Categories
insects mites

The Varroa Mite:  Why it’s bad and what you can do about it.

The Varroa Mite is a parasite that attacks bee colonies, honey bees to be more precise, it weakens bees by sucking the fluid from them that would be considered their blood.  This effects the bees in ways that can cause them to have deformed wings, and various other issues.  However, a bad infestation in a bee colony can lead to the death of the entire colony.  This has effected he beekeeping industry in various parts of Canada and the United States.

To counter a Varroa Mite infestation there are several options available.  There is the option of using chemicals in the form of miticides, these can be found in both naturally occurring or synthetic chemicals.  One example of a synthetic chemical is Fluvalinate, which is sometimes packaged as strips that resemble bookmarks that are saturated with the chemical.  These strips are then hung in specific chambers of the hive so the bees will easily come into contact with the chemical.  An example of a natural occurring chemical is powdered sugar, yes the same kind of sugar found on funnel cakes at the state fair minus any added corn starch.  To accomplish using powdered sugar you simply dust the bees with the substance.

There are also non-chemical ways to control Varroa Mites.  Such as having a mesh floor in the hives, mites sometimes fall off bees and if the mesh is the right size they will simply fall through and be unable to climb back up and infect another bee.  There is a method that uses heat, the hive is heated to a specific temperature for some time, this results in the mites falling off the bees, this method is good to combine with the mesh floor.

Tonya Fredrickson © 2016

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Categories
insects mosquitos

What Texans Need To Know About The Zika Virus

According to the CDC[1], as of June 22nd of 2016, US States have reported up to 820 cases of infection by the Zika virus including 42 for Texas alone. If you still don’t know, Zika is a virus that spreads via bites of infected mosquitoes, specifically the Aedes mosquito, to humans, though an infected person can also pass it on sexually. It can trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults and, most heartbreakingly, it can cause severe fetal brain defects leading to microcephaly if contracted during pregnancy.

Fortunately, all of the cases reported so far for the States fall under the ‘Travel-Associated’ category and none have been reported as ‘Locally-Acquired’. But, there are signs of looming trouble ahead. With unusually warm weather and alarming rate of spread of the Zika virus, it is only a question of when and not if Zika carrying mosquitoes will invade the States. Both NASA[2] and CDC[3] have released maps showing this to happen as soon as July this year:

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Figure 1: Zika Risk Assessment map by NASA

        So, how can we protect ourselves from this impending invasion? By listening to and acting upon the advice by CDC[4] as it is actively monitoring the situation. According to the CDC, the first order of protection is to prevent oneself from mosquito bites by:

  • wearing full-coverage clothing preferably treated with permethrin
  • staying indoors unless necessary to go outside especially during early morning and evening
  • using Screens and Mosquito Netting to prevent mosquitoes entering the house
  • using EPA-registered insect repellents and pesticides such as DEET, Picaridin and IR3535
  • drying out pools of stagnant and/or dirty water or covering the top with oil
  • keeping pools and household reservoirs of fresh water covered as Aedes mosquitoes breed in freshwater
  • getting professional pest control to help identify and rectify often overlooked areas

If, God forbid, one is infected with Zika[5], one should be on the lookout for common symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain and/or conjunctivitis and should consult a doctor immediately and follow the doctor’s advice. Usually, the illness is mild and might resolve in a week, but, vulnerable people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women should take special care including postponing traveling to areas known to harbour the Aedes mosquito.

Therefore, only with constant vigilance and constant effort we can protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities from this horrible menace. May God bless us and spare us all!

Copyright © 2016  A3GR31WPP4NY8Z CC-BY-SA-4.0


[1] http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/united-states.html retrieved on 28th June, 2016

[5] https://www.cdc.gov/zika/symptoms/index.html retrieved on 28th June, 2016

Categories
fly insects

Should you be concerned about stoneflies (taeniopterygidae)?

Stoneflies (taeniopterygidae) as known as willow flies are relatives of the grasshopper and termite. Adult stoneflies are dark brown or black and can be found during the day or at night. Stoneflies can range anywhere from 5-50mm in body length. They tend to spend most of their lives as larvae, living at the bottom of rivers/streams, hanging onto rocks and other wooden debris.  Stoneflies are typically found in the winter season, while most other insects are hibernating. They primarily live near high paced streams, rivers, bridges and stones. Many other

pollutants in the air during the fall and spring, causes a reduction in oxygen levels for the stoneflies. So, winter becomes the most active time for stoneflies. Should you be concerned of stoneflies? None to say the least. Seeing Stoneflies in your local rivers/streams is a positive sign of a healthy environment as they thrive on the water quality within those waters. Streams and/or rivers with low oxygen levels and any signs of pollution do not support the growth and proper living conditions to stoneflies. Which is why Pollution Control Agencies love them…because they are so sensitive to water conditions, it helps the agencies get an idea of the river’s water quality within that area. Stoneflies need high amounts of dissolved oxygen from the rivers so, when the dissolved oxygen levels are low the stoneflies disappear. A rule of thumb is that typically if trout live in the water, it is more than likely that so are the stoneflies as they both tend to need the same environmental qualities.

Stoneflies are not like your typical house fly. They will not bother you when you are out on your family day picnic or surrounding your fish basket when you are out of the boat. Stoneflies are like dragonflies. You may see them and they may fly close, but never to eat anything on you or in your basket. Stoneflies are actually detritivores. Detritivores tend to eat broken down organic matter such as living or dead plant material. As juveniles, stoneflies feed of organic plant material or aquatic vegetation. However, as adults, stoneflies tend to stop eating vegan and have been known to eat aquatic insects as well as other stoneflies.The best time to catch some of these amazing stoneflies within your area, are during the winter time down by the streams when the streams are covered in snow.

Copyright © 2016  A32QAUGF2AIONO CC-BY-SA-4.0

Categories
insects termites

What can you do about the Eastern Subterranean Termite?

The Eastern Subterranean termite is present throughout North Eastern states such as Pennsylvania. This insect often creates damage to the structural timbers in buildings. By the time this damage is noticeable however, it has been the result of several years of infestation. In most cases, noticing the results of termite infestation, it is already too late.

There are several ways to recognize termite damage. Noticing termite swarms, or just their wings alone is a sign that termites are around. These termites are often confused with winged ants. Most of these species are only a nuisance, and do not create any structural damage. To identify wood that has been attacked by termites, there are tell tale signs. Look for grooves and pathways in the wood. These pathways will appear to have dirt glad to them.

Another sign of termites is the presence of termite tubes. Termites create these earth colored tubes for several different reasons. The primary reason is to protect themselves while in the runway. These tubes can also serve as exits for the winged termites. Places to look for these tubes include cellar walls, door, and window trim.

In states like Pennsylvania, most infestations occur in the basement. Wooden posts, steps, doorways, and trim are especially susceptible. When the infestation is severe, the flooring and framework can be damaged. Termites prefer areas near the furnace, chimneys, and hot water tanks.

So, how do we deal with termites once we notice an infestation? One of the first steps is contact at least three or more pest control operators. This is done in order to receive the best estimate for service. It is common for each individual controller to deal with termites in a different way. Places such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) can give advice on what operator to contact. The less suitable a place is for termites, the less likely an infestation will occur. There are several things you can do to prevent an infestation. One of the first things is to remove all of the wooden debris from the premise. Another step is to remove any damaged timber.

More steps include providing adequate water drainage in the basement. It is important that the water drain away from the building. Another step is to fill all visible cracks in the foundation.

Other methods also include the use of termite baits. These have become popular over the last several years. These are especially important where wells and springs occur.

Copyright © 2016  ARRM1JR8WDB49 CC-BY-SA-4.0