How Long do Mosquitoes Live?

How Long do Mosquitoes Live?

2019-05-15

Is there anything better than summer? The days are long and there are plenty of backyard barbecues, pool parties, and umbrella drinks to enjoy. However, with the sweetness of summer comes one major nuisance, mosquitoes. Depending on where you live, mosquitoes may plague you all summer and throughout the year as well. While it may not seem like it, mosquitoes do, in fact, die. However, their lifespans and life cycles are fine-tuned to survive, thrive, and bite.

Lifespan of a Mosquito

“Do mosquitoes ever die?” It’s a question that gets asked a lot, especially when one is dealing with the itchy welts that come with a mosquito bite. Even if they survive getting slapped, zapped, or sprayed, mosquitoes have a relatively short life span. Male mosquitoes only live for about 2 weeks and female mosquitoes will typically live for about 1 or 2 months. Because male mosquitoes only feed on nectar during their lifetime and female mosquitoes feed on both, nectar and blood, you can thank female mosquitoes for those itchy bites you get.

Female mosquitoes drink blood after mating in order to nourish their eggs and help them develop. Blood from humans and animals contain vital proteins and energy that mosquito eggs need to mature and grow. To find a suitable blood supply, female mosquitoes use highly sensitive sensors to detect CO2 and sweat emissions. Based on these emissions, a female mosquito will decide who or what to bite.

Mosquito Life Cycle

While environmental factors such as moisture and temperature can affect a mosquito’s life cycle, it is always comprised of the following four stages:

Egg

As mentioned above, female mosquitoes feed on blood once they mate. After their blood meal, the female mosquito will lay her eggs in areas with standing water or a water source. Ponds, puddles, ditches, creeks, swimming pools, and containers filled with water are all suitable places for female mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

Some mosquitoes will lay their eggs singly, while others will lay their eggs so that they stick together to form a raft. No matter which way their eggs are laid, water is necessary for mosquito eggs to hatch into larvae. If the conditions are favorable, mosquito eggs can hatch in less than 48 hours. In less favorable, drier conditions, it can take up to a week for mosquito eggs to hatch.

Larvae

Once they have hatched from their eggs, mosquitoes become larvae. Mosquito larvae are commonly called “wigglers.” Wigglers look like little, hairy worms and stay in the water up to 14 days. Here, they hang upside down and feed on microorganisms. Feeding on algae and fungi help larvae grow and molt 4 times. At the end of their final molt, the larvae become pupae.

Pupae

Lighter than wigglers, mosquito pupae float at the water’s surface. Unlike larvae, mosquito pupae do not eat or molt. Instead, this stage is all about transformation and metamorphosis into an adult mosquito occurs within the pupal shell. If the pupa is disturbed at any point during this 1 to 4 day stage, it will dive and tumble in order to protect itself. Once the adult mosquito has developed within the pupa, it will split open the pupal shell and emerge to the surface of the water.

Adult

A mosquito is considered an adult once it has emerged from the pupa. Male mosquitoes hatch first followed shortly by the females. Once both sexes have hatched, a mating swarm will begin. After consuming a blood meal, the female mosquito can lay up to 300 eggs and the cycle begins again.

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Signs of a Mouse Infestation

Signs of a Mouse Infestation

2019-05-20

House mice might not sound like the scariest pests around but they can do serious damage to your home, contaminate food and quickly become a large infestation. You can learn to recognize the telltale signs of mice in the house. If you think you have an infestation, call Aptive Environmental right away for eco-friendly rodent control.

Wondering if you have mice in your home?

Whether you’re reading this to be cautious or because you think you might have mice in your home, it’s important to learn about the signs of an infestation.

Of course, the most obvious signal of a mouse infestation is seeing a mouse. Mice are nocturnal, but that doesn’t mean they’ll never venture out in the day. If you’ve seen a mouse scurrying across the floor or found a dead one in the cupboard, it’s time to develop a plan for controlling the rest of the infestation.

Understanding what to look for and where to look for it will help you identify a problem at an earlier stage and take actions to control it.

How to Identify the Signs of a Mouse Infestation

1. Mouse droppings

Mouse droppings are one of the most obvious signs that pests have moved into your house. Mouse droppings are tiny pellets (like grains of rice) that will often be clustered in areas near the nest. While the droppings could be scattered around a room or home, it’s a good idea to start searching for the nest in the area with the most droppings.

Mouse droppings are smaller than rat droppings—only a few millimeters in length. They’re also pointed at both ends. Newer droppings will appear shiny and dark while older droppings turn gray and dried out.

Even if the droppings don’t signal the location of the nest, they likely signal a heavily visited area of the house.

2. Gnaw/scratch marks

Another clearly visible sign of mice (and another sign of a frequently traveled area) is a collection of bite marks. Mice can gnaw holes in wood, paper, upholstery and plastic. You might find gnaw marks on furniture, walls and food containers.

Unfortunately, much of the gnawing in the early stages of an infestation might take place in the walls or under floorboards as the mice build nests. They can severly damage wiring and cause problems that require major repairs to fix.

Sometimes, the scratching and gnawing sounds can become noticeable at night, when mice are more active and there is less background noise. If you hear strange scratching or tapping sounds that seem to be coming from behind walls or in an attic, you might be hearing rodent activity in your home.

3. Runaways

Bite marks are only one way of identifying a mouse’s common runways. Mice can leave dirty, oily marks along the edge of a wall or tiny footprints on the floor. A flashlight can help you search along the edges of walls and in more hidden areas for tracks.

One reason mice follow paths along walls is their weak eyesight. They use walls as guides to navigate around a room, often following the same paths and making their movements fairly predictable.

Mice are excellent climbers and can reach surprisingly inaccessible areas. Searching for a mouse’s nest can be extremely difficult. Since they favor hollow areas within walls, ceilings and other parts of buildings, you might not be able to access the nest at all. And finding the rodent’s access point can be even harder.

Mouse holes can be quite small—as tiny as 1/4 inch in diameter—not at all like the ones you’ve seen in cartoons. Entrance points can simply be a gap in a vent or a crack at the edge of a floorboard.

Pet owners might have an advantage when searching for mice. If you have a cat or dog and notice them sniffing or pawing at an unusual area of the room, they might be attracted by the smell of mice.

4. Urine smell and stains

Mice urine gives off a musty, stale smell that’s similar to ammonia. With multiple rodents, the smell can quickly become noticeable and might linger after the pests have been removed.

It could be difficult to pinpoint the location of the smell, especially in a large room. Mice commonly build nests in walls, cupboards, attics and other out-of-the-way areas. You can start by checking spaces that are mostly hidden from view. As you search, be on the lookout for damaged food packages, trails of crumbs, stains and holes.

5. Damaged objects or food packaging

If you notice torn or chewed boxes of food in the pantry, or gnawed furniture upholstery, you might have found signs of a mouse building a nest. Mice use these materials as well as other sources of paper, carboard, fabric and similar materials (even wiring!) to build their nests. Look closely for trails and droppings once you’ve found this kind of damage.

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Surprising Spider Superpowers

Surprising Spider Superpowers

2021-06-10

Spiders can be scary creatures, but they also have special abilities that make them seem like eight-legged superheroes. In fact, they’re truly marvels of nature. Even if you’d rather not have them in your home, it’s easy to respect their fascinating abilities. So if you’ve ever wondered about spiders and what they do as they hang out around your home, here’s a list of 5 surprising spider superpowers.

5 Unique Spider Abilities

1. Strong Silk

Spider silk is what spiders use to build their webs, trap prey, jump from one area to the next, and create shelter. The sticky droplets on spider webs help catch prey like flies and mosquitoes in mid-air. It’s also one of the most versatile materials on the planet. Made from proteins and spun through organs inside their bodies, the silk has extreme strength, stretchiness, and energy-absorbing capacity. The web spiders produce an engineered structure built through dynamic interactions between its proteins. This design gives their webs incredible strength and durability even when stretched to many times their original size.

Recently, scientists examined the silk of a brown recluse spider. They found that each strand is made up of thousands of nano strands, only 20 millionths of a millimeter in diameter, and is 1000 times thinner than human hair.

Despite it being so thin, it’s stronger than steel and tougher than Kevlar, which is the material used to make bulletproof vests. It also has been used for medicinal benefits for centuries. In addition, researchers have considered incorporating spider silk to create a biodegradable mesh that can accelerate tissue growth.

2. Ant Mimicry

Spiders are also great actors. Ant mimicry or myrmecotrophy is an interesting phenomenon in the insect world, intriguing many biologists. As odd as it may seem, certain species of spiders (300 to be exact) disguise themselves as ants to escape from predators.

You may be wondering how this is possible since spiders and ants have different body shapes and the number of legs. For spiders to mimic ants, they lift their two front legs to appear like an antenna while walking on six legs. They also take winding trajectories of about five to ten body lengths, making them look like ants following pheromone trails. This is the perfect way to hide from predators while hunting for ants for food.

As a remarkable adaptive evolution, several other creatures use protective mimicry, including moths, snakes, fireflies, and more.

3. Superior Vision

Not only can spiders create strong and versatile webs and mimic ants, but certain species also have superior vision that allows them to see in the dark to stock and hunt prey. In addition to having top-of-the-line night vision, they also can see through UVA and UVB rays. Their superior vision comes from having four eyes close together in a row. They have two large principal eyes and two small lateral eyes. The retinas in their principal eyes consist of four distinct photoreceptor layers, with the two layers close to the surface containing ultraviolet-sensitive pigments and the bottom layers containing green-sensitive pigments.

They can see in eight different directions at once, knowing which way is up and what direction they are going by looking for light sources, a skill that has been dubbed as “parallel processing.”

They also have a high degree of hearing due to the large sensory organs on their abdomen called pedipalps. When threatened by predators, they release venomous toxins that paralyze prey.

4. Artistic Creations

Spiders are natural artists, weaving their webs to create unique pieces of art. But, like a snowflake, no two webs are the same. They all vary in size, texture, and shape depending on the species and their hunting method. Webs also vary based on the type of spider that is weaving it. For example, when you see the common circular web shape, that design was made by an orb spider.

Other types of spiders may weave fuzzy-looking webs or funnel-shaped webs. There are even certain types of spiders in the world that will band together as a community to make massive webs that can cover several trees at a time, and then they share the food that is caught in the community web.

5. Long Jumping

The fifth superpower? They’re considered superior long jumpers. Jumping spiders are capable of jumping up to 50 times the length of their body. Now, if you were to watch one of these spiders jump, it might not seem like it’s actually jumping that far from your perspective. But that’s just because spiders are a lot smaller than we are, so the length doesn’t seem as impressive. But think about it this way – if a 5-foot tall human were to jump 50 times the length of their body, they would be able to jump an impressive 100 feet.

They also have insane speed when it comes to hunting for food or escaping danger. When a spider feels threatened, its instinct kicks in, and it can move at incredible speeds without much effort.

Getting Rid of Spiders With Professional Pest Control

Even with these surprising superpowers, it’s normal not to want spiders crawling around your home. They reproduce quickly. In fact, they can lay up to 1,000 eggs. They can also crawl through the tiniest of cracks and crevices in walls, floors, or ceilings. Although the poison used by spiders is not fatal to humans, it may cause nausea and other side effects, so it’s understandable if you want to eliminate them from your home.

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Why Bugs Come in the House When It Rains

Some pests, especially those who build underground nests, run for cover when heavy rain floods their habitats. Ants, roaches, yellow jackets and other bugs sometimes enter houses looking for dry shelter. If they find food and a place to nest in your home, they’ll probably stay and could spread quickly. Learn about how to prevent an infestation.

Rainy Weather Bugs in the House

Every year, spring and summer rains spoil people’s warm-weather activities, moving picnics indoors and breaking up backyard parties. Unfortunately, they also force many pests out of their habitats to search for drier shelter. This sometimes leads them into our homes.

Underground habitats are especially prone to flooding. This can mean an increase in activity for ants, cockroaches, yellow jackets and other pests. Bugs that suddenly need a new home can easily find spaces in houses, garages, sheds and other human structures.

These pests are skilled at finding higher, drier ground for emergency shelter—that can lead to infestations anywhere from your attic to your kitchen cabinets.

Which pests are the biggest problems on rainy days? Ants, cockroaches and yellow jackets.

Ants

Ants build their signature mounds over shallow burrows and tunnel systems in the soil. These habitats, which hundreds or thousands of ants call home, are in the worst possible position during heavy rain. Water quickly floods the nest, forcing the ants to escape to dry shelter.

Why do ants come in the house when it rains?

For insects this tiny, it takes more than the cover of a few trees to survive a storm. Ants often resort to hiding in homes and buildings, entering through cracks in the walls or under a garage door that doesn’t fully close. Once they’re in, they’ll start searching for food until the soil dries enough to rebuild their nests. But if they find easy sources of food in your home, it’s possible that they’ll stick around.

That’s one way an infestation can form.

Cockroaches

Cockroaches thrive in humidity, which might make you think that they thrive in rainy weather, too. This is partly true, as post-rain humidity and moisture let them venture farther in search of food. But their habitats are also at risk of flooding.

Because of their need for moisture, cockroaches often live in sewers, drains and other wet locations. Like ants’ burrows, these locations are prone to flooding during storms.

To survive heavy rain, roaches might enter homes and buildings and take shelter there.

Roaches can be an even more dangerous intruder than ants. These pests are resilient and stealthy, hiding in pantries and usually scavenging at night. And they can find plenty of moisture in bathrooms, basements and crawl spaces, where they’ll be happy to stay, even after the rain dries up.

Yellow Jackets

Can wasps fly in the rain? Yes, but rainy weather does affect their ability to get around easily. Wasps are most active during the summer months, when hot, dry weather lets them move around most freely.

Summer storms are particularly bad for yellow jackets, which tend to build their nests in hollows in the ground. Whether it’s in a hole in the soil, under a set of porch stairs or beneath a crack in the sidewalk, a yellow jacket nest has a high chance of flooding when it rains.

When yellow jackets (and wasps and other stinging insects) are driven from their nests, they can become more aggressive.

This becomes an even bigger problem when these flying bugs enter homes and garages to find shelter. Aggressive yellow jackets do not mix well with humans or pets.

All of these pests can spread quickly and cause major problems if they build nests in your home. Learn some tips to avoid attracting pests that are looking for shelter from the rain.

How to Prevent Bugs in Your House When It Rains

Pest control can be difficult to do yourself, especially when it comes to stinging and biting pests. Calling professional pest experts is the best solution, but you can follow these seven tips to avoid attracting bugs when it rains:

  1. Prepare by inspecting for entry points
  2. Seal cracks and holes
  3. Remove trash and debris
  4. Clean up crumbs and spills
  5. Clear sink and tub drains
  6. Organize clutter
  7. Call Aptive Environmental

It’s especially important to make sure your home has no holes, crevices or cracks that could let ants and other tiny pests get in when it rains. Do a careful inspection of your house’s exterior walls and seal any openings before bugs find them.

Spend some time clearing clutter around your house, too. Debris and litter can accumulate in your garden or yard and give pests more places to hide. You want to keep bugs (and rodents) far away from your home.

Inside, work on forming a habit of cleaning up after each meal so bugs won’t find any spills, crumbs or dirty dishes to feed on. Wipe counters and vacuum floors as often as possible and keep stored foods sealed in airtight containers.

Occasionally cleaning drains (especially the kitchen sink, where food waste can build up) is a good way to avoid attracting roaches after it rains. And by organizing general clutter in your storage rooms, attic and basement, you can reduce the number of hiding and nesting places for pests.

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Blue Mud Dauber Wasps?

Blue Mud Dauber Wasps?

2019-06-27

That metallic blue wasp you saw that made you wonder if a sting from it would turn you into Ant-Man’s partner? That’s a mud dauber—a.k.a. Chalybion californicum—and there’s no reason to be scared of it. It’s a generally calm, non-aggressive insect whose behavior is just as fascinating as its look.

What Are Blue Wasps?

The blue mud dauber is only one species of mud dauber. Other species feature different colors—including black and yellow—and patterns.

The blue mud dauber is not a social wasp—each female builds its own nests so you’ll never accidentally surprise a whole swarm of mud daubers.

These insects build a new nest for each egg. Blue mud daubers usually take over nests that were already built by the black and yellow species instead of creating their own.

Adult mud daubers feed on the nectar of flowers, pollinating as they move from plant to plant. However, their larvae need protein-rich food sources. Like other mud daubers, the blue species captures spiders to feed to their young. Blue mud daubers primarily hunt black widow spiders (another reason to be more thankful than frightened).

One sting from the wasp permanently paralyzes the spider. The insect then places each spider in its nest and lays a single egg on the last one, before sealing the entrance. The larva soon hatches and eats the spiders until it’s old enough to find its own food.

Do Blue Mud Dauber Wasps Sting?

Luckily, female blue mud daubers spend their hunting energy on spiders and are not typically aggressive toward humans. These wasps prefer to attack prey that they’ll be able to use as food for their larvae. Males of this species can’t sting at all.

Of course, you shouldn’t do anything that might threaten a mud dauber or its nest. Like yellow jackets, these wasps can sting multiple times. Mud daubers’ venom is not dangerous to humans but a sting can be temporarily painful. It’s best to avoid them and consult a professional if you find a nest.

If you are stung by a mud dauber, ice and cool water can help reduce pain and swelling. Most mud dauber bites are mild and the symptoms don’t last long. You can also use a pain cream or anti-irritation lotion to control itchiness. If you feel dizzy or if you have trouble breathing, get medical help right away. Be especially cautious if you know that you’re allergic to wasp stings.

What to Do If You Find Blue Mud Daubers

Blue mud daubers tend to build nests on walls and under roof overhangs, often putting them in close proximity with people. Despite the low risk of stings, they’re usually unwelcome guests. Their nests are unattractive and it’s better to keep them away from children.

If you see mud daubers or their nests around your home or garage, call Aptive Environmental for a customized pest control solution. We use only eco-friendly techniques to control infestations and ensure that your property is defended from pests all year. You can count on our Four Seasons Protection Plan to target the pests that are most active in every season and keep your home protected.

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Do All Moths Eat Clothes?

Do All Moths Eat Clothes?

2019-06-17

When you find holes in your clothing, it’s easy to blame all moths for your wardrobe misfortune. However, before you start pointing fingers at every moth you see, you should know that adult moths don’t actually eat clothing. In fact, the majority of adult moths don’t eat anything at all. Some moths don’t even have mouths! When it comes to your clothes, only one species eats clothing: the clothes moth. What’s more, it’s not even the adult clothes moth that is responsible for damaging your belongings, it’s the clothes moth larvae.

What do Clothes Moths Look Like?

While clothes moths may look similar to common household moths, such as the pantry moth, their food preferences differ. Instead of grains, flour, pasta, and cereal, clothes moths feed on animal fibers containing keratin. This includes wool, fur, silk, feathers, and leather. For the most part, clothes moths do not feed on cotton or synthetic fabrics unless they are blended with animal fibers or are heavily soiled.

One thing that is important to note is that the damage caused by clothes moths is similar to that of the carpet beetle. Since carpet beetles feed on similar materials as clothes moths, it is common to lay the blame on clothes moths when in actuality; you could be dealing with carpet beetles. As a result, proper identification is key.

Identifying clothes moths can be difficult, especially given their small size. For the most part, there are two types of clothes moths that cause problems for homeowners – the webbing clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth. In addition to a similar size, the webbing clothes moth and casemaking clothes moth look similar in appearance as well. The major difference is that a webbing clothes moth is golden, tan in color and the casemaking clothes moth has wings with dark specks on it.

Adults clothes moths lay between 40-50 tiny eggs on susceptible materials. These eggs will then hatch into fabric-eating larvae. Clothes moth larvae look like small creamy-white caterpillars. As the larvae develop and graze along the clothing surface, threadbare spots will occur.

Where do Clothes Moths Come From?

Unlike the moths you see fluttering towards a light source, clothes moths actually hate the light. Instead, clothes moths prefer dark secluded areas. Clothes moths can get into your home by simply flying through an open door or window. Given their small size, it is easy for clothes moths to get into belongings without you noticing them. If you’re a fan of consignment stores and thrift shops, clothes moths may get into your home by way of second-hand clothing or furniture. Furthermore, clothing and furniture kept in storage, sheds, or garages are susceptible to clothes moths as well. However, no matter how they get into your home, there are a number of ways to prevent clothes moths and if you do have them, get rid of them.

How to Get Rid of Clothes Moths

To determine whether you have a clothes moth infestation, you must first thoroughly inspect any susceptible items. This could be anything from a wool scarf, an old rug, a second-hand sofa, or a taxidermy stuffed animal. If you find clothes moths in your belongings, you should take the following steps:

  • Dispose of items that have been destroyed by clothes moths, or are past the point of repair.
  • Thoroughly clean your clothes by taking them to a dry cleaner or washing them in hot water.
  • Deep clean and vacuum carpeted areas, rugs and closets thoroughly. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag immediately.
  • Freeze any items you cannot wash or dry clean for 72 hours.
  • Call a pest control expert.

Unfortunately, when you are trying to get rid of clothes moths yourself, it’s hard to be successful on the first try. If you find yourself with a clothes moth situation, your best bet is to call a pest control expert such as Aptive Environmental. A

Do All Moths Eat Clothes?

2019-06-17

When you find holes in your clothing, it’s easy to blame all moths for your wardrobe misfortune. However, before you start pointing fingers at every moth you see, you should know that adult moths don’t actually eat clothing. In fact, the majority of adult moths don’t eat anything at all. Some moths don’t even have mouths! When it comes to your clothes, only one species eats clothing: the clothes moth. What’s more, it’s not even the adult clothes moth that is responsible for damaging your belongings, it’s the clothes moth larvae.

What do Clothes Moths Look Like?

While clothes moths may look similar to common household moths, such as the pantry moth, their food preferences differ. Instead of grains, flour, pasta, and cereal, clothes moths feed on animal fibers containing keratin. This includes wool, fur, silk, feathers, and leather. For the most part, clothes moths do not feed on cotton or synthetic fabrics unless they are blended with animal fibers or are heavily soiled.

One thing that is important to note is that the damage caused by clothes moths is similar to that of the carpet beetle. Since carpet beetles feed on similar materials as clothes moths, it is common to lay the blame on clothes moths when in actuality; you could be dealing with carpet beetles. As a result, proper identification is key.

Identifying clothes moths can be difficult, especially given their small size. For the most part, there are two types of clothes moths that cause problems for homeowners – the webbing clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth. In addition to a similar size, the webbing clothes moth and casemaking clothes moth look similar in appearance as well. The major difference is that a webbing clothes moth is golden, tan in color and the casemaking clothes moth has wings with dark specks on it.

Adults clothes moths lay between 40-50 tiny eggs on susceptible materials. These eggs will then hatch into fabric-eating larvae. Clothes moth larvae look like small creamy-white caterpillars. As the larvae develop and graze along the clothing surface, threadbare spots will occur.

Where do Clothes Moths Come From?

Unlike the moths you see fluttering towards a light source, clothes moths actually hate the light. Instead, clothes moths prefer dark secluded areas. Clothes moths can get into your home by simply flying through an open door or window. Given their small size, it is easy for clothes moths to get into belongings without you noticing them. If you’re a fan of consignment stores and thrift shops, clothes moths may get into your home by way of second-hand clothing or furniture. Furthermore, clothing and furniture kept in storage, sheds, or garages are susceptible to clothes moths as well. However, no matter how they get into your home, there are a number of ways to prevent clothes moths and if you do have them, get rid of them.

How to Get Rid of Clothes Moths

To determine whether you have a clothes moth infestation, you must first thoroughly inspect any susceptible items. This could be anything from a wool scarf, an old rug, a second-hand sofa, or a taxidermy stuffed animal. If you find clothes moths in your belongings, you should take the following steps:

  • Dispose of items that have been destroyed by clothes moths, or are past the point of repair.
  • Thoroughly clean your clothes by taking them to a dry cleaner or washing them in hot water.
  • Deep clean and vacuum carpeted areas, rugs and closets thoroughly. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag immediately.
  • Freeze any items you cannot wash or dry clean for 72 hours.
  • Call a pest control expert.

Unfortunately, when you are trying to get rid of clothes moths yourself, it’s hard to be successful on the first try. If you find yourself with a clothes moth situation, your best bet is to call a pest control expert such as Aptive Environmental. An Aptive pest specialist will be able to identify vulnerable materials and problem areas in your home, and can determine the most effective and safest treatment option based on your needs.

Start living pest-free by calling your local Aptive Environmental branch today.

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Start living pest-free by calling your local Aptive Environmental branch today.

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Bug vs. Insect: Is there a Difference?

Bug vs. Insect: Is there a Difference?

2019-06-20

While it is perfectly acceptable to refer to insects as bugs, there is actually a difference between the two terms. To make things even more confusing, all bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs. Pretty weird, right? Turns out, it all boils down to taxonomic order.

What is a Bug?

In order to explain what a bug is, we need to take you back to biology class. While you might not remember everything about high school science class, you may remember kingdom, phylum, class and order. Both insects and bugs fall into class Insecta, but bugs, specifically, fall into order Hemiptera. This means that all bugs are in fact a type of insect, but not every type of insect belongs to order Hemiptera. Because everyone (even scientists) refers to insects as bugs, the bugs found in order Hemiptera are actually called “true bugs.”

Because true bugs are considered insects, they have many of the same body parts as other insects. For instance, true bugs have an exoskeleton, segmented bodies, and 6 legs. However, there are some differences. Unlike a lot of insects, true bugs undergo incomplete metamorphosis – egg, adult-like nymph, and winged adult. Furthermore, true bugs have specialized mouth-parts, called stylets, that are shaped like straws or needles. They use their stylets to suck fluid from plants (though some do feed on animals). While butterflies and honeybees also have straw-like mouthparts, the mouths of true bugs are a little bit different. Instead of being retractable, the mouthpart of a true bug is rigid and cannot be rolled up. True bugs include aphids, stink bugs, water bugs and bed bugs.

What is an Insect?

By the technical, or taxonomic, definition, a large group of insects are not bugs, even though we call them bugs. Beetlesantsmoths, cockroaches, bees, flies, and mosquitoes are not considered true bugs since they are not found in order Hemiptera. Instead, these creepy crawlies are found in order Hymenoptera. Members of this order have different characteristics than their true bug counterparts. The major difference is their mouths. Rather than a stylet that is fixed in place, insects in this order have a proboscis that they can retract. Additionally, to confuse you even more, there are a number of creatures that are neither bug, nor insect.

Millipedescentipedesscorpionsspiders and ticks aren’t bugs or insects at all. Millipedes are classified as diplopodans due their double footed segments. Centipedes are considered chilopodans because they have one pair of legs per body segment. Lastly, scorpions, spiders, and ticks are characterized by their eight legs and two body parts (a cephalothorax and abdomen), making them arachnids.

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What Are Blue Mud Dauber Wasps?

What Are Blue Mud Dauber Wasps?

2019-06-27

That metallic blue wasp you saw that made you wonder if a sting from it would turn you into Ant-Man’s partner? That’s a mud dauber—a.k.a. Chalybion californicum—and there’s no reason to be scared of it. It’s a generally calm, non-aggressive insect whose behavior is just as fascinating as its look.

What Are Blue Wasps?

The blue mud dauber is only one species of mud dauber. Other species feature different colors—including black and yellow—and patterns.

The blue mud dauber is not a social wasp—each female builds its own nests so you’ll never accidentally surprise a whole swarm of mud daubers.

These insects build a new nest for each egg. Blue mud daubers usually take over nests that were already built by the black and yellow species instead of creating their own.

Adult mud daubers feed on the nectar of flowers, pollinating as they move from plant to plant. However, their larvae need protein-rich food sources. Like other mud daubers, the blue species captures spiders to feed to their young. Blue mud daubers primarily hunt black widow spiders (another reason to be more thankful than frightened).

One sting from the wasp permanently paralyzes the spider. The insect then places each spider in its nest and lays a single egg on the last one, before sealing the entrance. The larva soon hatches and eats the spiders until it’s old enough to find its own food.

Do Blue Mud Dauber Wasps Sting?

Luckily, female blue mud daubers spend their hunting energy on spiders and are not typically aggressive toward humans. These wasps prefer to attack prey that they’ll be able to use as food for their larvae. Males of this species can’t sting at all.

Of course, you shouldn’t do anything that might threaten a mud dauber or its nest. Like yellow jackets, these wasps can sting multiple times. Mud daubers’ venom is not dangerous to humans but a sting can be temporarily painful. It’s best to avoid them and consult a professional if you find a nest.

If you are stung by a mud dauber, ice and cool water can help reduce pain and swelling. Most mud dauber bites are mild and the symptoms don’t last long. You can also use a pain cream or anti-irritation lotion to control itchiness. If you feel dizzy or if you have trouble breathing, get medical help right away. Be especially cautious if you know that you’re allergic to wasp stings.

What to Do If You Find Blue Mud Daubers

Blue mud daubers tend to build nests on walls and under roof overhangs, often putting them in close proximity with people. Despite the low risk of stings, they’re usually unwelcome guests. Their nests are unattractive and it’s better to keep them away from children.

If you see mud daubers or their nests around your home or garage, call Aptive Environmental for a customized pest control solution. We use only eco-friendly techniques to control infestations and ensure that your property is defended from pests all year. You can count on our Four Seasons Protection Plan to target the pests that are most active in every season and keep your home protected.

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Why are Humans Scared of Bugs?

Why are Humans Scared of Bugs?

2019-07-03

Have you ever screamed or run away in terror at the sight of a cockroach or spider? You don’t have to have entomophobia, a.k.a. the phobia of bugs, for insects and spiders to send a shiver down your spine. While most people don’t actually have a phobia of bugs, there are plenty of people who hate bugs and don’t want them anywhere near them. As it turns out, being afraid of bugs is part of being human.

Bugs are Disgusting

The creators of the show, Fear Factor, were onto something when they forced people to eat insects and get into small spaces with bugs. While killer clowns, grizzly bears, or tornadoes make us want to run away in fear for our lives, insects scare us in a different way. Unlike many other threats to our wellbeing, bugs make us feel disgust.

Think back to the last time you were disgusted by something – maybe it was the time you found a moldy sandwich in your kid’s backpack or the time you found a hair in your salad at a restaurant. Either way, you probably felt sick to your stomach. This feeling is what psychologists call the rejection response. The rejection response is a visceral reaction we have to things we find totally revolting, and it is shaped by our culture and biology. Similar to a flight or fight response, the rejection response is meant to protect us. Just as we are disgusted by moldy food or unsanitary dining conditions because it could make us sick, we see the presence of insects as a warning sign that something isn’t safe to consume or touch. Given the strong association between bugs and unsafe conditions, we eventually started seeing bugs as the threat.

Bugs are Weird

As humans, we make sense of the world based on our own experiences and how we view ourselves. It may be narcissistic, but we see the world through our perspective.

As we talked about in our previous blog post on insect intelligence, we believe certain animals are intelligent because they share many of the same cognitive functions as human beings. When we look at some animals (think apes, horses, dogs, or elephants) we see the physical characteristics they have in common with us. We recognize their eyes, faces, limbs, and body language. On the flip side, when we look at insects, we have a hard time relating to them because we don’t see ourselves in them at all.

Bugs have way too many legs and eyes. They have pincers and stingers and antenna. They hide in dark corners and can startle us unexpectedly. Not to mention, it’s rarely ever just one single bug we are dealing with, and they are often in places we don’t want them to be – in our closets, in our kitchens, in our bathrooms. Bugs are basically unrecognizable strangers, little aliens or monsters, that hang out in our house uninvited. It makes total sense we find them unsettling. Like the fear of the unknown, we are afraid of what we can’t make sense of.

Bugs can be Dangerous

Have you ever heard the saying, “One bad apple spoils the barrel?” The same saying can be applied to insects and bugs. Some bugs bite. Some bugs sting. Some bugs even carry disease. While the majority of bugs are relatively harmless, it only takes one bad one to ruin the bunch.

Many people are afraid of bugs for good reason. Some can transmit diseases, such as ticks, while others can cause severe allergic reactions, such as wasps, if they sting you. When we think of spiders, we think of brown recluses and black widows. When we think of stinging insects, we think of wasps and yellow jackets. The association of bugs with ailments and pain frightens us. As a result, we decide that it is best to not only stay away from the dangerous bugs, but to stay away from bugs altogether.

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Do Roach Bombs and Foggers Work?

Do Roach Bombs and Foggers Work?

2019-07-25

Roach bombs and roach foggers are marketed as fast solutions to cockroach problems in homes. However, these products aren’t the best solutions for most situations. When they’re not scavenging, cockroaches are skilled at hiding. This often puts them in places where foggers can’t reach. A roach bomb might kill the few that are caught vulnerable but it will leave the rest unharmed. That means these products create a mess of chemicals around your house without treating the problem where it’s most important—the source.

Cockroaches’ favorite hiding spots are in areas where it’s dark and humid. Usually, these locations are not easily accessible. Basements, attics, crawl spaces, bathrooms and wall voids all make attractive habitats for cockroaches. Roach bombs might be able to quickly cover an entire room in insecticides but they won’t reach the cracks, crevices and other tiny spaces where adult and baby cockroaches live.

It’s possible that a fogger could be effective against a few roaches if you’re lucky enough to deploy it while they’re out searching for food. But once an infestation has grown, it’s highly unlikely that these products will be effective in stopping it.

Using Roach Bombs and Foggers

When you activate a roach bomb, you, your family and your pets need to leave the house for a number of hours before it’s safe to return. Instructions vary by product, but you should expect to leave for two to four hours, at least.

In addition to being toxic in the air, these foggers can cause a mess, coating floors, counters and furniture with chemicals (which is their purpose, after all). Before you activate one, you’ll have to carefully cover any food or food-related items, children’s toys, delicate clothing and furniture.

Once it’s safe to return to your home, you’ll be faced with a lot of cleaning: wiping counters and cooking surfaces, cleaning toys and furniture and, if you have pets or young children, thoroughly cleaning anything else they could touch with their hands or mouth.

Roach foggers might work quickly, but they’re certainly not easy or convenient solutions to a cockroach problem. Against more than a few active cockroaches, they likely won’t be successful at all.

How to Prevent Cockroaches

If you’ve seen a cockroach but aren’t sure if it’s part of an infestation, you can make some small adjustments to your habits to reduce the risk of attracting more.

  1. Establish good cleaning habits to limit the crumbs, spills and other food leftovers that strongly attract cockroaches to kitchen floors and counters.
  2. Seal foods in airtight metal or glass containers.
  3. Remove standing water and fix dripping faucets in kitchens and bathrooms.
  4. Repair cracks and holes in interior and exterior walls that could provide entry points for cockroaches.

Taking simple steps toward eliminating food and water sources can help keep cockroaches away from your home.

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

Don’t inconvenience yourself with a messy roach fogger that might not work. If you’ve seen cockroaches in or around your home, call the professionals at Aptive Environmental. Our experts will customize a pest control solution for the size and shape of your home, treating the infestation at the source. We use eco-friendly solutions to conveniently control infestations of any size. Our Four Seasons Protection Plan will ensure that your home is protected from cockroaches and other pests all year.

If you’re ready to feel comfortable in your home again, contact Aptive today for a free quote and to schedule your first appointment.