A Selection of Biting Insects Found in the Home

A variety of pest species found around the home can bite you. Many insects and mites live in and around our home, feeding on pets, humans and debris that can accumulate around the house. These pests include bed bugs, fleas, house spiders and mites. If you come to think about it, very few people regularly dry clean their duvets and its duvets where the majority of dust mites are found in the home.

BED BUGS
Bed bugs are a common pest found worldwide and throughout Britain and in recent years have been on the increase. With the increase amount of people traveling around the world, this is somewhat inevitable. Bed bugs are notoriously a hard pest to treat and this is because they hide away in the most awkward of places, such as your bed frame to the plug and light sockets. Before feeding the bug is very flat in appearance, which enables it to access very small places such as cracks and crevices around your home. They can hide deep in the skirting boards, around light fixtures and fittings, and behind wallpaper. The female lays eggs throughout her life (an unusual feature within the insect world), and will generally produce between 2 and 5 eggs per day. This can amass to around 400 – 500 eggs in her lifetime. The average lifespan of the bug can last for months and although this may seem short, the constant hatching of eggs means the problem will escalate and before long you can become overrun. The optimum temperature for the eggs to hatch must be above 10 – 13°C. The emerging nymphs resemble a miniature bed bug and will moult (grow out of their skins) 5 times before reaching the adult stage; this can take 6 – 18 months depending on temperature and food supplies. When feeding (biting you) they can ingest up to 7 times their body weight at any one meal time enabling the adult bug to go for long periods of time without feeding. The bed bug is easily transported from home to home via luggage and furniture used by people who spend a lot of time in B & B’s, hotels and hostels. Bites from bed bugs can result in a raised red lump, itching and in some cases secondary infection. If any of these symptoms occur you should always seek medical advice. You can often tell that it is bed bugs, because you should clearly see small specks of blood on bedding.

FLEAS

The most common fleas found around the home are cat and dog fleas. Dogs in particular can pick fleas up whilst out for walks or coming into contact with other dogs. Fleas can also be picked up by humans out walking or visiting someone with a flea infestation. The average flea is around 2-5mm in length, and is a reddish-brown colour. The female flea lays her eggs on the host and these eggs usually end up in the hosts bedding and resting areas. The eggs are about 1mm in length, oval and translucent. Within day’s of the eggs hatching the white, legless larvae then emerge and feed on a variety of materials such as animal protein debris. They also feed off the blood rich excreta of the adult flea. The larvae will shed its skin 2-3 times over a 3-4 week period eventually spinning a silken cocoon very near to their feeding area, this can be in cracks in floor boards and more often within the bedding of the host. This stage (pupae to adult) usually takes about a month depending on temperatures. Although the flea feeds off your pet’s blood, humans can also be bitten. Fleas feel the vibration as you walk by and will often jump on to a host and start to feed. In most cases the flea will taste your blood and realise it is not their usual host and jump off again, leaving you with a very itchy red lump. You may not realise you have been bitten for several hours, this is due to the flea injecting you with a mild anaesthetic so you do not feel the bite, once this has wore off you will feel a little discomfort and in most cases severe itching. Fleas can live up to a year without feeding so treating your pet and your home is essential, you will also need to wash your pets bedding on a hot wash to kill off any remaining eggs. Fleas are distinctive in shape, and with its large back legs can be easily identified. If you are unsure whether you have fleas, place a warm bowl of water in the corner of the infested room and this will act as a monitoring device. The fleas will jump into the bowl as they are attracted by the heat, and will be unable to jump back out.

HOUSE SPIDERS

The house spider is a large bodied hairy spider with a body length of about 1 cm and the leg span can reach as much as 5-6 cm. The house spider is a speckled brown in colour with a striped body appearance, and the female is larger than the male. Both males and females construct the web amongst debris and dirt found on floors of sheds, garages and out-houses. The young spiders emerge from the eggs and disperse around the web feeding off small insects. These spiders (as many other spider species) carry venom sacs and can issue a venomous bite, although these bites carry little public health risks they can lead to secondary infections and will take time to heal. Although they are not classed as a pest species they can be an unwanted visitor, and if treatment is needed most pyrethroid insecticides will do the job.

MITES

A number of mites can be found in and around your home, such as flour mite, clover mite, dried fruit mite, house dust mite, velvet mite, furniture mite, and the cheese mite. The most common mite around your home will be the house dust mite. Adult mites are around 0.3- 0.5 mm in length with a ribbed body appearance and pinkish in colour. They have 2 pairs of bristles at the rear, which are shorter than the actual body length. The female mite lays her eggs within a 15-20 day period and each female lays around 30 eggs. Once hatched the process from Laval to adulthood usually takes round 30 days but will depend on temperatures. The phases of the mite life cycle is egg, larva, protonymph, tritonymph then finally adult. Mites feed off skin shed by humans, which builds up around our home, in our furniture and on our mattresses. Mites are also associated with causing dermatitis, respiratory tract irritation and intestinal upsets. They are also implicated in the cause of asthma and other respiratory complaints but regular vacuuming of your mattress and the fitting of a protective sheet should help ease the problem. Many other species of mite can also be found living and feeding on birds nests and can often find there way in to your home. Research has shown that it is in fact duvets that carry the majority of dust mite infestation. According to research carried out by the University of Worcester they found that two in five do not wash there duvets every six months and it was this that could potentially lead to an infestation of over 2000 mites in a single duvet. Treatment for mites isn’t particularly difficult, duvets and bedding should be washed and if necessary a broad residual insecticide can be used and sprayed onto furnishing and carpets. For more information on biting insects such as bed bugs, fleas, mites and spiders visit our pest control homepage

Fred Walker is the author of this article. He owns and manages one of the top three DIY pest control suppliers in the country. This article was produced with help from his colleague Matthew Johnson, whom has over 10 years of professional pest control experience with some of the largest companies in the UK.

Belgica Antarctica – The Insect That Uses Antifreeze to Survive Antarctica

The largest land animal in Antarctica is an insect, a wingless midge, Belgica antarctica, less than 1.3cm (0.5in) long.

Natural Antifreeze
How does this tiny creature survive such low temperatures, both as a larva, and in its adult stage?

The Antarctic peninsula has experienced warming of 3C over the past 50 years, yet is still an inhospitable place for plant, marine, or animal survival..

Even though it`s now reckoned that there are 1,224 species in 50 different biological classes in the Antarctica area, the Belgica antarctica is considered the continent’s largest terrestrial animal.

Few terrestrial vertebrates are resident in Antarctica and those which do occur are limited to sub-Antarctic islands. There are no flying insects, they’d get blown away.

It seems that certain creatures in Antarctica have a natural antifreeze that helps them keep moving in cold weather. However, when the temperature gets too low, they freeze and die. The Belgica antarctica is among these creatures which uses the natural antifreeze to keep moving in ordinary cold weather. But when very cold weather threatens, he uses an `anti-antifreeze` chemical to survive. Long before the temperature gets dangerously low, the `anti-antifreeze` stops the action of the antifreeze.

Why does this happen?
Biologist John Baust explains: “By inducing the insect to freeze at fairly warm temperatures, the special anti-antifreeze compound insures that ice forms at a slow rate. At lower temperatures, rapid freezing would remove water from its cells too quickly, and the animal would die as a result.” But since Belgica antarctica freezes gently, he survives and simply thaws out when the temperature rises again.

The Belgica antarctica is the only true insect found on Antarctica. It undergoes complete metamorphosis (like many insects), meaning it has a larval and an adult form that are quite different. This insect is amazingly resistant to all kinds of stresses in both its life stages.

Both sexes have slightly lower water content and a higher dehydration tolerance (30% water loss) than most other insects.

The Belgica larva survives freezing of its body fluids.

As the lava needs moisture to survive they cluster together during dry conditions to avoid water loss. In fact the lava survives dehydration to 35% of its original body weight.

The antarctic region has huge variations in salinity and pH levels, yet the Belgica lava is resistant to the swings.

The lava can survive lack of oxygen for 2-4 weeks

Its color is a deep purplish black which helps it absorb heat absorb heat.

The fact it can live for two years allows it two growing seasons in which to accumulate the energy to reproduce.

The Belgica adult is wingless, to avoid being blown about.

It will tolerate relatively high temperatures.

Its life span is around 10 days, enabling it to mate and lay eggs quickly during the highly variable summer months.

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Medical Arachnoentomology – Brief But Detailed Knowledge About the Insects

Insects
An organism having the general morphologic characteristics of an arthropod can be classified as an insect if the following criteria are met:
1. It has three distinct segments- head, thorax, and abdomen-with no evident effusion.
2. It has three pairs of legs (thus the term hexapods), each pair arising from one of three primitive thoracic segments (the prothorax in front, the mesothorax in the middle, and the metathorax posteriorly), which are ill defined in the higher species.
3. It has two pairs of wings, one arising from the mesothorax and one from the metathorax. Wings may be rudimentary or absent in some species.
4. It has one pair of antennae projecting anteriorly from the head segment.
5. Its mouth parts are designed for biting or sucking
6. Its abdomen is composed often similar-appearing the longitudinal segments, the terminal one of which is modified to include the reproductive apparatus and in some cases a stinger.

The sub-classification of insects, is based primarily on an assessment of the organism’s wings, mouth parts and type of metamorphosis.
1. Wings may be present or absent. There are species differences in the consistency, form, and size between the fore and hind wings. The venation (arrangement of the supporting ribs) of the wings is the most important identifying characteristic.
2. Mouth parts may be adapted for either biting or sucking. Species can be identified on the basis of structural differences in each individual mouth parts and their juxtaposition one to another.
3. In order to attain the size and development of the adult, the immature insect undergoes one or more changes in distinct stages.

Metamorphosis
Primitive metamorphosis: the least change, with the newly emerged young appearing similar to the adult except in size.
Simple (incomplete) metamorphosis: Three stages are recognized: the egg, the nymph, and the adult. During the nymph stage, the developing organism undergoes a series of molts, when wings or other appendages increase gradually to adult size. Complex (complete) metamorphosis: The newly hatched insect bears no resemblance to the adult, although careful examination reveals an internal anatomy that is distinctly insectile: The fly maggot is an example. An additional stage, the pupa, is required for the organism to accomplish the profound physiologic and structural changes between the larva and adult forms.

Although the medical technologist is rarely called upon to examine the internal structures of insects, it is of interest to know that they are highly developed despite their relatively small size. The nervous system consists of a chain of interlinked ventral nerve ganglia. The respiratory system is composed of a rather elaborate network of branching tracheal tubes which open directly to the outside as minute pores in the cuticle, permeating virtually all the internal cells with air. Detecting these structures may aid in differentiating insect larvae from small nematodes. With a hand lens or dissecting microscope. the openings of the tracheal tubes can be identified in an insect larva; the cuticle of the roundworm is continuous. The circulatory system is simple: a pulsating system, representing a primitive heart, is located anteriorly and attached to a large blood-filled cavity (the hematocele) by a single vessel (the aorta. There is no network of blood vessels or capillary channels. The digestive system is complete, with an oral opening anteriorly and an anal canal posteriorly. Pharynx, esophagus, stomach (or midgut), intestine, and rectum can all be identified under the microscope. In the bloodsuckers, the pharyngeal musculature is well developed so that it acts as a pump or siphon.

The genitals are also well developed; they include a pair of testes and seminal vesicle in the male; ovaries, oviduct, seminal receptacle, and ovipositor int he female. Four orders of insects of particula medical importance are: the siphonaptera (fleas), the Anoplura (lice), the Hemiptera (bugs), an the Diptera (flies and mosquitoes).

Aquatic Insect Hatches: The Phenomena and Euphoria of Trout Fly-Fishing

Hatches are an incredible experience. When (not if) you get to fish dry flies during a hatch you will know what the meaning of euphoria is. Dry fly fishing is so much fun anyway, but during a hatch it’s phenomenal. While fly fishing a hatch you become deluded into thinking you’re one hell of a fly-fisherman. After all you’re taking fish after fish on a dry fly. This is normal. Don’t be deluded, however, catching trout during a hatch is easy-if you have the right fly on.

With the exception of flying ants and grasshoppers a “hatch” is the culmination of the insects’ life wherein they emerge from their aquatic environment to mate, deposit eggs, (to begin another life cycle), and die. The insect emerges (hatches) from his sub aquatic body to an adult insect in the surface film on the top of the water. After mating in the air they deposit their eggs in the water then becoming weak they land back on the water and die. This is called a spinner fall, and it too is sort of a hatch.

Hatches can be sparse or profuse: If the hatch is sparse then the fishing will be good. If the hatch is profuse; then you enter into fly-fishing heaven.

When hatches happen, trout begin to feed selectively. The wise fly-fisher will immediately go to his fly box and match the hatch. If correctly matched a bout of euphoria descends from fly-fishing heaven. On the other hand, if the fly fisherman does not have a matching imitation; then–a bout of frustration will begin to well up within the sole. That is not to say, you can’t catch a trout during a hatch if you don’t have a fly that matches the hatch; you can;…just not as often.

Recognizing the beginning of a hatch.

You can recognize the beginning of a hatch when a significant number of rises begin to increase. Scenario. You have been fishing for a while; occasionally catching a fish here and there with no activity on the surface when you notice a fish rise, then another, and another. Soon it seems like every fish in the area is eating something. As this happens, observe the air above the water and see if there are any flying insects, or look at the surface of the water and see if you can identify any floating insects in the surface film. Also, check your waders at the water line to see if any bugs are on your waders. Many times the hatching insect will grab anything they come into contact with. When you identify what it is the fish are eating, tie on the imitation and have at it.

Tip: If you’re fishing a hatch and line a fish, don’t worry; the fish will not stay down for long. The fish become so fixated on what they’re eating, that eating overcomes fear, and their right back gulping insect after insect.

Duration of a Hatch.

Hatches can be short lived or last all day. It depends on the variety of the bug, the intensity of the hatch, water temperature and weather conditions relevant to the hatch.

There may be multiple hatches (different bugs hatching), or overlapping hatches (one hatch ending while another begins) occurring all together at the same time. When this happens, the trout still tend to get fixated on a particular bug. In order to be successful, you have to figure out which one it is the trout want.

A hatch phenomenon.

A phenomenon that can occur during a hatch is that the fish will feed until they are gorged and then quit. Makes’ sense. Seems logical. If that happens you can forget about catching them with anything other than a hand grenade. Go to your camper and have a sandwich or tie some flies. If you happen to arrive at a stream (or lake) while the hatch is happening and right after this phenomena; you may go crazy trying to figure out why the fish are not taking your fly.

Been there, done that.

Remember, hatches occur as the natural order of things in a trout’s life. Hatches are incredibly fun to fish, and you would be wise to find out when, what type, where, and for how long they will happen in your area. Your local fly shop, (if it’s any good at all) should have that information available.

Hatches in Colorado.

Here are some of the significant hatches that I have fished year in and year out in Colorado.

Spring brings Chironomidae Midges and Callibaetis mayflies in lakes and reservoirs, and stone flies in the rivers. Note: May and June especially during runoff, Crane Fly Larva fishing can be phenomenal. Early June come the Caddis, Mayflies and especially large Green drakes on the Frying Pan. Late June to the first week in July, Big Caddis sedges and damsel flies. Nothing much happens in August unless you’re high in the mountains. My September secret is crawdad fishing at Delaney Buttes (west of Walden in north park) East Lake during bow hunting season. Yeah. Little baby crawdads are everywhere. Just catch one and tie a pattern to match and you’ll become a happy camper. Fall brings more caddis and mayfly hatches. During winter (when the days are warm enough) midge-emergers are the ticket.

A Profuse Blue Wing Olive hatch on the Big Horn.

I encountered a blue wing olive hatch on the Big Horn River that was so profuse, each square foot of water contained over two dozen insects. As far as you could see up or down the river, the water was covered with blue winged olives. I have never observed hatches anywhere else that are even remotely similar to the hatches on the Big Horn. It’s the same in the fall when the black caddis hatch. You can’t even breathe with your mouth open or you’ll be endanger of swallowing a caddis.

When fishing a hatch like that you must be able to see exactly where your fly lands on the water, because if you don’t, the trout may take the insect next to your fly, and you’ll risk putting the fish down when you set the hook thinking it was your fly. Normally that would be a big problem, but not during a hatch. There are so many fish feeding, it’s easy to pick out another target and cast to it.

During the hatch, schools of trout gathered in prime feeding lanes to feed, and because there are so many fish in one place close together, each individual fish tend to hold in a really tight area. Their heads could be observed bobbing up and down taking fly after fly, never veering more than an inch or two from their position. I watched my exact imitation float within an inch or two of a feeding trout, and the trout didn’t even give it a second glance because there were so many flies on the water. In order to catch that trout, I had to float the fly into his mouth!…which I did. As I recall the hatch lasted about an hour. I had a hookup on ever cast I made (if I got it into the trout’s feeding lane)until the hatch died off. Man, that was fun. And it’s like that every time you fish a hatch.

The Big Horn has the most incredible hatches (and many of them) I have ever encountered.

Every stretch of healthy water has hatches on it through out the year. Go to your local fly shop and ask them about the local hatches. They’ll be happy to give you the information. After all there job is to sell flies and fly-fishing equipment and to keep you coming back.