Atlas Moth

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Atlas Moth

Giant Moth that Cannot Eat

Imagine seeing what looks like a bird flying towards you, only to find out that it is actually a moth. It is amazing to discover that the world’s largest moth has an incredible wingspan of up to 12” across and a body that can reach close to 12” long. This unbelievable creation is called the Atlas Moth. With such a gargantuan size, it could be quite scary to see an insect the size of an Encyclopedia flying through the sky. Add to that, this large and beautiful moth has unusual color markings to add to its uniqueness. The wing extensions and coloring closely resemble snake heads. This could possibly be a self defense method, but it has not been proven. They do also use a spray that comes from there abdomen that can shoot a defensive irritant as much as two feet, if they are threatened. But these are only some of the things that make this moth an interesting insect.

As the moth begins its life as a caterpillar, it too is rather large at around 1” thick and 5” long. They feed heavily to grow and ready themselves to pupate into a cocoon. They make this cocoon out of silk and leaves. As a matter of fact these Atlas Moth Cocoons are actually sought after to be used as small purses in some Asian countries.

After four to six weeks the caterpillar comes out of the cocoon as a moth. And it’s a good thing it did all of that eating as a caterpillar, because now as an Atlas Moth, it will never eat again. They do not have functioning mouths, so they can’t eat. Therefore they rely on the stored food they gorged on while still a caterpillar. So at this point the Atlas Moth’s lifespan is limited, with approximately only two days to survive. With only two days to live, there main point of existence is to find a female to mate with. This is facilitated by pheromones excreted from the female, so the male can find her. She usually finds a place to land where the wind can blow the attractant to her male suitor. But, being so large the male is not a very good flyer. So this only makes it more difficult for the male Atlas Moth to find his female counterpart. Once he finds her, he latches on in order to fertilize her eggs. After only two days of life expectancy and desperately seeking his reproductive mate, he usually fertilizes, falls off and dies. The female then finds a good hiding spot to lay her eggs, on the underside of leaves. To protect the potential young, they spray their own strong smelling and irritating pest control on their eggs, to keep away predators such as ants. However, once the eggs are laid, the female is also at the end if her very short lifespan. Just like the male, she also dies, leaving another batch of eggs to continue this unusual and short lifespan as such a beautiful insect.

Since Atlas Moths live primarily in Asia, China, India and Indonesia, you most likely will only have the privilege of seeing one in a zoo. If your timing is just right you can spot one of these monster size moths.

 

One of the largest moths that inhabit our area is the Imperial Moth at a width of six inches. However this moth is not considered a Nashville Pest Control Issue, unless you consider damage to vegetation or the sting the caterpillar can inflict. As always, be hesitant to touch an unknown insect, as you do not know what they are capable of. Call Certified Pest Control of Nashville if you suspect any pest or infestation issue, so we can properly define a treatment method and explain the benefits of an affordable yearly pest protection plan.

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Spider Webs

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Spider Webs

Silk Strong as Steel

Spiders are very good engineers with an ability to form a web material that defies strength that can be attained from such a small strand. When compared to very strong materials that humans build with, it actually has the same tensile strength as steel when measured at the same weight of each material.

So how can such a small insect produce such a unique and strong material? Spiders are born with spinneret glands in their abdomen. Each species of spiders have a different number of these glands and each produce a different type of material.  Spiders may have as many as five to eight different silk producing glands. Some is produced sticky, while some is fluffy. While constructing their sticky web as a trap for food, they carefully and slowly move in a way so as not to get stuck themselves. They are assisted by having feet that is covered in a non stick coating. Also they can produce a web material that is thick and strong in order to suspend the spider and drop its entire body weight safely to another level of construction. In addition to using these miraculous silk producing spinneret glands, some spiders have brush like designs on their legs that can give the silk a different texture to make it more fuzzy and cover a wider area with a more tangled and dense web. More interesting uses that a Spider web is used for, is transportation. They can shoot the silk in a vertical pattern to form a balloon or parachute like structure, and then ride the wind to spread out their population over a wider area. The many inventive ways a spider uses its silky web is truly amazing.

Even more amazing is how the web gets its strength. Although its relative strength can be compared to steel, it is the flexibility or elasticity that makes it even more versatile and strong for building. If the web material was simply a strong rigid material, it may be very strong for a short amount of time, but then it could break under a sudden impact. However the spider silk is very flexible; allowing it to blow in the wind, be stretched by other insects, animals or humans and stay relatively intact. Therefore when a spider orb is carefully placed to attract and capture food, it can absorb the impact of a flying insect, stretch enough to stay intact then allow the stickiness of the web to capture its prey. It can be compared with other strong human made products such as the material that is used in bullet proof vests. These vests are effective due to the fact that they are constructed with many different small strands of material. These strong flexible strands flex and absorb the impact of a bullet travelling at thousands of feet per second. The spider web works in the same manner, and there is even talk of using research to incorporate spider web silk into a next generation of bullet proof vests.

Many spiders can be identified simply by the type of web they construct. Many of us only think of the typical orb spider web that we see so often. However there are also sheet webs, funnel webs, triangle webs, tube webs and tangle webs to name a few. Each of these different designs serves a specific purpose for each species of spider that depends on where they live, how they trap and how they defend. Some are very organized in structure in design, while others resemble tangled tumbleweeds of silk. Most orb webs begin with a single fine thread to drift and catch a ride over to bridge a gap. Once the fine thread is secure, they tighten it and go back over the initial silk thread with a stronger thread to begin the orb construction. Once the main header lines are in place, the circular pattern begins construction, followed by support webs to keep the pattern uniform. The spider constantly checks and measures based on their body length where to connect the next circular pattern to the inner web. While this construction is happening, the spider also continuously checks the tension of each web, eating off what is considered loose, tightening it and reattaching. Then it is time to run the sticky silk lines.  The sticky silk is used to trap and is carefully placed in the same circular pattern, in between the initial design. This gives the spider a non sticky route to travel around the sticky trap, to quickly travel to prey and wrap it in silk for a tasty meal. It is a very tedious and time consuming process, but beautiful and effective when complete.

Although there are many different designs of webs per spider species, most all spiders use the same type of silk to wrapping their prey once it is caught. They also use this same type of fine silk to wrap their eggs to keep them safe. So not only is this one of nature’s miracle compounds and designs, it also has very different uses and applications within the insect world and beyond.

As with all spiders, when you see webs make sure to call Certified Pest Control of Nashville, Tennessee. We are happy to inspect, identify and implement a control method to keep your home safe from Spiders. We offer Nashville Pest Control services at affordable rates with friendly local family service.

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Horse Fly

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Horse Fly

Blood Sucking Fly

It’s cold outside, so let’s think happy thoughts of summer. Just picture; having a great time in the back yard, throwing the ball, playing in the pool or grilling out; happy and peaceful. That is, until the large Horse Fly shows up to the party. With their quick speed, agile acrobatic moves and tenacity to focus on a particular target; the party soon turns into “get rid of the biting fly”.

The Horse Fly is mostly identified by their large size and almost buzzing like sound as they quickly fly around your head looking for a quick spot to land. Their bodies range in size from ¼” to 1” long, with an accompanying wingspan of up to 2”. Brown or Black in color with a fuzzy appearance, they have one set of wings and have tapered bodies.  They are found in all areas around the world except for Polar Regions and Hawaii. And, as we all know from the painful bite, they do exist here in Nashville, Tennessee.

Horse Flies are most active in summer busy feeding on nectar.  Although the male and female feed this way, it is primarily the male that feeds and collects pollen, while the female is much more sinister. In order to reproduce, the female needs to feed on blood of another animal or human. They do not have an undetectable bite such as a mosquito, rather the bite is quite painful and immediately knocked away. Therefore the persistent Horse Fly continues its pursuit to get blood from this one particular victim. This proves true if you have ever been swimming in a pool with other people, however one Horse Fly continues to maneuver and speedily land on and attack one individual. They are naturally drawn to swimming pools with the shiny reflections and most commonly, carbon dioxide exuding humans.  For some reason once a Horse Fly chooses its victim, they tend to continue to try and attach to the same victim. This is due to the type of movement, body warmth, skin texture or even the levels of carbon dioxide that the individual victim produces. Once you have tagged as “it”, the Horse Fly tries its best to attach by using the ends of their legs and claws to grip and hold on just long enough to bite and get some blood to reproduce. This bite is particularly ferocious due to the design of the Horse Fly mouth. It has an organ designed to stab into the skin, then two pairs of cutting razors that quickly and effectively pierce then open the wound. Once the wound is opened, the saliva of the Horse Fly acts as an anti clotting compound to make sure that the blood flows quick and easy. Then the center of the mouth has an organ very much like a sponge that is ready and able to soak up and store all of the blood that the fly can get from the victim.

The female Horse Fly has mated, now increased the chances of offspring with a lovely meal of blood and is ready to lay her eggs. They usually prefer areas near water, such as marshy areas at the edge of a pond or lake, boat docks at inlets or any area with a continuous moist ground. She can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time. These eggs go through five to ten different larval stages, last through the winter months, ready to emerge as fully grown adults in spring. As an adult they only live thirty to sixty days, so they have a limited time frame to ensure the next generation continues.

The Horse Fly can spread disease since they suck blood from multiple different animals or humans. These infectious equine diseases could become quite serious. However; most reactions to their bites are relatively mild such as redness, swelling, rash or even dizziness. If the bite area looks infected or a fever develops, seek immediate medical attention. For maximum protection, always wear insect repellent while outdoors along with long sleeves and pants if possible. As with any fly problem, call out a professional to properly identify the solution. Certified Pest Control in Nashville is your local family owned and operated choice for honest effective solutions to all of your pest control needs. Call our family today to define your affordable preventative pest control program in Nashville and all surrounding counties.

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Insect Stinger

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Insect Stinger

Is it a Sting or a Bite?

Most people do not properly identify between an insect bite and sting. They simply say I have been stung or bitten. So what is the difference? The biggest difference is that a bite is from the mouth and a sting is from a sharp organ that is attached to the rear of the abdomen. That being said both a bite and a sting can be venomous or non venomous.

To further identify the difference; most stinging insects are in the form of Wasps, Bees, Hornets, Yellow Jackets and Fire Ants. Some Centipedes and Scorpions also use stingers. Stings most often cause pain, swelling, redness and itching as the venom dissipates. Bites are often associated with Spiders, Mosquitoes, Ticks, Bed Bugs, Chiggers, Fleas, Mites and in rare cases Cockroaches. Bites cause the insect saliva to enter your body that can produce rash and itching; and in more serious cases it can introduce disease such as Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, Malaria, Chagas disease and flesh eating bacteria in wounds.

An insect stinger is a very small organ that can deliver a powerful punch. Although most stinging insect females carry the venomous stinger, many males do not, such as the Wasp and Carpenter bee. These males will bluff and even act aggressive, but they cannot sting you. The female stinger however is one to be avoided, with two key ingredients being venom. An insect stinger is a built in defense system that helps them to survive other predators. The problem is that they live in close proximity to us and can consider us invaders. Thus the stinger is only used when under threat, or we have gotten too close. Once we have breached that boundary of posing a threat, the insect will go into a protective pose and attack. The insect will land on you with a leading tail and stinger ready. Once the stinger has been inserted into your skin, the two venom glands excrete the fluid. Each venom gland produces a different type of compound to be most effective. One gland secretes a poison that affects the nervous system in order to send signals to the brain that there is an intense pain. The second gland secretes a form of acid that actually slows the flow of blood. That is the reason that a wasp sting is extremely painful for the first few minutes. The painful poison is allowed to stay in the slowed blood stream at point of entry, until it can be diluted naturally and carried away. So, we find ourselves screaming in pain and rubbing the sting area for a few minutes until the blood can get to flowing again in order to dissipate the pain inflicting poison.

There is a common belief that all stingers are left in the skin and need to be removed; that the bee or wasp stings once, lose their stinger and dies. There are species of Honey bees that do have a barbed stinger that will embed in the skin. These Honey bees do in fact lose their stinger and die within minutes. However most all other Wasps, Yellow Jackets, Hornets, Fire Ants and Bees have smooth stingers, and like a needle can be used to sting, pull out smoothly and used again. They can sting multiple times in one attack, which make them especially dangerous to those that have allergic reactions.

So, as with any insect that can bite or sting, you need to avoid any nesting areas. Then take appropriate measures to remove the threat. To keep your home safe from stinging insects; make sure to call your Nashville Pest Control Family at Certified Pest Control. We will locate nesting sites, identify the pest and define the proper treatment program to control your issues.

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Black Widow Spider

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Black Widow Spider

Cannibal that Eats Her Mate

The Black Widow Spider has long been one of the most feared insects to invade your home. Recently, with more knowledge and cases of Brown Recluse Spider bites, the Black Widow is not as prevalent among homeowner’s complaints. However it is still a populous resident in Nashville and a venomous predator that should be avoided at all costs.

The Black Widow gets its name from their mating practice. They are solitary insects, except for late in the spring season, when it is time to reproduce. Once the Female has chosen her mate, and is fertilized, she then turns cannibal and eats her male counterpart. This behavior has been determined to be a survival instinct, to give her offspring better odds of growing to adulthood and give her babies sufficient protein while still inside of her. She then spins an egg sac that will hold up to 800 eggs. In about one month the baby spiders emerge, and following their mothers example, they too are cannibals and will even eat each other. So, the quick three month span to adulthood is quite difficult. Although the female lifespan is two to three years, the male lifespan is only a few months. This is no doubt, due to the fact that the females eat them. So the male is quite careful when approaching. They try and sense if the female has already eaten, to lower the possibility that they will in fact be eaten. They do so by testing the chemical makeup of her web, to see if it is safe. But few ever get away safe.

The female Black Widow spins an extremely strong web that is comparable to steel wire, when compared in scale to humans. This web serves several functions. It is a place to keep her egg sac and potential young safe until they hatch. The Black Widow Web also is carefully placed in an area that will trap food for survival. The diet of the Black Widow consists of just about anything ensnared in the web such as flies, mosquitoes, and even other spiders. Although the Black Widow has very poor eyesight, they are very sensitive to vibrations. The hang upside down, suspended and attached to the web, waiting to sense the vibrations of its struggling prey. They then hurry to the trapped insect and wrap it in silk to encapsulate its dinner. When it is time to eat, the Black Widow actually bites the prey to ensure death, and then they regurgitate digestive enzymes on the insect to dissolve it into a liquid. Now it is time to suck up their liquid diet.

The Black Widow is about 1 ½” long and can be identified by its trademark black color, and red hourglass on the underside of their abdomen. The male is a little more difficult to identify as it is smaller than the female and can have various different markings of red or white, on the top of its body.

The Black Widow venom is one of the most powerful among arachnids, however it only feels like a small stick of a pin when bitten. They are not aggressive and only bite out of defense or if they sense pressure, such as being stepped on. The effects on other insects are deadly, so be careful around a web or if you spot a Black Widow. Rare cases of human fatality have been reported, so children and elderly should be extra cautious of this venomous spider. The venom can cause sweating, nausea, muscle pain, abdominal pain and a very fast heart rate. Symptoms can last as long as a week or two, but can be treated with an antivenom if necessary to relieve pain.

Black Widows reside around the world, including the United States and here in Nashville, TN. So, in addition to being cautious to avoid this venomous spider; a regular pest prevention plan should be in place to protect your family from all spiders. To properly address your Nashville Pest Control Prevention Plan, contact Certified Pest Control. You can trust our family to treat you and your home in an honest and effective manner.

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Velvet Ant

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Velvet Ant

Wasp in Ant’s Clothing

This cute fuzzy looking Ant is not really an Ant. And if you experience the painful sting, you will not think it is so cute and fuzzy looking anymore. To set the record straight; a Velvet Ant is actually a wingless Wasp. It gets its name from the short hair or velvet like coat that covers their body and the fact that they look like an Ant. The bright colored hair alternates on the body in contrasting colors such as yellow and brown, or red and black. They have even been spotted with brilliant colors of gold, orange or silver.

Although they are beautiful to look at, the Velvet Ant is also called the Cow killer Ant due to the potent sting that it delivers. It developed the alternate name through years of people saying that “the sting is so strong it could kill a cow”. This has led to a myth that the Velvet Ant actually feeds on or attacks cows. They do not. However, on a very well known scientific pain scale of one to four, the Velvet Ant registers near the top end of painful stings at a level 3.

The Velvet Ant is not a social insect living in colonies. They are solitary and often use the underground nests of other wasps and bees to lay their own eggs.  Velvet Ants are active during the day feeding on nectar, although the females are usually most active in the hours before sunset.

To properly identify this wasp in ants clothing, first look for the bright alternating color patterns. Upon closer examination the antennae of an Ant will have a bend or elbow, while the Velvet Ant antennae are straight. The female does not have wings, while the male does have wings, but they are transparent making them difficult to see. They range in size from Half inch to one inch in length, so they can be very large. So, if you spot a large colorful Ant, do not try and pick it up as it can be dangerous.

The Velvet Ant is not an aggressive species, so they will likely try their best to avoid you. However, if you happen to be walking barefoot through the yard, a painful sting could be waiting for you. When they are disturbed or stepped on they will sting. And even though you will likely be yelping from the pain, this wasp will actually let out a squeak itself. This squeak is actually part of their defense system. Other predators looking for a tasty meal may try and eat this ant. As they do, the Velvet Ant will begin to squeak. If this squeaking does not deter the predator, their strong exoskeleton; along with its stiff bristly hair make it difficult to chew. Then as its most effective defense, the Velvet Ant will deliver the painful sting that will cause the predator to spit it out and run for cover.

The best way a homeowner can defend against these painful stinging wasps is to keep your grass as full and thick as possible. Try to limit their natural habitat of large open areas with dirt or sandy soil. As with any Ant problem, it needs to be addressed immediately by a professional. All Ants are pesky pest control issues that can be treated properly with the correct methods. So, make sure to call your Nashville Pest Control specialists - Certified Pest Control – to address all of your Ant or Wasp issues. Our team is always happy to assist you and deliver the kind of service only a local family business can offer.

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Cuckoo Wasp

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Cuckoo Wasp

Wasp that is a House Thief

The Cuckoo wasp is a beautiful colorful insect with a metallic appearance that gives off colors of blue, green and red. With a speedy movement and small size, they are hard to even see. As a matter of fact at only ½” long and constantly on the move, they can be mistaken for a housefly. But this is not the most interesting fact about the Cuckoo wasp. Their name is taken from the Cuckoo bird that reflects similar behavior when laying eggs and raising their young in other birds’ nests.

The Cuckoo wasp is a parasite wasp that typically uses other insects nest as their own. So, they may take advantage of the hard work of other wasps or bees but they have to be sneaky about their intentions. The Cuckoo wasp will watch for a typical host, such as a mud dauber wasp, to build their nest and raise their own young. However, with surveillance like an insect on a stake out they wait for the best time to plan their invasion. Once the mud dauber has completed the nest and is ready to lay their eggs, they will paralyze other insects to place in the nest for food when the eggs hatch. But leave it to the Cuckoo wasp to spoil their plans. While the mud dauber is dragging the paralyzed insect into its nest, the small Cuckoo wasp will hitch a ride into the mud daubers nest to lay its own eggs. They also have been known to make a direct and brave entry into the host nest, even risking injury. But they are well suited for this type of attack, as they have an exoskeleton that will protect them from the real nest owner’s stings. In addition to that, their body has a pocket in the underside of their body to bring the eggs in. When the invaded mud dauber tries to sting the Cuckoo wasp and its eggs, they simply curl up to protect the eggs in the pocket, so the mud dauber simply kicks it out of the nest unharmed. Then the Cuckoo wasp stakes out the nest again until it can gain entry to lay its eggs.

The host nest is a perfect place for the Cuckoo wasp eggs, as the mud dauber does not detect the difference in its own eggs and that of the intruder. So it lays its eggs, leaves the paralyzed insect that it carried in for food and then seals up its nest / tube with a cap. The poor mud dauber now leaves its eggs to hatch, not knowing that there is an enemy intruder sealed up with its potential young. The larva of the Cuckoo wasp then hatches earlier than that of the mud dauber. This allows them to have a safe place to grow, and to feed on the mud dauber larva as a source of food. Once they grow, they also benefit from the hard work of the host, to leave food for its own larva. So the Cuckoo wasp then feed on the insect that was paralyzed and placed carefully in the nest for the mud dauber larva. A very adapt thief indeed. Not only does the Cuckoo wasp invade the host nest, use the host larva as food, but also have additional food to grow and thrive; all thanks to another insect’s hard work.

The Cuckoo wasp primarily live in dryer climates, but do live in all states. They are most active in the summer months, flying around gathering nectar and staking out their next host nest. Although they do have a stinger, it is very small and has been considered not to sting. Cases have been found of larger species in other countries that will sting, similar to a wasp or bee. Though they are not considered to be a major pest control issue here in Nashville, Tennessee; keep on the watch. Maybe you will get a glimpse of the beautiful iridescent wasp that inhabits our state. As with any wasp sighting around your home, be careful and give Certified Pest Control a call, to properly identify and define a treatment program to protect you and your home.

 

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Norway Rat

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Norway Rat

Fast Breeding Rodents

Rats, Mice and other Rodents can breed you out of your home, very quickly if control measures are not taken. For example one of the most common Rats we have in Nashville, Tennessee as a Pest Control issue; is the Norway rat, Brown rat or common rat. They breed year round with the right conditions, and can produce up to five litters per year. Once the female has mated, babies can be produced in as little as 20 days and can be as many as 14 in one litter. These new baby rats can then breed within 5 weeks of being born. They do not care that they are brother and sister, so the 14 new rats will breed with each other and begin the whole process all over again. Do the math and you will see how fast this rodent can eat you out of house and home. At the minimum the mother will give birth to a litter of seven or eight babies. If Litter one of only 8 rats breed they then produce at minimum 32 new rats, those 16 mates then produce at minimum 128 new rats, those 128 new mates then produce at minimum 512 new rats, those 512 new mates then produce a minimum of 2048 new rats, then the final 5th generation of 2,048 new mates produce a minimum of 8,192 new rats. So, in conclusion 2 mating rats can grow to 8,000 or more rats in a single year. That is assuming the bare minimum of 8 babies per litter. If they happen have the maximum of 14 per litter, the numbers grow exponentially to a potential of 15,000 to 20,000 rats in one year.

This is purely a mathematical approach to show how many rats can produce in 1 – year under the right conditions. That being said, the Norway rat has a lifespan of up to 3 – years with many only living one year due to other predators. Either way, nobody wants to see 15,000 rats in their home.

So, you want to keep an eye out in order to spot the first one in order to put control methods in action. Places to watch are basements and crawl spaces. These rats burrow and look for places to breach your foundation, even burrowing through your foundation if they really want entry. Once you can spot rat runs to holes near the foundation or in your crawl space, cellar or basement, there is an issue. They gain entry to your home and are very good climbers to get into walls and your home to find food, moisture and harborage. They will eat most anything, but seem to favor most items in the common household pantry.

For sake of identification the Norway or Brown rat is brown or dark grey and will range in size from 6” to 12” long. These large rats are effective survivors, having the ability to climb, swim in water, and can adapt to live in extreme weather environments. They prefer to live in urban areas where they have plenty of access to moist and food rich structures. Once they invade a structure, they do not venture far from their nest, usually staying within 50’ as long as food is available.

Another concern of having been invaded by this fast reproducing rodent is the possibility of disease that they can carry. Most common diseases that they can carry are a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis (which is mostly spread when the house cat catches the rat and then can transfer it to humans). This is usually transferred through the feces of the cat and can cause flu like symptoms. People with compromised immune systems are more at danger for serious complications from this parasite. So, always keep your cat well fed on pet food, avoid stray cats, wear gloves and a mask when cleaning the litter box and last but not least – wash your hands thoroughly when done.

As you have just read, the breeding cycle and speed of reproduction of Norway rats make it very difficult to control as a DIY project. If you spot rats, or other rodents in or around your home please call Certified Pest Control in Nashville, Tennessee to address the issue with the proper control method. So, choose the only Nashville Pest Control company that is truly “Certified” to give you the personal and honest service a local family owned and operated business can.

 

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Asian Longhorned Tick

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Asian Longhorned Tick

Invasive New Tick Species

There is a new invasive tick species in the United States. The Asian Longhorned Tick has been identified in the Northeast and as close as Maryland, West Virginia, Arkansas and North Carolina. This new tick species originates from China, Japan, Russia, Korea, Australia and other South Pacific regions. From the best known studies of introduction, it seems that it has been in our country as early as 2013, however official reports site 2017. With the Asian Longhorned Tick migrating to neighboring states, it is a concern for us to keep a look out for any signs of this species to address pest control measures here in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Asian Longhorned Tick primarily tends to find hosts on livestock animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens; it also has been found on deer, rabbits, bear, rats and birds. Some of our native tick species only feed on specific animals, however the Asian Longhorned tick will feed on anything. When they invade an area, they tend to feed in such large numbers, as to cause such massive blood loss to its host that it dies. The numbers are alarming, considering how fast this new tick can reproduce. Typically ticks found in our area can take two years from fertilization to adult. The Asian Longhorned Tick can lay up to 2,000 eggs that will produce young within 6 months. Under some climate conditions, two generations have been reported in a single season. Add to this fast lifecycle, the female can reproduce without needing a male to fertilize her eggs. They are also quite hardy survivors, as they can live for almost one year without a single feeding and will dig underground to survive an entire winter; even in cold winters of the Northeastern United States.

At this point of what is known of this new species of tick, it seems that mostly livestock, wild animals and outdoor pets are at risk. However this tick has shown behavior in other countries to also use humans as hosts. This poses health risks such as Japanese Spotted Fever, Russian encephalitis and severe fever with thrombocytopenia. Some of these are serious health concerns and should be considered a threat that should warrant regular inspection of your body, pets and livestock for ticks, as usual.

An Adult Asian Longhorned Tick is about the same size as many other ticks in our area (very small). They are light to dark brown in color but do not have any defining shapes or markings to assist in identification. This poses a challenge to positively identify this species. Therefore it is important to always check in tick prone areas such as ears, neck, back, groin, ankles, armpits and all underwear areas. Be careful to always wear pants tucked into your boots or socks, and long sleeved shirts if venturing into high grass or wooded areas of your property. Then inspect thoroughly when undressed. Also, continually check your outside pets for possibility of ticks.

Although the Asian Longhorned Tick has not been verified in Nashville, Tennessee, you want to report any suspicious looking ticks that you find. If you suspect ticks in your area, or in your home make sure to give Certified Pest Control a call so we can identify and define a treatment program to control your tick population.

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Leaf Insect

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Leaf Insect

Master of Disguise

The walking leaf is a master of disguise. They use camouflage as their main feature of defense. You may be looking right at one and not even know it, as they can look exactly like a leaf on a tree. The level of detail in their disguise is amazing, as they will even have dark or aged edges, with places that are notched out to perfectly mimic bite marks that any real leaf would have. To add to their realistic disguise, they even move back in forth in a motion that would look like a leaf blowing in the wind.

The leaf insect is part of the Phasmid or Phylliidae family. This would put them as close relatives to cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers and praying mantis. Although many insects in its family species are considered pest control issues here in Nashville, Tennessee, the walking leaf is not. They primarily live in Australia and Southeast Asia. So we probably won’t be seeing one any time soon in Tennessee unless it is a pet. Yes, many people find this insect so interesting to look at, they keep them as pets.

They range in size from 1” to over 4” long, and as with many insect varieties the male is typically smaller then the female. Both the female and male leaf insect has front and rear wings but only the male can fly when under attack. Some species also have spikes on their hind legs that can help deter predators with a painful kick. So, if their camouflage is detected they really only have one line of defense.

Some leaf insects can reproduce without mating. The process is called parthenogenesis and when this method of having young happens, only females are born. It requires fertilization from a male to produce eggs that contain both male and female. Unlike many other insects they do not have a birth cycle that includes egg, larva and pupa like wasps, flies or ants. Depending on the species, the leaf insect lays eggs that can remain underground for one to three years or can be laid at the top of a tree and hatch in two to ten weeks. The eggs that are laid on the ground have a knob that looks like plant seeds that attract ants. This would seem to be the end of the life cycle for this new leaf insect. However this is still all part of the many stages of disguise that this interesting insect uses to survive. The ants see what they think is a seed, take it underground to their nest and eat only the knob. This leaves the egg completely intact for the leaf insect baby to develop. Being in the ant nest, they are in a very safe place, as they are then protected by the ant colony from any other possible predators. When hatched they resemble a very small adult leaf insect, also very easily confused with an ant. So, the babies can blend in with the ant colony until they can make their way out and begin their new life. The babies look brown in color when hatched, they then climb up the nearest tree and begin to feed on leaves which turns them green. Since they are herbivores and feed on the local plant life where they are born, their color resembles the habitat that they hide in.

The new females can lay eggs only a few weeks after becoming an adult. Also depending on the species, it can lay one hundred to one thousand eggs at one time. Their short lifespan of six months for a male and eighteen months for a female, still make for a very active birth cycle to ensure the continued life cycle.

The leaf insect shows that it is a master of disguise from egg, to hatching and eventually an undetectable leaf on a tree. It is truly an amazing camouflage artist.  

 

 

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