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Archive for the ‘Pest Control’ Category

Four Caterpillar Species Often Found On Louisiana Properties Cause Serious Envenomation Symptoms In Most People Who Make Contact With The Insects

Much like ladybugs and butterflies, caterpillars are considered by many to be approachable insects that can be fun to handle. However, this is not the attitude to take when encountering venomous caterpillars, as there are several caterpillar species in Louisiana that have venomous spines protruding from their bodies. These “spines” are called “urticating hairs,” and simply touching a venomous caterpillar is enough to cause lasting intense pain and potentially dangerous allergic reactions.

Venomous caterpillars are often found within residential yards in Louisiana, and it is not uncommon for people to sustain stings while performing yard work, and in some cases, stings occur after caterpillars fall from trees and land on humans. Tragically, it is also not uncommon for young children to touch venomous caterpillars out of curiosity when the larval insects are spotted within yards. Many venomous caterpillar species are appealing to children due to their seemingly furry appearance, but what appears to be fur is actually venomous urticating hairs. Some of the most commonly encountered venomous caterpillar species in Louisiana include io moth-caterpillars, tussock moth-caterpillars, asp-caterpillars and saddleback caterpillars. Both tussock moth-caterpillars and asp caterpillars are known for causing particularly painful stings, and in some rare cases, anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal.

A one year study of 112 caterpillar stings sustained within Louisiana found that 96 percent of sting victims experienced severe pain, 89 percent experienced erythema, 72 percent experienced edema, and systemic responses occurred in 26 percent of sting victims. Systemic symptoms included vomiting, headaches, chills, fever, and muscle spasms. Experts were able to identify the species of 68 percent of the caterpillars that caused these venomous reactions. Four species accounted for a majority of the stings. These four species were buck moth-caterpillars, io moth-caterpillars, southern flannel moth-caterpillars, and saddleback caterpillars. Only 16 percent of the sting victims had an allergy to insect venom, and a whopping 61 percent experienced lasting pain and other symptoms for at least 24 hours.

Have you ever encountered a venomous caterpillar within your yard?

What You Need To Know About The Highly Venomous And Aggressive Red Wasps That Often Build Nests On Residential Trees And Structures

Numerous wasps that are capable of delivering painful stings have been documented within Louisiana. Some of these wasps include yellow jackets, great black wasps, mud daubers, potter wasps, European hornets and paper wasps. The most aggressive and dangerous wasps in the state include yellow jackets and European hornets (which are wasps). Another wasp species that has been spotted in the state, Polistes carolina, is known for inflicting painful stings that can result in serious medical conditions. This wasp species is commonly known as the Alabama red wasp, and this species is only one of two red paper wasp species described in scientific literature.

The Alabama red wasp is easy to recognize on account of its large red body which has been known to exceed one inch in length. Although Alabama red wasps are scarcely mentioned as being dangerous wasp species in the US, their populations become abundant throughout the eastern states during the summer, which has made them notorious among residents. Generally, paper wasp species are not particularly aggressive, and they will only sting when provoked or handled. This is not the case when it comes to the Alabama red wasp, which is one of many paper wasp species found in the US.

These wasps live in colonies that can grow to contain hundreds of individual specimens. Alabama red wasps break down plant matter in order to use the resulting material to build paper nests. Once these nests dry, they resemble a honeycomb-like structure, and if a nest is found in a residential area, contacting a pest control professional for nest removal may be a wise idea due to the aggression exhibited by this species. These wasps also nest within hollow trees, and paper nests are commonly found on the underside of eaves and on the underside of bridges. Due to their abundance during the summer months, Alabama red wasps frequently sting humans, and when this occurs, swelling, pain and local itchiness usually result. These wasps are also known for inducing severe allergic reactions, so if a sting should be sustained by a person with known allergies to insect venom, medical care should be sought out immediately.

Have you ever spotted an Alabama red wasp?

 

 

 

 

Are The Mud Tubes Built By Subterranean Termites Always Found On The Foundation Of Infested Homes

Subterranean termites are cryptic creatures, as they dwell entirely beneath the ground or within seemingly sound wood sources. Obviously, this makes subterranean termites difficult to detect within homes when compared to detecting the indoor presence of most other types of insect pests. Many homeowners report termite infestations to pest control companies without ever seeing a single termite specimen within or near their home. This is not surprising considering that subterranean termites rapidly parish when exposed to normal climatic conditions. Instead of relying on termite sightings, the presence of mud tubes along a home’s foundation strongly indicates a past or present infestation. This is well known to many homeowners, but what is not as well known is that subterranean termites construct multiple types of mud tubes in addition to the working mud tubes found on the foundation of homes.

A minority of termite infestations are discovered when swarming termites (alates) emerge within a home, but most alates only swarm from indoor colonies a few times during a short time span lasting one to two months per year. The presence of mud tubes, or shelter tubes, as they are also known, is the most common first sign of a subterranean termite infestation within a home. The mud tubes that many homeowners are aware of are called “working tubes.” These are the mud tubes that subterranean termites construct in order to allow them easy access between the ground soil and structural wood. It is not uncommon to find isolated mud tubes that do not make contact with structural wood. These mud tubes are commonly known as either “exploratory” or “migratory” mud tubes, and they are sometimes found in yards. “Drop tubes” connect structural wood to the ground soil, but these mud tubes only allow for one-way traffic. Lastly, “swarm tubes” are constructed in order to allow winged alates to emerge from indoor colonies. Swarm tubes can be found protruding from structural wood where a termite colony dwells, and swarm tubes have also been found emerging from cracks in concrete slabs. Finding termite mud tubes within or around a home does not necessarily mean that an infestation is active, as mud tubes can remain within inaccessible indoor areas after termites have either vacated or have been eradicated from a property. However, in most cases, contacting a pest control professional when finding mud tubes within or around a home turns out to be a wise economic choice.

Have you ever found termite mud tubes within your home?

 

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The Mysterious And Memorable Collapse Of A Historically Significant Structure In New Orleans Was Likely Caused By Termites

Every New Orleans resident knows that termites are tremendously destructive insects within the city and the rest of the state. Destructive termites have always been an issue within the city’s old buildings, but once the invasive Formosan subterranean termite emerged in urban areas of New Orleans, the destruction caused by termites became impossible to miss in the city. For example, during October of 2014, a structure that was more than 200 years old came crashing to the ground right in the middle of a busy intersection within the historic French Quarter. While the cause of the collapse has never been determined with certainty, experts insist that a long lasting and extensive termite infestation in the building played a major part.

The now non-existent building was located on Royale St, and it had been built back in 1801. A day after the incident, the head of the Vieux Carre Commission stated that the building collapsed due to several factors, including rot, water damage, soft bricks, and most of all, termites. Termites are particularly abundant within buildings that are both old and water-damaged, as old buildings were not constructed to be resistant to termite infestations and the destructive insects only establish infestations within buildings that contain high-moisture levels and preferably damp wood. By locating water damaged structural wood, subterranean termites can survive solely within the compromised wood without having to return to the ground soil for water. The building was three stories tall and the first portion to fall was the balcony and part of the facade. Despite efforts to keep the rest of the building standing in order to conduct a controlled demolition, the rest of the facade, as well as the entire roof, came tumbling down the next day. No injuries were reported, but the debris was so abundant that it took weeks to clear the surrounding area. The building’s owner could not be reached.

Were you aware that termite damage could cause infested, or formerly infested buildings to collapse?

Venomous Io Caterpillars Often Dwell Beneath Plant Matter, Leading To Painful Stings That Can Be Dangerous

The io moth used to be one of the most recognizable moths in the United States due to the conspicuous “eye-like” design on the moth’s wingspan. Today, this moth species is not nearly as prevalent in the US as it used to be, as their population has been declining in the northeast and the Gulf Coast regions since the 1970s. However, Louisiana is one exception, as io moth populations have remained largely stable in the state during the past several decades. Although io moths are interesting to look at, their larvae (caterpillars) possess protruding “spines,” similar to a porcupine. Unlike porcupines, the spines of io moth caterpillars are highly venomous, and the caterpillars are considered medically important insects. Generally, it is not common for people to sustain stings from io moth caterpillars due to their low populations in the eastern US, but stings still occur today in Louisiana where people encounter the caterpillars in their yards and gardens. After a Lake Charles man suffered an io moth caterpillar sting while performing yard work, he became determined to prevent other Louisiana residents from experiencing the same pain. So he decided to educate the public, particularly schools and daycares, about the danger posed by io moth caterpillars in residential areas.

Brian Hirsch sustained an io moth caterpillar sting after picking up a bundle of lawn waste that contained a few specimens. Unlike bees and wasps, simply making contact with many caterpillar species is enough to sustain a sting. The io moth caterpillar’s spines stick into the skin where they continue to release venom and cause excruciating pain. Pulling these spines out of skin with tape is recommended for those who sustain a caterpillar sting. Io moth caterpillars are not picky about the types of vegetation where they dwell, and their dark brown appearance allows specimens to remain camouflaged in foliage and lawn waste. These caterpillars breed rapidly too, as Hirsch pointed out a bush that was covered in io moth caterpillars despite being entirely free of the caterpillars two days prior. These caterpillars cause serious pain, and possibly serious allergic reactions, so being mindful while performing yard work will go a long way toward preventing io moth caterpillar stings.

Have you ever sustained a caterpillar sting?

 

 

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