Where Have All The Butterflies Gone

I remember as a child playing in my Grandparents backyard catching June Bugs and admiring how shiny they are. But mostly, I remember all the Monarch butterflies fluttering from flower to flower. My grandfather never let me catch them, telling me that they were too delicate, handling them would ruin their wings and they would never be able take flight again. So, I would just watch them as they busied about. It wasn’t until I was older, at an age to appreciate why he was so passionate, that he talked about the importance of the pollinators and the decomposers in the garden.

The years have passed, and the abundance of butterflies seem to be a distant memory from the days of old. Growing up I never thought I would ever hear about Entomologists and scientists studying the decline in insect populations. Let alone talking about their concern about a human-caused Holocene extinction. Look that word up! For me, initially I was like hey, let’s face it, the estimated ratio of insects to humans is 200 million to one. Why should I be concerned?

The answer to my question is perfectly clear. The facts are is that several studies, mostly European studies, report what appears to be a substantial decline in insect populations. Some of the insects most effected include bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, dragonflies and damselflies.

A study in 2019 by Statistics Netherlands and the DBC of butterfly numbers in the Netherlands reported that from 1890 to 2017 the butterfly numbers declined an estimated 84 percent! That decline was attributed to changes in land use as more efficient farming methods were established causing a decline in weeds. Most of the studies documented, suggested causes in the decline were attributed to habitat destruction, pesticide use, introduced species, climate change and artificial lighting.

There have been many responses to the decline over the years as well as conservation measures taking place. Chris D. Thomas, president of the Royal Entomological Society and other scientists have warned of the need for joined-up-thinking. They warned that excessive focus on reducing pesticide use could be counterproductive. Pests already cause a 35 percent yield loss for crops, which can rise to 70 percent when pesticides are not used. To compensate for that, agricultural land would need to be expanded, causing more deforestation and other habitat destruction which could exacerbate insect decline.

As of today, strangely enough, there is a decline of insect studies. The reason for that is that there is a decline in entomology and taxonomy. Leading entomologist Jurgen Gross said, “We are ourselves an endangered species” and Wolfgang Wagele an expert in systematic zoology said “in the universities we have lost nearly all experts”. It is said that general biology courses in college give less attention to insects, and the number of biologists specializing in entomology is decreasing as specialties such as genetics expand. I personally hope that changes soon as insects are at the very forefront of our existence.

Rest assure that at Truckee Meadows Pest Control, we are always aware of the environmental issues facing us. We are diligent in keeping up with the latest technology to keep our customers and the environment safe, priding ourselves in practicing Integrated Pest Management. We strive in educating our customers and community to do the same, because we are pest control professionals and control is what it’s all about.

THE DESERT TURANTULA – Its mating time!

Did you know that Gabbs, Nevada is home of the largest turantula migration?

Here in northern Nevada we have the Desert Tarantula, not often do we see them, and we hope that if you do see one you will leave it be. If by unfortunate chance one has found its way into your home and you can muster up the courage to capture it and set it outside, we would be very happy. BUT if your afraid of spiders we totally understand, particularly when one comes along in such a large size, so please call us here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control and we will be happy to come remove it from your home.

Here in the Truckee Meadows Pest Control office we have one on display, his name is Harry Potter and his story is bitter sweet. Harry Potter was captured in a residence in Sparks Nevada, he had found his way into the residence and the property owner was kind enough to call to have him removed. A technician arrived at the residence and found him in the home where the owner had put a bowl over him with a couple of unnecessary large rocks to hold the bowl in place. Once the technician removed the bowl, Harry Potter was gathered up with care and placed in a container and brought back to the office. Everyone found him fascinating and just thought he was such a sweet turatula, unfortunately since he was male we knew the life he had left would be brief. We decided to keep him, placing him in our large critter keeper, we took good care of him until he passed. Our decision to keep him was for the fact that it was late in the season, if we had set him free he would have either died from exhaustion or the cold, even if per chance he did find a mate on his march to procreate he would have been eaten anyway by the female. We had also decided at that time he would be a great specimen for educational purposes and at the end of his life we would proudly display him along beside the other native insects we have here in the office.

During this time of year, usually September through October male tarantulas are on the move in search of a female, they have been known to travel up to 50 miles in search of a mate. The females just hang out in their burrows and if a suitor appears, she will investigate and decide if he is her soulmate or not and if it isn’t she will kill him and eat him. Then again, she will kill and eat the successful one as well, unless he is able to escape her. Males have been known to live up to ten to twelve years, however on average they only live six to eight years. Females on the other hand can live more than twenty years and will produce 500 to 1000 young at each mating.

Desert tarantulas are beneficial, they feed mostly on other insects, mostly crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars and beetles. They can eat lizards, mice and other spiders. They have large fangs but a weak venom, they are docile and would rather flee than bite but if one where to bite it is no worse than a bee sting and poses no serious concern unless the bite becomes infected or the victim shows signs of an allergic reaction. Desert Tarantulas like most turantula species have another self-defense mechanism they prefer to use when cornered or molested. Tarantulas have urticating hairs (setae) on their upper abdomens, these hairs have little barbs. When the turantula rubs its legs on these hairs it will flick the hairs in the direction of any animal that is bothering it, including humans. These hairs act as an irritant, they can become embedded and can cause temporary blindness to their predators and a physical irritation that is of much discomfort, these hairs are an irritant even to humans. It is unlikely you would experience a turantula doing that too you unless per chance you were not in your right mind, (for whatever reason) and decided the turantula would be fun to play with or agitate.  The desert turantula is just another misunderstood creature in our environment. Despite its scary appearance and our popular culture demonizing them, this fascinating arachnid is docile, reclusive and mostly harmless.

In the fall male tarantulas will be on the march to breed and so too will be the males of other spider species. In the fall is when most of us see an influx of spiders, both inside and outside. If you are having an influx of spiders we can help, just call us here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control 775-332-0604, control is what it’s all about.

Vivid Dancer Damselfly – Nevada State Insect

“https://www.flickr.com/photos/zionnps/7463381724”

The Vivid Dancer Damselfly is yet another beneficial insect we have on display here in the Truckee Meadows Pest Control office. It’s a beautiful insect that inspired us to do a little research that encouraged us to be here writing a well-deserved blog about it.

On May 4, 2009, Governor Jim Gibbons signed the legislation naming The Vivid Dancer Damselfly the official state insect of the State of Nevada effective October 1, 2009.

The story is quite interesting about how this insect was ultimately chosen, we just googled “Nevada State Insect” and there it was. Back in 2009 a fourth-grade class taught by Mr. David R. Slater at John R. Beatty Elementary School offered their essay in testimony before the State Committee on Government Affairs in Carson City. This class was one of the 74 that had participated in the contest to nominate an insect found in Nevada, to be our Nevada State Insect, this class won the contest:

“To participate in the contest, the classes were required to submit a one-page, research-based essay supporting the nomination of an insect found in Nevada, including the pupils’ rationale for why that insect would be a good symbol for the State of Nevada.”

What we learned was that these students at John R. Beatty Elementary School had selected the Argia Vivida, the Vivid Dancer Damselfly for reasons we found fascinating. In brief we will list them:

  • Its colors. The adult male is rich blue with clear wings that appear silver when rapidly beating in the sunlight. Silver and Blue are our state colors.
  • The Vivid Dancer Damselfly is abundant in all four regions of our state. Its habitat is the springs and ponds of Nevada. The students felt it was important that the state insect not have limited range or be endangered. That it should represent and prosper throughout the entire state.
  • That it is helpful to humans. It preys upon mosquitos, flies, aphids and other pests. It serves Nevadans by contributing to our economy and quality of life.
  • Of all the state insects, Nevada is the only state that would have the Damselfly. They felt the selection of the Vivid Dancer would reinforce Nevada’s status as being unique among the States.

We here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control admire the careful thought that was involved in their decision to nominate the Vivid Dancer Damselfly as we take that same careful thought in how we provide our services to our customers.

The Vivid Dancer Damselfly is abundant near springs and ponds throughout Nevada, with their populations peaking in late August. This is the time to observe them in all their glory. Vivid Dancers as well as other species of damselflies are beautiful, beneficial predators as they help control populations of harmful insects. Adults will consume large quantities of other insects such as flies, mosquitos and moths and some eat beetles and caterpillars. The ecological importance of Damselflies, as well as Dragonflies, is that they can be key indicators of different biotypes and habitats. They have been used as tools to assess the biological health of aquatic habitats and to detect levels of heavy metals such as mercury. They are a very important group of insects in stream and pond ecosystems and are often used as an indicator whether water is clean or polluted. The quality of the environment can be monitored by damselflies as their presence is strongly affected by different factors such as water flow, pollution and vegetation. The destruction and alteration of freshwater habitats are the greatest threats to damselfly species. Without clean water damselflies are unable to breed. They are also considered model organisms to assess the effects of global climate change.

“One way to conserve them is by avoiding indiscriminate use of pesticides.”

Leave pest control to the professionals here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control, we have environmentally responsible solutions for your pest control needs. Truckee Meadows Pest Control 775-332-0604 Control is what it’s all about.

The Turantula Hawk – It’s a Wasp

The Tarantula Hawk is not often seen here locally, but they are in fact here, in our area, including tarantulas! There have been more sightings of these wasps over the last few years. Here at the Truckee Meadows Pest Control office there is a Tarantula Hawk on display, along with other native insects that have been collected.

The Tarantula Hawk is a spider wasp and it has the second most painful sting in the world, next to the Bullet Ant. It is highly unlikely you will ever get stung by one, unless perhaps you step on one, but if you do get stung, lie down and scream! At least that is what Justin O. Schmidt, Entomologist and Author of The Sting of the Wild: The Story of the Man Who Got Stung for Science, likes to say at his speaking engagements.  In his book he describes the sting, stating that “The pain is so debilitating and excruciating that the victim is at risk of further injury by tripping in a hole or over an object in the path and then falling onto a cactus or into a barbed-wire fence. Such is the sting pain that almost nobody can maintain normal coordination or cognitive control to prevent accidental injury. Screaming is satisfying and helps reduce attention to the pain of the sting.” On the more fortunate side, the pain only lasts a few minutes unlike the bullet ant that can last quite a few hours. Most surprisingly, regarding the tarantula hawk, it is docile. It is a great pollinator especially for milkweed, in particularly the desert or rush milkweed. The Tarantula Hawk drinks its nectar, but while doing so, its legs fit neatly inside the grooves of the flower and the bundles of pollen called pollinia get caught on the legs. When the Tarantula Hawk flies to another milkweed the pollen is transferred, and the plant is then pollinated. Milkweed is a larval food source for monarch and queen butterfly larvae. Other than seemingly managing the tarantula population, the Tarantula Hawk is beneficial in that it assists in the monarch and queen butterfly survival.

The Tarantula Hawk, to say the least, is fascinating! It is one of the largest wasp species, reaching up to 2 ½-inches. They have a shiny metallic blue-black body with bright yellow-orange wings. It is hard to miss when it is feeding on the nectar of flowers or the juice of berries in the garden, of course you wouldn’t miss it either if you are fortunate to see a tarantula hawk dragging an enormous tarantula across the ground. The Tarantula Hawk got its name exactly for that reason, this solitary spider wasp has no fear, in fact there are no known real predators of the Tarantula Hawk. Only female Tarantula Hawks can sting, and her stinger is formidable, commonly 1/3 inch long.  The males do not hunt so the female will do all the work, hunting the tarantulas to lay her individual eggs throughout the season. She carefully battles with the  tarantula and stings it between the leg base and sternum, the plate between all the legs. Depending on the size of the tarantula she may sting it more than once. Within two seconds, the tarantula is paralyzed, she then drags the enormous tarantula back to a nest burrow, either her own, but most of the time it is the tarantulas burrow. She is so powerful, she can and will drag the Tarantula a very long distance if it is necessary. Once in the burrow she will lay her solitary egg on the spider’s abdomen, she will then fill the tunnel with dirt and seal it. The egg will hatch in a few days and this single larva will pierce the abdomen to feed off the live paralyzed tarantula. It will avoid the primary organs to keep the spider alive for a longer period. Over the course of 20-25 days the larvae will grow and molt to become a fifth instar larvae. The tarantula is still alive, all that’s left is its heart, nervous system and exoskeleton, but now the fifth instar larvae will consume the rest of the tarantula and once the food is exhausted the instar will cocoon itself and pupate. If this happens in early spring, it will emerge as an adult in a few weeks, otherwise it will remain to overwinter and emerge in the following spring.

It’s unlikely you will be calling Truckee Meadows Pest Control about an issue with Tarantula Hawks but please give Truckee Meadows Pest Control a call at 775-332-0604 if you are having any wasp or bee issues as flying stinging insects can cause harm to you, your loved ones and your pets.

The Yellow Jacket – Friend or Foe?

Most people view yellow jackets as major pests, while some serious gardeners and commercial growers will welcome them. Yellow Jackets are beneficial in our environment at certain times because in early spring and summer they hunt insects such as caterpillars, aphids, moths, harmful flies and spiders. These insects are chewed and conditioned in preparation for larval consumption. The larvae secrete a sugary substance that is eaten by the adults.

Yellow Jackets are so efficient at hunting that as their colony is growing during the spring and early summer months, according to the publication of Mother Earth News in April/May 2003, their food demands become so great that they can consume 2 pounds of insects in a 2,000 square foot garden.

When yellow jacket populations have peaked in the late summer and early fall their feeding habits change, and they will start looking for flower nectar and other sources of sugar, which will be necessary nutrients for the next season’s queens. This appetite is so great during this time, we will find them persistently at our picnic tables feeding off the same foods we are wanting to eat and drink. Yellow Jackets in the fall will also enter beehives and rob honey if they have found that sweet opportunity. If the honey bee colony is weak they cannot protect their food stores and most likely the honey bee colony will not survive the winter.

Yellow Jackets newly fertilized queens are the only members of the colony that will overwinter. When the overwintered queen emerges in the spring she will locate a suitable nest site, which is most often in a soil cavity left behind by a mouse or vole. The queen may even nest in a hollow tree, attic, eave or under a porch if necessary. The queen will lay several eggs that will hatch and mature to adult workers. The workers will take on the task of nest expansion, foraging for food, defending the nest entrance and feeding the queen and larvae. During peak population of this parent colony it starts to produce reproductive cells that produce new queens and males. These will at some point in fall leave the parent nest for mating flights. Inseminated queens will fall to the ground and seek out a protected place such as a brush pile, hollow tree, house or shed to overwinter. The males after mating quickly die. The parent colony population rapidly declines during this time and the original queen and workers die as temperatures drop below 45-degree F.

Yellow Jackets, whether they be your friend or foe, is a stinging insect and can inflict a painful sting, not to mention a life-threatening sting to those who are allergic. Yellow Jackets will aggressively defend themselves and their nest if provoked. They will attack in full force and give chase for a great distance to defend their nest and they can and will sting multiple times.

Here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control, we have environmentally responsible solutions to manage and control these stinging insects without harming you, your family or the environment. Give us a call at 775-332-0604 to take care of any or all your pest control needs.

Montane Vole

Photo Credit: Picture from – National Museum of Natural History ©2004 Smithsonian Institution

Voles, also referred to as meadow mice or field mice are compact rodents with stocky bodies, short legs and short tails. Their eyes are small and their ears partially hidden. They have dense underfur and its covered with thicker, longer guard hairs. There are 23 species of voles in the United States. These rodents are usually brown or gray though other color variations exist. We have two species here in Nevada which is the Long-tailed Vole and the Montane (or Mountain) Vole.

The Long-tailed vole can be distinguished from other species by its tail, which comprises 30% or more of its total length of 6 to 8 ½ inches. The long-tailed vole has gray to dark brown fur with many black tipped hairs. This vole’s underparts are gray mixed with some white or yellow. Its tail is indistinctly to sharply bicolored. The long-tailed vole is found in a wide variety of habitats. This vole is seen in sagebrush grasslands, forests, mountain meadows and stream banks.

The Montane Vole is 5 ½ to 8 ½ inches in total length. Its fur is brown, washed with gray or yellow, and mixed with some black-tipped hairs. Its feet are usually silver-gray, and its body underparts are whitish. The tail is bicolored. This vole is found primarily in mountainous regions. You will see this vole in alpine meadows, dry grasslands, and sagebrush grasslands. This vole avoids forests. This vole is generally in drier habitats.

Voles eat a variety of plants. But mainly grasses and forbs (herbaceous flowering plants). During the summer and fall the vole will store seeds, tubers, bulbs and rhizomes. They eat bark at times, primarily in the fall and winter. Occasional food items include snails, insects and animal remains.

Voles are active day and night, all year. They do not hibernate. Their lifespans are short, ranging from 2 to 16 months. Their reproduction rate is high, breeding throughout the year but most commonly during spring and summer.

Voles can cause extensive damage, most of the damage occurs in the winter when they move through their grass runways under the protection of snow. When spring comes and the snow melts, unfortunately, that is when homeowners see the damage.

Voles pose no major health problems since there is infrequent contact with humans. However, they can harbor disease organisms, such as plague and tularemia. Voles should never be handled, and if it is necessary to handle a vole, you should wear the appropriate protective clothing such as leather gloves.

If you, your family member, friend or neighbor are experiencing lawn damage that you believe is being caused by voles or moles, please give us a call here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control 775-332-0604.

The Yellow-Bellied Marmot

The yellow-bellied marmot, they are those cute creatures you see around the golf courses and in grassy meadow like fields here in our region and most people feel that they are, in fact pretty-darn cute and fascinating to watch. Unfortunately, that opinion changes abruptly when suddenly these marmots have moved into an individual’s personal property and have begun damaging the expensive landscape.

Marmots can live up to 15 years. They reside in colonies of about twenty individuals. Marmots have a harem-polygynous mating system in which the male reproduces with 2-3 females at the same time. Litters average 3-5 offspring. Marmots are herbivores and will eat and store very large amounts of grass for 8 months of hibernation, so they need meadows or a nice grassy landscape. They will feed on the leaves and blossoms of a variety of herbaceous plants and grasses. They will also eat grains, legumes, fruit and occasionally insects.

Yellow-bellied marmots are a large burrowing rodent. They can burrow as deep as 25-30 ft for hibernation, but their regular burrows are only 3 feet deep. They burrow under boulders or rock walls where predators can’t dig them out. They weigh from 3.5 – 11.5 Lbs.  depending on if it is a female or male and if its spring or autumn, obviously the heavier weight is in the autumn. They hibernate from September to May, although length of hibernation varies with the elevation.

Controlling the overpopulation is controversial as marmots cannot be captured and relocated. If you are going to remove the marmots from your property yourself, please remember that rodents do carry disease and relocating them can introduce disease where there wasn’t disease before. You will need to euthanize.

If you have a marmot overpopulation and need trapping done, please call us here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control 775-332-0604 we are here to help.

The Carpenter Ant

 

Carpenter Ants are usually most active in spring and summer. Most carpenter ant species forage for food at night. They can forage individually or in small or large groups, though they often opt to do so individually. They vary in color but are generally black or dark bodied. Carpenter ant species reside both outdoors and indoors in moist, decaying, or hollow wood. Certain parts of a home are more vulnerable to moisture like windows, decks, porches and the eaves, providing a conducive condition to attracting carpenter ants.

Carpenter Ants are often confused with termites, but carpenter ants do not eat wood. Termites eat wood to derive the cellulose and nutrients they need to live. Carpenter Ants will tunnel through wood cutting galleries to build nests, they are unable to eat wood as their body can’t digest cellulose. Carpenter Ants outside will feed off live and dead insects, they are very attracted and will feed on honeydew that is a sweet liquid produced by scale insects and aphids. Carpenter Ants that are indoors feed on sweets such as honey and jelly as well as meats and pet food.

Carpenter ants are one of the largest of all ant species. Although they are larger than other ants, size should not always be the only identifying feature, because Carpenter Ants have polymorphic workers, meaning that ants within a single colony may vary in size. Adult Carpenter Ants can measure from 6 to 12 mm in length. Males, or winged swarmer’s (sometimes confused with termites), can measure up to 18 mm, while queens grow to 20 mm in length.

What sets Carpenter Ants apart from other ant species is that carpenter ants can be difficult to locate and therefore require professional treatment. Confirming that you have an infestation of Carpenter ants is crucial to successfully ridding your home of these wood destroying pests. Carpenter Ants require specialized treatment solutions that differ from other species of ants. If you suspect or are concerned you have carpenter ants, please give Truckee Meadows Pest Control a call today 775-332-0604.

The Carpet Beetle

     

Damage

Damage occurs during the larval stage of a carpet beetle. Carpet Beetles go through a complete metamorphosis. Carpet beetles, as their name implies, are capable of damaging carpets. These pests will feed upon a variety of dead animals and animal fibers such as wool, furs, silk, feathers, animal fur and even leather. They may feed on synthetic materials if the synthetic materials are soiled with food debris or oils. Carpet Beetles can develop undetected in a home, causing significant damage to clothing, bedding, floor coverings and many other articles if left unaddressed. If Carpet Beetles find their way into your home, it can be a difficult pest to control due to their ability to find food in the most obscure places and can easily disperse widely throughout a building or home.

Carpet Beetles frequently fly into homes from flowers in the landscape. Adults feed off plant nectar and pollen and can be brought in on cut flowers. A few adult beetles in the house shouldn’t be cause for alarm, but if you find larvae developing in fabrics in your home, this is when a professional should be called in.

Eliminate the Source

Regular and thorough cleaning or vacuuming of rugs, draperies, upholstered furniture and closets where carpet beetles congregate is an important preventive and control technique. Vacuuming is an effective way of removing food sources as well as carpet beetle eggs, larvae, and adults. After vacuuming infested areas, dispose of the bag promptly, because it can contain eggs, larvae, or adult insects. Food and perspiration stains on fabrics attract carpet beetles. Laundering washable items in hot water or dry-cleaning them will kill all stages of these insects. This is the most important method for controlling fabric pests in clothing, blankets, and other washable articles. Check your cut flowers for adult beetles before bringing them into your home. Seal or repair any entry points from windows and sliding doors.

If you suspect you have a Carpet Beetle infestation

Call us here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control   775-332-0604

What are the Signs of Bed Bugs

  • Live Bed Bugs (Adults & Nymphs)
  • Cast Skins
  • Eggs
  • Fecal Smears

Bed Bugs are excellent hitchhikers and can be brought in on luggage, shoes and clothing. They can be picked up from pretty much anywhere that people congregate. Anywhere people gather to sit or stay for a period always has the potential to have bed bugs.

For   example, bed bugs could be present on Planes, Trains, busses, cabs, Ubers, Hotels, Motels, Restaurants and Movie Theatres to just name a few. Bed bugs do not discriminate.

Having someone knowledgeable that knows the biology and habits of bed bugs is necessary. Pest Control Professionals know what to look for by knowing the signs of bed bugs and where to look for them.

Bed bugs are visible to the naked eye from adult all the way down to the bed bug egg. You can see them. Many people still think that bed bugs cannot be seen and that is simply not true, bed bugs are visible to the naked eye.

Just knowing what to look for, the signs of bed bugs that are there, such as the fecal smears that bed bugs leave behind which are blood stains. Bed bugs feed on blood, they digest blood and they excrete that digested blood, leaving behind those fecal smears. They may also leave behind bright blood smears from being smashed by the host while the host is sleeping.

Bed Bugs go through incomplete metamorphosis, also referred to as simple metamorphosis. A pregnant female can lay 200 to 250 eggs in her lifetime, these eggs are another sign of bed bugs that your pest control professional will look for. Once the eggs hatch in 6-10 days the nymphs will immediately seek out a host to feed on. During the nymph stage they go through 5 instars, (meaning they will molt, shedding their outer exoskeleton to grow) before reaching adult stage.  The exoskeletons that are left behind is another sign of bed bugs that the pest control professional will look for.

Bed Bugs have found themselves front and center, to be #1 of the top #5 pests we consider to be the worst to deal with in the pest control industry. Not because it’s a bug, as small as it is, it’s because bed bugs are a big pest issue that if left uncontrolled can carry a large cost to treat.

Early Detection is Key! If you or anyone you know, suspect or know they have bed bugs, please do not wait, reach out to us here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control 775-332-0604 TMPestControl.com we service both Commercial and Residential properties in Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Incline Village, Minden, Gardnerville, Fallon and Fernley.