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Termites Can Reveal How Our Ancestors Migrated Across Earth

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control,Termite Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 3:58 pm December 14, 2017

Termites Can Reveal How Our Ancestors Migrated Across Earth

The regions of earth where modern termite species dwell has raised many interesting questions for scientists. Pinpointing modern termite habitats is not difficult. Scientists know where certain termite species exist today. However, signs of prehistoric termite activity have been discovered in regions where certain termite species are no longer located. In these situations it seems clear that certain termite species had, at some point, migrated to new regions of the globe where they are still active today. This is not necessarily unusual, as climatic conditions on earth have changed dramatically in the past. These past climatic changes have forced all animal species, living and extinct, to relocate to more hospitable environments. But you would not expect tiny insects to be capable of traveling great distances, especially over large bodies of water. The subterranean termite species known as Macrotermes gilvus is active in southeast Asia. At some point in the distant past, these termites managed to reach islands such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. So how did termites travel across the ocean? The answer to that question has also helped researchers understand how our human ancestors migrated to different parts of the world thousands, and even millions of years ago.

Today sea levels are much higher than they were when mankind’s early ancestors walked the earth. Due to lower sea levels, there once existed ancient land masses that connected modern islands with mainland continents. The Macrotermes gilvus termite species traveled these land masses to their farthest reaches over many thousands of years. These termites remained there after sea levels rose above the connective land masses. Researchers have recently found genetic evidence of these particular ancient termite migrations. Genetic markers in modern Macrotermes gilvus termites reveal the migratory routes taken by these termites when they dispersed two million years ago from a region that is now located in mainland Myanmar. Experts believe that our humanoid ancestors also took advantage of these land masses when searching for more agreeable habitats. These ancient land bridges have long been the go-to explanation for the modern existence of termites on islands. But only recently has this assumption been backed up by hard science.

Do you think it would have taken thousands of years and many generations of gradual travel for termites to reach areas of land that are now islands?

Economists Put A Price Tag On The Recent And Dramatic Loss Of Insect Life

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control — Tags: , — New Jersey Pest Control @ 4:17 pm December 13, 2017

Economists Put A Price Tag On The Recent And Dramatic Loss Of Insect Life

By now you are probably aware that insect populations around the world have decreased tremendously over the past three decades. There is no reason to believe that insect populations are not still decreasing. There have been plenty of indicators suggesting that this shortage of insects is a global issue. However, researchers in Germany have proven that insects are far less numerous in Europe today than they were thirty years ago. This loss of insect life is troubling considering how important insects are to the ecosystem as well as to the global economy. In Germany, for example, bees are important farm animals. In fact, bees are considered just as important as hogs or cattle when it comes to food production in Central Europe. What economic consequences will the world face if bees and other forms of insect life disappear entirely? The idea of bees, and other economically important insects, becoming extinct is a possibility that is now being entertained by experts. One particular association that was formed by the European Union is tasked with assigning a monetary value to natural occurrences. This association is known as the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). Officials working for TEEB are now attempting to calculate the economic costs of the potentially disastrous insect decline.

In the Chinese province of Sichuan apple trees are numerous, and farmers harvest apples in this region for national distribution. Before the apple trees bear fruit, bees must pollinate a wealth of white flowers that grow from the trees. The only problem is that all of the bees are now gone. This means farmers are forced to knock the flowers around with a pole in order to knock pollen loose, thus facilitating the process of pollination. Similar scenarios will soon become a reality in many other parts of the world. In order for TEEB to accurately attach a monetary value to the dramatic loss of insects, the impact of the loss will have to be applied to each agricultural product that results from insect activity.

In Germany massive amounts of honey are sold to consumers. In 2016 Germans spent three hundred and eighty seven million dollars on honey. But with much fewer bees, honey will become more scarce and prices will increase by a massive amount. TEEB is now attempting to calculate the labor costs of using humans as pollinators as opposed to bees. These costs would be enormous, as the agricultural work performed by insects is worth one hundred and fifty billion dollars per year globally. Without pollinating insects, most farms would not be able to afford the costs of hiring human labor to fill the roles that have always been occupied by pollinating insects.

Do you believe that the disastrous trend concerning insect population levels will change for the better at some point?

Does Great Britain Ever See Termite Infestations?

Filed under: Pest Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 2:33 am December 11, 2017

Does Great Britain Ever See Termite Infestations?

Given the amount of destruction caused by termites in the United States, it is hard to believe that a few of our European neighbors never have to worry about termite infestations. Some countries are lucky to not count any native termites as members of their native insect populations. For example, Great Britain is not home to any native species of termites. Despite Great Britain’s long history of international trade, non-native termite pests have never infiltrated the country….Almost never, that is. Back in the 1990s a non-native termite pest species managed to infest a forested region in the Island country.

Before 1998 termites had never been found within Great Britain’s borders. When the destructive insect pests were discovered, government officials panicked. Citizens of Great Britain were among the few populations in the world that had never had to face the steep economic costs that are associated with termite activity. In response to the termite presence, government officials recruited the brightest minds in entomology from all over the world in order to rid Britain of its pest problem, and to keep Britain termite-free. The scientists used baited termite traps to quickly eradicate the termite threat. They thought that they had succeeded. Once May of 2001 rolled around, the termite eradication method in Britain was officially declared a victory. Since then, scientists have been monitoring the region with sophisticated pest control technology. Of course, termites were found once again in the country, but this time in 2010. The termites were found in a monitoring device. Amazingly, these termites likely belonged to the same population that had existed in the region nine years prior. Researchers thought that a few small termite colonies had never come into contact with the traps. This is likely why government officials refused to quit the termite monitoring program until ten years had passed without an infestation. The small termite population likely wound up in Britain as a result of transporting exotic plants within the country’s borders.

Do you believe that Great Britain is currently home to more termite populations that are unknown to researchers?

The White House Is Infested With Roaches And Ants

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 3:25 pm December 8, 2017

The White House Is Infested With Roaches And Ants

Any old house is going to have some issues with pests. However, you may expect the White House to be an exception to this rule. After all, hasn’t the White House been renovated several times over the course of its long history since it is the President’s own personal home. The White House may be safe from many threats, but it looks like insect pests are not one of them. Multiple news outlets are reporting about the roach and ant infestation that is currently grossing out the President and many of his subordinates. President Trump is likely not surprised to learn of this infestation since he reportedly referred to the White House as a “dump” near the start of his presidential term.

Apparently the White House has been infested with insect pests several times in the past. Even Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, experienced roach infestations during his eight year stay in the White House. Perhaps the current infestations of roaches and ants are not new. President Trump has not been the only one to complain about the insect pest problems. Officials working in the West and East Wings have filed hundreds of requests for building fixes to the U.S. General Services Administration. According to news sources in Washington DC, the White House has a long history of pest infestations of all types during its two century existence.

Earlier in 2017 the Office of the Chief of Staff located in the West Wing had become infested with ants. The National Security Council also reported insect issues back in August. When it comes to eradicating insects located in the West Wing’s Press Lobby, politicians are not joking around. A short written request to have this area cleared of roaches and ants read: “PLEASE CHECK BASEMENT AND GROUND BOOTH FOR ANTS AND ROACHES.” Altogether there are more than two hundred and fifty four written requests for building fixes. Many of these requests involve small fixes, but more than you would like to think involve insect pest control. Even back in 1945 President Harry Truman joked about the White House’s poor condition. Apparently, the White House has not been fully renovated since the 1950s, so maybe a few pest inspections are in order.

Have you ever lived in an old house that saw more insect pest invasions than usual?

Termite Mounds Have A Special Chamber For The Royal Couple

Filed under: Pest Control,Termite Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 3:11 pm December 7, 2017

Termite Mounds Have A Special Chamber For The Royal Couple

It is good to know that some termites are not attracted to the wood in our homes. Many termites prefer to inhabit mounds where fungi are grown for sustenance. Some mound building termites are not considered pests at all. Most mound building termites that are considered pests do not destroy wood; instead many termite pests that live in mounds destroy certain crops. There are no mound building termite species residing in the United States, but most other continents in the world have an abundance of different mound types.

Termites mounds are like cities that never stop undergoing construction. Most of you probably know that termite mounds are built in a manner that allows for internal climate control. However, most people are not aware that termite mounds are like palaces that contain many different chambers. Some of these chambers are dedicated to growing fungal crops, while other chambers store harvested fungi. There are also chambers that store eggs. And of course there is a royal chamber. The royal chamber obviously houses the queen and king termites. These mounds are intricate and technologically complicated even when it comes to human understanding. But for termites, the mound is an enormous temperature controlled city that lies beyond the limits of an individual termite’s understanding.

Although a termite mound may look indestructible, the walls of a mound are marked with numerous holes. These holes take in outside air. The air becomes warm as it travels through the mound. The warm air rises and is expelled through a chimney where the air is immediately cooled by outside air. This causes the air to drop back down into the mound. This cooled air then circulates through the mound. The circulation process repeats and it keeps the temperature in the mound cool and constant. Fungal gardens are cultivated in order to feed the mass amount of termites living within a mound. The constant temperature within the mound is a must for the proper cultivation of fungal crops.

Worker termites will often venture up to the royal chamber in order to take the queen’s eggs to a nearby nursery. The workers then clean these eggs. The eggs are fed compost until reaching adulthood. The bottom of the nest extends six feet below the ground where temperatures are particularly cool. This area is called “the cellar”. The cellar’s ceiling is thin so that moisture from the above structures can be absorbed and evaporated quickly, which further cools the cellar. These mounds can house up to millions of termites at a time.

Have you ever seen a termite mound while vacationing in another country?

Watch for Pests When Decking the Halls

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control — New Jersey Pest Control @ 3:44 pm December 6, 2017

Watch for Pests When Decking the Halls

Horizon Pest Control advises homeowners to thoroughly inspect holiday décor and greenery to prevent winter pest problems

For many people, it just isn’t the holiday season until their home has been properly adorned with twinkling lights, wreathes, trees and family-favorite items of décor. However, Horizon Pest Control reminds eager homeowners of the importance of thoroughly inspecting holiday decorations, especially greenery, for signs of pests before decking the halls.

Decorating the home is always a great way to get in to the spirit of the season, but pests such as spiders, ants and even rodents can easily hitch a ride indoors if boxes and greenery are not thoroughly inspected.  We tend to receive a lot of calls this time of year from homeowners dealing with spiders and rodents. With all the friends and family people host for the holidays, a pest infestation is the last thing they need to be worried about.

Hand-cut Christmas trees and other fresh greenery frequently house insects, spiders and their eggs. Boxes of decorations that have sat in storage during the past year, if not properly sealed, can become infested with rodents and their droppings.

Horizon Pest Control offers the following tips for preventing pests in holiday décor:

  • Shake off trees, wreaths and garlands and carefully inspect them for pests or eggs that may be hiding in the branches before bringing them inside.
  • If copying a DIY natural decoration from Pinterest or other craft site, thoroughly inspect all foliage and greenery outside the home before beginning projects.
  • Store firewood on a raised structure that is located at least 20 feet away from the home and brush off wood before bringing it indoors.
  • After pulling decorations out of storage, unpack them outdoors to check for pests, such as mice. Look inside boxes for rodent droppings or gnaw marks, especially on strings of lights to ensure the wiring is fully intact.
  • When storing décor after the holiday season, use durable, sealed containers that pests can’t chew through instead of cardboard boxes or plastic bags.

The Cockroaches That Can Survive Frigid Temperatures

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 4:51 pm December 1, 2017

The Cockroaches That Can Survive Frigid Temperatures

New York City is already notorious for its large cockroach population, so the last thing the city needs in another cockroach species. But a few years back, a particularly odd cockroach was discovered in the city, and it is not even native to North America. The species is known as Periplaneta japonica. What makes these roaches odd is their ability to withstand extremely cold temperatures. No cockroach ever discovered has showed this same non-freezing ability. In fact, this new roach can survive at temperatures that would kill all other roach species.

This peculiar specimen was discovered by a pest control professional at the High Line Park on Manhattan’s West Side. The exterminator did not know what to think of the strange pest, as he had never seen any roach like it before. So he took it to an entomology department in order to have it identified. Rutgers insect biologists Jessica Ware and Dominic Evangelista were amazed to see the insect, and they succeeded in properly identifying the specimen as the Periplaneta japonica. These roaches do not require the cold weather, as they can survive in both hot and cold environments.

According to Ware, nymphs of these roaches were reared in a Japanese lab twenty years ago in order to determine how well they could tolerate dwelling within snow. During the following years this species proceeded to invade the rest of Japan and much of China. The roach gradually became generally known for its ability to withstand cold climates. This roach is well suited to a city like New York where food is plentiful, and both hot and cold seasons occur. Experts believe that this roach arrived in New York by hitching rides within the soil of ornamental plants. Luckily these roaches will likely not proliferate to a large extent due to intense competition with roaches already existing in New York City.

Have you ever spotted a roach skittering on the cold streets during a New York winter? Do you think these roaches will outcompete their more typical relatives?

Termite Infestations May Lead To Mass Demolitions

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control,Termite Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 4:26 pm November 30, 2017

Termite Infestations May Lead To Mass Demolitions

If you have never experienced a termite infestation in your home, then you probably know someone who has. Termite infestations are common in every American state except for Alaska. If you are not a homeowner, then you can spare yourself the fear of a possible termite infestation. If you are a homeowner, then you know that a termite infestation could leave you broke if it is not detected quickly enough. This is why termite inspections are always necessary in order to save money in the long run. According to a recent survey, a whopping eighty four percent of homeowners have experienced a pest infestation within the past twelve months. The same survey found that eighty percent of homeowners are worried about a possible pest infestation, and termites were among the most feared of all pests.

In Kansas City, Missouri the roof of a house recently caved in. Once firefighters arrived on the scene it was determined that the collapse was caused by a termite infestation. This particular house is just one of many damaged houses in the city that will have to be demolished by the local government. However, the recent collapse occurred at a home made of bricks. This proves that non-wood constructed homes are also vulnerable to termite infestations, as some parts of a house made of bricks must contain wooden materials. The owner of the termite-damaged home has said that he wants to have the necessary repairs done, but the city has added the house to a long list of other damaged homes that need to be demolished. The demolition list now includes three hundred and fifty houses in Kansas City. It is not known how many of these houses have become damaged by termites. However, pest control experts have noted similarly damaged homes near the site of the recent collapse.

Do you find it hard to believe that hundreds of homes in one city could have become damaged by termites?

 

 

Some Bugs Survive The Winter By Becoming Icicles

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 3:50 pm November 29, 2017

Some Bugs Survive The Winter By Becoming Icicles

Some people love the winter weather, while other people can barely tolerate the low temperatures. It is simply a matter of taste. But all humans can survive even the harshest of winters quite easily. All it takes is a warm coat and protective clothing. Insects, on the other hand, hate the winter weather. There is a reason why only two or three different insect species dwell in arctic regions. Most of you probably assume that, like birds, flying insects migrate south for the winter. This is true, but not all flying insects will migrate before the winter months. More than ninety one thousand insect species have been described on this planet, and this does not include arachnids. So it makes sense that there are all sorts of different methods that insects employ in order to survive the cold weather. Some insects simply die during the winter, some hibernate, some invade warm areas, such as people’s homes, and some insects simply embrace the winter season by allowing themselves to freeze, but not freeze to death.

Generally, most insects will cease to be active once they’re exposed to temperatures below forty degrees fahrenheit. An insect’s metabolic requirements differ greatly from a human’s. Some insects will prepare for the cold weather by ridding their bodies of water, then their bodies will make use of a special antifreeze substance in order to remain unharmed by the cold. Both mourning cloak butterflies and emerald ash borers use this method. This chemical is sometimes referred to as a “cryoprotectant”.

Wooly bear caterpillars simply allow themselves to freeze to death. Once the spring season rolls around, they thaw and regain activity. These caterpillars become rock solid during the winter because the water in their bodies turns to ice. There is no temperature low enough anywhere on earth that can kill these resilient caterpillars. Of course, there are also snow fleas, which are commonly found jumping around on the surface of snow. There are also insects, like cicadas, that use the ground soil as a sort of blanket during the winter. And some eusocial insects, like bees, will huddle together in order to generate warmth from collective body heat.

Have you ever found a seemingly dead insect that had become frozen in ice?

 

 

Insect-Donuts May Be Coming To A Store Near You

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 5:07 am November 24, 2017

Insect-Donuts May Be Coming To A Store Near You

Even if you are not big on sweet-tasting foods or any types of sugary snacks, you have to love donuts. Donuts have always been a popular snack, especially when they are consumed along with a morning coffee. Donuts are already perfect, so surely there cannot be any way of improving them, right? Well, probably not, but one company based in Great Britain is convinced that donuts still stand in need of perfection. Apparently, donuts are not complete unless they contain insects. Although you may have to reread the last sentence this nightmare of a donut is now a real thing. A popular donut store in Britain has recently offered the insect-covered donuts to the public. The idea of a donut consisting of bugs seems incongruous even for the many cultures that do embrace insects as food. It is understandable that insects are being touted as alternative sources of protein since livestock breeding has become dangerous to the health of the environment. But why ruin foods that already exist, especially donuts?

The donuts have been named the “Bushtucker donuts”, and they are similar to donuts that already exist, except for the bug thing, of course. The donuts are decorated with a ring of milk chocolate glaze, cookie crumbs, shredded wheat, raspberry jam, and lastly salt and vinegar crickets. The donut sounds pretty tasty up until the last ingredient is listed. Unlike the sprinkles that cover many donuts, these donuts are made with insects in place of sprinkles.

This unthinkable donut will, luckily, only be available for purchase for one week. Anybody who enters the donut shop and consumes one of these cricket bagels in front of an employee will receive a gold star. This star can be traded for a free donut, but only for a short amount of time. That is asking a lot, even for a free donut. Let’s hope that this idea is never repeated in the United States.

Would you be willing to eat the insect-donut?

 

 

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