Archive for the ‘Pest Control’ Category

The Most To Least Abundant Termite Species In Louisiana, And Where In The State Each Species Can Be Found

Louisiana may not be the smallest state in terms of area, but it is not even close to being the largest either. According to an official list that ranks America’s 50 states by size in terms of area, Louisiana falls within the middle to lower half of the states at number 33. Despite Louisiana’s modest size, the state is home to an unusually high number of termite pest species. To be more specific, Louisiana contains more termite pest species than Texas, which is hard to believe considering that the area of Texas is seven times greater than that of Louisiana’s. Louisiana also beats its other neighbors, Mississippi and Arkansas, in terms of termite species diversity. Based on these comparisons, it can be inferred that populations of multiple termite species overlap in most areas within Louisiana. In other words, all residential and urban areas within Louisiana must see multiple termite species. Since termites operate below soil and beneath the surface of wood where they cannot be easily observed, estimating the population size of particular species within certain areas is not easy. However, shortly after the invasive Formosan subterranean termite species became an economically devastating insect pest in Louisiana, researchers carried out an exhaustive study that revealed which termite species are most abundant in the state, and where each species is most likely to be found.

There exists eight documented termite species that infest structures in Louisiana, the most significant of which include various subterranean and drywood species. According to a scientific survey lasting for three years during the late 90s and early 2000s, the eastern subterranean termite (R. flavipes) was found to be the most abundant termite species around homes and buildings in the state. This species was collected a total of 177 times in all areas of Louisiana, while the second most abundant species in the state, native subterranean termites (R. hageni), was collected a total of 65 times in all areas of the state. Another species that is commonly referred to as the “native subterranean termite” (R. virginicus) was collected 64 times in all areas of the state. The dreaded Formosan subterranean termite (C. formanosus) was collected 40 times, but almost never in areas farther north than Baton Rouge. However, researchers have confirmed that Formosan termite populations now cover the entirety of Louisiana, and this species likely follows only the eastern subterranean termite species in terms of population size in Louisiana today

Were you under the impression that the Formosan subterranean termite was the most abundant termite species in Louisiana?



Most Common Stinging Caterpillars In New Orleans

There are four dangerous caterpillars in Louisiana that residents, and gardeners in particular, need to watch out for. Children also need to be taught what these caterpillars look like and warned not to touch them, as some of the worst ones tend to look rather fuzzy and cute. These four caterpillars are the puss moth caterpillar, the IO moth caterpillar, the saddleback caterpillar, and the buck moth caterpillar. All four of these insects cause a very painful sting that burns when they touch human skin. While for most people they will only cause some serious discomfort, those with allergies to insect venom need to be extra careful, as they could experience serious health problems that could put them in the emergency room. Around this time of year it is common to spot these caterpillars wandering around our lawns, driveways, patios, porches, sidewalks, and on shrubs.

The IO moth caterpillar is easy to recognize due to its bright lime or chartreuse coloring that have thin burgundy and white stripes down each side. Those chartreuse spines cover their entire body in thick clusters. They can be found on a variety of plants, but tend to be especially common on crape myrtles.

The puss moth caterpillar, also known as stinging asps in the New Orleans area, is small and egg-shaped with light to dark brown fuzz all over their bodies. These fine brown hairs cover their body in a thick carpet, and will deliver a very painful sting if touched by humans. Gardeners will want to be vigilant when working outside, and make sure to wear long sleeves and gloves for protection.

The saddleback caterpillar is another one that is easy to recognize. It has what looks like bright green saddle on the center of its back and prominent barbed horns on its rear and head.

The buck moth caterpillar is one you want to make sure to warn your children about. It has a reddish-colored head and a body covered in small white dots in addition to the spiny barbs that protrude from all over its body. What makes these caterpillars particularly dangerous is their habitat. The female adult moths lay their eggs in the canopy of trees on the small twigs clustered up high. The tend to lay their clusters of 80 to 100 eggs on live oaks and water oaks. When the eggs hatch, they feed on the leaves of the oak trees and will molt several times before they begin their descent. During the molting process, some of the caterpillars lose their hold on their branch and fall on people passing under the tree or onto the ground. When they do move en masse down the tree after they have finished eating, they can wander around people’s lawns, sidewalks, and porches, which is where children tend to come across them and pick up the curious-looking creatures.

Have you ever come across one of these four caterpillars? Were you stung by one? Contact us today for a free pest inspection.



Ants Can Treat Their Injured Comrade’s Wounds

Ants Can Treat Their Injured Comrade’s Wounds

After sustaining a serious wound, seeking medical attention is a necessity. As humans we can expect our wounds to be closed by stitching, and antibiotic treatments can prevent infections and accelerate the healing process. You would certainly not expect a doctor to frantically lick your wound repeatedly upon visiting a hospital. Not only would such a response be insane, but this absurd behavior would only transmit more germs to a wound. However, wounded ants seem to benefit from the saliva of their fellow colony members. Matabele ants are known for being one of the most aggressive and warlike of all ant species. These ants will raid other ant colonies as well as termite colonies. Matabele ants rarely lose the battles that they wage on their enemies. For decades researchers have known that Matabele ants are superior fighters, but the reasons for their edge on the battlefield has never been explained. Now researchers believe that injured Matabele ants often recover when they would otherwise die thanks to their comrades who lick them back to health. Researchers believe that these ants possess antimicrobial substances within their saliva that prevent infections and contribute to accelerated wound-healing.

After Matabele ants raid nearby insect nests, many return home with severe wounds. Some ants are missing multiple limbs, while others sustain less serious, but still life-threatening wounds. Luckily, Matabele ants have something similar to medics. Matabele ants that are injured in war recover ninety percent of the time, but only if their wounds are licked by other ants. However, injured ants that are not treated with their comrades saliva only recover one out of five times. Scientists are not yet certain as to why this licking process heals wounds, but it has been theorized that ant saliva contains antimicrobial properties. Different wounds require different amounts of licking. Sometimes a wounded ant will need to be licked for a few minutes, but others require a full hour of non-stop licking in order to recover from their wounds. The saliva probably prevents ant wounds from becoming infected by different forms of bacteria. While on the battlefield, some ants sustain wounds that are too significant to be helped by licking. In these cases, the wounded ants will thrash their bodies about in an effort to fend off help from other ants that are prepared to lick them. These ants seem to know that their wounds are terminal, and therefore medical attention should not be wasted on them. Ants that are missing most of their limbs can be found indulging in this selfless behavior.

Have you ever heard about insects demonstrating another type of seemingly altruistic behavior?

Which Tick Species Pose A Threat To Louisiana Residents? Which Diseases Do Ticks Transmit To Humans In The State?

Ticks are generally considered a public health threat only within the northeast United States, but there exists nearly 900 documented tick species in the world today, 90 of which dwell within the continental US. These 90 species are distributed all over the US, but only a minority are capable of transmitting disease to humans.

Five disease-spreading tick species have been documented within the state of Louisiana, but only four of these species transmit diseases to humans. The brown dog tick is only capable of transmitting disease to dogs, cats and several other animals. However, in Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, the brown dog ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans, but only in this one particular region. The most serious tick-borne disease, lyme disease, can be contracted in Louisiana, but lyme cases are relatively rare in the state.

The American dog tick can be found in all areas of Louisiana where it can spread tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans. Only adult female ticks bite humans and most bites occur during the spring and summer seasons.

The deer tick, also known as the “black-legged tick” spreads a variety of diseases including lyme, anaplasmosis, B. miyamotoi, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis and Powassan virus disease. This tick can bite humans all year round in Louisiana.

The Gulf Coast Tick can spread a form of spotted fever known as Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, but this species is more of a threat to animals than it is to humans. Only adult ticks can transmit diseases to humans, while nymphs feed on the blood of birds and small rodents.

The lone star tick is the most aggressive of all ticks, and they will not hesitate to bite humans. These ticks spread pathogens to humans that cause ehrlichiosis, Heartland virus, tularemia, and STARI. Only adult females transmit diseases to humans, but all bites from lone star ticks can cause skin irritation due to compounds in their saliva.

Have you ever found a tick embedded in your skin?




Formosan Subterranean Termites Grow Larger Nests In Urban And Residential Areas Than They Do In The Wild


Formosan subterranean termites were first documented in Louisiana back in the 1960s, but their habitat was limited to uninhabited rural regions until the 1980s saw Formosans emerge in New Orleans. By the time the mid 1990s rolled around, Formosan subterranean termites had established colonies beneath sod, behind plaster and sheetrock, and even below paved urban areas. Residents of the Big Easy were well acquainted with termites by this time, but the destructive power of the Formosan subterranean termite was unlike anything that they ever could have imagined.

For the past 30 to 40 years, residents of New Orleans have had no choice but to tolerate the Formosan presence, as even today, colonies cannot be fully eradicated; instead, pest controllers can only control the insects by preventing their further spread into new inhabited regions. Effective Formosan termite control measures have only recently been developed, so the termites had more than enough time to spread to every inhabited region of Louisiana and beyond. Considering all this, entomologists and pest control professionals believe that Formosan termites are endowed with unique abilities that allow them to evade human control measures.

According to Louisiana State University entomologist Gregg Henderson, Formosan subterranean termites have defeated nearly all pest control strategies devised to far. Luckily, the introduction of poison baits have proven effective at limiting Formosan subterranean termite colony growth and dispersal, but experts are still have a lot to learn about how these termites spread so rapidly from one area to another. One theory states that numerous Formosan subterranean termite colonies are interconnected over large areas of land like a “supercolony” that can collectively coordinate their movements into new areas.

Once humans abandoned their nomadic ways and established cities containing clusters of timber-framed structures, far more wood became available to Formosan termites. This allowed Formosan termite populations to reach unprecedented levels that would have been impossible in natural environments. The advent of cities also allowed Formosan termite nests to become significantly larger, and more interconnected. It is also true that Formosan swarmers (alates) are attracted to artificial lights, like street lights and porch lights, which also serves to increase their population size in urban and residential areas.

Have you ever lived on a property that contained one or several trees that had been infested with Formosan subterranean termites?


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