Rain not to blame for mosquito boom

May 31, 2011

Rain not to blame for mosquito boom

It sounds like an entomological contradiction: Southwest Florida has been virtually rain-free since May 16, and mosquitoes have been making life miserable this week for people in some areas.

But, contrary to popular belief, rain doesn’t always trigger mosquito breeding in Southwest Florida, and lack of rain doesn’t always mean a lack of mosquitoes.

“I think they’re worse than they’ve ever been,” St. James City resident Mike Grainger said. “It’s bad. They get in a cloud, 15 or 20 of them at a time flying in front of you.”

At the other end of the island, in Bokeelia, Jim Patterson agreed.

“They’re intense,” he said. “When I take my dogs for a walk in the morning, I’ve got to dress in long jeans, a long-sleeve shirt with the collar up and a hat on, and they still try to get up my nose and in my ears. If you wear flip-flops, they’ll eat your toes.

“The thing is, we haven’t had any rain. Where are they coming from?”

Like many people, Patterson thinks that rain drives mosquito production: Rain creates standing water; mosquitoes lay eggs in the water, and, boom, a swarm is born.

That’s not necessarily the case.

Mosquito species can be divided into two types: Old-water and new-water mosquitoes.

Old-water mosquitoes do, indeed, lay eggs on standing water — shallow pools, ditches, bromeliads, old tires, bird baths and so on — and rain provides standing water.

“Water must be standing five to seven days before we see rain-driven freshwater mosquitoes,” said Shelly Redovan, spokeswoman for the Lee County Mosquito Control District.

Because Southwest Florida has been so dry, though, when 1.5 inches of rain fell May 15, it soaked into the ground, so the old-water mosquitoes had no place to lay eggs.

New-water mosquitoes, — freshwater and saltwater — lay eggs on dry, flood-prone ground, and those eggs hatch when covered by water.

Freshwater new-water mosquitoes prefer places such as North Fort Myers, where sheetflow moving south from Charlotte County after heavy rains can cover the eggs.

“They also like the improved pasture lands around Alva,” Redovan said. “We haven’t had any rain, so those areas haven’t had a hatch-off.”

Saltwater new-water mosquitoes lay eggs on dry ground in coastal areas such as mangrove swamps, and those eggs hatch when tides cover them.

Recent extreme high tides associated with the full moon of May 17 have covered saltwater new-water mosquito eggs, which is why mosquitoes are in coastal areas.

“Rain is not the only factor,” Redovan said. “The big difference between us and up North is we’re more heavily impacted by tidal conditions.”

Mosquito control personnel trap and count mosquitoes throughout Lee County to determine where to spray. When they catch 50 in a trap, the district sends a truck to spray; when they catch mosquitoes in the hundreds, they send aircraft.

Recent trap numbers include Lehigh Acres with seven mosquitoes, Boca Grande with 78, Bokeelia with 135, Captiva with 283, and St. James City with 1,348.

Forty-eight mosquito species inhabit Lee County, and saltwater new-water mosquitoes are the most common.

Aedes taeniorhynchus is the species doing most of the biting this week.

Also known as the black salt marsh mosquito, taeniorhynchus is a nasty biter that can fly up to 20 miles for a meal.

This week, mosquito district aircraft hit both ends of Pine Island, Estero, southwest and northwest Cape Coral, and were scheduled to spray the outer islands, Bokeelia and Iona, on Friday night.

Although the district has had to eliminate some positions due to budget cuts, it has not eliminated positions essential to fighting mosquitoes, Redovan said.

The greatest hindrance to fighting mosquitoes is the fact that the district is not allowed to spray for adults on state and federal land.

“Mosquitoes don’t like to be crowded: They don’t stay where they hatch,” Redovan said. “So we go out and spray, and the next day, they migrate in from state and federal lands.”

Lee County isn’t alone in its mosquito infestation.

“We’re getting a similar kind of thing,” said Frank Van Essen, executive director of the Collier County Mosquito Control District. “We’re just starting to see the salt-marsh mosquito activity because of the tides.”


Cat Flea Biology

May 26, 2011

Pest Alert

May 25, 2011

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Giant Ant Colony is a World Wonder

May 24, 2011

Giant Ant Colony is a World Wonder.

Giant Ant Colony is a World Wonder – Watch more Funny Videos

Florida Do It Yourself Pest Control Store

May 23, 2011

At our Melbourne pest control and lawn services store, not only can you get professional products, but you can also get advice from our professionally trained technicians. They will give you information like how, what, where, and why to apply different products for different pests.

Florida DO It Yourself Pest Termite Control & Lawn Care

Top 10 Bloodsuckers: Bedbug

May 20, 2011

A count down of the Top 10 Bloodsuckers: #3: Bedbug ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBwBgbLAMiM

Pest Control & Exterminator Blogs

May 19, 2011

Check out these great blogs and resources!

No Pests Blog – JP McHale Pest Management Inc.

National Pesticide Information Center ~ Pro Best Pest

How to Protect Yourself from the Dangers of Mosquito Bites

Watch this trailer to help Capella University donate $0.50 to education programs worldwide

Cicadas Being Used As Jewelry

Bed Bug Information | Smithereen Blog

Bedbug Bite Possibly More Dangerous Than Thought

May 18, 2011

Bedbug Bite Possibly More Dangerous Than Thought

Bug factory to help Everglades fight plant invaders

May 17, 2011

Bug factory to help Everglades fight plant invaders

By Shurna Robbins

MIAMI | Fri May 13, 2011 5:37pm EDT

(Reuters) – Scientists are planning to scale up deployment of laboratory-bred insects to battle invading plant species that threaten to throttle parts of Florida’s ecologically fragile Everglades wetlands.

The plant- and seed-eating bugs, which include moths, mites and weevils, act as biological control agents — basically environmental gamekeepers — against the invaders.

They are to be produced in their hundreds of thousands at a new research laboratory planned jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District.

The new “bug factory” facility is scheduled to open on September 2012 and aims to saturate areas infested with invasive plant species in a $16 million program over 20 years.

This is considered a modest investment compared to the untold billions in environmental damage that can be inflicted by the nonnative invaders.

While herbicides and physical eradication have been used for decades, scientists consider mass-produced biocontrol bugs a more effective weapon

“The goal (for each insect type) is to control 90 percent of the proliferation,” said USDA’s lead scientist for the project, Ted Center. “It won’t eradicate the invasive species, but it will do a lot of the work for us.”

The Everglades wetlands at the southern end of the Florida peninsula are one of the United States’ most famous natural attractions.

Covering two million acres and designated as an endangered World Heritage site by UNESCO, they are a mosaic of marshland and tree islands, famous for crocodiles, manatees, panthers, and exotic birds, including plants and animals found nowhere else.

In recent decades, the Everglades ecosystem has been weakened by growing urbanization and polluted run-off from nearby farming and cattle operations.

“When you are flying over the Everglades, you will see houses and malls just on the other side of the levees,” said LeRoy Rodgers of the South Florida Water Management District.


While public attention has focused on the more visible invasive animal species, such as the Burmese Python that has tangled with local alligators, experts say the plant invaders can cause just as much, if not more, havoc to the habitat.

One leafy invader is the fast-growing Old World Climbing Fern which creeps up trees, blankets land with vegetation and accelerates the spread of wildfires.

“Some tree islands have collapsed from the weight of the ferns,” said Center, adding that one biocontrol agent, an Australian moth, has achieved some limited success in pushing back the plant.

Another creeping interloper is the Brazilian pepper, which has infested over 700,000 acres of public and private lands.

Some 1,400 of more than 25,000 nonnative plants imported into Florida have established populations in the wild, with nearly 70 identified as ecosystem-damaging plants, according to research studies.

The USDA has targeted 11 invasive plants as serious threats to the Everglades.

Scientists believe the trespassing species come from the hundreds of exotic plants imported into nurseries in Florida every year.

The nurseries are virtually unregulated, catering to an extensive gardening market that must meet demand for new varieties of ornamental plants.

Some of the exotic plants propagate into the wild tropical wetlands, where they have no natural predators, said Center.

Pushing back against the invaders can take much longer.

Searching for an insect predator for the Brazilian pepper, the USDA is three years into the hunt for a winning biocontrol bug with scientists making several trips to Brazil, collecting 12 species to be used to build lab colonies for testing.

Due to a “glacially slow” regulatory process, it can take several more years for a biocontrol insect to be released into the Everglades. The period from identifying an invasive species through to its eventual reduction can run to about 20 years.

U.S. scientists are also traveling to China, Australia and Argentina to look for potential biobug gamekeepers.

(Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Jerry Norton)

Love bugs a sticky problem for bikers, drivers

May 16, 2011

Love bugs a sticky problem for bikers, drivers


Naples Daily News

NAPLES, Fla. — Love bug season in Southwest Florida is a stubborn, sticky time for drivers who have to scrape insect debris off the front of the car to avoid paint damage.

But try getting them out of your beard.

“When I go through a cloud, you don’t want to hug me,” said Dean Lindquist, a local motorcycle rider known as the Mayor for the resemblance his stature and facial hair bear to the “The Wizard of Oz” character.

In between the patches on the front of his black leather vest and around his matching angle-heeled boots are the telltale flecks of gray he couldn’t remove after recent rides.

Bugs in your whiskers and on your clothes may be one price to pay for choosing two wheels over four during the biannual love bug seasons, in April-May and August-September, but seasoned riders know there is more to it.

Smart riding right now means motorcycle riders have to pull over regularly during daytime runs to clean off their goggles and, for the more protected, the small windshields on their bikes. Swarming, during which the adults emerge and partner up, occurs primarily from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Since the peak time for love bugs to be out is during daylight, night riders will have an easier time avoiding them.

“Your destination can’t get in the way so that you don’t pull over when you should,” said Alan Harris, a sales associate at Naples Harley Davidson.

“Twenty minutes of hard riding will fill it up pretty fast,” he estimates after a drive to Lake Okeechobee last weekend that required constant stops to clean off bug splatter that impaired visibility.

The flight of these small flies lasts about five weeks in spring and fall, and they concentrate around areas with more decaying organic matter like preserves and farms. University of Florida entomologists describe them as a “nuisance pest,” rather than destructive or dangerous.

They become all the more bothersome without a thick windshield or windows to roll up.

“The thing about it you don’t notice in a car – they smell,” added Randy Bryant, a Naples motorcycle rider.

“They don’t taste good either,” he said with a laugh.

Despite their plague-like cult status in Florida, research into love bugs isn’t a priority for scientists since the only economic loss comes from individuals paying for car washes and paint jobs.

Though the flies are an invasive species with no good natural enemies in Florida, the funding to research and deal with the population in the state is absent.

The last big push to study the unashamedly amorous insects was in the 1960s, when their numbers in the state were much higher and the nuisance even greater, said John Capinera, chairman of the University of Florida’s Department of Entomology.

“Ideally you would go to Central America and find the natural enemy. That takes time and money, and those are in short supply these days,” he added.

While for the state, love bugs may not be a fiscal nuisance, inattentive vehicle owners might feel differently. Spattered love bugs left on a car and exposed to sunlight will turn acidic in 24 hours, which can damage paint.

Doug Brann, owner of Doug Brann Paint & Body Repair in Naples, said old and new vehicles are as equally susceptible.

“That acid is so strong from the love bug, it will eat right through anything,” said Brann, who learned the hard way after not rinsing off his wife’s new car following a trip across Alligator Alley several years ago.

He ended up repainting the front of the one-week-old car.

Wax might help protect the paint jobs, but there are no guarantees. Cooking spray is touted as an at-home remedy but can discolor certain car finishes and isn’t recommended.

A clear lacquer painted on the front of the car can provide an extra barrier of protection. It will run car owners around $500; a new paint job costs at least twice that.

The cheapest, though most labor-intensive solution, is rinsing off bug debris within 24 hours to help neutralize the acid, Brann suggested.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/14/2216545/love-bugs-a-sticky-problem-for.html#ixzz1MWsi4KSu