*Warning: Some of this is gross!
As I have previously mentioned, I have some experience in pest control. You learn a ton of useless facts doing that (like the Latin names for various critters…which almost ZERO customers care to know I know). However, some things are really neat, like the following scraps of info, some of which you can use to win the battle against your favorite insect foe.
ANTS don’t like how chalk feels. I learned a long time ago that ants prefer smooth surfaces. Chalk makes the surface “tacky” and they don’t like that. I use this against them: Place a bait outside, then direct ants TO the bait with a line of chalk. It can double the effectiveness of outside baits.
BED BUG females are “stung” by their amorous partners. Those who study them count the scars to find out the number of times they have mated. I have treated thousands of homes for this pest. You always know the sex of those bed bugs in the upper corner of the room…they are females which have gotten VERY tired of being attacked by males. They moved out of the bed bug “neighborhood” and are living alone away from the “action.”
SPIDERS “fly” using static electricity. (Ha! This is not an insect, is it!) Have you ever seen spiders floating in the breeze? I have. They throw out a length of silk and jump. What holds them in the air is the static charge. Scientists did an experiment. They created a plexiglass box, put branches in it and young spiders. Then they created a static charge on the bottom. The spiders put out their silk and jumped off the branches…and just hung in the air. There was no breeze to take them anywhere. When the bottom was de-electrified all the spiders fell.
BOX ELDER BUGS breath though pores in their bodies. This is why when you spray them with ordinary soapy water they die. The soap coats the pores and they cannot breathe. Curiously, many pesticides are largely unproductive in killing the critters because the bugs have dead hairs (like on your head) on their feet. They walk safely across toxic surfaces. However, if you add just the right amount of pyrethroids to the insecticide it irritates them and they twist a bit and scrape the edge of their body against the surface…and uptake the insecticide.
ROACHES eat each other. If you kill a cockroach with a bait, you will kill a few other roaches…because they have no problem eating their dead friend (and thus also eat the bait that killed him) Roaches will gladly eat their young, too. The young learn early (or too late) to wait until the bigger roaches have already eaten before venturing out of the crevice in which they are hiding.
FLIES throw up every time they land (not exactly). Houseflies want to “taste” the surface on which they land, so they push out a sticky liquid (called a bolus) onto that surface and then suck it back in. (Always wash any food prep surface a fly lands on). Flies are responsible for a myriad of transmitted diseases and pathogens.
Want to know something crazy? Most products sold at the store to trap flies are what color? Yellow. However flies can’t see yellow very well. Of course, the store is not selling that product TO the fly, is it? What color does a housefly like best? Studies have shown that the color they strongly prefer over white, yellow, green, or red is MEDIUM BLUE.
More? Flies love edges. If you paint a small board with medium blue paint, let it dry, AND you draw a dark line down the middle, most of the flies will land exactly on the dark line. That’s where I spray the insecticide. (If you do that you may want to place a bucket under the board to catch the dying flies.)
MARMORATED STINK BUGS are fascinating to look at under a magnifying lens. You will see dots of several colors. Plus the edges of their shield has dashes and their antennas have alternating bands of light and dark. These imported insects love to spend the winter in your house. In the fall they can sense where air is exiting your house…and that’s where they enter. Pay attention to these pests and you will find the places where your house needs caulk or weather stripping to reduce your winter heating costs.
LADY BUGS (actually Ladybird Beetles) are not the same critter your parents grew up with. This is an Asian variety that was intentionally imported and interbred with OUR friendly insects to create monsters that want to spend the winter in our houses (and they “bite”). Anyone who has vacuumed up a bunch has learned a hard lesson…they make your vacuum VERY stinky. So, would it surprise you to learn that Ladybird Beetles don’t like odor? If you have a window they love to enter in the fall, you can “paint” the outside frame edges with a little essential oil…and they will stay away!
BUMBLEBEES are stupid when it comes to finding their nest when they return home. Seriously. If you watch honeybees you will notice that every bee lands right at the correct location to enter the hive. If you watch yellow jackets or bald faced hornets returning to their nests…they land almost at the perfect location to quickly enter the nest. But bumblebees can’t seem to figure out where their nest is. I have often watched bumblebees land up to 12 feet from the nest and WALK the rest of the way. They start by meandering in circles until they come across a track that heads the right direction (from other confused bumblebees). Oh! You may think bumblebees are docile and non-aggressive, but if you are standing near their nest they will come after you and sting repeatedly. They do not like visitors.
TERMITES were into probiotics long before it was “cool.” Termites cannot digest cellulose (wood) without their probiotics. They require a special bacteria which they cannot manufacture in their own guts. They grow the bacteria in their colony and take bites of it every once in a while to keep it active in their digestive systems. Strange thing is that this bacteria will kill them if they do not groom to remove the excess bacteria that gets on the outside of their bodies. One of the curious effects of one termiticide is that it causes termites forget to groom if the product is not strong enough to kill them outright. Then the colony has to deal with lots of fuzzy termites spreading death through the camp.
Hope you enjoyed this weird list.
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