What are Flying Ants?

Many people are under the impression that all flying ants are female ants. This is not true, it actually depends on the type of ants. Certain species not only have female flying ants but male flying ants as well.

Depending on the species of ants, most of the queen ants are what are known as Asexual. This means, they do not need a male to produce offspring. Typically what happens is when the female ant in a colony is ready to reproduce, they will fly away from the colony to start a new colony. Some may flies many miles, while others maybe only a few feet from where they actually were born themselves. When the queen ant finds the perfect place for them, they will land, loose their wings and then begin their new colony.

An Asexual queen ant can produce thousands of ants for her new colony being the parent for the entire colony. There usually is no other ant involved in this continuing cycle. She of course will produce a series of queen ants that will follow in her footsteps to create the next colonies and so on. Each queen ant can produce hundreds upon thousands of other queens in her life time. Of course this varies on species of the ant.

 

With other species of ants, it is truly amazing the ritual that is put into motion to create a new colony. As with many species the female or rather queen ant will head into flight, but so do the sexually matured males. The female and male will mate in flight, when the mating cycle has ended in many species of ants, the male will die. The female, however will fly to a location to create a new colony, when she has landed in the spot that she has chosen, she will first loose her wings. This ritual is called the nuptial flight.

Another misconception that many people may have is about the queen ant. She does not govern over the colony in any way. Her general job is simply in the reproduction and building of a colony. A colony of ants works together they are not like many species of creatures where there is a hierarchy. In an ant colony they work more like an individual family in some aspects, each working and helping one another. A good example of this is the worker ants and how they help make sure the queen ant is fed and taken care of so that she can continue to reproduce.

The Facts About Fleas

A Flea Close UpThey can’t fly, but they can sure jump. Fleas are among the best jumpers of all living creatures. They can jump 200 times their body length. Widespread pests of people and pets, fleas are wingless, tiny insects that can seem to be everywhere. Mature fleas live on blood from the much larger creatures they ride around on. Many kinds of fleas jump around. Each kind of flea being quite versatile and adaptable.

The worst misdeed perpetrated upon mankind by this kind of bug involves the kinds of fleas which ride on rats and carry the bacteria that cause bubonic plague. Such fleas have changed the course of history.

Fleas are tiny, 1/16 to 1/8 inch in length. They are laterally compressed, that is, thin from side-to-side, permitting easy movement through the hairs and feathers of their hosts. Their mouth parts are especially adapted to permit feeding on the blood of their hosts.

The Flea Life Cycle

Flea Life CycleIn order to lay eggs, a female flea must first eat blood. Dog blood or cat blood will do and the flea doesn’t care about the bloodline. The well-fed female will lay up to 20 eggs at a time, often deposited on the host, but easily rolled off onto the ground or carpet where the host animal might lie down to rest. Such eggs take two days to two weeks to hatch. The larvae which emerge from the eggs will probe around for nourishment which can be almost any organic material.

After three larval stages the individual will spin a cocoon of silken fiber and go into a pupal state. These pupae may stay for some length of time or they may emerge in a week. Whenever they emerge it is as a mature flea, looking for blood. Actually fleas appear to have good eyesight which they use to navigate from one part of their host  to another.

On the other hand, the silk-enclosed pupa might just sit there from year to year, maybe not forever, but for some extended time, awaiting the right conditions to emerge. Thus you might think you have eliminated fleas only to have them come back with a vengeance in some future season.

Ideal Conditions for Fleas

Fleas live on a variety of warm-blooded hosts including mice, rats, ferrets, squirrels, rabbits, chickens, and of course cats, dogs, and humans. All of these can itch because of the action of the fleas they carry. The host will scratch, bite, or peck in the vicinity where the flea is feeding. Not that the scratching does much good. Fleas are parasites which appear to do no good for the animals on which they ride and jump.

Fleas have some allies, however. Tapeworms appear to depend on fleas to carry their eggs into the guts of certain animals. What a comforting thought.

Flea larvae are sensitive to humidity, meaning that there must be some water associated with the organic material they find to eat. Of course, a flea egg can wait out a long dry spell.

Flea Bites

Flea BitesFleas like to feed off the blood of cats, dogs or people.  While fleas are far from deadly, their bites are extremely itchy and will affect dogs, cats and people.

Common symptoms of flea bites are:

A flea bite will agitate and aggravate the skin.  Flea bites itch because they cause an allergic reaction with the skin.  Generally this reaction just results in little swollen bumps on the skin; a very similar skin reaction to that of mosquito bites.  However, sensitivity to flea bites varies between people; children are often more sensitive and may have a more severe reaction.  In sensitive people the bite is often surrounded by a “halo” of red, irritated skin.

Common treatments for flea bites:

  • To help relieve itching you can get a over the counter 1% hydrocortisone cream.
  • You can also help relieve itching by
    • Washing the area with antiseptic soap (to reduce the risk of infection).
    • Use an ice pack to help keep swelling down.
    • Use anesthetic creams, calamine lotion or similar creams to treat itching.

Flea Bites on Humans: Where do humans generally get bitten?

Flea Bites on HumansHuman flea bites generally happen in areas of tight clothing, like the lower legs and around the waist.

Where do fleas come from?

Household pets such as cats and dogs are usually the main carriers of fleas in the United States.

Pets and their bedding should be kept clean to help control flea problems.  Once a pet brings fleas in it will most certainly affect the other members of the household if the problem is not taken care of quickly.

Some More Flea Bite Pictures

Flea Bite Pictures (back closeup) Dog Flea Bites

Flea Bite on the Legs

How to Choose a Termite Extermination Company

Understanding Your Problem

Whenever you are hiring an outside expert to solve any problem, it is always important to have at least some understanding of the basics of the problem on your own so that you can be sure that the work is done right and at an appropriate cost. In the case of a termite infestation, it is common to feel a certain amount of anxiety concerning the prospect of serious damage to your property and to rush out and hire a termite extermination company immediately. However, the best medicine for these types of fear, and you will feel much more in control of your problem if you simply spend some time researching termites and getting a rough idea of how extensive of an infestation you might be dealing with. Even if it turns out that you have a serious termite problem, you will find yourself able to have an intelligent conversation with the exterminator over your treatment options as opposed to feeling that you are entirely at their mercy for a problem that you do not properly understand.

Discuss Termite Extermination Options with Multiple Companies

Once you have collected enough information to understand what you are dealing with, it is time to start taking the problem on. The first step is to obtain multiple consultations from termite extermination companies for different treatment options that they recommend. Unless you have a very serious termite problem, you will likely find that the different termite exterminators offer a wide range of different treatments, some of which are more involved than others. Once you have a handle on the different courses of action that the exterminators recommend, you can continue to your research and decide which treatment makes the most sense for you. This will probably narrow down your potential termite extermination company down to just a few options.

Check References and Reviews of the Companies

Unfortunately, not all termite extermination companies were created equally, and you are much better off going with a company that will get the job done right the first time then by simply choosing the lowest priced quote you can find. Most companies should be able to provide with some references from customers that you can contact, as well as other information that you can take into consideration, such as how long they have been in business and the size of their operation. You may also be able to find service reviews from previous customers through internet forums and local product and service review sites. Once you have learned a little bit about the reputation of the termite extermination company that offers the most sensible extermination service, you will feel confident in trusting that you have made an informed choice in finding an expert to tackle your termite infestation.

How to Get Rid of Fleas

Getting rid of fleas can involve several strategies which depend on the conditions encountered. Regardless of the strategy chosen, determination will be required to get rid of fleas. Fleas strive to persist where they are comfortable. Pet owners and others with flea problems should be aware of several of these strategies and choose the ones best for them. It will be a good idea to think about the various effects of fleas on humans, on pets, and on the living area. It is also important to know the four-stage life cycle of fleas and deal with fleas with a continuing program.

Anti-itch creams are available to give relief to humans who live in situations where fleas might get at them. Make sure the cream is known to be effective for flea bites. Calamine lotions will not work. A bath with sodium bicarbonate will help reduce itching. While such measures may give temporary comfort, they will do nothing to eliminate the causes of their problem which are the fleas.

Flea Control Information

How to Get Rid of Fleas

A program of regular and frequent pet shampooing is essential for all pet owners. A number of excellent shampoo preparations are available in pet supply stores or at your pet care shop. These shampoos will kill the adult fleas, their eggs and their larvae. The dormant hibernating cocoon may resist such shampoos, but these will eventually emerge and the resulting adults can be eliminated in the next shampooing, providing it is frequent and regular.

How to Get Rid of FleasA pet can pick up fleas from anywhere. Fleas can jump up to 6 feet and they lurk in the pet by-ways anxious for a source of warm blood. Just assume that a couple of weeks after a thorough shampoo, your pet is totally infested again. For this reason, only the frequently shampooed pets remain essentially flea-free.

Flea repellent, applied three days after a shampoo, can reduce the number of fleas that will want to climb aboard your pet. These preparations are improving and should be considered.

The pet itself is not the only object for your anti-flea campaign. The place where the pet stays should be treated with preparations that will kill adult fleas, their eggs and larvae. This includes carpets and furniture as well as the dog house or litter box. The yard where the pet spends some time may also need some treatment. The more wide ranging your pet is, the more likely it is to become infested again—soon.

What Do Termites Look Like?

Finding insects in your home is a very unpleasant experience. Since most people don’t know what a termite looks like when they start seeing little ant-like bugs they often worry that they could have a termite infestation.  I mean, really what does a termite look like?  Most people can’t tell if the insects they found are actually termites or just ants.

Luckily, it is easy to tell the difference between the two pests. It can be done simply by inspecting their body parts. In most cases, you won’t even need a microscope or a magnifying glass! So what do termites look like?  There are three differences to look for when inspecting the bug.

Body Parts

The first thing you’ll notice is that a termite’s abdomen is straight and wide; while an ant’s is very thin and sectioned. Termite’s have only two visible body parts: the head and the body. Everyone knows what ants look like and flying ants are no different. They have three very distinct body parts: the head, abdomen, and thorax.

Shape of Antennae

An ants antennae is very distinct.  They have an elbow in the middle.  Ussuallyl they point out away from the head then point down at the elbow.  A termite’s antennae is very different.  They don’t have a sharp bend. Instead, the antennae just go straight out with a slight curve to them. Also, a termite’s antennae are beaded, while the ant’s antennae have the two segments and sometimes have small club like nobs at the ends.

Keep in mind that the number of segments of an ant’s antennae and the size or absence of a club are both important to correctly identify the type of ant. If flying ants are found in large numbers, you may need to have something done about this pest.

Length of Wings

So you may wonder, what do flying termites look like?  Both king and queen ants and termites have wings. And are easily confused.   They each have four wings (aka: two pairs of wings).  At first glance they may seem to look the same, but a closer inspection will reveal the differences. The wings of a termite are all the same length. On the other hand, the length of the ant’s wings are all different. More specifically, the front wings are longer than the rear wings.

By keeping these three, easy to spot variances in mind, you will be able to successfully tell the difference between ants and termites in and around your home. If in fact the insect you have found is a termite, do not worry right away that you have an infestation. If there seems to be more than a couple termites inside, contact a pest control company to come inspect your home. If you have found winged ants, you most likely have nothing to worry about. Contact a pest control company if you find a multitude of winged ants inside your home and suspect that they have created a colony inside somewhere.

What do termites look like?

The Fearsome Black Widow Spider

Few spiders have a well deserved notoriety to match the black widow. Everyone knows that the female will get her eggs fertilized and then eat the male, thus becoming a widow. While this may happen to most such spider couples, it is not necessarily the universal rule. Ever so many stories and movies have been inspired by this model of behavior.

The black widow’s shiny black body is very distinct, which makes them very easy to identify.  A mature female may be an inch and a half in length, including moderate length legs. Both males and females have shiny black bodies with a relatively big black abdomen. Only that female spiders abdomen will have the distinctive red hourglass-shaped spot. If you ever see a male, you will notice it is smaller and it might be lighter in color and have a red or pale brown stripe in the abdomen.

Black Widow Spider
Black Widow Spider

Black widows are definitely web spiders. The silk glands located at the back of the abdomen provide for prolific web building. Oil on the legs of the black widows make it possible for them to hike around on the web without getting entangled themselves.   They build webs to capture insects that might be flying or crawling by. Their poison will kill the captured meal. The typical procedure of excreting digestive fluids to dissolve the prey bit-by-bit and then taking in the partially digested food follows the capture.

A young adult black widow will go through a winter in out buildings, cellars, or other sheltered places. It will have been hatched from an egg ball of 100 to 400 eggs. It might have eaten several brothers or sisters in order stay alive. Remember the doctrine of survival of the fittest. It is a strong belief among black widow spiders. Females can live for five years and produce eggs each year after the first.

In the late spring of each season the surviving spiders will pair off and conduct a protracted courtship activity prior to mating. A mature male will spin a sperm web and deposit sperm in it. He then will load some of the sperm on his antennae and deposit them into the female. When mating is completed the female eats the male and starts laying eggs.

The female deposits her fertilized eggs into a globular silken container in which they remain camouflaged and guarded. She might construct 5 to 15 of the egg balls during a season. All the time she has to be tending her web and capturing prey to support the massive egg production that has to take place in the summer.

It may take 20 to 30 days before the eggs hatch. Maturation may take four to six months. The newly hatched spiders each strive to grow enough to survive the coming winter. As they do this they might eat or be eaten by a close relative or by some other spider.

Black Widow Habitat

Black widows can be found in most of the Western Hemisphere. Three groups of black widows in the United States, northern, southern, and western have some minor distinctions. The southern, by far the most numerous, thrives in the warmer climates and is most often encountered.

Black Widow Spider Bite and Venom

Our other article has more information about black widow spider bites and treatment.