Monthly Archives: October 2013

Repellent All Day Keeps the Bugs Away

– National Pest Management Association

Friday, July 5, 2013

Right after college, a sales person came to my door boasting of a product that would clean everything in my house, was edible (if, for some reason you wanted to eat it), and was inexpensive. After a quick demonstration, I bought some. Lots, in fact. And with all that was promised and a successful demonstration, why not? Well, for some reason, my products didn’t seem to work as well as the sales person’s had. I was naive and I was gullible – but more importantly, I suppose, I wanted the product to work as it had been described. But alas.

As I have recently watched boastful claims being made about sure-fire home remedies for mosquito prevention, I have been reminded of my naiveté and gullibility in wanting something to work as promised, even when it sounded too good to be true. As we embark upon summer pest season, I urge you to take proper precautions to keep yourself safe against mosquitoes and their bites with products that are proven safe and effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests consumers use products with DEET, picaridin, or IR3535, and notes that “some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.” If it’s good enough for the CDC and the team of scientists they have at their disposal, it’s good enough for me. My family’s health is too important to rely on trial and error of some far-fetched concoctions that might sound good on FaceBook or blogs.

Insect repellent is as mandatory in our family as sunscreen is. (And by the way, when applying both, sunscreen should go on first and then the bug spray.) Most of us realize how important it is to our health to use sunblock; I wish more people understood the public health importance of repellent.

With incidents of mosquitoes transmitting West Nile Virus on the rise as well as increased reports of Dengue fever, personal protection is paramount. I have tried to come up with some catchy jingles or phrases to promote protection from mosquitoes:

  • Repellent all day keeps the bugs at bay.
  • Spray on; bugs off
  • Don’t run away – just spray

But, well, I obviously don’t have a future in jingle writing.

Of course, repellent is only part of the battle against the bugs. It’s also important to ensure there are no sources of standing water on your property. Mosquitoes breed in as little as 1/2 “ of water so after every heavy rain, inspect your grill covers, flower pots, outdoor toys, and all other places where water can sit.

Please be safe this summer and when it comes to insect protection, don’t take chances.

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Flour Made From Insects Will Feed Underfed Populations

PHOTO: Grasshoppers at a market near Oaxaca, Mex.
MBA students at McGill University plan to farm insects in other countries and turn them into protein-rich flour for consumption by malnourished populations.

Getty Images

Chew on this.

A team of MBA students were the recipients of the 2013 Hult Prize earlier this week, providing them with $1 million in seed money to produce an insect-based, protein-rich flour for feeding malnourished populations in other countries. The product is called Power Flour.

“It’s a huge deal because we had a very ambitious but highly executable five-year plan in place,” said team captain Mohammed Ashour, whose team hails from McGill University in Montreal. “So winning this prize is a great step in that direction.”

Ashour, along with teammates Shobhita Soor, Jesse Pearlstein, Zev Thompson and Gabe Mott, will be immediately working with an advisory board to recruit farmers and workers in Mexico, where a population of roughly 4 million live in slum conditions with widespread malnutrition.

“We will be starting with grasshoppers,” Ashour said.

He noted that the insect is already familiar to the local diet and currently sells at a premium because of a three-month harvesting season and because grasshoppers are typically hand-picked. But farmers have already expressed interest in raising grasshoppers on a mass level, according to Ashour.

While for Americans the idea of eating bugs remains mostly a novelty, in other areas of the world they are a common form of protein. The kinds of insects people consume from country to country varies, with the people of Ghana preferring palm weevils and in Botswana, caterpillars. The Power Flour product will vary ingredients according to those habits, adjusting production to the breeding cycles and nutritional profile of each culture.

In order to research their business plan, the members of the McGill Hult team have all consumed “kilos” of insects themselves, Ashour said.

“Shobhita was recently researching in Thailand and tried everything from worms to water beetles,” he said.

Even Gabe Mott, who identifies as a vegetarian, has consumed his fair share of basil-flavored palm weevil.

“He’s a vegetarian for ethical and ecological reasons, and when he looked at insects, for him it was really not an issue as far as being a source of protein that is ecologically balanced,” said Ashour.

Pass the chapulines.

Good Eats

A common misconception is that sugar gliders only eat sweet foods, but actually sugar gliders are omnivores, meaning they eat plants and animals. A wild sugar glider’s diet changes depending on the season and its location. Some frequent foods include sap, pollen and nectar from trees, a variety of fruits and insects, and, at times, eggs and small animals. Their natural diet is complicated and difficult to replicate. Gaining basic information about a sugar glider’s diet and consulting with a veterinarian about nutritional needs are the best way to choose a diet.
Calcium is an important element of a sugar glider’s diet and the recommended calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is 2:1 to prevent calcium deficiencies. Protein is also another important element of a sugar glider’s diet, the amount needed is uncertain, but a common recommendation is about 50 percent protein.
Sugar gliders often overeat sweet and fattening foods. They can become overweight, leading to medical complications related to obesity. Having fresh, clean water available at all times is vital, because sugar gliders are known to dehydrate quickly.
A variety of staple dry food diets, powdered mixes, supplements and treats are now available specifically for sugar gliders. These can be bought in select pet stores and readily online. A few dry food diets state that they provide all the nutrients needed, and they discourage any addition of fruits and vegetables, while other dry food diets are used along with daily fruits and vegetables. Powdered mixes and supplements are usually combined with familiar foods like eggs, chicken and honey, then mixed with water to make a moist diet, which is fed along with fruits and vegetables.
Sugar gliders extract moisture and nutrients from their food and then discard the remaining solid substances. Many sugar gliders and owners prefer a moist diet combined with fresh or frozen produce and daily treats. Treats include mealworms and other insects, nuts, yogurt drops and dried fruit. Treats are not necessary in maintaining sugar glider health, but they are a great tool to use with bonding.

IPM Scavenger Hunt

– National Pest Management Association

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

School’s out! Hooray! When my kids were younger, summer was a time for “camp mom.”  I loved coming up with creative adventures and explorations.  I often themed our weeks together…Heritage Week where we explored our Scandinavian ancestors, made delicacies from Norway and Sweden, and read books by authors from “the motherland”…Colonial Week offered candle and butter making, games from the early days, and even an attempt at learning to sew (epic fail!). Of course, any themes focused on the outdoors were always a big success! 

I was reminded of my days as the chief creator of fun when Jim Fredericks, one of my colleagues and our staff entomologist, published an IPM Scavenger Hunt for Kids.  IPM, or Integrated Pest Management, is a common sense approach to pest control that starts with the removal of food, water, and shelter that pests find attractive on your property. 

Why not liven up a summer afternoon by taking your kids on an IPM Scavenger Hunt!?!   Not only will they have a great time learning about bugs but they will learn how to locate potential pest problems on your property. The adventure can offer teachable moments about the difference between bugs and the pests they become when they enter your home and things children can do to help keep your home pest free! 

Here are a few ideas of things to look for to get you started….

  • Ants
  • Ant nests
  • Crickets
  • Spiders
  • Termite mud tubes (Hope you don’t find any of those!)
  • Carpenter ant frass (Look for sawdust like wood shavings with insects parts)
  • Carpenter bee holes (Look for perfectly round ½ diameter holes in wood)
  • Wasp nests (Stay away!)
  • Cracks in foundation walls (Spider entry points!)
  • Holes in screens (Don’t invite the mosquitoes!)
  • Gaps underneath doors (If you can slide a piece of paper under the front door, a spider can crawl through!)
  • Holes larger than a dime (Just big enough to let mice inside!)
  • Leaky rain gutters (Water pooling by your home welcomes a host of pests)
  • Leaky Pipes (Cockroaches love these!)
  • Firewood piled less than 20 feet from the structure (Keep it back to keep rodents and termites at bay)
  • Outdoor trashcans with no lids (Find secure lids or else nuisance wildlife will thank you for easy access!)
  • Tree limbs overhanging the house (Branches that come close to your home offer a pest highway indoors)

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Why NPMA Recognizes National Asthma & Allergy Month

– National Pest Management Association

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Having just recognized Termite Awareness Week, National Pest Management Month, and Bed Bug Awareness Week, all in a thirty day span, we are bit exhausted – but no time for rest just yet.

It’s now time to focus energies on another important observance, National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is proud to stand with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in bringing attention to asthma and asthma triggers. Why, you might ask, is the NPMA rallying to support this effort? Because, surprisingly to many, cockroaches and other pests are primary asthma triggers in home environments.

Asthma is a pervasive and serious chronic disease.  Consider these statistics from AAFA:

Every day in America:

44,000 people have an asthma attack.

36,000 kids miss school due to asthma.

27,000 adults miss work due to asthma.

4,700 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.

1,200 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.

9 people die from asthma.

And while we may not be in a position to offer education about other asthma triggers such as mold, smoke, or pollution, we can certainly use our platform to educate about the importance of a pest-free home. The pests most often linked to asthma are rodents and cockroaches because of triggers from their urine, saliva, and fecal droppings.  While many people believe they are immune to contact with these pests, studies have found mouse allergens present in 82% of American homes and cockroaches in 78% to 98% of urban homes. Moreover, it’s been reported that when a single roach is spotted in a home environment, it’s likely there are at least 800 others present as well.  Yuck!

So we are pleased to focus much our site content this month to pests and asthma. You can learn more about asthma from Dr. Jorge Parada; you can learn how to prevent pests from taking up residence in your home; you can even watch the Public Service Announcement we produced with AAFA to focus attention on asthma awareness and you can find a pest management professional in your community who will help you learn more about keeping your home pest free.   

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National Cricket Fighting Championships In China With $1,500 Insects

Field crickets face off against one another in Beijing at the annual National Cricket Fighting Championships, carrying on a uniquely Chinese sport which dates back more than 1,000 years.

Man Zhiguo is checking in on his 70 prizefighters.

He’s been raising and fighting crickets for over 40 years and some of his most valuable insects are worth around $1,500 U.S. dollars apiece, which could get expensive, because crickets have a lifespan of about only 100 days.

“I raise crickets as a hobby because I admire their positive spirit. They never admit defeat, they have a fighting spirit. So we all like them.”

Not unlike boxers, these fighters are fed a high protein diet and are “trained” for competition.

And after the weigh-in it’s time for the first matches.

The insects take a bit of coaxing, but they’re soon locked in fierce battle. The tenacious fighters trade blows like boxers in a ring or gladiators in an arena.

Each team was allowed to have 35 crickets and after two days of battle, Man’s insects won all their bouts – not enough for his team to take the trophy, but certainly something to chirp about.

Horses, dogs and even chickens have been used in sport all over the world, but this is probably the first time that most people have heard of crickets taking each other on.

Bonding with Sugar Gliders

Sugar gliders are scent-oriented creatures. The easiest way to create a bond is to introduce them to their owner’s scent and touch. This can be achieved by carrying the sugar glider in a fleece pouch, under a shirt or in a shirt pocket throughout the day. Treats offered by hand and gentle touches expose them to contact. In the evening when sugar gliders are most active, they enjoy being out of their cage and interacting with people. They run, jump, flip and glide. While they cannot be trained to fetch, sit or roll over, they will beg for treats and glide to people when treats are offered. Sugar glider faces are very expressive and they are able to make many wishes known by their nonverbal cues and their unique vocal sounds.
Once bounded to their owners, sugar gliders will mark, groom and cuddle with those close to them. Bonded sugar gliders do not try to escape touch. They sit by the cage door and call out for their owner. Instead of running away from contact, they typically run toward their owner. If they are scared or lonely, they seek out their owner for comfort and support.
Sugar gliders love their owners just as much as dogs or cats do. Considering all of this, it is no wonder so many people have also found companionship and love with their sugar glider and are willing to invest time and money to provide for all its needs.

To view products for bonding with your Sugar glider, visit the Sugar Glider Superstore.


by: Sugar Glider Store

The return of cicadas!

– National Pest Management Association

Sunday, April 21, 2013

There are certain watershed events in your life you will always remember.  The landing of the first man on the moon… Prince William’s marriage to Katherine… and of course, what you were doing when the cicadas emerged.  Okay, so perhaps the latter is not quite as significant as the first two, but if you talk to those who have lived in areas plagued by cicadas, they can absolutely, definitively tell you with alarming detail, what they were doing (and in some cases what they did not do) during the last cicada swarm!

In case you have been under a rock, or perhaps more analogous, underground for the past 17 years, you might not have heard that the Brood II periodic cicadas are re-emerging this spring after living beneath the earth’s surface for the past decade and a half.  They last emerged in the Mid-Atlantic in 2006 and they are again expected to appear from the Carolinas to Connecticut once ground temperatures eight inches below the earth’s surface hit 64 degrees. 

Periodical Cicada

With billions of cicadas arriving, the din they will create from the male’s mating calls will reach 90 decibels. For those who missed the sound lesson in science class, that compares to a jackhammer or approaching train!  If the sound’s not bad enough, their creepy touch is. These insects fly wildly in search of mate, not concerned about who or what they land on in the search for love.  Wedding planners and distraught brides will be forced to move long-anticipated outdoor nuptials indoors and those responsible for outdoor graduation ceremonies will have to resort to “plan B”.  Those who are phobic of insects in general, or cicadas in particular, are already planning on how to make their gas go further and their groceries to last longer to minimize the need to be outdoors during the height of the season.  Perhaps the only ones eagerly anticipating their return are dogs and wildlife who relish this delicacy for the added protein afforded.

The best advice I can offer in anticipation of the cicada-frenzy is to relax and enjoy.  There’s absolutely nothing you can do to prevent them and they will only be out for about six weeks in total.  Fortunately, these nuisance pests don’t cause any harm to people or property and quite frankly, they are an incredible phenomena.  I’d love to know your stories – past or present – about cicadas.  Did you have to bring a party or wedding indoors during the last cicada swarm?  Have you signed up for a grocery delivery service to minimize your outdoor exposure this year? 

Eagerly awaiting the first emergence…..

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April is National Pest Management Month!

– National Pest Management Association

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April is National Pest Management Month, an observance that’s been taking place for more than 30 years to recognize the pest management industry for its commitment to the protection of public health and property from common household pests. 

Missy NPMM

Most people tend to think of pest management in terms of residential problems (ants, rodents, cockroaches, termites, fleas, etc.); whereas, in reality, the importance of the industry to the nation as a whole is much broader including food and health protection.  Consider for example:

  • Public health officials attribute the quality of life we have today to three things:  better pharmaceuticals and vaccines, better sanitation and better pest control.
  • Without pest management practices, pests could destroy more than 50 percent of our food crops.
  • According to a survey cited byLive Science, insects and snakes rank as two of the public’s most common fears.
  • Rats bite more than 45,000 people each year and can transmit disease organisms such as rat bite fever, salmonella, trichinosis, murine typhus, the plague, and leptospirosis. In addition, rodents are blamed for an estimated  20 -25 percent of all fires of unknown causes due to their propensity for chewing electrical wiring and gas lines.
  • According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, more than two million Americans are allergic to stinging insects, more than 500,000 enter hospital emergency rooms every year suffering from insect stings, and between 40-150 people a year die as a result of these stings.
  •  Recent surveys have determined that cockroach allergens are the number three contributors to children’s asthma.  In addition, cockroaches contaminate food and spread filth by walking through contaminated areas.  They commonly carry staphylococci, streptococcus, coli-form, molds, salmonella, yeasts, and clostridia. Control and eradication of these pests is vital to health care facilities, homes, and sites where food is prepared or served.
  • It would be difficult to find any segment of the food industry that could comply with federal sanitation and health regulations without an adequate pest management program.

NPMM Group Shot

Today there are almost 18,000 professional pest management companies working each and every day to ensure the public has adequate protection against the diseases and dangers caused by pests.  Often times, popular culture portrays our industry in the most extreme sense – highlighting extreme infestations.  While, fortunately, those situations aren’t the norm, they do show the harrowing work our professionals regularly perform in their work to protect us all. In observance of National Pest Management Month, I hope you will join me in saluting pest management professionals for the role they play in safeguarding us from the scary, disease-carrying, property-destroying, scream-causing, fear-inducing pests.

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