Hearts Pest Management - Blog

Invasive Red Bugs

Wednesday October 22, 2014
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The Red Bugs are Coming! The Red Bugs are Coming!

Close up of Red Bug

Red Bug found in Ramona, CA

There´s a New Bug in Town –

What is this “Red Bug” that´s been in the news lately? Is it harmful to the landscape? Does it bite?

Southern California has a new bug in town . . .

This one looks similar to the Red-shouldered and Box Elder bug, except it is very, very, tiny in comparison.

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The White Velvet Ant

Thursday October 2, 2014
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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?

Thistledown White Velvet Ant on Coral Rocks

Thistledown White Velvet Ant on Coral Rocks

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.

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Death´s-head Hawkmoth

Wednesday February 19, 2014
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Death´s-head Hawkmoth – A Case of Misrepresentation

The Death’s-head Hawkmoth is also known as a “bee robber” but it’s not the bee he’s after . . . it’s the honey! The name “Death’s-head” is derived from the image of a skull and bones on the back of the thorax. There are three species of Death’s-head hawkmoths that belong to the family Sphingidae. Large in size, their wingspans can reach a whopping 5 inches!

Death's-head hawkmoth

Death´s-head Hawkmoth (Acherontia atropos) Male

This particular moth has been featured in art and film, including the poster of a famous blockbuster chiller, “The Silence of the Lambs.” Because of the skull-like image, the death’s-head hawkmoth has been associated with evil and the supernatural but in fact, the moth is quite harmless (unless you are a potato plant or beehive, then your leaves would get eaten and your honey nicked). Some cultures believe that if the moth flies into your house, it brings bad luck and death or misfortune are sure to follow.

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Bugs in Your Food – Cochineal, A.K.A. Carmine

Wednesday January 8, 2014
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Bugs in Your Food

– On Purpose!

(Note: some of the photos are graphic in their content regarding bugs) Do you eat yogurt with strawberries?  How about pink grapefruit juice, or red velvet cake?  Most likely you are consuming bugs……a particular scale insect to be exact.  It´s called “cochineal,” harvested in South America and Mexico from the prickly pear cactus.
Flowers of the Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia phaeacantha).

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Praying Mantis – Patience and Wisdom

Wednesday November 6, 2013
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Praying Mantis – Patience and Wisdom

California Praying Mantis

California Mantis (Stagmomantis californica)

The Praying Mantis

From whence arrived the praying mantis? From outer space, or lost Atlantis? glimpse the grin, green metal mug at masks the pseudo-saintly bug, Orthopterous* also carnivorous, And faintly whisper, Lord deliver us.

~ Ogden Nash

Follow Mantis

To “Follow Mantis” means to honor your true nature, your highest self – and let it direct you. When a praying mantis comes to visit, its message may be one of a spiritual nature. Mantis asks that we take a moment to pause, reflect, and become aware of our surroundings. Has life gotten a little out of hand? Feeling overwhelmed? Gaze into the eyes of a praying mantis and let him/her teach you how to still the mind and go within.

Close-up of the eyes of a mantis

It is said that when gazing into the eyes of the Mantis – one can feel the presence of God.

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Bumblebee Robber Flies – Mimics

Monday September 23, 2013
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Robber Flies – The Great Pretenders

This morning I stood in the doorway of Gerry´s office and declared:

“Gerry, I am very disappointed in the animal kingdom, specifically insects!” “Why? What´s going on?” “Well…..remember that picture I took of what I thought was a furry, sweet-looking mimic Bumblebee fly? Turns out it´s a garden monster!!!” “Why, what does it do?” “It lurks on the leaves of plants watching for innocent honey bees (all the while pretending to be a bee itself), then catches the bee with its strong forelegs, paralyzes it and sucks all the juices out – leaving nothing but an empty bee shell!” “Well, that´s how nature is….” “I know, I know….don´t even get me started on Tarantula Hawks!”

Then I went back to my office and started writing about this “Garden Monster” or as my Park Ranger friend Jeff calls them, “the Arnold Schwarzenegger of insects.”

Bumblebee Mimic

Bumblebee Robber Fly (Laphria astur) – The Great Pretender

Bumblebee Mimics

Mimics are great pretenders. This particular mimic above is trying very hard to look like a Bumblebee, not only to deceive unsuspecting honeybees and wasps, which it feeds on, but other would-be predators into thinking it is a real live, Bumblebee – capable of stinging. In actuality, it´s just a fly……a robber fly robbing the life right out of its prey.

Close-up of Bumblebee Robber Fly

Don´t mess with robber flies – “They´ll be back!”

Robber flies are of the family Asilidae (true flies); they have just two wings (and no stinger), whereas wasps and bees have four wings. These mimics are also called “assassin flies”  because they lie in wait until an unsuspecting wasp, bee, butterfly, or beetle passes by, then the bumblebee mimic attacks.  It uses its dagger-like proboscis to cut into the victim´s skeleton and then injects a combination of venom and digestive enzymes.  This enables the robber fly to both paralyze and liquefy the innards of its victim – and then suck them dry. Read more


It is not easy to hire the right person for any job. In the pest control industry, it can be exceptionally difficult to find the right candidate: positive, articulate, hard working, ethical and team oriented. Kia was a great find. Below her picture is a wonderful review we received on this new pest control techncian.

Kia Goode, recently hired pest control technician

Kia Goode, pest control technician

“Hi Gerry,

I am writing to share my experience with your employee, Kia.

I just wanted you to know that in my brief interaction with Kia today, her friendliness and professionalism was excellent, and really appreciated. I usually never arrive home from work early enough to encounter your employees, and I know nothing of the pest control treatment that is actually applied on Heart’s visits. (Until today, I have only known that Hearts was another bill to pay.) Having met Kia today, and having paid attention to the various treatments she applied today, I was impressed.

I just thought you should know that Kia makes a terrific first impression, seems to have a great work ethic, really cares about the customer, and is a great representation of your firm. The employees on the front lines can make or break your relationship with your customer base, and she has certainly cemented ours in the brief time we interacted. She may be relatively new, but she’s a terrific asset to your firm.

(And – my wife Jackie gives Rob very high marks too!)

Kind regards, R.B. —- Inspiration Lane Escondido, CA 92025 Acct 13524″


Acorns of California and the Acorn Weevil

From wildlife to prehistoric cultures, the acorn has sustained many a life – be it human or critter.  In California, gathering acorns to support life during the harsh winter months is important to many animals, especially Acorn Woodpeckers.  (Not that California has harsh winters but tell that to a Southern Californian and he/she will say, “It really does get chilly…..and, on a cold winter´s morning, there´s even frost on our windshields…….!”)

Male Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker – Melanerpes formicivorus

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Spiders in Culture and History

Friday April 19, 2013
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Spiders Depicted in Various Cultures

In many cultures worldwide, spiders are considered benevolent creatures that bring happiness, good luck and/or money.  Chinese have a high regard for spiders and call them “good luck” or “happiness spiders” because they descend from heaven above.  In India, it is said that spiders are spread like confetti at weddings!  In Ancient Egypt, the goddess Neith was associated with the spider as the “spinner” and “weaver” of destiny.

Egyptian Goddess Neith - Goddess of Weaving and War

Egyptian Goddess Neith – Goddess of Weaving and War

As a deity, the goddess Neith wove the entire world into being with her loom.  It is said she reweaves the world daily much like a spider that consumes and reweaves its own web.  Arachnida, the spider class in taxonomy, originates from the Greek word Arachne, meaning “spider.”  Arachne, according to Greek myths, was a human very adept at weaving who thought she was a better weaver than the goddess Athena. Read more


The Island of Sardinia

Sardinia, Italy, is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily. The island terrain resembles a quilt of sandy beaches, forested mountain peaks, valleys of citrus groves, and pastures of happily grazing sheep.

Sheep grazing on the hills of Sardinia, Italy Sheep near Lula, Sardinia, Italy. Casu marzu cheese is made with ewe´s milk.

Thousands of stone buildings called “Nuraghes” dot the landscape as testimony to an ancient past. Traditionally, Sardinian men worked as farmers and shepherds; some families today continue to raise sheep as a means of income. Sheep are milked twice a day to create Pecorino, a cheese used for Sardinia´s Casu marzu.

Old Map of Sardina, Italy Sardinia, Italy is the 2nd largest island in the Mediterranean.

Sardinia´s Casu Marzu

Casu marzu is a specialty cheese that was outlawed for a period of time by the EU (European Union). During this period, die-hard fans had to purchase Casu marzu from the black market. Sardinian sheep farmers relying on Casu marzu as a family business, fought to have the ban lifted. Read more