September 29th, 2009 by BugGuy
This is the first installment in a series of posts about weird insects. I thought I’d start with the cow ant because even its name is odd.
The cow ant is technically not an ant; it’s actually a wingless, female wasp. These furry insects are part of the family mutillidae. Male mutillidae have wings and cannot sting. There are over 4,000 species of mutillidae around the world; 400 can be found here in the US. Cow ants are most often spotted in the sandy areas of the US.
Also known as velvet ants, mutillidae have a thick hair covering their body. In the picture above the cow ant has red and black hair but they can also be seen with gold, silver or white hair. While the picture above is not the actual size, it may be pretty close. Cow ants are about an inch long or the size of other wasps.
So why are they called cow ants? The cow ant has a very painful sting (remember she’s actually a wasp) and is thought to be so painful it could kill a cow. But, cow ants are not aggressive and would rather be left alone. Adult Mutillidae feed on water and nectar.
Pest control note: cow ants do not cause any damage.
Posted in Pest ID, Weird Insects | 3 Comments »
September 25th, 2009 by BugGuy
One of our readers recently asked “When you fumigate, are all of the gaseous pesticides absorbed into the ground or when the tents come down do the gases get let into the air? Also if the gases are released into the air, do you know how harmful for the environment that can be?”
Good question but it’s a little tricky to answer.
Each fumigation is different; the conditions at the time of the fumigation determine where the gases go and at what percentages. I’ll try to give a very rough summary.
A lot depends on the environmental conditions at the time of the fumigation; the moisture content of the soil and temperature determines the amount of gas absorbed into the soil. The temperature of the air and relative humidity greatly affect the amount absorbed into the atmosphere when the tent is on and also determines the amount of gas injected into the structure.
A little less than 50% of the gas is dissipated when the tent is in place. When the tent is removed, a natural aeration period begins and allows the remaining gas to escape into the environment.
We suggested our reader contact the main fumigant suppliers for a more detailed answer…if you’re looking for some more detail we suggest you contact the companies below.
Drexal Chemical Company
Also be aware, don’t expect a definite answer. There’s a lot of debate about the impact on the environment and very little quantifiable data. Much of the pro/con data is interpretive so always consider the source of the information.
Posted in Fumigation, Pest Control FAQ | No Comments »
September 24th, 2009 by BugGuy
There are an estimated 4,000 species of termites but it is believed only 10% of those species can actually be considered pests because of the damage they cause to buildings and crops. There are three species of pest termites in California; the drywood, the dampwood and the subterranean. Below I’ll point out the differences between the drywood termite and the subterranean termite.
Drywood termites are most often seen in southern California but they can also be found along the coast; these termites wont be found in regions where the temperature drops below freezing. Here are some basic facts about the drywood termite.
- Difficult to detect - these termites live deep inside wood and typically aren’t seen until there’s a swarm
- Their colonies are small…usually less than 1,000
- Unlike other species of termites, drywoods do not need contact with the soil to survive
- They can tolerate long periods of dry conditions
- These termites will consume wood from framing, furniture, structural timbers and even hardwood floors
Because drywood termites are difficult to detect and can cause significant damage, do-it-yourself treatment is not recommended. Seek help from a professional termite control company if you think you may have a drywood termite infestation.
The subterranean termite is another species of the insect that can be found throughout the state. These termites can tolerate cooler temperatures than the drywood termites so naturally they are found more often around the United States. While still a species of termite, the subterranean is very different from the drywood termite (other than their love for wood). Below is some information about the subterranean termite.
- Subterranean termites are noticeably smaller than drywood termites
- These termites require a moist environment…they can often be found near the soil and in wood that is rotten
- They often damage structural supports and foundations
- Alaska is the only state where subterranean termites are not found
- The colonies of these termites are much larger than drywood termite colonies
The subterranean is the most destructive of any termite found in California. Once again, please contact a professional when a termite problem is suspected.
Did you know termites are considered social insects? There is a definite hierarchy with termites and each termite knows its role within the colony.
Posted in Termite, Termite Prevention | No Comments »
September 19th, 2009 by BugGuy
Sorry for the short hiatus (okay several months) but we are back AND you’ll start seeing posts more often than just once a week.
Way back in January we wrote a post about black widow spiders; these black and red bodied spiders are probably the first to come to mind when poisonous insects are mentioned but the brown recluse spider is another poisonous spider that is common in the U.S., especially in the Midwest.
But don’t worry Californians, there are no brown recluse spider populations in California. This is contrary to popular belief…there have been sightings of the arachnids in the state but it is believed they were transported here from the Midwest via people relocating to the state. While there are 100 species of recluse spiders, only a handful can be found in California, and like I mentioned before, the brown recluse is not one of them. Species of recluse spiders found in parts of California include: Desert recluse, Chilean recluse, Russell’s recluse, Martha’s recluse, Baja recluse and the Arizona recluse.
Think you found a brown recluse spider? Here’s a great visual of how to indentify and even misidentify the brown recluse spider. One way to identify any recluse spider is by looking at their eyes. Most spiders have eight eyes arranged in two rows of four but recluses have six eyes arranged in three pairs.
All species of recluse spiders are poisonous (venomous) and are known for their necrotic bite (early death of living cells and tissues). But, most species of recluse spiders are considered pretty laid back…with the exception of the Chilean recluse.
Did you know that recluse is actually from the Latin word recludere which means “sequester?” This name is very appropriate from the recluse family of spider because they love to hide in tree bark, wood piles and even behind picture frames on the wall when in houses.
Posted in Pest ID, Spiders | 1 Comment »