Bayonne Extermmating


North New Jersey Residents – Do you have winged ants or termites?

image courtesy of our friends at Northwest Pest Control in Atlanta GA.

Ants are highly evolved social insects, health not unlike wasps and hornets, that feed on a variety of food sources.  Pest ants are known to invade homes and kitchens in the spring and summer months, but in nature most ants are extremely beneficial.   Outdoors, ants will feed on plant pollen or fruits, some ants are predators of other insects and still other species of ants will herd and tend honeydew producing insects called aphids like cattle. 

Termites, on the other hand, are a fairly primitive insect that is closely related to cockroaches.  Termites are one of a handful of creatures on the earth that can digest cellulose (wood) as a food source.  Like ants, termites are a social insect, living in large colonies beneath the soil.  Like ants, Termites are a hugely beneficial insect in nature, but can come into contact with man when they infest buildings causing damage. 

subterranean termite worker

It is very important for homeowners to know the difference between these two insects.  Ants can be an occasional invader and a sometime pest, termites can cause significant damage to your home.  The biggest difference in appearance is between a simple ant worker and a termite worker.  Ant workers are dark brown to black, have elbowed antennae and a pinched waist.  Termites on the other hand, are small white insects with a thick waist, and short straight antennae (see photo).  You’ll easily find ant workers foraging on the surface but termite workers will usually be found inside wood or mulch they are actively feeding on. 

The workers look different in between these two types of insects but there is a life stage that look very similar and can be easily confused.  Both Ants and Termites will spawn winged reproductives, or “swarmers”, that tend to look very similar.  They will both be dark brown or black and both species will have two pairs of wings.  The best way to tell the difference will be the differences already mentioned in the thickness of the waist and the shape of the antennae.  (see above photo)   Termite swarmers also tend to lose their wings very easily so finding a pile of cast wings and only a few insects is entirely possible.

termite reproductive flight or “swarm” occurring at a joint in an exterior door frame.

Curious about termites? take a look at the wiki file for the Eastern Subterranean Termite here.

Here’s a wiki file about ants in general, wiki

If you think you have reason to suspect either Ant or Termite activity in our home, please fill out the form here to request a free estimate!

Cicadas in Hudson County and North New Jersey

They’re back!!! The annual emergence of cicadas is on the horizon and this year will be a big year!  Cicadas are an annually occurring insect and most people are familiar with their mid- to late-summer mating songs. There’s been a bit of hype this year about the size of the emerging brood, no rx that the “East Coast will be snowed under with Cicadas”, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Like most insects, Cicadas spend the overwhelming majority of their lives in an immature stage, some cicada broods will remain as larvae for 13 to 17 years and only live as adults for a few weeks.  Different types of cicadas will have different maturation ages and researchers have noticed that the longer cycle cicadas (more than a few years) tend to emerge years later and the length is often a prime number.  (A prime number is a number that can only be divided by one and itself, like 3, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 17)  Entomologists feel that this “prime number year” emergence is an evolutionary tactic to thwart predators and thus far has been effective.

This year, we have some of our longest cycle cicadas emerging, the 17 Year Cicadas, or “Brood 11″. We can expect a little louder than usual buzzing at night, but that’s about it.  Cicadas haven’t attained pest status due to their extremely long life-cycle, relatively low reproductive rate and limited damage they incur.  Cicadas feed on the root systems of trees and when populations get very high, some trees might be affected, but as they do not infest structures or attack human food sources, they’ve been off the radar.  So don’t sweat it!

If anyone is looking forward to a big cicada year, its local bird populations.

Enjoy your summer, and don’t be concerned about your insect neighbors making some love music, they may be big and scary looking but that’s about it.  Interested in learning more about cicadas? Find some very cool facts here!

Invasive Ant Species in the US

As you read this, sales armies prepare for war.

Hundreds of thousands of soldiers on each side are gearing up and preparing to take the field.  Troops have come from as far as South America and Asia for the ensuing battle as the Argentine Ant squares off against it’s (new) enemy, and the Asian Needle Ant! 

The Argentine Ant is considered by many to be the most invasive ant on earth, having insinuated itself into every available ecosystem once global travel carried the founders of future colonies to their respective continents.  Argentine Ants also boast one of the largest ant Super-colonies in the world, covering some 6000 kilometers in the Mediterranean region of Europe.  Truly a global traveler, Argentine ants have set the standard for invasive insects.

But now the Argentine Ant’s hegemony is being challenged by a smaller, less numerous competitor from half a world away, the a fore mentioned Asian Needle Ant.  The “Asian Needler” has chosen North Carolina as the first battle ground to put its enemy to the test.  Being the most recent import in the “Ant Invader” game, the Needlers certainly have their work cut out for them, especially considering the Argentine Ants long held dominance.  According to researchers in North Carolina State University, the Asian Needle Ants seem to be winning. Several biological advantages make the Needle Ants more efficient in this environment (tolerance to cold, shorter winter dormancy, etc). These adaptations are definitely an advantage but coupled with a nasty (to insects) sting, the Needle Ants have been establishing footholds and pushing back the previous invaders.

Take a look at the Scientific American Article here

So what does this mean to us in the North East, New Jersey in particular? Not much really, almost nothing…. for now.

This is just another chronicle of invasive species battling it out over control of what may as well be a foreign land (North Carolina isn’t exactly next door, after all).  But this chronicle will loose its academic objectivity as these new species of invasive Ant make their way north. As a matter of fact, some researchers have shown specimens are already in our back yard.    The School of Ants is an online collaboration of citizen scientists in an effort to quantify the taxa that lives under our very feet.  These very researchers have shown Needle Ant specimens as far north as Washington State and even New York City…. Close enough for you now?

Invasive species of any kind wreak havoc on the environment they move in to, often times the results of which are not noticed until years after spread and long enough after initial introduction that nothing can be done.  Case in point: deliberately and accidentally introduced species of invertebrates and mammals have decimated Australia’s fragile ecosystem with no chance to ever return to a “primeval” state.

Introduction and its impacts are usually irreversible and profound, potentially an ecological calamity in this case considering how integral local ant species are to their respective environments.

In the meantime, you can help keep tabs on invasive species.  Become a Citizen-Scientist attached to the Ant School and begin tracking the movements of these six legged interlopers by clicking here!



“New” Tick borne disease discovered, identified in NJ woman

New Tick Disease identified in NJ Woman

Are there such things as “New Diseases”?

Quick answer: Probably not.   In his seminal 1997 work “Guns, site Germs and Steel: the Fate of Human Societies” author Jared Diamond ( Amazon Listing ) describes to the reader the cultural and developmental pressures that creates endemic disease as we know it today.  Microbes that were essentially contained within the animal world evolving and adapting to human biology as a result of our pastoral legacy, when our ancestors created livestock from wild animals through domestication and selective breeding.

The unique relation ships between diseases and the vectors that carry them have been evolving for millennia  if not eons and have shaped human history before history was even recorded.  Not only was disease resistance integral in the dispersal of early humans (and proto-humans) it has reared its ugly head several times throughout recorded history:  The Plague Epidemics of the Middle ages and the fleas that spread it,  Mosquito borne Yellow fever that almost halted the construction of the Panama canal in the early 20th century and the Malaria carrying mosquitoes that kill up to a million people a year up to modern times.

These events  were not the evolution of a new disease (although diseases, especially viruses, are constantly modifying their genetic structure to remain competitive), it was simply the interaction of non-inoculated peoples with a pre-existing disease reservoir, i.e. European descended humans living in a central American rainforest for which they were not adapted, or the introduction of and Asiatic microbe  to previously unexposed persons of, again, European descent.

So, considering the interaction of diseases, humans and the insects that complete the link, we are left only to wonder what causative factors resulted in this discovery?  A few options present themselves:

First, a true genetic change, an evolutionary step from a related disease into the strain currently identified.  Although totally possible, would we be lucky enough to literally witness evolution before our very eyes? A doubtful hypothesis, certainly…

Second, the importation of a previously unknown disease vector into an environment.  Considering the presence of both humans and ticks in the local environment in NJ for thousands of years, practically impossible.

So lastly, and most likely, we are looking at the introduction of a foreign pathogen into a previously unexposed host.  To prove this hypothesis, we would need to trace the epidemiology and spread of this particular microbe by diagnosis to try and find the point of origin, an extremely difficult task considering the recency with which this particular disease was described. It would seem that when we apply Occam’s Razor to this question, we trim away the fat of the first two possibilities fairly quickly.

In this world of fast travel and shipping we are constantly introducing potential pathogens, vectors and victims.  We are making connections between peoples and environments at lightning speeds and some times these connections result in the importation of more than just trade goods or immigrants.  Although we are a little late in the game to see a “new” smallpox or polio (as these hugely endemic disease have already made their rounds of human society) the chances of a small, non-fatal pathogens being “discovered” is very high, as modern medical science comes to understand diseases in their minutiae and describe the previously encountered ones.



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