Posted by Donna Walker
Bees in the Spring
Tagged: Honeybee Behavior
Comments OffFriday December 19, 2014
Posted by Andrew Rodriguez
|In Southern California, one of the ways you can tell its wintertime is when you see Californians remove their sunglasses! Otherwise, we natives (and those from afar) enjoy sunshine all year round, (wildlife and insects included).Winter in sunny Southern California is so mild that insects and wildlife enjoy not only the weather but the abundance of resources California has to offer, including our pantries. Plus, when the weather does turn cold and rainy (at least for California standards), insects and rodents are not shy about making your home their home during our short winter months.|
Comments OffThursday December 4, 2014
Winter has arrived in sunny California, just in time for the House mouse to find a warm and cozy place to build a nest. …
There’s a Mouse in the House!
Mice and humans have lived together for eons in a “commensal” relationship, meaning they live on the same premises and eat at the same table (sometimes, literally!).
People are often afraid of mice and given their propensity to carry disease, they probably should be but others have a love of mice and keep them as pets.
For decades, mice in literature have captured the imagination of both children and adults. Mice figures in anthropomorphic drawings depict them with human characteristics in stories about these tiny-tailed creatures.
One of the reasons mice are used in literature may be because we find story tales that represent these timorous critters who act so brave and bold (despite their small size) and we think, “If a little mouse can do it, so can I!”
The History of Mice
The word “mouse” has been traced to the Sanskrit verb “musha” which means “to steal.”
The House mouse lived in Israel 12,000 years ago and was found in the first agricultural settlements in Mesopotamia and Egypt.
This adaptable creature followed the earliest migrations of people around the world as a stowaway in grain supplies.
Today, the mouse still prefers grains but will eat just about anything. And eat it does, 15 to 20 times per day!
Comments OffFriday November 21, 2014
Your Majesty the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
Once Upon a Time . . .
This is a story about an ugly caterpillar that turns into a beautiful majestic butterfly; but before this sad-looking caterpillar grows up, it goes through an unsightly, humiliating stage that resembles bird poop!
Larva from the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly is a greenish-brown with white blotches that look like bird poop; therefore, it is often referred to as the Bird Poop Worm or Bird Poop Caterpillar.
In the Beginning
The bird poop caterpillar started out as an orangey-yellow egg carefully placed atop a leaf by its lovely mother, a big beautiful black and yellow butterfly.
Mother butterfly chose the perfect leaf amongst the branches of a lemon tree.
Gradually, the pretty orange egg darkened in color then opened and out squeezed the caterpillar.
Comments OffWednesday October 29, 2014
Butterfly or Moth?
These little butterfly-looking moths are the merriest of creatures. Skippers are considered butterfies but have traits of both moth and butterfly. Like moths, skipper bodies are a bit on the bulky side when compared to the slender butterfly. Who would have thought insects could have body types? The skipper is very alert and despite his or her plus-size frame, appears to skip through the air from flower to flower at a rapid pace!
♪♫ Come Skip Through the Tulips with Me ♪♫♪
Skippers are in the family Hesperiidae, with over 3000 skipper species throughout the New and Old World but its the Fiery skipper that is most often spotted skipping through the air of California landscapes. Read more
Tagged:Wednesday October 22, 2014
The Red Bugs are Coming! The Red Bugs are Coming!
There´s a New Bug in Town -
What is this “Red Bug” that´s been in the news lately?
Southern California has a new bug in town . . .
This one looks similar to the Red-shouldered and
Tagged:Thursday October 2, 2014
White Velvet Ants and the Creosote Bush
Did I just see a piece of fuzz run across the desert? What´s white with 2 puffs of fuzz, 6 legs, 2 antennae, and squeaks when disturbed? Did I mention the powerful and painful sting?
White Velvet Ants
This female White Velvet Ant isn´t an ant at all…..she´s a wasp! Velvet ants look like big hairy ants but they´re actually solitary living wasps.
The female has no wings and so, sad to say, she cannot fly but she sure can move fast.
Thistledown Velvet Ants blend in with the creosote bush because of their white hair which mimics the fuzzy “fruits” of the creosote.
Tagged:Friday August 15, 2014
The Invasive Brown Marmorated Stinkbug
Here in America, we have our own native stinkbugs: of which, as kids I’m sure there isn’t a one of us that hasn’t harassed a stink bug long enough into rearing its hindquarters – just for the fun of watching it do so.
But, there´s a new bug in town – the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys) .
The brown marmorated stinkbug is believed to have arrived in the country by accident via cargo ships from Asia.
Tagged:Monday July 14, 2014
Invasive Asian Lady Beetles
|“Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away . . .”|
|Invasive or Invited? The Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle looks like our North American ladybug but it’s really an invasive species.
The Asian Lady beetle, however, could make an argument that rather than have invaded the country, it was invited – by our government.
It seems we didn´t have enough ladybugs so the Asian Lady Beetle was introduced into the states during the 1970´s to perform chemical-free pest control, for both our agricultural crops and our national forests.
Today, there are very few native ladybugs; so much so, that there´s an actual website dedicated to “lost” ladybugs! The “Lost Ladybug Project” petitions help from the public to photograph native ladybugs found throughout the country, such as the Nine-Spotted ladybug (very rare) or the Parenthesis ladybug, as well as the European Seven-Spotted ladybird.
Native ladybugs are all gentle species that have been displaced by the Asian Lady Beetle. The most common native ladybug in North America is the Convergent ladybug but it too has dropped in numbers because of the invasive Asian beetle.
Easy Asian Lady Beetle Identification
If a ladybug lands on you and then flies away on her own (without blowing on her), it´s supposed to be good luck. But before you start singing the “Ladybug Song” to make her fly . . . check out her pronotum, the area behind her head.
An Asian Lady Beetle has two large oval white markings. Besides the oval white spots on the Asian Lady Beetle´s pronotum, there´s usually a white area in the middle, giving the black area of the pronotum the appearance of an `M.´
Count the spots – she either has none or up to twenty-two and her coloring is pale orange to dark red. Young beetles tend to be black with irregular red spots. The Asian Lady Beetle is also a bit larger than most native ladybugs.
Helpful and Harmful Lady Beetles
For farmers, the Asian Lady Beetle has been a big help and quite useful in controlling insect populations for our agricultural crops, reducing the need for pesticides. All ladybugs feed on aphids, scale insects, and mites. However, because of the Asian Lady Beetle, several North American ladybug species have declined in numbers.
Not only are native and invasive ladybug species competing for the same food source, the Asian Lady Beetle is hardier, and stronger. It also has an arsenal of a parasitic fungus that kills other ladybug species, especially when native ladybugs find and feed off Asian Lady Beetle eggs and larvae. Evidently, all ladybugs will eat each other´s young if and when they come in contact.
Ladybugs as Pests, Really?
Twenty years ago, across North America, one could find thousands of ladybugs. Now it´s a rare treat to spot (pardon the pun) native ladybugs. Although native ladybugs are gentle and beneficial to one’s garden, the Asian Lady Beetle can actually become a pest.
Asian Lady Beetles are also known as “Harlequin Ladybirds” due to variations in their coloring. Today, these beetles have become a statewide pest. One may ask, “What could be so pesky about a ladybug? Well, read on . . .
In October, Asian Lady Beetles invade homes in preparation for overwintering. They congregate in attics, ceilings, and walls while seeking protection and warmth for the winter.
Believe it or not, homeowners have reported sinus problems due to infestations of Asian Lady Beetles. The beetle´s defensive tactic, when disturbed, is to emit a yellow, foul-smelling chemical – which can stain walls and other surfaces. Asian Lady Beetles may look cute but they can and will bite!
The Future of Ladybugs
When one species becomes dominate, and environmental conditions change, that species runs the risk of becoming threatened or even extinct. This can cause problems in the ecosystem.
In regards to ladybugs, if we lost all ladybugs, including the invasive ones, it would be detrimental to the health of our agricultural crops and increase the need for pesticides.
On the home front, ladybugs can often be seen wherever there is an abundance of water, especially near ponds. Ladybugs are beneficial beetles that are important in controlling garden pests such as aphids and scale insects.
|The Lost Ladybug Project is working closely with the public to determine just where all the native ladybugs have gone to, and – try to figure out how and what we can do to protect them.
The next time I´m out hiking with my camera, I will be “hunting” for Nine-Spotted, Convergent, and Parenthesis Ladybug-Ladybirds!
In the meantime, a special thanks to all ladybugs for keeping our food free from pests and our flowering plants beautiful.
Article by Donna M. Walker
Mallis, A. 2011. Handbook of Pest Control, Tenth Edition, Saunders College Publishing. Lost Ladybug.org (2014). The Lost Ladybug Project. Wikipedia. (2014). The Free Encyclopedia: Harmonia axyridis. National Geographic.com (2013). News Watch – Invasive Lady Beetle Kills Off Competition Using Parasites. Natural History Museum.org (2014). Los Angeles. Lost Ladybug Project – Identifying Ladybugs. Penn State University Entomology (2013). Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle Factsheets.
Tagged:Friday June 27, 2014
My name is Marco A. Ramos and I am a part time landscape technician who just recently started working for Hearts Pest Management. So far, my experience has been great. This job has lots of similarities with my recent landscaping job but it also has many differences, many of which I am still learning about.
My training so far has been great and thanks to John Chi and Duke Phan, I have been able to learn, laugh, and enjoy helping customers with their pest problems. These two individuals along with my employer, Gerry Weitz, have helped me on my journey to success in the pest management business.
Riding in the car with these technicians and getting hands on experience has been very interesting and at the same time very motivating. Knowing that all of my simple questions could be answered if I only ask made me feel very comfortable in the environment I was working in.