Beware of the Flying Cockroach!

There are many things to worry about in today’s world, but I’m about to give you one more, another creepy crawly thing, actually worse than a cockroach. I know what you are thinking, what could possibly be worse than a cockroach? Well, I will tell you…..a flying cockroach! Seriously. Now I’ve gone and given you something new to worry about, along with the bogeyman, the economy and the Zombie hands-984032_1280Apocolypse.

Most cockroaches can fly, but people don’t realize that they can fly, mainly because cockroaches can only fly when they get warm enough. So, in areas of the north, it may not get warm enough for them to ever take off. But in places like Florida, when the mid-August temperatures climb right up there in the danger zone, the stinking, nastiest bug in the history of bugs becomes airborne. AHHHHH!

The reason they fly, or move at all, is to find food. In areas where food is plentiful they don’t have far to go, so they are more likely to hoof it, rather than spread their wings. After all, flying does require much more energy. But in the hot summer, if food is not within walking distance, they can easily spread their wings and fly. Makes me shudder to think of it.

They also might be flying to find a mate or escape a predator. Or a boot. In the hot weather, it doesn’t take much. And they aren’t very graceful fliers, you won’t see them gliding in a breeze like a butterfly. butterfly-108616_1280More like a tiny rhinoceros with wings. But not endangered.

The ones who do take to flight are the larger cockroaches. The smaller German cockroaches have wings, but can’t get up in the air, thankfully. But then, those are the worse kind to have, so if you see many of those, you have bigger issues to worry about.

So, add flying cockroaches to your list of things to worry about. Actually in the large scheme of things, when there are new things added to the worry list every day, flying cockroaches might turn out to be one of the better ones.

Mosquito Borne Illness is Nothing New

You can’t listen to a news cast these days without hearing something about the Zika virus. And since Florida has such lovely weather for the proliferation of mosquitos, it is very likely that the aforementioned news cast will mention Florida. As of August 10, 2016, there are 6 locally acquired cases in the state. That statistic will surely rise as the summer progresses.

mosquito-1421757_1280But Zika is not the only mosquito borne illness that we need to be aware of. There are others with symptoms that can be much worse, depending on age and severity of the illness. Most of them are not fatal, but can still cause severe illness, probably making you wish you had died.

One of the newer viruses is chikungunya. This one is characterized by a sudden fever 2 to 4 days after exposure, that will last from 2 to 7 days. It is also accompanied by severe join pain that can last weeks, or in some cases, years. The older you are, the more severe the complaints.

Dengue Virus, which is responsible for Dengue Fever is another bad one. This virus will make you think you have the flu, joint pain, headache, fever, muscle aches and a measle-like rash. It can result in hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus is a particular nasty one. Within 10 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito, symptoms of fever, muscle pain and severe headache will appear and worsen over time. It is possible that things like vomiting, seizures and neurological issues may set in, which could culminate in coma or in the case of a third of infected people, death.

We also have West Nile Virus which in 2012 killed 286 people around the country. The percentage of infection is low, but if you happen to be one of the unfortunate ones, it can lead to meningitis, encephalitis, causing permanent damage or death.graffitti-1435214_1280

Let’s face it, even with all the statistics, the likelihood that you would contract one of these illnesses is fairly low. However, insect repellant is readily available and very easy to be applied. So, why would you want to take a chance? Better safe than sorry.

Pokemon Players and Mosquito Control

What does Pokemon have in common with Zika virus? Workers in Texas have found the answer: Quite a lot, actually.

Pokemon Go is a relatively new phenomena. It is a reality game, released in July 2016, and the object of the game is to use an electronic device to capture a virtual creature, Pokemon, who appears on the player’s screen as if it were in the exact same location as the player.pokemon-1557682_1280

In the short time since its release, more than 100 million people worldwide have downloaded the game and begun to play. That number is no doubt increasing every day as the game gains popularity.

Which has been the source of great concern for officials the world over. The game has been a contributing cause to a rising number of accidents and public nuisance reports. Not to mention trespassing and noise related complaints.

One of the stangest complaints comes from the city workers in North Texas who are trying, in vain, to spray to get rid of disease carrying mosquitos. It is taking longer for them to do their job because they have to wait for Pokemon players to clear the area, get out of the road and basically, let them get on with their jobs. They do their best to rid the area of mosquitos, but the crowds are making it harder and harder.

And it doesn’t seem to matter what time of day it is, there are just as many players out at 4 in thepokemon-1543556_1280 morning as 4 in the afternoon. People go out to look for Pokemon after they get off from work. There have not been any reports as to surveys done to determine how Pokemon affects productivity after the workers have been out all night searching for a creature that only exists on their smart phones, but it’s not rocket science to think that it would be a negative effect. Seriously.

But an even more negative effect would be contracting an illness like West Nile Virus or the dreaded Zika. Which might be enough to make some players put their phones down…….for just a minute anyway. Pokemon, it seems, is here to stay.

Old Wives Tales – Do They Work?

It is August and the heart of bug/insect/pest season. Anything and everything that flies, bites, stings, crawls or slithers is out there, ready to pounce at the right time. Actually, the “pests” are out there minding their own business, building and providing whatever they will need to get them through the coming winter. We are the ones interrupting their preparations, so we should be a little more considerate, lest the pests devise a “human repellant” just for us.campfire-984020_1280

Until that happens, we have many different avenues for bug repellants. But since so many chemicals have unintended consequences, many people are trying alternate ways to exterminate the pests. Like home remedy type things. But do they work? Hmmmm…..good question.

Probably the strangest thing I have heard is to put grits down to keep the ants away. I cannot imagine anyone actually thought this was a good idea. Grits on the floor will actually ATTRACT ants, not to mention roaches or any other crawling, flying or slithering pest. Keep the grits in the pan, not on the floor.

One other urban legend is that mice like cheese. That one is strictly for the cartoons, mice don’t necessarily like cheese, they may try a slice every now and then, but save the cheese for other things and use peanut butter on your mouse traps. Mice love peanut butter.

Another thing that has been said keeps bug and pests away are dryer sheets. Nope, does not work. Well, maybe for a second or two, that’s it. So, don’t bother with the dryer sheets either.

A couple of things that do work though, are bay leaves to keep bugs away from your rice, flour and
other pantry staples. It’s not a substitute for cleaning up spills, but it does work to keep bugs, shall we say, at bay.sunset-958397_1280

Another thing that works is to have a fan working. Bugs don’t like wind, as it tends to interfere with their flying, so blowing a fan in the area you want to be in does keep them away for the most part.

Basically, just using common sense works best. Wearing a good bug repellant is probably the best idea, if you are spending time outside. That way you and the bugs can go your separate ways and everyone will be happy. Enjoy the outdoors while summer lasts.

Zika – Carry Bug Spray and Carry On

Zika. Again? Yes, sorry, but once again Zika is in the news. Well, technically it never left the news, just depends on whether it is a lead story or a small blurb that gets little attention.

It becomes a lead story when another athlete drops out of the Olympics because of the fear of Zika. It can be a blurb when discussing something like whether the techniques for eradication are working or not. Although, in my opinion that should be the other way around, the importance should be on how the mosquito-871913_1280fight against Zika is going.

However, the answer would be, “not so good”, unfortunately. Take Puerto Rico for instance. As of early July there were nearly 2400 people who have been diagnosed with Zika on the island. That number includes 339 pregnant women and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates as many as 50 more pregnant women are added to that list everyday. With statistics like that, you would think the fight would be an all-out battle to get rid of every mosquito on the island. But it isn’t quite that easy.

Some insecticides are completely useless against the mosquitos who carry the Zika virus. Others might work, but figuring how what work against what mosquitos is a monumental task.

The method of dispensing the pesticides is a concern also. According to the CDC, aerial spraying has flying-828015_1280made huge advances and would most likely be the best method to ensure complete coverage, but residents are concerned that aerial spraying would be the worst thing to do for the asthma epidemic that plagues Puerto Rico, where children are 300 percent more likely to have respiratory problems than children in the continental US.

Other experts are saying aerial spraying won’t work against the mosquitos that carry Zika. They contend that the Aedes mosquitos prefer human habitats and aerial spraying won’t reach the correct places.

So, while the experts argue, the mosquitos don’t stop. All we can do is be vigilant about keeping ourselves and our families safe.

Basically, carry bug spray and carry on.

Don’t Let Ticks Ruin Your Summer

Ticks. So tiny, yet so feared. This is the peak of tick season and there are some things about ticks thatcayenne-tick-542169_1280 you may not know. Like the fact that ticks are not insects, they are arachnids. And when you really stop and look at a tick, it does closely resemble a spider. Huh. Who knew? Or cares?

So, maybe that fact is not that impressive, how about this one? Did you know that ticks require 24 to 48 hours of feeding time before they can successfully pass on diseases like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever? Vigilance in checking your dogs and your kids after being outside can stop diseases from happening. Okay, so that’s a little better. Go on.

Ticks are tiny vampires, they only live to suck your blood. Or preferably, your dog’s blood. Ticks like the American dog tick and the brown dog tick are partial to canines, not that other ticks don’t like dogs, it’s just that some are more particular than others.

Ticks don’t jump or fly, they crawl up on grass or brush and wait until a suitable target comes breezing by and latch on. They can also drop out of wherever it is they are hiding and fall onto their target. They puppy-1207818_1280might not jump or fly, but they are acrobats.

Ticks pose a definite risk to our health and to our pet’s health, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside and not take advantage of the many fun things to do outdoors. Or keep your dogs in. Being alert to the way ticks hunt their victims and making sure you check the kids and the dogs, not to mention yourself, every time you go out means that we can enjoy the fun things to do outside. And, make sure to apply insect repellent. That will not only keep ticks away, it will also protect you from mosquito bearing diseases as well.

Don’t let the fear of ticks take away your adventurous side. Go – hike, swim, bike, or do whatever floats your boat. Even go float your boat and enjoy summer while it lasts.

Bed Bugs – Not Just For Sleeping Anymore

Bed bugs are everywhere these days, from the poshest of hotels to college dorms. And they do not stay in the bedroom, but can be found in every corner of your home. Scary. So, what do you do to make sure you are not harboring the offenders?

Some things are just common sense, like, inspect anything and everything that has been purchased second hand. And along with purchased second hand, never, ever, ever bring something into your home that has been sitting outside for a time, on the street or anywhere that bugs might have gotten to it. You chair-328033_1280might think it’s a “deal”, but after paying for an extermination, your “deal” won’t seem so great.

One other thing is to reduce clutter in your home. Those pesky little critters love to hide away, and one of the best places to do that is within a pile of clutter. Pack rat or not, no one wants to have an infested house.

Also, vacuum frequently, lest some bugs have hitchhiked on your clothing or shoes from an infected place to your home. If you do this, this may stop an infestation before it starts.

If you have to share laundry facilities be very careful about using a table for folding that others have used. It may be a good idea to put clothes directly from the dryer into a clean plastic bag for transport and do the folding at home. If the heat from the dryer is high enough, it will kill bed bugs, so if you do have an infestation, that might help to control it.sunday-1358907_1280

If you live in a multi family home, it would help to isolate your unit as much as possible. Install door sweeps on the bottom of doors and seal any cracks around light sockets and baseboards, or anywhere the critters might move from apartment to apartment.

And always remember, bed bugs are no match for your pest control expert who is only a phone call away.

Adults and the Zika Virus

In 1947, researchers isolated the Zika virus and classified it as an “innocuous” pathogen.
It was harmless, uninteresting and received no further study. Little did they know the harm that would come from their “innocuous” virus.

South and Central America have certainly felt the effects of the Zika virus, leaving an unknown number of babies with brain injuries and other problems. Brazil was one country that was hit hard by Zika and with the Olympics due to come to Rio de Janeiro in a couple of months, it could easily escalate the spread of the Zika virus. Fear of the Zika virus has caused some athletes to withdraw from the Olympics.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that pregnant women are the only ones to worry about the Zika virus. There are other things that can be caused by the virus, like Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), which attacks the nervous system, causing the person’s own immune system to damage nerve cells. That can medic-563423_1280result in muscle weakness and paralysis.

Interestingly enough, in Tahiti there was an outbreak of GBS, with no explanation of why. Now, thinking that there may be a connection with the Zika virus, the officials in Tahiti have gone back and analyzed blood samples from 42 people who were victims of the disease. They found that all but 1 had Zika antibodies, which means they had been previously infected.

Still to be determined is whether Zika is responsible for a serious brain issue in adults. In Brazil scientists are studying 151 patients who had the symptoms of Zika, but also developed swelling of the brain and spinal cord which resulted in a syndrome very similar to multiple sclerosis.This syndrome is called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis or ADEM for short.

According to the World Health Organization, the Zika virus is “spreading explosively”. There is ongoing discussion as to whether a worldwide emergency should be declared.mosquito-1465062_1280

Since so much is still unknown about the Zika virus, the best thing we can do for now is to be protected by using a good insect repellant whenever we go out doors. Eventually they may come up with an immunization, but for now it is better to be safe than sorry.

Who knew a tiny little mosquito could cause so much trouble?

Water Bugs, Palmetto Bugs or Cockroaches

Water bugs, palmetto bugs, cockroaches – have you ever wondered what, if any, is the difference between them? To the average American, the answer is: not much.

water-bug-1292345_1280There are creatures known as water bugs, but these true water bugs are aquatic creatures, living in ponds and lakes, with legs that they use as paddles to skim across the water or use surface tension to stay afloat. There are over 500 species of water bugs worldwide. They are found at the edge of freshwater lakes and ponds, sometimes going underwater with the aid of an air bubble that they can carry with them and use when they wish to stay down longer. They can’t live underwater though, as they don’t have gills.

Another name for these aquatic insects is water boatmen. They eat algae and other minute aquatic organisms. Their eggs can be gathered from aquatic plants, dried and ground into flour to use as food in Mexico and other places in the world.

But true water bugs or boatmen have nothing in common with the bugs that we might find in our bathtub or shower. Those are just plain, common, everyday cockroaches. Your average cockroach likes damp areas and will gravitate toward them, so perhaps therein lies the confusion. That, and the fact that it just seems more civilized to say we saw a water bug in our shower than a cockroach.

Palmetto bugs are also cockroaches, just a different type of roach, namely Florida woods cockroach. Theybeast-740729_1280 are larger and have the disgusting ability, when alarmed, to actually spray an offensive, odiferous substance which has gained them some interesting nicknames, such as skunk roach and stink roach.

So, unless your home is found in the middle of a freshwater lake or pond, the bugs that you are seeing are most likely not water bugs, but in fact, cockroaches of one type or another.

Sorry to break it to you, but there you have it. A cockroach by any other name is still a cockroach.

Wasp Stings and Heart Attacks: Could There Be a Link?

Wasp It’s that time of year again, when bees and wasps can buzz around your head each time you venture out of doors. Most of the time we ignore those pesky buzzes, but if we happen to be stung it makes it more than just annoying. And for those who are allergic to stings, it catapults to life threatening.

Research indicates that each year more than 400,000 people seek medical assistance after being stung. Of those, an estimated 1000 are hospitalized and around 12 of them die from their stings. But now there is evidence that says the number of deaths could be much, much higher due to a mis-diagnosis of heart attacks that result from a sting.

And the fact that the average person never reports a sting, could mean this mis-diagnosis could be much more often than originally thought.

A Greek physician, Dr. Nicholas Kounis, has discovered an internal allergic reaction from a sting that has no other obvious symptoms, except a heart attack. This has been named the Kounis Syndrome.

Even more startling is the newest research that reveals this kind of heart attack may occur from 48 hours to 2 weeks after a person is stung. And the stings can be from things other than wasps too, like jelly fish or fire ants.

Unfortunately, the research on Kounis syndrome is in its infancy so treatment and other information is not readily found. Just identifying the syndrome is only one aspect of the research. Finding an effective treatment will take much more time, money and research.

For now, the only way to avoid a sting is to prevent it from happening. If you notice any infestation or swarming, call your pest control expert and let them deal with it. Usually, the same repellent that you use to keep the Zika-carrying mosquitos from biting will keep the stinging insects at bay also.

So, go ahead and enjoy the summer, but whatever you do, remember the insect repellent.