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Stinking Stink Bugs

Wednesday December 12, 2018
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Stinking Stinkbugs

brown marmorated stinkbug

The brown marmorated stinkbug has ruined many an apple.

The Brown Marmorated Stinkbug

Invasive Stinkbugs

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.

This particular stinkbug is believed to have arrived in the country by accident via cargo ships from Asia. The Asian stink bug originated in China, Japan, and Korea; it was first discovered in Pennsylvania and is now established in 41 states (including California).

Map of origins of the brown marmolated stink bug

The Brown Marmolated Stink Bug´s Native Land is Asia.

The brown marmorated stinkbug is only about the size of a dime but it sure has cost a “boatload” of money in crop damage since it “sailed” into our ports.

Stinking Stinkbug Invasion

According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Department, the brown marmorated stinkbug is a “winged invader from Asia that is eating our crops and infesting U.S. homes . . .”

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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


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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


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A Pest Management Technician’s Journey

Friday March 8, 2013
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The Interview at Hearts Pest Management for Pest Control Technician

Justin Quiroz - Hearts Pest Management Technician

Justin Quiroz – Hearts Pest Management

It´s hard to believe that it´s been two and a half years since I rushed into Gerry´s office for an interview.

Truth be told, at the time I didn´t quite know what to expect. I had only ever worked for large companies, never a locally owned business. All kinds of little variables were popping up in my head…

What could this interview lead to? Is this the right move for me? What´s this “Gerry” character going to be like? Read more


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Mouse in the House

Monday February 25, 2013
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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.

Three mice and cheese

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

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!

Mice eating agricultural crops.

Mice were present in the first agricultural settlements of Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Su Casa Mi Casa

Like humans, the most important needs of the mouse is food and shelter. What better place than a warm home with a variety of favored grains (within a private room – pantry) such as oats, cereals, beans, rice, and pasta? Mice are not picky eaters so any cheese crumbs dropped from the kitchen table is a welcome addition to their diet. They are also grateful for the soft batting used to line their nests from your favorite comforter and/or chair. The 50 babies per year are grateful too. A battle between cook and mouse (`member The Three Blind Mice?) and homeowner vs. mouse is a never ending one.

mouse caught in an 1885 live mousetrap

A mouse caught in a trap – his fellow mice plotting an escape


How to catch a mouse: “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” A phrase attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, philosopher and essayist (but misquoted from his original statement).  OK, here is the original so you don´t have to look it up, “If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.” Emerson´s statement has spurred entrepreneurs and inventors to create the ultimate mousetrap for the “oh so desperate” individuals determined to gain back control of their home.

Victor spring-loaded mousetrap

Spring-loaded Mousetrap

Since the time of Emerson, Americans have been trying to improve upon the mousetrap for more than 100 years; 4,400 patents later, the spring-loaded “Little Nipper” invented by James Henry Atkinson in 1897, is the basis for spring-loaded traps made today. Of course, there are other forms of trapping, including live-traps fashioned after earlier versions; and then there is the “all natural,” – a cat.

1883 Mousetrap

Old-fashioned Mouse Trapping – 1883

Keeping Mice out of the House

In order to keep mice within the pages of a book, where they can be admired and not in your home, remember mice can squeeze through an opening a ¼ of an inch in diameter; blocking off potential entry points is important, oh, and keeping food in tightly sealed containers prevents mice from “borrowing” from your pantry.

Article by Donna Walker


Illustrations are copyright free and within the public domain; source: ReusableArt.com Jackson, Nicholas. “Mousetraps: A Symbol of the American Entrepreneurial Spirit.” The Atlantic, 28 Mar. 2011. Mallis, Arnold, Handbook of Pest Control, 10th Edition, The Mallis Handbook Company, 2011.


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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


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Cheese Mites

Thursday January 24, 2013
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Cheese Mites – France’s Mimolette

The next time you´re eating out, you may think twice about ordering “extra cheese.”  Did you know that some cheeses have mites?  And there are other cheeses that have maggots?  What´s gross to some of us is but a delicacy to others….  personally, I love cheese and like trying different varieties but after researching cheese mites, I´ve decided a part-time job as a cheese connoisseur is not for me!

Mimolette Cheese French Mimolette Cheese: The textured crust is caused by cheese mites. Doesn’t look too unusual, right? Keep reading! Read more


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True Bugs

The Red-shouldered Bug

Red-shouldered bugs actually have red shoulders!

An afternoon walk usually involves having my “nose to the ground” checking for any interesting insect activity.

This particular bug was very lucky I was looking down or it may have been stepped on…it´s little life cut short by a size 8 sneaker!

The first thing I noticed was its beautiful coloring of bluish-black wings with red markings and red eyes.

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HeartsPM Selected for EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program

Hearts Pest Management, based on a record of past IPM (integrated pest management) accomplishments and a firm commitment to the goals of IPM, was approved for membership in the U.S. EPA’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP).

This new membership will provide Hearts a new avenue to share and learn additional ways to reduce the potential health and environmental risks associated with pesticide use. By joining, Hearts has pledged to be guided in all its’ actions by “environmental stewardship” as an integral part of pest management. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of non-chemical strategies as well as pesticide focused strategies to assure best outcomes for both our clients and the overall welfare of our environment.

EPA’s Frank Ellis states, “I am pleased that Hearts Pest Management is taking a leadership role, along with our other members, in working with the EPA on environmental stewardship.”


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Same Quality Pest Control

Thursday August 2, 2012
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Same Quality Pest Control

It´s been a little over a year since I first started here at Hearts. It´s remarkable how quickly time has flown. It´s also remarkable how much has changed.

Just since I´ve arrived, there have been new policies, new laws, products, rules, regulations, lions, tigers, and bears, etc.

The good thing is that we´re all in a constant state of evolution at Hearts.

I´ve learned plenty from the veterans here (some of whom you may have had the pleasure of meeting) and it seems that professional growth here is paramount. You can never learn too much from someone or gain too much exposure to any aspect of our business.

Education and training seem to be ongoing. No one here is allowed to be a generic “spray jockey.” Read more

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