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  • 14 Nov 2018 9:30 PM | Warren Jones (Administrator)

    Unfortunately, the science behind ultrasonic pest repellers is ultra-shaky. Seems like an attractive idea though, right? Just plug a charger-sized device emitting undetectable sound into the wall, wait about 2 weeks, then BAM, your garage oasis is insect and rodent free without the use of chemical pesticides or inhumane traps. Sounds great! Too bad these devices have never been proven to actually work. But let’s take a look at the theory anyway.

    Ultrasonic sound waves have a frequency higher than what human ears can hear, but invading species can detect them. The sound is meant to irritate pesky critters and prevent them from making homes near the source of the noise. I’m pretty sure this is similar to how I feel about Montreal’s constant construction – in all fairness, I would move away too if I had the choice. But this only makes sense in theory. In actuality some animals seem to habituate to the noise, and others just don’t seem bothered at all.

    Read the full story here.
  • 12 Oct 2018 8:33 AM | Warren Jones (Administrator)

    Researchers at Georgia Tech University uncover how the brain reacts to seeing insects and other pests.

    To determine how the human brain reacts to seeing insects and other pests, Orkin partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) on a scientific research study.

    Georgia Tech researchers discovered that pests seen in a home elicited the neurological reaction of “strong disgust,” an emotion associated with avoiding contamination and disease.

    “We expected to find that the study participants were afraid of pests,” said Orkin Entomologist Mark Beavers, Ph.D. “The reaction of disgust is actually very significant, as many of the common household pests shown in the study can contaminate food and spread disease. It’s amazing how the human brain has adapted to the potential problems posed by many of these pests, and reinforces why we all should take precautions to keep such pests away from where we live, work and play.”

    STUDY DETAILS. Georgia Tech researchers used a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machine to monitor participants’ brain activity and heart rate. Inside the fMRI machine, researchers showed participants a series of video clips depicting insects and animals in different environments. They were shown common household pests (including cockroaches, bed bugs, flies, spiders and rodents), as well as video clips of “frightening” animals (including sharks, lions and crocodiles).

    Participants also were shown video clips of everyday occurrences (such as a waving flag), to serve as a control condition to compare neurological responses. Video clips were displayed in a random order, each clip lasting 15 seconds.

    With nearly every participant, the pest videos triggered a reaction in the brain’s insula, a region deep in the cerebral cortex associated with disgust. The amygdala, a portion of the brain associated with fear, was only triggered by videos of frightening animals.

    “Insects in the home produced more disgust in the brain than insects in the wild, especially cockroaches,” said Dr. Eric Schumacher, director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Advanced Brain Imaging. “Our research suggests that we may be conditioned against pests in the home, because they may be associated with contamination or illness,” he said.

    Twenty adults participated in the study, including 12 females and eight males.

    Participants also ranked their own anxiety while viewing videos of pests, using a hand-held rating device and through a post-scan survey. Seventy percent of the participants ranked their level of anxiety while viewing images of household pests as either mild, moderate or severe.

    The study was presented by Georgia Tech researchers at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) meeting in 2017. After receiving interest by peers at the conference, Georgia Tech is pursuing publication of the study in a medical journal. Source: Orkin

  • 13 Sep 2018 6:37 AM | Warren Jones (Administrator)
    Odorous house ant colonies thrive in urban spaces where fewer ant species survive. Urban odorous house ants can drive out their competitors and burgeon into big pest problems, requiring full treatment of the colony and increased monitoring. Here’s some insight to guide proper control efforts.

    What makes ants such successful pests? There are many reasons but two of the biggest are their immense variation and, surprisingly, people. To better understand pest ants, we need to examine both of these factors individually and together.

    In truth, less than 50 of the more than 12,000 described ant species regularly act out as pests. That is to be expected with such abundant diversity of behavior and anatomy. Pest ant species tend to share similar traits often described as “tramp characteristics.” These characteristics include broad diets, a wide range of preferred nesting habitats, colony expansion through budding, extensive tolerance of many climates and reduced aggression toward ants of the same species. Not all pest ants share all these characteristics, but it is common for ants that display many of these “tramp” traits to become increasingly difficult pests to control. It makes sense when you think about it from a pest management perspective:

    • Pests that eat a variety of food will be able to thrive in lots of places and potentially avoid insecticidal baits placed by pest management professionals.
    • Pests that nest in a variety of material will require more time spent identifying where to focus any treatment.
    • Pest colonies that grow in number and safely split in two are more likely to survive, instead of taking a risk by sending newly mated individuals to potentially dangerous places.
    • Pests that can thrive in diverse climates will not be as impacted by seasonal changes and may have expanded ranges or habitats where they are found.
    • Pests that do not compete as aggressively among their own kind facilitate additional pest infestations of the same species that can fill in any vacated nests.

    “Tramp” behaviors enable pest ants to thrive in the presence of human development, encouraging the accidental spread of these pests on a global scale into new environments as potential invasive species. Some invasive species can infiltrate both natural and urban habitats, commandeering resources and outcompeting native ants. These ants are called “drivers of change” because they drive down ant diversity and destabilize ecosystem balance. This can become problematic because a reduction of ant diversity often can lead to a surviving single ant species experiencing a perpetual positive feedback loop and growing into a giant pest problem (consider the massive Argentine ant supercolony, Linepithema humile, covering more than 500 miles of California).

    On a local scale, every ant colony you see in the urban habitat is, in a sense, invasive because these ants have spread from their natural roots into an alien environment generated by humans. However, these ant species merely benefit from native habitat destruction and simply survive to exploit the remaining resources with limited competition. These ants are called “passengers of change” because they indirectly receive a benefit caused by some other factor (typically urban development), diminishing ant diversity prior to their arrival. Ants that are “passengers” can be more easily controlled by limiting natural habitat disruption and, more importantly, focusing control efforts in the developed areas where the ants can be found. Therefore, proper pest ant control can greatly benefit from identifying if the pest ant acts as either a “driver” or “passenger” of change in the target area of management.

    CONTROL TECHNIQUES.At Purdue, we discovered odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile) adjust their behavior to act as both “drivers” and “passengers” of change throughout different phases of urban invasion. Odorous house ants found in their native natural habitats, like North American forests, live in small colonies with just one queen in one nest. We found these small colonies appear subordinate, living in natural spaces that house a total of 28 ant species. However, only 19 species were found in urban environments representing an approximate 32 percent reduction caused by urban development.

    Upon reinvading their newly urbanized habitat, odorous house ants likely benefit as “passengers of change” because of the reduced ant competition. Urban sites with odorous house ants contained only seven total ant species, resulting in a 63 percent reduction of possible surviving urban ant species. These results support the hypothesis that, over time, urban odorous house ants capitalize on their “tramp” characteristics to exploit a large variety of nesting sites and food resources, reproduce quickly through budding, monopolize large territories, and thus become “drivers of change” by dominating resources and driving out other urban ant species. The initial benefit from urbanization combined with an observed reduction of urban ant diversity in the presence of odorous house ants leads us to conclude Tapinoma sessile fulfill both roles as “back-seat drivers of change.” However, we still don’t understand what triggers odorous house ants’ change of behaviors from single queen and nest colonies into multiple queen and nest supercolonies.

    The remarkable transition of odorous house ants from a small, natural forest colony expanding into a large infestation that covers more than 1 acre of urban territory reveals several pest management implications. While a pest control technician may eliminate a problematic odorous house ant colony, permanent control of all odorous house ant pests is unlikely because the native ant population can re-infest any North American urban environment. Although baiting is highly effective against odorous house ants, once a colony has been eliminated through baiting, they are opportunistic nesters and a new colony may soon discover the vacated nest cavity left behind and move in. This underscores the importance of sealing up cracks and crevices whenever possible.

    Educate your clients to set expectations appropriately (even with perfect pest control, odorous house ants may become an intermittent problem requiring regular management effort). Finally, if you find a property with low ant diversity, that property may be susceptible to a flourishing odorous house ant infestation.

  • 11 May 2018 7:36 AM | Warren Jones (Administrator)
    Numbers don’t lie. Research from PPMA shows what consumers’ pest-related health fears are, as well as what they think of the pest management industry.


    If you read the news, it can be easy to wonder why it seems like we’re losing the war against ticks and the diseases they transmit. Why, exactly, are ticks so good at the bad stuff they do, and why are we humans having such a tough time fighting back?

    In 2016, the Entomological Society of America co-hosted a symposium on integrated tick management with several other organizations, for experts in the field to share knowledge and discuss paths toward improved tick management. Kirby C. Stafford III, Ph.D., chief entomologist for Connecticut, a state at the epicenter of the tick “boom,” reported to colleagues at the symposium on unique challenges ticks present and the latest progress in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices for ticks. That report is now published as a new open-access guide in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management (see box below).

    Stafford spoke with Entomology Today for a brief Q&A about his report and where research on IPM for ticks is headed.

    Entomology Today: What makes ticks such a complicated pest to manage?

    Stafford: To quote Dr. Daniel Sonenshine from his earlier book Biology of Ticks, Vol. 1, “few agricultural or health problems confronting human societies have proved as intractable as control of ticks and the many diseases they transmit.” The difficulty in managing ticks lies in their multifaceted, multiyear lifecycle, diverse host complex, the increasing abundance of key hosts, and a tick’s broad presence and adaptability to various habitats.

    In many cases, humans have increased the risk of exposure to tick bites by various behaviors and landscape practices. The greatest exposure risk is often residential, which can limit broader approaches to manage ticks. Who is responsible for tick control: the homeowner or the community? The approach used, for example, to manage many mosquitoes through control districts isn’t very applicable to ticks.

    ET: Your paper notes a “limited number of integrated tick management studies” in existing research. Why is that, and what kinds of IPM studies are needed?

    Stafford: Some of the innovative methods in the tick management toolbox can be expensive — or at least more expensive than spraying acaricides — and may target a specific host or one part of the tick-pathogen transmission dynamic that is more likely to be effective on a larger scale, versus a single residence.

    Carrying out large-scale tick management studies is expensive and can be logistically challenging. Given the multiyear lifecycle of most ticks, it also can take several years for the full impact of integrated interventions to be properly documented. Since not all management options may be applicable to every community, habitat and tick species, data on use of various IPM approaches in different settings are needed for proper assessment.

    ET: Is there an existing set or combination of methods that seem to you to be most effective or at least most promising?

    Stafford: While many research studies show that ticks can be successfully killed or their abundance reduced by various methods, it has been difficult to document an impact on disease. It also has been difficult to reduce tick abundance or the prevalence of infection sufficiently to actually show an impact on tick-borne disease.

    Nevertheless, with some caveats, the few studies that have demonstrated an impact on human Lyme disease have been either the reduction or treatment of white-tailed deer, which is the major reproductive host for the blacklegged tick — a.k.a., deer tick — and an animal host with neighborhood wide or larger territory. The most effective combination of methods to date involves some aspect of deer treatment or management along with acaricide applications and rodent-targeted methods.

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