Eastern sub workers. / James Castner/Special to The News-Press
Ants in your pants?
See invading ants? Find where they’re coming from. Look for a trail, or a pattern in their appearance. The best way to control them in the house is to kill them in their nest. If you find the nest outdoors, apply an ant insecticide directly to it. If it’s inside a wall, drill a 1⁄8-inch hole and squirt an insecticide or boric acid dust into the cavity. If you can’t find the nest, use ant bait. The containers look like tiny flying saucers with holes in the sides. They do work, but it can take weeks to kill them all, so be patient.
Have you ever heard the old joke about the termite colony that crossed the road?
Probably not, because the rapacious invaders aren’t a laughing matter in Florida, which has a reputation as the nation’s “termite belt.”
The National Pest Management Association estimates that subterranean termites cost homeowners throughout the United States $5 billion per year. That’s more than fires, floods and hurricanes combined.
And now may be a good time to check your property for signs of the ravenous, winged critters because ideal swarming conditions are settling upon Southwest Florida. What’s the perfect environment?
“Ample rain, food and warmth,” says Faith M. Oi of the University of Florida Entomology and Nematology Department — and that mirrors spring and summer here. “Ideal conditions are Florida conditions,” she says, noting that they abate only during drought conditions.
Subterranean termites can hide out undetected and munch on wood for five years, says Phil Jackson, South Florida district manager for the HomeTeam Pest Defense. When the colony “is at full size, the queen lays eggs and begins producing reproductive swarmers and they are sent out to start another colony,” he says.
Jackson explains that swarmers take off in high humidity so they don’t “dry out” before returning to damp soil, while worker termites remain burrowed in the soil and can’t withstand open-air travel. (Swarmers are limited in flight, and may not even cross the road.)
According to HomeTeam’s research, 35 percent of homeowners have experienced a termite problem. Some people may see winged ants and panic. But you don’t have to if you know the basic difference: Termites’ wings are equal in size and they have straight beadlike antennae, while ants’ wings are larger in front and smaller in back. Also, ants have elbowed antennae.
There are generally two types of termites in this region: subterranean and dry wood. Here are some things to watch for in your house:
• Mud tubes: Termites use long tunnels, made of soil and partially digested cellulose, as a means to get to their food source — wood
• Swarmers: Check near doors and window for a termite swarm, as it can be one of the first signs of an infestation.
• Wings: After termites swarm, they shed their wings near windows, doors and light fixtures. Piles of wings could mean there is a colony hiding out in the walls.
• Subterranean damage: Check the wooden areas of your home for mud tubes and hollowness; termites can feed for years before an infestation is discovered. “Unless you find tunnels, they’re almost invisible until you see damage,” says Jackson.
• Dry wood damage: If you see little piles near baseboards, furnishings or along outside walls that look like ash or ground-up tobacco, and the pile reappears after you have cleaned it up, that’s a sure sign of dry wood termites. They live in walls and furnishings, and keep their “home” clean by removing excretion.
To make matters more challenging, the Florida Department of Agriculture is reportedly planning to launch a public relations campaign in South Florida about a new threat: the Caribbean conehead, which became established on the East Coast in Dania Beach in 2001, though at this point, it’s believed they’re limited to a 1-square-mile area.
How can homeowners prevent an infestation? (Continue)
PUBLISHED:05:45 EST, 24 January 2013| UPDATED:04:41 EST, 25 January 2013
To look at this flourishing mass of plant life you’d think David Latimer was a green-fingered genius.
Truth be told, however, his bottle garden – now almost in its 53rd year – hasn’t taken up much of his time.
In fact, on the last occasion he watered it Ted Heath was Prime Minister and Richard Nixon was in the White House.
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Still going strong: Pensioner David Latimer from Cranleigh, Surrey, with his bottle garden that was first planted 53 years ago and has not been watered since 1972 – yet continues to thrive in its sealed environment
For the last 40 years it has been completely sealed from the outside world. But the indoor variety of spiderworts (or Tradescantia, to give the plant species its scientific Latin name) within has thrived, filling its globular bottle home with healthy foliage.
Yesterday Mr Latimer, 80, said: ‘It’s 6ft from a window so gets a bit of sunlight. It grows towards the light so it gets turned round every so often so it grows evenly.
‘Otherwise, it’s the definition of low-maintenance. I’ve never pruned it, it just seems to have grown to the limits of the bottle.’
The bottle garden has created its own miniature ecosystem. Despite being cut off from the outside world, because it is still absorbing light it can photosynthesise, the process by which plants convert sunlight into the energy they need to grow.
Lush: Just like any other plant, Mr Latimers’s bottled specimen has survived and thrived using the cycle of photosynthesis despite being cut off from the outside world
HOW THE BOTTLE GARDEN GROWS
Bottle gardens work because their sealed space creates an entirely self-sufficient ecosystem in which plants can survive by using photosynthesis to recycle nutrients.
The only external input needed to keep the plant going is light, since this provides it with the energy it needs to create its own food and continue to grow.
Light shining on the leaves of the plant is absorbed by proteins containing chlorophylls (a green pigment).
Some of that light energy is stored in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that stores energy. The rest is used to remove electrons from the water being absorbed from the soil through the plant’s roots.
These electrons then become ‘free’ – and are used in chemical reactions that convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, releasing oxygen.
This photosynthesis process is the opposite of the cellular respiration that occurs in other organisms, including humans, where carbohydrates containing energy react with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, water, and release chemical energy.
But the eco-system also uses cellular respiration to break down decaying material shed by the plant. In this part of the process, bacteria inside the soil of the bottle garden absorbs the plant’s waste oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide which the growing plant can reuse.
And, of course, at night, when there is no sunlight to drive photosynthesis, the plant will also use cellular respiration to keep itself alive by breaking down the stored nutrients.
Because the bottle garden is a closed environment, that means its water cycle is also a self-contained process.
The water in the bottle gets taken up by plants’ roots, is released into the air during transpiration, condenses down into the potting mixture, where the cycle begins again.
Photosynthesis creates oxygen and also puts more moisture in the air. The moisture builds up inside the bottle and ‘rains’ back down on the plant.
The leaves it drops rot at the bottom of the bottle, creating the carbon dioxide also needed for photosynthesis and nutrients which it absorbs through its roots.
It was Easter Sunday 1960 when Mr Latimer thought it would be fun to start a bottle garden ‘out of idle curiosity’.
He said: ‘At the time the chemical industry had changed to transporting things in plastic bottles so there were a lot of glass ones on the market.
‘Bottle gardens were a bit of a craze and I wanted to see what happened if you bunged the thing up.’
Habitable zone: The spot under the stairs where Mr Latimer has kept the bottle garden for the past 27 years
A SELF-CONTAINED WORLD: HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN BOTTLE GARDEN
The idea of a bottle garden is to create a world in microcosm. It will have its own special habitat and should require little maintenance, writes NIGEL COLBORN.
First choose a glass container. It will need a wide neck for easy access and to look attractive. A goldfish bowl is ideal, or for children, a big jam jar might do.
You’ll also need some good-quality potting compost, shingle or coarse grit and, of course, the plants.
Use a large spoon to insert a layer of grit into the jar and cover that with compost deep enough to accommodate the plant roots.
Finally, introduce the plants. You’ll need very few and they must be tiny specimens – unless it’s an enormous receptacle. Little ferns such as indoor maidenhair or Adiantum, small varieties of Tradescantia and baby plants of Chlorophytum will all establish easily. Miniature trailers such as ‘Mind-your-own-business’ (Soleirolia) will also flourish.
Move each plant gently into position, adjusting them with a stick or with kitchen tongs until you’ve got them where you want them. Adding a final layer of grit after planting will hold the compost down and make your micro-garden look prettier.
Water with extreme care (your jar won’t need much) and place the finished mini garden in a well-lit spot, but not on a hot south-facing windowsill.
Into a cleaned out ten gallon carboy, or globular bottle, which once contained sulphuric acid, he poured some compost then carefully lowered in a seedling using a piece of wire.
He put in about a quarter of a pint of water. It was not until 1972 that he gave it another ‘drink’.
After that, he greased the bung so it wedged in tightly… and has not watered it since.
The bottle stands on display under the stairs in the hallway of his home in Cranleigh, Surrey, the same spot it has occupied for 27 years after he and his wife Gretchen moved from Lancashire when he retired as an electrical engineer.
It was revealed to the world when he took a photograph of it in to BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time and asked the panel of experts if it is ‘of scientific or horticultural interest’.
Garden designer and television presenter Chris Beardshaw said: ‘It’s a great example of the way in which a plant is able to recycle… It’s the perfect cycle of life.’
He added that this process is one reason why NASA was interested in taking plants into space.
‘Plants operate as very good scrubbers, taking out pollutants in the air, so that a space station can effectively become self-sustaining,’ he said. ‘This is a great example of just how pioneering plants are and how they will persist given the opportunity.
‘The only input to this whole process has been solar energy, that’s the thing it has needed to keep it going. Everything else, every other thing in there has been recycled. That’s fantastic.’
Organic gardener Bob Flowerdew was less enthusiastic.
‘It’s wonderful but not for me, thanks. I can’t see the point. I can’t smell it, I can’t eat it,’ he said. Mr Latimer agrees the bottle garden is ‘incredibly dull in that it doesn’t do anything’, but remains fascinated to see how long it will last.
He hopes to pass on the ‘experiment’ to his grown-up children after he is gone.
If they do not want it, he will leave it to the Royal Horticultural Society.
DOTHAN, AL, January 14, 2013 —Snake hunting season is now underway in Florida.
Faced with a burgeoning population of Burmese pythons, as many as 150,000 by some estimates, the state has started a contest called the 2013 Python Challenge. It offers a $1,500 prize for anyone who brings in the most dead pythons. Over 800 people have signed up to participate.
PETA is against the contest, but state officials have established safety training for hunters that includes instructions on how to kill the snakes humanely. They recommend either shooting them in the head or, better yet, cutting the head off. I am sure that hunters will be considerate of the snakes’ feelings before dispatching them.
The python problem exists primarily in Florida’s famous everglades, a huge marshy portion of the state that is home to numerous species of wildlife. The non-native invasive snakes are depleting populations of indigenous wildlife, including some endangered species like wood rats and storks. They will eat amphibians, reptiles, large birds, and mammals ranging from rodents to deer.
Park rangers report that smaller mammals such as rabbits, foxes and opossum have all but disappeared from the area.
Alligators have always been at the top of the everglades food chain, but that position is under challenge from snakes that can grow to 17-feet long. The largest python found to date measured 17 ½ feet in length, weighed 165 pounds and was carrying nearly 90 eggs. Park rangers have found evidence of gators and pythons battling each other to the death. In one instance, a python partially swallowed an alligator that apparently had second thoughts about giving up and chewed his way out. The pictures are not for anyone with a weak stomach. (More)
A decoy spider hangs below its much smaller builder, suspected to be a new species in the genus Cyclosa. Photo: Phil Torres.
A spider that builds elaborate, fake spiders and hangs them in its web has been discovered in the Peruvian Amazon. Believed to be a new species in the genus Cyclosa, the arachnid crafts the larger spider from leaves, debris and dead insects. Though Cyclosa includes other sculpting arachnids, this is the first one observed to build a replica with multiple, spidery legs. Scientists suspect the fake spiders serve as decoys, part of a defense mechanism meant to confuse or distract predators. “It seems like a really well evolved and very specialized behavior,” said Phil Torres, who described the find in a blog entry written for Rainforest Expeditions.
Torres, a biologist and science educator, divides his time between Southern California and Peru, where he’s involved in research and education projects. “Considering that spiders can already make really impressive geometric designs with their webs, it’s no surprise that they can take that leap to make an impressive design with debris and other things,” he said. In September, Torres was leading visitors into a floodplain surrounding Peru’s Tambopata Research Center, located near the western edge of the Amazon.
From a distance, they saw what resembled a smallish, dead spider in a web. It looked kind of flaky, like the fungus-covered corpse of an arthropod. But then the flaky spider started moving. A closer looked revealed the illusion. Above the 1-inch-long decoy sat a much smaller spider. Striped, and less than a quarter-inch long, the spider was shaking the web. It was unlike anything Torres had ever seen. “It blew my mind,” he said. So Torres got in touch with arachnologist Linda Rayor of Cornell University who confirmed the find was unusual. “The odds are that this [species] is unidentified,” she said, “and even if it has been named, that this behavior hasn’t previously been reported.” Rayor notes that while more observations are necessary to confirm a new species, decoys with legs — and the web-shaking behavior — aren’t common in known Cyclosa. “That’s really kind of cool,” she said. (MORE INFO)
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, fears were rife that the streets would be overrun with rats escaping the flooded tunnels and subways.
But it now looks as if those fears may have been groundless as there have not, as yet, been any reports of rodents roaming the streets.
Experts are saying the water likely rushed into tunnels so fast that the rats – despite being strong swimmers – had no time to escape and died.
Casualties: A family of rats drowned on the FDR Drive as they were trying to escape the flood waters
Sam Miller, a spokesman for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told Forbes the city has not seen an increase in rats above ground caused by Sandy, adding that while flooding normally does drive them to the streets, it ‘also drowns young rats in their burrows and can reduce the rat population’.
Rodentologist Robert Corrigan, who works with the city on keeping populations under control, told LiveSciencethat baby rats will likely die unless they are carried to safety by their mothers.
Vermin: Fears of a rat influx on New York’s streets have so far proven unfounded (stock picture)
Another expert, Herwig Leirs, a rodentologist at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, confirmed that most would drown.
‘Rats will be carried away by the current and won’t be strong enough to swim to the surface and breathe, or they’ll be pushed to grates, they will get stuck there and they won’t be strong enough to swim against the current,’ he said.
However, the rats that are able to survive the floodwaters will be treated to a surge of garbage and food to feast on once things have dried out.
Deluge: A flooded Midtown Tunnel in New York City after Sandy hit the US East Coast on Monday night
Desperate times: Whether rats pose a health risk to New Yorkers depends on how quickly subway crews can clean out the tunnels
According to NBC, approximately 28 million rats live in the subway tunnels of New York. Whether they pose a health risk in the aftermath of the hurricane depends how quickly the water evaporates and how quickly subway crews can clean out the tunnels.
Rick Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Milbrook, New York, earlier told The Huffington Postthat if rats were forced out of their lairs, this could result in a rise in infectious diseases carried by urban rodents, including leptospirosis, hantavirus, typhus, salmonella, and even the plague.
But this isn’t science fiction; instead it’s a description of the latest efforts being undertaken to halt the spread of an invasive ant species that has been imported into, and is spreading across, the US.
These fire ants can cause havoc, damaging agriculture, homes and even costing some people their life.
Red fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) were accidentally introduced into the US from the Formosa province of north-east Argentina during the 1930s.
They have colonised agricultural areas, deserts and coastal habitats as well as towns and cities, becoming a pervasive problem, spreading across the south of the country. They have also spread to other countries such as China and New Zealand.
The ants are small, just 2-6mm long, but they are aggressive and occur in high densities.
They breed and spread rapidly and, if disturbed, can relocate quickly to ensure survival of the colony.
By Keith Councell’s count, Florida recently put about 200 small-business owners out of business.
The state decided to enforce a law prohibiting beekeepers from removing or relocating live colonies. Bees are pests, the state says, and should only be removed or exterminated by someone with state pest-control operator license.
Councell, vice president of the Florida State Beekeepers Association, said most beekeepers are not licensed pest control operators. There had, however, been a sort of “gentleman’s agreement” to turn a blind eye to the regulations requiring a pest-control operator license to do bee removal. And for years, beekeepers would go to people’s homes and properties and remove feral bees.
On July 30, that changed. The state Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control statement that the law would be enforced put beekeepers who were doing bee removals out of business, Councell said. They had to shut down their operations and lay off employees.
Not only did these businesses go under. Consumers often don’t want bees killed, they want them taken alive and relocated, Councell said.
The problem is the state is going against consumer demand when it comes to bees.
“They are protecting their turf,” Donald Murray, president of the Beekeepers Association of Southwest Florida, said of some in the pest-control business who oppose allowing beekeepers to remove hives and pushed for the state to enforce the pest control laws when it came to bees.
If people call an exterminator to remove a hive and don’t want the hive relocated, many pest control operators don’t know the proper way to do it, Murray said. A pest control operator may spray the entrance to the hive and the bees will wait out the poison and simply move the operation deeper into the structure, he said.
Some will kill the bees, plug the whole and leave behind the honeycomb.
Then Murray said, “You’ve got honey, larvae, beetles and an icky mess.”
The brood (the developing young the drones take care of) will die and rot. That attracts roaches. The honey begins to ferment and wax and honey will drip through the walls or ceiling. (More)
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – Up to 10,000 people who were guests in certain lodging cabins at Yosemite National Park might have been exposed to a deadly mouse-borne virus, park officials confirmed Friday as rangers handled a slew of calls from frightened visitors.
Park concessionaire Delaware North Co. sent letters and emails this week to nearly 3,000 people who reserved the insulated “Signature” cabins between June and August, warning them that they might have been exposed.
The cabins hold up to four people, and park spokesman Scott Gediman said Friday that means up to 7,000 more visitors might have been exposed to the virus that so far has killed two people and sickened four others.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 calls a day are coming into Yosemite’s new hantavirus hotline as visitors frightened about the growing outbreak of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome call seeking answers.
“We’re reaching out and they are reaching out to us, and we are trying in every way shape and form to be transparent and forthright,” he said. “We want to tell people this is what we know. The most important thing is the safety of park visitors and employees.”
On Thursday, the California Department of Public Health confirmed that a total of six people have contracted the disease at Yosemite, up from four suspected cases earlier in the week.
Alerts sent to state and county public health agencies, as well as local doctors and hospitals, have turned up other suspected cases that have not yet been confirmed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Additional suspected cases are being investigated from multiple health jurisdictions,” the CDC said in an advisory issued to health care providers.
The illness that begins as flu-like symptoms can take six weeks to incubate before rapid acute respiratory and organ failure.
There is no cure, and anyone exhibiting the symptoms must be hospitalized. More than 36 percent of people who contract the rare illness will die from it.
All of the victims confirmed so far stayed in the high-end, insulated “Signature” tent cabins in the park’s historic Curry Village section between mid-June and early July. (Read more)
Its not very often that I feel that I MUST make a comment on the professional top notch performance of another business owner (or share emails) as I am not impressed very easily ..but I must now.
About a year ago, I was in search for a great flashlight. I was in no hurry, I just kept an eye out. I was reading a survivalist blog (The modern survivalist by ferFAL). In one of his post he mentioned several tremendous flashlights from Greg McGee Engineering.
I went to this site and checked out the cool items that were offered by Greg. As an ex-law enforcement officer, I was in cop heaven with Greg’s flashlights and accessories. I purchased a very cool flashlight from the site and received a thank you from the Greg himself, which I found odd but was very impressed.
I informed Greg that I found him through The Modern Survivalist site so that he would be aware of how I discovered him. We chatted through several emails about the quality, durability and brightness of the flashlight that I purchased. I found him to be generously open with his comments and of very good humor.
Flash forward about a year.
I decided that I wanted to buy a holster for my flashlight (Don’t ask why I did not order one when I bought the flashlight…’cause I have no idea, lol). So where else to go but right back the Greg’s site. I quickly found the holster that I wanted and purchased it online.
I shortly received an email from Greg:
Jim, I just noticed I am out of stock on the MTE holster. Would you like a full refund or a substitution to the generic large holster with a price credit for the difference and an additional 20% off the price of the generic holster?
I was again very impressed that Greg himself emailed me in respect to this matter and that he offered two very nice and easy solutions. I informed Greg that I would wait for the holster that I originally purchased and that there really was no hurry since the flashlight rode very well in my front cargo pocket and has for the past year.
Greg’s return email:
They should be in in a few weeks. I will hold off, the generic holster fits perfect as well.Thanks for the feedback! They are huge in pest control applications.
Life was good again as I awaited my cool holster to arrive. How could Greg’s response and attentiveness to his customers get any better?
Then, I unexpectedly received another email from Greg.
I am sending you two generic holsters to hold you over until the factory holsters arrive, which will probably be a month or so… I am keeping the order open and when they come in I will send you the holster.
I was absolutely dumbstruck by this..Who does this? To this day, I cannot remember any company or business owner providing such tremendous customer care…ever!
Greg’s attentiveness and professionalism in customer care is OUTSTANDING and something that sadly is not experienced very much any longer. I applaud Greg’s business, his products and especially his ethics. This is the kind of quality entrepreneurship that made this country great and has mostly become a lost art along the way.
At Beucher & Son, we work hard to help our customers in everyway. We treat all of our customers in a manner that we would like to be treated, with professionalism, courtesy and humor.
For example, We do not mind taking out the trash, picking up prescriptions and cleaning up branches in the yard after a big storm for our elderly customers. We check on homes that our “snow bird” customers own for storm damage or just keep a close eye of their property for security. We have walked dogs, chased cats that escaped and held snakes while the cage is cleaned by the customer. Providing great customer care is so normal to us that its not our second nature, its our first.
If you are looking for an honest, straight forward company that delivers a tremendous pest control service, you can stop looking!
At Beucher & Son, we pride ourselves with our "one on one" contact with our fantastic customers. We are a highly successful & motivated termite & pest control company that is locally owned and operated. We have been servicing residential, commercial and industrial properties in the Tampa Bay area since 1997.
The majority of our business is created mostly by word of mouth from our wonderful customer recommendations, which is in our humble opinion, the best form of advertising anywhere!
Our 16+ years of experience and continuing education and training have taught us to resolve pest problems efficiently, affordably and safely with 100% customer satisfaction.
We offer a great service at an affordable price. We always take pride in providing a friendly, top quality, professional pest control experience for our clientele. We distinguish ourselves from competitors by providing superior customer service. Absolutely no other company will do more for you!
Our services (one time, monthly, quarterly, annual or customized) include: Flies, Ticks, Fleas, Termites, Termite Inspections and WDO Reports, Pest Evaluation, Ants, Spiders, Beetles, Wasps, Cockroaches, Mice, Rats, Rodent Exclusions, Nuisance Animal Removal, Attic Decontamination, Bedbugs, Bee's, Millipedes/Centipedes. Earwigs, (and much more), are guaranteed to be prompt, professional and hassle free.
We are the ONLY pest company in the area that has a "Seniors in Need" program. This service provides FREE pest control to any senior who does not have the proper funds for a professional pest treatment. This is the "real deal" folks and no one does this but Beucher & Son!
I can promise this, "We will be the last pest control company that you ever need"!
Call us today for a free inspection and estimate. 727-388-6759