Posts Tagged ‘pest control’

Pest Alert

May 25, 2011

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10 Most Diabolical Creepy Crawlies On Earth

April 28, 2011

10 Most Diabolical Creepy Crawlies On Earth

by Karl Fabricius

Electron_microscope_photo_of_a_Flea_86_times_magnificationPhoto:
Photo: RBirtles

Evil, diabolical call them what you will, the wingless microscopic or near microscopic critters we’ve gathered together here are a veritable roll-call of the repulsive and the abhorrent. Fleas, lice, ticks, mites and bedbugs make up the minuscule menagerie, and alongside the mug shots we’ve endeavoured to explain what it is each featured pest does to us that makes it equally if not more repugnant than it looks. Feeling itchy yet? These little guys are certainly getting bloated.

10. Bedbug: 4–5 mm long

Bed_bug_bites_and_sucks_up_bloodPhoto:
Photo via Alternative Health Journal

Ever been bitten by Bedbugs? Well, it isn’t pretty; in fact it’s excruciating. Feeding on the blood of humans and other mammals, these night-time nasties get their name from their preferred habitat of mattresses, bed frames, sofas and other furniture, and are often picked up in hotels. Although visible to the naked eye, they’re masters at moving undetected and hiding out of sight in nooks and crannies. They reach their host by crawling or by climbing the walls to the ceiling and jumping down, paratrooper style, on feeling a heat wave.

Elusive menace: Bedbug
Cimex_lectularius_the_common_bedbug_from_slides_at_the_University_of_EdinburghPhoto:
Photo: Adam Cuerden

Like fleas, Bedbugs are attracted by warmth and CO2. Once landed on their host, they pierce the skin with two tubes, one of which injects saliva while the other sucks up blood. The bites cannot usually be felt until much later, when the welts caused are often accompanied by a severe itching as the skin reacts to the anaesthetic injected. Stress, insomnia, and in rare cases nausea are among the reactions to Bedbug infestations, which are undergoing a global resurgence. Infected? The thermal death point for these insect horrors is 45°C.

Infest! Bedbug cases are on the rise
blood_fed_Cimex_lectularius_bed_bugsPhoto:
Photo: A.L. Szalanski

9. Cat Flea: 1.5–3.3 mm long

cat_flea_in_a_microscope_as_a_modelPhoto:
Photo: gucic

Like other fleas, the Cat Flea – one of the most widespread on earth – is an insect with mouthparts modified for piercing skin and sucking blood – to distinctly itchy effect. Housecats are its choice host, but it also commonly infests dogs, and will bite humans – albeit without being able to breed on us. A few Cat Fleas are unlikely to cause much harm unless their host is allergic to substances in their saliva, but they can transmit other parasites and infections to pets and humans including murine typhus and tapeworm. Nasty.

Flee! It’s the Cat Flea
Cat_Flea_head_showing_small_round_ocellus_(simple_eye)_Magnification_Approx_X225Photo:
Photo: Used with permission from the University of Bath

8. Human Flea: 1.5–3.3 mm long

slide_mounted_human_flea_Pulex irritansPhoto:
Photo: David Walker www.micscape.org

Despite its name, the Human Flea will gleefully infest a range of mammals and birds. Like all fleas, its hind legs are adapted for jumping about 130 times its own body height; its tough body is able to withstand great pressure; and it is compressed, allowing ease of movement through hairs, feathers or clothes. An adult flea’s number one objective is to find blood so that it can mate. Human Fleas can also act as ‘middlemen’ hosts for parasitic flatworms and tapeworms. No need to be a good host to these agile little suckers.

Up close and personal: Human Flea
Electron_microscope_photo_of_a_Flea_86_times_magnificationPhoto:
Photo: RBirtles

7. Oriental Rat Flea: 1.5–3.3 mm long

Plague_infected_male_Xenopsylla_cheopis_28_days_after_feeding_on_an_inoculated_mousePhoto:
Photo: CDC/Dr. Pratt

Although a parasite primary of rats, the Oriental Rat Flea is also a dark agent of potentially deadly diseases like bubonic plague. Transmission occurs when the offending flea first bites an infected rodent and then a human. The unsavoury pathogens are spread due to the way the flea’s mouth functions, squirting saliva or partly digested blood into the bite at the same time as sucking up blood. It should be jumping out at you by now that the Rat Flea – onetime bringer of the Black Death – can be much more than just an irritating nuisance.

Harbinger of disease: Rat Flea
Scanning_Electron_Micrograph_of_a_FleaPhoto:
Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) / Janice Carr

6. Scabies Mite: 0.2–0.45 mm long

Sarcoptes_scabei_under_the_microscopePhoto:
Photo: Kalumet

The name Sarcoptes Scabiei is a bit of a giveaway of the sin this critter commits as it quite literally gets under our skin: the skin infection scabies. The fertilised female of this pernicious parasite tunnels into the skin, laying eggs in the ever-lengthening S-shaped burrow she digs using her mouthparts and blade-like front legs. The larvae then hatch in 3-10 days, climb out onto the skin’s surface, roam about the place, and turn into nymphs, before maturing into adult Mites to begin the cycle all over again.

Under the microscope: Scabies Mite
Sarcoptes_scabei_Scabies_mitePhoto:
Photo via liberty4you

All this moving about on and inside the skin causes some pretty intense itching, but it’s the presence of the eggs that seals the scabies deal, bringing about a massive allergic reaction and yet more often unbearable itching. The resultant scratching of this rash can severely damage the skin, particularly through the introduction of infective bacteria, which may lead to nasty secondary infections like impetigo. Making matters worse, Scabies Mites are easily spread through the house by skin contact with carriers, clothing and bedding.

Scabby? Could be Sarcoptes Scabiei
Photo_taken_at_100x_magnification_through_a_microscope_of_a_scabies_mite_(Sarcoptes_scabiei)Photo:
Photo: Joel Mills

5. Body Louse: 1–3 mm long

body_louse_microscopic_imagePhoto:
Photo via Impact Pest Control

It’s time to deal with the true cooties, beginning with Body Lice. While indistinguishable to look at from Head Lice – indeed the two interbreed under lab conditions – in their natural state Body Lice have evolved to attach their eggs to clothes. These dress rather hair styled insect parasites are not only an annoyance due to the intense itching they cause, but are also vectors of diseases such as epidemic typhus and louse-borne relapsing fever, whose recurring symptoms include fever and chills. If in doubt get boiling your linen.

Engorged: Body Louse on human skin after blood feeding
A_female_human_body_louse_(Pediculus_humanus_corporis)_on_human_skin_after_blood_feedingPhoto:
Photo courtesy of Richard Webb

4. Head Louse: 1–3 mm long

Pediculus_capitis_Human_Head_LousePhoto:
Photo: Department of Biology, Gettysburg College

Next up is the Head Louse, the foul parasite that spends its entire life on the human scalp feeding solely on our blood and laying eggs called nits. This light-shunning vampire is so specialised, its stumpy legs are unable to even walk capably on flat surfaces. Its mouthparts are highly adapted for piercing skin and bloodsucking – when it may also excrete dark red faeces. Nice. Infesting new hosts usually comes about via head-to-head contact. About the only nice thing you can say about the Head Louse is that it is not a known transmitter of disease.

Itchy, flaky scalp? Male Head Louse
Male_of_head_louse_under_the_microscopePhoto:
Photo: KostaMumcuoglu

3. Pubic Louse: 1.1–1.8 mm long

Pediculus_humanus_Human_Body_LousePhoto:
Photo: Creepy Dreadful Wonderful Parasites

Pubic Lice, commonly known as crabs, are infamous for infesting the – ahem – human genitals, though they may also live on other areas with hair, including eyelashes, armpits and beards. While sharing the flattened body and claw-like legs of its cousins – ideal for crawling from hair to hair – the Pubic Louse is otherwise distinct in appearance and more distantly related. Still, this is one mean sucker as those infested will testify – albeit discreetly. Infection usually comes through sexual intercourse. To ensure full removal of nits, shaving is advised.

Nice claws: Pubic Louse or crab
Pthius_pubis__crab_lousePhoto:
Photo: PHIL

2. Sheep Tick: approx 5mm

Ixodus_ricinus_5x_sheep_tickPhoto:
Photo: Richard Bartz

Last to grace the stage, it’s the not so loveable ticks, represented first up by the Sheep Tick. Small arachnids similar to mites, ticks are external parasites, living by feeding on the blood of various animals as well as humans. Like others of their kind, Sheep Ticks are found lurking in tall grass and shrubs where they lie in wait. They then attach themselves to passing hosts by inserting their cutting mandibles and feeding tubes into the skin, with backward pointing teeth-like spikes acting as an anchor. The Sheep Tick is an agent Lyme disease in humans.

Tick love: Male Sheep Tick copulating with a much larger female
male_Ixodes_ricinus_tick_(smaller)_shown_copulating_with_a_female_tick_(larger)Photo:
Photo: WHO

1. Deer Tick: approx 5mm

Adult_deer_tick,_on_skin.Photo:
Photo: University of Wisconsin

However, the Deer Tick that is by far the most notorious vector for Lyme Disease, a condition transmitted by the bite of infected ticks whose more serious symptoms may involve the joints, heart and central nervous system. Given its name due to its habit of parasitizing the white-tailed deer, the female Deer Tick latches onto a host and drinks its blood for several days, then once engorged, drops off and overwinters on the forest floor. Naturally this little glutton has a taste for humans too. A suitably disgusting, not to say dangerous, critter on which to end the post.

Ticked all the boxes? Deer Tick
A_deer_tick_Ixodes_damminiPhoto:

See to Believe: Insect Store

April 20, 2011

Bug Bites: Which Ones You Should Worry About

April 12, 2011

Bug Bites: Which Ones You Should Worry About

AP/The Huffington Post By LAURAN NEERGAARD

WASHINGTON — It’s that time of year when the bugs emerge to bug us.

Some can pose real threats – Lyme disease from tiny ticks, West Nile virus from mosquitoes, or life-threatening allergic reactions to bee stings. But most bug bites in this country are an itchy nuisance.

How itchy or big the welt depends in part on your own skin, how much of the chemical histamine it harbors. Yes, some people really are mosquito magnets. And no, most of the bites people blame on spiders aren’t from them at all.

In fact, chances are you won’t be able to tell the culprit unless you catch it in the act. Yet doctors and entomologists alike field calls asking, “What bit me?”

“People call up really bummed out,” says spider expert Jonathan Coddington of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, who points to just two worrisome types in the U.S., the black widow and brown recluse family. Spider phobia, he says, is “out of all proportion to actual risk.”

It’s not uncommon to have a large skin reaction to any bite or sting, and Dr. Reid Blackwelder, a family physician from East Tennessee State University, sees a couple of them a week in the early spring and summer.

“Most of the time, what people need is reassurance,” he says.

To explore the most bothersome biters, Coddington offered the AP a behind-the-scenes look at some of the millions of specimens in the Smithsonian’s entomology collections that scientists use to identify and study insects and arachnids.

Mosquito bites probably are the most common. Sure we’ve been told to watch out for them at dusk and dawn. But the Asian tiger mosquito – a fairly recent immigrant that has spread to 30 states since arriving hidden in some tires in Texas – bites all day long. It’s a more aggressive, harder-to-swat version than native species, Coddington says.

If it seems every mosquito’s after you, well, there are about 3,500 species around the world and Coddington says most don’t bite humans, preferring other animals instead. But those who do can be attracted by sweat, alcohol, perfumes and dark clothing.

Bedbugs are the latest headline-maker. Scientists can’t explain why they’ve suddenly rebounded in many U.S. cities after all but vanishing in the 1940s and `50s. But once they’re in a building, they’re famously hard to eradicate. You won’t feel their needle-like bite, but you might see a line of red dots in the morning.

Not so with horse flies and black flies. They cause painful welts, and they’ll chase any blood meal. And yellow jackets may be a bane of summer picnics, but they’re most aggressive in the fall, the reproductive mating season, Coddington notes.

Most people face no risk other than infection from scratching, but there are some important exceptions:

_Blacklegged tick species, commonly called deer ticks, that are as small as poppy seeds can transmit Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted more than 35,000 confirmed or probable cases of Lyme in 2009, the latest data available. These ticks are most active from May through July, and are most common in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, upper Midwest and Pacific coast.

If a tick’s been biting for less than 24 hours, chances of infection are small. So do a daily tick check. And the CDC recommends using insect repellent with DEET.

Antibiotics easily cure most people of Lyme. But other than Lyme’s hallmark round, red rash, early symptoms are vague and flu-like. People who aren’t treated can develop arthritis, meningitis and some other serious illnesses.

Different tick species around the country can transmit additional diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tickborne relapsing fever, and STARI or Southern tick-associated rash illness.

_West Nile virus is the main mosquito concern in the U.S. Although cases have dropped in the last decade, the CDC recorded 45 deaths from West Nile last year. Severe symptoms fortunately are rare but include high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, muscle weakness and paralysis, and the neurological effects sometimes are permanent.

To avoid mosquitoes, the CDC advises wearing insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Empty standing water where mosquitoes breed.

_At least 40 people a year die from allergic reactions to stings from bees or other insects, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Potentially life-threatening reactions occur in fewer than 1 percent of children and 3 percent of adults.

But seek care quickly for signs of an emergency, Blackwelder stresses: Swelling on the face or neck, shortness of breath or feeling dizzy. People who know they’re allergic should carry an EpiPen.

_Bites from a black widow or brown recluse can require medical care, although fatalities are incredibly rare. You may not feel the black widow’s bite, but within about an hour pain spreads through the abdomen, with cramping or rigid abdominal muscles. Poison centers stock antivenom, but most people do fine with muscle relaxants and other care, says Blackwelder, a spokesman for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

A brown recluse bite eventually forms an ulcerlike lesion that can get fairly large but usually requires just good wound care, he says. But other infections can be mistaken for these bites, so Coddington says bringing in the suspect spider helps identification.

Mosquitoes bite but Hollywood is biting back this April

March 25, 2011

Mosquitoes bite but Hollywood is biting back this April

From now until March 18th, you can get 15% off your ticket purchase with promotional code “MNM15“!

Some of today’s hottest stars will take the stage at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on April 16th at 7:30pm for Hollywood Bites Back!, a night of celebrities and comedy to benefit us, Malaria No More!

Conan O’Brien, Elizabeth Banks, B.J. Novak, David Arquette and Jeff Probst are among the many celebrities, comedians and musicians that will entertain to help end malaria deaths.

Although malaria was eradicated in the U.S. 60 years ago, it still claims the lives of 781,000 people every year — and most of them children under 5 years old in Africa. Get your tickets to Hollywood Bites Back! to help bring that number to zero:

  • Tickets start as low as $10. Get yours here.
  • VIP tickets are $500 and offer premium seating and access to the after-party; available here.

Hollywood Bites Back! is an extension of the Comedy Fights Malaria campaign that launched last October with the help of 25 stars, including John Mayer, Orlando Bloom, Elizabeth Banks, Ed Helms, B.J. Novak, Josh Groban and many many more.

www.malarianomore.org

The Pest Protection Daily

January 20, 2011

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Click Here to read the Al Hoffer’s Pest Daily

News from Al Hoffer’s Termite Lawn Pest

January 7, 2011

Happy New Year! January News from Al Hoffer’s Pest Termite Lawn

Bedbugs and your health

December 21, 2010

Are Bedbugs a Health Threat?

The old adage “sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite” is taking on new meaning this summer as bedbug infestations are on the rise, from Iowa to Seattle, Minnesota to New York City, CBS Early Morning News reports.

In fact, infestations are becoming so common that exterminators can barely keep up: Calls about bedbugs are up 71 percent, from one or two calls a year to 10 to 50 per week since 2001, says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. Health officials in Manchester, N.H., even started a Bedbug Action Committee tasked with bringing the issue under control.

Infestations are on the rise, experts say, because bedbugs hitch a ride on our clothes and hang out in our beds. And they are not only found in homes; more and more bedbugs are showing up in hotels, dormitories and places where people frequently travel. Even retailers are not immune: Victoria’s Secret in New York City closed its doors for several hours to exterminate the nasty critters.

Bedbugs are many things, but one thing they are not, is a threat to your health. They are not disease vectors and are not considered a public health risk, according to entomologists at Purdue University’s Public Health and Medical Entomology department. But their bites do tend to leave itchy welts on human skin, and some people experience an allergic reaction. What’s more, bedbug sufferers say these persistent creatures wreak havoc on the psyche.

“Besides the ‘icky’ feeling of knowing bugs have crawled over you in your sleep, even after the infestation has been dealt with, people may still have a fear of falling asleep and feel anxiety about the whole experience,” says Henriksen. “In some cases, furniture [and] clothes have had to be thrown away, increasing the costly toll of the problem.”

Bedbugs are typically most active at night and tend to bite exposed skin while people are sleeping. The face, neck, hands and arms are the most common sites. Typically, the bites produce redness, swelling and itching, but if scratched, they can become infected, which is the most bodily damage they can cause. A particularity of bedbug bites is that they show up as multiples in a row.

Entomologists say the bugs’ presence has nothing to do with cleanliness, but the insects do produce small brown or red dots on sheets. And getting rid of them is not easy or cheap.

How do you spot a bedbug? Adult bedbugs are about 1/4-inch long, oval, reddish brown and wingless. Their bodies are very flat, and they possess long, slender legs and antennae, according to the Purdue scientists.

Bedbugs can travel easily — from beds to sofa cushions, from room to room and even home via suitcases from travel. Once an infestation develops, whether in a home, a hotel or even a movie theater, bedbugs are extremely difficult to remove and require the experience of a pest professional. Bedbugs can live for a year or more without eating and can withstand a wide range of temperatures, from nearly freezing to almost 113 degrees Fahrenheit, says Henriksen.

And since it is the height of travel season (the resurgence of bedbugs is tied largely to international travel), it is important for travelers to know what to look for in hotels. The NPMA offers these tips:

* Pull back the hotel bed sheets and inspect the mattress seams, particularly the corners, for telltale brownish or reddish spots.
* Thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking. Do not put your luggage on the bed.
* If you change rooms but choose to stay in the same establishment, be sure your new room is not adjacent to the potentially infested room.
* Use a large plastic bag to store your luggage.

Florida Bed Bug Control

Treating bedbugs isn’t a do-it-yourself project

December 20, 2010

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Treating bedbugs isn’t a do-it-yourself project

12/18/2010
By Kate Spinner

If dreaded bedbugs invade, don’t make a run for the store pesticide aisle.

Bedbugs have developed resistance to almost half of the 300 pesticides listed for their control. And even the pesticides that do work can make infestations harder to beat if they are not applied correctly.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, Florida’s surgeon general and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently issued public warnings urging people not to tackle bedbug problems on their own.

Rampant misuse of pesticides in Ohio, New Jersey and New York, where bedbug infestations are skyrocketing, has led to home explosions and illnesses from over-exposure to toxic chemicals.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure Florida is aware of those kinds of issues so that people don’t do things that are harmful to themselves,” says Michael Page, chief of the Bureau of Entomology for the FDACS.

Instead, they advise working with a pest control company with a strategy to eradicate the bugs.

“This pest is not like roaches or flies or fleas, where you can treat once or twice and the problem is gone,” Page says.

Largely absent from public dialogue four years ago, bedbugs have become a common pest problem throughout the United States. International travel and the bug’s ability to swiftly build resistance to even the toughest pesticides, including banned DDT, has allowed the irritating bugs to spread rapidly.

In desperation, homeowners dangerously are setting off multiple bug bombs in their homes or buying outdoor pesticides on the Internet to spray in their bedrooms.

“Typically, in the consumer world, if one is good, two is better and five is really good,” says Wayne Walker, senior pest control technician at the University of Florida Department of Housing and Residence Education. “They don’t understand the ramifications of over-applying the pesticide.”

The problem has become so immense that Congress has held forums to develop a national bedbug strategy and last year considered passing a bill — the Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite Act — to fund state inspection of hotels.

People are downright terrified of bedbugs because of the high cost, the difficulty of treatment and the social stigma. According to a recent survey funded by a major pesticide company, 30 percent of people say they would rather have a root canal than find bedbugs at home. Bedbugs, though icky and annoying, are not known to transmit disease to humans.

Improper use of pesticides can be much worse than a bedbug’s bite. Instead of trying to manage infestations alone, which rarely works, people should hire outside help, says Fred Santana, entomologist with the Sarasota County Extension Agency.

It is important, however, to make sure the professionals know what they are doing. Santana says experienced companies will use an integrated approach, combining methods such as heat treatments, fumigation and strategically placed powders.

People should interview three to four companies before settling on one. Ask to see licenses and ask questions about their experience, strategies and pesticide choices.

In other states, unscrupulous or unlicensed companies have put clients at risk by over-using pesticides or using outdoor products indoors, exposing people to chemicals that can cause nerve damage and cancer.

“If there’s a least-toxic approach, try the least toxic first,” Santana says.

Heat has proven to be one of the best controls. Professionals place special fans or heaters in a room to bring temperatures to at least 113 degrees, hot enough to kill all stages of bedbugs, from adults the size of apple seeds to their nearly invisible eggs.

Most companies inspect for free and provide an estimate, which usually ranges from $500 to $1,500, depending on the size of the house and the level of infestation.

People will need to work with their pest company and follow instructions that range from throwing clothes and sheets in the dryer to packing items in plastic. They also should be prepared to live with the problem for several weeks before the bugs are successfully eliminated, says Cindy Mannes, spokeswoman for Arrow and Hughes exterminators.

“Pest control may have to come back three, four, five times, depending on the infestation,” Mannes says. “It can be controlled; it’s just not an easy process.”

Bedbugs are extraordinarily tough to control and a lot of over-the-counter applications can make problems worse. Many products claim effectiveness, but have only been tested in lab situations.

“It leads the consumer into false beliefs that it will do things that it may not do,” Walker says.

Bedbugs are so hard to control because they hide easily in small crevices, develop chemical resistance quickly, their population can explode exponentially in months and they can go long periods without food.

Foggers often make bedbugs disappear from sight, but the insects escape the poison by moving to other rooms or taking refuge behind light switches, picture frames or baseboards. They can travel 15 to 20 feet to feed, so a new hiding spot will not keep them from their sleeping prey. Repellant sprays, such as those containing pyrethrins, have the same scattering effect that in the end makes the problem harder to combat.

Contact sprays can work, but only on those that actually get sprayed. Also, it is not guaranteed that all bugs that come in contact with the spray will actually die. When insects survive a dousing, they produce resistant offspring.

A female bedbug lives six months to a year and lays an average of 500 eggs, at a rate of three to five per day. Eggs hatch in 10 days, with the young reaching sexual maturity 30 to 45 days later.

“They develop resistance really fast because their life-cycle is really fast,” Walker says.

Further, a female only mates once and afterward moves several feet away from her original colony.

It only takes one fertilized female to start a full-blown infestation. And that single bug can live for more than six months on just one meal.

“It’s a challenge for the pest management industry and if you know it’s a challenge for us, what does the homeowner do when he gets ahold of the pesticides?” Walker says.

People resort to extreme measures to eradicate bedbugs because it is a frustrating and demoralizing experience, Walker says.

For many people, the bed is a safety zone, the place where they hid from lightning storms as children.

“Here is an insect that invades that safety zone and feeds on you at night while you sleep,” Walker says. “People do some really drastic things to deal with this issue.”

Part of the problem is the high cost of treatment. Many people, including minimum-wage hotel and motel workers who are most at risk, cannot afford to pay $500 to $1,500 to get rid of their pests. They either live with the problem and spread it, or try, usually unsuccessfully, to control it themselves. When homeowners do not have the financial means to hire pest control, they should at least consult an bug expert with the county extension service for advice before attacking the problem on their own.

“The solution is they’ve got to find some cost-effective method of dealing with this insect,” Walker says. “Right now there’s not a cost-effective method that’s available to the general public that is also effective on the bedbugs.”

Florida Bed Bug Control Services

December newsletter

December 8, 2010

Be sure you check out the December newsletter!