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Spiders that pretend to be ants to fool predators have an unusual problem when it comes to sex. How do they get the attention of potential mates without “breaking character” to birds that want to eat them?
University of Cincinnati biologists say evolution might provide an elegant solution. Viewed from above, the mimics look like skinny, three-segmented ants to fool predators. But in profile, the adult mimics retain their more voluptuous and alluring spider figure to woo nearby mates.
Most birds avoid ants and their painful stingers, sharp mandibles and habit of showing up with lots of friends. Try to eat one and you’re likely to get chewed on by 10 more. That’s why nearly every insect family from beetles to mantises has species that mimic ants.
By comparison, spiders are delicious and nutritious, said Alexis Dodson, a UC doctoral student and lead author. “That’s what a lot of natural selection is all about — to convince other species not to eat you and convince members of your species to mate with you and to do so at the least cost possible,” Dodson said.
Lots of insects and arachnids mimic ants because they’re so formidable. Some plants, too, have evolved a mutually beneficial relationship with aggressive ants to discourage hungry leaf-eaters.
Nathan Morehouse, assistant professor of biological sciences in UC’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, will use a $2 million National Science Foundation grant to study spider vision around the world. But for this study, he didn’t have to go far. He and his students collected mimic spiders by spreading a sheet under trees and whacking limbs at UC’s wooded Center for Field Studies a few miles off campus.
Spiders occupy a three-dimensional world. But whether they’re on the ground or climbing a tree, potential predators are likely to get a dorsal view. “Thinking of vantage point is essential,” Morehouse said. “From the top juveniles and adults both look like ants. And juvenile spiders look very much like ants from the side. But adult spiders shift away from the ant profile toward a more traditional spider-like profile.”
But it’s not enough to look like an ant, Morehouse said. To fool clever predators, you have to act like one, too. The spiders have enormous back legs like ants. Spiders have an extra pair of legs compared to ants and no antennae. But ant mimics will wave their small forelegs in the air like ant antennae.
“The level of mimicry we encounter in jumping spiders is incredibly detailed,” he said. “When ants follow a trail, they weave their heads back and forth. The ant is trying to cast back and forth over a chemical trail that’s hard to find.”
“Remarkably, jumping spiders also perform this weaving behavior even though it has no functional significance for them,” Morehouse said. “They’re trying to be convincing actors. They’re trying to look like an ant.”Read more about this research.
The Pest Management & Public Health (PMPH) business of Bayer, within the company’s Crop Science division, introduces its latest product: Barricor - SP, an affordable innovation for frequent maintenance applications on complex surfaces, the company says. Barricor features a new solid particle (SP) formulation technology that delivers superior performance on gravel, mulch, concrete and more, according to the manufacturer.
Barricor features a functional label that has no signal word and requires no personal protective equipment (PPE). The solid particle formulation technology enables the active ingredient to remain elevated on complex, porous surfaces, making it more bio-available to pests, according to Bayer.
“Pest management professionals need an affordable alternative for their frequent service accounts that gets the job done right — and Barricor delivers. The new high-performance, low-dose-rate formulation was designed specifically with these frequent maintenance accounts in mind,” said Dave Braness, customer marketing manager for Household Health within the Bayer PMPH business. “We’re proud to help sustain and protect this business model for those PMPs who rely on bifenthrin-based products to support their operations.”
Barricor is an efficacious and economical alternative to bifenthrin-based products, Bayer reports.
“While Bayer is known for our high-end, specialty innovations that tackle customers’ toughest pest problems, we’re also proud to offer solutions to support the frequent service requirements of PMPs who just need to keep the usual-suspect pests at bay during regular services,” said Joe Barile, technical service lead for Bayer Pest Management & Public Health. “We’re especially proud of Barricor because it offers an alternative to economy sprays and enables us to deliver innovation to PMPs who might not have leveraged Bayer products in the past.”
Colorado Tri-Flo announced a distribution agreement with Ensystex Europe, a supplier of professional pest management products. Colorado Tri-Flo says this agreement further expands the availability of its bed bug thermal solutions to the international professional pest management market.
“Tri-Flo’s Eradi-Flo line of electric bed bug heaters provide an effective heat solution for our pest control customers using an Integrated Pest Management solution to eradicate bed bugs. The Eradi-Flo line of portable heaters bear the CE Mark and work on any 230-volt system,” said Jean-Yves Perroux, director of operations at Ensystex Europe.
“Ensystex Europe and its leading-edge application of innovative solutions has added effective, portable heat to its arsenal of weapons against bed bugs. Ensystex Europe provides an excellent footprint to reach international professional pest managers with our thermal bed bug solutions,” said Ron Elsis, executive vice president, Colorado Tri-Flo Systems.
Tri-Flo says its solutions are safe, effective, environmentally friendly, ETL certified and bear the CE Mark. Using patented airflow technology, the company says its thermal solutions generate the heat and airflow necessary to kill bed bugs.
Coxreels announced the new Brawny option available for most 100 Series hose reels. The 100 Series reel can be mounted to a floor, wall, ceiling, bench or truck and is made of steel for strength and durability with a U-shaped frame for two-point axle support to provide stability during operation. It has a brake assembly for braking or for locking the drum to a desired length of hose.
The new Brawny feature is an added option that adds strength to the drum, minimizing potential damage under increased or pulsing pressure usage, Coxreels says. By adding the additional strength to the drum, these professional grade reels are better prepared to tackle tough jobs, the company added.
To order the brawny upgrade, add prefix “BX” to standard 100 Series reels. The Brawny option is available for the 8-, 12.5- and 18-inch drum widths.
Podium, an interaction management platform for local businesses, has been named to Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019.
The list honors the businesses making the most profound impact on both industry and culture, Podium said. Half of the companies on this year’s MIC 50 list appear for the first time.
“The economy has grown and evolved in a way that requires local businesses to modernize the way they interact,” said Eric Rea, CEO of Podium. “This award is confirmation that Podium is providing real innovation to modernize these businesses that we work with everyday, and we’re excited to share what else we have in store for 2019 in the coming months.”
Founded in 2014 and now working with 30,000+ businesses to create more than 4 million customer interactions a month, Podium has become one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies in the U.S., the company says. The interaction platform has helped local businesses cross the offline-to-online chasm; one in seven U.S. cell phone owners have connected with a local business via its platform, the company says.
The award is the latest in a series of recognitions and milestones for Podium over the last year. In the fall, the company was named to Forbes’ Next Billion-Dollar Startups List for 2018, a list of the 25 companies the media giant predicts have the best chance of reaching $1 billion valuation or more in the near future. Podium was also named to the Forbes 2018 Cloud 100. In addition, Podium ranked No. 9 on the 2018 Deloitte Technology Fast 500, as well as No. 13 on the Inc. 5000 — both honors the company got with its three-year growth margin of more than 13,000 percent. In August, Podium cut the ribbon on its new 125,000-square-foot headquarters in Lehi, Utah, to house the company’s 430 existing employees, as well as the 375 more it plans to hire through the end of 2019.
The ANTIXX family of ant control products from Neudorff USA provides effective control of multiple ant species, the company says. ANTIXX Fire Ant Bait, ANTIXX Liquid Ant Bait and ANTIXX Plus deliver comparable efficacy to synthetic active ingredients with the benefits of sustainable control, Neudorff USA adds. The primary active ingredient for ant control, spinosad, is derived from a naturally occurring soil-dwelling bacterium.
PMPs can choose the ANTIXX ant control products that fits their needs:
- ANTIXX Fire Ant Bait: Controls fire and harvester ants for up to two months
- ANTIXX Liquid Ant Bait: Indoor and outdoor residential use
- ANTIXX Plus: OMRI-listed, effective for up to four weeks
Knowing what is happening in the field is critical to optimizing fleet performance and improving customer service, Lytx says. As such, the company provides video and fleet tracking insights that allow pest management professionals to see where to improve productivity and safety, and helps PMPs understand how their technicians represent their brand while on the road. This can help PMPs reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction and know how company vehicles and equipment are being used.
Editor’s note: Rollins’ Chelle Hartzer and Tim Husen have been taking turns writing this quarterly Pest Perspectives column for the past two years. This month, Husen hands his column off to Glen Ramsey, technical services manager at Rollins in Atlanta. Previously Ramsey was with Allgood Pest Solutions, Duluth, Ga., for six-plus years.
Imagine a world where ants did not have the ability to sting people. Obviously, not all ants sting, but some, including fire ants, harvester ants and introduced invasive species like the Asian needle ant cause concerns for the public health of the customers we serve. The PMP’s role in the health and well-being of the public is of serious importance.
BREATHING IS GOOD. Some people are particularly sensitive to stings from insects, and ants are the topic du jour here in PCT’s Annual Ant Control Issue. Every person reacts in a different way. While some seem to show no reaction at all, others can reach a state of anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction in humans where there is an over-release of chemicals in the body that sends an individual into shock, often affecting the individual’s ability to breathe properly. While this is not the reaction most have to insect stings, it is of utmost concern to those who react in this manner.
For most people, ant stings involve localized reactions of redness, swelling, itching and some level of pain. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “potentially life-threatening allergic reactions occur in 0.4-0.8 percent of children and 3 percent of adults. At least 90-100 deaths per year result from insect sting anaphylaxis.
One thing to remember is that it is impossible to diagnose a reaction from an insect bite or sting without additional information. With ants, you might have a mound or some dead individuals to help you determine a cause. In most cases, PMPs are not medical doctors (with the exception of Dr. Stuart Mitchell). We can identify a pest or pest habitats, but if we get into human reactions and conditions, it is recommended that your customer seek assistance from a medical professional.
HELP THE CUSTOMER. Some customers are very open about their medical situation. (Maybe a little too much sometimes.) Yeah, you know that customer I am referencing; we all have one (or many). Others may not tell you that they have severe reactions to insect bites or stings. In the big picture, it does not matter. We should be doing our best to keep their environment free of potential dangers to health.
Spring is upon us again and ant activity is blooming. If you get a service call to a home for cockroaches, why not go the extra mile and do a full site inspection? Check the yard for dangers and bring them to your customer’s attention. If they are covered under your pest agreement, take care of them in an appropriate manner. If they are not covered, explain the potential risk and what you can do to protect their family. Sometimes an upsell sells itself.
As pest professionals, we must always remember our role in public health. We serve a critical role in the lives of our customers and their customers and/or families. Proactive notification and action on public health-related pest problems builds trust and lasting relationships between your customers and your business.
The author is technical services manager at Rollins, Atlanta.