With more and more people heading outdoors as an escape from COVID-19 isolationism, experts are concerned about a possible collision course between coronavirus and tick-borne illnesses this summer.
A "perfect storm," Eva Sapi, a University of New Haven biology professor and group director for the Lyme Disease Research Group, told CNN. Noting the mild winter on the East Coast, Sapi says, "We do have a bad year for the ticks."
Hikers, campers and anyone else eager for an escape could "just explode into the outdoors. And there may not be the same thoughtful approach" to preventing exposure, Dr. Sorana Segal-Maurer, director of the Dr. James J. Rahal, Jr. Division of Infectious Diseases at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens health care system told CNN.
"I'm a little nervous that their guard may be down just a slight bit," she adds.
Dr. Segal-Maurer also told CNN that warning signs for tick-borne illnesses are "very similar to the severity that we've seen with Covid-19, which is that fever, the muscle aches, the headaches, the severe fatigue." She believes a unique difference is that breathing problems are common in coronavirus patients, but not with those infected by tick diseases. Yet even that distinction is up for debate.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Since the release of information about Asian giant hornets, Texas A&M AgriLife entomologists have been inundated with cicada killers and other lookalike insects submitted for identification as a possible “murder hornet,” which thus far has only been found in Washington state.
While the agency wants to encourage Texans to be vigilant in watching for the Asian giant hornet, they also want to provide guidance that will help narrow the focus.
David Ragsdale, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and associate director of Texas A&M AgriLife research, and professor in the department of entomology, said many photos of Texas native cicada killers, or ground hornets, are being submitted as suspected Asian giant hornets. He said their website receives five to 10 photos a day, and agency pest management agents and specialists around the state have also been handling inquiries.
In May, the concern about the Asian giant hornet was enough to prompt Gov. Greg Abbott to request a task force be mobilized to prepare Texas against the Asian giant hornet’s arrival.
June is the normal month for the cicada killer wasp, a common large wasp in Texas, to show up. The wasps' arrival has prompted posts on Facebook and in news feeds mistakenly reporting cicada killer wasps as sightings of the Asian giant hornet.
“Most everyone has seen the cicada killer wasp, that is very large, but has mostly been ignored in the past,” Ragsdale said. “With the most recent news of the Asian giant hornet, they are now paying attention to the native Texas insect.”
While some people thought they had been seeing the newly pictured murder hornets for years, AgriLife extension experts want to clarify, “no, you haven’t.” Now, the experts are providing outlets to help texans tell the difference between the Asian giant hornet and similar looking pests.
Holly Davis, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife extension service entomologist in Weslaco, and Pat Porter, Ph.D., AgriLife extension entomologist in Lubbock, recently developed a short video explaining the differences between the “murder hornet” and several common lookalikes in Texas.
“To date, we have identified hundreds of insects that people in Texas suspect might be Asian giant hornets (murder hornets),” Porter said. “Eighty percent of these have been either the eastern cicada killer or western cicada killer. It is understandable how non-entomologists would have trouble deciding which was which.”
How To Tell the Difference
“First, the Asian giant hornet is native to Japan and South Korea, and it has only been found in parts of British Columbia, Canada and the northwestern corner of Washington state,” Davis said. “There have been no confirmed reports of these hornets in other U.S. locations, including Texas.”
There are a number of Texas native species of wasp, hornet, yellow jacket and bee, but what really separates the Asian giant hornet from a few Texas native species is their size. The ones most likely to be confused with the Asian giant hornet are three species of cicada killers and the pigeon horntail.
The Asian giant hornet is the world’s largest known hornet, measuring 1.5 to two inches in length. It has a head as wide as or wider than its shoulders, where the wings and legs are located, and it is a bright orange or yellow. The thorax, or shoulder portion where the wings and legs are connected, is a dark brown, as are the antenna. It has a pinched waist and smooth looking brown and orange stripes that cover the abdomen.
The cicada killers, of which there are three different species in Texas, are also large, measuring one to 1.5 inches in length. However, the wasps will all typically have a head that is narrower than the thorax. The head and the thorax are typically the same color, a darker orange or brown color. Similar to the Asian giant hornet, the cicada killer also has a pinched waist, but the stripes on the abdomen are jagged and sometimes look like mountains.
The eastern cicada killer tends to be black and yellow. The western cicada killer is closer in color to the Asian giant hornet, being reddish brown and yellow. However, there is no contrasting color between the head and thorax and, on the western cicada killer, the stripes are jagged.
The other group of insects that are most commonly confused with the Asian giant hornet are the horntail or wood wasps. They are large, have a distinct head that is as wide or wider than the thorax, and may share the same coloration as the Asian giant hornet. However, horntails lack any appearance of a waist.
Harmful or Just Alarming
The Asian giant hornet preys on bees and can decimate local honey bee populations, essential for most fruit and vegetable crop production. The Asian giant hornets are also fiercely protective of their nests and will deploy painful stings that can cause fatal allergic reactions in people already sensitive to bee stings.
Differently, the cicada killer and wood wasps are solitary and thus do not aggressively protect their nesting sites by attacking in large numbers, Davis said. However, cicada killers may cause alarm due to the males’ territorial behavior of dive-bombing or buzzing people and animals that walk into their territory.
“Although cicada killers are solitary, you can often find numerous individuals in areas with sandy soils where females dig nests in the ground,” she said. “These nests appear as dime to quarter sized holes. As females come and go, provisioning their nest with cicadas they paralyze with a sting and carry back to their nests."
Davis added that, "the males are more interested in mating. Thus, they may try to chase off intruders they perceive as a threat to their mating opportunities. However, male wasps are not capable of stinging, thus they are not dangerous, just a nuisance for a few weeks out of the year during the nesting season. Females can sting but are not aggressive and reports of stings are rare.”
Horntails and wood wasps may have what appear to be very long stingers, but they are unable to sting. They lack venom glands and instead use a structure, called an ovipositor, to insert eggs into plant tissue, hence the name wood wasp, Davis said.
WESTMINSTER, Colo. — Brother Mobile Solutions, a provider of mobile and desktop printers and industrial labeling tools, introduced its ‘on-the-go ready’ RuggedJet Go series of mobile receipt printers. The newest additions to the RuggedJet series of thermal printers, the RJ Go models are highly compact and connect seamlessly to any compatible device, enabling printing at the point of sale or the point of service.
The RuggedJet Go Series includes the RJ-2035B and 3035B that deliver MFi and Bluetooth plus RJ-2055WB and 3055WB models that deliver Wi-Fi connectivity options to support any compatible printing application inside or outside the four walls. These two inch and three inch printers are small enough to carry in a pocket or belt clip.
The RuggedJet Go models, including accessories and media, are available under Brother Mobile Solutions’ new HaaS Shift & Print Subscription Service and can be acquired without up-front capital investment.
Ravi Panjwani, vice president of marketing and product management, said, “In today’s challenging and ever-changing environment there is an increased need for fast, flexible and creative point-of-service solutions. All types of business are positioning to serve the customer when, where and how they demand, so we’ve introduced the RuggedJet Go mobile printer — a true point-of-service solution. This super compact printer comes at a price point that enables a retailer or any mobile or field organization to quickly scale operations. It serves the increased need for pickup and delivery, and a host of others such as providing public safety and parking services, working with customers in the field, busting queues on the sales floor or helping to provide safer healthcare services in the home.”
Amcan Bugstop announced the launch of its new heat chamber system designed for use by professionals. The Bed Bug Sauna is a fast, non-toxic, energy efficient way to perform targeted heat treatments in any location, the manufacturer reports.
Portable and easy to set up, the Bed Bug Sauna was designed to kill bed bugs in dense furniture, mattresses, sofas and more. Amcan's patented infrared heat panels attach to the inside walls of the sauna and create a deep heat that radiates and penetrates the items being treated.
The Bed Bug Sauna measures eight feet long by eight feet wide by six feet high. Twenty heat panels are used inside to produce temperatures from 120°F to 145°F, which is lethal to insects. Using only two 15-amp power circuits and 3400 total watts, the Sauna produces results with less power and energy than convection heat. Learn more at www.amcanproducts.com.