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Asian Lady Beetles vs. Native Ladybugs Monday July 24, 2017
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Invasive Asian Lady Beetles

Asian Lady Beetle

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis)

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.

Nine-spotted ladybug

The native Nine-Spotted ladybug is a threatened and endangered species. It has four spots on each wing and one spot that is split in the middle.

Native Ladybugs

Today, there are very few native ladybugs; so much so, that there´s an actual website dedicated to “lost” ladybugs!

Hearts Pest Management is concerned about ladybugs and other beneficial insects…that’s why we practice Organic Pest Control!

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Winter Pests in Southern California Friday December 19, 2014
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Wintertime Pests

Pests in California

Wintertime Pests in Southern California.

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. Read more

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Wintertime Mice Thursday December 4, 2014
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Wintering Mice

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!).

Three mice and cheese

Three mice discussing how to get a very large chunk of cheese back to their “living quarters.”

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.
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Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Friday November 21, 2014
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Your Majesty the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

Bird poop larva of swallowtail

The mature caterpillar of the Giant Swallowtail is so disguised as to deter predators into thinking its just a piece of bird poop.

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.
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Fiery Skippers Wednesday October 29, 2014
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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!

Fiery Skipper close up

The Fiery Skipper has short antennae with clubs and a little hook on the end.

Dancing Skippers

Male and female Fiery skippers doing their courtship dance.

♪♫ 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

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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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Brown Marmorated Stinkbug Friday August 15, 2014
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Stinking Stinkbugs

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.

brown marmorated stinkbug

The brown marmorated stinkbug has ruined many an apple.

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Signs of Spring Tuesday April 15, 2014
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Signs of Spring

Sweat Bee on Native San Diego Sunflower

Sweat Bee on Native San Diego Sunflower

♪♫ Spring is in the air ♫ ♪

In Southern California, one can always tell spring is on the way right about mid-March. The honey bees are buzzing between new blossoms, native California chaparral flowers are in bloom, Black Phoebes and other birds are courting each other, new nests are under construction or last years are being remodeled. Oh, and the ants begin to appear, marching one by one . . .

Birds in Spring Black Phoebe

(Sayornis nigricans) Every year for the last four years, I know spring has definitely arrived when I hear little tiny chirps above my studio window.

Before I moved in, a pair of Black Phoebes had already established themselves under the eaves. How many years has this same nest been rearing new generations of phoebes? I have no idea but I am happy they let me share my humble abode with them.Black Phoebes are the sweetest of birds.All dressed up in their tuxedos, both parents take turns sitting on the eggs until the nestlings hatch. Father and mother phoebe may leave the nest to catch flies, gnats, and other flying insects but they are always nearby to watch over and guard their nestlings.When relocating, the male Black Phoebe searches out nest sites to show to his female phoebe.He hovers over an area for a few seconds to see if the new neighborhood suits her. If not, he keeps flying to new locations until he has found one she likes.

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebes are flycatchers natural pest control agents!

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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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