All Posts By

bobby

Captain Stan’s ‘Creature Features’ Volume 5 – Captain Stan Himself!! August 2022

By | Creature Feature | No Comments

Welcome to Volume 5 of my ‘Creature Features’.  Last month, I shared our piece on the Asian longhorned tick with my daughter.  She replied ‘they should do one on you’!  I thought, well, I am a ‘creature’ of sorts and maybe, just maybe, readers would like to know  a bit more about CAPT Stan.  So, at the risk of seeming self-centered, here goes:

  • I was born and raised in Huntington, Indiana and am the ‘baby’ of four children.
  • Like most kids growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I played all kinds of sports with major emphasis on baseball, basketball, and ice hockey. Oh, and I pitched a no-hitter in Little League, high school, and college.
  • Although I am now a professional medical entomologist, I was not overly interested in bugs as a kid and never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up!
  • In contrast to my favorite insect, the mosquito, I have two legs only instead of six, I cannot fly, for I have no wings, and I certainly do not suck blood!
  • I attended Swarthmore College, University of Delaware, and UCLA for my degrees in Biology, Entomology, and Public Health respectively.

The Cattail Mosquito: An Unusual Creature Indeed!

By | Cattail Mosquito, Creature Feature | No Comments

Captain Stan The Mosquito Man

August 2022

This month we spotlight one of the most unusual, and most pestiferous mosquitoes that PMPs might have to deal with – the cattail mosquito Coquillettidia perturbans.  Even the name indicates that this is a bad actor.  Here is the lowdown:

  • There are about 60 species of Coquillettidia worldwide but only one in the United States; the cattail mosquito. This species occurs throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico.  It is widely distributed across the eastern U.S., southern Canada, and several areas in the western U.S.
  • They prefer to breed in permanent freshwater sources such as along the edges of lakes and ponds.
  • Much like the common house mosquito (Culex), individual eggs are glued together by the female as they are deposited to form a floating raft. She can lay between 150-350 eggs after just one blood meal.  The eggs hatch in 2-3 days.
  • The larvae and pupae do not obtain their required oxygen at the water surface via the siphon (air tube) as almost all other mosquito species do. Instead, their siphon is heavily sclerotized and resembles a short, pointed saw.  This modified structure is then used to pierce the hollow roots or submersed stems of aquatic plants for respiration – kind of like a ‘mosquito snorkel’!
  • Adults are medium-sized and have a ‘salt and pepper’ coloration due to the colors and patterns of scales on the wings. The life span of the adults is approximately one to two months, although this can vary depending on environmental conditions.  Females tend to outlive the males.
  • Female cattail mosquitoes are persistent and painful biters of humans and domestic animals. They actively seek hosts during early evening hours but will also bite humans in shady places where adult mosquitoes are resting during the day.  They can penetrate clothing with their mouthparts, and they are able to fly up to about 5 miles from their breeding sites.  Ouch!
  • In addition to being just a dang biting nuisance, they are known to transmit West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalomyelitis virus to humans and animals.
  • So, what to do about them, you say? Good question!  They are very difficult to control with conventional larvicides.  Barrier sprays may have some effectiveness but remember adults can fly onto a customer’s property from long distances and may not land on treated surfaces before attacking.  Removal of excessive cattail growth (source reduction) often is the only effective and economical long-term method of control.  And when all else fails, use an insect repellent with an EPA-registered active ingredient.  Oh, and good luck!

 

Captain Stan’s ‘Creature Features’ Volume 5 – Spotted Lanternfly August 2022

By | spotted lanternfly | No Comments

Welcome to the fifth edition of ‘Captain Stan’s Creature Features,’ where we are looking at some of the more interesting animals in the pest management universe.  This month, we take a closer look at the dreaded Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), Insect Order: Hemiptera (“Half-winged”). Here are some fun and useful facts: 

 

  1. The adult spotted lanternfly (SLF) is about an inch long and ½ inch wide. They are typically weak fliers.

 

  1. The preferred food is the ‘Tree of Heaven.’  When feeding, SLFs suck in sap and then excrete honeydew, which can attract other insects and cause mold to grow on the plants.

 

  1. The SLF is native to China, India, and Viet Nam. It is an invasive species in the United States, first detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014.

 

  1. SLF adults and nymphs can be trapped on a tree by banding the tree with a sticky trap.

 

  1. A SLF egg mass can produce 30-50 individuals. Egg masses may be laid on cars so if you are in a SLF area, inspect your car and remove any egg masses by scraping them off and disposing of them.

Monkeypox Virus: A Primer

By | Monkeypox | No Comments

Captain Stan The Mosquito (And Infectious Disease) Man

July 2022

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been closely tracking cases of a disease called ‘monkeypox’ recently detected in the United States.  Here are some facts:

  • Monkeypox virus is related to the virus that causes smallpox. The disease is rarely fatal, and the virus is not related to chickenpox.
  • Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 in monkeys kept for research. However, the source of the disease in nature remains unknown.  It is possible that the animal reservoir is African rodents and perhaps non-human primates.
  • The first human case of monkeypox was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of   In the 2022 outbreak, as of July 13 there have been 1,053 cases reported in the United States and Puerto Rico.
  • Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. A rash resembling pimples or blisters appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on several other parts of the body.
  • Monkeypox virus is transmitted in several ways. It can spread person-to-person through direct contact with the rash, scabs, or bodily fluids.  It can also be spread via respiratory secretions or during intimate physical contact.  The virus can also pass across the placenta.  It is also possible to get monkeypox from infected animals in a few different ways.  The GOOD NEWS is that there is no evidence whatsoever incriminating any biting arthropods in the transmission of monkeypox!
  • As with most viruses, there is no specific treatment for monkeypox.

As recent history has taught us, the world will continue to have outbreaks and epidemics of previously unknown diseases or appearances of re-emerging diseases such as monkeypox.  Germs are nasty brutes!!!

Captain Stan’s ‘Creature Features’ Volume 4 – Asian Longhorned Ticks July 2022

By | Asian Longhorned Tick, Creature Feature | No Comments

Welcome to the fourth edition of ‘Captain Stan’s Creature Features,’ where we are looking at some of the more interesting animals in the pest management universe.  This month, the star of the show is the Asian longhorned tick (ALT), an invasive species relatively new to the United States.  Some interesting facts follow:

 

  • Ticks, like insects, are members of the phylum Arthropoda (meaning ‘jointed legs’) but they are in a separate class, Arachnida, not Insecta. The scientific name of the ALT is Haemaphysalis longicornis.
  • They were first detected in the United States in 2017 on a farm in New Jersey. As of September 2021, they had spread to 16 other states including Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • Scientists are still studying the ALT to determine host preferences for feeding, preferred habitats (woodland vs. open areas), and other key biological factors.
  • ALTs have been found on pets, livestock, wildlife, and humans. Thousands at a time may be found on grass, shrubs, or animals.
  • Female ALTs can lay eggs and reproduce without mating, a condition known as ‘parthenogenesis.’ This is a highly successful survival mechanism as well as a great method of dispersion; a single female can be transported to a new location and start a new population!
  • The ALT appears to be less attracted to human skin/odors than some of our common native species such as the blacklegged tick, the Lone star tick, and the American dog tick.
  • In other countries, germs spread by the ALT can make people and animals seriously ill. Research on this is ongoing in the United States; one recent study suggested that it is not likely to be involved in spreading the spirochetes that cause Lyme disease.  It is likely that these ticks will be found naturally infected with pathogens in the United States but that does not necessarily mean that those pathogens can be transmitted to humans and/or animals.  That will require substantial laboratory testing.

Captain Stan’s ‘Creature Features’ – Volume 3 – Moles June 2022

By | Creature Feature, Moles | No Comments

Welcome to the third installment of ‘Captain Stan’s Creature Features,’ where we are looking at some of the more interesting animals in the pest management universe.  This month, the star of the show is the underappreciated and under loved mole.  Some interesting facts follow:

 

  • There are 7 different species of moles in the United States. They live and search for food underground.  One mole’s range can extend to almost 3 acres!
  • Moles can dig tunnels at the rate of 15 feet per hour.
  • A mole’s favorite food is earthworms – yum! – and their saliva contains a toxin that can paralyze the worms so they can be chomped on later for a snack. They will also dine on grubs and insects.
  • Moles are hairless and have a pointed snout, small eyes, and no visible ears (they would get filled with dirt!).
  • Male moles are called ‘boars’ and female moles are called ‘sows’. Just like pigs.
  • Ever hear the expression ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’? Well, when moles dig their tunnels, that dirt has to go somewhere so it is usually piled up near the entrance to a tunnel.
  • The Eastern, or common mole, can live up to 6 years.

Captain Stan’s ‘Creature Features’ – Volume 2 – Scorpions May 2022

By | blog, Creature Feature, scorpions | No Comments

Welcome to the second edition of ‘Captain Stan’s Creature Features,’ where we are looking at some of the more interesting animals in the pest management universe.  This month, the star of the show is the scorpion, an arthropod that strikes fear into many who encounter one of them.  Some interesting facts follow:

  • Scorpions are arachnids, not insects, so they are close cousins to spiders, ticks, daddy longlegs, and others.
  • Scorpions have a very impressive method for hunting their food. They will quickly grab their potential meal with their pincers, and then whip their telson (the poisonous tip of their tale) forward, sting their prey, and well, soon begin snacking!
  • There are about 2,000 species worldwide, and they are found on six of the 7 continents.
  • Some species give birth to over 100 live offspring, which then quickly climb on mommy’s back where they hitch a ride and are fed for several weeks.
  • A scorpion’s venom takes lots of energy to produce. It is used for subduing prey, self-defense, and, in some species, mating. Even newborn scorpions have potent venom so don’t underestimate them!
  • Under a UV or ‘black light’, scorpions will noticeably glow They are active primarily at night.
  • The scorpion is one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, appearing as Scorpio The Scorpion. Under the right conditions and time of year, the constellation is easily seen.  It is very impressive.

Do Mosquitoes See Colors and Does It Matter If They Do?

By | blog, Mosquitoes | No Comments

By: Captain Stan The Mosquito Man | May 2022

Scientists have long tried to figure out if mosquitoes actually see (and react) to colors and if so, what does it really mean?  Does it influence their behavior?  Results of many studies have been mixed.  We know that the #1 attractant to a hungry, blood-seeking female mosquito is carbon dioxide.  It is also believed that warmth and colors may be influential in host selection.

A recent study again took a look at the impact of colors.  Briefly, the behavior of three different species were studied, using a small wind tunnel, multiple cameras, and other equipment.  Two colored spots, one being a white control, were placed on the floor of the wind tunnel.  Different colors were tested.  Then, 50 mated, unfed females of each species (the species were tested separately) were released in the tunnel.  What happened?  The mosquitoes ignored the colored spots. After one hour, however, carbon dioxide was introduced into the tunnel and the mosquitoes then started exploring the spots!  The colors found to be most attractive were red and black; those least attractive were blue, green. and violet.

A second set of experiments, similar to the first were then done.  This time, instead of colored spots, spots of different human skin tones were used.  Results showed that mosquitoes were somewhat attracted to the different skin tones but showed no preference.  The authors concluded, among other things, that contrast (light vs. dark) was more important for mosquito attraction than actual colors.  Interpretation of results such as these, acquired in a laboratory setting with controlled conditions, are difficult to extrapolate to what is actually happening in nature.  The general consensus, at least for now, is that mosquitoes SEE colors, at least some, but how this impacts their behaviors is still to be determined.

Captain Stan’s ‘Creature Features’ – Volume 1

By | Honeybees, Insects, Tips & Inspirations | No Comments

Welcome to the inaugural edition of ‘Captain Stan’s Creature Features,’ where we will take a look at some of the more interesting animals in the pest management universe.  This month, the star of the show is one of our important non-target organisms, the honeybee (Apis mellifera)  and here are interesting facts about this highly beneficial insect:

 

  • The honeybee is the only insect that produces a food eaten by humans (and lots of other animals!)
  • Bees have 5 eyes; two large compound eyes on either side of the head and 3 smaller eyes, called ocelli, in the center of the head.
  • Honeybees fly about 15 miles per hour, and their wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, resulting in their distinctive buzz.
  • A queen bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day.
  • About 62 people die in the US each year from bee, wasp, and hornet stings.
  • Losing its stinger results in the death of a honeybee but not wasps and hornets.
  • Honeybees pollinate about 130 agricultural crops in the US, and through pollination, they are responsible for about 1/3 of everything we eat.
  • In the hive, honeybees communicate both direction and distance of a food source to other bees. This is done by something called the ‘waggle dance.’
  • A honeybee visits 50-100 flowers on one trip, and one forager must collect nectar from about 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey.
  • An average beehive can contain about 50,000 honeybees.
  • And CAPT Stan’s favorite – Fermented honey, known as ‘mead,’ is the most ancient fermented beverage! Legend has it that the term ‘honeymoon’ originated with the Norse practice of consuming large quantities of mead during the first month of marriage!

Honeybees are obviously important to our ecosystems, agricultural practices, and our economy.  Pest professionals should always make every effort to protect them.  I recommend you check to see if your area of service has a ‘beekeeper hotline’ or other source.  You can use that to find out who keeps beehives and where they are located.  Bee kind to the honeybee!