The Elusive Glowworm

The Elusive Glowworm - Florida Pest Control

Glowworms (also called Railroad worms) are a unique species of beetle that are seldom seen because they hide in self-made burrows in the ground under leaf litter and debris during the day.  Female glowworms can be seen on the surface of the ground after a good summer rain.  Females are seen more often than males, so keep a sharp eye out for them.  Interestingly enough, females appear to stay in larviform for their entire life.  Larviform is when the adult insect stays in the same form as the larva.  Much like a caterpillar growing into an adult without pupating and becoming a butterfly.

Glow Worm Phengodes - Florida Pest Control

Adult male glowworms look similar to other beetle species with the exception of their forewings (elytra).  The elytra are reduced in size exposing the hindwings.  Many other beetle species have large, hardened elytra, which allow the hindwings to fold and hide beneath them.  Adult male glowworms have comb-like antennae and large mandibles.  The antennae are used to detect pheromones emitted by the female, which makes it easier to find them during mating time, especially in the dark!  Very much like moths and many other insects, adult male glowworms will fly towards lights at night and are occasionally seen resting on walls near the light. Male Glow Worm - Florida Pest Control

 

Larviform females and male larvae appear to feed exclusively on millipedes.  The adult males are short lived and probably die soon after mating.  There’s no evidence if males even feed as adults.  They don’t eat and die soon after mating.  That’s just not right!  It’s tough being a male glowworm!

Female Glow worm - Florida Pest Control

Did you know female glowworms and some species of male glowworms are bioluminescent (meaning they can glow in the dark), much like a firefly!  That should light you up!

 

Now, go out and try to find one so you can watch it glow in the dark!

GlowWorm Glowing in the dark - Florida Pest Control

The Beneficials…Part Three

The hover fly - Florida Pest Control

You learned how beneficial some Hemipterans (True Bugs) are in Part One and the good many Hymenopterans (Ants, Bees & Wasps) do to control certain insects in Part Two.  Now, let me introduce you to the beneficial Dipterans (Flies).

When we think of flies, the pesky house fly usually comes to mind, invading our homes and landing on our dinner and other food items every time someone opens an entrance door.  You’ll be happy to know the house fly is just one of well over 100,000 known species, and many more are yet to be discovered.

Adult Syrphid fly - Florida Pest Control

One group that comes to mind is the hover fly, also known as flower, syrphid, or drone flies.  Their larval stage feeds on a variety of insects.  Caterpillars, aphids, thrips, and scale insects are some of their favorites.  A good population of hover fly larvae may consume nearly 100% of an aphid population on a given plant…That’s awesome, don’t you think?

You’ve probably seen adult syrphid flies hovering above flowers in your garden or on wildflowers while hiking along a path in your favorite park.  These flies are considered major pollinators as they hover from flower to flower.

Yellowjacket Hover Fly - Florida Pest Control

Several species of hover flies resemble bees and wasps, giving the impression to predators not to mess with them.  This, unfortunately, is the same reaction we humans have and the result is often a dead hover fly.  I assure you these flies are totally harmless.

Another group of beneficial flies is the long-legged fly.  Many are fairly small, bright, metallic green flies.  Some are even metallic bronze in color.  While most are a ¼” or less, some species may range upwards to about a ½” or so.  This is a large group with nearly 1,300 species in the mainland of the United States alone.

Long legged fly - Florida Pest Control

Long-legged flies are voracious predators, feeding on small insects, such as aphids.  Not much is known about the larval stage (maggot) of these flies.  We do know that some are aquatic or semi-aquatic and probably predators of other insects, as well.

 

Next, we have the robber flies, which belong to a large family of flies known as Asilidae.  This family is nearly 1,000 species strong in North America, with more than 100 species found in Florida.  Some members have long, narrow tapered abdomens, large eyes, and appear bearded.  Other members look nearly identical to bumbles bees.

Robber fly - Florida Pest Control

Robber flies will attack and feed on almost any insect.  They will patiently wait on a perch until an insect, sometimes even larger than they are, passes by and then silently swoop down to capture it in midflight.  That would be awesome to watch, don’t you think?

Robber fly on metal fence - Florida Pest Control

In general, most flies are beneficial.  From the tiny fruit flies to the largest horse flies, they all play an important part in the nature of things.  So, the next time you reach for your flyswatter, put it down and give the flies a break!  

Pest Profile: Chinch Bugs

Pest Profile: Chinch Bugs - Florida Pest Control

You may not know chinch bugs by name, but odds are you’ve seen their effects without knowing the true identity of the culprits. Most commonly found in the South, chinch bugs can turn beautifully kept St. Augustine grass lawns into spotty disasters. Seemingly stricken by drought, your grass will transform from vibrant green to a sad yellow-brown. And it’s all due to this little critter.

The chinch bug, usually measuring no longer than 6mm, thrives in tropical and subtropical regions. With warm and damp summer months, each of the southern states, particularly Florida, provides the perfect place to call home.

They feed on individual blades of grass, leaching the sap from the plant as it grows. This behavior continues until the grass becomes dry and, to top it all off, the bug injects a toxin that kills even the toughest lawn.

Unfortunately, we cannot expect our chinch bug problems to disappear when winter rolls around. Many of them remain active through the winter months, and those that do overwinter take refuge and shelter in the roots and base of the grass. They aren’t forced to relocate and are able to pick up right where they left off in the spring.

It’s relatively easy to find out if you have a chinch bug infestation. One tried and true method is known as the tin can, or flotation, method. Simply locate a good-sized can (a coffee can will do just fine), and cut out the two ends to create what looks like a tube. Push one end of your new tube about three inches into the ground – in an area you believe to be affected by chinch bugs – and fill it with water. Allow the water to sit for 5-10 minutes. If you see small bugs floating on top of the water at the end of that time, those are probably chinch bugs.

While finding chinch bugs can be easy, eliminating them takes a bit more work. Florida Pest Control’s Smart Choice 4 for 3 treatment plan may be just what you need to protect your lawn from these pests and others.

How to Treat Common Bug Bites

How to Treat Common Bug Bites - Florida Pest Control

As much as we try to avoid bugs and other pests, every once in a while some of them manage to get close and bite or sting. Bug bites come in many shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common – they are irritating!

For some people, the stings or bites of certain bugs can cause them to have a strong allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock. These people generally carry a dose of epinephrine to inject in the event they become bitten or stung.

On the other hand, for most people, bug bites are simply annoying with symptoms like redness, swelling, pain, and itching. These bites can be cared for with home remedies, but some remedies work better on certain types of bites and stings. Learn how to care for the most common stings and bites.

Identify the Bug

The first step towards treating a bug bite is to identify the bug that bit or stung you. That is usually pretty easy, especially if a bug has been bothering you for a while.

Though they can be uncomfortable, most bug bites are fairly benign. The larger problem lies with any diseases or bacteria a bug may carry. Also, when we scratch that itchy bite, we might be contributing to secondary infection at the bite site! Common benign biting bugs include:

  • Mosquitoes
  • Most spiders
  • Most ticks
  • Flies
  • Fleas
  • Chiggers and other mites
  • Lice

Stinging insects like wasps, bees, ants, hornets, and many spiders require much more care as they may include venom or cause further reactions. The likelihood that you’ll be bitten by a spider is rare, but if you are, cleanse the wound thoroughly and call a doctor. Check our list of harmful spiders to keep safe.

Treating the Bite

If you’ve been bitten, the first step is to get away from the bug. In the event you begin having any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest discomfort or tightness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Palpitations
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, or tongue

In the event you do not experience any of the symptoms listed above, you can proceed with the self-care of your bug bite. First off, you’ll want to reduce swelling and pain. Cover the bite with ice and take something for the pain. Children should not be given aspirin as it can occasionally cause side effects. Apply ice packs for 15-20 minutes once an hour for a few hours while elevating the bite to decrease swelling.

On the bite itself, there are a handful of home remedies and over-the-counter options that can soothe the effects of a bite. Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone ointments are very effective at reducing pain and itching, just like antihistamines.

Honey bees are the only insects that leave their stinger behind, so it’s important to remove them if you’ve been stung by honey bees. You can brush them out of the wound with your fingernail, the edge of a credit card, or something similar. Never pull them out with your fingers or tweezers. Doing so will squeeze more venom into your body. Once you’ve removed the stinger, spray an anesthetic that contains benzocaine to help relieve the pain.

For any bite from a stinging insect or spider, you should wash the wound with mild soap and cool water. Disinfecting the wound is especially important for mosquito bites and bee stings, so be thorough.

Prevention is the Best Medicine

Avoiding a bug bite is often the simplest way to treat any bug bite. Most bugs, other than chronic pests like mosquitoes and deer flies, will only bite when provoked or agitated. Bees, ants, wasps, and spiders can typically be avoided. But, if you are stung or bitten, the best remedies are very similar to most other injuries: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation [RICE]. Light pressure can help soothe a bug bite, but ice and elevation will do most of the work.

A Guide to Garden Bugs: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

A Guide to Garden Bugs: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Florida Pest Control

One of the great things about Florida is that you can garden throughout almost the entire year, depending on what you’re growing. While warmer temperatures and wet weather mean a return of flowers and spring crops, it also brings the return of an army of garden insects.

But while some bugs are clearly nuisances (we can take care of those for you), many garden bugs are beneficial to the health of your garden and landscaping. Others are just nice to look at. Veteran gardeners know the value of having plenty of good bugs on their side, but if you’re just trying out your green thumb or just maintaining your landscaping, here are the bugs you should be on the lookout for – good, bad, and ugly.

The Good

Ladybug

Everyone likes ladybugs, right? Besides a friendly look, ladybugs are seriously efficient predators of other pests, especially flower-destroying aphids. If you have garden mites, mealybugs, or any other small pests, ladybugs can drive them out of your garden.

Bumblebees

Obviously, any good garden needs help to grow – and bumblebees help fertilize your plants and keep a healthy garden. Many people confuse bumblebees with honeybees, but bumblebees are typically much larger. Of course, you do want to use caution around any sort of bee since they do have a powerful sting.

Dragonfly

Dragonflies might look scary, and can be a bit annoying, but they can be a gardener’s best friend. Dragonflies actively hunt mosquitoes, as well as other pests like aphids, so they’ll make your gardening hours much more enjoyable.

The Bad
Aphids

Spring growth is bound to attract aphids, tiny plant predators that can do serious damage if left unchecked. Aphids are tiny, pear-shaped insects that suck plant sap and cause plants to distort and drop their leaves. Washing plants regularly helps, but encouraging predators like ladybugs will be the most effective control.

Moths and Butterflies

Some butterflies can be beneficial to your garden – and they certainly look nice – but you don’t want any butterfly or moth staying too long in your garden. Their larvae can do serious damage to your plants. Butterflies can help pollinate plants, but you’ll want to move them on their way before they get too comfortable.

Cutworms

Not technically a worm, these caterpillars are one of the worst garden pests around. Cutworms chew through plant stems at ground level and can completely devour small plants, mostly targeting transplanted plants during early summer. You could use cutworm collars or pick cutworms from tilled soil.

The Ugly
Spiders

It’s rare for anyone to actually like seeing a spider, but garden species are much different than the ones you typically find in your home. You’re likely to find a variety of spiders in your yard and garden, and you can attract them by spreading mulch around your garden. Spiders are incredibly efficient predators, killing more garden pests than every other good bug combined!

Wasps

Wasps can be a mixed-blessing, so you’ll want to control their spread carefully. Varieties like paper wasps and braconid wasps are terrific hunters of gnawing pests like caterpillars. Wasps usually leave people alone unless you bother them, but try to promote nests away from your home and actively remove wasp nests on your exterior walls.

Ground Beetles

Not all beetles are created equal, but large beetles are beneficial for your garden while smaller beetles can damage plants. These beetles can grow to nearly an inch long and are amazing for clearing your garden of slugs, snails, cutworms, and other pests. Since most beetles are nocturnal, you won’t have to worry about them crawling all over you when you’re tending your garden.

The Brown Dog Tick

The Brown Dog Tick - Florida Pest Control

Although Florida is home to several species of ticks, the Brown Dog Tick is the only one that will readily infest homes.  This species does poorly outdoors.  They are accustomed to dry warm conditions where the dog lives, such as a dog house, barn or even one’s home.

Both immature and adult ticks feed on blood. Adult females require a blood meal to develop their eggs. Once a female tick is engorged with blood, she will drop off the host and stay in close proximity, usually in the area where the pet rests.  At that time, she will lay a mass of eggs reaching well up to 3,000 eggs or more.  The eggs are deposited high on the walls of the structure in cracks and crevices around the ceiling or roof, depending on the type of construction.  In homes, the eggs are often found near wall hangings and the ceiling.  The female dies shortly after egg laying.  The eggs hatch in 20 to 60 days depending on the conditions.

Brown dog Tick with Eggs - Florida Pest Control

The tick hatchlings are 6-legged larvae, also known as seed ticks.  These tiny seed ticks climb down the walls in search of a host, usually a dog.  They will feed on the host for about 6 days, then drop off and look for a safe place to molt.  In two or three weeks, they will emerge as 8-legged nymphs and begin their trek to adulthood.

Female brown Dog tick - Florida Pest Control

Brown Dog Ticks prefer to feed on dogs, but will feed on other mammals.  They rarely feed on humans; however, they have been known to be vectors of several disease organisms including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. With this in mind, don’t think if the dog is removed from the situation it will remedy an infestation of Brown Dog Ticks. They may resort to feeding on an alternate source.

Knowing the feeding and breeding habits of the Brown Dog Tick is fundamental when it comes to successfully controlling them.  There is no easy fix and multiple trips by a Pest Management Professional to the infested home will likely be necessary. It is also a multi-faceted approach, in that the pet, interior, and exterior of the building must be addressed.

Male brown dog Tick - Florida Pest Control

It’s important that the pet be treated, preferably by a veterinarian, just before or while the home is being treated.  The pet’s bedding should be closely inspected and cleaned.  Furniture such as beds, couches, recliners, etc., should receive a thorough inspection along with crack and crevice treatments by a Pest Management Professional.  It’s also recommended that furniture be moved away from walls for inspection and treating purposes.

The following are places where Brown Dog Ticks are known to hide:

  • Wall and floor crevices
  • Behind baseboards
  • Window and door frames
  • Wall hangings
  • Under the edge of the carpet
  • Wall and ceiling moldings and corners
  • Electrical plates
  • Curtain rods
  • Pleats in curtains
  • Window blinds
  • Any crack or crevice close to where the pet rests

Along with the interior of the home, Brown Dog Ticks may also be present on the exterior of the building. This is especially true if the pet spends time outdoors.  Think down low and up high.  Any crack or crevice on the exterior of the building should be inspected and treated by a Pest Management Professional.

Because these ticks can survive in the wild, an application in the yard must also be performed.  The Pest Management Professional will concentrate on parts of the yard immediately around the structure and areas where the pet spends a lot of its time.  This would include places such as the dog house, holes dug by the dog, tree trunks, shrubs, and privacy fences.  Dogs don’t spend a lot of time lying around in open sunny areas, so the heaviest populations are usually in shaded areas, such as under trees and shrubs.

If you’re not sure there are ticks in your yard, use a white towel. Attach the towel to a stick and drag it through spots where the dog spends its time outside. If there are ticks, they will grab onto the towel, just as they would a dog when it passes by.  With that being said, make sure to check your clothing for ticks, as well.

If you’re experiencing a tick infestation or have concerns, contact us.  We can help!

Termites: Nature’s Home Invaders

Termites: Nature’s Home Invaders - Florida Pest Control

Termites. They’ve inhabited the planet for over 50 million years. And while they play a crucial role in the ecosystem, they can be incredibly destructive to buildings.

Termites feast on dead plant material, most commonly wood, a staple in home construction in most parts of the world including Florida. It’s been calculated that termites cause up to $5 billion in damage every year.

Termites invade buildings because the wood frames and other cellulose-based fixtures are a feast for the entire colony. They feed non-stop and can go unnoticed in a home for years, chewing and destroying, before damage is evident. Termites are assured to cause sizeable, sometimes irreparable damage to a property if they are not eliminated.

Protecting your home from termites requires proactive measures.

Florida Pest Control has decades of experience preventing and controlling termites. We will conduct a thorough inspection of your property. If no infestation is found, we can recommend preventative measures to stop termites from invading your home in the future.

If we do find termites, we will assess the infestation and damage, and provide treatment options.

Visit our contact page today to schedule your no-cost inspection and estimate.