Insects May Hold Key To Understanding Amazon Rainforest Biodiversity

To the biologists who study the ecology of The Amazon, it is no secret that the region is home to a tremendous variety and volume of plants and trees in incredible proportions. According to some estimates, The Amazon has over 2 million square miles of tropical rainforest which is home to an estimated 390 billion individual trees comprised of at least 16,000 known species. In every 2.47 acres of Amazonia, there are 1500 plant species, 750 tree species, and 900 tons of living plants, and roughly a third of the world’s oxygen is produced there. When combined with the astounding variety of insects, mammals, and other life forms this makes The Amazon Rainforest the most bio-diverse region on the planet. What has puzzled researchers and scientists about this is exactly what causes all of this diversity. Although there have been many theories on the subject, a new idea is emerging to explain why this particular region of the world is home to so many more types of trees in such a dense area than anywhere else. Surprisingly this new theory centers on insects as a major contributor to this diversity.

Throughout the Amazon, there is a silent battle being waged between a hoard of insects and their major food source- plants and trees. Insects are known to consume the leaves, stems, and seeds of all varieties of plants. To avoid destruction, plants have evolved an array of defenses, some of which can get elaborate. Plants with leaves that appear simply a little fuzzy to the human eye are more like little barbed hooks to the insects that feed on them, tearing at the underbellies of caterpillars. Some plants have even developed little pots of nectar that draw in a select group of ants to prey on other insects on the plant.

One of the most common defenses that plants and trees in the rainforest use against insects is to produce their own natural pesticide residues through their leaves. Since the weather is warm in the tropics year round most insect species can reproduce faster than in temperate climates, so they have more generations in a faster time. Since the bugs regenerate faster, they can actually develop resistance to some of the pesticides of the plants. This leads to a sort of arms race between the plants and insects.

Scientists now believe that as the plants evolve new pesticide defenses, they may also be attracting different pollinating insects that the plants need to reproduce. The ants are constantly shifting the focus of their feeding on different plants as the plant’s pesticide and their resistance to it changes rapidly. As this happens, the insects that are pollinating the plants also change. Some pollinators may only select one specific group of trees due to slight differences in that tree’s chemicals. Those same pollinators may avoid another group of trees that are nearby even if the two groups of trees are of same species. This isolates the gene pools of plants that are of the same species in a way that is unique, and this isolation may allow plants and trees of The Amazon to evolve into new species faster than elsewhere. At least that is the theory. Whatever the case, it is interesting to discover the different ways that jungle life interacts, and the important role that tiny insects play in it all.

Other Recommended Articles About The Amazon Rainforest:

Image Gallery: New Species of the Amazon

Brazilian Beauty: The Threatened Atlantic Forest

8 of the World’s Most Endangered Places

New Cold-Resistant Cockroach Found in NYC, But Does It Live Up To The Hype?

A group of exterminators working on the High Line Park in Manhattan recently uncovered a strange species of cockroach that was unknown to them. After sending it to an Entomologists for analysis it was confirmed that they had discovered an Asian species of roach that was never before found in the United States. Following this news came a torrent of reports with a slew of sensationalized headlines about the new “invaders”. Most of the articles are focused on the fact that this new species of cockroach is far more resistant to cold temperatures than other roaches native to New York, and they are capable of living both indoors and outdoors even in the winter. Some articles even suggest that these new roaches may breed with other species, creating some kind of “super roach”. In this situation scare tactics such as these are used to drum up publicity around the story. In many cases misinformation about “bugs” can feed into unnecessary worries or paranoia that has been known to endanger the welfare of perfectly harmless species of insects. It is a shame that so many species that are actually beneficial to both humans and the environment are demonized and targeted for destruction. It is doubtful that the threat of this roach will be nearly as severe as the headlines suggest.

The Facts About The New Asian Roach Species (Periplaneta Japonica):

  • It is believed that they may have arrived in New York hidden in the soil of potted plants used in the construction of the High Line urban park (on Manhattan’s West Side)
  • The cockroaches are unique in their ability to survive outdoors in the snow and in temperatures as low as 17.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • These roaches are able to adapt to freezing temperatures using a natural antifreeze chemical known as Trehalose that is found throughout their bodies. As the temperature drops, they have a natural survival mechanism which dehydrates them enough that the fluid in their bodies will not freeze. After the cold has subsided they re-hydrate and are again filled with fluid.
  • Although never before encountered in the United States, these roaches are common throughout Asia. This is why their ability to withstand cold is well known and documented.

Ways That The Impact of These Roaches May Have Been Overstated

Here are some claims (and myths) that have been made about the potential threat of the new Asian cockroaches, along with some quotes from other articles and headlines around the web:

  • Myth: These new Asian roaches are an invasive species. “Invasive cockroach found in NYC” Fact: There is not yet evidence that this roach even fits the definition of an invasive species. So many species exist outside of their native environments that at this point defining all non-native species as invasive is just too broad a distinction. To be truly invasive, a species must “adversely affect or disrupt their habitat” In other words when a species is introduced that has no natural predators, it can multiply out of control and cause damage to an ecosystem by throwing off the natural balance. Since this new roach will be in direct competition with other well-established roach species already in New York, it is highly unlikely that it will be able to gain dominance over all the other species. Although  it is difficult to fully predict their impact, it is likely that this species will remain small in number or live alongside other roaches in direct competition, not throw off the whole ecosystem the way an invasive species would. 
  • Myth: The ability of these roaches to resist the cold makes them more of a threat. “A winter-proof cockroach… it’s just New York’s latest invader” Fact: The ability of these roaches to survive a New York winter is untested. Asian studies that examined the cold resistance of these roaches used fresh, undisturbed snow. It is still unclear whether the roaches would be able to survive in the adverse conditions of New York. According to Michael Scharf, a professor of Urban Entomology at Purdue University, “There has been some confirmation that it does very well in cold climates, so it is very conceivable that it could live outdoors during winter in New York. I could imagine japonica being outside and walking around, though I don’t know how well it would do in the dirty New York snow.”
  • Myth: The japonica roach species could breed with other roach species creating a super roach. Fact: Cockroach genitalia are highly specialized and complex. Similar looking species often have very different genitalia, which fit together “like lock and key”. Some entomologists will even use a roach’s genitalia to identify it because it may be one of the few characteristics that distinguish it from other species. This makes it highly unlikely that the new species of roach will be able to interbreed with other species.
  • These roaches will have a huge disadvantage in that they have never been exposed to the types of pesticide that are used in New York. Other species have survived many attempts to exterminate them and adapted to a wide variety of chemical pesticides. This means that they have developed a crucial resistance that the new japonica species will not have

Cave Crickets: What They Are and What You Can Do About Them

PMS_-_jamska_kobilica

Camel crickets, or “cave crickets” as they are commonly known, are a type of pest insect that begin to move indoors during the winter months to get out of the cold. As their name suggests, in nature these crickets live in caves. For this reason, cave crickets seek out cool, damp environments. When they enter a house, they will usually be found in the basement, crawl spaces, garages, sheds, or lower levels. Many people find these crickets to be particularly creepy in their appearance, perhaps due to their erratic behavior and disturbing tendency to jump closer when threatened instead of scurrying away.

Cave Cricket Detailed Description:

  • Cave crickets have a distinct appearance different from that of other crickets. They are wingless, have brown and black patterns, and are dark in color. They have a “hunched over” appearance with a slightly rounded body and long antennae.
  • Although their bodies are usually no longer than an inch and a half in length, with their long limbs they can appear as long as 4 inches. That’s roughly the length of a computer mouse.
  • Since they are naturally adapted to live in harsh environments, cave crickets can go for long periods of time without eating, and are can eat things that are normally considered inedible. When no other food is available they have been known to eat fabric, paper, or even their own legs.
  • It is rare for crickets to reproduce inside of a house, although their natural resilience means that once they gain entrance they can linger for a long time.
  • Although they may appear menacing, cave crickets do not bite, they are not poisonous, and do they not typically cause any kind of property damage,
  • Cave crickets are nocturnal, although they may be active during the day if disturbed

What You Can Do About Them

  • Cave crickets rarely breed inside a home, which means that a good prevention strategy is to exclude them from the house though methods similar to those described in this article about stink bug prevention. This means sealing up any cracks that could allow the crickets to enter a house, maintaining a buffer zone around the house that is free of debris or thick mulch, installing screens around basement windows, etc.
  • Cave crickets thrive off of moisture. One solution is to eliminate moisture from crawl spaces, garages, basements, or other affected areas whenever possible.
  • Unlike stink bugs, cave crickets respond well to conventional extermination methods. Treating the outside foundation and/or setting glue board traps in the right places is a guaranteed method of getting rid of the crickets for good.
Cave_Cricket_on_Ground

By gunthercox (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Get Rid of Mice in the Home: DIY Tips

Knowing When to Do it Yourself and When to Call an Exterminator

When it comes to dealing with mice in the home, many people are a bit squeamish to tackle the problem on their own. However, there are also many people out there who are DIY enthusiasts and would be willing to tackle the problem themselves. If it is evident that there are a lot of mice present is would be best to call an exterminator, but if one or two mice are seen and it is not a large scale infestation then all that may be needed is a trip to the hardware store and a little know-how. I interviewed several technicians with decades of experience between them to put together a list of some handy tips and tricks from the professionals at Arrow Exterminating.

  • One way to tell how many mice are around is to hone in on areas where you have seen their activity and look for their droppings. They will be small black pellets approximately the size of a grain of rice. If there are a lot of droppings, there are probably multiple mice on the scene
  • Do you have children or pets? If so, this makes taking care of the problem on your own a little more tricky
  • Are the mice entering food or causing property damage? Mice are, by their nature, filthy. Any food that they have contact with should be considered contaminated and discarded. This means that if they enter a box of cereal the whole box should be tossed out. They can also gnaw through electrical wires and insulation, which can cause fires. If you are worried that mice are posing a serious threat you your health or property, it is time to call in an exterminator

Choosing a Pest Control Method

  1. Poison- Also known as rodenticide, poison is widely available as a method for controlling the populations of mice and rats. We do not recommend using poison for several reasons. Although it is the easiest and most straightforward method to administer, it can pose a serious hazard to children and pets. Also, once the mice eat it they do not die instantaneously, which means that they may perish somewhere inaccessible and begin to smell as they decompose. Although the poison is deadly to rodents, it does not have the same effect on insects. The poison has been known to actually attract other pest insects into the home.
  2. Glue Boards- We do not generally recommend glue boards because they are considered inhumane. Although they are effective and may catch several mice at once, the mice are not killed immediately and instead suffer from shock or starvation. Depending on where glue boards are set, they may also pose a hazard to children and pets. Remember, even when on a glue board mice can still bite. Here is a link to an article describing in depth how to remove an animal from a glue trap. This method will work for a mouse, domesticated animal, or anyone that accidentally gets their digits stuck on the trap.
  3. Live Traps- Although they may seem like the most humane option, consider that mice are social animals that live their lives within a small territory. Assuming that the mice survive being captured and left in a trap without water, depositing them into a strange and hostile environment leaves them extremely vulnerable to predators. Keep in mind that instead of liberating the mice, capturing and releasing them may cause more suffering than a snap trap. If mice are released too close to where they were captured there is a good chance they will use their homing instincts to seek out and re enter the property, or simply invade someone else’s home. This is why it is best to go at least a couple of miles away and/or cross a major road or highway before releasing rodents. House mice are not likely to survive in the wilderness away from human habitation. Keep in mind that mice can carry diseases, and care should be taken to only handle them when necessary and always wash your hands after contact with mice. Here is a list compiled by the US Government Center for Disease Control, demonstrating all of the diseases that can be carried by rodents and transmitted to humans. Mice may also grow wise to the live traps and figure out ways to get around them.
  4. Traditional Snap Traps- These are an excellent choice for trapping mice. Although they are lethal, they are also humane and are designed to dispatch the mice as quickly as possible without causing unnecessary pain or injury.

Tips and Tricks From The Experts

A lot of people out there choose another type of trap over the snap trap because they are worried about setting the snap trap. Setting the trap will not cause any serious injury, and when used properly it will not snap onto your hand. Knowing how to set the trap right may lead to more confidence in using this method

  • Some of our technicians use sandpaper, a nail file, or other coarse material to “rough up” the end of the trigger. The extra texture at the end of the trigger gives it more grip. This makes the trap a little less sensitive and easier to set without affecting its ability to trap mice.
  • Always handle the snap trap from the side opposite the bait. If you never touch the side of the trap that is snapped down on, then there is no chance you will get your finger caught in the crossfire.
  • Don’t forget to apply the bait before the trap is set. Our technicians recommend a combination of peanut butter and birdseed.
  • When using viscous bait (such as chocolate and peanut butter), try to avoid spreading it in a big glob across the whole bait station. The yellow rectangular pad where the bait is placed has a hole in the middle of it, and if the bait seeps through the hole it may prevent the pad from compressing when the mouse hits it.
  • The traps are most effective when the mice dont have access to any other food sources in the house besides the bait. Be sure to clean up any stray crumbs or scraps of food, and keep lids on the garbage cans.
  • It may be worthwhile to leave the trap unset the first day and allow the mice to eat the bait off the trap. This will get the mice accustomed to feeding off the trap so that when it is set they will already be used to going for the bait
  • Another similar tactic that is a little quicker is to bait and set the trap, and also leave some bait around the outside of the trap
  • Set the traps near to where you see droppings or mouse activity. Set them against the wall with the triggers facing the wall. Set several traps in the same spot. Mice do not have good vision and instead rely on an acute sense of smell and hearing. Perhaps because of their poor vision, they are known to scurry along the same pathways over and over, usually near the wall.
  • Be prepared that even in a kill trap it is possible for the mouse to become trapped while still alive. In these situations you would need to finish the job yourself. Also, if the traps are not checked frequently, dead mice could produce an offensive odor. If all this proves to be overwhelming, or if the tactics described here are not working for you, it may be time to call an exterminator.

 

Pantry Pests FAQ- What They Are and What To Do About Them

What is a Pantry Pest?

For the purposes of this article, a pantry pest is defined as one of any number of grain beetles that enter a home or business and infest stores of food or other commodities. They insinuate themselves into food products such as grains, cereals, flower, processed food etc. as well as pet food, potpourri/dried flowers, birdseed, and other non edible products. They are capable of feeding and reproducing throughout the year.

How can I tell if I have a pantry pest infestation? What are the signs?

The presence of small, dark-colored beetles, worms, or moths in or around food is a sure sign of the presence of pantry pests. They can be seen inside the food itself regardless of whether the package appears open. They can also be found in or around drawers and cupboards, especially in the nooks and crannies around the kitchen such as in the corners of a drawer.

For reference, what are some of the most common types of Pantry Pests?

  • Indian meal moth
  • saw-toothed grain beetle
  • dermistid beetle
  • flour beetle
  • cigarette beetle
  • drugstore beetle
  • bean weevil
  • spider weevil
  • flour beetle
  • maize and rice beetle
  • granary beetle

How do I get rid of Pantry Pests for good?

  • Call a licensed exterminator.
  • Keep the kitchen or food storage area clean and crumb free.
  • Carefully inspect anything the insects could be feeding on to look for signs of contamination. Seal any affected food or materials and remove them from the house immediately.
  • Thoroughly vacuum the area and disinfect with soap and hot water or other cleaning solution.

How can I prevent an infestation from happening again in the future?

“All that is necessary for the triumph of weevil is that good men do nothing”

  • Purchase smaller quantities of food so that they do not require long-term storage. Avoid storing food products for longer than four months at the most.
  • Inspect food products to insure that their packaging is sealed and unbroken.
  • When in doubt, 3 days in the freezer will eliminate any insects that a food or material may be harboring.
  • Use heavy-duty containers to seal food. They may be able to penetrate common packaging materials such as cardboard and thin plastic.

What do these pests look like?

Indian meal moth

Indian meal moth

grain Beetle

drugstore beetle

lasioderma serricorne

sawtoothed grain beetle

dermistid beetle

Of Mice and Men

Facts About Mice and Rats

  • Contrary to popular belief, rats are actually extremely intelligent creatures. Although movies often portray them as self-serving and greedy, rats are actually highly social and capable of working together in cooperation. Scientists studying the social intelligence of rats found that often times a rat will free a fellow rat from its cage even if they have nothing to gain by doing so.
  • Rats have a long history of living alongside humans, often competing for the same food sources and evading our attempts to eradicate them. In scientific terms they are considered a commensal species because they seek out humans to benefit from them. This is what makes rodent control so challenging- they are capable of learning to avoid our traps and adapt to our methods.
  • A group of mice can be referred to as a “pack” or a “mischief”
  • Both mice and rats are nocturnal, and are believed to be color blind. They have poor eyesight, which they make up for with a sharp sense of smell and keen hearing.
  • One type of rat, the African Giant Pouch Rat, can be trained to detect landmines and Tuberculosis.
  • Mice and rats are excellent jumpers, swimmers, and climbers. Mice can scale vertical surfaces, balance on wires, jump up to 13 inches, and squeeze through spaces the size of a dime. Rats are particularly good swimmers and have been known to live in sewers and invade homes by crawling through the drains. They can squeeze through spaces the size of a quarter- much smaller than what appears possible!
  • Rodents often enter homes in the winter seeking warmth, or when a house is left vacant for long periods of time. Once they begin nesting inside they breed rapidly and can produce offspring year round. In a single year, One female mouse can produce up to 10 litters of 5 to 6 young each. This new generation of up to 60 mice can begin their own breeding within as little as 6 weeks.
  • Rats are used in laboratory experiments in part because they possess problem solving abilities and other types of intelligence usually only found in humans and some other primates.
  • Rats are known to carry several infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans including the Hantavirus, which can be fatal. Other diseases rats carry include The Plague, Rat-Bite fever, and several others. For a complete list refer to the Center for Disease Control website covering the topic.
  • Rats are often dirty enough to leave oily stains on fabric that they pass over, and they produce a musky odor. As they burrow and feed within a home, they often destroy far more food through contamination than they actually eat.
  • When mice nest and forage inside of houses, they are known to burrow through wood, electrical wires, and other materials. Researchers believe that this may account for almost 25% of fires with “unknown causes”.
  • A good strategy for dealing with an infestation is to not only trap the rodents throughout the house, but also eliminate access points into the house. Make the property a less desirable target to the rodents by eliminating sources of food such as uncovered garbage containers or messy kitchens.
  • Certain traps and other methods are not recommended for various reasons. Poisons can pose a hazard to children and pets, can cause the rodents to die concealed within the walls, and may attract insects if left for a long time. Glue traps are considered inhumane, and live traps create more exposure to rodent urine or defecation which can transmit disease. Snap traps are most effective when administered by knowledgeable pest control specialists that are familiar with the behavior of the rodents and where best to place the traps.
  • Mice and rats are similar in appearance, although rats are generally larger in size, with heads and feet that are proportionally larger. Mice have a smaller and hairier tail whereas rats tails are hairless and may appear scaly. House mice are typically no longer than 20 Cm in length from head to tail.

house_mouse

Whiskers_of_the_Hooded_Lister_Rat_ATLAS-070713-0016

Note the differences in size, proportions, and tail texture between the mouse to the left and the rat pictured above.

Bern Wendell Celebrates 25 Years at Arrow

As Bern’s 25th anniversary approaches, I seized on the opportunity to sit down with him and hear a little more about what drew him to Arrow and some of the things that he has accomplished here. Bern has always had a passion for teaching, and worked for the Woodmere school district for 8 years prior to his career at Arrow.  He was the district supervisor in charge of community services, and taught adult education courses. He lived in the same neighborhood as Arrow’s current presidents Jackie Grabin and Deborah Tappan. He was introduced to them through mutual friends and used to go down to the park every week to play softball with them. When they heard that Bern was looking for a new job, they referred him to their father and Arrow’s founder Bernard Stegman.

Bern sat down with Mr. Stegman for an interview that ended up lasting for 3 hours. He still remembers the day well, and says that in the course of their conversation Mr. Stegman made quite an impression on him. Bern told me “he was the kind of guy that just had so much enthusiasm that even though I had never considered exterminating by the end of the interview I was thinking, ‘I want to do what you’re doing’.” Although the two of them thought well of each other and were developing mutual respect, Bern just wasn’t sure that the exterminating industry was really for him, and Mr. Stegman had his own reservations about hiring him. That is why after initially turning down the job, Bern was suprised when he received a call from Mr. Stegman less than a month later offering him the job again. Over the phone Mr. Stegman was able to convince Bern that the company would be a good fit for him. Mr Stegman said that he wanted someone who can teach. He knew that Bern was passionate about education and learning, and that in this industry there would always be opportunities for Bern to learn, grow, and continue his education. “to this day what I like about pest control” says Bern, “is that every day is different. There is constant change and new challenges each day.”

Bern accepted the job and his new position as supervisor. When he asked what exactly were his responsibilities, Mr. Stegman replied simply “we’ll have to see about that”. Bern appreciated Mr. Stegman’s pioneering attitude, and in no time was able to identify plenty of things that needed improvement and assume new responsibilities. Over time he created and lead new initiatives such as training and education, government compliance, routing, collections, service management, public service, etc as well as spending a year and a half in the sales department. He continues to wear many hats, and at the present moment he is the manager of education in charge of training the new technicians and office staff, as well as filling in as a backup service manager in a pinch.

Bern is a US Navy veteran and holds a Master of Science in Education degree from Lehman College.  He is certified in seven specific categories in New York State as a pesticide applicator. He is a nuisance wildlife trapper & wildlife rehabilitator in New York, and is a certified pesticide applicator in five states.  He is the first employee to achieve Associated Certified Entomologist status at Arrow.

Bern has played an indispensable role in the development of Arrow over the years, and is clearly proud of his accomplishments. Over time the company has undergone many changes, and he repeatedly identified improvements that needed to be made and stepped up to the plate to take charge of those developments. Mr. Stegman had correctly assessed his character 25 years ago. Bern Wendell is an innovator whose love of learning and educating others have served the company well.

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Better Think Twice Before You Swat This Bug

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(By Lildobe (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

The beetle commonly referred to as “stink bug” is an invasive species of insect that was introduced here from Asia in the ’90s by means of commercial trade. Since they are not native to the United States, they have no natural predators here and their population has been growing out of control. Although they do not sting or bite and are not harmful to humans or property, they are already posing a serious problem for farmers because they eat fruit and other crops. Lately they have been spreading unchecked into the Northeast region. Stink bugs are beginning to make their presence felt in southern New York and Long Island this fall. As the weather grows colder they will begin to seek warm places to take shelter, and many homeowners will find themselves with unwelcome guests.

If stinkbugs are found in the home, office, etc they can be a serious nuisance. When threatened or crushed, they emit a foul smelling, acrid odor that could be compared to the smell of a skunk. The repugnant odor is usually harmless, although it could potentially cause an allergic reaction in humans or be harmful to animals if sprayed directly into their faces. For more information on how to get rid of the offensive odor, here is a link to a separate article and video on how to recover from being sprayed.

Unfortunately stink bugs are not easily controlled by pesticides. The best approach in managing them is to prevent them from getting into the home in the first place:

  • Make sure that doors, windows, and vents are screened and any holes or cracks leading into the house are sealed. Any hole around a door or window that is big enough to put a nickel through could allow these bugs to enter your home. 
  • This article contains more in depth information as to how to go about sealing off potential access points.
  • Air conditioning units that are window mounted are another common point of entry, so if possible these should be removed as well.
  • If stink bugs are found outside around the property, feel free to crush a few of them using an old newspaper or stone. The odor that is released when they die will serve as a warning to deter other nearby stink bugs.  
  • It is also helpful to keep the plants around the house trimmed and to cut any overgrown weeds, especially those that are close to the foundation.

Once the bugs are spotted inside the best ways to remove them focus on minimizing the odor:

  • One way is to mix liquid dish-washing soap into a bucket of water and, using either a gloved hand or other implement, knock the bugs into the water where they will not be able to survive.
  • Another way is to knock them into an empty bottle and then immediately seal the lid to contain the smell.
  • If it is cold enough you can throw them outside and let them freeze, or else flush them down the drain or seal them tightly in a plastic bag.
  • They can also be sucked up into a vacuum cleaner, but make sure to use one with a disposable filter or else the smell may linger on the vacuum.

Termite Detection and Treatment- What All Homeowners Should Know

Formosan_subterranean_termites_are_feeding

In nature, termite colonies are essential to the well-being of an ecosystem. Since they eat the cellulose found in plant matter, they play a crucial role in breaking down forest debris and speeding up decomposition. Although termites may appear fragile with their soft, fleshy bodies, they make up for their lack of exoskeleton by living below ground and keeping a very low profile. They feed on wood, which they find by digging an elaborate network of tunnels. Unfortunately, in many parts of Long Island wood framed houses can be more abundant than forests. The high water table here also puts our houses in the path of termites. There simply isn’t much space below ground for termites to occupy. When these factors are combined with humid coastal weather and plenty or rainfall you have the recipe for a high infestation zone here on Long Island.

According to the Sentricon website over 5 million homes are damaged annually by termites, accounting for roughly 5 billion dollars’ worth of damage. Termites are the silent assassins gnawing through both a house’s structure and its value, and they often go undetected. Although uncovering tunnels burrowed into the wood frames of a house is clear evidence of termite activity, the surefire sign that there is an active infestation is the presence of winged swarming termites in the spring. In recent years, however, the termite sub species found in New York is changing its behavior and no longer swarm out in the open en mass as they once did. The reason for this change is still not exactly clear to the scientific community, although global warming is a likely culprit. The lack of swarming does not mean that termites have disappeared or decreased in number. It means that although termites continue to gnaw through houses as before they have become even harder to detect. This is why it is especially important to have houses inspected upon buying or selling them. Have a New York State certified professional exterminators conduct a thorough inspection if there is reason to believe that there may be termites in your home.

One thing that separates Arrow from other operators is our progressive method for termite elimination. Many other exterminators still use an intrusive, messy, much less “green” method that involves creating a barrier of chemicals extending into the soil around the house. This requires drilling holes through the concrete every 8 inches all around both inside and outside the house, as well as digging a trench around the perimeter. After that, literally hundreds of gallons of chemicals are pumped into the soil through the holes and trenches. This type of treatment is not designed exterminate the whole termite colony, but instead protects the property with a layer of residual pesticides all around the area and into the footings of the structure.

Of the over 100 exterminating companies in New York, there are only a handful that are certified as Sentricon specialists, including Arrow Exterminating. Termed the “colony elimination system”, Sentricon offers a more environmentally friendly and far less intrusive alternative to the traditional method of termite control. There is no need for drastic measures such as pumping hundreds of gallons of pesticides into the ground. Instead bait stations are introduced around the property containing small samples of wood treated with a compound that inhibits growth in developing termites. Since termites are social insects, they often nourish each other by regurgitating meals and sharing the food with their compatriots. The juvenile hormone found in the bait stations is quickly spread this way. The immature termite nymphs that are fed the bait are no longer able to molt, or mature. The effect is slow acting, so the termites cannot detect the source of the disruption and continue to feed from the bait stations. Over time the colony sustains enough damage that it will be eliminated. The treatment is far more environmentally friendly, and has won awards as a “green” pesticide solution. It is used to treat famous landmarks and national treasures such as The White House, The Statue of Liberty, and The Alamo. The Sentricon method of termite control is proven to be extremely effective, especially when administered by the skilled professionals at Arrow Exterminating.

We have been licensed Sentricon operators since 1996, and after over 17 years administering this product we understand that the system is only as effective as the operators who use it. Although the manufacturer recommends checking the traps a minimum of one time after installation, we come back at least 3 times throughout the year to ensure customer satisfaction. Eliminating termites is an investment in a home’s value and the obligation of any responsible homeowner. Hopefully after perusing through all of this information it is easier to make an informed decision about termite control and the choices for treatment are clear.

As Autumn Nights Become Cooler Yellowjackets Sense the End is Near- Become More Aggressive

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Who hasn’t had the experience of pesky yellow jackets crashing a party or spoiling a picnic? Although harsh winter weather is sure to put an end to the nuisance posed by these buzzing bullies, the fall is actually a period where yellow jackets are known to be more aggressive than usual. This can pose a significant health risk to those that are allergic to their stings. So how can we protect ourselves against the dangers and inconveniences caused by these ticked-off wasps?  First, it helps to understand a little background about the behavior of these insects.

Unlike bees, which lose their stingers and frequently die in the process of stinging, wasps such as the yellow jacket can sting multiple times without any adverse effect. They don’t hesitate to take advantage of that biological advantage. The German yellow jacket species found throughout New York is an especially social type of wasps that live in large colonies and have distinct behavior patterns making them more difficult to target for pest control. They stay out of sight through much of the spring, but have a much higher profile during the summer months as they forage for food and materials to build their nests. They favor wood, paper, and even drywall as building materials and are likely to construct their nests in the walls and ceilings of houses as well as outdoors. Throughout the summer the nest grows larger and larger, until the population of a single nest commonly reaches several thousand wasps, sometimes reaching more than ten thousand. As winter approaches the entire population of the nest eventually dies out from the cold except for the queen. She survives the winter by slowing her metabolism to a crawl in an insect version of hibernation knows as diapause, then in the following season she selects a new nesting site and repopulates the colony.

Since yellow jackets chew through building materials to make their nests, their presence in the void areas of walls or ceilings will actually corrode that area of the structure, making it unstable. The presence of a nest in the home is often marked by a wet stain or moisture spot, which can actually become so soft that it can easily be pushed through. This is not advisable, however, especially late in the season when the nest is at its peak and thousands of angry wasps will come pouring out to defend their home. If a nest is detected in the home, it is advisable to call an exterminator to have it professionally removed.

If yellow jackets are encountered outside of the home at a gathering such as a picnic, the unwelcome guests are more than likely attracted by the food. They are especially fond of food sources that are very sweet or high in protein. If they fly close to you it is advisable to simply remain calm and move away from them. Since yellow jackets are social insects, when one of them is swatter they will release a pheromone into the air that will agitate any nearby yellow jackets, which are likely already on edge to begin with. Yellow jackets rely heavily on their sense of sight as well as smell. They have a heightened sense of where objects are in relation to each-other and navigate based on visual cues. If yellow jackets continually target a sugary drink or jar of jam, for example, a quick fix is to simply move the food source to another table. Even if the distance is only a few feet, it will often take some time for the wasps to relocate the object once it has been moved. Another idea would be to simply move whatever substance that is attracting them to the outside of your area and with any luck the wasps will continue to feed off of that food source and leave the rest of the gathering alone. Be forewarned that wasps can also be especially attracted to those who are wearing scented perfume or bright colors. When the yellow jackets first come into the area they will likely spread out and fly all over in a haphazard pattern, but once they have zeroed in on their target they will fly in a direct line between the food source and their nests. By observing their patterns it is possible to observe if they are coming from a nest located in or around a house. An easy solution may be to simply move out of their path between the food and their nest to avoid the worst of the disturbance. Traps designed to catch wasps will not work on yellow jackets in situations like these because of the sheer number of them in each colony.

This information was put together to offer helpful tips on how to manage these particularly troublesome pest, but it also paints a picture of the behavior of a highly organized species of insect. Their life cycles and colonies are both fascinating and complex. Aside from being pests, yellow jackets play an important role in controlling the population of other species of insects in nature that can be equally troublesome when not in check. For these reasons it is important not to spray chemicals at them indiscriminately, or target their nests for destruction when far away from human or animal habitation. The most effective method of eliminating a yellow jacket infestation without endangering yourself or the environment is to simply call an exterminator.