Don’t worry… bee happy about beneficial insects!

kids love bugs

Children Embrace our beneficial insects. Shouldn’t you?

Children are so fun and curious about bugs!  Little Johnny often doesn’t think twice about picking up a spider by the leg and running to show his mommy. When he shows her his discovery, mom will often scream and run as far away as possible. Johnny will inevitably laugh, uncontrollably, while mom yells “Get that thing out of here!”

It’s a common story that we hear over and over.  There are so many exaggerated horror stories about various insects: Brown recluse spiders will cause your leg to fall off. Termites will eat your house down to the ground. You will surely die a terrible disease if bitten by a mosquito. Who knows where these stories come from or why. But, they create a fear in some folks that are hard to shake.

The honey bee and other beneficial insects have an important role in our environment

Take the honey bee, for example.   They are the pollinators for our food crops. Their population has been in a steady decline in recent years due to a number of factors such as viruses, parasites, poor nutrition, limited access to clean water and exposure to pesticides. WHAT??? Exposure to pesticides?? Yes, it is true. We all (including us) have a huge responsibility in taking care to protect the honey bee and other beneficial insects.

In the spring you will sometimes see huge swarms of bees in the bushes and flowering trees. Sometimes they will stick around for a few minutes and then be gone. Sometimes they will stay for a few days. It’s easy to grab that jug of bug juice or call an exterminator to get rid of them. But, if they are not in an area that will harm you or your loved ones then it is usually best to leave them to collect the pollen. The additional benefit is that your plants and flowers will be even more beautiful later on.

There are a variety of other insects that are beneficial. Usually, most people first think of ladybugs or the asian lady beetle. Absolutely! Did you know that there are more than 400 species of the lady beetles in North America? There are also lacewings, parasitic wasps, spiders, tachinid flies, pirate bugs (aaaargh!) and ground beetles, just to name a few.

Protecting the environment and people at the same time

As a pest control professional, our goal is to protect your home from a pest invasion. If there is a pest problem in your living space then, yes, there is a cause for concern. You will want to eliminate the problem to prevent disease and illness/injury in your family. But, if we can keep your environment safe without having a negative impact on the rest of Murfreesboro, middle Tennessee, and beyond, then we are all winning.

Termite Activity Found in Murfreesboro, TN

When is termite season in central TN

The Bug Man found termite activity in Murfreesboro and surrounding areas.

Termite season is in full swing here in Murfreesboro and surrounding areas.  Most of the calls we are fielding  this week are in regards to active termite swarms.  We have had calls from Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, Smyrna, Rockvale, and Murfreesboro.  The termites are swarming now that the weather is warming up, the humidity is high, and the sun is beginning to shine.  Termites swarm in order to establish a new colony.  When the termites swarm and leave the existing colony, they fly towards the sunlight in search of a mate.  If the termites swarm outside, they will drift in the wind, land, break off their wings, locate a mate, and return back into the soil to begin a new colony.  But, the termites that swarm inside will usually fly towards windows and other light sources.  They will all die if they are unable to find a mate and return to soil.  When this happens, most homeowners will usually find the swarmer termites and wings around the windows, doors, or lights.  This is an indication that an inspection and  treatment is needed.  Here is a photo of termite shelter tubes that our technician found in a crawl space at a house in Christiana that had an active termite swarm on Friday.

Swarming termites are not the biggest concern

The swarming termites are not the real problem in a home, it is the worker termites hidden inside the walls that concern us.  They are the ones that feed on the cellulose (wood) of your home and cause the damage.  The worker termites are responsible for building the tunnels, feeding the colony, and all of the general duties of the colony,  The workers are the termites that get the work done!  But the swarming termites are definitely a sign that you have a problem!  When you see the termite swarmers, it is time to call The Bug Man.  When our trained technicians arrive on site, they will inspect the home, note their findings, review the information with the property owner, answer any questions, and provide a solution for the termite infestation.  The Bug Man uses Termidor HE for all of our termite treatments.  Termidor has been proven as the best termite solution in the industry, and that is why The Bug Man has teamed up with the makers of  Termidor, BASF.

 

Entomophagy – Man eating Insects

eating insects

Time for lunch, please pass the insects

Now that I have your attention, I am not speaking of insects that eat man, but literally of man eating the insects.  Entomophagy is the practice of eating insects, especially by people.  This practice is a common occurrence around the world, except here in the US.  Silkworms, grasshoppers, ants, crickets, scorpions, waterbugs, dung beetles, and termites are just a few of the insects that are prepared into meals and snacks.  Over 1,400 species of insects are known to be edible.

Why eat insects?  There are a few reasons.  They actually are good for you, they are high in protein and low in fat.  This is great for all the die hard dieters!  Next time you head to the gym, take a cup of toasted crickets for your snack!  They are plentiful and multiply quickly.  Insects prefer to be raised in close quarters and  require much less space than cattle.  They are plentiful and much easier to produce than beef, pork and poultry.  Insects also require less food and water to raise and have less waste than other protein sources.

THE SIX-LEGGED MEAT OF THE FUTURE

 

photo credit: JOHN S. DYKES

Overwintering Series: Can the Brown Recluse Spider Survive a Tennessee Winter

brown recluse overwintering in central tn

Brown recluse spiders in the winter

Like the mosquitoes in our previous blog, the fiddle-marked brown recluse spider also enters into diapause/dormancy during the winter.

Brown recluses seek insulation and protection from leaves and accumulating snow. They’ve also been known to envelop themselves in a protective silk encasement. By seeking shelter in these types of insulation, brown recluse spiders can keep an average of three degrees warmer than the temperature of the air.

But how cold is too cold for the brown recluses spider? And does it get cold enough in Middle Tennessee to fatally freeze the brown recluse spider?

Short answer: It has to get really cold for a long time. And it doesn’t get that cold here.

Basically, if it was 23 degrees or colder for 30 days in a row, the population of brown recluse spider hiding out in the winter wilderness would not survive. However, even in our chilliest month–with an average low of 28 degrees–that’s not cold enough to fatally freeze all of the fiddle-bearers. And we all know that the weather in Tennessee is often bipolar and probably couldn’t commit to being one temperature for an entire month.

The Brown recluse spider often live in firewood. If you have firewood at your home, store it at least 20 feet from your house and at least five inches off of the ground. This firewood storage rule isn’t only good to keep brown recluses at bay. It also helps to keep termites away from your home.

When it’s time to bring a batch of firewood inside, carefully inspect it. It’s helpful to use gloves when inspecting, as a line of defense against a potential spider encounter. Besides that, who wants a splinter in their finger because they didn’t wear gloves? For some, getting a splinter out may be more traumatic than a spider bite.

Even if you don’t have firewood, brown recluse spiders still hide in low-traffic areas, such as boxes in the closet. Shake out your clothes after taking them out of the hamper. Store shoes, boots and clothing inside of plastic totes whenever possible.

Stay tuned to The Bug Man blog as our series on overwintering continues. If you’ve got a question about a particular pest, let us know.

Overwintering Series: When do Mosquitoes stop biting

A mosquito biting a person's hand | The Bug Man serving Smyrna, TN

“Baby, it’s cold outside. But I’ll take the chill in the air over the mosquitoes and bites on my arm any day!” – Anonymous resident of Middle Tennessee

Much to the delight of many, the mosquitoes that once populated the air space have chilled out for the winter. These bugs typically stop biting humans in temperatures below 50° Fahrenheit.

To survive the winter or to endure a drought, mosquito eggs and certain types of larvae enter into diapause—a delay of development due to a change in environment where the pest goes into a state of dormancy. The dormant mosquitoes have enough molecules stored to make it through the winter.

Adult male mosquitoes die after the fall mating season. Female mosquitoes find a safe place to hide out for the winter. Then, when the weather warms up and the rains return, they seek out a blood meal from the local neighborhood human and then lay their eggs in standing water. If you’re the person collecting H₂0 with the eclectic mix of old tires, kiddie pools, and pie tins in your back yard, they’re coming for you.

We typically treat for mosquitoes between May and October. However, in 2012, we started our mosquito treatments early because of how hot it got in April. It’s not uncommon to treat for mosquitoes after October, either. If the weather became unseasonably warm in December, it’s possible to see mosquito activity.

As the weather goes, so do our mosquito treatments. Don’t hesitate to call us at 615.217.7284 if you’re seeing them in your area, even if it seems too early or too late in the season.

Seasonal Series: The cold and overwintering bugs

The Bug Man presents a series on overwintering bugs. Stay tuned to our blog over the next several days as we dive into the details of how common middle Tennessee pests survive the winter!

Just because we can’t see bugs in the winter, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The bugs are overwintering! If you don’t see your neighbor all winter because he’s holed up inside his house with a heating blanket, does that mean that he doesn’t exist? If we don’t believe our neighbors disappear, why do we believe that bugs disappear?

Does the cold keep the bugs away

Not only do bugs not vanish in the winter, they often choose to “disappear” inside your house. Then, when spring flutters in, the bugs step on out and make an appearance in your kitchen or living room.

When the weather gets cold, bugs begin to overwinter. Basically, overwintering bugs go into survival mode to live through the season’s cold temperatures. For the cold-blooded insects, chilly times can be difficult for them. Because as the outdoor temperature drops, so does their internal temperature. They seek refuge in a warm, stable environment. Often, that ideal location is within the comforts of your tender Tennessee home.

However, because of the area of the country that we live in, the weather can fluctuate and can go from one temperature extreme to another, even in the winter. Just a few hours of warm temperatures in the midst of winter can cause a stir in the pest world. Bugs become befuddled and confused critters come out of cracks and crevices.

It’s for that very reason that we still recommend pest control even when it seems like there are no bugs. By skipping pest control in the winter months, homeowners can open themselves up to an invasion by letting pests get inside to overwinter.

At The Bug Man, we offer a Quarterly Pest Control service. It’s perfect for keeping your home pest-free* in all seasons. Call us at 615.217.7284 for details.

Busting Boxelder Bugs: Round Two

boxelder bugs taking over TN

Boxelder bugs are fighting to get inside houses. Below, you’ll see a photo of quite the gathering of boxelder bugs in Murfreesboro, TN. They are scouting out a house to invade.

 

These pests search for the warmest side of the home (usually the south side) and head for a dark crevice to try to get inside. For a great illustration of the behavior of boxelder bugs, check out this video that one of our technicians made while out performing a pest control service…

As you can see in the video, the boxelder bugs were attracted to the shading on the wall. They were trying to seek shelter to overwinter in the cracks and crevices.

It’s important to secure the outside of your home as the cold weather moves in. Use caulk to repair holes on the exterior of the home. Make sure your window and door screens don’t have any damage.

If boxelder bugs manage to fight their way inside your home, please call us at 615.217.7284. We’re here to help you keep your home pest-free*. Also, if you have any interesting pictures or videos of bugs, feel free to upload them on to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheBugManTN.

Knocking Out Boxelder Bugs

boxelder bugs taking over TN

Winter is knocking on our door, and with the swing of climate shift comes a wave of boxelder bugs. In the last several days, we’ve received numerous calls from our customers about these bothersome bugs.

Whether congregating outside the house en masse or making a little boxelder village inside, these red and black bugs are unwelcome.

 

Boxelder bugs are often found near boxelder trees. As you can imagine–if you have a boxelder tree in your yard–you may find yourself with an infestation of boxelder bugs around this time of year.

However, boxelder bugs also feed on maple trees, and the apples, prunes, and pears that fall off of trees.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that adult boxelder beetles gather on the south sides of trees, rocks, and other buildings to sun themselves. Fall may be in season, but the boxelders are still longing for some soaking sun time.

The boxelder bugs will fly up to two miles to find a place to hide out for the winter. Which, unfortunately for many homeowners, is inside the walls. After settling in, they often make an appearance in bathtubs, sinks, and floors near their cold weather chill spot. This social event for the boxelder bugs often occurs on the south and west side of the house when it’s sunny outside.

It kind of seems like the boxelder bugs are little weather forecasters, notifying onlookers that the sun is shining. Unless you’d like to receive your weather report from black and red bugs in your bathroom, perhaps you should call The Bug Man at 615-217-7284

Fast Facts: Fleas Can Hatch in Under 10 Seconds

Fleas hatching under ten seconds and infest your house

Fleas are fierce this year! It’s the middle of October and we are still receiving numerous calls about flea infestations!

Here are a few flea facts of life:

* Although fleas need to eat within a week of merging into the adult stage, they can survive 2-3 years between meals

* A female flea can lay up to 5,000 eggs in her lifetime

* Once a flea senses that a blood meal is present, it can hatch out in under 10 seconds

Under 10 seconds? That’s pretty quick! We’ve even read studies that say that the fleas can hatch in under 2 seconds!

What else can happen in 2 or 10 seconds?

* We can pump 3/4 a gallon of gas in 10 seconds

* Most caution lights (the yellow light between green and red) last approximately 2 seconds

* A cheetah can get up to 68 mph in around 2 seconds

* Sprinter Usain Bolt can run the 100 meter dash in under 10 seconds

If you find yourself with fleas, don’t let the time tick away. Call us at the office at 615.217.7284. We can schedule a treatment for the interior of your home and for your yard.

Is the Writing Spider Dangerous

Writing spiders are most commonly found in gardens, bushes, and shrubs

Ever wondered about that colorful spider in your backyard? Our customer in Murfreesboro TN did too, and it turns out it’s the black and yellow Argiope, a.k.a. the writing spider. Looks can be deceiving, though – despite its intimidating appearance, this spider is more into building intricate webs than bothering humans.

Want to learn more? Here are a few things that we think you should know about this arachnid species.

Are Writing Spiders Poisonous?

Although it looks rather threatening, the writing spider doesn’t prey on humans. But if it is provoked, it will bite. The bite feels similar to a bee sting. Young children, the elderly, and those with sensitive immune systems should take special care not to harass this pest. It’s best to marvel at these spiders and their webs, but not touch them.

Why Is It Called a Writing Spider?

As far as how this spider got its name, the writing’s on the web. As you can see in the picture above–submitted by our customer–it looks like there are several x or z shapes in the web. These zig-zag patterns make the writing spider easy to identify.

Where Do Writing Spiders Usually Build Their Webs?

Writing spiders are orb-weavers, which means they make beautiful, elaborate webs in a circular formation. And not just one web, either. This scribbling spider builds and tears down its UV-light-reflective web every day! Female writing spiders try to build these webs in places where they won’t be disturbed. So, if the web is in one place one day, it will likely be in the same place the next day. These webs are made of silk which is stronger and more flexible than steel!

Where Are Writing Spiders Usually Found?

Writing spiders are most commonly found in gardens, bushes, and shrubs. Because these spiders are found throughout the mainland of North America, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen this spider or its web before if you live in one of the 48 contiguous states in America. And if you haven’t, you may have read about the writing spider or watched a movie about it.

The Literary Connection: Orb-Weaving Spiders in “Charlotte’s Web”

Orb-weaving spiders were made famous in E.B. White’s beloved novel “Charlotte’s Web.” The character of Charlotte actually contains her spider identity in her middle name: Aranea. Although Charlotte is a slightly different species than a writing spider, she shares many characteristics with writing spiders, especially her web-making skills.

Should I Kill a Writing Spider?

Writing spiders are generally harmless and help control pests by catching insects. If the spider is not causing trouble, many people prefer keeping them around. If you’re uncomfortable, consider relocating rather than killing, as they play a positive role in the ecosystem.

What Are the Benefits of the Writing Spider?

Writing spiders, or Argiope aurantia, are like nature’s pest controllers. They build fancy webs that trap annoying flying bugs such as mosquitoes and flies, helping to keep the insect numbers down without using any chemicals.

Need Help With Spider Control? Call the Experts at The Bug Man! 

If you would like help with the spider population in or around your home, contact us for a free quote today! We offer effective spider control and extermination services in the Central TN area.