In this issue…
- Carpenter Ants Bring Trouble
- New Tick-Transmitted Diseases
- Allergists: A Pest-Free Home is Important
- Hybrid “Super” Termites Discovered
Carpenter Ants Bring Trouble
Carpenter ants are truly the leading “Home Wreckers” of all the ants. While other ants are content to simply invade your home and eat your food, and sometimes even move their nest indoors, carpenter ants do all these things, and more. They actually hollow out wood in your home to create better housing for themselves! These unwelcome pests eventually cause serious damage if they are left uncontrolled.
A large carpenter ant colony often has one main nesting site, and one or more “satellite” colonies. Because of this, a single colony may have nests both inside and outside of your home. Homes with lots of trees around them are especially vulnerable to attack.
Carpenter ants can excavate sound wood, but they much prefer to hollow out wood that is moist or partially decayed. This type of wood is softer and easier to chew, and they can excavate it more quickly. Sometimes carpenter ants nest in spots that are naturally hollowed out, such as void spaces behind walls, and in spaces under roof boards or behind insulation.
Cut back branches of shrubs and trees so they don’t touch your home even when it is windy. Also make sure there are no leaks in your roof. If you see what you think may be carpenter ants in or around your home, call us so we can schedule to inspect for ants and determine the best control. It is important to find their nests and control the ants before they cause serious damage.
New Tick-Transmitted Diseases
While Lyme disease is the most common tick-transmitted disease, with 30,000 reported cases a year, ticks continue to be in the news because of the other viruses they transmit.
A Kansas man died last year from Bourbon virus, a new virus named after Bourbon County where he lived. He was a healthy man who died after only 10 days in the hospital. At this point it is not known for certain how he contracted the disease, but this kind of virus is usually transmitted by a bite from a tick or other insect. The Bourbon virus is similar to viruses found in other parts of the world, but nothing like it has been seen in this country before.
The Powassan virus occurs from Virginia up to Maine, and east to Minnesota. This is a tick-borne encephalitis virus that is low in numbers, but has been increasing in recent years.
The new Heartland virus infected two men in Missouri in 2009. While they fortunately recovered, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention anticipates that more people will become infected. The virus is transmitted by lone star ticks.
Finally, besides sometimes transmitting diseases, bites from some lone star ticks are causing another problem—making some people allergic to red meat. Unlike most food allergies, the symptoms, including vomiting, abdominal cramps, hives, and anaphylaxis, typically come three to six hours after an infected person eats red meat. The only good news is that the allergic reaction seems to fade after a few years if people avoid additional tick bites.
Allergists: A Pest-Free Home is Important
Asurvey of 500 allergists showed that an overwhelming 97% think that a pest-free home is an important step in preventing asthma and allergy symptoms. The survey of medical professionals was conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Many common household pests, including cockroaches and rodents, can trigger allergic reactions in certain people. Using our professional services to prevent pest problems is a simple way to help avoid pest-related allergies.
Hybrid “Super” Termites Discovered
Scientists were shocked recently to find that two different species of very destructive termites are mating in the wild. Formosan subterranean termites are mating with Asian subterranean termites in South Florida. Currently these hybrid colonies are only in South Florida, because while Formosan termites have spread to 11 states, Asian termites have invaded more recently, and so far are only in Hawaii and parts of South Florida.
The scientists have also discovered that the resulting colonies appear to be even more destructive than their parents, primarily because some of these “hybrid” colonies are growing in size twice as fast as their parent colonies.
“Hybrid vigor” is well known, because it happens sometimes when two plant varieties combine. Hybrid vigor means that the resulting offspring are in some ways superior to either variety. Unfortunately, that is what is happening with the termites—the colonies become larger, faster. With animals, two species normally can’t produce fertile offspring. (For example, the mule, a cross between a donkey and a horse, is sterile.) It is still not known if these hybrid termite colonies will be able to reproduce.
But even if a colony can’t reproduce itself, the sheer numbers of termites in a hybrid colony can be incredibly destructive. It is expected that these hybrid colonies will contain a million termites after five years or so—that’s a very short time to grow so large. It is a case of “hybrid vigor’ at its worst.