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The Kangaroo Beetle

The Kangaroo Beetle

Photo By Smithsonian Institution - Insect Zoo / CC BY 2.0

Giant Legs, or Something More?

The Kangaroo Beetle, A.K.A. the Frog-Legged Leaf Beetle, is a species of beetle found in Thailand and Malaysia. These beautiful bugs have varying sizes depending on the gender of the bug, with females growing up to 0.98 inches, and males growing up to 1.97 inches. The main difference between the males and females, besides their actual size, is their rear legs. While the females have normal sized legs and look like any regular ole' beetle, the male Kangaroo Beetle has extremely large hind legs! Not only are they much thicker than the females legs, they are also very long and much stronger than the females, as well as most other bugs rear legs as well. The interesting qualities of these bugs doesn't just stop at their legs. The males and females both have a beautiful color to them. Their base color is green, and on top of this green are red and gold reflective patterns. These aren't just regular colors either! They are an extremely reflective metallic color, common to only a few bugs, including these beetles. The cocoons of this species can be found in many different places, but the absolute most common place to find them is on climbing vines, in the jungle. When these bugs are ready to form their cocoon, they will search out these climbing vines, climb very high, and then spin their cocoon around themselves.

One interesting thing about these beetles is how they communicate. They have multiple ways to talk to each other. In order to attract other beetles for socialization, the beetles will emit a pheromone to attract other beetles to its location. Unfortunately though, these beetles are getting close to extinction. Thankfully though, they are being brought back from the brink by different people. One team leading the charge in this effort is a team at the Berlin zoo. They have discovered how to help these bugs reproduce is large numbers in captivity. However, these bugs lay their eggs in a specific area that is only found in their native land. So, to get around this, the staff at the Berlin Zoo have discovered that sweet potatoes, of all things, resemble this hatching location perfectly, and therefore it makes a perfect place for the Kangaroo Beetle to lay its eggs.

Now, these giant legs that give this bug its own identity aren't just for looks. They are actually weapons, and helpful tools for eating! See, while the Kangaroo beetle is eating, it uses those massive hind legs to hold onto the tiny stems of leaves as it eats them. As for the use of the legs as a weapon, it is not a certainty, but based on scientific research, their legs are most likely used as weapons in battle with other males over females. The reason for this being because the males and females eat the same food, drink the same water, face the same predators, and live the same life. The only difference is the males have to fight over who gets which female. This is why scientists think that they have these extra large legs, to aide them in battle with other males for the female. This behavior of fighting with large rear legs has actually been observed in other species! For copyright reasons we are unable to show a picture of how two bugs would fight with their rear legs, but if you are interested in seeing how this is possible and what it looks like, you can check out This Article from the Scientific American. The photo of how they fight is about half way down the page.

Brown Recluse Spiders

Brown Recluse Spiders

Photo By Lisa Zins / CC BY 2.0

How To Tell If a Brown Recluse Bit You

When most people hear they have a Brown Recluse problem they think it is the end of the world! We all know they are all around Middle Tennessee, but when someone gets an infestation they can't believe it! Well, Brown Recluse infestations are actually much more common than people think. We come across many who thought they'd never have a Brown Recluse, and now have them all over their home! If you have a problem with Brown Recluse Spiders, don't worry, because it can all be taken care of.

When most people think about Brown Recluse Spiders, they think about the terrible results of getting bitten by one. However, although most people think that if one bites you it is going to eat your skin away, this is rarely the case. Most Brown Recluse bites are just like any other spider bite. They swell up, may hurt a little, and also may itch. While most of these bites are like common spider bites, there are of course some other cases where the bites get out of hand, which is what you have most likely come to associate with these spiders. The Brown Recluse has a potentially deadly venom inside of it called hemotoxic venom. This is the venom that causes, in some cases, the skin to eat itself away and form a hole. It is very important to note though, that necrosis (what makes the skin get eaten away) only occurs in 14% of Brown Recluse bites. If you get bitten by one, there is no reason to be immediately alarmed. Most likely, it is just going to be like a normal spider bite, and cause no other major problems. On top of there only being a 14% chance of this bite causing major issues, you also have a very small likely hood of even getting bit! As suggested by the fact that the word recluse is in its name, these spiders tend to stay out of the way of everything. Even if they are found in plain view, they are not aggressive at all and would much prefer to not bite you. In one extreme infestation documented in Kansas, over 2,000 Brown Recluse Spiders were removed from this home. Talk about an infestation! Even though there were over 2,000 of these spiders in this home, the 4 people living inside the house were never once bitten, although they had seen them many times. The only time a Brown Recluse will bite you is if you touch it. If they sense pressure on their skin they will think that they are being attacked, and bite whatever is touching them. This is why most of the time Brown Recluse bites are completely accidental. There may be one in your bed, or in some old clothes, and if you happen to role over in the bed and land on it, well you're probably going to get bitten. Likewise, if you put on a shirt that you haven't worn in quite some time and there is a Brown Recluse living in the shirt, well as soon as you put the shirt on and the spider feels some kind of pressure, you are again most likely going to get bitten. If you are unlucky enough to be accidentally come into physical contact with one of these spiders and get bitten, here are a few ways you can tell if it is going to be within that 14% of serious bites:

  • The bite will become painful and very itchy within 2 to 8 hours.
  • Pain will become even worse 12 to 36 hours after the bite.
  • Over the next few days the skin will become very weak, and begin degrading.
  • The skin could degrade in a spot as large as 10 inches.
  • After some time and the skin has degraded, the damaged skin will then peel off like it was never attached.

So yes, while these spiders are a much more common pest than people suspect, they are capable of causing extreme damage to the human body. Thankfully for most of us however, the extreme damage is only prevalent in 14% of cases. On top of that, the only way to get bitten by one is if you accidentally happen to touch one, and given that they like to be recluses and hide away, that is probably not going to happen either. If you do however have Brown Recluse Spiders in your home, there are multiple options to rid these bugs from your home, and make sure that there is a 0% chance you'll be bitten by one, and have to deal with the extreme damage they can do.


If you have any problems with Brown Recluse Spiders, please give Certified Pest Control a call, as we would absolutely love to help! We are always the cheapest price in town, and always give the absolute best service possible to every customer. If you are interested in our Brown Recluse services, or any other service we offer, please click the button below!

 

Source: “Brown Recluse Spider.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 May 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_recluse_spider

Could insects become giants?

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Could insects become giants?

Photo By Opoterser / CC BY-SA 3.0

Insect Monsters? Be Glad They Aren't Here... Yet

As time goes on, many species, including humans, have all had the same tendency; getting bigger. In the 18th and 19th centuries the average height of a human was about 5' 5", while today the average is about 6' 1". Based on fossils, it has also been discovered that many other animals are getting bigger as time goes on, with an exception to all types of bugs. So while we are all getting bigger, why aren't bugs? Well, there are a couple of theories on that.

An insect physiologist at Arizona State University named Jon Harrison has one hypothesis; that their exoskeletons may not be strong enough to allow them to get much bigger at all. This was just one theory he was taught, but there is very little evidence to actually back this up. There has only been one study done on this theory, and in that study they found that even in the largest of insects, even their exoskeletons weren't thicker, so this is most likely not the case.

One leading theory is because they are just too delicious to other creatures! As insects get older and become larger from the time they are born, they have to molt. Meaning, they have to remove their current exoskeleton in order to grow a new one that will be big enough for their new size. During this process of molting, the poor insects have no protection. If an ant was the size of a dog and molted, thus having zero protection, it would likely find itself as the main course for another creatures meal that night. However, being as small as ants are, during the molting stage most animals wouldn't bother with eating them, as they are going to get very little nutrition from something that small.

One other theory is that they do not get enough oxygen. This is a theory that Jon Harrison has studied quite extensively. The idea is that once the insects reach a certain size, the insect will require more oxygen. The tracheas, the tubes that transport oxygen, would be too small to transport the amount of oxygen needed for them to grow. The reason for this theory comes from the fact that insects a long time ago were much bigger than they are today. In fact, we have a blog post all about the largest insect ever, which can be read here! When insects were this big, the amount of oxygen in the air was much more than it is today. Back then, air was about 35% oxygen, where as today it's 21% oxygen. According to an experiment done by Harrison, insects get smaller when they are raised in low oxygen conditions. To contrast, many of them would get bigger when they were raised in a higher oxygen environment.

So while these are just theories, they give us some ideas of why insects do not continue to get bigger, and what could one day cause them to get bigger. Hopefully ants and other bugs continue to stay the size that they are. If they get any bigger, we may run into some problems controlling them. Let's all hope that either the oxygen content in the air doesn't rise dramatically, or that other animals decide they wouldn't want to eat big bugs, or else we may end up in a situation with ants as pets instead of dogs!

 

Source:

Main, Douglas. “Why Aren't Insects Human-Size?” Live Science, 19 Oct. 2012, 10:04 AM, www.livescience.com/24122-why-insects-are-not-bigger.html

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