Have you ever seen a Termite Swarm? New Jersey homeowners should be on the alert – Spring is when Termite Swarms happen and if you’ve ever seen a swarm inside your house – you’ll never forget it. Termite swarms happen on warmer days in spring, sometimes the day after an evening shower or rain event. Swarms usually occur when established colonies produce winged male and female termites that reproduce. Soon after the so-called Swarm, fertilized termites shed their wings and go on to establish new colonies. Termite Swarmers are a sign of a mature termite colony – and we’re experts at eliminating those colonies. If you see winged insects like the picture below – call us for a FREE Inspection and estimate.
By far the most common type of Rat found in New Jersey is the Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus).
Also known as the Brown Rat, ask Sewer Rat, treatment Norway Rat or Warf Rat, these larger rodents can be almost a foot long, not counting the tail and weigh up to a pound. Norway Rats are excellent burrowers, are extremely intelligent and live in large and complex social groupings. This intelligent and social nature has no doubt attributed to their negative perception. In modern society, Norway rats have adapted themselves perfectly to urban areas and sewer systems, living in extremely close contact with humans in inner cities and high poverty areas. Their extremely strong teeth and ability to burrow extensively allow them to move seamlessly through sewer systems and homes, as well as through most construction materials used to keep them out. Like most rodents, Norway Rats have a very high reproductive potential, generating large populations in a very short amount of time.
Thanks in part to their close association with humans, the Norway rat has moved on from its native Asia to colonize every continent on earth, except for Antarctica. Rats are extremely diverse feeders, these true omnivores can scavenge, hunt, forage and steal meals from a variety of sources.
The house mouse is one of the most troublesome and costly rodents in the United States.
House mice are found in and around homes and commercial structures. As temperatures begin to drop, cialis house mice move indoors and consume and contaminate food meant for people and pets. What’s more, store they can cause considerable damage to structures and in some cases start fires by chewing through wires.
Because house mice are so small, discount they can gain entry into homes and other buildings much more easily than rats.
Effective control involves sanitation, exclusion, and population reduction. Sanitation and exclusion are preventive measures. When a mouse infestation already exists, some form of population reduction such as trapping or baiting is almost always necessary.
Summer may be coming to an end, buy viagra but some of New Jersey’s more noxious pests are just starting their boom season. The mid-summer heat and humidity have been working hard to produce favorable conditions for all insect pests, but some benefit more than others from the conditions. For years pet owners and pest control professionals have seen flea activity climb throughout the summer and peak in late July and early August. Let’s take a quick look at these parasitic insects.
The Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis.) is the largest single representative member of the fleas that become pests. Fleas thrive in areas of poor sanitation and living conditions, they are highly mobile and quickly reproduce and can find its way indoors in very short order even in homes without pets. It’s important to note that, to an extent, flea activity on outdoor pets is inevitable, keeping them from invading your home is key. Once the life cycle of the flea begins in earnest indoors, it can be a difficult and time consuming task to eradicate them from the structure.
All fleas are from a highly specialized and specifically adapted insect family called Siphonaptera). As with many other highly evolved insects, fleas undergo complete metamorphosis (Also known as Holometabolism) to fulfill their development from egg to adult. After the egg hatches, the flea larvae that emerge are tiny, wormlike and look nothing like adult fleas. The flea larvae will stay in dark and moist areas as it feeds and get ready to pupate. Pupation is an inactive phase of development where the insect will stay within a cocoon like structure and begin its final transformation into the adult insect. Other insects that undergo complete metabolism are quite familiar to us; insects like butterflies, moths, beetles, mosquitoes and dragonflies all share this developmental process. This amazing growth process allows adults and immature insects of the same species to utilize more resources during their lifetimes without competing with each other. Another byproduct of complete metabolism is that in most species of insect, and especially the flea, the pupae or cocoon is extremely durable, able to withstand both temperature changes and chemical applications.
Scanning Electron Microscopy of a Cat Flea
Once the adult flea emerges from the pupae, it is fully grown and now has the unmistakable flea body shape, flattened from side to side with large legs perfect for jumping, anywhere from 1 to 3 feet depending on species. To look closer, with an electron microscope as in the photos below, we see a strange and alien form, a very complex insect with an unfamiliar shape.
Flea biology, as well as its pest status, tend to revolve around furry mammals, both pets and wildlife, but fleas can feed on humans and birds as well. Ideally, adult fleas look to infest an animal, hiding comfortably in their fur until population levels become too high to be sustained. Once population levels reach a certain point, or if the animal is removed from the area or dies, fleas will seek out an alternate host, sometimes biting humans in the process. While fleas have no problem biting humans, they cannot infest a human like they would an animal due to human’s relatively hairless bodies. Fleas are not known to infest either head or body hair on humans for an extended period of time.
While fleas have been known to transmit different types of diseases, their access to viral reservoirs (animals that are carriers of a certain disease) in the New Jersey Area is somewhat limited. While fleas have been known to transmit Plague and Typhus, the conditions required to transmit those diseases are absent in our area and occurrences are rare if ever. The most common vector transmitted by fleas in our area is the Dog Tapeworm. Tapeworms can and do attack humans but infection is rare and easily dealt with through proper medical treatment.
Lyme disease is an infectious and debilitating disease that was first identified in New Jersey in 1981. From 1990-2012 approximately 56, treat 000 cases of Lyme Disease have been reported in New Jersey alone and approximately 90% of Lyme Disease cases originate from 13 Northeastern states.
Lyme disease is caused by the spirochete (microorganism) Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Blacklegged Tick, medical also known as a Deer Tick, Ixodes scapularis. Approximately half of adult Blacklegged Ticks can harbor this disease and up to a quarter of immature ticks. Although Lyme Disease is transmitted by ticks, the disease does not affect them. Lyme Disease tends to build up in populations of Eastern Chipmunks and White-footed Mice, from there the disease can be spread to deer, humans and other larger mammals. Infected humans cannot spread the disease to other humans, instead a tick is required to transmit the disease.
The dreaded Bulls-eye rash
Humans who have been bitten by an infected tick may not exhibit symptoms immediately, often the first outward symptom will be a large rash with a clear center, sometimes referred to as a “bull’s-eye” rash, anywhere from 3 to 30 days after the bite itself. Between 20%-30% of infected humans will show no sign of this rash. Other early symptoms may include extreme fatigue, headache, and nausea. If left untreated, the disease can attack the heart, joints and central nervous system, causing severe and debilitating pain. Approximately 10%-15% of affected patients will develop severe and immediate neurological symptoms including facial palsy, meningitis or encephalitis.
While tick testing is an excellent option, it should not replace proper medical attention. Considering the infection timeline and the amount of time to obtain proper test results, it’s imperative to see a doctor immediately if you have any suspicion that the tick you’ve been bitten by is a Black-legged Tick.
Reducing your exposure to ticks is the only way to prevent Lyme Disease. Always use insect repellent and wear long pants when camping, hiking or in other woodland areas. Ticks favor areas with tall grass and leaf-litter, its best to avoid these areas if possible. Keep your backyard well maintained, free of leaf litter and with a properly cut lawn with trimmed edges. If you have pets, a proper flea and tick treatment is strongly advised.
For years the American public has been relatively unaffected by mosquito borne diseases, capsule partly due to the mild American climate as well as a limited number of pathogens and viable vector in the environment. Unfortunately, prostate that has now changed, online maybe for good.
Most mosquito related diseases like Dengue fever and Yellow fever are limited to tropical areas with very limited dispersion on the North American continent. The most significant mosquito related disease in the US, malaria, is now relegated to history books as huge public works projects, area wide mosquito control efforts and enormous amounts of public education have eliminated mosquito habitat and populations throughout the country.
Occasionally, smaller localized outbreaks of mosquito borne diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis will crop up and plague a small area. Although of limited interest to the average person, the mosquito’s ability to spread diseases like tapeworm and encephalitis to animals is still a threat to farming communities or pets and pet owners. These diseases have been limited in distribution and specific in scope, attacking small areas or groups of animals in recent years. Unfortunately, that is about to change….
In previous blogs we’ve discussed a new mosquito borne illness known as Chikungunya (pronounced “Chicken-gun-yah”) and it potential to go from an occasional imported disease to an established pathogen on the US mainland. According to the CDC, the first case of domestically acquired Chikungunya was reported and confirmed on July 17th of this year in Florida. Although almost 250 cases of Chikungunya have been reported in the US since 2006 all of these previous cases have been contracted by people traveling abroad before retuning hoe to the US. In the July 17th case, the victim had not traveled abroad and transmission of the virus was confirmed as a local source.
Chikungunya is a complex disease that while not fatal, can cause severe pain and debilitation. Subjects infected with the Chikungunya virus will exhibit a high fever and a significant amount of joint and body pain. Other symptoms include, but are not limited to, headaches, joint swelling and rashes. At this time there is no known vaccine for Chikungunya and although treatment does exist, affected individuals can suffer from symptoms for up to two years after initial exposure. It is interesting to note that the Chikungunya virus cannot be spread directly from person to person, the virus requires distribution via mosquitoes like the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and the Yellow Fever Mosquito (Aedes aegypti).
While New Jersey residents need not be immediately concerned they should be aware of the presence of Chikungunya both in the US as well as any potential vacation destinations. A trip to Key West or the Caribbean would put the average vacationer in areas prone to harbor Chikungunya and other diseases. It’s also worth noting that the Asian Tiger Mosquito has recently moved into New Jersey and has the potential to transmit Chikungunya and other mosquito related diseases to residents of the Garden State.
The distribution of the Asian Tiger Mosquito in the US
Residents of New Jersey are no stranger to insect bites, order approximately 60 different species of mosquitoes call the Garden State home, pills along with several different species of biting flies. It may sound like we’re the main course on the blood-feeders buffet but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Only a handful of mosquitoes in and around our area are constant pests of humans, many mosquitoes feed almost exclusively on one type of host or another. Birds and other mammals, both small and large, can be attacked by mosquitoes, not just humans. Due to their behavior and biology certain species of mosquitoes, like the Black-Tailed Mosquito (Culiseta melanura), feed almost exclusively on birds.
Mosquitoes native to New Jersey have another behavioral trait that offers some relief: most mosquitoes only bite during the dawn and dusk and are not active through the middle of the day. Small behavioral and biological facets like this have defined New Jersey’s relationship with it’s tiny flying blood-feeders, but unfortunately, all that is about to change.
Meet the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus), our newest import into the increasingly diverse group of non-native or invading insects. Like other recent imported pests, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, the Asian Longhorned Beetle and the Multi-colored Asian Ladybird Beetle, the Asian Tiger Mosquito hails from South East Asia and has been imported into the US within the last 20 years due to imported vegetation and high speed global transit. .
The most immediately apparent difference between the Asian Tiger and our native mosquitoes is the striking black and white alternating pattern, easily visible even at this small size. Adults range in size from 2-10mm in length, depending on the quality of nutrition available to them as larvae. Males and females also look fairly similar, with the largest difference being the male’s bushier and almost fuzzy antennae.
Asian Tiger Mosquitoes have a developmental biology not wholly unlike its native cousin the House Mosquito (Culex pipens). They have comparable tolerances for heat and cold and both require stagnant fresh water in which to lay their eggs and begin development. Since stagnant fresh water is very easy to find in close proximity to humans, (think birdbaths, flowerpots, bottoms of garbage cans, etc.) these insects feed quite frequently on humans and will complete their entire lifecycle in very close proximity to humans.
There are, however, two marked differences between the Asian Tiger Mosquito and its local cousins: one is host or target preference, the other being daily activity cycles.
Asian Tiger Mosquitoes are voracious feeders and are not specific to a single host or host type. Tiger Mosquitoes have no problem feeding on birds, humans or other mammals, both small and large over the course of their lives. Another odd feeding behavior the Asian Tiger Mosquito exhibits is incomplete feeding. Not all Asian Tiger Mosquitoes get a full blood meal at every feeding, requiring a second trip for the required nutrition. Since these mosquitoes don’t always “go right back for seconds” they’ll feed on a different host if not a different type of host altogether.
These two behaviors cause the Asian Tiger Mosquito to be a rather significant vector of viruses and other pathogens. Oftentimes groups of animals will harbor a virus or pathogen without showing symptoms, like the West Nile Virus or encephalitis in birds. The feeding behavior for the Asian Tiger mosquito results in multiple feedings from multiple hosts and host types during their lifetimes, significantly increasing their chances of passing on an infection like the Yellow fever virus, dengue fever and Chikungunya fever.
Now that we’ve established the Asian Tiger Mosquito is a diverse feeder the second part of its feeding behavior can be discussed. Unlike most other mosquitoes, the Asian Tiger Mosquito is active from dawn till dusk and throughout the intervening day. Since these mosquitoes have the unique feeding behavior we discussed above, along with being active for almost 18 hours a day, we can see how this tiny parasite can develop into an important pest for New Jersey residents.
Mosquitoes have long been a pest and parasite of humans.So much so that mosquitoes and their ability to spread infection and disease have altered human history in ways that can still be felt today.One of the most immediate would be the summer session breaks for the US Congress. When Washington D.C. was first decided upon to be the capital of the newly formed United States the summers were a dangerous time to be along the banks of the Potomac.The marshlands and inter-tidal spaces would support huge populations of malaria-infected mosquitoes.One of the only safe ways to avoid being infected with malaria in the 18th and 19th centuries was to simply avoid the area for several weeks when mosquito populations were at their worst.
Although malaria is still a significant hazard to world-wide health (approximately one million people die every year from malaria in Africa alone!!!) its impact in the United States has been much limited from only 200 years ago.Modernization, industrialization and urbanization have definitely cut down on the presence of mosquitoes by reducing or eliminating their breeding sites but it certainly has not eliminated these flying parasites.Conversely, it may open up new habitat for different species of mosquitoes.As we use landfill and bulk heading projects along the coasts to reduce saltwater breeding mosquitoes, mosquitoes that breed in small amounts of fresh or still water, like the house mosquito, will move into the area.In short, while we may mitigate their activity and cut down on their numbers, we will probably never be able to get rid of mosquitoes all together.
While diseases like Malaria and Yellow Fever are the most widely known mosquito borne diseases they very rarely occur in New Jersey.Residents of the garden state need to be concerned primarily with two distinct types of Encephalitis: Eastern Equine Encephalitis and St. Louis Encephalitis.
Cases of EEEV in the US in 2009
Eastern Equine Encephalitis or “EEEV” occurs along the eastern seaboard of the US and is prevalent in Southern New Jersey.As the name implies, this disease affects horses but due to the mosquito’s feeding habits it can be passed on to humans very easily and there is generally a reservoir of the pathogen in local bird populations.When passed to humans, symptoms can be dramatic and deadly, causing high fever, body aches, altered personality states and seizures.Due to the nature of the vectors and hosts, EEEV can be found most often in rural areas.Several species of mosquito will pass the EEEV from humans to animals and vice versa.As of now, there is no cure for EEEV, and while death is a possible outcome permanent brain damage can affect any survivors. Eastern Equine Encephalitis is such a devastating disease that it was researched by the US government as a potential biological weapon before the US discontinued its bio-warfare program.
St. Louis Encephalitis is a disease related to EEL and while its symptoms may be less severe it is still a deadly disease for as much as 30% of those infected.While initially St. Louis Encephalitis may present as a flu with fever and aches, in a few short days symptoms can progress to coma, tremors, occasional convulsions and spastic paralysis.Notably, St. Louis Encephalitis is transmitted by the common House Mosquito (Culex pipens) whose close association with humans and variability of habitat causes this disease to spread rapidly and attack urban areas.
Heart worm Life cycle
In New Jersey, humans are not the only ones to be put in harm’s way by a mosquito bite, even our furry friends are in jeopardy!The Dog Heartworm is spread by infected mosquitoes primarily between dogs and other canids, like foxes or coyotes, as well as ferrets, sea lions or beavers.In areas where dog heartworm is prevalent, it may even infect cats (rarely) or humans (very infrequently).While prevention and treatment is fairly easy for this disease, humans must still bear the burden of the cost for medication and the occasional loss of a pet when the heartworm goes undetected until the terminal stages.
In previous blogs we discussed a bit about our native ant species and the types of ants most frequently encountered in New Jersey.Today, doctor we’re going to look at a few species of ant we don’t have here in New Jersey, and we should be happy we don’t!! We’ll discuss some of the scariest, most deadly and most feared ants on the planet, then count our lucky stars how they’re not here in the Garden State.
Fire Ant Stinging a Human
We’ll start off close to home with a deadly and dangerous ant that has established itself in the United States within the last century.The Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) is native to South America but due to global trade and transport has established itself in the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Australia and Asia.Their highly aggressive nature and painful sting when defending their nests is most likely the origin of their name, as anyone who stepped on a mound can surely attest.
When disturbed, fire ants will swarm up the legs of any animal close to the nest.The ants don’t begin stinging immediately but instead wait a few moments allowing dozens of ants to gain a foothold on the intruder.Once the first ant begins to bite and sting, the rest of the ants will follow en masse making the victim feel as if the ants began their attack “all at once”.Fire Ant attacks are particularly vicious as workers will latch on with their strong jaws and sting repeatedly until removed.Approximately 1% of the population is hypersensitive to Fire Ant venom and may have a pronounced reaction to even a few stings.Although Fire Ants regularly overwhelm and kill small animals like rodents and lizards, the relative size and speed of humans keep a healthy person safe from succumbing to attack.
African Driver Ant, or “Siafu”
For more information about the Red Imported Fire Ant, click here.
African Driver Ants (Dorylus spp.) are comprised of dozens of species throughout the continent and are covered under the Swahili word “Siafu”.These driver ant colonies can number up to 20 million members and have been known to relocate as a group in a thick column of workers and soldiers that can cover up to 20 meters in an hour.There is a significant difference in workers and soldiers in the Siafu colonies, with the soldiers being several times larger than workers with a strong and pronounced jaw structure.Although these marching columns can easily be avoided, any sleeping animals they encounter are at grave risk.Likewise for residents of a home that the colony may move through.Columns of Siafu have been known to skeletonize small to mid-size livestock in a very short amount of time.
Siafu on the march!!
Native Africans have developed a healthy respect for these high powered army ants.Many locals often look forward to Siafu columns as they will consume any pest they might encounter, offering pesticide free crop protection for local farmers.They will also scavenge any small particles of debris they encounter, often times leaving homes and offices cleaner than when they entered.The Massai have actually learned to utilize Siafu soldiers as emergency first aid!Wounded Massai huntsman learned years ago that they could suture wounds by getting the Siafu soldiers to bite on either of the wound, effectively closing it.Then the bodies of the ants are pinched off and the heads remain with jaws locked for several days allowing natural healing of the affected area.
The last, and possibly most dangerous ant we’ll discuss, is native to Australia, the Jack Jumper Ant (Myrmecia pilosula). A type of Bull Ant, Jack Jumpers are voracious predators with a nasty sting comparable to wasps and hornets.Up to 3% of the population of Australia is allergic to these ants and will suffer anaphylactic shock from even one sting.Unlike other ants discussed in this article, Jack Jumper Ants tend to forage singly even though they are part of a colony like other ants.This solitary behavior is a blessing in disguise to humans as multiple stings from this insect would almost certainly be fatal.Just a quick look at the jaws of a worker Jack Jumper Ant is enough to make you happy that we’re very far from Australia.
if you’d like more information about the jack Jumper Ant, click here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our quick tour through this terrible trio of ant species.The next time you see a few ants in the kitchen, I’m sure you’ll be happy that it’s only a few of our native Pavement Ants stealing from the sugar bowl and not an invading column of Siafu storming your backyard barbeque!