Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wasps Compete With Native Ants in Surprising Way

A recent study by researchers at Victoria University has shown that invasive Common Wasps (Vespula vulgaris) will pick up and remove ants that are competing with them for a food source. Phil Lester and Julien Grangier took video of the wasps picking up native brown bush ants, flying off and dropping them away from the food.

Dr Lester says the ants are not always physically hurt, but appear stunned by the experience and often do not return to the food. He said the wasps "outcompete all sorts of animals for food in these beech forests and drive off anything" - sometimes even native parrots.

But, despite being 200 times smaller, the ants are able to hold their own by spraying the wasps with acid and biting them. The acid defence may be part of the reason wasps carefully remove the ants rather than kill them.

"When the wasps pick them up and drop them, I would imagine they are getting a mouthful of acid at that time and if they bite too hard they would get an even bigger mouthful of acid - they are really attempting to carry them rather than bite and kill them."

This is wasp behavior had not previously been recorded. It highlights the way in which invasive species can have surprising affects on natural habitats and ecosystems.

An ant walks into a bar and says to the barman.
"500,000 beers to go please!"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wasp Numbers Soar - Sting in the Tail

Wasp numbers are usually at their peak at this time of the year but the weather this year has seen wasp colonies grow to very high numbers and consequently the products such as NO Wasp Dust and Carbaryl are in very high demand. Many stores have sold out despite the best efforts of manufacturers to supply.

Insecticide dust is placed or puffed into the entrance of nests where workers land and carry it into the nest on their bodies and feet, thus destroying the colony. An alternative powder insecticide that will also work well to control wasp nests is available but less used. Maldison is also a powder and can be applied in the same way as Carbaryl. So if you are seeking carbaryl for controlling wasp nests and you find the hardware store or garden centre is sold out, you may find Maldison available.

Is the lead singer of the Police a wasp?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

First Signs of Cluster Flies Clustering

I am getting the first reports of cluster flies beginning their clustering season. Cluster flies are members of the blow fly family. As larvae they feed on earthworms in pasture and lawns before emerging as slow dull black flies. They vary in size from a little smaller than house flies to much larger (up to 16mm). They are characterised by being slow moving and easy to catch or squash compared to other flies.

Small cluster of cluster flies in roof void
Now is the time to be pro-active and prevent cluster flies clustering in your house or other buildings. Cluster flies seek dry, warm, dark spaces to group together and try to survive the coming winter. The flies release a pheromone that attracts other cluster flies to the cluster. as the cluster grows the strength of the pheromone increases and it attracts more flies. If the early stages of the cluster can be prevented you can stay free of cluster flies this season.

How to Prevent Cluster Flies Clustering

  • Where possible, seal up the entrances to roof voids, eaves, ceiling spaces, wall spaces, gaps around window and door frames, and other potential cluster sites.
  • If sealing is not an option, then spray the entrances to such places with Long lasting surface insecticide such as NO Bugs Super.
  • Use a paint brush or sponge to apply NO Bugs Super to  gaps in and around doorways, window frames, eaves, gaps between weatherboard, gaps around pipes and cables etc.
  • Any cluster flies found should be immediately killed, collected and removed in a sealed bag in the bin. Cluster flies continue to release attractant pheromone even when dead.
Prevention is always better than cure. Preventing cluster flies clustering in your home is much easier than getting rid of them once they have begun large clusters. this is because once a cluster has formed the pheromone will linger at the cluster site even after the flies have been removed and collected.

What has two wheels and flies?
A rubbish bin.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bed Bugs and Clutter

I have read some comments recently that say clutter in bedrooms causes bed bugs and I recently spoke to a customer asking advice on how to get rid of bed bugs, she asked whether they should remove the 'loads of stuff' in their bedroom.

Clutter does not cause bed bugs, but if a bedroom is cluttered there are likely to be many more places for bed bugs to hide and should bed bugs be brought into the room eradication is going to be more difficult.

A lot of 'stuff' (furniture, boxes, clothes, lamps, and objects of all sorts) provide more places for bed bugs to hide. Also, when treating for bed bugs the clutter will make examination and treatment more time consuming as each thing will have to be checked and treated. There is also an increased likelihood of transporting bed bugs from room to room on or in the 'stuff'.

So, if you are treating for bed bugs, take care not to transport bed bugs from the room to other places. Carefully check all objects before removing them from the affected room. Bag and freeze or treat with NO Bed Bugs spray if necessary.

If you are at risk from bed bugs, clear away clutter that might provide hiding places for bed bugs. Seal and fill cracks and crevices where bed bugs might find shelter, taking care not to leave spaces where they can hide more difficult to treat.

The same can be said for treatment and prevention of other crawling insect pests such as cockroaches, fleas and ants.

Make life easier and clear the clutter.

A bed bug walks into the blood bank to make a withdrawal.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Principles of Integrated Pest Management

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the use of several methods in a co-ordinated approach to preventing and controlling pests. IPM principles are as important in Do it Yourself (DIY) home and garden pest control as they are for professional and agricultural pest management.

It is rarely likely that one approach to controlling any pest will be sufficient on its own. For best ongoing success a good overall view of why there is a pest problem and what risks there are of a pest becoming a problem is needed.

What are the main approaches of Integrated Pest Management?
  • Assess the risks of a pest becoming a problem:
    - Learn about the habits of the pest
    - Apply the knowledge gained to reduce the risks
  • Change the habitat at risk to make it unsuitable for the pest
  • If the habitat cannot be changed in this way, apply preventative measures:
    - Physical barriers - stop the pests getting in
    - Apply chemical barriers - repellents, insecticide
  • Monitor to identify the entry of pests
  • Ensure pests that gain entry are controlled or removed as soon as possible
  • If the pest becomes established plan and prioritise the eradication of the pest and look to prevention of future infestations. 
What does IPM mean for you at home?

If we look at it from the home DIY pest control and gardening perspectives and simplify these principles it means:

Some numbers of pests are not a problem, take action when they are or could become a problem. E.g. a few aphids can be removed by squashing them with fingers or left to beneficial insects such as ladybugs to control, one or two flies flying in an open window may not be a significant nuisance, but one mouse in the house may be too many. The threshold depends on your reaction to the problem.

Look out for and take note of pests. E.g. If you don't go into your garden and look at the roses you won't see the aphids building up. Look out for signs of rodents. If you find something gnawed or some droppings, take time to check around the house for other signs.

Stop pests becoming a problem. E.g. Don't wait until your vulnerable roses have aphids, treat with preventative systemic insecticides on a regular basis. Prevent rodents gaining entry to your home by sealing gaps around pipes and in the eaves of your roof etc.

Getting rid of pests can rarely be achieved by the use of a single product or approach. E.g. Ants are best controlled by baiting followed by insecticide barriers used inside and outside, followed by removal or denial of nest sites. Moss in your lawns is best controlled by using Mossclear moss killer, then improving soil condition with fertiliser, aeration, improved light and drainage.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists four steps in IPM;

Set Action Thresholds
Decide what level of pests is unacceptable and above which action should be taken.

Monitor and Identify Pests
Not everything is a pest. Detect insects, animals and weeds, identify them and decide whether they pose a risk that requires action.

Prevention
This is the first line of defence. Plan to prevent a potential pest becoming a problem. This can be selecting plants for your garden that are resistant to insect pests or proofing your home against the entry of rats and mice.

Control
Once a pest has reached the set action threshold, has been assessed as posing a risk, and has gained entry to the protected environment action is taken to eradicate the pest.

A woman and pest control technician are having a passionate affair.
Her husband comes home early one afternoon while the pestie and her are fooling around.

She quickly shoves her lover in the wardrobe, naked.
The husband, on finding his wife naked in bed is suspicious and soon finds the pestie in the wardrobe.
"Who are you?" he asked him.
"I'm a pest control technician" said the exterminator.
"What are you doing in the wardrobe?" asked the husband.
"I'm investigating an infestation of clothes moths," the man replied.
"And where are your clothes?" asked the husband.
The man looked down at himself and said,.."Those little bastards!"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Christchurch Quake - No Water Cleaning Advice

Many affected parts of Christchurch City are still without water and many that have water should not use the water without first sterilizing it by boiling. With water pipes and sewer pipes breaking in the devastated areas of the city there has been contamination of the water supply by sewerage. Sewerage will carry disease organisms that can cause gastroenteritis and other diseases.

It is vital to prevent the spread of illness by following some simple rules:
  1. Unless otherwise advised by your water service, boil all water before drinking or using for brushing teeth. Even showering in contaminated water can risk organisms entering the mouth.
    Water should be boiled for at least 1 minute. In automatic kettles this means bringing to the boil again after the it has switched off once.
  2. Washing hands with possibly contaminated water can be followed by drying and the use of alcohol based hand sanitisers of at least 60% alcohol e.g. NO Germs Hand Sanitiser.
  3. When using alcohol sanitisers rub the gel into hands for at least 15 seconds then allow to dry. Do not use tissues and do not use with water.
  4. Where no water is available the alcohol sanitiser can be used on its own, but wash accumulated dirt from hands as soon as possible; as in 2 above.
  5. Children can be particularly vulnerable because they may play in contaminated areas and then unconsciously suck fingers or ingest contaminated material. Use sanitiser regularly and keep children away from material that may be of risk.
  6. Portable toilets and chemical toilets are being shipped to and distributed around affected areas of Christchurch. As there are not likely to toilets for each household there will be sharing of the facilities. There is a risk of spreading disease when using the toilets. Sanitize before and after using the toilets.
  7. Chemical toilets use chemicals such as NO Germs Racasan which is a formaldehyde based sterilization fluid. Racasan can also be used to clean down and sterilise hard surfaces.
Stay clean and stay safe.

When going to bed always take a full glass of water and an empty glass.
In the middle of the night you don't know if you'll be thirsty or not.