurts after eight hours. A red ring similar to a bullseye forms around the bite. If not treated the bite will worsen killing surrounding tissue. It can cause, seizures, jaundice and kidney failure.
There is no anti venom for the brown recluse spider venom. To minimize chances of infection wash the bite site with water and antibiotic soap. See a doctor who will most likely prescribe antibiotics.
If you have noticed any large spiders lurking in your home or yard, it may be wise to call pest controller or exterminate them and reduce chances of spider bites.
People are affected by mosquito bites in different ways. When mosquitoes feed they will pump saliva which contains blood thinners and proteins into the host as they suck out the blood. The body’s reaction is to unleash histamine to get white blood cells to the bite site to get rid of the proteins. Mosquito bites can last days or hours and depending on a person’s immunity. This compound, histamine, is behind the inflammation, swelling and itching. A good number of people have become inured to mosquito bites but the majority are still affected and react to the bites. Many have come up with all kinds of remedies to ease the itching.
Clean the bite using surgical spirit. When it dries surgical spirit has a cooling effect which will give you relief from the itching. This should be applied as quickly as possible after being bitten by a mosquito.
This grain has soothing effects that give you relief from allergic reactions, insect bites, dry skin and chicken pox. Add a bit of water to colloidal oatmeal make a paste and smear it on the bite. Use warm water to clean it off after a quarter of an hour. You can also add oatmeal to your bathwater.
Use freshly chopped basil leaves to rub on the bite. This offers immediate relief as basil has compounds that relieve itchy skin. Basil oil can also be applied to mosquito bites to relieve the itching.
Cut the aloe Vera leaf and apply the gel on to the mosquito bite to enjoy the plants soothing effects. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Cold tea bag
Cool a soaked bag of black tea in the fridge. Lay the cold tea bag on the mosquito bite to relieve swelling and itching. Tea has anti-inflammatory properties.
Honey has wound healing ability, is antibacterial and an antiseptic. Apply it on the mosquito bite to bring inflammation down and prevent infection. Wear it inside the home because mosquitoes are attracted to the sugars in the honey.
These creams reduce skin irritation and Inflammation. Don’t use them on your face and open wounds.
Garlic has wound healing and antiviral capabilities but it can also increase inflammation and skin irritation if applied raw. For better results mix crushed garlic with coconut oil and apply to the bite.
Mosquito bites affect some people with more serious effects like including hives, blisters, hives, swollen joints and fever. You will need to see a doctor if you exhibit one of these symptoms.
There are vaccines for mosquito borne disease like yellow fever If you live in areas where there a lot of mosquitoes.
Prevention of mosquito bites
If you are traveling in mosquito inhabited countries you will need insect repellant. Mosquitoes are attracted to heat, carbon dioxide, body odor and sweat. When outside dress in long-sleeved shirt, a hat, trousers, and socks and apply insect repellant liberally. When sleeping, do so under a mosquito net.
The white face hornet gets its name from its black color and the white pattern on most its face. Bald faced hornets are found in all the states in North America. They are relatives of the yellow jacket.
White faced hornets have two lines running from the middle of their abdomen towards the head at a slanting angle. There’s a white pattern on the rear half of the abdomen too. When viewed from the side their upper midsection surface looks triangular. In the nest there is a clear caste. The queen is at the top followed by the male wasp and finally the workers. The white faced hornet queen is larger than the hornet workers. They chew up wood, mix it with saliva and use it to build their nests which are paper like and grey. Their nests are fully covered unlike their relatives the yellow jacket nests which has an open cone structure.
The white face hornets can be aggressive when disturbed. When threatened they will sting multiple times injecting venom every time. This venom makes the sting hurt, swell and itch for a whole day. They can cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to wasp venom.
White faced hornets construct their nests off the ground, in trees, utility poles, sheds, on overhangs, and houses which can be more than 25 inches in length with diameter of 15 inches. Bald faced hornets show up at the tail end of summer. Males hatch from unfertilized eggs and mate with the new females making sure there will be a new generation next year. All the members of the nest die when the weather cools and winter rolls in leaving only the pregnant females surviving. White faced hornets build nests anew every season from new material. They don’t recycle their nests each season unlike other insects.
With the presence of their huge nests which are built above ground and worker bald faced hornets buzzing around the nest and flying in the nearby areas infestation of the bald faced hornets would be hard to miss. The nest houses about four hundred bald faced hornets.
To avoid getting stung, keeping food covered and especially sweet fruit or sugary juices when outdoors will keep these hornets from finding anything to attract them. Use mild fragrances and unscented soap when going for excursions because hornets are attracted to strong scents and might mistake you for a flower. Also you may dress in neutral colored clothes like grey, khaki and white to avoid hornets landing on you and wear shoes that cover your feet for additional protection from stings. Any cracks and gaps in the home should be sealed to make sure bald faced hornets stay where they belong, outside your home.
Getting rid of bald faced hornets
Buy an insecticide that is in aerosol form and clearly labeled for hornets and wasps. It should have a enough pressure to shoot a stream reaching at least 5 meters so you don’t get too close to the nest. Treat the nest very early in the morning when the hornets are lethargic.
To avoid getting stung it is best to call a pest control professional to get rid of the white faced hornets.
With the rise of organic gardening, pesticides are becoming less and less popular.
For strawberry growers, this trend is a good one. Strawberries routinely make the annual “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated with chemicals, insecticides, or other toxins. Few people would voluntarily eat pesticides.
Interestingly enough, the tarnished plant bug is rather resilient.
These insects indirectly halt the grown of strawberries causing them to be worthless and inedible. While in the nymph stage, they will inject a toxin into a strawberry. The toxin shuts down strawberry growth from the site of injection down to the tip of the strawberry.
The resultant deformed fruit is called a “nubbin” or “button berry” and has a tip that is quite full of brown, undeveloped seeds that stopped developing once the toxin was injected.
For the strawberry grower, a Mmalformed strawberry or two can mean a loss. Caring and tending strawberries for many, long hours can be disappointing with this kind of result.
In the strawberry farming business, a bountiful harvest, of course, means good income.
Anything that poses a threat to the harvest is a burden to the gardener. There are many agents that can cause a strawberry harvest to consist of strawberries that have significant deformations or damage. The most common causes are:
- The tarnished plant bug. While these insects are in their nymph phase, a toxin is injected into new fruit. Once injected, the berry ceases to properly develop or growing below the injection site, causing a half-formed strawberry with a dense pack of non-viable brown non-viable seeds at the tip, which is unpleasant and completely useless for the future growing of seeds.
- Mites. An infestation of different kinds of mites will cause severe damage in strawberries. Scarred and fissured strawberries are likely the result of feeding by some sundry insects.
- Pollination problems. Inadequate pollination can result in small, malformed fruit. Extremely high temperatures can seriously affect strawberry formation because of the heat’s effects on pollen. With temperatures that are extremely high, the pollen itself is devitalized. This causes poor pollination.
Research is currently underway to isolate an actual fungus that will infect and kill these bugs. However, it is unlikely that such a remedy will be developed any time soon. To mitigate the chance that your strawberry patch will be infested, two things can be done.
First, avoid mowing alfalfa anywhere near your strawberry plants while the strawberry plants are blooming. Tarnished plant bugs thrive in alfalfa, and destroying their home will cause them to seek a new home (in your garden).
The second is to sprinkle diatomaceous earth in and around your garden. While not completely effective against the tarnished plant bug, it does serve to make your garden less inviting.
Phorid flies, or sewer flies, and other biting insects have been seen of a late evening scurrying across the kitchen floor.
Knowing that millions of homes across the country suffer the same fate does little to help when it is you that’s getting bitten, harassed, or frightened on a daily basis.
Although bugs such as the harmless house spider are safe and relatively clean, this is not the case with all our summer gate crashers. Ants can and do bite, and when it’s hot, these nasty little stings seem to linger on forever.
Flying insects such as common flies are nothing short of filthy and can contaminate any uncovered foods if you’re careless.
Wasps can pack one heck of a painful jab too, and as for mosquitoes, well, depending on where in the world you come from, these lightweights can really carry some malicious parasites around with, them which can prove lethal if they find their way into your bloodstream.
Professional advice from a pest control company is required for this to reach a resolution. But, the following can be done along with your daily routine:
- Keep all food covered or put away at all times, and that includes the fruit bowl. Kids are always prone to grab an apple or a handful of grapes and eat them without giving washing a second thought.
But apart from the obvious, if there’s nothing to eat, the pests are discouraged. At the end of the day, most insects are looking for grub and that includes cockroaches. Check and clean under washing machines, fridges, and ovens. You could be surprised at what you find.
- Make sure you clean up and often so. It’s too easy to grab a sandwich and think about cleaning up the tops a little later. In the middle of summer, just 30 minutes or less of fresh food lying around is enough to have your house invaded by armies of ants, flies, and the like.
- Keep in mind to always check that there is no food dropped onto the floor as this is where the cockroaches love to scavenge. Once those critters start breeding you’ll most likely need to call the professionals in to finish them off.
- If you have animals, make sure their eating bowls are cleaned or covered up after mealtimes. Cats especially tend to leave half-eaten food in their dish and this is very attractive to flies and the like.
- Rinse and repair any broken or slow-moving gutters and pipes. Many insects are drawn to damp or moist areas and could lay their eggs in such places.
- Also, check the outside of your home for small apertures or cracks that the bigger pests may be able to slip through at night. We’ve all seen big bugs in the house and not known quite how they got in. Quite often it is through these cracks in the wall or side of a door, and unless you find them, they’ll just keep on coming.
Flies grasp with their strong legs and claws and then diving their beaks firmly into the bodies of their victims, they suck the blood with great voracity. Next is the life cycle of a fly, the robber fly:
Robber flies belong to one of the largest families of the great order Diptera or two-winged flies. Many of them are of large size, the largest measuring nearly two inches in length.
They are usually hairy, and some of the species are quite robust, resembling the bumblebees in form and color; others are elongate with slender bodies.
The fertilized egg develops within the egg into a young insect, which escapes by bursting the shell or gnawing its way out.
Young insects go through shedding, or ecdysis, several times before they become adults and stop ecdysis permanently.
Most insects shed 4 to 8 times as they grow. The stages between the shedding are defined as instars.
Viewed from the front, the robber’s head is broad, the compound eyes are prominent, and the remainder of the face is hairy and bearded.
The proboscis or beak is stout and strong and is formed for piercing and sucking. Strong in flight, the two wings are long and narrow, while the legs, which are spiny and furnished with stout claws on their toes, are used in grasping their plunder as well as a support for their body when at rest.
These predatory insects rest on the ground, or upon the foliage of plants growing in open sunny spots. Here they lie in wait for their prey, and when a victim in the shape of some other insect appears, they take to the air with a loud, buzzing sound, catching it on the wing.
The unlucky insect, once seized in the powerful grasp of a robber fly, is powerless to escape.
They will attack almost any insect and are even bloodthirsty enough to catch and eat their own kind.
Often they have become a nuisance in making their lair in the vicinity of an apiary, where they kill the honeybees. One of the larger species was observed during the summer capturing a “locust” or cicada.
The robber-fly attacked the cicada on the wing about twenty feet from the ground, and the pair came whirling down. In this case, the booty was too bulky to carry off to some convenient roost, as is generally the case.
Fortunately, robber-flies never attack humans or animals, although if they are carelessly grasped they will sink their lancets into the flesh.
The larvae or “maggots” that hatch from the eggs laid by these flies are also carnivorous. Some of them live in the ground, where they hunt for food among the decaying vegetation; others make their home in rotting logs or beneath loose bark of dying trees, where they hunt and feed upon other soft-bodied insects.
If we follow the fortunes of one of these larvae or “maggots,” we will find that after consuming sufficient food and overwintering, it will go through the usual transformation, emerging finally from the pupal case a perfect robber-fly-and real robber.
They may be dark colored when they first hatch but before long baby tarantulas molt and acquire their hair and colorful designs like the adult tarantula. However, they don’t have venom whey when they first hatch
Like other spiders tarantulas carry an egg sac contain many spiderlings on average from 500 to 1000. Once the eggs hatch their parental responsibility ends there. Hundreds of spiderlings crawl out when the eggs hatch and they are left to fend for themselves.
As pets, tarantulas live anywhere. In their natural setting they like drier and warmer climates. In North America they inhabit the desert regions of Arizona, Texas and carlifonia. A majority of tarantulas species live in burrows abandoned by other spiders or burrows the holes themselves working with their fore legs and fangs. Some tarantula species weave webs in trees. These webs are funnel shaped.
What tarantulas eat
Like most spider species, tarantulas feed on insects like beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars and cicadas. But the big tarantulas eat bigger prey such as birds, frogs, snakes, bats and rodents.
Most tarantulas have to hunt since they don’t have webs. They feel vibrations through their feet and body hairs. When they detect prey they jump on it and hold it using their front legs. They bite the prey and inject venom and digestive enzymes liquefying it for ingestion. Though some tarantulas can kill their prey with a bite, they cannot eat solid food.
All species of tarantula are venomous and use the venom to primarily inject and paralyze prey. Tarantulas are not interested in biting people, they will first try to get away from a threat, if that fails they bare their fangs and rear up in a threatening position. This is usually enough of a deterrent. Even then when they bite they will often bite without injecting any venom. The bite feels like a bee sting. In case you get bitten, err on the side of caution and seek medical attention.
Tarantulas are nocturnal and territorial but when the mating urge is on it overpowers every other sense and that’s when males will move during daylight regardless of the danger they are exposing themselves to. Female tarantulas hang around in their burrows waiting for a male to show up. Male tarantulas wander around looking for a mate. They deposit sperm on a web ball and carry it in on themselves as they move, searching for a female. When they locate a burrow with a female occupant they will tap on webbing lining the burrow to announce their presence. The male will engage in a mating ritual and if the female tarantula is receptive he will deposit the sperm and escape to avoid getting eaten. Males will die shortly after reproduction even if they avoid getting snacked on by the female.
After fertilization the female lays a silk cocoon with an egg sac holding at least 500 eggs. This happens inside the burrow. She will stay with the eggs guarding them until hatching time.
When the weather turns cold tarantulas will seek warm places such as a burrow or even inside homes. If you see them inside your home it is best to call a pest control professional.
These are small insects the size of mouse poop. They have a hard cylinder shaped body and appear as brown, black or dark red in color.
The bark beetles population can translate into the billions as there are 2000 plus species. With such a massive number of species, their populations can rise exponentially because they are able to survive through mild winters. Now that summers are starting earlier than usual, it is not surprising that bark beetles are able to breed two generations in one summer further pushing up their numbers. This insect lives and feed on trees. This has caused tree mortality to shoot up to the tune of 40 plus million acres. That is alarming for trees and entire ecosystems.
The female bark beetle targets trees that are frail or dying, after landing on one, she will hail other bark beetles by emitting a pheromone signal which they can follow with ease.
These will fly to her in their hundreds. They will bore through the bark all along releasing fungi that turns the trees’ matter into sustenance for her brood. When they get to the phloem, a resinous layer that separates the sap wood that transports nutrients within the tree from the outer bark, they will lay their eggs in tunnels. These eggs will spawn a new beetle generation which might stay in the same tree or fly out and infest nearby trees. Bark beetles act as a culling agent for the old, weak and sick trees.
Signs of Bark beetle infestation
Trees fight off a bark beetle invasion by unleashing a sticky resin that flushes them out. The resin also plugs the holes leaving small extensions of white or brownish plugs on the outside of the bark.
If this resin plugs are white then the tree has been able to block the bark beetle successfully. Brown plugs means the beetle in all likelihood has been able to bore its way into the tree.
When the resin washes out of the beetle holes, it pushes frass before it , a dust like substance that beetles create as they drill their way into the tree.
If you see Frass collected at the base of the tree and around the roots, it very like that that tree is infested with bark beetles. You may not be able to see them by just looking at the tree. However, when you pry away parts of the bark, and drill tunnels are revealed, you are likely to see dead bark beetles and rotten inner bark. That is a sure sign that the tree is infested and most likely the other trees in the vicinity.
The needles of pine trees will turn a brownish color starting from the top and in some trees the leaves will turn a dull green followed by yellowing and end up becoming reddish brown.
Prevention of Bark beetle infestation
Trees around our homes make us feel good with the scents they emit and make our days brighter with their flowers and colors. These trees could use a little help to keep them safe from the menacing bark beetles.
Where the bark beetle is concerned, taking a proactive approach is the best strategy. Get a professional arborist and work with them to make a plant health care plan. This should include watering, mulching and fertilizing. It is such proactive measures that ensure the trees are healthy and less susceptible to damage. Insecticide can be applied proactively by a professional pest control officer to stop beetles before any infestation.
If your tree is infested with the bark beetle, the best option is to have it removed by a professional before it spreads to the other trees.